Public Heath News Roundup: February 7

Feb 6, 2013, 11:11 PM

Restaurant Chains Serving More Lower-Calorie Choices Do Better Financially
Restaurant chains that serve more lower-calorie foods and beverages have better business performance, according to a study released today by the Hudson Institute. Over five years, chains that increased the amount of lower-calorie options they served had better sales growth, larger increases in customer traffic, and stronger gains in total food and beverage servings than chains whose offerings of lower-calorie options declined.

The report, Lower-Calorie Foods: It’s Just Good Business, analyzed 21 of the nation’s largest restaurant chains, including quick-service chains such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell, and sit-down chains such as Applebee’s, Olive Garden, Chili’s, and Outback Steakhouse.

“Consumers are hungry for restaurant meals that won’t expand their waist lines, and the chains that recognize this are doing better than those that don’t,” said Hank Cardello, lead author of the report, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, and director of the Institute’s Obesity Solutions Initiative.

Read more on obesity.

New AMA Report Outlines Physician Responsibilities for Newly Discharged Hospital Patients
The American Medical Association (AMA) has released a new report, “There And Home Again, Safely” that outlines a list of five responsibilities for outpatient physicians to consider when caring for patients who have recently left the hospital. Developed by a panel of experts to improve safety and reduce the rate of hospital readmissions, responsibilities include: 

  • assessment of the patient’s health;
  • goal-setting to determine desired outcomes;
  • supporting self-management to ensure access to resources patients need;
  • medication management; and
  • care coordination to bring together all members of the health care team.

Read more on safety.

An Active Lifestyle May be Just as Beneficial as Structured Exercise
A new study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Science suggests that small amounts of activity that adds up to 30 minutes per day can be just as beneficial as longer bouts of physical activity at the gym.  More than 6,000 American adults participated in the study by wearing accelerometers on a daily basis. Those who participated in the short bouts of activity could be moving as few as one or two minutes at a time by engaging in activities – such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking while talking on the phone. The researchers found that more than 40 percent of adults in the study reach their 30 minutes of daily exercise by making movement a part of their everyday life. The researchers say such an active lifestyle approach may be just as beneficial as structured exercise to improve health, including preventing metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Read more on physical activity.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.