Tag Archives: public health

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.


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. (more…)

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. (more…)

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. (more…)

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. (more…)

Broccoli Sales Prove TV Commercials Still Work

BroccoliThink TV commercials are irrelevant in an age of internet, DVR and Netflix instant? Think again. The Television Bureau of Canada (TVB) set out to demonstrate that TV ads can still sell. They chose broccoli as the subject of their ad campaign, but the real product they’re promoting is TV commercials themselves.

The quirky commercials promote the health benefits of broccoli, dubbing it “the miracle food.” According to the TVB, the campaign attracted 17,000 fans on Facebook and inspired 15 YouTube spoofs. But the real proof of the campaign’s success is in the eight percent increase in broccoli sales, compared with the previous year. Thirteen percent of Canadian shoppers said that they purchased at least one additional bunch of broccoli during the campaign period. Not only did the campaign prove a point about TV, it also did a social good by promoting a healthy food.


Healthier Food Stamp Use Urged by Officials

The United States Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more popularly known as the Food Stamp Program, was used by more than 41 million people in July 2010. Those are record levels during one of the more trying times in our country’s history.

Considering the fact that this means more than 10 percent of our citizens are on the public aid program, what people purchase with their food stamp assistance has become a bit of a hot topic in public discourse.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is advocating a ban on his city’s 1.7 million recipients of food stamps from using them to buy soda or other sugary drinks. That request for federal permission, made earlier this month, has its merits and should be considered. (more…)

CDC Calls Obesity a “Winnable Battle”


Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control

Dr. Thomas Frieden

Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has named the agency’s six top priorities. The items on this “short list” are obesity and nutrition, AIDS, smoking, teen pregnancy, auto injuries and health care infections. Frieden had deemed these problems “winnable battles” because proven programs can reduce the harm caused by each of these conditions and save lives. “In each of these areas we know what to do to make a difference and we need to do it to a much greater extent,” he said in an interview.

Frieden previously worked as New York City‘s health commissioner. At that post, he lead an anti-smoking campaign to ban cigarettes in the workplace. He worked to improve the diets of New Yorkers by banning artificial trans fat from all restaurant foods. He also worked to pass a law that requires chain restaurants to post calorie information about their food. Frieden was also a proponent of the hotly debated soda tax.


New Ad Puts McDonald’s in the Crosshairs

Fast food restaurants have taken it on the chin for years from health experts- and for good reason, of course. We all know by now that it’s not good for our health to dine at the drive-thru more than the rare occasion. But, that’s not enough for one non-profit physicians group in Washington, D.C.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has produced an ad campaign that doesn’t mince words. Is it a little extreme? Maybe. If nothing else, it’s meant to shake viewers a little.

The ad shows a corpse laid out in the morgue clutching a half-eaten hamburger. The man’s wife (presumably) is at his side weeping over his cold body. The ad closes with the famous McDonald’s golden arches tracing over the dead man’s feet, with the twist on their slogan “I was lovin’ it.” (VIDEO BELOW) (more…)

Movie Theaters Must Post Calories for Snacks

Coming soon to a theater near you… mandatory calorie counts on the items you buy at their concession stands. Not only are those snacks overpriced, they have gargantuan calorie counts. Some of us may be aware of this fact, but when the numbers are staring you in the face, it may finally hit everyone how much those snacks are really costing us!

According to the Wall Street Journal, as part of the health-care reform enacted in March, the FDA will require not just movie theaters, but convenience stores and airplanes, among other places, to fully disclose calorie counts for foods that they provide in order to help consumers make wiser decisions about the foods they eat. (more…)