Tag: "obesity"

Calorie Counts on Menus Don’t Work

Obamacare mandates that chain restaurants post calorie counts on menu boards. This is an example of “nudging.” Wouldn’t it be great if America’s obesity epidemic could be solved by just ensuring people are better informed about how many calories are in those French fries?

Well, the evidence is in, and calorie counts are ineffective. Dr. Aaron Carroll tells the story at his always informative and engaging Healthcare Triage YouTube channel:

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Carroll recently at the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation’s Health Care Digital Awards dinner, where he won well deserved recognition. All I can add to Dr. Carroll’s explanation of the evidence is an argument for why the government finds this nudging irresistible.

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…

Headlines I Wish I Hadn’t Seen

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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


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)

Are Food-Stamp Diets Making Kids Fat?

FoodStampsChildObesity081013This is what El Futuro looks like in the Rio Grande Valley: The country’s hungriest region is also its most overweight, with 38.5 percent of the people obese. For one of the first times anywhere in the United States, children in South Texas have a projected life span that is a few years shorter than that of their parents.

It is a crisis at the heart of the Washington debate over food stamps, which now help support nearly 1 in 7 Americans. Has the massive growth of a government feeding program solved a problem, or created one? Is it enough for the government to help people buy food, or should it go further by also telling them what to eat?

Source: The Washington Post.

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