One in five children are obese leaving primary school

One in 10 children was obese at the start primary school in England last year but one in five was obese by the end.

One in 10 children was obese at the start primary school in England last year but one in five was obese by the end

The reserach was carried out by to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Although figures for Reception children have fallen slightly, the figures for obesity in Year 6 are on the rise.

Children living in the most deprived areas were twice as likely to be obese as children in affluent areas.

Campaigners said the figures should act as a wake up call.

The figures for 2014-15 come from the government’s National Child Measurement Programme for England which covers all state primary schools.

By measuring children’s weight and height and calculating their BMI (body mass index) centile, they can be put into one of four categories: underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese.

Among children aged four and five in Reception year, 9.1% were classified as obese – compared with 9.5% in 2013-14 and 9.9% in 2006-07, when records began.

In Year 6, 19.1% of children were obese – an increase on figures from eight years ago.

While one in four or five children was overweight or obese in Reception, one in three was either overweight or obese in Year 6.

The London boroughs of Southwark, Newham, Lambeth and Tower Hamlets topped the table for obesity among children aged 10 to 11 (Year 6).

The figures showed 28% of Year 6 pupils in Southwark were classed as obese and 44% were either obese or overweight.

Wolverhampton had the largest number of obese 10 and 11-year-olds outside London.

Waverley in Surrey reported the smallest number of obese pupils – 5% in Reception and 9% in Year 6.

Eustace De Sousa, national lead for children, young people and families at Public Health England, said tackling obesity was a major priority.

“While it is encouraging to see that overweight and obesity in children are levelling off, these figures are still unacceptably high and much worse in the poorest areas. The doubling of obesity levels between ages 4 and 11 is deeply concerning and highlights that much more needs to be done to help children and families.”

“We are committed to supporting local authorities by improving awareness locally, promoting the evidence behind ‘what works’ and providing advice to families through our Change4Life campaign.”

Fit legs equals fit brain, study suggests

Older women who have strong legs are likely to fare better when it comes to ageing of the brain, a decade-long study of more than 300 twins suggests.

Older women who have strong legs are likely to fare better when it comes to ageing of the brain, a decade-long study of more than 300 twins suggests.

The King’s College London team says leg power is a useful marker of whether someone is getting enough exercise to help keep their mind in good shape.

Exercise releases chemicals in the body that may boost elderly brains, say the scientists, in the journal Gerontology.

But they say more research is needed to prove their hunch.

It is difficult to untangle leg strength from other lifestyle factors that may have an impact on brain health and the study did not look specifically at dementia, experts say.

The researchers tracked the health of more than 150 pairs of twin sisters aged between 43 and 73 at the start of the study.

Leg power was measured (at the start of the study) using a modified piece of gym equipment that measured both speed and power of leg extension, while brain power was measured (at both the start and the end of the study) using computerised tasks that tested memory and mental processing skills.

Generally, the twin who had more leg power at the start of the study sustained their cognition better and had fewer brain changes associated with ageing measured after 10 years. And the finding remained when other known lifestyle and health risk factors for dementia were included.

Lead researcher Dr Claire Steves said: “When it came to cognitive ageing, leg strength was the strongest factor that had an impact in our study.

“Other factors such as heart health were also important, but the link with leg strength remained even after we accounted for these. We think leg strength is a marker of the kind of physical activity that is good for your brain.”

Alzheimer’s Society director of research Dr Doug Brown said the findings added to the growing evidence that physical activity could help look after the brain as well as the body.

“However, we still don’t fully understand how this relationship works and how we can maximise the benefit,” he said.

“And we have yet to see if the improvements in memory tests actually translate into a reduced risk of dementia.”

Alzheimer’s Research UK director of research Dr Simon Ridley said: “We know that keeping active generally can help reduce dementia risk, and it’s important to take into account strength training as well as aerobic exercise.”

Footballers have worryingly poor teeth

Professional footballers have worryingly poor teeth that could be affecting their performance on the pitch, say dentists.

Professional footballers have worryingly poor teeth that could be affecting their performance on the pitch, say dentists.

Their study on players at eight clubs in England and Wales, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, showed nearly four out of 10 had cavities.

Regularly consuming sugary foods is one possible explanation.

The dentists, from the International Centre for Evidence-Based Oral Health at University College London, examined 187 players’ sets of teeth.

They found 53% had dental erosion, 45% were bothered by the state of their teeth and 7% said it affected their ability to train or play.

Around 40% had tooth decay, compared with 30% of people of a similar age in the general population.

Prof Ian Needleman, one of the researchers: “These are individuals who otherwise invest so much in themselves so it’s a surprising finding. There are two main groups – some have a catastrophic effect, they have very severe abscesses that stop them in their tracks and they cannot play or train.”

“There’ll be others experiencing pain affecting sleeping or sensitivity every time they take a drink. At this level of athlete, even small differences can be quite telling.”

Nutrition is one of the primary suspects with frequent consumption of sugary or acidic foods during training potentially accounting for tooth decay and erosion.

A lot of air in the mouth during exercise can also dry it out so there is less protection from saliva.

Prof Needleman said that while “these findings are worrying” clubs were giving dental health a “higher priority” and were educating their players.

Previous research has shown “striking” levels of bad teeth in athletes competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The teeth of athletes at London 2012 were broadly in the same state as those of footballers.

Players from Manchester United, Hull, Southampton, Swansea, West Ham, Brighton, Cardiff and Sheffield United all took part in the study.

Stijn Vandenbroucke, the head of medicine and sports science at West Ham, said there were “clear preventive benefits for athletes and club”.

He added: “Oral health is an area where many athletes have greater problems than the general population so it has been a massive achievement for so many professional football clubs to collaborate with each other to help us understand the scale of this problem better.”

5 Simple Tips for Getting in Shape

Getting in shape shouldn’t be a chore.

Getting in shape shouldn't be a chore.

In fact, there are many easy ways to incorporate exercise into your everyday activities or focus on things you already love to do.
If you’re busy, don’t let it stop you. Try and fit more activity into the things you already do every day – whether at home or at work:

1. Just Move More

Choose the stairs. Youíll get a workout and avoid the awkward elevator rides. For a more strenuous workout, go up and down the stairs for 15 minutes.
Park farther away. Running errands, at work or dropping off kids, park as far away as you can to add a few more steps into your day.
Take walking breaks. Leave your desk occasionally to take a break to walk outside when the weatherís nice or stay inside and explore different areas of the building. This will give you a little stress break and let your eyes rest after staring at a computer screen. Also, it will add in a few more steps and youíll feel more rejuvenated when you get back to your desk.

2. Do What You Love

Maybe you enjoy rollerblading, perfecting your garden or snow skiing with your kids. When you enjoy exercise, youíre more likely to keep it up. You might want to try:

Walking with friends
Trying a new yoga class
Picking up snowshoeing or cross-country skiing
Joining a local recreation basketball or racquetball league
Going swimming at a nearby pool
Shooting hoops
Participating in a dance class
Biking around a local park with your kids

3. Set Small, Realistic and Specific Goals

If you decide to pick up jogging, start with running for 30 seconds and walking for two and a half minutes. The next week, run for 45 seconds and walk for one minute. Before you know it, you will be running for two-three minutes before you need to take a short walking break.

And if you have some setbacks, thatís OK. In the end, youíll see success if you stay consistent.

 

4. Plan for the Long Haul

Doctors recommend exercising for 30 minutes at least five times a week at a moderate level of activity (like gardening or walking). If that sounds overwhelming, build on small goals month-by-month.

5. Recruit Help from Friends

What else is going to help you reach your goals? Stay patient and positive until you get there ñ and you will get there.

Life changes are much easier to manage with a group of close friends and family supporting you. If you know someone whoís already active, ask them for tips or be brave and join them! In the end, it doesnít really matter how you exercise, whatës most important is finding a way to exercise doing what you love and making it a part of your daily routine.

Why short bursts of activity boost fitness in the body

High-intensity training (HIIT) has become popular with athletes and amateurs and now scientists know why.

High-intensity training (HIIT) has become popular with athletes and amateurs and now scientists know why

Short bouts of intense exercise could be the key to staying in shape after researchers found that even just a few minutes of strenuous activity can make muscles work harder.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become popular with athletes and amateurs and has clear visible benefits.

But sports scientists have always struggled to understand how a short amount of activity can produce similar effects as endurance training.

Now, researchers at the Karonlinska Institute in Sweden have found that even small levels of intensive exercise boost the production of mitochondriañ the cellís batteries ñ which enhance muscle endurance.

Volunteers who cycled for 30 seconds as fast as possible, six times, triggered the effect, suggesting just a few minutes is all it takes for results to begin to show. Tissue samples of their muscles showed benefits.

ìOur study shows that three minutes of high-intensity exercise breaks down calcium channels in the muscle cells,î says Professor Hakan Westerblad, principal investigator at Karolinska Institutetís Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

ìThis causes a lasting change in how the cells handle calcium, and is an excellent signal for adaptation, such as the formation of new mitochondria.î

Can 20 seconds of high intensity exercise really beat a session in the gym?

Mitochondria are like the cellís power plants, and changes that stimulate the formation of new mitochondria increase muscle endurance.

However the researchers also found that anti-oxidants like vitamin E and C can stop the effect.

ìOur study shows that antioxidants remove the effect on the calcium channels, which might explain why they can weaken muscular response to training,î added Professor Westerblad.

The study was published in the journal PNAS.

Why a stir fry diet could protect against osteoporosis

A stir fry diet, rich in soy, could protect women from bone weakening and osteoporosis in older women, a new study suggests.

A stir fry diet, rich in soy, could protect women from bone weakening and osteoporosis in older women, a new study suggests.

Women become more susceptible to the brittle bone disease after going through the menopause as levels of protective oestrogen fall.

Since soybean foods contain plant chemicals called isoflavones that mimic the hormone, it has been suggested they might combat some effects of the menopause.

“Supplementing food with isoflavones could lead to a significant decrease in the number of women being diagnosed with osteoporosis”
Dr Thozhukat Sathyapalan, University of Hull

To test the theory, 200 women in early menopause were either given a daily supplement containing soy protein with 66 milligrams of isoflavones, or one only containing soy protein for six months.

Women on the soy-plus-isoflavones supplement had significantly lower levels of a blood protein marker of bone loss, suggesting a reduced risk of osteoporosis. They also had less risk of heart disease than those taking soy protein alone.

Lead researcher Dr Thozhukat Sathyapalan, from the University of Hull, said: “We found that soy protein and isoflavones are a safe and effective option for improving bone health in women during early menopause.

“The actions of soy appear to mimic that of conventional osteoporosis drugs.

“The 66mg of isoflavone that we use in this study is equivalent to eating an oriental diet, which is rich in soy foods. In contrast, we only get around 2-16mg of isoflavone with the average Western diet.

“Supplementing our food with isoflavones could lead to a significant decrease in the number of women being diagnosed with osteoporosis.”

Senior Woman Receiving Assistance Walking up StairsA diet rich in soy could prevent damage from falls and make bones stronger Photo: ALAMY

Bones grow and repair themselves rapidly during childhood and youth, but the process slows down with age and bone density begins to diminish from the age of 35. Women lose bone rapidly in the first few years after the menopause which can lead to osteoporosis and the risk of fractures.

Around three million people suffer from osteoporosis in the UK and more than 300,000 people receive hospital treatment for fractures every year because of the condition.

Exercise and eating foods which are rich in calcium and vitamin D, and getting enough sunlight, are essential for healthy bones, but this is the first study to show that soy can also help prevent fracturing.

Next the scientists plan to investigate the long-term effects of taking soy protein and isoflavone supplements and whether they have benefits beyond bone health.

The findings were presented at the Society for Endocrinology’s annual meeting in Edinburgh.

Two thirds of Britons will be overweight or obese by 2025

Two thirds of Britons will be overweight or obese by 2025, new figures from the World Obesity Federation suggest.

Two thirds of Britons will be overweight or obese by 2025, new figures from the World Obesity Federation suggest.

Within just ten years, seven in ten men and 62 per cent of women will be carrying too much weight, placing a huge health burden on the NHS.

Weight gain is a risk factor for many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Obesity and diabetes already costs the UK over £5billion every year which is likely to rise to £50 billion by 2050.

Currently around 66 per cent of men are overweight or obese and 57 per cent of women. However 74 per cent of men will be overweight or obese by 2030 and 64 per cent of women according to new figures.

The figures are in sharp contrast to countries like Belgium, Germany and Finland where the number of overweight or obese people is expected to barely change in the next decade.

In 2011 the World Health Organisation (WHO) set a goal for 2025 of no increase in obesity or diabetes beyond 2010 levels. But no country is set to achieve that target.

The WOF said that the government must act to impose taxes on fatty and sugary foods and make healthy food cheaper. However Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary has ruled out any measures, claiming that the food industry is already voluntarily working to make products more nutritious.

Dr Tim Lobstein, Director of Policy at the World Obesity Federation said ìCommon risk factors such as soft drink consumption and sedentary working environments, have increased, fast food advertising continues and greater numbers of people live in urban environments without access to green spaces.

ìGovernments should take a number of actions to help prevent obesity, including introducing tough regulations to protect children from the marketing of unhealthy food and introducing taxes and subsidies to make healthier food cheaper and unhealthy food more expensive.î

The figures show that within the next 10 years, nearly five million more men and women will become overweight or obese in Britain bringing the total to 36 million. The number of severely obese adults will also rise by 40 per cent from three million people to more than four million.

WOF Professor Walmir Coutinho, said ìThe obesity epidemic has reached virtually every country worldwide, and overweight and obesity levels are set to continue to rise. Governments know the present epidemic is unsustainable and doing nothing is not an option.

They have agreed to tackle obesity and to bring down obesity prevalence to 2010 levels by the year 2025.

ìIf governments hope to achieve the WHO target of keeping obesity at 2010 levels, then the time to act is now.î

Asked about the prospect of missing its target, the World Health Organisation said: “Indeed the rates of overweight and obesity are increasing globally.

ìWHO has not made predictions on what the prevalence of overweight and or obesity may be in 2020 (the next reporting period) or at the final reporting period of 2025 as we can’t assume the rate of increase will continue and we must take into account the changing of global population structures.

“We do not see at this time that the current global target of ‘no increase in obesity’ will be met in adults or adolescents unless urgent focused action to reduce overweight and obesity is taken by countries and other stakeholders.”

Applying foam roller is better than a stretch after exercise

Ask anyone who has run, cycled or been to a gym lately and one of the surest pieces of advice you will receive is to stretch your muscles before and after exercise.

 Ask anyone who has run, cycled or been to a gym lately and one of the surest pieces of advice you will receive is to stretch your muscles before and after exercise.

However, long, slow static stretching of cold muscles before a workout is now frowned upon by many trainers, who say dynamic stretching such as high kicks is better at warming up the muscles.

But what about after exercise? Many sports specialists recommend a series of static stretches after a run, which serves to lengthen tightened calf and thigh muscles. But an increasing number of experts suggest skipping static stretching and instead using a foam roller, a long cylinder of polyethylene foam that helps you perform self-myofascial release ó or self-massage. The myofascia are connective tissue that surround the muscles.

ìIíve become much more of a devotee of foam rolling,î says Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician at New Yorkís Hospital for Special Surgery, and author of a book called Running Strong. ìThe myofascial release is literally like deep tissue massage, which makes the muscle more elastic and lengthens it.î

Dr Metzl has run 29 marathons and participated in 10 Ironman triathlons, so he knows how tight muscles can become after prolonged exercise and the importance of releasing that stiffness. He says research studies involving rolling and stretching tend to show that rolling comes out ahead in terms of flexibility gain and that muscles do not suffer any of the performance loss that stretching causes.

To use a roller, you simply lie across it and move your body back and forth. You know when you hit the right spot ó what osteopaths call a trigger point ó as you tend to feel a needle of pain. But as you roller, the pain tends to diminish.

Foam rollers come in different colours, with white the softest and black the hardest. I advise starting with the softer rollers because the harder ones can cause extreme pain in the connective tissues when you roll them. I am particularly sore when I roller my iliotibial band, the bit that runs from the pelvis down the side of the leg over the hip and connects just below the knee. The iliotibial band is the cause of a very common running injury, which can feel like someone is sticking a screwdriver in your knee.

Dr Metzl has started to recommend a different type of roller, which is usually coloured electric orange. They are hollow and have a hard PVC roller inside covered with a soft shell. ìThey get in very deep, but the softer outer surface is more palatable,î he says.

Dr Metzlís book contains some neat video links that show how to roller different parts of the body. I find it a bit awkward to roller my calves because of supporting my weight on my hands and it can be hard to move forwards and back. Because of this, some doctors recommend a stick roller that can be used on the lower legs while seated. But Dr Metzl says that if you cross one leg over the other, the increased force against a foam roller is better at relieving tightness than the stick roller.

He recommends rolling each area of the body for about a minute each day and following that up with two strength training sessions a week. ìThis is part of the recipe for getting the most juice from your kinetic chain [the sequence of movements involved in exercise], both from a functional and protective point of view,î he says.

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Human life spans may be limited to 115 years

Human life spans may be limited to a maximum of about 115 years, claim US scientists.

Human life spans may be limited to a maximum of about 115 years, claim US scientists.Their conclusions, published in the journal Nature, were made by analysing decades of data on human longevity.

They said a rare few may live longer, but the odds were so poor you’d have to scour 10,000 planet Earths to find just one 125 year old.

But while some scientists have praised the study, others have labelled it a dismal travesty.

Life expectancy has been increasing relentlessly since the nineteenth century – due to vaccines, safer childbirth and tackling killers like cancer and heart disease.

The team in New York analysed data from the Human Mortality Database and the deaths of super-centenarians (those over 110) in France, Japan, UK and US.

The data showed increases in life expectancy were slowing in centenarians and that the maximum age of death had plateaued for at least two decades.

Jeanne Calment came close. The oldest ever person, whose age can be backed up by official documents, was 122 when she died in 1997.

The French icon of longevity was born before the Eiffel Tower was constructed and met the painter Vincent van Gogh. Nobody has since got near her venerable age.

The crop of centenarians in the study were affected by malnutrition and infectious diseases in their childhood back in the late 19th Century. Remember smallpox was declared eradicated only in 1980.

Experiments, which look after animals in ideal conditions, have suggested lifespans do have a limit.

The challenge with tackling ageing is that we have not evolved to live to extreme old ages.

Millions of years of natural selection has honed us to survive, grow and reproduce in our youth.

What happens to our bodies half a century or more later – at ages we have never reached in our evolutionary history – are a side-effect of the instructions in our DNA that are important in youth.

So any attempt to really increase lifespan will need an approach that goes beyond treating diseases and tackles ageing inside every cell of the body.

Diet and lifestyle factors effect 70pc of deaths study finds

Bad diets and unhealthy lifestyles have become the biggest threat to life expectancy- fuelling seven in 10 deaths, a major Lancet study has found.

Bad diets and unhealthy lifestyles have become the biggest threat to life expectancy- fuelling seven in 10 deaths, a major Lancet study has found.The research on almost 200 countries found that increases in life expectancy – achieved thanks to improvements in sanitation and immunisation – are being eroded by the global obesity crisis.

The Global Burden of Disease study gathered data on 249 causes of death, 315 diseases and injuries and 79 risk factors in 195 countries and territories between 1990 and 2015.

While deaths caused by infectious diseases such as malaria and flu have fallen sharply, the proportion of fatalities fuelled by lifestyles have soared.

In total, 71.3 per cent of deaths last year were caused by non infectious diseases, the study shows – a rise from 57.6 per cent per cent in 1990.

These include conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, all of which are affected by diet and lifestyle.

The research found high blood pressure – which is fuelled by obesity and lack of exercise – was the top risk factor for deaths, contributing to over 9 per cent of global health loss.

This was followed by smoking (6.3 per cent), high blood sugar (6.1 per cent), and high body mass index (5 per cent).

And although UK adults are living longer, millions are finding their later years blighted by poor health, the study found. On average, women can expect to spend their last 10 years in ill-health, the report says, while men will spend their last nine year suffering from health problems.

The findings showed that healthy life expectancy had increased steadily in 191 countries, adding an average 6.1 years to people’s life spans over the course of 15 years.

But overall life expectancy had risen further, by 10.1 years, suggesting that by 2015 people were spending a greater proportion of their lives in ill-health.

The research shows that health gains from progress on infectious diseases were cancelled out by a rising tide of illness, disability and death linked to lifestyles.

Britain’s obesity levels are the second worst in Europe, with six in ten adults obese.

Poor diet is fuelling diseases such as type two diabetes, with a 60 per cent rise in cases over the past decade, and obesity is on course to overtake smoking as the leading cause of cancer.

Overall, life expectancy in this country is now 82 for women and 79 for men, the new study shows.

But the research shows that the last decade is spent battling ill-health and disability, with women only having a “healthy life expectancy” of 72, while for men it is 70.

In the UK, heart disease is the leading cause of death, followed by Alzheimer’s disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.