Prenatal and early childhood fructose tied to asthma in kids

UNTV News   •   December 20, 2017   •   4282

A bronchodilator is placed atop of a prescription treatment paper that belongs to Shahrour’s son who is suffering from asthma, inside their home in the besieged town of Arbeen, in Damascus suburbs, Syria February 6, 2016. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

(Reuters Health) – – Grade school kids may be more likely to develop asthma if they consumed lots of drinks sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup or if their mothers drank these beverages often during pregnancy, a recent study suggests.

To assess the connection between childhood asthma, sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages, researchers examined data about eating habits from about 1,000 mother-child pairs as well as information on kids’ health, including whether they had an asthma diagnosis by ages 7 to 9.

After accounting for maternal obesity and other factors that can also influence kids’ odds of developing asthma, researchers found that women who consumed the most soda and sugary beverages during pregnancy were 70 percent more likely to have a child diagnosed with asthma by mid-childhood than mothers who never or rarely had sodas during pregnancy.

Women who had the most total fructose during pregnancy were 58 percent more likely to have kids with asthma than women who had little to no fructose.

“Previous studies have linked intake of sugary beverages with obesity, and obesity with asthma,” said study co-author Sheryl Rifas-Shiman, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston.

“In addition to influencing asthma through increasing the risk of obesity, we found that sugary beverages and high fructose may influence the risk of asthma not entirely through obesity,” Rifas-Shiman said by email. “This finding suggests that there are additional mechanisms by which sugary beverages and fructose influence asthma risk beyond their effects on obesity.”

What kids ate and drank also mattered. Even after accounting for prenatal exposure to sodas, kids who had the most total fructose in their diets earlier in childhood were 79 percent more likely to develop asthma than children who rarely or never had fructose.

Once researchers also factored in whether children were overweight or obese, kids with the highest fructose consumption were still 77 percent more likely to have asthma.

Mothers who consumed more sugary beverages tended to be heavier and have less income and education than women who generally avoided sodas and sweet drinks. But the connection between sodas, sugary drinks and childhood asthma persisted even after accounting for these factors.

“We don’t know for certain the exact pathways by which sugary beverages and fructose lead to asthma,” Rifas-Shiman said. “We believe at least in part they act by increasing inflammation, which may influence the child’s lung development.”

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how sodas or sugary drinks might cause asthma.

Another limitation is that researchers relied on women to accurately recall and report on soda consumption for themselves and their young children, which may not always be accurate, researchers note in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Even so, the findings add to the evidence that women should avoid sodas and sugary foods and drinks during pregnancy and also limit these things for their young kids, said Dr. Leda Chatzi, a researcher at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Pregnant women should stay away from sugar sweetened drinks and foods with added sugars,” Chatzi said by email.

“Healthy eating during pregnancy is critical to their baby’s growth and development of chronic diseases such as asthma later in life,” Chatzi added. “A healthy dietary pattern during pregnancy contains a variety of food groups, including fruits and vegetables, breads and grains, protein sources and dairy products.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2BaEVOI Annals of the American Thoracic Society, online December 8, 2017.

Obese children to outnumber severely underweight by 2022 – WHO

admin   •   October 11, 2017

One in five children is now obese or overweight.

Thin or weak children have long been the enduring image associated with poor nutrition in developing countries, while obesity is considered the curse of rich nations. However, a recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO)showed an obvious shift in this trend.

WHO released a report published in the lancet which shows that obesity rates among five to 19-year-olds Rose Tenfold in the past four decades, from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016.

In line with the observance of World Obesity Day today, the world agency offers recommendations of policy actions for countries to tackle obesity and overweight in young children.

“These actions are all feasible for all countries to tackle ending obesity and overweight in children. Countries will start at different places, perhaps in the schools, perhaps in the physical activity, perhaps in the public education and awareness and the regulatory and marketing, but all countries can tackle obesity through these six recommendations,” said WHO Program Manager Fiona bull.

The report said that 0.7 percent of children were obese in 1975, compared to 5.6 percent of girls and 7.8 percent of boys in 2016.

If the trend continues, more children and adolescents will be obese than moderately to severely underweight by 2022, according to the analysis of the weight and height measurements of nearly 130 million people – the largest ever epidemiological study, according to WHO.

“Being an overweight child or adolescent means you are more likely to be an overweight adult and it is also more likely to lead to early onset of conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Overweight in childhood and adolescence also causes social psychological problems for the children themselves, more stigmatism, more bullying, less optimal school performance,” said WHO team leader Leanne Riley.

The study showed that there are now 124 million children and adolescents in the world who are obese and an additional 214 million overweight children and adolescent.  — United Nations Multimedia

 

Obese couples may take longer to conceive

UNTV News   •   March 1, 2017

The legs of women are pictured as they walk along a street in Paris, France, October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

(Reuters Health) – – Couples who are obese may take longer to achieve pregnancy than partners who aren’t as overweight, a recent U.S. study suggests.

Previous studies in women have linked obesity to difficulties getting pregnant. In the current study, neither male nor female obesity alone was linked to taking a longer time to conceive, but when both partners were obese, the couple took up to 59 percent longer to conceive than non-obese counterparts.

“If our results are confirmed, fertility specialists may want to take couples’ weight status into account when counseling them about achieving pregnancy,” said lead study author Rajeshwari Sundaram of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland.

“The benefits of a healthy weight are well known: obesity increases the risk for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” Sundaram added by email.

Sundaram and colleagues focused on the relationship between pregnancy and body mass index (BMI), a ratio of weight to height. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a healthy weight, while 25 to 29.9 is overweight, 30 or above is obese and 40 or higher is what’s known as morbidly obese. (The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has an online BMI calculator here: bit.ly/1D0ZqDv.)

An adult who is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds, for example, would have a BMI of 23.6, which is in the healthy range. An obese adult at that height would weigh at least 203 pounds and have a BMI of 30 or more.

Researchers categorized individuals into two subgroups: obese class I, with a BMI from 30 to 34.9, and obese class II, with a BMI of 35 or greater.

Overall, 27 percent of the women and 41 percent of the men were obese class I or heavier.

Then, the researchers compared the average time to conceive for couples where neither partner was obese to couples where both fell into the obese class II group.

Couples in the obese class II group took 55 percent longer to achieve pregnancy than their normal weight counterparts, the study team calculated.

After accounting for other factors that influence fertility such as age, smoking status, exercise and cholesterol levels, obese class II couples took 59 percent longer to get pregnant.

About 40 percent of the men and 47 percent of the women also had enough excess fat around the midsection to potentially influence fertility.

In addition, 60 percent of the women and 58 percent of the men said they exercised no more than once a week, the researchers report in Human Reproduction.

Beyond its small size, another limitation of the study is that it wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to determine whether obesity directly causes infertility, the authors note. It also focused on couples in the general population, not people undergoing treatment for infertility, so the results might not reflect what would happen for all couples trying to conceive, the researchers point out.

However, unlike many other studies of obesity and fertility, the current analysis used height and weight measured by clinicians instead of relying on participants to report this information themselves, which may make the findings more accurate.

Obesity can influence fertility by altering hormone levels in both men and women, converting testosterone to estrogen, said Dr. Jeffrey Goldberg, section head of reproductive endocrinology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

“If you have more fat there is more conversion from testosterone to estrogen,” Goldberg, who wasn’t involved in the study, said.

It makes sense that obese couples would take longer to conceive because excess weight doesn’t just impact fertility in women.

“For women extra weight impairs ovulatory function,” Goldberg said. “For guys, having lower testosterone and higher estrogen impairs sperm production and having a lot of fat around the scrotum, fat thighs and fat around the abdomen raises the scrotal temperature and that can also have an adverse effect.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2ldct2A Human Reproduction, online February 3, 2017.

Study finds UK sugar tax could save thousands from obesity, diabetes

admin   •   December 16, 2016

Soft drinks bottles are displayed on a shelf in a shop in London in this file photograph dated April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/files

 

A planned levy on sugary drinks due to be introduced in Britain in April 2018 could significantly reduce the number of people who become obese and develop diabetes and tooth decay, scientists said on Thursday.

In a study on the levy’s health impacts, researchers found the positive effect would be greatest if the drinks industry responds by reformulating products to cut sugar content, rather than keep the same formulations but raise prices to consumers.

The planned levy is tiered, starting from no tax on diet and low sugar drinks, a low tax on mid-sugar drinks containing 5 to 8 grams (g) of sugar per 100 millilitres (ml), and a high tax on very sugary drinks containing 8g or more per 100 ml.

The government’s health department says sugary drinks are the single biggest source of sugar for children, who can have more than their recommended daily intake just by drinking a can of cola, which has nine teaspoons of sugar.

The scientists studied three possible reactions by companies to the levy. They could reformulate drinks to reduce sugar content, pass some of the levy to consumers by raising the price of sugary drinks, or use marketing to encourage consumers to switch to lower sugar drinks.

The Lancet Public Health journal published the results.

For each scenario, the researchers mapped a realistic better and worse case scenario for health by estimating the likely impact on rates of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

“The good news is that our study suggests that all of the most likely industry responses … have the potential to improve health,” said Adam Briggs of Oxford University, who led the study. “The extent of the health benefits of the tax will depend on industry’s response.”

In opting for a sugar tax, Britain joins Belgium, France, Hungary and Mexico, all of which have imposed some form of tax on drinks with added sugar. Scandinavian countries have levied similar taxes for many years.

According to the study’s modeling, a 30 percent reduction in sugar content of all high-sugar drinks and a 15 percent reduction in mid-sugar drinks could result in 14,400 fewer adults and children with obesity, 19,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes a year, and 26,900 fewer decaying teeth annually.

Passing on half of the cost of the levy to consumers with a price rise for high and mid-sugar drinks of up to 20 percent could reduce the number of adults and children with obesity by 81,600, result in 10,800 fewer diabetes cases and 14,900 fewer decaying teeth a year.

Speaking to reporters at a briefing in London, Briggs and his team said the most likely real-life response from industry would probably involve a combination of the scenarios in the study, which might mean the benefits could increase.

“The direction of the effect is clear,” said Susan Jebb, an Oxford professor who co-led the research. “This levy will have a positive impact, especially on children’s health.” — Reuters

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