Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why Has Childhood Obesity Dropped Among Young Kids?

Childhood obesity remains a headache for many nations around the world as it can lead to a number of chronic medical conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Type-2 diabetes and even some cancers.

However, the figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on February 25, 2014 showed that obesity rates are falling among America’s fat preschoolers. Obesity among kids aged between 2 and 5 declined by 43 percent between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012, from 14 percent of children to 8 percent.

The report, which was also published on February 26, 2014 in ‘JAMA’ (The Journal of the American Medical Association), indicated that overall obesity held steady but remains high in the USA, with about one-third of adults and 17 percent of kids and teens are still classified as obese. Nearly a third of all kids aged between 2 and 19 and more than two-thirds of adults remain either overweight or obese.

So why has childhood obesity has dropped only among young children? There are many explanations.

First of all, children are consuming fewer calories from sugary drinks than they did in 1999. More women are breast-feeding that can lead to a healthier range of weight gain for young children. There was a drop in overall calories for children in the past decade (down by 7 percent for boys and 4 percent for girls), though some health experts argued that such declines were too small to make much difference.

According to experts tracking American food purchases in a large data project, families with children had been buying lower-calorie foods over the past decade together with changes in the federally funded Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children had caused the decline in obesity among young children. The program, which subsidizes food for low-income women, decreased funding for fruit juices, cheese and eggs and raised it for whole fruits and vegetables.

It is also possible that some combination of state, local and federal policies aimed at cutting obesity is starting to make a difference. For instance, 10,000 childcare centers across the country have signed on a program, which is led by the first lady of USA, to change children’s eating and exercise habits.

Then, the New York City also made a major effort to fight obesity by telling restaurants to stop using artificial trans fats in cooking and required chain restaurants to display calorie information on their menus.

Among health professionals, some pointed out that there was not enough data to determine whether the decline would spread to older children while others believed the decline was real but cautioned that the age group was only a small slice of American society.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - How Is Parenting Style Linked To Child Obesity?

Among many others, unhealthy diet with plenty of saturated fat and lack of physical activities are always being accused as the main culprits that cause the obesity epidemic. Recently, researchers from McGill University and Concordia University identified another link that could lead to childhood obesity - parenting style. Read more @Heart Disease Prevention - How Is Parenting Style Linked To Child Obesity?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lower Number Of Heart Disease And Stroke Linked To Diabetes

Diabetes is disease in which a person’s blood sugar level is higher than normal. In general, there are 2 main types of diabetes, namely Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes.

Type-1 diabetes results from the body’s failure to produce sufficient insulin or the cells of the body are not responding properly to the insulin produced, while Type-2 diabetes develops because of insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly. Type-2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and its main cause is excessive body weight and sedentary lifestyle.

Roughly 1 in 10 adult In the United States has diabetes, which is the 7th leading cause of death, as indicated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Singapore, every 1 out of 9 people aged between 18 and 69 is diabetic.

If not managed well, diabetes can lead to serious medical complications including blindness, nerve damage, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and limb amputation. Studies show that about 50 percent of patients already have diabetes-related complications at the time of diagnosis.

Recently, a CDC funded study revealed that heart attacks, stroke and other complications from diabetes are declining over the last 2 decades. Their findings showed that the rates of heart attacks and strokes among diabetics fell by more than 60 percent, so did the drastic declines in diabetes kidney failure and amputations. The improvements were noted even though the number of American adults with diabetes more than tripled in those 2 decades.

How did this happen? A group of researchers including those from the University of North Carolina attributed the drop to better screening, medicines and care. The results were published on April 17, 2014 in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’.

In the study, CDC looked at the complication rates from 1990 to 2010 for diabetics aged 20 and older. Hospital records indicated that during the 20 years, the heart attack rate fell 68 percent, from 141 to 45.5 per 10,000 diabetics. The actual number hospitalized with heart attacks dropped from more than 140,000 to about 136,000. For stroke, the rate fell less dramatically, at 53 per 10,000 diabetics. Amputation rates also fell by more than half but like strokes, the actual number increased over the 2 decades.

Kidney failure also dropped by 28 percent with the rate in those 65 and older actually increased. The researchers suspected that this could be because diabetics are living longer enough to get kidney disease.

The study also examined a less common complication, the rate of mortality, which dropped by 64 percent and the numbers also declined by 18 percent. In 2010, those deaths totaled 2,361.

Nevertheless, the researchers cautioned that a large burden of disease still persists as a result of the continued rise in the prevalence of diabetes.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Is Coconut A Healthy Food?

It seems that coconut is a food that should be avoided. But lately, people are pouring coconut into coffee and spreading it on toast, lured by endorsement from celebrities and enticed by promise that coconut can banish belly fat, boost heart health and even stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. To find out more, please click the following link:

Heart Disease Prevention - Is Coconut A Healthy Food?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Understanding Relation Between Disease and Salt Intake

Human body needs salt (contains approximately 40 percent of sodium) to perform a variety of essential functions. Sodium helps maintain the fluid balance and cardiovascular function in the body and plays an important role in the nervous system. It is also used in the uptake of certain nutrients from the small intestines.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that average adults should consume less than 1500 mg of sodium a day, but most Americans eat between 4,000 and 6,000 milligrams of sodium daily, that is 2 to 3 times more than they should.

Research had already showed that excessive intake of salt can raise the risk of getting a number of medical conditions including kidney failure, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

While it is possible to limit the amount of salt that is added to the food, it might not be easy to avoid salt that is contained in many processed foods, including luncheon meats, prepared sauces and soups, canned and dried foods, and commercially prepared baked goods. Other stuffs such as pickles, ketchup, cheese, and bacon piled onto the burger can also unnoticeably add up the salt intake. For instance, adding a serving of fries could cause a person to exceed his or her daily sodium intake in just a single meal.

A paper, which was published on March 28, 2013 in in ‘The New England Journal of Medicine’ by researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin, cited correlations between blood pressure and salt intake in a number of different studies, after a balanced review of the relevant literature.

Their findings typically revealed the causation between lowering salt intake and decreased levels of blood pressure occur in hypertensive individuals. There is also a link between salt intake and blood pressure in individuals who do not have hypertension, though it is not as pronounced. Moreover, recent studies have demonstrated that a decreasing salt intake is also associated with lower cardiovascular disease and mortality. 

Salt-reduction program had led to a lower salt intake in countries like Finland and Great Britain. In Finland, the resulting decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressures actually lead to a 75 - 80 percent decrease in mortality due to stroke and coronary heart disease.

Nevertheless, not all health professionals and researchers agree on the population-based recommendations to reduce the salt intake. Their reason is that salt is essential for life and it is not easy to differential between salt requirement and salt preference. There is always a risk to the health if the lower limit of salt intake has not been clearly stipulated.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Are Americans Fat Because of Cheap Food?

Why are Americans so fat? Is it because of the sedentary lifestyle, expensive healthy food, or is it because of socioeconomic status, race or geography? The answer is no, according to researchers from Rand Corporation and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, who denied all these reasons.

Read more to find out:

Heart Disease Prevention - Are Americans Fat Because of Cheap Food?

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Heart Disease Prevention - Can Coffee Lovers Be Spared From Diabetes?

Coffee is one of the world's most popular drinks, but it is frequently being blamed because of the caffeine contained therein. That is why people have been advised not to consume too much coffee. Nevertheless, a new study suggested that an extra cup of coffee might be associated with a lower risk of Type-2 diabetes. Read more @

Heart Disease Prevention - Can Coffee Lovers Be Spared From Diabetes?

Could Diet Soda Help Lose Weigh?

Health professionals have accused unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle as the main culprits that are responsible for the obesity epidemic. Being preferred beverages for many people especially the youngsters, sugary soda and drinks are categorized as part of an unhealthy diet. These drinks are bad because they contain excessive sugar that can cause regular drinkers to gain weight.

People who are overweight or obese are more likely to be victim of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and Type-2 diabetes. So many dieters who love sugary drinks simply opt for sugar-free drinks hoping this will help them lose weight. In fact, consumption of diet drinks has increased considerably in the past few decades from 3 percent in 1965 to 20 percent today. But in reality, doing so might just go against the wish of these dieters.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Columbia Mailman School of Public Health found that overweight and obese people who drink diet beverages actually consume more calories from food than heavy people who consume sugary drinks. Their findings were published January 16, 2014 in the ‘American Journal of Public Health’.

Data from the 1999 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was used to look at national patterns of drink consumption and caloric intake. The researchers analyzed participants’ recollection of what they had eaten and drunk over the past 24 hours.

Analysis showed that about 1 in 5 overweight or obese American adults regularly drinks diet beverages, including soda and low-calorie juices and teas, which is about twice the amount that healthy-weight adults are drinking.

While overweight and obese adults who drink diet soda eat a comparable amount of total calories as heavier adults who drink sugary beverages, they actually consume significantly more calories from solid food at both meals and snacks.

Why is this so?

It is known that human body fights to keep the weight stable. This perhaps can partly explain why weight loss is so difficult and it could also help reveal why overweight diet soda drinkers might be consuming more calories from solid food.

Previous studies had found that artificial sweeteners that are present in large quantity in diet soda could affect the brain's ability to control appetite; meaning people are more likely to snack. In other words, the brain’s sweet sensors might no longer offer a reliable gauge of energy consumption because the artificial sweetener disrupts appetite control. Hence, consumption of diet drinks might lead to an increase in overall food intake.

The study suggested that overweight and obese adults, who have already switched from sugary to diet beverages and hope to lose or maintain their weight might need to carefully examine other components of their solid-food diet, particularly sweet snacks, to potentially identify areas for modification. It also suggested that diet drinks could contribute to weight maintenance for slimmer people.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Why Physical Activity Is Important For Stroke Prevention?

With the help of physical activity, the risk of heart disease and stroke could greatly be reduced. Regular physical activity can also help prevent and control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and certain types of cancer.

Exercise, as shown by various studies, can actually cut the risk of such diseases as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50 percent, and the risk of early death by up to 30 percent.

Researchers from the Arizona State University, University of South Australia and the University of Alabama reported in their recent study that people who work out enough to break a sweat on a regular basis are less likely to have a stroke compared to people who are physically inactive. Their findings were published online July 18, 2013 in the American Heart Association journal ‘Stroke’.

The study examined 27,348 participants who were part of the Reasons for Geographic and Ethnic Differences in Stroke (the REGARDS study). The participants reported at baseline their frequency of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity according to 3 categories: none (physical inactivity), 1 to 3 times, and 4 times and above per week. They did not, however, reported how long they were physically active each day.

These participants were followed for an average of 5.7 years, and it was found that 1/3 of the participants reported being inactive, exercising less than once a week. Inactive people were found to be 20 percent more likely to experience a stroke or mini-stroke than those who exercised at moderate to vigorous intensity (enough to break a sweat) at least 4 times a week.

Mini-stroke is also called transient ischemic attack (TIA). It is an event that has stroke symptoms lasting less than 24 hours before disappearing. TIA generally does not cause permanent brain damage, but it is a serious warning sign of stroke and should not be ignored!

Among men, only those who exercised at moderate or vigorous intensity 4 or more times a week had a lowered stroke risk. But the relationship between stroke and frequency of activity was less clear among women. According to researchers, the weak relationship with physical activity and women observed in this study might be because women can get the benefit with less vigorous exercise such as walking that was not the focus of the analysis covered in the study. 

Being the first to quantify protective effects of physical activity on stroke in a large multiracial group of men and women in the United States, the study supported previous findings that physical inactivity is second only to high blood pressure as a risk factor for stroke.