The death rate gap widens between urban and rural America


Sometimes you actually get what you voted for

❝ If you live in a city or a suburb, chances are you’ve seen the health of people around you improve over time — fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease, better cancer treatments, and fewer premature deaths.

But if you’re one of the 46 million Americans who live in a rural area, odds are you’ve watched the health of your neighbors stagnate and worsen.

❝ New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that rates of the five leading causes of death — heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke — are higher among rural Americans. In other words, mortality rates in rural areas for these preventable deaths, which were going down, are now plateauing and even increasing…

❝ …More than income, more than the frequency with which you exercise, the simple fact of where you live can have a huge impact on your health…

…the most pronounced rural-urban gaps are deaths from unintentional injuries — like suicide or drug overdose — and deaths from chronic lower respiratory disease…

❝ …According to the CDC, part of it is that people in rural areas often don’t have access to health care facilities that can quickly treat severe trauma. The opioid epidemic is also overwhelmingly concentrated in rural pockets of the US, as are the related overdose deaths.

But it’s not just deaths from unintentional injuries that disproportionately affect rural Americans. Rural Americans are also far more likely to die from CLRD, which encompasses a wide range of lung diseases from occupational lung diseases to pulmonary hypertension. The CDC believes this discrepancy is largely due to cigarette smoking being far more prevalent among adults living in rural counties…

❝ Additionally, a higher percentage of rural Americans are in poorer health. Generally speaking, rural Americans report higher incidences of preventable conditions like obesity, diabetes, cancer, and injury. They also face higher uninsured rates in addition to fewer health services.

Yes, these folks represent one of the significant communities that voted for Trumponomics, Republican plans to repeal Obamacare, just about any government program predicated on mandating better healthcare and preventive medicine.

The operative question remains – stupid or ignorant? You might throw in gullible if you look at folks who rely on “good enough for Grandpa”.

The right food fight

To what extent should governments regulate or tax addictive behavior? This question has long framed public debate about alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and other goods and services in many countries worldwide. And now, in the United States – arguably the mother of global consumer culture – the debate has turned toward the fight against the epidemic of childhood obesity.

It is ironic that in a world where childhood malnutrition plagues many developing countries, childhood obesity has become one of the leading health scourges in advanced economies. The World Bank estimates that over a third of all children in Indonesia, for example, suffer from stunted growth, confronting them with the risk of lifetime effects on fitness and cognitive development. Yet, the plight of malnourished children in the developing world does not make obesity in the advanced countries any less of a problem.

Indeed, though perhaps not on a par with global warming and looming water shortages, obesity – and especially childhood obesity – nonetheless is on the short list of major public-health challenges facing advanced countries in the twenty-first century, and it is rapidly affecting many emerging-market economies as well. Yet solving it poses much more difficult challenges than the kind of successful public-health interventions of the last century, including near-universal vaccination, fluoridation of drinking water, and motor-vehicle safety rules.

The question is whether it is realistic to hope for success unless the government resorts to far more blunt instruments than it currently seems prepared to wield. Given the huge impact of obesity on health-care costs, life expectancy, and quality of life, it is a topic that merits urgent attention…

The causes of obesity are complex, and the science of understanding human behavior is embryonic; but it is not hyperbole to call the problem an epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 18% of children aged 6-11 in the US are not just overweight, but obese.

The risks posed by this epidemic are manifold, but the main one is that childhood obesity begets adult obesity, with significantly increased risks of diabetes and heart disease. Indeed, experts estimate that more than 18% of all adults in the advanced economies are obese. Even more stunning are estimates that roughly 9% of all Americans – and a similar percentage of adults worldwide – have diabetes.

RTFA to grasp the range of opposition to this task. It ain’t just the sugar profiteers. Our nation is sufficiently distracted by ignorance and myth to provide legions of foot-soldiers ready to fight to the death [literally] to protect Slushies and Trans-fats.

Head Start Program really does help obese kids

strong4life_177675326

Head Start preschool programs had a positive effect on the body mass index (BMI) for obese and overweight children over the course of an academic year. Both obese and overweight children who participated in Head Start saw a greater decline in BMI z score during their first academic year than their counterparts in comparison groups, according to a new study to be published in the February issue of Pediatrics…

Julie Lumeng said that Head Start is a valuable intervention for clinicians concerned about the health and well-being of their low-income patients. “Practically speaking, if you’re a pediatrician or family medicine doctor who’s working with children and you’re concerned about their weight, if those children are low-income, meaning they would be eligible for the Head Start preschool program, just suggesting to the parent that they sign them up for Head Start might actually help them achieve a healthier weight,” she concluded…

The study may also have implications for the overall population health of children. “By looking at adopting not just developmental and educational policies, but also implementing strategies or evidence around food or playtime, it proves there’s a benefit to this when you compare it to fairly similar populations,” said Stephen Cook, MD, MPH…at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York…

One of the most important limitations of the study may be the study design, which Lumeng calls “second best” compared with a randomized, controlled trial. However, she says a randomized controlled trial would be extremely unethical for this particular population. “You couldn’t enroll a family in a study and say ‘Well, I’m going to flip a coin basically and decide if your child’s going to get preschool or not’ when they’re living in poverty,” said Lumeng…

Cook sees this study as a jumping off point for further data collection, possibly involving Head Start providers, as well as the siblings and parents of the children involved. He hypothesized there might be a “halo effect” with kids’ healthier eating habits and greater physical activity having a positive impact on the adults in their lives.

Head Start is a federally funded preschool program that is free to 3- to 5-year-old US children living in poverty. Head Start program regulations mandate nutritional and health services, adequate time and space for active play, and parental involvement.

Republicans hate it.

Fat study may lead to weight loss through increased metabolism, decreased muscle fatigue

A diet high in a certain type of fat may actually increase metabolism, according to recent research by Texas Tech University nutrition scientists.

After studying genetically modified mice, the discovery could lead to supplements and a diet regimen that will increase metabolism and decrease muscle fatigue in humans…

Chad Paton, an assistant professor of nutritional biochemistry at Texas Tech…said he and colleagues were curious why skeletal muscles of obese people contained a certain type of enzyme that breaks down saturated fats.

To test what that enzyme did, Paton’s lab and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin – Madison genetically modified mice so that their muscles would constantly produce the enzyme.

“We used a transgenic mouse model, and we took the gene that makes the enzyme that’s not normally expressed and took away it’s regulation to make it active all the time,” Paton said. “What we found in those animals is they had a hypermetabolic rate compared to the wild mice, increased energy consumption and greatly increased these animals’ exercise capacity.”

The enzyme, called SCD1, converts saturated fat into monounsaturated fat, which is easier to metabolize. The liver will produce this enzyme depending on the fat content of the food consumed, he said. Fatty adipose tissue produces it all the time as a way of regulating itself.

Only in heavily exercised muscle tissue or in the case of obesity does skeletal muscle produce the enzyme, he said.

Continue reading

Overweight or obese is main reason for dismissing U.S. soldiers

Under intense pressure to trim its budget, the Army is dismissing a rising number of soldiers who do not meet its fitness standards, drawing from a growing pool of troops grappling with obesity.

Obesity is now the leading cause of ineligibility for people who want to join the Army, according to military officials, who see expanding waistlines in the warrior corps as a national security concern.

Between 1998 and 2010, the number of active-duty military personnel deemed overweight or obese more than tripled. In 2010, 86,186 troops, or 5.3 percent of the force, received at least one clinical diagnosis as overweight or obese, according to the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center.

The trend has prompted the military to reexamine its training programs and is driving commanders to weed out soldiers deemed unfit to fight. “A healthy and fit force is essential to national security,” said Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Pentagon spokeswoman. “Our service members must be physically prepared to deploy on a moment’s notice anywhere on the globe to extremely austere and demanding conditions.”

During the first 10 months of this year, the Army kicked out 1,625 soldiers for being out of shape, about 15 times the number discharged for that reason in 2007, the peak of wartime deployment cycles…

Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said he was floored by what he found in 2009 when he was assigned to overhaul the Army’s training system. Seventy-five percent of civilians who wanted to join the force were ineligible, he said. Obesity was the leading cause.

“Of the 25 percent that could join, what we found was 65 percent could not pass the [physical training] test on the first day,” he said in a recent speech. “Young people joining our service could not run, jump, tumble or roll — the kind of things you would expect soldiers to do if you’re in combat.”

RTFA for details and the many directions the report describes as health and fitness failures among those trying to enlist, today. There’s a lot there to ponder. Not just obesity from inactivity and overeating keeping out recruits; but, soldiers who thought they had a career being dismissed from service, from their job.

Gen X overtaking baby boomers on obesity – in Oz – and probably here, as well

New research from the University of Adelaide shows that Generation X is already on the path to becoming more obese than their baby boomer predecessors.

Studies show that boomers currently have the highest level of obesity of any age group in Australia. However, new research by University of Adelaide PhD student Rhiannon Pilkington has revealed some alarming statistics. As part of her research, she has compared obesity levels between the two generations at equivalent ages.

Using data from the National Health Survey, Ms Pilkington compared Generation X in 2008 to boomers at the same age, in 1989…

At the same age, Gen X males have nearly double the prevalence of obesity: 18.3% compared with 9.4% for boomers. There is a smaller but still significant difference in females, with 12.7% of Gen X women being obese in 2008 and 10.4% of boomer females obese in 1989.

“This does not bode well for the future health of Generation X,” she says…

“Boomers and Gen X together make up more than 75% of Australia’s workforce. Their health and the role of the workplace in promoting a healthy, or unhealthy, environment is of critical importance to the Australian economy, to society and to people’s quality of life,” Ms Pilkington says.

“Obesity has become the new smoking – it’s a major driver of ill health, with coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes highest on the list of preventable illnesses. Obesity also costs billions of dollars to our economy each year. Anything we can do to mitigate the damage being done to both generations of Australians by obesity will be hugely important for the future of our nation.”

Happens to be something I’ve been reflecting on, lately – especially with the advent of the Advantage programs added to Medicare by Obama. Though I’ve been an advocate of healthy exercise and nutrition for years, I took kind of a late start at reforming my own lifestyle after years of living on the road, so to speak. I certainly didn’t avail myself of the minimal health checkups I had access to.

Now, part of the new programmatic approach to a longer healthier life is access to testing, exams, exercise programs as good as anything I ever devised – and nutritional counseling. Though everything worked out by my honey and me is sufficient, I have to admit the prompting keeps me conscious of working a bit more at growing a longer, healthier life.

I like it.

Family of woman too fat to be cremated sues crematorium

The family of an obese woman whose body was ‘too fat’ to be cremated is suing a French crematorium for discrimination.

Danielle Pelabarrere, 63, who weighed 22-stone, died of a heart attack in Merignac, near Bordeaux on Saturday.

When her husband Andre booked her coffin into the local crematorium however, he was told it was two inches too wide to fit into the incinerator. The family also tried crematoriums in neighbouring French towns, but none were able to help.

Only Toulouse, which is 100 miles away, said it had an incinerator large enough to take the three-feet wide coffin. Mr Pelabarrere is now demanding compensation from the crematorium “for its inability to meet our needs.”

“It is an outrage. She was mocked for her size in life, and now she is being mocked in death,” he said.

Jean-Claude Oruezabal, the Merignac crematorium manager, denied discrimination. “We accept people and coffins of any size in principle, but in this case it just wont fit and there is nothing we can do”, he said.

I must admit that being a grillin’ and chillin’ kinda guy, at first I thought they were worried about fire spreading to the rest of the building from a fat flare-up.

But, suing because the chosen casket doesn’t fit into the furnace is absurd. They could have put her into the oven in a shroud – or a little judicious squeezing into a narrower casket. I’m willing to bet none of these alternatives were acceptable to the family. Which makes their lawsuit even more ridiculous.