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CHILDREN’S HEALTH

Fast Food Fuels Childhood Obesity
burger and friesA new study from the Children’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School supports the idea that fast food contributes to obesity in children. In a sample of 6,212 children and teens, nearly one-third ate fast food on any given day, and this one-third consumed more sugar, calories, and saturated fats and less fruits and vegetables than their peers. In 1970, fast food accounted for 2 percent of total calories for this group compared to 10 percent by the mid-1990s, an increase accompanied by rising obesity rates in youngsters.

Bowman SA, Gortmaker SL, Ebbeling CB, Pereira MA, Ludwig DS. Effects of fast-food consumption on energy intake and diet quality among children in a national household survey. Pediatrics. 2004;113:112-18.

School Nutrition Programs Make a Difference
The best way to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables is to offer them. A University of Minnesota team reviewed five studies of school nutrition programs that make produce more readily available, lower prices on these items, employ nutrition-related classroom activities, or involve cafeteria staff. Three of the five studies showed improvements in students’ diets. In two high schools, simply lowering the price of fresh fruit and baby carrots increased sales 400 and 200 percent, respectively.

French SA, Stables G. Environmental interventions to promote vegetable and fruit consumption among youth in school settings. Prev Med. 2003;37:593-610.

Fruits and Vegetables Strengthen Girls’ Bones
Girls with high intakes of fruits and vegetables had larger bone size than peers who consumed the least amounts, reports the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers looked at the dietary habits of 56 Caucasian females, ages 8 to 13, dividing them into two groups: those who ate less than three servings per day of fruits and vegetables and those who ate three or more servings per day. X-rays revealed that the latter group not only had stronger bones, but also reported higher concentrations of potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Despite similar calcium intakes, this group also excreted less urinary calcium.

Tylavsky FA, Holliday K, Danish R, Womack C, Norwood J, Carbone L. Fruit and vegetable intakes are an independent predictor of bone size in early pubertal children. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79:311-317.

WOMEN'S HEALTH

HRT: Hearing Risks, Too?
earA new study funded by the National Institutes of Health suggests that postmenopausal women who receive hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may experience diminished hearing. The study involved 64 women over the age of 60, half of whom were using HRT. The HRT group not only performed 10 to 30 percent worse on hearing tests than the non-HRT group, but also experienced a 30 percent decline in their ability to process the information they heard. Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels, which in turn affect sodium and potassium levels, may be to blame, researchers say.

Kilicdag EB, Yavuz H, Bagis T, Tarim E, Erkan AN, Kazanci F. Effects of estrogen therapy on hearing in postmenopausal women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004;190:77-82.

DIABETES

Magnesium-Rich Foods Lower Diabetes Risk
Men and women who consumed the most magnesium were least likely to develop diabetes, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School. They evaluated the diets of about 85,000 female nurses and about 42,000 male health care professionals over a period of 18 and 12 years, respectively. The benefits of magnesium—found in beans, green vegetables, whole grains, and nuts—were still apparent after adjusting for age, family history, exercise, alcohol consumption, and other factors that may influence the disease.

Lopez-Ridaura R, Willett WC, Rimm EB, et al. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women. Diabetes Care. 2004;27:134-140.

Fitness Lowers Diabetes Mortality in Men
runnerMen with diabetes who exercise are more likely to sidestep all major causes of death than their more out-of-shape counterparts, according to a 15-year study of 2,200 men published in the journal Diabetes Care. The advantages of exercise were seen even in men who were overweight. Thirty minutes of walking five times per week was enough to bring significant benefits.

Church TS, Cheng YJ, Earnest CP, et al. Exercise capacity and body composition as predictors of mortality among men with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004; 27:83-88.

ALTERNATIVES TO ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION

No Mice Needed: Clinical Study Shows Important Key to Healthy Pregnancy
miceWhile researchers have used many techniques to understand what makes a healthy pregnancy, detailed clinical observations of pregnant women themselves continue to be most fruitful. In a study in Surrey, UK, women with low levels of the mineral selenium were four times more likely to have preeclampsia—a syndrome of dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy—than women with higher levels, according to a study from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Researchers at the University of Surrey measured selenium levels in the nail clippings of 53 patients with the condition and 53 healthy women, finding that low selenium was also associated with premature delivery. The condition occurs in 5 to 8 percent of pregnancies in the general population, but is rare among vegans. Selenium is found in whole grains, fortified cereal, and Brazil nuts.

Rayman MP, Bode P, Redman CW. Low selenium status is associated with the occurrence of the pregnancy disease preeclampsia in women from the United Kingdom. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2003;189:1343-9.



 

Spring-Summer 2004
Volume XIII
Numbers 2-3

 Good Medicine
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