Seven Surprising Effects of Obesity

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than 36 percent of Americans are now considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  An additional 34 percent are considered overweight.

These statistics are quoted so often, most people no longer find them surprising.  Yet what may be surprising is how far the effects of obesity reach beyond clothing size and cardiovascular risks.  It can impact every area of your life, including health, family and income.

Here are seven ways carrying those extra pounds may be influencing the way you live:

More Cancer
The National Cancer Institute associates 34,000 new cases of cancer in men and 50,000 in women each year with obesity.  Right now the link between excess weight and cancer is purely circumstantial and not necessarily cause-and-effect, but experts have floated some theories as to why more fat tracks with higher rates of cancer.

"It could be that excess fat cells increase hormonal activity or they increase growth factors that lead to tumor growth," said Dr. Raul Seballos, vice chairman of preventive medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.

Obese people are at higher risk for all cancers, Seballos said.  They also are often diagnosed in later stages of cancer than thinner people and are more likely to die from the disease.  Some emerging data looking at weight-loss-surgery patients suggests that some of this risk can be diminished by losing weight.

Infertility Increases

Overweight women have a harder time getting pregnant.  One Indian study of 300 morbidly obese women found that over 90 percent of them developed polycystic ovarian disease, a condition associated with infertility, over a three-year period.

As with cancer, the association between obesity and infertility isn't entirely clear.

"Obesity is an inflammatory state and that alone might decrease fertility," noted Dr. Marc Bessler, director of Center for Weight Loss and Metabolic Surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University Medical Center.  "It may also be the result of hormone changes produced by the fatty tissue."

Bessler said that many of his heavier patients experienced difficulty getting pregnant.  Many infertility clinics don't accept female patients with high body mass indexes, given their diminished chances of conceiving. 

However, Bessler said some of his patients become pregnant just months after weight-loss surgery once they had dropped a few pounds.

Premature Birth Risk
For heavier women who do get pregnant, the worries aren't over.  A new Journal of the American Medical Association study found that obesity increases a woman's chance of having a preterm baby, especially when her body mass index is 35 or higher.

The study's authors speculate that having too much fat may inflame and weaken the uterine and cervical membranes.

Whatever the reason, it can have devastating effects.  Premature birth is the leading cause of infant death and long-term disabilities.

Less Sleep
Sleep and excess weight do not make good bedfellows.  Nearly 80 percent of older, obese Americans report having problems with sleep, a recent American Sleep Foundation survey found.

Poor sleep contributes to a host of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and, ironically, obesity itself.  Numerous studies link short sleep to expanding waistlines, including the Harvard Nurses' Study, which found that those who slept fewer than five hours a night were 15 percent more likely to gain weight than those who enjoyed at least seven hours of slumber.

Dr. Donald Hensrud, a nutritionist and preventive medicine expert in the department of endocrinology, diabetes, metabolism and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic, said one of the most immediate health dangers for many obese people is sleep apnea, a condition in which a person gasps or stops breathing momentarily while asleep.

"Sleep apnea can be caused by increased fat around the neck area that presses down and closes off the soft tissues of the airways while a person is lying down, especially on his back," Hensrud said.  "This means the person does not get good quality sleep, has less oxygen in the blood stream, and the heart has to work harder."

Tough Love
Although fat people are often the butt of the joke, obesity stigma is no laughing matter.  A Yale study found that weight is the number-one reason people are bullied at any age and those who are bullied have lower self-esteem, higher levels of depression and increased risk of suicide.

The main source of ridicule, according to the Yale researchers?  Loved ones.

"More than 40 percent of children who seek treatment for weight loss say they have been bullied or teased by a family member," said the study's lead author, Rebecca Puhl.  "When we asked obese women who stigmatized them the most, 72 percent said it was someone in their family."

Puhl said discussions with loved ones about their burgeoning weight often come across as judgmental and derogatory, even when intentions are good.  Offering support and encouragement is the most effective approach to help someone struggling to drop pounds.

Medical Gap
The number-two source of stigma, after loved ones?  Puhl said her studies have found that 67 percent of overweight men and women report being shamed or bullied in the doctor's office.  Further, 50 percent of doctors declared that obese patients were "awkward, ugly, weak-willed and unlikely to comply with treatment" while 24 percent of nurses said they were repulsed by their obese patients.

A negative reception from a healthcare provider is especially detrimental to obese people, Puhl stressed, because they already contend with a greater number of health problems than average.

"Besides jeopardizing discussions between patients and healthcare providers, someone who is obese is more likely to avoid the doctor altogether, even when they have a problem," she said.

However, Puhl noted that the knife cuts both ways.  Her studies also reveal that people are less apt to follow doctor's orders and more likely to switch to a new healthcare provider if their physician is overweight.

Shrinking Wallet
Wider waistbands seem to widen the pay gap.  One George Washington University School of Public Health study found a strong connection between greater obesity and shrinking wages.

Examining data from the 2004 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the researchers discovered that wages among the obese were $8,666 less for females and $4,772 lower for males compared with their thinner counterparts.  In 2008, the researchers found wages were $5,826 less for obese females -- a 14.6 percent penalty over normal-weight females.

Slimmer females, especially, do seem to have fatter wallets.  In a University of Florida study, women who weighed 25 pounds less than the group average earned $15,572 a year more than women of normal weight, while women who tipped the scales at 25 pounds above average weight earned an average of $13,847 less than an average-weight female.  Rsearchers found no such wage disparity among men.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


You Can Walk Away from Diabetes, Study Suggests

Comstock/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A 15-minute walk after every meal -- that’s what a new study says can lower blood sugar and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

What’s more, it’s better than 45 minutes of sustained walking in the morning or afternoon.

Elevated blood sugars, particularly after meals, can lead to diabetes, which doctors are expecting to see more of as overweight people grow older.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, type 2 diabetes affects 25.8 million Americans.  Among adults in the U.S., it’s the leading cause of kidney failure, lower limb amputations that aren’t due to accident trauma, and new cases of blindness. 

Diabetes also is a major cause of heart disease and stroke, and is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

In a study published Wednesday in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers monitored blood sugar levels in healthy adults with an average age of 70 who were at risk of impaired glucose intolerance, a precursor of diabetes.  Each study participant tried out three different exercise regimens on different days: some did a 15-minute, post-meal walk (three meals per day, three walks per day), a single 45-minute morning walk, and a 45-minute afternoon walk.

The winner in terms of lower blood glucose levels?  The after-meal walks.

“A post-meal walk is timed to when blood glucose just starts to climb,” said Dr. Loretta DiPietro, lead author of the study and chair of the Department of Exercise Science at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.  “The muscle activity and the muscle contractions help to clear glucose."

“It’s like another set of hands to help the pancreas halt the surge of glucose,” DiPietro added.

Blood sugar levels are the highest after meals, and as we age our pancreas is less effective in releasing insulin, a hormone that helps lower blood sugar.  That leads to even higher blood sugars that can increase the risk of diabetes.

This type of short, low-stress exercise, however, is not going to make you aerobically fit.

“This [post-meal walking] most benefits middle-aged, obese people who are showing signs of pre-diabetes, or older people [for whom] one giant bout of exercise may be too stressful,” DiPietro said.  “It also has applications to pregnant women at risk of gestational diabetes, especially later in term when it may be difficult for 45 sustained minutes of activity.”

DiPietro stressed that because of the low level of exercise, it must be maintained at least three times every day.  “People will not get the benefit if they miss times,” DiPietro said.

Other specialists were more cautious in their interpretations of the study’s findings.

“Exercise three or four times a day may be better, but it is not practical for all patients,” warned Dr. Joel Zonszein, a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center.

In addition to the difficulty of maintaining that level of frequency of exercise, Zonszein pointed out that for some patients, the large metabolic activity used by the gastrointestinal system following a meal may make it more difficult to exercise.  He suggested patients, “stay within their means.”

He highlighted that exercise and diet are more effective in the elderly to prevent diabetes and stressed the most important suggestion is “to keep on moving” regardless of the timing of the exercise.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Men Spend More on Dating During the Summer

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Guys, if you're looking for love this summer, you better start saving your cash now.

Sixty-four percent of single men who participated in a survey from the dating website Zoosk say they spend more money on dating during the summer.  Conversely, 56 percent of single women say dating is less expensive during the summer.

Money isn't necessarily everything when it comes to romance.  Seventy-two percent of single women say they've been on a successful date that revolved around a free activity.

Also, 68 percent of single women say they prefer an inexpensive, "down-to-earth" date, while only seven percent say they prefer an expensive outing.

Other notes from the Zoosk survey of more than 1,300 single men and women:

  • 43 percent of single men say they expect to spend between 51 and 100 dollars when trying to impress a date.
  • 43 percent of single women say they expect to spend between 26 and 50 dollars on a date.
  • 61 percent of men and women believe a coupon should not be used on a date.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


High Heels Equal High Pain

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- How long does it take before women begin to feel the pain in a pair of stiletto heels? And is the pain worth it?

After reporting on a lawsuit brought on by cocktail waitresses against their employer, Foxwoods Casino in Conn., over being forced to wear high-heeled shoes, ABC News asked women how they really feel about their heels.

WATCH the report from World News with Diane Sawyer:


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obesity in Expectant Mothers Can Increase Preterm Birth Risk

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Premature birth puts babies at increased risk, and new research says their occurrence is associated with how much an expectant mother weighs.
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed nearly 1.6 million pregnancies and found the epidemic of obesity in the United States is threatening even the unborn.
The study showed that being overweight or obese during pregnancy increased the risk of extreme preterm delivery between 0.2 and 0.3 percent.
Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant mortality, illness and long-term disability.
In 2008, extreme preterm babies made up less than one percent of single live births. However, they accounted for 25 percent of all U.S. infant deaths among single births.
The study's authors suggest that obesity increases inflammatory signals that may weaken uterine and cervical membranes.
They add that maternal overweight and obesity have now replaced smoking as the most important preventable pregnancy risk factor in many countries.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Birth Control Breakdown: Plan B Access and Alternatives

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a move that surprised some Democrats and Republicans, the Obama administration announced it will comply with a judge's order to make emergency contraception available to girls of any age without a prescription.

The decision could soon land morning-after pills like Plan B on drug store shelves next to family planning products like condoms and spermicides. Read on to find out how Plan B works compared to other forms of contraception -- temporary and permanent.

(Sources: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mayo Clinic)

IUD:  These T-shaped gadgets are implanted inside the uterus, where they ward off the implantation of a fertilized egg by gently irritating the walls of the womb. The copper devices provide mindless birth control for up to 10 years, reducing the risk of pregnancy by 99.2 percent. Some hormone-releasing IUDs thicken the cervical mucus and thin the uterine lining, boosting the effectiveness to 99.8 percent -- but they're only good for five years. Both can be removed for a quick return to fertility.

Implant:  This matchstick-size rod is embedded under the skin of the upper arm and left to release a steady stream of progestin, which thickens the cervical mucus and thins the uterine lining for three years of birth control. The implant is considered 99.95 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, but fertility quickly returns upon its removal.

Shot:  An injection of the hormone progestin in the buttocks or arm every three months can help reduce the risk of pregnancy by 94 percent by suppressing ovulation. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which can prevent sperm from reaching an egg if it is released. It can take more than 10 months for ovulation to resume after stopping the injections.

Pill:  Oral contraceptives, available by prescription, cut the risk of pregnancy by up to 91 percent by meddling with the maturation of the egg and blocking fertilization. The hormone-containing pills -- some containing both estrogen and progestin, while others contain only progestin -- also thicken the cervical mucus and thin the uterine lining, but you have to remember to take them at roughly the same time every day. Fertility returns fairly quickly after discontinued use.

Patch:  This wearable contraceptive releases progestin and estrogen through the skin and into the bloodstream, suppressing ovulation and thickening the cervical mucus. The patch, worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks or upper body excluding the breasts, is replaced once a week for three weeks and then removed for a fourth week for a menstrual period. Like the pill, it cuts the risk of pregnancy by about 91 percent, and fertility quickly returns upon removal.

Ring:  The vaginal contraceptive ring releases progestin and estrogen, suppressing ovulation and thickening the cervical mucus. It's worn for three weeks, then removed for the fourth week for a menstrual period, then replaced with a new ring. Like the pill and the patch, it cuts the risk of pregnancy by about 91 percent.

Morning-After Pill:  This emergency contraceptive can prevent pregnancy when taken up to five days after unprotected sex -- or after a contraceptive fail like a broken condom. Depending on the brand, the pill works by blocking ovulation, fertilization or implantation, but it's less effective than other means of birth control and should only be used in emergency situations. The morning-after pill will soon be available without a prescription to girls of all ages.

Diaphragm:  This cup-shaped barrier covers the cervix, blocking sperm from entering the uterus. When used with sperm-killing spermicide, the diaphragm is up to 88 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. But you have to remember to put it in before having sex.

Condom:  These stretchy barriers physically block sperm from entering the woman's body, cutting the risk of pregnancy by 82 percent (79 percent for female condoms). They can also protect against sexually-transmitted diseases. But because they're made from thin latex or other synthetic materials, they can break.

Gels and Foams:  Sperm-killing spermicides are placed in the vagina up to an hour before sex and left for at least six hours afterwards. But when used on their own, the compounds are only 72 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.

Rhythm Method:  Women with regular periods can carefully track the fertile part of their cycles and take steps to avoid sex or use barrier contraception for the nine days when pregnancy is most likely to occur. But the rhythm method, which is considered a natural approach to family planning, is only 76 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.

Surgical Options:  For men and women wanting a more permanent form of contraception, these surgical options can cut the risk of pregnancy to virtually nil. Tubal ligation blocks the tubes that carry eggs to a woman's uterus, and a vasectomy severs the tubes that carry sperm to a man's penis -- but some sneaky sperm have been known to sneak through in the first three months after a vasectomy.

Word of Warning:  Keep in mind that every form of birth control has its own list or pros and cons, including health risks, and that few guard against sexually-transmitted diseases. Talk to your doctor about what's right for you.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Wife's Presence Mitigates Husband's Snoring, Test Reveals

By DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Full disclosure: When I began this couple’s sleep experiment, I would say my home sleeping situation was, in some ways, in critical condition.

On the good side of things, my family has always been committed to good sleep hygiene because we know how important sleep is for good health. We are so committed, in fact, that we have allowed a very easygoing attitude toward the logistics of our sleeping habits (i.e., who sleeps where).

On the bad side of things, our house was like a cross between musical beds and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

This all started when I was an intern.  My daughter was 6 six months old at the time, and not the best sleeper as an infant.  My husband, a fellow physician, was also used to being “on-call” and being awakened during the night.

He was also a realist who knew he needed sleep. And despite an infant and a beeper that often went off at all hours, he was determined to get it. Answer: He brought our daughter into the bed with him when I was working nights, and she would cry at 2 a.m.

The result was that both daddy and baby slept like logs.  My daughter became quite accustomed to sleeping with one or both parents and this habit took years to break.

The next problem in our increasingly dysfunctional sleep situation came when we got two dogs. We are a dog-loving family and so were used to having pets in the bedroom. At first, there were no issues. But as the dogs got bigger, so did their nocturnal noises: dreaming, scratching, licking, breathing and barking. All this woke me up at the drop of a dime.

Finally, the snoring kicked in. My husband began to snore. While his snoring did not stem from something medically serious such as sleep apnea, it certainly had a serious effect on me. I awoke multiple times a night. And, like many women (and men, too), once I was up, I found it very difficult to fall back to sleep. What was happening here?

For most of my life, I have been a good sleeper. I fall asleep within seconds of closing my eyes, and usually have no trouble waking up at or before my alarm the next morning.

Then, I became a mother.  Suddenly, I felt as if I were sleeping with eyes wide shut, so to speak.  I could swear that I heard a cry or call from my children in milliseconds.  In speaking to other mothers, this is commonly accepted fact.

Next, I became an obstetrician.  For nine years, I woke up at all hours of the night to deliver babies.  I was trained and conditioned to be able to think clearly and perform surgically immediately after awakening.

So when I started having sleep problems at home, I was perplexed.  Rather than really think about what was causing the problem, I, too (like my husband had done a decade prior), took the path of least resistance and just slinked off to a different room to get my precious sleep.

The good news is that I did, indeed, get a good night’s sleep in another room. Incredibly good, actually!

But the bad news is that I missed sharing a sleep-cave with my husband. I felt embarrassed that this dysfunctional sleeping situation had infiltrated our family, and worried about how people would judge our habits. But I was determined to get good sleep no matter what, because I had sacrificed sleep for so many years taking care of my own babies, and delivering the babies of others.

The ABC News sleep experiment we did taught me a completely new way of approaching our sleep problems and habits. We made substantive changes in our bedroom environment based on the recommendations of our sleep expert, Dr. Wendy Troxel of the Sleep Medicine Institute at the University of Pittsburgh.

We got a king-size bed (we had been sleeping in the same queen-size bed since we got married 17 years ago) and put blackout shades on the windows (we never sleep late, so we never had any shades or drapes on our windows because we never needed them for privacy in the suburbs).

We taught our dogs to sleep with our teenage son (who loves having them in his room and isn’t disturbed by their sounds) and, best of all, my husband trained himself to sleep on his side (a position in which he does not snore).

The data from our sleep study showed that my husband slept better with me by his side, and that I slept almost as well next to him, as I did alone.  I had misjudged the entire situation.

For some people, however, insomnia and snoring can indicate serious medical problems like sleep apnea, depression, medication side effects or other physical issues.  If your poor night’s sleep is leaving you moody, distracted or drowsy at work or behind the wheel, seek proper medical evaluation.

Other important tips for good sleep hygiene include: setting a consistent sleep-waking schedule and sticking to it; avoiding caffeine or alcohol; “unplugging” from smartphones, laptops and the TV at least 30 minutes before bedtime; and making sure your mattress is comfortable and the temperature in your room is right for you. (I recommend 65-67 degrees.)

Sleep is important for your health, and can also affect your relationship, whether you sleep together as a couple, or apart.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Girl Prompts Small Change to Organ Transplant Policy

Pepper Hamilton LLP | Courtesy Murnaghan Family(NEW YORK) -- The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network voted to keep the so-called Under 12 Rule, but it created a mechanism that would allow doctors to request exceptions for their pediatric patients. A national lung review board would then approve these children for transplant consideration as adults case by case.

The transplant network convened an emergency meeting of its executive committee to evaluate the Under 12 Rule, a little-known organ transplant policy that a Pennsylvania couple brought to national attention after arguing that it had been pushing their dying 10-year-old to the bottom of the adult lung transplant waiting list.

Lawyers for Sarah Murnaghan, who is dying of cystic fibrosis, convinced federal Judge Michael Baylson on June 5 that the Under 12 Rule was discriminatory, prompting a temporary restraining order against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to prevent her from enforcing it for Sarah.

Baylson's ruling forced OPTN to create a second database entry for Sarah with a fake birthday to trick the organ transplant system into thinking she was 12. The following day, another child in Sarah's hospital, Javier Acosta, 11, won the same reprieve.

But the OPTN decision doesn't mean Sarah's and Javier's cases need to go before a national lung review board immediately to keep their transplant database entries in the system. Since the courts forced OPTN to create these entries, a hearing scheduled for June 14 will determine whether they can stay where they are on the list or whether their cases need to be evaluated by the review board.

Sarah's mother, Janet Murnaghan, took to Facebook following OPTN's decision.

"We consider this a tremendous win for Sarah and all kids waiting for lungs!!!" she wrote. "I hope Sarah's story moves people to become organ donors, because more than any ruling it is the heroes who donate their organs that save lives."

Part of the OPTN meeting, which convened via teleconference, was dedicated to the ethics of judicial intervention in organ allocation and the fear that transplant candidates would sue to increase their likelihoods of getting the organs they need.

"Politicians and judges who intervene in a complex allocation algorithm may be well-intentioned but fail to consider all the moral variables that must be balanced at the macro level rather than through an individual candidate's experience," the OPTN ethics committee concluded. "The message that lawsuits are a mechanism for more favorable organ allocation runs the risk of disrupting a stable system based on public trust. For patients waiting for transplantation, the resulting lack of predictability may have unintended and lethal consequences."

Several medical, legal and health experts had condemned Baylson's ruling before the OPTN decision, arguing that existing lung allocation practices –- including the Under 12 Rule -- are based on medical evidence, and that allowing Sarah and Javier to be given special priority without OPTN approval was unfair to other candidates on the list.

"It is unlikely that the courts are the best place to make these decisions," said R. Alta Charo, a law and bioethics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "The reasons for giving priority to one category of patients over another are usually due to a complicated combination of factors."

Charo said she had not heard of any other court rulings overriding an OPTN decision, but she hoped Baylson's ruling would not set a precedent. (Courts have intervened in medical decision-making before, Charo said, citing the Terri Schiavo case in which doctors, lawyers and family members battled for more than a decade over whether to remove Schiavo's feeding tube and let her die.)

A joint statement by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and the American Society of Transplantation last week said that the existing policy was formulated from the best information available, and to change or obfuscate it would be "unwise" without the calculative approach mandated in the National Organ Transplantation Act.

As it stands now, lung transplant candidates older than 12 are assigned a lung allocation score, or LAS, based on a complex mathematical formula that includes the patient's age and size. For transplant patients younger than 12 -- of which there are 20 nationally compared with about 1,600 adults -- the LAS is not used. Instead, patients are broken into "priority 1" and "priority 2." It's this difference that has been called discriminatory in court.

"I don't think that it's reasonable to call them discriminatory if they're established based on medically relevant facts," said Dr. Margaret Moon, a pediatrician and bioethicist at Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. "We can't ask the judge, and we can't ask Congress to determine medical facts."

Children get priority for lungs donated from children younger than 12, but they have to wait for children between 12 and 17 to decline lungs donated from 12- to 17-year-olds before they get a chance at them. Lungs donated by anyone older than 18 are offered to all candidates older than 12, depending on their LAS. Only if all local matching candidates 12 and older decline the adult lungs can they be offered to children within 500 miles of the hospital where the lungs were harvested.

Since Sarah and Javier now have two transplant database records -- one with their actual birthdays and one with fake 12-year-old birthdays -- they can be considered for child lungs based on their priority level and adult lungs based on their LAS.

OPTN's rule amendment provides for this dual consideration to be available to children who have been approved for an exception to the Under 12 Rule by a national lung review board. The amendment takes effect immediately, but it expires on July 1, 2014, when OPTN can re-evaluate it.

Moon said she supports the decision to take another look at the Under 12 Rule, but that an adult lung transplant would likely do Sarah and Javier more harm than good.

Dr. David Cronin, a transplant surgeon at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, said most adult donor organs are not suitable for child recipients. Resized lung transplants -- called lobe transplants -- are not commonly performed on children.

"Is this prolonging [Sarah's] suffering in a way that's dangerous?" Moon asked.

Cronin said he "totally" disagreed with Baylson's ruling.

"The allocation system is transparent, equitable, fair and represents evidence-based medicine," Cronin said. "We have come a long way in fine-tuning the system and improving access and equity."

Moon said the children's parents can't be faulted for fighting the organ allocation system, because it's their job to put their children first. Even though Moon is a pediatrician, she said she takes her children to another doctor when they're sick because she can't be objective about their medical care.

"How is that helping?" she asked of granting a potentially harmful lung transplant to a child. "Is that medicine or is that just acquiescing to a parent's anxiety? It's a harsh thing to say, but parents don't get to drive medical choices for that reason."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Man Loses 250 Pounds on 99 Cent Store Diet

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Joe Aviance, or “Papa Joe” as he’s called, is sparking big buzz after dropping hundreds of pounds on his 99 cent store diet.

Many might wonder how this is possible at a 99 cent store, where the usual specialties are cheap toys and inexpensive toiletries.  But in Los Angeles, where Aviance, 42, a recording artist and producer, lives, the 99 cent stores have a much wider selection of fresh produce and seafood, and that’s how he launched his diet plan to lose hundreds of pounds and gain back his health.

Aviance’s fat-fighting strategy starts with walking five miles per day.  That, combined with healthy purchases from the 99 cent store, took him from a whopping 450 pounds to 200 pounds in 18 months.

The dramatic weight loss was sparked when Aviance saw himself in a 2009 music video.

“I said, ‘You know what? I’ve got to end this now,'” Aviance explained.  ”I almost had a nervous breakdown.  I went to the fridge and threw everything in the trash can.  Cookies, candy, cakes, all the sugary items, everything.”

ABC News caught up with “Papa Joe” at his favorite 99 cent store in Los Angeles.  Armed with only $20, he showed us how to cut the fat at the register.

“I start my day with eggs, carrots and this 49-cent yogurt,” he said.  “I got my 2 percent milk, and I’m still less than $20.”

Despite losing more than 250 pounds, Aviance still has plans to lose 10 more, and he’s got advice for the rest of us.

“I want to unlock this person inside of everybody to be the best they can be, and just let it shine,” he said.

Aviance is currently on his “Live for Life” tour, visiting cities across the country to lead walks and talk about the health benefits of walking.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New Diet Pill Belviq Hits Market

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With more than 36 percent of American adults now classified as obese according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the numbers still climbing, doctors are clamoring for more pharmaceuticals to treat their patients.

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration obliged by approving the first new weight-loss drugs in more than a decade.

The first, Qsymia, has been available with a prescription for nearly 10 months.  And now, the second, Belviq, will be available by prescription starting this week.

But even as doctors have begun scribbling prescriptions for these new weight loss medications, many dieters remember the long and checkered past of diet drugs in this country.

Some drugs that were originally viewed as rock stars for weight loss and appetite control were ultimately pulled off the market after it was found they posed serious health risks.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio