Study: How to save money while preventing childhood obesity

Taxes on sugary drinks and unhealthy food advertising to kids may save more than $30 in health care costs for every dollar spent to implement, suggests a new study published this month.

Childhood obesity rates are nudging upwards, which means more kids are at risk for obesity in adulthood. With this extra weight comes increased risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as the high costs of health care that come with these diseases.

The new study used previous research to analyze the cost effectiveness and impact on childhood obesity of 7 proposed interventions. Six of the interventions aimed to prevent weight gain in youth while one involved surgical treatment of obesity. With the help of policy makers and other experts, study authors estimated the the effect of each intervention among the US population over the 10 years spanning 2015 to 2025.

Overall, five strategies were found to decrease incidence of childhood obesity (see chart) with three saving more in healthcare costs than they cost to implement.

Obesity cost effectivenesssOne strategy was a tax on sugary beverages. The proposed tax, translating to 12 cents for a can of soda, would prevent an estimated 576,000 children from being obese and save $30 for every dollar it cost to enact.

Another effective strategy was to create nutrition standards for school snacks, fundraisers and other foods sold outside of school meals. This would prevent an estimated 345,00 cases of childhood obesity, saving about $4.50 for every dollar it costs.

Nutrition standards for school meals was found to prevent the most cases of childhood obesity — approximately 1.8 million cases — yet this strategy cost about 60 cents more to implement than it would save in healthcare costs.

These results demonstrate the importance and feasibility of prevention measures to reduce childhood obesity, note the authors. The sugar sweetened beverage tax and taxing advertising would also provide revenue that would offset the costs of other prevention efforts, such as nutrition standards for school meals. Future studies are needed to assess the cumulative impact and costs of these interventions.

This study was funded by The JPB Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Donald and Sue Pritzker Nutrition and Fitness Initiative, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Another study linking coffee to possible heath benefits

CoffeeStacked_dreamstime_1762791A large study on coffee making news today is good news for coffee lovers savoring your morning cup. The study finds that drinking up to five cups of coffee a day links to living longer, and lower risk of dying from type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, when compared to non-coffee drinkers.

The benefit held true for drinking caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

Published in Cardiology, this latest analysis adds to the evidence in recent years suggesting that moderate amounts of coffee can bring health benefits. Coffee contains several phytochemicals and nutrients that lab studies have linked to lower risk of inflammation and keeping insulin at healthy levels, both of which play a role in type 2 diabetes, as well as cancer risk.

This study did not find a link between coffee consumption and cancer deaths. But AICR and World Cancer Research Fund’s analysis of the research finds there is strong evidence that coffee drinkers have lower risk of developing both endometrial and liver cancers. Having type 2 diabetes also increases the risk of many cancers.

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FDA Caps Added Sugars, How That May Help Lower Cancer Risk

For the first time, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recommending Americans limit how much added sugar we eat and drink every day, according to a New York Times article — a shift that could potentially help Americans reduce their cancer risk.

The FDA is recommending we limit our added sugars to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. For an adult on a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s about 50 grams a day, about the amount in one can of soda or some flavored coffee lattes.The-many-names-of-sugar

The new guidelines will make their way onto foods’ Nutrition Labels, where shoppers will be able to distinguish between sugars added to the food and those that are natural to the food. Fruits and milk all contain natural sugars.

For cancer risk, arming shoppers with more information on added sugars is important because foods and drinks with too much sugar can lead to excess body fat. These added sugars are often lurking in foods that are seemingly healthy, such as fruit drinks and yogurts. Fruits come with nutrients and other compounds that play a role in reducing cancer risk.

Currently, about two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese in our country. Overweight and obesity is a cause of approximately 122,000 of the most common cancers each year.

For now, you can use The many names of added sugar, listed in the image above, to spot added sugars in the ingredient list.