Tag Archives: overweight and obesity

MRI reveals brain damage in obese teens

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with our penchant for carrying too much weight, researchers using MRI have found signs of damage that may be related to inflammation in the brains of obese adolescents, according to a study being presented next week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Obesity in young people has become a significant public health problem. In the U.S., the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data from the World Health Organization indicates that the number of overweight or obese infants and young children ages five years or younger increased from 32 million globally in 1990 to 41 million in 2016.

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Reduction in fractional anisotropy (FA) in obese patients compared to the control group: At the intersection of the alignment vectors, a large cluster of FA decrease located in the corpus callosum on the left. In red: Reduction of FA in obese patients compared to controls, and FA skeleton (green), superimposed on the mean of FA images in sample. The image is credited to Study author and RSNA.

 

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Filed under cognition, cognitive decline, inflammation, obesity

Fries with that? Maybe not …

As an old fan of McDonald’s fries I was disappointed to learn that potatoes aren’t very healthy veggies. Here is what Harvard’s T.H. Chan had to say about them.

If you’re looking for healthful vegetables, steer clear of potatoes, say nutrition experts.

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Photo by Foodie Factor on Pexels.com

In a November 29, 2018 New York Times article, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Eric Rimm advised limiting consumption of potatoes, which he called “starch bombs.” Potatoes have a high glycemic index, which has been linked with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, according to the article.

Rimm, professor of epidemiology and nutrition and director of Harvard Chan School’s Program in Cardiovascular Epidemiology, said that french fries—coated in oil and sometimes served with high-calorie toppings like cheese or chili—are a particularly unhealthful form of potatoes. Referring to fast-food meals that come with fries, he said, “I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six french fries.”

Read the New York Times article: You Don’t Want French Fries With That

Listen to an interview with Rimm on WBUR’s Radio Boston: Leave The Fries, Take The Salad: Harvard Professor Defends Fry Proposal

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Filed under fried potatoes, white potatoes

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

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

A fresh look at Obesity – Harvard

I have been writing about obesity for years here. There are included links at the bottom of this post if you want to read further on the subject.

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Madeline Drexler, Editor, Harvard Public Health, wrote in the Spring 2017 issue: “According to 2014 national data, 35 percent of adult men and 40.4 percent of adult women are obese—that is, their body mass index, or BMI, a standard calculation of weight divided by height, is greater than or equal to 30. (Normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9; overweight is 25 to 29.9.) Among youth 2 to 19 years old, the prevalence of obesity is 17 percent, and extreme obesity (a BMI at or above 120 percent of the 95th percentile on standard child growth charts), 5.8 percent. All told, more than 70 percent of Americans ages 20 and over are either overweight or obese. Continue reading

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Filed under Harvard Health Publications, obesity

Is your child fat?

As you can see from this post, lifelong good health starts early. There are excellent tools here to make sure your children get off to the right start.

Tony

IS YOUR CHILD FAT? Here’s a question a growing segment of our PARENTAL population is going to have to begin asking themselves. The need to face REALITY is NOT based on aesthetics but rather the diseases and traumatic life altering compromises our children face if we continue to avoid this topic. The argument, “we should […]

via IS YOUR CHILD FAT? — All About Healthy Choices

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Filed under BMI, children, ideal weight, overweight, Uncategorized, Weight, weight control

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

With two-thirds of us overweight and one third outright obese, I have written about the dangers of obesity since the blog began.

Now comes the European Society of Genetics with news of increased risks from obesity.

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Barcelona, Spain: Obesity is on the rise throughout the world, and in some developed countries two-thirds of the adult population is either overweight or obese. This brings with it an increased risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and osteoarthritis. Many of these conditions do not appear to affect the parts of the body where the excess fat accumulates, but rather to involve body systems that are remote from the fat accumulation. Now an international group of scientists has taken an important step towards understanding the links between obesity and the related, yet physically distant, diseases it causes, the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics heard yesterday.

Ms Taru Tukiainen, D.Sc., a postdoctoral researcher working at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), Helsinki, Finland and colleagues from the UK and US, set out to study the relationship between body mass index (BMI), a common-used way of measuring obesity, and gene expression in 44 different tissue types, including some that are rarely accessible in large sample sizes, for example the brain and internal organs. “Most tissue sampling is invasive, but we were able to use the GTEx* dataset of tissues from autopsy donors, and therefore sample a far wider range than is usually possible,” Ms Tukiainen explains. “This is the first time that such changes in human tissue function in response to alterations in BMI have been explored among so many body systems simultaneously.”

The researchers found simultaneous changes in response to obesity in almost all the tissues studied. “These results show that obesity really is a systemic condition, and particularly a condition of systemic inflammation. Interestingly, though, the changes in tissue function appeared to be only partially shared between different types of tissues; some tissues clearly act in pairs with one half of the pair compensating for – or enhancing – the dysfunction of the other. For instance, adipose tissue and adrenal glands, which are both organs secreting hormones essential to metabolism, often react to changes in BMI in completely opposite ways, including a decrease in metabolic activity in the former and an increase in the latter,” Ms Tukiainen will say.

Although lifestyle changes are the most effective way to combat obesity, they can be hard work and difficult to maintain. Therefore the biological processes identified by the researchers may help the treatment of obesity by identifying potential drug targets, and particularly tissue-specific targets, they say. The results may also help to distinguish groups of individual who are at higher risk of developing complications, and lead toward personalized care.

“Our research highlights the burden of overweight and obesity on the digestive system. Although this is unsurprising, given the role of digestive system tissues in food processing, we found alarming links between BMI-related changes in different parts of the digestive tract and genes implicated in some diseases, for example Crohn’s disease.

“An association between two variables does not necessarily imply there is a causal link and, from the gene expression results alone, we cannot tell which is driving which. Do changes in BMI or changes in gene expression come first? We can, however, address the potential causes by using genetic variants known to be associated with BMI in combination with our data on gene expression,” says Ms Tukiainen.

Large-scale genome-wide association studies have already identified nearly 100 genetic variants that influence BMI. Analyses by the group that interpret this information further have shown that many of these gene expression changes, particularly in adipose tissue, appear to be caused by increased BMI.
“I believe that our work adds to the weight of evidence, and provides hypotheses for other researchers to follow up in the hope of being able to translate the results into ways of preventing and treating the very serious complications of obesity,” Ms Tukiainen will conclude.

*GTEx is a dataset consisting of thousands of tissue samples in which the RNA from each sample has been sequenced to measure gene expression. Because it is not a dataset collected specifically for obesity research, the donors are representative of the population as a whole, and the obesity epidemic is clearly reflected in that only 31% of GTEx donors are or normal weight; the remainder are either overweight or obese.

If you want to know more about obesity, check out these posts:

How does obesity affect you?

The public is largely ignorant about obesity risks

What are some obesity statistics?

Exercise can help to battle the obesity gene

Heart attack patients getting younger more obese

Eat less; move more; live longer are words to live by.

Tony

 

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Filed under heart disease, obesity

Heart attack patients getting younger, more obese

I am now in my seventh year of writing this blog on Food, Exercise and Living Longer. Nearly a million people have read posts in that period and the readership grows on a daily basis. So I was very surprised to learn that with all the increased sensitivity to nutrition, yoga, cross fit, exercise of every stripe, it seems, heart attack patients are getting younger and more obese.
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Despite increased understanding of heart disease risk factors and the need for preventive lifestyle changes, patients suffering the most severe type of heart attack have become younger, more obese and more likely to have preventable risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to a study scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Session.

The new study analyzed heart disease risk factors among more than 3,900 patients who were treated for ST-elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI–the most severe and deadly type of heart attack–at Cleveland Clinic between 1995 and 2014.

“On the whole, the medical community has done an outstanding job of improving treatments for heart disease, but this study shows that we have to do better on the prevention side,” said Samir Kapadia, M.D., professor of medicine and section head for interventional cardiology at Cleveland Clinic and the study’s primary investigator. “When people come for routine checkups, it is critical to stress the importance of reducing risk factors through weight reduction, eating a healthy diet and being physically active.”(My emphasis) Continue reading

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Filed under heart attack, obesity

What Is the Co$t of Obe$ity?

I have talked about overweight and obesity statistics here repeatedly. By now, is there anyone who doesn’t know that 60 percent of us at overweight and 30 percent of us outright obese.

You can read chapter and verse on How Does Obesity Affect You? personally.

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We have let ourselves go to the point that employers are now paying for it.

The Saturday edition of the Wall Street Journal talks about the costs in detail. “A 2011 Gallup survey estimated obese or overweight full-time U.S. workers miss an additional 450 million days of work each year, compared with healthy workers, resulting in more than $153 billion in lost productivity.”

Typically 20 percent of a company’s employees drive 80 percent of the health-care costs. and about 70 percent of the costs are related to chronic conditions resulting from lifestyle choices like overeating or sedentary behavior.

Companies, trying to get control of their rocketing healthcare costs, are fighting back. Last month CVS shocked some employees by asking for personal health metrics, like body fat, blood sugar, etc. or pay a $600 penalty. Michelin is adding as much as $1000 to health care costs of employees with high blood pressure or large waistlines.

After talking and writing about this for over three years, I wonder what it will take to get folks to do something about their personal health.

If you are reading this blog, perhaps that can be a first step. Check out How to Lose Weight – And Keep it Off.

Tony

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Filed under arteries, blood pressure, cardiovascular risk, fat, health care costs, healthy eating, healthy living, heart, heart disease, heart problems, living longer, Weight

What About Sugar?

I have written a number of times about the sugar content in various foods, Why You Shouldn’t Drink McDonald’s Frozen Strawberry Lemonade is one example. The drink has 67 grams of sugar in 16 ounces. That amounts to 15 teaspoons full.

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As is the case with salt, there is a lot of sugar hidden in processed foods. The key idea I try to get across here is there are 4.2 grams of sugar in a teaspoon. People read the sugar content in grams and it just doesn’t register with them.

WebMD has a nice quiz on sugar which you can take. Continue reading

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Filed under blood sugar, diabetes, fast food, McDonald's, obesity, sugar, sugary soft drinks, Weight