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Study: Large waist linked to poor health, even among those with healthy BMI ranges

BY Antoinette Alexander

ROCHESTER, Minn.— Men and women with large waist circumferences — even those with a healthy body mass index — are more likely to die younger, and were more likely to die from such illnesses as heart disease, respiratory problems and cancer after accounting for BMI, smoking, alcohol use and physical activity, according to a study led by a Mayo Clinic researcher.

The study is published in the March edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The researchers pooled data from 11 different cohort studies, including more than 600,000 people from around the world. They found that men with waists 43 in. or greater in circumference had a 50% higher mortality risk than men with waists less than 35 in., and this translated to about a three-year lower life expectancy after age 40. Women with a waist circumference of 37 in. or greater had about an 80% higher mortality risk than women with a waist circumference of 27 in. or less, and this translated to about a five-year lower life expectancy after age 40.



Risk increased in a linear fashion such that for every 2 in. of greater circumference, mortality risk went up about 7% in men and about 9% in women.  Thus, there was not one natural “cutpoint” for waist circumference that could be used in the clinic, as risk increased across the spectrum of circumferences.



Another key finding was that elevated mortality risk with increasing waist circumference was observed at all levels of BMI, even among people who had normal BMI levels. Because of the large size of this pooled study, researchers were able to clearly show the independent contribution of waist circumference after accounting for BMI, stated James Cerhan, a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist and lead author of the study.

“BMI is not a perfect measure,” stated Cerhan. “It doesn’t discriminate lean mass from fat mass, and it also doesn’t say anything about where your weight is located. We worry about that because extra fat in your belly has a metabolic profile that is associated with diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.”


Cerhan stated that physicians should consider both BMI and waist circumference as part of risk assessment for obesity-related premature mortality.

“The primary goal should be preventing both a high BMI and a large waist circumference,” Cerhan added. “For those patients who have a large waist, trimming down even a few inches — through exercise and diet — could have important health benefits.”

This study was funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute as part of the Cohort Consortium and included investigators from North American, Europe and Australia.

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Walmart, other industry groups raise concerns on proposed generic labeling rule

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Walmart has joined almost two-dozen organizations from across the healthcare supply chain in a letter calling on the Food and Drug Administration to consider the public health impact of its Proposed Rule on pharmaceutical labeling.

“Walmart was a pioneer in promoting safe, affordable generic medicines for consumers and their families through its ground-breaking $4 generics program and continues to be a leader in ensuring access to life-saving medicines,” stated Ralph Neas, president and CEO of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association. “Today, they lend their voice to a chorus of healthcare companies concerned that the Proposed Rule creates a regulatory framework whereby multiple, different labeling, including different warnings, can simultaneously exist in the marketplace for multiple generic versions of a drug. This would cause dangerous confusion, increase costs, and reduce availability of generic medicines for patients who need them most.”



Walmart and Rite Aid add their names to a letter signed by 22 health industry groups and submitted to the FDA, raising concerns about the proposed regulation. The signatories call for FDA to “fully explore the potential unintended consequences that the rule may have on patient access and national health care costs. Permitting labeling changes for generic drugs without FDA approval counters 30 years of law requiring generic and brand medicines to have the same labels.”



The letter also pointed to the impact of the Proposed Rule on healthcare system costs, citing a recent study by Matrix Global Advisors. It showed that spending on generic drugs would increase by $4 billion per year (or 5.4% of generic retail prescription drug spending in 2012). Of this, government health programs would pay $1.5 billion, and private health insurance, $2.5 billion.

 

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Mondelez International reveals ‘Call for Well-Being’ strategy

BY Ryan Chavis

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Mondelez International, a snack industry leader whose portfolio includes such brands as Oreo and Nabisco, announced a plan to improve the well-being of our planet and people. The "Call for Well-Being" strategy seeks to broaden the reach and impact of the company’s programs. It will start with new global nutrition targets across its product mix, the company said.

"We know the health of people, communities, our business and the planet are inextricably linked," said Christine McGrath, VP external affairs and head of the company’s global well-being platform. "People around the world aspire to live healthier, better lives, but none of us can do it alone. We want to work with others to expand the conversation around well-being and bring an entrepreneurial approach to address the growing concerns around public health and the environment."

The "Call for Well-Being" focuses on four key areas:

Empowering consumers to snack mindfully. Mondelez International has set global nutrition targets to reach these goals by 2020: Grow "better choice" product to 25% of revenue, reduce sodium and saturated fat by 10%, increase whole grains by 25%, and increase individually wrapped options of 200 calories or less by 25%.

Partnering with communities. The company is investing $50 million in healthy-lifestyle community partnerships over the next several years, with a focus on nutrition education and the promotion of active lifestyles.

Securing sustainable agricultural supplies. The company will help farmers with a 10-year, $600 million investment in its Cocoa Life and Coffee Made Happy programs.

Reducing environmental footprint. The company will promote biodiversity and sound environmental practices. It also seeks to cut out energy and water use, waste and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing by 15% by 2015.

 

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