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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