What motivates a child to be active? Try this.

It’s “Back to school” time and that brings challenges in keeping kids active and healthy in the 21st century. In decades past, school provided much more than academic education; it also provided an environment conducive to the development of social and life skills. Lessons learned on the playground included important social skills such as cooperation, teamwork, conflict resolution, and peer communication. Physical education class provided an outlet to release energy, and establish the important lifestyle habit of physical activity on a daily basis.

The author at work (and play)

The author at work (and play)

With recess and physical activity time being cut to make more time for classroom learning, the struggle to keep kids healthy and active is harder than ever before. The sad truth is kids are expected to spend the majority of their day “sitting”, contributing to skyrocketing childhood obesity rates and overall health concerns — including increased cancer risk — for our next generation.

That said, the challenges don’t end when the bell rings. Kids today have succumbed to the “technology takeover”, spending more time living in the “virtual” world than in the real one. While kids in previous generations would play outside afterschool until dinner time, kids today run home to video games, television shows, text messages, and social media, increasing the amount of time they are sedentary.

We all recognize the issues and we want to overcome them, but what motivates a child to want to be active? To answer this question we must remove our “adult” motivations (lose Continue reading

Focus on the Food – Not Calories – to Lower Cancer, Chronic Disease Risk

Heart disease, cancer and diabetes together cause about 1.3 million deaths each year in the US. A key lifestyle strategy for preventing and/or managing these diseases is getting to and staying a healthy weight. But losing weight – and keeping it off – is hard, and though many people are able to improve their weight, many more struggle to be successful.

Last month an editorial in Open Heart made a strong case that it’s time to stop counting calories and instead, focus on WHAT you eat.

A healthy diet, with plenty of vegetables and healthy fats, has both quick results for better health and long-term benefits for weight, argue the authors. They cite studies looking at how shifting to a healthy diet can lead to immediate positive effect on cardiovascular disease and diabetes. One of their examples is from the PREDIMED study where participants who ate a Mediterranean, plant-based diet with nuts and olive oil, but not calorie restriction, showed lower rates of type 2 diabetes and improved metabolic health.

We also know – from AICR’s evidence-based recommendations – that eating a diet built on plant foods like vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, can reduce risk for many cancers, including colorectal and endometrial.

NAPC Infographic_Sept18UpdateBut survey after survey finds that the vast majority of adults and kids in our country are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Continue reading

Report on Lifestyle and Kidney Cancer Risk: Unraveling the Alcohol Link

The evidence is stronger than ever that being overweight or obese increases the risk for kidney cancer, according to a report we released today. It’s the key finding in the latest update from our ongoing systematic review of the global research, the Continuous Update Project (CUP).Wines_FD001551_7

Today’s report reaffirms the conclusion of our previous report, making kidney one of ten cancers now strongly associated with overweight and obesity. You can read the key findings here.

Among those findings, you’ll also find a new conclusion with alcohol. Here’s what we can say about alcohol and kidney cancer: it’s complicated.

Alcohol is known to be a potent carcinogen, and has been definitely linked in previous reports from AICR and WCRF International to greater risk of cancer of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, esophagus, liver, colorectum, and breast. This is why AICR recommends that if people choose to drink at all, they limit their consumption to 1 drink/day for women, and 2 drinks/day for men.

But when our CUP panel examined recent evidence from 8 studies, they found that moderate amounts of alcohol (about two drinks per day) were associated with lower risk for kidney cancer. Continue reading