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November 3rd, 2010
12:35 PM ET

Star to perform in NYC Marathon ‘Cabaret’

Actor Peter Sarsgaard, best known for his roles in "Jarhead" and "Boys Don't Cry," also happens to be an incredibly strong runner.

That's according to Chris McDougall, the author of best-selling book, "Born to Run" which chronicles a culture of shoeless ultra-distance runners and the science that argues for ditching those Nikes. The book brought ultra-running (any distance longer than a marathon) into the mainstream and kickstarted the minimal shoe movement.

On November 5, Sarsgaard, McDougall, opera singer Brandon Wood and a cast of characters from the book including a barefooting Harvard biologist will stage "Reinventing Running: The Cabaret." The show will be a prelude to the November 7 ING New York City Marathon , one of the biggest road races in the world. Each performer gets 15 minutes to entertain.

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May 5th, 2010
11:29 AM ET

Highest percentage of obese children in Mississippi

By Ashley Fantz
CNN.com Writer Producer

Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years, with Mississippi being home to the fattest kids, according to a new study.

Dr. Gopal K. Singh of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration examined state-by-state changes between 2003 and 2007 in rates of people who are overweight and obese, using data from the National Survey of Children's Health, a database of 6,700 children ages 10 to 17 surveyed in 2003 and more than 44,000 children surveyed in 2007. The findings were published this week in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

He and his team found that the state with the highest percentage of obese children – 22 percent - was Mississippi. Compare that with the state with the fewest obese children, Oregon, with 9.6 percent. Oregon was also the only state that had substantial declines in the number of obese and overweight children between 2003 and 2007. About 2,000 kids were surveyed in every state.

“Kids in Oregon and other Western states like Wyoming tend to have children who are more active, who watch television less and have better access to healthy foods,” Singh told CNN. “There are a few reasons for that difference but we saw income levels that were much lower in Southern states, and a greater culture of sedentary behavior in the Southern regions of the country.”

The study notes the clinical difference between being overweight and “obese.” A person is overweight if his or her weight is above a healthy level, depending on height. Adult obesity is measured by taking someone’s BMI, or Body Mass Index, which compares a person’s weight and height. In children BMI is measured differently. Childhood BMI takes into account gender and age.

This doesn’t mean better news for Mississippi where 44.5 percent of young people qualify as overweight, the study found. The least number of overweight children live in Utah, researchers found.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


February 22nd, 2010
05:48 PM ET

Report: Hypertension a neglected public health issue

By Ashley Fantz
CNN.com Writer Producer

High blood pressure is killing more Americans than ever, but it's being neglected as a public health issue and doctors are not adequately diagnosing it, according to medical experts who worked on a new report issued Monday by the Institute of Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C.

High blood pressure is a major contributing cause of heart disease, the nation's leading cause of death for men and women. Cancer ranks second. Heart disease killed 631,636 people and cancer killed 559, 888 people in 2006, the most recent year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has data available. Hypertension is the second leading cause of preventable deaths; smoking is number one, according to IOM.

The 155-page report, sponsored by the CDC, says that currently one in three people have high blood pressure - measured at 140 over 90 or higher. The figure of one in three people is an increase from 2005 when one in six adults suffered from high blood pressure, according to Dr. Corinne Husten.

An increase in blood pressure translates to a hefty price tag for health care. Hypertension prevention and control is only one of a number of programs competing for $54 million last year in the CDC’s entire Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention portfolio, the report states. The American Heart Association recently reported that the direct and indirect costs of high blood pressure as a primary diagnosis was $73.4 billion in 2009.

The former chief epidemiologist and acting director of the Office on Smoking and Health at the CDC, Huston was part of a 10-person panel of medical doctors, epidemiologists and Ph.D.s who took roughly a year to review more than 100 existing studies on high blood pressure. Many of those studies included comprehensive information from national surveys that reviewed patient medical records, she said.

"We looked at how many times a patient had been to see a clinician, and [in those instances] when high blood pressure was recorded but those patients were either not given treatment or medication, or nothing, in general, was done," Huston said.

It's unclear why doctors are not following guidelines on how to treat hypertension, panel members told reporters Monday. "A lot of people who have hypertension don't know it because clinicians aren't telling them that their numbers are high," according to the epidemiologist.

Why are more Americans suffering from high blood pressure?

"We can blame our high intake of sodium in the food we buy at grocery stores or eat in restaurants, our lack of potassium in our diets, that we don't get enough exercise," said Husten.

An adult should be consuming a teaspoon of salt a day, said David Fleming, chair of the IOM panel and the director of King County public health in Washington state. The elderly or someone already suffering from high blood pressure should get no more than two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt each day. But measuring that is, practically speaking, extremely difficult.

"One has to remember that the food you buy already has sodium in it before you use your salt shaker," he said.

The report recommends ways to address the increase in high blood pressure, including a familiar call to eat more vegetables and fruit, work out more and ask a restaurant exactly how much salt meals contain.

The CDC should also work with schools to encourage them to strengthen or implement physical fitness programs and work with food industry professionals to tamp down on the amount of salt put in food, the report advises.

The report also suggests requiring providers to allow patients to make smaller co-pays in order to get medications and have doctor visits. Another option would be to require providers to issue more rigorous treatment guidelines to doctors.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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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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