A Closer Look at Obesity, Health Risks, and Mortality
Writing in the November 7, 2007, Journal of the American Medical Association, federal researchers concluded that being overweight isn’t associated with the chances of dying from heart disease or cancer. (1) Even more surprisingly, they found that overweight may be associated with lower risks of dying from emphysema, infections, injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, and a potpourri of other diseases not related to cardiovascular disease or cancer. Obesity was associated with excess deaths from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and kidney disease, but not cancer. With nearly two-thirds of Americans considered as being overweight, studies like this one seem to offer reassurance that carrying extra pounds isn’t so bad. Continue reading
Eat Well & Keep Moving, Second Edition (Human Kinetics) by Dr. Lilian Cheung, Hank Dart, Sari Kalin, and Prof. Steve Gortmaker is a school-based program that equips children with the knowledge, skills, and supportive environment they need to lead more healthful lives by choosing nutritious diets and being physically active.
Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health
1. What are omega-3 fatty acids, and why should I make sure to include them in my diet?
Omega-3 fatty acids (also known as n-3 fatty acids) are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential nutrients for health. We need omega-3 fatty acids for numerous normal body functions, such as controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain, and since our bodies cannot make omega-3 fats, we must get them through food. Omega-3 fatty acids are also associated with many health benefits, including protection against heart disease and possibly stroke. New studies are identifying potential benefits for a wide range of conditions including cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and other autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
1. There’s been a lot of news lately about vitamin D’s role in prevention of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. What do we know today—and what questions remain?
Vitamin D has a well-established role in maintaining calciumlevels in the body and in building strong bones. That’s why vitamin Ddeficiency could increase the risk of osteoporosis. In addition, elderly whodon’t get enough vitamin D have weaker muscles and are more prone to falls,which could further increase the risk of fractures.
Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, and Chair, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health
1. How much control do we have over our body weight? And how much of our weight is controlled by our genes?
Genes do play a role in controlling our weight, but clearly they do not explain the huge increases in overweight and obesity we have seen in the last 30 years. We gain weight when our “calories in” (the food we eat) exceeds our “calories out” (the energy we burn). Given the genetic package we are born with, we can all improve our weight by paying attention to diet and getting regular physical activity, but some people will need to work harder than others to maintain a healthy weight. In other words, if we all eat and work out the same, we will not all look the same. Only a very small percentage of people have such a strong genetic predisposition that they will be obese no matter how hard they try. Even people who are genetically predisposed to obesity can reduce their risk of chronic disease by eating a healthful diet and staying active.
In Eat, Drink, and Weigh Less (Hyperion), Mollie Katzen and Walter Willett, M.D., Dr.P.H. team up to provide a flexible weight loss plan with more than 100 delicious and healthy recipes, to help keep the weight off for good.
Changes to Diet and Lifestyle May Help Prevent Infertility from Ovulatory Disorders — press release of October 31, 2007 featuring HSPH’s Walter Willett and Jorge Chavarro
Obesity Nears Smoking As Cancer-Causer — coverage from CBS news, October 31, 2007 featuring HSPH’s Walter Willett
Weight Gain Between First and Second Pregnancies Associated With Increased Odds of Second Child Being a Boy — press release of September 24, 2007 featuring HSPH’s Eduardo Villamor
As Vitamins Go, D, You Are My Sunshine — coverage from the Washington Post, September 18, 2007 featuring HSPH’s Edward Giovannucci
Overweight Prevention Program May Cut Risk of Eating Disorders Among Girls — press release of September 3, 2007 featuring HSPH’s Karen Peterson
High Blood Levels of Urate Linked to Lower Risk of Parkinson’s Disease — press release of June 21, 2007 featuring HSPH’s Alberto Ascherio
Multivitamins Improve Birth Outcomes Among Children Born to HIV-Negative Women in Developing Countries — press release of April 4, 2007 featuring HSPH’s Wafaie Fawzi
Higher Trans Fat Levels in Blood Associated With Elevated Risk of Heart Disease — press release of March 27, 2007 featuring HSPH’s Qi Sun, Frank Hu and Walter Willett