According to a new report published by a team from Bowling Green State University, obese applicants are less likely to be accepted to a graduate school program when an in-person interview is involved. Further, women were more likely to be accepted after an in-person interview when their BMI was lower. See this description of the study by the U.S. News & World Report, or read the article as it was published in the May 2013 issue of Obesity.
At this week's annual meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA), members voted to label obesity a disease "requiring a range of medical interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention." As approximately 30% of Americans are obese, and the prevalence among children is increasing, this association and others have moved towards calling obesity a disease rather than a condition in an effort to change policies regarding how patients are treated, in particular how payment structures operate. For example, currently little time is put into physician-patient discussions regarding health because such counseling is not reimbursable through insurance.
To read more about the decision by the AMA, see this article from CNN.
Additionally, NPR featured the following infographic using data from the CDC, which can also be accessed on their website titled "Obesity in America, by the Numbers."
Increased utilization and higher fees per treatment accounts for increase in health care spending from 1987 to 2009
The May 2013 issue of Health Affairs examines the costs associated with health care and public health practice, and includes a report by Dr. Kenneth E. Thorpe, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Rollins School of Public Health, examining increased health care spending that occurred between 1987 and 2009 in the United States. Using nearly two decades of data from the National Medical Expenditure Surveys, Dr. Thorpe found that the overall increase in health care spending was predominately due to the increased proportion of people seeking care for specific medical conditions, in addition to cost increases for those services during the study period. Specifically, 50.8% of the overall increase in health care spending among adults and 77% among Medicare recipients was due to increased utilization of services. Other key factors leading to increased health care costs identified by Dr. Thorpe include the doubling of obesity and increase in treatment intensity. These findings highlight the pivotal role that disease prevention, particularly through behavior modifications, can play in curbing health care spending.
To learn more about the article, see this review from the Emory News Center or read the full article in the May 2013 issue of Health Affairs.
For further information about how the Affordable Care Act will change the United States health care system, watch this interview with Dr. Thorpe.
Sales on large sodas and sugary drinks at movie theaters, restaurants, and other locations are now restricted in New York City after a vote by the Board of Health. This is part of the city’s bold move to curb obesity rates; estimates indicate that at least 5,000 city residents die from obesity-related causes each year.
The ban, however, does not include all sellers in the city and doesn’t capture all sugary drinks. For example, only stores and venues that receive health department inspection grades are impacted by the restriction, leaving vending machines and convenience stores like 7-11 untouched. Diet sodas are exempt from the ruling, but restaurants with self-service soda fountains can no longer provide cups larger than 16 ounces.
For more on New York City’s new food-related regulations, please visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/14/nyregion/health-board-approves-bloombergs-soda-ban.html?_r=1.
An Emory University research team led by Dr. Michelle Marcus recently explored the association between exposure to polyfluoralkyl compounds (PFCs) during fetal development and body weight at age 20 months. Their results indicated that the infants of 447 women who had increased PFC exposures during pregnancy were smaller than average at birth, and by 20 months of age were larger than average. This research adds to the wealth of literature documenting the effects of environmental exposures on future health, and in particular adds to a growing body of evidence that points towards a connection between obesity and PFC exposure. For more information about the study, please visit: http://pba.org/post/emory-study-finds-possible-link-between-pfcs-and-obesity.
While food is obviously required for survival, overeating can lead to poor weight control and has been a contributor to the growing obesity epidemic. This video provides a basic introduction to the innate body chemistry that is at play when we overeat.
In a large scale study examining the relationship between state laws regarding the types of snacks and drinks sold in public schools, researchers found that stronger laws limiting availability of unhealthy snacks were correlated with less weight gain over a 3 year period during late childhood/early adolescence. For a review of the study, please visit the following website: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/13/health/research/study-links-healthy-weight-in-children-with-tough-snack-and-sugary-drinks-laws.html?_r=1&smid=fb-share.
“Screen time” activities like playing video games and watching TV have been described as key factors in the rising childhood and adult obesity epidemic. However, companies like the nonprofit organization Hopelab are using the interest in technology to their advantage to promote healthy behaviors.
Their program Zamzee is designed to get kids moving by letting them log “pointz” that they can redeem for prizes. Activity is logged electronically via an accelerometer worn by the child and transferred to the computer by USB, where the user can view their progress and activity in relation to other users in a virtual competition.
For more information about a variety of technology-backed approaches to engage kids and adults alike in healthy behaviors, see this story by CNN: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2012/08/tech/gaming.series/obesity.html?hpt=he_c1.
In recent decades, body mass index (BMI) has been rising globally due to many societal changes, including changes in eating and physical activity habits. Using data from the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine calculated the average BMI for 177 countries and created a tool that enables you to see where your BMI fits in compared with individuals in your own country and others.
The calculator is available through the BBC.
Nutrition is not just what you eat, but also how much of each item you consume. One major change that is cited as a reason leading to the overwhelming overweight and obesity epidemic seen in the United States is portion size which is increased in the presence of larger plates and food containers. In a study of obese adults with type 2 diabetes, patients using a portion-controlling plate (with segments labeled for starch, protein, and vegetables) lost significantly more weight than their non-portion controlled counterparts, and 26% were able to be taken off of their diabetes-related medications.
To help Americans learn more about portion control, as well as see how portion sizes have changed in the last 10 to 20 years, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides a quick reference portion guide, as well as two “Portion Distortion” interactive quizzes where you can test your knowledge of nutrition.