More Than 100 Pounds Overweight
The population of severely obese people, those with 100+ pounds to lose, is increasing more rapidly than the moderately obese, finds a RAND Corp. study. From 2000 to 2010, the proportion of Americans who are considered severely obese rose from 3.9% to 6.6%. This translates to more than 15 million adult Americans who are severely obese. However, in 2005, this growing trend seemed to be flattening out. Severe obesity is more common among women and twice as high among blacks, when compared to whites and Hispanics. In numbers, severe obesity means that a 5’4” tall woman would weigh 250 pounds; a 5’10” man severely obese man would weigh about 300 pounds. People with a BMI of 25 to 29 are considered overweight; a BMI of 30 is considered obese. Severely obese people have BMIs of 40 and above.
Fat Hurts and Helps
While obesity increases the odds of heart failure, it also appears to reduce the risk of death and other associated problems based on results from a study conducted by researchers at the University of California - Los Angeles. Scientists determined the body mass index (BMI) of around 2,700 people with heart failure and 469 had their belly circumference measured. A BMI of 25 or higher and a waist circumference of at least 40 inches and 37 inches in men and women, respectively, were categorized as high. Men and women with normal BMIs were at an increased risk for poor outcomes by 34 and 38 percent, respectively. Researchers believe that more muscle mass, more metabolic reserves from fat tissue and more anti-inflammatory lipoproteins may explain what is known as the "obesity paradox."
Developmental Disorders Too
Maternal obesity may be linked to an increase in the risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder finds a study published in the online journal Pediatrics. Researchers compared medical histories of 315 normally developing children with those of 517 children with autism and 172 children with development disorders and found that the risk of autism increased by 70% when the mother was obese, defined as having a BMI of 25+. In addition, maternal obesity doubled the risk of having a baby with neurodevelopmental delays, found the study. Researchers say the study shows an association between maternal obesity and autism and not that obesity causes autism. In the meantime, women planning on becoming pregnant are advised to watch their weight.
Is It You or the Doctor?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) obesity affects more than one-third of the U.S. adult population, but a new study reveals those results might not be entirely accurate. While a patient’s body mass index (BMI) is used an indicator for obesity, your doctor’s own weight might also play a role. According to the study, some doctors with a normal BMI are more likely to talk with patients about weight loss and more likely to give a diagnosis of obesity if the patient’s BMI is equal to or greater than their own. Meanwhile, obese doctors are more likely to prescribe weight loss medication and also more likely to report success in helping patients lose weight.
150 Minutes Per Week
People who participate in 150 minutes per week of moderate to intense physical activity sleep better and are more alert during the day, says a new study of a nationally representative sample of more than 2600 men and women, ages 18-85. It’s estimated that, among US adults, 30 to 40% have sleep issues or feel sleepy during the day. "Increasingly, the scientific evidence is encouraging as regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep,” says study author Brad Cardinal, Oregon State U. Researchers, who controlled for age, BMI, smoking and depression status and general health, concluded that the risk of feeling sleepy during the day decreased by 65% for those meeting physical activity guidelines.
Overweight People Eat Faster
Eating slowly lowers food intake says research from the U of RI that also found that men eat faster than women and heavier people eat faster than slimmer ones. Fast eaters ate about 3.1 oz of food/minute while slow eaters consumed 2 oz/minute. Men consumed about 80 calories/minute while women ate 52 calories/minute. A second study found that people with a higher body mass index (BMI) eat considerably faster than those with a low BMI. "One theory we are pursuing is that fast eating may be related to greater energy needs, since men and heavier people have higher energy needs," says researcher Kathleen Melanson. "It takes time for your body to process fullness signals," she says, "so slower eating may allow time for fullness to register in the brain before you've eaten too much."
Began in Late 90s
The epidemic of childhood obesity began about 15 years ago, says a new UNC study that focused on 100,000 adolescents and four national databases that tracked BMI’s of 12 to 26 year olds from 1959 to 2002. The results showed that BMIs increased “sharply in the adolescent ages beginning in the 1990s and among young adults around 2000,” especially for black females, says lead researcher Hedwig Lee. The study shows how an issue that used to begin in middle age now affects young adults. "It's scary because the earlier weight gains mean earlier onset of chronic illness such as hypertension (or high blood pressure) in the 20s instead of 40s," says Lona Sandon, UT. Definitive causes remain undefined, but researchers cite increased time in front of the computer or TV.
How Much Is Enough?
Obese and overweight people exercise more than commonly thought, finds a new study that studied the activities and intentions of 175 overweight and obese people who answered questions about their exercise habits. Results indicate the following: 29% had been exercising for six months; 39% said they exercised regularly and 12% said they had no desire or thoughts of exercising. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 34% of the US population is obese, a condition that results in 300,000 deaths per year due to complications which include diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It’s notable that the study found that those with lower BMIs exercised more. Researchers hope to use results to help people move from contemplating exercising to actually doing it.
Higher BMIs and Obesity
People who travel more than 20 days per month are at higher risk for obesity, high cholesterol and an unhealthy BMI than those who travel one to six days per month. Researchers at Columbia U examined data from medical records of 13,000 people, the vast majority of whom traveled at least one night per month. Besides the health risks, those who travel extensively were more likely to rate their health as fair to poor than those whose travel is limited. Study authors say that road warriors should monitor their health and that, should further studies substantiate a link between business travel and metabolic diseases, workplace interventions that include education programs and strategies to improve diet and activity while on the road should be instituted to encourage good habits.
Replacing Lost Calories
A study of 145 Australian kids found that kids switched to low fat dairy products did not lower their weight their body mass index (BMI) anymore than kids who did not get dietary advice. Consuming low fat dairy did cause their cholesterol to drop slightly. Dairy products lower in fat content do contain less cholesterol but the calcium and vitamin D levels are the same making the transition safe. Overall fat consumption was 13.3 percent and 16.6 percent in the low fat and control group, respectively. But the fact that kids in the low fat dairy group, researchers believe they are just getting more calories from other dietary sources. The National Dairy Council says these results support previous research that milk either has no effect or a positive effect on body composition.
A government-funded long term study of 76,628 women found that normal weight and overweight women (BMI under 30) who smoked were at a higher risk of breast cancer compared to no added risk in obese women (BMI over 30). The longer normal weight and overweight women smoked, the higher the risk. These results surprised researchers because estrogen fuels a lot of breast cancers and fat tissue produces it. They think the risk of breast cancer from obesity is masking the smaller risk from smoking and also hypothesize the obese women die of other problems such as heart disease before cancer even develops. Researchers want to emphasize more studies need to be done before they can confirm or refute the possible relationship between smoking, weight and the risk of breast cancer.
Lower BMI Reduces Death Risk
"The ideal woman's BMI from the standpoint of attracting men is 20.8. So you need to choose between a longer life, or a better love life."
- Mark in the comments
A body mass index between 20.0 and 24.9 is associated with the lowest risk of death in healthy, non-smoking, non-Hispanic white adults, finds a study from the National Institutes of Health. Researchers pooled data from 19 long-term studies and found that healthy, non-smoking, overweight women were 13 % more likely to die during the study’s follow-up period than were women with a BMI between 22.5 and 24.9. Researchers report a 44 % increase in risk of death for obese women with BMIs of 30 to 34.9. Results were the same for men. Researchers accounted for lifestyle risk factors and came up with similar results, indicating that BMI plays a large role as a risk factor for death. They plan to broaden the range of the study to include other ethnic and racial groups.
Minor Complaints Likely
Obese men and women are more likely to visit their general practitioners than smokers, say Dutch researchers. BBC reports on the study involving data from almost 4,500 adults. The findings aren't explained by obese people having higher rates of chronic illnesses like diabetes. While researchers thought they'd find that unhealthy people visit the GP more often, instead they found that only body mass index, BMI, was independently associated with the frequent GP visits made by obese people. Researchers speculate that obese men and women visit their doctors more often for minor complaints like sleep problems or musculoskeletal pain, but more research is needed to determine the cause of the frequent visits.
Obese and Pregnant
A study involving almost 125,000 women who gave birth between 2002 and 2008 suggest a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) may increase the risk of having a C-section. Fourteen percent of the women in the study had a c-section and for every unit increase in BMI, that chance increased by 4 percent. Women giving birth for the first time or who had children but no C-section had a 5 percent risk of having one with a one-unit increase in BMI, while those who had had children and a previous C-section had a 2 percent increased risk. Other factors do increase the chance of a C-section and now obesity appears to be another. Dr. Hugh Ehrenburg of The Ohio State University said, "The increase in the cesarean rate in this country is a multifaceted issue. Obesity is certainly a significant cog in that wheel."
Living Large. . .Not so Fast
A study linked a large waist line to an increased risk of dying in men and women. Over 100,000 men and women 50 years and older were followed over nine years, with 9,315 men and 5,332 women dying during the study. Men and women with waistlines 110cm and 95cm or greater, respectively, had a greater risk of death regardless of weight. The risk of death doubled in women and men with waistlines of 110cm and 120 cm, respectively. Most common cause of death was respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer in that order. Dr David Haslam, chair of the National Obesity Forum, said “This underlines the message that fat inside the belly is dangerous…Even if you have a normal BMI and a big tummy then you are just as much at risk as someone who is classified as obese with a large tummy."
Fat or Just Really Buff?
Now more than ever, NFL players are super heavy! MSNBC reports that an analysis of league rosters reveals that the number of 300-pound players has risen from just one in 1970 to 394 players in 2009. In 1980, there were three players who weighed in the 300-pound range, and by 1990 that number had risen to 94. The weight comes with additional dangers when combined with heat. In 2001, Korey Stringer, a player weighing 335 pounds, died of a heat stroke during practice. According to MSNBC, there were more than 500 players in the over 300 pound group going into the 2010 training camps. Many NFL players today have BMIs that are on the threshold of obesity, but some argue that BMI is an unfair gauge for players since they lift weights extensively and have large frames.
Fewer Health Options
Minimum wage workers are more likely to be obese, says a new UC Davis study, establishing a link that’s been assumed but hard to prove. Reasons cited for the link are that people with lower incomes have reduced access to green spaces and other free or low-cost means of physical activity. Plus, healthy foods are more expensive than high-fat, high calorie foods. The study, which used a statistical technique called instrumental variables, surveyed more than 6300 full-time workers, ages 20 to 65, from 40 states. The lowest earning workers were more likely to have BMIs of 30 or higher. In southern states, where the minimum wage is among the lowest in the US, workers were more likely to be obese. Senior author Paul Leigh recommends raising the minimum wage to combat the incidence of obesity.
Mississippi Has the Most Obese
Health officials would like to learn Oregon's secret for having a childhood obesity rate of only 10 percent. However, that 10 percent rate falls short of the federal Healthy People 2010 initiative, which sets a goal of only 5 percent of children being obese. Oregon still deserves a bit of applause since it's the only state with a recent decline in childhood obesity rates. According to a new government study reported on by MSNBC, more than 16 percent of kids ages 10 to 17 in America were obese in 2007. That number represents a 10 percent rise since 2003. Mississippi has the worst childhood obesity rates in the country at more than a fifth of children obese. Experts also found that kids living in poorer areas with no access to parks or sidewalks had a much larger risk of being obese.
Reasons to Limit Toddler TV
While allowing toddlers to watch television may seem harmless, new research suggests otherwise. A study from Michigan and Montreal Universities revealed that older kids face issues that may be traced back to their TV viewing habits as toddlers. For every hour of television watched, kids faced negative effects later, such as poor school performance and a higher consumption of junk food. For the study, parents reported on toddler TV habits at 29 and 53 months. When the children were 10 years old, teachers reported on their school performance, behavior, health and body mass index (BMI). Two-year-old kids who watched the highest levels of TV had increased BMI, poor math achievement and lower levels of classroom involvement at age 10. Recommended maximum amount of TV per day is two hours.
"The study doesn't say that the fatter you are, the fewer heart attacks, contradicting the headline in the present post. It says, instead, that given that you have a cardiac event, you’re more likely to survive it, the fatter you are. Not the same at all."
- Margaret in the comments
Researchers out to debunk the theory that extra weight protects against heart attacks not only failed, but ended up finding more evidence to support the so-called "obesity paradox." Specifically, non-obese patients who already suffer from the condition called "heart failure," which is a technical term describing a weakening of the heart muscle (the term is used informally in other senses), were found to be 76 percent more likely to die from a sudden cardiac event (such as a heart attack or myocardial infarction) than obese patients with heart failure. And according to the University of Rochester Medical Center researchers, if the underweight/normal group is compared to the obese group, the non-obese patients are almost twice at risk than the obese patients.