Calculations of A Body Shape Index can help predict those at risk of dying

A Body Shape Index: The Newest Risk Factor

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

CALCULATIONS OF A BODY SHAPE INDEX CAN HELP PREDICT THOSE AT RISK OF DYING

You don’t need a calculator to tell if you are fat. Standing naked in front of a full length mirror will do. But you do need a calculator to figure out if your body size and shape put you at risk of premature death. The new measurement, called A Body Shape Index (ABSI), requires a square root, a cube-root and some long division to predict who has a “hazardous body shape.”

And you thought stepping on the bathroom scale was scary!

This new index was developed by researchers at The City College of New York. They wanted to overcome weaknesses in the other measurements now used by health professionals to determine who, among the rapidly growing overweight and obese population, is most likely to suffer complications from their fatness. This latest tool will allow them to identify those most likely to die from their excess weight.

What Measurements Have We Used?

The widely used calculation of Body Mass Index(BMI) is based solely on height and weight. It cannot account for fat distribution or muscle mass, which can be quite different between any two people of the same height, especially a man and woman who are both 5′ 10″. It’s better at assessing obesity in populations, not individuals.

Waist circumference does a good job of identifying fat deposits around the visceral organs, but it cannot tell how tall or well-proportioned you are. A waist circumference of 32 inches may be fine for a very tall woman, but not a very short one.

What’s Different About A Body Shape Index?

ABSI is based on both BMI and waist circumference. When used to follow more than 14,000 Americans adults over five years it was better than BMI or waist circumference in predicting who would die of any cause during that time period among men, women, and blacks, but not Mexicans. It was also a reliable way to predict who was more likely to die when other factors that significantly increase your risk, such as cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes status, were considered.

Losing weight by any means will lower your BMI, and shrinking or redistributing fat deposits will give you a smaller waist circumference. Those steps will also decrease your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. What we don’t know yet is what changes are needed in the ABSI to delay dying.

While waiting for further research on ABSI, you can always take a look in a full length mirror after your next shower. It’s another good way to see if you have any body shape issues to address.

For more updates on obesity research:

Two new anti-obesity drugs have been approved this summer giving consumers more help with weight loss

3 Anti-Obesity Drugs Now Available in U.S.

This post was written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original post here.

TWO NEW ANTI-OBESITY DRUGS HAVE BEEN APPROVED THIS SUMMER GIVING CONSUMERS MORE HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS

After 13 years with only one Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved pill for weight loss available in the U.S., the agency added two more anti-obesity drugs to the arsenal in the past 30 days. Qsymia is the latest.

I covered the Belviq when it was approved last month. Before that, Xenical was the only option. It received FDA approval in 1999, then became available in a lower dose as the over-the-counter drug Alli in 2007.

What does this recent flurry of activity in the world of anti-obesity drugs mean?

To the 68 percent of American adults who are either overweight or obese (that’s more than 23 million people) it means hope. Hope that one of these drugs will help them win the battle they fight every day with overeating. They still have to learn to make better food choices and be more physically active – no pill can replace that – but maybe, just maybe, one of these prescriptions will make it easier.

Obesity is a complex disease with multiple causes. No single treatment will work for everyone. Since each of these drugs functions in a different way, one could be better for you than another.

If you tried weight loss pills in the past and didn’t get the results you expected, you may want to try again. If you’ve been afraid to try them before, keep an open mind. It’s a hard battle to win alone.

FAQ About the Anti-Obesity Drugs

How do they work?

  • Some have a single mode of action, others have a combination of effects. They may:
  • Suppress appetite
  • Increase metabolism
  • Block absorption
  • Increase satiety
  • Stimulate alertness

How much weight can I lose?

FDA approval is based on studies that show weight loss is greater using the drug than can be achieved from just diet and exercise alone. Weight loss varies for each drug and with one’s ability to comply with the diet and exercise recommendations, but range from 5-10 percent.

How long must I take them?

Each of the available drugs must be taken daily to maintain results. They are not a cure, but a treatment that must be continued for the rest of one’s life.

Do they have side effects?

As with most drugs there are risks associated with their use, but when taken as recommended the benefits are expected to outweigh any risks for most people.

Can anyone take them?

Most are approved for adults only. Some are restricted if pregnant, when taking certain medications or if suffering from other conditions. These concerns must be discussed with your physician.

Some related blogs:

  • My post on last month’s anti-obesity drug: New Weight Loss Drug Wins FDA Approval
  • Some thoughts on what obesity is not: Reflections on Obesity and the Weight of the Nation
  • Why obesity isn’t our biggest problem: Metabolic Syndrome is Worse than Obesity

 

Fears of pesticides in produce may keep people from eating recommended servings of fruits and vegetables

Do You Worry About Pesticides in Produce?

FEARS OF PESTICIDES IN PRODUCE MAY KEEP PEOPLE FROM EATING RECOMMENDED SERVINGS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the post here.

Am I the only one who found it odd that the 2012 report on Pesticides in Produce was released this week, right in the middle of Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month? Stranger still, the report arrived just one day before the start of summer when many people across the country look forward to shopping at their local farm markets.

Talk about taking the spin out of your salad…

Why All the Fuss About Produce?

I do my best to encourage clients and readers to fill up on fruits and vegetables every day of the year, not just in June. The Dietary Guidelines recommend from 5 to 10 servings a day for those with caloric intakes between 1200 and 2400. Yet a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found less than a third of Americans consume even the minimum of five servings a day.

The reasons people don’t reach those goals are as varied as the salad dressings lining their refrigerator doors. Now we have to contend with the latest release of the Dirty Dozen in the produce aisles. That’s a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residues published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

As a consolation prize, they also identify a list of the 15 fruits and vegetables with the lowest pesticide residues, known as the Clean 15™.

What’s Wrong With the Pesticides in Produce™ Report?

I have two big issues with these lists. First, they undermine the more important objective of getting Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. There is no single dietary change that can produce more health benefits than reaching that goal. And while the report does encourage people to keep eating produce, that message is lost in the sensationalized coverage of the dangers of the Dirty Dozen™.

My second issue with those lists is that they use measurements of pesticide residue as a sign of a problem without providing any evidence that they pose a risk to our health. Sure, it sounds alarming, but what would be the quality, quantity, and cost of our produce if no pesticides were used?

If you think the answer lies in buying only organically grown produce, you’re in for a surprise. They are not 100% pesticide free, either.

So what can you do? Here’s my check list to help you with your produce purchases.

Getting the Best Value From the Fruits and Vegetables You Buy

[ ] Buy produce in all forms: fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juice

[ ] Change the variety of the fresh produce you buy with the seasons

[ ] Wash everything you buy, even things with a skin or peel you discard

[ ] Limit the use of imported produce since pesticide regulations are different outside the US

[ ] Use organically grown if you are juicing large amounts for daily consumption

What would make it easier for you to eat 5 or more servings of produce each day?

Don’t eliminate good for you foods from your diet based on a single ingredient

9 Good For You Foods That Get A Bad Rap

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

DON’T ELIMINATE THESE 9 GOOD FOR YOU FOODS FROM YOUR DIET

Some foods that get a bad rap are actually good for you foods that should not be eliminated from a healthy diet. The problem is some people like to judge foods based on a single ingredient or nutritional feature without regard to the total contribution the food makes to the diet. That’s just not right.

Why judging foods and ingredients too harshly is flawed:

  • New information about what’s in our food and what we need to be healthy is continually being discovered
  • How much and how often we eat something is more important in determining risk-benefit than any single attribute of a food.
  • If you remember Woody Allen’s proclamation in the movie Sleeper, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s just a matter of time before once forbidden foods become forgiven foods. Think coffee, wine, and chocolate. Who knows what’s next?

Eggs, potatoes, nuts, olive oil, and avocados have already been redeemed. Then there is the whole new world of phytonutrients – those naturally occurring compounds in plants with powerful health benefits – that are being found in foods we never expected to be superstars, like mushrooms, onions, and garlic.

The key is to keep moderation in mind for everything you eat since too much of anything can be harmful. And here are some foods you definitely should not abandon.

9 Good For You Foods That Get a Bad Rap

Cheese – Fill nutrient gaps for calcium and phosphorus with cheese and get a versatile source of protein that can take center-stage in a meal or make side dishes taste better. Research shows people whose diets include cheese have lower risk factors for metabolic syndrome.

Bananas – Available year round for about 35₵ each, bananas are an affordable and satisfying snack. Don’t worry about that fact a banana has more calories than a grape; you’re far more likely to eat too many grapes, but not too many bananas.

Coconut Oil– Not all tropical oils are the same, meaning high in artery-clogging saturated fat. The main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a medium-chained fatty acid than can actually increase good HDL cholesterol levels. It is also known for its antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties.

Lean Pork – Pigs are being fed and bred to provide cuts that are as lean as skinless chicken. Look for pork tenderloin, top loin roast, center loin chops, and rib chops to add some variety to your meat menus.

Dark Meat Chicken –It may be a bit higher in calories and fat than breast meat, but skinless chicken legs and thighs have other advantages. Dark meat is less expensive than light meat and much more flavorful, so you’re less likely to prepare it with lots of coatings and gravy that add fat and calories.

Vegetable Juice – Low sodium versions can be used to get needed vegetable servings into your daily diet when no raw or cooked vegetables are available. It’s also a great base for soups and sauces that you can season as you like.

Dried Fruit – Naturally sweet and delicious, dried fruits can be nibbled on instead of candy while helping you get the recommended 2-4 servings of fruit each day. Use dried blueberries or plums Amazins (dried plum pieces) anywhere raisins are called for when cooking and baking.

Peanut Butter – Like hummus, peanut butter is made from a legume and is a versatile source of protein. It can be incorporated into any snack to help you feel satisfied longer so you won’t keep snacking. Unlike hummus, it can be paired with sweet or savory foods, like apple slices, celery sticks, whole grain crackers or caramel rice cakes.

Granola Bars – Whether looking to get a boost in whole grains, protein, energy, or all three, there’s a bar to meet your needs. Some are enriched to provide additional vitamins and minerals, but their best feature of all is that they’re portion controlled and ready for on-the-go eating. While not great as a meal replacement, they can be the perfect cookie replacement!

Be sure to check these other posts on the same topic:

  • Peanut Butter: The Food That’s in 90% of US Households!
  • The World’s Most Popular Drug: Caffeine
  • Cheese is a Great Source of Protein, Too!
  • Getting More Fruit in Your Diet With Dried Fruit