Washington DC Is The Nation’s Fittest City

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This article is courtesy of ACSM, please share your comments below…..

joggersResidents of the nation’s capital, followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul, and San Diego enjoy a variety of outdoor exercise options and have relatively low rates of smoking, obesity and diabetes. That combination of measurable health and community indicators makes them the three fittest of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.

Oklahoma City, Memphis and Indianapolis rank last among the 50 metro areas studied in the eighth annual American Fitness Index® (AFI) ranking being released today by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation. View the rankings and individual metro data here.

There’s good news and areas of concern from the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. The AFI reveals a troubling 11.3 percent drop in the percentage of individuals who exercised in the last 30 days, and a 7.8 percent increase in the diabetes death rates from 2014 to 2015. The AFI ranking also notes a 5.5 percent drop in those who eat enough fruit each day. Five metro areas dropped significantly in the rankings, falling five or more positions.

On the more positive side, there was also a 9.5 percent decrease in the percentage of respondents who reported that they had been diagnosed with angina or coronary heart disease, and a 5.5 percent increase in the number of park units from 2014 to 2015. Nine metro areas improved their ranking by five or more positions.

With funding from The Anthem Foundation, ACSM studies Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) using a composite score to measure the health of each MSA. Access to public parks was added as a new measure in 2015, and the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area topped the list for the second consecutive year with a score of 79.6 out of 100 possible points, a two-point improvement over 2014.

“The AFI is two things: a measure of how healthy a metro area is today, and a call-to-action for urban and suburban leaders to design infrastructures that promote active lifestyles and lead to positive health outcomes,” says Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, chair of the AFI Advisory Board. “Our goal is to provide communities and residents with resources that help them assess, respond and achieve a better, healthier life.”

“We have proudly sponsored the American College of Sports Medicine American Fitness Index® for the past eight years and have witnessed the growing impact this report can have on the health and well-being of communities,” said Sam Nussbaum, MD, chief medical officer for Anthem, Inc. “Across the United States, government, business and organizations have proven that by working together we can improve the health of our cities. These coalitions are using the actionable data from this report to drive health improvement. It is heartening to see a city’s health improve, and this year there were some remarkable shifts in rankings. Opportunities remain and measurement, shared learning and commitment to healthier lifestyles will benefit individuals, our cities and our nation.”

Last year, ACSM also released its first series of AFI data trend reports recapping and documenting progress during a five-year period for each metro area. You can learn more about community health data trends in a given area by going here.

Because physical inactivity has become an epidemic in the U.S., ACSM encourages Americans to exercise for at least 30 minutes and participate in 10 minutes of stretching and light muscle training five days a week. Modeling healthy behavior by reducing sedentary time, incorporating activity into the weekday schedule, joining walking clubs, setting goals and involving family and friends can improve fitness, reduce the risk of chronic disease and enhance quality of life.

At the community level, the AFI data report can be used as an assessment and evaluation tool to educate community leaders on the importance of key indicators of physical activity. Leaders can then focus on policy, systems and environmental change (PSE) strategies that are evidence-based and create sustainability for the community.

ACSM is a global leader in promoting the benefits of physical activity and advocates for legislation that helps government and the health community make it a priority. ACSM encourages Congress to support continued funding of parks, trails and safe routes to school, as well as the need for all Americans to meet the prescribed physical activity recommendations included in the National Physical Activity Guidelines, and the need for the guidelines to be regularly updated every 10 years.

View the rest of the article here.

UK Among Unhealthiest Of W. Europe Nations

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weightbaFrom Your Health Journal…..A interesting article in SF Gate by Maria Cheng entitled UK Among Unhealthiest Of W. Europe Nations. I wanted to promote this article here not only to promote the SF Gate web site, but to also bring attention to something that I have posted about lately. I have pointed to the fact that many media articles have stated how the United States is the ‘fat capital’ of the world This title bothers me. Yes, I know there is a problem here, but my contention has been obesity is worldwide issue. I have posted about obesity in articles from Canada, Mexico, UK, Australia, and other countries – mentioning how various governments are worried about the health of its citizens as well as future healthcare. Adding to this, a new study is suggesting that despite six decades of free medical care and widespread health campaigns, Britons are among the unhealthiest people in Western Europe. I encourage all of you to visit the SF Gate web site (link provided below) to read the complete article. It was well written, informative, and educational.”

From the article…..

Despite six decades of free medical care and widespread health campaigns, Britons are among the unhealthiest people in Western Europe, a new study says.

International researchers analyzed the country’s rates of sickness and death from 1990 to 2010 in comparison to those of 15 other Western European countries in addition to Australia, Canada and the U.S. Experts described the U.K. results as “startling” and said Britain was failing to address underlying health risks in its population, including rising rates of high blood pressure, obesity and drug and alcohol abuse.

“It’s incredibly surprising,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, who studies health metrics at the University of Washington in Seattle and is the lead author of the latest report.

“We all think of the U.K. as having a great health system and as one of the most sophisticated medical research communities in the world,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Nobody would have really expected that the U.K. would be toward the bottom.”

Overall, the U.K. was 12th for healthy life expectancy, with most Britons expected to live 68.6 years in good health. The United States came in 17th out of 19 countries with 67.9 years. Spain topped the charts with a healthy life expectancy of 70.9, while Finland came last, with most Finns likely to live 67.3 years in good health. Australia ranked third with 70.1 years, while Canada was fifth with 69.6 years.

In terms of years of life lost to health conditions, Britain ranked just above last place for serious respiratory infections, preterm birth complications, and breast cancer. In comparison, Italy had the lowest death rates from respiratory infections while Norway was best at handling birth complications. Sweden had the lowest death rates for breast cancer.

Murray and colleagues said there was virtually no change in the rate of premature deaths among British adults aged 20 to 54 but found a spike in deaths caused by drug and alcohol abuse for that age group.

To read the full article…..Click here

New Health Rankings: Of 17 Nations, U.S. Is Dead Last

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From Your Health Journal…..”Please go visit The Atlantic for a great article about the new health rankings written by Grace Rubenstein. We’ve reported on this web site so many times how many Americans are obese or overweight….and that heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, joint trouble, and other health issues are on the rise. Now, a report has come out stating the hard facts that American citizens rank last in health. The report was prepared by a panel of doctors, epidemiologists, demographers, and other researchers charged by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine to better understand Americans’ comparative health. For three decades, Americans, particularly men, have had either the lowest or near the lowest likelihood of surviving to age 50. The most powerful reasons found for that were homicide, car accidents, other kinds of accidents, non-communicable diseases, and perinatal problems like low birth weight and premature birth, which contribute to high infant mortality. Please visit The Atlantic web site (link provided below) to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

We’ve known for years that Americans tend to be overweight and sedentary, and that our health care system, despite being the priciest in the world, produces some less-than-plum results. Health nerds who closely follow the news may even have known that we live shorter lives than people in other rich nations, and that infants in the U.S. die from various causes at far higher rates.

But a fresh report, out Wednesday, tapped vast stores of data to compare the health of affluent nations and delivered a worrisome new message: Americans’ health is even worse than we thought, ranking below 16 other developed nations.

“The news is that this is across the lifespan, and regardless of income,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, who was not an author of the study. “A lot of people thought it was underserved populations that were driving the statistics — the poor, the uninsured. They still are a big part of our challenge, but the fact that even if you’re fairly well-to-do you still have these problems shatters that myth.”

The question is: Will it make a difference?

The report was prepared by a panel of doctors, epidemiologists, demographers, and other researchers charged by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine to better understand Americans’ comparative health. They examined when and why people die in the U.S. and 16 other countries, including Australia, Japan, Canada, and nations in Western Europe. The data they pulled — from such bodies as the World Health Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — already existed, but no one had yet examined it this comprehensively.

The results surprised even the researchers. To their alarm, they said, they found a “strikingly consistent and pervasive” pattern of poorer health at all stages of life, from infancy to childhood to adolescence to young adulthood to middle and old age. Compared to people in other developed nations, Americans die far more often from injuries and homicides. We suffer more deaths from alcohol and other drugs, and endure some of the worst rates of heart disease, lung disease, obesity, and diabetes.

To read the full article…..Click here

Guest Post – Philip Tucker, Link Found Between Diabetes And Nations that Consume High Fructose Corn Syrup

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diabetesglucoseThe US Center for Disease Control recently released a report detailing the dramatic rise in the prevalence of diabetes in the United States, showing that the number of people who have diabetes across the nation has almost doubled since 1995. This shocking escalation shows no sign of stopping, and if the trend continues then the outlook for our general health is bleak. What is causing the prevalence of diabetes to skyrocket? Why the increase in the number of diagnoses? A second study entitled ‘High fructose corn syrup and diabetes prevalence: A global perspective’ might offer some answers.

This new study examined from a global and ecological perspective the prevalence of type 2 diabetes and the availability of high fructose corn syrup. Forty three countries were examined, and found that diabetes was 20% higher in nations that had higher availability to high fructose corn syrup, even after adjustments were made country-level estimates of body mass indexes, population, and gross domestic product. Their conclusion was that countries with readily accessible HFCS had a higher incidence rate of type 2 diabetes, regardless of obesity.

Of the 43 countries, the United States was ranked at the top, consuming 24.78 kg of HFCS per year, which was nearly double that of Hungary, the second ranking country, which consumed only 16.85 kg. The rate dropped precipitously from there, with Slovakia in third consuming only 9.82 kg. The US also had the highest average BMI at 27.99.

Forty three countries were examined, and found that diabetes was 20% higher in nations that had higher availability to high fructose corn syrup, even after adjustments were made country-level estimates of body mass indexes, population, and gross domestic product.


What is it about HFSC that might cause this increase in diabetes prevalence? An increasing number of studies (such as Stanhope et al. 2009) have found that fructose can have a negative effect on your health. Fructose is always absorbed by your liver, and is metabolized in a way that does not cause an insulin reaction. This results in a lack of insulin to transport the metabolized fructose has been theorized to be a direct cause of weight gain and development of diabetes.

This report was met with scorn by the Corn Refiners Association, who pointed out that correlation does not mean causation. They have issued a statement calling the report “misleading” and “flawed”, and that “uses a severely flawed statistical methodology and ignores well established medical facts to ‘suggest’ a unique link between high fructose corn syrup and Type 2 diabetes.” Audrae Erickson, the president of the association said that, “just because an ingredient is available in a nation’s diet does not mean that it is uniquely the cause of a disease.”

– Phil Tucker is a health and fitness blogger who is looking to grow younger as he gets older. Click here to learn more, or visit his blog!