Category Archives: Diet & Nutrition

Citing cost to taxpayers, cities and states tackle obesity


ScaleBy Teresa Wiltz

More than 35 percent of Arkansas adults are obese, making it the heaviest state in the nation.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson looked at those numbers and saw two problems: an increased risk of all sorts of health challenges, and an increased burden on taxpayers.

Armed with data about the devastating effects of obesity, Hutchinson, a Republican, last month launched a 10-year plan to combat the problem in his state, from tightening nutritional standards in schools to creating more walkable communities and improving access to affordable, healthy foods.

“I’m a conservative,” Hutchinson said. “I’m concerned about tax dollars as well as good health. There’s a consequence to the taxpayer because of bad health habits.”

Arkansas isn’t the only state to take on obesity this year. Governors in New York, Georgia and Tennessee have all announced plans to combat high rates of obesity among their citizens.

Nationwide, a third of all adults—78 million—are obese, up nearly 50 percent since 1990, according to Health Intelligence, a health data analysis site.

The top 10 heaviest states are in the South and the Midwest, according to a new report by the State of Obesity, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health, an advocacy and research group based in Washington, D.C.sln_obesitytable

Cities and states have a vested interest in tackling the issue. Obesity, defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher, is a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and can cause a host of chronic health issues, from diabetes to high blood pressure to cancer.  Continue reading


More than one in three US adults is obese, study


burger-and-friesBy Alana Pockros

The U.S.’s high obesity rate and its relationship to other chronic diseases is not new information to most public health scientists and physicians, but a new analysis suggests that prevention strategies exist that could counter this trend if they were pursued as a public health priority.

A rearch letter published Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine reported updated results from an earlier study highlighting the burden of chronic conditions associated with body mass index. The new findings use the most recent data available on obesity – from 2007 to 2012 – from the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, or NHANES.

In the US, early 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women are overweight, nearly 35 percent of men and 37 percent of women are obese.

.NHANES includes data for individuals 25 years or older and excludes pregnant women. “Overweight” and “obese” were classified by patients’ body mass indexes (BMIs).

Before the release of this study, the most recent examination of nation’s obesity and chronic disease burden was based on information from nearly 20 years ago, when researchers concluded that the prevalence of obesity-related health problems “emphasizes the need for concerted efforts to prevent and treat obesity” rather than just the other health conditions.

In the new analysis, the researchers found that nearly 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women were overweight, while nearly 35 percent of men and 37 percent of women were considered obese.

Comparing this data with statistics from the earlier study, the researchers concluded that overweight and obesity rates in the U.S. have increased over the past two decades.

The greatest increase in the proportion of individuals with BMI’s greater than 40, the highest obesity class, was among black women. Continue reading


Nudging students to make healthier choices


applesBy Tara Bostock
Public Health – Seattle and King County

It turns out that encouraging students to make healthier choices in the lunchroom can be accomplished affordably and without a major overhaul of the cafeteria.

Research shows that small changes like making the salad bar the highlight of the lunchroom, displaying fruit in attractive baskets, or placing healthy foods by the cash register can influence what students select to eat.

In Washington State, the Kent School District is leading the way by changing their cafeterias to

How the Kent School District is bringing behavioral economics principles to their lunchrooms.

encourage students to pick healthier foods. With the help of funding from the Community Transformation Grant, the District partnered with the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs to run a pilot program reaching over 6,000 students in six secondary school cafeterias.

The goal: to increase the number of students choosing healthy foods like fruit, vegetables, white milk, or healthy entrées. And the District saw positive changes.

How does behavioral economics work in the lunchroom?

Continue reading


Paying Medicaid enrollees to get check ups, quit smoking and low weight: Will It pay off?


wellness-incentive-570By Phil Galewitz

When Bruce Hodgins went to the doctor for a checkup in Sioux City, Iowa, he was asked to complete a lengthy survey to gauge his health risks.

In return for filling it out, he saved a $10 monthly premium for his Medicaid coverage.

In Las Cruces, N.M., Isabel Juarez had her eyes tested, her teeth cleaned and recorded how many steps she walked with a pedometer.

In exchange, she received a $100 gift card from Medicaid to help her buy health care products including mouthwash, vitamins, soap and toothpaste.

Taking a cue from workplace wellness programs, Iowa and New Mexico are among more than a dozen states offering incentives to Medicaid beneficiaries to get them to make healthier decisions — and potentially save money for the state-federal health insurance program for the poor.

The stakes are huge because Medicaid enrollees are more likely to engage in unhealthy practices, such as smoking, and are less likely to get preventive care, studies show. Continue reading


Smiley Faces May Help Kids Eat More Health Food Says Study : Tech Times


Smiley_FaceA new study presented at the annual Pediatric Academic Societies conference in San Diego, California, suggests that placement of “Green Smiley Faced” emoticons at healthy foods and awarding small prizes to children purchasing nutritious foods could be an alternative way to avoid poor food selection in school canteens, an identified cause of childhood obesity.

Source: Smiley Faces May Help Kids Eat More Health Food Says Study : LIFE : Tech Times


U.S.-African diet swap has dramatic impact on colon cancer risk | Reuters


Illustration of the colon from Gray's AnatomyBlack Americans who switched to a high-fiber African diet for just two weeks saw a dramatic drop in risk factors for colon cancer, a study published on Tuesday found.

A group of Africans who went the other way and started eating American food rich in animal proteins and fats saw their risks rise over the same short period, according to the paper in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: U.S.-African diet swap has dramatic impact on colon cancer risk | Reuters


The Salty Truth: Many Popular Foods With Unhealthy Amounts of Salt – ABC News


pizzaYou may be consuming more salt than you need — and the salt shaker is probably not to blame.

When researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sought to shake out how much sodium — a major component of table salt — was in various food items nationwide, they found that the biggest high sodium offenders were pizzas, pastas and meats, nearly 75 percent of which exceeded national sodium thresholds. Additionally, more than half of cold cuts, soups and sandwiches contained more than a healthy amount of sodium.

via The Salty Truth: Many Popular Foods With Unhealthy Amounts of Salt – ABC News.



Steer Clear of Raw Milk, Researchers Warn – WebMD

Photo by Maciej Lewandowski

Photo by Maciej Lewandowski

Raw milk causes more than half of all milk-related foodborne illnesses in the United States, even though only about 3.5 percent of Americans drink raw milk, according to a new report.

The researchers warned that people are nearly 100 times more likely to get a foodborne illness from raw (unpasteurized) milk than from pasteurized milk.

via Steer Clear of Raw Milk, Researchers Warn – WebMD.