Obesity rate in children drops almost in half, report shows.

March 7, 2014

The Journal of American Medical Association recently reported that there has been a substantial decline in the obesity rate among children in the United States.  Obesity in children ages 2-5 dropped almost in half, 43% to be exact, in the past decade.

While there are no direct causes, researchers believe that the major decrease can be attributed to a number of different reasons.  From better choices at fast food restaurants to parents taking a more active role in what their children are consuming, the obesity rate in this group of children from 2-5 is at 8.4%.  That is quite a difference from the previous obesity rate of 13.9% in 2003-2004.

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Photo via sxc.hu

This is especially beneficial in regards to a lowered risk of esophageal cancer.  A study conducted in 2013 linked overweight and obese adolescents to “a more than two-fold increased risk of developing esophageal cancer later in life,”  Study author Dr. Zohar Levi of the Rabin Medical Center in Israel suggested that this risk could possibly be attributed to reoccurring “reflux that they have throughout their life.”

The New York Times reported the following:

“This is the first time we’ve seen any indication of any significant decrease in any group,” said Cynthia L. Ogden, a researcher for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the lead author of the report, which will be published in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, on Wednesday. “It was exciting.”

However, a third of US children and teens are still considered obese or overweight.  Odgen told the New York Times “Still, the lower obesity rates in the very young bode well for the future.”

For more information, please visit the following sources:

CNN.com 
BBC.com 
NYTimes.com 
AP.org
Health.com

Study links abdominal fat (visceral) to increased risk of Barrett’s esophagus

February 14, 2014

A recent study shows that carrying more weight in the midsection may increase one’s risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus, a precursor to esophageal cancer.

Health.Harvard.edu

Barrett’s esophagus is “a disorder in which the lining of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach) is damaged by stomach acid and changed to a lining similar to that of the stomach.”*  Barrett’s esophagus has been shown to be a precursor to esophageal cancer.  

This study linked a higher amount of visceral fat to a greater risk of Barrett’s esophagus.

The fat located in the abdominal region is either defined as visceral or subcutaneous. Visceral fat surrounds the organs in the abdominal region, while subcutaneous fat is located between the skin and the abdominal wall. 

Researchers reported that the elevated risk of Barrett’s esophagus related to the increase of visceral abdominal fat was found in both those who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms and also those who do not experience GERD symptoms.

For a more information on the study, please refer to the following two articles:

“Visceral abdominal obesity measured by CT scan is associated with an increased risk of Barrett’s oesophagus: a case-control study.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

“Visceral adipose tissue increased risk for Barrett’s esophagus.” Healio Gastroenterology

*“Barrett’s esophagus.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine 


Is your heartburn affecting your sleep?

February 11, 2014

Suffering from heartburn, whether be it during the day or at night, is an annoyance that many Americans cope with, some on a daily basis. An alarming 60 million Americans experience it at least once a month and 25 million Americans suffer from heartburn every day. When heartburn is this frequent or severe, people may be diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, more commonly known as GERD.

The United States National Library of Medicine defines GERD as “a condition in which the stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach).” This occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle between the esophagus and stomach, becomes damaged or weakened.

If not properly treated, long-term sufferers of GERD can develop serious medical conditions, which include chronic cough or hoarseness, esophagitis, bleeding, scarring or ulcers of the esophagus and Barrett’s esophagus, an abnormal change in the lining of the esophagus that can potentially raise the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

It is important to note that many patients who are diagnosed with GERD do not experience heartburn at all. Below are the most frequently reported symptoms of GERD:

• Heartburn (a symptom of acid reflux)
• Bad breath
• Burning or pain in the chest or throat
• Chronic cough
• Hoarseness or chronic sore throat
• Bitter taste in mouth
• Inflammation in the mouth and erosion of teeth
• Problems swallowing
• Asthma-like symptoms
• Excessive belching

GERD is amongst the most prevalent upper gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and most likely one of the most common disease diagnosed by Gastroenterologists across our nation.

For many, GERD does not just disrupt their daily routine, but their sleep as well. GERD sufferers who have trouble sleeping at night could also go on to experience other health problems such as insomnia, sleep apnea, sleepiness during the day and restless leg syndrome.

It is best to first speak to a gastroenterologist or a primary health care provider to see what options are available to treat GERD effectively. Below are some helpful tips in order to reduce GERD symptoms and enjoy a better night’s sleep.

• Eat smaller meals
• Chew food slowly and thoroughly
• Say upright after meals
• Avoid foods which trigger your GERD symptoms (fats, spicy foods, alcohol)
• Keep a food journal to track your “trigger foods”
• Try sleeping with your head elevated. Either with extra pillows or a wedge pillow
• Restrict your eating in the evening
• Do not eat or drink anything two hours before bedtime (with the exception of water for medications.)

Again, please consult your doctor if you are having problems sleeping at night or are experiencing frequent or severe heartburn.  These suggestions are intended for informational purposes only.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Sources:
National Sleep Foundation
WebMD
American College of Gastroenterology 
 
 
 

November is GERD Awareness Month!

November 5, 2013

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is among a handful of risk factors associated with the development of esophageal cancer.   Many experience heartburn, with too many experiencing heartburn on a regular basis.  If not treated properly, heartburn can be very damaging, leading to a number of diseases, including esophageal cancer.

November is ‘GERD Awareness Month’!  Our friends at The Miriam Hospital published an article regarding GERD and “What you need to know!”

Brett Kalmowitz, MD, gastroenterologist at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital says: “Heartburn or acid indigestion is the most common symptom of GERD.” Kalmowitz further explains that “heartburn is a burning chest pain that begins behind the breastbone and moves upward to the neck and throat. It can last as long as two hours and is often worse after meals. Lying down or bending over after a meal can also contribute to heartburn.”

Raising awareness for GERD is such an important step in the fight against esophageal cancer.   Remember to share this post with your friends, family and social media sites, too!  Use the links at the bottom to post, tweet, email and pin directly from this page.

To read The Miriam Hospital’s full article, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), click here.

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