Half of all Americans will be obese by 2030, says report

Updated 09 March 2013
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Half of all Americans will be obese by 2030, says report

WASHINGTON: US companies that have made attempts to reverse the nation’s rising childhood obesity rate are starting to see results as more American kids exercise and have better access to healthy foods, they said recently. More than 1,700 US cities have promoted exercise to get nearly 3 million more kids moving in the last year, according to a report by the Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonprofit organization.
Still, if left unchecked, about half of all Americans will be obese by 2030, according to the group.
Some health advocates welcomed the findings but said more effort was still needed, including government action.
Already, one in three US youth are obese and another third are overweight. Experts are worried because heavier children are more likely to remain overweight as adults, and suffer a higher incidence of diabetes, heart disease and other conditions.
“We’re seeing pockets of progress toward reversing the childhood obesity epidemic,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“For progress to reach every corner of our country, we must redouble our efforts: parents, schools, nonprofit organizations, government at all levels, and the private sector.”
Childhood obesity carries significant healthcare related costs and even poses national security risks, experts say, by reducing the pool of those fit for military service.
Some of the partner companies have pledged to change food offerings on restaurant menus or work to get more children into activities like soccer or tennis, according to the group, which released the report as part of its annual conference in Washington that also headlined First Lady Michelle Obama.
The group has said it wants to help 10 million Americans gain access to healthier foods, saying 23.5 million people in the United States — including 6.5 million children — have no nearby access to options like fresh produce or cannot afford to buy it.
Already, 141 grocery stores have been built or renovated in so-called “food deserts,” often low-income urban neighborhoods without nearby grocery stores, helping more than a half-million people, it said.
“In places like Philadelphia, New York City and Mississippi - places where folks from every sector are working together — we’ve seen childhood obesity rates begin to come down,” said Obama, who has made tackling obesity her signature issue while in the White House.
Fruits and vegetables, meat and other whole foods can often be more expensive than processed ones that contain subsidized ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup.
Some health experts have been critical of the food industry for offering unhealthy products. Manufacturers have long pointed to consumer choice, but many have begun to change their offerings in recent years as more US consumers become health conscious.


Take a healthy approach to the issue of nutritional supplements

Updated 21 April 2018
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Take a healthy approach to the issue of nutritional supplements

JEDDAH: There is a growing need for dietary supplements in Saudi Arabia, given the increasing popularity of junk food and the effective role supplements can play in treating diseases caused by mineral and vitamin deficiencies.

A recent study found that 22 percent of Saudi people take nutritional supplements. It is no surprise, then, that many Saudi businesses have forged partnerships with international dietary-supplement companies.

Dr. Rowaidah Idriss, a Saudi dietitian with a Ph.D. in nutrition, said dietary supplements can be defined as substances that provide the human body with a nutrient missing from a person’s regular diet. However, she stressed that they are not intended to replace healthy eating.

She also warned against taking them without first talking to a doctor or dietitian, as some products can have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. 

“They can also cause problems if someone has a history of certain health issues,” she added.

A blood test can determine which nutrients we are not getting enough of in our diet, and therefore which supplements might be beneficial. Nutritional supplements are also used to help treat certain health conditions. 

“Vitamin C, for example, is often used to reduce cold symptoms,” said Idriss. “Fish oil is taken to lower elevated blood triglycerides.”

She suggested four daily essentials that can bridge nutritional gaps in our diet: a multivitamin, vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. 

“I routinely recommend a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement to my clients after consulting with their doctors,” she said. 

“For menstruating women, who require 18 milligrams of iron each day, a daily supplement helps boost iron intake.”

She said people over the age of 50 are advised to take a multivitamin to ensure they are getting enough B12, which plays a key role in the functioning of the nervous system and the development of red blood cells. 

“Older adults are more vulnerable to B12 deficiency because they are more likely to have decreased production of stomach acid, which is needed to release B12 from the proteins in food.” said Idriss. 

“It is also a good idea to take a daily multivitamin if one is following a low-calorie diet.”

She also pointed out that a high intake of DHA and EPA, the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, are linked with a lower risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. A deficiency of DHA might also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. 

“A daily intake of 1,000 milligrams of both DHA and EPA is equivalent to eating 12 ounces of salmon a week,” said Idriss.

The dietitian believes that the Saudis who take food supplements often do so more to benefit their appearance than their health. 

“Saudi women consume more dietary supplements than other people in Saudi Arabia,” she said. 

“They do so either to lose weight or to care for their hair and nails. Bodybuilders also take large amounts of supplements.”

However, both groups, according to Idriss, tend to take supplements on the recommendation of friends and trainers, not doctors. 

She warned that commercials and social-media rumors can persuade people to buy supplements online that may not be approved as safe by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, and advised people to get as much of their daily nutrient needs as possible from healthy eating.

Dr. Rowaidah Idriss

“Along with vitamins and minerals, a healthy diet provides fiber and hundreds of protective phytochemicals, something a supplement cannot do,” she said, adding that the body absorbs natural food more effectively than supplements.

In addition, combining supplements with medications can have dangerous, even life-threatening, effects. 

“Drugs for heart disease and depression, treatments for organ transplants, and birth-control pills are less effective when taken with herbal supplements,” she said.

“Taking an anticoagulant, aspirin, and a vitamin E supplement together may increase the potential for internal bleeding or even stroke.”

 

Natural sources

With the spread of fast-food restaurants and their alluring ads, the long-term health of the Saudi people is in danger, as children and young people snub natural sources of nutrients, such as fruit and vegetables. 

“This can lead to many deficiency diseases. Moreover, vegetarians can develop similar illnesses due to the absence of meat in their diet,” she said.
Dr. Ashraf Ameer, a family-medicine consultant, said the importance of nutritional supplements lies in treating mineral and vitamin deficiency, especially for pregnant women, growing children, diabetics, people with chronic diseases, and the elderly. 

“However, these products should come from reliable companies and meet Saudi food and drug requirements,”he added.

Mohammed Yaseen, who has a food supplements business, said his company works with a leading British health-care company to provide the Saudi market with high quality products.

“With this we hope we can contribute to the national transformation program by raising private-sector spending in health care from 25 percent to 35 percent, which in turn would lead to the sector’s financial sustainability and boost economic and social development in the Kingdom,” Yaseen said.

Decoder

Vitamin Terms

DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid. EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid.  Phytochemical is a biologically active compound found in plants.