Showing posts with label obesity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label obesity. Show all posts

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Does Obesity Equate to Poorer Grades?

A recent study revealed some troubling statistics that appear to connect childhood obesity with lower grades and less success in secondary level education. The study also determined that the negative influence of obesity on education is not affected by the student’s social background.

The groundbreaking study from the WZB Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) focused on obesity statistics in Germany, but it portends even greater concern for US children, since obesity among German children is approximately six percent while, by comparison, more than 10 percent of US children are obese, according to statistics from California Center for Public Health Advocacy.


And the percentage of obese children in the US is increasing at an alarming rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the past 30 years, childhood obesity in the U.S. has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents. The CDC estimates that obesity now affects 17 percent of all children and adolescents in the United States — triple the rate from just one generation ago.

In the 2013 German study, researchers looked closely at how weight and obesity influences grades in mathematics and language in primary school and in Germany's equivalent of of our secondary schools, analyzing both those children who would be classified as overweight and those who would be classified as obese (The CDC defines overweight as having a body mass index (BMI) at or above 85 percent, and obesity as having a BMI at or above 95 percent compared to children of the same age/sex – see CDC Growth Charts for a breakdown by age and gender).  The researchers discovered that:
  • Obese girls and boys are statistically less likely to receive a“ good” or “very good” math grade, with the likelihood of getting top grades as much as 11 percent lower compared to children of healthy weight.
  • Those children classified as overweight do not perform worse in math.
The influence of obesity on math grades did not appear to be effected by whether or not a child is healthy, how much exercise or sports participation they did or didn't get, nor how much TV they watched.

The bully effect


The researchers also found that, because obese girls are bullied more often, they showed lower self-confidence, leading to an increase in behavior problems.
Interestingly though, researchers found no “bully effect” in the study for boys. Although obese boys were found to suffer from lower self-confidence. The researchers believe that this helps to explain the lower math grades.

Self-confidence and obesity


An earlier study in the US on the psychological and social adjustment of obese children and their families showed that obese children are less socially competent, had more behavior problems, and had poorer self-perceptions than their non-obese peers. In effect, the newer WZB study continues where this earlier study left off, connecting these common problems of obese children to negative school performance.

The WZB researchers also concluded that obese children are less likely to take advanced level classes in secondary education than their overweight counterparts.

Parents in the US are already concerned about the health impact when their children struggle with obesity. The German study also highlights the social burden that accompanies the childhood obesity epidemic, not just for the child's current situation but potentially for the long term. 

Parents can investigate two CDC resources for more information about childhood obesity:  the Basics about Childhood Obesity website and CDC's Strategies and Solutions content.
 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, July 30, 2012

Feeding Type 2 Diabetes

Food - our society loves food, however, too much of a good thing can be bad for a person and lead to serious health issues like diabetes.  In fact, Type 2 diabetes statistics reveals that 90-95 percent of diagnosed cases of diabetes are connected with overweight and obesity. And the number of children being diagnosed with type two is climbing.

Diabetes and diet obesity
Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health issues.
We hear all about diabetes on commercials and in the news, but what exactly is it?  According to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) type 2 diabetes means that your body does not make enough insulin nor does it use insulin effectively to regulate your blood sugar.  This can lead to serious health complications such as heart disease, stroke, eye and kidney problems.

After a blood test last year, my doctor sent me a note in the mail telling me that I am pre-diabetic, meaning that my fasting sugar level was higher than it should be, but not high enough to diagnose type 2 diabetes.  I asked what I should do. The answer was lose weight, eat healthier. Watch carbohydrate intake. But the question lingered, "What if I develop full-blown type two diabetes anyway?"

I learned there is a connecting factor between weight and diabetes; and type two diabetes is linked to obesity.  The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) states that 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.  People managing type 2 diabetes should continue their prescribed treatment and work with their doctor and/or diabetic counselor, however, organizations studying diabetes say that losing weight and maintaining healthy nutrition can lower blood sugar, making the challenge of this serious disease much easier to manage.

Weight Control Helps Control Diabetes

Web MD states that losing 5% to 10% of your body weight significantly reduces blood sugar levels.  Some diabetics, with the advice of their doctors, have been able to stop using insulin altogether.  The American Diabetic Association (ADA) recommends cutting about five hundred calories per day by cutting down all food groups:  proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.  So what is the recommended daily percentage for each food group?
  • Proteins: 10% to 15%
  • Fats: 30%
  • Carbohydrates: 50% to 55%
American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Christine Gerbstadt, M.D. recently told Web MD that carbohydrates have the biggest effect on blood sugar levels because they are broken into sugars faster than fats or proteins.  Two concerns for diabetics are high blood sugar level and low blood sugar level.  Since insulin is used by the body to control blood sugar, a spike might not be handled well due to too much insulin or not enough. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and vegetables, are absorbed more slowly. They lower the risk of spikes in blood sugar when eaten. The more slowly our body can digest a food, the more slowly the food is turned into sugar.
diabetic diet
Fruits and vegetables are healthy foods for type 2 diabetics.
Luigi Meneghini, M.D., director of the Kosnow Diabetes Treatment Center at University of Miami School of Medicine, advises undertaking a weight loss plan while working with a doctor and a diabetic nutritionist because it is important to monitor insulin levels in order to avoid high or low blood sugar levels.

Is there a diabetic diet and are there many recommended foods for type 2 diabetics?

What can a diabetic eat?

A diet that incorporates superfoods and whole foods like fruits, veggies, proteins and complex carbohydrates.  Another food that is recommended by the ADA are  superfoods.  These are foods that are low in calories, fat and starch, but rich in nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and fiber.  They keep you fuller longer, help to maintain a healthy weight, and lower blood sugar.  Of course, the ADA also warns that even too much of good foods will add unwanted calories, so portion control is necessary.  The portion size plate on Web M.D. can help with understanding correct portions in each food group.  You can also refer to two previous blogs that may provide insight on portion sizes:  Healthy Eating Serve It Up and The Blue Plate Special: Food Serving Size.

What are these super foods and what is so super about them?
  • Beans - high in fiber and protein, low in fat
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables - low in calories and carbohydrates
  • Whole grains - high in nutrients, folate and are digested more slowly than other starchy carbohydrates
  • Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids - salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Citrus fruits - contain soluble fiber and vitamin C
  • Nuts - an ounce of nuts is a source of healthy fats, fiber and are a good snack for controlling hunger
  • Berries - high in antioxidants, fiber and vitamins
  • Tomatoes - contain vitamins C and E plus iron. (Grape tomatoes make a great in-between meal snack instead of candy or chips.)
  • Fat free milk and yogurt - high in calcium and fortified with vitamin D
  • Sweet potatoes - great source of fiber and vitamin A
Balance is key, however contrary to what I previously believed carbohydrates are an important part of a type two diabetes diet.  We should have 50% to 55% of them per day.  That's half our calorie intake!

How do we do that without risking diabetes, or worsening it?  The ADA recommends eating whole grain carbohydrates instead of refined grains:  brown rice and whole wheat pastas versus white rice and pastas.

The benefits of  whole grain:
  • Provides needed fiber and nutrients
  • Longer digestion, which means:
    • Longer fuller feeling
    • Higher utilization of calories for energy
    • Lesser breakdown of carbohydrates into sugars
  • No spiking of sugar unlike chips, candy, and cake and other foods a diabetic should avoid.
Other tips for healthy eating as indicated by Web M.D. that help lower blood sugar and help us get the right amount of healthier carbohydrates are oatmeal, broccoli, spinach, green beans, strawberries, salmon and lean meats, cinnamon, and plenty of water!

Even with proper food some people may need medications.  If you use prescription medications for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, the FamilyWize discount prescription drug card can help you manage the cost of your prescription drugs and medical devices like: anti-diabetic (non-insulin), diagnostic and dietary products, and insulin.

You can get your free card on the FamilyWize website.  You can also use the drug look-up tool to see if your medication or device is covered.

After studying this information, I realized that although dieting is a challenge and losing weight can be difficult; it can be made easier by becoming knowledgeable about diabetes and diet.  The more I study about weight loss for diabetics, the more I realize that it's more about what we CAN eat and include and less about what we shouldn't eat or cannot have.  Basically we don't have to diet harder, we need to eat smarter.

Caroline Carr
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Healthy Eating - Serve It Up

Do you live to eat or eat to live?  Food in our society serves several purposes: taking in proper nutrients, maintaining health, and let's face it, being satisfied! It is also a big part of our social lives - so many a gathering over food!

Sooo many food options - diet or pleasure.  However, whenever I diet, it often leaves me wondering, "Where is the rest of the food?"  Diet is often viewed as what we cannot eat with a focus on how to portion control as a way of cutting down.

Diet definition
Dictionary.com) - food and drink considered in terms of its quality, composition, and effect on health

New Perspective
  • What if we looked at the problem as if we simply don't eat enough (of the right foods)?  
  • What if we were more concerned with healthy eating, less about small serving sizes and letting the scale take care of itself? 
  • What if we rearrange our refrigerators, picnic tables, and holiday feasts so that healthier, more filling foods are within easy reach and more appealing to the eye and palate?

Sounds great, right? But you're probably wondering how much time and effort this will take. Well, it's actually quite easy. 

I Can See Clearly Now


A study published in Environment and Behavior clued me in on healthy eating.  Researchers Gregory J. Privitera and Heather E. Creary found that when a group of college students were given a choice between food placed in bowls closer to them and food in bowls that they had to walk to, they chose food from bowls within arms reach.  Students also chose larger food servings from food placed in clear bowls than food placed in opaque bowls. Being able to see the food makes it more visually appealing and more likely to wind up on our plates than food served in ceramic or opaque plastic dishes.  Check out some more insights at Science Daily.

I even go for the clear view.  At the supermarket I look for fruits, vegetables and proteins packaged in clear containers. What's more disappointing than coming home with those juicy red strawberries only to find that the ones on the bottom are not ripe or worse, overripe and not edible? I like to see what I am getting ahead of time.
portion control portion size
A clear view of healthy foods promotes healthy eating.

Tip:  Put it to work in the refrigerator. Keep healthy foods, fruits and vegetables, in clear bowls or plates and move them to the front of the shelves for easy reach.  Store sugary snacks and high calorie foods to the back and keep them in opaque containers.  This will discourage choosing them at snack time.

Serve It Up The Right Way


Reaching for a crisp, juicy apple and an ounce of fat-free cheese is a tasty and filling snack that gives energy and satisfies for a longer period of time than a cookie or piece of cake. Cutting up a piece of fruit, pairing it with a low-fat protein and serving it on a small dessert plate is a great way to achieve portion control.  The snack will look like more when served on a smaller plate, creating the illusion of more food.  Creating the perception that there is more when there is less will keep us fuller and make us take less. (Portion Tricks)
  • Keep smaller dishes and paper plates available for company and use them at all meals. A good portion plate should be about six inches in diameter, according to the Journal of Consumer Research. Eliminate the "dinner plate" and think of the smaller dishes as healthy portion plates.
  • Put away those large serving spoons and use teaspoons or tablespoons instead. People will take less and save calories. 
  • Even using tall, skinny glasses for beverages tricks us into thinking we are drinking more than if we use short, fat glasses. 
Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., author of Volumetrics (Harper Collins, 2000), discovered that giving healthy foods more volume aids portion control for weight loss and healthier eating.  Adding pureed vegetables, like squash and cauliflower, to soups, sauces or even macaroni and cheese will add volume to these dishes without adding calories. Therefore, we can eat more food but consume fewer calories. We can even go back for seconds. By using healthy eating tips like these, we can confidently say, "Super size it!"  

portion size
Super size vegetables for healthy eating.

Tips on healthy portion control:
  • Eat a small appetizer before a meal
  • Add vegetables to everything, whole or pureed
  • Choose a smaller plate
  • Add protein servings (energy)

 Determining what is a serving size on the go is easy.
  • A correct portion size of meat is about three ounces. (Imagine a deck of cards.) 
  • A serving of nuts and seeds is about the size of a ping-pong ball 
  • A serving of beans is about the size of a billiard ball. (Portion Sizes)
Eating healthy and nutritionally isn't just about what or how much we eat. It's also about the sizes and colors of the dishes and utensils we use as well as perception.  In a world where we often eat on the run or as an after thought and we tend to eat our food very fast, without giving our brains time to notify our bodies that we are full, choosing smaller plates, dishes, and serving utensils can help us control our portions, our health, and our weight.

Caroline
Contributing Writer

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Problems Sleeping and Health Risks

SLEEP - we all need it, but many of us do not get the amount of sleep we need; and therefore, do not reap the benefits of sleep.

We have all said it, "I AM SOOOOOO TIRED!"

Well today I am feeling it.  Part of it is my own fault; I leave work only to do more work.  I think it's called "Too Much on My Plate"!  I have been up until midnight the last three nights and my alarm goes off at 5 a.m. - UGH!  The other part is that as I get older my sleep deprivation gets worse.  I always considered myself a light sleeper, but compound that with back issues and typical aging body aches and the result is problems sleeping.  Even when I work out every day, I sleep slightly better, but still NEVER through the night!

I look for "Mr. Sandman", but he never comes. (Loved this song as a child.)

Of course, I shouldn't complain.  My daughter has narcolepsy, but not the kind where she falls asleep if she sits for too long.  Her brain literally doesn't know exactly when she is awake or asleep.  So at night when she thinks she is sleeping she is actually awake (makes for very active nights because her nighttime "day" dreams become reality) and during the day she may look awake, but her brain sometimes shuts down.  That is when we say, "She has entered THE ZONE."  It actually isn't funny, but we try to keep it light.

One day while driving to the trade school (she just started) she called me in tears.  She missed her exit.  She didn't know where she was. (This also has to do with a learning disability.)  I asked her to tell me what was around her.  Luckily we were able to turn her around, but in guiding her way, she said, "I think I fell asleep!"  I quickly said, "Don't tell me that!" (Mom's worst nightmare.)  We now never let her drive long distances alone (even though she is 20) because of her sleep disorder.  It is considered a neurological disorder by the state.

But she is not alone.  According to the Behavioral Effects of Disturbed Sleep (BEDS) Consortium at UIC College of Nursing, "problems with sleep affect over 50 million Americans, and these problems increase with age.  Over 70 sleep disorders are now recognized."

Sleep obesity
More than 50 million Americans suffer from problems sleeping.
The crazy thing is that everyone requires a different amount of sleep. Someone recently posted on Facebook a picture and stats on David Goggins (Navy Seal) - he ONLY sleeps three hours a night!! I would be sooo grumpy! Some people can go on little sleep and others require more sleep, but either way - when someone has a problem sleeping - the  sleep deprived person (adult or child) could face health issues as a result.

So what are sleep deprivation effects?

According to a health article on sleep by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, "untreated sleep disorders can raise your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and other medical conditions."  This is backed by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.  Their list is long for the relationship between getting enough sleep and long-term health risks.
  • Obesity - Yes, sleep studies show that sleeping more than six hours per night on a regular basis may help lose or at least control weight.  Lack of sleep affects metabolism, insulin, and processing of carbohydrates.
  • Diabetes - A lack of sleep can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. As with weight, sleep affects "the way the body processes glucose."
  • Heart Disease and Hypertension - Inadequate sleep can elevate blood pressure the next day for those who are already at risk
  • Moodiness - Another symptom of lack of sleep (I can attest to this one.) may be irritability and moodiness the next day.  Insufficient sleep may also lead to depression, anxiety, and mental distress.
  • Improper immune function - A body at rest is able to repair and heal better.
  • Life expectancy - Due to the fact that poor sleep is associated with so many disorders; it is not surprising that all of these effects of a lack of sleep can shorten your life span.  
To learn more about these risks and their related sleep studies, read the "Sleep and Disease Risk" at Healthysleep.med.harvard.edu.

To make matters worse, a Center for Disease Control 2010 study revealed that 30% of workers sleep less than six hours a night.  So we are not just talking health issues, we are talking safety issues as well.

I remember my dad wrecked his Buick driving home one night. Why?  Because he fell asleep at the wheel.  According to an interview with Dr. Gaynes of the CDC on the topic of "Staying Awake Behind the Wheel," driving drowsy is a problem.  He said that statistically, "Drowsy driving was implicated in about 16 percent of fatal crashes and 13 percent of crashes resulting in hospitalization."  

But that is not all; we haven't even really hit on sleep disorders. Some of them are:
  • Chronic Insomnia
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleep Apnea
  • REM Behavior Disorder
The research, the facts, and the stories could go on.  To see more interesting facts on sleep - check out Achooallergy.com.

When it comes down to it there is no replacement for a good night's sleep.  I like the way the CDC puts it "...sufficient sleep is not a luxury--it is a necessity--and should be thought of as a 'vital sign' of good health."

Check in tomorrow for how to get better sleep and the benefits of sleep!

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nutrition in a Nut-Shell

"Nuts" - it is a loaded word.  It could be referring to a state of mind or a behavior or action, but today I am going to look at nuts in its simplest form - a bountiful food full of nutrition and health benefits.  

It is no coincidence that nuts are either a morning or afternoon snack for me. In fact, as I am writing, I just grabbed a handful out of the jar that sits on my desk.  These are raw almonds, but I enjoy just about every flavor of nut from walnuts to the sweet pecan to cashews, macadamia, peanuts, and more.  Why?  Because the nutritional value in tree nuts and peanuts is tremendous.  They are a perfect, bite-sized power snack.  You may call me a raw health "nut", but I'm okay with that.

health nut nutritional facts
One handful a day is all you need!
Did you know that nuts are considered a fruit or drupe?  And in the case of the peanut - a legume?  Whatever you call them - they are full of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and unsaturated fats. 

Nuts sometimes get a bad wrap due to the high caloric content of this small delicacy, but in fact they are one of the healthiest foods you can eat.  From heart health to Type 2 diabetes to obesity and cancer prevention, the nutritional value of nuts is great.  We may not be able to control health care, diseases, water, and the environment, but we can take the information on nutrition found in nuts and take small steps to learning how these tasty essential nutrients may have a profound impact on our health.

Just a few nutty studies include:
  • Human Research Center on Aging study as posted on the United States Department of Agriculture website, concluded that antioxidants found in nuts due to their high polyphenol benefits have positive effects against chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes.  
  • The Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition also touts the antioxidant and phytonutrient benefits of resveratrol, phytosertols and beta-sitosterol found in peanuts and tree nuts.
  • In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a statement that 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts may reduce the risk of heart disease.  
  • The University of Nebraska published an article "NUTS for Nutrition" which references studies by the International Journal of Obesity for weight control, and a Harvard School of Public Health study for helping with Type 2 diabetes.  
The nutritional facts about walnuts, almonds, peanuts and the many other tree nuts include a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids for fighting inflammation, iron and zinc which delivers oxygen to your cells and can prevent anemia, heart healthy monounsaturated fat (macadamias have the highest MUFA), which help with cholesterol and heart health, while selenium and the antioxidant gamma-tocopherol have certain cancer fighting properties (Journal of Medicinal Food and University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center).  

Wondering what are the tree nuts?  The FDA list of tree nuts includes:
Almond, beech nut, Brazil nut, butternut, cashew, chestnut, Chinquapin, coconut, gingkgo nut, hazelnut (filbert), hickory nut, macadamia nut, pecan, Pili nut, pine nut, pistachio, shea nut, and the oh so beneficial walnut.

Incorporating nuts into your diet as a snack may give your body some of the advanced essential nutrients you might otherwise be missing.  Try it - you might just like it!

No matter how you crack it - tell us which nut is your favorite and how you like to eat it.

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager

Friday, June 22, 2012

'Much A Do'-Nut About Nothing

Ahhh - TGIF! As I pondered the topic of today's blog - I switched gears.  I decided it would not be serious, because sometimes life just needs to be NOT serious!  Plus, we gave you much to think about yesterday with "The Dreaded Medicare Donut Hole."  The Medicare Donut Hole is one donut hole that cannot always be avoided, but over the next couple of weeks, but we hope to point you toward some resources that might help with Medicare Part D.

Now - on to more pleasant topics - the actual donut.
Medicare part D health articles
The donut dilemma: Medicare donut hole or actual donut hole can cost you.

Although I am typically not a partaker of donuts, the fact that I will be traveling across the wonderful state of Pennsylvania this weekend got me thinking to my destination and what awaits on the other end.  There is a small place - what some would consider "a hole in the wall" back in a small town in Western Pennsylvania that offers up the most delicious doughnut that I have ever tasted.  The homemade kind that is soft and light and airy.  My favorite is the cinnamon coffee roll that is bigger than my hand with a maple glazed icing that is to die for.  These creations of Clark's Donuts are definitely 'Much a Donut about Something.'

 But, I digress.  Typically a health conscious woman except for the occasional Clark's donut, I decided to see what the Web and research had to say about donut nutrition facts and health.  Of course there were health articles and blogs and more of those touting the goodness of donuts, while others like Carla Wolper, a nutritionist at the New York Obesity Research Center who had this to say about the donut, "When it comes to health, the only thing good about them is the hole."

Donut nutrition facts
Krispy Kreme glazed donut = 237 calories.
I also discovered that the USDA 2005 dietary recommendations gave a thumbs up on "discretionary calories".  So what does that mean for you?  If you eat a 2,000 calorie a day diet, then you can have 237 discretionary calories, which is almost the calories in a Krispy Kreme glazed donut (according to the CalorieLab website).  Although portion control is recommended on any diet by doctors and dietitians, I would venture to guess that an occasional donut will not harm you.  A donut a day however is not what the doctor ordered. 

Which led me to a search on donuts and medicine.  This merely resulted in a listing of donut stores in several towns called Medicine (Medicine Park, OK and Medicine Lodge, KS).

Try, try again.  What I did discover was research from the Journal of Humanpsycopharmacology suggesting that "the synergistic effects of caffeine and glucose can benefit sustained attention and verbal memory." (Copyright 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.) A good thing right?  Good food equals good thoughts?  Not sure that this is what it meant, but if you want to read more go to the Wiley Online Library where the study is printed.

Of course, you can counter that with a study published by the Public Health Nutrition Journal and the US National Library of Medicine, regarding a study by the University of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria and the University of Navarra, that assessed the relationship between fast foods and processed pastries to a 37% risk increase for depression.  

So before you have your Saturday morning run to the local bakery for donuts and coffee, consider this blog.

Today was just some "food for thought."  (I couldn't resist.)  But you must make your own determination of whether or not when it comes to the illustrious donut, if there is 'Much a Do'nut about Nothing.

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager