What We're Reading: Behavioral Health Database Frozen; Alcohol-Related ED Visits; Taxing Junk Food

Trump administration freezes a national database on behavioral health interventions; number of alcohol-related emergency department visits rose sharply from 2006 to 2014; and study examines the feasibility of implementing a federal tax on junk food and sugary beverages.

Administration Freezes Behavioral Health Program Database

A program that helps professionals and community groups find interventions for preventing and treating mental illness and substance use disorders has been suspended. According to The Washington Post, the contract for running the database has ended and a new entity will take over. So far, there is no information about when the new database will launch. The site has been frozen since September and 90 new programs that have been reviewed since then have not been added to the site.

Number of Alcohol-Related ED Visits Increase

Feasibility of a Federal Tax on Junk Food

There has been a steady annual increase in emergency department (ED) visits linked to alcohol. From 2006 to 2014, the number of alcohol-related ED visits is up by 61%, reported NPR. However, the reason for the increase is a mystery. During the same time period, the per capita alcohol consumption overall only increased 2%. The research also found a higher rate of ED visits by women, with the gender gap in overall drinking, binge drinking, drunk driving, and deaths from cirrhosis of the liver, caused by alcoholism, narrowing.A national tax on junk food and sugary drinks could potentially reduce related diseases and raise revenue for public health initiatives. Researchers suggested a federal taxing mechanism, such as requiring junk food manufacturers pay an excise tax, according to the research. The study evaluated the feasibility of a federal junk food tax by analyzing state and local food tax bills and laws and international junk food laws. The authors determined that legally and administratively, implementing such a tax is feasible and would have benefits.