The stats are in and the 2015 “State of Obesity” numbers are out. The State of Obesity – Better Policies for a Healthier America report is a project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
This year’s 2015 report has published the following findings:
- Rates of obesity exceed 35% in 3 states: Arkansas, West Virginia & Mississippi
- All states have obesity that exceeds 20% of the population
- Arkansas has the highest obesity rate at 35.9% and Colorado is the lowest at 21.3%
- 17% of children and more than 30% of adults are considered obese
Although obesity rates appear to be stabilizing, they are still high. Overweight and obesity are linked to increased risk of chronic disease like heart disease, diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.
Obesity in adults is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. BMI is a function of weight divided by height squared and you can calculate your own BMI using an online BMI calculator. For children aged 2-19, use the Pediatric BMI calculator which uses percentiles to determine obesity.
In nutrition, we often learn about the hazards of under consuming certain foods or nutrients:
- The typical American only eats 12-15 grams of fiber per day instead of the recommended 25-38 grams
- Americans fall short of intakes of nutrients of concern like potassium, vitamin D and calcium
- Eating too many refined grains with added sugars and fats is crowding out optimal fruit and vegetable intake
But what about the upper limits? When it comes to fish, perhaps you have wondered how much is too much?
With fish, the notion is for every fish meal you’re having means you are in turn likely not eating a high saturated fat meat or other animal protein meal. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans say to eat fish 2-3 times per week. But what if you eat it every day?
That was the question recently posed to Harvard researcher and professor Eric Rimm in a Today.com article. He posits that it’s probably ok for most people to eat fish every day – certainly moreso than beef or other types of protein.
Rimm and other dietitians and healthcare professionals warn against high or daily fish consumption for some high risk populations: namely pregnant and breastfeeding women and small children. Although the omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish are essential for brain and growth development, high levels of fish in those populations could increase risk for mercury toxicity.
Instead, pregnant and breastfeeding women and children are recommended to follow the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2014 revised guidelines of consuming 8-12 ounces of fish per week. That’s 2-3 regular sizes of fish or roughly 1.5-2 cans of tuna per week.
For the rest of you not in those populations: the benefits of eating more fish likely outweigh any potential drawbacks…so eat up!
Things are a-changin’ in the world of peanut allergy precautions.
According to the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization, peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies and allergy to peanuts appears to be on the rise in children. Currently between 1-3% of children in westernized countries are thought to have peanut allergy.
Despite these trends, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently endorsed the Consensus Communication on Early Peanut Introduction and the Prevention of Peanut Allergy in High-risk Infants. The title is a mouthful, but the takeaway is clear:
- Early introduction of peanuts is safe and effective in infants at high risk of peanut allergy
- Health care providers should recommend introducing peanut-containing foods into the diets of high risk infants aged 4-11 months
Previous AAP recommendations were rather nebulous with regard to guidelines for the introduction of peanuts in both high or low risk peanut allergy infant groups.
The about face on early introduction of peanuts in high risk peanut allergy infant populations is based on research published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study found that the early introduction of peanuts significantly decreased the frequency of the development of peanut allergy among children at high risk for peanut allergy.
If you suspect your child is in the high risk group for peanut allergy, check with your primary healthcare provider about recommendations for the introduction of peanuts and peanut-containing ingredients.