Category Archives: obesity

A Focus on Men’s Health by Guest Blogger Steve Jasper

Men’s Health Week By Steve Jasper

Every year, Men’s Health Week falls on the seven days prior to Father’s Day. The significance of this event would mean nothing without first realizing that one’s health is not only a measure of the lifestyle you lead, but how you stay in shape as well. A fraction of men are regular gym-goers who work out tirelessly with exercise equipment in order to keep their bodies healthy and active. Men realize that working out serves a more important function than just building muscles. Working out can help you improve your body image, self confidence, and even add years to your life.

Men’s Health Week (June 14-20th) is a week of awareness involving health issues and diseases for men that easily can be averted with early action, treatment, and healthy prevention. It’s no coincidence that Men’s Health Week leads right up to Father’s Day because Father’s Day is where we celebrate a man we love and wish nothing but health and happiness to. Many men understand the importance of adhering to a diet rich in whole foods, such as fruit and vegetables, whole-grains, low- and nonfat dairy products, and lean meat choices.  Yet, how can more men be proactive in staying healthy and avoiding illness and heath issues? Well, a good place to start is to be educated about how to use the gym, and exactly how important it is to do so. A better knowledge of how to properly exercise is integral to fighting obesity and improving your health.

The list of ailments that go along with obesity is almost endless: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, respiratory problems, and even cancer all have higher incidence rates in the obese. This is scary enough, but looking at the statistics, it’s even more frightening. The Journal of the American Medical Association states that 72 percent of men over the age of 20 are considered to be overweight or obese while 32 percent are dangerously obese. This is too much- especially when studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have shown that physical activity may greatly reduce the risk of both obesity and most health conditions in men.

There are plenty of great foods men can eat that will not only improve their exercise performance and overall fitness, but help them to be healthier and avoid obesity as well. Incorporating foods like blueberries (which are loaded with antioxidants) and sardines (not for everyone, but they are nutritious) can change a man’s attitude and drive. Additionally, other great foods men can snack on are nuts, which are full of vitamin E. Rice is also a good source for your vitamins, potassium and zinc. Even smaller foods are great to add to your diet in order to make things run smoothly. For example, sesame seeds are great for a man’s sex drive because they are rich in amino acids. Amino acids, as you may know, are the building blocks for your body’s proteins. Eating the right food can even affect your mood, which has been seen with edamame (or soy beans), for example. When you are fulfilling your dietary needs, you are less likely to succumb to binges on junk foods. Getting on the right diet and eating foods that help maintain a healthy body is one of the most important steps a man can take towards staying healthy and avoiding obesity. Of course, the other half of the equation is keeping a good workout routine.

Depending on who you ask, going to the gym may either seem like a hobby or a chore, but following those routines are important to staying fit and healthy for men everywhere. Now, we all come up with excuses as to why we can’t work out. When polled, the biggest reason men gave for not being able to exercise is, “not enough time.” The best way to overcome this hurdle is by getting your hands on one of your own personal home gyms. When you factor in the time it takes to travel back and forth from your fitness center, the gas money spent to do so, and the various membership fees, a home gym starts to look like a very reasonable option. And if you are more likely to work out regularly on your home gym than you are at your club, then all the more reason to pick one up.

How do you or the man in your life stay in shape?  Do you have a personal home gym?  What do you eat to help fuel your exercise?  Share with us, we want to know!

About the Author:

Steve Jasper is not a medical expert. If you have any serious medical concerns, please consult a qualified medical professional before undertaking a new fitness regimen. Steve is a contributing blogger from Gymsource who writes an all topics related to fitness equipment and much more.

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Filed under diet, exercise equipment, fitness, health, healthy food, men, nutrition, obesity, weight loss

A Diet for Kids that Promotes Bone Growth, Not Fat

Dark-green vegetables, such as the broccoli above, and deep-yellow vegetables are part of a diet that can promote bone growth while attenuating fat accumulation in children.

“Eat your dark-green and deep-yellow veggies and limit fried foods” is the message for parents who are interested in promoting bone growth, not fat, in their children according to findings of a study published online June 2, 2010 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  The study collected data on a total of 325 children (ages 3.8-7.8 years) over a 4 year study period during which measures of body weight, body composition, dietary patterns, physical activity levels, and time spent watching television and playing outdoors were assessed.  The researchers found that those children who consumed diets that were higher in dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables and lower in fried foods had higher bone mass and lower fat mass than those children whose diets lacked these characteristics.

Some interesting findings came out of the study.  The researchers found that even when total caloric intake was the same, a higher consumption of fried foods was associated with a greater accrual of fat mass.  The investigators speculate that hormonal shifts which favor fat growth, as opposed to lean mass development, may be a factor; but, they note that more research is needed.

The findings of the study also indicated that a high consumption of processed meats combined with the consumption of dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables was related to the development of greater bone mass.  They believe this increase is linked to protein which, according to data from previous studies, has been shown to play a role in enhancing bone mass in adults.  And, in this particular cohort of children, processed meats were a major source of protein in their diets.  However, the investigators stress that they do not advocate processed meats to be a mainstay in children’s diets due to the high sodium and saturated fat contents of these products.  The researchers believe that the role of dark-green and deep-yellow vegetable consumption has in promoting greater bone mass is related to the presence of alkalizing minerals, such as potassium, in these foods.

The investigators conclude that their findings have great implications because it is the study is the first of which, to their knowledge, to show that a certain combination of foods can promote bone mass while attenuating fat accumulation in children.  Many parents are aware of the health risks that children now-a-days are facing at increasing rates as a result of a poor diet.  Obesity and osteoporosis are two conditions in which their origins may be rooted in childhood dietary practices.  The challenge for parents is to provide their children with healthy eating habits that promote the growth of bone while reducing the risk for accruing high amounts of body fat.  There is limited information available to parents and caretakers as to what constitutes a diet that can achieve both of these goals.  The findings of the current study show promise that diets can be manipulated to optimize growth and development in children.

Suggested Dark-green and Deep-yellow Vegetables to Serve:

  • Spinach
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes

Does your child have a favorite dark-green or deep-yellow vegetable?  How do you prepare it?  Share with us, we want to know!

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Filed under children, diet, obesity, osteoporosis, vegetables

Nutrition, Children, and Osteoporosis

Canned fish and low-fat dairy products, such as milk and cheese, are good sources of calcium.

While watching the local news yesterday morning, I was shocked to learn that the condition of osteoporosis is becoming more prevalent in children.  One factor that has been implicated is the increase in childhood obesity.  The newscast stated that the extra body fat slows the absorption of Vitamin D from the sun’s rays.  The body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium, which helps build strong bones.

Osteoporosis is defined as “porous bone.”  Under a microscope, healthy bone resembles a honeycomb.  When osteoporosis is present, structural changes have occurred in the bone that make the holes and spaces of the honeycomb structure much larger.  As a result, the bone becomes less dense, weaker, and more susceptible to fracture.  Osteoporosis is a condition that is typically seen in older women and, in the past, it was rare to be present in children – unless it was related to an underlying medical disorder or by certain medications (this form is called secondary osteoporosis).

Regardless of the cause of osteoporosis in children, its presence is a great concern because the prime years to build bone occur in childhood.  Bone is living tissue that constantly breaks down and rebuilds throughout life.  This process involves calcium to be withdrawn and deposited into your bones daily.  The strength of your bones depends upon the amount of calcium stored in them.  Typically, in children and teenagers, new bone is formed faster than it is broken down.  Thus, the bones continue to become more dense until peak bone mass (the greatest amount of bone that you will have in your lifetime) is achieved.  An individual’s peak bone mass is reached around the ages of 18-20 years, depending on gender.

What can a parent do to help their child/teen build healthy bones?

  • Teach your child and/or teenager the importance of eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D fortified foods to promote bone health.  Some good websites to visit with your child to reinforce this lesson include:  Milk Matters; KidsHealth; and, Best Bones Forever!.  These sites offer activities, games, and fun ideas to engage children and teenagers in the learning process for adopting healthy lifestyle habits.
  • Provide your child and/or teenager with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D fortified foods.  Some sources of calcium and vitamin D include low-fat dairy products, green leafy vegetables, canned salmon with bones, calcium enriched soy drinks, and fortified cereals.  For a list of more food sources, visit Best Bones Forever!.
  • Ensure that your child gets at least 10-15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure a day to promote vitamin D synthesis in the body.  Note that very few food sources naturally contain vitamin D and, therefore, sun exposure is needed to reach adequate levels.
  • Teach your child the ill effects of smoking.  Smoking impairs bone health.  Research has shown that smokers have a higher incidence of bone fractures.
  • Get your child active.  Weight-bearing activities, such as dancing, gymnastics, basketball, and running help to build bone strength.
  • Schedule regular “well-check” visits with your child’s pediatrician.  The doctor will be able to monitor dietary and exercise habits as well as growth.  Because other conditions such as anorexia, hormonal imbalances, and certain medications can increase your child’s risk for weak bones and fractures, it is important to see your child’s physician who will be able to identify these conditions and offer advice on their treatment and management.

Does your child get enough calcium and vitamin D?  Share with us your ways of ensuring your child eats a diet rich in these sources.  We want to know!

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Filed under chocolate, health, healthy food, nutrition, obesity, teens

“Food Then and Now” by Laura Heuer

Cookie - Or Pancake? Portion sizes of common treats have greatly increased over the last few decades.

Food Has Changed

When you look back do you remember that eating and drinking was different? I do. I remember water was my choice drink. My kids have energy drinks (soft drinks advertised as boosting energy), vitamin water (Aquafina Flavor Splash, Dasani flavored water, Fruit 2o Essentials, Propel, Sobe Life Water, Agave Lemonade, VitaminWater, to name a few), smoothies, tea, and so much more.

I was just telling my kids the other day that when I was in high school I bumped into one of the cross country runners at McDonalds drinking the Large soda. I was amazed he could drink soooo much! Looking back, that drink is now the McDonalds small drink, which it seems everyone drinks (if not the medium).

So not only are there more choices for my kids, the portions are larger!

This has not just happened with drinks, but with candy bars, tollhouse cookies (yes! they altered the recipe to make fewer cookies meaning larger ones) pizza slices, coffee has gone up in ounces per serving, and most all portions are now larger then ever. Check out divine caroline for more pictures and insight.

So now that we know that the choices are more, the portions are bigger, here is the next item – the amount of preservatives and additives have gone crazy!

Examples: Hershey’s Chocolate is not what it used to be. Do you taste the difference? I used to love Hershey.  Now I don’t eat it so much and I was not ever sure why; it just is not so satisfying any longer. But now I found out that the recipe has changed. Don’t get me wrong, I eat my chocolate, but I prefer a dark organic bar with all natural ingredients. Candy Blog http://www.candyblog.net/blog/item/rising_cost_of_candy/

What does all this mean and why should we care?

Obesity rates have tripled with American kids aged 12-19 since 1980. One third of America’s children are overweight or obese. There is so much information available online and in the news that it can get exhausting.  Do we really need to do something?

I think as parents the answer is easy, of course we need to do something! But what are the answers? That is the part that may not be so easy:  Or is it? One step or one thing at a time is what I think I will do and see what happens.

Jamie Oliver is trying to revolutionize America’s eating habits. Will this work, can this be done? I for one would like to think it can. How though? Just like David Letterman said, with 160 types of cookies what hope do you have? One family at a time that is how.

Let’s Move

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative and the fight against childhood obesity has been created to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.

I was able to be part of an online discussion forum: Kids’ Obesity and Healthy Eating/Nutrition and Health. During this panel discussion we reviewed new technologies that can help us, as moms, make wiser choices in our family diet. Piccka Shop to Lose iPhone app helps us to see what are the best food choices in a chosen category or restaurant.

As a Mom I am ready to see some changes. I would love to see healthier lunches available at school, no preservatives lurking in food, no hidden additives in drinks and no funny gimmicks like “no fat” or ”no sugar” which basically translates to chemically altered food. But, bottom line, I am responsible for what goes in my body and my children’s bodies. If I buy it they will probably eat it. So I would love a technology to help make good food choices especially when the idea of knowing what is good and what is not has gotten so fuzzy.

What kind of changes would you like to see? Would you like for the world to go back to natural food, organically grown? How about more Whole Foods type stores so that these stores will have to get competitive and drop prices? You gotta love how one man changed McDonalds with his documentary.  What can a whole bunch of moms do?

About the Author

Laura and her husband have three very active teenage boys. She has an entrepreneurial spirit that led her to the creation of Jakoter Health Organizers. Now with a love to be on the Internet, write; fiddle with gadgets and use technology that make life easier you will find her creations and services on MomTechnology.com.

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Filed under children, diet, health, moms, nutrition, obesity, soft drinks

Fat Facts

Surprising factors may lead to weight gain.

Are you exercising like crazy and watching your calories but still can’t shed those pounds?  Perhaps there is another culprit (or two).  Did you know that alcohol, certain prescription medications, and eating too little calories can lead to weight gain?  The Nurse Practitioner Schools, an online resource for more than 350 nurse practitioner schools, recently posted an article, “This is Why You’re Fat: 10 Really Surprising Reasons,” that address these factors and more.  Visit their site to learn more.

What are you doing to control your body weight?  Share with us, we want to know!

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Filed under fat, obesity, stress, weight loss

Health Makeover for School Lunches!

Approximately 70% of schools offer their students meals that exceed the recommended levels of saturated fat.

Lunches served in schools across America may soon get a nutrition makeover.  On March 17, 2010, the Healthy School Meals Act of 2010, H.R. 4870, sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis [D,CO-2] was referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.  This bill, which has 49  cosponsors, proposes “to provide plant-based commodities under the school lunch program under the Richard B. Russell National School Act and the school breakfast program under the Child Nutrition Act of 1966, and for other purposes.”  Under the bill, schools will be rewarded with food aid and financial incentives if they increase their offerings of plant-based meal options and nondairy milk choices for their students.

According to a 2007 Department of Agriculture School Nutrition Dietary study, more than 70% of schools provide meals that exceed the recommended intake of saturated fat, which increases the risk for chronic health conditions such as obesity and cardiovascular disease.  Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other plant-based foods (soy), tend to be lower in saturated fat and calories and provide more fiber – characteristics which are associated with a lower risk for developing chronic diseases.  Statistics which indicate that 1 in 3 children is overweight and that more than 30 million children eat at least one meal at school per day, highlight the need for improvement in the nutritional content of meals offered through the school system.  If approved, The Healthy School Meals Act, H.R. 4870 would make it easier for schools to provide healthy, nutrient-dense meals to their students.  And, as a result, help to combat childhood obesity and its associated diseases.

Are you in favor of the Healthy School Meals Act of 2010, H.R. 4870?  Share your opinion, we want to know!

Do you have a great healthy, easy to prepare lunch you send with your child to school?  Let us know, we want to hear!

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Filed under diet, health, healthy food, nutrition, obesity, school lunch, weight loss

Capping America’s Sweet Tooth

The average American takes in a little over 22 teaspoons (about 355 calories) per day of added sugars.  How much should you actually be consuming for better health?  No more than 6 teaspoons (approximately 100 calories) per day for women and no more than 9 teaspoons (about 150 calories) per day for men, according to a scientific statement published last year by the American Heart Association (AHA).  Note, these values refer to sugars that have been added to your foods above and beyond what is present naturally in them. Additional sugars are put into foods during the preparation and processing of manufactured foods and/or at the table during mealtime.

Added sugars fall into the “discretionary calories” category.  That is, the amount of calories “left over” after you have met your nutritional needs from foods such as fruit, vegetables, low-fat or nonfat dairy, whole grains, and lean meat, fish, and poultry.  The discretionary calories category includes solid fats (saturated and trans fat), added sugars, and alcoholic beverages.

The American Heart Association recommends that you consume no more than half of your discretionary calories from added sugars.  Why?  According to their statement, excessive consumption of added sugars is associated with the development of obesity and heart disease and it increases your risk for high blood pressure, inflammation (a marker for heart disease), and elevated triglyceride levels.  Furthermore, consuming foods high in added sugars, which also tend to be devoid of essential nutrients, can lead to nutritional deficiencies and their associated health conditions.

What is the main source of added sugars in the American diet?  Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages.  How can you limit the amount of added sugars you consume?  Consider these tips from the AHA:

  • Read the nutrition label.  If you see words that end in “ose”, such as fructose and maltose, or terms such as corn syrup/sweetener, molasses, barley malt, invert sugar, malt sugar, honey, raw sugar, cane sugar, and agave, then sugar has been added .  If these words are listed either first or second, than you can be certain the product contains a lot of added sugar.  Try to avoid these products.
  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables.  Avoid canned varieties that have been packed in heavy syrup.  Instead, choose those that have been canned in natural juice or water.
  • Sweeten your food, such as whole grain cereal, with fresh or dried fruit instead of sugars and syrups.
  • Avoid soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages.  Instead, squeeze a little lemon juice into a glass of water.
  • When baking, reduce the amount of sugar called for in the recipe by half and use other ingredients such as spices and extracts or unsweetened apple sauce to enhance flavor.

Do you have a great tip on how to sweeten and/or enhance the flavor of food without adding calories from nutrient devoid sugars and syrups?  Share your ideas, we want to know!

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Filed under added sugars, diet, health, healthy food, nutrition, obesity, snacks, soft drinks