HEALTH

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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Perrigo reports growth in Q3

BY Michael Johnsen

ALLEGAN, Mich. Perrigo on Thursday reported revenues of $505.9 million on 5% growth for its third quarter ended March 28, including $419.1 million across its consumer healthcare division, representing a 12% increase.

“In this quarter, the over-the-counter category [as a whole] fell 3% versus third quarter last year and the national brand category fell more than 7%, while Perrigo Consumer Healthcare grew 12%,” commented Joe Papa, Perrigo chairman and CEO. “We were able to achieve this growth rate despite the fact that we are comparing the results to the launches of omeprazole [Prilosec OTC] and cetirizine [Zyrtec] at this time last year. More consumers than ever are realizing the value that store brands have to offer.”

On Feb. 20, Perrigo announced that it began shipping its combination sleep aid-analgesic ibuprofen and diphenhydramine citrate tablets, 200/38-mg. The product is comparable with Wyeth Consumer Healthcare’s Advil PM tablets, 200/38-mg, which generated approximately $71 million in brand sales for the 12 months ended Dec. 21, Perrigo reported.

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CDC confirms 896 swine flu cases

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The number of confirmed H1N1 cases in the United States climbed to 896 cases, with two deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday morning.

“The ongoing outbreak of novel influenza A (H1N1) continues to expand in the United States,” the agency stated. “CDC expects that more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths from this outbreak will occur over the coming days and weeks.”

CDC has issued guidance for health care providers on the use of antiviral medications during the current outbreak. The priority use for influenza antiviral drugs is to treat severe influenza illness and people who are at high risk of serious influenza-related conditions.

And CDC has developed a PCR diagnostic test kit to detect this novel H1N1 virus and has now distributed test kits to all states in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. This increase in testing capacity is likely to result in an increase in the number of reported confirmed cases in this country, which should provide a more accurate picture of the burden of disease in the United States.

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