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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

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Tax soda, pizza to cut obesity, researchers say

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. researchers estimate that an 18 percent tax on pizza and soda can push down U.S. adults' calorie intake enough to lower their average weight by 5 pounds (2 kg) per year.

The researchers, writing in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine on Monday, suggested taxing could be used as a weapon in the fight against obesity, which costs the United States an estimated $147 billion a year in health costs.

"While such policies will not solve the obesity epidemic in its entirety and may face considerable opposition from food manufacturers and sellers, they could prove an important strategy to address overconsumption, help reduce energy intake and potentially aid in weight loss and reduced rates of diabetes among U.S. adults," wrote the team led by Kiyah Duffey of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

With two-thirds of Americans either overweight or obese, policymakers are increasingly looking at taxing as a way to address obesity on a population level.

California and Philadelphia have introduced legislation to tax soft drinks to try to limit consumption.

CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden supports taxes on soft drinks, as does the American Heart Association.

There are early signs that such a policy works.

Duffey's team analyzed the diets and health of 5,115 young adults aged age 18 to 30 from 1985 to 2006.

They compared data on food prices during the same time. Over a 20-year period, a 10 percent increase in cost was linked with a 7 percent decrease in the amount of calories consumed from soda and a 12 percent decrease in calories consumed from pizza.

The team estimates that an 18 percent tax on these foods could cut daily intake by 56 calories per person, resulting in a weight loss of 5 pounds (2 kg) per person per year.

"Our findings suggest that national, state or local policies to alter the price of less healthful foods and beverages may be one possible mechanism for steering U.S. adults toward a more healthful diet," Duffey and colleagues wrote.

In a commentary, Drs. Mitchell Katz and Rajiv Bhatia of the San Francisco Department of Public Health said taxes are an appropriate way to correct a market that favors unhealthy food choices over healthier options.

They argued that the U.S. government should carefully consider food subsidies that contribute to the problem.

"Sadly, we are currently subsidizing the wrong things including the product of corn, which makes the corn syrup in sweetened beverages so inexpensive," they wrote.

Instead, they argued that agricultural subsidies should be used to make healthful foods such as locally grown vegetables, fruits and whole grains less expensive.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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Monday, March 08, 2010

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The danger of excessive weight gain during pregnancy

The first trimester of pregnancy is an important time because it will affect the health of the mother during pregnancy. Gain excessive weight during pregnancy may increase the risk of developing gestational diabetes later in their pregnancy. This effect is more obvious in overweight women.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy (Wikipedia). Typically occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. It can lead to early delivery, C-sections and type 2 diabetes, and can increase the child's risk of developing diabetes and obesity later in life.

The study funded by the American Diabetes Association and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseaseshas found that weight gain before pregnancy and being overweight or obese at the start of pregnancy are risk factors for gestational diabetes.
Research funded by the American Diabetes Association and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has found that weight gain before pregnancy and being overweight or obese in early pregnancy is a risk factor for gestational diabetes.

How much weight a woman should gain during pregnancy were issued by the Institute of Medicine ( IOM ). The study followed the women members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California region found that women who exceeded the IOM guidelines for weight gain had a 50 percent increase in the risk of gestational diabetes compared to women who gained within or below the IOM recommendations.

IOM guidelines

Talk with your doctor early in your pregnancy about the appropriate weight gain --prevent gestational diabetes.
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