Health News: Chronic Disease Risk Factors

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that “metabolically healthy obese” people, a subset of obese individuals who were initially thought to not be at high risk of heart and other chronic diseases, still might have elevated health risks.

Study author Kristine Faerch from the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen states that while it was once thought that it was not unhealthy to be overweight or obese if you lived a healthful lifestyle, newer research suggests that this is not the case.1 Overweight and obese individuals face an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. To lower risk, maintaining a healthy weight throughout the lifecycle is vital.

Faerch and her team of researchers evaluated data from over 6,200 men and women that joined a Danish study wherein they were tracked for over 10 years. The subjects’ initial BMIs and risk factors for heart disease (including HDL a.k.a. “healthy” cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, triglycerides, and blood glucose) were all monitored. “Metabolically healthy” subjects had none of these risks, while “metabolically unhealthy” subjects were defined as having at least one risk factor. In the follow up period, 323 subjects developed heart disease. Men who were metabolically healthy but obese had 3 times the risk of heart disease when compared to metabolically healthy men at a normal weight. Women that were metabolically healthy but obese had double the risk of heart disease. Overweight men that were metabolically healthy had equivalent risk as their normal weight counterparts. Overweight women had a slightly higher risk than normal weight subjects. The authors note that only 3% of male and female subjects were obese, but considered metabolically healthy. Over a 5-year period, 40% of those considered metabolically healthy became metabolically unhealthy.

Joshua Bell from the UK’s University of Bristol was not surprised by these results. He and his colleagues published a paper this past February which noted that obesity increases age-related disability and decline, even in metabolically healthy individuals.2 His research found that after 2 decades, physical ability declined two times more while pain increased six times more in obese individuals when compared to normal weight individuals. Bell further stresses that heart disease is not the only risk factor to consider when discussing healthy aging.

Matthias Schulze at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbruecke believes that other measurements such as waist to hip ratios, waist circumference, and body fat could be explored to determine whether someone is “metabolically healthy” and obese.3 Healthy and obese can change to unhealthy and obese very quickly.

More research is needed to find how to decrease disease risk in both groups.

By Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, LD

References:

  1. Louise Hansen, MSc, Marie K Netterstrøm, MSc, Nanna B Johansen, MD, PhD, Pernille F Rønn, MSc, Dorte Vistisen, MSc, PhD, Lise LN Husemoen, MSc, PhD, Marit E Jørgensen, MD, PhD, Naja H Rod, MSc, PhD, DMSc, Kristine Færch, MSc, PhD. Metabolically healthy obesity and ischemic heart disease: a 10-year follow-up of the Inter99 study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab jc.2016-3346. Published March 7, 2017.
  2. J A Bell, S Sabia, A Singh-Manoux, M Hamer, and M Kivimäki. Healthy obesity and risk of accelerated functional decline and disability. International Journal of Obesity advance online publication 14 March 2017; doi: 10.1038/ijo.2017.51.
  3. Kristin Mühlenbruch, Tonia Ludwig, Charlotte Jeppesen, Hans-Georg Joost, Wolfgang Rathmann
    Christine Meisinger, Annette Peters, Heiner Boeing, Barbara Thorand, Matthias B. Schulze. Update of the German Diabetes Risk Score and external validation in the German MONICA/KORA study. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. June 2014 Volume 104, Issue 3, Pages 459–466.

And here are a few fantastic posters to promote healthy weight management…

Where Does the Information Come From?

How does Food and Health get the information it offers?

I’ve been asked that question a lot lately, and since I’m so proud of the answer, I want to share it with you. After all, it’s important to get your information from sources that are trustworthy and accurate. How else are you going to have confidence in what you offer your clients?

Dietry Guidelines for Americans

So, let’s start with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The Dietary Guidelines are our gold standard and the base for many of our materials and articles. To make the guidelines, a committee of university professors go through the latest peer-reviewed journals and distill the most important information into a document for the public. These guidelines are updated every five years, and a new update is just around the corner!

MyPlate is also a key player on our stage. Put forward by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), MyPlate is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and offers a guide to what people should eat each day, along with descriptions of the health impact of various foods. MyPlate is key to the health and nutrition policies of many government agencies and public schools.

MyPlate in Schools

Of course, we don’t stop there! We constantly monitor government agencies and associations for news updates and scientific information. Here are the heavy hitters…

Checking in with the American Heart Association

Now let’s talk about our team. After all, what we do with the information is almost as important as where we get it, right?

Our professionally-accredited editors and advisory board members evaluate the data, looking for practical information, updates, and opinions from private and public practices. Then they put everything into plain language that highlights the key points.

 

After that, we arrange everything into aesthetically-pleasing and engaging handouts and blog posts with the help of our artists and web team. Our chef often creates related materials to help make sticking to these health recommendations easier. After all, it’s more fun to eat healthfully when the food also looks delicious and tastes good, right?

But the bottom line is that we stick to peer-reviewed science that you can trust.

Discussing New Findings

In fact, we don’t accept any industry advertising whatsoever. That way, we never feel compelled to protect our sponsors or present any information in a different light that might be less harmful to foods that aren’t good for our health. Since we don’t receive advertising dollars, we don’t have to appease our advertisers. Instead, we can focus on you.

So there you have it. A closer look at our information, how we present it and where we get it. I hope you enjoyed it!

Want to see how we put that information to good use? Here are some of our favorite heath and nutrition educational materials…

Dietary Guidelines for Americans Poster Set

6 Lessons of Heart Health PowerPoint and Handout Set

Premium Diabetes Education Kit

Oh, and as a special bonus, I’ve included a copy of the handout that comes with the Freedom from Chronic Disease poster. Want a PDF version that’s all your own? Get your copy right here!Freedom from Chronic Disease

Free from Chronic Disease

Improve your health and reduce your risk of chronic disease with fresh fruits and vegetables!

Fruits and vegetables for victory!According to MyPlate, the USDA’s guide to healthful and balanced eating, “Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers. Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.”

So stock up on healthful fruits and vegetables — they’re super good for you!

Here are some examples of fruits and vegetables that are nutrient powerhouses…

The pigments in blueberries, called anthocyanins, have been shown to slow and even reverse age-related declines in brain function, as well as cognitive and motor performance. Other compounds in blueberries may delay the effects of vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects your cells from free radical damage. Vitamin C boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation, and protects blood vessels.

Yams and sweet potatoes top the charts in terms of beta carotene content. Beta carotene is also known as vitamin A and it plays a key role in heart health and heart disease prevention. Butternut squash and pumpkins are rich in beta carotene too.

Bananas have tons of potassium, which is key to controlling blood pressure and helping your heart work normally. They also contain compounds that protect your stomach from ulcer damage.

Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale rock the vitamin count, with excellent supplies of vitamins A, C, and K. These vitamins protect your bones, decrease inflammation, support cell growth and development, protect vision, support your circulatory system, and improve immune function. The Agricultural Research Service asserts that “Because of their high content of antioxidants, green leafy vegetables may be one of the best cancer-preventing foods. Studies have shown that eating 2 to 3 servings of green leafy vegetables per week may lower the risk of stomach, breast and skin cancer.”

Like what you see? Here’s the handout!

Yay! Free handout!

There are tons of other ways to promote fruits and vegetables! Check out some of the bestselling resources today!

Vegetable Bulletin Board Kit

Color Your World with Food Wellness Fair Banner

Fruit Tooth Dessert Cookbook

Freedom from Chronic Disease

Bonus Alert: This post contains a free handout!

What do healthful eating and the Statue of Liberty have in common? You may be surprised by the answer.

When I went to see the Statue of Liberty, I was struck by her beauty. To my surprise, her natural green patina reminded me of kale. Kale is beautiful too, but I certainly didn’t expect it to pop into my head when I was looking at the Statue of Liberty.

But the more I looked, the more the statue reminded me of the colors and textures of fruits and vegetables.

I pictured the statue dressed in kale, holding a fiery fruit and veggie torch. In that moment, I knew I had to use that imagery in a poster. Both the statue and the vegetables represent freedom to me. In the statue’s case, it is the freedom from tyranny, and, in the food’s case, the fresh fruits and vegetables offer freedom from chronic disease.

Fruit, Vegetables, and Freedom from Chronic Disease

According to MyPlate, the USDA’s guide to healthful and balanced eating, “Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers. Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.”

As always, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is best, in order to take advantage of their amazing health benefits. Blueberries, for example, are loaded with anthocyanins, which have been shown to slow and even reverse age-related declines in brain function, as well as cognitive and motor performance. Other compounds in blueberries may delay the effects of vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Dark leafy greens, on the other hand, contain different compounds with other health benefits. They offer excellent supplies of vitamins A, C, and K, for example, and it is these vitamins that protect your bones, decrease inflammation, support cell growth and development, protect vision, support your circulatory system, and improve immune function. The Agricultural Research Service asserts that “Because of their high content of antioxidants, green leafy vegetables may be one of the best cancer-preventing foods. Studies have shown that eating 2 to 3 servings of green leafy vegetables per week may lower the risk of stomach, breast and skin cancer.”

With their disease-fighting compounds and health-boosting effects, fresh fruits and vegetables may offer the very thing that so many people truly want: freedom from chronic disease.

Making the Poster

After I had the idea to make a fruit and vegetable Statue of Liberty, I raced to my artist to see what he could put together. His creative take on the fresh foods that offer freedom from chronic disease completely wowed me, and I immediately put our research team to work. They crafted a fantastic handout that outlines just how vital fruits and vegetables are in the fight against chronic disease. Want to see it for yourself? The handout will be a free accompaniment to the poster.

After that, all I had to do was put the poster in the store.

Once it was up, I was blown away by the customer response! Since so many people asked how I had thought up the idea to combine two ways of looking at freedom, I decided to write this post. I hope you enjoyed it. If you’re looking for more about the Statue of Liberty, check out the amazing torch webcams or read through the fascinating story of the Statue of Liberty’s past.

By Judy Doherty, PC II and Founder of Food and Health Communications

Get your own copy of the Freedom from Chronic Disease poster today! And check out the latest and greatest additions to the Nutrition Education Store…

Freedom from Chronic Disease Poster

Healthful Fast Food Choices Brochure

Healthier Choices 1-2-3 Poster

Looking for that free handout? Look no further! Here’s your guide to the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, which offer freedom from chronic disease. Download your copy today!

Freedom Handout