Archive for the ‘Health in the News’ Category
Strong4Life is a non-profit organization created in Atlanta to address the childhood obesity epidemic that has shown no sign of slowing in the state of Georgia. About 40% of Georgia’s children are overweight, yet the majority of Georgians don’t consider childhood obesity a problem. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta designed an ad campaign to gain people’s attention and create a sense of urgency for this neglected medical crisis. The campaign was specifically intended to get parents and caregivers out of denial as 75% of parents of obese children don’t think they have a problem on their hands.
The anti-obesity ad campaign features overweight children with messages such as “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid,” and “It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.” The children in the ads were made aware of the ad’s intent and of the potential backlash that could result. Maya Watson, one of the 13 year old subjects, wanted to send a good message to others out there like her, showing them they are not alone. Feedback from her peers has been positive and since the launch she has gotten help from the hospital where she has learned what small healthy changes she can make to her daily routine in order to live a healthier lifestyle.
However, not everyone believes these ads are beneficial. They have indeed gotten people talking but many do not agree with the angle that was taken. Many believe these ads are too negative and don’t help the problem as no solution is proposed. Mommy bloggers in particular are coming out to petition and put an end to the advertisements. They believe these ads cause shame, which will put a child down, not motivate them to make positive changes.
What do you think?
[cnn.com] There’s been a lot of buzz about vitamin B12 in recent years, and here’s another reason to pay attention to it:
A new study finds that a deficiency in vitamin B12 is associated with memory and thinking problems, as well as brain shrinkage. The research is published in the journal Neurology.
Researchers did not prove that low vitamin B12 levels cause these cognitive abnormalities, but they did find a strong association with markers of deficiency, said study co-author Dr. Martha Morris of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
The theory is that adequate levels of vitamin B12 is necessary for the brain’s myelin sheath, an insulating layer around nerves. When the sheath gets damaged, impulses between transmitted along nerve cells slow down.
Vitamin B12 is found in meats, fish, shellfish and dairy products, and some cereals are fortified with it. People over 65 in particular may need B12 supplements because older patients’ bodies have a harder time absorbing this vitamin.
Researchers looked at 121 participants in the Chicago Health and Aging Project. They looked at both serum levels of vitamin B12 and markers of vitamin B12 deficiency.
The study found that methylmalonate, a marker of vitamin B12 deficiency, is associated with a reduction of brain volume and so may contribute to cognitive problems. Homocysteine, an amino acid associated with low B12 levels as well as folate, was linked to thinking problems through a different mechanism involving abnormal white matter signals (as seen on certain kinds of MRIs).
There aren’t a lot of data on using these markers clinically for the purposes of testing the health of older patients, said Dr. James Lah, neurologist at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, who was not involved in the study. The study points to them as potentially helpful, but more research needs to be done, he said.
The study did not find an association between the serum B12 levels of participants and the likelihood of brain problems. Morris said that makes sense because while low levels negatively affect the brain, high levels above normal aren’t necessarily better than adequate levels.
“There’s a level we should all have, and if you fall below that, it could cause problems,” she said.
Quantifying that level is up for debate, but the National Institutes of Health offers guidelines for recommended vitamin B12 intake at various ages.
Morris and colleagues did not look at this phenomenon in Alzheimer’s patients, but a small 2010 study in Neurology found that people who tended to eat vitamin B12-rich foods are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who did not. Vitamin B12 deficiency has not been shown to be directly involved in the pathology of Alzheimer’s in the brain, but it may aggravate the brain in other ways that could lead to Alzheimer’s. “We can’t discount its involvement,” Lah said.
(CNN) — Hope was stirring for Mallory Weggemann just 11 weeks after she lost movement below the waist.
Weggemann, who didn’t even try to make a college swim team when she could walk, was at a Minnesota pool with a club coach she’d just met. The teen wanted to know if she could return to the sport she knew as a girl — only now with absolutely no kick.
Her father told two of her old high school swimming friends — only half kidding — that they’d need to save Mallory should she start drowning.
“I didn’t know if she was going to float or what was going to happen,” Chris Weggemann recalled of that day in 2008. “But she took off swimming, and she got to the wall, and she said, ‘All right, what do I do now?’ ”
What she’s done in the three years since is smash world para-swimming records, collect an ESPY Award, swim on an NCAA Division I college team and put herself on course for what she hopes is a historic run at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
Heading into this week’s Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships in Edmonton, Alberta — where she’s won three golds in the first two days of a five-day event — she held 15 world records in her physical ability class. Of the seven solo events to be held in London in her class, she is world champion in six.
“When I got back into the water, it was a real turning point for me — for my mental state, my physical state, everything,” Mallory Weggemann, 22, of Eagan, Minnesota, said this month. “It brought back the emotion that I have and the passion that I have for the water.”
The transition from an able-bodied girl who had hung up her goggles to a world-beating para-swimmer began with an injection three years ago.
Weggemann began having severe lower back pain in high school following a case of shingles. After several unsuccessful treatments, she was prescribed three epidural injections over a number of months, and the first two brought pain relief. But after the third, in January 2008, numbness in the college freshman’s legs didn’t recede, her family says.
She was transferred from a clinic to a hospital. About three weeks in, doctors told her she needed to learn how to use a wheelchair. Complications from the procedure had paralyzed her from the waist down.
It was an unusual result: Though the risk of paralysis stemming from epidural injections varies by type and location, paralysis from epidurals in the lower back is exceedingly rare, said a physician not involved in her care, Dr. Steven P. Cohen, a pain medicine specialist at Johns Hopkins and director of pain research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Grieving and slow to accept the paralysis, Weggemann made a list of things she would do — but only when she could walk again: Return to class. Travel. Even try out for a college team.
“I was down in the dumps, kind of confused, and asking ‘why-me’ questions, not knowing what was going to be next,” she said, recalling her return home in a wheelchair after weeks of rehab.
Then one of her sisters, trying to cheer her up in April 2008, took her to the University of Minnesota to watch the U.S. swimming trials for that year’s Beijing Paralympic Games.
Weggemann, who started swimming at age 7, saw athletes leave their wheelchairs and crutches and do their thing in the water. She went down to the pool deck and talked with coaches, including Jim Andersen, a longtime club swim coach who only recently had started guiding disabled athletes.
Suddenly, Weggemann wasn’t thinking about goals for a time that might not come. She wondered what she could do now.
A few days later, she had her first practice with Andersen, launching a partnership that would see Weggemann — viewing swimming as something to pour her energy and grief into — test the limits of her newly constrained body.
“When Mallory gets in the water, she feels normal. And I think it made her grow up,” Andersen, 60, said of her return to the pool. “I can’t imagine how devastating it would be to have happened what happened to her, and what my mental mind-set would have been. But (swimming) was a great thing to enable her to recover.”
The beginning wasn’t easy.
Not all para-swimmers are unable to kick. Some have dwarfism; some are missing a limb; others have a number of other disabilities but can move their legs. Weggemann’s challenge was not only propelling herself solely with her upper body, but also making turns and starting off a block.
Instead of a flipping and kicking off a wall, she learned to push off with her hands, redirecting herself in a semicircular motion. On the starting block, she can crouch and dive into the water, but does so by grabbing the block and swinging her upper body forward, rather than pushing with her legs.
She found her initial competition at able-bodied club meets. At the first one in May 2008, Weggemann, then 19, looked at her 9-year-old competitors and then shot a glance at her dad.
“She looks over with this look of, ‘If these guys beat me,’ ” Chris Weggemann said. “And they did.”
Undeterred, she saw chasing the able-bodied as a game: See how close she could get, chase them for faster times.
Soon, she was not only keeping up with the competition at disabled meets but also beating able-bodied collegians.
She transferred from her small school near Eagan to Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina in January 2009. The kid who thought she wasn’t good enough for a big program before paralysis was now a full member of a Division I team.
Weggemann didn’t win any races at the conference meet in February. But she beat some able-bodied competitors in preliminary heats and electrified her team, Gardner-Webb coach Mike Simpson said.
Beating able-bodied athletes was just an extra, because she was focused on improving her times, Simpson said. But spectators “were pretty blown away” when she beat some swimmers in her 500-yard freestyle heat.
“She added a lot to the team,” he said. “When you have people swim way faster than their best time, that creates momentum and energy for the rest of the team. … (Her performance) got everyone else really excited.”
After that, para-swimming records fell and ambitions rose.
At a USA Swimming meet in Minnesota in May 2009, she swam 1:26.20 in the 100-meter butterfly, breaking the old top U.S. mark in her class, 1:28.12.
That summer in Edmonton, she broke three long-course world records, including in the 400-meter freestyle. Her 5:12.30 time in that event beat the record, which had stood for nine years, by almost five seconds.
She transferred to the University of Minnesota that fall — not to join the team, but to train again with Andersen. She broke several other world records in following months, but her signature moment came the next summer.
And she swam the 100-meter breaststroke final in 1:35.51 — four seconds faster than a world record that a competitor had set in a preliminary heat.
For her performance in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Weggemann last month won ESPN’s 2011 EPSY Award for best female athlete with a disability.
Back in 2009, she told Swimming World magazine that she hoped to win a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games. Now she wants all seven individual golds — a feat last done at the 2004 Athens Paralympics by American and two-time ESPY winner Erin Popovich.
And Weggemann — a public relations student on leave until the 2012 games — wants to set world records in each of those events along the way.
“This falls into being a mental game for me,” said Weggemann, who credits Andersen and her family for her success and ability to carry on. “If I can win one (gold), I don’t want to stop at one. I want two and then three. I want to push my body as hard as I can push it.”
Weggemann has been a role model for able-bodied and disabled alike, said Jim Hanton, administrative vice chair for Minnesota Swimming. She has lobbied high-profile state meets to include heats specifically for disabled athletes, and she’s made herself available to young swimmers, speaking to high school teams and showing kids around the aquatic center, he said.
Weggemann is working herself back into shape following illnesses in late 2010 and early 2011, and will hope to be in top form for the U.S. Paralympic trials in March in South Dakota.
If she’s happy, it’s partly because she found her way back to familiar surroundings so quickly after her paralysis.
“It’s something where I can get out of my chair, and it’s just me and the water, and I can move about freely,” she said. “Even when my competitive days are over, I’ll still need that, because it’s a big part of who I am and what I know.”
What’s the biggest reason people give up on their workout program? Plain and simple, they get burned out, lose motivation, and stop going. Finding unique ways to keep motivation high is problem Share It Fitness and other exercise companies are looking to address. Providing boring workout plans that are nothing more than grocery lists, do not work. Watching 5-minute exercise videos then going off on your own to recreate what you’ve been told, does not work. Watching the same exercise DVD’s over and over again is a sure-fire way to lead to burn out.
At Share It Fitness we are always looking for other companies who have similar ideals about fitness as we do. I’d like to introduce you to another website that offers a unique and motivating concept on staying and/or getting healthy. The website is Konkura.com. Konkura is the brain-child of Dr. Phil Worthington and aims to tap into that natural instinct of competition in each of us, to promote health and fitness.
Konkura is a free site where you can join sport and fitness challenges, or create your own, to compare your performance with other people around the world and get inspired and motivated to train harder/smarter. The challenges can involve any aspect of sport or exercise that you can measure – from single exercises to whole workouts. For this reason, it’s great for benchmarking how you’re improving your strength, fitness or endurance, both compared to other people and against your own past performances.
As Phil says “We created Konkura to encourage friendly competition and make exercise more fun and motivational. If you’ve got a competitive spirit, we think you’ll get a kick out of taking part in Konkura challenges.”
Phil goes on to say, “You can use the site to find new things to do to mix up your training, or stick to a few specific challenges that are closely related to your sport or fitness goals, and use the competitive element to benchmark your performance with other people to help you keep improving.
If you create your own challenges you have the option to keep them private so that only your friends or teammates can take part. We think that’s a fantastic way to train as a group and motivate one another, particularly if you can’t physically meet up for every training session.”
As many of you know, we here at Share It Fitness believe in our concept of Body Diversity Training. That is, engaging in various types of fitness across all disciplines, and at varying levels, to realize the greatest potential growth. Konkura challenges complement our philosophy by allowing you to break the mold of your standard workout program. What’s more, fostering competition has been shown to make individuals work harder and more intensely than if they were simply doing a laundry list of exercises at the gym.
Check them out at Konkura.com for more information.
Great article on CNN today on fat cells and losing weight. There are many misconceptions out there, no thanks to certain misleading fitness magazines articles, but this article does a fine job on setting the record straight. See below.
(CNN) — Multiple chins, bulging tummies and flabby arms: It’s easy to see where fat accumulates on the body.
When a person starts losing weight, where does the fat go? And what parts of the body can you expect to see results?
Headlines from fitness magazines promise exercises to blast away belly fat and activities to spot-reduce flab. The scientific evidence, unfortunately, doesn’t back those sexy headlines.
Here are three things to know about weight-loss and body fat.
You can’t change your shape, just your size.
You can’t cherry-pick where you shed fat; weight loss doesn’t work like a point-and-shoot.
MRIs, CT scans and dexa scans, which use X-ray beams to measure body composition, show no evidence for spot reduction.
“Basically, when we lose weight, we lose weight all over in exactly the proportion that’s distributed throughout our body,” said Susan Fried, director of the Boston Obesity and Nutrition Research Center at the Boston University School of Medicine.
A pear-shaped woman who loses weight will remain a pear, just a daintier one, say researchers who specialize in body fat. More women tend to be pear-shaped, with fat around their hips and thighs. Men tend to be apple-shaped, because they have fat that accumulates around their waist.
“People come in with unrealistic expectations from magazines and spot-reducing,” said Gary Foster, director of Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education. “That doesn’t happen. When you start to lose fat, it’s proportionate throughout your body, whether it’s your neck, waist, ankle circumference. You’ll come out smaller but have the same body shape.”
That was the case with Maggie Sorrells, 37, who lost nearly 300 pounds through diet and exercise in less than five years.
Her body was pear-shaped even when she weighed about 500 pounds. She reduced her portion sizes and attended weekly faith-based weight loss meetings called Weigh Down. She noticed that her face and hips were getting smaller.
“My hips were like 73 inches,” Sorrells said. They’re now down to 39 inches.
“It’s crazy to think how much they’ve come down.”
She and her husband, Andy, who live in Nashville, lost more than 500 pounds combined.
Sorrells essentially retained her pear shape, although she’s 300 pounds lighter. “I’m still rounder in the bottom part of my body. I’m still pear-shaped,” she said.
For most people, the problem is their weight, not their body shape, Foster said. Whether you’re a pear or apple may be determined by genetics or hormones.
Not all body fat is created equal.
When Joe Dragon, an insurance company supervisor in Albany, New York, started losing weight from his 425-pound frame, he noticed the biggest difference in his stomach.
“I was never heavy on the bottom; it was more the gut, belly area,” the 34-year-old said. “The differences I noticed, I have a flat stomach. It used to be huge round ball.”
Like Dragon, men tend to be apple-shaped and carry more belly fat, known as visceral fat. This is a dangerous type of fat because it surrounds abdominal organs and is metabolically active.
Essentially, it disturbs the regular mechanisms in your body.
The fat cells release biochemicals that lead to inflammation, which could lead to heart attacks, strokes and joint and muscle pain. This accumulates in the liver, said Dr. Robin Blackstone, surgeon and medical director of Scottsdale Healthcare Bariatric Center in Arizona.
“Fat is basically a store of energy,” she said. “When you need energy, you break down the fat. That breaks down into a component called free fatty acid and goes into the liver for energy. When you have a lot of excess fat, it generates so much free fatty acid, the liver can’t handle it, so it stores it.”
That triggers a host of problems including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, insulin resistance and diabetes.
“Belly fat is much more harmful than the so-called big butt,” Foster said.
The fat in the hips causes much alarm because that part of the body is highly visible. Called subcutaneous fat, the masses of this fat may be unsightly, but scientists believe they’re not as dangerous as internal abdominal fat.
For cosmetic or social reasons, women are more likely to seek obesity treatment than men.
“What that says is that men are likely to need obesity treatment more than women, but women, likely due to stigma socially for being overweight, are more likely to present for treatment,” Foster said.
Where does the fat go?
Fat cells expand when people consume more energy than they can burn. During weight loss, the cells shrink.
“The fat is a very specialized cell, and it takes basically the fat we eat and it stores it in form of triglycerides,” said Fried, who researches how fat is deposited. “It’s doing that for the purpose of releasing it when other parts of the body need it.”
Humans carry about 10 billion to 30 billion fat cells. People who are obese can have up to 100 billion.
“If anyone of us overeats long and hard enough, we can increase the number of fat cells in our body,” Fried said. “When we lose weight, we don’t lose the number of fat cells.”
The size of the cells shrinks, but the capacity to expand is always there.
Liposuction can remove fat cells, but this procedure is ideally for people who are not obese.
“The fat cells are actually being removed,” said Tony Youn, a plastic surgeon who performs liposuctions. “It doesn’t mean that fat cells that remain can’t get bigger.”
Despite the extraction of fat cells, the ones remaining can always get bigger or smaller depending on a person’s diet and fitness.
(Health.com) — People who eat more sodium and less potassium may die sooner of heart or other problems than people who consume the opposite, a large, 15-year-study has found.
The study of more than 12,000 Americans provides more ammunition to health advocates who say that slashing salt intake will save lives. But not everyone is convinced, as some research is contradictory.
In the new study, men consumed an average of 4,323 milligrams of sodium a day, while women took in 2,918 milligrams.
The American Heart Association recommends people limit their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day or less.
The group with the highest sodium-to-potassium ratio had a mortality risk about 50% higher during the study than the group with the lowest, according to the report by Elena V. Kuklina, M.D., and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University, and the Harvard School of Public Health. The research was published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is naturally low in sodium and high in potassium. Good potassium sources include bananas, baked potatoes, and raisins. In contrast, a diet of processed foods tends to be the opposite — it contains more sodium and less potassium, says Kuklina, a nutritional epidemiologist at the CDC.
“We probably should take into account the whole diet and take a more comprehensive look,” she says. “Looking at a single micronutrient, we might just miss the whole picture.”
Because most of the sodium people in the developed world consume comes from processed food, there has been a movement to get the food industry to reduce the amount of salt it adds to products.
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine recommended that the Food and Drug Administration regulate sodium in food. And the National Salt Reduction Initiative is a partnership of organizations — including major food companies — that aims to cut sodium in processed foods by 25% by 2014.
“We now have 28 companies who have committed to reducing the salt levels in at least one of their categories of products,” says Thomas A. Farley, M.D., of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and coauthor of an editorial accompanying Kuklina’s study.
It’s the easiest way to reduce sodium intake, says Graham MacGregor, chairman of World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) and a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, in London.
The UK started doing just that in 2006, requiring companies to cut salt content by 25 to 30%. By 2008, according to MacGregor, sodium intake had fallen by 10%.
“It’s a very large study…and it clearly shows what we’d expect it to show, that eating too much sodium is harmful and eating too little potassium is harmful,” he says.
WASH is a global group established in 2005 with the aim of improving people’s health by reducing salt intake.
But the case isn’t quite closed, some say. For example, a report this May in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that while healthy men and women who ate more sodium than average weren’t at higher risk of dying of heart disease or stroke, cardiovascular mortality was 56% higher for people who ate the least sodium. The eight-year study included 3,681 European men and women age 60 or younger who did not have hypertension.
“It’s confusing,” says Michael Alderman, M.D., a professor of medicine and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, and editor of the American Journal of Hypertension.
While some people with hypertension do need to reduce their sodium intake, Alderman says, reducing the sodium intake of the entire population could be harmful.
And an analysis of the evidence published in the Cochrane Review in July suggested that there isn’t strong evidence that people who cut back on salt will reap heart-health benefits. But it did say that a population-wide reduction might help.
“These findings should not be misinterpreted as showing that salt reduction will not save lives. There was insufficient evidence to make this judgment,” the author wrote. “Giving advice to reduce salt is a weak method of reducing salt intake in the population. Reducing hidden salt in processed foods, including bread, would likely have a bigger impact on blood pressure levels and on cardiovascular disease.”
Farley says concerns about the risks of salt reduction are unfounded.
“There are populations around the world who take in much, much less sodium than we do and they maintain lower blood pressure throughout their lives, so I’m not concerned about that,” he says. “The easiest way for people to think about it is they should be taking in less sodium and more potassium.”
As far as the JAMA study is concerned, Farley says, “I would consider that an outlier.”
An interesting new study from CNN indicates that your weight can influence your salary for both men and women. However, their is a double standard with the impact it has. Skinny women tend to have a fatter paycheck while skinny men have a skinny paycheck. Check out the pretty significant graph below. A women who is 25 pounds overweight makes about $16,000 less than a woman of average size. A man who weights 25 pounds over the average male makes about $8,000 more.
The bigger, more muscular men in the office were described as polite, happy, brave, and smart while their skinny male colleagues were described as nervous, sneaky, afraid, and sad. The latter is not how anyone would want to be viewed in the workplace!
Furthermore, obese workers are thought to be less desirable, less agreeable and less conscientious. A worker with an average weight is thought to be more influential and is able get things accomplished effectively.
Check out the full video from CNN here.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Ronald McDonald, the orange and white face of the popular fast-food chain that bears his name, is under attack by nutrition advocates who want him to be retired.
Their beef, so to speak, is that McDonald’s uses clowns and toys to sell unhealthy food to impressionable children. The company argues that its marketing practices are responsible, and that its food is “high quality.”
The push to retire Ronald is being led by a group called Corporate Accountability International, which plans to introduce a resolution calling for the clown’s ouster at the company’s annual shareholder meeting Thursday.
“Through this initiative, the public health community is rallying behind a simple message to McDonald’s: stop making the next generation sick — retire Ronald and the rest of your junk food marketing to kids,” said Steven Rothschild, a professor at Rush Medical College and a backer of the resolution.
McDonald’s is already being sued by a group of consumers and health care professionals over the toys that come in the Happy Meals marketed to kids. The group filed a class action suit late last year in California that claims the company’s marketing practices violate state’s consumer protection laws.
In addition, a group of Philadelphia nuns filed a proxy resolution in March asking McDonald’s to investigate its “policy response” to concerns about the link between fast food and childhood obesity.
See more on CNN.
Interesting how they claim their food is ‘high quality’…..remember Snack Girl’s experiment on McDonald’s burgers?!? Gross.
What are your thoughts?? Does Ronald contribute to obesity in children?
Share It Fitness trainer Sharon Blair leads us through a 10 minute ab workout. This is just one of the hundreds of full-length workouts in our database. This clip is shorter than most (since we can’t upload longer ones to youtube!) but it allows you to get an idea of what Share It Fitness has to offer you. Soon, you can have access to our library of fitness classes including, kickboxing, circuits, kettlebells, yoga, pilates, weight training, etc. Stay tuned for the launch date and get excited…we sure are!!!
Check out our youtube channel for more workout previews.
A morbidly obese man has passed away at the young age of 43 years old. Due to his excess weight, he suffered from knee problems and therefore did not feel he was able to walk anymore. It had been two years since he had left his recliner before authorities cut him out of his home when he fell ill.
Obesity is the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide. Don’t wait until it’s too late. It is much easier to keep the weight off than to have to lose it when you finally realize your death-bed may be just around the corner. As we’ve seen many times, excess weight can take such an extreme toll on our bodies and our health. Obesity increases the likelihood of many diseases, takes years off your life, and quite honestly, can make your life hell. There are endless things in the world to enjoy. Don’t miss out on what the world has to offer for the temporary satisfaction that food may provide (key word=temporary). Stop the excuses today and commit to living a healthier life.
Read more on HuffingtonPost