Latest Obesity Trends Offer Mixed Picture

February 26, 2014

Obesity among preschoolers ages 2 to 5 dropped from approximately 14% in 2003-04 to 8.4% in 2011-12, according to new research in the February 26 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.  However, there was no change in obesity prevalence for all children and adolescents between 2 and 19 years of age – and obesity prevalence among women age 60 and over increased significantly from 31% to 38% over this period.

The article, “Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012,” authored by Cynthia L. Ogden, Margaret D. Carroll, Brian K. Kit, and Katherine M. Flegal of the National Center for Health Statistics, shows that 17% of youth and 35% of adults age 20 and over in the United States are obese.

The study is based on analysis of  data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), covering two-year cycles from 2003-04 through 2011-12.

American Heart Month

February 25, 2014

2013-2_heartIn honor of American Heart Month, it is important to note that almost 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, accounting for approximately 307,000 deaths for men and 290,000 deaths for women in 2010.

During 2000–2001 through 2010–2011, the prevalence of lifetime respondent-reported heart disease among adults aged 18–54 was similar for men and women. Among adults aged 55 and over, heart disease prevalence was higher for men than for of men aged 75 and over reported having ever been told by a physician they had heart disease, compared with nearly one-third (31%) of women in the same age group.


Study: 3 out of 4 Youth Consume Caffeinated Beverages Each Day – But Tastes Are Shifting

February 19, 2014

There appears to have been a significant shift over the past decade in what young people are choosing as their “drink of choice” when it comes to caffeinated beverages. While it’s safe to say that soda  (or “Pop,” for those of us from the Upper Midwest) won’t become extinct on grocery shelves any time soon, there clearly appears to be a trend among young people towards energy drinks and the flavored coffees offered by Starbucks and any number of smaller coffee houses.

It doesn’t appear, however, that this apparent shift in what young people are drinking is resulting in any widespread increase (or decrease, for that matter) in caffeine intake.

That’s the bottom line of an article in the March edition of Pediatrics, “Trends in Caffeine Intake Among US Children and Adolescents,” authored by Amy M. Branum, Lauren M. Rossen, and Kenneth Schoendorf of the National Center for Health Statistics.

Branum et al set out to describe trends in caffeine intake over the past decade among US children, adolescents and young adults, using 24-hour dietary recall data from the 1999-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).  The authors also looked at the proportion of caffeine consumption attributable to different beverages, including soda, energy drinks, and tea.

What they discovered was that approximately 73% of children and adolescents consumed caffeine on a given day. From 1999 to 2010, there were no significant trends in average caffeine intake overall; however, caffeine intake did decrease among 2- to 11-year-olds and among Mexican-American Children.  Soda accounted for the majority of caffeine intake, but this contribution declined sharply from 62% to 38% over this period.  Coffee accounted for 10% of  caffeine intake in 1999-2000 but more than doubled to nearly 24% of intake in 2009-2010.

Though energy drinks did not exist in 1999-2000, they accounted for nearly 6% of caffeine intake in 2009-2010.

As new data roll in, nutritionists and public health experts will be watching closely to see if these new trends have any impact on overall caffeine intake among American youth.

New Analysis on Blood Mercury Levels & Seafood Consumption Does Not Resolve The Debate Over What Level Is Considered A Health Risk

February 12, 2014

While seafood generally is considered part of a healthy diet, it can also
contain methyl mercury—a neurotoxin. However, there is little to no scientific consensus on what level of mercury in the blood is considered a health hazard (ATSDR, EPA).

A group of NCHS researchers – Samara Joy Nielsen, Brian K Kit, Yutaka Aoki, and Cynthia L Ogden – used data from the 2007-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to describe seafood consumption in US adults and to explore the relationship between seafood consumption and blood mercury. The article, “Seafood consumption and blood mercury concentrations in adults over age 20 years, 2007–2010,” was posted online in the February 12 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The authors conclude that most US adults consume seafood (approximately 83%), and that blood mercury concentration is associated with the consumption of tuna, salmon, high-mercury fish, and other seafood. However, due to the lack of consensus on what levels of mercury pose a significant health risk, they do not draw any other further conclusions about what proportion of the adult population may be at risk due to seafood consumption.


Heroin-Related Deaths in the U.S.

February 5, 2014

hoffmanThe death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has sparked a great
deal of interest in heroin overdose deaths in the U.S. The number of heroin-related deaths are available from the multiple cause of death option on the CDC WONDER database using the T40.1 ICD
Code,“Poisoning by and adverse effect of heroin.”

However, this may not mean that the person died of heroin overdose because this code only picks up whether heroin is mentioned in the death certificate. In other words, someone may have died of a cocaine overdose or something else but had heroin in the system. With that said, here are our latest national numbers on heroin-related deaths in the U.S.:

1999       2,103

2000       1,999

2001       1,906

2002       2,219

2003       2,205

2004       2,009

2005       2,154

2006       2,192

2007       2,443

2008       3,086

2009       3,343

2010       3,094

Total: 28,753

A recent press release from the CDC also features some statistics on drug overdose deaths.