Thursday, January 25, 2018

Preventing Dementia and Alzheimer’s Is a Complex Problem That Has No Easy Solution


Past studies have indicated that exercise and some other interventions can have a positive effect on brain function. Therefore, it is hoped that an intervention such as exercise, diet, or medication can be used in the treatment of diseases that affect the brain. And because of our ageing population and the impact of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease on this population, the diseases are receiving a great deal of focus. However, a recent study indicates that no single intervention appears to be a “magic bullet” in the prevention of Alzheimer’s or dementia. But there is reason for hope.

In a study where 120 older adult were investigated, the researchers concluded that exercise can have a positive effect on the brain. Indeed the researchers suggested that “aerobic exercise training is effective at reversing hippocampal volume loss in late adulthood, which is accompanied by improved memory function.”

And in another study, where 40 students were subjected to low, moderate and high intensity treadmill exercise, the investigators concluded that “In adolescents, whose brains are still developing, aerobic exercise of moderate to high intensity levels seems to have a positive effect on … cognitive functioning."

In one report where 17 studies were reviewed concerning the effect of exercise on memory, it was concluded that “Acute and chronic exercise appears to play a pronounced effect on memory function among young to middle-aged adults.” And finally, in a study, it was suggested that since “Type 2 diabetes is associated with impaired episodic memory functions and increased risk of different dementing [disorders. Diet] and exercise may potentially reverse these impairments.”

So, the above studies do give us hope that perhaps exercise, diet, and other lifestyle interventions may be prescribed to reduce the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s. But no one type of intervention should be viewed as a way to prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s.  But, still one investigator said that eating right, being active and living a healthy lifestyle “may benefit the brain…”

While there is no magic bullet to prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s, there may be actions we can take in our lives to possibly delay the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s. And health care providers, especially obesity medicine specialists, can play a role here.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The U.S. Obesity Problem Will Likely Worsen in Coming Years

Childhood obesity receives a lot of attention, because obesity during childhood can lead to adult health problems. Childhood obesity increases the risk of adult obesity. And one study implies that living in the U.S. increases a child's chances of being obese during adulthood.

In the study, simulation was used to look at the life trajectories of 41,567 children and adults. And it was concluded that "Given the current level of childhood obesity, the models predicted that a majority of today’s children, [approximately 57%] will be obese at the age of 35 years, and roughly half of the projected prevalence will occur during childhood."

This means that we should continue to pay attention to methods that motivate children to follow a healthy diet and increase physical activity. We should also focus on children's families because families can induce children to engage in activities that can help the children maintain a healthy weight.

Indeed “A new study shows that when parents model a healthy lifestyle, that lifestyle is more effective than just talking to teens when it comes to obesity topics…” And an Institute of Medicine study has shown that with the right environment in the home, a child’s defensiveness, associated with being overweight for example, can be lessened. This lessening of defensiveness combined with support from the family can greatly increase the child's likelihood of engaging in a healthier lifestyle.

By taking actions to address overweight while a child is young, weight loss providers might be more successful at helping a child maintain a healthy weight. Appropriate action may lead to better health in adulthood. And the earlier some action is taken, the better. In fact, “Weight-loss programs can help even very young children slim down, and it appears that acting early may improve the odds of success…”

Finally, since being a child in the U.S. raises a child's risk of obesity before the age of 35, parents and healthcare providers should take note of this risk, even if a child is of normal weight. And steps should be taken to insure that even the normal weight child is advised to get exercise and follow a healthy diet.

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Overfat Assessments May Be As Beneficial As BMI Assessments

Obesity is a critical issue in the United States and in other parts of the world. And the most employed measurement for obesity is body mass index or BMI. If a person’s BMI is greater than 30 kg/m², the person may be identified as obese. However, there are times when a person's BMI may be greater than 30, while the person may not have excess body fat or be overfat.

An athlete who is very muscular may have a higher BMI than the average person of the athlete’s height. But the athlete may have no unhealthy fat, while the person with the normal weight and acceptable BMI may have excess, unhealthy fat. Therefore, a new term, called overfat, is coming into usage to describe the unhealthy, excess fat condition. This new term would exclude the healthy muscular individual whose BMI is abnormal, and bring attention to the unhealthy individual whose BMI is within the normal range, but whose body is carrying excess, unhealthy fat.

Indeed, most people in the US and in many industrialized companies are overfat. One study concludes that “up to 90 percent of adult males and 50 percent of children may be overfat.” Further, the report concludes that “80% of the women may fall into [the overfat] category.” Because of this, some experts suggest that instead of using BMI as a measurement of too much fat, we should use measurements that focus on the fat around the waist, because this fat is the most harmful.

The fat around the waist, or belly fat, is associated with type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and other ailments. According to a CNN article, the belly fat is very dangerous because it can make the body insulin resistant, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. And belly fat can cause inflammation which is associated with Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other health problems.

Therefore, methods to assess fat around the waist can be useful. The waist-to-height ratio is an example. If a person’s waist is half or less than half the person’s height the person would be viewed as having a healthy amount of fat on his or her body. But if the person’s waist measurements were more than half his or her height, the person would be viewed as having an unhealthy amount of fat.

The person would be overfat. In fact, waist measurement, alone, is considered to be a pretty good measurement of overfat. If a person’s waist is bigger than the person’s hips, the person likely has unhealthy body fat. And a healthcare provider can make this assessment by simply observing the individual.

So monitoring patients’ BMI is a useful procedure. But monitoring patients’ waist may be at least as useful, because a waist assessment can give a provider insight into unhealthy fat or overfat. And this insight might enable the provider to prevent or lessen the severity of future diseases. Healthcare providers might want to consider waist measurements as an important health indicator.

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Walking and a Healthy Diet May Be a Key to Good Health and Long Life

We all are going to die at some point and we know that. But someone once said that although we all are going to die, we should strive in life to reduce the disabled period before death.  We should work to reduce the poor quality of life timeframe leading up to death. And one study has shown that regular walking as an exercise, along with a healthy diet, can lower the period in which we are disabled.

In the study, the researchers looked at “5248 older adults with an average age of 73. They followed the adults for 25 years. And the researchers concluded that “greater distances walked and better quality diet were associated with a relative compression of the disabled period.”

Indeed, walking is considered to be one of the best forms of exercise. According to an article in Harvard Health Publishing, “Walking … can help you stay trim, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift your mood, and lower your risk for a number of diseases [diabetes and heart disease, for example].”

And according to the Mayo Clinic, “regular brisk walking can help you: Maintain a healthy weight, Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, Strengthen your bones and muscles, Improve your mood and Improve your balance and coordination.”

Further, according to Prevention magazine, “Taking a walk a day is kind of like that proverbial apple: There's a good chance it'll keep the doctor away. From helping you lose weight and de-stress to lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of many chronic diseases…”

And with respect to diet, according to “a healthy diet is important [in] disease prevention, maintenance of a healthy weight and quality of life.” Researchers in one study indicated that “maintaining a healthier diet resulted in better health as the [subjects] got older, specifically in terms of mobility.”

So, we may conclude that there are many reasons to include walking and a healthy diet in our daily routine. Walking and a healthy diet is a combination that healthcare providers should always make a point of emphasizing. The activity can improve the health of patients.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Predicting the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a very important disease in the US and elsewhere. It is contracted by both adults and children. Because it can cause other ailments, the disease draws a lot of attention. Type 2 diabetes can lead to “Heart and blood vessel disease,  Nerve damage, Kidney damage, Eye damage, Foot damage, Hearing impairment, Skin conditions, and Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.”

So any actions that we can take to predict and possibly head off or lessen the effect of diabetes would be very beneficial. And two studies have uncovered possible approaches that may enable experts to predict Type 2 diabetes.

An Amsterdam study was done looking at 2226 children whose parents had a family history of Type 2 diabetes (FHD). It was found that the children had high levels of C-peptide. A high level of C-peptide may indicate a high level of insulin which could mean that the body is not effectively removing glucose from the body. So the tests could be an indication of a metabolic problem. The researchers concluded that “second-degree FHD could be used as a public-health screening tool to identify children at risk of adverse metabolic outcomes and of possible future disease.”

Another study indicated that a person with a family history of individuals with young onset Type 2 diabetes (diabetes at less than 40 years of age) were at higher risk of diabetes. The researchers, therefore, concluded that “First-degree relatives of people with Type 2 diabetes, especially relatives of those with young-onset diabetes, are at high risk for diabetes."

Thus, knowing a person's family history can be very useful in predicting and possibly preventing metabolic health problems, including Type 2 diabetes. And knowing that a patient has a family history of young-onset Type 2 diabetes can be especially helpful in alerting a provider to monitor a patient for Type 2 diabetes.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Cost of Obesity

Obesity is very costly to the US and other countries in the world. Obesity drives up the costs of healthcare, since it is associated with expensive diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The healthcare costs impact both the obese individual and the company the individual may work for. Therefore, for economic and health reasons, it is incumbent on us all to emphasize the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity.

In one study where a computer model was used in the analysis, it was determined “that an obese 50-year-old with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels will end up costing society more than $36,000.” Further, the model showed “that if an obese 20-year-old shed enough pounds to drop to the overweight category, almost two-thirds of his lifetime costs to society could be avoided.” And in a report in the Journal of Health Economics, it was concluded that “obesity-related [spending makes] up nearly 20 percent of all U.S. medical costs per year and obese individuals spend 42 percent more on healthcare costs ..."

And the situation is no better for companies. In 2014, the “American Journal of Health Promotion reported that total health claims for morbidly obese employees cost their employers more than double the costs for normal-weight employees.” And that “Employers spend an average of $3,830 per year on benefits for normal-weight workers, and $8,067 for obese workers (2011 dollars)."

And today, the obesity related costs continue to be high for businesses. For example, according to one report, “Increased medical costs are … prevalent in Workers’ Compensation insurance, as those struggling with obesity are more likely to require a longer time to heal away from work.” Further, according to statistics by Gallup and others, “work-related injuries of obese employees are 25% higher, and compensation claims are filed twice as much.”

Therefore, both individuals and companies need to endeavor to make diet and exercise a way of life. Individuals need to work to add exercise and a healthy diet to their daily lives. And companies must institute programs that motivate employees to live a healthier life. Finally, both individuals and companies can gain by having obesity medicine specialists work with them to address overweight and obesity. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Bariatric Surgery Is Effective Long-Term

Because of its effectiveness, bariatric surgery continues to be used in the fight against obesity. But while bariatric surgery does generally lead to weight loss, there has been some question as to whether obese patients who have the surgery will be healthier long-term. At least two studies demonstrate the long-term effectiveness of bariatric surgery.

A 2005 Swedish study tried to answer the question to some extent. For example, it went a long in answering the question:  Does bariatric surgery decrease mortality? The study went a long way, because based on the study results, the answer was "yes." In fact, according to the study, bariatric surgery reduces the mortality of obese patients when the mortality of weight loss surgery patients was compared to the mortality of patients who experienced non-surgical weight loss treatments.

Investigators in the Swedish study looked at 4047 obese patients. Approximately half of the patients underwent bariatric surgery, and the other half used non-surgical methods to lose weight. At the end of ten years, there were 129 deaths in the non-bariatric surgery group and 101 deaths in the bariatric surgery group.

And a more recent study concludes that bariatric surgery can lower the risks of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in the future. The study looked at 1,100 adults who were severely obese. The investigators "found that those who underwent gastric bypass lost an average of 100 pounds over two years. By year 12, they'd managed to keep 77 of those pounds off." Further, the investigators concluded that "surgery patients had a much lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes -- 92 percent lower, versus obese patients who did not have surgery."

So, the above studies indicate that bariatric surgery, indeed, is effective long-term. These studies should be of interest to surgical and non-surgical weight loss providers. Drawing from these studies, providers can feel more confident when counseling patients on the pros and cons of bariatric surgery. 
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