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We're eating less fast food - but not by much
February 21st, 2013
12:01 AM ET

We're eating less fast food - but not by much

Americans are eating less fast food daily than they used to, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  But it's not much less.

Using data from 2007 to 2010, the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics determined adults eat, on average, 11.3% of their daily calories from fast food. That number was 12.8% in 2006– a one and half point difference.

As you would expect, younger adults tend to eat more fast food than seniors. People older than 60 eat approximately 6% of their daily calories from fast food. Among the younger age groups, non-Hispanic black adults eat the most fast food - using more than one-fifth of their daily calories at fast food establishments.

The CDC did not see a significant difference in fast food consumption based on income, according to the report. Only in the 20-to-39 age group did fast food consumption drop as income increased.

Fast food has been linked to the obesity epidemic in the United States. Not surprisingly, obese adults in each age group ate more of their calories from fast food.

Photos: Worst fast-food meals for sodium


Overeating in children may be linked to drug use
December 10th, 2012
02:49 PM ET

Overeating in children may be linked to drug use

Do bad nutrition habits like overeating or binge eating lead to smoking pot? Some health experts think they might, according to a study published Monday.

Habits like overeating have always been known to affect our health, nutritionists say.  In some cases, people say they lose control and just can’t stop. Now scientists are finding that both habits and that feeling of lacking control may lead to other health issues.

Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital studied a group of 16,882 boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 15 who participated in the Growing Up Today Study, beginning in 1996. From that time to 2005, investigators sent out questionnaires every 12 to 24 months, asking if these children were overeating or binge eating. Binge eating was defined as eating an amount of food that is larger than most people would eat in the same time span under similar circumstances and feeling a lack of control over eating during that time. Overeating did not have to be connected to loss of control.

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How to buy healthy food on a tight budget
August 21st, 2012
11:18 AM ET

How to buy healthy food on a tight budget

It’s hard to argue with a $1 double cheeseburger. Perhaps that’s why so many believe that eating healthy is expensive.

The myth has become so pervasive that everyone from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to health care providers is attempting to dispel it. Now the Environmental Working Group is joining in.

The EWG has combined forces with anti-hunger group Share Our Strength to create a healthy shopping guide for low-income households: “Good Food on a Tight Budget.”

The guide contains lists of “best buys” – those that pack the most nutrition for the lowest cost – in each food group, cooking/shopping tips, recipes, a meal planner and a price tracker.
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Two cups of coffee may help protect your heart
June 26th, 2012
05:11 PM ET

Two cups of coffee may help protect your heart

That morning cup o' joe or mid-afternoon coffee pick-me-up may play a role in keeping your heart healthy, depending on how much you drink.

A meta-analysis of five previously completed prospective studies finds that drinking two 8-ounce cups of coffee a day gives people an 11% lower risk of developing heart failure, compared to people who don't consume any coffee.

The analysis, published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation: Heart Failure, reviewed five studies conducted between 2001 and 2011 and included a total of 140,220 patients.

"Heart failure shares risk factors with other cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes are particularly strong risk factors for heart failure," explains Elizabeth Mostofsky, the first author of the analysis and a post doctoral research fellow at the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
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June 20th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Report: Consumers demand drug-free meat

If you prefer your meat without antibiotics, you're not alone, according to a new study from Consumers Union – the group that publishes Consumer Reports magazine.

In a nationwide survey of more than a thousand people, Consumers Union found that 86% of people said they would like to see more antibiotic-free meat on store shelves, and more than 60% said they'd be willing to pay more for it.

"If we are going to tackle this problem, we have to reduce the use in animals," said Jean Halloran, the Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union. "The government seems unable to take this step, so we're looking at the marketplace. It's supermarkets who stock these products, and consumers who buy them."

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Sleepy brains drawn to junk food
June 10th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Sleepy brains drawn to junk food

As any college student or shift worker will tell you, staying up all night or even just skimping on sleep can lead a person to seek out satisfying, calorie-packed foods.

An emerging body of research suggests that sleep-related hunger and food cravings, which may contribute to weight gain, are fueled in part by certain gut hormones involved in appetite. But our brain, and not just our belly, may play a role as well.

According to two small studies presented today at a meeting of sleep researchers in Boston, sleep deprivation appears to increase activity in areas of the brain that seek out pleasure - including that provided by junk food. To make matters worse, sleepiness also may dampen activity in other brain regions that usually serve as a brake on this type of craving.
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1 in 3 is obese - even the homeless
May 25th, 2012
11:46 AM ET

1 in 3 is obese - even the homeless

Obesity is a widespread epidemic, even among the homeless.

While the popularized image of a homeless individual is one of skin and bones, a new study shows the reality is not so. One in three (32.3%) homeless individuals in the United States is obese, highlighting a hunger-obesity paradox.

The paradox is that hunger and obesity can exist in the same person. And although a person may be overweight or obese, he or she can lack proper nutrition.

Nutrition is a daily challenge for homeless people, as the foods they manage to get are often full of preservatives and high in sodium, fats and sugars.  They may not have access to healthier options like fresh fruits and vegetables.
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42% of nation to be obese by 2030, study predicts
May 7th, 2012
12:22 PM ET

42% of nation to be obese by 2030, study predicts

After years of rising obesity rates in the United States, recent statistics show the rates may have steadied. But that may not be enough, according to a new report released on Monday - it estimates about 42% of the U.S. population will be obese by 2030.

The report suggests an additional 30 million Americans will be obese in 18 years. This would cost an additional $549.5 billion on medical expenditures, according to the report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“If you could keep the obesity rates at today’s level, you would save $550 billion,” said Eric Finkelstein, lead author of the report.

About 35% of U.S. adults are obese today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Are sugar substitutes worse than the real thing?
April 27th, 2012
07:21 AM ET

Are sugar substitutes worse than the real thing?

Sweet tooth? You’re not alone. Sugary foods and beverages are delicious. But we’ve also learned they can be highly addictive and, too much of them, can take a serious toll on our health.

Today some of our favorite drinks, gum, baked goods, and candy are available in sugar-free versions. But that got me thinking...  are sugar substitutes any better for you than the real thing? I was not alone on this issue. I’ve received dozens of tweets and emails wondering if fake sugar can harm us, or worse, crave more food!

For some answers I turned to internist and physician nutrition specialist, Dr. Melina Jampolis. Her specialty is practiced by only 200 physicians in the United States. She focuses exclusively on nutrition for weight loss and disease prevention and treatment.
FULL POST


Obesity rate climbs for Mexican-Americans, study says
March 28th, 2012
03:56 PM ET

Obesity rate climbs for Mexican-Americans, study says

Hispanics are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States.  By the year 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau projects Hispanics will compose 30 percent of the population.  Most are Mexican-American.  A new government study drills down on the changing way Mexican-Americans adults are eating and its effect on their health.

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics compared statistics from 1982-1984 and 1999-2006.

Among the findings:

  • Obesity is up.  In the early 1980s 21% of Mexican Americans were obese.  By the middle of the last decade, the number had climbed to close to 35%.
  • More Mexican-Americans also have diabetes.  Close to 14% have it now - versus just under 10% 25 years ago.
  • The group's consumption of carbs is also up from just under 46% in the 1980s to just over 51%.
  • Mexican-Americans are also not eating as much protein as they once did, though those numbers are just slightly different.
    FULL POST

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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.

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