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Unhealthy eating habits weigh heavily on costs

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK —While much of the debate over healthcare reform has focused on its costs to American consumers, often lost amid the din is the extent to which costs would decrease if not for the prevalence of preventable diseases related to Americans’ unhealthy eating habits.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30% of Americans are now obese. Of the 50 states, only Colorado has an obesity rate of less than 20%. By contrast, in 1996, every state had a rate of less than 20%.

According to some estimates, obesity costs the U.S. healthcare system $263 billion a year, much of it from comorbidities of obesity, such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke and others. The dramatic rise is due to an American diet high in saturated fat and sodium, but relatively low in fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy.

Some supermarkets have responded with their own efforts to encourage healthy eating. “They are educating shoppers by providing tools and information online and in the store to help customers make healthy choices,” Food Marketing Institute VP pharmacy services Cathy Polley told Drug Store News.

These include such easy-to-read food labeling systems as color-coded Nutrition iQ, which Minneapolis-based supermarket operator Supervalu introduced in its stores; the numerical NuVal system, used by Price Chopper and Hy-Vee; and a series of symbols, such as checks and hearts, used by Spartan Stores.

Stores also have employed dietitians, and even pharmacists, to guide patients to healthier eating choices. Pharmacists at Supervalu, for example, offer courses to diabetes patients to give them ideas of what foods to eat and what foods to avoid.

“Pharmacists practicing in the supermarket setting have a unique opportunity to help patients blend their food, nutrition and medication needs,” Polley said. “Many health-and-wellness initiatives that many supermarkets are undertaking are anchored in the pharmacy. This allows the supermarket pharmacist to help patients make wise choices in every aisle of the store.”

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Late-stage clinical trial results: MS drug is effective

BY Alaric DeArment

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. Patients taking an investigational drug for multiple sclerosis fared better than those taking placebo, according to late-stage clinical results presented Friday at a neurology conference.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals said MS patients taking Zenvia (dextromethorphan and quinidine) in 30 mg/10 mg doses experienced a 11.9% greater reduction in pseudobulbar effect – an MS-related condition also known as PBA that causes sudden, uncontrollable episodes of laughter, crying and other emotional outbursts – than those taking placebo in a 12-week phase 3 trial, results of which the company presented at the 3rd World Congress on Controversies in Neurology in Prague, Czech Republic. Patients taking the 20 mg/10 mg dose did not do better than the placebo group.

“PBA represents an area of high, unmet medical need with no FDA-approved treatments currently available,” study presenter and trial steering committee member Daniel Wynn of the Consultants in Neurology Multiple Sclerosis Center stated. “Although the involuntary emotional outbursts of PBA cause considerable impairment for millions of individuals in the United States, it is under-recognized and commonly misdiagnosed.”

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New report projects 12.6% increase of probiotics market

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK The two takeaways from this story are “the [U.S.] market is expected to grow at a rate of almost 14%” and “the early movers in the industry will benefit in terms of market share.”

 

That about describes the opportunity in a probiotic nutshell.

 

 

The rising interest in probiotics can be credited in part to Dannon’s Activia brand, a line of yogurts and yogurt drinks, which has been heavily advertised to the American consumer with the message that not all bacteria is bad for you — and in fact some bacteria taken on a regular basis can impart some pretty significant health benefits. That advertising message — that probiotics can be an important piece in a healthier-for-you diet — has been all the more reinforced as Bayer supports its probiotic Phillips Colon Health, and as Procter & Gamble rolls out its Align probiotic.

 

 

And the consumers already are core drug store shoppers. The ratio of women to men in search of a product delivering digestive benefits is about 2-to-1, according to industry experts. When women hit their 30s and 40s, that’s the point in their lives when they’re looking for a strategy in life to help them manage their digestive issues.

 

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