Category Archives: Fitness

Hospital step up to help seniors avoid falls

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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

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NIH’s offers online weigh-loss personal trainer

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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

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

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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.”

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

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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

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Rising obesity puts strain on nursing homes

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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

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How Russian hid its doping in plain sight

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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

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

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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

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Citing cost to taxpayers, cities and states tackle obesity

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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

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

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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

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More than one in three US adults is obese, study

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burger-and-friesBy Alana Pockros
KHN

The U.S.’s high obesity rate and its relationship to other chronic diseases is not new information to most public health scientists and physicians, but a new analysis suggests that prevention strategies exist that could counter this trend if they were pursued as a public health priority.

A rearch letter published Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine reported updated results from an earlier study highlighting the burden of chronic conditions associated with body mass index. The new findings use the most recent data available on obesity – from 2007 to 2012 – from the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, or NHANES.

In the US, early 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women are overweight, nearly 35 percent of men and 37 percent of women are obese.

.NHANES includes data for individuals 25 years or older and excludes pregnant women. “Overweight” and “obese” were classified by patients’ body mass indexes (BMIs).

Before the release of this study, the most recent examination of nation’s obesity and chronic disease burden was based on information from nearly 20 years ago, when researchers concluded that the prevalence of obesity-related health problems “emphasizes the need for concerted efforts to prevent and treat obesity” rather than just the other health conditions.

In the new analysis, the researchers found that nearly 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women were overweight, while nearly 35 percent of men and 37 percent of women were considered obese.

Comparing this data with statistics from the earlier study, the researchers concluded that overweight and obesity rates in the U.S. have increased over the past two decades.

The greatest increase in the proportion of individuals with BMI’s greater than 40, the highest obesity class, was among black women. Continue reading

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Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue ranked 8th fittest metro area

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Map of SeattleThe Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue region is the 8th fittest metropolitan area in the US, just behind Portland, Oregon and just ahead of Boston, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.  Washington, D.C. was ranked number 1. Indianapolis, dead last.

Our good points are we have:

  • Lower death rate for cardiovascular disease
  • More farmers’ markets per capita
  • Higher percent using public transportation to work
  • Higher percent bicycling or walking to work
  • Higher Walk Score®
  • Higher percent of population within a 10 minute walk to a park
  • More dog parks per capita
  • More park units per capita
  • More tennis courts per capita
  • Higher park-related expenditures per capita
  • Higher level of state requirement for Physical Education classes

Our bad points are we have:

  • Higher percent obese
  • Higher percent of days when physical health was not good during the past 30 days
  • Higher percent of days when mental health was not good during the past 30 days
  • Higher percent with asthma
  • Higher percent with angina or coronary heart disease
  • Higher percent with diabetes
  • Fewer acres of parkland per capita
  • Fewer swimming pools per capita

Continue reading

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