Posts tagged with "obesity"

The Couch Potato Gene

Regular physical activity is a crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle. However, a majority of American adults spend their waking hours sitting, which leads to a variety of health issues such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Now, a researcher from the University of Missouri has identified a specific gene related to physical inactivity in rats that could potentially play a role in sedentary behavior in humans as well.

“Previous research has shown us that genes play some role in physical inactivity,” said Frank Booth, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “As inactivity leads to chronic disease, we wanted to identify which genes were involved and discovered one in particular, the Protein Kinase Inhibitor Alpha gene, that played a significant role.”

In 2009, Booth took 80 male rats and bred them with 80 female rats. He then placed the rats in voluntary running wheels, similar to those sold in pet stores, and tracked which rats ran the most and least. Over the past decade, Booth selectively bred the highly active rats with each other as well as the “lazy” rats with each other to determine if there is a difference in their genetic makeup. Booth found that the Protein Kinase Inhibitor Alpha gene was significantly less present in the “lazy” rats.

“What makes gene therapy difficult is that most chronic diseases are not caused by just one gene,” Booth said. “For example, there are more than 150 gene variations involved in type 2 diabetes. However, this study is paving the way for future research to identify other genes that might be involved in physical inactivity in humans as well.”

According to government data, costs associated with physical inactivity total $138 billion and account for more than 11% of total health care expenditures. In addition to the financial benefits of a more physically active society, Booth says a better understanding of genetic makeup could help public health officials see physical inactivity as a crucial priority to address.

“Physical inactivity contributes to more than 40 chronic diseases,” Booth said. “Rather than focusing on ways to treat chronic diseases after they have already developed, understanding the contributing factors to physical inactivity could help prevent those chronic diseases from occurring in the first place.”

Getting to the Heart of the Problem

Although it is well known that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability among all Americans, there is still a misconception that it primarily affects older, white men.

The truth is, the risks are even higher for African Americans. African Americans have higher rates of heart disease risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes. Currently, 44% of African American men and 48% of African American women have some form of heart disease in the U.S.

Experts say there are several reasons why heart disease disproportionally affects the black community ranging from genetic to environmental factors. There are simple ways to control certain risk factors to reduce your risk for heart disease – it can be as simple as changing your daily habits.

Lifestyle Changes Can Include:
-Healthy diet
-Be physically active every day
-Reduce stress
-Quit smoking

During Heart Health Month, Dr. Wayne Batchelor, an interventional cardiologist and member of the Association of Black Cardiologists, is available to explain what you need to know if you have a risk factor that’s out of your control, how to talk to your doctor and the latest advancements in treatment options.

Rise in Obesity-Related Cancers

A new analysis, published in the Lancet Public Health, raises the alarm that the rates of obesity-related cancers are rising in younger and younger adults. In the new study, six of twelve types of obesity-related cancers have significantly increased between 1995-2014 and the risk of these cancers is increasing in each successive younger age group. These cancers include colorectal, pancreatic, gallbladder, kidney cancer and multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer). These cancer types are particularly concerning because they are very serious and account for over 150,000 deaths in the U.S. every year.

“These numbers are worrying but not surprising; the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recently sounded the alarm that having overweight and obesity cause at least 12 types of cancer. However, the younger and younger age bracket in which we see rates increasing is even more troubling and demands a response. We cannot just watch these rates go up and ignore the factors that we know are contributing to these increases,” says Dr. Nigel Brockton, Vice President of Research at AICR.

Disturbingly, over 70% of Americans have overweight or obesity according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And AICR maintains that cancer risk increases across each higher category of Body Mass Index (BMI) as an indicator of body fatness (Healthy = 18.5-24.9, Overweight = 25-29.9, and Obesity = 30 and above).

A mere five BMI points (kg/m2) separate the three basic (healthy, overweight, obese) BMI categories. It is important to emphasize that cancer risk is not limited to the extreme category of obesity only, the risk increases for those with overweight too. For example, compared to those having healthy BMI range overweight category face an increased liver cancer risk of 30% and those having obesity of 60%.

The recent AICR Energy Balance and Body Fatness Report presented strong evidence for factors that can reduce risk of having weight gain, overweight and obesity, including walking, aerobic physical activity, food containing fiber and a “Mediterranean-type” diets rich in fruits and vegetables that reduce the risk of weight gain, overweight and obesity. Conversely, sugar-sweetened drinks, fast foods and a “Western type” diet rich in meats and energy-dense proteins are strongly linked to increased weight gain, overweight and obesity.

The Report also points to the evidence that greater screen time is a cause of weight gain, overweight and obesity in children. This is particularly relevant in light of the Lancet study that discussed the onset of cancer at an early age, since children with overweight and obesity are likely to turn into young adults in a similar status. There is enormous opportunity to prevent future cancer cases, if changes can be made to stop and reverse the current trend of increasing overweight and obesity. In addition to helping individuals learn about healthy lifestyle choices, community and national policies play a crucial role in creating living spaces more conducive to physical activity and healthier food choices.

AICR is urging Congress and federal agencies to improve funding for cancer prevention research, ensure that federal nutrition and physical activity guidelines reflect the latest research regarding cancer risk, improve nutrition labeling and improve access to lifestyle interventions.

SAPT WORKS!

October is Depression Awareness Month, and a great time to focus on ways to overcome the blues and keep depression away. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 16 million adults each year experience the most common type of depression, which is Major Depressive Disorder. The disorder is characterized by having at least five of the symptoms, in which at least one of them is an overwhelming feeling of sadness or a loss of interest and pleasure in most usual activities. The good news for those who would like to keep depression at bay or who are looking to beat the blues is that they may need look no further than consistently exercising.

“Making exercise a consistent part of your life has some amazing benefits,” explains Coach Sarah Walls, personal trainer and owner of SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc., who is also the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. “Those who engage in exercise regularly feel the difference it can make in one’s life. It can impact everything from how you see yourself to how well you sleep at night. It’s that powerful.”

Before anyone cringes and says they don’t have time to fit in exercising, it’s important to know that even a little bit can go a long way. New research published in the October 2017 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry shares details from a landmark study conducted on nearly 34,000 Norwegians. What researchers found was that even small amounts of exercise can protect against depression, regardless of age or gender. They report that sedentary lifestyles are becoming the norm around the world, and depression rates are growing. What’s more, their research showed that those who don’t exercise at all have a 44% increased chance of developing depression. They found that the mental health benefits of exercise are found within the first hour of exercise each week, showing that even giving an hour per week to exercise does a world of good.

Here are 5 ways exercise helps to beat the blues:

  1. Natural chemicals. When you exercise, your brain releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Those endorphins are a natural opiate-like chemical that acts as a pain reliever, reduces stress, and helps people be able to sleep better.
  2. Clears the mind. Exercising is a great way to help alleviate worries and anxiety. Those who may be worrying about something or having a difficult emotional time can engage in exercise and find they feel a lot better by the time they are done with the session.
  3. New connections. According to Harvard Medical School, exercising spurs the release of proteins called neurotrophic or growth factors, which cause nerve cells to grow and make new connections. This helps to lead to improvements in brain functioning.  The exercising supports nerve cells in the hippocampus, which helps to relieve depression.
  4. Better image. Most people who engage in exercise see a difference in the mirror and in the way their clothes fit, and they like it. The changes they see can be uplifting and give them more confidence.
  5. Weight loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43% of adults with depression are obese, and adults who have depression are more likely to be obese. Exercising regularly helps people lose weight and be able to better maintain a healthy weight.

 “There are so many good reasons to exercise and not one good one to avoid it,” added Coach Walls. “I work with many people and I see the difference that even a little exercise per week can do for them. Get the endorphins flowing and see for yourself how great you start feeling!”

October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and there is a connection between breast cancer and depression. According to BreastCancer.org, those who have breast cancer may feel sad or depressed, resulting from the diagnosis, treatment, breast cancer treatments, aging, hormonal changes, or other factors. While they report that sadness is a natural part of breast cancer experience, they offer several tips for helping to address depression, including exercising.

Sarah Walls has over 15 years experience in coaching and personal training. Owner of SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc, founded in 2007, she offers coaching to develop athletes, adult programs, team training, online coaching, and more. She is also the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, and has over eight years of experience working as an NCAA D1 strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer. To learn more, visit the site: www.saptstrength.com.

SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc.

Located in Fairfax, Virginia, SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc. is a high performance training club that specializes in helping to develop athletes of all ages. They offer athletic training programs for youth, college students, and amateurs. The company was founded in 2007 by Sarah Walls, a professional strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer with NCAA D1 experience, who is the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA Washington Mystics team. To learn more, visit the site: www.saptstrength.com or www.sarahwalls.com.