Establishing Healthy Habits for Kids

By Posted on Leave a comment on Establishing Healthy Habits for Kids

You likely know by now that being overweight or obese increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. In fact, AICR estimates that over 100,000 cancer cases a year are caused by carrying excess fat.

That’s a sobering statistic, and the latest numbers on childhood obesity suggest that number will keep growing. After all, children who are overweight or obese tend to grow into overweight and obese adults.

But you can help ensure a brighter, healthier future for your kids. How? By treating yourself right.

Think about it: Children model their parents’ behavior, so every time you prepare a healthy meal or make time for getting active, you’re instilling those same habits in your kids.

The Obesity Society recommends that parents keep only healthy foods in the house and choose the restaurants the family visits.

Anyone who’s unthinkingly polished off a bag of potato chips while watching their favorite program knows that eating in front of the TV encourages “passive overeating” – that’s why it’s a good idea to serve meals at the dinner table whenever you can.

Encourage kids to get and stay active any way they can. Planning family activities that revolve around walking, biking, hiking or swimming can help less active kids get their hearts pumping.

First Lady Michelle Obama has launched a nationwide campaign called Let’s Move! to help stop childhood obesity. The website’s got lots of ideas for getting kids interested in health and nutrition.

AICR has our own children’s website called the Taste Buddies, filled with games, quizzes and kid-friendly information to help kids learn that eating better and moving more can be fun.

More on Diet & Cancer Myths & Facts

By Posted on Leave a comment on More on Diet & Cancer Myths & Facts

Last week we held a chat about diet and cancer myths and facts.  You can read the transcript here.  We couldn’t get to all the questions, so we’ll be addressing them on the blog over the next few weeks.  Here’s one of those questions:

Does Caffeine Cause Cancer?

No, current evidence shows that caffeine does not increase cancer risk.  AICR’s expert report found it unlikely that coffee has any effect on the risk of pancreatic or kidney cancer – the two cancers for which there was enough data to make a conclusion.  Stay tuned – AICR will be featuring the latest information on caffeine and cancer in the upcoming issue of AICR’s ScienceNow.

We’ll continue to feature more questions, but if you have one, put it in the comments section and we’ll get to it.

Hot Chili Health

By Posted on Leave a comment on Hot Chili Health

In the lab, the compound that gives chili peppers their kick – called capsaicin — shows off a lot of health benefits. It fights cancer, and acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

Today’s issue of Cancer Research Update features a study looking at another possible health boon for chili peppers: its fat fighting potential. This study found that animals eating a high-fat diet gained less weight with capsaicin than without. It also showed that capsaicin appeared to change 20 fat-related proteins in the body. You can read more about it in CRU.

A lot of studies looking into capsaicin’s anti-obesity effects stem from research showing that capsaicin is linked to increased thermogenesis. Basically, thermogenesis means heat production. Thermogenesis is important in regulating obesity. The idea is that increasing thermogenesis leads to food converted into energy (as heat) instead of fat.

There’s a lot of interesting animal studies on thermogenesis and capsaicin, and even human studies – see here – but right now, it’s too soon to douse your meals with chili peppers just for weight control, or even cancer protection. Peppers – of all varieties – do contain plenty of health benefits and certainly can spice up a meal. In general, the more capsaicin a pepper contains, the hotter it is.

For the daring, you can find out how your favorite chili pepper rates on the hotness scale here. (If you take too big a bite of a hot pepper, grab a cup of milk, not water: milk contains a protein called casein that neutralizes capsaicin’s effects.)

Have you ever tried one of the hot-hot chili peppers? Good or bad?