This Weeks Health News – 14/03/14

This week has covered another potential way to reduce obesity, the impact obesity has on grades at school, the amount of salt children are eating and a review of...
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This week has covered another potential way to reduce obesity, the impact obesity has on grades at school, the amount of salt children are eating and a review of the side-effects of statins.

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Best KebabTakeaway clampdowns ‘may combat obesity epidemic’

Restricting the number of fast-food outlets around offices and homes could help combat the obesity epidemic, UK researchers say… Read more here.

Research from Cambridge university suggests that the more fast food restaurants/ outlets we encounter in our day, the more fast food we will eat which leads to obesity. The study concluded that the average person encounters 32 fast food outlets a day, either around their home, near their work or on their commute. Researches claim that by restricting the amount of fast food outlets around work places and homes will help combat the growing public health crisis that is obesity.

This does make some sense to me, as I believe that one of the biggest problems for eating fast food is that is just so very convenient to eat. The more accessible it is, the more you eat, so by making it less accessible you should (in theory) eat less. An example of this is if someone brings in a packet of doughnuts into the office. They are left on the desk next to me, and sooner or later, I know I will have one regardless of if I am hungry or not. Call it social conformity, weak will power or put it down to the idea that one doughnut is not going to cause me harm, but deep down I know that it isn’t going to do me any good, and I don’t even want it! But, put these doughnuts in an office down the corridor, and I will be less likely to get one, in fact I never get one unless someone offers to bring one in for me. Out of sight, out of mind; but not quite out of reach, they are just a couple of steps away. However, if no one brought doughnuts into the office I know I would never drive to the shops to get a doughnut, its not convenient, and its too much effort. I only eat them because they are just so easy to get.

The same thing applies to if you get hungry when at work, at home, or driving – grabbing a McDonalnds drive-through is much easier and quicker than waiting to get home to cooking a meal, and the fast food companies know this, which is why they are always making fast food more and more convenient to get. Having take-a-ways delivered, making drive-throughs, having food in your hands moments after you order, and clever marketing campaings all make food too easy to resist.

So, by making fast food a little harder to get hold of might deter people from eating it so much. In theory it works, but in practice there may be other factors.

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Obese girlObese girls are a grade behind classmates

Girls who were classed as obese did worse in English, maths and science at GCSE and were on average a grade below their schoolmates in SATS tests at 11 and 13, researchers found… Read more here.

Regardless of IQ, wealth and background, a study showed that being obese negatively affected performance of girls at school – but why? Is it a result of the stigma attached to being obese, or is that bad diet and excess fat doing something to mental performance? Diet certainly is important in ensuring proper and unhindered brain development at a young age, and being obese also causes inflammation, but does this impact on brain function? We don’t really know. Being over-weight is does have a negative impact on the social life of overweight people, especially girls who often hold their appearance in high value, so this could impact their learning.

Without knowing how obesity actually reduces grades, it is dangerous to say there is a cause and effect relationship here, and at the moment we can just say there is a correlation.
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Sausage RollsChildren in the UK are eating too much salt, new study finds

According to a study in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, children in the UK are consuming too much salt, with much of it coming from breads and cereals…Read more here.

The researchers recorded the following results:

  • 5 and 6 year olds consumed 3.75 g of salt each day.
  • 8 and 9 year olds consumed 4.71 g of salt each day.
  • 13-17 year olds consumed 7.55 g of salt each day.

Approximately 36% of the salt came from breads and cereals, which is just another reason to think about changing you diet from the conventional breakfast which is already high in sugar. Ideally a 13-17 year old should be eating no more than 3g of salt a day, which is over twice the amount this study suggests.

High salt can have serious negative effects on the cardiovascular system, and although at this age you are unlikely to see any serious negative effects, this level of salt intake is setting the body up for cardiovascular system problems later in life. Unfortunately, salt is one of these things which is hidden in foods, you might not add salt to your food, and so think your food is low in salt, but it is found in almost all foods, and is most abundant in highly processed foods. Simply by cutting down on processed food intake will dramatically reduce salt intake, and so is a good place to start for anyone.

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StatinsStatin side-effects questioned

Drugs taken to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes may have fewer side-effects than claimed, researchers say… Read more here.

Statins are a group of drugs which are taken by a vast amount of the UK population to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. They have been a very controversial drug, because doctors are very quick to prescribe them to people without exploring alternatives, yet a variety side-effects have been attributed to statins.

A recent review of the evidence suggests that the side effects of statins may not actually be as bad as some people claim, because the studies showing these side effects were been poorly conducted. A group which only reviewed randomised control trials (which are considered a superior form of trial) determined that the side-effects which had previously been reported may have been exaggerated by the studies which were poorly conducted. However, some of these randomised control trials studies used low dosages of statins which would produces less side effects, and they all did report higher quantity of liver enzymes which is a common indicator of liver damage.

It would seem that the studies reviewed were still flawed to some extent, which really makes this study kind of useless actually…

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Images courtesy of chrisinplymouthmsmail and Jo.

I hope you enjoy the site, and like what we have worked hard to create, any feedback is very much welcome, after all this site is for you! Graduate of Nutrition & Food Science (Bsc) at Reading Uni.

The Health Cloud was created in December 2011 by Craig and Morg who have been friends since high school. Our focus is to educate our readers with unbiased health articles and on the side we run our own online health shop. This website is for you, so drop us a comment or send us a tweet, we always take the time to reply!