Interventions to prevent cognitive decline & dementia

Evidence supporting three interventions that might slow cognitive decline and the onset of dementia is encouraging but insufficient to justify a public health campaign focused on their adoption | ScienceDaily

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Image source: NASEM

Cognitive training, blood pressure management for people with hypertension, and increased physical activity all show modest but inconclusive evidence that they can help prevent cognitive decline and dementia, but there is insufficient evidence to support a public health campaign encouraging their adoption, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  Additional research is needed to further understand and gain confidence in their effectiveness, said the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report.

Cochrane reviews show impact of lifestyle changes on obesity

Two Cochrane reviews, published today, show that a combination of diet, physical activity and behavioural change interventions may reduce weight in children and adolescents | OnMedica

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The two reviews look at the effects of diet, physical activity and behavioural interventions in treating children with overweight or obesity from six years old to early adulthood. They summarise the results of 114 studies which involved over 13,000 children and young people.

The social barriers to an active society are being ignored

The simplicity of exhorting people to “be more active” belies how complicated it can be to put this into practice. Increasing physical activity requires individuals to do things differently | The Conversation

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Can individuals alone make the changes that are required? Public health campaigns imply that they can, focusing on how to live a healthier, more active life. But do the roots of inactivity really lie only in the behaviour, decisions and motivations of individuals? Or are there wider factors which need to be recognised and addressed?

Plenty of evidence suggests that external influences are also important, and there is mileage in ensuring that these elements are integrated into addressing individual behaviour.

Consider, for example, the challenge of raising physical activity levels among older people. This is a priority for public health given the predicted 89.3% increase in the numbers of older adults to 9.9m in the UK by 2039. According to Sport England, 54% of those aged 75 and above are doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week.

Full blog post here

Diet, nutrition, physical activity and breast cancer

The report analysed 119 studies and including data on 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer | World Cancer Research Fund

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Image source: WCRF

Many epidemiologic studies have classified breast cancer cases by menopausal status at time of diagnosis, and therefore in this report we chose to highlight associations between diet, weight, and physical activity separately in premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer, where possible.

Key findings: premenopausal breast cancer

There is strong evidence that:

  • consuming alcoholic drinks increases risk
  • undertaking vigorous physical activity decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese between the ages of about 18 and 30 years decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese in adulthood before the menopause decreases risk
  • developmental factors leading to greater linear growth (marked by adult attained height) increase risk
  • factors that lead to greater birthweight, or its consequences, increase risk
  • breastfeeding decreases risk (breast cancer type unspecified) in the mother
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Image Source: WCRF

Key findings: postmenopausal breast cancer

There is strong evidence that:

  • consuming alcoholic drinks increases risk
  • being physically active (including vigorous physical activity) decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese between the ages of about 18 and 30 years decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese throughout adulthood increases risk
  • greater weight gain in adulthood increases risk
  • developmental factors leading to greater linear growth (marked by adult attained height) increase risk
  • breastfeeding decreases risk (breast cancer type unspecified) in the mother
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Image source: WCRF

Aerobic and resistance exercises can improve thinking skills of the over 50s

Researchers reviewed 39 studies published up to the end of 2016 to assess the potential impact of varying types, intensities, and durations of exercise on the brain health of the over 50s | Alzheimer’s Society

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Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

‘The benefits of regular exercise to keep a sharp mind are becoming clearer. Previous studies show that people who exercise are less likely to develop dementia, but more research is needed to find out exactly what type and how much exercise is best to help reduce your risk of the condition.’

‘In this study, researchers reviewed results from 39 trials of people in their 50s who were given supervised exercise programmes. Taking up moderate or vigorous exercise improved people’s performance on tests of thinking skills, but the study didn’t look at whether this reduced their likelihood of developing dementia.’

Read the original research article here

Physical Inactivity

Report from The British Heart Foundation (BHF) suggests that large numbers of people in the UK are still failing to meet recommendations for physical activity, putting them at greater risk of heart and circulatory disease.

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The British Heart Foundation has published Physical Inactivity Report 2017. This report provides an overview of the levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour in adults across the UK.

The Government recommends that adults undertake at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week and strength activities on at least two days a week . It is also recommended that adults minimise their levels of sedentary behaviour.
The data in this report suggests that large numbers of people in the UK are failing to meet these recommendations for physical activity.

The statistics also show that levels of sedentary behaviour in the UK remain high. This is of particular concern as evidence is growing which shows that sedentary behaviour  – time in which energy expenditure is very low – is an independent risk factor to physical inactivity.

The impact of physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyles also weighs heavily on UK healthcare, estimated to cost as much as £1.2 billion a year.

The report suggests that making physical activity easier and more accessible for all is of paramount importance if we are to reduce the burden of inactivity-related ill health and improve the future cardiovascular health of our population.

Read the full report: Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behaviour Report 2017

Getting active for better musculoskeletal health

Musculoskeletal conditions affect over 10 million people and are the leading cause of disability in England | Public Health England

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For many years there has been a perception that arthritis and back pain are unavoidable and part of the ageing process and the focus has been on conventional treatments to alleviate pain and discomfort.

However, increasingly we are seeing that unhealthy lifestyles contribute to the cause of musculoskeletal conditions, and an ageing population, rising obesity rates and reduced level of physical activity will only increase the prevalence of these conditions, and result in rising costs to the health and social care system.

We need to change how we view musculoskeletal conditions with a focus on prevention, early detection and treatment using the life course whole systems approach.

A new report from the Department of Health, Public Health England, NHS England and Arthritis Research UK highlights the outcomes of programmes that offer physical activity interventions for musculoskeletal conditions that are effective across care pathways, cost effective and provide long term health benefits for individuals across the life course.

Read the full over view here

Read the full report here