1 in 3 people are on a diet or fasting, finds US survey

International Food Information Council| May 2018 |  One-Third of Americans Are Dieting, Including One in 10 Who Fast … While Consumers Also Hunger for Organic, “Natural” and Sustainable

The findings of the recent annual Food and Health Survey shows the dietary habits of people in the US. 

For instance, a third of consumers are following some type of diet or fasting, more than double the number in the survey conducted in 2017.  Participants mentioned a number of diets including Paleo (7 per cent), low-carb (5 per cent), Whole30 (5 per cent), high-protein (4 per cent), and ketogenic/high-fat (3 per cent).  Those age 18 – 34) were more likely to follow a specific eating pattern or diet than those over the age of 35.


Nearly all of those surveyed wanted to gain health benefits from the specific foods or  nutrients they consumed.  A fifth of Americans ranked cardiovascular health as their top desired benefit, closely followed by weight loss or weight management and eating for energy (13 per cent).

80 per cent said there is a lot of conflicting information about what foods to eat or avoid as an issue  for them when choosing what to eat. This issue made over half (59 per cent) feel uncertain about their choices (Source: International Food Information Council).

The full details of the survey are available from the International Food Information Council here
In the media
The Independent More People Swapping Quick-fix diets for long-term lifestyle changes to lose weight, survey finds

Impact of regular exercise on arterial health



Central arterial stiffness increases with sedentary aging. While near‐daily, vigorous lifelong (>25 yr) endurance exercise training prevents arterial stiffening with aging, this rigorous routine of exercise training over a lifetime is impractical for most individuals. The aim was to examine whether a less frequent ‘dose’ of lifelong exercise training (4‐5 sessions/wk for > 30 min) that is consistent with current physical activity recommendations elicits similar benefits on central arterial stiffening with aging. A cross‐sectional examination of 102 seniors (>60 yrs old), who had a consistent lifelong exercise history was performed. Subjects were stratified into 4 groups based on exercise frequency as an index of exercise ‘dose’: sedentary: < 2 sessions/wk; casual exercisers: 2–3 sessions/wk; committed exercisers: 4–5 sessions/wk; Masters athletes: 6–7 sessions/wk plus regular competitions. Detailed measures of arterial stiffness and left ventricular afterload were collected. Biological aortic age and central PWV were younger in committed exercisers and Masters athletes compared to sedentary seniors. TACi (total arterial compliance) was lower, while Carotid β‐stiffness index and Eai (effective arterial elastance) were higher in sedentary seniors compared to the other groups. There appeared to be a dose‐response threshold for carotid β‐stiffness index and TACi. Peripheral arterial stiffness was not significantly different among the groups. These data suggest that 4–5 weekly exercise sessions over a lifetime is associated with reduced central arterial stiffness in the elderly. A less frequent dose of lifelong exercise (2‐3 sessions/wk) is associated with decreased ventricular afterload and peripheral resistance, while peripheral arterial stiffness is unaffected by any dose of exercise.

Full reference:  Shibata, S. et al | The effect of lifelong exercise frequency on arterial stiffness |  The Journal of Physiology | First published: 20 May 2018 | https://doi.org/10.1113/JP275301

The full article is available to download from the Journal of Physiology 

In the media:

BBC News | Exercising regularly ‘can keep heart and arteries young’

Every 10 minutes a child in England has a tooth extracted due to decay 

Public Health England  | April 2018  | Every 10 minutes a child in England has a rotten tooth removed

New data published by Public Health England (PHE) today, 6 April 2018 highlights the prevalence of tooth decay among children. It has been released to coincide with the government’s launch of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which comes into force today.  141 children a day are having a tooth removed in hospital,  in children aged between 5 to 9 tooth extraction  is the leading reason for their admission to hospital.

As consuming too much sugar is one of the leading causes of tooth decay and childhood obesity PHE is reminding parents that  sugary drinks, including juice drinks, energy drinks, cola and other fizzy drinks, are one of the main sources of sugar in children’s diets.

change 4 life sugar
Image source: nhs.uk

PHE’s Change4Life campaign is encouraging parents to:

  1. Swap sugary drinks for lower or no sugar alternatives, including water and lower fat milks. The Change4Life website has plenty of easy drink swaps and helpful tips for families.
  2. Limit fruit juice and smoothies to a total of 150ml per day and only consume with meals – they count as a maximum of one portion of our 5 A Day.
  3. Ensure children brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste (once before bedtime and once during the day) and remind them to ‘spit not rinse’, as rinsing washes away the protective fluoride. Brushing should start as soon as the first tooth appears and children should be supervised up to the age of 7. (PHE)

Further details of the news story are available from PHE 

Related: The Change4Life website  has helpful swaps and tips it can be accessed here

A new app  details the amount of sugar, fat, salt and calories in popular foods and drinks. It is available for iOS and Android devices.

The impact of lack of sleep

Is lack of sleep affecting your work? In this Public Health Matters blog, Justin Varney explores the relationship between sleep and physical and mental health


Key facts:

  • The annual cost of sleep loss to the UK is £30 billion
  • 200,000 working days lost in the UK each year due to insufficient sleep
  • 1 in 3 people in the UK are affected by insomnia

There is a strong relationship between sleep and physical and mental health and not getting enough sleep has a profound impact on our ability to function. If it develops into a pattern, the cumulative impact is significant.

Links between a lack of sleep and high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes are emerging. It also makes us more vulnerable to infection and raises the risk of accident and injury.  Sleep is not just critical to recovery, it essential for maintaining cognitive skills such as communicating well, remembering key information and being creative and flexible in thought.

A new sleep toolkit recommends that businesses create an understanding environment, where employees can be open with their managers about any sleep-related issues that are hampering them at work. That way line managers and employees can identify the risks to health and wellbeing in the workplace and gather the right information to help  put plans in place to manage risks.

The new sleep toolkit takes businesses through this process, with information on the importance of sleep, the business case for good sleep and actions which address the causes of sleep deprivation in employees.

Read more at Public Health Matters

Download the full document: Sleep and recovery: a toolkit for employers

Productive healthy ageing

This resource for health professionals and local authorities makes the case for action in midlife to support healthy productive later life | Public Health England

Longer, healthier lives are a benefit to society in many ways, including financial, social and cultural, because older people have skills, knowledge and experience that benefit the wider population. There is an opportunity to utilise this increased longevity as a resource, whilst challenging ageism and the view that retirement is about ‘sitting more and moving less’.

As life expectancy rises, we must promote the concept of productive healthy ageing, which involves:

  • improved health and wellbeing
  • increased independence and resilience to adversity
  • the ability to be financially secure through work and build resources
  • engagement in social activities
  • being socially connected with enhanced friendships and support
  • enjoying life in good health

Longer, healthier lives can be a benefit to society, but this requires over-65s to be more active community and economic participants.

Full detail at Public Health England

productive healthy ageing
Image Source: http://www.gov.uk

Genetic Risk, Adherence to a Healthy Lifestyle, and Coronary Disease

Khera, A.V. et al. NEJM. Published online: 13 November 2016

Image source: Bill McConkey – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Background: Both genetic and lifestyle factors contribute to individual-level risk of coronary artery disease. The extent to which increased genetic risk can be offset by a healthy lifestyle is unknown.

Methods: Using a polygenic score of DNA sequence polymorphisms, we quantified genetic risk for coronary artery disease in three prospective cohorts — 7814 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, 21,222 in the Women’s Genome Health Study (WGHS), and 22,389 in the Malmö Diet and Cancer Study (MDCS) — and in 4260 participants in the cross-sectional BioImage Study for whom genotype and covariate data were available. We also determined adherence to a healthy lifestyle among the participants using a scoring system consisting of four factors: no current smoking, no obesity, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet.

Conclusions: Across four studies involving 55,685 participants, genetic and lifestyle factors were independently associated with susceptibility to coronary artery disease. Among participants at high genetic risk, a favorable lifestyle was associated with a nearly 50% lower relative risk of coronary artery disease than was an unfavorable lifestyle.

Read the full article here

Person and community-centred approaches to health and wellbeing

The Health Foundation in partnership with the innovation charity Nesta has published two reports in their Realising the Value series which aims to strengthen the case for people taking an active role in their health and care.

Image source: http://www.nesta.org.uk/