Old before their time: Britons now ageing quicker than their parents

Poor diet and lack of exercise blamed for increase in obesity, blood pressure and diabetes

Jeremy Laurance

Thursday, 11 April 2013

We are living longer yet growing less healthy. That is the paradoxical conclusion reached by researchers who have found successive generations building up medical problems worse than those faced by their forbears.

Life expectancy has grown dramatically in recent decades as a result of improved nutrition, housing and medical care. But today’s 40-year-olds are experiencing problems of excess weight, high blood pressure and diabetes similar to those now in their mid-fifties.

The younger generation is thus 15 years ahead of the older generation on the pathway to increasing frailty, disability and ill health. Ultimately, the effect is likely to be a slowing of the increase in life expectancy or even a reversal, experts say.

For more than a decade doctors have warned that our existing way of life is killing us softly, due to an excess of fat, sugar and salt – and sloth. Two-thirds of the population are overweight or obese and, on present trends, that will rise to 90 per cent by 2050.

Obesity already causes an estimated 9,000 premature deaths a year, and doctors fear its relentless rise could mean the current generation will be the first to die before their parents.

Researchers who followed 6,000 individuals for up to 16 years have charted the consequences of that indolent, calorie-rich lifestyle and found the adults of today are less “metabolically” healthy than in the past.

“The more recently born generations are doing worse than their predecessors,” they say, adding: “The prevalence of metabolic risk factors and the lifelong exposure to them have increased and probably will continue to increase.”

The study was conducted in the town of Doetinchem in the Netherlands beginning in 1987. The researchers compared the health of those in their twenties, thirties, forties and fifties and then followed up each group to find out how one generation compared with another born a decade earlier.

At the start of the study, 40 per cent of men in their thirties were overweight. But 11 years later, the proportion had grown to 52 per cent among the next generation of men in their thirties. Among women, their weight did not change until the most recent generations when the proportion who were obese doubled in a decade. These “generation shifts” were also seen in high blood pressure, with the prevalence of the condition increasing in each generation for both men and women. The only exceptions were the two most recent generations of men. A similar increase was seen in diabetes in succeeding generations of men, though not of women.

There was no generation shift in high cholesterol, but levels of “good” HDL cholesterol did rise in the oldest two generations. Gerben Hulsegge, of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health, who led the study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, said the impact of obesity in youth was a critical factor.

“The prevalence of obesity in our youngest generation of men and women at the age of 40 is similar to that of our oldest generation at the age of 55. This means that the younger generation is 15 years ahead of the older generation and will be exposed to their obesity for a longer time.”

As smoking has declined in recent decades, there is also likely to be a shift from smoking-related illnesses such as lung cancer to obesity-related diseases such as diabetes.

Dr Hulsegge said: “The decrease in smoking and improved healthcare are important driving forces behind greater life expectancy of younger generations. But it is also possible in the distant future, as a result of current trends in obesity, that the rate of increase in life expectancy may well slow down.”

Lifestyle illnesses: The three big killers

Diabetes

Since 1996 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled from 1.4 million to 2.9 million. By 2025 it is estimated that five million people will have diabetes. The illness increases the risk of heart failure, kidney failure, and death – and is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK.

In the study, the prevalence of diabetes increased in each succeeding generation of men though not of women.

Blood pressure

It is one of the most important causes of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease and controlling it is one of the most effective ways of preventing premature death. High blood pressure affects an estimated 12 million people in the UK, one in four of the adult population and one in two of those over 60. In the study, the prevalence of high blood pressure increased in each generation of men and women, except for the two most recent generations of men.

Weight

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of heart disease, cancer and a range of other conditions. Two-thirds of people in the UK are overweight or obese and obesity is estimated to cause 9,000 premature deaths a year.

At the start of the study, 40 per cent of men in their thirties were overweight. A decade later, the proportion of men overweight in the next generation of men in their thirties had risen to 52 per cent.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/old-before-their-time-britons-now-ageing-quicker-than-their-parents-8567898.html#

 

First signs of heart disease seen in newborns of overweight/obese mums

Contact: Stephanie Burns sburns@bmjgroup.com 44-020-738-36920 BMJ-British Medical Journal

Artery wall thickening already present at birth

The walls of the body’s major artery – the aorta – are already thickened in babies born to mums who are overweight or obese, finds a small study published online in the Fetal and Neonatal Edition of Archives of Disease of Childhood.

Importantly, this arterial thickening, which is a sign of heart disease, is independent of the child’s weight at birth – a known risk factor for later heart disease and stroke.

And it may explain how overweight/obese mums could boost their children’s subsequent risk of cardiovascular disease, suggest the authors, who point out that more than half of women of childbearing age in developed countries are overweight or obese.

Twenty three women, whose average age was 35, were included in the study when they were 16 weeks pregnant.

A body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 kg/m2 was defined as overweight or obese, and this ranged from 17 to 42 kg/m2 among the women.

Ten of the babies born were boys, and birthweights ranged from 1850g to 4310g.

The abdominal aorta, which is the section of the artery extending down to the belly, was scanned in each newborn within seven days of birth to find out the thickness of the two innermost walls – the intima and media.

Intima-media thickness ranged from 0.65mm to 0.97mm, and was associated with the mother’s weight. The higher a mum’s weight, the greater was the baby’s intima-media thickness, irrespective of how much the baby weighed at birth.

The difference in intima-media thickness between babies of overweight and normal weight mums was 0.06mm.

“The earliest physical signs of atherosclerosis are present in the abdominal aorta, and aortic intima-media thickness is considered the best non-invasive measure of structural health of the vasculature in children,” write the authors.

And this may explain how a mum being overweight might affect her child’s subsequent risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, they conclude.

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[Maternal adiposity and newborn vascular health Online First doi 10.1136/archdischild-2012-303566]

UNC researchers find MSG use linked to obesity

Re-Post 2008 for Filing
Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

CHAPEL HILL – People who use monosodium glutamate, or MSG, as a flavor enhancer in their food are more likely than people who don’t use it to be overweight or obese even though they have the same amount of physical activity and total calorie intake, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health study published this month in the journal Obesity.

Researchers at UNC and in China studied more than 750 Chinese men and women, aged between 40 and 59, in three rural villages in north and south China. The majority of study participants prepared their meals at home without commercially processed foods. About 82 percent of the participants used MSG in their food. Those users were divided into three groups, based on the amount of MSG they used. The third who used the most MSG were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than non-users.

“Animal studies have indicated for years that MSG might be associated with weight gain,” said Ka He, M.D., assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health. “Ours is the first study to show a link between MSG use and weight in humans.”

Because MSG is used as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods, studying its potential effect on humans has been difficult. He and his colleagues chose study participants living in rural Chinese villages because they used very little commercially processed food, but many regularly used MSG in food preparation.

“We found that prevalence of overweight was significantly higher in MSG users than in non-users,” He said. “We saw this risk even when we controlled for physical activity, total calorie intake and other possible explanations for the difference in body mass. The positive associations between MSG intake and overweight were consistent with data from animal studies.”

As the percentage of overweight and obese people around the world continues to increase, He said, finding clues to the cause could be very important.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other health organizations around the world have concluded that MSG is safe,” He said, “but the question remains – is it healthy?”

 

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Co-authors on the study included Liancheng Zhao and colleagues from Fu Wai Hospital and Cardiovascular Institute at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing. Other researchers on this study were from Northwestern University in Chicago and the INTERMAP Cooperative Research Group.

The study is available online at: http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v16/n8/full/oby2008274a.html

Note: He can be reached at (919) 843-2476 or kahe@unc.edu.

School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, (919) 966-7467, ramona_dubose@unc.edu
News Services contact: Patric Lane, (919) 962-8596, patric_lane@unc.edu

Older overweight children consume fewer calories than their healthy weight peers

Contact: Tom Hughes tahughes@unch.unc.edu 919-966-6047 University of North Carolina Health Care

A study by UNC pediatrics researchers finds there is no such thing as a ‘1 size fits all’ explanation for childhood obesity

IMAGE:Asheley Cockrell Skinner, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the UNC School of Medicine, is lead author of the study.

Click here for more information.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – A new study by University of North Carolina School of Medicine pediatrics researchers finds a surprising difference in the eating habits of overweight children between ages 9 and 17 years compared to those younger than 9.

Younger children who are overweight or obese consume more calories per day than their healthy weight peers. But among older overweight children the pattern is reversed:  They actually consume fewer calories per day than their healthy weight peers.

How to explain such a seemingly counterintuitive finding?

“Children who are overweight tend to remain overweight,” said Asheley Cockrell Skinner, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics at UNC and lead author of the study published online Sept. 10, 2012 by the journal Pediatrics.

“So, for many children, obesity may begin by eating more in early childhood. Then as they get older, they continue to be obese without eating any more than their healthy weight peers,” Skinner said. “One reason this makes sense is because we know overweight children are less active than healthy weight kids. Additionally, this is in line with other research that obesity is not a simple matter of overweight people eating more — the body is complex in how it reacts to amount of food eaten and amount of activity.”

These results also suggest that different strategies may be needed to help children in both age groups reach a healthy weight. “It makes sense for early childhood interventions to focus specifically on caloric intake, while for those in later childhood or adolescence the focus should instead be on increasing physical activity, since overweight children tend to be less active,” Skinner said. “Even though reducing calories would likely result in weight loss for children, it’s not a matter of wanting them to eat more like healthy weight kids — they would actually have to eat much less than their peers, which can be a very difficult prospect for children and, especially, adolescents.”

These findings “have significant implications for interventions aimed at preventing and treating childhood obesity,” Skinner said.

In the study, Skinner and co-authors Eliana Perrin, MD, MPH, and Michael Steiner, MD, examined dietary reports from 19,125 children ages 1-17 years old that were collected from 2001 to 2008 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They categorized the weight status based on weight-for-length percentile in children less than 2 years old, or body mass index (BMI) percentile for children between 2 and 17, and performed statistical analyses to examine the interactions of age and weight category on calorie intake.

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All three study authors are faculty members in the UNC Department of Pediatrics.

Researchers find MSG use linked to obesity

CHAPEL HILL – People who use monosodium glutamate, or MSG, as a flavor enhancer

in their food are more likely than people who don’t use it to be overweight or obese even

though they have the same amount of physical activity and total calorie intake, according

to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health study published

this month in the journal Obesity.

.

Researchers at UNC and in China studied more than 750 Chinese men and women, aged

between 40 and 59, in three rural villages in north and south China. The majority of study

participants prepared their meals at home without commercially processed foods. About

82 percent of the participants used MSG in their food. Those users were divided into

three groups, based on the amount of MSG they used. The third who used the most MSG

were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than non-users

.

“Animal studies have indicated for years that MSG might be associated with weight

gain,” said Ka He, M.D., assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the UNC

School of Public Health. “Ours is the first study to show a link between MSG use and

weight in humans.”

.

Because MSG is used as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods, studying its

potential effect on humans has been difficult. He and his colleagues chose study

participants living in rural Chinese villages because they used very little commercially

processed food, but many regularly used MSG in food preparation.

.

“We found that prevalence of overweight was significantly higher in MSG users

than in non-users,” He said. “We saw this risk even when we controlled for physical

activity, total calorie intake and other possible explanations for the difference in

body mass. The positive associations between MSG intake and overweight were

consistent with data from animal studies.”

.

As the percentage of overweight and obese people around the world continues to

increase, He said, finding clues to the cause could be very important.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other health organizations around

the world have concluded that MSG is safe,” He said, “but the question remains – is

it healthy?”

.

Evil: FDA as well as others refuse to investigate the science, exposing the world to an Obesity Epidemic