Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Child obesity checks should start from birth, say Australian "experts"

Which means that it is mostly inborn behaviour that they will be trying to change! When will people start to rebel against this ever-growing intrusion into their personal lives?

Children should be weighed and monitored for obesity from birth to stop them becoming unhealthy, fat adults, according to researchers. The experts argue the Federal Government's Healthy Kids Check plan to weigh all children from the age of four from next year is leaving it too late, given one in five children are already overweight by the age of three.

Their advice comes as a senior Adelaide heart specialist predicted the nation would fail to cut obesity levels over the next 20 years unless it developed new strategies to tackle the "complex" epidemic. Dr Anthea Magarey, a dietician with the Childhood Obesity Research Group at Flinders University, and colleague Rebecca Perry want the Federal Government to consider an ongoing monitoring system - starting from birth - of children's weight, diet and activity.

While sometimes early weight gain may be "puppy fat" which disappears with a growth spurt, they say it can often instead be the start of an ongoing weight problem linked to poor eating habits. "If you're monitoring a child you can identify where their weight is increasing disproportionate to their height," Dr Magarey said. "They may not be overweight or obese yet, but it can ring a few bells and then we can say ok, maybe we should be looking at what this child is eating and what their activity levels are." Parents whose children were putting on excessive weight for their age and height could then receive advice about how to properly feed them.

The plan comes as advertising companies have rejected a proposal to ban junk food advertising to children, arguing the term "junk food" is "derogatory" and that all food is healthy. The Australian Association of National Advertisers has also tried to downplay the obesity epidemic, citing a Commonwealth study this year that showed "no appreciable change in childhood obesity levels since 1995". "The claimed 'epidemic' has been exposed as a deliberate attempt at misinformation of the Australian public and its politicians," it says in comments made to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The association argued that it would be "unreasonable and unjust" to place impositions on television advertising. "There is overwhelming evidence that food and beverages advertising to children is neither the primary nor a significant contributor to childhood obesity."


Black dog danger for coronary patients

Not exactly surprising that a heart attack would make you depressed but the much poorer outcome among depressed patients is interesting. Gordon Parker is a very old hand at depression research and I think he may be onto something here

HEART attack patients should be screened for depression in the months after they leave hospital, a ground-breaking Australian study suggests. Low mood that develops following a cardiac event significantly increases the risk of death or readmission, research by the Black Dog Institute found. But the increased risk only applies to coronary patients who are experiencing a depressive episode for the first time, and not to those who had a history of depression before, or at the time of, their heart attack.

The discovery challenges the long-held view that a lifetime of depression or being depressed at the time of the heart attack increases the risk of subsequent cardiac death or readmission to hospital. "The study suggests that the time to screen people is once they've left hospital and in the months afterwards," said Professor Gordon Parker, executive director for the institute. "There is no need to screen people when they are admitted and prescribe antidepressants as a public policy, yet that has been the [standard] wisdom."

The study evaluated 500 patients from the cardiac ward at Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital for lifetime and current depression. Their progress was tracked for 12 months and even after taking into account cardiac risk factors such as age, gender and smoking status, depression that developed in the month after the heart attack increased the patient's odds of cardiac readmission - or death - up to seven times.

Professor Parker said the discovery suggests depression which occurs soon after a heart attack may be a different, more physical type than that experienced by lifetime sufferers - which may explain the increased effect on the heart.

He said: "We know there are a number of biological changes that occur in depressed patients that may be related to their poorer cardiac outcome, such as increased blood clotting, sympathetic nervous system activity and inflammation."


1 comment:

susan allport said...

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