Health matters

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A youngster who spends a lot of time watching TV in his or her bedroom is more likely to be obese, according to a new research study from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

The average American child from age 8 to 18 watches about 4.5 hours of TV each day. Seventy percent have a TV in the bedroom, and about one-third of youth aged 6-19 is considered obese. And, as previous studies have shown, TV viewing habits continue into later life, resulting adutls who are overweight and have elevated total cholesterol.

The Pennington study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and led by PBRC researcher Peter Katzmarzyk, found that TV viewing time was related to abdominal obesity, and bedroom TV was related to cardiometabolic (concerning both heart disease and metabolic disorders such as diabetes) risk in children.

“A bedroom TV may create additional disruptions to healthy habits, above and beyond regular TV viewing,” says co-author Amanda Staiano. “For instance, having a bedroom TV is related to lower amounts of sleep and lower prevalence of regular family meals, independent of total TV viewing time. Both short sleep duration and lack of regular family meals have been related to weight gain and obesity.”

Just one look

If you look old, your heart may feel old, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.

In a new study, those who had three to four aging signs — receding hairline at the temples, baldness at the head’s crown, earlobe crease or yellow fatty deposits around the eyelid — had a 57 percent increased risk for heart attack and a 39 percent increased risk for heart disease.

“The visible signs of aging reflect physiologic or biological age, not chronological age, and are independent of chronological age,” says Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, the study’s senior author and professor of clinical biochemistry at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Researchers analyzed 10,885 participants 40 years and older (45 percent women) in the Copenhagen Heart Study. In 35 years of follow-up, 3,401 participants developed heart disease and 1,708 had a heart attack. These signs predicted heart attack and heart disease independent of traditional risk factors. Fatty deposits around the eye were the strongest individual predictor of both heart attack and heart disease.

Heart attack and heart disease risk increased with each additional sign of aging in all age groups and among men and women. The highest risk was for those in their 70s and those with multiple signs of aging.

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