Teens Pay Attention To Sugary Drink Warnings

 

Amazingly, teens apparently not only read but also heed health warnings – at least where sugary drinks are concerned, according to a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania.

“The average teen in the United States consumes at least one sugar-sweetened beverage every day, which could account for more than twice the recommended daily serving of sugar,” said study lead author Christina Roberto.

Roberto is an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

“The rate of sugar consumption in the U.S. is astounding and contributes significantly to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other dangerous and costly health conditions,” she added in a university news release.

An online survey was used to assess the hypothetical beverage selections of more than 2,000 youngsters, aged 12 to 18. The drinks had either no label or one of five health warning labels. One label featured calorie content and four carried variations of a written warning that sugary beverages contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.

While 77 percent of the participants said they would select a sugary drink if there was no warning label, participants were 8 percent to 16 percent less likely to select a sugary drink that bore such a message, the study found.

The warning labels helped raise teens’ awareness of the health risks of sugary drinks, the study authors noted. Sixty-two percent of the participants said they would support a warning label policy for sugary drinks.

Several U.S. cities and states are currently considering such policies, the researchers said.

The findings highlight the need for nutrition information at the point of purchase to help people make healthier choices, said study co-author Eric VanEpps. He is a postdoctoral researcher at the university’s Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics.

“This study shows that warning labels can affect teenagers’ beverage preferences, and future research will be needed to determine whether these labels are similarly effective in more typical purchasing environments,” he said.

The study was published Sept. 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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This Blog’s Article On ‘Juicero’ Preceded The NY Times’ Version!

 

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Doug Evans, Juicero’s founder. (Photo: Amy Lombard for The New York Times.)

OK, it was only by one day, but when a working-alone blogger spots and reports on something before the New York Times does, that blogger should feel OK about patting himself on the back!

Granted, the Times’ reporter undoubtedly was working on his longer, more detailed story before I put mine together, but amazingly, we kind of came to the same conclusion: Is there really a market for a $700 kitchen gadget that depends on your WiFi being up when you want to down a $10 glass of fresh-pressed juice?

(David Gelles’ article also noted that what I reported as $70 million in venture capital investments in Juicero — a sum that seems to have been squeezed nearly dry — is up to or more than $28 million in additional liquidity for this start-up, which actually starts taking orders for its products this week.)

The aim of this blog — like that of FoodTradeTrends.com, my other one, , which will have a version of this article ‘live’ later today — is to hand-pick and interpret for you stories you aren’t likely to stumble upon on your own.

Toward that aim, I scan an incredibly broad range of websites, many of them highly specialized on aspects of science, food technology, astronomy, medicine and doctoring, technology, opinion and, oh yeah, news — among other topics.

One of these blogs was launched late last year. The other came on the scene early in 2016. Between them, they now have been seen in at least 34 countries, including China.

I am proud — justifiably so, I think — of what I do with these blogs. I hope you will consider yourself proud to have found one or both — and that you will feel enriched from following them.

 

Take It Off! (Even A Little Bit of Weight-Loss Will Help!)

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For the one in three American adults who are obese, recommendations to lose substantial amounts of weight through a combination of diet and exercise can seem daunting and, at times, hopeless. But a new study should come as encouraging news for all those struggling to lose the extra pounds: even a modest goal of 5 percent weight loss delivers considerable health benefits.

In a National Institutes of Health-funded study, obese people who lost just 5 percent of their body weight—about 12 pounds on average—showed improvements in several risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. They also showed metabolic improvements in many parts of the body, including the liver, pancreas, muscle, and fat tissue.

While people who lost additional weight enjoyed further improvements in their health, the findings reported in the journal Cell Metabolism show that sometimes it really does pay to start small.

Doctors today often recommend that their patients who are obese lose 5 to 10 percent of their weight in accordance with current treatment guidelines. While these guidelines are quite helpful, many individuals find that loss of 10 percent is a very difficult challenge, and it’s been unclear how much of a boost patients might receive to their metabolism and heart health by aiming for the more achievable goal of 5 percent.

To find out, Samuel Klein of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and his colleagues randomly assigned 40 obese women and men to one of two groups. In one group, participants maintained their body weight. In the other, they cut their calories and ate “self-prepared foods” to lose 5 percent, 10 percent, or 15 percent of their weight. The participants, who initially weighed about 230 pounds on average, were told not to exercise. All had signs of insulin resistance, a condition in which the body produces insulin but cells don’t respond normally to it, putting them at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Of the 20 people in the weight-loss group, all but one (who dropped out of the study) reached the initial target of 5 percent weight reduction. Nine of the remaining 19 people went on to reach the most ambitious 15 percent weight-loss goal after more than 10 months of dieting.

After participants reached each of the three weight-loss targets, the researchers evaluated their heart health and metabolism, measuring their total body fat, blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol levels, and insulin sensitivity (how well cells respond to insulin). They also looked for signs of inflammation, a possible contributor to metabolic problems, and examined the expression of genes in their fat tissue.

At 5 percent weight loss, study participants showed improved function in insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. They also showed increased insulin sensitivity in their liver, skeletal muscle, and fat tissue. The researchers were surprised to find that people who had lost just 5 percent of their weight showed nearly a 50 percent reduction in fat in their livers.

Those who went on to reach the 15 percent weight-loss goal continued to show improvements in the function of their pancreatic beta cells and insulin sensitivity. The researchers also observed progressive changes over the course of the study in gene expression within fat tissue, suggesting that this critical metabolic tissue is particularly responsive to weight loss.

The new findings are just the beginning of studies by Klein’s team to explore in great molecular detail why weight loss is so good for us and obesity can be so detrimental. They’d also like to examine the effects of weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes and in those following particular dietary interventions, such as a low-fat versus a low-carbohydrate diet.

These studies will yield a lot of interesting data in the years ahead. In the meantime, let’s hope these new findings will inspire those struggling with obesity to take steps, however small, toward a healthier weight.

Donut Try This At Home

 

The-Krispy-Kreme-Challenge.pngFor reasons you can only wonder at, there’s been for the past 12 years, an event in Raleigh NC that sorely tests the concept that some people are – as they’re most certainly not – qualified to gain places as students at North Carolina State, a misnamed kindergarten, it would seem.

The event is the Krispy Kreme Challenge charity race – destined, without a doubt, to provide an entry to DarwinAwards.com. The web site follows a book about people who remove themselves from the gene pool through acts of utter stupidity.

The ‘challenge’ is supposed to be, according to its website, “a student run, charity-based race.” Student run can, of course, be interpreted two ways: As a race run by students, or one organized by students. One of this year’s entries more than likely was organized into the event, to his family’s eventual regret.

He – who hasn’t been identified, publicly – was 58. Like his fellow challenge-takers, was intent on running 2.5 miles, then downing a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, then carrying on for another 2.5 miles. Doubly sadly (if you like Krispy Kreme donuts, which probably were created by a cardiologist anxious for more patients), our man didn’t make it beyond the first mile. Meaning, he didn’t cross mile point 2.5, at a Krispy Kreme shop, and collect his dozen donuts.

At age 58, with chest pains during that last mile of his, he should have reckoned it would be wholly risky for him to proceed. An exkreme risk, you could say.

The Facebook page for the challenge, funds from which go to North Carolina’s Children’s Hospital, said:

“We regretfully confirm that a participant of today’s Krispy Kreme Challenge has died.

“He was transported by EMS to Rex Hospital where he was pronounced dead. We are deeply saddened and wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his loved ones.”

Indeed.

Maybe, should this odd tradition be continued, it should be limited to college-age individuals, an unfortunate number of whom are likely to expose themselves to the risk of consuming, as this challenge requires, 2,400 calories within one hour. Still, they’re far more like to be up to the challenge than is today’s typical 58-year-old.

May he rest in peas, not flour- and sugar-based concoctions.

 

Trimming The Fat: U.S. Govt. Attacks Childhood Obesity

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With little fanfare, the U.S. government has been spending considerable sums – tens of millions of dollars annually – over the past decade to address an obesity problem so severe it affects more than one-third (34.9%, or 78.6 million) of all U.S. adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a single generation, the obesity rate among children has tripled. The rate has doubled within the adult population in 20 years, according to The Campaign To End Obesity.

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That organization estimates healthcare costs related to obesity and conditions it contributes to amount to some $210 billion annually – 21% of all national health care spending. Its web site quotes the Congressional Budget Office as noting that when non-health costs related to obesity are factored in, the total per-annum cost is in the neighborhood of $450.

It’s little wonder, then, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and such other federal agencies as the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (NHLBI) are spending what they are annually to educate various segments of the population about the causes and risks of obesity. The USDA alone spent nearly $70,000,000 in 2010 alone on Childhood Obesity Grants!

One of the programs that resulted from the studies those grants supported is one called Hip Hop To Health. This is that program’s sixth, and possibly final, year, unless further funding is allocated. As it certainly should be.

Hip Hop to Health is described as “an evidence-based healthy eating and exercise curriculum developed for children ages 3-7 years.” It’s clever, it’s catchy, and it works: The project’s web site notes that, “results of a comprehensive randomized evaluation study showed that children who received the Hip Hop to Health (HH2H) Jr. curriculum showed smaller increases in their body mass index at both a 1-year and 2-year follow-ups than children who received a general health curriculum. Thus HH2H was successful in taking these children off the trajectory to overweight and obesity.”

So if it happens, as it’s been reported, that the government “spent $3.5 million on anti-obesity hip hop songs,” you can assume from the results that was money well spent. (Your tax dollars truly at work!)

HH2H was developed by Dr. Melinda Stolley, who has spent much of her career creating health behavior programs for children and adults. Now an associate director at the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Cancer Center, she earned a BS in education at Northwestern University, did a stint as a kindergarten teacher, then returned to Northwestern to complete an MA in counseling psychology and a PhD in clinical psychology.

During the development phase, the HH2H program received feedback from early elementary teachers, parents and school administrators. Its effectiveness was evaluated through a study led by Dr. Marian Fitzgibbon, a professor at the University of Illinois.

She also has a PhD in clinical psychology and is an expert in the area of childhood obesity. She served on the Institute of Medicine Committee that developed the strategic plan for addressing childhood obesity in the U.S.  She and Dr. Stolley have been colleagues for many years, the project’s web site says.

The program’s simple-to-execute makeup belies its depth and scope. In addition to hip hop songs, a genre chosen because children readily take to it and have fun with the songs, the program employs a spectrum of teaching exercises and an assortment of physical exercises. HH2H can be ‘worked’ in a classroom setting, childcare centers, parks, at afterschool programs and in homes.

With luck, for children who are potentially obese adults, HH2H will be refunded, and many lives as well as millions of dollars will be saved in decades to come.