“The Paramount Health Challenge for Humans in the 21st Century”

I had the privilege recently of introducing William Balistreri as the keynote speaker for the Georgia AAP Nutrition Symposium.  Dr. Balistreri is a personal hero for me; someone I admire greatly.  Hopefully, if he reads this, he will forgive me for forgetting to mention in my introduction that he also is a Lacrosse coach for one of his grandchildren’s team.

He gave a tour de force presentation on the global challenge of obesity.  In addition, he discussed undernutrition, endobariatrics, gastroenteritis, climate change and even food waste; 40% of U.S. food is thrown away. In Finland, there is a ‘Grocery Store Happy Hour‘ for distribution of reduced cost/free groceries which may help reduce food waste.  In general, I try to condense what I read or hear –that was pretty much impossible with this lecture which was packed with information based on the latest research as well as information dating back to the 5th Century BC/Plato.  What follows are some of my favorite slides.

Here is a link to the full talk: WHAT’S HOT in Pediatric Gastroenterology? Global Nutrition Lecture (10-10-19)

Two Articles received the most attention:

  1. LANCET Commission on Global Syndemic (Obesity, Undernuturition, and Climate Change)
  2. EAT- LANCET Commission on Healthy Diets

What Can Be Done?

Additional References:

A recent book (not discussed in lecture) provides related information. “We Are The Weather” by Jonathan Foer, was reviewed this past weekend in the NY Times: Meat is Murder: “[This book] has a point, and that is to persuade us to eat fewer animal products. Foer makes the case that, for Americans and citizens of other voracious meat-eating countries, this is the most important individual change we can make to reduce our carbon footprints.” However, the reviewer, Mark Bittman, states that “we’re not good at making positive decisions about our future. And we’re really not good at denying ourselves cheap pleasures like cheeseburgers.”  He advocates for stronger laws, government leadership, and pricing the products to account for their true costs in terms of their contributions to climate change, public health, and environmental degradation.

Related blog posts:

 

 

Sad Truth: Job Security in Hepatology

A recent study (ND Parikh et al. Hepatology 2019; 70: 487-95, and associated editorial JA Marrero. 459-61) provide a forecast of increasing liver disease and liver disease severity, driven mainly by fatty liver disease and obesity.

Key findings:

  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) related additions to the liver transplant waitlist expanded from 391 in 2000 to 1605 in 2014.  This corresponded to an overall increase in obesity of 44.1% during that time period.
  • NAFLD-related wait-list additions were predicted by the prevalence of obesity 9 years prior.
  • The authors anticipate that obesity population will increase to over 92 million adults by 2025.
  • The authors project that NAFLD-related wait-list additions will increase to 2104 by 2030, a 55% increase

Because the decrease in complications related to new treatments for Hepatitis C is not expected “until well into the next decade,” the burden of chronic liver disease will continue to rise.

The editorial notes that overall graft survival rates for obese patients with BMI less than 40 do not appear different than those of lean individuals.  Those with BMI >40 had reduced 5-year graft and survival rates.  Also, obese patients have higher morbidities, even in those without reduced survival.

My take: This study identifies a marked increase in end-stage liver disease in the growing population of obese patients.

Related blog posts:

Is Cognition Affected by Obesity/Metabolic Disease?

A recent provocative study : “Childhood Metabolic Biomarkers Are Associated with Performance on Cognitive Tasks in Young Children” ALB Shapiro et al. J Pediatr 2019; 211: 92-7

Methods: Data were obtained from children (n=137, 4.6 years old on average) participating in the Healthy Start study, a pre-birth cohort in Colorado. This included metabolic markers (HOMA-IR, glucose, insulin) and cognitive performance markers (Flanker task, Dimensional Change Card Sort test (which assesses cognitive flexibility), and Picture Vocabulary test).

Key findings:

  • HOMA-IR, glucose, and insulin were all inversely significantly-associated with cognitive flexibility testing. Thus, the authors found that “greater blood biomarkers of poor metabolic health are related to lower cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control in healthy, young children.”

Discussion:

  • The authors note that their findings “contribute to the large body of literature in children with overt type 1 and type 2 diabetes that demonstrates consistent and negative effects of poor metabolic health on cognition.”
  • The metabolic effects on cognition may be more critical in childhood due to brain maturation as well as potential for longer exposure periods.  However, studies from adults indicate that “adults without overt diabetes, the cumulative burden of metabolic conditions (eg. obesity, hyperglycemia) was significantly associated with lower cognitive scores.”

My take: While the effects of metabolic disease on cardiovascular disease is well-recognized, this study adds to the body of knowledge that indicates the potential harm of metabolic disease on the brain as well.

Near Chattahoochee River

Improving Obesity Trend in Young Children?

Link (YouTube): William Meyers Inaugural Conference Lecture

Related blog post: William Meyers

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CBS News: Study shows declining obesity rate for preschoolers who receive government food aid

An excerpt:

The obesity rate for preschoolers who receive government food aid has declined, according to a study released Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Obesity rates dropped steadily to about 14% in 2016 — the latest data available — from 16% in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

The improvement affected youngsters ages 2 through 4 who receive food vouchers and other services in the federal Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. About 1 in 5 U.S. kids that age were enrolled in 2016…

My take:  This is good news. Hopefully, this report will be one of many indicating that the rates of obesity could actually improve.

Related blog posts:

Rural Areas Main Driver for Increasing Obesity

Nature volume 569pages260–264 (2019) : Full Text: Rising rural body-mass index is the main driver of the global obesity epidemic in adults

From Abstract:

  • Here we use 2,009 population-based studies, with measurements of height and weight in more than 112 million adults, to report national, regional and global trends in mean BMI segregated by place of residence (a rural or urban area) from 1985 to 2017.
  • We show that, contrary to the dominant paradigm, more than 55% of the global rise in mean BMI from 1985 to 2017—and more than 80% in some low- and middle-income regions—was due to increases in BMI in rural areas.
  •  In high-income and industrialized countries, we noted a persistently higher rural BMI, especially for women.