First-ever quantitative data about the toll of BPA exposure

From Health Affairs:

The risks of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) have been well-known for some time. While exposure to BPA in the United States affects an estimated 92.6 percent of Americans over the age of five, there are gaps in the knowledge of the health consequences of BPA exposure. A new study, Further Limiting Bisphenol A In Food Uses Could Provide Health And Economic Benefits, presents the first estimate of the potential disease burden and costs associated with ongoing exposure to BPA. It found that $2.98 billion in annual costs are attributable to BPA-associated childhood obesity and adult coronary heart disease. Of the $2.98 billion, the study identified $1.49 billion in childhood obesity costs, the first environmentally attributable costs of child obesity to be documented.

The study modeled the potential health and economic benefits associated with replacing BPA in all food uses by quantifying childhood obesity and adult coronary heart disease attributable to BPA exposure in the United States in the year 2008. The data used were from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2003-2008 as well as other sources. Its analysis methodology followed the approach developed by the Institute of Medicine in assessing the “fractional contribution” of the environment to the causation of illness in the United States. “This analysis suggests that regulatory action to reduce BPA exposure could produce net benefits to society,” concludes the author. “From an economic perspective, it might make sense for the Food and Drug Administration to require that an additive free of obesogenic and cardiovascular risks be substituted for BPA. However, pre-market testing of potential substitutes is needed to prevent the use of another synthetic chemical instead of BPA that may lead to the same or worse health consequences.”

Read the article here.

Food and Nutrition Creating Equal Opportunities for a Healthy Weight

New from the National Academies Press:

Creating Equal Opportunities for a Healthy Weight is the summary of a workshop convened by the Institute of Medicine’s Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention in June 2013 to examine income, race, and ethnicity, and how these factors intersect with childhood obesity and its prevention. Registered participants, along with viewers of a simultaneous webcast of the workshop, heard a series of presentations by researchers, policy makers, advocates, and other stakeholders focused on health disparities associated with income, race, ethnicity, and other characteristics and on how these factors intersect with obesity and its prevention. The workshop featured invited presentations and discussions concerning physical activity, healthy food access, food marketing and messaging, and the roles of employers, health care professionals, and schools.

The IOM 2012 report Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention acknowledged that a variety of characteristics linked historically to social exclusion or discrimination, including race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, mental health, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, geographic location, and immigrant status, can thereby affect opportunities for physical activity, healthy eating, health care, work, and education. In many parts of the United States, certain racial and ethnic groups and low-income individuals and families live, learn, work, and play in places that lack health-promoting resources such as parks, recreational facilities, high-quality grocery stores, and walkable streets. These same neighborhoods may have characteristics such as heavy traffic or other unsafe conditions that discourage people from walking or being physically active outdoors. The combination of unhealthy social and environmental risk factors, including limited access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity, can contribute to increased levels of chronic stress among community members, which have been linked to increased levels of sedentary activity and increased calorie consumption. Creating Equal Opportunities for a Healthy Weight focuses on the key obesity prevention goals and recommendations outlined in Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention through the lens of health equity. This report explores critical aspects of obesity prevention, while discussing potential future research, policy, and action that could lead to equity in opportunities to achieve a healthy weight.

Click here to order a copy or download a free PDF.

Sugar-sweetened beverages playbook

One of the 4 legal tools discussed in the current issue of the CDC’s Public Health Law News, is a Sugar-sweetened beverages playbook from ChangeLab.  The playbook offers a sequence of ten strategies—from public education campaigns to restrictions on the availability of sugar-sweetened beverages—communities and states can use to reduce consumption of SSBs. Find more information and download a poster and the playbook.

Chats on change: Using social media to reduce childhood obesity

From the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ):

Join us on Twitter Tuesday, September 10, at 3:00 pm ET for a live TweetChat with Dr. Victoria Rogers, Director of the Kids CO-OP at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center. We will discuss how the Let’s Go! program has worked to slow the increase of childhood obesity in Maine and how the program can be adapted by other providers in different settings across the country.

Use the #AHRQIX hashtag to join.

For more information, click here.

CDC Finds Childhood Obesity Declined

Here’s some good news from the CDC to start your day! According to a report released earlier this month, childhood obesity among low income preschoolers is on the decline. Here’s the breakdown:

CDC map

Figure 1. Decreases and increases in obesity prevalence. Adapted from “Vital Signs: Obesity Among Low-Income, Preschool-Aged Children — United States, 2008–2011” from CDC 2013.

  • Nineteen states saw decreases. Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, South Dakota, and the U.S. Virgin Islands showed the greatest decreases

  • Twenty states and Puerto Rico saw no significant change

  • Three states experienced increases

This has significant public health implications since childhood obesity often times translates into adulthood obesity and a myriad of health consequences. Understanding current trends on a state level helps guide the need for and impact of preventive programs.

The CDC doesn’t know specifically what accounts for the decrease, but suspects it’s the result of a host of federal, state and local initiatives that deal with this issue. Although there are many truly impressive programs, one highlighted in the report is Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative. The Move Your Body routine is s a fun, surprisingly athletic dance that makes fitness fun!

Are Doctors Nicer to Normal-Weight Patients?

From the New York Times:

Are doctors nicer to patients who aren’t fat?

A provocative new study suggests that they are — that thin patients are treated with more warmth and empathy than those who are overweight or obese.

For the study, published in the medical journal Obesity, researchers at Johns Hopkins obtained permission to record discussions between 39 primary care doctors and more than 200 patients who had high blood pressure.

For the most part, all of the patients were treated about the same; there were no meaningful differences in the amount of time doctors spent with them or the topics discussed.

But when researchers analyzed transcripts of the visits, there was one striking difference. Doctors seemed just a bit nicer to their normal-weight patients, showing more empathy and warmth in their conversations. Although the study was relatively small, the findings are statistically significant.

Read the full article here.  Many of the reader comments are quite interesting!

Overweight and Lower Mortality?

Reposted from

Being overweight linked to lower risk of mortality
By Laura Blue,, January 2

  • People who are overweight but not obese may live longer than those of normal weight
  • The findings come from a review of research papers covering nearly 3 million people
  • Researchers say it’s possible that overweight and obese people get better medical care

The longest lived among us aren’t necessarily those who are of normal weight, says a new study.

According to new research this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers say that being overweight may lead to a longer life.

The somewhat surprising conclusion comes from an enormous, detailed review of over 100 previously published research papers connecting body weight and mortality risk among 2.88 million study participants living around the world.

The new research confirms that obese people, and particularly those who are extremely obese, tend to die earlier than those of normal weight. But the findings also suggest that people who are overweight (but not obese) may live longer than people with clinically normal body weight…

Read the full story CNN story here.

The citation to the full research article is:
Flegal KM, Kit BK, Orpana H, Graubard BI. Association of all-cause mortality with overweight and obesity using standard body mass index categories: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
JAMA. 2013 Jan 2;309(1):71-82. doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.113905
PMID: 23280227

Read the full open access research article here.

Obesity in young is seen as falling in several cities

From the New York Times:

After decades of rising childhood obesity rates, several American cities are reporting their first declines.

The trend has emerged in big cities like New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places like Anchorage, Alaska, and Kearney, Neb. The state of Mississippi has also registered a drop, but only among white students.

“It’s been nothing but bad news for 30 years, so the fact that we have any good news is a big story,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, the health commissioner in New York City, which reported a 5.5 percent decline in the number of obese schoolchildren from 2007 to 2011.

The drops are small, just 5 percent here in Philadelphia and 3 percent in Los Angeles. But experts say they are significant because they offer the first indication that the obesity epidemic, one of the nation’s most intractable health problems, may actually be reversing course. . . .

Some experts note that the current declines, concentrated among higher income, mostly white populations, are still not benefiting many minority children. For example, when New York City measured children in kindergarten through eighth grade from 2007 to 2011, the number of white children who were obese dropped by 12.5 percent, while the number of obese black children dropped by 1.9 percent.

Some experts note that the current declines, concentrated among higher income, mostly white populations, are still not benefiting many minority children. For example, when New York City measured children in kindergarten through eighth grade from 2007 to 2011, the number of white children who were obese dropped by 12.5 percent, while the number of obese black children dropped by 1.9 percent.

But Philadelphia, which has the biggest share of residents living in poverty of the nation’s 10 largest cities, stands out because its decline was most pronounced among minorities. Obesity among 120,000 public school students measured between 2006 and 2010 declined by 8 percent among black boys and by 7 percent among Hispanic girls, compared with a 0.8 percent decline for white girls and a 6.8 percent decline for white boys.

Read the complete story at the New York Times.

F as in Fat Report

The ninth edition of the F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future report by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) was just released showing that more than 35% of adults are obese and the percentage of obese children has also increased; in 1980, the obesity rate for children ages 6 to 11 was 6.5 % and by 2008, the rate grew to 19.6 %. In 1980, 5 % of children ages 12 to 19 were obese and by 2010 the rate grew to 17 %.

Selected reported statistics:

  • Projected increase in adult obesity rates
    If obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, by 2030, 13 states could have adult obesity rates above 60 percent, 39 states could have rates above 50 percent, and all 50 states could have rates above 44 percent.
  • Projected increase in health care cost
    By 2030, medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion per year in the United States, and the loss in economic productivity could be between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030.
  • Reducing adult obesity rates could lower health care costs
    Nearly every state could save between 6.5 percent and 7.9 percent in health care costs. This could equate to savings ranging from $81.7 billion in California to $1.1 billion in Wyoming.

Read the full news release.

Study links healthy weight in children with strict laws on school snacks

From the New York Times:

Adolescents in states with strict laws regulating the sale of snacks and sugary drinks in public schools gained less weight over a three-year period than those living in states with no such laws, a new study has found.

The study, published Monday in Pediatrics, found a strong association between healthier weight and tough state laws regulating food in vending machines, snack bars and other venues that were not part of the regular school meal programs. Such snacks and drinks are known as competitive foods, because they compete with school breakfasts and lunches. . . .

The authors argued that the study offered evidence that local policies could be effective tools.

Read the complete article here.