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Policies encouraging healthy eating could greatly cut cancer-related costs

June 09, 2019

Baltimore (June 9, 2019) - The foods we eat can play an important role in preventing cancer. New modeling research presented at Nutrition 2019 shows that policies using taxes or warning labels to encourage healthier eating could reduce the number of people who develop cancer, which would bring significant savings in medical costs.

Nutrition 2019 is being held June 8-11, 2019 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Contact the media team for more information or to obtain a free press pass to attend the meeting.

Reducing obesity-related cancers

How will new added-sugar nutrition labeling affect cancer cases?
A new modeling study estimates that, based on changes in consumer behavior, the soon-to-be-implemented added-sugar labeling on all U.S. packaged foods could prevent 35,500 new obesity-related cancer cases and 16,700 cancer deaths over a lifetime in the U.S. The policy would also save an estimated $1.4 billion in direct medical costs. After taking into consideration additional savings from patient time and productivity loss as well as policy implementation costs from both the government and industry, the policy would save an estimated $0.5 billion in total costs from the society level. Industry reformulations would likely add to the prevented cancer cases and health care cost savings. Mengxi Du, Tufts University, will present this research on Tuesday, June 11, from 8:30 - 8:45 a.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center, Room 314/315 (abstract).

Would taxing sugar-sweetened beverages save health-care costs?
A new study estimates that a national tax of 1 cent per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverage could prevent around 17,000 new obesity-associated cancers cases and 10,000 cancer deaths. This modeling study estimates that this tax would save $2.4 billion in lifetime medical costs for 13 types of cancer. The largest health benefits were for endometrial, kidney and liver cancer. Christina Griecci, Tufts University, will present this research on Sunday, June 9, from 12:45 - 1:45 p.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center, Halls A-B (Poster 75) (abstract).

The costs of unhealthy eating

What is the cost of cancers associated with poor diet?
A new analysis reveals that over 5 years, cancers attributable to unhealthy eating among U.S. adults resulted in direct medical costs of $6.9 billion (2015 dollars). Nearly 70 percent of this cost is due to colorectal cancer attributable to poor diet. The calculations are based on the estimated number of cancers cases attributed to not eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy, and eating more processed meats, red meats and sugar-sweetened beverages. Given the substantial economic burden of diet-attributable cancers, nutritional policies may help reduce cancer cases and their associated costs. Jaya Khushalani, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will present this research on Monday, June 10, from 8:30 - 8:45 a.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center Room 317 (abstract).

Can we decrease cancer disparities?
Results from a new study suggest that policies targeting food price could help reduce cancer disparities among low-income participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Of the policies modeled, a 10 percent national tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meat together with a 30 percent SNAP-targeted food subsidy would produce the largest reduction in cancer disparities, with about 16 more cases averted per million SNAP users compared to higher-income individuals. The overall greatest decrease in cancer cases would result from a national 30 percent subsidy for fruits, vegetables and whole grains combined with a 10 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats, which would have eliminated an estimated 7,208 new cancer cases among US adults in 2015. Heesun Eom, Tufts University, will present this research on Sunday, June 9, from 1:45 - 2:45 p.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center, Halls A-B (Poster 230) (abstract).

Which policies would reduce processed meat consumption?
A new simulation study found that using an excise tax or warning label on processed meats could bring substantial health and economic benefits. The researchers found that over a lifetime a 10 percent excise tax could prevent 77,000 colorectal and 12,500 stomach cancer cases and generate a savings of $1.1 billion in health-care costs while warning labels may prevent 85,400 colorectal and 15,000 stomach cancer cases with a savings of $1.3 billion from health-care costs. Groups who benefited most from the policies were younger, had a higher cancer risk or ate the most processed meat prior to policy implementation. David D. Kim, Tufts Medical Center, will present this research on Monday, June 10, from 8:00 - 8:15 a.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center, Room 314/315 (abstract).
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This release may include updated numbers or data that differ from those in the abstract submitted to Nutrition 2019.

Please note that abstracts presented at Nutrition 2019 were evaluated and selected by a committee of experts but have not generally undergone the same peer review process required for publication in a scientific journal. As such, the findings presented should be considered preliminary until a peer-reviewed publication is available.

About Nutrition 2019

Nutrition 2019 is the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition held June 8-11, 2019 at the Baltimore Convention Center. It is the national venue for more than 3,600 top researchers, practitioners and other professionals to announce exciting research findings and explore their implications for practice and policy. Scientific symposia address the latest advances in cellular and physiological nutrition and metabolism, clinical and translational nutrition, global and public health, population science, and food science and systems. #Nutrition2019

About the American Society for Nutrition (ASN)

ASN is the preeminent professional organization for nutrition research scientists and clinicians around the world. Founded in 1928, the society brings together the top nutrition researchers, medical practitioners, policy makers and industry leaders to advance our knowledge and application of nutrition. ASN publishes four peer-reviewed journals and provides education and professional development opportunities to advance nutrition research, practice and education.

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American Society for Nutrition

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