Monday, April 30, 2012

Childhood Obesity: An Epidemic That's Growing Up Fast

Of the many statistics about childhood obesity, one in particular highlights the urgency of the problem: One of every three children in America is now considered overweight or obese, and childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. How did we get to this place? And even more important, how do we stop the growth of this epidemic?
Being obese or overweight is determined by a percentile measurement of Body Mass Index (BMI), which uses height and weight to determine if a person is normal, underweight, overweight or obese. The BMI is an indirect estimate of body fat that is valid for most individuals. Since children grow in height as well as weight, the standards for children need to be matched for age and sex. A BMI-for-age of 30 places a child in the 95th percentile, the determining number for obesity. A BMI-for-age of 25, or at the 85th percentile, is considered overweight.
A child who qualifies for the 95th percentile is advised to have an in-depth medical assessment since this amount of body fat is also associated with high blood pressure, elevated levels of lipids (fats) in the blood and an increased potential for obesity-related diseases that include type-2 diabetes, asthma, hypertension, high cholesterol, liver and gall bladder disease, bone and joint problems, and sleep apnea. It is also linked to a range of social and psychological issues including poor self-esteem, depression, withdrawal and poor peer relationships.
But as complex as the causes of childhood obesity are, the baseline equation is simple: Too few calories are being burned for the amount of calories being consumed. What's complicated is that this calculation is mediated by a host of behavioral, environmental and genetic factors.
Heredity contributes a risk factor of 5 to 40 percent for obesity, and studies indicate that 50 to 70 percent of a person's BMI is determined by genetic influences. If both parents are overweight, the children have a 75 percent chance of being obese. If one parent is obese, the probability is 25 to 50 percent. But while the connection between genetics and obesity has been established, the problem is usually caused by multiple genes interacting with environmental and behavioral factors. Given that the genetic characteristics of a population change slowly, the rapid weight increases in America show that skyrocketing obesity rates are probably due to behavioral and environmental factors combining with genetic factors, rather than genetic predisposition alone. The upside is that making some basic changes in lifestyle and nutrition can make a big difference.
TV Time
One of the biggest culprits is a sedentary lifestyle dominated by TV watching, computer activities and video games. It's estimated that American kids are spending 25 percent of their day watching television, and that those who log the most TV hours have the highest rate of obesity. First, because they're not burning enough calories, and second because they're usually eating unhealthy snacks while they're watching.
What they're watching is also a factor. A March 2007 study found that kids age 2 to 7 see an average of 12 food ads every day, while kids age 8 to 12 see 21 ads, and teens view up to 17 food ads daily. As Dr. Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest says, "If companies were marketing bananas and broccoli, we wouldn't be concerned, but ... most marketing is for sugary cereals, fast food, snack foods and candy." A 2006 study showed that for each additional hour of television viewing, kids consumed 167 extra calories. So it's obvious that limiting TV time is one of the best health care decisions you can make for your family.
A healthy focus on nutrition can't be underestimated. Hectic schedules, both for kids and parents, have resulted in a decline in breakfasts and an increase in dinners outside the home. Use of fast food restaurants with their high calorie, high salt and high fat and carbohydrate entrees, along with their super-sized, sugary soft drinks, is a big contributor to our current obesity epidemic, especially among the lower socioeconomic groups.
Supervising mealtimes will help you control what your kids eat and create an opportunity to offer encouragement. It's also important to cut down on the snacking, as well as on processed, pre-prepared food. Making healthy foods easily accessible is key, so have fresh fruit washed and ready to eat in a big bowl where everyone can reach it. Same with washed and cut vegetables and low-calorie dip. What you eat is important, too, because kids develop preferences based on foods their parents eat.
As discussed in last week's blog on sleep, shortened duration of sleep is associated with weight gain and obesity. So making sure that your child avoids sleep deprivation is an important step in combating overweight and obesity.
At Home
For parents, be a role model, not a nag. Eat healthy yourself and get lots of exercise. The family will follow your lead, especially if you turn exercise like bike riding and rollerblading into family outings. (Not hang gliding, though.) Introduce healthy changes gradually. Go from serving whole milk to two percent, and then to skim milk. Keep portion sizes moderate, eat from smaller plates and skip seconds. Instead of frying, better to grill, steam or bake. And try to establish a regular eating schedule for the whole family.
Out and About
Walk instead of drive whenever you can and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Look for a parking space farther from the store, and walk. At the store, select the checkout line with the batteries and the gift cards, not the candy. At restaurants, skip the buffet and choose low-fat, low-sodium or heart healthy dishes.
Childhood obesity is a problem that's not only influenced by what your kids eat, but also by how the family lives. And given that overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults, the time to address childhood obesity is today. It's easier than you think. Next week, we'll talk about how new skills at the grocery store can impact the health of your whole family.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Finding Your Ideal Weight

Most of the people in magazines and on TV are far slimmer than average, yet this is the “ideal” that many people aim for. Before you decide that you won’t be happy until you get down to a certain number of pounds, consider:
  • Your age. You probably wish you could get back to your college weight. But current research shows that it’s not unhealthy to gain a bit as we age.
  • Your gender. In general, men have more muscle and heavier bones than women, which means that healthy men usually weigh more than healthy women of the same height.
  • Your current weight. If you are very heavy, focus on losing a smaller amount (such as 10 percent of your body weight). Losing just 5 to 10 pounds can improve your health.

Your Body Fat Percentage

A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat, but it takes up less space. Think of a trained athlete and a “couch potato.” Even though they may be the same height and weight, the athlete looks fitter, is healthier, and probably wears a smaller size of clothing. If you are muscular, a body fat test may be a more accurate measure of your ideal weight than the bathroom scale. Talk to your healthcare provider, who can help you set appropriate goals for yourself.

Diabetes: Understanding Carbohydrates, Fats, and Protein

Diabetes: Understanding Carbohydrates, Fats, and Protein

Food is a source of fuel and nourishment for your body. It’s also a source of pleasure. Having diabetes doesn’t mean you have to eat special foods or give up desserts. Instead, your dietitian can show you how to plan meals to suit your body. To start, learn how different foods affect blood sugar.


Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body. Carbohydrates raise blood sugar. Many people think carbohydrates are only found in pasta or bread. But carbohydrates are actually in many kinds of foods.
  • Sugars occur naturally in foods such as fruit, milk, honey, and molasses. Sugars can also be added to many foods, from cereals and yogurt to candy and desserts. Sugars raise blood sugar.
  • Starches are found in bread, cereals, pasta, and dried beans. They’re also found in corn, peas, potatoes, yam, acorn squash, and butternut squash. Starches also raise blood sugar. 
  • Fiber is found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Unlike other carbs, fiber isn’t digested or absorbed. So it doesn’t raise blood sugar. In fact, fiber can help keep blood sugar from rising too fast. It also helps keep blood cholesterol at a healthy level.

Did You Know?

Even though carbohydrates raise blood sugar, it’s best to have some in every meal. They are an important part of a healthy diet.


Fat is an energy source that can be stored until needed. Fat does not raise blood sugar. However, it can raise blood cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease. Fat is also high in calories, which can cause weight gain. Not all types of fat are the same.
More Healthy
  • Monounsaturated fats are mostly found in vegetable oils such as olive, canola, and peanut oils. They are also found in avocados and some nuts. Monounsaturated fats are healthy for your heart. That’s because they lower LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are mostly found in vegetable oils such as corn, safflower, and soybean oils. They are also found in some seeds, nuts, and fish. Choosing polyunsaturated instead of saturated fats is healthy for your heart.
Less Healthy
  • Saturated fats are found in animal products such as meat, poultry, whole milk, lard, and butter. Saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol and are not healthy for your heart.
  • Hydrogenated oils and trans fats are formed when vegetable oils are processed into solid fats. They are found in many processed foods. Hydrogenated oils and trans fats raise LDL cholesterol. They are not healthy for your heart.


Protein helps the body build and repair muscle and other tissue. Protein has little or no effect on blood sugar. However, many foods that contain protein also contain saturated fat. By choosing low-fat protein sources, you can get the benefits of protein without the extra fat.
  • Plant protein is found in dry beans and peas, nuts, and soy products such as tofu and soymilk. These sources tend to be cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.
  • Animal protein is found in fish, poultry, meat, cheese, milk, and eggs. These contain cholesterol and can be high in saturated fat. Aim for lean, lower-fat choices.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Improve Your “Internal” Plumbing With Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Improve Your “Internal” Plumbing With Omega-3 Fatty Acids
By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve a number of different health conditions.

Conditions include: improving heart and eye health, lowering inflammation, and improving endothelial function of your veins and arteries.

Omega-3 fatty acids, according to some studies, have been shown to reduce inflammation, which could be present in your body and which may significantly improve the function of all systems in your body.

One system in particular, your vascular system, could play an important role in heart health.

One test, flow mediated dilation (blood flow through your vein), gives doctors, scientists, and cardiologists a pretty good indicator of the health of your heart.

Now, a recent study published in Atherosclerosis, could show the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the health and function of your vascular system.

Omega-3 and Vascular Health

There have been many studies showing the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and risk for cardiovascular disease (significant improvements).

It also showed that omega-3 fatty acids may affect endothelial function as it relates to flow-mediated dilation and endothelium-dependent vasodilation.

Flow-mediated dilation refers to blood flow through a vessel.  This blood flow dilates the vessel to allow for smoother travel.

Flow-mediation dilation has been used as a way to assess the health and function (or dysfunction) of your endothelium and vascular system.

Endothelium-dependent vasodilation refers to substances (nitric oxide and prostacyclin) that are produced by your vascular endothelium.  These substances cause relaxation of the endothelium, which allows for smoother blood flow.

The researchers wanted to see how omega-3 fatty acids affect the function of healthy endothelium.

The design of the study was a meta-analysis (collection of many studies related to their topic), where they looked at omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and endothelial cells.

They used 16 studies that included over 901 subjects.

The omega-3 dose was between 0.45 grams/day to 4.5 grams/day.

They noted, compared to the placebo group, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation showed a 2.30% increase in flow-mediated dilation.

In subgroup analysis, the researchers showed that the improvements from the omega-3 fatty acids could be associated with the overall health of the subjects, or with the dose of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.

The researchers, however, did notice no change in endothelium-independent vasodilation when supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids.

Through their research, they concluded that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids could significantly impact endothelial function without affecting endothelium-independent vasodilation.

The Amazing Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The number one killer in the US, and in the world, happens to be heart disease.

Heart disease encompasses many different aspects such as high cholesterol, stiffening of the arteries due to endothelial dysfunction, and increased inflammation.

Omega-3 fatty acids, however, have been shown by research to lower inflammation and cholesterol, which may improve your heart health.

Now, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve vascular health, which may reduce the effects associated with endothelial dysfunction.

Including omega-3 fatty acids into your daily routine could lead to significant improvements in many different areas of health - especially heart health.

Everyones Favorite Exercise Burpee

How to do Burpees Burpees are an excellent strength and conditioning bodyweight exercise that incorporate rapid, explosive movements that will quickly get your heart pounding. Burpees include three exercises into one explosive movement: Sprawls, Push Ups, and Squat Jumps. Looking to take your interval training to the next level? Add Burpees.
Purpose/Focus: Strength, Conditioning
Body Parts Used: Core, Legs, Arms, Shoulders, Chest, Back
Difficulty: Moderate

Exercise Steps
Step 1 From a standing position, put your hands on the ground and kick your feet behind you, putting yourself in a push up position.
Step 2 As soon as your feet are back, perform a single push up. From there, kick your feet forward in between your hands and explode up, swing both arms forward, and jump as high as you can into the air.
Step 3 Absorb the impact from the jump by dropping your hands and performing another repetition.
Tips Make sure you absorb the impact from the jump with your legs; do not land with your knees locked, or try to immediately return to a standing position. If Burpees are too difficult initially, perform Sprawls instead until you have built up the conditioning necessary for Burpees.
Exercise Pictures
Bodyweight Exercise by Mark de Grasse: Burpee Step 1 Bodyweight Exercise by Mark de Grasse: Burpee Step 2 Bodyweight Exercise by Mark de Grasse: Burpee Step 3

AeroShot Pure Energy

AeroShot Review by Mark de Grasse of My Mad Methods MagazineProduct: AeroShot Pure Energy
Producer: Breathable Foods
Price: $29.99
Where to Buy:
Here’s the situation: you’re on day 30 of your workout plan, it’s 5:00AM, the only time you have to workout all day. You’re tired and sore and you just aren’t “feeling it” right now. You don’t want to mix a pre-workout drink; no motivation to make a pot of coffee. You’re about to lay back down when you reach for your AeroShot, take a breath, and BAM! Nearly instantaneous energy and alertness.
AeroShot is an innovative new energy supplement developed by a Harvard Professor.  It’s basically a shot of caffeine and B vitamins in a simple (but very creative) delivery system. Open it, take a puff, and you’re done! The light powder instantly dissolves in your mouth and into your system (no need to wait for your stomach to get around to digesting the caffeine from a pre-workout drink or cup of coffee). Each canister contains about 100mg of caffeine, about the same as a large cup of coffee without delay, coffee breath, stained teeth, or the list of additives found in pre-workout supplements.
AeroShot was not created specifically as a pre-workout supplement, but we could see the advantages over typical workout-boosting solutions: it hits quick, it’s super portable and doesn’t involve mixing messy powders, and it doesn’t contain who-knows-what that typical supplements like N.O. Xplode contain. After using it several times in a variety of settings, I can say this: AeroShot is awesome!
As much as I like to keep things “pure” when it comes to fitness, the truth is, I couldn’t operate my business, enhance my fitness levels, and have any kind of life without a boost every now and then. I don’t like the taste of coffee, I’m guilty when I drink Red Bulls (even if they’re sugar free), and I never purchase pre-workout supplements because they make me jittery and unfocused. AeroShot delivers quickly and easily, and I’ve found that the “boost” is just enough to help me focus and get moving without making me bounce off the walls. For my workouts, the extra pep helped me excel without making me nauseous. As an assistant to completing this magazine late into the night and early in the morning, it was perfect.
Here’s a tip: when you use AeroShot, don’t treat it like some kind of deep-breathing exercise; avoid the temptation to suck it all down at once, you’ll just get a mouthful of bleh. In that quantity, AeroShot doesn’t taste great, however, if you break it down into smaller doses, you’ll find the taste enjoyable and it will start to grow on you. At this point, I really can’t wait for this product to be available in bulk.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

8 secrets to maintaining a weight loss

8 secrets to maintaining a weight loss

By Tanise Edwards, M.D.

When you make an effort to slim down — and reach your goal — it can be very satisfying. You did it! You feel great — and you're at a healthy weight.

But, here's the question: How do you sustain your success?

Certainly, you have reason to be proud. But, remember this: A healthful weight is not a single destination. You've taken a significant first step on a lifelong journey toward better health. So, read on for a road map to true staying power.

First, think balance
Maintaining your weight over time comes down to this: The calories you eat must consistently equal the calories your body uses.

If you go back to your old habits, you'll likely see those pounds start to creep back on. In studies of people who kept off the weight they'd lost, most continued to keep their portions and calories in check. And, they did something else, too. They used exercise as a go-to maintenance tool.

Are you ready to enjoy that same lasting success? Rely on these eight stay-slim habits:

1. Have a long-haul mindset. Think about what made you successful at losing weight. For example, maybe you stayed busy when you had the urge to overeat. Or, you set goals that kept you energized. Make your successful coping skills your lifelong habits.

2. Don't stop working out. Keep walking, swimming, jogging, dancing — whatever it is that gets you moving. For general good health, most people need at least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity a week. But, to maintain a weight loss, evidence shows that some people may need twice as much — five hours or more. For safety's sake, talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.

And, in addition to aerobic activity, add strength-building exercises on at least two days a week. You'll maintain, or even build, muscle. That helps you stay fit — and more muscle burns more calories.

3. Go for extra credit. Try to sneak calorie-burning activities into your day whenever possible. Slip on your sneakers to run an errand. Give your vacuum a good workout. Or, play a lively game of tag with your kids.

4. Plan meals and snacks. This helps guarantee that you'll always have healthful options. And, be sure to put plenty of fruits and veggies on the menu. They're low in calories and fat, but rich in nutrients — and they're high in fiber, which can help you feel full, too. To avoid impulse buys at the grocery store, have a list in hand — and don't shop when you're hungry.

5. Join the breakfast club. People who skip breakfast are more likely to overeat later in the day.

6. Eat slowly. This gives your stomach time to let your brain know it's satisfied.

7. Keep an eye on the scale. You don't have to watch it like a hawk. It's normal for weight to vary a bit. But, steady upticks can be a clue that you need to move more and eat better.

8. Be cheered. Gravitate toward friends and loved ones who support your healthy lifestyle. Maybe you'll find an exercise partner — or just get a "Good for you!" when you really need it.