Field Notes

DFW Aiming to Be ‘World's Healthiest Airport’

Passengers traveling through Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport can avoid diet turbulence and fuel their bodies with the right nutrients thanks to the healthful offerings available at any DFW restaurant. The airport has launched the marketing campaign “Eat Healthy at DFW” to support the effort of DFW concessionaires in providing healthful eating options. Concessionaires each are offering at least one low-calorie, low-fat, low-sodium, cholesterol-free, plant-based, or high-fiber entrée or menu item.

Examples of such options include the following:

• roasted corn and lime crema tacos, and black bean and roasted red pepper quesadillas;

• enchiladas de avocado (vegetarian enchiladas with artichokes and avocado);

• veggie-packed teriyaki bowls;

• whole-grain brown rice bowls;

• a baked beans, corn-on-the-cob, green beans, black-eyed peas, and okra platter; and

• an expansive raft of simply grilled and roasted asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, tomato, sweet potato, spinach, balsamic-glazed Portobello mushrooms, sweet onion, ranch beans, and Spanish rice.

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s 2013 Airport Food Review, DFW Airport ranked as the fifth best for healthful eating, with 79% of on-site restaurants offering at least one plant-based, fiber-packed entrée.

— Source: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport


Health Care Costs Steadily Increase With Body Mass

Researchers at Duke Medicine are giving people another reason to lose weight: Obesity-related illnesses are expensive. According to a study published in Obesity, health care costs increase in parallel with body mass measurements, even beginning at a recommended healthy weight.

The researchers found that costs associated with medical and drug claims gradually rose with each unit increase in BMI. Notably, these increases began above a BMI of 19, which falls in the lower range of the healthy BMI category.

“Our findings suggest that excess fat is detrimental at any level,” says lead author Truls Østbye, MD, PhD, a professor of community and family medicine at Duke and of health services and systems research at Duke-National University of Singapore.

A study published earlier this year in The Journal of the American Medical Association, using death data from several large population studies, concluded that, while higher degrees of obesity were associated with higher mortality rates, being overweight or even slightly obese was linked with lower mortality. Since these findings questioned the general belief that high body mass leads to poor health outcomes, Østbye and his colleagues sought to better understand the rates of obesity-related disease, or morbidity, by measuring health care utilization and costs.

Using health insurance claims data for 17,703 Duke employees participating in annual health appraisals from 2001 to 2011, the researchers related costs of physician visits and prescription drug use to employees’ BMIs. Underweight individuals (who reported a BMI below 19) were excluded from this analysis, as very low weight may be a result of existing illness.

Measuring costs related to physician visits and prescriptions, the researchers observed that the prevalence of obesity-related diseases increased gradually across all BMI levels. In addition to diabetes and hypertension, the rates of nearly a dozen other disease categories also grew with increases in BMI. Cardiovascular disease was associated with the largest dollar increase per unit increase in BMI.

The average annual health care costs for a person with a BMI of 19 was found to be $2,368; this grew to $4,880 for a person with a BMI of 45 or greater. Women in the study had higher overall medical costs across all BMI categories, but men saw a sharper increase in medical costs the higher their BMIs rose.

The study didn’t find a change in the relationship between obesity levels and health care costs from 2001 to 2011. In contrast to the recent evidence relating to mortality, which concluded that only more obese people were at a higher risk of death, the current findings suggest that the occurrence of obesity-related illnesses and related costs begin increasing at a healthy weight.

Given the growing health care costs associated with excess weight, the researchers stressed the importance of implementing effective health and weight-loss programs.

— Source: Duke Medicine