The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released a fascinating glimpse into data suggesting that childhood obesity may be declining in several US cities and counties.
Today’s PLoS Medicine includes our recent study attempting to answer a simple question: given the rise in many chronic disease risk factors (high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc.) in rapidly-developing countries like India and China, which interventions might avert the most deaths from cardiovascular disease?
This is a guest post by the computational epidemiologist Dr. John Ayers:
Most of us are aware of the “big data” revolution fueled by electronic information. It has been suggested that big data, along with hypothesis-free methods popularized by films such as Moneyball, will allow for an unprecedented growth of knowledge across disciplines, including epidemiology and preventive medicine. While I am a bit more circumspect in expectations (there is no substitute for survey data in many cases), I do believe that electronic data collected for a fraction of the cost of survey data can work hand-in-hand with research derived from more traditional sources.
While sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) have garnered much attention in the US given their associations with obesity and diabetes in the Nurses Health Study and a number of other assessments, a key question is whether this effect also translates to low- and middle-income countries where both domestic and imported beverages are becoming increasingly popular. In an article just published in the American Journal of Public Health, we looked at this question using the soft drink industry’s own statistics, merged with comparative survey data on weight status and diabetes across the globe.
Ever since the observation in 1995 that hunger and obesity co-existed among children, a flurry of research has sought to answer the question of whether those who are more “food insecure” are most likely to also become (ironically) obese. Many studies have now correlated participation in food stamp programs (since renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) with obesity. One in seven Americans are now on food stamps after the recession, so this finding may have important implications for the overall obesity epidemic. It may also seem like obvious selection bias to correlate food stamps to obesity; those who are poor are more likely to eat calorie-dense and cheap food, becoming both stuffed and starved. But a new study comparing food stamp users to eligible non-users found that the stamp users were disproportionately more likely to eat unhealthy foods. What’s going on here, and what should we do about it, if anything?
As CDC researchers warn us that the American obesity epidemic continues to profoundly affect the populations of most states, we ask the question: what does the country’s future waistline look like? This week, our colleague Tony Shin shared with us an infographic of America’s obesity epidemic–answering the question of how much obesity costs our country in both health and economic terms.