Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Strange commentary on people of middling weight

Since it has repeatedly been shown that people of middling weight live the longest, how come they are "unhealthy"? One has to suspect bad sampling or heroic assumptions behind the report below -- probably both

JUST a quarter of Australians are at a healthy weight, says a study that puts the total cost of caring for the overweight and obese at over $56 billion a year. Direct health care and other related costs totalled $21 billion, according to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, while government subsidies cost another $35.6 billion a year.

Stephen Colagiuri, Professor of Metabolic Health at the University of Sydney, and his co-authors analysed data from the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle study, collected in 1999-2000 and 2004-2005. He said the research took account of all costs – borne by individuals and the tax-paying public – which flow from the problem of being overweight or obese. "Traditionally, studies report only costs associated with obesity and rarely take overweight into account," Prof Colagiuri said in a statement.

"We found that the direct cost of overweight and obesity in Australia is significantly higher than previous estimates. "As the number of overweight and obese adult Australians continues to increase, the direct cost of overweight and obesity will also continue to rise," he said.

The study took in body weight data from 6140 typically middle-aged people, just over half (54.1 per cent) of whom were women. Just 24.7 per cent of those in the study were deemed to be of normal healthy weight, with 32.4 per cent considered overweight and 42.9 per cent rated as obese, according to their body mass index score or waist circumference. Prof Colagiuri said it was important to account for both overweight as well as obesity as both were associated with an increased risk of health problems and cost.

Healthcare costs flowing from the nation's overweight and obese include ambulance services, hospital visits, prescription medication and items such as blood glucose self-monitoring meters and strips. The research also took account of the cost of transport to hospital, supported accommodation and special food, while government subsidies included aged, disability and veteran pensions, mobility and sickness allowances and unemployment benefits.


A rather odd finding about mothers

Neither women who work full-time nor women who stay at home full time have the healthiest children. It is women who work part time who have the healthiest children. The reason why can only be speculative, however. It could be a random result

Mothers who work part-time raise the healthiest children, while stay-at-home mums are more likely to have kids who are chubby couch potatoes, research reveals. A new study of more than 4500 Australian preschoolers found children of part-time mums ate less junk food, watched less TV and were less likely to be overweight.

The results have sparked renewed calls for family-friendly work policies to promote healthy lifestyles for kids.

Researchers from the University of New England in NSW believe the unexpected finding may be driven by part-time mums being more conscientious on the days they are at home to care for their children.

This could explain why they restrict TV viewing and unhealthy snacks more than other mums, while ensuring their kids are physically active. "It wasn't what we expected at all," said co-author Jan Nicholson, principal research fellow at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne. "When mothers work part-time, there's obviously something about the way the house is run and the way parents are looking after their children that is protective," Professor Nicholson said.

The study, to be published in the international journal Social Sciences & Medicine next month, also shows full-time working mums tend to have less healthy children.

Overall, part-time mums let their children watch about an hour less TV per week than other mums. The children also ate fewer snack foods, had more time to exercise and were exposed to less junk food advertising.


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