Obesity 2x higher than in 1981

Obesity rates for both men and women are about twice as high today as they were in 1981. In Canada, approximately 25 percent of adults are obese. Along with its growing prevalence, obesity is also becoming more severe, and the research shows that overall fitness levels are decreasing as the incidence of obesity rises. If we include statistics on overweight along with statistics on obesity we find that 67 percent of Canadian men and 54 percent of Canadian women aged 18 to 79 are overweight or obese, according to results from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (2009-2011).

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at obesity among American adults and found that obesity rates increased by approximately 50 percent through the 1980s and 1990s after having been relatively stable in the 1960s and 1970s. That was likely the start of it all. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (April 4, 2016) found that age-adjusted death rates in 2015 increased significantly from the year before; causes of death related to obesity were a major factor in the increase.

Life Expectancy Decreases

The same article points out that life expectancy in the U.S. increased consistently between 1961 and 1983, but between 1983 and 1999 life expectancy decreased for men and for women in U.S. counties where obesity was prevalent. The article states that “in addition to the health-related effects, the economic effects of obesity-related disease are substantial and predicted to worsen.” So, yes; I think we can conclude that there really is an obesity epidemic. And not just in the U.S.

But what exactly do we mean by obesity? Obesity refers to excessive weight for your height and body frame, based on Body Mass Index (BMI) guidelines. (You can use the BMI chart in the Appendix to calculate your own BMI.) This is a useful tool, but it has its drawbacks. For instance, it is based on the ratio of a person’s weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters squared, but it does not take into account how much of their weight comes from fat and how much from muscle. Because muscle weighs more than fat, people who are muscular may have a higher BMI and still be in excellent health.

If we don’t know the fat/muscle breakdown, another—and perhaps even more useful—way to measure obesity is to look at waist circumference. For women, a healthy waist circumference should be no more than 90 centimeters (35 inches). Healthy waist size varies, of course, based on a number of factors, including a woman’s height and bone structure, and even ethnicity: as a rule, for Asian women it should be no more than 80 centimeters (31.5 inches).

Waist circumference is a helpful health indicator because it correlates more closely with a number of health risks than either weight or BMI alone. And it turns out that the old apple or pear comparison is accurate. If we look at two women who are the same height and who are equally overweight, and one carries most of the excess weight in her hip area while the other carries it mostly in her protruding belly, we find that the second woman is more at risk than the first not only for heart disease but also for diabetes and other metabolic conditions.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

Common Sense Solutions & Dieting

 

One thing I’d like every woman to understand is the true meaning of diet. I cannot emphasize enough how much potential harm comes from our society’s insistence that diet simply means restricting caloric intake to lose weight.

The current trend in maintaining a healthy weight is the non-diet approach for health, and although I say trend, it is more than just trendy.  It is not like the dozens of fad diets that have had brief popular appeal over the past fifty years that promise quick weight loss and often don’t deliver.

In my book—A Woman’s Guide to Healthy Aging- I look at some of the problems associated with our modern diet and consider some common-sense solutions that can help reduce your health risk for the long haul, I call this the non-diet diet.

The non-diet approach is a more balanced, realistic way to lose weight and maintain good health with nourishing foods, daily physical activity, positive thinking and smart life-style choices. This includes:

  • Making fibre your friend. Fibre keeps our digestive system running smoothly and also keeps us feeling full and satisfied longer.
  • Get cooking! Make healthier versions of your favorite take out—save time by buying pre-cut washed veggies.
  • Eat your fruit and veggies and your leafy greens
  • Boost vitamin B intake: Folate B12 and B6
  • Boost vitamin E intake
  • Add polyphenol-rich foods-brain foods that are powerful anti-oxidants: blackberries cherries plums, walnut halves
  • Reduce your fat intake
  • Increase your Omega 3-fatty acids
  • What your cholesterol
  • Get your daily calcium

Any way we look at it, regardless of our personal inclinations—whether we’re trim or we tip the scale, whether we live to run or we balk at running, whether we sleep like babies or get nothing better than a series of catnaps through the night—nutrition, exercise, and sleep are among the major factors that affect our health.

One very important thing to realize about these factors is that they are within our control.

Sure, other factors beyond our control also affect our health, including family history and genetic inheritance, sex, and age. We cannot modify those, but we can modify how we eat, how active we are, and how well we sleep. And for many of us, some modification is necessary if we want to live a long and healthy life.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

Skin Cancer–Summertime and the Living is Easy. But Not for Skin Cancer

 

Don’t be fooled looking at celebrity photos of stars walking the beach in Malibu all bronzed and healthy. It gives the wrong impression that looking good means getting a good tan in the summer.

The truth.  Sun and skin cancer go hand in hand triggered by exposure to ultraviolet rays and artificial tanning beds. One in six Canadians born in Canada in the 1990’s will get skin cancer—the number one killer of women aged 25-30. Skin Cancer is the second most in common cancer in young adults aged 15-34 * (Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation)

As you head off to vacation or spend your days outside this summer the most important thing to remember is to use sun block. And lots of it. The most common mistake is not using enough.  Does it surprise you to learn that a family of four will use one bottle of sun block in just one day!

The Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that when you first apply sunscreen, it should form a film on your skin. The white streaks won’t last long; sunscreen absorbs quickly.

To protect your lips, use a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating, and according to the directions on the bottle.

Attention: parents of newborns.
Do not use sunscreen on babies under six months old. They are too small to absorb the chemicals and will be harmful.  The best way to protect your infant is to keep them out of the sun.

Although skin cancer is preventable and most often treatable, it remains the most common form of cancer.  So please protect yourself, your family and friends by passing this information on and practicing safe sun.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Considerable efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discuss

Spring Cleaning – it’s Time to De-clutter Your Life!

shutterstock_335890811 (1)Spring cleaning is a time-honoured tradition of doing a deep clean of one’s home or a room.

In modern times, it’s also used as a metaphor for a time to reflect on our lives and look for ways to simplify or invigorate our lives. I look at it as a time to review expectations of yourself and others around you over the past year and whether you have been conscientious about saying NO and YES to yourself!

What that means is learning to make time for yourself. Setting time aside for exercise or reading a book or just relaxing, rather than meeting the expectations of others.

I know, it’s not easy with so many demands on our time these days between family, work and other obligations. It’s easy to put yourself and your needs last on the list. But here’s a strategy to consider, a way to prioritize the demands. Learn to say no. That’s right, say no.

No, I cannot take on more work, no I cannot accept that task, no we as a family cannot do more.

Here are three easy steps to learn:

  1. Open your month
  2. Say NO, thank you. It doesn’t work for me. Sorry, No
  3. Close your mouth. DON’T say “I’ll try” or “Maybe”. It is a clear, though polite, NO

And when you say No to something, you are, in reality,  also saying yes.
Yes to your health, Yes to your family, Yes to your life, Yes to a different priority.
Enjoy the YES and you have empowered yourself by saying NO.

So yes, spring cleaning and to de-cluttering and learning to say NO and appreciating the YES

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

Exercises that Help To Maintain or Build Strong Bones

shutterstock_451265800Osteoporosis can strike at any age and affects both men and women.

Osteoporosis is often known as “the silent thief” because bone loss occurs without symptoms.  It is sometimes confused with osteoarthritis because the names are similar. Osteoporosis is a bone disorder, with a loss of the normal strength and quality of the bone, as well as a decrease in bone mass. Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints and surrounding tissue, often described as wear and tear of a previously normal, smooth joint.  *

Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone.  The bones become weak and brittle making them more fragile and at risk of a fracture. (broken bones) Even a minor fall can have a significant impact –leading to a broken hip, spine, wrist or shoulder (the most common areas at risk)

Exercise is part of a healthy bone strategy

Weight bearing

We all know and understand how important exercise is for heart health. But it can’t be emphasized enough how important regular weight-bearing exercise is for bone health, too.  Weight bearing exercise is when you use your body weight in activities such as walking, running and weight lifting. The result is that weight bearing exercises help to develop more bone mass.   Brisk walking, dancing, tennis, and yoga have all been shown to help your bones become denser.  It will also improve your balance and strength, which could help to prevent falls.   But what about biking?   It’s good for your heart and lungs but is not considered weight-bearing, when you are seated.

Look at it this way.

It is recommended that you walk between three to five miles a week to help build or maintain healthy bones.  If we assume it takes between fifteen or twenty minutes to walk a mile, then spending between seventy-five to one hundred minutes a week (out of ten thousand and eighty minutes in a week) is minuscule compared to the enormous benefits you will reap.

Resistance Training

Resistance means you’re working against the weight of another object. Resistance exercise includes free weights or weight machines, water exercises that make your muscles work harder and resistance tubes— incorporated into your regular exercise regime two to three times a week will help build or maintain bone mass.

Stretching and Flexibility

Having flexible joints is another important aspect of help to keep osteoporosis at bay. Regular stretching, yoga, and Pilates are some of the ways you can ensure your joints stay lubricated and flexible.

There are of course other aspects to maintaining good bone health such as eating a healthy diet and ensuring you get enough calcium and vitamin D, but that’s a subject for another blog.

The important thing to keep in mind is that staying active, exercising and stretching are very effective strategies to help prevent osteoporosis.  And even if you have osteoporosis you can still make improvements by exercising.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Considerable efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

* Source Osteoporosis Canada. Speaking of Bones. 2006.

 

 

Do you know how healthy you are?

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How good is your health? The Benefits of getting a Personal Health Risk Assessment

Don’t we all want to know how we’re doing from a health point of view and if we’re on the right track? That was a question posed centuries ago by the learned Hippocrates-the father of modern medicine who focused on diet and exercise to forecast the health of his patients. Fast forward a few centuries later and we now have a more formal process, called the Personal Health Risk Assessment.

The process refined over the years is a four-part questionnaire used to evaluate the health risks and quality of life of patients.The questions are based on lifestyle including what level and form of exercise practiced,  demographics such as age, sex, personal and family medical history, and physiological data such as your weight, height, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Another important part of the process is your level of willingness to charge your behaviour to improve your health. A personal health risk assessment can have enormous benefits, whether the assessment is for a person or used as part of an employee health and wellness program.

It provides a snapshot of your current health. Enables individuals to monitor their health status over time. And having concrete information helps prepare you for a change in your lifestyle. The information is there, before you, and makes it clear in black and white what needs to change. If your company is engaged in a health prevention program, it can help determine on an aggregate basis how healthy and productive the company work population is AND what health-related programs they might include such as lunch and learns, flu shot clinics, reviewing the company cafeteria menu to ensure healthy food choices are available, and introducing a health management program.

Hippocrates –the father of modern medicine at one point was imprisoned for 20 years for believing and arguing that disease was not a punishment inflicted by the gods, but rather the product of environmental factors, diet, and living habits.

The same holds true today.  You can make changes to your health.
A Personal health risk assessment is one of those ways.

The more information you have —both the good and the challenges—the better able you are to make informed decisions about what you can do keep or improve your well-being.

Disclaimer: The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts are made to ensure the quality of the content. However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider. As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

Osteoarthritis: A rising epidemic as baby boomers age. Signs, Symptoms and Solutions.

shutterstock_274164731Arthritis consists of more than 100 different conditions, which range from relatively mild forms of tendonitis and bursitis to crippling systemic forms, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The common denominator for all these conditions is joint and musculoskeletal pain, often as a result of an inflammation of the joint lining.
Critical to the outcome of the disease is an early diagnosis as it only gets progressively worse.  And therapies work best when started as soon as possible.

Consider this:
• Over four million Canadian adults have arthritis, and the numbers continue to grow.
• By 2036 it’s estimated that almost one in five Canadian adults will have arthritis, an irreversible degeneration of the bone.
• Two out of three Canadians affected by arthritis are women
WHAT CAUSES OSTEOARTHRITIS?
Osteoarthritis starts when the cartilage, that tough elastic material that covers and protects the ends of bones that act as a cushion-like shock absorber, starts to break down and wear away. Joints become bigger as the body tries to heal itself, and bones begin to rub together, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. As we get older, our risk of developing osteoarthritis increases. Other risk factors include obesity, a previous joint injury and a genetic predisposition that researchers believe may have something to do with the shape of your bones and the way they fit together.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Understanding the signs and symptoms as well as treatment options can help to slow the progression of the disease which is an important step in living with Osteoarthritis:

Common signs and symptoms
• PAIN
• STIFFNESS
• JOINT DEFORMITY
• JOINT INSTABILITY
• LIMITED RANGE OF MOTION

TREATMENTS
Treatments are divided into non-medical therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, bracing and splinting, education, weight loss and exercise. All of which can lead to improving function and biomechanics. Dietary supplements including chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine can be taken up to three times daily in doses of 400 mg and 500 mg respectively. While the medical evidence for these products is inconclusive, most rheumatologists do not feel they do harm and may, indeed, be helpful.
Depending on the severity, medical treatments may involve the use of acetaminophen anti-inflammatories (NAISD’s), topical non-steroidal naproxen, opioid analgesics such as codeine or morphine under careful doctor supervision. Joint injections with corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid for knee osteoarthritis can also be used. The most invasive option is joint replacement involves surgery.
Whatever your condition and treatment goals, it is important to heed the signs and symptoms and take action as soon as possible because osteoarthritis while not curable, is manageable, with the goal of keeping you active, engaged in activity, and pain free.

DISCLAIMER
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content. However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider. As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.