Four of every ten women living in the US are now obese, a new high in the obesity epidemic, with rates continuing to be disturbingly high among children, finds two new studies published in JAMA.
The findings by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control are significant for cancer risk and obesity prevention efforts.
Aside from not smoking, obesity is the single largest lifestyle factor linked with increased cancer risk. Too much body fat now links to higher risk of 11 cancers, including post-menopausal breast, colorectal, and ovarian.
The study that focused on adults found that in 2014, almost 38 percent of people living in the US were obese overall. That rate is slightly lower for men, with 35 percent obese, and higher for women, at 40.4 percent of women categorized as obese.
With many Americans trying to get to or stay a healthy weight, it’s important to find evidence-based strategies that help people lose weight not only in the short term, but that are also realistic to follow long-term to keep the weight off. That’s important for cancer prevention, because with AICR’s latest report on stomach cancer, we now know that obesity is linked to increased risk for 11 cancers, including colorectal, endometrial and kidney.
A new study published in Obesity last week, found that in a 12-week weight loss program, people randomized to receive portion-controlled and prepackaged foods lost more weight compared to those who selected their own diet. Of the 183 participants, all overweight or obese, 139 received portion controlled, prepackaged lunch and dinner Lean Cuisine frozen entrees, and 45 selected their own foods based on the diet prescription given to both groups.
Both groups successfully lost weight, but the group receiving preportioned foods lost more than 8% (18 lbs on average ) of their weight compared to 6% (13 lbs on average) weight loss in the control group. The prepackaged meals group also had lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides than the control group.
Today the Food and Drug Administration announced it will be making major changes to the Nutrition Facts Label found on US packaged foods. The American Institute for Cancer Research applauds these changes, which will take place over the next three years. Here’s how the new information can help you lower your cancer risk.
1. Calories are big and bold. If you’re trying to lose weight or stay at a healthy weight, knowing how these foods fit into your diet is important. You can see at a glance whether these calories fit your needs and easily compare to other foods for the smartest choice.
2. Serving sizes are more realistic. You will be able to know more accurately how many calories you’re getting because servings sizes are more in line with typical portions Americans eat. For packages where people usually eat or drink it all in one sitting, such as a 20 ounce soda, the calories and other nutrients will refer to the entire package.
3. Added sugars are now on the label. This is important for cancer prevention, because now you’ll know how much sugar has been added to foods like yogurt, flavored milks and sweetened fruit drinks. AICR research shows that eating food and drinks high in sugar can lead to overweight and obesity, which is a cause of 11 different types of cancer. AICR, along with other health organizations, urged the FDA to make this change.
The new label will list vitamin D and potassium, for which many Americans struggle to meet the recommended daily amount. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required on the label.
As always, AICR recommends choosing minimally processed foods like vegetables, fruits and other plant foods as often as possible. When you do reach for a packaged food product, these changes will make it easier to make informed choices about what you eat.