Outlook: Obesity

OCTOBER 12, 2011

Overweight Older Women Have Less Leg Strength, Power

The leg strength and power of overweight older women is significantly less than that of normal-weight older women, increasing their risk for disability and loss of independence, according to research published in the October 2011 issue of the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology.

“With two-thirds of Americans overweight or obese and the elderly population expected to double by year 2030, we are going to see a large portion of people who are disabled due to the concurrent gaining of weight and loss of strength,” said lead author Dain LaRoche, PhD, of the University of New Hampshire.

In the study, LaRoche and colleagues measured the impact of excess weight on leg strength, walking speed, and power. They found very little difference in the absolute strength of the overweight and normal-weight participants; however, when their strength-to-weight ratio was calculated, the overweight women had an average of 24% lower strength than the normal-weight study participants.

“The deficits were even worse when you looked at power,” said Dr. LaRoche, adding that power—the rate at which strength is applied—is more closely related to physical functions and fall risk than strength. The overweight women demonstrated 38% less power and 20% slower walking speed than the normal-weight women.

“Everything pointed to the fact that it was the extra fat that these people were carrying that was really limiting their mobility,” he said. “Being of a normal body weight lets you perform activities of daily living and live on your own longer.”

Optimal Sleep Can Lead to Healthier Blood Sugar Levels in Teens

Obese teenagers who don’t get an adequate amount of sleep may experience disruptions in insulin secretion and blood sugar levels, according to findings from a new study, which suggest that getting a proper night’s sleep may stave off the development of type 2 diabetes in this patient population.

“We already know that 3 out of 4 high school students report getting insufficient sleep,” said study investigator Dorit Koren, MD, of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Our study found to keep glucose levels stable, the optimal amount of sleep for teenagers is 7.5 to 8.5 hours per night.”

In the study, which was published in Diabetes Care in September 2011, 62 obese adolescents underwent glucose testing and an overnight sleep study. In addition to measuring total sleep time, researchers studied analyzed stages of sleep, including slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep.

They found that the optimal sleep duration was neither too little nor too much, as both insufficient and excessive sleep were linked to higher glucose levels. Although sleep stages did not predict glucose levels, lower duration of slowwave sleep correlated with decreased insulin secretion.

The study was the first to associate sleep duration with glucose levels in children and to report a link between slowwave sleep and insulin secretion.

“Reduced insulin secretion may lead to the higher glucose levels that we found in subjects who had insufficient sleep,” said Dr. Koren, who plans to confirm the findings with home-based studies of sleep patterns in obese teenagers. “In the meantime, our study reinforces the idea that getting adequate sleep in adolescence may help protect against type 2 diabetes.”

Treatment Of Cardiovascular Risk Factors Linked to Improved Sexual Function

Lifestyle modifications and pharmaceutical treatment of risk factors for cardiovascular disease are associated with improvement in sexual function among men with erectile dysfunction (ED), according to findings published in the September 12, 2011, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

ED, the authors wrote, shares modifiable risks factors with atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease, including obesity, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, cigarette smoking, metabolic syndrome, and sedentary behavior. The condition has a high prevalence in individuals with multiple cardiovascular risk factors and is an independent predictor of cardiovascular events.

In the study, Bhanu P. Gupta, MD, and colleagues with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, conducted a meta-analysis of 6 previous randomized controlled trials to evaluate the effects of lifestyle intervention and pharmaceutical treatment of cardiovascular risk factors on the severity of ED.

The authors found that improvement in cardiovascular risk factors was associated with statistically significant improvement in sexual function in men with ED. When trials using pharmaceutical treatment were excluded and only studies using lifestyle interventions were examined, the improvement in sexual function was still statistically significant, they noted.

Pharmaceutical treatment targeting cardiovascular risk factors also demonstrated improvement in sexual function.

“This study further strengthens the evidence of improvement in ED and maintenance of sexual function with lifestyle intervention and CV risk factor reduction,” the authors wrote. “Men with ED provide an opportunity to identify CV risk factors and initiate lifestyle changes.” PT 

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