Roundup: Study Faults Consumer Reviews of Sunscreen Products; Average Weight of Americans Still Rising

How reliable are online product reviews for popular sunscreens? Products with glowing reviews don’t necessarily offer the greatest protection from sun damage, according to a new study of consumer reviews.

Forty percent – four out of 10 — of the most popular sunscreen products don’t meet the guidelines from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). That’s the verdict from a new study published in the latest issue of JAMA Dermatology, a publication of the American Medical Association.

A team of researchers studied the top 1 percent of 6,500 sunscreen products sold on, based on consumer reviews  featuring a 4-star rating or higher. On that basis, 65 products were selected for closer review and those products ranged in price from 68 cents per ounce to $23.47 per ounce.

Twenty-six of the 65 products (40 percent) failed to meet AAD sunscreen guidelines for broad spectrum protection and water resistance, the study says.

In the Amazon consumer reviews,  “cosmetic elegance” or appearance of the sunscreen was one of the top features in customer reviews. Price was also a popular consideration. But for health and safety, consumers and dermatologists should consider total protection from sun damage, the study says.

“Dermatologists should balance the importance of cosmetic elegance, cost and AAD guidelines for sun protection in making their recommendations to consumers,” according to authors of the study. “Sunscreen use is a modifiable behavior that can help reduce the risk for skin cancer, prevent sunburns, mitigate photoaging and treat photosensitive dermatoses.”

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Average Weight of Americans Still Rising

Despite decades-long public-information campaigns to fight obesity, the average weight of Americans continues to climb.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American men now weigh an average of 195.5 pounds, and American women weigh an average of 166.2 pounds.

Those numbers have been rising since the 1960s. Now, the average weight of American women is nearly the same as the average weight of American men in 1960, which was 166.3 pounds.

Two other recent studies point to an obesity epidemic that has not come close to reversing. One study focused on 2013-2014 data determined the prevalence of obesity was 35 percent among men and 40 percent among women. The other study put the obesity rate at 17 percent in children and adolescents.

Researchers also found that obesity rates have continued to rise among women and adolescents since 1988.

In an editorial tied to one of the studies and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the authors write: “The obesity epidemic in the United States is now three decades old, and huge investments have been made in research, clinical care, and development of various programs to counteract obesity. However, few data suggest that the epidemic is diminishing.”

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