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Friday
Feb042011

Study Links Maternal Employment to Child's Body Weight

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The length of maternal employment could have an adverse affect on childhood obesity, according to a new study.

Investigators at the University of Chicago found that for each year a mother continues to work, her child's body mass index (BMI) creeps up a small but statistically significant percentage.

"It amounts to about 1.5 to 2 pounds per year above average, depending on the child's age," Taryn W. Morrissey, Ph.D., one of the report's authors and an assistant professor with the department of public administration and policy at American University, told ABC News.

She noted the difference doesn't make it more likely that a working mother's child will fall into overweight or obese BMI category than any other child, just more likely that the child will be nudged into the higher end of the normal range.

Morrissey seemed like a very smart woman but I didn't really want to talk to her. I was more interested in speaking in one of her co-authors who herself is a working mother. She was out of the country on business.

Morrissey explained that the authors found no association between how much time a mother spends at the office and the amount of time her brood spends exercising or parked in front of the TV.  Although they didn't find a relationship, they suspect the difference is down to harried, multitasking working mothers resorting more often to fast food and takeout rather than preparing meals at home.

The correlation between maternal employment and BMI was strongest among higher income families.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb042011

Worldwide Obesity Doubled Over Past Three Decades

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Obesity rates have doubled worldwide since 1980, according to new research published in the journal The Lancet.

In 1980, 4.8 percent of men and 7.9 percent of women were obese.  Those percentages jumped to 9.8 percent of men and 13.8 percent of women in 2008.

However, over that same time period, there have also been some positive changes: Wealthy western nations have shown a big decline in the number of people with uncontrolled high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

While the number of people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol also declined other parts of the world, it was only a slight drop.

"Our results show that overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are no longer Western problems or problems of wealthy nations," said Majid Ezzati, the study's lead author who also is affiliated with the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.  "Their presence has shifted towards low- and middle-income countries, making them global problems."

Global health experts say the increase in obesity and accompanying decline in blood pressure and cholesterol levels reflects the reality that hypertension and high cholesterol can be treated with medication, while battling obesity remains a serious worldwide challenge.

Obesity is associated with numerous other serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers.  It's estimated that obesity-related illnesses cause three million deaths every year around the world.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb042011

ADHD From Allergy? Study Shows Benefit From Diet Changes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NIJMEGEN, Netherlands) -- Many parents will acknowledge that too much soda and candy makes their kids bounce off the walls on a sugar high, but what if a child's persistent hyperactivity was caused by tomatoes, eggs, gluten or some other seemingly innocuous food?  That is what a Dutch study published on Thursday found.

In kids with ADHD, researchers found that putting them on a restrictive diet to eliminate possible, previously unknown food allergies or sensitivities decreased hyperactivity for 64 percent of kids.

"There is a longstanding, somewhat inconsistent story about diet and ADHD," said Jan Buitelaar, the lead author of the Dutch study and a psychiatrist at the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre.  "On the one hand, people think it's sugar that's the trigger, others think that food coloring could be causing ADHD.  Our approach was quite different.  We went [with] the idea that food may give some kind of allergic or hyperactivity reaction to the brain" because of an allergy or sensitivity the child may have.

It isn't the first time researchers have tried to link ADHD to things kids eat, such as sugar, food dyes or other preservatives, but even with this recent study, pediatricians remain skeptical of a true connection between diet and hyperactivity disorders.

"This has long been viewed as a kind of a controversial approach," Buitelaar said.  "When we started the research, I was skeptical, but the results convinced me."

In the study, of the 41 kids who completed the elimination diet, 32 saw decreased symptoms.  When certain foods thought to be "triggers" for each child were reintroduced, most of the children relapsed.  The eliminated diets, which lasted five weeks, consisted predominantly of rice, white meat and some vegetables.

Among 50 kids given a "control" diet that was just a standard, healthy diet for children, significant changes were not noted.  Given these findings, Buitelaar recommended that the elimination diet become part of standard of care for children with ADHD.

Currently, food elimination diets are not standard of care in the U.S. or in the Netherlands, where the study was performed.  They are used limitedly when parents specifically request to attempt this alternative treatment for the hyperactivity disorder. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb032011

Gastric Bypass Can Renew the Heart

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(AUGUSTA, Ga.) - A surgery typically used to help the obese lose weight may also help bring a stressed heart back to a better condition, reports HealthDay News.

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia have found that gastric bypass surgery can help improve an obese individual's heart, which is more susceptible to heart failure, abnormal heart rhythm and death.
 
The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that the hearts of severely obese people who underwent the weight-loss surgery showed a reduction in the mass of the left and right ventricular areas.

"We know obese people get cardiovascular disease more often than non-obese people," said Dr. Sheldon Litwin, chief of cardiology at the Medical College of Georgia. "One of the questions out there is: Is it reversible if they lose weight? The answer is yes."

Reductions in the heart's mass means the heart is less stressed as it no longer has to work as hard to pump blood.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb032011

Change in Income Could Mean Temporary Loss of Health Coverage

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) - People whose income changes throughout the year could see temporary blackouts in their insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, reports HealthDay News.

A new study published in Health Affairs estimates that as many as 28 million Americans will see their health coverage disrupted at some point in the year due to changes in their eligibility that come with changes in their income. That could mean that an individual would move in and out of periods of coverage, possibly more than once a year.

The loss of coverage would occur during transitional periods from program to program. Under the Affordable Care Act, an American can either be part of Medicaid or premium subsidies in state-run insurance exchanges, depending on their income. If a change in income moves someone from one program to the other, they are likely to lose coverage for a short period during the transition.

The study authors estimate that within four years, 38 percent of Americans could see their coverage interrupted four times or more every year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb032011

Metabolic Syndrome Tied to Memory Loss

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BORDEAUX, France) - Memory loss in the elderly may be tied to risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a condition that presents itself with symptoms such as weight around the waistline and high blood pressure.

A study by the French National Institute of Health Research found that elderly people with symptoms for metabolic syndrome were 20 percent more likely to show a decline in memory than those who did not show such symptoms.

Other symptoms of metabolic syndrome include high blood sugar and triglyceride levels as well as low levels of the good cholesterol known as HDL.

Researchers hope that by managing symptoms of metabolic syndrome as they present themselves, doctors may be able to help slow memory loss and the onset of dementia in the elderly.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb032011

Quality of Child Care Varies Greatly by Region

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) - A new report has revealed in which states children get the best health care, and in which states they get the worst, reports WebMD.

According to a report card from the Commonwealth Fund, children in the upper Midwest and New England have the best access to affordable health care, prevention, treatment and overall health benefits. Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire made the top five for child health care.
 
The South and Southwest regions scored the worst with Florida, Texas, Arizona, Mississippi and Nevada making up the bottom five states.

“There are wide gaps between leading and lagging states for oral health problems, obesity, and smoking rates," said Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund. For example, just three percent of children in Massachusetts were uninsured in 2009, compared to 17 and 18 percent uninsured in Nevada, Florida, and Texas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb032011

Rwanda Plans Vasectomy Drive to Control Population

File Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KIGALI, Rwanda) - In a move to control the country's population and help prevent the spread of HIV, the government of Rwanda plans to hold a vasectomy drive to encourage men to undergo the procedure, reports the BBC.

Although the government fears the campaign could be met with resistance, the country's health minister hopes 700,000 men will get a vasectomy in the next three years.

The move comes as the country's growing population, now at 10.2 million, threatens further damage to living standards. However, the government has been recommending vasectomies since 2008 as a way to help stem the spread of heterosexual HIV infection.

In addition to the vasectomy option, the government says it will also try to educate men about the importance of birth control.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb032011

Some Patients Getting 'Too Fat' for Ambulances?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) - Some ambulance services are being forced to specialize their equipment to accommodate patients who are "too fat" for regular ambulances, reports the BBC.

In the U.K., every ambulance service has had to buy new equipment ranging from wider stretchers and reinforced lifting gear to brand-new ambulances that are made to carry obese patients in an emergency. And the changes don't come cheap.

The BBC reports that so-called "bariatric ambulances" can cost around $150,000. Even additions to regular ambulances such as wider stretchers and heavy-duty stretchers can cost around $11,000.

Jo Webber, director of the Ambulance Service Network, told the BBC that ambulance services have no choice but to make the necessary changes.

"The fact is patients are getting larger and larger and ambulances need to be able to respond immediately to what could be life-threatening situations," Webber said. "Every service is having to invest money in this. It shows that some of the lifestyle changes we are seeing have a range of costs. It is not just about treating them, but the infrastructure costs as well."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb032011

The Killer Effect of a Super Bowl Loss

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Is there such a thing as taking football too seriously?  A new study published in the journal Clinical Cardiology may put diehard fans in fear of their lives.

It finds that if your home team makes it to the Super Bowl and then loses, the stress can kill you.

The authors say that in the two weeks after the Los Angeles Rams lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl 14, death rates among Los Angelenos went up, particularly among those over the age of 65, an extra 2.6 deaths per day among the older population over 14 days.  

In the two weeks after the Los Angeles Raiders won Super Bowl 18, there was no increase in L.A. death rates, and there was even a trend to lower death rates among women and those 65 and older.  

So it seems not all sports-related stress is equal.  A home team's loss can be more than just disappointing.  On the other hand, that healthy glow from a win can spread beyond the gridiron.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio