Category Archives: Obesity
Study: Most Intend to Comply With Mandatory Hurricane Evacuation
Most residents of areas most likely to be hit by hurricanes—no matter their income level—intend to comply with mandatory evacuation orders, according to a new study in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. Researchers at The University of Texas School of Public Health did find variations with other demographic differences, such as age, ethnicity and education level. The findings indicate that disaster preparedness should focus more on how to best evacuate the most vulnerable residents, which could include targeted messaging and education. Read more on preparedness.
Breath Test May Identify People Prone to Obesity
A breath test that measures bacterial overgrowth in the stomach could be used to determine whether a person will become overweight, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Researchers found that higher levels of methane and hydrogen from the bacteria Methanobrevibacter smithii were associated with higher BMIs and more body fat. Overgrowth of “bad” bacteria can also lead to bloating, constipation and diarrhea. While noting that obesity is “not a one-size-fits-all disease," study author Ruchi Mathur, MD, director of the outpatient diabetes treatment center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said this could help identify people who would respond best to particular weight loss methods. Read more on obesity.
Study Finds Most Major Restaurants Post Accurate Nutrition Info
A new study from Consumer Reports found that most major chain restaurants post accurate nutritional information about their food. Shoppers purchased and tested 17 menu items from restaurants and fast-food chains, comparing the results for each item to the same items purchased at other restaurants in the chain. They determined that only two items had higher fat or calorie content than advertised: Olive Garden’s Lasagna Primavera with Grilled Chicken and Outback Steakhouse’s Chicken on the Barbie. “We found that you can usually trust the figures you see,” said editor Leslie Ware. “On average, most of them were telling the truth.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is slated to release new regulations regarding nutrition labeling later this year. Read more on nutrition.
Harvard Study: Public Supports Policy Interventions to Reduce Disease Burden
A survey by the Harvard School of Public Health finds that the public greatly supports government action with the goals of changing lifestyle choices that can lead to obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. However, the survey found that people are less likely to support actions that seem intrusive or coercive. The survey was published in Health Affairs. In a second poll from the Harvard School of Public Health, National Public Radio and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, researchers found a large gap between parents’ perceptions of their children’s weight and expert definitions. According to the parents, 15 percent of children are a little or very overweight; national data suggest more than twice as many, or 32 percent of all children, are overweight or obese. Read more on obesity.
Is Facebook Biased Against Older People?
Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health reviewed publicly available Facebook pages and found that many sites created by younger people often included negative age stereotypes. Some even suggested (possibly in jest) that older people should be killed. One Facebook group description, for example, stated that anyone “over the age of 69 should immediately face a firing squad.”
“Facebook has the potential to create new connections between the generations,” says Becca Levy, the lead author of the study. “Instead, it may have created new obstacles.” The study was published in The Gerontologist. Read more on aging.
Drug Use and Mental Health Issues Linked to Dropping Out of College
Marijuana and other illegal drug use, as well as mental health problems, are associated with an increased likelihood of dropping out of college, according to research from the University of Maryland School of Public Health. The research was part of the College Life Study, a longitudinal prospective study of health-risk behaviors among 1,253 college students between 17-19 years old, who were interviewed annually for four years, beginning with their first year of college. The study was published online in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Read more on substance abuse.
NIH: Cardiovascular Benefits Outweigh Small Weight Gain for Former Smokers
When it comes to health, the small amount of weight someone can gain after quitting smoking is inconsequential compared to the improvement in cardiovascular health, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health found that current smokers were at twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease as were former smokers without diabetes. “Our findings suggest that a modest weight gain, around 5-10 pounds, has a negligible effect on the net benefit of quitting smoking,” said study co-author Caroline Fox, MD, MPH, senior investigator in the Laboratory for Metabolic and Population Health at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). “Being able to quantify to some degree the relationship between the benefits and side effects of smoking cessation can help in counseling those who have quit or are thinking about quitting.” Read more on tobacco.
FDA: Antibiotic Azithromycin Can Cause Fatal Irregular Heart Rhythm
The antibiotic azithromycin, also known as Zithromax, can lead to a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm by changing the heart’s electrical activity, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned. The FDA is cautioning physicians to be wary of certain risk factors when prescribing the antibiotic, including low levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower-than-normal heart rate and the presence or other drugs to treat abnormal heart rhythms. Read more on heart health.
Study: Breast-feeding has No Effect on Weight Later in Life
Despite previous studies suggesting a possible link, breast-feeding does not reduce the chances that a child will grow up to be overweight or obese, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Still, breast-feeding does bring several health benefits, including a reduced risk of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections; a higher IQ; and lower incidence of eczema. It also reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in the mother. "Although breast-feeding is unlikely to stem the current obesity epidemic, its other advantages are amply sufficient to justify continued public health efforts to promote, protect and support it," said the study's lead author, Richard Martin, a professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Bristol in England. Read more on infant and maternal health.
Judge Strikes Down N.Y. City’s Sugary Drink Limit; Bloomberg to Appeal
“The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of this rule,” wrote State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling when striking down New York City’s 16-ounce limit on sodas and other sugary drinks just hours before it was set to go into effect. He also called the law “arbitrary and capricious.” Still, Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he expects to win on appeal. “As far as we have come, there is one public health crisis that has grown worse and worse over the years, and that is obesity," he said at a news confernce. "Five thousand people will die of obesity this year in New York. The best science tells us that sugary drinks are a cause of obesity." Read more on obesity.
NFL, GE Partner in $60M Effort to Study and Prevent Brain Injuries
The National Football League and General Electric Co have announced a $60 million partnership to advance research into brain injuries while also developing new technologies to help limit injuries to athletes. It includes $40 million for research into imaging technologies and $20 million for researchers and businesses working on injury prevention, identification and management. The NFL has faced multiple lawsuits related to concussions, including a class action on behalf of 4,000 former players. "We're trying to do this with the best minds anywhere in the world," said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt at a news conference. Each year, U.S. emergency rooms see about 173,000 temporary brain injuries related to sports and recreation in people age 19 and under, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more on injury prevention.
Ovarian Cancer Patients Who Don’t Receive Recommended Treatment More Likely to Die in 5 Years
Ovarian cancer patients who do not received the treatment recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) clinical practice guidelines—or as many as two-thirds of patients—have a 30 percent greater risk of dying within five years, according to new findings to be presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology. The study found that low-volume hospitals that treat fewer ovarian cancer patients are less likely to follow the treatment guidelines. "The high-volume hospitals, which did 20 or more cases a year, and high-volume physicians, which did 10 or more a year, were significantly more likely to administer treatment that was adherent to NCCN guidelines," said Robert Bristow, MD, director of gynecologic oncology at the School of Medicine of the University of California, Irvine. According to the American Cancer Society, in the United States, approximately 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year and 15,000 women die from the disease. Read more on cancer.
Obese Drivers at Greater Risk of Dying in a Car Crash
Obese drivers are up to 78 percent more likely to die in a car crash than normal-weight drivers, according to a recent study by researchers at the UC Berkeley’s Safe Transportation and Research Education Center. Researchers reviewed data on accidents recorded in the managed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, and found that drivers with a Body Mass Index (BMI) in the obesity range (over 30) were more likely than other drivers to die in a car crash even if they were wearing a seat belt and an airbag deployed. The researchers say that other health problems the obese drivers had could have been a factor in their deaths, but say that cars may not be designed people who are overweight. The study was published in the Emergency Medicine Journal. Read more on injury prevention.
AHRQ Releases Patient Safety Strategies
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently released 10 patient safety strategies for hospital and other health care facilities that the agency says can save lives:
- Preoperative checklists and anesthesia checklists to prevent operative and postoperative events
- Checklists to prevent central line-associated bloodstream infections
- Interventions to reduce urinary catheter use, including catheter reminders, stop orders, or nurse-initiated removal protocols
- Interventions including head-of-bed elevation, to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia
- Hand hygiene
- The do-not-use list for hazardous abbreviations
- Interventions to reduce pressure ulcers
- Barrier precautions to prevent healthcare-associated infections
- Use of real-time ultrasonography for central line placement
- Interventions to improve prevention of blood clots
Read more on safety.
Study Finds Soccer Programs Increase Exercise among Low-Income Kids
A study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health finds that an after-school soccer program and literacy program has been successful in increasing physical activity among elementary school children. The researchers found that the program increased moderate-to-vigorous physical activity by an average of 3.4 minutes per weekday and 18.5 minutes on Saturdays among students with a body mass index at or above the 85th percentile, when compared with students at control schools who did not host the program. The program did not significantly increase physical activity among children who were not overweight or obese. Read more on obesity.
CDC: Daily Caloric Intake Down, But Obesity Rates Still Rising
Obesity rates continue to climb despite the fact that U.S. adults are consuming fewer and fewer calories, according to a survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Average daily caloric intake dropped by 74 from 2003 to 2010, after rising 314 calories from 1971 to 2003. About 35 percent of U.S. adults are obese. "It's hard to reconcile what these data show, and what is happening with the prevalence of obesity," said co-author William Dietz, MD, former CDC director of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. Read more on obesity.
Agencies Outline Responsibilities for Restoring Public Transportation after a Disaster
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that outlines the roles and responsibilities of both agencies in providing federal assistance to repair and restore public transportation systems in areas the president has declared a major disaster or emergency. “After disasters hit, our federal, state and local partners must be able to move quickly and make the necessary repairs to our nation’s transit systems, roads, rails and bridges,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. FEMA will continue to have primary federal responsibility for emergency preparedness, response and recovery in major disasters and emergencies. The new emergency relief authority provides FTA with primary responsibility for reimbursing emergency response and recovery costs after an emergency or disaster that affects public transportation systems and for helping to mitigate the impact of future disasters. Read more on transportation.
Exercise Can Improve Self-Control in Kids, Young Adults
Short bursts of exercise—such as a half hour of running—can help youth and young adults improve their self control, according to a new study in the journal British Journal of Sports Medicine. "Tests conducted immediately after short bouts of exercise showed a clear improvement among higher-order functions like self-control, a cognitive [brain] function that is really important for daily activities in terms of both social life and academic performance," said lead author Lot Verburgh, a doctoral candidate in the department of clinical neuropsychology at VU University in Amsterdam. The results could help in the treatment of disorders associated with impaired inhibition, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism. Read more on exercise. If exercise can also be linked to long-term improvement in higher-order mental processes, exercise may soon be not only a treatment option for heart disease patients and individuals looking to control their weight, but also for ADHD and Alzheimer's patients," said Ali Weinstein, an assistant professor and deputy director of the Center for Study of Chronic Illness and Disability at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Read more on mental health.
U.S. Cesarean Delivery Rates Vary Widely
A new study in the journal Health Affairs finds that the rates of cesarean deliveries, the most common surgery in the United States, vary widely across the country, ranging from 7.1 percent to 69.9 percent of deliveries at close to 600 hospitals studied since 2009. About four million babies are born in the country each year. The study authors also looked at cesarean rates among low risk mothers and found that the variation rate for this group was higher—from 2.4 percent to 36.5 percent. "The variations we uncovered were striking in their magnitude, and were not explained by hospital size, geographic location, or teaching status," said Katy Kozhimannil, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and the lead researcher of the study. Cesarean rates have increased in the United States from 20.7 percent in 1996 to 32.8 percent in 2011, according to the study. There has been an increased focus on some cesarean deliveries performed before the baby is full term because of the many risks a baby faces when it is born prematurely. Another critical reason to address the issue, say the study authors, is that half of all U.S. births are paid for by the Medicaid program and cesarean births are much more costly than vaginal deliveries. Read more on maternal and infant health.
Chronic Disease Management for Medicaid Beneficiaries Could Lower Health Costs
A recent study of 75,000 women on Medicaid by researchers at the East Tennessee State University found that women with low incomes have a high prevalence of physically disabling conditions and chronic disease. Common chronic diseases included high blood pressure, depression, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, injury, back disorder and Parkinson’s disease. The researchers also found that women who used a mobility device—such as a walker, crutches, or wheelchair—were more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, pulmonary disease, and depression. “These are not women of retirement age. These are rates of chronic disease and disability in a working-age population, so the economic loss to society and the impact on health care costs is substantial," said Amal Khoury, MD, a professor and chair in the department of health services management and policy and the lead author of the study. "Strategies to improve chronic disease management in the younger adult population may curtail higher disability rates in working-age adults and lower Medicaid and Medicare costs in the long run." Read more on prevention.
Fundraisers at U.S. Schools Too Often Sell Unhealthy Foods
Many public U.S. elementary schools ignore state and district policies banning unhealthy fundraisers, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In the study, principals of 1,215 schools across the United States completed surveys on school food policies for the 2009-11 school years. Overall, only 39 percent of schools had nutritional restrictions on fundraisers, but schools within districts and states with strong policies were more than twice as likely to limit the sale of high-calorie and high-fat foods to raise money. Lindsay Turner, a researcher at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the university and the lead author of the study, said “[i]t’s hard for schools to give up those financial resources, so that’s why it is essential to have alternative fundraising activities that don’t involve high-calorie products.” Turner ticked off alternatives suggested by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, including walk-a-thons and selling books, greeting cards, fruit, holiday decorations or wrapping paper. “This study puts fundraising on the radar as an issue that needs to be attended to in policy making,” said Turner. “There has been a lot of attention paid to competitive foods and beverages, and this is a really important piece of the entire picture of what’s going on in schools.” Read more on obesity.
Poll: 3 p.m. to Bedtime Offers Challenges to Fighting Obesity
Parents’ and kids’ activity during the “crunch time” period of 3 p.m. to bedtime—commuting, extracurricular activities, getting ready for the next day—can make it especially difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle, according to a new poll from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NPR and the Harvard School of Public Health. The poll looked at families' eating and physical activity habits. Among other results, it found that 60 percent of parents said their children ate or drank something unhealthy and that 28 percent of kids did not get enough physical activity during this time window. Read more on obesity.
Mistakes in Primary Patient Care Can Cause Serious Complications
While there’s much focus on mistakes during surgery and medication prescribing, missed and incorrect diagnoses in primary care may lead to even more injuries and deaths, according to a new study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers determined most mistakes were linked to doctors getting inaccurate patient histories, not doing full exams or ordering incorrect tests. "We have every reason to believe that diagnostic errors are a major, major public health problem," said David Newman-Toker, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "You're really talking about at least 150,000 people per year, deaths or disabilities that are resulting from this problem." Read more on access to health care.
Targeted Pregnancy Prevention Program Increases Teens’ Use of Condoms, Birth Control Pills
A prevention program designed specifically for teenage girls at high risk of pregnancy made them more likely to use contraception methods, according to a new study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. The Prime Time program at primary care clinics utilizes personal case management and youth leadership opportunities. "Findings suggest that health services grounded in a youth development framework can lead to long-term reductions in sexual risk among vulnerable youth," according to the study. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, girls between the ages of 15 and 19 gave birth to 329,797 babies in 2011. Read more on sexual health.
Excess Weight More Harmful to Minority Children with Asthma
Excess weight has a greater negative impact on Hispanic and African-American children with asthma than it does on Caucasian children with asthma, according to a new report in the Journal of Asthma. The added weight impedes lung function. Hispanic and African-American children also experience higher rates of asthma than do Caucasian children. Deepa Rastogi, MD, MS, senior author and attending physician in the Division of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Montefiore, said this information can help physicians identify and treat asthma early. “Physicians might want to measure the degree of airway obstruction in Hispanic and African-American children who are both overweight or obese and asthmatic. Early identification of a drop in lung function can assist in better patient management.” Read more on obesity.
Study: 30 Percent of Chemo Drugs Used Off-label
Approximately one-third of chemotherapy drugs are used to combat cancers for which they were not approved, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. "The main criticism of off-label prescribing has been the concern that it jeopardizes patient safety because the full risk-benefit ratio is often not completely understood," said Monika Krzyzanowska, MD, MPH, of the University of Toronto. Still, lead researcher Rena Conti, an assistant professor of health policy and economics at the University of Chicago, said they cannot determine the effectiveness of the off-label treatments, according to Reuters. "We don't know what the outcomes are. We can't make a judgment of whether the off-label use we document… is appropriate or inappropriate." Read more on cancer.
Poll: One in Eight American Adults has Type 2 Diabetes
One in eight American adults—or 29 million people—suffer from type 2 diabetes, according to a Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll. The poll also found that one in three have a parent, sibling, spouse or child with diabetes. Despite those high numbers, only 21 percent of the people polled think of themselves as “well-versed” on the chronic condition, according to HealthDay. "Diabetes is very insidious,” said Ronald Tamler, MD, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center in New York City. “You don't know you're in trouble until the complications hit or until it's so out of control you have uncontrolled urination and thirst." Read more on diabetes.
U.K. Reports Additional Case of SARS-like Virus
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been informed by health officials in the United Kingdom of an additional case of a patient infected with the novel coronavirus (NCoV), which appears to be similar to the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus which struck in several countries a few years ago. The most recent patient is related to the first patient announced several days ago, which may be an indication that the virus may be able to spread from person to person. The most recent patient is in the intensive care unit of a U.K. hospital, and may have an underlying health issues that made him susceptible to the virus. The WHO says “on the basis of current evidence, the risk of sustained person-to-person transmission appears to be very low.” Eleven confirmed cases of human infection with NCoV have been reported to WHO since 2011, with five deaths since April 2012. WHO says that testing for the new coronavirus should be considered in patients with unexplained pneumonia or in patients with unexplained severe, progressive or complicated respiratory illness not responding to treatment, and then reported to national health authorities and WHO. Read more on infectious disease.
IOM Report: Efforts Needed In U.S. and Abroad to Combat Counterfeit and Adulterated Drugs
Combating counterfeit and adulterated drugs will require efforts in the United States as well as an improved international regulatory system, according to a new report released by the Institute of Medicine. The report calls for a tracking system to monitor drugs as they enter the distribution system and efforts by the World Health Organization to set and enforce standards for tracking medications. Read more on prescription drugs.
Petition Calls on FDA to Limit Sugar in Soft Drinks
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, together with a group of health experts, has sent a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling on the agency to determine safe levels of high-fructose corn syrup and other sugars in sodas and assorted soft drinks. According to the petition, a 20-ounce bottle of soda contains about 16 teaspoons of sugar made from high-fructose corn syrup. The American Heart Association recommends that men not consume more than nine teaspoons of added sugars each day and that women restrict their added sugar intake to no more than six teaspoons. Read more on obesity.