Podcast 2007 Show Notes
#0045—November 16, 2007
Schmalfeldt: Welcome to episode 45 of NIH Research Radio with news about the ongoing medical research at the National Institutes of Health-the nation's medical research agency. I'm your host Bill Schmalfeldt. Coming up on this edition, we'll have a chat about how to avoid holiday weight gain with Dr. Susan Yanovski, co-Director of the Office of Obesity Research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. And speaking of the NIDDK, through its Weight-control Information Network, they've launched a program called "Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better." Wally Akinso has a story about some new Spanish language materials on the web for folks wanting the latest info on diabetes, digestive diseases, or kidney and urologic diseases. And if you have diabetes and sickle cell trait, you may be getting inaccurate measurements of your blood glucose. But first, there's new analysis suggesting that about 3.4 million Americans age 71 and older - that's one in seven people in that age group - have dementia. And 2.4 million of them have Alzheimer's disease. That's next on NIH Research Radio.
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One in Seven Americans Age 71 and Older Has Some Type of Dementia, NIH-Funded Study Estimates
Schmalfeldt: New analysis suggests that about 3.4 million Americans age 71 and older - that's one in seven people in that age group - have dementia. And 2.4 million of them have Alzheimer's disease. The Aging, Demographics and Memory Study - also known as the ADAMS study - is the latest attempt to assess the prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form of dementia. Dr. Richard Suzman, Director of the Behavioral and Social Research Program at the National Institute on Aging, explained why this study is unique.
Suzman: Well, this is the first national study that has tried to estimate how many people in the U.S. have dementia or Alzheimer's disease. All of the prior studies were small, community studies, for example one in East Boston, one in Chicago. Additionally, the ADAMS Study is part of the Health and Retirement Study, a much larger study, and as such it has some of the best data on economic status, family wealth, so one is going to be able to track the impact of dementia and Alzheimer's in terms of the disruption to the family, the personal cost, the economic cost, etc., far better than any other study has.
Schmalfeldt: The study included 856 participants in the Health and Retirement Study, age 71 and older from 42 states. Dr. Suzman explained why this kind of research is so vital.
Suzman: Alzheimer's disease now affects about 2.5 million people. One in seven Americans over age 70 has dementia, and it's very strongly related to age. So over age 80, the fraction of people with dementia climbs dramatically. And as the "baby boom" ages, we're going to see the number of people ages 80 to 85 and over expand by four or five times. So it's absolutely critical that we have an appreciation now of the public health burden that these diseases cause and tackle them as best we can.
Schmalfeldt:The study was published online in the journal Neuroepidemiology.
NIDDK Launches Program to Encourage African American Women to "Move More, Eat Better"
Schmalfeldt: Nearly 134 million Americans, or 66 percent of the population: that's how many adults, age 20 and over, are overweight or obese, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It's a huge problem. Even more so for non-Hispanic African American women, according to Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. That's the reason the NIDDK, through its Weight-control Information Network, has launched a program called "Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better." It targets that segment of the population most at risk from the effects of being overweight or obese.
Rodgers: Among African American women age 20 or greater, it's a staggering figure of 79.6 percent. So that really is the rationale and basis for this special program targeted at this population, particularly because we know of the health consequences associated with being overweight and obese. If one is overweight or obese, one increases their risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease, having high cholesterol, stroke, other cardiovascular complications, hypertension, gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis, cancer. There are complications associated with pregnancy if you're overweight or obese. There are complications associated with menstrual irregularities, stress incontinence.
Schmalfeldt: The program consists of four age and culturally-appropriate brochures: "Celebrate the Beauty of Youth," "Energize Yourself and Your Family," Fit and Fabulous as You Mature," and "Walking: A Step in the Right Direction." These brochures encourage African-American women to maintain a healthy weight by being more physically active and eating healthier foods. For more information about the "Sisters Together" program, log on to www.win.niddk.nih.gov, or call toll-free 877-946-4627.
Schmalfeldt:When we come back, we'll have a chat about how to eat right over the holidays. Our guest, Dr. Susan Yanovski, co-Director of the Office of Obesity Research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders will join us. That's next on NIH Research Radio.
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Dr. Susan Yanovski, co-Director of the Office of Obesity Research at the NIDDK
Schmalfeldt: Welcome back to NIH Research Radio. Our guest in the studio, Dr. Susan Yanovski, co-Director of the Office of Obesity Research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Dr. Yanovski, welcome to NIH Research Radio.
Yanovski: Thanks. Nice to be here.
Schmalfeldt: The season is upon us. It's that time of year. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Christmas is close on its heels. And with the holidays comes the feasting. There's that standard American attitude we have, we're going to gain five pounds over the holidays, we'll work it off after the holidays. And you're here to tell us that's not necessarily the way it really goes, is it?
Yanovski: That's right. We had all heard the stories, the average American gains five pounds, seven pounds, ten pounds over the holidays, but we really couldn't find any research to back it up. So about five years ago, my husband and I decided we were actually going to see if this was true. We did a study and we recruited about 200 folks, most of them within the NIH community, and had them come in and get weighed. Four times over the course of the holiday season - they came in in the fall, then again before Thanksgiving, after the new year, again in the spring, and we even brought some of them back the following year to look at one year weight gain. We fooled them a little bit in that we didn't tell them that we were studying weight gain. We told them we were just studying how changes in vital signs occur over the year.
Schmalfeldt:That was very clever. (Laughter)
Yanovski: And what we found was the average person does not gain five pounds over the holidays. In fact, in the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's, they gain a little bit less than a pound.
Schmalfeldt: Now, at first you would think, "that's wonderful, it's only a pound." But it really is not good news, is it?
Yanovski: No, we always say this is a "good news, bad news" story. The good news is the average person only gains about a pound. The bad news is they don't take that pound off again. In fact, over the course of a year, they gain even a little bit more. And so it's the kind of thing that you might not really notice a weight gain of a pound or so, but over time that's going to add up and probably contributes to the 20 or 30 pounds people gain over adulthood.
Schmalfeldt: So it's not a case of New Year's resolutions are going to fix everything or that glut of TV commercials you see from the day after Christmas for weight loss clinics and that sort of thing. How do we avoid this trap?
Yanovski: Well, it's very interesting. One of the things we looked at over the course of our study was who gained more weight, and also how did people really prevent that weight gain. And we found a couple of things. One is that people who were already overweight or obese to start with, they were more likely to gain that five pounds or more over the holidays, so we need to recognize that if you're already overweight, you're at risk and you need to be a little bit more careful than the average person. The other thing we found that was very interesting is that it wasn't how many parties you went to, how many calories you said you were taking in, but we found that people who said they were more active than usual over the holiday season, not only didn't they gain weight, they ended up losing a little bit of weight. So it sounds like if you make an effort to increase your physical activity over the holidays, that might be one way to prevent that excess weight gain.
Schmalfeldt: Well, Dr. Yanovski, I can hear my listeners now saying, "That's all well and good. But it's Thanksgiving. It's Christmas. What do we do? I mean, it sounds like Dr. Yanovski wants us to eat carrot sticks instead of a turkey dinner."
Yanovski: It's OK to have the carrot cake or the turkey dinner. Everything is moderation. I'm not saying anything people don't already know in their heart of hearts. It's fine to have a slice of carrot cake. It's not fine to have the whole carrot cake.
Schmalfeldt: You can have a sip of egg nog, not the whole carton.
Yanovski: Yeah. You know, at any holiday dinner there are going to be things that are very ordinary and things that are very special. And I think one of the keys is, don't eat the 500 calories worth of cheese cubes when you can get those any time. But if there's a very special pumpkin pie or stuffing or something you really enjoy, have that. Work it into your diet.
Schmalfeldt: Do you have some diet suggestions, other than what you just mentioned there? Different ways of preparing foods that folks can keep in mind? Is there a place on the Internet they can go to get more information about that sort of thing?
Yanovski: Just go to Google and you can get recipes that are going to be lower in fat or lower in calories. But again, I think it's a matter of knowing what's special and what's not. You're going to be going to parties many, many times. So one thing people can do is bring a dish they know is healthful, like a fruit salad, to the party so they know they're going to have something to eat. After Thanksgiving, instead of them sitting around watching the football game and eating a bowl of mixed nuts, maybe everyone can go take a family walk after Thanksgiving dinner. You'll probably feel a lot better, too.
Schmalfeldt: But what about the guy, like me, for instance, who would say, "OK, I'm going to pretend it's Lent between now and Thanksgiving day, and then I'm going to stuff myself."
Yanovski: Even one big, blowout, Thanksgiving meal isn't what's going to make a terrible difference in your life. Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner. But remember, you don't have to eat like it's Thanksgiving every day between Thanksgiving and the new year.
Schmalfeldt: I understand there's the "Weight Control Information Network". Can you talk about that a little bit?
Yanovski: Sure. NIDDK offers the Weight Control Information Network. We have lots of fact-based information about obesity and weight control. You can go to the website.
Schmalfeldt: That would be www.win.niddk.nih.gov. But I think if you Google "Weight Control Information Network" you'll find it faster than that, even. Lots of great ideas and tips on there for us?
Yanovski: Tips on physical activity, tips on eating more healthfully. One other tip I think I ought to mention to people. We may not like to think about it, but we've actually funded studies at NIH that show that people who weigh themselves frequently tend to gain less weight. And over a high risk time like the holiday period might be a good time to check in with the scale every couple of days.
Schmalfeldt: So what you're saying, Dr. Yanovski, is it's not the time to be Spartan, per se, as far as the things you enjoy over the holidays, it's a time to be sensible.
Yanovski: Yes. Sensible and a little bit selective. You'll enjoy your foods more and your time with family more if you're not feeling overstuffed.
Schmalfeldt: Great advice and once again that website for the Weight Control Information Network is www.win.niddk.nih.gov. Dr. Susan Yanovski, co-Director of the Office of Obesity Research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, thank you so much for being with us today on NIH Research Radio.
Yanovski: My pleasure.
Schmalfeldt:When we come back, Wally Akinso has a story about some new Spanish language materials on the web for folks seeking the latest in health news. That's next on NIH Research Radio.
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NIDDK Launches Spanish Language Portals on its Web Site
Schmalfeldt: Now here's Wally Akinso with word on how one institute at the NIH is making its information easier to access for Spanish-speaking readers.
Akinso: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recently launched three new portals to feature Spanish health materials and resources on its website. People looking for information about diabetes, digestive diseases, or kidney and urologic diseases in Spanish can now go directly to the appropriate Spanish-language portal page, where they will find an A to Z list of topics and titles. Kathy Kranzfelder, the NIDDK's Health Information Clearinghouse Director, talked about some of the useful information that the site provides.
Kranzfelder: We have about 70 publications that are translated into Spanish from English. And they cover diabetes, digestive diseases, and kidney urologic diseases. And they have been available through our website for years but we've recently translated all of the descriptions and all of the ordering information to make it easier for people who only speak Spanish to find the materials and get a hold of them.
Akinso: Kranzfelder is optimistic about the availability of the health information to people who need it.
Kranzfelder: We hope that more people who need this information in Spanish are able to find it and get it now.
Akinso: For more information, visit www.niddk.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda Maryland.
NIDDK to Launch New Information Campaign: Important Information about Diabetes Blood Tests
Schmalfeldt: Diabetes afflicts nearly 21 million people in the United States, and according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, that burden is being felt disproportionately by minorities - including African Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders. This is the same segment of the population that is at a higher risk of having a blood hemoglobin variant, such as sickle cell trait. That's why the NIDDK is launching a new information campaign directed at diabetics of African, Mediterranean or Southeast Asian Heritage outlining the specific need for testing average blood glucose. The A1C test has become an essential tool in diabetes care because it shows the average level of blood glucose control in the previous two to three months. However, for patients with one of these hemoglobin variants, some methods for measuring blood glucose are more accurate than others. We get this explanation from Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Director of the NIDDK.
Rodgers: Well, the important issue that we're trying to address with this new information campaign is that in patients with diabetes and a variant form of hemoglobin, some of the methods measuring the A1C level are more accurate than others. For example, if patients see a significant discrepancy between the A1C result that normally goes out to a reference laboratory to the values that one does on a daily basis in actually looking at your sugar that may be a good indication that the A1C is inaccurate. And in the appropriate populations that are in high risk of having these hemoglobin variants, they should make their physicians aware of that. And what we're trying to do in this campaign is to both educate the patients about the possibility of those discrepant results, as well as the providers to let them be aware that certain tests that they obtain from reference laboratories may be inaccurate in these particular circumstances.
Schmalfeldt: The NIDDK offers two booklets that take aim at this potential problem. One is written for patients, the other for physicians. Both are available online at www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov.
Schmalfeldt: And with that, we come to the end of this episode of NIH Research Radio. Please join us on Friday, November 30nd when episode 46 of NIH Research Radio will be available for download. These stories are also available on the NIH Radio News Service website: www.nih.gov/news/radio. Our daily 60-second feature, NIH Health Matters is heard on radio stations nationwide, as well as on XM Satellite Radio, the HealthStar Radio Network and online at www.federalnewsradio.com. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to contact me. The info is right there on the podcast web page. That e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org—once again, our e-mail address is email@example.com. I'm your host, Bill Schmalfeldt. NIH Research Radio is a presentation of the NIH Radio News Service, part of the News Media Branch, Office of Communications and Public Liaison in the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
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