Posts tagged: obesity

Cutting Sugar Consumption For Just Two Weeks Found To Improve Dramatically The Health Of Children

Cutting Sugar Consumption For Just Two Weeks Found To Improve Dramatically The Health Of Children
Cutting Sugar Consumption For Just Two Weeks Found To Improve Dramatically The Health Of Children. Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Image © shutterstock.com (under license)

According to data from the World Health Organization, obesity affects hundreds of millions all over the world. By 2016, over 1,900,000,000 adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. This is a huge proportion of the global population! Of the nearly 2 billion overweight adults, 650 million were in the more seriously overweight category known as “obese”. Consider the alarming statistic that these numbers are triple what they used to be in 1975; that means the risk for various health conditions like heart disease, metabolic dysfunction, and even cancer. But a growing problem is how obesity affects children. With this generation’s children being raised on fast food and sugary snacks, over 340 million children worldwide were either obese or overweight by 2016. [1]

Childhood Obesity Facts

For an adult, being obese means opening yourself up to an increased risk for serious health problems. People who are overweight or obese can develop hypertension and diabetes. Childhood obesity more or less leads to the same consequences – hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The American Diabetes Association reports that close to 200,000 Americans under the age of 20 years old are diagnosed diabetics. This number goes up to 1.25 million adults and children who are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. This type of diabetes is insulin-dependent and happens because the pancreas produce little to no insulin at all; type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed during childhood. Type 2, which is more common, is typically caused by an unhealthy diet and bad lifestyle choices. [2][3]

Sugar Reduction And Health

One of the best ways to combat childhood illness is to manage your child’s diet. If you have a child of your own or care for a child, you know that getting them to eat healthy is a battle. Not only is it difficult to add vegetables and fruits to their meals, but getting them to hand over the processed snacks is another problem. A recent study published in 2017 in The Journal of American Osteopathic Association urges parents to be stricter with their children’s diet. They found that after only 9 days of removing processed sugar from children’s diets was able to improve glucose and lipid metabolism and reduce fat synthesis in the liver. This meant a decreased risk for obesity, fatty liver disease, and type 2 diabetes after the entire two-week period of diet restriction. [4]

In the 2017 study, the researchers involved obese children of Latin and African American descent and subjected them to nine days of fructose restriction and the substitution of complex carbohydrates with other alternatives. The results showed improvements in fasting glucose blood levels, glucose tolerance, lipid profile levels. After examining the children after 9 days of diet restrictions, the researchers also found a decrease in liver fat concentration. [4]

Though the term sounds a bit scary, diet restrictions merely mean replacing your child’s unhealthy food choices with healthier alternatives. Bad sugars like glucose and fructose from prepackaged meals and snacks should be avoided completely. Your child’s favorite juice or cookie is likely the source of these kinds of sugars. Don’t try to buy your child’s compliance by giving in to their tantrums and giving them processed junk food. Remember, you are responsible for your child’s health and your choice affects just how healthy they will be in the future.

Try to offer your child fresh fruit and vegetables as a snack instead. You can add flavor by using all-natural herbs and spices, or even natural sweeteners like honey. Instead of buying frozen dinners and meals that you just pop in the microwave or fry up in a pan, spend an extra 30 minutes to an hour preparing your child a healthy meal. Since you will be cooking meals instead of microwaving them, you will also be adjusting your own diet and improving your health as well.

References:

[1] World Health Organization. Obesity and overweight. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight

[2] American Diabetes Association. Statistics About Diabetes. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/

[3] Mayo Clinic. Childhood obesity. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/childhood-obesity/symptoms-causes/syc-20354827

[4] Schwarz, J., Clearfield, M. & Mulligan, K. (2017). Conversion of Sugar to Fat: Is Hepatic de Novo Lipogenesis Leading to Metabolic Syndrome and Associated Chronic Diseases? https://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2646761

Loneliness Can Kill More People Than Obesity

Loneliness Can Kill More People Than Obesity
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Obesity is a serious public health concern in our current era, characterized by fast foods, home delivery, and Netflix binge-watching – and it’s only getting worse. [1] However, a new study claims that there is an even bigger threat than being overweight – loneliness!

Here’s the thing; humans evolved as social beings. Our pre-historic ancestors lived and hunted in small cohesive groups. Fast forward thousands of years to the 21st Century, social connections are still vital to our survival and well-being.

Health Risk Associated With Social Isolation And Loneliness

Loneliness refers to the feeling of disconnection from society, while social isolation is the literal lack of contact with other people.

According to a 2014 survey [2] by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), loneliness directly affected over 42 million (35%) of citizens above 45 years. It’s hardly surprising if, during periods of enforced isolation, these numbers will be higher. Read on for a list of some health risks associated with social isolation and loneliness:

• Premature Death: A comprehensive meta-analysis [3] published in the Journal of Perspectives and Psychological Science claimed that social isolation increases the risk of premature death by up to 50%

• Negative Impact on Mental Health: Some research studies [4] suggest that loneliness and social isolation significantly increase the risk of depression, decreased cognitive abilities, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

• Impact on Cardiovascular Health: Stress associated with loneliness, is believed to elevate the levels of cortisol in your body. A study [5] presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claims that this hormone, in turn, increases the risk of hypertension, stroke, and cardiovascular disease by contributing to inflammation.

Major Study Claims Loneliness is More Fatal Than Obesity

A significant study [6] presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association suggested that social connection reduces the risk of premature death by up to 50%. In comparison, a 2016 study [7] suggested that obesity increases the risk of death by 45%.

The researchers arrived at this conclusion after reviewing over 148 studies (representing over 300,000 respondents) in one meta-analysis – and 70 studies (representing 3.4 million people) in another. Lead author, Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad from Brigham Young University stated that the evidence was “robust” that that loneliness and social isolation caused a significant increase in risk of premature death that was equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes daily or alcohol-related disorders!

The author went on to claim that we are nearly looking at a loneliness “epidemic” due to the increasing aging population. And this was before the events of 2020! Whether this sounds like an exaggeration or not, one thing’s clear; loneliness is detrimental to our health – and it should at least receive the same public attention as obesity and other leading health indicators.

References:

[1] Sellgren, K. (2019). Children ‘less active over the primary years’. https://www.bbc.com/news/education-50388664

[2] Anderson, G. (2014). Loneliness Among Older Adults: A National Survey of Adults 45+. https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/life/info-2014/loneliness_2010.html

[3] Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., Baker, M., Harris, T., & Stephenson, D. (2015). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review. Perspectives on psychological science, 10(2), 227-237. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25910392/

[4] Holwerda, T. J., Deeg, D. J., Beekman, A. T., van Tilburg, T. G., Stek, M. L., Jonker, C., & Schoevers, R. A. (2014). Feelings of loneliness, but not social isolation, predict dementia onset: results from the Amsterdam Study of the Elderly (AMSTEL). J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry, 85(2), 135-142. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23232034/

[5] Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., Doyle, W. J., Miller, G. E., Frank, E., Rabin, B. S., & Turner, R. B. (2012). Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(16), 5995-5999. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341031/

[6] Holt-Lunstad, J. (2017, August). Loneliness: A Growing Public Health Threat. In 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Session (Vol. 3328, pp. 3-3). https://www.apa.org/members/content/holt-lunstad-loneliness-social-connections

[7] Di Angelantonio, E., Bhupathiraju, S. N., Wormser, D., Gao, P., Kaptoge, S., de Gonzalez, A. B., … & Lewington, S. (2016). Body-mass index and all-cause mortality: individual-participant-data meta-analysis of 239 prospective studies in four continents. The Lancet, 388(10046), 776-786. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)30175-1/fulltext

US Fertility Rate Hits A Record Low

US Fertility Rate Hits A Record Low
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Widespread infertility is a phenomenon that is strongly linked to the end of societies in popular culture – for example in Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. There is scientific reasoning behind this. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released the latest report on the rates of fertility being at the lowest they have ever been since they began going down. [1] Fertility rates in the USA have continued to decline over the years since the Great Recession in 2008.

Possible Causes Of Fertility Drop

• Obesity is one of the issues that have been linked to infertility. This is because obesity has a negative effect on fertility. As long as the country continues to struggle with obesity, it will also face the impending doom of infertility. [2] This is because studies have also shown that obesity can be passed down through genes.

• Environmental pollution is another issue associated with infertility. Chemicals that get into people’s bodies cause disturbances in hormones and procreation functions. It is reported that the same is happening for the mammals at sea. Substances in plastics have for example been implicated as hormone disruptors and plastic food packaging is considered a potential culprit.

• Lifestyle changes and a diminished desire to have children as young adults. Personal timelines are another issue as many people are starting families later in life. The issue is that women, unlike men, encounter challenges when they try to get children later in life. [3] The only alternative they may have is freezing their eggs or borrowing from an egg donor.

• Lack of good childcare policies and parental leave options has also contributed to the low fertility problem. People are also choosing to have children later because of the hostility of policies offered by employers restricting family life. The cost of good childcare is also expensive, and this forces some people to put off bearing children for a while.

The Replacement Fertility Rate And The “Aging Society”

The US has been keeping track of the fertility rate, which has been gradually declining every year. While the rate has been dropping at a slight rate, the cause for worry is that it has been declining for around 10 consecutive years. This is a cause for concern since fertility rate is used as a measure for the nation’s wellbeing. [4] When it is too low, there is imminent risk of the country lacking sufficient fit young workers to ensure productivity. A very high rate, on the other hand, could exhaust resources.

The ‘replacement’ fertility rate which is 2.1, has been below the optimal level for several decades. This number has also been continuously dropping in recent years. Further suggestions have been made that the trend is a result of societal disorganization which cannot allow individuals to have the number of children they want. Other people have linked it to the state of the economy.

Researchers have also tied the low birth rate in the country as an input to the ‘aging society.’ This concept refers to having a greater portion of people above the age of 65 years compared to those below 15 years in the population. [4] Such a demographic composition will cause effects that are immensely felt in the community in the future.

References:

[1] Martin, Joyce A., et al. “Products – Data Briefs – Number 346 – July 2019.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 July 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db346.htm

[2] Park, Madison. “US Fertility Rate Falls to Lowest on Record.” CNN, Cable News Network, 11 Aug. 2016.

[3] Rowe, John W., et al. “Effects of Historically Low Birth Rate Will Reverberate for Years to Come.” The Hill, 21 May 2018, https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/388618-effects-of-low-birth-rates-will-reverberate-for-years-to-come

[4] Silvestris, Erica, et al. Obesity as disruptor of the female fertility. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 16.1 (2018): 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5845358/