Annual BMI Check-Up?

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Do you know your child’s BMI?

KidsVegetablesThis week, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a recommendation for childhood obesity screening.  The task force recommends that “clinicians screen children aged 6 years and older for obesity and offer them or refer them to intensive counseling and behavioral interventions to promote improvements in weight status.”

Twelve to 18 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 are obese and are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, asthma and even nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.  Obesity also increases risk for certain cancers – so the long term consequences are serious.  Identifying these high risk children is only the first step in making a difference.  The second part of the recommendation – referring them to appropriate programs – is really the key to this report.

The Task Force reviewed over a dozen studies on behavioral programs targeted to overweight and obese children and adolescents.  They found that comprehensive programs using counseling, physical activity programs and behavioral management techniques were successful for modest weight loss that continued for at least 12 months after the program ended.

There are successful models and programs around the country for children and adolescents who struggle with overweight and obesity.  But in areas where these programs aren’t available, what will the clinicians do once they’ve identified at risk children?

Hopefully this report will help spur the growth of effective comprehensive programs that involve the entire family so that any lifestyle and behavioral change made by the child will be sustainable.

What do you think of the new recommendations?  Do you know of any comprehensive programs for children or adolescents in your community?

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    Train for Your Brain

    By Posted on Leave a comment on Train for Your Brain
    Give Your Neurons a Workout
    Give Your Neurons a Workout

    Physical activity reduces risk for cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Need another reason to exercise?  Turns out it’s a workout for your brain as well.

    Two recent studies looked at exercise and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).  MCI typically involves memory impairment, but can also affect language, attention, reasoning, judgment, reading and writing.

    In the first study participants who reported moderate exercise during midlife or later life were less likely to have MCI.   The authors suggest this may be due to production of nerve-protecting compounds, greater blood flow to the brain or other neuronal and cardiovascular benefits.  Although people who are more physically active could also “show the same type of discipline in dietary habits, accident prevention…compliance with medical care and similar health-promoting behaviors.”

    The second study followed 29 participants (average age 70) with MCI.  Those randomly assigned to an exercise group, completed 4 days per week of 45 to 60 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity.  The control group did stretching exercises, but maintained low heart rates.

    The vigorous exercisers showed improved cognitive function compared to the control group.  The authors point out that this would be a cost-effective practice to improve cognitive performance without the adverse effects of many drug therapies.

    Seemingly simple, exercising consistently is difficult for many Americans.  If you’re looking for ideas, AICR offers tips on starting and maintaining a physical activity program.

    If you’re already a regular exerciser, how do you manage to fit it in?  Let us know.

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      What’s the Color of Action?

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      Recently, many women have started adding their bra color to their Facebook status updates to help raise awareness about breast cancer.

      Pink ribbon sweater small copy But we at AICR are wondering something, and we want to hear what you think.  Is raising awareness enough?

      One NPR blogger, Shereen Meraji, asks this very question. “I changed my status, but I don’t know anything more about breast cancer or how to protect myself against it.”

      She’s not alone.  In fact, according to a recent AICR survey, almost half of Americans are not aware of some basic steps we can take to lower our risk for several cancers.

      Certainly, AICR applauds efforts to raise awareness about cancer.  But let’s also raise awareness about cancer prevention, while we’re at it.

      Reminding your Facebook friends that breast cancer is a disease faced by millions of women is a good first step; but why not provide them with evidenced-based recommendations on how to protect themselves?

      AICR recently updated the breast cancer chapter of our expert report on cancer prevention, and we estimate that about 40 percent of breast cancer cases in the U.S. (about 70,000 cases every year) are preventable.  Women can reduce their risk by limiting the amount of alcohol they drink, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.

      The Breast Cancer Update Reinforces AICR Recommendations:

      1. Because of the link between body fat and cancer, AICR recommends people aim to be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
      2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
      3. If they drink at all, people should limit consumption to one drink a day for a woman, two for a man.
      4. Also, mothers should aim to breastfeed exclusively for up to six months and thn add other liquids and foods. Mothers who breastfeed reduce their risk and breastfeeding probably also reduces babies’ chances of gaining excess weight as they grow.

      What do you think – does raising awareness need action too?

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