As usual, it’s been a busy week in public health! In case you missed them, here are a few things worth checking out.
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s PSAs targeting obese parents, released earlier this month, sparked a lot of controversy. If you haven’t been following the controversy, get the scoop.
- The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) released a new study showing that top box office films last year depicted more onscreen smoking than the previous year, reversing a five year trend of reducing tobacco imagery in movies. You can read more about the study and its implications over at Stanton Glantz’s blog or read the full paper on the CDC’s website.
- Several new studies on sugar-sweetened beverages confirm what we already know: soda contributes to obesity. This latest research, though, is some of the strongest to date and should (but of course won’t) silence anyone who is trying to claim that SSBs aren’t a problem. One study found that giving children water or diet soda, in place of a sugary drink, leads to significant drops in their fat deposits and weight. The second study found that drinking a single zero calorie drink per day in place of an SSB slows weight gain, independent of other behaviors. The third study found that even for people with a genetic predisposition to obesity, drinking sugary drinks worsens their weight problem. TIME has a pretty excellent write-up with more details on the studies. Marion Nestle also has a good summary of the latest studies over at her blog, Food Politics.
- With the new school lunch standards now in effect, some people — primarily students, it seems — are pushing back against the calorie limits. My take? They can complain all they want, but the isn’t anything wrong with the calorie limits. If they are still hungry after lunch, that’s probably because they are accustomed to eating portion sizes that are too big. What kind of new school lunch standard would it be if it didn’t rein in portion sizes? Here are the facts: A sedentary 14-18 year-old needs about 1,800 calories a day, a moderately active 14-18 year old needs 2,000, and an active 14-18 year-old needs about 2,400. Active, though, means the equivalent of walking more than 3 miles per day at 3-4 miles per hour, in addition to the regular physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life. However, for any of those categories, 750-850 calories per lunch is more than enough for lunch. Don’t forget that this isn’t the only meal they eat — there’s also breakfast and dinner! And, of course, all the snacks and sugary drinks that we know youth are consuming in-between meals. If you ate just 3 meals of 750 calories each (and nothing else) you would already be at 2,250 calories.
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