CDC: All Baby Boomers Should be Tested for Hepatitis C
Add it to the list, baby boomers: The government wants every one of you to get a one-time blood test to check for the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the recommendation Thursday, warning that one in 30 baby boomers is infected with the virus—and most don't know it. In the past, testing was recommended only for those at risk, such as heavy alcohol users. It can take decades for the virus to cause liver damage and for other symptoms to emerge. Baby boomers account for about two-thirds of the 3.2 million infected Americans; more than 15,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related illnesses. "Deaths from hepatitis C have nearly doubled over the past decade," CDC Director Thomas Frieden said during a press conference, HealthDay reports. "Unless we take action now, deaths will increase substantially in the coming years."
Why We're So Fat: What's Behind the Latest Obesity Rates
It used to be that rich and fat were terms associated with people, not dessert. A portly shape, in fact, signaled the good life. If you ever saw the musical Oliver!, you may recall the number, "Food, Glorious Food," in which a stage full of scrawny orphans pine for the gluttony that money can buy: "Rich gentlemen have it boys, In-di-gestion!" Today, however, we often see the reverse scenario: the leaner your wallet, the fatter you are.
"You have this coexistence of obesity and food insecurity in America," says Susan Blumenthal, former U.S. assistant surgeon general, clinical professor at Georgetown and Tufts University medical schools, and director of the Health and Medicine Program at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. Finding, and affording, healthy food along with safe places to exercise, are among the challenges that low-income populations face.
So perhaps it's not surprising that the statistics released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that Mississippi, the poorest state in America, has the nation's highest obesity rate, at 34.9 percent. States in the South and Midwest, which, in some cases, represent the poorest parts of the country, showed the highest incidences of obesity. While financial health has a bearing on physical health, the correlation is a complicated one. Culture, gender, education, biology, and even politics, play a role. America's so-called "red" states tend to have higher rates of obesity, experts note. Plus, the prevalence of cheap, processed foods, the layout of our neighborhoods, and access to parks and public transportation also factor into one's risk for obesity and, consequently, disease. And while poor Americans may find it especially challenging to access the ingredients of a healthy lifestyle, obesity is clearly not limited to the province of the poor. More than one-third of the nation is obese, according to some data sets, and that cuts across all income levels. [Read more: Why We're So Fat: What's Behind the Latest Obesity Rates]
The Diet Mentality Paradox: Why Dieting Can Make You Fat
If you were to stop 10 random people on the street and ask, "What should a person do if he wants to lose weight?" chances are that most would respond, "Go on a diet." This is our cultural solution to our national obesity problem. And it's making us fat, writes U.S. News blogger and registered dietitian Melinda Johnson.
A recent study published in the Journal of Obesity demonstrated that normal-weight teenagers were more likely to be overweight 10 years later if they thought of themselves as overweight to begin with. This is not a new observation. Earlier studies, such as one published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, identified the same problem: Kids who feel fat are more likely to be fat years later.
Please pause a moment to soak this in: If you think you're fat, you're likely to make yourself fat. But why?
There are several theories; one, for example, blames stress hormones. When we're under any kind of stress, our body releases certain hormones to help us quickly deal with the situation—whether it's running out of a burning building or fighting off an attacker. However, these hormones can wreak havoc on all kinds of normal body functions, especially if we're under constant stress (such as feeling fat and struggling with body image). They disrupt sleep, alter our metabolism, and even signal to our body to lay down belly fat. [Read more: The Diet Mentality Paradox: Why Dieting Can Make You Fat]
Angela Haupt is a health reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.