Latest Health News

by DavalosMcCormack on August 20, 2007

Sleep your way to a thinner you

Fear of fat stops women quitting smoking

Oh no! More good news about exercise

Getting balance in your life – literally

Organic is better

Obesity increases risk of cancer

Healthy diet, blah blah blah – you know the rest
Chew on this!

You are what you eat

Too much salt of the earth.

Fat isn’t fun after all

Shed soda, shed pounds

Lose weight while sleeping

Fidget your way to weight loss

Sleep your way to a thinner you

Too much fast food is not the only cause of the expanding waistlines of many children, too little sleep is also part of the problem. That’s according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

The researchers looked at the link between hours slept and risk of being overweight for third and sixth grade children. They found that third grade children who slept less than nine hours a night were at increased risk of being overweight by the time they reached the sixth grade. This was true regardless of their gender, socio-economic status or ethnicity.

This matches research in adults that found people who sleep less, often weigh more. Why? Some research shows that too little sleep affects our body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates, may impair our glucose tolerance, and impacts the secretion of  hormones that help regulate our weight.

The good news is that by getting some extra shut eye people may be able to reduce their risk of being overweight. It’s the most fun diet tool ever!

Fear of fat stops women quitting smoking

Fear of weight gain is one of the key reasons why many American women do not stop smoking. That’s the finding of a new study from the Univeristy of Michigan.

The researcher says women who smoke tend to be further from their ideal body image – compared to non-smokers – and more prone to dieting and binge eating. This also matches earlier work by the same team that found that 75 percent of all women smokers said they would not give up smoking if it meant they might gain more than 5 pounds. In fact, many women said they started smoking in the first place to help control their weight.

It’s a powerful reminder that helping people quit smoking involves a lot more than just giving them a piece of nicotine gum.

Oh no! More good news about exerciseTaking those vitamin pills may be easy, but it doesn’t beat a good workout for keeping you healthy.

I know, I know. It’s not what any of us wanted to hear. But it’s true. Just ask the folks at Harvard Men’s Health Watch (hey, it has Harvard in the title so it must be right!)

They looked at all the various claims made for vitamins such as E and selenium reducing the risk of prostate cancer, or B helping reduce the risk of heart disease. They found that while the evidence in support of those is mixed at best, the one thing that has been proven to work is exercise. Even for people who eat a well-balanced diet.

So popping those pills may be easier, but hitting the gym or going for a walk works better.

Don’t hate me. I don’t do these studies. I just report them.

Getting balance in your life – literally

You don’t need a team of scientist from the Mayo Clinic to tell you are getting older (even if you still look fabulous) but sometimes it does help to have them tell you what you can do to reduce the risk of injury as you get on in years.

The secret, exercise. They found that regular exercise can help you improve your sense of balance and reduce the risk of falling, breaking a bone, or doing some other mischief.

What’s really cool is that they found that even people who didn’t start exercising until later in life also got big benefits in terms of balance – not to mention improving their heart health, their mental health, losing weight and looking better.

So, what are you waiting for?

Organic is better

If you are one of the millions of Americans who regularly pays a little, or a lot, extra for groceries because you buy organic, here’s some reassuring news. A study out of England says some organic foods may be more nutritious than non-organic.

The study showed that organic fruits and vegetables contained up to 40 percent more antioxidants than non-organic ones. Milk showed an even bigger difference with organic varieties containing 60 percent more antioxidants than non-organic ones.

The study was done as part of the European Union-funded Quality Low Input Food project.

Obesity increases cancer risk

A World Cancer Research Fund study says if you want to reduce the risk of developing cancer you need to stay slim, you should not eat processed meats such as ham or bacon, you should not gain weight after age 21. Oh, and you should avoid alcohol.

Sceptics might say this doesn’t mean you will live longer, only that it will just feel that way. However, the researchers are basing their findings on 40 years of studying the links between lifestyle and cancer.

They say they have found strong evidence linking excess body fat to six different common cancers including breast, bowel and pancreas.

Healthy diet, blah blah blah – you know the rest

Ok, stop me if you’ve heard this before. Women who eat a healthy, balanced diet, drink moderate amounts of alcohol, get regular exercise or physical activity, and maintain a healthy weight – oh, and don’t smoke – have a significantly reduced risk of heart attack.

That’s according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. It’s a very good publication with an excellent reputation. But is this information really new? Of course not. But that does not make it any less important? Absolutely not.
Look around you. How many people do all of those things. If people, men as well as women, followed that advice then researchers wouldn’t have to keep doing these studies. So, be nice to a scientist. Eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep. That way they’ll be able to take some time off.
Latest Diet Advice – don’t hang around fat people!

If you want to stay thin, then choose thin friends. That is the conclusion of a study of 12,000 people whose height and weight were tracked over more than 30 years.

The researchers found that when one person gained weight, those around them tended to gain weight as well. And the greatest effect was seen not in families, but among friends. A person’s chance of becoming obese rose 57 percent if they had a friend who was also obese, but only 40 percent if it was a family member who was seriously overweight.

Scientists say it shows how social circles influence our health behaviours.

Here’s the good news. When one person lost weight, or started leading a healthier lifestyle, those around them did too. So being healthy may be contagious. Go out and infect someone!

Chew on this!

A new study says that chewing gum before an afternoon snack helped reduce hunger, diminish cravings and promote fullness and satiety. The researchers say the people who chewed gum reduced their afternoon snack calorie intake by 25 calories.

Doesn’t sound like a lot does it, but then every little bit helps when you are trying to cut down on how much food you eat. If chewing gum works to reduce how much you eat at lunchtime then maybe it will have a similar effect before other meals. So, perhaps chewing gum before breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper could help you save 100 calories a day.

The study was presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Obesity Society. Solid sounding scientific credentials. But it was funded by the Wrigley Science Institute. That’s right, by the folks who make the chewing gum. Now, that doesn’t mean the findings are wrong. It just makes them a little harder to swallow.

You Are What You Eat

Things we do as children can have a lifelong impact on our health, long after we have become adults.

A new study from Tulane University shows that 50 percent of adults with high blood pressure, were overweight as children. With a growing number of children overweight or even obese, that’s an ominous sign of yet more health problems in the future.

The study, by epidemiologist Sathanur Srinivasan, also found that overweight children were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome as adults. Metabolic syndrome is a group of bad health indicators that include excess fat around the waist; high blood pressure; low levels of HDL, the so-called “good” cholesterol; high blood sugar levels; and high triglycerides. Those all put a person at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

The study, looking at the health history of 3,255 people who were screened in childhood, adolescence and later as adults, appears in the July issue of the journal Hypertension.

Too Much Salt of the Earth

Speaking of high blood pressure, some new guidelines have come up with some tips on how you can reduce your risk of hypertension. It begins with a relatively simple idea, cut back on how much salt you use in your diet.

The average American consumes around 4,000 milligrams of sodium every day. How much is that? Well, it’s almost two full teaspoons a day, every day. The problem is around 80 percent of the salt we eat is hidden in processed foods, fast foods, junk foods, even seemingly healthy restaurant meals, so many people are not even aware how much salt they are eating.

The new guidelines, by the American Medical Association, say people should really only be consuming around 2,300 mg or less for adults 50 and younger. For those older than that, or who already have high blood pressure, the guidelines are even stricter, recommending no more than 1,500 a day. That is the amount found in a slice of frozen cheese pizza. So the AMA is advising people to start reading labels more carefully, noting how much sodium is in a product, and what percentage of the daily recommended amount it is (also don’t forget to check how many servings are in a product – you will be surprised just how much that varies from product to product and can make a huge difference in how much salt you actually consume).

Some other suggestions are easier to follow and don’t require a calculator every time you go to the supermarket. Just eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. They don’t have any sodium. In fact, many have a goodly amount of potassium which can help reduce the impact of sodium on blood pressure.

Oh, and while you are at it, try getting some extra exercise or physical activity. That will do your blood pressure a world of good.

Not So Jolly After All

The popular image of fat people in America is of jolly, happy folk. Forget it. A new study shows that rather than being jolly, people who are overweight are far more likely to be depressed or suffering from some other mood disorder.

The researchers from Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, a large nonprofit health plan, followed more than 9,000 adults and found that depression and other mood and anxiety disorders were 25 percent more common in people who were obese, compared to people who were not obese.

What is not clear is whether obesity is caused by depression or a mood disorder because they may cause people to abandon healthy activities, or whether being obese leads to depression. However, the researchers say their findings are at the very least a warning to doctors to be on the lookout for signs of depression among their patients who are overweight.

Shed Soda, Shed Pounds

Cutting back on the cola consumption could help kids lose weight. That’s probably not a huge surprise, considering how much sugar and how many calories there are in the average soda, but the news is encouraging for parents looking for ways to help their kids shed some excess pounds.

Researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston enrolled 103 teenagers, between the ages of 13 and 18. Half the kids got a weekly delivery of non-sugary drinks to their home, either bottled water or artificially-flavored drinks. They also were told not to drink sugar-laden sodas outside the home, and given some tips on how to do that. The other teens were told to do what they normally do, drink what they normally drink. At the end of six months the first group had cut its consumption of sugary sodas by 82 percent. That cut in consumption had a big impact on the kids’ weight, and the heavier the kid to begin with, the bigger the effect. In contrast, the second group’s consumption of sodas remained pretty much the same, and they actually put on weight, an average per person of around one pound per month. All this happened while other factors that affect obesity, such as physical activity and watching television, remained unchanged over the six months.

The researchers calculated that just one 12 ounce sugar-sweetened soda every day, adds up to an extra pound of weight every 3 to 4 weeks.

So what are we to learn from this? Well, the kids in the study were given a $100 gift certificate to encourage them to stick with the program, so one lesson could be it pays to bribe kids to have good health habits. But perhaps the biggest, and most important lesson is that it shows how making even simple changes can have a big impact on health. And if this applies to children, you can be it applies to all of us. After all, calories are calories regardless of how young or old you are.

Lose Weight While Sleeping

Want to lose some weight, then get a good night’s sleep. That’s the surprising finding of a new study from researchers at Lavall University in Quebec, Canada.

The study, published in the July issue of International Journal of Obesity, found that children between the ages of 5 and 10 who slept less than ten hours a night, were up to 3.5 times more likely to be overweight compared to a similar group of children who slept 12 or more hours a night.

This is not an isolated finding. Similar studies in England and Germany found similar benefits, not just for kids but for adults too.

In the English study the researchers looked at preschoolers and found that the amount of sleep they got every night was enough to predict whether they’d be overweight or obese by the time they were 7. In the German study the researchers found that women who had trouble sleeping were at greater risk of obesity.

There are a number of possible reasons why not getting enough sleep may increase your risk of being overweight, but the bottom line seems to be if you want to shed some pounds, get enough sleep. And if you miss out on sleep one night, take a nap during the day to make up for it. It can’t hurt. And it’s a lot easier than going to the gym isn’t it!

Fidget Your Way To Weight Loss

Next time someone tells you to stop fidgeting tell them you are not fidgeting, you are working out!

Researchers at the University of Tennessee at Memphis studied healthy older people and found that the more active the person, the longer they are likely to live. And activity didn’t just mean going to the gym, going for a run or even engaging in any traditional form of exercise. Being active simply meant being busy. That could involve doing housework, doing some gardening, taking care of the kids, anything that involved movement.

They found that over six years the adults who were most active lived the longest, even if that activity involved nothing more taxing than normal daily household chores.

What is particularly encouraging is that this suggests that physical activity may have an even bigger impact on health as we get older than was previously thought.

You Are Never Too Old

It’s never too late to start. That’s the encouraging news from a study published in the online journal Heart.

The researchers found that people who start exercising later in life, after leading a lazy, inactive youth, can still reduce their risk of heart disease.

They looked at more than 800 adults between the ages of 40 and 68. Around half had heart disease, the others didn’t. After comparing them and taking into account such things as smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure, the researchers found that those who were active all their lives were at least risk of developing heart disease. Not much surprise there. But the encouraging news came in the group that didn’t start leading active lives, didn’t start exercising, until they were over 40. Despite that relatively late start they were 55 percent less likely to have heart disease than those who had never exercised at all.

Now, admittedly it’s a pretty small number of people involved in the study so this is far from definitive proof, but it is certainly pretty encouraging. Just think, if regular exercise, even when it’s started later in life, can have big health benefits and dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease then there’s no excuse why we can’t and don’t start developing healthy habits, at any age.

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