Functional medicine milestone Fast food & childhood obesity EMF battles continue An avocado a day keeps heart disease at bay Childhood anorexia rising Failed Alzheimer’s drug resurrected FB launches health app Protecting bees in the EU
A landmark new study provides incontrovertible proof that a functional medicine approach to patient care improves health outcomes. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) the retrospective cohort study is the first comprehensive study comparing a functional medicine approach to chronic disease with conventional medical systems that focus on disease detection and management. Patients seen by the Center for Functional Medicine in the US showed significantly larger improvements in PROMIS global physical health measures than those found in patients seen in a primary care setting. The study is a welcome addition to research supporting sustainable person-centred approaches to health focused on optimising health
Proximity of fast food outlets driving childhood obesity
The closer children live to stores selling junk food the more likely they are to become obese. According to a new study from researchers at NYU School of Medicine, published in Obesity online, 20% of children in New York living within half a block of fast food outlets were obese and 38% overweight. Those living further away from such outlets experienced lower levels of obesity. Concerns over the link between children’s access to fast-food outlets and obesity is nothing new. With lifestyle interventions having limited effect on spiralling rates of childhood obesity the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a new policy statement calling for more children to undergo bariatric surgery, which brings its own unique set of potentially life-altering and challenging complications and side effects. These drastic medical interventions are largely avoidable if citizens seize control of their own health and that of their children.
First it was an apple, but now eating one avocado a day is slated to help reduce your risk of developing heart disease. In a randomised controlled feeding study, published in the Journal of Nutrition researchers found eating one small avocado a day as part of a moderate fat diet (34% fat, 49% carbohydrate, 16% protein) reduced levels of oxidised LDL cholesterol by 8.8% over a 5 week period compared with a standard American diet, a moderate fat diet without avocados and a low fat, high carb diet. A favourite of health-conscious individuals, avocados are rich in plant antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin packing a nutritional punch that far outweighs negative and outdated views of its fat content.
Childhood anorexia rising in the UK and Ireland
New research points to a rise in the number of children and teenagers being diagnosed with anorexia. Compared to 2006, rates of anorexia in children aged 8-12 has doubled from 1.5 cases per 100,000 to 3.2 per 100,000 in 2015. Conventional thinking dictates anorexia is a psychiatric disorder and that nutrient deficiencies are caused by the eating disorder leading to limited treatment options. Changes in diet and associated micronutrient deficiencies such as zinc and B12, often precede the onset of an eating disorder. With increasing numbers of children turning to vegetarian and vegan diets it’s essential to ensure they receive all the nutrients they need to remain healthy.
Shock return of failed Alzheimer’s drug
Trials of Alzheimer’s drug Aducanumab were halted in March 2019 after data showed it was unlikely to prove effective. In a dramatic about turn, Biogen announced that following retrospective analysis of a larger data set from the halted studies, Aducanumab is in fact effective causing its shares to surge by 35%. However, the drug, which is designed to block the development of amyloid plaques, does not offer a cure. At best it marginally slows mental decline for those in the early stages of the disease. Despite the media hype, experts urged caution until the full results are released. Given that Biogen is set to cash in if the drug is FDA approved, it’s very much in Biogen’s favour to spin what was until very recently poor data, giving false hope to those afflicted and their families. It’s a sad indictment of the world we live in that given a choice between making diet and lifestyle changes to prevent disease development early on, or a drug, many are still after the magic bullet that doesn’t exist.
Facebook enters health market
Facebook has taken its first steps into the health care space with the announcement of its Preventative Health tool in the US designed to “help people connect with resources to support their health”. Working with the American Cancer Society, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the tool pushes users towards mainstream health screenings based on their age and sex such as mammograms and cholesterol tests. All of which can result in over-diagnosis, over-treatment and poly-pharmacy. The announcement comes with assurances that personal data will not be shared with third parties. Rather than a revolution in preventative health, the new tool will continue to withhold the risks of such tests along with alternative options, preventing people from making informed decisions about their health care.
MEPs move to protect bees in the EU
Citizen power has triumphed once again with the announcement of the banning of the bee harming neonicotinoid pesticide thiacloprid in the EU. In another move designed to protect pollinators, members of the European Parliament voted to adopt EFSA’s Bee Guidance Document in full, thereby overturning the European Commission’s attempt to water down the recommendations. This is good news not just for bees, but for insect life in general along with the birds and mammals that rely on them for food as long as regulators continue to resist Big Ag’s not inconsiderable influence.
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