Wellness News

Obesity now Kills MORE people worldwide than car crashes, terror attacks, and Alzheimer's combined.
Five takeaways from a giant study on an epidemic governments can’t ignore.

Look around you, and it’s not hard to see how serious the problem of obesity has become in America. People here are now bigger, and suffering from more obesity-related diseases, than ever before — prompting cities across the country to desperately try to fight back with measures like soda taxes and calorie labels.

Travel beyond the US borders, though, and you’ll see the same problem elsewhere: Obesity is now a growing phenomenon in just about every corner of the world, in poor and rich countries alike.

That’s the big take home message from an impressive new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. A global group of researchers, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, came out with the best estimate yet on the worldwide obesity burden, and found that more than 10 percent of the world's population — 107.7 million children and 603.7 adults — is now obese.

Since 1980, the obesity prevalence has doubled in more than 70 countries around the world — mainly in low- and middle-income regions — and it has steadily increased in nearly every other country.

The study is the largest systematic analysis of obesity data ever done, with researchers combing the medical literature and crunching thousands of data sets on obesity in adults and children covering 195 countries. Here are their 5 most important take aways.

1) The main driver of obesity is not lack of exercise

A lack of exercise and too many calories have been depicted as equal causes of the obesity crisis. But they shouldn’t be, the NEJM authors said.

According to their paper, physical activity levels began to decline before the global obesity rate started to surge — which means changes to the food environment are the prime obesity culprit.

Food companies like PepsiCo and McDonalds have made inroads all over the world with their cheap, calorie-dense and nutrient poor soda, candy, and fast food. They’ve also heavily marketed their products — which are swiftly becoming cheaper and more accessible than healthier alternatives, like fruits and vegetables, particularly in cities.

"Increased availability, accessibility, and affordability of energy-dense foods, along with intense marketing of such foods, could explain excess energy intake and weight gain among different populations,” the researchers wrote.

We are also simply eating more calories per person: Portion sizes have gone up, and eating outside of the home often means heavier, unhealthier foods, and sugary drinks to wash them down.

Yet, we often focus on the need for more exercise as the way to shrink our waistlines, and the study suggests that focus is misguided.

As Diana Thomas, a Montclair State University obesity researcher told Vox, "There are all kinds of reasons to exercise that are good for your health. However, if you're trying to lose weight, the biggest problem I see is food. We need to cut back the food we're eating."

Indeed, the evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss. The two things should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate.

2) Obesity contributed to 7 percent of all deaths globally in 2015

Having a high body weight is now considered a risk factor for a range of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and a number of cancers. And as obesity has become more common, so has the toll for these health problems.

All together, the researchers estimated that a high body weight contributed to 4 million deaths globally — or 7 percent of the deaths from any cause — in 2015. Most of those deaths were caused by cardiovascular disease, with diabetes following closely behind, along with kidney disease and cancers.

This is a massive number: it’s more than the deaths caused by traffic accidents, Alzheimer’s, or other deadly issues that get a lot of airtime, like terrorism — combined

3) Childhood obesity is growing faster than adult obesity — and the US rate is one of the worst

While obesity is still rarer among children compared to adults, the rate of childhood obesity has surged much faster in many countries.

Of the 20 largest countries in the world, the US had the worst rate of childhood obesity, with 13 percent of children now obese. Egypt had the highest adult obesity prevalence, where 35 percent of adults are now obese.

This news comes along with a growing body of evidence that being overweight or obese in youth can hurt your heart health and increase your risk of death. We also know that when people are obese as children, it can cut into life expectancy in a serious way.

“Even if we were to dramatically step up prevention efforts tomorrow,” said Andrew Stokes, assistant professor of global health at Boston University’s School of Public Health, “there is a generation of children, over 100 million globally, that will likely have to grapple their entire lives with weight-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart diseases and also face higher rates of premature mortality.”

4) Medical advances have helped reduce obesity-related deaths in rich countries

There was, however, a disconnect between the rise in obesity and the associated burden of disease in wealthy countries like the US, where the death rate linked to obesity has actually fallen over the last 20 years.

This isn't because obesity is any less dangerous here or now; it's because of advances in medicine that have helped people manage their high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems, the researchers said. And unfortunately, those medicines aren’t as widely available in the developing countries that are seeing the most extreme increases in obesity.

Many of the places where obesity is climbing the fastest — such as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea-Bissau — have health care systems that “are not equipped to deal with this tsunami of [obesity-related] chronic conditions”, Stokes added.

5) There are some countries where the obesity rate is still quite low. Here’s how they could stay that way.

While no country has managed to cut its obesity levels, there are some countries where obesity rates remain low. The prevalence of obesity was lowest among adults in Vietnam, a middle income country, and children in Bangladesh — a poor country where only a little over 1 percent of those populations are now obese.

Stokes saw this as a cause for optimism. “This adds urgency to finding solutions to the epidemic of obesity that can be implemented in these settings before rates rise as they have elsewhere,” he said. Finding out what’s different about these countries may also hold the keys to the root causes of the epidemic.

“Today, for the first time in history, more people are dying from too much unhealthy food than they are from too little healthy food,” Mike Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases, said in a statement. “This is a global epidemic that governments can no longer ignore, because there are many steps that they can take to tackle obesity and save lives.”

Countries are experimenting with policy solutions — but Trump may slow them down in the US

Many countries and states are experimenting with measures like soda taxes, curbing marketing of unhealthy foods to kids, and making school meals healthier, but we still don't have a firm grasp on which of these policies will work. And Americans can expect the Trump Administration to delay when it comes to implementing these policies at the federal level.

So far, the new administration has been pushing back key federal policies that were aimed at curbing obesity. They’ve delayed the compliance deadline for calorie labels on restaurant menus, relaxed nutrition standards for federally subsidized school lunch programs, and pushed back implementation of newer and more informative Nutrition Facts labels, which were scheduled to appear on millions of food packages by July 2018.

There is still cause for hope. As recently as 2013, the US had no soda taxes aimed at tamping down obesity rates. Now, nearly 9 million Americans live in cities and states with those taxes in place. So we are making some progress at the local level, even if the federal government ignores the epidemic.
Make A Coping Skills Toolkit
A coping skills toolkit has everything you need to calm down and regroup during a tough time. First, choose a box, folder, bag, backpack, or other container for your toolkit. Then fill it with things that you know make you feel good. Here are some ideas:
• Your favorite music
• A small object, like a stone, that feels good to hold
• Inspiring pictures (print some myStrength Inspirations)
• A list of your favorite myStrength activities
• Numbers of people to call/text if you need a friend
• Contact info for your therapist, case worker, or crisis line
• Funny jokes
• A craft, like knitting or whittling
• A puzzle: jigsaw, crossword or sudoku
• Something that smells good, like a scented candle or lotion
• A soft object
• An eye pillow
• A list of things you love and are grateful for
• Candy, chocolate, or other treat
• Colored pencils, paint and paper
Keep your kit in an easy-to-find place. Open it up whenever you need a boost. Feel assured, too, knowing myStrength is always here for you!

If you haven't already created a myStrength account....log on and do it TODAY!!!
Poisonous Brown Recluse spiders come out of hiding for the summer.
When a boy from Riverside, Kansas, put on an Iron Man costume he had tucked away in his closet, he didn't know about the brown recluse spider that called the outfit home.

That's when the venomous spider bit 7-year-old Greyson Bryant-Stuckey, leaving him with a welt that soon evolved into a rash that spread across his entire back.

"It started to hurt and hurt and hurt more and more," the boy told KAKE of the wound.

Greyson's mother, Leanne Bryant, rushed the boy to the doctor, who she said immediately knew the cause.

"She said it was definitely a brown spider bite," Bryant said, however, the family didn't learn until later that it was a brown recluse spider that bit Greyson. Though the brown recluse's bite is not known to be fatal, its venom can cause serious pain and scarring, Greyson's doctor said.

Bryant said the venom would have started "eating away" underneath her son's skin if the family had waited any longer before seeking medical attention.

Brown recluse spiders, or Loxosceles reclusas, are roughly the size of a quarter with their legs extended, and experts say the shy arachnid usually prefers to hide in dry, dark places, where there are not as likely to bite unless disturbed.

"This time of year we tend to see a lot of brown recluses," exterminator Craig Betts told the station, "and the fact that people are moving residence, buying new houses, doing spring cleaning" tends to force the spiders out of their hiding places.

"It's like anything else. If it's left undisturbed, they're going to multiply rapidly and create a bigger problem," Betts said.

As for Greyson, his family reported their son's state has been improving, and he is now shaking out his clothes before putting them on, as experts advise just in case.
Horrific Burns can come from a Fire Pit hours after use
Firepits are popular in the summer....who doesn't love s'mores!!!Make sure that proper precautions are taken to prevent injuries.

The fire had reportedly been out for 16 hours.

A Canadian family wants parents to know about the dangers of fire pits after their toddler suffered horrific burns hours after the fire was put out.

In May, the Cormier family claims they were cleaning their yard and started a fire in their backyard pit to burn off some debris. After enjoying some marshmallows, they doused the flames with water before heading inside for the night.

It wasn't until the next day -16 hours later they claim- that their two-and-a-half-year-old son Tristan fell into the pit while playing in the yard. Even though he was pull out within 30-seconds, the remaining embers in the fire were still hot enough to badly burn the toddler.

"My father was holding my son frantically and all I could see was just ashes everywhere and I instantly – as a mom – just took him inside and called 911," said Tristan's mother, Shelley Cormier in an interview with Global News.

He was immediately rushed to the hospital, where he received surgery that removed skin from his back to replace what he lost on his left arm and hand.

After three weeks of treatment and a skin graft surgery, Tristan was finally released from the hospital, but not before his mom shared a Facebook Live warning parents about her son's accident.

"It [fire] can burn up to 24 to 48 hours afterwards, depending on the temperature outside and the time of fire pit you're using. It was definitely a shock to see," she explained.

Brian Levesque, a fire prevention officer with the City of Edmonton, told Global News that most people don't realize just how long an extinguished fire can stay hot for.

"If it looks like it is out but they're not 100% sure, the best thing to do is to add more water, give it a really good stir, add more water, stir it again and add more water. Just to be sure, to make sure it's really well flooded," he explained. "You don't want any smoke. You don't want to hear any popping. You don't want to hear any hissing. You don't want to see any steam coming off the wood anymore."

In addition to making sure that your fire is completely out, the U.S. Fire Administration recommends taking the following precautions to prevent fire or burn injury:

Make sure the fire pit is at least three feet away from your house and anything that can burn.
Closely watch children when the fire pit is in use.
Use a metal screen over wood-burning fires to keep sparks from floating out.
Turn off or put out fires before you leave the backyard.
Store matches and lighters out of children's sight and reach.

Tristan's family has since set up a GoFundMe account to help alleviate the financial stress of his accident. GoodHousekeeping.com has reached out to Shelley Cormier for comment and will update this post as more information becomes available.
Obesity, inactivity could outpace smoking in cancer death risk
Obesity and inactivity could someday account for more cancer deaths than smoking if current trends continue, a leading cancer expert says.

As the rate of smoking decreases, other unhealthy habits threaten to offset the progress in reducing cancer deaths, says Richard Wender, a physician and chief cancer control officer at the American Cancer Society (ACS). A study in the New England Journal of Medicine last fall found 13 types of cancer were linked to excess body weight.

There's no guarantee that obesity and inactivity will surpass smoking as a cancer cause, Wender says, but the possibility is startling.

"Who would’ve thought we’d ever see the day where what you eat (and) exercise, could account for more cancer deaths than smoking?” he asks.

Calculating cancer's link to obesity is difficult in part because of an overlap in cancer risk factors, says ACS' Rebecca Siegel, While 20% of cancers are caused by poor diet, alcohol consumption, a lack of physical activity and/or excess weight, that can't be combined with the 30% of cancer deaths caused by cigarette smoking. That' s because poor people are more likely to be obese and to smoke than more affluent people, says Siegel, strategic director of ACS' surveillance information services.

A striking 50% of all cancer deaths could be prevented by following the basics of a healthy lifestyle, says Wender. That includes diet and exercise and having regular cancer screenings and getting the HPV vaccine that helps prevent cervical cancer and likely oral cancer and for Hepatitis B, which can lead to liver cancer.

Wender was speaking at a recent meeting of the Council of Accountable Physician Practices, which represents the doctors who work at integrated health care systems like Kaiser Permanente and Geisinger Health, which treat and insure patients. These groups says they are better positioned to address social determinants of health that can lead to cancer — like access to healthy food — than other health systems.

After all, they don't have to worry about whether federal programs like Medicare or Medicaid or independent commercial insurers will reimburse them, say, for connecting patients to diet and fitness professionals. They are motivated to screen patients more often for cancer, since they have to pay to treat cancer that is caught too late.

The effect of the decline in smoking on cancer "has been somewhat counterbalanced by this steady rise in obesity trends beginning in the '70s," says Wender. The obesity rate has tripled since the early 1970s to now comprise about 36% of adults.

Geisinger Health in Pennsylvania has expanded a program that gives some of their least-healthy, low income patients free healthy groceries through a program known as Fresh Food Pharmacy. There are now about 65 patients in the program now and the results "have been spectacular," says Geisinger spokesman Michael Ferlazzo.

Patients have lost weight, reduced their medications and reduced their hemoglobin A1c blood sugar rate by at least three points. One patient cut the level in half — from 16.4 to 8.4 — in four months.

Each decline of one point in A1c results in an average of about $8,000 in annual health care cost savings, research shows.

Another patient's A1c dropped from 13.8 to 6.9 in four months, marking the first time the woman had a level lower than 7.0 since becoming a Geisinger patient in 2001. She has also lost 14 pounds and reduced her bad cholesterol significantly, Ferlazzo says.

People's Zip codes are also important indicators of their cancer risk factors due to the close link between where people live and social factors that contribute to their health.

Zip code often defines one’s educational opportunities, income, diet options, and access to health care resources. There is a strong correlation between region and the percentage of Americans who have access to cancer screenings, use tobacco products, and make unhealthy lifestyle choices, says Wender.

"We do not have a knowing problem, we have a doing problem," says surgeon Robert Pearl, who is the former CEO of the Permanente Medical Group, which represents Kaiser doctors. He is also author of the new book Mistreated, which examines the high cost, low quality and poor access to health care in the United States.

Transportation key to treatment

Much of the “doing gap” results from issues of transportation. If people do not live close to a specialist that they are supposed to see, then they are less likely to seek the treatment that they need. This disproportionately affects those living at or near the poverty line.

For those who rely on carpools or public transportation to get to work, attending a doctor’s appointment could cause them to miss work. Transportation also plays into the disparities between urban and rural populations.

Hunter Jones, a cancer survivor and Geisinger patient, noted how difficult it was for her to travel almost two hours to the hospital to meet with her specialists and receive treatments.

Many times doctors may blame the patient because they didn’t come to an appointment, says John Bulger, a physician and chief medical officer for Geisinger Health Plan. But it’s not their fault, he says, if they didn’t have the transportation to get there.

A possible solution is finding new ways to bring providers to patients, which can be helped by using electronic health records, Bulger says.

Electronic records, telemedicine and video conference can reach patients with transportation problems, Bulger says, adding that ride-sharing services can help, too.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Lyft announced last month that they were joining forces to improve access to health care in what they called "transportation deserts."

The connections between smoking and too much exposure to the sun and cancer are well known, but the connections between nutrition and exercise and cancer are less known and harder to determine.


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