By Irene Noguchi
Journalist Sarah Varney’s book might make you think twice the next time you step on a scale.
Over two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and that extra weight increases the risk of all kinds of physical health problems.
But Varney looked at an under-reported area — how being significantly overweight contributes to sexual problems, both emotional and physical — in her new book “XL Love: How the Obesity Crisis is Complicating America’s Love Life.”
For starters being overweight or obese leads to riskier sexual behavior for girls and women and erectile dysfunction for men, she described recently on KQED’s Forum. Continue reading
By Sarah Varney, Kaiser Health News
Carlos Romero’s apartment is marked with remnants from his former life: a giant television from his days playing World of Warcraft and a pair of jeans the width of an easy chair. The remnants of that time — when he weighed 437 pounds — mark his body too: loose, hanging skin and stretch marks.
“I lift weights and work out and work hard, but there’s lasting damage,” said Romero, who lives in Seattle.
Yet for all the troubles he had dating when he was obese—all those unanswered requests on dating web sites—shedding weight left him uneasy about how much to reveal. “If you were to say to someone on the first date, ‘I lost 220 pounds,’ you’re indicating that you had a very serious issue at one point and that you may still have that issue,” he said. “So it’s not something I put on a dating profile because I don’t want people to judge me for it.” Continue reading
Fresh Approach staffers chop a variety of fruits and vegetables for today’s summer salad. “We tried to choose one of every color,” says Laura deTar, Nutrition Program Manager for Fresh Approach. “We want to expose people to things they may not have had.” (Brittany Patterson, KQED)
By Brittany Patterson
In Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, 20 people sit inside a colorful classroom at the Native American Health Center. They listen attentively as Leah Ricci gives a lecture on the merits of fiber and where to get it. As far as lectures on fiber are concerned, this one is pretty rousing.
“I didn’t like vegetables and fruit, but now we’re all eating more of them.”
“Can anyone name some foods that are high in fiber?” she asks.
Immediately the participants begin to throw out suggestions.
“Beans. Apples. Greens. Seeds.”
“What do all of these foods have in common?” Ricci asks.
“They all come from plants,” shouts out Paula Marie Parker.
Parker and the others are all students in a program at the Native American Health Center called VeggieRx, which teaches participants about nutrition and the merits of incorporating more fruits and vegetables and physical activity in their lives and the lives of their families. Continue reading
New research from Stanford shows that physical activity — or lack thereof — may be a bigger driver of the obesity epidemic than diet is.
The rate of Americans reporting inactivity has skyrocketed.
The researchers looked at national survey results of people’s health habits — including diet and exercise — from 1988 to 2010. The stunner was the increase in people who reported no leisure-time physical activity.
In 1988, 19 percent of women were inactive. By 2010, that number had jumped to 52 percent. Continue reading
Banning the use of food stamps to purchase sodas and other sugary drinks could reduce both obesity and Type 2 diabetes rates, according to new research from the Stanford University School of Medicine.
‘Shift in policy could prevent 400,000 cases of obesity.’
About one in seven Americans — more than 46 million people — currently receive food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Government surveys
show that the average SNAP recipient drinks the equivalent of a little more than a can of soda a day.
Stanford researchers used two data sets, one on diet and another on price data for food, and then used simulations to estimate the effect of a ban on using SNAP funds to buy sugary beverages, including sodas and sports drinks, but excluding 100 percent fruit juices. Continue reading
(Jeff Swenson/Getty Images)
By Chris Richard
Studies have linked air pollution exposure, especially exposure to pollution from congested roadways, with serious health conditions ranging from asthma, to heart disease, to cancer, to low birth weight.
Now a research team at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine has received funding to investigate whether children living near busy roadways are more prone to obesity.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the federal Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded $7.8 million to the medical school’s Southern California Children’s Environmental Health Center to fund research by over the next five years.
Scientists will conduct new studies and analyze existing data on whether and how roadway pollution may make children obese. They’ll also study metabolic abnormalities linked to air pollution from roads that might increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Continue reading
Retailer J.C. Penney features a Girls Plus clothing department tailored to overweight girls. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Building on earlier research a major new study has found that girls are starting puberty at even younger ages. The most significant changes were seen in Caucasian girls and in girls who are overweight or obese. Still, girls who were not overweight were also entering puberty younger, the study found.
Researchers at three sites around the country — including the San Francisco Bay Area — followed 1,239 ethnically diverse girls from 2004 to 2011. They looked at breast development, a key marker for the start of puberty.
Girls who mature earlier are at risk for lower self-esteem and higher rates of depression.
Earlier studies had shown that African-American girls had reached this milestone at younger ages. “Now it looks like it’s happening earlier for Caucasian girls,” said Dr. Louise Greenspan, a pediatric endocrinologist with Kaiser San Francisco and one of the authors of the study. “Particularly, the overweight Caucasian girls are developing earlier than they have in the past.”
Researchers looked at a number of factors, but the “obesity epidemic appears to be a prime driver in the decrease in age at onset of breast development,” the authors wrote. Continue reading
Farmworkers in Los Banos, CA. Many Central Valley farmworkers lack access to buy the produce they harvest. (Vinnee Tong/KQED)
By Alice Daniel, California Healthline
The town of Ceres, near Modesto, is like many small towns in the San Joaquin Valley. The farmworkers who pick the fruits, nuts and vegetables or work in the canneries often don’t have convenient ways to buy the produce they harvest. The lower-income side of town doesn’t have a grocery store, but there’s plenty of fast food. Residents say the tap water is cloudy and smells funny. At the convenience store, bottled soda is cheaper than bottled water.
It’s a story that can be told time and again in the small towns and unincorporated areas that dot the eight counties that make up the San Joaquin Valley. It’s a story the advocates at the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Project, or CCROPP, are trying to rewrite.
“We are not your typical obesity prevention program,” said Brandie Banks-Bey, with CCROPP. “We focus our efforts on environmental and policy changes that support healthy eating.”
Partnerships Address Problems Regionally
CCROPP partners with community organizations and also trains local residents to become more civically engaged through programs such as Powerful People Building Leadership for Healthy Communities. Continue reading
People who are sleep deprived had changes in the brain that led them to crave high-calorie foods, study suggests. (Getty Images)
Science has been pretty strong on connecting sleep deprivation to weight gain. Now a new study from UC Berkeley shows one reason might lie in the brain and how it is affected by sleep deprivation.
While the study was small — 23 people — it’s certainly intriguing. The recruits were monitored for two individual nights, a week apart. On one night, they got a normal night’s sleep (they slept 8.2 hours on average). On the other night, they were not allowed to sleep at all. After they had not slept, the study participants showed a much stronger preference for high-calorie foods, such as pizza and doughnuts, over more healthful choices like strawberries and carrots.
In addition, researchers, led by Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley psychology professor, measured areas of the brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The preference for high-calorie foods among the sleep-deprived matched with greater activity in an area of the brain called the amygdala, which the authors say has been “strongly implicated in governing the motivation to eat.” At the same time, those who were sleep-deprived had “significantly reduced activity” in three areas of the brain that have to deal with decision-making. Continue reading
The pre-schoolers weren’t necessarily drinking soda. Kool-Aid also is a sugar-sweetened beverage. (Dimmerswitch/Flickr)
Adults have been studied; teens have been studied; other school-age children have been studied. And the evidence shows pretty conclusively that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to increased risk of obesity.
But one group has not been studied so much: pre-school aged kids. In a major new study released today in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that, yes, sugar-sweetened beverages also put such very young children at greater risk for obesity.
About one in 10 children drank one or more servings of sugar-sweetened beverages daily.
Specifically, researchers followed 9,600 children (in other words, a really big sample) from birth to age 5. It’s this kind of “longitudinal” approach that gives this study a great deal of research power. “We were more interested in looking at children over a period of time,” said lead author Mark DeBoer, in the department of pediatrics at the University of Virginia. He says they wanted to see whether those children who drank sugary drinks were more likely to gain an unhealthy amount of weight over those who didn’t. Continue reading