Thursday, August 16, 2012

Using Simulation in the Obesity Fight

As we all know, obesity is on the rise in many municipalities. It’s been estimated that half of New York City’s residents are overweight or obese. To combat that city's obesity, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, has proposed a limit of 16 ounces on the size of soft drink containers when the soft drinks are sold at food service establishments.  While some critics disagree with the mayor's proposal, the mayor believes that a ban on soft drink container size will help in the fight against the city’s obesity.

Other methods that attempt to control the consumption of soft drinks are being used or proposed in other areas of the country. These methods include putting constraints on school children’s access to soft drinks and placing taxes on soft drinks. To determine what methods may successfully fight obesity, simulation tools are sometimes utilized.

One report described researchers' “use [of] simulation modeling to show how changes in three categories of SSB [sugar-sweetened beverages] policies-school nutrition, school-based education, and taxes-impact SSB and other food consumption. The model shows that policies directed at SSBs, particularly tax hikes, could lead to substantial reductions in the number of calories consumed by youth.” Indeed putting taxes on soft drinks is considered by the IOM (Institute of Medicine) to be among the best approaches to curbing obesity.

We believe that controls such as taxes could be workable weapons in the fight against obesity. And if steps are taken to provide crucial calorie-related data in the places people eat, the information would arm people with the ammunition to take responsibility for maintaining a healthy weight. Wide spread availability of this type of food-related information would also allow weight loss centers to more effectively work with their clients to set healthy, reachable weight goals.

Perhaps, bariatric surgeons and physicians who specialize in non surgical medical weight loss treatment (bariatricians for example) will partner, more and more, with cardiologists, and other health care specialists. These relationships will benefit the patient, the weight loss expert, and other health care providers.

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