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Health and Well-being

WHO Report reveals the devastating prevalence and impact of violence against women worldwide

This article was first published at The Conversation on the 21st June 2013

This week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report examining global estimates of violence against women. The report examines two forms of violence - intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence. 

The report reveals the terrifying extent of violence against women in our community. Globally, one in three women will experience an incident of intimate partner violence at some point in their lives. In the most extreme cases, this violence proves fatal. Up to 38% of female homicide victims worldwide having been killed by an intimate partner, current or former.

Explainer: overweight, obese, BMI – what does it all mean?

Australians are getting fatter and there’s no dispute over how this increasing weight is affecting our health. Different methods of assessing body fat can give different interpretations of just how much excess weight a person is carrying, but all methods point in the same direction when applied over time.

The most common measure of body fat and associated health risks is body mass index (BMI). BMI was developed as a simple way to compare different groups of people, based on the correlation between height and weight as an indicator of excess body fat.

Is obesity a social contagion?

With rates of obesity in Australia only marginally behind the United States and tracking at the same pace, mathematical and social modelling on the projection of obesity rates in America is sobering reading for Australians.

The most recent statistics on the weight and health of the Australian population paints the grim picture of one in four adults classified as obese (defined as a body mass index above 30 kg/m2). When overweight is added to this, 63% of adult Australians are likely carrying more weight than what is good for them. These rates have been consistently rising for the last three decades and do not appear to show any signs of slowing.

Pay attention if you want to lose weight

Attentive eating is a hot topic in nutrition research. A recent review of the research to date finds that mindful eating can be a powerful behaviour change in helping with weight loss.

Diets come and go, yet few offer any real long-term solution for weight loss and weight maintenance. An overall change in lifestyle and behaviour is fundamental to addressing decades of slow weight gain and failed dieting.

One very simple strategy to help with weight loss, so simple that it puts to shame many complex dietary recommendations, is to be more mindful when it comes to eating. Mindfullness can be described as learning to pay attention to the present moment experience and to let thoughts and feelings come and go without providing judgement.

Probiotics cut respiratory tract infections in athletes

Athletes undertaking endurance training over the winter months could benefit from a daily probiotic drink to cut their risk of colds and other similar infections according to the results of a recent cliinical trial.

The term probiotic refers to foods or dietary supplements that contain beneficial bacteria which are normally found in the body. Fermented milk products such as yoghurt, sour cream, buttermilk and Yakult are examples of foods that may act as probiotics. Although probiotics are not considered essential to health, the microorganisms they contain may assist with digestion or help protect against harmful bacteria by improving the workings of the immune system.

Can lack of sleep make you fat?

Yet another clinical study has confirmed the growing body of evidence linking inadequate sleep to obesity.

One of the more surprising factors linked to weight gain is lack of sleep. More and more research studies are finding that poor sleep patterns and insufficient sleep are closely linked to weight gain and obesity.

The mechanism linking poor sleep to weight gain is not entirely understood, but is likely related to how signals from the brain which control appetite are altered by sleep restriction. Inadequate sleep can alter the levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin while reducing production of the fullness-feeling hormone leptin. This can lead to increased food consumption without a similar increase in energy expenditure.

Creatine loading: not just for athletes

Use of the popular sports supplement creatine has shown promise in a small-scale clinical trial in helping people with diabetes get their blood sugar under control.
 
Creatine is a popular nutritional supplement widely used across many sports. Creatine occurs naturally in the body, and is found mostly in muscle tissue. Creatine is a normal part of the foods we eat, but meat, fish, and poultry are the only foods with any appreciable amounts.

Beating cancer one step at a time

Cancer is a big killer of Australians, yet a person has much in their own control in preventing many of these cases of cancer. Being physically activity is one of them and is now recognised as a potent ‘cancer-preventing’ habit.

Is it time to shine for vitamin D?

Vitamin D is attracting more than its fair share of attention in both the scientific and public spotlight. Long known for its role in keeping bones healthy, there is a growing list of health benefits being linked to this so called 'sunshine vitamin'. The list of disease candidates is long and includes diabetes, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, obesity, autoimmune diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases, and even some mental health conditions such as schizophrenia. The field of research is fast-moving so it is hard to determine where the truth may lie.

Food allergies and intolerances explained

Food allergies and food intolerances are two very separate things, yet are easily confused. Knowing the differences between them determines how best to diagnose and treat them.

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