Category Archives: Nutrition

For those who were once obese, stigma often remains

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Carlos Romero and girlfriend Kate Rowe sit down for a meal that they cooked together at Romero's apartment in Seattle (Photo by Mike Kane/NPR).

Carlos Romero and girlfriend Kate Rowe sit down for a meal that they cooked together at Romero’s apartment in Seattle (Photo by Mike Kane/NPR).

This KHN story also ran on NPR

SEATTLE — Carlos Romero’s apartment is marked with remnants from his former life: a giant television from his days playing World of Warcraft and a pair of jeans the width of an easy chair. The remnants of that time—when he weighed 437 pounds—mark his body too: loose, hanging skin and stretch marks.

“I lift weights and work out and work hard, but there’s lasting damage,” said Romero.

Yet for all the troubles he had dating when he was obese—all those unanswered requests on dating web sites—shedding weight left him uneasy about how much to reveal.

Carlos Romero 1 176

Romero once weighed 437 pounds. (Photo by Sarah Varney/KHN).

“If you were to say to someone on the first date, ‘I lost 220 pounds,’ you’re indicating that you had a very serious issue at one point and that you may still have that issue,” he said. “So it’s not something I put on a dating profile because I don’t want people to judge me for it.”

Indeed, the stigma of obesity is so strong that it can remain even after the weight is lost. Holly Fee, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University, has conducted some of the only research on dating attitudes toward the formerly obese. In 2012, Fee published her findings in the journal Sociological Inquiry.

She found that potential suitors said they would hesitate to form a romantic relationship with someone who used to be heavy. “The big dragging factor in why they had this hesitation in forming this romantic relationship was that they believed these formerly obese individuals would regain their weight,” Fee said. Continue reading

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Only half of US adults being screened for diabetes

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GlucometerBy Sharyn Alden
Health Behavior News Service

A study in American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that only half of adults in the U.S. were screened for diabetes within the last three years, less than what is recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

As the rates of obesity have increased, so does the incidence of type 2 diabetes, which also increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Up to one-third of people with diabetes are undiagnosed, note the researchers. Continue reading

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Rise in US diabetes rates slow – CDC

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From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Glucometer showing a blood sugar of 105New CDC data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, suggest that after decades of continued growth in cases of diagnosed diabetes, the rate of increase may be slowing from year to year.

The study, “Prevalence and Incidence in Trends for Diagnosed Diabetes Among Adults Aged 20 to 79 Years, United States, 1980–2012,” was published today.

“Our findings suggest that, after decades of continued growth in the prevalence and incidence of diagnosed diabetes, the diabetes epidemic may be beginning to slow for the first time,” said Linda Geiss, a chief epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation and lead author of the study.

What This Means:

  • About 1.7 million new cases are diagnosed each year. For the first time, this study shows that number is not getting bigger every year, as in years past, but the numbers are still alarmingly high.
  • These data suggest a change in momentum, a turning of the tides. Now is not the time to let up. Although this news inspires hope, there is still much work to be done.
  • The rate of increase may be slowing from year to year, but diabetes is an urgent public health epidemic, affecting more than 29 million Americans.
  • Although overall growth rates of diagnosed diabetes seem to be slowing, the rate of increase of new cases continues to rise among some groups including:
    • Non-Hispanic blacks.
    • Hispanic men and women, and
    •  People with less than a high school education.

“While this news is encouraging, our work is more important now than ever,” says Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director of CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “These evolving trends show we’re moving in the right direction, but millions of people are still diagnosed with diabetes yearly. We need to fortify our efforts to see a real, sustained decrease in new cases of diagnosed diabetes.”

What You Can Do:

Reducing new cases of diabetes is unlikely without continuing to reduce obesity, improve diet, and reduce sedentary lifestyle in the U.S. population, and particularly in those at high risk of developing diabetes. Long-term lifestyle change programs—like the CDC-managed National Diabetes Prevention Program—can help those at high risk of developing the disease.

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27% of Washington state residents are obese

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Twenty-seven percent of Washington state residents are obese, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

You are considered obese if your body mass index, or BMI, is 30 or more.

To find out your BMI go here

Obesity prevalence in 2013 varies across states and regions

  • No state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.
  • 7 states and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity between 20% and <25%.
  • 23 states had a prevalence of obesity between 25% and <30%.
  • 18 states had a prevalence of obesity between 30% and <35%.
  • 2 states (Mississippi and West Virginia) had a prevalence of obesity of 35% or greater.
  • The South had the highest prevalence of obesity (30.2%), followed by the Midwest (30.1%), the Northeast (26.5%), and the West (24.9%).

Prevalence* of Self-Reported Obesity Among U.S. Adults by State, BRFSS, 20132013-state-obesity-prevalence-map

 

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Always Hungry? Here’s the Real Reason Why | RAND

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French FriesMost Americans recognize the difference between “empty-stomach” hunger and urges caused by the smell of popcorn at the movies or the sight of candy in the checkout line. Nonetheless, it’s hard to resist. America is a food swamp, says Deborah A. Cohen, where cheap, convenient food is everywhere, and marketing exploits human tendencies.

Always Hungry? Here’s the Real Reason Why | RAND.

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‘Gluten-Free’ now means what it says

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Bread and grainsA Consumer Update from the FDA

In August of last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule that defined what characteristics a food has to have to bear a label that proclaims it “gluten-free.”

The rule also holds foods labeled “without gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “no gluten” to the same standard.

Manufacturers had one year to bring their labels into compliance. As of August 5, 2014, any food product bearing a gluten-free claim labeled on or after this date must meet the rule’s requirements.

Without a standardized definition of “gluten-free,” these consumers could never really be sure.

This rule was welcomed by advocates for people with celiac disease, who face potentially life-threatening illnesses if they eat the gluten found in breads, cakes, cereals, pastas and many other foods.

Andrea Levario, executive director of the American Celiac Disease Alliance, notes that there is no cure for celiac disease and the only way to manage the disease is dietary—not eating gluten.

Without a standardized definition of “gluten-free,” these consumers could never really be sure if their body would tolerate a food with that label, she adds. Continue reading

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King County’s wellness plan beats the odds

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By Christine Vestal, Stateline

Seattle

SEATTLE – When King County, Washington, launched its employee wellness program seven years ago, its motive was clear. “We were being eaten alive by runaway medical costs,” says the county’s top executive Dow Constantine.

By all accounts, the previous administration was desperate to bring down double-digit health care cost growth that threatened to destroy the entire budget.

That partially explains why King County, which spends nearly $200 million per year to insure 14,000 workers and their families, who mostly live and work here in the county seat, was willing to risk millions more on a wellness program that would prove to break the traditional mold.

Why has King County’s  employee wellness program far surpassed all others in employee participation, health improvement and health care savings?

It may also explain why labor unions took the unusual step of joining management in a plan that would ultimately shift more health care costs to workers.

But it doesn’t explain why this employee wellness program, which received an innovation award this year from Harvard University, has far surpassed all others in employee participation, health improvement and health care savings.  Continue reading

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Extreme obesity may shorten life expectancy up to 14 years

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ScaleFrom the National Cancer Institute

Adults with extreme obesity have increased risks of dying at a younger age from cancer and many other causes including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney and liver diseases, according to a new study.

The study, led by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, found that people with class III (or extreme) obesity had a dramatic reduction in life expectancy compared with people of normal weight. The findings appeared July 8, 2014, in PLOS Medicine.

 Six percent of US adults are now classified as extremely obese

“While once a relatively uncommon condition, the prevalence of class III, or extreme, obesity is on the rise. In the United States, for example, six percent of adults are now classified as extremely obese, which, for a person of average height, is more than 100 pounds over the recommended range for normal weight,” said Cari Kitahara, Ph.D., Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, NCI, and lead author of the study.  Continue reading

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More students to eat for free at school

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school lunch tray usdaBy Jake Grovum
Stateline

Thousands more students could be eating school lunch completely free starting next fall, thanks to a four-year-old federal program that is finally expanding to all 50 states.

The expansion comes through the so-called Community Eligibility Provision, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010 as part of a broader school nutrition measure.

It opened the door for districts with free or reduced-price lunches to offer the meals to every student at the school, at no cost to them — no application necessary and regardless of household income. Continue reading

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Are you the 1 in 4 who doesn’t know? – CDC asks

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Question MarkMore than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, up from the previous estimate of 26 million in 2010, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One in four people with diabetes doesn’t know he or she has it. 

Another 86 million adults – more than one in three U.S. adults – have prediabetes, where their blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Continue reading

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Moms, kids eat more (low mercury) fish – FDA says

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Medieval woodcut of fish in a netFDA Consumer Update

If you’re pregnant, you’ve no doubt been given a list of foods to avoid—undercooked meat, soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, and alcohol, to name a few.

The good news is that there is a food you should have more of while pregnant and while breastfeeding: fish and shellfish.

The latest science shows that eating fish low in mercury during pregnancy and in early childhood can help with growth and neurodevelopment. It can also be good for your health. Continue reading

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Families with preschoolers buying fewer high-calorie foods

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FoodBy Stephanie Stephens
Health Behavior News Service
May 27, 2014

Families with young children are purchasing fewer high calorie drinks and processed foods, which may be a factor in declining rates of childhood obesity, finds a new report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Continue reading

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All about sugar substitutes

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fda-logo-thumbnailAn FDA Consumer Update

Whether it’s to cut down on the number of calories they consume or any of a variety of other reasons, some people use sugar substitutes – also called high-intensity sweeteners – to sweeten and add flavor to their foods.

They can be used alone to sweeten foods and beverages such as iced tea or coffee, or as an ingredient in other products. There are a number of sugar substitutes on the market from which to choose. Continue reading

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Obese employees cost employers thousands in extra medical costs – study

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ScaleBy Katherine Kahn
Health Behavior News Service

A new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion finds that, on average, a morbidly obese employee costs an employer over $4,000 more per year in health care and related costs than an employee who is of normal weight.

The study also revealed that obese individuals who had comorbidities such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol incurred more costs than obese workers without these conditions, says Karen Van Nuys, Ph.D., lead coauthor and economist at Precision Health Economics in Los Angeles.

“For example, someone who is overweight or obese and also has diabetes is more likely to file a short-term disability claim compared to someone who doesn’t have diabetes but is overweight or obese.” Continue reading

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