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Posts Tagged ‘Obesity’

The number of obese people in our nation continues to escalate causing us to reflect on whether we are part of the statistics, and if not, should we care? Yes, we should. The rate of obesity impacts our entire population in multiple ways.See the source image

  • Healthcare costs: Studies show medical costs for those who are obese run 42 percent higher than costs for healthy weight individuals. Medical expenses (2016) related to weight issues resulted in $149 billion. Half of that was paid by Medicare or Medicare.
  • Job productivity: The consequences of obesity stagnate workflow because of missed work time and absence from schools and industry. Expenses increased for employers and taxpayers.
  • Military readiness: The most common cause of rejection for young adults into military service is related to obesity. Nearly one in three are ineligible due to weight problems. The Department of Defense pays nearly $1 billion annually for obesity-related issues.

Image result for clip art pixaby weight statistics

What is Obesity?

While it remains difficult to categorize everyone with the same standard, for adult the BMI remains the most functional tool to evaluate weight. Those who score 30 or above on the BMI scale are considered obese. Those with scores of 40 or more have severe obesity. Because the causes for this disease are complex, research studies continue to assess the many unique variances of individuals. While most who are overweight or obese overeat, the solution isn’t simply to cut calories, although that may be a good start for most.

Why We Should Care?

Obesity continues to rise to epidemic levels. Nearly 40 percent of American’s are obese compared to about 23 percent 25 years ago (late 80s – early 90s). Six states increased in the number of people with obesity from 2016 to 2017―Iowa, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Carolina―while 44 states did not show a statistical increase. That’s just one year. What fuels these increases?

Demographically, slightly more women are obese or severely obese than men. While nearly 40 percent of all adults are obese, less than 13 percent of Asians fall into that category while Latinos and blacks have the highest percentage. A greater number of middle-aged and older adults are obese than other age groups. Also, greater risks for obesity seem to occur in those with less education, those living in rural areas, and those with lower-income levels.

Image result for clip art weight loss

To abate continual escalation of this major health problem, many communities and states have provided better opportunities for those at greater risk as well as for the general public. Numerous towns and cities now promote farmer’s markets as a source for fresh produce and other local food products. Many states and communities have improved access to quality activities in parks, walking trails, and other activity venues.

While all these efforts help, much of the solution rests in food selections individuals make and the quantity of foods they eat. Some industries have lowered sugar content in many products, and others have sought to make society more aware of what they are eating, such as calorie counts on menus. It takes a concerted effort from all of us to choose foods wisely and to help others understand the best way to make healthy choices. Much remains to be done.

Appetizer Summer Organic Colorful Freshnes

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While heart disease, at slightly more than 23 percent, remains the number one cause of death in the United States, cancer with 22.5 percent of deaths, leads the way in mortality we can help prevent by behavior. According to the American Institute on Cancer Research (AICR), nearly 50 percent of the most common cancers can be prevented. February is “Cancer Prevention Month.” What are we doing to help thwart one of these cancers?

Image result for free clip art cancer preventionUp to 90,000 cases of cancer per year are thought to relate to obesity. Those most prevalent include colorectal, breast, endometrial, esophageal, gallbladder, kidney, liver, lung, pancreatic, prostate, stomach, and ovarian. Diet in general affects our risk. If this is an area we need to address, the AICR recommends several steps for cancer prevention.

  • Avoid underweight. While many facts are known regarding the problems of too much weight, underweight is not the answer. The wise will remain within a recommended weight range.
  • Avoid components in foods that can hamper weight loss or a healthy diet. Some of these include too much added sugar, especially sugary drinks and high calorie foods, excessive salt/sodium in the diet, and processed foods.
  • Avoid too much red meats and choose fish or white meats such as chicken.
  • Do exercise or remain physically active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day.
  • Do eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Several of these foods are high in antioxidants that are known to fight cancer. A few of those include the following:
    • Apple antioxidants come from several phytochemicals, namely quercetin, epicatechin, and anthocyanins. The peels have additional antioxidants.
    • Blueberries, one of the highest fruits in antioxidants, also contribute high levels of vitamins C and K, manganese, and dietary fiber.
    • Legumes, in addition to antioxidants, contain lignans (plant-based substances that may act like human estrogen) and saponins (health-promoting complex compounds) and other substances that may protect against cancer.
    • Dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale, romaine, mustard greens, collard greens and others provide excellent sources of carotenoids including lutein and zeaxanthin plus saponins and flavonoids. These chemicals may possibly protect against cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx, plus slow growth of certain cell types associated with breast, skin, lung, and stomach cancers.

No one can guarantee you will not get cancer, but how you treat your body can make a difference. Think about the foods in your diet that may contribute to your susceptibility to cancer. Then consider ways you can add or remove foods that may protect you from this dreaded disease. It’s no guarantee, but isn’t it worth a try?

Image result for free clip art cancer prevention

 

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The Paleo Diet, touted for weight loss, has a growing number of followers. What is this diet? Is it right for you? The Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman Diet or Stone Age Diet, refers to foods available during the Paleolithic Age, when early ancestors weren’t farmers but hunters and gatherers. They depended on food caught or gathered from open fields and forests.

According to Paleo enthusiasts, the diet includes lean meats, shellfish, eggs, fruits and vegetables, and healthy oils (olive and coconut). Restricted foods include dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, salt, refined vegetable oils (such as canola), grains, and all processed foods.

A recent study of older women on this diet caught my attention. The study included thirty-five post-menopausal women who followed the diet for two years and lost significant weight. A researcher not involved in the study pointed out that those conducting the study veered from a true Paleo Diet to one that mimicked much of the Mediterranean Diet, an acceptable plan for healthy eating. A study of only thirty-five subjects concerned me.

What can we believe? In January 2016, the U. S. News & World Report listed scores of the most common diets based on a scale from 0 to 5. The Paleo diet had a 2.0 overall score. On weight loss, it scored 1.9. The score for healthy eating was 2.1, and the magazine ranked “ease to follow” at 1.7.

The magazine rated thirty-eight diets, divided into nine categories. How did the Paleo Diet fare? For Best Overall Diet, it ranked number thirty-six, tied for next to last place with the Dukan Diet, and came in last for Best Weight-loss Diet. Not only that, to follow this diet requires more home preparation, thus more kitchen time ― a sparse commodity for busy families. It also tends to cost more.

Supporters of this diet claim it leads to a healthier, fitter, disease-free life. In actuality, it fails to provide a number of needed nutrients. Exclusion of dairy makes it difficult to get recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D. Limited grains and pulses (legumes) restrict needed fiber in the diet.

Before we embark on any diet plan, it’s wise to learn the pros and cons. When tempted to follow popular diets whose claims sound too good to be true, think again. They probably are.

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I am a longtime hot tea fan. For decades, anytime has been tea time for me. While others order a different favorite brew, as I do occasionally, I prefer black tea. Now comes evidence of my reward for my beverage choice. As little as one cup per day may improve health.

Tea contains flavonoids which have antioxidant properties. Flavonoids come from a broad category of non-nutritive phytochemicals found only in plants. These substances help to maintain health in varied ways. Other familiar phytochemicals include carotenoids, isoflavones, phenolic acids, and many more. It is estimated that hundreds of phytochemicals are yet to be identified. Tea has one of the highest concentrations of flavonoids of any plant. The type and amount in tea varies depending on several factors.

While antioxidants are in a different category, some phytochemicals have antioxidant properties, meaning they can help prevent or delay damage to cells and tissues. Antioxidants are found in both plant and animal sources.

Green tea has more of the flavonoid called catechins. Black tea, which has been fermented or oxidized, contains more of the flavonoids theaflavins and thearubigins. Both are water-soluble and readily absorbed into the body. For maximum concentration of flavonoids, steep tea for at least one minute. The longer the brew time, the higher the concentration of flavonoids and increased health benefits.

How is tea effective in health promotion? Research shows several conditions affected by flavonoids and perhaps other unidentified phytochemicals.

  • Heart disease: Tea drinkers may be more than one-third less likely to have a heart attack. Calcium deposits are linked to heart disease and other cardiovascular events. Buildup of these deposits, associated with plaque development in coronary arteries, is less in those who drink tea.
  • Dementia: Older adults with high levels of calcium plaques in their arteries are more likely to develop dementia earlier than those without calcium buildup. As in heart disease, tea seems to decrease the accumulation.
  • Neurological conditions: Antioxidants in tea have possible neuroprotective agents and may prove to reduce risks for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Other diseases: Researchers have found favorable, but not conclusive, evidence of lower risks of skin disease, cancer, excessive weight, and other maladies in tea drinkers.

But is it the tea or something else? Although researchers have not found a direct relationship, tea drinkers tend to live healthier lifestyles. Whatever current and future findings, tea is a wholesome, inexpensive drink that contributes to a healthy diet.

Drink up!

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Projected new cancer cases in 2016 will exceed 1.5 million. What can we do to avoid being oneWord cloud for Healthy Eating of those statistics? Excessive body weight is a definite link for increased risk of certain cancers. Two-thirds of U. S. adults are overweight or obese. According to the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR), one-third of all cancer cases hinge on three weight-related factors.

Eat Smart:    AICR recommends vegetables, fruits, and whole grains make up two-thirds of the meal. More than one-third of people surveyed by AICR claimed cost influenced their failure to eat healthy. The following include AICR suggestions to lower food costs plus my own thoughts.

  • Choose lower-cost fresh produce such as carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, oranges and foods in season. Many of these foods, especially vegetables, keep for longer periods of time so stockpile them when grocery stores run specials.
  • Stock up on canned foods. Canned fruits and vegetables are convenient and economical. Grocery stores also run specials on many canned items. To save on costs, choose store brands that in most cases are as nutritious as name brands.
  • Keep frozen foods on hand if space permits. Frozen foods are quick and easy to prepare and retain nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Move More:    Many claim a lack of time as their reason for failing to exercise. Easy ways to move more  include:

  • Take five-minute walking breaks. Sitting all day at work or at a desk is detrimental to health. Short breaks will improve physical well-being while giving your brain a break as well.
  • Include the family. Use TV commercial breaks for activity challenges for the entire family. Children often relate well to simple family games that involve movement.
  • Try new activities or resurrect old ones. Often sedentary past-times have replaced previously active ones. Find a family member or friend to join you in former active interests or join a class involving your favorite activity.

Maintain a Healthy Weight. Next to smoking, excessive weight is the single most important factor in lowering the risks of at least ten different kinds of cancers. In April 2016 the AICR released an updated report relating stomach cancer to extra body weight bringing that number to eleven. The report confirmed other food-related issues that also increased stomach cancer―consuming three or more alcoholic drinks per day and eating bacon, hot dogs and other processed meats.

More than half of the American population are unaware that weight is linked to their risk for cancer. Many find losing weight difficult and don’t know where to begin. The AICR “Cancer-Fighting Fridge” makes other recommendations in addition to those already stated.

  • Swap white processed grains for whole grains.
  • Make fruit and vegetables front and center
  • Replace sweetened drinks with water and unsweetened beverages
  • Keep easy-to-grab healthy snacks and meal options visible

May 8-14, 2016 is National Women’s Health Week. This is a great time to consider―not only for women but men as well― what you will do to lower your risk of cancer. Women can find additional age-related guidelines to help make more informed choices.

Knowing that too much weight leaves us more susceptible to unwanted cancer, why do we take losing weight so lightly (no pun intended)? Weight-loss is a challenge, but most of us can do it.

And one last suggestion from AICR worthy of note, support and encourage those making an effort to lose weight. Even small amounts of weight-loss benefit health. Don’t wait another day to begin the road to a healthier you and at the same time help others in their quest.

http://womenshealth.gov/nwhw/by-age/ (paste into browser if link fails to work)

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If you’ve wondered if exercise is really as important as touted by health professionals, now comes more proof. A report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in January 2015 found exercise can help prevent premature death.

For couch-potatoes who want to continue to live an inactive lifestyle, this study is bad news. Almost everyone knows the perils of smoking and the effects of obesity on health. Recent evidence from a twelve-year study of more than 300,000 European men and women support reasons to get up and move. Even twenty minutes of brisk walking per day may reduce by thirty percent the risks of dying prematurely. Other studies in Asia have found that fifteen minutes per day of mild exercise improved longevity by nearly fifteen percent. These levels of activity are less than public health recommendations.

If you are one of those trim and slim or you are just a little overweight, that’s no cause for smugness. The most striking results of increased physical activity occurred in those who were of normal weight and free of abdominal fat (pot belly). Moderate exercise had a greater effect on preventing premature death in normal weight people than it did in the overweight or obese. The European study found that increased exercise lowered the risk of death twice as much as losing weight. However, increased physical activity also made a difference for the overweight and obese.

The fact remains. Any physical activity makes a difference. If you want to live longer, whatever your weight, get up and move. The longer you wait to start, the more likely you are to die before your time.

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When we moved to Mississippi, I happily picked up the habit of eating “soul food” with all its abundance of fat. Who can resist southern fried chicken or greens with fatback? Previously we lived in an area where fresh seafood influenced my palate.

We may retain food preferences, but most people acclimate to the food culture surrounding them. I was no different. As a dietitian, I could readily see why Mississippi led the nation in the percentage of obese people. Sometimes being number one isn’t a good thing. In recent years, several communities and cities in the state have made strides toward more healthful living. How refreshing to learn we have been displaced as the state with the highest percentage of obese people.

The 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index identified West Virginia as the most obese state with 33.5 percent of its population in that category. The health department director from West Virginia blamed the change on fewer physical jobs and the increased availability of fast foods. The state shifted from one dependent on blue-collar workers to greater unemployment and changes in occupations. In addition to fast-foods, citizens have availed themselves of the ready access to junk food.

Unfortunately, Mississippi ranked second (32.2 percent) as the state with the most obese people followed by Arkansas (31.4 percent), Louisiana (30.9 percent), and Alabama (30.4 percent). Colorado remains the healthiest state based on an obesity rate of 18.7 percent.

National rates of obesity continue to rise. But that’s not all. Obesity has a tendency not to stand alone. West Virginia also had the highest rates of elevated blood pressure and diabetes. After West Virginia, the top states for high blood pressure included Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, and Arkansas, and those with the highest rates of diabetes were Kentucky, Mississippi, Indiana, and South Carolina.

After Colorado, the healthiest states for blood pressure were Wyoming, Utah, Alaska, and Minnesota and for diabetes, Montana, Minnesota, Utah, and Rhode Island.

Poor health habits correlate with high obesity levels. Disease conditions most often associated with obesity in addition to blood pressure and diabetes are:

  • high cholesterol
  • heart attack
  • knee pain
  • headaches
  • depression

Lifestyle practices most associated with lower obesity rates include:

  • healthy eating
  • frequent exercise
  • non-smoking
  • easy access to a place for exercise.

The evidence is clear. Regardless in which state you live, you are more than a statistic. Just because you may live in a state with a high level of obesity doesn’t seal your fate. Nor does living in a state with higher health rates offer you much advantage. You don’t have to be among the fattest. It’s up to you. Live healthy.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/152945/Obesity-Chronic-Diseases-Stable-Across-States-2011.aspx

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