December 5th, 2013
04:01 PM ET
Eating nutritional foods is one of the best ways to reduce obesity. But following a healthy diet isn't always easy, especially for lower socioeconomic groups.
One of the biggest barriers to buying good food is the cost, many experts say. Now researchers at Harvard School of Public Health have put a dollar amount on the price of healthy eating. By reviewing 27 studies on the cost of healthy vs. unhealthy foods, they've estimated the daily cost of eating better. Their results are published in the British Medical Journal.
"Conventional wisdom has been that healthier foods cost more, but it's never been clear if that's actually true or exactly how much more healthier foods might cost," said lead study author Mayuree Rao. "We found that the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day, and that's less than we might have expected."
December 3rd, 2013
03:04 PM ET
You've probably heard someone say, "I'm fat but fit." Several recent studies have suggested this statement could be true. But a new review of existing studies published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine may put a stop to the rumor.
"Healthy obesity" is just a myth, the study authors say.
Scientists know that overweight people can be what they call "metabolically healthy." This means that despite having a high body mass index, or BMI, someone can have a small waistline, normal blood pressure and low cholesterol levels, and show little to no risk for developing diabetes. The opposite is also true; thin people can be metabolically unhealthy, with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and fat that accumulates only around their middle, which is a known risk for heart disease.
This kind of paradox highlights "the complexity of the relationship between weight and mortality," the authors of this new meta-analysis write. A lot of factors impact a person's cardiovascular health, including how much they exercise and when they put on the weight.
November 5th, 2013
11:49 AM ET
Women with higher levels of pesticides in their blood are also more likely to have endometriosis, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Endometriosis is a chronic condition in which tissue normally lining the uterus’ interior walls also grows outside the uterus, commonly to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or pelvis –- causing pelvic pain and infertility.
“It affects women during their reproductive years and it could be that as many as 10% of women during reproductive ages have endometriosis,” says Victoria Holt, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington and lead study author.
More than 5 million women have endometriosis, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Women's Health.
“What we know about endometriosis is that it's an estrogen-driven disease. Women who have more estrogen are more likely to have it," Holt says.
Once in the body, some organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) are believed to mimic estrogen, possibly contributing to endometriosis. FULL POST
October 16th, 2013
12:21 PM ET
Anyone who's ever eaten an Oreo knows how difficult it can be to eat just one.
Scientists have long suspected that our brains crave junk food in the same way they crave other pleasurable substances, such as illegal drugs. Previous studies in rodents and in humans have shown the same area of the brain that lights up on scans when people use drugs, also shows increased activity when study participants consume, or even look at, high fat, high sugar foods like ice cream or bacon.
Some scientists believe certain foods trigger the brain to signal for more, similar to the way addictive drugs prompt cravings; if we don't fulfill the brain's request, the body could produce a physical response (like caffeine headaches) similar to withdrawal symptoms.
New research from undergraduate students at Connecticut College adds to the growing evidence suggesting that food can be addictive. The students were interested in understanding how the availability of junk food in low-income areas has contributed to America's obesity epidemic.
“Even though we associate significant health hazards in taking drugs like cocaine and morphine, high-fat, high-sugar foods may present even more of a danger because of their accessibility and affordability,” study designer and neuroscience major Jamie Honohan said in a statement.
September 16th, 2013
01:46 PM ET
Efforts to increase healthy habits in American teens may be making an impact, according to a new study. Adolescents are moving more, eating better and watching less TV than they used to, and researchers say obesity rates in this group may finally be stabilizing.
The study results come a little more than a month after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was seeing signs of progress in the fight against childhood obesity, especially in low-income families.
In the new study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers analyzed data from three sets of students in grades 6 to 10. One set was surveyed during the 2001-2002 school year, another set during the 2005-2006 school year and the third set from the 2009-2010 school year. Researchers asked the students about their daily physical activity, nutrition, breakfast consumption, TV habits, and height and weight. They then compared the answers across the three school years to identify trends in healthy - or unhealthy - behaviors.
August 15th, 2013
04:01 PM ET
Just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics showing promise in the fight against childhood obesity, another study suggests the American public health system shouldn't be celebrating quite yet.
While new statistics show childhood obesity rates in the United States are dropping, obesity in adults still accounts for 18% of deaths among black or white Americans between ages 40 and 85, according to a study published this week in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers say that's approximately 1 in 5 black or white Americans who are dying from illnesses related to obesity.
Even though the statistics may not surprise those who work in public health, they are nearly three times higher than previous estimates, according to study authors. FULL POST
August 12th, 2013
06:35 PM ET
Numerous medical studies have shown that fatty fish is healthy for the heart. Now researchers say it may also help prevent a debilitating type of arthritis.
Just one serving a week of a fatty fish such as salmon, or four servings a week of a leaner fish such as cod, may cut your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by half, according to a study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
Researchers reviewed the diets of 32,000 Swedish women who filled out two food questionnaires, one in the late 1980s and another a decade later.
August 6th, 2013
12:01 PM ET
After decades of warnings about the rapidly rising rate of childhood obesity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some good news. A new report from the CDC suggests we've made some progress in the fight against childhood obesity in the nation's youngest children - specifically those from low-income families.
Researchers analyzed data from approximately 12 million children between the ages of 2 and 4 who participate in federally funded nutrition programs. Data from 40 states, Washington, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were included in the Vital Signs report.
Nineteen of the states and the U.S. Virgin Islands saw a small but significant decline in preschoolers' obesity rates between 2008 and 2011, according to the CDC. Three states - Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee - saw a slight increase over the same time period, and the rest remained stagnant. Utah, Wyoming, Louisiana, Texas, Maine, Delaware, Alaska, Oklahoma, Virginia and South Carolina were not included in the report due to inconsistencies or changes in data reporting.
"It's a bright spot for our nation's young kids, but the fight is very far from over," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said.
August 5th, 2013
01:47 PM ET
There's a strong link between sugary drinks and obesity. Scientific studies have shown that adults who consume more sugar-sweetened beverages tend to have higher body mass indexes, or BMIs, than their water-drinking counterparts.
But until now, this association hadn't been closely examined in kids younger than 5.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that young children avoid all sugar-sweetened beverages. A new study, published in the organization's journal Pediatrics, offers further evidence to support that recommendation.
July 25th, 2013
09:36 AM ET
Skipping breakfast doesn’t mean you’ll consume more calories later in the day, according to a new report from Cornell University.
Researchers split 400 college-age students into two groups; they fed one group breakfast and the other no breakfast. They then tracked their eating habits throughout the day and measured the amount of calories they were consuming.
While the non-breakfast eating group reported feeling hungry by lunchtime, they didn’t consume larger lunches compared to the group who had eaten breakfast. In fact, the breakfast skippers had consumed roughly 400 fewer calories total at the end of the day.
“The problem in our culture is that we consume too many calories, and we have to look around at ways to help us consume less,” says David Levitsky, study author and professor of nutritional sciences and of psychology at Cornell.
“And we found that if you are trying to lose weight, then skipping breakfast isn’t necessarily the worst thing for you to do.”
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.