Posts Tagged ‘diabetes’

Decreasing Obesity Risks in Children: Another Benefit of Breastfeeding

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Image from fooducate.com

In the United States today, one of the major health problems is obesity. The CDC reports that “[i]n 2009, only Colorado and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.”  The number of both adults and children who are obese is huge and continues to rise dramatically.  The CDC website provides maps that show just how prevalent this problem is in our country. Particularly troubling is that “[t]hirty-three states had a prevalence equal to or greater than 25%; nine of these states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia) had a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30%).  This represents an enormous number of people in our country who are at risk for major health complications, such as “cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.”

While there has been an emphasis in our country on various ways to decrease these obesity statistics (including improving nutrition and increasing exercise), I wonder whether additional emphasis should be paid to children being given a great start to health. A recent article in the Baltimore Sun caught my attention. The article explains how diabetic moms, including those who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy but are not otherwise diabetic, are both more likely to give birth to a larger than average baby and also how their child is “more likely to become obese in childhood.”  The good news, the article explains, is that:

…a new study says that if you breastfeed your baby for at least six months, your child will be no more likely to put on weight than those whose moms are not diabetic.

This is just one more example of how breastfeeding for at least six months can dramatically improve your child’s chances of lifelong health.  Through breastfeeding alone, these moms can erase the increased risk that these children will become obese.

What they found appears to be a real advantage for breastfeeding: If the babies had been breastfed for six months or more, children born to diabetic moms looked nearly the same as the children of non-diabetic moms. And they were no more likely to be obese.

On the other hand, children who were breastfed for less than six months — and who had been exposed to diabetes in the womb — had significantly higher BMIs, thicker waists and stored more fat around their midsections than the other children in the study.

While I was excited to read about one more reason to support breastfeeding, I was concerned about whether this is a realistic choice for many families in our country.  Many moms who are committed to breastfeeding their children and who are successful at the start, do not continue breastfeeding for at least six months. The CDC Breastfeeding Report Card for 2010 says that “…3 out of every 4 new mothers in the United States now starts out breastfeeding… However, rates of breastfeeding at 6 and 12 months as well as rates of exclusive breastfeeding at 3 and 6 months remain stagnant and low.”  The national average is that while 75% of moms have breastfed, only 43% are breastfeeding at all at 6 months and only a mere 13.3% are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months.  At 3 months, a time when infants would not have started solid food, only 33% of moms are still exclusively breastfeeding.  This means that there is a large drop off from what moms do when their babies are born and what they are doing by the time their babies reach 3 months.

However, the study about diabetes found that at least six months of breastfeeding was essential in protecting these kids from the increased risks of obesity. From both personal experience and anecdotal evidence, I suspect that many families are facing hard decisions about employment and breastfeeding. I suspect that a significant part of the large drop off between the numbers of moms’ breastfeeding at birth and those breastfeeding exclusively at 3 months has to do with employment. Given that the US lags so far behind other countries in paid parental leave, most moms have no choice but to go back to work full-time by the time their infants are 3 months (if not earlier).  Many moms face no choice at that point but to stop or severely limit breastfeeding, as few employers offer the time, space or scheduling to truly make moms successful at the difficult job of trying to pump while working.

I believe that the health care costs of treating individuals with obesity and all of the associated health problems should be examined against the costs of providing more complete support to new families.  What do you think?  Could employers better support breastfeeding in an attempt to increase the number of healthy children whose risks of obesity are lowered? Do you think that lack of paid leave or increased support in the workplace for breastfeeding is really the reason for decreased breastfeeding or are there other factors at play?

 

 

Kicking Off Diabetes Awareness Month – Prevention Saves Lives!

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

November marks Diabetes Awareness Month. Most people believe diabetes to be a benign disease, one that does not cause high risk complications and is easily managed through proper insulin administration.  However, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and increases one’s risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nervous system damage and amputation.

WHAT IS DIABETES?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that impairs the body’s ability to use food for energy.  The hormone, insulin, made in the pancreas, is a hormone that allows glucose (sugar) to enter cells and be converted to energy. When diabetes is not controlled, glucose and fats remain in the blood and, over time, damage vital organs.  There are several types of diabetes: Type I, Type II, prediabetes and gestational diabetes.

Type I – usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Type I diabetes can be caused by genetics, environment or an autoimmune disorder. It affects 5% of the diabetic population and there is no known way to prevent this type.

Type II – is linked to obesity and physical inactivity. It is also associated with older age, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, race, and ethnicity. This type of the disease affects 90-95% of the diabetic population.

Prediabetes- is a condition in which a person has blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. An estimated 57 million American adults had prediabetes in 2007. People with this condition have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Gestational Diabetes – is a form of glucose intolerance diagnosed during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs more frequently among African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and American Indians. It is also more common in obese women and women with a family history of diabetes. Gestational diabetes requires treatment to normalize maternal blood glucose levels to avoid complications in the infant. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 35%–60% chance of developing diabetes during the 10–20 years following their pregnancy.

THE COSTS OF DIABETES

Diabetes is a costly disease with $1 out of every $10 spent on health care going towards diabetes and its complications. Total costs (direct and indirect) of diabetes are $174 billion annually. Furthermore, people with diagnosed diabetes have medical expenditures that are about 2.3 times higher than medical expenditures for people without diabetes.

WHY DIABETES AWARENESS IS IMPORTANT

If current trends continue, 1 in 3 Americans will develop diabetes sometime in their lifetime, and those with diabetes will lose, on average, 10–15 years of life.The United States saw a 136 percent increase in the number of people with diabetes between 1980 and 2007. Now, nearly 24 million Americans have the disease. However, research has shown that Type II diabetes, which affects the majority of diabetics, is preventable.  Lifestyle changes, including weight loss and an increase in the amount of physical activity per week, can reduce the rate of onset of type 2 diabetes by 58%. Further, disability and premature death are not inevitable consequences of diabetes. People with diabetes can prevent premature death and disability by controlling their blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids and by receiving other preventive care in a timely manner through proper medication administration and lifestyle changes.

Making those lifestyle changes with regard to diet and exercise are not easy. However, the health costs and risks for not making those changes is enormous. So – let’s raise the level of awareness for this disease so we can prevent future cases and help those already afflicted with the disease to better manage their symptoms. As part of our pledge to stop diabetes, Nash & Associates will be posting periodic fitness tips, statistics and maybe an occasional recipe or two for healthy alternatives to some of our favorite not-so-good for you dishes.

If you have a health tip or dietary trick to share in support of Diabetes Awareness Month, please post a comment below! Tell us your story of how this horrible disease has affected you, a family member or a friend or and share with all of us some great stories of how you, a family member or friend beat this dreaded disease.

For more information about diabetes, you can always visit the American Diabetes Association website.

Can Breastfeeding Prevent Diabetes? – New Study Reveals Strong Correlation.

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Researchers found that women who breastfeed for a month or longer are less likely to develop diabetes later in life.  According to Dr. Schwartz from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the risk for developing diabetes is almost doubled in mothers who have never breastfed.

It well known that infants benefit tremendously from breastfeeding.  Among many other benefits, breast milk provides perfect nutrition for the baby’s fragile gastrointestinal tract. The milk is also an abundant source of antibodies that strengthen the baby’s immune system.  A recent study indicates that breastfeeding may also be beneficial to mothers

The reason for this correlation appears to be the mother’s ability to lose weight more rapidly and effectively after pregnancy. As part of a normal physiological course, most women gain abdominal fat during pregnancy. However, retaining this fat buildup for a prolonged period of time after the pregnancy can lead to a series of medical complications. Abdominal fat has been linked to heart disease, metabolic disorders, and diabetes.

According to the study in question, breastfeeding appears to be very effective in reducing post partum abdominal fat and the risk of developing diabetes after the pregnancy.  If you are an expecting mother, consider breastfeeding.  It is extremely beneficial to you and your newborn.

Contributing Author: Jon Stefanuca

New BPA Research – Is Your Plastic Water Bottle Toxic?

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

According to an article published in WebMD Health News, two recent studies suggest that the plastic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is not toxic to the brain and that it does not inhibit the development of the human reproductive system. One of the studies was funded by the plastics industry. Both studies were originally published in Toxicological Sciences.

BPA is an organic chemical compound, which is used as an additive or building block in several plastics. Its primary purpose is to harden plastic. For this reason, BPA is found in a wide variety of consumer products such as plastic bottles, cups, and even baby milk bottles.

“Some experts are concerned that exposure to BPA and its weak estrogen-like effects, especially during critical periods of development, may be linked to a range of health hazards, including behavioral effects, reproductive problems, cancers, heart disease, and diabetes.”

The two studies in question were designed to specifically study the impact of BPA on the brain and the reproductive system. Both studies used animal models.  The study that focused on neurotoxicity found that female rats and their litters did not develop neurological defects from exposure to BPA.  The study that focused on BPA’s impact on the reproductive system found that rats exposed to low doses of BPA in utero and throughout the breastfeeding period maintaind healthy reproductive systems.

Notwithstanding these new findings, many remain concerned about the toxicity of BPA. Even the FDA reversed its position regarding the safety of BPA in January 2010 and called for additional research on the subject. Previous studies appear to suggest that BPA is toxic. For example, in an article published in Reproductive Toxicology in 2007, 38 experts agreed that average levels of BPA in humans are above those that appear to cause harm in animals.  In 2009, an article publushed in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, sumarized past BPA research and concluded that:

“The potential for BPA to influence body weight is suggested by in vitro studies demonstrating effects of BPA on adipocyte differentiation, lipid accumulation, glucose transport and adiponectin secretion. Data from in vivo studies have revealed dose-dependent and sex dependent effects on body weight in rodents exposed perinatally to BPA. The mechanisms through which perinatal BPA exposure acts to exert persistent effects on body weight and adiposity remain to be determined.”

Another study published in the Journal of American Medical Association specifically addressed the impact of BPA on humans.  The study concluded that there was a strong positive correlation between the amount of  BPA in a person’s urine and the incidence of heart disease, diabetes, and enzyme abnormalities.  These are just a few of the many research studies suggesting a link between BPA and varous medical complications.

Contributing Author:  Jon Stefanuca