Recognizing that they are a part of the obesity problem in the United States, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola Co, and Dr.Pepper Snapple Group have come to an agreement with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to pledge to cut calories consumed by beverages by 20% by the year 2025. Their plan is to create smaller portion sizes, as well as promote water and non-calorie options more effectively. Due to a cap on sugary drink portions now in effect in New York, a soda ban in schools, and a possible tax on these soft drinks in San Francisco in the near future, this may be their attempt to stay appealing to customers. Since the peak of soda sales in 1998, the amount of calories consumed by Americans from sugary drinks has decreased by 23 percent due to an increased concern with our health. As the general population has become more conscious of disease states such as diabetes, they have started to opt for healthier options, including water and beverages that do not contain aspartame. Still, experts agree that more needs to be done in order to decrease obesity rates.
How do you feel about more aggressive government-instituted restrictions on these products? How comfortable would you be with instituting potential penalties on these companies if they cannot fulfill their promise by 2025?
To read more, please visit WSJ.
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The Food and Drug Administration just released Nutrition Basics reminder to help parents look at nutrition facts labels (ingredients, percent daily value, nutrients, and serving size) before buying food for their children. The main goal of this program is to fight childhood obesity with better food choices. How often do you discuss food labeling with your patients?
For additional information, please see the FDA Consumer Update .
Those with vitamin D deficiency, especially among New Englanders, are linked to a multitude of health risks. A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that those who were obese and vitamin D deficient walked slower and were less physically active than their comparators who were not deficient. The results of this study suggest that vitamin D status may contribute to the reduction of physical functioning, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle. What are some ways you encourage or increase physical activity in your patients? How does this study influence your recommendation of vitamin D?
For additional information, please visit Medical News Today
BBC summarized the annual report of health in UK suggesting an overwhelming shift of social stigma on weight with overweight becoming the norm. According to chief medical officer, Dame Sally, parents as well as the general populace are failing to identify obesity due to recent changes in media portrayal. Dame Sally recommended a sugar tax in hopes of preventing poor diet trends and increasing levels of obesity from continuing. What are your thoughts? Would similar taxation improve US issues with weight or cause more controversy?
The Nutrition Food Label is undergoing an update in the near future. The aim of the new Nutrition Food Label is to bring serving sizes and calories closer to what people are actually eating today. The current 1993 Nutrition Facts Label was based on food consumption in the 1970s and 80s. The proposed label would prominently display, in bold and larger font size, the number of calories and servings per container. The new label would also change “Amount Per Serving” to “Amount Per (Serving Size) and require listing of added sugars. Ice cream and soft drinks are two food products that will undergo change from the new Nutrition Food Label proposals. What are your opinions regarding the proposed Nutrition Food Label updates? What strategies can you suggest for your patients in order to help them understand the right serving size to consume based on current nutrition labels?
For additional information, please see FDA.
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A fight wages on between US sugar and corn companies where tens of millions of dollars have been spent to influence public opinion and capture market share. The Corn Refiners Association, the producers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), has campaigned to change HFCS name to “corn sugar” claiming HFCS as a natural product that is equivalent to sugar. The FDA denied the change in name from HFCS to ‘corn sugar’ since dextrose-a solid, dried, crystallized pure glucose product has already coined the term ‘corn sugar’, while HFCS is an aqueous mixture of glucose and fructose. Also ‘corn sugar’ has been used for individuals who have an intolerance to fructose therefore the name change from HCFS to ‘corn sugar’ would put individuals at risk for health concerns. The Sugar Association urges food industries to replace HFCS with sucrose due to adverse effects like diabetes, elevated triglycerides and obesity stemming from the introduction of HFCS to the market in the 1970s. What are your thoughts about possible false and misleading campaigns used by the food industry to capture market share? What recommendations do you have for your patients in terms of sweeteners?
For additional information please see BMJ.
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A recent article published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization compared the number of fast food transactions in 25 high income countries with changes in the average body mass index of each country. Between 1999 to 2008, the average number of fast food transactions per capita increased from 26.61 to 32.76 and the average BMI increased from 25.8 to 26.4. In addition, researchers found a correlation between the country’s economic freedom and the number of fast food transactions. Countries that are more economically free have a greater increase in the average number of fast food transactions. Government regulation of fast food intake can potentially prevent the rise in obesity especially in developing countries. What are your thoughts about this article? How do you encourage your patients to limit food from fast food restaurants?
For additional information, please click BMJ.
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Researchers hope that Prader-Willi syndrome, a genetic condition that causes unremitting hunger, could help in the development of future treatment for obesity. Experts do not yet understand the mechanism behind the syndrome except that incessant appetite stems from impaired function of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls appetite. If the mechanisms behind this disease are discovered it could shed light on appetite and hopefully obesity as a whole.
What are your recommendations to patients for maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle?
For more information visit NY Times
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Obesity is a known problem in the United States, but what can we do to prevent it? A recently published study reviewed the relationship between negative stressors and the risk of obesity in children. The study included mothers of obese children who completed surveys of events that occurred to their child at age 4, 9, and 11. These events were then categorized into family health and well-being, parental work, school, or financial stability, emotional aspects of relationships, and family structure, routine, and caregiving. The results showed that high exposure to negative stressors increased the risk of obesity in children 15 years old by 47%. What stress reliever works best for you?
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A study conducted by Marie Bragg from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University (New Haven, CT) found that some of the advertisements promoted by athletes were unhealthy food and drinks. Out of the all the brands supported by athletes in 2010, about one quarter included food/drinks such as burgers, cookies, cereal, and sugary beverages. Not only is it misleading that fit and healthy sports stars encourage consumption of such foods, the fact that they are role models may further influence teenagers. Bragg and colleagues note that parents may teach their children that not all ads supported by athletes may be healthy, but top companies know that such advertising works. Do you think adults are influenced as much as teenagers? How can we stay educated about food advertisements?
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