CAT | Heart Health
Did you know tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States?i Even still, more than 42 million American adults are smokers—and every day nearly 4,000 kids under 18 try their first cigarette.ii If kicking the habit is on your list of better health resolutions in 2015, here’s a quick tip: make sure you eat plenty of fiber.
Researchers from the University of Auckland School of Medicine in New Zealand recently determined that a diet high in fiber may play an important role in supporting lung health. Specifically, dietary fiber helps reduce the inflammation that cause progressive damage and ultimately lead to diseases such as emphysema, COPD and lung cancer, which can shorten the lives of smokers by up to 20 years.
According to lead author Professor Robert Young, results of the study support the theory that the benefits of a high-fiber diet are obtained through the increased absorption of naturally occurring anti-inflammatory chemicals produced by healthy gut bacteria, which are nourished by dietary fiber.
While they agree quitting smoking is the best way to ensure optimal lung function and overall health, the research team recommends increasing dietary fiber intake as smokers take steps toward tobacco-free living. Keep your fiber intake high by eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits, and let’s make 2015 the year you finally kick the habit!
Obesity continues to be one of the greatest health challenges in the United States. More than a third of all adults are overweight or obese, and roughly the same goes for our children and teens. If we keep heading in the same direction the impact on our national health could be devastating, which is why experts continue to examine the cause and effect of carrying excess weight in the hope of finding a solution. Here are two new obesity studies making headlines:
Obesity Shortens Life Expectancy
Scientists in Canada recently determined that being obese can take years off your life—and the younger you are obese, the worse off you may be. Using data gathered from national health survey results, a team of researchers developed a computer model to project disease outcomes in overweight and obese adults (compared with those of normal weight) between the ages of 20 and 79.
They focused in particular on heart disease and diabetes and found that obesity is associated with a higher risk of both, which significantly reduces not just life expectancy but the years of “healthy life” an individual should have. Those who were overweight (with a BMI of 25) lost between 0 to 3 years, while obese people (BMI 30+) lost 1 to 6 years and the severely obese (BMI 35+) saw their life expectancy decreased by 1 to 8 years. Not only that, but the long-term effects were more severe in younger overweight and obese people.
Experts Urge Policies to Reduce Childhood Obesity
Focusing on childhood obesity in particular, results of a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine offer specific interventions for reducing obesity among children and adolescents. Of the 26 recommended policies examined, three were chosen based on projected effectiveness: after-school activity programs; an excise tax on sodas and sugary beverages (which, in turn, would channel money toward obesity prevention programs); and a ban on fast food ads aimed at children. Experts determined that all three policies, if put into action, would reduce childhood obesity prevalence in America by 2032.