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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.
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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.
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March 21st, 2012
04:18 PM ET

Red flag found for imminent heart attack

Most heart attacks hit without warning – when a blister plaque on the blood vessel wall ruptures. The resulting clot starves the heart of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood, causing a heart attack and possibly death.

Traditional diagnostic tools like treadmill stress tests only pick up major blockages in the blood vessels, but they don’t alert doctors to this type of impending catastrophe. That’s because the vast majority of heart attacks occur in people whose blood vessels are narrowed only slightly by cholesterol-laden plaque.

“We can’t detect these mild narrowings, which are almost exclusively responsible for heart attacks,” says Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California.

But Topol and a team of researchers now think they’ve found a way to determine which patients are only days or weeks away from a heart attack.
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A soda per day may raise heart-attack risk
March 12th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

A soda per day may raise heart-attack risk

It's no secret that the empty calories in soda and other sugary drinks can contribute to weight gain and obesity. But a new study suggests these beverages also may harm your heart, even if they don't cause you to gain weight.

The study, which followed nearly 43,000 men for an average of 22 years, found that those who habitually drank one 12-ounce sweetened beverage per day were 20% more likely to have a heart attack, fatal or otherwise, than men who drank none.

The association could not be explained by obesity or weight gain alone. The researchers took into account the men's body mass index, along with their dietary habits, exercise levels, family history of heart disease, and other extentuating factors.

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Filed under: Cholesterol • Health.com • Heart • Nutrition

Exporting the Chinese diet... to China
March 7th, 2012
03:49 PM ET

Exporting the Chinese diet... to China

T. Colin Campbell co-authored a bestselling book touting the health benefits of eating like the rural Chinese. Now he’s trying to reacquaint the Chinese with the benefits of the plant-based diet he learned from them.

Campbell, who co-authored "The China Study" with his son, Thomas M. Campbell, said the Chinese are abandoning their vegetable-rich meals for fast food and other western fare.

“It’s ironic that some of the things we learned from the Chinese now we’re sort of taking back to China,” said Campbell, an American who is professor emeritus in nutritional sciences at Cornell University.
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February 29th, 2012
03:08 PM ET

Nutrition labeling for meat becomes mandatory

The next time you shop at  the grocery store, you may see something new– nutrition labels on meat.  The same types of labels you already find on other foods.

In 1993, the U.S. Department of Agriculture made nutrition labeling voluntary for many types of raw meats. The labeling becomes mandatory on Thursday.

The new rule affects all ground meat and poultry and 40 of the most popular cuts of meat in the United States such as chicken breasts, steaks, pork chops, roasts, lamb and veal. If the nutrition facts are not on the package, as in the case of some larger cuts of meat, look for posters or signs at the meat counter for this information.
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Sugar makes up 16% of kids' daily diet
February 29th, 2012
03:05 PM ET

Sugar makes up 16% of kids' daily diet

It’s not a shocker: Kids eat lots of sugar.

About 16% of their daily calories come from sugar, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

By sugar the report means sugars in processed foods like soda, cakes and ice cream. It also includes sweet substitutes like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, fructose sweetener, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, crystal dextrose and dextrin.

About 66% of sugary foods were consumed at home, according to the report. This means that the vast majority of kids get their sugar fix at their houses rather than school cafeterias, convenience stores or vending machines.
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The animal products in your medicine cabinet
February 27th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

The animal products in your medicine cabinet

Most of us put a good deal of thought into the food we put in our bodies. But do we ever consider the food in our medicine?

That's right, the food in our medicine.

While television and print ads alike are loaded with messages about potential serious side effects, prescription drug disclaimers are issued to warn against possible unintended consequences resulting from a drug’s active ingredient(s).

But what you may not know is that the bulk of your prescription pill is made up of inactive ingredients, known as “excipients," and that your drugs couldn’t be made without them. Quite simply, excipients are what encapsulates your capsule or forms your pill into a solid as opposed to a powder.

Here’s the rub: One of the most common excipients used is gelatin, which is almost universally of animal origin. This presents a problem, as you might imagine, to those living within religious or dietary restrictions.

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Study: Brain suffers when fish oil falls short
February 27th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Study: Brain suffers when fish oil falls short

People with diets short on omega-3 fatty acids – the kind found in fish oil – were more likely to experience accelerated brain aging, a new study found.

“People with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids had lower brain volumes that were equivalent to about two years of brain aging,” said Dr. Zaldy S. Tan, a member of the UCLA Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research in the Department of Neurology.

The study was published Tuesday in the print edition of the journal Neurology.

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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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