After all, if they make tights in a larger size, why not show us what that size looks like on?
In a case that is probably (and unfortunately) not a surprise; a Texas three-year-old girl has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The little girl weighs 35kg (5 stone), and is the youngest case of the disease ever recorded. Her parents, who reside in Houston, are also obese. According to Dr Michael Yafi of the Department of Paediatric Endocrinology at the University of Texas, this was a result of “poor family nutritional habits with uncontrolled [consumption] of calories and fat”. There is no family history of diabetes.
Fortunately, the child has been successfully treated; over the last 6 months she has been given the drug Metformin to control her blood sugar levels and a low calorie diet. This has resulted in enough weight loss to return her blood sugar levels to normal, and the diabetes has been reversed/cured temporarily. However, it may return if her nutritional habits descend to their former (non)glory.
This case reveals an explosion of diabetes in children and teenagers. Dr Yafi stated, “The incidence of type 2 diabetes has increased dramatically worldwide in children due to the epidemic of child obesity. Clinicians should be aware of the possibility of type 2 diabetes even in very young obese children. This highlights how important it is that children get a healthy start to life.”
Children in Texas fare worse than most; 32.2 percent of Texas children are overweight or obese, which is above the national average in the USA. Similar figures have emerged in the UK. The youngest known case of type 2 diabetes in Britain is a seven-year-old, and approximately 1,300 young people under 18 have been diagnosed with the illness.
Considering the (usually) quick metabolism of children and teenagers, it is a wonder that previously healthy children are able to gain the excess of weight required to trigger type 2 diabetes. The amount of food consumed would have to be astronomical, and the resulting lifestyle so sedentary that there is little hope of turning it around. So how does it get to this point? How do parents look at their severely overweight children and fail to recognise a problem?
Perhaps the first logical answer is lack of education about food and nutrition. The 2004 documentary Supersize Me, in which Morgan Spurlock self-tests the effects of eating nothing but McDonald’s for a month, brings this to the forefront. Spurlock takes to the streets and asks a selection of people whether they know what a calorie is. A disconcertingly large amount of people say they do not. Some give semi-ludicrous examples of what they think a calorie may be, each more inaccurate than the last.
It is very rare to meet a person who knows the specifics of the effect sugar/high GI foods have on insulin levels. Too few people are aware of the recommended daily calorie intake of females vs. males. And the magnitude of food in people’s shopping trolleys (cereals, raisin-bread, yoghurt, etc.) masquerading as healthy is frightening.
The second answer is economics. Healthy, unprocessed, organic food is expensive. The price of peanut butter loaded with salt, sugar and preservatives is often less than half the cost of its just-peanuts healthier counterpart. It is infinitely cheaper and less time consuming to buy the family dinner basket from KFC than shop for, cook, and serve a real family dinner at home.
It seems the obvious solutions are to ditch the idea that pointing out unhealthy weight is “body shaming”. It’s not. Children/their parents should be formally educated on the nature of nutrition. Making healthy food cheaper and more accessible wouldn’t hurt either; but hey, finding an economic way to do that while ensuring distributors don’t go broke is a tricky one. However, if we want to truly combat childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes, we must find a way to facilitate any remedy we can.
Image via Hsj.co.uk
The television show that helps people change their lives and better themselves is back. That’s a pretty vague description, I know – it could be used for virtually any reality show out there. Would it narrow it down if I said it’s the one that pushes contestants to their absolute limits to help them lose weight? Now you know what I’m talking about; The Biggest Loser is back on Australian televisions with families competing to lose the most weight and gain that big cash prize.
I’ve always been skeptical about The Biggest Loser. It dramatically changes lives through gruelling exercise and an intense diet to lose the weight that has been impacting on their health and quality of life, but is it really done in the right way?
Yes, it’s amazing to see the transformations and to see what these people can become, but it doesn’t exactly promote sustained weight loss with contestants shedding large amounts of weight per week – much more than the recommended 0.5-1kg for healthy weight loss.
The Biggest Loser in America was slammed by former contestants recently, saying that the way they were treated was dreadful and that the show caused them health problems. Long, intense workouts, baby food diets and constant fat-shaming from trainers caused their mental health levels to drop.
Former contestants also allege that many others that have been on the show have gained back the weight they lost during the season. While this is not a surprise, it backs up the point that the show’s way of weight loss is unsustainable, and is merely for entertainment and shock value.
So, what do we really need to think about when we watch The Biggest Loser this season? We need to evaluate whether it’s worth watching overweight contestants sweat out all of their fluids for days on end to gain a money prize. We need to evaluate what their health is worth. And we need to evaluate what our health is worth and how we see ourselves.
If there’s anything that we can get out of The Biggest Loser, it should be that we need to take action now. If the kilograms are starting to creep on, it’s best to sustainably get yourself back to a better quality of life, with a healthy diet and safe exercise. We have health professionals who are willing to help and the best cure is actually prevention.
Image via illawarramercury.com.au
Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions with 2 billion people worldwide now reported to be overweight. With fast food at our fingertips and sweets every which way we look, it’s easy to see why temptation overrules our voice of reason.
The good thing is, however, we’re not crazy in our inability to stop craving these foods, because according to researchers from Purdue University, Indiana, fat has a “taste sensation” that keeps us wanting more. What’s more, scientists believe that the discovery of this could lead to tackling the epidemic once and for all.
“Our experiments provide a missing element in the evidence that fat has a taste sensation, and that it is different from other tastes,” Professor Richard Mattes, director of Purdue’s Ingestive Behaviour Research Centre, told The Independent.
“Identifying the taste of fat has a range of important health implications. At high concentrations, the signal it generates would dissuade the eating of rancid foods,” he explains.
“But at low levels, it may enhance the appeal of some foods by adding to the overall sensory profile, in the same way that bitterness alone is unpleasant but at appropriate levels adds to the appeal of wine and chocolate.”
Researchers believe that as a result of identifying fat as its own flavour – just like sweet, sour and salty – it will help to create fat replacements, which Mattes pointed out has been unsuccessful up until now because scientists have failed to nail the taste of it.
The research, published in the journal, Chemical Senses, comes off the back of a study conducted by Deakin University that found taste was one of the primary reasons some of us overate. Because fat is a vital contributor to feeling full, they discovered that people who couldn’t taste it in their food were less likely to recognise that they were full compared to those who could.
“These results suggest that the ability to taste fat is linked with the fullness experienced from fat,” professor Russell Keast, a researcher in sensory science, told the Daily Mail.
“If you do not taste fat or experience the fullness associated with eating fatty food, you are likely to be more hungry and consume more energy after an earlier fatty meal. And as we know, over-consumption of foods – particularly fatty foods – is associated with people being overweight or obese.”
Should we be pleased or concerned with this research, however? If there is in fact a link between the taste of fat and overeating, will this then lead to even more genetically modified products on our supermarket shelves?
What do you think?
Upon reflection of International Hamburger Day the other week and National Donut Day in the USA, I took it upon myself to have a mindless Google about the different days of food that the world has. Yes, maybe I was procrastinating from doing more important things like going to the gym or cooking dinner, but I found some very interesting things.
At first I was so excited – all these interesting food days, which are like unofficial diet holidays wherein you can eat that particular food! Muffin Day in Brazil, German Beer Day in Germany and Milk Caramel Day in Japan; who comes up with this genius-ness?
Certain countries seemed to have about 4 or 5 days of the year that were dedicated to celebrating a particular food or drink. And then along came America with around half of the days in the year made for food celebrations. When I started to scroll, everything seemed normal at first – you know, all the average things like Eat Ice Cream For Breakfast Day and I Want Butterscotch Day. Shall we note that there is nothing on Valentine’s Day – which is ridiculous because out of all days that should be devoted to chocolate. However, when it comes to eating healthy, there are only 7 days out of the whole food calendar year that are dedicated to fruits, vegetables or eating better.
That means only 7 individual days of the whole 365 day year is devoted to healthy eating – and one of those days is National Potato Day, so that one’s more likely to be unhealthy than not. As a reflection on the growing rate of obesity, I feel that part of the issue is the constant celebration of bad foods. In December alone we have days dedicated to ice cream, cupcakes, maple syrup, pumpkin pie and hamburgers across a span of 8 days. There is even a Carbonated Beverages With Caffeine Day in November – seriously. Most of the days of the food calendar year revolve around fast, fatty and sugary foods.
It’s at this point that we start to realise that this is a problem. Without sounding like another Supersize Me experiment, what would happen if someone ate according to the food day calendar? While there isn’t a national food day every single day, it’s still worrying to think how people eat.
American obesity is at an all time high at the moment and it causes so many health problems that are, in most cases, preventable. Hawaii has been named the least obese state in America, while on the other end of the spectrum Mississippi was the most obese, with over thirty-five per cent of its population being deemed severely overweight. That means, in Mississippi, an approximate one in every three people is obese. Even in Hawaii, which has the lowest percentage at nineteen per cent, an approximate one in every five people is classified as obese.
There needs to be a lot more focus for parents, individuals and children on healthy eating and a healthier lifestyle. Being obese can affect the quality of life due to the sickness’ and diseases that arise as a result, so the fact that obesity rates are at an all time high should be reason enough to have more education and to encourage everyone to keep their diet and lifestyle healthy.
Image via mynintendonews.com
Australians have already spent over $280 million on weightloss products this year, with 75 per cent of individuals admitting it is in the hope of becoming ‘skinny’. But when it comes to being skinny, just how healthy is it?
One in four skinny people have pre-diabetes and are metabolically obese (according to the Journal of the American Medical Association) making ‘skinny fat’ one of the fastest growing medical conditions. Also termed Metabolically Obese Normal Weight (MONW) it is used to describe a person who is in an ideal weight range but has more body fat than is healthy.
According to Sheila Zhou, expert scientist at USANA high-quality supplements, “Most people don’t realise that there can be health complications to being thin. Being ‘skinny fat’ puts your body under a huge amount of pressure, including added fat around your organs, high cholesterol, and poor blood circulation. However, there are simple ways to get your health back on track.”
Ms. Zhou shares her expert tips for taking the fat out of ‘skinny fat’:
1. Put down the bubbles. It doesn’t sound like much, but saying goodbye to your favourite soft drink can help rid your body of dangerous toxins. The artificial sweeteners in soft drinks mess with your body’s chemicals and their processes, therefore altering your metabolism. Even diet soft drink is just as bad for your health as fried food, so there is no escape!
2. Pump more iron. As ‘Skinny Fat’ is essentially too much fat and not enough muscle, weight training is an effective and simple solution. Strength training causes your body to keep the lean muscle, instead of using it as fuel. Weights also activate core muscles, which help organ function. So, put your runners away and start on those reps.
3. Refuel your oil tank. Sound fishy? It’s not! Even though most of us think oily foods are unhealthy, it is actually the opposite. Omega-3 fat rich foods such as salmon and sardines are delicious ways to reduce blood pressure and stabilize cholesterol.
4. Put the kettle on. Stress is one of the main causes of ‘Skinny Fat’, but never fear, rather than quitting your job, the solution is as simple as drinking more tea! Research shows tea heightens emotions of relaxation, and lowers our levels of cortisol after a stressful task. So swap the coffee for tea and you are already one step closer to being a picture of health!
5. Sleep away the cravings. Everyone loves sleep, but how many of us actually get the required 7 to 8 hours a night? If you ever needed an excuse, this is it. It’s been scientifically proven that sleep deprivation alters your metabolism and increases cravings for carbs and sugar. So there’s no need to ever feel guilt about wanting an early night; you’re actually loosing fat from it.
USANA’s HepaPlus contains choline, a substance which helps to emulsify (break down) fats. This helps them to be removed from the liver. Food sources of choline include eggs, beef, salmon, wheat germ and broccoli. All of these ingredients not only help cleanse and remove fat in liver but they also help to regenerate cells.
We all know that excess sugar is bad for us, but is it really necessary to give up completely and is quitting sugar actually good for us?
The first thing to note is that sugar is a carbohydrate made up of glucose and fructose, the worst part being fructose. Glucose is an important part of our diet however fructose is not and each is metabolised very differently. While every cell in our bodies can use glucose, fructose is not essential for our bodies in any way and our liver will turn it into fat if we consume too much of it.
Products that contain added sugar (and fructose) normally contain very few nutrients and are classed as empty calories. Fizzy drinks, fruit juice, lollies, chocolate bars and pastries all belong in this category and should be avoided.
Contrary to belief, naturally occurring fructose in fruit is not bad for you and in fact fruit provides your body with vital fibre needed to keep your digestive system running smoothly and has been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. A couple of servings of fruit each day isn’t going to do you any harm but if you’re particularly worried about fructose in fruit then stick to fruits that contain less of it, such as kiwifruit, berries and grapefruit. Other natural sources of sugar that are ok to eat are honey and sweet root vegetables.
Some of the side effects of consuming too much fructose in the form of added sugar are:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Fatty liver disease
- Type II diabetes
- Heart disease
- Addiction to sugar
So is quitting unnecessary added sugar (and fructose) good for you? Yes, absolutely it is. Fructose has been around in our diets for a long time however it only becomes problematic when it is consumed in excess. As a general rule 50g of fructose per day should be the maximum amount you consume. Don’t be too stressed if you consume more than this from natural sources occasionally but when added sugar becomes a regular in your diet you should take a step back and take a look at some of the side effects listed above.
Image via womenshealthmag.com
You know how it goes…you’ve had a stressful day and you reach for the Tim-Tams. And before you know it, the packet is finished, and you’re licking crumbs off the couch. And hating yourself in the morning.
Microsoft Research has invented a bra that aims to detect emotional overeating, and curb cravings. The battery-powered bra is equipped with sensor pads that monitors the wearer’s moods and stream information to a smartphone app.
The sensors capture heart rate, respiration, skin conductance and movement. By both recording moods on a smartphone app and collecting data from the bra-sensors, the scientists could predict changes in physiology that accompany eating and stress, including whether the subjects are happy or angry. The bra also sends a tweet when the bra is removed.
While most stress-eaters are women, more than half the U.S. population has admitted to stress-eating, which then leads to a cycle of putting on weight, getting stressed and eating more, causing obesity.
In fact one of the researchers tried to invent the same type of stress-detecting device for men’s underwear, but it wouldn’t work because it was too far away from the heart.
Would you wear a bra that monitors emotional overeating?
Childhood obesity is a worldwide epidemic with disastrous implications. Being obese greatly increases your chances of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, joint problems and even some cancers. Most ominous is the fact that obese children have a very high likelihood of growing up to be obese adults.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2007-2008, one quarter of children in Australia are considered to be overweight or obese. That’s an increase of four percentage points since 1995, or 600,000 children between the ages of 5 and 17. What can you do to prevent your children from becoming part of those statistics?
The two most important factors in raising healthy kids are exercise and nutrition. Children start developing lifelong habits while very young, and you want the ones they develop to be healthy ones. Here are a few tips for feeding your kids the right foods.
See that your children get an adequate supply of protein for growth of their bones and muscles. Good sources of protein are lean meat and poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, peas and nuts. Avoid processed meats, fatty cuts and fast food.
While some people think that you need large amounts of meat to get sufficient protein in your diet, there are alternate sources that offer less fat, hormones and preservatives. Consider having a meat-free meal once a week, using ingredients like legumes and nuts for protein.
Fruits and vegetables
Make sure your kids eat a variety of these every day. Introduce new ones regularly so they develop a taste for more than just a few fruits and veggies. Serve dark green leafy vegetables as often as possible.
Prepare vegetables as simply as possible, without too many additional fats and calories. Use your imagination when looking for new ways to up your kids’ intake of vegies. How about keeping cherry tomatoes and carrot sticks cold in the fridge for healthy, fast snacks?
Pass up the over-processed grain products like white bread or sweetened cereal and instead serve whole-grain choices like oatmeal, brown rice, popcorn and whole grain bread.
Porridge doesn’t have to be boring—add honey or fruit for natural sweetening. Plus, oatmeal cookies are a snack that’s packed with nutrition and fiber!
While dairy products are a good source of important nutrients, they can also be high in fat. Encourage your kids to drink low-fat milk and eat low-fat cheeses in moderation.
Dairy foods high in calories like ice cream and fatty cheeses should be saved for special occasions. As long as they’re eating healthy kids food every day, a treat now and then won’t hurt.
Avoid empty calories
Here are a few foods you should allow only in very limited amounts, because they’re high in fats, salt and sugar: soft drinks, cake, pizza, butter, fried foods, lollies and processed meats. None of these qualify as nutritious kids food.
Soft drinks are considered to be the number-one culprit in the epidemic of childhood obesity, since they’re full of high fructose corn syrup and have little or no nutritional value. Try to keep your kids away from soft drinks as long as you can—you’ll be doing them a favour in the long run.
How do you get your kids to eat healthy? Share your tips below!