Kids and exercise

Reports this week in the UK media have centred on the reduction in physical activity of children from age 7 and the link between reduced activity as a child and the development of Type 2 diabetes. In the study published in the journal Archive of Disease in Childhood researchers found that the more time a child spends in front of an electronic screen the higher the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later years. This ties in with a study in The British Journal of Sports Medicine that found children's level of physical activity declines rapidly from age 7. In order to tackle the current obesity crisis and disease risk linked to obesity, interventions need to start at a much earlier age. ANH-Intl have produced the Food4Kids Guide, which is aimed at children from weaning to age 6. Appropriate nutrition alongside regular physical activity is essential to maintain a child’s healthy growth and development as a preventative measure for future disease risk.

Poor diet linked to early death

The new JAMA study that we mentioned in our recent article on affordable healthy eating, links nearly half of all deaths in 2012, caused by cardiometabolic diseases (including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes) in the US, to substandard eating habits. The largest number of deaths was linked to diets high in sodium and processed meats, but low in healthy fats and vegetables. The public has been led to believe that healthy eating is out of reach for those on a lower income, but we show in our recent article, that this is not the case and that home-cooked, healthy eating is achievable by all with a little planning.

Australia - no vaccines / no school or childcare

The Australian Government implemented tough new rules withholding child support payments designed to get parents to vaccinate their children in 2015. Now, following comments by Pauline Hanson, leader of the One Nation party which called on parents to, "…go out and do their own research with regards to [vaccinations] because they can have an effect on some children”, the Australian Government is pushing to introduce a national policy, which will prevent unvaccinated children from attending childcare or preschool, unless they have a medical exemption. This policy has already been adopted in some States such as Victoria.

Herbal medicine in the spotlight

Two people in the US have required hospital treatment after drinking an herbal tea preparation containing Aconite (commonly known as monkshood or wolf’s bane) supplied by a Chinese herbalist. Aconite is banned in the UK unless specifically "made available by a prescription from a registered doctor or dentist", as it contains high levels of an alkaloid, pseudaconitine, which can be highly toxic if used incorrectly. You can find appropriately qualified medical herbalists in the UK through the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.

Supplementation improves health in the elderly

A recent study from Korea supplemented 60 non-diabetic, undernourished subjects aged >65 for 2 weeks with a liquid medical food to assess improvements in nutritional status and reduction in inflammation. After 2 weeks of supplementation there was a significant increase in immune function, improved cell growth and repair and increased energy along with a significant decrease in inflammation. As we age our need for essential nutrients as well as protein increases as digestive capacity decreases and age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia) occurs. Alongside these natural, age-related changes there is a tendency for older people to be prescribed multiple drugs, which can interfere further with nutrient absorption. This study shows how important it is for the elderly to maintain adequate protein and energy intake and that maintaining nutritional diversity with whole, unprocessed food is key, but that some targeted supplementation may also be beneficial.

Pesticides contribute to 1.7 million child deaths a year

A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report has estimated that the cost of a polluted environment contributes to as many as 1.7 million child deaths a year. Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health said, "Investing in the removal of environmental risks to health, such as improving water quality or using cleaner fuels, will result in massive health benefits." In a report from the Special Rapporteur, ‘The Right to Food’, the authors point out that despite the grave health risks acknowledged and attributed to numerous pesticides, they still remain in use. The report recommends "…making food system nutrition sensitive" through the reduction of pesticide use worldwide, and promotion of agroecology, as well as placing strict liability on pesticide producers.