NIHCM Newsletter / October 2023

Addressing Obesity

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  • Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. (21 September 2023).

  • Press Release - Adult Obesity Prevalence Remains High; Support for Prevention and Treatment Needed. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (21 September 2023).

Addressing Obesity

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight the growing prevalence of obesity and the need for comprehensive prevention and treatment strategies. Obesity is a chronic disease impacted by social determinants of health. Wealth inequality is also considered a contributing factor to obesity in the United States. Many people of color are at increased risk of obesity. Additionally, there are efforts to address weight stigma to improve prevention and screening.

  • Childhood Obesity: Recent data indicate 17% of children from the ages 10 to 17 are affected by obesity. Obesity rates are higher for Black, Hispanic, and multiracial children as well as people who live in lower-income households.
  • Policies: Trust for America's Health recently released its annual report on policies aimed at addressing obesity. The policies include a wide range of measures designed to remove barriers to healthy eating and physical activity, as well as advancing health equity.
  • Weight-Loss Drugs: The popularity of drugs to address obesity and prompt weight loss has skyrocketed, and led to an unregulated semaglutide market. Health risks linked to the drugs include suicidal thoughts and intestinal blockages.

Resources & Initiatives:

  • Explore the evidence-based resources related to obesity provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Learn about the critiques of using Body Mass Index (BMI) as a sole measurement of obesity and other measures of assessing weight.
  • A dietitian from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan shares tips on how to talk to your kids about healthy eating and weight.
  • A recent interactive from the Washington Post highlights how chronic illnesses, including obesity, have led to an increase in deaths.
  • Under a NIHCM grant, the podcast Pharmanipulation examines the risks and benefits of weight loss and weight loss drugs.

COVID Updates

Recent CDC survey data shows that long COVID has affected nearly 7% of American adults, with women more likely than men to have ever had long COVID. Updated vaccines are now available and recommended for everyone 6 months and older. Additionally, free COVID tests are available once again.

  • Long COVID: The CDC data took into account race and ethnicity and found that Black and White adults were less likely than Hispanic adults to have had long COVID. Long COVID also affects children, with a prevalence of 1.3%, and the rates vary by demographics.
  • Research: A new study found that Merck’s COVID antiviral drug is associated with virus mutations. Another study suggests a blood test for long COVID is possible, showing distinct immune and hormone imbalances.
  • Vaccinating: Compared to flu and RSV vaccines, fewer adults (just 23%) are planning to get the new COVID vaccine. About 6 in 10 parents do not plan to vaccinate their children against COVID. Many nursing homes will not begin COVID inoculations until well into October or November.

Resources & Initiatives:

Poverty without Pandemic Health Policies

During the Public Health Emergency (PHE), state and local governments were given additional liberties to deploy public health efforts in support of mitigating COVID-19. As the PHE concluded, programs reliant on increased discretionary spending were at risk.

  • Coverage: In September, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reinstated Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance coverage for those improperly disenrolled in June. For those who needed in-home support, Medicaid’s Home and Community Based Services were strengthened by the PHE.
  • Children: Without expanded child tax credits, children are being tossed back into poverty. As a result, they lack the resources needed to stay on track with their physical and educational growth charts. After its expiration, the child poverty rate rose from 5.2% to 12.4%. Pediatricians express additional concern at a time where inflation & housing costs are at an all time high.

Resources & Initiatives:

Substance Use Disorder: Narcan & Stigma

A deadly combination of stimulants and fentanyl are fueling a ‘fourth’ wave of the opioid crisis. People who abuse opioids often turn to stimulants to offset the lethargy induced by drugs such as fentanyl. In an effort to stop another type of drug use combination, the DEA is working to add xylazine (also known as Tranq) to the list of controlled substances.

  • Addressing Fentanyl: To address the trafficking of fentanyl into the U.S., The Department of Homeland Security is planning to increase fentanyl seizures and break up the supply chains.
  • Families and Stigma: MindSite News, a NIHCM grantee, reports how a local free bereavement support program offers care, hope, and community to grieving families in Philadelphia who lost a loved one to drugs. Individuals in recovery are fighting stigma by raising awareness and creating prevention centers.
  • Narcan in Retail: Earlier this month, naloxone (also known as Narcan) became available as an over-the-counter drug to combat opioid overdoses, but there are concerns regarding access, affordability, and the education needed to effectively administer the drug. As the death tolls rise, local health departments are assisting in making Narcan available by training restaurant workers.
  • Narcan in Schools: According to the CDC, illicitly manufactured fentanyl contributed to 84% of all overdose deaths amongst teenagers. As a response, school districts are stocking up on Narcan and students are spreading awareness amongst their classmates.

Resources & Initiatives:

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