Instruments of Power

Six Important Shifts of 2015 in Obesity and Nutrition

Behind the headlines of 2015 in obesity and nutrition, some important shifts have set the table for what will come in 2016. Here are six standouts

  1. Dear Fat Shamers. This was the year that public sentiment crossed a line from accepting to rejecting fat shaming. A series of stories through the year have made fat shaming a topic that people follow and Nicole Arbor galvanized public opinion with a hateful YouTube video designed to bring her attention. She succeeded in getting attention, but it was overwhelmingly negative.
  2. How Much Sugar Did You Put in This? Odds are that added sugar will soon start showing up on the Nutrition Facts labels for all of the food you buy. Even though folks who add lots of sugar to their products — yogurt makers come to mind — don’t like it, consumers overwhelmingly want to know how much sugar has been added to the foods they’re eating. Comments on the proposals are now closed. Final regulations will be coming soon.
  3. Burying Low-Fat Dogma. The eulogy for low-fat everything was written into the 2015 report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. with a recommendation to remove restrictions on fat consumption and cholesterol. While some arguments about saturated fats are still smoldering, support for moving away from across-the-board limits on fat appears to be strong.
  4. Google Trends - Vegan, Vegetarian, PaleoVegan Hits the Big Time. While more faddish diets like Atkins and Paleo may come and go, interest in vegetarian and vegan diets is becoming mainstream. Bill Clinton now describes himself as vegan-ish and restaurants everywhere see opportunity in offering vegan options.
  5. Big Soda Is Down, Now What? Despite a decade of declines in soda consumption, obesity rates are still edging up. Some advocates are pushing for a harder line on Big Soda and Big Sugar. Despite scarce evidence that tax strategies have ever actually succeeded in affecting obesity rates, speculation and argumentation for a soda tax or a sugar tax continue to be abundant.
  6. Dogged Gains in Obesity Care. This year saw the approval of three new medical devices for obesity treatment and numerous studies highlighting unmistakable benefits for bariatric surgery. Newly approved obesity drugs are gaining some traction, albeit slowly. The number of board certified obesity medicine physicians is growing. Barriers to accessing evidence-based obesity care are slowly fading. It’s not time to celebrate, but the progress is unmistakable.

The year has been one of good progress and interesting controversies. Let’s see what 2016 brings.

Instruments of Power, from America Today by Thomas Hart Benton, photograph by Garrett Ziegler via flickr

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December 26, 2015

2 Responses to “Six Important Shifts of 2015 in Obesity and Nutrition”

  1. January 05, 2016 at 8:39 am, Allen Browne said:

    Good summary, but I fear childhood obesity lags behind. More work to do. Thanks for your support.

    Happy New Year!

    • January 05, 2016 at 9:32 am, Ted said:

      Thanks, Allen! Definitely more work to do.