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Medical News Notes – October 8, 2012

Posted Monday, Oct 8, 2012 by Allen B. Ury

Medical News NotesAntioxidants can lower heart attack risks. The American diet may be making children obese. These and other health stories in this week’s Medical News Notes.

Antioxidants May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Women

A diet rich in antioxidants appears to lower the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) in women, according to researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Following more than 32,000 Swedish women ages 49-83 over 10 years, the Swedish scientists compared the incidence of myocardial infarction against each person’s typical diet. They found a strong link between eating fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants and a lower risk of heart attacks. The women who consumed about seven servings of fruit and vegetables per day had the lowest risk, about 20 percent less than the group as a whole. So do what your mother told you: Eat your vegetables!

Many Overweight Kids Eat Even When Not Hungry

That overeating makes people fat sounds like a no-brainer. But why do some people habitually overeat while others do not? This was the question investigated by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Working with 47 pairs of same-sex children, the researchers served each child a filling appetizer followed by a full meal. The children already classified as overweight or obese ate the complete meal even though they had reported themselves “full” following the appetizer, while the kids of normal weight ate their main meal only sparingly. The researchers now suspect a genetic factor that leads some people to overeat even when satisfied. This discovery could impact how dieticians address the ever-growing crisis of childhood obesity.

High Blood Pressure in Kids Linked to Salt Intake

Doctors have long seen a strong link between high blood pressure in adults and a high volume of salt in the adult diet. Now they’re seeing the same thing in children, particularly among kids who are overweight or obese. According to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, many American children consume the same amount of dietary sodium adults do. And even that’s well above the CDC’s recommended amount (about one teaspoon per day). Having high blood pressure so young could spell serious problems for these children later in life.

BPA Linked to Childhood Obesity

Environmental factors may also play a role in childhood obesity. Publishing in The Journal of the American Medical Association, scientists from the NYU School of Medicine have linked childhood weight gain to high levels of bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical used to prevent corrosion in metal containers, including canned food and soft drinks. Although the scientists could not describe the mechanism by which BPA could lead to weight gain, they said their study suggests “the need to reconsider the decision not to ban BPA in food packaging.”

Belly Fat as Dangerous as Smoking

So how dangerous is fat in adults? According to a new study from the Mayo Clinic, excess body fat is just as dangerous as smoking. According to Mayo Clinic researchers, even so-called “normal weight” people can have a heart attack risk 275 percent above average if they store large amounts of fat in their belly. Men with waist circumferences of 40 inches or more have a higher risk. It’s 35 inches for women.

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