Tag Archives: childhood obesity

4 Unconventional Things You Didn’t Know Were Making You Fat

The human body is a strange and wondrous place. There are many reasons why a person might gain weight. Eating the wrong kind of food, the wrong amount of food, or not enough exercise are well established reasons. However, there are some no-so-common reasons that might play a role as well.

Road Traffic Noise

Exposure to a combination of road traffic, rail, and aircraft noise may pose the greatest risk of acquiring a spare tire — otherwise known as central obesity, and thought to be one of the most harmful types of fat deposition around the body. In a recent study researchers assessed how much road traffic, rail, and aircraft noise 5075 people living in five suburban and rural areas around Stockholm, Sweden, had been exposed to since 1999. The analysis indicated no link between road traffic noise and BMI. But there was an association between road traffic noise and waist size, with a 0.21 cm increase for every additional 5 dB increase in exposure, although this was only significant among women. Similarly, there was a link to waist:hip ratio, with a change of 0.16 for every 5 dB increase in noise exposure to road traffic; this association was stronger in men.

What gives? Noise exposure may be an important physiological stressor and bump up the production of the hormone cortisol, high levels of which are thought to have a role in fat deposition around the middle of the body, researchers suggest. Additionally, noise exposure might disrupt sleep, another known factor to contribute to weight gain.

Too Many Food Choices

A new study in mice by researchers in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine has shown that the environment in which a child lives may be an equal if not stronger force in determining obesity than their mother’s diet. Researchers found that having too many food choices increases the obesity problem. In fact, researchers found that having a choice of a high-fat and low-fat diet does not help — offspring in this situation tended to eat even more. Their findings were recently released in the journal Endocrinology. “We like variety,” said Deborah Good, an author of the paper and an associate professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise at Virginia Tech. “But when there is a choice, we eat more than when there is not any variety.” Moral of the story? Simple is better for our waistlines.

The Inability To Stay Warm

A new study suggests that a biological inability to create sufficient core body heat could be linked to the obesity epidemic. The study found that obesity is associated with a significant reduction of body core temperature during daytime hours. Journal Editor Francesco Portaluppi explains that the reduced ability of obese people to spend energy as heat compared to lean individuals could result in long term weight gain (about 2 kg (4.5 lb.)) per year, depending on the lifestyle. “Since body core temperature represents a marker of energy expenditure, results from this study suggest that a diurnal thermogenic handicap can play a crucial role in favoring weight gain in obese subjects,” said article co-author Pietro Cortelli, MD, Ph.D. The fix? Generate more body heat. And how does one do that? Exercise of course!

Environmental Pollution

A team of Spanish scientists, which includes several researchers from the University of Granada, has confirmed that there is a relation between the levels of certain environmental pollutants that a person accumulates in his or her body and their level of obesity. Subjects with more pollutants in their bodies tend to have higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which are important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The research has analyzed the levels of pollutants accumulated in adipose tissue (fat) in nearly 300 men and women, who were attended in the surgery services of two hospitals in the province of Granada (Spain). The substances analyzed, known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), can remain in the environment for years, even decades, without degrading.

“Humans are exposed to POPs mainly through diet. Besides, POPs accumulate gradually in body fat, and this is the reason why the median levels in our study give us an idea of an individual’s accumulated exposition over a number of years,” says Juan Pedro Arrebola, the main author of the article. There is evidence that human exposure to certain chemical substances called “obesogenic” could favor the growth and proliferation of adipocytes (fat cells), and provoke therefore an increase in body fat.

Do your best to avoid exposing yourself unnecessarily to chemicals that might be problematic. Perhaps the most powerful way to do this is avoid processed food which is loaded with these chemicals from their own packaging.

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How to develop healthy eating habits in a child: Start early and eat your vegetables

A healthy diet promotes success in life — better concentration and alertness, better physical health that translates into good mental and emotional health.

But even the best intentioned parents can expect food fights with their children, said Tanda Kidd, associate professor of human nutrition and extension specialist at Kansas State University. Developing good eating habits in your children is worth the effort, she said.

Good eating habits also are a front-line defense against obesity, a scourge of the nation that happens when a child eats many more calories than he or she uses up.

Nearly 1 in 4 children ages 2 to 5 is overweight or obese, said Paula Peters. An obese child is at risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and sleep apnea. Peters is an associate professor of human nutrition and assistant extension director for family and consumer sciences at Kansas State University.

“No parent wants her child to be sick. No parent wants her child to feel like an outsider in social situations, or be teased or bullied because of her weight,” Kidd said.

Peters and Kidd both conduct research in the area of childhood obesity prevention.

A primary key to teaching a child to make healthy food choices, Peters said, is to start early.

“Give the child a wide variety of healthy food options and let her choose which and how much to eat. A child may start by eating nothing or eating too much, but she has an innate ability to know when she’s hungry and when she’s full.”

A child learns about new foods at a time when she is exploring the world around her. And she learns to make decisions for herself.

Make the selection nutrient dense — not calorie dense. That means fruits and vegetables, not cookies for snacks. A glass of soda and a glass of 100 percent juice may have the same number of calories, but a juice is a healthier choice because it does not contain added sugars, said Kidd, a registered dietitian.

Soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks have empty calories, meaning they are “empty” of nutritional value.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, empty calories from foods high in added sugars, such as ice cream, cookies, candy, fruit drinks and some breakfast cereals and solid fats such as donuts, pastries, hot dogs, sausages, bacon and regular ground beef, contribute to 40 percent of daily calories for children and adolescents ages 2 to 18 years.

Kidd and Peters offer other suggestions:

• Do not use food as a reward for good behavior or other achievements. Kidd suggested other awards like reading a book together or playing a child’s favorite game.

• Eat your veggies, Dad. A child learns food habits — what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, where to eat — from parents.

• Eat with your children so they can see you making good food choices.

• Be aware of what a child is eating away from home. Peters said that more than 25 percent of children ages 2 to 4 are in day care 20 to 40 hours a week. Check out meals and snacks offered to your child.

• Limit screen time — television — that encourages “mindless” eating.

• Avoid putting a child on a diet, even if he or she is slightly overweight. “That sets up the child for issues such as eating disorders later in life,” Kidd said. Instead, offer healthier food options and increase physical activity.

Kidd and Peters also encourage parents to teach their children about healthy food choices in other ways:

• Planning and taking a trip to the grocery store gives a child ownership in food choices. Reading labels and comparing costs offer other lessons.

• Plant a garden. Peters said a child is more likely to eat vegetables he or she helped grow and harvest.

• Cook together. During special time with Mom or Dad in the kitchen the child will learn more than cooking skills.

Kidd and Peters are concerned about both food deserts and food swamps. The former defines area where fresh foods are hard to get, perhaps because grocery stores are far from the family home.

Food swamps describes areas that are so crowded with fast food options that making healthy eating choices is more challenging.

They also stress the vital role that physical activity plays in childhood health. Although there is no specific recommendation for kids ages 2-5 years old, parents should offer opportunities several times a day for active play. However, kids 6 and over are encouraged to be physically active at least 60 minutes each day, Kidd said.

“Parenting styles and family characteristics affect what a child eats, of course,” Peters said. “So do community, demographic and societal characteristics such as school physical education programs, access to recreational facilities, school lunch programs and neighborhood safety.

“Weight gain is an indicator of an unhealthy society,” she said. “We have to focus on ways to be healthier.”

Week of the Young Children, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children April 12-18, focuses on the foundation for a child’s success in school and later life.

via How to develop healthy eating habits in a child: Start early and eat your vegetables — ScienceDaily.

Dr. Court’s Comments:

I agree with everything written above with one exception. I do not believe fruit juice should be a regular part of a child’s diet. On occasion, it’s fine. However, the vast majority of time, water should be the choice. Parents often are concerned that their children are somehow “missing” something if they aren’t given juice or sweet snacks. They are missing something; they’re missing the opportunity for cavities. They’re missing the increased risk of being overweight or obese. They’re missing out on poorer brain function. They’re missing out on learning healthy habits.

In all seriousness though, parents are legitimately concerned about depriving their children of delicious treats. However, this is purely the parents’ perspective, not the child’s. If the parent believes they would miss those treats themselves (most likely because of their own upbringing and food choices), of course they’re going to believe their children would miss them too. Here’s the caveat though. Children only know what you teach them. They won’t miss out on anything if they’re taught to love the healthy food. They’ll feel just as fulfilled and loved with the good food as they would feel with the unhealthy food.

This is not to suggest treats should never be given. They must, however, be just that – treats. Making a regular habit of bad food choices sets up a child for a lifetime of health issues.

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High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You!

A common additive used in a wide range of commercially available processed foods such as soft drinks, salad dressings, cookies and cakes, breads and breakfast cereals has been poisoning people for several decades now. In fact, research studies have shown that it causes metabolic syndrome which in turn contributes a great deal to an increase in body weight and incidence of degenerative diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and fatty liver. This additive is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

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Sucrose, or regular table sugar, consists of 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose, whereas HFCS can contain up to 90 percent fructose, almost twice the fructose of common table sugar. In terms of calories, both HFCS and table sugar provide 4 calories per gram, but the issue is the metabolism of excessive amounts of fructose.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup History

In the ninth century, the Japanese invented a sweetener derived from starches. This syrup is being used even today as “traditional sweetener.” In the 17th century, Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, a German chemist, discovered another starch-based sweetener called glucose.

During the times of Napoleonic wars, blockades on sugarcane imports from the West Indies encouraged laboratories to work on development of alternative sweeteners. Dextose or D-glucose was developed in 1801, and in 1811 a Russian scientist created glucose by overcooking potato starch in sulfuric acid.

No further progress was made till the 1950s when the Japanese invented the HFCS. In America, cane sugar continued to be used as the sweetener of choice until the 1970s prior to the introduction of the less expensive sweeteners such as maltodextrin and HFCS that were derived from corn. HFCS was introduced to the food industry after the developmental process was perfected.

Why is HFCS so popular with the food industry?

First and foremost, its sweetness is comparable to that of table sugar. Secondly, it maintains the quality of condiments and drinks for a longer period. Third, it provides a soft, moist texture to baked food such as snack bars and cookies by retaining moisture and resisting crystallization after baking. It is HFCS that gives baked foods flavor and superior browning quality. The sugars present in HFCS get fermented quickly and easily, making it possible to produce sweeter bread. Fourth, it is much cheaper compared to table sugar. Lastly, it is easily added to just about anything. It is generally produced in a liquid form making its incorporation into food and drink products a very simple task for automated equipment that is so common in food production today.

Health Effects of HFCS

The statistics released by the Department of Agriculture in the U.S. show that the average consumption of HFCS has increased from 0.5 pounds per person per year to 60 pounds per person per year over the past four decades.

During the same period, there has been a threefold increase in obesity rates and a seven fold increase in the incidence of diabetes. HFCS may not be singularly responsible for this, but its effect cannot be ignored.

A number of short-term clinical studies have shown that ingesting sweetened beverages is not good for health. Results of one study showed that people gained weight and experienced an increase in blood pressure and inflammatory markers. In another study, scientists observed an increase in visceral fat and triglyceride levels and stimulation of lipogenesis (producing more fat). In yet another trial wherein the effects of water, milk, diet cola and sugar-sweetened cola were compared, the results showed that sugar-sweetened beverage contributed to an increase in liver and visceral fat and elevated triglyceride levels when consumed for 6 months at the rate of just 16 ounce per day (i.e about one soda).

Fructose also increases gut permeability allowing potent bacterial toxins out of the gut and into surrounding immune tissue. This generates an inflammatory response. If this response continues for long periods of time, systemic levels of inflammation begin to rise increasing the risk of obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, arthritis and more. And most studies have shown it only takes the fructose present in one soda to produce these adverse effects.

You may use sugar in any form, but it definitely causes obesity as well as other diseases when consumed in pharmacologic doses. HFCS is often a marker of nutrient-deficient, poor quality and disease-causing industrial food products. It should be severely limited in your diet.

Corn Industry’s Marketing Push

The corn processing industry thrives on doubt and confusion. The Corn Refiners Association skillfully uses the print and television media for massive advertising campaigns in order to dispel the fear among people. The industry also asserts through medical doctors’ as well as nutrition experts’ opinion that HFCS is same as cane sugar and it is a “natural” product if used in moderation. They do this for nothing but commercial benefit though they themselves are aware that this is not true. No independent medical or nutrition experts recommend the consumption of HFCS. My experience lecturing at the 2012 Food and Nutrition Convention and Expo was enlightening. The Corn Refiners Association sponsored lecture after lecture on HFCS and how it was not the villain it was made out to be. In fact, they asserted it could be consumed as part of a healthy diet. They also skillfully shifted the focus from HFCS to the epidemic of inactivity in the US, blaming it instead of processed food for the skyrocketing chronic disease rates in this country.

Do yourself a favor and avoid HFCS. While the corn and sugar industry continues to deceive, they are killing thousands of Americans to make a dollar. It rings eerily similar to Big Tobacco of the 50s and 60s. You don’t want to find out too late that money and corporate interest mislead you into believing it was safe when the research is clear now.

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The Obesity Gene

Is there really an obesity gene? I think the answer is yes and no.  First the yes.

There are likely genes that predispose someone to being overweight or obese.  It is not just one gene but perhaps 10 or 50, or maybe 1,000.  I don’t think we will ever be able to say for certain what specific genes are the “obesity genes.” Certainly it is more difficult with something like this because metabolism is so complex.

The answer to our question might also be no.  While our genes are responsible for many things, the environment plays a huge role.  Diet and exercise are potent modifiers of our genes.  Someone who is genetically predisposed to being overweight may not be overweight with proper diet and exercise.  And if that’s true then, in a sense, being overweight is not genetic.

For more information watch the video below.

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3 Steps to Avoid The Weight Loss Plateau

We’ve all heard about it, right?  Many people have experienced it and the frustrations that go with it.  When you’re trying to lose weight there’s nothing more aggravating than not actually losing weight.  The scenario can go one of two ways:

  1. The first is probably the most common scenario that most of you are thinking about.  A person begins a diet and exercise program and begins to lose weight.  As they progress the weight loss slows and eventually stops even though they aren’t at their goal weight.  I see it routinely in my practice.
  2. The second scenario is still common but people often do not think of it as a weight loss plateau.  In this situation a person begins a diet and exercise program but does not lose any weight at all.  While this may not be your traditional plateau of weight loss, it is still a plateau of sorts.

There are many reasons a person my actually stop losing weight, but if you follow the steps below it will help you avoid this pesky problem and keep you on your path to a leaner, healthier body.

Eat More!

Yes, eat more.  Many times people begin to experience a plateau because they’ve gone months without actually eating enough.  At first, this caloric deficit causes the body to burn extra energy (fat) resulting in weight loss.  Over time, however, the body’s metabolism slows down to meet the amount of energy one is consuming.  We must remember that the human body is designed as a survival machine.  If it believes it is not getting enough food, it will slow down the metabolism to meet the energy supply coming in.  When this happens, weight loss stops.

For the person that begins a diet program but simply cannot lose a single pound, eating more might be essential.  If someone is having trouble losing any weight, it may be because they have been under eating for many years and their metabolism has slowed to a crawl. Trying to lose weight by cutting calories will only compound the problem.  Focus on eating healthy proteins, fruits and vegetables and DO NOT SKIP MEALS.  Eat every three hours and your calories will go up and weight loss will resume/begin.

Change Up Your Exercise

Our bodies get used to things.  Thank goodness they do or even simple tasks like walking might prove very difficult!  But this also means that our bodies get used to our exercise routines and become very efficient at them.  The benefit you received initially from your workout program is no longer as high.  It’s the classic story of diminishing returns.  As you continue to do the same exercise routine, your body finds a way to use less and less energy to do it. This means you get less and less benefit.

An ideal exercise program includes resistance training (i.e. weights) and cardiovascular work.  There are ways to incorporate both very easily, but it must be changed on a monthly basis.  The change is essential for continuing to make progress.

Be Consistent

Didn’t I just tell you to change? Yes, I did.  But you must also be consistent with several things.  Your diet must be consistent.  You must consistently change your workout program and you must remember that weight loss is most permanent when it is done over a long period of time.  If you’re overweight, you did not get there in 6 weeks.  Similarly, you’re likely not going to reach your goals in 6 weeks.

Consistency in the early stages of a diet are perhaps even more vital.  There is little room for error early in a diet plan.  This does not mean you have to be perfect. No one is perfect.  You should try and be as consistent as possible, however.  In the first phase of a new lifestyle your metabolism is resistant to change.  It likes the old way of doing things.  It may take weeks (or months!) for it to adapt to the new demands you are placing on it.  Frequent indiscretions in diet or lack of exercise will prolong the process of shifting your metabolism.  And guess what you’re going to do as soon as your metabolism adapts?  Change your exercise program!!

The process is actually very simple, but because there’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding diet and exercise many people tend to get confused, frustrated and eventually give up. If you can remember the above steps and keep them in your head at all times, weight loss should be a relatively easy process.

 

 

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The Choice is Your’s

Finally, we’re back with another blog! After a busy July and almost a month without a computer with some major hard drive issues, I am happy to be back writing about health and happiness!

I recently read an article written by Dr. Dean Ornish.  He is an integrative medical doctor that preaches lifestyle changes to solve some of health care’s biggest issues.  Although he and I disagree on the correct diet, we whole-heartedly agree that our medical system can be fixed with a new approach to how we live our lives.

I’d like to highlight one thing that he mentioned regarding heart disease and coronary angioplasty and coronary bypass procedures.  The procedures are performed when patients have blockages in the coronary artery system. This system is what provides blood and oxygen to the heart muscle itself.  Obviously, this is an important job!

In his article Dr. Ornish states that “In 2006, according to the American Heart Association, 1.3 million coronary angioplasty procedures were performed at an average cost of $48,399 each, or more than $60 billion; and 448,000 coronary bypass operations were performed at a cost of $99,743 each, or more than $44 billion.”

He goes on to say that in the vast majority of cases the above listed procedures do not prolong life. Yes, that’s right.  You read that correctly.  These procedures cost Americans over $100 billion per year and are very risky to say the least yet their benefit is suspect.  That doesn’t make sense does it?

Most of these procedures could be avoided if people would change their lifestyle and adopt one that incorporated a healthy diet and exercise.

Make no mistake about it – in the vast majority of cases angioplasty and bypass surgery are choices.  You may choose to experience the joy of these surgeries by eating a poor diet, not exercising and smoking.  Should you make that choice just know that the likelihood that you may need one of these two surgeries one day is high.

Or you may make the choice to live a healthy lifestyle by eating a low glycemic diet, exercising and staying away from cigarettes.  This lifestyle has side effects so beware! Side effects include abundant energy, lower rates of depression, lower rates of cancer and an overall vitality not achieved by most!

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‘What’ you eat is more important than ‘How Much.’

The Hat in Rancho Cucamonga California

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Finally a large-scale study has concluded what I have been telling patients for years! What you eat is more important than how much of it you eat.  A calorie is not a calorie!

If you ask many classically trained dietitians about maintaining a healthy weight they will regurgitate the same old rhetoric they always have – “as long as you don’t eat more calories than you expend you won’t gain weight,” and “there are no bad foods, just bad amounts of food.”

The above statements have never made sense to me.  I remember taking ‘advanced biology’ in high school.  (There was nothing really ‘advanced’ about it. It was just the second of two courses, the first being ‘basic’ biology.)  In this class I remember learning about physiology and how the body responded differently to different types of food.  Some foods caused the release of insulin while others caused little or no release of this hormone.  The job of this hormone? It basically tells the body to store fat.  From that information I concluded that what you ate had to make a difference in your weight.

As I progressed through my eduction in college (as a biology major) and then on to chiropractic school where I truly received advanced training, my view did not change – the quality of food that I ate had to make a difference on maintaining my weight.  It could not possibly be as simple as calorie-in/calorie-out.

Yet when you read information online or from other mainstream media outlets you will hear just the opposite. “Eat whatever you want, just be sure it’s in moderation.” Or “It doesn’t matter what kind of food you eat as long as it’s low calorie.”

A new study of just over 120,000 people finally has come up with a conclusion that makes more sense.  Hopefully the American Dietetic Association will take notice.  Individually there are some very good dietitians out there, but the American Dietetic Association is making people sicker and sicker with their stance on many aspects of health in my opinion.

The researchers analyzed data on three separate studies over a 20-year period, tracking the long-term effects of different foods and lifestyle changes on more than 120,000 men and women. Adults in the study gained an average of 3.35 pounds every four years, for a total average weight gain of almost 17 pounds.

Regular consumption of potato chips, French fries and sugared beverages were most to blame for slow and steady weight gain. However, people who ate yogurt, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains either lost weight or gained the least.

Now, I will be the first person to tell you that weight is not the be-all, end-all of health markers.  It’s a good one, but there are plenty of thin people in this world who are very unhealthy.  Also, I generally do not recommend grains be a big part of anyone’s diet.  In small amounts they are ok, but they contribute to inflammation which can be problematic for many reasons.

The other foods in this study – yogurt, fruits, vegetables and nuts – are free foods! Eat them as much as you want.  I routinely encourage people to eat these foods as much as possible.

Interestingly, nuts are a high calorie food yet they performed very well in helping people lose or maintain their weight.  If it truly was about calorie-in/calorie-out then nuts should have performed poorly.  It just goes to show you it isn’t about the calories that we’re putting in, it’s about the quality of those calories.

As much as I’d like to say it’s only about the quality of our food that matters, I cannot.  The amount matters to a certain extent.  If you are regularly consuming 7,000 calories per day you will gain weight.  That type of excess cannot be combated with ‘good’ foods.  However, to get that kind of extra calorie one would have to consume huge amounts of the ‘bad’ foods like fast food, doughnuts, etc.  Those clearly are not quality foods in the first place.

Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital is the author of the study that appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.  He says the calorie-in/calorie-out theory is incorrect “because different foods have a different effect on the body. ‘You can’t just say a calorie is a calorie. It doesn’t address your feelings of fullness, your blood glucose levels, your blood insulin levels and the other biological responses in your body.”

I could not agree more and this has been my point to other ‘experts’ on nutrition when we debate the calorie-in/calorie-out theory.

Let me pose this scenario to you –

Two people are going to embark on an experiment.  They are going to eat identical calorie diets for the next year.  One person is going to eat 2,000 calories per day in potato chips and the other is going to eat 2,000 calories per day in chicken and vegetables.  Who will be healthier and have the most optimal weight at the end of our experiment?  Intuitively we would say the person eating the chicken and vegetables would be and I believe this is correct.

There have been many short-term studies that have concluded healthy diets only need to focus on calorie content.  The quality of the food was not important for maintaining weight.  Finally a study has looked long-term and concluded that the quality of your food is important. Make sure your choices are good choices.  If you focus on the quality of your food you will maintain your weight more effectively than counting those calories.

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