Obesity Nation: America’s Growing Obesity Crisis

Food additives in raw and prepared foods and unlabeled GMO ingredients will dramatically increase the number of fat people to almost half of the population.

By NANCI HELLMICH | USA TODAY | MAY 8, 2012

A new forecast on America’s obesity crisis has health experts fearing a dramatic jump in health care costs if nothing is done to bring the epidemic under control.

The new projection, released here Monday, warns that 42% of Americans may end up obese by 2030, and 11% could be severely obese, adding billions of dollars to health care costs.

“If nothing is done (about obesity), it’s going to hinder efforts for health care cost containment,” says Justin Trogdon, a research economist with RTI International, a non-profit research organization in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.

As of 2010, about 36% of adults were obese, which is roughly 30 pounds over a healthy weight, and 6% were severely obese, which is 100 or more pounds over a healthy weight.

“The obesity problem is likely to get much worse without a major public health intervention,” says Eric Finkelstein, a health economist with Duke University Global Health Institute and lead researcher on the new study.

The analysis was presented at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Weight of the Nation” meeting. The study is being published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The increase in the obesity rate would mean 32 million more obese people within two decades, Finkelstein says. That’s on top of the almost 78 million people who were obese in 2010.

Extra weight takes a huge toll on health, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, many types of cancer, sleep apnea and other debilitating and chronic illnesses.

“Obesity is one of the biggest contributors for why healthcare spending has been going up over the past 20 years,” says Kenneth Thorpe, a professor of health policy at Emory University in Atlanta.

The obesity rate was relatively stable in the USA between 1960 and 1980, when about 15% of people fell into the category. It increased dramatically in the ’80s and ’90s and was up to 32% in 2000 and 36% in 2010, according to CDC data. Obesity inched up slightly over the past decade, which has caused speculation that the obesity rate might be leveling off.

Finkelstein, Trogdon and colleagues predicted future obesity rates with a statistical analysis using different CDC data, including body mass index, of several hundred thousand people. Body mass is a number that takes into account height and weight. Their estimates suggest obesity is likely to continue to increase, although not as fast as it has in the past.

Finkelstein says the estimates assume that things have gotten about as bad as they can get in the USA, in terms of an environment that promotes obesity. The country “is already saturated” with fast-food restaurants, cheap junk food and electronic technologies that render people sedentary at home and work, he says. “We don’t expect the environment to get much worse than it is now, or at least we hope it doesn’t.”

In an earlier study, Finkelstein and experts from the CDC estimated that medical-related costs of obesity may be as high as $147 billion a year, or roughly 9% of medical expenditures. An obese person costs an average of $1,400 more in medical expenses a year than someone who is at a healthy weight, they found. Other researchers have estimated the costs may be even higher.

If the obesity rate stays at 2010 levels instead of rising to 42% as predicted, then the country could save more than $549.5 billion in weight-related medical expenditures between now and 2030, says study co-author Trogdon.

Patrick O’Neil, president of the Obesity Society, a group of weight-control researchers and professionals, says that these new projections “indicate that even more people will be losing loved ones and others will be suffering sickness and living lives that fall short of their promise because of obesity.”

There’s no one-size-fits all solution to a complex problem that has been decades in the making, says Sam Kass, assistant chef and senior policy advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives at the White House. “This national conversation — this national movement — must continue. This is literally life and death we are talking about.”

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Pseudoscience: Babies drugged in the Womb for Obesity

By JULIE -ANNE BARNES | MAIL ONLINE | APRIL 1, 2012

Babies are being medicated in the womb in an attempt to prevent them from being  born obese.

In a world first, dangerously overweight mothers-to-be in four British cities have started taking a diabetes drug during their pregnancy.

The doctors behind the controversial NHS trial say that obesity among pregnant women is reaching epidemic proportions and they need to act now to protect the health of tomorrow’s children.

However, there is likely to be unease about resorting to medication in pregnancy for a problem that can be treated through changes in diet and exercise.

If the strategy is a success, the treatment could be in widespread use in as little as five years, with tens of thousands of overweight but otherwise healthy mothers-to-be drugged each year.

The Daily Mail recently revealed the rise of the ‘sumo baby’, with the number of newborns weighing more than 11lb soaring by 50 per cent over the last four years.

More than 15 per cent of pregnant women are obese. This raises their odds of dying in pregnancy, of their baby being stillborn and of a host of pregnancy complications, some of which can be fatal.

Big babies are around twice as likely to grow into overweight adults, suggesting obesity and the lifetime of ill-health it can bring is ‘programmed’ in the womb. The trial involves 400 pregnant women in Liverpool, Coventry, Sheffield and Edinburgh.

They have started taking metformin, which has been safely used by diabetics for decades and is cleared for the treatment of diabetes in pregnancy. It costs just pence per tablet.

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More than one in 10 of the world’s population is obese

Scientists warn of ‘tsunami of obesity’ as Western lifestyles spread across the globe

The Independent
January 4, 2011

The world is facing a “population emergency” as soaring rates of obesity threaten a pandemic of cardiovascular disease, scientists have warned.

The spread of Western fast food was blamed as the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru was named as the fattest in the world. Its average Body Mass Index is between 34 and 35, 70 per cent higher than in some countries in South-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

More than one in 10 of the world’s population is obese – more than half a billion adults – and rates have doubled since 1980. The biggest increases are in the richer nations but almost every country has seen rates rise.

Only Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo and a few countries in sub-Saharan Africa and east and south Asia have escaped the rise. Yet even in these regions neighbouring countries have had widely differring experiences. The women of Southern Africa are among the fattest in the world.

The rise is being driven by increasing urbanisation, the growth of sedentary, office-based lifestyles and the substitution of Western-style fast foods for traditional diets. Researchers from Imperial College London and McMaster University in Canada, writing in The Lancet, describe it as a “tsunami of obesity that will eventually affect all regions of the world”.

In its wake comes an epidemic of heart disease and stroke, linked with high blood pressure and raised cholesterol levels. Remarkably, high-income countries such as the US and UK have managed to avoid this, by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol with drugs and dietary changes, such as reducing salt and fats. Smoking too, one of the key causes of heart disease, has fallen. (Japan is an exception where historically low cholesterol levels, associated with the nation’s high consumption of fish, have risen to levels seen in western Europe, as the Japanese adopt a Western diet.)

But in middle and low-income countries the outlook is “dismal”. “Considering all risk-factor trends together, the forecast for cardiovascular disease burden… comprises a population emergency that will cost tens of millions of preventable deaths, unless rapid and widespread actions are taken by governments and health care systems worldwide,” the researchers say.

Treating the consequences of the obesity explosion with drugs will create an “unsustainable financial burden” in these countries and there is an “urgent need” to understand why unhealthy behaviours are adopted by both individuals and communities.

With an increasing trend towards globalisation and urbanisation, the problem is likely to get worse rather than better. “Ironically the economic growth of low-income and middle- income countries is now threatened by the projected cardiovascular disease epidemic,” they say.

Citing the noted British epidemiologist Geoffrey Rose, the authors say: “Mass disease and mass exposures require mass remedies. Mass remedies require the masses to be part of the solution.”

The world obesity map

Fastest growing: US

The US saw the biggest rise in BMI of all developed nations between 1980 and 2008, more than 1kg a decade. Increasingly sedentary occupations, less walking and cycling, more driving in cars and rising consumption of fast foods and sugary drinks are behind the rise which affects all high-income countries.

Slimming down: Italy

Italy is the only high-income country in Europe where BMI declined – for women, from 25.2 to 24.8. Even among men, Italy saw one of the smallest increases. The classic Mediterranean diet – pasta, vegetables and fruit – is one of the healthiest in the world.

Fattening up: UK

The UK has the sixth highest BMI in Europe for women and the ninth highest for men (both around 27). The rate of increase has been second only to the US for men. One in four men and one in three women is overweight and about 12 million are obese.

South America’s biggest: Chile

Chile with an average BMI of 27.0 for men and 27.9 for women, was the heaviest country in southern Latin America. The scale of increase in obesity in southern Latin America is second only to the US among men and ranks fifth among women. Rates of obesity soared in Chile with the end of its dictatorship in 1990 and a surge in fast food restaurants and some critics are now calling for a junk food tax to be imposed.

World’s thinnest: Bangladesh

Bangladesh is the world’s thinnest nation, with an average BMI of 20.5 for women and 20.4 for men. Rice is the staple diet and millions go without enough to eat. More than half of children – more than 9 million – are underweight and have stunted growth.

Fattest on earth: Nauru

Nauru is the world’s fattest country, with an average BMI of 34 to 35. Located in the south Pacific it is the smallest island nation, with a population of less than 10,000. Obesity has grown as a result of the importation of Western foods paid for with proceeds from phosphate mining. The most popular dish is fried chicken and cola.

Bisphenol-A now linked to male infertility

BPA is used widely to make plastic harder and watertight tin cans. It is found in most food and drink cans – including tins of infant formula milk – plastic food containers, and the casings of mobile phones, and other electronic goods.

UK Telegraph

Bisphenol-A (BPA), known as the “gender bending” chemical because of its connection to male impotence, has now been shown to decrease sperm mobility and quality.

The findings are likely to increase pressure on governments around the world to follow Canada and ban the substance from our shelves.

BPA is used widely to make plastic harder and watertight tin cans.

It is found in most food and drink cans – including tins of infant formula milk – plastic food containers, and the casings of mobile phones, and other electronic goods.

It is also used in baby bottles though this is slowly being phased out.

BPA has been the subject of intense research as it is a known endocrine disruptor which in large quantities interferes with the release of hormones.

Earlier studies have linked it to low sex drive, impotence and DNA damage in sperm.

Now a new five year study claims to have found a link between levels of BPA in the blood and male fertility.

For their study of 514 workers in factories in China, researchers at Kaiser Permanente, a California-based research centre, found that men with higher urine BPA levels were two to four times more at risk of having poor semen quality, including low sperm concentration, low sperm vitality and mobility.

What is more the amount of the BPA in the blood seemed to be inversely proportional to sperm quality.

Even those with less than the national average BPA levels in America were effected, it was claimed.

“Compared with men without detectable urine BPA, those with detectable urine BPA had more than three times the risk of lowered sperm concentration and lower sperm vitality, more than four times the risk of a lower sperm count, and more than twice the risk of lower sperm motility,” said study lead author Dr De-Kun Li.

He claims the research, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, was the first human study to report an adverse association between BPA and semen quality.

Previous studies found a negative link between BPA and male reproduction in mice and rats

It was also the third study in a series by Dr Li and his colleagues examining BPA’s effect on humans.

The first study, published in November 2009, found that exposure to high levels of BPA in the workplace increases men’s risk of reduced sexual function.

Increasing BPA levels urine are also associated with worsening male sexual function, according to the second study, published in May 2010.

The latest study, funded by the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, throws further doubt on the safety of BPA.

“The finding of the adverse BPA effect on semen quality illustrates two points: first, exposure to BPA now has been linked to changes in semen quality, an objective physiological measure,” Dr Li said.

“Second, this association shows BPA potential potency: it could lead to pathological changes of the male reproductive system in addition to the changes of sexual function.

“When you see this kind of association with semen you have to wonder what else BPA has an effect on,” said Dr Li.

As a precautionary principle, he said, “Everybody should avoid BPA as much as you can.”

The researchers noted that BPA may also affect female reproductive systems and have adverse effects on ailments such as cancer or metabolic diseases.

BPA has already been banned in Canada and three US states.

Bottles and cans containing the chemical have been linked to breast cancer, heart disease, obesity, hyperactivity and other disorders.

Most manufacturers of baby bottles have stopped putting it in their products but older stock containing the chemical is still on sale.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supports its removal and has stated concerns regarding the impact of the chemical on babies and young children.

It can affect disorders associated with metabolism, fertility and neural development.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup is now´Corn Sugar´

New name, same poison.  People wake-up to the dangers of High-Fructose Corn Syrup and send consumption of products with the ingredient down to a 20-year low

AP

The makers of high fructose corn syrup want to sweeten its image with a new name: corn sugar. The Corn Refiners Association applied Tuesday to the federal government for permission to use the name on food labels. The group hopes a new name will ease confusion about the sweetener, which is used in soft drinks, bread, cereal and other products.

Americans’ consumption of corn syrup has fallen to a 20-year low on consumer concerns that it is more harmful or more likely to cause obesity than ordinary sugar, perceptions for which there is little scientific evidence.

However, some scientists have linked consumption of full-calorie soda — the vast majority of which is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup — to obesity.

The Food and Drug Administration could take two years to decide on the name, but that’s not stopping the industry from using the term now in advertising.

There’s a new online marketing campaign at http://www.cornsugar.com and on television. Two new commercials try to alleviate shopper confusion, showing people who say they now understand that “whether it’s corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can’t tell the difference. Sugar is sugar.”

Renaming products has succeeded before. For example, low eurcic acid rapeseed oil became much more popular after becoming “canola oil” in 1988. Prunes tried to shed a stodgy image by becoming “dried plums” in 2000.

The new name would help people understand the sweetener, said Audrae Erickson, president of the Washington-based group.

“It has been highly disparaged and highly misunderstood,” she said. She declined to say how much the campaign costs.

Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are nutritionally the same, and there’s no evidence that the sweetener is any worse for the body than sugar, said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The bottom line is people should consume less of all sugars, Jacobson said.

“Soda pop sweetened with sugar is every bit as conducive to obesity as soda pop sweetened with high fructose corn syrup,” he said.

The American Medical Association says there’s not enough evidence yet to restrict the use of high fructose corn syrup, although it wants more research.

Still, Americans increasingly are blaming high fructose corn syrup and avoiding it. First lady Michelle Obama has said she does not want her daughters eating it.

Parents such as Joan Leib scan ingredient labels and will not buy anything with it. The mother of two in Somerville, Mass., has been avoiding the sweetener for about a year to reduce sweeteners in her family’s diet.

“I found it in things that you would never think needed it, or should have it,” said Leib, 36. “I found it in jars of pickles, in English muffins and bread. Why do we need extra sweeteners?”

Many companies are responding by removing it from their products. Last month, Sara Lee switched to sugar in two of its breads. Gatorade, Snapple and Hunt’s Ketchup very publicly switched to sugar in the past two years.

The average American ate 35.7 pounds of high fructose corn syrup last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s down 21 percent from 45.4 pounds 10 years before.

Cane and beet sugar, meanwhile, have hovered around 44 pounds per person per year since the mid-1980s, after falling rapidly in the 1970s, when high fructose corn syrup — a cheaper alternative to sugar — gained favor with soft drink makers.

With sales falling in the U.S., the industry is growing in emerging markets like Mexico, and revenue has been steady at $3 billion to $4 billion a year, said Credit Suisse senior analyst Robert Moskow. There are five manufacturers in the U.S.: Archer Daniels Midland Inc., Corn Products International, Cargill, Roquette America, and Tate & Lyle.

Corn refiners say their new name better describes the sweetener.

“The name ‘corn sugar’ more accurately reflects the source of the food (corn), identifies the basic nature of the food (a sugar), and discloses the food’s function (a sweetener),” the petition said.

Will shoppers swallow the new name?

The public is skeptical, so the move will be met with criticism, said Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

“This isn’t all that much different from any of the negative brands trying to embrace new brand names,” he said, adding the change is similar to what ValuJet — whose name was tarnished by a deadly crash in 1996 — did when it bought AirTran’s fleet and took on its name.

“They’re not saying this is a healthy vitamin, or health product,” he said. “They’re just trying to move away from the negative associations.”