Research news and views on preventing and surviving cancer
Author: Alice RD
Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Head of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention by providing tips and tools to choose nutritious and delicious foods. Alice has guided thousands of individuals to healthier lives through diet changes and choices.
According to a recent study, fewer US adults with overweight or obesity are trying to lose weight in what is a concerning trend for cancer prevention. With obesity rates increasing and fewer at a healthy weight, more people will be at risk for several cancers such as post menopausal breast and colorectal, as well as other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
In their analysis, researchers used data from NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) from 1988 through 2014 to compare weight loss efforts over the past couple of decades. They found that the percent of Americans with overweight trying to lose weight dropped from 56% to 49% in the past 25 years. This drop occurred in nearly all gender and ethnic categories, but perhaps the most concerning decline was for black women. Almost 8 in 10 black women have overweight or obesity, but those trying to lose weight went from 65.5% to almost 55%. White women and men also showed drops in weight loss efforts.
Parents are key when it comes to shaping children’s diet and physical activity. Moms and dads not only model eating, exercise and other health habits, they are also the gatekeepers for what food is served at home and what sports or other activities are available to the family. These influences likely have a profound effect on a child’s weight and therefore their weight as an adult. And kids who grow into adults with obesity are then at a higher risk for many cancers, including colorectal, postmenopausal breast and liver.
Eating vegetables and fruit are key to a healthy, cancer-protective diet, yet few Americans meet the daily serving recommendations, with low-income consumers finding it especially difficult. But a recent study demonstrated how a brief discussion combined with a $10 voucher incentive could modestly boost families’ vegetable and fruit consumption.