Obe­sity link found in re­duced pro­duc­tiv­ity at the work­place

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Com­piled by Dr Chris­tine White

BE­ING pro­duc­tive at work can be dif­fi­cult at this time of year, but maybe even more so for obese work­ers. In the Jour­nalofOc­cu­pa­tional andEn­vi­ron­men­talMedicine this week, re­searchers re­port that mod­er­ately to ex­tremely obese peo­ple have re­duced pro­duc­tiv­ity in man­ual jobs com­pared to nonobese em­ploy­ees. The cost of this lower per­for­mance could reach thou­sands of dol­lars per year for ev­ery obese em­ployee, lead­ing to calls for more work­place pro­grams tar­get­ing weight loss. Var­i­ous as­pects of pro­duc­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing time taken to com­plete tasks and abil­ity to meet phys­i­cal work de­mands, were mea­sured in 341 man­u­fac­tur­ing em­ploy­ees. Ac­cord­ing to body mass in­dex mea­sure­ments, 43 per cent were over­weight but not obese, 23 per cent were mildly obese and 13 per cent were mod­er­ately to ex­tremely obese. Healthre­lated losses in pro­duc­tiv­ity av­er­aged 4.2 per cent for work­ers with mod­er­ate to se­vere obe­sity, which was 1.8 per cent higher than for other em­ploy­ees. JOc­cupEn­vi­ronMed 2007;49:1317-1324 (Caw­ley J, et al) WALK­ING and mod­er­ate ex­er­cise may help to pre­vent de­men­tia, claims new re­search in Neu­rol­ogy this week. A to­tal of 749 men and women aged 65 and older took part in the study. They were sur­veyed about their lev­els of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing time spent walk­ing, climb­ing stairs, do­ing house­work and gar­den­ing. Over the next four years, 54 of the par­tic­i­pants de­vel­oped Alzheimer’s dis­ease and 27 de­vel­oped de­men­tia. Those with the high­est phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity lev­els were 24 per cent less likely to de­velop de­men­tia than those with the low­est lev­els. When the dif­fer­ent types of ex­er­cise were con­sid­ered sep­a­rately, re­searchers found walk­ing pro­vided the same level of pro­tec­tion against de­men­tia as more de­mand­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. The au­thors sug­gest ex­er­cise may pro­tect the brain by im­prov­ing its blood flow. Neu­rol­ogy 2007;doi:10.1212/ 01.wnl.0000296276.50595.86 (Ravaglia G, et al) MAR­I­JUANA is well-known to in­crease ap­petite, and it does this by stim­u­lat­ing re­cep­tors in the brain. Now sci­en­tists have de­signed a new drug that blocks th­ese re­cep­tors and sup­presses ap­petite, lead­ing to sig­nif­i­cant weight loss in obese peo­ple in just 12 weeks. The drug, called taran­a­bant, has been tested in peo­ple for the first time, and the re­sults are re­ported in the cur­rent is­sue of Cell Me­tab­o­lism. The trial in­volved 533 obese pa­tients, who were ran­domly di­vided into five groups and given 0.5, 2, 4 or 6 mg per day of taran­a­bant or a placebo for 12 weeks. Com­pared to the placebo, taran­a­bant caused sig­nif­i­cant weight loss at all of the doses stud­ied. In a shorter trial in­volv­ing 36 over­weight or mod­er­ately obese pa­tients, those tak­ing a sin­gle dose of 12 mg of taran­a­bant con­sumed 27 per cent less calo­ries in a 24-hour pe­riod than those tak­ing a placebo. At higher doses, side ef­fects of the drug in­cluded nausea, vom­it­ing and ir­ri­tabil­ity. Cel­lMetab 2008;7:68-78 (Addy C, et al) AUTISM— a de­vel­op­men­tal dis­or­der that af­fects speech, be­hav­iour and so­cial in­ter­ac­tion — has no known cause, but some still be­lieve that a preser­va­tive found in child­hood vac­cines may be to blame. Now there is even more ev­i­dence that autism is not caused by the preser­va­tive, known as thimerosal. In the ArchivesofGen­eral Psy­chi­a­try this week, re­searchers re­port that autism cases in Cal­i­for­nia con­tin­ued to in­crease, even af­ter thimerosal was re­moved from child­hood vac­cines. Re­searchers stud­ied the preva­lence of autism in chil­dren born in Cal­i­for­nia be­tween 1993 and 2003. While thimerosal was elim­i­nated from al­most all child­hood vac­cines by 2001, the rate of autism in­creased steadily dur­ing the study pe­riod. For ev­ery 1000 chil­dren born in 1993, 0.3 had autism at age three, and this in­creased to 1.3 per 1000 births in 2003. Ac­cord­ing to the jour­nal’s ed­i­tor, par­ents of autis­tic chil­dren should be re­as­sured that the dis­or­der was not caused by im­mu­ni­sa­tions. ArchGenPsy­chi­a­try 2008;65:19-24 (Schechter R, et al) SPORT in schools is es­sen­tial in the fight against adult obe­sity, ac­cord­ing to a new study in the ArchivesofPe­di­atric­sandA­do­les­cent Medicine. The study shows that phys­i­cally ac­tive teens are less likely to be­come over­weight young adults, and sug­gests that more re­sources be di­rected to­wards qual­ity ex­er­cise pro­grams for young peo­ple. The re­search team stud­ied 3345 Amer­i­can teens in grades eight to 12. In 1996, par­tic­i­pants were in­ter­viewed about their par­tic­i­pa­tion in phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties both at school and out­side of school. They then re­ported their height and weight five years later. For ev­ery week­day that teens par­tic­i­pated in phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion at school, their risk of be­ing over­weight as young adults was re­duced by 5 per cent. Those who had phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion five days per week had 28 per cent lower risk of be­ing over­weight as young adults. ArchPe­di­a­trA­do­lescMed 2008;162:29-33 (Men­schik D, et al) AS any par­ent will tell you, lack of sleep can se­verely af­fect the brain’s abil­ity to func­tion prop­erly. But sci­en­tists may have found a way to re­verse the ef­fects of sleep de­pri­va­tion. In the latest is­sue of the Jour­nalofNeu­ro­science, they re­port that a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring pro­tein called orexin-A can help sleep-de­prived mon­keys to think more clearly. If the find­ings prove true in hu­mans, orexin-A could be given to shift work­ers and the mil­i­tary to im­prove their per­for­mance in times of lim­ited sleep. Re­searchers kept mon­keys awake overnight with videos, mu­sic and treats, and then tested their brain func­tion. With­out sleep, their per­for­mance was sig­nif­i­cantly im­paired. But mon­keys that re­ceived orexin-A via a nasal spray im­me­di­ately prior to test­ing showed im­proved per­for­mance, back to their non­sleep-de­prived level. JNeu­rosci 2007;27:14239-14247 (Dead­wyler SA, et al) Want to know more? Items are ref­er­enced where pos­si­ble. A ref­er­ence such as ‘‘ 2007;35:18-25’’ means the source ar­ti­cle was pub­lished on pages 18-25 in vol­ume num­ber 35 of the pub­li­ca­tion, in 2007. A doi num­ber or web­site ad­dress is used for re­search pub­lished on a jour­nal’s web­site.

Walk­ing: Proven to be ben­e­fi­cial

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.