Check in with us as we feature the latest trends, research and news in medicine, health and science. A team of Star Tribune staffers will aggregate updates from news wires, websites, magazines and medical journals.

Highest calorie Xtreme restaurant meals of 2014

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: July 31, 2014 - 11:40 AM

At 3,540 calories, it's the "single unhealthiest" meal the group could find on more than 200 chain restaurant menus it reviewed for the 2014 edition of its not-very-coveted Xtreme Eating Awards. The awards go to dishes and combos especially high in calories, fat, sugar and salt.

The group found it easier than usual to find nutrition offenders this year, says the center's Paige Einstein, a registered dietitian.

"In the past, our winners have usually had about 1,500 calories," she says. "Most of these dishes have at least 2,000." They often are on menus that feature new, lighter options, too — but "those are much smaller parts of the menu," Einstein says.

While Red Robin gets the top spot, the Cheesecake Factory gets the most — three — for its Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic (2,410 calories), Bruléed French Toast (2,780 calories) and Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake (1,500 calories).

To burn off those calories, the center says, you would have to do:

• 12 hours of brisk walking for the Monster Burger meal
• 7 hours of lap-swimming for the French toast.
• 5 hours of jogging for the chicken pasta dish
• 4.5 hours of aerobics for the cheesecake.

The list also includes a spare rib plate from Famous Dave's; a combo plate from Chevys Fresh Mex; a seafood platter from Joe's Crab Shack; a steak dish from Maggiano's Little Italy; and a deep-dish chicken-bacon-ranch pizza from BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse.

Read more from USA Today.

Three healthy habits could slow aging

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: July 29, 2014 - 11:47 AM

Exercise, a healthy diet and good sleep can protect the body against the negative effects of stress and slow down the aging process at a cellular level, researchers report.

A study involving hundreds of older women found that stressful events are linked to increased shortening of telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age.

"We found that over a one-year period, the more stressors a woman had, the more their telomeres were likely to shorten," said lead author Eli Puterman, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

But women who maintained active lifestyles, ate right and slept well appeared to shrug off the effects of stress, with their telomeres showing no significant additional shortening, the researchers said.

Dr. Michael Speicher, professor and chairman of the Institute of Human Genetics at the Medical University of Graz in Austria, said the study "addresses a really important biological question: why a healthy lifestyle is really helpful, especially if you are exposed to stressors."

"The hopeful message is if you engage in these healthy behaviors, you can decrease some effects that stress can have on your body," he said.

Read more from U.S. News.

Too few girls getting HPV vaccine

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: July 24, 2014 - 5:57 PM

More teenage girls are receiving the vaccine against human papillomavirus, or HPV, the government reported. But the numbers still don't meet targets set by public health officials.

Last year's rise in HPV vaccine use followed a couple of years when vaccination rate was flat. For girls ages 13 to 17, about 57 percent received at least one dose in 2013, up from 54 percent in 2012. Just 38 percent received all three doses as recommended, up from 33 percent the year before.

"It was better than nothing. But we really need to do better moving forward," said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The vaccine protects against HPV, a sexually transmitted bug that can cause cervical cancer, genital warts and other illnesses.

A three-dose series of HPV shots hit the market in 2006. The government recommends the vaccine for girls ages 11 and 12 because it works best before they become sexually active.

Stroke-related illness, deaths are on decline

Posted by: Updated: July 16, 2014 - 4:52 PM

Stroke is not killing as many people in the United States as it has in the past. A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows a decline in stroke rates for people older than 65. The study showed stroke-related rates and deaths declined from 1987 to 2011.

Dr. Bret Haake at Regions Hospital in St. Paul pointed to better cholesterol- and blood-pressure screening. More people are opting to take cholesterol medication and blood pressure pills.

Haake said there are still some areas that can be improved.

“There are two risk factors that are going the wrong direction. Obesity and diabetes…. and so getting out and exercising would be two other things that would be really important, he said.

Haake predicts that the United States will continue to see stroke deaths decline.


Extreme obesity shortens life span by years

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: July 9, 2014 - 5:29 PM


People with a body mass index, or BMI, above 40 are robbed of an average 6.5 years of expected life span, a study has found. And the toll in years lost rises with the degree of obesity, reaching nearly 14 years for the most obese -- those with a BMI above 55, researchers said.

The study found that the reduction in life expectancy associated with being extremely obese was similar to that seen in adults who smoke. And as a person's obesity rises to higher levels, his or her expected life span falls below that of smokers.

The findings come from a project that aggregated the results of about 20 long-term studies on obesity in the United States, Australia and Sweden. They were published in PLoS Medicine, in what is believed to be the largest study to date of the health consequences of severe obesity.

Compared with their normal-weight peers, the extremely obese are more likely to succumb early to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. For men with "class III obesity," the rate of death attributable to heart disease and diabetes is especially elevated compared with normal-weight males. For women in the same obesity category, cancer deaths dramatically outstripped those among normal-weight women.

But premature deaths attributable to all causes, from injury to chronic lower respiratory infections, were consistently higher in those with severe obesity, the study found.

The extremely obese -- those who generally would need to lose 100 lbs. or more to attain a "normal healthy weight" -- are a fast-growing segment of the U.S. population, now representing about 6% of American adults.

The ranks of those with a BMI over 40 (for example, a 5-foot-6 person weighing 250 pounds or more) have grown fourfold since the 1980s. The population with a BMI over 50 (say, a 5-foot-10 person weighing more than 350 pounds) has grown by 10% in the same period.


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