Did you know that obesity affects one-in-five children in the United States? Every September, National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month provides a chance for Americans to address this issue and offers strategies to help overcome it.
Health issues associated with obesity
Children with obesity are more likely to have chronic health issues such as asthma, sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes, among others.
They’re also more likely to be bullied and may continue to struggle with obesity as adults.
Treating and preventing obesity
Childhood obesity is both treatable and preventable. The more kids are taught to make healthy choices, the better able they are to maintain a healthy body weight. Here’s what parents can do:
• Encourage eating meals together. Studies show that when families regularly eat together, children are more likely to make healthy food choices. Eating at home also ensures that everyone eats the appropriate serving size.
• Avoid buying sugary snacks and drinks. Instead, stock the kitchen with healthy snacks like fruit, vegetables, hummus, nuts and yogurt.
• Model good behavior. Children learn by watching you, so they’re more likely to exercise and eat well if they see that you do. Make having a healthy lifestyle a priority in your family.
• Don’t put them on a diet. Restricting what your child consumes may lead to bad eating habits and low self-esteem as they get older. Offer balanced meals and snacks at regular times during the day and encourage more physical activity.
While children come in a range of shapes and sizes, obesity presents serious health risks and needs to be dealt with accordingly. If your child is overweight, be sure to consult a doctor or other health professional as soon as possible.
The 5-2-1-0 rule
To make sure everyone in your family has a healthy body shape and weight, follow the 5-2-1-0 rule. Every day, eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, have no more than two hours of screen time, get at least one hour of exercise and drink zero sugary beverages.
Get ready for cold and flu season
With winter right around the corner, the number of respiratory infections lurking among us is on the rise. While there’s no miracle cure for the flu or common cold, here’s some advice to help you get through the season.
While a wide assortment of preventive measures is routinely touted, the only way to truly protect yourself from the common cold is to wash your hands regularly and often.
Garlic, both fresh and in supplement form, can help reduce the incidence of colds and their duration.
As for vitamin C, while it doesn’t prevent colds, some studies indicate that it may slightly shorten them in people who take it on a regular basis.
Flu prevention is a more serious issue. Of the millions of Americans infected last year, 80,000 vulnerable patients died.
While its effectiveness can vary from year to year, the influenza vaccine remains the single best way to protect yourself, and others, from contracting the flu.
Treating flu and colds
If you’ve gotten sick despite your best efforts, here are a few ways you can relieve your symptoms:
• Get lots of rest
• Drink plenty of fluids
• Use throat sprays and lozenges
• Use nasal irrigation
• Take over-the-counter drugs (analgesics, decongestants, expectorants, etc.)
Over-the-counter cold and flu medications can provide relief but be careful: most contain a cocktail of ingredients and some may be inappropriate under certain circumstances. Consult your pharmacist to ensure you select a safe and effective product.
When to see a doctor
If your symptoms are severe or last longer than ten days, consult a healthcare professional. Keep in mind that antibiotics won’t help combat colds and flus and that antiviral drugs are only recommended for patients who present a high risk for complications. In most cases, getting lots of rest is what’s required to get better.
Did you know?
Contrary to popular belief, cold air isn’t to blame for cold and flu infections. People tend to spend more time inside during the cold months, which increases the risk of transmitting illnesses.
Did you know?
Using a humidifier can help relieve respiratory symptoms, but only if you scrupulously follow the manufacturer’s directions. Unless they’re cleaned thoroughly and regularly, humidifiers provide an ideal environment for mold and bacteria to grow, which means you could end up breathing in more pathogens.
Did you know?
While using your hands to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing helps limit the number of pathogens you spray into the air, it also means you’ll be contaminating everything you touch afterwards. Public health agencies recommend that you sneeze or cough directly into a paper tissue. If that’s not possible, use the crook of your elbow or your upper arm.
The importance of colorectal cancer screenings
Colorectal cancer kills more people than breast and prostate cancer put together. However, early detection greatly improves outcomes among diagnosed patients. Here’s what you should know about getting screened for this cancer.
Why get tested?
If detected early, the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer patients is 90 percent. However, only 39 percent of cases are found at this stage. Often, colorectal cancer doesn’t initially cause any symptoms. This is why being proactive about detection is vital.
Who should get tested?
People between the ages of 50 and 74 should undergo a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every two years. These tests detect traces of blood in the stool that can’t be seen with the naked eye, which could indicate a tumor. Out of 1,000 tests, an average of 36 will come back positive, prompting a colonoscopy. Out of 36 positive tests, only four will be due to the presence of cancer.
How can I get tested?
Ask your healthcare provider to prescribe a test. You’ll then be referred to a collection center and provided with a test kit containing detailed instructions. It’s also possible to take the test at home. Ask your doctor what options are available.
Public health agencies recommend that regular colorectal cancer screenings begin as soon as someone turns 50, regardless of symptoms. Being proactive is the only way to detect cancer early.
Colorectal cancer rates among young people are increasing. If you notice worrisome symptoms such as rectal bleeding or a change in bowel habits, consult a doctor without delay. While it may be due to a benign condition, young people affected with colorectal cancer are more likely to die because of a delay in diagnosis.
5 major benefits of doing yoga
Yoga is one of the few types of exercise that can be done by almost anybody, regardless of their age or level of fitness. Here are some of the key benefits you can expect as a result of practicing yoga.
1. Reduced stress. Yoga combines deep breathing, mindfulness and physical movement to create a meditative experience that makes you feel calmer.
2. Increased flexibility. Increasing your flexibility will loosen your joints and muscles. This will lead to better posture as well as fewer aches and pains.
3. Enhanced overall health. Yoga strengthens your muscles and helps you maintain a healthy body weight. It can also lower your blood pressure, decrease your cholesterol and increase your bone density.
4. Relief from pain. If you suffer from ongoing head, back or neck pain, yoga could help relieve or mitigate the discomfort.
5. Improved diet. People who regularly practice yoga tend to develop more awareness of how different foods make their body feel. Consequently, they gravitate towards healthier choices that make them feel great.
Wondering if yoga is right for you? Sign up for a class today and find out.
Types of yoga
Here are some of the most common types of yoga practiced in studios and homes across the country.
• Hatha yoga is a classic practice that combines deep breathing with various asanas or physical postures. It’s a great choice for beginners.
• Ashtanga yoga is a physically challenging practice that involves rapidly advancing through the same set sequence of poses every time.
• Vinyasa yoga is similar to ashtanga but doesn’t follow the same sequence every time. Props and modifications may be included.
• Hot yoga is practiced in a room heated to a temperature of up to 105 °F. The heat is believed to help practitioners move deeper into the poses. However, it’s not recommended for people with low fitness levels.
• Yin yoga is a slow-paced practice that focuses on holding floor poses for several minutes at a time.
• Prenatal yoga is a practice for pregnant women developed to increase pelvic floor strength and prepare the body for labor and delivery.
Mental health: a crucial aspect of farm safety
Mental health is a growing concern for American farmers. These workers are at an increased risk of developing stress-related health issues, and they’re also more likely to commit suicide than the average citizen. In honor of this year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week (September 15 to 21), here’s some important information about the issue.
Mental health issues increase the likelihood of injuries and fatal accidents in an already dangerous workplace. Here are some of the factors that put farmers at risk.
• Long hours. Farmers are often forced to work long hours, leading to poor sleep hygiene. Lack of rest often exacerbates stress in addition to disrupting the ability to focus.
• Uncertainty. Farmers are at the mercy of increasingly unpredictable weather. In addition, fluctuating commodity prices mean that even a strong harvest doesn’t guarantee a profit will be made.
Financial uncertainty is becoming a big problem. The USDA reports that the U.S. farm debt relative to income is the highest it’s been in three decades.
• Lack of resources. Farmers need help, but there’s a lack of accessible resources. In addition, they’re unlikely to seek out the help they need, in part because of the stigma attached to mental health issues in the farming community.
While there are resources available like Farm Aid’s hotline — it saw a 109 percent increase in call volume in 2018 — there isn’t enough funding to provide concrete help to farmers.
What can be done
Awareness campaigns have sought to change the mindset around mental health in farming communities. Eliminating the stigma attached to asking for help is an important step in improving the situation. Public education about the challenges farmers face could also help raise awareness about the importance of this issue.
If you or someone you know is facing a crisis, visit the National Farmers Union Crisis Center at farmcrisis.nfu.org.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you or someone you know is in distress, call 1-800-273-8255.
Understanding ADHD: symptoms and treatment
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects between six and seven percent of people aged 18 and under. Despite its prevalence, it remains poorly understood. Here’s what you should know.
ADHD is a disorder characterized by a vast array of symptoms. Their type and intensity vary between patients, and distinguishing strong personality traits from symptoms can be difficult. In addition, the attention deficit and hyperactivity-impulsivity aspects of ADHD are separate.
Inattention symptoms include:
• Difficulty paying attention to details
• Difficulty focusing on and structuring tasks
• Tendency to forget things, especially those necessary for completing tasks (e.g. pencils and notebooks)
• Short attention span
• Easily distracted
Hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms include:
• Inability to sit still and frequent squirming or fidgeting
• Getting up at inappropriate moments
• Talking more than others
• Interrupting conversations or intruding
• Difficulty waiting for their turn
For ADHD to be a concern, a child has to exhibit extreme or disruptive versions of the traits above. In addition, boys are much more likely to show hyperactivity symptoms than girls. Remember that while difficulties with social integration and school performance are common indicators, they’re not enough to establish a diagnosis.
A combination of medication and therapy is the most common treatment for ADHD. Given the high variability in types, there’s no universal treatment plan.
Since ADHD persists into adulthood in 30 to 50 percent of cases, promoting long-term management strategies is crucial.
Left untreated, ADHD is associated with poor academic performance, professional difficulties and higher risks for drug use and criminal behavior.
The incidence of anxiety disorders and depression is also higher in people with ADHD.
ADHD can have devastating consequences, and early treatment and management is key to helping those affected lead fulfilling lives. If you’re concerned about your child, be sure to speak to a healthcare professional.
How to increase your appetite
Have you noticed that your appetite isn’t what it used to be? A slower metabolism and decreased activity levels may mean you need fewer calories than you once did. Alternatively, certain medical issues and medications may cause your appetite to shrink. Plus, your taste buds can change as you get older, making meals you once enjoyed seem bland and unappealing.
However, though there may be perfectly legitimate reasons for the reduction in your appetite, not eating enough can lead to significant weight loss and malnutrition. Here are a few ways to make meals more appealing and to get the calories and nutrients you need.
• Use spices and herbs. Try to avoid using excessive salt and sugar to improve taste, as these can be unhealthy.
• Eat with others. Some seniors find cooking for one difficult or lose their appetite due to depression or loneliness. If you’re faced with this issue, invite friends and family members to join you for meals. Alternatively, consider planning weekly meals with a church or community group in your area.
• Pack your meals with calories. A large plate of food may seem daunting when you’re used to eating small meals. Therefore, instead of upping your portion sizes, add nutrient- and calorie-dense foods to your meals and snacks like avocado, nuts, whole milk products and olive oil.
• Embrace finger foods. Do arthritis or shaky hands make using utensils difficult? If so, choose meals that can be eaten with your hands like sandwiches, fruit and pizza.
If none of these practices help, meal replacement drinks can provide you with the calories you need to flourish. It may also be a good idea to ask your doctor about appetite-enhancing medications.