Diet and Fitness Newsletter
February 6, 2017
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
                                                            -- Viktor Frankl
In this Issue
• Eating Disorders Rampant on the Runway
• 'Heading' Soccer Ball Not Smart for the Brain
• Timing of Your Meals Might Reduce Heart Risks
• Health Tip: Strength Training Is For Seniors, Too

Eating Disorders Rampant on the Runway

Over half of models surveyed said they'd been asked to lose weight or change their body shape

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 1, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- As the fashion industry gears up for New York Fashion Week next week, new research suggests that eating disorders are rampant on the runway.

In a survey, more than half of the models questioned said they face constant pressure to be dangerously thin or change the shape of their body.

"While acknowledgment of disordered eating within the fashion industry is not new, our research study shows the lengths that models are willing to take to achieve the industry's physical 'ideal,' and the extent to which models feel pressured by their agents and other industry professionals to compromise their health for their job," said study co-author Sara Ziff. She was a Harvard graduate student while doing the study.

In the survey of 85 models, the researchers found just over 62 percent said that within the past year they were asked to lose weight or alter the shape of their body by their modeling agency, a casting agent, a designer or another industry professional.

Of those models, 54 percent were warned they would not be able to find work if they didn't comply, and 21 percent were informed by their agency that they would be dropped. The researchers said they also found that just over 9 percent were told to get plastic surgery.

Of all the models surveyed, 56 percent said they had skipped meals, 52 percent had fasted, 24 percent had used weight-loss supplements or diet pills, and 8 percent had forced themselves to throw up.

Claire Mysko is CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). "Developing an eating disorder typically begins with a diet, with 35 percent of 'normal dieters' progressing to pathological dieting and, of those, 20 to 25 percent to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders," Mysko explained in a NEDA news release.

The study authors added that eating disorders can lead to serious health issues, such as infertility, permanent heart damage, organ failure and even death.

The findings were published online Jan. 31 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

In response to the report, a group of 35 well-known models wrote an open letter urging the fashion industry to focus on diversity, enabling people of all races, ages and sizes to be represented on the runway. The coalition also requested that models' health should become a priority.

"I am signing the letter because this matters and we should speak out," said model and NEDA ambassador Iskra Lawrence.

"I believe diversity and health are important and must be taken seriously, especially during a crucial time like New York Fashion Week. Let's celebrate those brands, influencers and media outlets who are looking after the well-being of models and are conscious of the impact that body image has on everyone," Lawrence added.

The models' call to action was underscored by efforts of the Model Alliance, a labor advocacy group, and NEDA. The groups are asking for people to support a public petition and voice their concerns on social media.

Ziff, a founding director of the Model Alliance, said, "Not only is this a serious labor issue within the fashion industry, this is also a far-reaching public health concern that reflects damaging attitudes in our society that need to be addressed."

Mysko added, "It's also our hope that health on the runway will translate into health in our homes. In fact, 69 percent of American elementary school girls who read magazines say the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape, while 47 percent say the pictures make them want to lose weight."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about eating disorders.

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'Heading' Soccer Ball Not Smart for the Brain

It's tied to higher concussion risk in players, study finds

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 1, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A common soccer move -- bouncing the ball off of the head -- may not be as harmless to the brain as has been thought, new research suggests.

A study of more than 200 adult amateur soccer players of both genders found that regularly "heading" the ball, as well as suffering accidental hits to the head, significantly boosted a player's risk of concussion.

"The prevailing wisdom is that routine heading in soccer is innocuous and we need only worry about players when they have unintentional head collisions," study leader Dr. Michael Lipton, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said in a college news release.

"But our study suggests that you don't need an overt collision to warrant this type of concern," said Lipton. He is professor of radiology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Einstein.

Another concussion expert who reviewed the findings agreed.

The study "seems to provide additional evidence that such practices within the game of soccer can put athletes at risk for traumatic brain injury," said Dr. Jamie Ullman. She directs neurotrauma at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

Much of the research into sports-related concussions has concentrated on high-impact sports, such as football or hockey. But head trauma experts have long known that other sports -- including soccer and rugby -- might carry risks, too.

In prior studies, Lipton said his team found that "30 percent of soccer players who'd had more than 1,000 headings per year had a higher risk of microstructural changes in the brain's white matter, typical of traumatic brain injury, and worse cognitive performance."

Exploring the issue further, the new study focused on online questionnaires answered by 222 adult amateur soccer club players in the New York City area, both male and female. All had played soccer at least six months during the prior year.

Men averaged 44 headers in two weeks, the survey found, while women averaged 27. One or more accidental head impacts, such as a ball hitting the back of the head or a head colliding with another player's knee, were reported by 43 percent of women and 37 percent of men.

Players who regularly headed the ball were three times more likely to have concussion symptoms than those who didn't head the ball often, Lipton's team reported.

Players who suffered accidental head impacts two or more times within a two-week span were six times more likely to have concussion symptoms than those without accidental head impacts, the findings showed.

Of those who headed the ball or reported accidental head impacts, 20 percent had moderate to severe concussion symptoms, according to the report.

Of the seven players with very severe symptoms, six had two or more unintentional head impacts over two weeks, four were among those who headed the ball the most, and three were in the group that headed the ball second-most.

Lipton stressed that the findings cannot be generalized to child, teen or professional soccer players.

Still, "our findings certainly indicate that heading is more than just a 'sub-concussive' impact, and that heading-related concussions are common," Lipton said. "We need to give people who have these injuries proper care and make efforts to prevent multiple head impacts, which are particularly dangerous."

That means watching out for symptoms, he added.

"Many players who head the ball frequently are experiencing classic concussion symptoms -- such as headache, confusion and dizziness -- during games and practice, even though they are not actually diagnosed with concussion," Lipton explained.

"Concussion sufferers should avoid additional collisions or head impacts during the following days or weeks, when their risk of incurring a second concussion is extremely high," he said. "Because these injuries go unrecognized and unmanaged, there may be important clinical consequences for the short and long term."

Dr. Salman Azhar is a neurologist and director of stroke services at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He said the new findings are in accordance with prior studies, and the odds for concussion appeared to rise along with the frequency of head impacts.

"The chance of having moderate-to-severe symptoms increased when the unintentional heading went from just one per two-week period to two per two-week period," Azhar noted.

The study was published online Feb. 1 in the journal Neurology.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on concussions.

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Timing of Your Meals Might Reduce Heart Risks

American Heart Association report suggests eating more earlier in the day may be healthier

TUESDAY, Jan. 31, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- People who want a healthy heart should be mindful of not only what they eat, but when they eat, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA).

The report is a response to the growing evidence that timing matters when it comes to heart disease risk, said Marie-Pierre St-Onge, the lead author of the statement.

The various organs of the body have their own "clocks," St-Onge explained, and that may affect how we handle food at different times of the day and night.

"For example, later in the evening, it's harder for the body to process glucose [sugar], compared with earlier in the day," said St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University in New York City.

The new statement highlights what's known -- and what's not -- about meal timing and heart health.

The statement lacks specific rules, such as "Never eat after 8 p.m.," or "Everyone should eat breakfast."

It does, however, suggest that people spread out their calories over a "defined" period of the day -- as opposed to either eating a lot over a short period, or grazing from morning until night.

Based on the evidence, the AHA says, it's probably a good idea to get a large share of your calories earlier in the day.

"A long fasting duration at night is better than a long fast during the day," St-Onge said.

But there's no declaration that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

The evidence, St-Onge said, is just not clear enough to make specific recommendations on breakfast.

A number of studies have found that breakfast eaters are generally healthier than breakfast skippers: They tend to weigh less, have better blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, and have lower risks of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to the AHA.

The problem is, those studies don't prove that breakfast deserves the credit. And few trials have actually tested the effects of "assigning" people to eat breakfast, the AHA says.

Based on what studies have been done, adding breakfast doesn't seem to aid weight loss, the report said.

Of course, if breakfast skippers simply add an extra meal to their day, they'll gain weight, St-Onge pointed out.

A few small trials have, however, suggested that breakfast can help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, according to the AHA.

Sonya Angelone is a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And she was clear in her support of eating breakfast.

"I think it's very important to eat breakfast every day," Angelone said.

Just as important, she said, is to hydrate after a long liquid-free night. Coffee does "count," she noted, but a glass of water is better.

According to Angelone, breakfast is critical because it's hard to get all the nutrients you need in just two meals a day -- even if you snack.

That raises another question: Should people eat "three square meals," or is it better to stick with small, but more-frequent meals?

That's not clear, according to the AHA.

Studies that track people in the real world have found that those who eat more often during the day have a lower risk of obesity and better cholesterol levels.

On the other hand, the AHA says, small trials that have tested the effects of altering meal frequency have mostly come up empty. When daily calories are kept constant, meal frequency may not affect people's weight, levels of "good" HDL cholesterol or other factors that affect heart health.

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to eating, St-Onge said.

Some people, she noted, do well with "grazing" throughout the day -- as long as the food choices are healthy, and they do not keep grazing until midnight.

"If you're someone with good control over your diet, maybe grazing is a good idea," St-Onge said. "But if it's difficult for you to stop eating once you start, it's probably not a good idea."

According to Angelone, frequent eating may not be wise for people with resistance to insulin -- the hormone that regulates blood sugar. Insulin resistance is seen in people with type 2 diabetes or "pre-diabetes."

If those people eat often, Angelone explained, their insulin levels may never have a chance to drop.

In general, St-Onge said, "mindfulness" is critical. Often, people eat not because they're hungry, but to deal with emotions, she said.

"Ask yourself why you're eating," St-Onge said. "Is it because you're stressed or sad or bored? Ask yourself whether you're really hungry right now."

The statement was published online Jan. 30 in the AHA journal Circulation.

More information

The AHA has more on diet and heart health.

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Health Tip: Strength Training Is For Seniors, Too

How it may help older people

(HealthDay News) -- Strength training isn't just for younger folks who want to bulk up.

The American Council on Exercise explains that seniors may benefit from:

  • Stronger muscles and bones, and a lower risk of falling.
  • Better blood sugar control, faster digestion, improved metabolism and less fatty tissue.
  • Lower risk of injury to the lower back.
  • Faster recovery after a stroke or heart attack.

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