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 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
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
February 21st, 2013
12:01 AM ET
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.
January 31st, 2013
11:10 AM ET
There's a lot said about how to lose weight. As it turns out, a lot of what's said may not be true.
To sort fact from fiction, a group of doctors and nutritionists researched the medical evidence behind common claims and presented their findings Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Beyond academia, however, the doctors and nutritionists also have deep ties to industry, receiving grant support and consulting fees from food, drug, and diet companies, raising questions about how wide a net of inquiry the authors were willing to cast.
Still, here are what the researchers say are the seven myths about obesity:
December 26th, 2012
03:26 PM ET
The number of young children who are obese and extremely obese is going down, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In what researchers say is the first national study to show that the prevalence of obesity among young children may have begun to decline, scientists analyzed data from more than 27 million children from low-income families between the ages of 2 and 4 in 30 states and the District of Columbia.
"The results of this study indicate modest recent progress of obesity prevention among young children," according to the study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
November 15th, 2012
01:42 PM ET
The odds are increasing that you or someone you know has Type 2 diabetes. The latest Morbidity and Mortality report (MMWR) released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that from 1995 to 2010, there was at least a 100% increase in the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes cases in 18 states. Forty-two states saw an increase of at least 50%.
"Even when you know that [the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes] is increasing, to see that level of increase was shocking to me," says Linda Geiss, a statistician with CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation and the lead author of the MMWR.
"It was the 100% figure. 100% – that's a large increase."
Predictably, states in the South where obesity levels have also steadily increased had some of the highest increases in diabetes. Oklahoma topped the list with an increase of 226%, followed by Kentucky with 158%, Georgia with 145%, Alabama with 140% and the state of Washington with 135%.
October 18th, 2012
10:20 AM ET
We all know that what you eat can change your physical appearance. It also alters how your body functions, making it more or less difficult to pump blood, grow healthy bones or process insulin.
New research presented this week at the Neuroscience 2012 conference suggests that what you eat can even alter your brain – and vice versa.
Timothy Verstynen and his colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe the brain activity in 29 adults. The study participants were shown words on a screen in various colors and asked to identify the color, not the word. Sometimes it was easy – the word red printed in red; other times it was harder, like seeing the word red printed in blue.
The overweight and obese participants’ brains showed more activity during difficult questions, suggesting they were working harder to get the same answers.
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.