American Public Health Association
800 I Street, NW • Washington, DC 20001-3710
(202) 777-APHA • Fax: (202) 777-2534
comments@apha.org • http://www.apha.org

For Immediate Release

EMBARGOED research from AJPH: E-cigarettes to quit smoking, foreclosures and obesity, posting recommended calories in restaurants

In this month’s release, find new research about smokers who try e-cigarettes to quit; home foreclosures’ link to obesity; and the effects of sharing recommended calorie intake in restaurants.

AJPH News Release

EMBARGOED UNTIL July 18, 2013, 4 p.m. (EDT)

CONTACT: For copies of articles or full table of contents of this month’s released studies, call Kim Short, 202-777-2511, or email Kimberly.Short@apha.org.

The articles below will be published online July 18, 2013 at 4 p.m. (EDT)* by the American Journal of Public Health under “First Look” at http://www.ajph.org/first_look.shmtl. “First Look” articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. The American Journal of Public Health is published by the American Public Health Association, www.apha.org, and is available at www.ajph.org.

American Journal of Public Health highlights:

1.) Smokers who try e-cigarettes to quit – younger and more motivated to quit

2.) Living near foreclosed homes associated with overweight, obesity

3.) Informing diners of recommended calorie intake does not reduce purchase of high calorie foods

 

1.    Smokers who try e-cigarettes to quit are younger and more motivated to quit

New research from the American Journal of Public Health finds that smokers who use e-cigarettes as a tool to quit tend to be younger and more motivated to quit smoking.

A Hawaii-based survey analyzed responses from self-identified smokers who had consumed at least three cigarettes a day and at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. The survey asked participants if they had ever used e-cigarettes to quit smoking and captured additional demographic information. It further assessed participants’ nicotine dependence, number of quit attempts in the past and motivation and readiness to quit smoking.

According to the study’s results, approximately 13 percent of participants had tried using e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking. Most e-cigarette users were younger and had been smoking for fewer years than others. Native Hawaiians were also significantly less likely to use e-cigarettes than whites. Smokers who had used nicotine replacement gum, patches, bupropion or varenicline were two to four times more likely to have used e-cigarettes as cessation aids. Further analysis revealed that motivation to quit smoking was higher among those who tried e-cigarettes than those who tried other cessation tools.

“If e-cigarettes are ineffective as cessation aids and are potentially a risk, strategies need to be developed to help younger smokers find effective cessation aids. Conversely, if e-cigarettes are found to be relatively safer and effective as cessation aids, the appeal that they have for younger adults should be used to enhance smoking cessation among younger smokers,” the authors explain.

“Despite the lack of firm evidence regarding safety or effectiveness, e-cigarettes appear to have become cessation aids of choice for some smokers who appear to show a relatively higher motivation to quit smoking. Thus, this study confirms the importance of promptly developing appropriate e-cigarette regulations that address smokers’ use of e-cigarettes as cessation products,” the authors conclude.

[“Smokers who try e-cigarettes to quit smoking: Findings from a multiethnic study in Hawaii.” Contact: Pallav Pokhrel, PhD, University of Hawaii Cancer Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, ppokhrel@cc.hawaii.edu].

2.    Living near foreclosed homes associated with overweight, obesity

New research from the American Journal of Public Health reveals that proximity to foreclosed homes has a connection to higher body mass index.

Harvard School of Public Health researchers analyzed housing and medical data of 2,078 study participants in Massachusetts from 1987 to 2008. This information was assessed against collected address data on foreclosure deeds, participants’ proximity to foreclosure activity and participants’ body mass index levels.

Results showed that foreclosure activity 100 meters in proximity to participants significantly predicted likelihood of higher body mass index levels. It also found that the greater number of foreclosures one is exposed to might increase the odds of being overweight.

“Clinicians working with patients in neighborhoods hard-hit by the recent housing crisis should be aware of the potential stressors associated with localized foreclosure activity, including perceived loss of wealth, friends moving away, visible trash accumulation, overgrown lawns and perceived danger, among others,” the researchers wrote.

“Policymakers at the state and federal levels, community development corporations, lenders, housing planners and municipal officials should likewise take such effects into account when making housing-related decisions,” the study’s authors suggest.

“While previous research has found that foreclosure is unhealthy for homeowners who are losing their properties, we now see that neighbors’ health may also be affected by what’s happening next door,” the authors conclude.

[“Effects of proximate foreclosed properties on individuals’ weight gain in Massachusetts, 1987-2008.” Contact: Mariana Arcaya, SD, MCP, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, marcaya@hsph.harvard.edu].

3.    Informing diners of recommended calorie intake does not enhance use of menu labeling

As many states introduce regulations requiring restaurants to post calorie information on menus, a new study from the American Journal of Public Health finds that also informing consumers of recommended calorie intake does not help consumers use menu labels more effectively.

Researchers analyzed the purchase behaviors of 1,121 adult lunchtime consumers at two McDonald’s restaurants in New York, N.Y. The study investigated the potential interaction between pre-existing menu labeling and the addition of recommended calorie intake information. The study consisted of three groups of customers who were shown: (1) recommended daily calorie intake; (2) recommended per-meal calorie intake; and (3) no additional information. Survey data was also gathered to capture customers’ understanding of calorie consumption and demographic information.

Results found no interaction between use of the calorie recommendations and the pre-existing menu labels, suggesting that incorporating calorie recommendations did not help customers make better use of the information provided on calorie-labeled menus. Further, providing calorie recommendations, whether calories per-day or per-meal, did not show a reduction in the number of calories purchased.

 “These results provide little hope that calorie recommendations will salvage the apparent weak or nonexistent effect of menu labeling in the field,” observe the authors.

“Regardless of whether menu labeling has the intended effect of reducing calorie consumption, we are in agreement with policymakers that increased transparency in product labeling is inherently desirable,” the authors conclude.

[“Supplementing menu labeling with calorie recommendations to test for facilitation effects.” Julie Downs, PhD, Department of Social and Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa., downs@cmu.edu].

The American Journal of Public Health ® is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association, the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. APHA is a leading publisher of books and periodicals promoting sound scientific standards, action programs and public policy to enhance health. More information is available at www.apha.org.

Complimentary online access to the Journal is available to credentialed members of the media. Address inquiries to Kimberly Short at APHA, 202-777-2511, or via email, Kimberly.Short@apha.org. A single print issue of the Journal is available for $35 from the Journal’s Subscriptions department at www.ajph.org/subscriptions. If you are not a member of the press, a member of APHA or a subscriber, online single issue access is $30 and online single article access is $22 at www.ajph.org or for direct customer service, call 202-777-2516, or email ajph.subscriptions@apha.org.

To stay up-to-date on the latest in public health research, sign up for new content e-mail alerts at www.ajph.org/subscriptions/etoc.shtml?ck=nck.

# # #