Category: Obesity Updates

Study: Kids are Tossing Mandated Fruits and Veggies in Trash

A controversial federal lunch program — mandating healthier school lunches — is up for reauthorization in the coming weeks. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 set minimum nutritional standards for school lunches — the first major change in 30 years. The Act mandated smaller portion sizes and required the addition of fruits and vegetables.

So what are school kids doing with all those healthy fruits and vegetables they’re required to accept? A new study looked at fruit and vegetable consumption before and after the Act using a video camera footage. Kids are tossing their healthy snacks straight into the trash – otherwise known as File 13 in my grade school! According to research in that was published in Public Health Reports, school kids are consuming fewer fruits and vegetables than before; boosting food waste by more than one-third.

Berkeley Soda Tax Fizzles Out

The soda tax passed last fall by voters in Berkeley, California – the first such city ordinance in the country – has fizzled at raising retail prices for high-calorie sugary drinks by less than half the amount expected, according to a Cornell University and University of Iowa study. The law, which took effect this March, imposes a penny-per-ounce tax on distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, energy drinks and presweetened teas. Distributors pay 20 cents per 20-ounce bottle of Coke, for instance. Tax proponents expected the extra cost to result in higher prices for shoppers, which would discourage soda consumption.

Source at: Berkeley Soda Tax Fizzles Out

 

Coke Tells People to Get Active; Gets Criticized for Not Telling Them to Avoid Coke

Coca-Cola is catching flack for something that any other group who promotes ways to boost physical activity would be praised for. According to the New York Times Well Blog, “Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, is backing a new ‘science-based’ solution to the obesity crisis: To maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories.”

Coke has contributed millions to start and fund an organization to promote active lifestyles. It’s also funding scientists who perform research on the benefits physical activity on chronic disease and health status.

Basically, Coke is telling people if they want to stay fit and not have to worry about calories, then get active. That strategy won’t work for everyone. But it is a strategy that many people I know adhere to; it works fine for them. What is perplexing is that public health advocates (who hate Coke) are up in arms when Coke promotes an agenda that advocates would ordinarily agree with.

Would Outlawing Food Stamps for Soda Pop Reduce Obesity?

That’s what scholars at Stanford University and University of California, San Francisco, concluded in an article in Health Affairs. The authors compare two policies: Banning the use of food stamps for the purchase of soda pop, or giving an extra subsidy of thirty cents on the dollar for the purchase of fruits and vegetables. They conclude that the ban on soda pop would have a greater impact on obesity:

Open Aluminum CanA ban on sugar-sweetened beverage purchases would be expected to reduce kilocalorie intake from these beverages by a net average of 24.2 kcal per person per day among SNAP participants (95% CI: 22.8, 25.5) — a 15.4 percent decline in calorie consumption from sugar-sweetened beverages, according to our model.

Given this decline in net kilocalorie intake, overall obesity rates declined over the simulated period.

When accounting for baseline type 2 diabetes rate differences among cohorts, our model estimated that the largest type 2 diabetes incidence decline would be expected among adults ages 18–65…

Does Unemployment Cause Obesity?

Recent studies and surveys have shown a distinct relationship between unemployment and obesity, particularly for lower-skilled workers who struggle to find work — a search made more challenging by their weight.

In Hagerstown, where blue-collar jobs have gone overseas or to cheaper parts of the country, 8.4 percent are unemployed — well above Maryland’s 5.9 percent rate. Last month, Gallup identified the area as the third-heaviest place in the United States, with almost 37 percent of its residents obese. Local studies put the number even higher. (More)

Are Antibiotics Making Us Fat?

…[D]ecades of agricultural research has shown that antibiotics seem to flip a switch in young animals’ bodies, helping them pack on pounds. Manufacturers brag about the miraculous effects of feeding antibiotics to chicks and nursing calves. Dusty agricultural journals attest to the ways in which the drugs can act like a kind of superfood to produce cheap meat.

Of course, while farm animals often eat a significant dose of antibiotics in food, the situation is different for human beings. By the time most meat reaches our table, it contains little or no antibiotics. So we receive our greatest exposure in the pills we take, rather than the food we eat. American kids are prescribed on average about one course of antibiotics every year, often for ear and chest infections. Could these intermittent high doses affect our metabolism?

In 2002 Americans were about an inch taller and 24 pounds heavier than they were in the 1960s, and more than a third are now classified as obese…

…New evidence shows that America’s obesity epidemic may be connected to our high consumption of these drugs… (NYT)

Childhood Obesity: The Rest of the Story

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The nation is celebrating a new study reporting that the obesity rate for children ages 2 to 5 has plummeted over the last decade. But one of the sadder parts of the study released Wednesday was that the U.S. obesity rate is a reflection of the nation’s racial divide: Blacks and Hispanics suffer much higher levels of obesity compared with whites.

As you can see in the chart above, obesity rates among babies are fairly similar across racial lines. But the disparities rapidly emerge. A black child age 2 to 5 is more than three times as likely to be obese as a white child that age. Hispanic children in that age group are nearly five times as likely to be obese. (Zachary Goldfarb)

Studying Obesity, Learning Nothing

Weight ChangesIn 1960, fewer than 13 percent of Americans were obese, and diabetes had been diagnosed in 1 percent. Today, the percentage of obese Americans has almost tripled; the percentage of Americans with diabetes has increased sevenfold.

Meanwhile, the research literature on obesity has also ballooned. In 1960, fewer than 1,100 articles were published on obesity or diabetes in the indexed medical literature. Last year it was more than 44,000. In total, over 600,000 articles have been published purporting to convey some meaningful information on these conditions. (NYT)

Overweight People Think Differently

About food:

ATHK67For some time, scientists have known that many overweight people’s brains operate differently than the brains of thinner people when they look at images related to eating. In previous neurological studies, when heavier volunteers viewed pictures of food or food preparation, they typically developed increased activity in portions of the brain involved in reward processing, or an urge to like things, including in an area called the putamen. At the same time, their brains showed relatively blunted activity in areas that are thought to induce satiety, or the ability to know when you are full. These changes generally are reversed in the brains of thinner people shown the same images.

About exercise:

The resulting readouts revealed that overweight women’s brains were put off by exercise…

Emotionally, the brain scans suggested, they anticipated disliking physical activity much more than they expected to disdain sitting.

Leaner women’s brain activity, by and large, was the opposite, with the putamen lighting up when they watched others work out and envisaged doing the same themselves. (NYT)

Is the Obesity Epidemic a Real Epidemic?

Your digestive system is actually a complex ecosystem, playing host to hundreds of species of bacteria that do things as diverse as fermenting undigested carbohydrates and providing vitamins. They also regulate how much fat your body stores.

Not et1larg_high_obesity_ratesveryone, however, has the same gut bacteria. And, interestingly, the composition of this bacteria correlates with obesity…

Researchers harvested bacteria from pairs of twin mice, where one twin was obese and the other was not. Then they transplanted these bacteria into different mice. The mice who received bacteria from the obese twin gained weight, while the others did not. The mice did not eat more: Their metabolism changed so that they put on more weight even with the same caloric input…

A study…shows that obesity seems to “spread” across social networks, with people infecting their friends and neighbors. I had always assumed that was because birds of a feather flock together — and that is surely part of the explanation. But because gut bacteria can also spread among people in close proximity, perhaps the obesity epidemic really is, well, an epidemic? (NYT)