June 12th, 2013
05:05 PM ET
Poor diet and lack of exercise might not be the only factors contributing to the obesity epidemic. A new study suggests the environment may also play a role.
“Eating too much and exercising too little are important factors,” said Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. “But they cannot explain the steep increase in the obesity rate the last three decades. We haven’t really changed our eating habits and exercise that much.”
The environmental culprit, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, may be bisphenol-a, a chemical commonly found in plastic and cans.
Li and colleagues studied 1,326 school-age children in Shanghai, China, and measured BPA levels in their urine. In girls ages 9 to 12, higher BPA urine levels were associated with a doubled risk of obesity. And as BPA urine levels increased, so did the girls’ obesity risk - measured using their weight in reference to weight distribution in the population. FULL POST
May 23rd, 2013
06:31 PM ET
Calorie counting has long been touted as an effective tool for losing pounds or maintaining a healthy weight. But new research published in the British Medical Journal shows many of us are underestimating the calories we're eating, especially when we visit fast food restaurants.
Researchers interviewed more than 1,800 adults, 1,100 adolescents and 330 children at several fast food chains in New England. The interviews were done at McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, KFC, Dunkin' Donuts and Wendy's around dinnertime and lunchtime.
Study participants were asked to estimate their meal's calorie count. Researchers then collected the bill to later tally the correct amount of calories using nutrition info posted on the chain's website. FULL POST
May 21st, 2013
10:47 AM ET
Sticking to a Mediterranean diet may not just be good for your heart, it may be good for your brain as well, according to a new study.
Researchers in Spain followed more than 1,000 people for six and a half years, and found that participants who were on a Mediterranean diet and supplemented that diet with extra nuts or olive oil performed better on cognitive tests at the end of the study period than the control group, which followed a lower-fat diet. The study was published Monday in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
"We found that a Mediterranean diet with olive oil was able to reduce low-grade inflammation associated with a high risk of vascular disease and cognitive impairments," said Dr. Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, the chairman of preventive medicine at the University of Navarra in Spain and a study author.
The Mediterranean diet is devoid of processed foods and bad fats, and high in whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish and even red wine - all things that are high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. These types of foods are known to help reduce vascular (circulatory) damage, inflammation and oxidative (free radical) damage in the brain. FULL POST
May 20th, 2013
11:48 AM ET
Boys with ADHD may be at risk for obesity later in life, according to a new study - which, if confirmed in larger studies, may have implications for the more than 4 million kids in the United States living with the disorder.
Researchers at NYU's Langone Medical Center have been following more than 200 kids for four decades. They found those who had ADHD in their early years were twice as likely to be obese at age 41. FULL POST
May 14th, 2013
02:28 PM ET
Reducing salt consumption below the currently recommended 2,300 milligrams – about 1 1/2 teaspoons– per day maybe unnecessary, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
The news follows a decades-long push to get Americans to reduce the amount of salt in their diet because of strong links between high sodium consumption and hypertension, a known risk factor for heart disease.
The IOM, at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reviewed recent studies published through 2012 that explored ties between salt consumption and direct health outcomes like cardiovascular disease and death. The organization describes itself as "an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public."
Researchers determined there wasn't enough evidence to say whether lowering salt consumption to levels between 1,500 and 2,300 mg per day could increase or decrease your risk of heart disease and mortality. But lowering sodium intake might adversely affect your health, the panel found.
April 23rd, 2013
03:03 PM ET
You walk into a fast food restaurant and examine the menu. You could get a salad with grilled chicken and dressing on the side. Or you could get a double cheeseburger.
Seeing the calories listed next to each item isn't likely to affect your decision, according to a new study being presented at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting this week. But seeing the amount of time it would take you to work those calories off at the gym just might.
Researchers at Texas Christian University asked 300 men and women aged 18 to 30 years to purchase food from one of three fast food menus. All of the menus contained the same options, including burgers, chicken tenders, salad, French fries and desserts.
One group's menu had no labels of any kind. The second group's menu was labeled with the total calories in each item. The third group's menu was labeled with the number of minutes of brisk walking it would take someone to burn off the calories in the meal.
April 22nd, 2013
12:05 AM ET
While growing up, many children may have heard "clean your plate" or been denied candy. But how do parental attitudes toward food affect a child's weight?
Denying certain foods to children or pressuring them to eat every bit of a meal are common practices among many parents. But researchers at the University of Minnesota found parents who restricted foods were more likely to have overweight or obese children. And while those who pressured children to eat all of their meals mostly had children of normal weight, it adversely affected the way those children ate as they grew older, according to the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. FULL POST
March 25th, 2013
02:36 PM ET
At least 40% of moms are feeding their infants solid foods far too early, according a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, and that may lead to problems for their children later in life.
Researchers wanted to know how many babies were being fed solid foods (including cereal and baby food) sooner than recommended, whether breast-feeding or formula feeding made a difference and why solids were being introduced early. When the study began in 2005, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which also publishes the journal Pediatrics, recommended introducing solid foods when babies were between 4 and 6 months old.
In 2012, the AAP changed those recommendations. Now it says babies shouldn't be eating solid food until they are about 6 months old.
March 11th, 2013
01:10 PM ET
How'd you like to get paid to lose weight? Financial incentives can help improve your odds of dropping pounds, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic followed 100 Mayo employees over the course of a year as they took educational classes on how to eat healthy and lose weight.
The employees were broken up into several groups - some of which got financial incentives to shed the pounds and others that just got the classes.
March 11th, 2013
12:01 AM ET
Raw meat is a notorious Salmonella carrier. It can also be found on unclean kitchen counters. An investigation published this week in the journal of Pediatrics suggests we should also look for the deadly bacteria in pet frogs.
Investigators from public health agencies across the United States found that African dwarf frogs are causing a nationwide outbreak of a specific Salmonella strain in children.
A group of health professionals make up the Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak Investigation Team, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recently, the team has been examining the effects of African dwarf frogs on people’s health.
“Amphibians and reptiles should never be kept in homes with children less than 5 years old or with people who have immune deficiencies,” said lead author and CDC public health advisor Shauna Mettee Zarecki. This includes day care settings and nursing homes, she said.
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.