More Evidence Ties Obesity to Disability in Older Women – WebMD

Evidence Ties Obesity to Disability in Older Women

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) — Women who are obese as they near retirement age have a higher risk of early death and may find their remaining years blighted by disability, researchers say.

Obese women are three to six times more likely to suffer a disability late in life that will make it difficult for them to get around, with the risk rising with their level of obesity, according to a new study published online Nov. 11 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

A second study in the same journal issue found that being overweight or obese raises your risk of heart attack and heart disease even if you are otherwise healthy.

The number of women aged 85 years and older in the United States is increasing, according to study background information, with 11.6 million women expected to reach 85 by 2050.

Obesity rates also continue to increase, and nearly one-third of U.S. women 75 years and older are obese. This extra weight not only reduces life span, but also can severely harm an older woman’s quality of life.

“For dying and losing the ability to walk, the risks were alarmingly high — over threefold to upwards of over sixfold,” said study co-author Eileen Rillamas-Sun, a staff scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle. “I believe that remaining mobile is very important to most older people, especially since it is useful for retaining one’s independence.”

The new findings aren’t that surprising, but they’re important, one expert noted.

Together, the two studies “verify something that we knew, but give us some more ammunition to craft more programs and pay more attention to women’s body weight and obesity overall,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA).

“The obesity epidemic isn’t just our kids, and if you are thinking forward we are having this enormous growth as the baby boomers age through society,” he said. “We’re going to have to spend a lot of time encouraging women to achieve a sensible body weight.”

Rillamas-Sun’s study examined the health records of nearly 37,000 older women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term study sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The researchers found that about 12 percent of healthy-weight women had become disabled by age 85, requiring a walker or some other assistance for getting around.

By comparison, between 25 percent and 34 percent of obese women were disabled, with incidence rising with the patient’s body mass index (BMI), a measurement of body fat that takes height and weight into account.

Overall, a waist circumference greater than 35 inches was associated with a higher risk of early death, along with new diseases developing during the study period and mobility disability, the researchers said.

Obesity Weekend Roundup, November 8, 2013 | Dr. Sharma's …

As not everyone may have a chance during the week to read every post, here’s a roundup of last week’s posts:

Have a great Sunday! (or what is left of it)

@DrSharma
Edmonton, AB

Obesity Weekend Roundup, November 8, 2013, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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Obesity May Increase Risk for Clostridium difficile Infection — AAFP …

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) previously has been identified as an independent risk factor for C. difficile colonization and disease, as has use of antibacterial drugs — a relationship that appears to be modulated by a dysbiosis of intestinal microbiota. Recently, studies have shown that obesity also may be associated with decreased diversity and changes in composition of the intestinal microbiome, which could translate into a similar risk profile.

The current retrospective analysis looked at 132 cases gleaned from infection control database records, microbiology results and medical records of adult patients at a medical center who had laboratory-confirmed CDI from November 2011 to April 2012. By comparing a relatively low-risk group of patients with CDI to those with more traditional risk factors for the disease, such as exposure to health care facilities, antibacterial drug use and IBD, the researchers were able to identify an association between obesity and CDI.

Prevalence and Epidemiology

According to the CDC, CDIs cause about 14,000 deaths each year, and the annual number of hospital discharge diagnoses of CDI has doubled during the past decade, rising from about 139,000 to 336,600.

In addition, the epidemiology of CDI has shifted during that time, with an increasing number of cases that originate in the community being seen in traditionally low-risk populations. This shift has sparked concerns that unidentified risk factors may be increasing the likelihood of contracting CDI in this population subset.

The study’s authors note that before 2010, guidelines developed by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (SHEA-IDSA) defined CDIs as “having community onset (CO) or inpatient health care facility onset (HO).” In recognition of the changing epidemiology of CDI, that definition was expanded in a 2010 guideline update to include an additional category of disease: community-onset health care facility-associated (CO-HCFA). This category refers to CDI cases that occur among patients in the community who had exposure to health care facilities during the previous four weeks.

For the purposes of this study, hemodialysis centers, day surgery centers, chemotherapy suites and long-term care facilities, in addition to traditional inpatient facilities, were grouped under the “health care facility” designation.

Study Specifics

The chief goal of the study, according to researchers, was to pinpoint potential demographic and risk factor differences between patients who develop CO CDIs and those with HO or CO-HCFA infections. “In particular,” they said, “we examine whether obesity is overrepresented in patients with community-onset infections who did not have exposure to health care facilities, antibacterial drugs or the diagnosis of IBD.”

In addition, the researchers noted, identifying the specific health care delivery sites represented among patients with CO-HCFA infections could facilitate targeted staff training and education, as well as improved allocation of infection control resources.

Using the former SHEA-IDSA classification, the 132 patients shown to have lab-confirmed CDI were categorized as having either community or nosocomial onset disease. Patients then were reclassified according to the new SHEA-IDSA guidelines as having CO, CO-HCFA or HO disease.

Initially, 91 cases were counted as CO disease, and 41 were determined to be HO disease. By using the definitions described in 2010, 35.2 percent of the CO cases were found to be HCFA-CO. Of these, 62.5 percent had a prior hospital admission as a risk factor, and 28.1 percent were from a long-term care facility. Other risk factors (accounting for those with more than one risk factor) included recent surgery (12.5 percent), hemodialysis (9.4 percent) and outpatient chemotherapy (3.4 percent).

Additional Study Findings

Univariate analysis testing for differences across the three groups revealed lower percentages of patients with IBD in the HO and CO-HCFA categories compared with the CO group. A higher percentage of patients in the CO category were noted to be obese; in fact, the percentage of patients in the CO group who were obese (34 percent) was statistically higher than the state average (23 percent). HO cases were more likely to have had previous exposure to antibacterial drugs compared with the CO and CO-HCFA groups.

“Patients with community onset infections had higher body mass indices than the general population, and those with community onset after exposure to a health care facility had higher rates of IBD and lower prior antibacterial drug exposure than patients who had CDI onset in a health care facility,” the researchers wrote. “Obesity may be associated with CDI, independent of antibacterial drug or health care exposures.”

Beyond Obesity: Reframing Food Justice with Body Love by TC Duong

Oakland has been at the forefront of what many would call the food justice movement – a movement to ensure that disenfranchised communities have power over they foods they produce, sell and eat.  Organizations like People’s Grocery have led the way in identifying the intersections between race, income and health.  Phat Beets Produce and City Slicker Farms have been innovators in community-led urban gardening.

Being in one of the centers of food justice work has been exciting but as someone who has also been involved in body acceptance movement, I find myself increasingly uncomfortable with the frame of obesity prevention as a justification some use to enter this great work.  Many groups doing this work have to apply for funding (such as Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move) that frames food access as obesity prevention.  Researcher Linda Bacon coined the term “Health at Every Size” to challenge ideas that weight loss is desirable for everyone and I wanted to think further about the impact of the framework of obesity prevention of food justice and communities of color.  That’s when I read Sonya Renee’s post  Weight Stigma in Diverse Populations.

Sonya-Renee-Taylor-2

By stating “Our society tells us fatness is not beautiful.  Blackness is historically, not beautiful.  So even while battling weight stigma and reclaiming size diversity as beautiful, the presence of Blackness complicates the narrative,” Sonya Renee names the very real intersection between marginalization of women of size and black women.  Performance Poet, Activist and transformational leader, Sonya Renee is a National and International poetry slam champion, published author, and change maker.  As the founder and CEO of the The Body is Not An Apology, she is working to promote an international movement focused on radical self love and body empowerment. I asked Sonya more about the impact of the obesity prevention frame on food justice work.  Her responses are eye opening.

There are a lot of well-meaning people trying to do right by their communities by working on “food justice.”  Does that have relevance to size acceptance and body love?  Where do you see the intersections?  

I think food justice absolutely has relevance to size acceptance and body love or what The Body is Not An Apology calls Radical Self Love.  Radical Self Love is about being an advocate for your own well-being, your body and then allowing that advocacy to demand those things that aid well-being.  Asking for healthy food and access to nutrition is without question an element of radical self-love.  Also, when we think about who has access to good grocery stores, nutritious choices in their communities; we must look at the ways body impacts that.  There is a racial aspect that must be named which is about what bodies are valued and cared for systemically and which we do not. Those observations lead us directly to the way we further disenfranchise bodies of color, fat bodies, poor bodies.  Food justice is about ensuring all bodies have access and autonomy over their bodies.

How do community activists combat the obesity frame in public health, especially related to black communities?  There’s some real dollars attached to doing food justice as “combating obesity.”

I think it is essential to talk about the intersections of discrimination.  Asking how is a framework that makes someone’s body “wrong” an act of public health? We must ask who benefits from a war against people’s bodies.  Does it benefit communities to be at war with their bodies?  Does it benefit large people to view their bodies as a thing they must fight?  If the benefit is not to the communities we serve then what makes the model a justice movement?  Given that there are actual health indicators that can be assessed without size and size actually is not valid indicator of health unto itself, it is completely possible to talk about health without pathologizing bodies.  I also challenge public health professionals to be honest about the mental health aspects of having society be at war with your body or teaching people to be at war with themselves which is the translation of “combating obesity.”  Anything that reinforces inequity, bigotry, prejudice or shame IS NOT a justice movement.  Food justice work that does not include dismantling weight stigma in my opinion is not a justice movement.

There’s a lot of momentum around promoting health in marginalized communities (i.e. Michelle Obama’s work) but with the frame of ending obesity.  What frame would you recommend using to address what are real problems of accessibility for food and recreation?

I often just sit with the idea that the “ending obesity” paradigm is actually saying “we want to end Fat People.”  There simply is no health promotion in that framework.  The Body is Not An Apology operates from the framework that says injustice starts in many ways from the inability to make peace with the body, our own and others.  From that premise, the issue of promoting health is not about the failure of the body but the failure of our society to protect and care for EVERY BODY equally and the ways in which we as individuals and communities have internalized that lack of care.  If we cared for each person in our society we would have those things that are required for basic human sustainability in all communities.  We would have grocery stores with affordable healthy options; we would have playgrounds and recreation in all communities.  If we did not have recreation due to community violence we would be addressing and healing community violence.  We would be ensuring our media replicated images of all members of society in nuanced, dynamic, psychological healthy ways.  If we were using an intersectional community care model we would be addressing the myriad ways we could better care for each other and for ourselves.

How do we incorporate the historical analysis of the commodification of black bodies into our work as food justice advocates?

Understanding the commodification of black bodies helps understand why there is little investment in our community’s well-being and health.  I think it would also help black people understand how their demand to be treated humanely via Food Justice is as vital as the Civil Rights movement, abolition movement etc.  The value of black bodies was directly tied to unpaid labor.  When that unpaid labor was no longer a resource, we saw a complete divestment in the lives of black people.  Now that the commodification of black bodies comes via the criminal justice system there is an absolute necessity to foster the disrepair of black communities. The commodification depends on us growing up in such a way that increases our likelihood of engaging in criminal activity.  That is shown time and again to be directly tied to poverty and not having one’s basic needs met.  Food justice is about ensuring that all communities have their basic needs met so that they might thrive. The treatment of people in such communities is an illustration of the difference between commodifying bodies and valuing bodies. Food Justice is about demanding our bodies be valued!

Finally, how do we make the shift from shame and blame to love?

The question I ask that gets me to the answer of that question is always about who does blame and shame serve?  How does blame and shame make a world that creates positivity and possibility?  I reject the notion that there is some way that my body can be wrong.  And if there is nothing wrong with my body then there is no place for blame or shame.  From this space I can focus on how I can better LOVE my body and how I can better advocate that the world support me, my family, and my community in growing that love.

Written and Posted with permission from TC Duong

Thanks to TC for allowing us to share this wonderful article!  —First Read and Found on Oakland Local —

Nutrition and obesity studies may overstate results, warn researchers

Many studies focusing on obesity and nutrition may overstate conclusions of their findings, which may lead to policy makers and other researchers basing decisions on inaccurate assumptions, according to new research.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine,  suggests that around one in 11 publications on nutrition and obesity in leading journals may overstate the results of their research findings – such as inappropriately describing a correlation as a cause-and-effect relationship and generalising a study’s claims to large groups of people even when the study population was quite different.

“This is troubling because such statements likely influence policymakers, clinicians, other researchers, and the public into making decisions without an accurate understanding of the supporting science, which may have unjustified costs,” said the research team – led by Professor Nir Menachemi from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US.

“They also have the potential to be amplified and disseminated to a larger audience when they are reported by journalists, who are a key source for public information about scientific discoveries,” said the team. “Given that, by and large, journalists dutifully convey the claims made in scientific papers, overstatement of results poses a concern.”

According to the results of the study, public health journals had a ‘significantly higher’ prevalence of publishing overreaching statements when compared to medical, nutrition, and obesity journals, “especially with respect to reporting associative relationships as causal or making policy recommendations based on observational data.”

Study details

Menachemi and colleagues tracked how often authors overreached in the summary of their findings by searching research articles published in eight leading journals in either 2001 or 2011, in order to examine changes in reporting over time. The team found 937 papers—377 from 2001 and 560 from 2011.

In 8.9% (around one in 11) of the studies, the team reported that findings had been overstated in the abstract – with studies from 2011 more likely to overreach than 2001 papers. 

Overreaching statements were also found to be more common in unfunded studies compared to funded studies, regardless of what type of group paid for the study; while a higher number of co-authors was also associated with a reduced likelihood of presenting overreaching statements.

“This trend may be because funded researchers are selected for superior knowledge or skills; have greater resources (as a result of their funding); or are subject to oversight from the funding agency, all of which may translate into a more straightforward presentation of their scientific work,” wrote Menachemi and colleagues.

Although those overstatements may be unintentional, they can distort what doctors, policymakers, and the general public know about nutrition, the researchers said.

The team noted that their work is an extension of a project originally funded by The Coca Cola Company, but noted that the Company had no role in the design, execution, or reporting of the current study.

Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Volume 45, Issue 5, November 2013, Pages 615–621, doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.06.019

” Overstatement of Results in the Nutrition and Obesity Peer-Reviewed Literature”
Authors: Nir Menachemi, Gabriel Tajeu, Bisakha Sen, et al

Obesity May be Driving Earlier Puberty in Girls | Psych Central News

Obesity May be Driving Earlier Puberty in GirlsNew research shows obesity is the largest predictor of earlier puberty in girls, which is affecting white girls much sooner than previously reported.

The multi-institutional study published in the journal Pediatrics confirms that girls of all races are beginning puberty at a younger age, a longstanding observation in the U.S.

“The impact of earlier maturation in girls has important clinical implications involving psychosocial and biologic outcomes,” said Frank Biro, M.D., lead investigator.

“The current study suggests clinicians may need to redefine the ages for both early and late maturation in girls.”

Researchers have observed that girls with earlier maturation are at risk for a multitude of challenges, including lower self-esteem, higher rates of depression, norm-breaking behaviors and lower academic achievement.

Experts say early maturation also results in greater risks of obesity, hypertension and several cancers — including breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer .

The study was conducted through the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Program, established by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science.

Researchers at centers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cincinnati and New York City examined the ages of 1,239 girls at the onset of breast development and the impact of body mass index and race/ethnicity.

The girls ranged in age from 6 to 8 years at enrollment and were followed at regular intervals from 2004 to 2011. Researchers used well-established criteria of pubertal maturation, including the five stages of breast development known as the Tanner Breast Stages.

The girls were followed longitudinally, which involved multiple regular visits for each girl. Researchers said this method provided a good perspective of what happened to each girl and when it occurred.

Researchers found the respective ages at the onset of breast development varied by race, body mass index (obesity), and geographic location.

Breast development began in white, non-Hispanic girls, at a median age of 9.7 years — earlier than previously reported.

Black girls continue to experience breast development earlier than white girls, at a median age of 8.8 years.

The median age for Hispanic girls in the study was 9.3 years, and 9.7 years for Asian girls.

Body mass index was a stronger predictor of earlier puberty than race or ethnicity.

Although the research team is still working to confirm the exact environmental and physiological factors behind the phenomenon, they conclude the earlier onset of puberty in white girls is likely caused by greater obesity.

Source: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

 

Young girl performing breast exam photo by shutterstock.

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Peak Obesity? | Zero Hedge

Obesity rates have increased at least slightly so far in 2013 across almost all major demographic and socioeconomic groups, according to Gallup’s latest study. The largest upticks between 2012 and 2013 were among those aged 45 to 64 and those who earn between $30,000 and $74,999 annually – which ‘coincidentally’ is perfectly in the cohort that is ‘disincentized’ to work by the growing shadow of bought votes and entitlements. So, the question then becomes, is the considerable spike in 2013 that is so evident below the “peak” in obesity rates as the government is forced to introduce more haircuts on its foodstamp program? Time will tell…

US Obesity rate is spiking (along with the Fed’s balance sheet and stocks…)

(h/t @Not_Jim_Cramer)

 

Via Gallup:

The U.S. obesity rate thus far in 2013 is trending upward and will likely surpass all annual obesity levels since 2008, when Gallup and Healthways began tracking. It is unclear why the obesity rate is up this year, and the trend since 2008 shows a pattern of some fluctuation.

 

 

Blacks, those who are middle-aged, and lower-income adults continue to be the groups with the highest obesity rates. The healthcare law could help reduce obesity among low-income Americans if the uninsured sign up for coverage and take advantage of the free obesity screening and counseling that most insurance companies are required to provide under the law.

 

With the biggest rise in the cohorts that are dominated by the disincentized-to-work…“the single mom is better off earnings gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045.

 

So one wonders… with the foodstamp program being cut – will that mean higher obesity rates or lower?

Childhood Obesity Again Tied to Earlier Puberty in Girls – WebMD

Childhood Obesity Tied to Earlier Puberty in Girls

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) — U.S. girls are developing breasts at a younger age compared to years past, and obesity appears to explain a large share of the shift, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that between 2004 and 2011, American girls typically started developing breasts around the age of 9. And those who were overweight or obese started sooner — usually when they were about 8 years old.

The numbers are concerning, the researchers said — especially since the typical age at breast development is younger now than it was in a similar study from 1997. The main reason: Girls are heavier now than they were in the ’90s.

“This is another manifestation of America’s high body-mass index,” said lead researcher Dr. Frank Biro, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Body-mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on a ratio of height to weight.

The findings, reported online Nov. 4 and in the December print issue of the journal Pediatrics, add to evidence that American children are hitting puberty earlier than in decades past. The rising tide of childhood obesity has been suspected as a major cause, but the new study gives more hard data to support the idea.

Biro said, however, that excess pounds do not seem to be the full explanation. And it’s possible that other factors — such as diet or chemicals in the environment — play a role.

Why should people worry that puberty is coming sooner now than in years past? There is a concern when young kids look older than they are, and are possibly treated that way, Biro said.

Studies have found that girls who mature early are more likely to be influenced by older friends, start having sex sooner and have more problems with low self-esteem and depression. “Just because you’re developing more quickly physically doesn’t mean you’re maturing emotionally or socially,” Biro said.

Plus, early puberty has been tied to long-term health risks. For women, an earlier start to menstruation has been linked to a heightened risk of breast cancer. It’s not clear why, but some researchers suspect that greater lifetime exposure to estrogen might be one reason.

Biro said earlier puberty also has been tied to increased risks of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes in adulthood. It’s hard, though, to know whether earlier puberty is to blame since obese kids tend to start puberty earlier, and obese children often become obese adults, he said.

Dr. Patricia Vuguin, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., said it’s not known if it’s the earlier development or the obesity itself that causes the increased risk of those conditions.

Mexico Taxes Soda to Combat Obesity

popA food earthquake just hit south of the border. Mexico has successfully passed legislation placing an 8 percent sales tax on sugary soft drinks in response to their obesity epidemic. This is a significant public policy threat to the revenues of industrial beverage companies like Pepsi and Coca-Cola. It also raises public policy questions for the U.S. as it struggles with its own national epidemic of obesity and diabetes.

Health care costs expand with waistlines

Mexico and the United States are two of the world’s fattest countries. In the U.S. 31.8 percent of adults are classified as obese. In Mexico, it is 32.8 percent.

Heightened obesity levels increase human suffering. Obesity is linked to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension and arthritis. Today, 25 million Americans have type 2 diabetes. 27 million have chronic heart disease. 68 million have hypertension and 50 million have arthritis.

Heightened obesity levels also place a heavy cost burden upon our national economy and family budgets. In the U.S., the cost of treating obesity-related diseases is $48 billion. The Harvard School of Public Health estimates that the added costs of lost work days, increased medical insurance rates and lost wages results in a $190 billion cost impact upon our national economy.

Increased sodas sales drive obesity rates higher

The consumption of just one can of soda is not going to make a person obese or cause diabetes. It is the volume of soda being consumed by Americans and Mexicans that is threatening human health. According to the national Soft Drink Association, the average adult in the U.S. consumes 600 12-ounce servings of soda per year. Mexico is the world’s largest consumer of soft drinks. The average Mexican drinks a stunning 46 gallons of soda per year! Coca-Cola’s own estimates are that the average Mexican consumes 650 cans of soda per year.

Research points to increased soda consumption driving obesity rates higher in both Mexico and the United States. The rate of increased soda consumption and the increase in obesity rates have risen together.

Soda plus junk food are threatening our children’s health

Soda and fast food companies view their products as benign to human health because a “calorie is a calorie.” Research say this is not the case. A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that top sources of energy for 2 to 18-year-olds were grain desserts, pizza and sugar sweetened beverages. This study went on to identify that half of the “empty calories” in our children’s diet comes from just six foods: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza and whole milk. Illogically, government policy continues to support the food industry’s promotion of increased junk food and soda consumption by our sons and daughters that over the long term will increase their exposure to obesity-related diseases.

Marketing, advertising and volume price incentives drive obesity rates higher

I attended a national marketing conference where the Coca-Cola company’s confused ethics were brought to my attention. At this conference, a Coca-Cola marketing manager presented his success in growing Diet Coke sales through a promotional campaign focused upon the erosion of polar bear habitat due to climate change. This Diet Coke marketing campaign was a Hollywood-quality media outreach that successfully engaged youth and the millennial generation on their heightened focus of environmental issues. Proudly, this marketing manager reported that this campaign drove the sale of Diet Coke to record results. This case study left me with these impressions:

  • Polar bears gained needed publicity on their loss of habitat
  • Nothing really happened that enhanced the survival rate of polar bears
  • The Coca-Cola company grew their revenues
  • A marketing team may have gotten a financial raise
  • The health risk to U.S. citizens, especially our children, from drinking “empty calories” was increased

Will Mexico’s sales tax on soda reduce obesity?

The public policy question of Mexico’s 8 percent tax on soda is whether it will result in reduced sugar consumption, resulting in the reduction of obesity. Raising the price of a product through a tax will reduce its purchase if these three key conditions are met:

  1. Consumer incomes do not increase to levels that economically compensate for the demand suppressing tax
  2. There are viable and cost-attractive product substitutes to the product being taxed
  3. The product tax is significantly high enough to create a new “cultural norm” away from purchasing the taxed product

The challenge for Mexico is that soda fills a consumer void in clean water supplies. Soda has also become a cultural norm promoted by millions of dollars in annual advertising that links soda to the aspirations and values of consumers. And the income of Mexicans are increasing and this income increase can blunt or eliminate the demand-suppressing impacts of a tax upon soda.

Public policy that can reduce obesity

The current U.S. public policy of increasing consumer awareness of the health risks tied to high levels of soda consumption is at best slowing the rate of soda consumption. Encouragingly, at least half of U.S. moms say they are reducing their family’s consumption of soda.

Cigarette regulations provide an example of public policy that will meaningfully reduce soda consumption levels and its human health impacts. The public policy tools used to reduce the rate of cigarette consumption were:

  • Significantly higher product taxes
  • Advertising restrictions, especially toward children
  • Very visible and frank package labeling that links consumption to adverse health risks
  • Regulation of adult consumption behaviors
  • Sales prohibition to minors

Applying similar rules and regulations to soda sales will reshape the current cultural norm of soda drink dispensers that offer unlimited refills and “super size me” portions. Without this level of public policy, it is highly unlikely that the U.S. will achieve affordable health care insurance or significant reductions in the human suffering created from the marketing of obesity-linked diets.

Bill Roth is an economist and the Founder of Earth 2017. He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues. Follow him on Twitter: @earth2017

[image credit: Vox Efx: Flickr cc]


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Taxing fizzy drinks 'could cut obesity and disease among Britons …

Taxing fizzy drinks could cut obesity and disease
Fizzy drinks ‘should be taxed at 20 per cent’ (Picture: PA)

Fizzy drinks should be taxed at 20 per cent to cut the number of overweight Britons, a report has suggested.

Imposing such a levy on sugary beverages would reduce the level of obesity by 185,000 and of those considered overweight by 285,000, the study published on bmj.com stated.

While young adults, the largest consumers of fizzy drinks, would benefit most from the tax, the NHS would also save £276million a year, the report’s authors said.

‘Guzzling fizzy drinks is now the daily norm for around 40 per cent of 13-year-olds,’ said Simon Gillespie, of the British Heart Foundation, which helped fund the study.

‘The effects on young people’s health are a major concern. We know that drinks loaded with sugar can affect our weight, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

‘This research suggests that a health-related food duty, alongside other measures such as the new front-of-pack food labelling scheme, could be an effective way – particularly in young people – to help reduce obesity.’

The report by the universities of Oxford and Reading has been backed by Prof Jason Block, of the Harvard Medical School. He said the 20 per cent levy ‘would be a good start’ as he called on more countries to ‘implement high taxes and measure the results’.

However, Terry Jones, of the Food and Drink Federation, called the proposals ‘over simplistic’ with some ‘obvious limitations’.

‘Many food and drink products are already subject to VAT of 20 per cent in the UK and making them more expensive for people at a time when household budgets are already squeezed is not the answer,’ he said.