Health Points: Tuesday

The number of children who got fat during the two-year experiment was half the number of kids who got fat in schools that didn't make those efforts.

"It's a really dramatic effect from a public health point of view. That's the good news," said Gary Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University and lead author of the Philadelphia schools study being published today in the April issue of Pediatrics.

The bad news: There were still plenty of new overweight kids in the five schools - over 7 percent of them became overweight compared with the 15 percent in the schools that didn't make changes.
The study, done with mice, found that lower doses of estrogen were safer, while moderate and high doses increased the risk of kidney and heart problems.


And although the findings were in rodents, they may provide a glimmer of insight for humans as well.

"It brings to our attention the fact that HRT [hormone replacement therapy] is not something we totally have to dismiss," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "There might be a way to give this more safely to women."
Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Thursday that its private-label Great Value milk is now being sourced only from cows that have not been treated with artificial growth hormones, such as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST).


The retailer said its Sam's Club chain also is offering milk selections from suppliers that have pledged not to treat cows with rbST.
People suffering from the addiction—usually those righteous raw foodists, vegetarians and vegans—obsessively check labels, avoid junk food, plan menus and often eat a healthy diet so they can feel "pure." Some even make fun of McDonald's customers.


It gets worse. While an anorexic tries to severely limit calories, an orthorexic might shun foods with artificial ingredients, trans fats or high-fructose corn syrup. Orthorexics also are generally unconcerned about their weight and do not feel fat. Their diet may make them feel virtuous.
Exercise during pregnancy has cardiovascular benefits not just for the mother but for the developing fetus as well, according to research presented Monday at the 121st annual meeting of the American Physiological Society, part of the Experimental Biology 2008 scientific conference.


The results of this pilot study "imply an exciting potential benefit of maternal exercise on fetal cardiac autonomic nervous system regulation," Dr. Linda E. May from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, Missouri told Reuters Health.

The autonomic nervous system controls the body's involuntary activities, such as the beating of the heart, blood pressure, breathing rate, and functions in the internal organs.
Not surprisingly, those with a bedroom TV were more apt to watch it a lot, clocking four to five more hours in front of a television per week, the researchers said. Twice as many of the teens with a bedroom TV were classified as heavy TV watchers -- at least five hours a day -- compared to those without one.


Girls with a bedroom television reported getting less vigorous exercise -- 1.8 hours per week compared to 2.5 hours for girls without a TV. They also ate fewer vegetables, drank more sweetened beverages and ate meals with their family less often, the researchers said.

Boys with a bedroom TV reported having a lower grade point average than boys without one, as well as eating less fruit and having fewer family meals, the researchers said.
Oteha Valley primary school, north of Auckland, has banned birthday cakes as part of a larger fat crack-down by the area's Ministry of Education.


Here's why cakes are a problem: Oteha Valley has a large number of pupils born in September and October. As a result, there's the potential for up to four cakes to arrive per week in some classes. Parents were starting to believe they were required to provide a cake for their child's birthday. Since this was both untrue and unhealthy, the school has advised parents in a newsletter to stop sending cakes to school.
During the study, the type 1 diabetics gained weight gained an average of 10.3 pounds and type 2 diabetics gained an average of 4.0. The weight gain could not be explained by a slowing of the body's metabolism, decrease in physical activity, or increase in sugar in the urine, leaving the authors to conclude that it was primarily due to overeating.


They also report that accurate assessment of calorie intake was "severely hampered by the underreporting of food intake, with (reported calorie) intakes being insufficient to meet even (the body's lowest) energy requirements."
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