More Evidence Ties Obesity to Disability in Older Women – WebMD

Evidence Ties Obesity to Disability in Older Women

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) — Women who are obese as they near retirement age have a higher risk of early death and may find their remaining years blighted by disability, researchers say.

Obese women are three to six times more likely to suffer a disability late in life that will make it difficult for them to get around, with the risk rising with their level of obesity, according to a new study published online Nov. 11 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

A second study in the same journal issue found that being overweight or obese raises your risk of heart attack and heart disease even if you are otherwise healthy.

The number of women aged 85 years and older in the United States is increasing, according to study background information, with 11.6 million women expected to reach 85 by 2050.

Obesity rates also continue to increase, and nearly one-third of U.S. women 75 years and older are obese. This extra weight not only reduces life span, but also can severely harm an older woman’s quality of life.

“For dying and losing the ability to walk, the risks were alarmingly high — over threefold to upwards of over sixfold,” said study co-author Eileen Rillamas-Sun, a staff scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle. “I believe that remaining mobile is very important to most older people, especially since it is useful for retaining one’s independence.”

The new findings aren’t that surprising, but they’re important, one expert noted.

Together, the two studies “verify something that we knew, but give us some more ammunition to craft more programs and pay more attention to women’s body weight and obesity overall,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA).

“The obesity epidemic isn’t just our kids, and if you are thinking forward we are having this enormous growth as the baby boomers age through society,” he said. “We’re going to have to spend a lot of time encouraging women to achieve a sensible body weight.”

Rillamas-Sun’s study examined the health records of nearly 37,000 older women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term study sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The researchers found that about 12 percent of healthy-weight women had become disabled by age 85, requiring a walker or some other assistance for getting around.

By comparison, between 25 percent and 34 percent of obese women were disabled, with incidence rising with the patient’s body mass index (BMI), a measurement of body fat that takes height and weight into account.

Overall, a waist circumference greater than 35 inches was associated with a higher risk of early death, along with new diseases developing during the study period and mobility disability, the researchers said.

Nutrition and obesity studies may overstate results, warn researchers

Many studies focusing on obesity and nutrition may overstate conclusions of their findings, which may lead to policy makers and other researchers basing decisions on inaccurate assumptions, according to new research.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine,  suggests that around one in 11 publications on nutrition and obesity in leading journals may overstate the results of their research findings – such as inappropriately describing a correlation as a cause-and-effect relationship and generalising a study’s claims to large groups of people even when the study population was quite different.

“This is troubling because such statements likely influence policymakers, clinicians, other researchers, and the public into making decisions without an accurate understanding of the supporting science, which may have unjustified costs,” said the research team – led by Professor Nir Menachemi from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US.

“They also have the potential to be amplified and disseminated to a larger audience when they are reported by journalists, who are a key source for public information about scientific discoveries,” said the team. “Given that, by and large, journalists dutifully convey the claims made in scientific papers, overstatement of results poses a concern.”

According to the results of the study, public health journals had a ‘significantly higher’ prevalence of publishing overreaching statements when compared to medical, nutrition, and obesity journals, “especially with respect to reporting associative relationships as causal or making policy recommendations based on observational data.”

Study details

Menachemi and colleagues tracked how often authors overreached in the summary of their findings by searching research articles published in eight leading journals in either 2001 or 2011, in order to examine changes in reporting over time. The team found 937 papers—377 from 2001 and 560 from 2011.

In 8.9% (around one in 11) of the studies, the team reported that findings had been overstated in the abstract – with studies from 2011 more likely to overreach than 2001 papers. 

Overreaching statements were also found to be more common in unfunded studies compared to funded studies, regardless of what type of group paid for the study; while a higher number of co-authors was also associated with a reduced likelihood of presenting overreaching statements.

“This trend may be because funded researchers are selected for superior knowledge or skills; have greater resources (as a result of their funding); or are subject to oversight from the funding agency, all of which may translate into a more straightforward presentation of their scientific work,” wrote Menachemi and colleagues.

Although those overstatements may be unintentional, they can distort what doctors, policymakers, and the general public know about nutrition, the researchers said.

The team noted that their work is an extension of a project originally funded by The Coca Cola Company, but noted that the Company had no role in the design, execution, or reporting of the current study.

Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Volume 45, Issue 5, November 2013, Pages 615–621, doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.06.019

” Overstatement of Results in the Nutrition and Obesity Peer-Reviewed Literature”
Authors: Nir Menachemi, Gabriel Tajeu, Bisakha Sen, et al

Peak Obesity? | Zero Hedge

Obesity rates have increased at least slightly so far in 2013 across almost all major demographic and socioeconomic groups, according to Gallup’s latest study. The largest upticks between 2012 and 2013 were among those aged 45 to 64 and those who earn between $30,000 and $74,999 annually – which ‘coincidentally’ is perfectly in the cohort that is ‘disincentized’ to work by the growing shadow of bought votes and entitlements. So, the question then becomes, is the considerable spike in 2013 that is so evident below the “peak” in obesity rates as the government is forced to introduce more haircuts on its foodstamp program? Time will tell…

US Obesity rate is spiking (along with the Fed’s balance sheet and stocks…)

(h/t @Not_Jim_Cramer)

 

Via Gallup:

The U.S. obesity rate thus far in 2013 is trending upward and will likely surpass all annual obesity levels since 2008, when Gallup and Healthways began tracking. It is unclear why the obesity rate is up this year, and the trend since 2008 shows a pattern of some fluctuation.

 

 

Blacks, those who are middle-aged, and lower-income adults continue to be the groups with the highest obesity rates. The healthcare law could help reduce obesity among low-income Americans if the uninsured sign up for coverage and take advantage of the free obesity screening and counseling that most insurance companies are required to provide under the law.

 

With the biggest rise in the cohorts that are dominated by the disincentized-to-work…“the single mom is better off earnings gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045.

 

So one wonders… with the foodstamp program being cut – will that mean higher obesity rates or lower?

Childhood Obesity Again Tied to Earlier Puberty in Girls – WebMD

Childhood Obesity Tied to Earlier Puberty in Girls

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) — U.S. girls are developing breasts at a younger age compared to years past, and obesity appears to explain a large share of the shift, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that between 2004 and 2011, American girls typically started developing breasts around the age of 9. And those who were overweight or obese started sooner — usually when they were about 8 years old.

The numbers are concerning, the researchers said — especially since the typical age at breast development is younger now than it was in a similar study from 1997. The main reason: Girls are heavier now than they were in the ’90s.

“This is another manifestation of America’s high body-mass index,” said lead researcher Dr. Frank Biro, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Body-mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on a ratio of height to weight.

The findings, reported online Nov. 4 and in the December print issue of the journal Pediatrics, add to evidence that American children are hitting puberty earlier than in decades past. The rising tide of childhood obesity has been suspected as a major cause, but the new study gives more hard data to support the idea.

Biro said, however, that excess pounds do not seem to be the full explanation. And it’s possible that other factors — such as diet or chemicals in the environment — play a role.

Why should people worry that puberty is coming sooner now than in years past? There is a concern when young kids look older than they are, and are possibly treated that way, Biro said.

Studies have found that girls who mature early are more likely to be influenced by older friends, start having sex sooner and have more problems with low self-esteem and depression. “Just because you’re developing more quickly physically doesn’t mean you’re maturing emotionally or socially,” Biro said.

Plus, early puberty has been tied to long-term health risks. For women, an earlier start to menstruation has been linked to a heightened risk of breast cancer. It’s not clear why, but some researchers suspect that greater lifetime exposure to estrogen might be one reason.

Biro said earlier puberty also has been tied to increased risks of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes in adulthood. It’s hard, though, to know whether earlier puberty is to blame since obese kids tend to start puberty earlier, and obese children often become obese adults, he said.

Dr. Patricia Vuguin, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., said it’s not known if it’s the earlier development or the obesity itself that causes the increased risk of those conditions.

Taxing fizzy drinks 'could cut obesity and disease among Britons …

Taxing fizzy drinks could cut obesity and disease
Fizzy drinks ‘should be taxed at 20 per cent’ (Picture: PA)

Fizzy drinks should be taxed at 20 per cent to cut the number of overweight Britons, a report has suggested.

Imposing such a levy on sugary beverages would reduce the level of obesity by 185,000 and of those considered overweight by 285,000, the study published on bmj.com stated.

While young adults, the largest consumers of fizzy drinks, would benefit most from the tax, the NHS would also save £276million a year, the report’s authors said.

‘Guzzling fizzy drinks is now the daily norm for around 40 per cent of 13-year-olds,’ said Simon Gillespie, of the British Heart Foundation, which helped fund the study.

‘The effects on young people’s health are a major concern. We know that drinks loaded with sugar can affect our weight, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

‘This research suggests that a health-related food duty, alongside other measures such as the new front-of-pack food labelling scheme, could be an effective way – particularly in young people – to help reduce obesity.’

The report by the universities of Oxford and Reading has been backed by Prof Jason Block, of the Harvard Medical School. He said the 20 per cent levy ‘would be a good start’ as he called on more countries to ‘implement high taxes and measure the results’.

However, Terry Jones, of the Food and Drink Federation, called the proposals ‘over simplistic’ with some ‘obvious limitations’.

‘Many food and drink products are already subject to VAT of 20 per cent in the UK and making them more expensive for people at a time when household budgets are already squeezed is not the answer,’ he said.

New Obesity Panacea Feature: Participants Needed

WP Greet Box iconHello there! If you enjoy the content on Obesity Panacea, consider subscribing for future posts via email or RSS feed. Also, don’t forget to like us on Facebook!

Every so often here on Obesity Panacea I have posted details about studies looking for participants (thanks to everyone who has decided to participate!).

I’ve recently had requests from a few colleagues asking if I would be willing to post details about their studies, and I’ve decided to make it a semi-regular feature on the blog. Once each month, I will put up a post with short descriptions of studies requiring human subjects.

I have two basic requirements. To be included, a study must:

  1. Have received institutional ethics approval.
  2. Be related in some way to physical activity, sedentary behaviour, diet, or obesity.

If I feel a study is inappropriate for some reason, then I won’t post it. But otherwise I’m happy to promote studies in any geographic location, and on any specific population. Research can’t happen without participants, and I’m happy to help people find out about studies that might be of interest to them.

Today we have two studies, both looking for participants in the Ottawa region. Although I am ineligible for Study 1 (sadly, I am neither female nor perimenopausal), I just finished participating in Study 2 and it was a pretty interesting study.  If you are interested in learning more about either study, please contact the researchers directly.  And if you would like to have your own study featured here on Obesity Panacea, email me the study details at saunders (dot) travis (at) gmail (dot) com.

Study 1: Menopause and Body Composition

Joseph StudyLocation: Ottawa

Participant Population: Females aged 40-60 years

Study Outcomes: The effects of exercise on body composition changes at different menopausal statuses

Contact: Joseph Abdulnour at 613-562-5800 ext. 7361 or by email at jabdu037@uottawa.ca.

Study 2: Body Morphology and Sweating Response

Matt poster

Location: Ottawa

Participant Population: Males aged 18-40 years

Study Outcomes: The impact of body morphology (e.g. size) on sweating response to exercise

Contact: Matthew Cramer at 613-562-5800 x2655 or by email et mcram028@uottawa.ca.

Travis’ Note: I just finished participating in this study myself, and it mainly involved watching movies while cycling at a light-moderate intensity.  And you get a VO2max test, so not a bad deal if you’d like to quantify your fitness.

 

 

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Is DDT a time-bomb behind the obesity epidemic? | Grist

ddt_adMichael Skinner didn’t start the experiment with the hypothesis that he’d find a connection between the insecticide DDT and obesity.

“We didn’t expect to find that,” he said. “In fact, the frequency of obesity really came as a surprise.”

Skinner, a scientist at Washington State University, wanted to take a close look at the way DDT affected inheritance. So his team injected DDT into pregnant rats and watched first their children, and then their grandchildren (or is it grandrats?). It was only in the third generation, the great-grand-rat, that they saw it: Fully half of these rats were obese. The implication is that the same thing could be happening with humans.

Michael Skinner
Michael Skinner.

“Is there a correlation between the fact that we were all exposed to DDT in the 1950s for 10 years, and the fact that we are now seeing high levels of obesity?” Skinner asked. His work suggests that there could be.

Of course, the more immediate cause of obesity is too many calories. But there may be more going on here than too much food. Humans are getting fat, so are our pets, so are wild animals. There’s a trend toward obesity in nearly every species scientists have studied.

Of course it’s too early to lay the blame on DDT. This study simply raised the possibility. But the findings are plausible.

“I do believe that the observed obesity is real,” emailed Andrea Gore, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Texas Austin. Other experiments have already shown that endocrine-disrupting chemicals can cause obesity generations after exposure, Gore said.

Skinner had already seen that he could trigger the inheritance of disease with various chemicals. There’s a narrow window during the gestation, where an exposure to lots of things can cause heritable epigenetic changes.

“The majority of things we’ve tested came up positive,” he said.

So the obvious question: Is this a problem specific to DDT, or would we have seen similar results if Skinner’s team had decided to inject the rats with vitamin C? In other words, is this about the chemical, or just the timing of the exposure?

If the DDT had caused kidney disease, Skinner said, he would have been reassured. A lot of things seem to have epigenetic effects that lead to kidney disease. But obesity is unusual — that suggests a problem with DDT itself, Skinner said.

Skinner started this experiment after the World Health Organization lifted the ban on DDT to help fight malaria. That was a good decision based on the available information, Skinner said, but no one had looked to see if DDT had an effect on subsequent generations. “On the one hand, there are 2 million deaths per year in Africa from malaria. On the other hand, we’re looking at the possibility of metabolic disease in every generation to come,” Skinner said.

The word “possibility” there is key. This wasn’t a risk assessment study, and we don’t know if we’d see something similar in humans from environmental exposure to DDT, as opposed to direct injection. But this study should give pause to the people arguing to reintroduce DDT to places even without a malaria problem, Skinner said. It’s now being used in France, among other places. And once you spray DDT, it’s out there for a long time.

“If you go to any river in the U.S., and push your finger down into the mud one or two inches, the primary contaminant you will find there is DDT,” Skinner said. The stuff just takes a really long time to break down, and Skinner’s research suggests that its effects could last much longer.


Dispute over data rights forces retraction of obesity paper …

bmcresnotesA group of researchers in South Africa has lost their 2012 article in BMC Research Notes after one of the author’s institutions evidently pulled rank and sought to claim the data as its own.

The article, “Association of body weight and physical activity with blood pressure in a rural population in the Dikgale village of Limpopo Province in South Africa,” appeared last February. Its first author was Seth Mkhonto, who listed two affiliations, the Human Sciences Research Council, in Pretoria, and the University of the Limpopo.

But the latter institution seems not to have given Mkhonto approval to publish the data — a rather strange state of affairs given the whole “publish or perish” ethos of academia.

According to the retraction notice:

This article has been retracted by the Editor because the authors do not have ownership of the data they report. A formal investigation conducted by the University of Limpopo, South Africa, has concluded that the data reported in this article are the sole property of the University of Limpopo.

The abstract of the paper doesn’t shed any light on why it might have been controversial:

Africa is faced with an increasing burden of hypertension attributed mainly to physical inactivity and obesity. Paucity of population based evidence in the African continent hinders the implementation effective preventive and control strategies. The aim of this study was to determine the association of body weight and physical activity with blood pressure in a rural black population in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

Methods

A convenient sample of 532 subjects (396 women and 136 men) between the ages 20-95 years participated in the study. Standard anthropometric measurements, blood pressure, and physical activity were recorded by trained field workers.

The paper has been cited once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Obese Patients With Pancreatic Cancer Have Shorter Survival …

Obese Patients With Pancreatic Cancer Have Shorter Survival, Study Finds

People with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) — A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer usually carries with it a poor prognosis, and the news may be even worse for those who are obese: It could mean dying two to three months sooner than pancreatic cancer patients of normal weight, new research shows.

Prior studies have tied obesity to a higher chance of getting pancreatic cancer, but the new study asked whether the disease affects the tumor’s aggressiveness and the patient’s overall survival.

“[The new research] adds to the growing body of evidence that obesity is linked to cancer,” said Dr. Smitha Krishnamurthi, an associate professor of medicine at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

The study was published Oct. 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Krishnamurthi was not involved in the new study, but did write a related journal commentary.

Because it is so often asymptomatic and is detected late, pancreatic cancer remains one of the most deadly tumor types. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 45,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease this year, and it will claim over 38,000 lives.

In the new study, a team led by Dr. Brian Wolpin, an assistant professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, collected data on more than 900 patients with pancreatic cancer who took part in either the Nurses’ Health Study or the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. These patients were diagnosed during a 24-year period, the researchers said.

After diagnosis, the patients lived for an average of only five months. Normal-weight patients, however, lived two to three months longer than obese patients, the researchers found.

This association remained strong even after the researchers took into account factors such as age, sex, race, ethnicity, smoking and the stage of the cancer at diagnosis. The study did not, however, prove a cause-and-effect relationship between weight and length of survival.

In addition, obese patients were more likely to have more advanced cancer at the time they were diagnosed compared with normal-weight patients. Overall, the cancer had already showed signs of spreading in 72 percent of obese patients at the time of diagnosis, compared with 59 percent of normal-weight patients.

It also seemed to matter how long the patient had been obese — the association between weight and survival was strongest for the 202 patients who were obese 18 to 20 years before being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Krishnamurthi said the reasons for the link aren’t clear. She said the study can’t tell us whether shorter survival in obese patients “was due to biologic changes that can occur in obesity, such as increased inflammation in the body, or whether the obesity caused other conditions that interfered with the treatment of pancreatic cancer.”

Diabetes Could Double The Risk Of Esophageal Cancer In Patients With …

Diabetes, a component of metabolic syndrome, has previously been linked to Barrett’s esophagus — where the esophageal lining becomes similar to that of the stomach — but the prevalence of diabetes in patients with the esophageal disease has never been researched. Now, a new study has found that diabetes could double the risk of developing esophageal cancer in patients with Barrett’s esophagus.

“There has been a rising incidence of metabolic syndrome over the past decades, which seems to correlate with an increase in esophageal cancer,” lead researcher Prashanthi N. Thota, who presented the team’s findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, told MedPage Today.

People develop Barrett’s esophagus when their esophageal muscles fail to close tightly enough, and allow gastric acid to enter the esophagus. When this happens, it can damage, and eventually change the lining of the esophagus. These changes can eventually cause dysplasia — an increased population of immature cells — and possibly even cancer.

Thota’s team of researchers looked at data from 1,623 patients who had Barrett’s esophagus and were seen between 2000 and 2013. Of these patients, 274 also had diabetes or were diagnosed with it during the duration of the study.  After accounting for sex, race, and length of Barrett’s esophagus segment, the researchers found adenocarcinoma — cancer of the epithelium — in 15.8 percent of those without diabetes and 25.9 percent of those with diabetes during the 16-month follow-up. They also saw high-grade dysplasia or cancer in 17.9 percent of patients with diabetes compared to only 9.7 percent of those without.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that 61.9 percent of patients who had hypertension didn’t develop dysplasia compared to 56 percent of those who had hypertension — the researchers had expected the opposite. “I suspect that this relates to the use of antihypertensive drugs rather than the condition per se,” Thota told MedPage Today.

A 2012 study also found that diabetic men could have an increased risk for developing esophageal cancer. Looking at data from 17 other studies, the researchers concluded that diabetics had a “modestly increased risk” of esophageal cancer and adenocarcinomas, and that men were significantly more at risk.