The same day that I bring Oreo cookies to the office for a group treat, I read reports of a new study again reiterating the importance of diet as a determinant of life span.

This research surfaced last week at the Let’s Move event at the White House about a week ago 

From the White House coverage from July 11:

According to a new study released by the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), poor diet and nutrition were the leading causes of disease burden in the US and contributed to more health loss in 2010 than smoking, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

As part of a celebration held yesterday for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties initiative, lead researcher, Dr. Chris Murray, briefed local elected officials from 39 communities across the country on the importance of this data.

The First Lady echoed its importance, stating:

The key here is that the data from this report goes all the way down to the county level, which means that you’ll be able to see which issues are affecting your communities the most. And that means that you’ll be able to connect the dots a little bit better, more efficiently, between your community’s nutrition and its rates of diabetes or heart disease. You’ll be able to see how much physical activity the people in your communities are reporting. And once you have all this information, you’ll be able to make more effective decisions to really focus your resources and programming to find solutions that fit the needs of your community.

Curious? Check out how your county stacks up! The report features an interactive, online tool that allows you to search data on life expectancy, diet, physical activity, hypertension, and a whole host of other indicators for your specific county. For more information on the findings from this report, please visit

Check out the data and encourage your local leaders to become a Let’s Move! City, Town or County by signing up here:


News releases that speak to the research findings cited by the White are "Improved diets and increased physical activity may lead to better health for the US," "Dietary risks are leading cause of disease burden in the US and contributed more to health loss than smoking, high blood pressure and high blood sugar" and "Obesity continues to rise in nearly all counties but Americans becoming more physically active too."

Be sure to check out the eye-popping U.S. health map featuring county level statistics from the Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. For a complete listing of counties and states, use this link.

I have never seen anything like this collection of data before. The stats shows that males in Johnson County, Kan. – where I reside - have a life expectancy of 74.3 years, up from the state average of 72.3 years and the national average of 70.4 years. Except for the ones that ate Oreos, I bet.

 Like recent research linking longer life to greater fruit and vegetable consumption, this study confirms our intuition about the food we eat. Baby peeled carrots are better than glazed donuts. Apples are better than rock candy. Just about anything that grows is better than an Oreo cookie.

On the bright side, we here at The Packer headquarters did receive an awesome delivery of fresh dark sweet cherries from Stemilt yesterday. It is possible that the cherries did more good than the Oreos will do harm. I'll bet my life on it.