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Recent research: five papers on overweight - mortality, cardiovascular risk, diets, and schools

Here are five papers mostly looking at aspects of overweight.  The first, published recently in the Lancet, is a huge study on the effects of body-mass index (BMI) on subsequent mortality in nearly 900,000 adults.  It shows progressive excess mortality above the BMI range 22.5-25 kg/m2.  (To calculate your BMI click here).  At 40-45 kg/m2, the reduction in life expectancy of 8-10 years is comparable to the effects of being a smoker.  The second paper, by Neovius et al, also involved large numbers - over 45,000 older adolescents.  Again it showed excess mortality at long term follow-up, and commented "Obesity and overweight were as hazardous as heavy and light smoking, respectively".  The third study by Katseva et al looked at modifiable risk factors in European patients with cardiac disease.  The findings were depressing with obesity, for example, increasing stepwise from 25% at first survey, to 32.6% at second, to 38% at third survey.  Overall the authors concluded "These time trends show a compelling need for more effective lifestyle management of patients with coronary heart disease ... To salvage the acutely ischaemic myocardium without addressing the underlying causes of the disease is futile; we need to invest in prevention." 

Recent research: lifestyle - five papers on sleep, exercise & stress management

Here are five papers on lifestyle and the benefits of making healthy choices.  The first by Cohen et al on sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold, showed increased risk of developing a cold after infection for those with shorter sleep duration.  Interestingly the increased risk was even greater for those with poor sleep efficiency.  Sleep efficiency is calculated by dividing the time spent asleep by the time spent in bed trying to sleep.  The Good Knowledge section of this website contains useful information on assessing and treating sleep difficulties.

Recent research: two papers on mindfulness & four on sleep

Here are two papers on mindfulness and four on sleep.  The Kuyken et al paper is important.  It compares mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) with continuation antidepressants in the prevention of relapse in recurrent depression.  The results are great - "Relapse/recurrence rates over 15-month follow-ups in MBCT were 47%, compared with 60% in the m-ADM (maintenance antidepressant) group (hazard ratio = 0.63; 95% confidence interval: 0.39 to 1.04).  MBCT was more effective than m-ADM in reducing residual depressive symptoms and psychiatric comorbidity and in improving quality of life in the physical and psychological domains."  I have been cautious in my enthusiasm for MBCT (see previous post) but this is exactly the kind of research that we need to help clarify MBCT's potential further.  The second paper on mindfulness is lower key.  It is a mention of its potential in enhancing sexuality.  It makes sense - see last month's posts on the effects of meditation training on experiencing positive emotions - but the relevant research is still in its early stages. 

Recent research: fish and n-3 fatty acids

Fish, fish oils, and n-3 fatty acids are often in the health news.  Here are seven recent papers illustrating the breadth of fish oil relevance.  The papers look at treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, the potential of flax as a dietary source of n-3 fatty acids, effects on indicators of cardiovascular disease, potential protection against dementia, reduction in mortality, and importance in pregnancy.  The papers also illustrate the patchwork, three steps forward/one step back, meandering, spreading, accretion of scientific knowledge.  As the proverb goes "One swallow doesn't make a summer".  Similarly, a single research study is usually simply one brick in the gradual building of our knowledge.  For more on fish and n-3 fatty acids, see other relevant blog posts I've written, articles in the linked Connotea database, and some recommended websites.     

Vegged out & fruitless: lifestyle & health

Last month's BMJ published another in the long line of research articles that highlight the huge importance of lifestyle choices for our health:

Dam, R. M. v., T. Li, et al. (2008). "Combined impact of lifestyle factors on mortality: prospective cohort study in US women." BMJ 337(sep16_2): a1440-  [Free Full Text]

Would you like to be 14 years younger – it’s largely a matter of choice!

Back in January I wrote a blog post entitle "Does a healthy lifestyle really make a difference? "   I highlighted that it makes a hell of a lot of a difference.  At around that time another major study was published that hammered this point home even more thoroughly and I've been meaning to mention it in a post ever since.  The recent publicity on poor fruit and veg intake in the UK population triggered me into looking the earlier study out. 

Some interesting articles from February ‘08

Here are details and links for a couple of dozen mainly February articles that I found interesting. Most of these articles (and many others) are also listed on my searchable Connotea online database.

Barbui, C. M. D., T. A. M. D. Furukawa, et al. (2008). "Effectiveness of paroxetine in the treatment of acute major depression in adults: a systematic re-examination of published and unpublished data from randomized trials." CMAJ 178(3): 296-305. [Abstract/Full Text]
Blakely, T., M. Tobias, et al. (2008). "Inequalities in mortality during and after restructuring of the New Zealand economy: repeated cohort studies." BMJ 336(7640): 371-375. [Abstract/Full Text]
Bradley, R. G., E. B. Binder, et al. (2008). "Influence of Child Abuse on Adult Depression: Moderation by the Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone Receptor Gene." Arch Gen Psychiatry 65(2): 190-200. [Abstract/Full Text]

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