Category Archives: obesity and illness

You Snooze, You Lose!

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One of the most comprehensive studies of the potential link between reduced sleep and childhood obesity finds compelling evidence that children who consistently received less than the recommended hours of sleep during infancy and early childhood had increases in both obesity and in adiposity or overall body fat at age 7.

While several studies have found evidence of an association between sleep and obesity in young children, few have examined the effects of constant sleep deprivation across time or used measures other than body mass index (BMI), which determines obesity based solely on height and weight. The current study analyzed data from Project Viva, a long-term investigation of the health impacts of several factors during pregnancy and after birth. Information used in this study was gathered from mothers at in-person interviews when their children were around 6 months, 3 years and 7 years old, and from questionnaires completed when the children were ages 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6.

Overall, children with the lowest sleep scores had the highest levels of all body measurements reflecting obesity and adiposity, including abdominal fat which is considered to be particularly hazardous. The association was consistent at all ages, indicting there was no critical period for the interaction between sleep and weight. Lower sleep scores were more common in homes with lower incomes, less maternal education and among racial and ethnic minorities; but the association between sleep and obesity/adiposity was not changed by adjusting for those and other factors.

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Can You Calculate a Healthy Weight?

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You may be familiar with the BMI or body mass index. It is that chart you may have seen that tells you if your weight matches your height as healthy. Different from simply stepping on your bathroom scale, which calculates only total weight, the BMI is supposed to give you an idea of how much fat you’re carrying around. It is found by multiplying weight by 700 and dividing the answer by height in inches then dividing that result, again,  by height in inches toreach a number which corresponds to a chart listing ranges telling you if you are underweight, overweight, or obese. The World Health Organization considers a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 to be a healthy reading.

Doctors have been known to use the BMI as a starting point for determining health, so you might assume it is the standard for fat measurement.  The formula was created by a Belgium statistician, Adolphe Quetelet, in the mid 1800s. His work, generally, focused on what characterized the average man. While considered groundbreaking, the BMI is really limited as it cannot differentiate lean weight from fat; a big problem. Since muscle weighs more than fat, when using the BMI a stocky athlete would probably be categorized as overweight or obese. If Jay Cutler (bodybuilding’s Mr Olymipa 2010) were to enter his height (5 feet 9 inches, or 175 cm) and weight (270 pounds, or 122 kg) into a BMI calculator, his BMI reading would be around 40 — seriously obese. But while Cutler typically eats about 6,500 calories of food a day, he is very lean and typically enters competition with low single-digit fat levels.

The body mass index also fails to calculate other imporatant factors, such as race, sex, and age. Since women need more body fat and muscle mass tends to decline with age many using only the BMI to determine health would be thinking themselves over or underweight when the opposite is the case. The Mayo Clinic points out another fatal flaw by stressing that a person carrying excess weight in the abdomen is at greater risk of disease than a person carrying excess weight in the hips. The body mass index can be a useful tool to begin the search for your ideal body weight, but it has serious flaws.

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The Effects of Your BMI on Your Sex Life

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sperm     I was really shocked by this report when I ran across it the other day.  it seems more and more maladies are finding correlations with weight. Now it seems that our weight is actually a factor in the rise and decline of the human population.
A recent study, by WHO (World Health Organization), found that between 1989 and 2005, average sperm counts fell by a third in the study of 26,000 men, increasing their risk of infertility. The amount of healthy sperm was also reduced, by a similar proportion.
The findings confirm research over the past 20 years that has shown sperm counts declining in many countries across the world. Reasons ranging from tight underwear to toxins in the environment have been advanced to explain the fall, but the actual culprit is believed to be the world’s rising rates of obesity.
The decline occurred progressively throughout the 17-year period, suggesting that it could be continuing.

To read more on this fascinating study, go to my latest newsletter for the rest of the article.

The Dangers of Holiday Overeating

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Most of us think the worst thing overindulging on the holidays will cause us to suffer is a bloated belly and possibly a hangover.  In actuality, the harm is much more insidious and longer-lasting.

It’s been estimated that most people will gain 1-3 pounds during the holiday season. Of those that do, most of them will keep that extra weight for good.

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Permanent poundage

A National Institutes of Health study conducted in 2000 suggests that Americans probably gain at least a pound during the six-week interval between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. The extra holiday pounds are likely to accumulate through the years and may be a major contributor to obesity later in life.

Holiday weight gain aside, overeating is dangerous because it leads to the production of excess free radicals—byproducts of cell metabolism that trigger oxidative stress, inflammation and scar tissue formation. The more food your body has to metabolize, the more free radicals are produced.

Free radicals and inflammation

Most chronic illnesses, from heart disease to cancer, are associated with an excessive production of free radicals. Free radicals damage cells by stealing electrons from them. For example, when excess free radicals steal electrons from the inner wall of blood vessels, the resulting inflammation can lead to hardening of the vessel wall (arteriosclerosis), which can compromise blood circulation, exacerbate high blood pressure and increase risk for heart attack and stroke.

Disrupting the endocrine system

Many doctors and researchers say that overeating causes biological changes that can lead to more overeating. For example, overeating disrupts the endocrine system. According to Dr. Sasha Stiles, an obesity specialist at Tufts Medical Center, excess food “sets your body chemistry sort of into red alert.” During an interview with NPR, Stiles said, “The kinds of hormone and metabolic processes that normally will try to metabolize food will go into overdrive to make sure they get rid of this huge food load.”

In addition to storing the excess calories as fat, Stiles explained that overeating triggers a harmful cycle in the body:  The pancreas produces extra insulin to process the sugar load and remove it from the bloodstream. It doesn’t stop producing insulin until the brain senses that blood sugar levels are safe. But by the time the brain stops insulin production, often too much sugar is removed. Low blood sugar can make you feel tired, dizzy, nauseous, even depressed — a condition often remedied by eating more sugar and more carbohydrates.

Thanksgiving and Christmas moderation

It’s no wonder so many people pass out on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner, only to wake up and have another slice of pie. But with some planning you can avoid the dangers of overeating during the holidays.

Start the day with a hearty breakfast and a workout. Maintaining your exercise and eating schedule will help you feel better and eat less. Show up for dinner in tighter clothes and don’t arrive starving. Munch on fresh fruit and vegetables before dinner. Stay away from the eggnog and save the beverage calories for a glass of wine with dinner.

Make Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner an exercise in moderation. At the table, don’t feel like you have to try everything. Save the calories for your favorite foods. Take smaller portions of high-fat, high-calorie foods such as gravy. Eat slowly and savor every bite. Limit yourself to a small slice of pie. Choose pumpkin over pecan pie and save a few hundred calories.

When you’re finished, drink a glass of water, get away from the table and invite someone to join you outside for a leisurely walk.

The best choice you can make is to start a dietary change during the holiday season.  Most people start these programs with a lot of anticipation and drive to succeed.  Bank on that excitement by beginning a healthy eating and exercise program during the holiday season which will have the added benefit of keeping you from making disastrous eating choices during the biggest overeating time of the year. (WebMD, November 12, 2012)

What is the Cost?

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Did you know?

  • Obesity is the #2 cause of preventable death in the United States
  • 60 million Americans, 20 years and older are obese
  • 9 million children and teens ages 6-19 are overweight
  • Being overweight or obese increases the risk of health conditions and diseases including: Breast cancer, Coronary heart disease, Type II diabetes, Sleep apnea, Gallbladder disease, Osteoarthritis, Colon cancer, Hypertension and StrokeImage

Did you know?

According to a study of national costs attributed to both overweight (BMI 25–29.9) and obesity (BMI greater than 30), medical expenses accounted for 9.1 percent of total U.S. medical expenditures in 1998 and reached as high as $78.5 billion ($92.6 billion in 2002 dollars) (Finkelstein, Fiebelkorn, and Wang, 2003). Approximately half of these costs were paid by Medicaid and Medicare.

Did you know?

The 2009 state-level estimates range from $87 million (Wyoming) to $7.7 billion (California). Obesity-attributable Medicare estimates range from $15 million (Wyoming) to $1.7 billion (California), and obesity-attributable Medicaid expenditures range from $23 million (Wyoming) to $3.5 billion (New York). The state differences in obesity-attributable expenditures are partly driven by the differences in the size of each state’s population.

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Did you know?

It costs less than $2500 to cure morbid obesity, less than $1500 to cure overweight, and less than $1000 to achieve a healthy BMI.  It does take a considerable effort in desire to make these changes and to choose optimal health.