Same BMI, better health: Still fat but a whole lot fitter

bmi, high bmi, body mass index, fat, fat children, fatness in children, obesity, obesity in children, obese, obese children, health news Researchers introduced fitness tests, dietary changes, made sports a scoring subject and banned hawkers from selling fast food. (Source: Express Photo)

Some simple steps introduced in a school, to help the rising number of students struggling with their weight, ended up making them a whole lot fitter.

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at Symbiosis school in Pune and KEM hospital tried to find out whether these steps — fitness tests, diet control, grading sports as an academic subject and banning hawkers from selling food items outside the school —helped overweight students in any way.

While the students’ body mass index (BMI) didn’t change much, these steps helped them reduce their waist circumference and get fitter.

Multiple changes were introduced in the ‘culture’ of a school and maintained over a five-year period, between 2006 and 2011, to improve the children’s fitness and health. Researchers found that at the end of the five-year intervention, the students were still fat, but they were much fitter.


Published online in the October issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ)’s Archives of Diseases in Childhood, researchers Dr Sheela Bhave, Dr Rajiv Yeravdekar and others have shown that schools need to step up the number of physical education classes and expose students to a variety of fitness tests to ensure children are fit.

In several Indian cities, over 10 per cent of school children are overweight or obese. Factors including a strong emphasis on academic performance (children often attend extra tuition classes outside school), a perception that physical exercise is unimportant, and the popularity of energy-dense foods, contribute to this problem.

At Symbiosis school in Pune, researchers provided intervention to 400 children, who were in Std III and IV in 2005-06. They were assessed over a period of five years, till they reached Std VIII and Std IX, in 2010-2011.

“We increased the number of physical education classes from two to five a week, made it a scoring subject, removed hawkers selling fast food near the school and made school meals a lot healthier,” said Dr Rajiv Yeravdekar, dean of Faculty of Health Sciences, Symbiosis International University, and a researcher in the study.

Researchers also analysed the changes among overweight students over a five-year period in another school in Nashik, where no such intervention was provided.

After five years, students at the Pune school — where interventions were provided — were found to be fitter than their counterparts in Nashik in activities like running, long jumps, sit-ups and push-ups, explained lead researcher Dr Bhave, from the paediatrics department of KEM Hospital and Research Centre. These children reported that they spent less time watching TV and more time playing sports. They also ate fruits more often.

“The intervention did not help reduce the body mass index (BMI) or the prevalence of obesity — as children today have greater access to fast food. However, the waist circumference was significantly lower in children of the Pune school than the ones in the Nashik school. This study proved that it was possible to achieve multiple changes promoting good health in an academically competitive school,” added Bhave.

He added that the parents of the students as well as their teachers seemed to focus more on their academic achievements than their health.

“We realised that parents were more concerned about children’s academic performances than their health and fitness. It took time to implement changes in their physical activities and motivate them to participate. In comparison, dietary improvements were made fairly easily. We hoped that teachers would pass on healthy lifestyle information to the children, but this was unrealistic. They were too busy with academic priorities, upon which they are judged,” said Bhave.

The tests required minimal equipment and were developed by Agashe College of Physical Education in Pune. They were designed to test endurance, cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and flexibility. They comprised a 9-min walk or run, sit-ups, push-ups, a sit-and-reach test, a shuttle run and a standing long jump.

Other steps included introducing daily pranayam sessions and adding physical education marks to academic reports. Parents received regular fitness reports and opportunities to discuss these individually with nutritionists and doctors.

Dietary changes were made where at least one fruit and two portions of vegetables were served at every school lunch, and children were encouraged to eat the fruit first. Soya flour, brown bread, vegetable-stuffed rotis, sprouts, salad, millets and yogurt were incorporated into tasty ‘child-friendly’ lunch recipes. Vegetables were chopped or pureed so that children could not remove them from dishes.

“For students who brought their own lunches, we provided similar guidelines to their parents,” said Yeravdekar.

While the study highlighted the need for standardised fitness tests suitable for Indian children, it showed that introducing multiple changes in diet and physical activity at schools can indeed improve fitness levels.

Source Article from

Diet diary: Healing herbs that help you fight dengue, fever

dengue, healing herbs, papaya leaf, tulsi, papaya leaf medicinal purpose, tulsi medicinal purpose, health news Anecdotal evidence suggests that the extract of raw papaya leaf helps to boost platelets, also known as thrombocytes and relieve symptoms.

With the city in the grip of viral fevers and infections, seeking the benefits of traditional healing herbs is a growing trend. Many of them have been found to ease complications and recovery. Among these are papaya leaf, Giloe and Tulsi.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the extract of raw papaya leaf helps to boost platelets, also known as thrombocytes and relieve symptoms. Recent studies have shown the effect of papaya leaf juice in curing dengue fever. It seems that this bitter green juice is promising without posing any serious ill-effects. Interestingly, papaya leaf has also been found to possess powerful anti-malarial and anti-cancer properties.

A study showed that papaya leaf consists of over 50 active ingredients found to kill fungi, worms, parasites, bacteria, and many forms of cancer cells. Papaya leaves also contain important nutrients that support the immune system, including vitamins A, C, and E. Papain is an important enzyme in papaya leaves that breaks down proteins naturally and aids digestion.


For dengue fever, it is suggested that the papaya juice is extracted by crushing and sieving fresh leaves of papaya. One leaf of papaya gives about one tablespoon of juice. Two tablespoons of papaya leaf juice are given to dengue patients three times per day after a six-hour interval.

Giloe, also known as Guduchi, (a plant which protects from diseases), enjoys the reputation of being one of the most famous medicinal plants used in the treatment of a large number of ailments. Giloe too has been reported to help treat dengue in early stages without any side-effects. It has been reported to increase the platelets in a significant manner and lower the body temperature. Giloe, known as Rasayana plant in Ayurveda, has been reported to enhance resistance and promote longevity. Tulsi, the ‘queen of herbs’, has been regarded as one of the holiest and most cherished herbs by virtue of its health-promoting and healing properties.

Among its innumerable benefits, Tulsi reduces stress, enhances endurance, increases oxygen utilization, boosts the immune system, slows aging, reduces inflammation, prevents gastric ulcers, protects against radiation, lowers fevers, cholesterol and high blood pressure, protects teeth and gums, fights bacterial, viral and fungal infections, improves digestion and provides a rich supply of anti-oxidants and other nutrients. Tulsi offers remarkable preventive and curative potential with respect to many stress-related degenerative disorders, such as, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, hepatitis and neurological dementia.

Author is a clinical nutritionist and founder of and Whole Foods India.

Source Article from

Sound sleep boosts immune system ‘memory’ too

sleeping-main A good night’s sleep not only strengthens your memory but also strengthens the response-memory of your immune system (Source: Thinkstock Images)

A good night’s sleep not only strengthens your memory but also strengthens the response-memory of your immune system when it comes to killing bad bacteria and viruses as they enter your body, new research reveals.

The immune system “remembers” an encounter with a bacteria or virus by collecting fragments from the bug to create memory T cells, which last for months or years and help the body recognise a previous infection and quickly respond.

These memory T cells appear to abstract “gist information” about the pathogens.

The selection of “gist information” allows memory T cells to detect new pathogens that are similar, but not identical, to previously encountered bacteria or viruses.

Now, German researchers propose that deep sleep may also strengthen immunological memories of previously encountered pathogens.

“The idea that long-term memory formation is a function of sleep effective in all organismic systems is entirely new in our view,” said senior study author Jan Born from University of Tuebingen.

“We consider our approach toward a unifying concept of biological long-term memory formation, in which sleep plays a critical role, a new development in sleep research and memory research,” he said.

Studies in humans have shown that long-term increases in memory T cells are associated with deep slow-wave sleep on the nights after vaccination.

Taken together, the findings support the view that sound sleep contributes to the formation of long-term memories which lead to adaptive behavioural and immunological responses.

The obvious implication is that sleep deprivation could put your body at risk.

“If we didn’t sleep, then the immune system might focus on the wrong parts of the pathogen,” Born added.

The paper was published in the journal Trends in Neurosciences.

Source Article from

Diabetes pills can cut food intake

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India will have 80 million people with diabetes by 2030. Diabetic drugs can affect the brain’s reward system and reduce the need to eat more, researchers report.

Diabetic drugs can affect the brain’s reward system and reduce the need to eat more, researchers report.

The study on rats at Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg in Sweden shows that hormone-like medication used for Type-2 diabetes can lower food intake.

A follow-up study showed that this substance can also reduce alcohol intake.

“Later, we discovered that the same medication can stimulate production of two important hormones that play a major role in our immune system, in the areas of the brain that control appetite,” said Rozita Anderberg from Sahlgrenska Academy in a university statement.


“The results are increasing our understanding of how these medications can affect the brain,” Anderberg added.

The medication used for Type-2 diabetes mimics the gut-brain hormone called “glucagon-like peptide-1”.

Recently, Type-2 diabetes has begun to be treated with medications that resemble the body’s own hormone GLP-1.

The hormone GLP-1 is produced naturally, both in the intestines and in the brain.

After every meal, the levels of GLP-1 in the blood increase, which lead to an increase in insulin production and a decrease in appetite.

Medications resembling GLP-1 have become a potential new treatment for obesity and these findings can be of major clinical significance.

“Our data can make an important contribution to the understanding of these mechanisms,” Anderberg added.

Source Article from

Over 60 percent of urban Indian women vulnerable to heart disease

heart-main Over 60 percent of women in urban India are at risk of heart diseases, said a study released on Monday. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

Over 60 percent of women in urban India are at risk of heart diseases, said a study released on Monday.

Owing to changes in lifestyle and food habits, over 60 percent of women in the age group of 30 to 45 years are vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), said the Saffolalife study 2015, released a day ahead of the World Heart Day.

The study, conducted in top 10 Indian cities, analysed risk factors causing heart diseases in around 1,299 urban Indian females in this age group. (See pics: Five superfoods to boost your cardiac health)

It said 74 percent women who are at risk of CVDs also have increased belly fat/broad waistline.

Shedding light on food habits, the survey revealed that 30 percent of women who face the risk of developing CVDs have late dinners (post 10 p.m.).


“Changing food habits and unhealthy food choices, such as increased intake of food like cheese, food rich in transfats and late dinners are leading to increased abdominal obesity and increased waist-to-hip ratio, a major risk factor for heart diseases,” said Kunal Sarkar, senior consultant cardiac surgeon, Medica Superspecialty Hospital, in the study. (Also read: Sitting for long time as dangerous for heart as smoking)

“In addition, smoking, low levels of physical activity, diabetes, high BP and other lifestyle factors are responsible for fat redistribution in women while accelerating their risk of CVDs,” added.

Source Article from

My Curious Case: An unpleasant surprise and a surgical challenge

Patient: A 55-year-old man with sudden onset of weakness on the right side of his face.

Diagnosis: A congenital disease called congenital extradural CP angle petrous apex cholesteatoma.

Notes: Timely intervention saved the patient’s life. It was drained in the first stage.

Doctor: Dr Samir Joshi, Professor and Head, ENT department, B J Government Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, Pune

Life is a series of blind corners…it springs surprises at you every now and then. The field of medicine is no exception, but the surprises here are often life-threatening for the patient.

Ramdas (name changed) was a 55-year-old farmer with two young daughters. Six months ago, he experienced a sudden onset of weakness on the right side of his face.

When he was a child, he had suffered from purulent ear disease in his left ear.


Apparently, the 55-year-old man did not notice that he had completely lost his ability to hear in the right ear, possibly because the problem was a long-standing one.

It had not been detected by cursorily-performed audiometry test without masking. He visited many places for his deviated face, but it was treated as a common viral illness, the ‘Bell’s palsy’.

But when his condition did not improve even after six months, he consulted doctors at the ENT department of the Sassoon government hospital in Pune.

A carefully conducted audiometry test revealed that he was completely deaf in his right ear and the subsequent CT scan showed a mass in Cerebello-pontine angle region inside the skull cavity.

This is a congenital mass which had remained inside his skull for a period of 54 years and was likely to have killed him sooner, rather than later.

After a subsequent difficult surgery was performed on him, it was found to be a congenital disease called congenital extradural CP angle petrous apex cholesteatoma!

Cholesteatoma is an expansile lesion (very much like a tenant in your house who wants to ultimately dislodge the real owner). It causes bone erosion as well as affects important structures in the proximity by mass effect leading to serious complications. Surgery remains the definitive treatment of petrous apex cholesteatoma.

Because of the location of petrous apex and proximity of vital structures, the surgery of petrous apex cholesteatoma becomes a surgical challenge. When it starts to get infected or bursts open the dura – that is the covering of the brain — it can spell doom for the patient.

But in this case, timely intervention saved the patient’s life. It was drained in the first stage and in the second stage, a facial reanimation surgery was planned for him.

It is often said that experience is more important than mere bookish knowledge. It is most applicable to doctors and this has been my most curious case.

Source Article from

Diet diary: The not so well-known ‘destroyer’ of blood sugar

Gurmar Powder Gurmar Powder

Nature has its own ways of balancing. While India is topping the charts, housing the maximum number of diabetics in the world, it can also boast of having myriad natural solutions and antidotes to fight blood sugar levels.

One of the lesser-known ones is Gymnema Sylvestre, commonly known as ‘Gurmar’ or Madhunashini. ‘Gurmar’ has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and was first used to treat diabetes almost 2,000 years ago.

The word Gymnema is derived from the Hindi word ‘Gurmar’, which means ‘’destroyer of sugar’’. This tropical and woody vine-like climbing plant is native to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Africa and Australia. The medicinally active parts of the plant are its leaves and roots. Its healing and health-promoting properties have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and herbal medicinal preparations.

The leading active compounds in Gymnema are gymnemic acids and gurmarin found in its leaves. They possess anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory activities. It is known to have antimicrobial, cholesterol-lowering, liver-protective, laxative, anti-cancer and diuretic effects. Its benefits have also been documented in Ayurvedic texts for asthma, dental caries, stomach ailments, constipation, hemorrhoids and water retention.

A recent study in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine evaluated the effect of Gymnema Sylvestre on the blood sugar and cholesterol levels of 32 human subjects with type-2 diabetes mellitus. It was seen that daily administration of it for about six months significantly reduced their blood sugar levels and glycosylated hemoglobin levels. Several studies have confirmed Gymnema’s traditionally-known actions and therapeutic uses including its remarkable anti-diabetic benefits for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Interestingly, it has been reported to help curb sweet cravings. Gymnema is available in various anti-diabetic herbal preparations. It can also be consumed as a simple herbal tea, or a liquid or as a capsule, though its preparation in the form of fresh tea leaves may be most effective.

It is best to seek professional help from an experienced practitioner of Ayurveda to incorporate Gurmar as a therapeutic agent, but do inform your medical practitioner. It is not recommended during pregnancy, lactation and should not be given to infants and those with low blood pressure and low blood sugar levels.

Author is a clinical nutritionist and founder of and Whole Foods India

Source Article from

Cheers! Two beers a week cut heart attack risk in women

beer-main If you are a woman and love to enjoy your favourite bubbly at least twice per week, it’s time to rejoice.

If you are a woman and love to enjoy your favourite bubbly at least twice per week, it’s time to rejoice as you run a 30 percent lower risk of heart attack compared with women who don’t drink beer, a large-scale Swedish study has found.

After following 1,500 women over a period of almost 50 years, the researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg revealed that moderate consumption of beer (two per week) seems to protect women from heart attacks.

Previous research also suggests that alcohol in moderate quantities can have a certain protective effect.

“Our results have been checked against other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which substantiates the findings,” said Dominique Hange, Researcher at Sahlgrenska Academy.


“At the same time, we were unable to confirm that moderate wine consumption has the same effect, so our results also need to be confirmed through follow-up studies,” Hange added.

In the study, researchers followed a representative selection of the middle-aged female population from 1968 to 2000 (when the women in the study were between 70 and 92 years old).

The women were asked about the frequency of their consumption of beer, wine or spirits (from daily to “nothing in the past 10 years”) and about various physical symptoms.

The results reveal that over the 32-year follow-up period, 185 women had a heart attack, 162 suffered a stroke, 160 developed diabetes and 345 developed cancer.

“The study, however, shows a statistically significant connection between high consumption of spirits (defined as more frequent than once or twice per month) and an almost 50 percent higher risk of dying of cancer, compared with those who drink less frequently,” the authors noted.

But, it found lower heart attack risk in women who drank beer in moderation.

The paper was published in Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care.

Source Article from

Beware! Plastic chemical can curtail sperms’ speed

 Even when short sperm is given a head-start, long sperm wins the competition comfortably by fertilising more eggs Men with fertility problems often have reduced semen quality, including sperm motility, which may be caused by many different things, like exposure to plastic.

Men please take note! High exposure to a common plastic chemical found in wallpapers, sandals, nail polish, perfume, floors and carpets in our daily life can hamper sperms’ speed, leading to reduced chances of having children.

According to researchers from Lund University in Sweden, men with higher exposure to the substance DEHP- a so-called phthalate- have lower sperm motility and may, therefore, experience more difficulties conceiving children.

Phthalates is an umbrella term for a group of substances based on phthalic acid, some of which are suspected to be endocrine disruptors.

Since phthalate molecules leak out of plastics, we are exposed to it daily and absorb the chemicals through food, drink, skin contact and inhalation.


Researchers studied metabolite levels of the phthalate DEHP (diethylhexyl phthalate) in urine as an indicator of exposure, as well as the semen quality of 300 men between the ages of 18 and 20.

“The results show that higher the metabolite levels the men had, the lower their sperm motility was”, said Jonatan Axelsson, Researcher at Department of Laboratory Medicine in a university statement.

Phthalate levels can be measured by a simple urine sample.

For one quarter of men with the lowest levels of exposure, 57 percent of the sperm cells were moving forward, compared to 46 percent for the quarter of the men with the highest levels of exposure.

Men with fertility problems often have reduced semen quality, including sperm motility, which may be caused by many different things.

The findings indicate that the more exposed one is to DEHP, the smaller the chances are of having children.

DEHP is already on the European Union’s list of substances with particularly hazardous properties.

Source Article from

Dizziness after standing may signal brain diseases!

If you often feel dizzy, faint or light-headed after getting up, these symptoms could indicate greater risk of developing brain disease If you often feel dizzy, faint or light-headed after getting up, these symptoms could indicate greater risk of developing brain disease

If you often feel dizzy, faint or light-headed after getting up, these symptoms could indicate greater risk of developing brain disease such as Parkinson’s or dementia, and even an increased risk of death, warns a new study.

Feeling dizzy after standing due to a sudden drop in blood pressure can be a minor problem due to medication use or dehydration.

But when it happens often, it can be a sign of a more serious condition called orthostatic hypotension, which is defined as a drop in blood pressure within three minutes of sitting or standing.

“Our study looked at delayed orthostatic hypotension, when the drop in blood pressure happens more than three minutes after standing or sitting up,” said study author Christopher Gibbons from Harvard Medical School in Boston.

“Our findings suggest that more than half of people with the delayed form of this condition will go on to develop the more serious form of this disease,” Gibbons noted.

For the study, researchers reviewed the medical records of 165 people with an average age of 59 who completed nervous system testing and were followed for 10 years.

Of those, 48 were diagnosed with delayed orthostatic hypotension, 42 had orthostatic hypotension and 75 did not have either condition.

The study found that over 10 years, 54 percent of participants with delayed orthostatic hypotension progressed to orthostatic hypotension and 31 percent developed a degenerative brain disease such as Parkinson’s or dementia with Lewy bodies.

The death rate over 10 years for those with the delayed condition who progressed to orthostatic hypotension was 50 percent.

The findings appeared in the online issue of the journal Neurology.

Source Article from