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Government can play important role in obesity epidemic
Date:9/18/2012

NEW YORK Addressing the obesity epidemic by preventing excess calorie consumption with government regulation of portion sizes is justifiable and could be an effective measure to help prevent obesity-related health problems and deaths, according to a Viewpoint in the September 19 issue of JAMA, and theme issue on obesity.

Thomas A. Farley, M.D., M.P.H., Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, presented the article at a JAMA media briefing.

"Americans consume many more calories than needed, and the excess is leading to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality. Since the 1970s, caloric intake has increased by some 200 to 600 calories per person per day. Although it is unclear how important changes in physical activity are to the surge in obesity prevalence, it is quite clear that this increase in calorie consumption is the major cause of the obesity epidemican epidemic that each year is responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 Americans and accounts for nearly $150 billion in health care costs," writes Dr. Farley.

Many foods contribute to excess calorie intake, Dr. Farley adds, but sugary drinks have drawn particular blame because of the near-tripling of consumption since the 1970s and their association in epidemiologic studies with obesity, weight gain, diabetes, and markers of cardiovascular disease. Also, the size of sugary drinks sold has increased substantially from a standard 6.5- or 8-ounce size in the 1960s to 20, 32, and even 64 ounces today. "The increase in portion sizes of these beverages is important because studies consistently show that when people are offered larger portions they simply consume more without recognizing it and without compensating for the increased consumption by decreasing intake later."

Dr. Farley writes that the food industry is effective at marketing foods with a high-profit margin. "How should government address the he
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Contact: Jean Weinberg
jweinberg@health.nyc.gov
347-396-4177
JAMA and Archives Journals
Source:Eurekalert

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