Thursday, March 15, 2007

Australia: Hip woes hit under-50s

High-impact exercise blamed

More middle-aged people are having hip replacements because high-impact exercise has wrecked their joints. While osteoarthritis used to be a disease of the elderly, it is increasingly common in the under 50s. Road jogging, strenuous aerobics and skiing are just some of the activities that take a toll on joints, leading to knee and hip replacements.

Bill Donnelly, a surgeon at Brisbane Orthopaedic Specialist Services, estimates 90 per cent of the 30,000 joint replacement operations in Australia every year are because of osteoarthritis. "There is an increase of people under 50 having the operations because of an increase in competitive and contact sports and also high- impact activity," he said.

Twenty years ago, patients under 55 were told they were too young lor surgery, but increased demand and improved technology has changed that. The old-style full hip replacement involved a large part of the femur being removed as well as the ball and socket of the hip joint, but a new technique, hip resurfacing, conserves the damaged areas. The operation is recommended for younger patients who want to continue an active lifestyle.

"In six or seven years, this operation has increased from 2 per cent to 10 per cent of the joint-replacement market," Dr Donnelly said. "There are restrictions, however, and if people go back to jogging, and playing contact sports, the joint will become loose. We tell patients to switch their activities to cycling, walking, swimming and golf."

Dianne Dixon is only 43, but has had a knee operation and hip resurfacing, after years of netball and road jogging. A car accident escalated the problem. The mother of four, from Maroochy Waters on the Sunshine Coast, said that without the surgery she would have been in chronic pain. "I've had to give up the netball and the jogging, but I do keep active with low-impact exercise," she said. Dr Donnelly said joint replacements shouldn't be taken lightly. "They're fantastic, but they are a last resort."

The above article by HANNAH DAVIES appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on March 11, 2007

Britain: The exercise craze that crippled a generation

They were promised the body beautiful and their mantra was "No pain no gain". Two decades later they are feeling it again - in their knees, hips and lower backs. They are the casualties of the aerobics boom. The craze began in the late 1970s but it was the actress Jane Fonda who really got people moving. Following her lead, thousands climbed into Spandex, donned headbands and twisted and punched the air in church halls across Britain.

Now they are more likely to be seen in physiotherapy. Nicki de Lyon, of Sports and Spinal Clinics, London, said: "They have knee and hip and lower back problems. It was not just the constant impact on hard floors, which put pressure on joints, but the twisting movements. And in the 1980s there had not been any research into the right footwear."

The fitness industry was in its infancy. Robin Gargrave, of the YMCA, said: "People didn't know what they were doing. They were just following America. Now we know that jogging on the spot waving your arms in the air isn't the best thing for your body."

Derrick Evans, who went on to become Mr Motivator, visited a leisure centre in Harrow in 1981 and saw hundreds of women doing "Popmobility". He hired the two women leading them and set up a class at a church hall in Neasden. "After a few months I decided I could do this," he said. Before long he had become the presenter Gloria Hunniford's trainer and was motivating millions of viewers on This Morning. "In those days it wasn't critical to have qualifications. There weren't really any around." Now 54, he claims to be "fitter than a fiddle" - but his routines were always "moderate". Others were less so. Andy Jackson, of the Fitness Industry Authority, says that, in the first flush of the craze, "a lot of deconditioned people suddenly started exercising with the intensity of Linford Christie".

Disciples were told that pain was good for them. "It's positive pain, just like childbirth," devotees in America shouted. As the craze took off in Britain, Geri Livingston bought a cat-suit and joined an energetic group in a church hall in Cheshire. All through the 1980s she sought out the toughest classes, attending up to four a week. "My knees just kill me now," said Mrs Livingston, now 44. "I can't jog any more, and I have lower back problems."

Hardest hit were the instructors. "I would be taking 20 classes a week," said Ebony Williams, who now teaches Pilates. "My knees are painful and swollen, I'm seeing a chiropractor for my back, and I have to have regular massages. All the instructors I knew have had the same problems with their knees, back, joints and shoulders."

Aerobics is now in decline. In Britain it has been supplanted by a bewildering array of low-impact routines and "conditioning" programmes aimed at people in their mid50s. There, in softly lit studios, next to Japanese fountains and no longer wearing Spandex, the walking wounded of the aerobics boom may seek to soothe their battered bones.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.