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Epigenetics studies how environmental signals influence gene expression and is challenging long-held beliefs that DNA controls our biology and we are bound by genetic determinism. More and more research is indicating that we can improve our lives by healthy lifestyle choices that determine whether or not genes become active. This challenges the notion that genes predetermine our health. Your gene expression is unique to you. Your life span is not necessarily predictive based on your parents or siblings. Statistics on identical twins show that one lives on average 10 years longer than the other! Ornish et al. 2008 found that improvements in nutrition and lifestyle can cause 500 genes to alter in expression. Your lifestyle and your choices determine your own individual gene expression.



The rate of obesity continues to increase in the United States. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index reported a rate of 27.7% in 2014, its highest reading ever. You can check out the full report at www.well-beingindex.com



Mayo Clinic published a new cohort study in 2014 that concluded that both men and women with a large waist circumference were at a higher risk of dying younger. In analyzing information involving 600,000 participants from around the world, they determined that when men had a waist size of 43 inches or more, they had a 50% greater mortality risk than men who had waists smaller than 35 inches. Women who had a waist size of 37 inches or more had an 80% greater mortality rate than women who had a waist size of 27 inches or less. The risk of death increased by about 7% in men and 9% in women for every excess 2 inches of waist circumference.



The estimated life expectancy at birth in 2011 for persons living in the United States is 78.37 years, according to THE WORLD FACTBOOK. The United States ranks only 50th in the world, however, in spite of the fact that we spend 16% of our GDP on healthcare. We lead the world in healthcare expenditure as a % of GDP by a wide margin as most other industrialized countries spend 9-10% of their GDP on healthcare. Monaco is no. 1 in life expectancy at 89.73 years, Japan is fifth at 82.25 and our friendly neighbor Canada is 11th at 81.38 years. So maybe hockey, more wide open spaces and less stress works for ya, eh? If Americans want to do better, we need to improve our diets and reduce and manage our levels of stress. We also need to make sure that all of our infants get the proper pre- and post-natal care. In 2015, our life expectancy is 78.8 years and we lead the world in health care spending with $8,713 per person which represents 16.4% of our GDP. We are the only country among the top ten in spending that has a life expectancy below 80 years. Our obesity rate in the United States is over 35%.



Dr. Charles Garfield, in the book PEAK PERFORMANCE IN BUSINESS, shared the results of his 18 year study into the variables that cause individuals to perform their best. His findings are based on interviews with thousands of athletes, entertainers, and business executives. His five main attributes for peak performance are: 1. A strong sense of mission or purpose 2. Well-defined goals 3. Feedback that is realistic and accurate 4. Using all available resources effectively 5. Getting personal satisfaction and recognition for your work. Other important factors were taking reasonable risks; ability to manage stress; tolerance for ambiguity; and practicing mental rehearsal or positive visualization.



Researchers at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity released their most comprehensive study on fast-food nutrition and marketing today. Their findings were that out of a possible 3,039 possible kid's meal combinations, less than half of 1% met the researchers' nutrition criteria for chidren. In addition, lead researcher Jennifer L. Harris stated that "Fast-food companies seem to be stepping up their efforts to target kids. Today, preschoolers see 21% more fast-food ads on TV than they saw in 2003, and somewhat older children see 34% more." Go to the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity website to find out more.






Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is a cluster of metabolic abnormalities that greatly increases the chance of developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. More than one in five Americans has MetS, including 40% of individuals in their 60's and 70's. MetS has the following characteristics: central obesity, elevated insulin, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein, high blood pressure, and glucose intolerance. Individuals are diagnosed with MetS if three or more of the preceding risk factors are present. The exact cause of MetS is unknown but researchers believe it is a combination of genetic inheritance, poor diet, and a lack of physical activity. Exercise training is emerging as an effective treatment for MetS. Persons who participate in supervised diet and exercise programs that result in an increase in cardiorespiratory ftness may reverse the syndrome. Maxwell et al(2008) examined the effects of changes in cardiorespiratory fitness on MetS status in a study published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders. Participants in a health enhancement program at Oakland University were clinically examined for changes in their MetS status and estimated aerobic capacity over a 3 year period. Two physical examinations that included a maximal treadmill stress test took place within this time frame. The relationships between MetS characteristics at exam 1 and exam 2 and changes in graded exercise test (GXT) duration were contrasted. Increases in GXT duration (increased fitness) accompanied MetS reversal while declines in GXT (decreased fitness) occurred with MetS acqusition. Maxwell concluded that changes in GXT duration may be an indicator of disease status on an individual basis. Hassinen et al(2010) studied the association of maximal oxygen uptake with MetS Status for 2 years in older individuals. This study was published in Diabetes Care. VO2max was measured directly during maximal exercise testing. They found that one SD increase in VO2max between exams made it 1.8 times more likely a person would resolve MetS. Higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness help to prevent the onset of MetS. This study emphasized cardiorespiratory fitness as a predictor of cardiometabolic health in older individuals.