Infant Formula Is Fine
Women who can't breast-feed shouldn't feel guilty since there's likely no harm done, say researchers. A study by Ohio State University compared sibling pairs. One of the siblings received breast milk, and the other did not. Studying siblings, researchers were able to minimize effects of differences like education or income. The siblings, aged 4 to 14 years, were tested for body mass index, asthma, obesity, hyperactivity, math ability, memory-based intelligence and reading comprehension. On all measures, no statistically significant differences were found between breast-fed and bottle-fed siblings. Researchers say long-term benefits attributed to breast-feeding may have nothing to do with breast milk, but more to do with good health and wealth of women who breast-feed.
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."
Are Plastics Making Kids Fat?
Preliminary results from a new study suggest that a phthalate used to soften plastics may increase the risk of childhood obesity. The study involved collecting blood from 204 six to 13 year olds, 105 of whom were obese. After accounting for physical activity and caloric intake, a higher body mass index (BMI) was linked to higher levels of di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) which is found many products people use every day. DEHP likely acts in two ways to increase fat; reducing the potency of the male sex hormone androgen which normally lowers BMI and disrupting normal thyroid function which secretes hormones that affect weight gain. Both hormones affect appetite and how quickly food is broken down. Male fertility, breast development in boys and low birth weights has been tied to phthalates.
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.
One Gene Controls Many in Fat
British scientists have discovered a gene that acts as a “master switch” in adipose tissue. The gene, KLF14 was previously shown to be associated with type 2 diabetes and cholesterol levels. Genetic analysis of 200,000 genes in subcutaneous fat from 800 British female twins found that the KLF gene controlled the expression of genes within the sample involved in body mass index, cholesterol, insulin and blood sugar levels. Stressing the importance of KLF14’s role, researcher Mark McCarthy noted that it acted “. . . as a master switch controlling processes that connect changes in the behavior of subcutaneous fat to disturbances in muscle and liver. . ." Researchers hope that understanding KLF14’s role in obesity will help them to develop better anti-obesity treatments.
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.
Waist Not, Want Not
With the growing rate of childhood obesity, healthcare practitioners say it’s not too early to identify children who may be at risk for heart disease as they age. Researchers at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute examined data from 4667 children, ages 6 to 17, and found that their waist size correlated with risk factors for heart disease while the current screening method of determining body mass index did not. "This study suggests pediatricians add their waist measurements to their routine screening of children to help determine the risk of heart-related disorders," says lead author. Dr. Gangadarshni Chandramohan who added that measuring a child’s girth is a simple, cost-effective and valid method of screening for the risk of CV disease.
Seven Hours Is Enough
Women who sleep 10 hours or more may have a much greater risk of stroke than women who sleep seven hours per night, say Harvard School of Public Health researchers. The 20-year study followed nearly 70,000 women. Findings reveal that women sleeping 10 hours or more had a 63 percent increased risk of stroke, but that estimate dropped to a 55 percent increased risk after controlling for history of diabetes, body mass index (BMI) and hypertension. Results indicate a similar risk for ischemic stroke. Researchers found that women sleeping seven hours per night had the lowest risk for stroke. During the study that began in 1986, 2,303 strokes were recorded.
150 Minutes a Week Reduces Risk
Exercising for 150 minutes a week or more might help you reduce your risk of getting endometrial cancer, claim researchers presenting this week at the Cancer Prevention Research Conference. The research, conducted at Yale School of Public Health, included 668 women with endometrial cancer and 665 age-matched control women without cancer. Researchers found that women who exercised 150 minutes a week or more had a 34 percent reduced risk of endometrial cancer when compared to inactive women. The link between exercise and endometrial cancer risk reduction was more pronounced among active women who had a body mass index (BMI) less than 25. Yet, even overweight, but still active women had a lower risk compared to the inactive women.
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."
Gaining Not Recommended
Maintaining a healthy body weight is important for avoiding many diseases, but glaucoma may not be one of them. In a large study from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI), women with higher BMI’s had a lower risk for a variant of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) known as normal tension glaucoma (NTG). The same association was not found in overweight men. POAG is the most common type of glaucoma, a potentially blinding illness that damages the optic nerve. People with NTG have damage even though intraocular pressure or IOP is not elevated. NTG occurs in about 15-25 percent of people with open-angle glaucoma. Dr. Louis Pasquale says that patients should be cautious about these findings, as the relationship between BMI and NTG is not clear.
Slim Down to Stay Sane
Having extra abdominal fat during middle age could put you at greater risk for developing dementia later, say researchers from Boston University School of Medicine. "Our findings, while preliminary, provide greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying the link between obesity and dementia," said Dr. Sudha Seshadri. For the study, published in Annals of Neurology, researchers analyzed the link between waist circumference, Body Mass Index (BMI), waist to hip ratio and measures of abdominal fat from a CT with MRI measures of total brain volume and more in middle-aged study participants. Researchers say the results confirmed the association of increasing BMI with lower brain volumes in middle-aged and older adults.
Lower Triglycerides Too
Adding nuts to your diet can lower cholesterol according to a study in a recent issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. For the study, participants ate an average of 2.4 ounces of nuts per day resulting in a reduction of slightly more than five percent of total cholesterol; a 7.4 percent reduction in LDL, or unhealthy cholesterol, and a 10.2 percent reduction of triglycerides among participants with high levels. Explained Joan Sabaté, M.D., Dr.P.H., of Loma Linda University, CA, "The lipid-lowering effects of nut consumption were greatest among subjects with high baseline LDL-C and with low body mass index and among those consuming Western diets.” She called for the inclusion of nuts in the diet to favorably affect blood lipid levels and to potentially lower coronary heart disease risk.
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.