Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Critical Period in Which to Study Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is an important problem worldwide. In the U.S., school districts and governments are establishing programs to fight the disease. First Lady Michelle Obama is one of the leaders of a program called "Let's Move" whose purpose is to fight childhood obesity. School districts are making cafeteria food more healthy. And to learn more about childhood obesity, researchers in Japan suggest that there is a critical period during childhood that might enable us to better understand some aspects of obesity.

The researchers believe that the period between 7 and 14 years of age is a key to understanding childhood obesity. The researchers looked at growth velocities during that age period. And they found that overweight children at the age of 14 had different growth velocities between the ages of 7 and 14 compared to non overweight children at 14.

For example, according to the study results, the boys with the greatest growth velocities between 7 and 11 years of age had the greatest risk of being overweight at the 14. And girls who experienced the greatest growth velocities between 9 and 10, and between 10 and 11, faced the greatest risk of being overweight at 14.

Using these results might enable weight loss practitioners to get a feel for who will be overweight at 14 years of age. The practitioner can work with the child and the child's parents to design diet and exercise programs to avoid or lessen the possible weight gain.

Since obesity can be an impediment to future success, parents should be interested in working with a weight loss provider to reduce the chances of their child's weight gain. Bariatric or weight loss centers could educate parents on what they should look for during critical periods. This collaboration between a family and a weight loss center would be good for the child.

And this kind of ongoing collaboration could provide the weight loss service provider with invaluable experience with childhood obesity. With this experience, and with some success, a weight loss center could legitimately market itself as a leader in understanding and fighting childhood obesity.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Worksite Wellness Programs Lose Effectiveness When Employees Are Away from the Worksite

To improve the general health of their employees, employers often offer worksite wellness programs to their employees. Diet and exercise are important elements of these programs. The purpose of these programs is to lower health care costs by keeping employees healthy. However, for these worksite programs to be successful, the employees must spend most of their time at the worksite.

More and more, experts believe that wellness programs may enable organizations to be more profitable by improving employee health. In fact, according to the organization, U.S. Preventive Medicine, an effective wellness Program can yield a $1.00 to $3.00 return on investment.

And according to Right Management, a subsidiary of Manpower Inc., an organization’s wellness program can improve the organization’s competitive edge by increasing employee productivity and performance.

But it is important for the participants in a worksite wellness program to be onsite for the program to work, according to a study focusing on metropolitan transit workers in Minneapolis. Although the weight loss intervention program the transit workers were subjected to was a good program, the workers didn't spend enough time on the worksite for the program to have more than a negligent effect on the transit workers weight.

Nevertheless, it has been shown that effective wellness programs can be beneficial to the employer and the employee. The employer gets a more engaged and productive employee. And the employee will likely pay less out-of-pocket for health care, and the employee will have a higher quality of life.

Because wellness programs can be beneficial, medical weight loss centers might want to work with employers to find ways to extend the effects of wellness programs beyond the worksite. Using communication devices, for example, to stay in touch with employees, could be a way to extend the effects. Focusing on extending the effects of the intervention could become a weight loss center's niche. And focusing on this niche might give the service provider a competitive edge.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Surgical Procedure Similar to Bariatric Surgery May Lead to Treatments for Diabetes

In the past, we've talked about the use of bariatric surgery for weight loss. And we've talked about the possible use of bariatric surgery for diabetes treatment. Well, recently, a group led by a UC Davis veterinary endocrinologist was able to "delay the onset of type 2 diabetes" using a surgical procedure similar to that used in bariatric surgery.

Bariatric surgery is primarily used for weight loss. The two most popular forms of bariatric surgery are gastric bypass surgery and lap band surgery. Gastric bypass surgery does two things to address weight loss: The surgery shrinks the stomach causing a person to feel full with less food. And the surgery re-routes the small intestine to lessen the number of calories (and nutrients) the body absorbs.

In lap band surgery, an adjustable band is placed around the upper part of the stomach, forming a small pouch or "new smaller stomach." Since the new stomach is smaller than normal, a person feels full with less food.

Both gastric bypass surgery and lap band surgery have led to type 2 diabetes remissions. Indeed, although some studies show that less weight is lost after lap band surgery than after gastric bypass surgery, a 2-year study reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicated that obese patients with type 2 diabetes who had lap band surgery experienced higher diabetes remission rates than patients who used conventional methods to control diabetes. So gastric bypass surgery and lap band surgery have led to reduced type 2 diabetes symptoms.

The UC Davis group used the bariatric-like surgical procedure, mentioned above, on rats. And that procedure delayed the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Further, the researchers identified biochemical changes, brought on by the surgery, that might be instrumental in delaying type 2 diabetes symptoms.

Diabetes is a serious illness throughout the world. And effective treatments are in high demand. Therefore, finding ways to delay and reduce the symptoms of type 2 diabetes is of utmost importance. And if a surgical procedure, similar to bariatric surgery, can be used as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, this procedure will likely be beneficial to type 2 diabetes patients.

Offering this procedure could possibly give a bariatric surgical provider a competitive edge. The provider could legitimately market surgical services for diabetes as well as weight loss. So bariatric surgical providers should view the UC Davis research results as a possible source of future opportunity.

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