Homepage Round-Up: Female Surgeons Earn Significantly Less than Male Surgeons; the Obesity Crisis of Today May Stem from a 1970s Sugar Infusion; and More

Here are the top stories covered by DocWire News this week in the Homepage section. In this week’s edition of the round-up: female surgeons are paid significantly less than their male counterparts for equal hours worked; the obesity crisis of today may be explained by a sugar infusion that began in the 1970s; older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who consume excessive alcohol have a higher risk of dementia; and consuming dark chocolate could improve vision.

Female surgeons are paid considerably less than male surgeons for equal hours worked, according to the results of a new study published in JAMA Surgery. In this study, researchers combed administrative databases and identified 1,508,471 surgical procedures claimed by 3,275 surgeons. The findings showed that the hourly earnings for female surgeons were 24% lower than for male surgeons. “Even within a fee-for-service system, male and female surgeons do not have equal earnings for equal hours spent working, suggesting that the opportunity to perform the most lucrative surgical procedures is greater for men than women,” the authors wrote in their conclusion.

The findings of a recent study indicate that the U.S. obesity crisis of today can be explained as the accumulated effect of childhood exposure to a sugar infusion that began in 1970 coupled with continued consumption. The study was published in the journal Economics & Human Biology. To conduct this study, the researchers formulated a sugar-driven model designed to replicate three different aspects of the national obesity trend: the overall increase of adult obesity since 1970. According to the results, the model was able to reproduce the average U.S. obesity increase through calendar years and across age profiles, showing an increase in adult obesity since 1990.  The researchers wrote in their conclusion that their model “supports the perspective that the rise in U.S. adult obesity after 1990 was a generation-delayed effect of the increase in excess sugar calories consumed among children of the 1970s and 1980s.”

Older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who consume more than 14 alcoholic drinks per week have a higher risk of dementia and cognitive decline, according to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open. In this prospective cohort study, researchers evaluated 3,021 participants who were asked to report their frequency of beer, wine, and liquor consumption in days per week as well as their habitual use of 12-oz cans or bottles of beer, 6-oz glasses of wine, and shots of liquor. “Compared with drinking less than 1 drink per week, complete abstention (in participants without MCI) and the consumption of more than 14 drinks per week (in participants with MCI) were associated with lower Modified Mini-Mental State Examination scores (mean difference at follow-up compared with baseline, −0.46 point [95% CI, −0.87 to −0.04 point] and −3.51 points [95% CI, −5.75 to −1.27 points], respectively),” the study authors wrote.

The findings of a previous study that would have been good news for chocolate lovers have been challenged by the results of newer research. A 2018 report concluded that consumption of dark chocolate could result in short-term improved vision. However, a new, similarly designed study did not reach this conclusion. “In contrast to a previous trial reporting beneficial effects of dark chocolate flavanol on visual function, this similarly sized trial did not find any effects on subjective (visual function) or objective (retinal perfusion) end points,” the study authors announced in the newer report. Both reports were published in JAMA Ophthalmology.