Cartilage loss: body weight matters

July 15, 2009 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

kneeYour knee is a very essential anatomical part in order to be mobile. That is why the bones of the knee are well-protected by the tibio-femoral cartilage. However, the protective cartilage sometimes gets damaged due to a wide range of factors, leading to pain, loss of mobility and even disability. Cartilage damage can lead to osteoarthritis, a progressive and painful disease caused by breakdown of the cartilage. It is the most common form of arthritis, afflicting approximately 27 million Americans.

According to lead researcher Dr. Frank Roemer

“Osteoarthritis is a slowly progressive disorder, but a minority of patients with hardly any osteoarthritis at first diagnosis exhibit fast disease progression. So we set out to identify baseline risk factors that might predict rapid cartilage loss in patients with early knee osteoarthritis or at high risk for the disease.”

The researchers looked at 336 people with 347 osteoarthritic knees. The majority of the study participants were women (65.2%), with an average age of 61.2 years and an average body mass index (BMI) of 29.5. The participants were followed up for 30 months. During this period, cartilage loss was monitored using whole organ magnetic resonance imaging. The results showed that

  • 20.2% of participants had slow cartilage loss during the follow-up period
  • 5.8% experienced a rapid rate of cartilage loss.

The researchers also identified the top risk factors that might influence the rate of cartilage loss, namely:

  • preexisting cartilage damage at baseline
  • evidence of tear or injury to the meniscus (the cartilage that cushions the knee joint)
  • high BMI
  • evidence of inflammation in the synovitis which lines the joints.

Of these, the high BMI is the only modifiable factor. Age, sex and ethnicity don’t seem to play a role in cartilage loss.

The rate of cartilage loss increased with increasing BMI. BMI is the ratio of body weight to height and a range of 18.5 to 25 is considered normal. BMI values above this range indicate being overweight or obesity. For every one unit increase in BMI, the likelihood of rapid cartilage loss increased by 11%

Dr. Roemer continues

“As obesity is one of the few established risk factors for osteoarthritis, it is not surprising that obesity may also precede and predict rapid cartilage loss. Weight loss is probably the most important factor to slow disease progression.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Common Health Risks From Obesity

August 22, 2007 by  
Filed under OBESITY

Nutrition and health science is constantly evolving, and it often seems as if the latest study contradicts earlier ones. It’s hard to know what to believe. But, over the last few decades, a wide array of independent studies has tended to confirm some conclusions about the relationship between excess body fat and associated health risks.

The basic conclusion is that anyone who is considerably overweight is at higher risk for a number of potential health problems. These include various forms of heart condition, high blood pressure, diabetes, colon cancer, liver damage, gallstones and others.

But what is ‘considerably overweight’?

There’s no static, ideal weight for any given individual, though there are various factors that provide a healthy range. One measurement that is a good starting point is BMI (Body Mass Index). To calculate it, just divide your weight (in kg) by your height (in m) squared. If you prefer feet, inches and pounds .. try the BMI Calculator site.

The following table is a rough classification:

* Under 18.5 = Underweight
* Between 18.5 and 24.99 = Normal Weight
* Between 25 and 29.99 = Overweight
* Between 30 and 34.99 = Obese (Class 1)
* Between 35 and 39.99 = Obese (Class 2)
* 40 and above = Extreme Obesity

For those on the lower end of the BMI scale, health risks are no more (or at most only moderately higher) than for anyone. Genetic and other environmental factors will outweigh any body fat or weight issues. But for those nearer the higher range, there is strong evidence that health risks are higher.

For example, abdominal obesity (having large fat deposits around the stomach and abdomen) is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance syndrome. For women, a waist circumference of 35 inches or more (40+ in men) is an indicator of abdominal obesity. Among other conditions, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and high cholesterol are all common factors associated with that condition.

Narrowing of the arteries, atherosclerosis, contributes to the possibility of a clot which can cause a stroke. Excessive body fat is one factor in producing that condition. At the same time, it plays a part in increased blood pressure (hypertension).

Rapid weight gain, from 10-20 lbs for the average person, increases the odds of developing Type 2 diabetes. Genetic factors are fundamental, but weight gain plays a role, according to most studies. The risk is double that of an individual who has not had a weight gain, when other factors are held constant.

Liver disease, apart from that associated with excessive alcohol consumption, can be caused by insulin resistance. That resistance is much more likely among those who are obese. There are many studies which have correlated BMI with the degree of liver damage. The higher the BMI, the greater the odds of liver trouble.

Gallstones are more likely to form in those who are obese, and may be correlated with a rapid rise in BMI. Sleep apnea (interruption of breathing during sleep) is another condition commonly linked to obesity.

In short, though no single study is definitive, and there are many genetic and other environmental elements, excessive body fat is a substantial factor in health issues. Being overweight is not merely an issue of acceptable appearance, it’s a health risk.

Weight Loss for Men

August 22, 2007 by  
Filed under OBESITY

Women are the major consumers for weight loss programs and diets. Men tend to focus more on exercise. But either topic is, and should be, popular with both sexes. Men, too, need to concern themselves with proper diet and nutrition as part of a rounded program of weight loss and health.

Particularly with the onset of middle age, diet becomes a greater concern for men. Calorie needs are typically highest in the mid-20s and taper off about 2-4% with every passing decade. For an average-sized male (say, 5 ft 9 inches and 170 lbs), the average number of appropriate calories per day, 2500, reduces to 2200-2350.

One of the reasons for the change is an average reduction in muscle mass. It takes a lot of calories to continue to feed blood to muscles, to perform cellular repair and maintain internal body temperature among other physiological tasks. As men age, they tend to have less muscle mass, thus requiring fewer calories.

But the other major reason is a shift in basal metabolism. That’s the ‘base’ or ‘natural’ rate at which your body burns calories for all its functions, even at rest. That amounts to about 70 calories per hour for most men, and constitutes about 65% of the daily calories needed. Hormonal and other natural changes with age reduce that basal rate.

The thyroid, which participates in regulation, and other glands tends to be less active and less efficient as we age. The adrenal gland is another example. Glandular reduction is one of the internal factors that actually defines biological aging, in fact.

As a result, taking in the same number of calories in mid-life that were consumed during earlier decades will result in the excess being stored in adipose tissue, in other words you’ll gain body fat. For most men, that body fat is considered unsightly, and beyond a certain level has definite health risks.

Though it’s not the only number you should look at, a BMI (Body Mass Index = weight/height squared) > 30 should be a concern for nearly anyone. A BMI over 40 is generally considered obese. Waist circumference – over 35 inches – for the average male is an indicator, with over 40 inches considered obese for most.

Whatever you eat – while it does matter for nutritional and general health reasons – taking in more calories than are consumed leads to the excess being stored as fat. That leads to weight gain. Reducing the daily intake by as little as 50-100 calories per day for every decade past age 29 can go a long way toward eliminating that problem.

Alternatively, and a good thing for other reasons, burning an extra 50-100 calories will help reduce solve that problem and lead to better overall health. An extra mile per day walking is enough to accomplish that.

Reduce calories, stay active and you can look and feel fit for a lifetime.

What Is Obesity?

August 21, 2007 by  
Filed under OBESITY

Nearly everyone today worries about being overweight. We’re constantly inundated with messages from TV and the Internet about widespread obesity and the risks of being obese. Whether it’s health issues or social acceptance, no one wants to be fat.

But if you look at it from an evolutionary aspect, the ability to store excess calories in the form of fat cells is a very life-serving ability. When a person consumes more calories than the body uses for muscle movement, internal temperature maintenance and cellular repair the remainder is stored in the chemical bonds of fat cells. Technically, it’s stored in something called ‘adipose tissue’.

Energy – which calories measure – isn’t a substance, so it’s not the same as fat. But that energy becomes available for use when those fat molecules break down into simpler products. That happens when a person increases movement or otherwise triggers a need for more energy.

Carbohydrates are one major source of that energy. Sugars (chiefly glucose) and starches are the two main forms and they participate in something called the Krebs Cycle. Also known in scientific circles as the tricarboxylic acid cycle, but don’t bother trying to pronounce it. Sugars come in, get broken down into something called ATP, then into ADP releasing energy in the process.

When the body runs out of glucose to use in the cycle, it turns to stored body fat as a substitute. Breaking down those fat molecules is, in essence, what causes a person to decrease the percentage of body fat. Sometimes increased muscle mass results, so the final result isn’t always a net weight loss.

But in biology, as in life, everything is best in moderation. When more calories are consumed than used over a long period of time, body fat increases to the point that the health risks can outweigh the benefits of a ready supply of energy. The result is an increase in the odds of heart difficulties, diabetes and other real medical problems. The social consequences are equally well known.

Knowing this, many will strive to maintain their weight and percentage of body fat within a certain range. That range differs from person to person (people have different body types), season to season (winter fat can actually be healthy) and according to their individual BMI (Body Mass Index).

So, in order to decide whether you are obese, only moderately over the preferred weight range, or just lack muscle tone, you need to consider those factors. Doing so requires knowing your specific body type, the ability to calculate BMI (very simple, actually) and recognizing that there is no exact, static, ideal weight for you.

Looking at Nutrition and BMI

May 22, 2007 by  
Filed under OBESITY

By Sarah Verneke

If you are trying to lose weight or just maintain a healthy weight, you should understand the connection between the energy your body takes in and the energy your body uses. Energy is taken in through food you eat and beverages you drink. Energy is used by activities performed. To lose weight you have to use more calories than you take in. To maintain, you have to match the calories you take in with those that you use. Eating a healthy diet and being physically active can help you reach either goal.

The number of calories you need each day depends on your age, activity level and whether you are trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. Your diet should include the most nutritious foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat free or low fat milk and dairy products. Foods should be rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients.

You also must be physically active. Regular physical activity is important to your overall health and fitness. It can help you control your body weight. Aim to be physically active at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes a day. Increase the intensity or amount of time you exercise to have greater health benefits. Children and teenagers should be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day.

To see if you are at a healthy weight you can measure your BMI (Body Mass index). To calculate your BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 704, and then divide by the square of your height in inches. For example: if you weigh 162 pounds and are 69 inches tall, your BMI is (162 x 704) divided by (69 x 69)= 23.9 which is normal.

Underweight= <18.5 Normal weight= 18.5-24.9 Overweight= 25-29.9 Obese= BMI of 30 or greater © Copyright.Fitness-Infomercial.com, All Rights Reserved.

Sarah Verneke runs www.Fitness-Infomercial.com where she looks at health and fitness infomercials, and weight loss supplements.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Sarah_Verneke

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.