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High Calorie Food Tax for Trimmer Waistlines

In public health policy, you can’t get much more divisive or controversial than the topic of taxes on high calorie foods. It doesn’t help put out the fire when researchers say that the tax actually works.

Researchers used nearly 200 college students in an experiment to see how their food purchases would change, if at all, when there is a substantial tax on high-calorie foods.

“The most important finding of our study is that a tax of 25 percent or more on (high-calorie) foods makes nearly everyone buy fewer calories,” says lead researcher Janneke Giesen of Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

The only exception was people who were already calorie-conscious in the first place – their decisions were not swayed either way with the food tax.


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Obama’s Speech Addresses Little of Our Unhealthy Union

President Obama’s State of the Union address came at a politically fortunate time in his presidency. On the heels of the Arizona tragedy that took the lives of six people and injured 13 others, including congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who is still bravely fighting through her ordeal, the president has political capital to espouse some of his most prized initiatives to Congress and the rest of the country.

This tragedy has in some small way helped unify the country around President Obama after his well-received speech in Arizona… at least for the 53 percent or so who approve of the work he is doing as president, a dramatic turn from the low forties he was in just a few months ago.

The central themes to Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address were education, moving the country forward in the technologies of the future, and how we need to prepare the workforce for the 21st century economic realities.
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Obese at Higher Risk of Car Crash Death

Obesity comes with many health risks. Now there’s an unexpected one you can add to the list. A recent study has found that obese people are at a higher risk of dying in major car accidents.

According to researchers, someone who is even just moderately obese is 21 percent more likely to die in a severe car crash as compared to a non-obese driver. If you are severely obese, your chances of dying are even higher: 56 percent above a non-obese person.

In what may be chalked up to a statistical anomaly, people who were only slightly overweight in the study actually had a lower chance of dying.
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Food-borne Illness Claims 1 in 6 Americans

We recently spotlighted the passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act in the U.S. Senate. Part of the data that supported the legislation, the number of people who die every year from food-borne illness, has been revised in the latest government estimates.

The good news? It’s now estimated at 3,000 deaths as opposed to 5,000. The bad news? That doesn’t mean our food supply is safer. Not to mention, I don’t know about you, but 3,000 people dying every year simply by eating bad food is still disturbing.

“Just because we have more precise data that allows us a better estimate, that doesn’t mean that food-borne illnesses have gone down that much,” says Kirk E. Smith, DVM, PhD, supervisor of the Foodborne Disease Unit of the Minnesota Department of Health.
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Food Safety Bill Passes, Threatened by Error

You have to love politics. The U.S. Senate managed to pass the Food Safety Modernization Act, which is intended to make massive changes to the food safety system in our country. However, due to a “procedural error” the bill will have to make its way through the Senate again.

This has some Republicans licking their chops at blocking the legislation unless Democrats agree to extend the Bush tax cuts.

As I say, you gotta love politics.

The arguments are pretty much par for the course. Those who oppose the act fear heavy-handed federal oversight. Those for it say that it is much overdue oversight of an industry that doesn’t take enough safety precautions with one of the country’s most valuable resources: our food.
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