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November 30, 2008

Eating Locally for Thanksgiving

the Thanksgiving Local and Organic Food Challenge. The Thanksgiving Challenge aims to inspire Americans to learn more about local, sustainable or organic food by using Eat Well Guide's comprehensive online tool for finding local ingredients for at least one dish they will prepare as part of their holiday meal.

"At a time of numerous food safety issues, produce and meat recalls, and rising food prices, consumers want to know where their food is coming from, how it's being produced, and what carbon footprint, or 'foodprint,' it might have," said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union. "There are many great reasons to buy local: Fresh, local fruits and vegetables may retain more nutrients than produce shipped hundreds of miles. Local food can help cut back on climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions. If they are grown organically, they will help protect air, water and soil quality."

"For Americans, Thanksgiving is the year's peak travel weekend, but there's no reason the food for our feasts has to travel thousands of miles as well," said Eat Well Guide Director Destin Joy Layne. "With the holidays around the corner, and fuel-inflated food costs soaring, this is the perfect time to use our interactive Eat Well Guide to find locally produced turkey, fruit, vegetables, baked goods, dairy, meat and more, wherever you live."

"When it comes to food, local is best," says Mario Batali, chef/owner of many restaurants in New York City, including Babbo, Lupa, Esca, Casa Mono, Bar Jamn, Otto and Del Posto. "As a chef and as a dad, there's a responsibility that comes with the food I cook and the food we eat. Being thoughtful of where our food comes from, who makes it and how it's made is paramount in all my kitchens.

"The local food movement is about sustainability, broadly defined," Eat Well Guide's Destin Layne said. "This not only means consuming wholesome food that sustains our bodies and spirits, but supporting agricultural practices and distribution networks that sustain family farms and local economies-something that's especially important in these economically uncertain times. Consuming local food also helps to preserve the soil, air and clean water that support life on Earth-something we can all be thankful for!"

Source: http://www.enn.com/lifestyle/article/38685

November 22, 2008

Obesity Consortium Presentations

Obesity Consortium of Minnesota
Upcoming Presentations:

Thursday, Dec. 4, 20089:00-11:00 AM Center, Cowles Audtrm.
Obesity Prevention Efforts in the Netherlands: Mass Media Education, Worksite and School-Based Interventions. Johannes Brug, PhD, Director, EMGO Institute for Trans & Extramural Health & Medical Research and Professor of Epidemiology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Sr. Academic Associate, Faculty of Health, Medicine, Nursing & Behavioral Sciences, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

Friday, Dec. 5, 2008 10:00-11:00 AM 364 WBOB
Web-Based Computer-Tailored Nutrition Education: Efficacious but Not Effective. Johannes Brug, PhD, Professor, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Sr. Academic Associate, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

Physical Inactivity and Lack of Sleep Linked to Cancer

Putting on your walking shoes and sleeping a full eight hours a night can help reduce a woman's risk of getting cancer, according to a recent study.

A study by the National Cancer Institute found that exercising can reduce a woman's risk of cancer by as much as 20 percent.

"This is one of the first studies that has shown that in women who do not have a history of breast cancer, they can actually reduce their risk by exercising," said Dr. Susan Boolbol, with Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

However, researchers found that exercise can't help if a woman does not get a good nights' sleep.

Sleeping less than seven hours a night eliminates the cancer-fighting benefits of exercise. In some cases, lack of sleep increased the risk by 50 percent

Researchers say they need to do more work to determine the exact connections between exercise, rest and cancer. But in the meantime, what's known should help women reduce their risk of cancer.

I think this is a rather complicated finding- which points to the need for further research to elucidate the relationship between exercise and sleep for reducing cancer risk. It goes to show how being healthy is difficult and it takes not only a lot of work, but also just the right amount of rest.

Source: http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/healthteam/story/4004264/

There is also a video of this research that can be seen at http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/healthteam/video/4007802/

November 19, 2008

Weight Loss Surgery Helps Obese Women Have Healthier Babies

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An article appeared in the New York Time on how weight loss surgery can help obese women have healthier babies online on November 19, 2008.

This review looked at 75 studies and found that pregnant women who lose weight after bariatric surgery may have lower rates of complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia and do almost as well as non-obese women. Their babies are also healthier and may be less likely to be born prematurely or to be very small, the authors found.

“Intuitively, it makes sense to me that the maternal outcomes are better after bariatric surgery — they lose weight and approach the outcomes of normal women,? said Dr. Melinda A. Maggard, a general surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an author of the study. “To me that wasn’t a surprise.?

About one-third of American women are obese, and doctors usually encourage them to lose weight before becoming pregnant. Obese women are at greater risk for developing pregnancy-related health problems; their babies are more likely to be born prematurely, stillborn, to be very large or to have a neural tube defect.

Dr. Laura Riley, medical director of labor and delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said it’s important for patients to know about these risks. “I often see women who come in who are morbidly obese, and they say they’ll try to lose 10 or 15 pounds. That’s nice, but the majority don’t lose the weight and just come back pregnant,? she said. “With this kind of data, it’s easier to say, ‘You are better off having bariatric surgery and losing 100 pounds and then getting pregnant.’?

The most serious complications during pregnancy following weight loss surgery were bowel obstructions, mostly internal hernias, which were rare but serious. The researchers identified 20 reports of complications requiring surgery, including instances in which three mothers and five neonates died. These complications can occur to anyone who has undergone bariatric surgery, Dr. Maggard noted.

While it makes sense to have women become healthier before giving birth to a child, I would be concerned about the nutritional effects of weight-loss surgery. Most of all I would be worried the child wouldn't be getting an adequte amount of vitamins and minerals on a restricted portion/calorie eating regimen. All in all though- while I think research like this is important- I think it is something previous literature has already told us.

Source:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/health/research/20bariatric.html?_r=1&ref=health

November 18, 2008

Minnesota Obesity Center

The Minnesota Obesity Center is an Obesity Nutrition Research Center funded by the National Institute of Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

MNOC has a strong and diverse research base consisting of 68 active investigators with 114 funded projects in obesity, energy metabolism and eating disorders, generating over $32 million per year in grant support for their investigations.

The Center incorporates 60 principle investigators who are studying the causes and treatments of obesity. These investigators are from the University of Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Medical Center, Hennepin County Medical Center, and HealthPartners Research Foundation.

MNOC awards small research grants through its Pilot and Feasibility Program, with additional support provided through the Core Facilities. The Education Enrichment Program for MNOC provides the general public with a source of information on the happenings of the Center and on the current developments in the field of obesity. This program includes a biomonthly seminar series.

The Minnesota Obesity Center is a proud member of the Obesity Consortium of Minnesota. The Consortium was formed to further facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration and foster cooperation in obesity research, education, and outreach efforts. Co-chairs of the Consortium are Robert W. Jeffery, PhD and Allen Levine, PhD.

The mission of the Minnesota Obesity Center is to find ways to prevent weight gain and secondarily the onset of obesity and complications of obesity.

Obesity is clearly a major source of illness and death, and is the most common nutritional ailment in the United States. Despite its prevalence, there is little known about effective measures to prevent obesity, and therefore its attendant complications. Further, it is well known that obese individuals can more easily lose weight than maintain the loss. It now seems clear that the emphasis should be prevention of initial weight gain, and failing that, prevention of regain after weight loss.

With the mission of prevention defined, our vision establishes three goals:
1. Find the underlying problems that lead to obesity;
2. Identify behaviors that lead to obesity and find ways to help change those behaviors;
3. Determine public health and public policy measures that will reduce the frequency and severity of obesity.

Source:http://www1.umn.edu/mnoc/index.html

November 17, 2008

Fast Food Ingredient

Research looking at what fast food is made of- found that corn was the main ingredient.

In a study that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences November 2008 Issue, the researches sampled foods from McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s.

They sampled hamburgers, fries and chicken sandwiches within the different geographically distributed fast food restaurants in the U.S.

Using carbon isotopes that researchers were able to trace what the animals consumed based on the conspicuous carbon-13 signature of corn.

The statistically significant results showed conclusively that the beef and chicken meat used to make the sandwiches was from animals whose food source was mainly corn. The animals are feed the corn to maximize their calorie intake and also to maximize their tissue growth in attempt to keep up with the ever increasing demands of the fast food industry.

The results for the French fries also showed that Wendy’s used corn oil for deep-frying while burger king and McDonalds which favored other vegetable oils.

In the US it is not required for food suppliers to trace their sources for ingredients or materials used in their food production.

I think people should have a right to know what their food is being made of - especially when it comes to fast food or restaurant food- which we have a no control over. Some places are now offering some nutritional information - but sometimes it is very hard to get. I think it will take a long time for these regulations to get into place -- but some cities such as New York are attempting to make it manadatory for large restaurant chains to have their nutritional information on the menus. This would be a huge step forward. A great documentary to check out if you are interested in food policy and the agriculture system I would recommend "King Corn.' Its worth the rental.

November 13, 2008

Physical Activity Among Seniors

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Health for Life -- Senior Physical Activity-Falls
Marita Campbell, Public Health Nurse

Q: I am 68 years old and recently retired. My family says that I spend too much time watching television and not enough time being active. I could get more exercise but shouldn’t someone my age take it easy to avoid falling and maybe breaking my hip?

A: First let me congratulate you on your retirement. It is a major transition in life when you no longer have to meet the demands that work puts on your time. It is an opportunity to relax and take it easy, but also an opportunity to make changes in your physical activity level that can actually improve your health.

It is important that you don’t look at retirement as a time to slow down. Try to keep the level of strength and agility you have. Engaging in regular, moderate physical activity will make you feel better, perhaps sleep better, improve the health of your heart and also lessen your risk for falls. A fear of falling often causes people to stay indoors and avoid physical activity. If you were to do this, the inactivity could lead to loss of flexibility and bone and muscle strength that actually puts you at a greater risk for falls and injuries.

Since you have not been active recently, you should talk to your doctor or health-care provider before making big changes. Start with activities you can easily add to your daily routine that will build your endurance, flexibility, strength and balance. Here are a few examples to get you started:

Endurance:

Take a 10-minute walk each day, gradually increasing the pace and distance. In cold weather, meet your friends at Intercity Shopping Centre and take part in the Shake, Chatter and Stroll Program.

Flexibility:

Gardening, yard work, golf, bowling, T’ai Chi or anything that gets you bending stretching or reaching will help you meet your flexibility needs.

Strength & Balance:

Climbing the stairs, carrying laundry or groceries or even standing up and sitting down several times in a row will put you on your way to building your strength and balance.

Even if you have not been very active, you will see that once you make a commitment to regular activity, you’ll have more energy and find yourself spending less time in front of the television. Start with small steps but try something, anything you enjoy doing. Even a little bit of exercise every day will make a big difference.

Despite the well-established benefits of physical activity for older adults, seniors ages 75 and above are among the most sedentary of Americans. Staying active even though ones retirement may be difficult, but it is just as important. Especially now with the baby boomer generation going into retirement.

Source: http://www.tbsource.com/tblife/index.asp?cid=113233


November 9, 2008

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Nutrition and Exercise Smarts Increasing

A nationwide survey of nearly 800 mean and women conducted by the American Dietetic Association revealed that americans are getting smarter about nutrition and exercise.

When asked about maintaining a healthful diet and engaging in regular exercise, 43% said, "I'm already doing it." In 2002, that number was 38%. And just 19% of men and women put themselves in the "don't bother me" category -- not believing that diet and exercise are important. That's down from 32% in 2002.

In 2008, 40% said they were actively seeking more information on nutrition, up from 19% in 2000.

People also are making different choices. In the last five years, 56% of people surveyed increased their consumption of whole-grain foods; 50%, vegetables; 48%, fruits; and 42%, chicken. And 41% decreased their intake of beef; 23%, dairy; and 33%, pork.

This article, although not containing as much information as I would have liked about the survey results, it gives a glimpse of what american know about nutrition and exercise and what they are doing about it. However, I looked up the results from ADA which has a lot more information. The report and a summary can be accessed at the following web-site: http://www.eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/media_18828_ENU_HTML.htm

Source: http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-capsule10-2008nov10,0,7618381.story

November 6, 2008

Food Storage

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Today I read a unique article about a women who stores food in her basement to live healthier and curb rising food costs. She brings in potatoes, onions, squash, and canned items for storage through the winter. She states many of the items will last til the spring. She has been doing this so she can eat locally grown food year round.

The basement is not your average- as it is has a dirt floor and is kept at 55 degrees- It is called a 'root cellar'. Apparently many homes used to have these to preserve food, but now our basements have televisions and pool tables.

The article appeared in the New York Times on November 5, 2008. Here are some great quotes from the article.

"While horticulture may be a science, home food storage definitely can carry the stench of an imperfect art."

"Anna Barnes, who runs a small media company and coordinates the Prairieland Community Supported Agriculture in Champaign, Ill., says squash hung in a pair of knotted pantyhose stay unspoiled longer than others. Here, the cold is optional, too. It’s the bruising that comes from a squash sitting on a hard countertop, she said, that speeds senescence. (“You wouldn’t want to do it in the guest closet,? Ms. Barnes said. Or, presumably, wear the pantyhose again.)"

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/06/garden/06root.html?_r=1&ref=fitnessandnutrition&oref=slogin

November 3, 2008

Workplace Interventions

Workplace environmental interventions designed to reduce employee obesity led to modest health improvements, including weight management, decreased tobacco use and lower blood pressure, say Emory University researchers.

Ron Goetzel, research professor of health policy and management, and his colleagues looked at nine Dow Chemical Co. work sites that instituted environmental changes aimed at preventing obesity. Employees were provided greater access to healthy foods, physical activity through walking trails and a pedometer program, health education materials, leadership training, physical activity and weight-management programs, health assessments and individual consultations, and online behavioral change programs.

The study also included three control work sites where employees received only individually focused health interventions through Dow's core health promotion program.

After one year, the workers participating in the environmental weight-management interventions significantly reduced their blood pressure risk and maintained a steady weight when compared to workers at the control sites.

The findings were presented Wednesday at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting, in San Diego.

"These are early findings from a longer and large multi-site study that examine the effects of introducing relatively low-cost environmental and ecological interventions at the workplace aimed at curbing the growth of overweight and obesity among workers," Goetzel said in an Emory news release.

"We continue to study the effects of environmental interventions aimed at preventing obesity in the workplace, and we are now beginning to analyze results from the second year. We expect to present updated findings at future scientific meetings."

Recently, I have become very interested in worksite health promotion interventions. I think it is a great way to target people in their everyday setting. People are at work for 8+ hours a day - which I think offers a great opportunity for employers to intervene and promote healthy behaviors. Not only will it reduce their insurance costs, but it will make the workers more productive. Last spring I did a semester long project on a pedometer-based worksite health promotion program and it is a very cost-effective way to increase walking at work. I am glad to see program especially aimed at obesity.