Fitness May Be A Better Predictor Than Weight Of Whether Individuals With Certain Heart Problems Will Die In Near Future

Manifestions of Obesity Diagram

Reuters (4/1, Marcus) reports that research published in the American Heart Journal suggests that fitness may be a better predictor than weight of whether individuals with certain heart problems are more likely to die in the near future. Researchers found that individuals who were both somewhat thin and fit had the lowest risk of dying during the study period. Patients who were overweight but still fit had twice the risk of dying during the study, while individuals who were obese but fit had three times the risk of dying during the study. Meanwhile, individuals who were considered unfit and were overweight were almost seven times more likely to die during the study period, but unfit normal-weight individuals faced an even higher risk of dying.

Data Suggest Nearly Half A Million US Deaths Annually Occur From Smoking-Related Diseases

Reuters (3/31, Pittman) reported that nearly half a million mortalities annually in the US are from smoking-related diseases, according to a study in the journal Epidemiology, The researchers analyzed data on about 250,000 people who participated from 2002 to 2006 in a national health survey. By 2006, there were 17,000 deaths. Extrapolating the data to the overall US population, the study authors calculated that roughly 290,000 smoking-related deaths in men and 230,000 in women occurred annually during the same period. The data showed the greatest risk for death occurred in the 65 to 74 age group. When obesity and alcohol consumption were factored in, the researchers estimated that age group had a threefold increased risk for death if they also smoked currently. Reuters noted that a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association substantiates that trend.
High Prices, Inconvenient Policies Prompt More Adolescents To Quit Smoking, Study Finds. Reuters (3/31, Pittman) reported that alerting adolescents to cigarette price increases and new no-smoking rules helped lower the rates of smoking among Australian teens, according to a study in the journal Addiction. From 1990 through 2005, the researchers asked roughly 20,000 high school students, at three-year intervals, whether they had smoked within the last month. The youth were also made aware of cigarette-tax increases and any new anti-smoking policies. Over those 15 years, the Australian teen-smoking rate decreased nearly 50% — from approximately 23% to about 13% — while simultaneously, cigarette costs doubled from 20 cents to 40 cents per cigarette. In contrast, other efforts, such as limiting access to cigarettes, did not lower adolescent smoking rates. Notably, approximately 16% of US high school students currently smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Expanding Waistline May Put Men In Danger Of Developing AMD

The UK’s Daily Mail (4/1, Hagan) reports, “An expanding waistline puts men in danger of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).” After monitoring “changes in the waistlines of more than 21,000 men and women, aged between 40 and 69, over several years,” then following the study population to determine how many cases of AMD developed, Australian researchers discovered that “even small increases in waist size seem to raise the risk of AMD by up to 75 per cent” in men. Women do not seem to be affected, however.

One Third Of Americans May Not Be Getting Enough Vitamin D

USA Today (3/31, Marcus) reports, “About one third of Americans are not getting enough vitamin D,” according to a National Center for Health Statistics data brief released March 30 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report “parallels what many other studies have suggested in recent years: that a large chunk of the population is at risk for low vitamin D levels.” Although approximately “two-thirds had sufficient levels…about a third were in ranges suggesting risk of either inadequate or deficient levels, says report author Anne Looker, a research scientist with the CDC.”
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times (3/30, Roan) “Booster Shots” blog reported that “1% had blood levels that were too high (greater than 125 nmol/L), putting them at risk of health problems.”
The Washington Post (3/30, Stein) “The Check Up” blog reported that recently, the Institute of Medicine “released new recommendations for how much vitamin D people should be getting on a regular basis.” In spite of “mounting pressure to urge many Americans to sharply boost their vitamin D levels, they did not advocate a huge increase.” In fact, “a 14-member expert committee concluded that most Americans and Canadians up to age 70 need no more than 600 international units of vitamin D per day.”
“The analysis showed that the risk for vitamin D deficiency differed by age, sex and race or ethnicity,” HealthDay (3/30, Preidt) reported.
WebMD (3/30, Mann) reported that people “who were at the lowest risk for vitamin D deficiency or inadequacy were children, males, non-Hispanic whites, and women who were pregnant or breastfeeding,” with the “risk of deficiency…lowest in children ages one to eight and increased with age until about age 30, the study showed.” WebMD also noted, “The analysis was based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys that includes about 5,000 Americans each year.”

Regular Fish Consumption May Help Prevent AMD

In continuing coverage, the Washington Post (3/29, Searing) reports that omega-3 fatty acid fish oils may help prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a study published online March 14 in the Archives of Ophthalmology. For the study, researchers analyzed “data on 38,022 women, who averaged 55 years old and had no AMD at the start of the study.” Over the course of ten years, researchers found that women “who regularly consumed at least one serving of fish a week — especially canned tuna or dark-meat fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, bluefish or swordfish — were 42 percent less likely to have developed AMD than were women who ate less than one serving of fish a month.”