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To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

Countering obesity: 03/26/2018

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

While the increase in obesity is a national challenge, it could be countered by better diets, improved education, and new food taxes, suggests an interesting perspective recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The perspective's author explains the steady increase in obesity among Americans initially began in 1980.

Edward Livingston M.D., a member of JAMA's editorial staff, writes (and we quote): '...the increase in obesity over the past four decades has coincided with reductions in home cooking, greater reliance on preparing meals from packaged foods, the rise of fast foods and eating in restaurants, and a reduction in physical activity. There are excess calories in almost everything people eat in the modern era' (end of quote).

Livingston adds obesity partially has increased because of its social acceptance. Livingston explains Americans seem to have accepted overweight and obesity as a norm. He notes recent research suggests fewer Americans report they are trying to lose weight compared to the past, even though the percent of obese adults and children is increasing.

Livingston writes (and we quote): 'When obesity is so prevalent that the condition is no longer perceived as being different, individuals who are obese tend to accept obesity as the normal state' (end of quote).

Livingston, whose perspective summarizes a JAMA issue devoted to obesity research, suggests a combination of better education and dietary habits are needed to counter prevailing social norms.

Livingston explains (and we quote): 'There is a need to consider the entire food supply and gradually encourage people to be more aware of how many calories they ingest from all sources and encourage them to select foods resulting in fewer calories eaten on a daily basis' (end of quote).

However, Livingston is critical of many current diet plans that redirect how Americans eat. He adds (and we quote): Many people are not aware of how many calories they are ingesting, and providing education about where calories are hiding in their foods may more effectively help people control their weight than encouraging a diet that is completely unfamiliar to them' (end of quote).

Livingston also suggests some changes in public policy might accelerate education and improved eating habits. For example, Livingston suggests a new type of tax based on calories. He writes (and we quote): '...tax policy could be used to encourage (better diet) behaviors, with taxes based on the calorie content of foods. Revenue gathered from these taxes could be used to subsidize healthy foods to make them more affordable' (end of quote).

Livingston concludes (and we quote): 'new approaches are needed, and these must include a realistic assessment of why the population has become obese and what needs to be done to reverse the trend' (end of quote).

Meanwhile, an overview of the U.S.' obesity challenges (and a range of suggested solutions) from the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research is available in the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's obesity health topic page.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides helpful information about preventing obesity within the 'prevention and risk factors' section of MedlinePlus.gov's obesity health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov's obesity health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to pertinent clinical trials that may be occuring in your area are available in the 'clinical trials' section.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's obesity health topic page, please type 'obesity' that's 'O...B...E...S...I...T...Y' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'obesity (National Library of Medicine).'MedlinePlus.gov also has health topic pages devoted to: weight control; body weight; and obesity in children.

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A disclaimer — the information presented in this program should not replace the medical advice of your physician. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease without first consulting with your physician or other health care provider.

It was nice to be with you. Please join us here next week and here's to your health!