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Menu Calorie Labeling Linked to Drop in Obesity-Related Cancer Burden

Reduction seen in net cost savings from health care and societal perspectives; additional industry reformulation would increase policy impact

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 19, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Menu calorie labeling is associated with a reduction in obesity-related cancer burdens and lower health care costs, according to a study published online April 18 in BMJ Open.

Mengxi Du, M.P.H., from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, and colleagues conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis in a modelled population of 235 million adults aged 20 years and older in 2015 to 2016. The impact of menu calorie labeling on reducing 13 obesity-associated cancers was examined among U.S. adults over a lifetime considering effects on consumer behaviors and additional effects on industry reformulation.

The researchers found that among U.S. adults, the policy was associated with 28,000 new cancer cases and 16,700 cancer deaths averted, 111,000 quality-adjusted life years gained, and $1,480 million saved in cancer-related medical costs when considering consumer behavior alone. From health care and societal perspectives, the policy was associated with net cost savings of $1,460 million and $1,350 million, respectively. Policy impact would be substantially increased by additional industry reformulation. Among young adults, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic Black individuals, greater health gains and cost savings were predicted.

“Menu calorie labelling is associated with lower obesity-related cancer rates and reduced costs,” the authors write. “Policymakers may prioritize nutrition policies for cancer prevention in the USA.”

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical, nutrition, and other industries.

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