New CDC Obesity Map Shows Rates Remain High Everywhere

And the most obese state is … well it’s a tie, actually.

Mississippi and West Virginia topped the list of states in rates of self-reported obesity, both with a 35.1% rate. At the low end of the scale, Colorado, with a 21.3% rate, was followed closely by Hawaii, which came in at 21.8%. The numbers are part of the annual US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Obesity Prevalence Maps” reports released this week.

The report is based on responses to telephone surveys conducted in 2013 by the Behavioral Risk Factor Survey System (BRFSS), which collects data from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 3 US territories.

Full story of the new CDC obesity map at APTA

Cap Off the Summer By Taking the Challenge

Believe it or not, the start of school “is just around the corner” or “can’t come soon enough,” depending on your tolerance for perpetually sticky surfaces and back-to-back Spongebob Squarepants episodes. And what better way to give summer vacation that last final hurrah (or celebrate its end) than by being active as a family and possibly winning a Fitbit?

The APTA Summer Fit Family Challenge continues through August, and members are encouraged to get their patients and clients—and their own families—involved in this fun way to stay active as a family.

Full story of APTA summer fit challenge at APTA

Rise in Obesity More About Inactivity Than Caloric Intake

It’s no news that Americans have become more obese during the past 15 years, but a new study adds an interesting perspective—the dramatic gains may be almost entirely due to lack of physical activity, and not an increase in caloric intake.

In an article e-published ahead of print in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers examined data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) administered between 1988 and 2010. Much of what they discovered about rates of obesity, overweight, and abdominal obesity have been well-substantiated, but some twists to the story were uncovered when researchers looked at these data in terms of caloric intake and levels of physical activity.

Full story of inactivity and obesity rise at APTA

Obesity Goes Global

A new study published in the May 29 Lancet reports the results of a worldwide study of obesity and overweight, and found that rates have increased between 1980 and 2013 by 27.5% for adults and 47.1% for children. Although rates vary by region, increases can be found almost everywhere in the world, authors write, and when it comes to the battle against obesity, “no national success stories have been reported in the past 33 years.”

During the 33-year timeframe reviewed, worldwide obesity rates rose from 28.8% to 36.9% in men, and from 29.8% to 38% in women. Children and adolescents also experienced “substantial” increases in obesity and overweight, with developing countries rising from 8.1% to 12.9% in boys, and from 8.4% to 13.4% in girls. Among developed countries, the child and adolescent rates rose from 16.9% to 23.8% of boys, and from 16.2% to 22.6% of girls. Authors defined overweight as BMI between 25 and 30 kg/m2 and obesity as BMI of 30 kg/m2 for adults, and used the International Obesity Task Force definition for children.

Full story of global obesity at APTA

Health Indicators Report Cites Improvement in Physical Activity, Stalled Obesity Rates

According to a recent federal report on the health of Americans, the US is making steady gains in the number of adults who meet guidelines for physical activity, but obesity rates haven’t changed much for any population age group—including children.

The latest findings are included in a progress report on 26 leading health indicators (LHIs) tracked by Healthy People 2020, a federal program that monitors a long list of health objectives. The report compares current LHIs against a baseline as well as goals for the campaign. In the case of adults meeting aerobic physical activity and muscle-strengthening guidelines, the report shows a 2012 rate of 20.6%–up from the 2008 baseline of 18.2% and slightly above the goal of 20.1%.

Full story of US improving obesity rates at APTA

Sitting Connected With Heart Failure in Men

The flurry of news and magazine articles last year proclaiming that “sitting is the new smoking” may have been a bit hyperbolic, but apparently there’s at least 1 thing a sedentary lifestyle has in common with tobacco use: increased risk of heart failure in men, even with low to moderate exercise.

The conclusion is drawn from an article (abstract only available for free) recently published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, and has received wide attention in newspapers and other media. The study focused on lifestyles of 84,170 men aged 45 to 69 and the incidence of heart failure (HF) over time. Researchers found that while high rates of physical activity did reduce risk of HF, low to moderate exercise had less of an impact on HF rates among men who also spent relatively long periods of time sitting.

Full story on connected heart failure at APTA

FDA approves new diabetes medication

We now know that there’s much more to pain than simply what is happening in the painful body part, and attention has turned to the role of the brain. But not even this mysterious organ can tell us everything we need to know about pain, at least not yet.

You may wonder why the brain is part of the discussion about pain at all. After all, we’re not talking about a brain disease such as Alzheimer’s or stroke.

But we think that the brain is actually the best place to look when trying to understand pain; after all, pain is a purely subjective experience.

The problem is that pain cannot be “seen”. While a flinch, a limp, or a grimace may provide us with clues, ultimately we only know that someone is in pain if they tell us they are.

And it doesn’t necessarily make sense to only consider the part of the body that’s sore – sometimes people report pain in a body part that no longer exists, known as phantom limb pain.

Full story of FDA approving new diabetes drug at the Los Angeles Times

11 Totally Natural And Completely Unexpected Ways To Ease Pain

What’s the thing you do best? Our biggest strengths can contribute significantly to our happiness, success and well-being — and to those of the people around us.

According to newly-released Gallup data, using one’s best talents can also play a role in one’s comfort. In more than 120,000 interviews conducted during the latter half of 2012, Gallup found that the more people use their strengths throughout the day, the less likely they are to say they feel physical pain.

At least 116 million Americans live with chronic pain, uncomfortable at best, debilitating and isolating at worst.

Despite existing health problems, 50 percent of people who do what they do best for at least 10 hours a day said they experience pain, while 69 percent of people who use their top strengths for three hours a day or less said they experience pain, according to the new report. The relationship also exists among people without any ongoing health issues, albeit more weakly: 13 percent of people who use their strengths for 10 or more hours a day reported physical pain, while 17 percent of people who use their strengths for three hours or fewer did.

Whether the people using their strengths all day long are simply more positive people or just more distracted is still to be determined, according to Gallup. But it’s certainly something to consider when reaching into the toolbox of pain management techniques. In addition to playing to your strengths, here are 10 more all-natural, little-known ways to make yourself more comfortable, fast.

Full story of natural pain reliefs at the Huffington Post

10 Easy Resolutions for Healthy Aging at Home

Happy New Year! As you look ahead to 2014, do you wonder what you or your parents might need in the year ahead to stay safe, healthy and independent at home?

You might think, “Hoo boy, grab bars, or maybe they should move.” Think again. Much of the preventive work that supports healthy aging at home can be done with nary a screwdriver. Here are 10 easy-to-follow New Year’s resolutions that you and your loved ones can make for a happy and healthy 2014.

1. Stop making “old” jokes. They perpetuate stereotypes about old age and make people feel worse about it, fueling a negativity (see Resolution 2) that causes problems. Self-deprecation has its place but does not need to be tied to the aging process.

2. Lighten up about aging. Similarly, positive attitudes about aging help people to live longer and feel better getting there.
Stay active and engaged in life, and the years will be less of a preoccupation.

3. Use realistic language about aging. No need to pretend that it’s a (slower) walk in the park, but “oldness” tends to be blamed for more problems than it causes. Why exaggerate? Say “I feel tired” instead of “I feel old” and “I feel energized” instead of “I feel young.” Speaking realistically will make it easier to talk pragmatically about changing needs; it will reduce denial and open the door to important cross-generational discussion.

Full story of resolutions for healthy aging at the Huffington Post

Diabetes drug won’t help obese kids keep off weight

Few children who become obese are able to lose and keep off weight with diet and exercise alone, leading some doctors to prescribe drugs, such as the diabetes drug metformin, to treat childhood obesity. However, a new study suggests that metformin may not help kids and teens without diabetes lose weight over the long term.

The study, which reviewed information from previous research, found no evidence that children and teens who took the drug lost more weight after one year than those who did not take the drug.

While some adolescents who took the drug did experience short-term weight loss (six months or less), the effect was modest, and it’s not clear whether such limited weight loss would actually improve their health, the researchers said.

Given the current evidence, metformin has not been shown to be superior to other weight-loss treatments for kids, such as diet and exercise, the researchers said.

“Unfortunately, this drug is not going to be the answer,” said study researcher Marian McDonagh, of Oregon Health & Science University. Overall, the drug does not appear to provide enough weight reduction for children to experience meaningful health benefits in the long term, McDonagh said.

Full story of diabetes drugs and obese children at Fox News