Tag Archives: obesity

Latest update on U.S. nutrition, physical activity and obesity

Each month, the office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion releases an infographic with the latest data related to a Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicator (LHI) topic. These infographics show progress toward Healthy People 2020 LHI targets — and show where there’s still work to be done.  

This month’s featured LHI topic is Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. Check out the infographic below, then head over to the Healthy People 2020 LHI Infographic Gallery to see infographics for other LHI topic areas.

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Filed under childhood obesity, Exercise, exercise benefits, how much exercise, nutrition, nutrition information, nutritional deficiencies, obesity

The dark side of blue light – Harvard

Elsewhere in the blog I have written repeatedly about the how valuable it is to get a good night’s sleep. For a full rundown, please check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep?

In the meantime, here is an excellent study from Harvard Medical School on our vulnerability to our evening illumination.

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Exposure to blue light at night, emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs, harmful to your health.

Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.

But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Continue reading

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Filed under blue light, good night's sleep, melatonin, sleep, sleep aids

Obesity rates around the world

Maybe this is part of the curse of affluence, but it is the wrong contest to be way out in front of the competition. Shamefully, obesity rates in the U.S. far outstrip the rest of the world.

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I have posted on the dangers of obesity in the past:

A fresh look at obesity – Harvard

How does obesity cause disease in organs distant from where the fat accumulates?

Public largely ignorant about obesity risks

How does obesity affect you?

What about belly fat? Central obesity

Tony

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Filed under abdominal fat, belly fat, body fat, fat, obesity

40% Of Cancers Diagnosed In U.S. Related To Obesity, CDC Says

As if we needed another reason to pay attention to our weight as well as what (and how much) we eat. Here is the CDC with some hard facts.

Tony

Our Better Health

Add cancer to the many good reasons to strive for a healthy weight

The rates of 12 obesity-related  cancers rose by 7 per cent from 2005 to 2014, an increase that is threatening to reverse progress in reducing the rate of cancer in the United States, U.S. health officials say.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 630,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with a cancer linked with being overweight or obese in 2014.

Obesity-related cancers accounted for about 40 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014. Although the overall rate of new cancer diagnoses has fallen since the 1990s,  rates of obesity-related cancers have been rising.

“Today’s report shows in some cancers we’re going in the wrong direction,” Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC said on a conference call with reporters.

According to the International Agency for…

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Further on the dangers of sitting too long

About a year ago I began to learn the dangers of prolonged sitting. I posted a Page on it – Do you know the dangers of too much sitting?  Which you can check out at your leisure. The following analysis comes from Texas A & M University.

It’s a popular catchphrase: “Sitting is the new smoking.” A phrase that is often attributed to James A. Levine, MD, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic, but even he seems to have pulled back from that characterization a little, now simply saying that sitting for long periods of time is linked to conditions like obesity and metabolic syndrome.

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And it’s the obesity that really leads to problems, according to Mark Benden, PhD, CPE, associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and director of the Ergonomics Center at the Texas A&M School of Public Health. He studies the use of sit-stand desks to promote physical activity. “The better metaphor might be obesity is the new smoking,” Benden said. “That’s a little closer from a cause-and-effect standpoint, in terms of the number of people dying from these preventable causes each year.” Continue reading

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Filed under obesity, prolonged sitting, sitting, sitting too long, smoking, Smoking dangers

Plant-based diet yields cardiometabolic health benefits -MNT

I was a vegetarian in my younger days. I lasted for about five years. In those days, there wasn’t the same level of consciousness or acceptance of this kind of diet that there is now. Although I left vegetarianism, I have continued to limit the amount of red meat I consume. I also eat a lot of fish and seeds and nuts for protein sources.

Medical News Today reports that plant-based eating patterns continue to soar in popularity and a group of nutrition researchers outline the science behind this sustainable trend in a review paper, entitled “Cardiometabolic benefits of plant-based diets,” which appears as an online advance in Nutrients. The review will publish in a future special edition, entitled “The Science of Vegetarian Nutrition and Health.”

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The review outlines how a plant-based diet, which is naturally low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and rich in nutrients, like fiber and antioxidants, could be one tool, in addition to adopting a healthful lifestyle, used to improve nutrition intake and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

 

The authors, Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., and Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C., analyzed clinical research studies and reviews published until May 2017. Their research finds a plant-based diet, built around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, can improve nutrient intake and help manage body weight and glycemic control, improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reverse atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of the arteries caused by the accumulation of arterial plaque.

“The future of health care starts on our plates,” says Dr. Kahleova, the lead study author and the director of clinical research at the nonprofit Physicians Committee. “The science clearly shows food is medicine, which is a powerful message for physicians to pass on to their patients and for policymakers to consider as they propose modifications for health care reform and discuss potential amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill.”

To understand the health benefits of a plant-based diet, the researchers analyze its structure:

Fiber

Fiber contributes to bulk in the diet without adding digestible calories, thus leading to satiety and weight loss. Additionally, soluble fiber binds with bile acids in the small intestines, which helps reduce cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.

Plant-Based Rx: Aim to eat at least 35 grams of dietary fiber a day. The average American consumes 16 grams of dietary fiber each day.

Fats

Plant-based diets are lower in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can increase insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Plant-Based Rx: Swap meat and dairy products, oils, and high-fat processed foods for smaller portions of plant staples, like a few avocado slices or a small handful of nuts and seeds, which are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Plant Protein

Vegetable proteins reduce the concentrations of blood lipids, reduce the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, and may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Plant-Based Rx: Legumes, or lentils, beans, and peas, are naturally rich in protein and fiber. Try topping leafy green salads with lentils, black beans, edamame, or chickpeas.

Plant Sterols

Plant sterols that have a structure similar to that of cholesterol reduce cardiovascular disease risk and mortality, have anti-inflammatory effects, and positively affect coagulation, platelet function and endothelial function, which helps reduce blood clots, increases blood flow, and stabilizes glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Plant-Based Rx: Consume a high intake of antioxidants and micronutrients, including plant sterols, from whole plant foods, like vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, beans, and seeds. A plant-based diet supports cardio-metabolic benefits through several independent mechanisms. The synergistic effect of whole plant foods may be greater than a mere additional effect of eating isolated nutrients.

“To make significant health changes, we have to make significant diet changes,” concludes Dr. Kahleova. “A colorful plant-based diet works well for anyone, whether you’re an athlete looking to boost energy, performance, and recovery by enabling a higher efficiency of blood flow, which equates to oxygen conversion, or if you’re a physician who wants to help patients lose extra weight, lower blood pressure, and improve their cholesterol.”

Dr. Kahleova and the study authors recommend using a plant-based diet as an effective tool to treat and prevent cardiometaoblic disease, which they would like to see promoted through future dietary guidelines and nutrition policy recommendations.

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Loneliness a bigger killer than obesity, say researchers

When it comes to aging, I am reminded pretty much daily of the old saw, “Nobody said it was easy.” We need to work on our nutrition and our exercise every day of our lives as we age. But, that is not the complete answer. “Man does not live by bread alone.” It turns out that we need to take a hint from the Millennials around us and engage with others socially, too.

Writing in Medical News Today, Honor Whiteman reported on the importance or our social needs, alsoWoman-alone-staring-out-of-window-554224.

Two new meta-analyses from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, UT, reveal that loneliness and social isolation may increase the risk of premature death by up to 50 percent.

Study co-author Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at BYU, and colleagues recently presented their findings at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, held in Washington, D.C.

While loneliness and social isolation are often used interchangeably, there are notable differences between the two. Social isolation is defined as a lack of contact with other individuals, while loneliness is the feeling that one is emotionally disconnected from others. In essence, a person can be in the presence of others and still feel lonely. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, loneliness, obesity, successful aging

Are sugary drink interventions cutting consumption?

I have written repeatedly about the ill effects of soft drinks, both sugary and diet, on our bodies. You can check out my Page – What’s wrong with soft drinks? for chapter and verse. So this item in Medical News Today citing efforts to curb sugary drink consumption caught my eye.

An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people’s habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

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Nutritionists at the University of Leeds have carried out the first comprehensive review of interventions to reduce sugary drinks consumption. The team analyzed 40 studies with 16,500 participants across three age groups: children, teenagers and adults.

Their study, published in the Obesity Reviews journal, found that children participating in these programs reduced their sugary drink intake by around 30%, removing nearly 2.5 teaspoons of sugar from a child’s average intake of 16 teaspoons per day.

Interventions aimed at teenagers saw sugary drink consumption reduced by nearly 10%. However, there was almost no measurable change in adults participating in these programs. Continue reading

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Filed under childhood obesity, diabetes, obesity, prediabetes, sugar, sugary soda, sugary soft drinks, Type 2 diabetes

Beware of blue light at night – Harvard

Sleep, like walking, is one of the critical elements of good health very commonly not appreciated by the man on the street. I have a Page – How important is a good night’s sleep with a ton of information on it.

Here is some valuable info from the Harvard Health Letter on getting a good night’s sleep.

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Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.

But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. (My emphasis)

But not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.

Daily rhythms influenced by light

Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds fall short of 24 hours. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.

The health risks of nighttime light

Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be so bad for us. But we do know that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, and there’s some experimental evidence (it’s very preliminary) that lower melatonin levels might explain the association with cancer.

A Harvard study shed a little bit of light on the possible connection to diabetes and possibly obesity. The researchers put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a prediabetic state, and levels of leptin, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal, went down.

Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect, notes Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, says Lockley, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

The power of the blues

While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).

In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they’re not suitable for use indoors at night. Glasses that block out only blue light can cost up to $80.

Less-blue light

If blue light does have adverse health effects, then environmental concerns, and the quest for energy-efficient lighting, could be at odds with personal health. Those curlicue compact fluorescent lightbulbs and LED lights are much more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs we grew up with. But they also tend to produce more blue light.

The physics of fluorescent lights can’t be changed, but coatings inside the bulbs can be so they produce a warmer, less blue light. LED lights are more efficient than fluorescent lights, but they also produce a fair amount of light in the blue spectrum. Richard Hansler, a light researcher at John Carroll University in Cleveland, notes that ordinary incandescent lights also produce some blue light, although less than most fluorescent lightbulbs.

What you can do

  • Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  • If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.When I work on my computer late at night, I always wear a pair of blue blocker sunglasses. You can buy them on Amazon for under $20. I have no problems getting to sleep.

    Tony

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Filed under good night's sleep, harvard health letter, Harvard Medical School, sleep, sleep deprivation

More bad news for expanding waistlines

For decades, American waistlines have been expanding and there is increasing cause for alarm. Researchers make the case that metabolic syndrome is the new silent killer and that the “love handle” can be fatal.

I have posted on obesity in general and expanding waistlines in particular. If you want to read further on these subjects, check the links at the end of this post.

For decades, American waistlines have been expanding and there is increasing cause for alarm. Researchers from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University make the case that metabolic syndrome — a cluster of three of more risk factors that include abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, abnormal lipids, and insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes — is the new “silent killer,” analogous to hypertension in the 1970s. As it turns out, the “love handle” can be fatal.

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In a commentary published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics , the authors describe how being overweight and obesity contribute to metabolic syndrome, which affects 1 in 3 adults and about 40 percent of adults aged 40 and older. Clinicians have traditionally evaluated each of the major risk factors contributing to metabolic syndrome on an individual basis. There is evidence, however, that the risk factors are more than just the sum of their parts.  Continue reading

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Filed under big waistline, obesity, overweight, Weight, weight control, weight loss

Fructose is generated in the human brain

Fructose, a form of sugar linked to obesity and diabetes, is converted in the human brain from glucose, according to a new Yale study. The finding raises questions about fructose’s effects on the brain and eating behavior.

The study was published on Feb. 23 by JCI Insight.

Fructose is a simple sugar found in fruits, vegetables, table sugar, and many processed foods. Excess consumption of fructose contributes to high blood sugar and chronic diseases like obesity. The Yale research team had demonstrated in a prior study that fructose and another simple sugar, glucose, had different effects on brain activity. But it was not known whether fructose was produced in the brain or crossed over from the bloodstream.

 

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To investigate, the research team gave eight healthy, lean individuals infusions of glucose over a four-hour period. They measured sugar concentrations in the brains of the study participants using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a noninvasive neuroimaging technique. Sugar concentrations in the blood were also assessed.

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Some Facts About Weight Loss That Work

I would rather focus on eating healthy and exercising regularly than losing weight. However, since we are in the holiday season and eating temptations abound, I thought I would share these observations:

“…. There are facts about obesity of which we may be reasonably certain — facts that are useful today,” says researcher Krista Casazza, PhD, RD, from the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in a prepared statement, WebMD reported.

Here they are:

1. “Your genes are not your destiny. Moderate environmental changes can promote as much weight loss as even the best weight-loss drugs.”

I love this one. So often people use ‘bad genes’ as an excuse for their weight problems, ignoring completely their own bad eating habits.

2.”Even without weight loss, physical activity improves health.”

Another winner. I have reiterated this statement in at least 25 different posts on this blog. Eat less; move more; live longer.

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3. “Physical activity or exercise in the right amounts does help people lose weight.”

Amen. Listen to Uncle Sam.

4. “Continuation of conditions that promote weight loss helps people keep the weight off. Think of obesity as a chronic condition.”

Likewise, I think of good eating and exercise habits as chronic, too.

5. “For overweight children, involving the family and home environment in weight-loss efforts is ideal.”

6. “Providing actual meals or meal replacements works better for weight loss than does general advice about food choices.”

Both 5 and 6 sound like first rate advice.

7. “Weight-loss drugs can help some people lose weight.”

I am not going to argue with the experts here, but I doubt that the weight stays off if the person doesn’t change his/her eating and exercise habits. I repeat my recommendation to pay attention to what you eat and exercise regularly. That will melt the pounds away. You won’t need drugs.

8. “Bariatric surgery can help achieve long-term weight loss in some people.”

The study was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health. Our tax dollars at work.

Last, but not least, let me mention the Page that I have written – How to lose weight (and keep it off).

Tony

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Filed under American diet, calorie counting, childhood obesity, Exercise, exercise benefits, obesity, Weight, weight control

Don’t get hung up on your BMI (Body Mass Index)

I thought it might be timely to take another look at BMI (Body Mass Index) as we enter the holidays and we battle the bulge at holiday parties, family dinners, etc.

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Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

The usually reliable WebMD has a very nice quiz on fat that I recommend you take. It’s fun and can fill you in on some aspects of body fat that most folks don’t understand.

Having said that, I would like to take exception to the final question in the quiz which asks which BMI category is healthier? Anything below obese; The low end of normal; Anything in the normal range.

I wish we would do away with the BMI as a tool in evaluating fitness, health, fatness, you name it.

First of all, a lot of people think it tells them their percentage of body fat. It doesn’t. A person’s BMI is calculated as her weight in kilograms divided by her height in meters, squared.

It is an index, not a body fat measurement.

The readings are as follows: Underweight: less than 18.5; normal weight 18.5 – 24.9; overweight…

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Study supports lower cut-off point for defining prediabetes

At the risk of being a wet blanket on Thanksgiving Day, this seems an appropriate topic.

Let’s face it the majority of us are bad eaters. Some 60 percent of us are overweight and half of them outright obese. Additionally, we are seeing adult onset diabetes occurring in teenagers. We need to start eating better and exercising more.

The health risks and mortality associated with prediabetes seem to increase at the lower cut-off point for blood sugar levels recommended by some guidelines, finds a large study published in The BMJ today.

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Prediabetes is a “pre-diagnosis” of diabetes — when a person’s blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. If left untreated, prediabetes can develop into type 2 diabetes. An estimated 79 million people in the US and 7 million people in the UK are thought to be affected. Continue reading

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Poor sleep may raise risk for irregular heart rhythms – AHA

Regular readers know that I feel strongly that sleep is one of the cornerstones of good health. You can check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? for more details.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA):
• Poor sleep – even if you don’t have sleep apnea – may be linked to higher risks of developing an irregular heartbeat.
• In addition, getting less rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep may also be linked to higher atrial fibrillation risks.

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Disruptions in sleep may be raising your risks of an irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation (AF), according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016. Continue reading

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Chronic diseases and us – Infographic

I ran across this infographic in my meanderings and thought it had a lot of interesting if depressing information, like the increase in diabetes in the last few decades. On the positive side, “Many chronic diseases have a root in lifestyle decisions, from obesity to smoking. And, many of these conditions can be treated or even prevented by changing behavior.”

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Tony

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