Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

Obesity: Acknowledging the problem

With rising obesity rates in the US, viewpoints have arisen on how best to tackle the problem. Questions like ‘whose problem is it really?’ and ‘who is to blame?’ inform the search for solutions. Fast food and soda companies have taken criticisms in the swirl of discussions, as their products have been deemed the key culprits to obesity.


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In their defense, food and beverage companies have come up with promotional materials highlighting healthy lifestyles to combat obesity rates. This move, however, is still seen as problem avoidance. Alexandra Sifferlin recently pointed out in a TIME article that these promotional materials merely impute irresponsibility on consumers.


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Naturally, these companies cannot be expected to shoulder all of the blame in the interest of protecting their businesses. However, they could do better than current initiatives to inform consumers of the effect of soda and fast food on overall health and wellbeing.

By accepting their liabilities and by sending the right messages to consumers, food and beverage companies can keep their loyal customers while discouraging unhealthy eating habits such as overconsumption and a preference for only one type of food.


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REPOST: Really? Treating Sleep Apnea Reduces Inflammation

What is the connection between sleep apnea and inflammatory markers? This New York Times article has the details.


Doctors have plenty of good reasons to persuade people with sleep apnea to get it treated. The widespread disorder causes disruptions in breathing at night, which can ruin sleep and raise the likelihood of problems like obesity and fatigue.

The standard treatment for the condition, a mask worn at night that delivers continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, significantly improves apnea, even though many people don’t like to wear it. But the mask may do more than restore normal breathing at night. Some research suggests it reduces inflammation, benefiting overall health.

Many studies have looked at the link between sleep apnea and high levels of inflammatory markers. To get a clearer picture of the connection, a team of researchers recently carried out a meta-analysis that pooled data from two dozen trials involving over 1,000 patients. It was published last month.

The data suggested that treating apnea with CPAP significantly reduces levels of two proteins associated with inflammation: tumor necrosis factor and C-reactive protein, or CRP. Sleep apnea is a risk factor for several severe chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It’s not clear whether apnea helps drive the development of these disorders or vice versa. But reducing inflammation may be one way in which treatment with CPAP reverses some of the long-term consequences of the sleep disorder.


Treating sleep apnea with positive airway pressure helps to lower systemic inflammation, which might prevent some of the other problems associated with the disorder.

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Understanding weight loss: Exercising is only half the equation


One of the main reasons why a lot of people hate to exercise and go on a diet is because they do not see any lasting effects; thus, they get discouraged. But the real reason behind not being able to lose weight is because many people are doing the process wrong.


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Exercise is only half the equation, with the other half being proper diet. Both should go hand-in-hand. People who focus on both proper diet and regular exercise are often the ones who succeed in reaching their weight-loss goals. A simple rule that people should remember is this: a weight loss regimen becomes a success if the amount of calories lost through regular exercise or physical activity is higher than the amount of calories taken in during eating.



Many perceptions about exercise are also wrong. Most people exercise vigorously until their desired weight loss is achieved, and then they stop exercising. According to Robert Kushner, clinical director of the Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity, those who have lost weight and are starting to feel better should shift towards a more physically active lifestyle—one that they should maintain for the rest of their lives. Their new weight should be maintained through exercise because diet alone will make them gain back all the lost weight.


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Losing weight requires proper balance between eating healthy and exercising, and as long as this balance is maintained, proper weight loss can be achieved.

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Fighting obesity: Do diets really work?

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Obesity is a growing problem, especially in the US, where, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of adults are obese. Most people are averse to exercising, and thus look for alternatives, one of which is dieting.

Dieting actually began in the 19th century, but it is only during the 20th century that it became part of popular culture. Since then, many diet programs and fads have been popping up, like the Atkins and South Beach diets, all claiming to be effective in helping people lose weight. But do diets really work?


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This UCLA article states that dieting does not work. Traci Mann, UCLA associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study, found out that individuals can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of their weight on any number of diets, but the weight comes back and that sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority, leading to the conclusion that diets do not result to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.

Mann adds that “diets are not effective in treating obesity” and that its benefits are “too small and the potential harm is too large.”

Eating in moderation and exercising regularly can be more effective in losing weight and treating obesity. In fact, most studies find that people who exercised the most also lost the most weight.


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Hormone disorder and the Pill tied to blood clots

This article from warns women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) on the possible effects of taking Pill.


birthcontrolNEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women who have a hormone disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and who take the birth control pill have twice the risk of blood clots than do other women on the Pill, according to a new study.

“For many women with PCOS, (the risks) will be small,” said Dr. Christopher McCartney, an associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville, who was not involved in the new work. “For some women, they might be high enough to say we really shouldn’t use the Pill, such as for women over 35 who smoke.”

The three to five percent of women in the U.S. with PCOS have a hormone imbalance, which can lead to irregular periods, extra hair growth and higher risks for being overweight and developing hypertension and diabetes.

They are often treated with oral contraceptives, many of whose labels already include warnings about blood clots. A blood clot, also called venous thromboembolism, can be deadly if it spreads to the lungs, although none of the cases of blood clots in the study were fatal.

Because women with PCOS already tend to have more heart disease risk factors, researchers wanted to see if the Pill adds any additional risk.

They used medical and pharmacy information from a large health insurance database, including 43,500 women with PCOS.

On average, over the course of a particular year, about 24 out of every 10,000 women with PCOS taking the Pill were diagnosed with a blood clot, compared to about 11 out of every 10,000 women without the disorder using the contraceptive.

“Am I particularly surprised by the findings? No,” said Dr. Shahla Nader-Eftekhari, a professor at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, who treats women with PCOS but was not involved in the current study.




1506002_f260The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, could not say for sure why women with PCOS are more likely to have a blood clot.

McCartney said he suspects that obesity has something to do with it.

At the beginning of the study in 2001 the percent of women with and without PCOS who were obese was the same – about 13 percent – but by the end of the study in 2009, 33 percent of women with PCOS and 21 percent of women without the disorder were obese.

“I really think that could be something that’s contributing to the risk,” McCartney told Reuters Health.

“Weight not only contributes to the risks associated with the Pill, it also contributes to some of the symptoms of PCOS and some of the metabolic problems associated with PCOS,” he added.

McCartney pointed out that the risk of developing a blood clot, even among women with PCOS, is still considered small, and shouldn’t necessarily discourage women from taking the Pill.

Steven Bird, the lead author of the study and an epidemiologist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said that the importance of the findings is to raise awareness among women and their doctors that there is an increased risk for them if they take the Pill.

“Although the risk is small, prescribers should consider the increased risk for blood clots in women with PCOS who are prescribed contraceptive therapy,” Bird told Reuters Health by email.

McCartney agreed, and added that it’s also a good reminder for doctors of women with PCOS to discuss the importance of maintaining a healthy weight.



Leave the holiday bulk to Santa

That people love to eat is a universal truth. It is why, on average, people spend six years of their entire lives eating. During the holidays, when family members from out of and around the country meet up and eat together, you tend to eat—a lot.



Combined with the fact that you tend to exercise less during the holiday season, especially in the colder States, this holiday overeating contributes to rising US obesity rates and usually translates to higher medical bills owing to diseases due to obesity.

To control overeating during the holidays, here are some tips that people can follow:

Drink more water. Drinking a lot of water before eating can induce the feeling of fullness, thus preventing you from eating more than you need.


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Control your portions. Try sticking to eating smaller and healthier portions. Try to eat less carbs, sweets, and red meat, and more of the good stuff like vegetables and fruits.

Exercise. You don’t have to run a couple of miles in the snow just so you could get your daily exercise dose. Just being physically active can do. Dancing, playing with your children, or exercising at home can work wonders for your health.

Avoid alcohol. Alcohol decreases your inhibitions and increases your appetite, allowing for food binging sessions.


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As with all things, moderation is key. Leave the holiday bulk to Santa.


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