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|All Health and Nutrition Bites|
Being overweight decreases positive effects of high-fiber diet
Back in January I wrote about C-reactive protein (CRP), a blood marker of inflammation, which is related to chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (Overweight? Here's another reason to lose the excess, 1/12/07). Several other studies have suggested that one way to control the levels of CRP in the bloodstream is diet, particularly a high-fiber diet.
Sometimes It's Just That Simple
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control worked with scientists at the German Institute of Human Nutrition on a study that included over 23,000 men and women between the ages of 35 and 65 (Arch Intern Med 2009;169(15):1355-1362). At the start of the study, each person received a score of 1 or 0 (yes or no) on four positive health factors....
Healthy parents, healthy kids
Experts in pediatrics have identified four important activity and dietary recommendations for children's health. They are: Total fat intake of less than 30% of caloric intake per day; 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity; watching television (including video games and the like) for less than two hours per day; and eating at least five servings per day of fruits and vegetables.
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Most studies that I've reported on here in my Health and Nutrition Bites are focused on the risks of negative health factors such as being overweight or obese, having a high Waist to Hip ratio, being inactive or smoking. Those studies tell you that having those risk factors mean you're more likely to become seriously ill or die and give you all sorts of percentages – 40% more likely to have a heart attack or 30% more likely to die of all causes and so on and so on and so on.
But what about the reverse? If you don't smoke, get enough exercise, and maintain a healthy weight are you actually less likely to get sick or die?
Researchers at Arizona State University and the University of South Carolina made use of data gathered through the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study (ACLS), which included over 23,000 men between the ages of 30 and 79 and lasted 30 years (Arch Intern Med 2009;169(22):2096-2101). The participants received an initial medical evaluation which included blood pressure and cholesterol levels, height, weight and waist circumference measures, a health and diet history and a treadmill test to evaluate their physical fitness.
The researchers then evaluated each subject for three different positive health measures: not smoking, having a Waist to Hip ratio in the normal range, and being moderately or extremely fit.
Those participants who developed heart disease (including heart attack or the need for a cardiac catheterization) were then compared with those who did not. Not too surprisingly, those who had all three of the positive health measures were 69% less likely to die of all causes when compared to those who had none of the three positive health measures. They were also 59% less likely to have a heart attack or other coronary event and were 77% less likely to die of heart disease. In fact, the researchers estimated that those men who had none of the positive health measures had a shorter life expectancy of between 14 and 16 years.
If you're a former smoker, there's still good news: physical fitness and a normal Waist to Hip ratio still makes you 50% less likely to have a heart attack, 67% less likely to die of heart disease, and 64% less likely to die of all causes than those with none of the three positive health measures.
This study looks at some very broad measures of health: Waist to Hip ratio, physical fitness and smoking status. Note that Body Mass Index, how many servings of vegetables the participants ate or whether they ate fish twice a week were not assessed. You can have a huge impact on your health by quitting smoking, getting some exercise and maintaining a normal Waist to Hip ratio (easiest done by maintaining a normal weight).
First posted: January 27, 2010