A recent study in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health evaluated a possible link between depression and extra inches around the waist. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined data from the CARDIA study, a 20 year longitudinal study with over 5,100 men and women.
They discovered that over a 15 year period everyone had put on some weight, but the depressed people gained weight faster. People reporting high levels of depression gained weight fast. The interesting finding is that being overweight initially did not lead to changes in level of depression. The stress hormone cortisol plays a role in both depression and abdominal obesity, so increased levels of this hormone may be the reason why the depressed people gained the belly fat faster.
This study shows the importance of recognizing and treating depression not only for its psychological consequences, but also for physical reasons. In order to control obesity and obesity related diseases, it is important to also make sure depression is appropriately recognized treated.
Depression is a modifiable risk factor – prompt treatment can prevent permanent health problems. To find out more information about risk factors you can control to prevent heart disease, stroke and diabetes visit www.heart-strong.com
Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. The prevalence of heart disease varies among ethnic groups. Immigrants from India (South Asia) have a four times greater risk of developing heart disease than other Americans. Indians are also more likely to develop premature heart disease, have heart attacks at an earlier age and develop diffuse disease due to a genetic predisposition and a multitude of lifestyle risk factors. This includes both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
Genetic risk factors include: high lipoprotein (a) levels, elevated triglyceride levels and lower levels of less protective HDL (healthy) cholesterol. Indians are also more prone to have abdominal obesity, diabetes, sedentary lifestyles and diets high in fat and starches which can increase the risk of developing heart disease. The traditional Indian diet includes deep-fried foods (re-use of vegetable oil when cooking), coconut milk, roti, naan and other white breads, white rice, paneer (cheese), whole milk and high fat yogurt.
Even though Indians have a strong genetic risk for heart disease they can lower their risk by making healthy lifestyle changes.
Below are some tips that may help reduce the risk of heart disease:
- Avoid deep frying, try to broil, bake, steam instead
- Use low fat milk and dairy products
- Increase fruit and vegetable and fiber intake
- Use olive oil or canola oil, do not re-use cooking oil
- Avoid ghee (clarified butter)
- Increase intake of fish, nuts
- Decrease intake of starches like white rice, roti, white potatoes and naan
- Avoid eating all or majority of carbohydrates at one meal, do not skip meals
- Increase activity level (walking 30 minutes a day counts as exercise)
- Weight loss (lose abdominal fat, waist circumference goal men <36 inches, women <32 inches)
Lipoprotein (a) is a sub-class of LDL (Bad) cholesterol, when levels are elevated in the blood the risk for heart disease and stroke are increased. Elevated lipoprotein (a) levels are associated with premature heart disease and have little to do with diet or lifestyle, they are usually hereditary. All Indians/South Asians should have a lipoprotein (a) level checked at least once in their lifetime, preferably when they are younger since it is a marker of premature heart disease.
“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their cholesterol and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and diabetes. “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009. For more info visit www.heart-strong.com
Over the past year we have heard a lot about the increased risk for heart disease and diabetes with belly fat. But now we may also have to start measuring our thighs??
A recent study published on the British Medical Journal website (September 2009) states that adults with a thigh circumference less than 60 cm are at a higher risk for heart disease and premature death. This is the first study I came across reporting health problems related to thigh girth. This study followed 1463 men and 1380 women from Denmark for 10 years. The researchers found that adults with smaller thigh size were more likely to experience an early death and heart disease, even after taking body fat and other high risk factors (such as smoking and high cholesterol) into account. The authors suggest that the increased risk in men and women with narrow thighs may be related to too little muscle mass in this region which could contribute to problems with insulin sensitivity and lead to the development of diabetes and heart disease. The increased risk was observed in both adults with and without belly fat.
We will have to await future studies to see if these results are validated in other groups. For more heart healthy info visit www.heart-strong.com
We keep seeing in the news that more American adults (and even kids) are becoming overweight. Is this trend heading towards an obesity epidemic? The Centers for Disease Control recently released new statistics. Their latest survey reports that 26.1% of US adults in 2008 were obese compared to 25.6% in 2007. In Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia 30% or more were obese. NJ (our home state) is below the national average at 22.9%. Colorado was the only state with an obesity rate <20%. Now some really sad news: no state in the US showed a significant decrease in obesity between 2007 and 2008. Obesity increases a person risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. What does the future hold for the health of Americans?!?
Our new book “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses risk factors for heart disease and stroke and offers tips for women to decrease their risk and their family’s risk for future heart problems. Please visit www.heart-strong.com for more info.
A recent study by Plymouth’s Peninsula Medical School found that obese mothers were 10 times more likely to have obese daughters. Obese fathers were 6 times more likely to have obese sons. An interesting finding was that children of the opposite sex were not affected. The researchers suggest that the increased obesity risk may be related to similar lifestyles rather than genetics.
This suggests the need to target parent’s eating and exercise habits in order to promote healthy lifestyles for adults and their children. We know children learn from their parents, this includes both good and bad habits. Parents need to become positive role models.
For more heart healthy info please visit www.heart-strong.com