Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why Should Junk Food Advertisements Be Banned?

Children obesity has been a headache for not only developed but also many developing nations. Overweight or obese children will have a higher risk of developing chronic diseases like hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, Type-2 diabetes and stroke later in their life.

Inadequate physical activity and unhealthy diet are the 2 main reasons identified by health experts that cause the childhood obesity. Children tend to watch long hours of television and eat a lot of junk foods.

In a paper published in June 2011 in the journal ‘Pediatrics’, researchers from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom reported that television advertisements for junk food really make children hunger for those treats, especially if they watch a lot of television.

A DVD featuring commercials for fast food and junk food seemed to stimulate the appetites for sweet and high fat fare for children aged between 6 and 13 years old.

The children involved in the study had a greater desire for sweet and fatty foods after viewing the junk-food advertisements compared to days when they watched advertisements for toys. This was especially true for those children who watched a lot of television (defined in the study as over 21 hours a week).

While children wanted more high carbohydrate, high fat foods after watching junk food advertisements, the effects of the advertisements were modest. The researchers argued that in real life, a lot of other factors like parents’ willingness to buy those junk foods could affect the choice of food for the children.

Exposure to television food commercials would enhance high television viewers' preferences for branded foods and increased reported preferences for all food items (branded and unbranded) relative to the low television viewers, according to the researchers.

Children nowadays watch television not only at home but also on their computers as well as mobile phones, which can add up to a lot of hours. There is no doubt that parents should limit the television time of their children, but of course with some help. This is because parents alone cannot counter the food companies who spend huge amount (about $2 billion) every year on fun and irresistible advertisements aiming at kids.

Perhaps it is time for legislation and any relevant authorities to step in!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

How Is Waistline Linked To Stroke?

Cerebrovascular disease is a group of brain dysfunctions related to disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain, with hypertension (high blood pressure) being the most important cause. Results of cerebrovascular disease can include a stroke, or occasionally a hemorrhagic stroke.

In Taiwan, cerebrovascular disease ranked third in the 10 leading causes of death, showing stroke could be the immense threat for the health of Taiwanese.

Scientists have found the link between waistline and heart disease. But how about stroke, does it also has some connection with the waistline?

According to a study conducted by the Millennium Health Foundation (MHF) in Taiwan, a one-centimeter increase in waistline raises the likelihood of getting a minor stroke by 2 percent.

Minor stroke, also known as transient ischemic attack (TIA), is a condition showing stroke-like symptoms that generally last for just a few minutes and do not cause any lasting impairment. TIA is, however, a warning sign of possible serious and disabling strokes. Research showed that about one in 20 people who have a TIA will have a major stroke within a few days and one in 10 will have one within 3 months.

From the data collected and released in 2010 by MHF, among 40 percent of the people whose waistlines exceeded the standard range, 70 percent of men and 60 percent of women, had abnormal blood pressure that could possibly lead to stroke. Such result showed the existence of a strong positive correlation between waistline and possibility of getting a minor stroke.

When people enter middle age, they will have their waistline increased by around 10 cm on average, the increase in probability of suffering a minor stroke will therefore amount to 20 percent. Once a person suffers a minor stroke, the chances that he or she would get a severe stroke afterwards is 10 times that of a person without a prior minor stroke.

In order to prevent stroke, MHF suggests people should limit their waistlines to a maximum of 90 cm for males and 80 cm for females.