HEALTH

Bausch & Lomb appoints new VP and global president, vision care

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Bausch & Lomb on Monday named Peter Valenti corporate VP and global president, vision care, effective July 1.

Valenti replaces Stuart Heap, who has chosen to step down from his current role with B&L for personal reasons, effective June 30. Heap will remain an active strategic advisor to the company.

“[Valenti] possesses a mix of deep leadership experience, healthcare and eye health expertise, and has already made significant contributions to helping grow the B&L business during his brief tenure,” stated Gerald Ostrov, B&L chairman and CEO. “At the same time, we thank [Heap] for his significant contributions to the company as he chooses to spend more time with his family.”

Valenti joined B&L in January 2009 as president, North America, vision care. Before being named to that role, Valenti served as VP and GM, surgical devices (U.S.), for Covidien, where he led the U.S. sales and marketing strategy for the $1 billion product portfolio from 2007 to 2008.

In conjunction with Valenti’s transition to his new role, the company has named Steven Robins as president, North America, vision care.

Robins joins B&L with approximately two decades of consumer healthcare experience at leading companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Warner Lambert. Most recently, he was GM, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Healthcare Canada, and a VP of the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Group, with responsibility for a number of health and beauty brands such as Listerine, Reach, Band-Aid, Stayfree and Purell.

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Food intake may contribute more to obesity than lack of exercise, study suggests

BY Alaric DeArment

AMSTERDAM Conventional wisdom has it that the American obesity epidemic results from lack of exercise, but a study presented in the Netherlands Friday suggests otherwise.

The study, led by researchers in Australia and presented at the 17th European Congress on Obesity in Amsterdam, indicates that while exercise remains important, the main cause of the obesity epidemic is that Americans eat too much.

“To return to the average weights of the 1970s, we would need to reverse the increased food intake of about 350 calories a day for children and 500 calories a day for adults,” lead study author Boyd Swinburn of Australia’s Deakin University said in a statement. That would mean eliminating a can of soda or small portion of French fries from a child’s diet or a large hamburger from an adult’s.

The researchers started by testing 1,399 adults and 963 children to find how many calories they burn on an average day. They combined those results with national food supply data on how much food Americans ate between the 1970s and early 2000s. They then calculated how much weight they would expect Americans to have gained in the 30-year period if food intake were the sole influence, using national survey data that recorded the weight of Americans during that period.

“For adults, we predicted that they would be 10.8 kg heavier, but in fact they were 8.6 kg heavier,” Swinburn said. “That suggests that excess food intake still explains the weight gain, but that they may have been increases in physical activity over the 30 years that have blunted what would otherwise have been a higher weight gain.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30% of American adults are obese, which health experts define as having a body mass index of 30 or greater.

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Study: Taking probiotics during pregnancy may reduce obesity risk after birth

BY Michael Johnsen

LONDON One year after giving birth, women are less likely to have the most dangerous kind of obesity if they had been given probiotics from the first trimester of pregnancy, according to new research released Thursday by the European Association for the Study of Obesity.

“The results of our study, the first to demonstrate the impact of probiotics-supplemented dietary counselling on adiposity, were encouraging,” stated Kirsi Laitinen, a nutritionist and senior lecturer at the University of Turku in Finland, who presented her findings May 7 at the European Congress on Obesity. “The women who got the probiotics fared best. One year after childbirth, they had the lowest levels of central obesity as well as the lowest body fat percentage.

“Central obesity, where overall obesity is combined with a particularly fat belly, is considered especially unhealthy,” Laitinen said. “We found it in 25% of the women who had received the probiotics along with dietary counseling, compared with 43% in the women who received diet advice alone.”

Laitinen said further research is needed to confirm the potential role of probiotics in fighting obesity. One of the limitations of the study was that it did not control for the mothers’ weight before pregnancy, which may influence how fat they later become.

“The advantage of studying pregnant women to investigate the potential link between probiotics and obesity is that it allows us to see the effects not only in the women, but also in their children,” she said. “Particularly during pregnancy, the impacts of obesity can be immense, with the effects seen both in the mother and the child. Bacteria are passed from mother to child through the birth canal, as well as through breast milk and research indicates that early nutrition may influence the risk of obesity later in life. There is growing evidence that this approach might open a new angle on the fight against obesity, either through prevention or treatment.”

Latinen’s study was funded by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, the Academy of Finland and the Sigrid Juselius Foundation, a Finnish medical research charity.

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