Risk for Heart Disease Archives

Obesity

So What Got America This Fat?????

More than one third of all Americans are considered obese.  More over, this already large population has been increasing each year (up by 23% since 1990) and is projected to continue increasing unless we do something about it.  Education and awareness of the problems are necessary in an effort to curve the current trend.  This is projected to have a devastating effect to the cost of healthcare as obesity related illnesses begin to emerge.  Some of these related illness are associated with an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and some types of cancers, to name a few.  At this time, the costs of these illness have already reached $147 Billion/year and are project to increase as the obese population ages.  Moreover, the future does not look promising if we fail to reverse the current trends.  In fact, current studies predict that 42% of Americans will be obese by 2030.  That translates to 100 million obese Americans!  A 6% increase from the current already high 36% considered obese today.  The projected increase in medical costs associated with this increase alone is approximately $550 Billion over the current expenses.  Although the numbers are staggering, the more tragic reality is that these numbers are directly related to preventable illnesses and higher mortality.

So what got America this fat?  The answer is three fold, according to Scott LaFee from the University of California, San Diego.
Not only do we eat too much.  What we consume has way more calories than our body needs to maintain its proper function.  Part of the problem goes with current portion sizes.  CDC statistics show that the average restaurant serving is 4 times larger now than it was 50 years ago.  When we eat too many calories, the body uses what it needs and “deposits” the rest (usually around our waist, thighs, etc).

We do not exercise as often as we should.  According to a Gallup poll approximately one third of Americans get no daily exercise.  The result goes to joins that become stiffer as they age.  The stiffer the less active we become and set a viscious cycle.  The less active the more we deposit the calories we eat. 

We do eat, unhealthy foods very often. We then tend to develop high cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, all of which increase our risk for heart disease and other illness.

In short, we are not taking care of our bodies the way we should and our bodies are reacting to our lack of care.  The reaction is proportional to the action.  For those of us who do not like to exercise and eat right, there is a very simple equation…”we pay now or we pay later!”  That is, we sacrifice our bad habits and do things right, or we will pay with our health and will limited by the consequences.

Our children share in our bad habits.  They are eating unhealthy foods.  They are going to the same restaurants that serve the large portion sizes.  To make matters worse, some are even “supersizing” their already large servings.  Most are not getting enough exercise because they are spending too long in front of a TV or computer screen.  The outcomes are predictable and tragic.  Many children are already overweight in America.  Time is of the essence to get them in the right tract before they develop the inevitable health issues that go with being overweight.

Cardiac Procedures

Here is small collection of videos that are useful to provide information on important facts about heart disease diagnosis and corrective procedures.

* Cardiac Catheterization

* Angioplasty & Stenting

* Coronary Bypass

The Journal of the American Medical Association released a report this month that shows that the Low-Glycemic Index Diets are the best to keep the weight down.  This has to do with the fact that apparently, not all calories are created equal.  That is, the source of the calorie gives it a certain “quality” that affects how efficiently we burn energy.

When it comes to weight loss maintenance, evidence shows that most people can lose weight, but end up gaining it back.  The problem is that as we lose the weight the body needs less calories to maintain itself i.e. we spend less energy.  Ironically, this makes it likely easier to gain the weight back.  The goal is to maintain a diet that will help burn the highest amounts of calories to help maintain the weight loss.

Different diets help us burn calories at different rates.  According the studies,

  1. The low-carbohydrate diets help burn the most calories but have unintended negative side effects like inflammation and increase in the stress hormone Cortisol (both adversely affect risk for heart disease and diabetes).
  2. The low-glycemic diet is next after the low-carb diet in its ability to stimulate calorie consumption (i.e. 150 calories a day burned over those in a low-fat diet) and does not have the side effects.  Therefore, is considered the most effective in helping keep the weight down.
  3. The low-fat diet burns the least amount of the three types discussed here.  Actually considered the least healthy.  It can produce certain metabolic changes associated with regaining the weight.

The low-glycemic diet is structured based on the following calorie sources:

  • 40% Carbohydrates (healthy carbohydrates)
  • 40% Fats
  • 20% Protein

“There is a growing feeling that we need to go beyond low-fat diets, that was too simplistic a vision”, said Dr. David Ludwig one of the study’s author from Boston Children’s Hospital. “instead, focus on reducing highly processed carbohydrates” . Highly processed carbs make sugar easily accessible to the system rather than securing it in more health elements i.e. fiber in fruits.  When the sugar is easily available to the system it causes a sugar rush with a subsequent crash that stimulates hunger and jeopardizes the diet.

As in most studies and theories, there are opinions on both sides.  Although the most efficient to maintain weight loss, some researcher say the low-glycemic index diet do not have the best nutrition standards.  Others say the diet concept is too confusing and hard to maintain in the long term.  In the end, they all agree that balanced diets that eliminate junk food in favor of healthy ones is the best choice.  Moreover, it comes down to math; eat less calories than you can burn in a day through exercise.  That seems to be simplest and the best advice to keep a healthy weight.

References:

JAMA, June 2012

WSJ, June 26, 2012

ABC News June 26, 2012

 

 

“”Why a Big Mac costs less than a salad” from the New York times.  Although somewhat dated, this article is still accurate in its central message.  However, although it is true that healthy foods are often more expensive than unhealthy one, our health is worth the price.  Some times, all it takes is letting go of some other expensive things we like in order the afford better nutrition for our family and ourselves.

 

 

 

Seven Simple Steps

I am keeping up with the American Heart campaign by getting involved in public awareness.  Today I wrote an article for Examiner.com.  This article includes the Seven Simple Step awareness from the AMA and provides a bit of a focus on physical activity.  Check it out “Help Your Heart – Get Active“.