America Earns Number 1 Spot as the Unhealthiest Nation

America Earns Number 1 Spot as the Unhealthiest Nation

If America is your home sweet home, then you may need to be worried about your health as well as the health of your children. According to a new study, America has the highest mortality rate where people die younger than those from other non-developing nations.

The study was conducted by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council and consisted of experts in the field of public health, economics, social science and medicine. When compared against other nations, such as Canada, Britain, Japan, Australia and Scandinavian countries like Austria and Switzerland, America comes in dead last in terms of the health of its citizens.

The study reveals that American-born babies are more likely to die before reaching their first birthday or even their fifth birthday. American adolescents have a higher mortality due to death from causes like automobile accidents, homicides and sexually transmitted diseases. Among adults over 20 years of age, Americans have the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and deaths from drug overdose.

The high mortality rates are not only concentrated in poverty-stricken areas of the nation. The study also shows that those from affluent neighborhoods with a college education and health insurance are in worse health than their counterparts from other wealthy countries.

The mortality rate is largely believed to be in part due to poor individual choices. This includes lack of exercise, poor diet, alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Studies also suggest the reason is partly due to social factors like income inequality and lack of safety nets provided by the government.

However, America is not in last place in every sector of health. Americans who live to see their 75th birthday do have the longest life expectancy.

While the study reveals grim figures, it is important to remember that the statistics are just numbers and it is largely up to the individual and the choices they make that dictate their health and how long they remain on Earth before kicking the bucket.

Video Games can have a Healthy Impact on Children

Some parents have told their children millions of times that video games will rot their brain. Like watching television or spending hours online, video games have often been linked to weight gain and obesity. While these activities don’t cause an unhealthy lifestyle directly, those who spend more time doing these things tend to spend lesser time exercising or on activities that involve physical movement.

Parents have often been urged to limit their children’s time behind a television screen. However, new research suggests that allowing your children to spend more time playing video games may not actually be a bad thing after all. Video games may actually help to increase the amount of energy your child expends daily.

By video games, the study is referring to games like the Wii, which requires the player to get off the couch and mimic movements on the screen. Children who engage in active video games increase their heart rate and oxygen intake.

The study consisted of 18 children who either played an active video game or a normal one that used a traditional controller with a directional pad and buttons. Those who played the active video games increased their energy expenditure by as high as 263 percent and burned nearly twice as many calories as those who played the traditional games.

While it is unlikely that these types of video games alone is enough to meet a child’s recommended daily physical activity, it can certainly contribute to a child’s physical activity levels in the short run. This is certainly positive news given the fact that obesity among children has skyrocketed within the last three decades. About one-third of children and teens in the U.S. are now classified as overweight or obese.

While playing the Wii may qualify as exercise, children should still be encouraged to get exercise outdoors. Health experts recommend that an hour or so of moderate exercise is ideal for young children and teens.

Telling Lies can be Detrimental to Your Health

It has been drilled into our heads over and over that for optimal health, you should exercise daily and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. A new research now suggests that you can improve your health even further by telling less lies.

Whether it is a big lie or a little white lie, everyone lies from time to time. However, the accumulation of all those lies may have a negative impact on your health, a study finds.

The research was done at Notre Dame University and consisted of 110 participants, half of which were instructed to refrain from lying as much as possible for a period of 10 weeks. The other half were given no such instruction. The findings showed that the no-lie group exhibited fewer instances of anxiety, tension, sore throats and headaches.

Previous research shows that people on average tell about 11 lies per week. This can range from little white lies and minor embellishments to much more serious lies like filing a false complaint or infidelity.

What’s more, the Notre Dame study also showed that those who lied less also reported an improvement in their personal relationships with their spouse, children, friends and coworkers.

All the participants were between the ages of 18 and 71 and were from various ethnicities and income levels. At the end of each week, each subject would report the number of lies they told and the severity of each one. Those in the no-lie group also reported having to devise clever ways to get around lying, such as avoiding questions or answering a question with a question of their own.

There appears to be a lot of internal guilt associated with lying, which can eat you up inside. While no one is expected to be truthful 100 percent of the time, it appears that being honest as much as possible can lead to a more stress-free life.

House Pets May Provide Health Benefits for Infants

Dogs have often been touted as a man’s best friend. However, it may be more accurate to say that it is an infant’s best friend. A new study done in Finland suggests that infants who grow up in a household with either a dog or a cat are less likely to suffer from coughs, runny noses and ear infections. These babies were also less likely to need treatment that includes antibiotics.

While it is not currently known how having pets in the home can contribute to an infant’s health, one theory suggests that the dirt and allergens that a pet brings into the home may actually be good for a child’s immune system.

The research
consisted of almost 400 infants. The parents would keep record of the child’s health as well as how often their child had contact with pets.

The study shows that before the babies reached their first year, close to 300 of them had contracted a fever at least once. 335 also suffered minor bouts of coughs with 157 having an ear infection and almost 200 having to take some form of antibiotics.

The study indicated that those who reportedly had contact with a household pet experienced fewer illnesses. Those who had contact with a dog were healthy around 76 percent of the time, while those who had no dog contact were only healthy for about 65 percent of the time. Overall, the former was also 29 percent less likely to be treated for antibiotics.

It is believed that all the germs and bacteria that a pet attracts into the home forces a baby’s immune system to work harder, and therefore develop more quickly.

Of course, the study does not prove for certain that pets lead to healthier children, so there is no need for expectant parents to go to the nearest pet store and bring home a new puppy or kitten.

Ozone Exposure may Cause Heart Complications

Researchers have long suspected that polluted air can cause health problems. Recent studies are now substantiating these claims. The new study suggests that exposure to ozone can lead to heart complications and even sudden death in the most extreme cases.

Ozone is a common pollutant found at ground level. It is created when smog and waste from vehicles and factories react with sunlight. It is believed that even short-term exposure can put people at a greater risk for heart disease, especially among older people. The study shows even as little as two hours of exposure to ozone may be enough to cause inflammation, which is associated with heart attacks.

While previous studies exist, most of them are on the effects ozone has on the lungs and how it impacts the respiratory system. The newest study consisted of 23 participants who were either exposed to ozone or clean air. The exposure lasted two hours and was administered every two weeks.

Researchers monitored the heart immediately after exposure and again the morning after. The results showed that those exposed to ozone showed a decrease in cells that play a key role in reducing blood clots. They also showed a change in heart rhythm and an increase in inflammation. All volunteers were young and healthy adults, so there was no serious risk involved. However, the implications can be much more severe for older individuals.

Experts say that people can reduce their risk of exposure by spending less time outside, especially during high temperatures when ozone levels are at its peak.

According to the World Health Organization, roughly two million people across the globe have died prematurely from heart complications as a result of ozone exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency has released information on air quality on its website as well as tips on how people can limit exposure.

Meat Consumption Linked to Global Warming

Some people just love to consume meat. No meal to these people is considered complete without a serving of steak or pork chop. Health studies, however, have long confirmed that the regular consumption of processed meat is associated with heart disease, high blood pressure and other ailments.

A separate study has now shown that there is another reason for cutting back on meat other than your health. For every serving of meat you consume, you may be contributing to the increase of nitrous oxide (N2O), a toxic greenhouse gas that is emitted and released into the atmosphere.

A study performed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is urging that meat consumption on a global scale needs to be curtailed by at least 50 percent by the year 2050.

N2O is believed to be the third largest contributor to global warming, right behind carbon dioxide and methane. N2O is mainly spread through the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers in farming and agriculture. Bacteria breaks down the fertilizer and releases the nitrous oxide into the air. The fertilizer is also used in handling livestock manure.

By consuming less meat, there will be lesser demands for it. This means less livestock and a lesser need for the use of fertilizers. It’s basically a domino effect that begins with the consumer’s decision to cut back on the consumption of animal flesh.

This is obviously not good news if you enjoy meat. Of course, nobody is advocating that the whole world adopts a vegetarian diet. The study simply revealed that there is a harm done to the environment as the demands for meat production increases. If you like the taste of meat, you are not obligated in any way to give it up. However, it wouldn’t hurt to cut down your daily intake by a serving or two.

Does Milk Really Do the Body Good?

You have probably seen it everywhere in the ads; milk builds strong bones and does the body good. Who isn’t familiar with the “Got Milk?” slogan and the endless list of celebrities who appear on billboards with the milk mustache?

The dairy industry has spent a fortune convincing consumers of the health benefits of milk. However, is milk really good for you, or is it all a ploy by dairy manufacturers to get you to buy and consume cow juice? A newly released documentary “Got the Facts on Milk?” exposes the claims by the dairy industry as deceptive and misleading. The truth is that milk and other dairy products that have been pasteurized can increase the risk of chronic disease and bone depletion.

Pasteurized milk – typically the kind seen in just about every grocery store – is depleted of its organic nutrients. During the pasteurization process, the milk is heated at a very high temperature and then cooled down immediately. While this process is beneficial for killing bacteria, it also strips the milk of its vitamins and minerals. As for the calcium content, it becomes acidic and actually has the opposite effect. Instead of being good for your bones, it actually leeches vital nutrients from it.

Now before you decide to forgo all dairy products, it is important to note that milk in its natural state is actually good for you. Raw milk contains the right balance of alkalizing and acidifying minerals, which helps preserve bone mass and density.

Milk and everything made from it, such as cheese and yogurt, can be healthy or not. It depends on the kind you buy. The ones you see in a typical grocery store tend to be the latter. The good news is that if you love dairy products, then you can continue to enjoy them. You just have to be a little more selective about where you buy them. Try shopping for dairy at an organic food shop or farmer’s market. While organic dairy may be pricier, the health benefits are far superior.

Can too Much Sitting be Hazardous for Your Health?

Can sitting shorten your life span? The idea of sitting yourself to an early grave sounds farfetched, though a new study done at the University of Sydney suggests that there may in fact be a correlation between too much sitting and dying of natural causes.

Hidde van der Ploeg, the head of the research team, collected data from over 200,000 adults past the age of 45. From the sample, it was discovered that those who reported sitting for 11 hours or more a day were more likely to experience common health problems than those who sat for just four hours or below.

This doesn’t mean that sitting in itself is hazardous for your health, though the research also suggests that remaining in a sitting position for prolonged periods may increase fats in the blood, thereby lowering metabolism and lowering good cholesterol levels. Factors, such as pre-existing health conditions, lifestyle, and weight were also taken into consideration. The same health problems were observed in those who sat more frequently regardless of these conditions.

Obviously, some people may have a job that requires them to sit for long intervals. This includes most office and secretary positions. This doesn’t mean that you should do your job standing. Just get up and do a little bit of stretching and moving around periodically. If you are sitting down and watching television in your down time, then get up and walk around during a commercial break. This will keep the blood circulating and keep your body from remaining stagnant for too long a period.

It all comes down to common sense. The less your body is moving, the less exercise you are getting. As long as you monitor your daily physical activity and make sure you don’t become a frequent couch potato, then there is nothing to worry about.

Eat Chocolate to Lose Weight

Who doesn’t love chocolate? It’s one of those foods that people love to set aside as one of their guilty pleasures. For chocolate lovers, there is some good news. A recent study showed that those who consumed chocolate on a regular basis have an overall lower body mass index than those who eat chocolate less often.

Researchers are baffled as to why something that is loaded with calories, fat and sugar can have a positive effect on weight. It is suspected that the antioxidants found in chocolate may play a contribution in boosting metabolism. Separate studies have also concluded that chocolate contains compounds and nutrients that can aid in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The study was headed by Dr. Beatrice Golomb and consisted of roughly 1,000 participating adults. Various data was collected from each test subject, which included how often they exercised and the amount of calories they consumed as well as the type of foods they were eating. Each subject consumed an average of two servings of chocolate a week. The type of chocolate, whether it was dark, white or milk, was not factored into the study. The test results showed that those who consumed chocolate more frequently had a lower body mass index. This proved to be the case even for subjects who consumed more calories overall.

Now before you start loading up on Snickers and M&Ms, keep in mind that some common sense is still needed here. Your bodyweight is still largely dependent on the total amount of calories you consume, and chocolate tends to be high in calories. The study, in fact, also showed that those who consumed higher quantities of chocolate in a single sitting exhibited higher body weight. Just because chocolate may be good for you, it doesn’t mean you should indulge without setting limits. What it does mean is that you can have chocolate in moderation without feeling guilty.

Stem cell discovery, video game research, Medicaid cuts and Cachexia

Several stories made the round this week in the health department, starting from a new stem cell discovery made by researchers and published in the Nature Medicine magazine, a report about active video game playing, some Medicaid cuts in Washington state, and two new drugs trying to catch Cachexia. Together, they pain the week as fairly promising on the health front, with more hope for many people afflicted by these diseases, although perhaps not for Washington state citizens, if the proposed legislation goes into effect.

First, a team of researchers have apparently discovered a break through in the stem cell field last month, according to what was published in Nature Medicine. The study suggests that it’s possible to take cells directly from a woman’s ovary and convert them into immature eggs. These eggs would then be viable, and could be used in infertile people, in order to become pregnant. Still, this is just a preliminary study, and many obstacles remain, but it can bring some hope to those who’ve been trying, but found themselves unable to have a baby.

Another study, this time published in the magazine Pediatrics, suggests that the active games, as opposed to those where people simply sit on a coach, may not be as good to kids as simply going outside. In recent years, we’ve seen a number of active technologies like the Wii and the Xbox Kinect. These allow children and adults to play games by standing out and doing actual motions, but the study shows that these motions aren’t anywhere near the type of exercise everyone should be going through by simply going outside into the world.

Meanwhile, the state of Washington is about to do serious cuts into its Medicaid program. The plan hopes to save the state a lot of money, but physicians warn that this will come at the cost of human suffering, and may cost lives in the end. The state says that the plan will divert some patients to more appropriate care givers, but not everyone is convinced.

Finally, Cachexia is a known disease that often accompanies cancer and is the source of severe loss of weight. Now, two experimental drugs are said to effectively treat this illness. The companies developing the drugs say that not only will they help give strength to cancer patients, but they will help prolong their lives. Since the drugs are still under development, there’s no hint yet as to when they will be available for wide use.

Overall, the week has been fairly calm in the realm of health related news, but thankfully these news will bring some hope to some patients, especially cancer patients, and those suffering from infertility, although people in Washington state may need to call their representatives if they wish to prevent the Medicaids bill from passing.