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What We’re Reading: US Death Rate During the Pandemic; Childhood Obesity Increasing; Smoking Cessation via e-Cigs


The US death toll is above average for the previous 5 months; childhood obesity is on the rise among children of color and low-income families; the debate on using e-cigarettes for smoking cessation.

New JAMA Study Points to Above-Average US Death Rate

According to a new study published in the JAMA, the total death rate since May 10—including those from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and other causes—exceeds that seen in 18 other high-income countries. For example, compared with Sweden, Canada, and Australia, which have 23.5, 12.4, and 2.9 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 individuals, respectively, the United States has 36.9. And for all-cause mortality, the rate is 31.2 in the United States compared with 13.7, 0.1, and 1.4 in in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany, respectively. Experts predict the numbers will both rise and fall across the world, “as this pandemic continues to ebb and surge.”

Childhood Obesity Rate Continues to Increase

Overall, 15.5% of American youths aged 10 to 17 years have obesity, details the State of Childhood Obesity report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Compiling data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the National Survey of Children’s Health, the WIC Participant and Program Characteristics Survey, and the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, the report highlights the stark difference in obesity rates among racial and ethnic groups. Only 5.9% of non–Hispanic Asian children were considered obese, but this rate was more than quadrupled in non–Hispanic Black (22.9%) and non–Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native (28.5%) children. Obesity, the report points out, predisposes children to greater risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Former, Current Smokers Are Vaping to Quit

A new JAMA Network Open report shows that 69.3% of adult users of both cigarettes and e-cigarettes have turned to vaping to help them break their smoking habit. In addition, 80.7% of former smokers admitted to using e-cigarettes to quit, as well. However, first study author Margaret Mayer, PhD, Tobacco Control Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute, says this trend is alarming, because nicotine in either form can affect the brain, and vaping has been linked to smoking relapse.

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