Friday, May 29, 2015

Do Baby Foods Contain Excessive Salt And Sugar?

Consuming high content of salt will raise the risk of getting high blood pressure that will eventually lead to heart disease and stroke. Taking excessive amount of sugar can cause people to become overweight or even obese, which is associated with many disorders including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and Type-2 diabetes.

While many people are aware of these health risks and taking steps to cut down the consumption of packaged and processed foods, there is evidence showing that adults are giving foods packed with salt and sugar to their babies and toddlers. A new study, which was published online February 2, 2015 in journal ‘Pediatrics’, reported that many baby and toddler foods often contain too much sugar or sodium.

Being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the study examined the nutritional information of 1,074 infant and toddler food products taken from 2012 nutrient database. The majority of infant foods were found to be low in sodium.

Of the 79 infant mixed grains and fruits, 41 contained at least one added sugar and 35 also had at least 35 percent of calories coming from sugar. Toddler foods fared poorly, too. 72 percent of toddler dinners contain more than 210 mg of sodium. About half the foods made for toddlers contained amount of sodium equivalent of plain potato chips. 32 percent of toddler dinners and the majority of other toddler foods contained more than 1 added sugar.

In the United States, almost 80 percent of kids aged between 1 and 3 consume more than the recommended daily maximum level of salt (1,500 mg). It is also known that about 1 in 9 children have blood pressure above the normal range for their age, and excess sodium is associated with increased blood pressure. Blood pressure tracks from when children are young into when they are adults.

Though there are no conclusive studies indicating that introducing sugar too early can actually lead to an increased likelihood of diabetes, giving infants and toddlers too much sodium and sugar will make them picky eaters. After eating tasty foods with too much salt and sugar, they will probably not going to have some healthy like fresh vegetables.

Nevertheless, the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America (GMA) issued a statement defending that the food products examined in the study was based on 2012 database that did not reflect a wide range of new healthy products with lower sodium.

As suggested by some health experts, it is best for parents to make their own food, if possible. Parents are also advised to spend an extra 5 or 10 minutes to read the labels to find out the contents of sodium and sugar before buying any products for their children.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Would Raising Legal Age To Buy Cigarettes Cut Use?

Numerous studies have shown that smoking can cause many medical disorders including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, lung cancer and respiratory disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking causes more than 480,000 Americans die (1 in 5) each year.

In the United States, the smoking rates have dropped sharply from 42 percent of the population in 1964 to 18 percent today because of the smoking curbing measures that have been implemented over the years. Yet 40 million Americans continue to smoke. That is why scientists are still finding ways to bring down the smoking rates further.

On March 12, 2015, the Institute of Medicines (IOM) released a report stating that increasing the minimum age to buy tobacco-related products to 21 or 25 from 18 could significantly reduce their use and tobacco-related diseases in the United States. The study was conducted at the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Their findings showed that if the minimum age were raised to 19, smoking prevalence would decrease by 3 percent by 2100, and it would decrease by 12 and 16 percent in the same period if the legal age were raised to 21 or 25.

By increasing the minimum age to buy tobacco products, it is possible to cut many illnesses caused by smoking. For instance, it was estimated that if the legal age were raised to 21, there would be 249,000 fewer premature deaths for people born between 2000 and 2019, 45,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer and 4.2 million fewer years of life lost. It also would result in about 286,000 fewer pre-term births and 438,000 fewer babies born with low birth weights.

Cigarettes are sold in most American states to customers who age 18 and above. States like Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey, and Utah have set the minimum age to 19 while New York City and several other localities nationwide have already raised it to 21.

A 2012 report by the United States Surgeon General revealed that increasing the legal age would help suppress the cigarette use before it becomes an adult habit. Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers first light up by the age of 18, and 99 percent start by 26.

Raising the minimum sales age to 21 can put legal purchasers outside the social circle of most high-school students. Most people supplying cigarettes to teens who age between 18 and 20, and many of them are still in high school. Right now, with 18 as the minimum age, a 16-year old could easily come into contact with an 18-year old, but they are much less likely to come into contact with a 21-year old, according to some health experts.

More than 70 percent of Americans and 58 percent of current smokers support increasing the minimum age to 21, as reported by a study published in February 2015 in the peer-reviewed journal ‘Tobacco Control’.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Heart Disease Prevention - What Is Fibromuscular Dysplasia?

Being a poorly understood cardiovascular disease, Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) can strike women up to 10 times more than men. It can lead to many complications including hypertension, chronic kidney failure, aneurysms, and spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). Read more at:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Does Sleeping Pattern Affect Body Weight?

Previous studies have linked sleep deprivation to obesity as well as many medical disorders including diabetes and high blood pressure, which are also risk factors for heart disease and stroke. A recent study, however, claimed that sleep variations could as well be bad for the waistline.

It is not how long one sleeps that matters, it is about day-to-day variations in how long one sleeps. Researchers from Penn State University College of Medicine presented their paper during the EPI/Lifestyle 2015 Scientific Sessions organized by the American Heart Association (AHA) held between March 3 and 6 in San Diego. Teenagers who slept less or slept more than usual were found to eat more, and eat worse food.

Data of 342 teenagers from the Penn State Child Cohort follow-up study were used in the study. Participants, with an average age of 17, were asked to wear actigraph bracelets that tracked their cycles of activity and rest over 7 days so that how long they slept each night could be measured. They also answered a food frequency questionnaire to see how many calories and snacks, and how much protein, fat, and carbohydrates they regularly consumed in the previous year. The relationship between sleep duration, day-to-day sleep variations and food intake were then analyzed.

Results of their analysis, after adjusting for age, sex, race, and body mass index, indicated that teens slept on average just 7 hours a night. This was obviously less than 9 to 10 hours, as recommended by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Those who slept an hour less or an hour more than normal ate 201 more calories per day, ate about 6 grams more total fat and 32 grams more carbohydrates daily, 60 percent higher chance of nighttime snacking on school nights, and 100 higher chance of nighttime munching on weekends. The teens were found to sleep more on weekends than weekdays.

According to researchers, it is possible that getting less sleep might make a teenager more sedentary the next day so they become a couch potato, snacking in front of the television. Meanwhile, it is likely that shifts in sleep patterns result in a hormonal imbalance, causing these teens to eat more.

Sleep duration itself might matter more only if the teens were to be extremely sleep deprived, for instance, sleeping only 4 hours nightly. But it is more important to have a regular sleep pattern rather than sleeping longer one day and shorter on another. Hopefully, these findings might help better understand how obesity develops among young people.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Heart Disease Prevention - How Could Unhealthy Diet Affect Children’s Health?

According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Health experts attributed the obesity epidemic to sedentary lifestyle and especially unhealthy diet. A recent study revealed that American kids eat excessive amount of salt and sugar and do not eat sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables. Find out more at:

Thursday, May 07, 2015

How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Weight And Health?

When one has insufficient sleep during the night, he or she might feel sleepiness the next morning that might cause accidents either on the road or at work. Lack of sleep might also impair judgment and make one forgetful.

During the EPI/Lifestyle 2015 Scientific Sessions organized by the American Heart Association (AHA) held between March 3 and 6 in San Diego, researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar reported that people who lose as little as 30 minutes of sleep on a weekday have changes in their metabolism that might make them gain weight and put them at risk of getting diabetes.

522 patients who had just been diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes were studied. They were taking part in a different study meant to determine whether exercise and diet would help and as part of the study, the volunteers also filled out a sleep diary.

Patients who had 30 minutes less than the recommended 8 hours a night were more likely to be obese and also had insulin resistance that could lead to diabetes. After a year, for every 30 minutes under 8 hours, the rate of obesity went up by 17 percent and the rate of insulin resistance, a key problem of diabetes, went up 39 percent.

In another study that was published online February 19, 2015 in the journal ‘Diabetologia’, researchers from the University of Chicago revealed the reasons why getting too little sleep might raise the risk of diabetes. According to them, lack of sleep could lead to increased levels of substances known as fatty acids in the blood. As long as fatty acid levels remained high, the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels was impaired.

The study was small and involved only 19 healthy men who aged between 18 and 30. They participated in 2 sleep scenarios. In one, they got a full night's sleep (about 8 hours a night) for 4 nights. In the other, they only got slightly more than 4 hours of sleep a night. After a few consecutive nights of getting too little sleep, the men's blood levels of fatty acids increased and stayed high for about 5 hours in the early morning hours. These levels usually peak and then drop overnight.

Overweight is undesirable as it is one of the key risk factors for heart disease and stroke, and so is diabetes. Fortunately, as the researchers suggested, high rates of obesity and diabetes could be reduced by something as simple as getting more sleep.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Heart Disease Prevention - How Can A Simple Dietary Change Help Lose Weight?

In theory, losing weight is just a matter of controlling the intake of calories so that the body gets all it needs without gaining weight. But in reality, this is hardly an easy task. Good news for these people is that a new study revealed that a simpler approach might work: eat more of certain foods and do not worry so much about calorie counting.