This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

October 7, 2009

Medical Research Will Inform Personal Choices for Some

Many people around the world are overweight, however no where is that more apparent than in the United States where over two-thirds of the population (66.7 percent)* are overweight or obese. Recent studies help us understand why.

A new study conducted by the National Cancer Institute confirmed what others implied---frequently eating red and processed meats increases your risk of dying by at least 33 percent. Researchers defined "red meats" to include beef and pork, while "processed meats" included sausages, hot dogs, and all cold cuts.

This large-scale study followed 500,000 people for 10 years. Reflecting on this study, Professor Barry Popkin at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of "The World Is Fat" wrote in the "Archives of Internal Medicine":, ". . .the need is for a major reduction in total meat intake".

Also released in the last few months was a new recommendation from the American Heart Association (AHA): American women should not consume more than 100 calories (about six teaspoons) of added sugar a day, while men should limit their intake to no more than 150 calories (about nine teaspoons). The AHA defines "added sugar" as sugars put into foods during processing, cooking, or consumption.

According to the latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, people in the US ingest on average more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar (355 calories) each day, mostly in soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages. One 12-ounce can of soda contains about eight teaspoons of sugar.

The AHA recommends people to eat diets rich in fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry, and fish. Perhaps in light of this National Cancer Institute study, that will change?

Some adults, typically the better educated and more affluent segments of the population, will heed these warnings. Others will choose to ignore these admonitions and risk premature death. This distinction is will not be lost on marketers.

Finally, expect employers to begin rewarding proper diet and nutrition, more than they already are, because their healthcare costs and workplace productivity will be directly affected by their workers poor choices.

* National Center for Health Statistics (2005-2006)

AS WE GO TO "PRESS": Safeway, Inc. with 1,775 grocery stores across the US and Canada just announced a new program to further reward employees for healthier behaviors. In the news today is its CEO Stephen Burd talking about their program, its rationality and implications for healthcare reform. Watch his 16-minute video at

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