Category Archives: Fitness

Want to lose weight? Train the brain, not the body

Share

ScaleBy Laurel Mellin, University of California, San Francisco
TheConversation.com

Despite massive government, medical and individual efforts to win the war on obesity, 71 percent of Americans are overweight.

The average adult is 24 pounds heavier today than in 1960. Our growing girth adds some US$200 billion per year to our health care expenditure, amounting to a severe health crisis.

Drug research has not yielded a pill that helps people lose weight and keep it off. Traditional approaches such as diet and exercise can work short-term, but people almost inevitably regain the weight. Randomized controlled trials of weight loss surgery have shown some improvements in diabetes but not in mortality, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

If there is ever to be a “pill” – a solution to weight – it will be changing the brain, particularly the primitive areas of the brain, the “emotional brain” or mammalian and reptilian brain. These areas house circuits that control stress and our stress-fueled emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

These circuits can be rewired in humans so by changing them, we have a chance to address the root cause of stress-related problems, including obesity. While some overweight and obesity are caused by genetic make-up, more and more research is indicating that stress plays a big role in weight gain. Many people under stress turn to food for comfort.

My colleagues and I set out to develop a neuroscience-based approach to weight management and dealing with the common excesses we all face, through emotional brain training.

The idea was to use neuroscience-based tools to change the brain so that the whole range of common excesses would fade. The method has shown promising results. Continue reading

Share

Increased physical activity associated with lower risk of 13 types of cancer

Share

Running shoes full shotFrom the National Institutes of Health

A new study of the relationship between physical activity and cancer has shown that greater levels of leisure-time physical activity were associated with a lower risk of developing 13 different types of cancer.

The risk of developing seven cancer types was 20 percent (or more) lower among the most active participants (90th percentile of activity) as compared with the least active participants (10th percentile of activity). Continue reading

Share

Step it up!

Share

Step it Up for National Walking Day!

Running shoes full shotWalking is the most common form of physical activity, and its many benefits are well-documented. Six months ago, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called on Americans to Step it Up! and be more physically active through walking.

Today, April 6th, is National Walking Day. The Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity encourages you to join us in celebrating this observance by getting up and walking on this day—and then turning that activity into part of a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t know how to get your steps in or feel like you don’t have time? There are many ways to increase walking without making major changes to your routine. Make one of your meetings at work a walking meeting. Park further away from the entrance to your building or the grocery store.  Bond with your family over a walk after dinner. Walk to your terminal at the airport instead of taking the train. Take a few extra laps around the mall while shopping.

Walking can be done in many places and can be fit into busy schedules.

Walking Resources:  

Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities

Walking and Walkability: Approaches to Increase Physical Activity and Improve Health

2016 Bicycling and Walking Benchmarking Report

Share

Hospital step up to help seniors avoid falls

Share

By Susan Jaffe
KHN

Daphne Brown, 65, was putting away the dishes in her Washington kitchen when she fell to the floor. Jane Bulla, 82, fell at home in Laurel, Maryland, but managed to call for help with the cellphone in her pocket.

Susan Le, 63, who has trouble walking due to arthritis, hurt her leg when she tripped on a pile of leaves in Silver Spring. And late one night when no one was around, Jean Esquivel, 72, slipped on the ice in the parking lot outside her Silver Spring apartment.

Falls are the leading cause of injuries for adults 65 and older, and 2.5 million of them end up in hospital emergency departments for treatment every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The consequences can range from bruises, fractured hips and head injuries to irreversible calamities that can lead to death. And older adults who fall once are twice as likely as their peers to fall again.

Despite these scary statistics, a dangerous fall does not have to be an inevitable part of aging. Risk-reduction programs are offered around the country. Continue reading

Share

NIH’s offers online weigh-loss personal trainer

Share
Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 9.48.10 AM

To use the NIH Body Weight Planner, just enter your weight, sex, age, height, and physical activities during work and leisure. Then enter a target date for reaching your goal weight. You can also add details like percent body fat and metabolic rate. The Planner will then calculate your personal calorie and physical activity targets to achieve your goal and maintain it over time.

From the National Institutes of Health

It’s always a good time to resolve to eat better, be more active, and lose weight. For the more than 2 out of 3 Americans who are either overweight or obese, there’s now a free, research-based tool to help you reach your goals: the NIH Body Weight Planner.

“A lot of people want to change their lifestyle to lose weight and improve their overall health but really don’t know what it takes,” says Dr. Kevin Hall, a senior NIH researcher who created the Planner. “The Body Weight Planner is the first tool of its kind. It uses specific information about the diet and physical activity changes that are needed to help people reach and stay at their goal weight over time.”

Keeping your body at a healthy weight may help you lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer that can result from being overweight or obese.

To use the NIH Body Weight Planner, just enter your weight, sex, age, height, and physical activities during work and leisure. Then enter a target date for reaching your goal weight. You can also add details like percent body fat and metabolic rate. The Planner will then calculate your personal calorie and physical activity targets to achieve your goal and maintain it over time.

“In the past, people have relied on simple rules of thumb, such as cutting 500 calories per day to lose 1 pound of body weight per week,” Hall says. “It turns out that this rule overestimates how much weight people actually lose.” The NIH Body Weight Planner uses technology based on years of scientific research to accurately calculate how your body adjusts to changes in your eating habits and physical activity.

NIH recently partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to add the NIH Planner to the USDA SuperTracker icon food and activity tool.

The NIH Body Weight Planner “has changed my life,” says one user. “At 280 pounds, I decided to make a change. I used the Body Weight Planner and set a goal to reach 220 pounds in 180 days. I tracked my calories, dropped weight, and hit the 220 goal. My doctor was really happy.”

Hall says the Body Weight Planner is compatible with most Web and mobile browsers. NIH is also working to develop mobile apps for tracking your body weight and physical activity, and for assessing how well you stick to your plan over time. This will help you change your plan or goals as needed.

Try the NIH Body Weight Planner  to take charge of your weight and your health. Be sure to talk with your health care provider about setting realistic and healthy weight goals.

NIH News in Health, January 2016

Share

Health analyst scans obesity treatments from drugs to devices and heads back to gym

Share

ScaleBy WBUR/CommonHealth

The journal JAMA Internal Medicine is just out with an up-to-date analysis of options for treating obesity, accompanied by editor Fiona Clement’s vivid personal account of her own struggles with weight.

The conclusion she draws from the latest data: “After much thought and brutal honesty with myself, I would not pursue any of the interventions; the risks outweigh the benefit,” she writes. “I’m off to the gym.”

Share

Incentive worth $550 fails to move obese workers to lose weight

Share

Michelle_1_8

By Michelle Andrews
KHN

Promising workers lower health insurance premiums for losing weight did nothing to help them take off the pounds, a recent study found.

At the end of a year, obese workers had lost less than 1.5 pounds on average, statistically no different than the minute average gain of a tenth of a pound for workers who weren’t offered a financial incentive to lose weight.

“Our study highlights some of the weaknesses” of workplace wellness programs, said Dr. Mitesh Patel, assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and the study’s lead author.

The study, published this month in the journal Health Affairs, reported the results of a year-long randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of financial incentives to encourage weight loss among 197 obese employees of the University of Pennsylvania health system.

Participants were asked to lose 5 percent of their weight. Each was assigned to one of four study groups. The control group wasn’t offered any financial rewards. The three other groups were offered an incentive valued at $550.

One group was told they would begin receiving health insurance premium discounts on a bi-weekly basis immediately after reaching their weight loss goal, while another was told they would receive bi-weekly premium adjustments the following year if they reached their goal.

The final group was eligible for a daily lottery payment if they met their daily weight loss goal and weighed in the previous day.

At year’s end, no group had met the 5 percent weight-loss target. Participants’ average weight was virtually unchanged, whether or not they had a financial incentive to lose pounds. Nineteen percent of participants did meet the 5 percent target, but they weren’t concentrated in any particular group. Continue reading

Share

Rising obesity puts strain on nursing homes

Share
Three members of the nursing staff assisted Lee Nalls, who is staying at Generations of Red Bay after having a stroke. The facility has a specially outfitted wing that can accommodate 10 obese patients. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz for The New York Times)

Three members of the nursing staff assisted Lee Nalls, who is staying at Generations of Red Bay after having a stroke. The facility has a specially outfitted wing that can accommodate 10 obese patients. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz for The New York Times)

By Sarah Varney

RED BAY, Ala. — At 72, her gray hair closely shorn, her days occupied by sewing and television, Wanda Chism seems every bit a typical nursing home patient — but for her size.

Chism is severely obese, unable to leave her bed without a mechanical lift and a team of nurses. She has not walked in years. Her life is circumscribed by the walls of her room.

Obesity is redrawing the common imagery of old age: The slight nursing home resident is giving way to the obese senior, hampered by diabetes, disability and other weight-related ailments.

Facilities that have long cared for older adults are increasingly overwhelmed — and unprepared — to care for this new group of morbidly heavy patients. Continue reading

Share

How Russian hid its doping in plain sight

Share

Olympic_rings_without_rims.svg

By David Epstein
ProPublica

On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency issued a report painting Russia’s sports programs as doping machines reminiscent of East Germany’s erstwhile state-sponsored drug programs.

This year we’ve written about the use of prescription drugs to enhance performance and why it’s so hard to catch dopers. But in Russia, there appeared to be no need for ever-more advanced maneuvering to evade positive tests.

In Russia, athletes simply needed cash and a culture that rewarded a no-holds-barred drive for champions. Continue reading

Share

Using a weight-loss app? Are you losing weight? Probably not.

Share

fat-phone-570By Lynne Shallcross
KHN

Young American adults own smartphones at a higher rate than any other age group. Researchers from Duke University wanted to see if capitalizing on that smartphone usage with a low-cost weight-loss app might help the 35 percent of young adults in the U.S. who are overweight or obese.

If you’re rooting for smartphones to solve all our health problems, you’re not going to like what these researchers found.

If you’re rooting for smartphones to solve all our health problems, you’re not going to like what the researchers found.

The smartphone app didn’t help young adults lose any more weight than if they hadn’t been using the app at all. Continue reading

Share

Citing cost to taxpayers, cities and states tackle obesity

Share

ScaleBy Teresa Wiltz
Stateline

More than 35 percent of Arkansas adults are obese, making it the heaviest state in the nation.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson looked at those numbers and saw two problems: an increased risk of all sorts of health challenges, and an increased burden on taxpayers.

Armed with data about the devastating effects of obesity, Hutchinson, a Republican, last month launched a 10-year plan to combat the problem in his state, from tightening nutritional standards in schools to creating more walkable communities and improving access to affordable, healthy foods.

“I’m a conservative,” Hutchinson said. “I’m concerned about tax dollars as well as good health. There’s a consequence to the taxpayer because of bad health habits.”

Arkansas isn’t the only state to take on obesity this year. Governors in New York, Georgia and Tennessee have all announced plans to combat high rates of obesity among their citizens.

Nationwide, a third of all adults—78 million—are obese, up nearly 50 percent since 1990, according to Health Intelligence, a health data analysis site.

The top 10 heaviest states are in the South and the Midwest, according to a new report by the State of Obesity, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health, an advocacy and research group based in Washington, D.C.sln_obesitytable

Cities and states have a vested interest in tackling the issue. Obesity, defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher, is a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and can cause a host of chronic health issues, from diabetes to high blood pressure to cancer.  Continue reading

Share

Surgeon General wants to get us to “Step it up”

Share

US Surgeon General issues a “National Call to Action on Walking”

In a new report, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy calls for Americans to take up walking to improve their health and reduce their risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other common conditions.

The report, called  Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities, discusses the health benefits of walking and calls on individuals to make walking a priority in their lives. Continue reading

Share