Study says 'everything in moderation' may be bad dietary advice
Nov 03 2015
According to a new study published Monday in Health Affairs, Americans are eating healthier now than they were at the turn of the millennium. At five years, diet quality was not associated with the change in waist circumference.
The researchers also compared how diet quality affected metabolic health using the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension score and Alternative Health Eating Index Score. By looking at the diets of over 33,800 men and women, the researchers found that eating better was attributed to preventing 1.1 million premature deaths.
Among children and teens aged 2-19, obesity is defined as having a BMI at or above the 95th percentile of the relevant age growth charts. The researchers also evaluated the association of diet diversity with the onset of type 2 diabetes 10 years after the start of the study.
In addition, disparities across socioeconomic groups sharpened during that time, with black people having the poorest dietary quality, reflecting differences in income and education.
Wang explained that the intake of healthy omega-3 fats and vegetables did not increase, but the consumption of trans fat had decreased by 72 percent and the consumption of beverages with sugar decreased by 36 percent.
Dietary diversity as measured by food count and evenness was also associated with higher intakes of both healthy and unhealthy foods.
"Our findings provide further justification for promoting healthful diets as a national priority for chronic disease prevention, as well as for legislative and regulatory actions to improve the food supply more broadly", study author Dong Wang, a doctoral candidate in the nutrition and epidemiology departments at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement. Steven Gortmaker and colleagues analyzed the cost-effectiveness of interventions for reducing childhood obesity in the US. Their findings support the first study's calls for regulatory action.
In their analysis, which looked at the USA population over the 10-year period from 2015-25, researchers reviewed existing evidence and developed a detailed prediction model to calculate the costs and effectiveness of the interventions through their impact on body mass index, obesity prevalence, and obesity-related health care costs.
The researchers calculated that these three interventions would prevent 576,000, 129,100, and 345,000 cases of childhood obesity respectively in 2025, and save $30.78, $32.53, and $4.56 respectively for each dollar spent.
"An important question for policy makers is, why are they not actively pursuing cost-effective policies that can prevent childhood obesity and that cost less to implement than they would save for society?" the study authors write. "However, we should be cautious of the findings since they are modest and still reflect fewer changes in the most at-risk populations such as African-Americans [who had the worst diet overall]".