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Small Lifestyle Changes Combat Obesity

Pediatricians at the University of Colorado at Denver have shown that very small changes in lifestyle can help stem the epidemic of obesity in North American children (Pediatrics, October 2007). Families of overweight children, seven to fourteen years of age, were asked to make two lifestyle changes: 1) to walk an additional 2000 steps per day, as measured by pedometers, and 2) to eliminate 100 calories per day by replacing a source of dietary sugar with a non-caloric beverage or sweetener. At the end of the six-month trial, most of the children had lost weight and the parents had no significant weight gain.

Obesity comes from eating too much and exercising too little. It is associated with increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, certain cancers, diabetes, and premature death. Various studies show that 80 percent of American adults are overweight, and the greatest rate of increase in obesity is occurring in children.

Recent research suggests that one important cause of obesity may be sugared drinks, because calories in liquid form do not suppress appetite as effectively as calories in solid food. Giving toddlers fruit juices and other sugared drinks to quench thirst can form a lifelong habit that sets them up for obesity. Teach your children to drink water or other non-calorie drinks when they are thirsty. The only time it makes sense to consume sugared beverages is during prolonged exercise, where they are a convenient source of energy for muscles that have been depleted of their sugar.

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Note: You'll find more than 3000 of my reports on fitness, nutrition and health at drmirkin.com. Each week I include links to a few of these articles to encourage you to browse around the site and see what may be helpful or interesting to you.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Can I exercise after angioplasty for blocked arteries?

If your doctor does not already have you in as supervised exercise program, ask when you can start. In one study from Bern, Switzerland, researchers showed that a three-month exercise program can increase blood flow to the heart in people who already have their coronary arteries blocked by plaques (European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, April 2007). The study participants were selected from patients who had stents inserted to widen blockages in their coronary arteries. The longer and harder the subjects were able to exercise, the greater the increase in blood flow.

The blood flow to the heart muscle comes primarily from arteries on the outside surface of the heart. Chest pain with exercise is usually caused by narrowing of these arteries, which prevents adequate amounts of blood to flow to the heart muscle. The heart muscle then suffers from lack of oxygen and hurts. A heart attack occurs when plaques that coat the inner lining of arteries leading to the heart break off and travel down the ever- narrowing artery until they completely obstruct the flow of blood to a part of the heart muscle. Then part of the heart muscle that is deprived of oxygen dies and a person suffers a heart attack. People with damaged coronary arteries are at higher risk for heart attacks during exercise, so the study participants were checked for blood flow to the heart before and after the program, and were monitored during exercise by professional personnel.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How does education affect longevity?

Smarter baseball players live longer, according to researchers in the Department of Economics at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania (Death Studies, August 2007). The authors collected data on players who were born between 1945 and 1964 and found that the death rate for players who attended only high school was almost twice as high as those who went to college. They also found what high body fat levels were associated with premature death. The good news for all athletes is that the baseball players had only 31 percent of the death rate of the general population. The lower death rate in the more highly educated players is probably due to their increased awareness of life style factors linked to premature death, such as smoking, promiscuity, obesity, eating a high-fat, high-refined carbohydrate diet that is low in vegetables, and so forth.

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Recipes for your Thanksgiving Table

Butternut Squash with Apples and Cranberries
Wild Rice with Dried Cherries
Gingered Fruit Compote

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 25th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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