Health news and notes

Hitting the gym

In a health blog, the Cleveland Clinic offered safety tips for workout warriors as they begin to head to gyms and fitness studios again. The tips included:

  • Know your gym’s rules and safety protocols before you go. Some facilities are doing temperature checks when entering the gym or mandating when certain groups of people (or how many) can work out at one time.
  • Wear a face mask if you can. Several gyms are asking members to wear a face mask, so be sure to ask your gym what the protocol is.
  • Bring your own towel and water bottle. Many states have required cities and businesses to turn off public water fountains, including in gyms.
  • Distance yourself. Most gyms and health clubs are required to space out machines and equipment so that people are farther apart, but pay attention to how close you are to others throughout the gym at all times.
  • Wipe down everything. Many facilities have provided more sanitation stations throughout the gym. Clean and wipe down everything you touch before and after – from dumbbells, to treadmills and resistance bands.
  • Go in with a plan, but be flexible. Before COVID-19, it was OK to wander around the gym or wait (patiently) for the squat rack. These days you’ll want to minimize your time in the gym to reduce your exposure.
  • Tread carefully with group fitness classes. Find out if your gym has minimized class size and what the protocol is for equipment.
  • If you have any symptoms whatsoever – stay home!
  • Don’t settle for being uncomfortable or unsafe. Don’t be afraid to speak up or move to another area of the gym or health club if you’re not comfortable.

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A strategic plan for nutrition

What if each of us had individualized dietary recommendations that helped us decide what, when, why, and how to eat to optimize our health and quality of life? This precision nutrition approach – developing targeted and effective diet interventions in a diverse population – is among the ambitious goals set out by the 2020-2030 Strategic Plan for National Institutes of Health Nutrition Research, according to a release. NIH, guided by its Nutrition Research Task Force (NRTF) and armed with the insights from the nutrition science community, practitioners, the public, and others, has created a bold vision to advance nutrition science discoveries over the next 10 years. With a focus on precision nutrition, the plan reflects the wide range of nutrition research supported across NIH – over $1.9 billion in fiscal year 2019. The strategic plan calls for a multidisciplinary approach through expanded collaboration across NIH Institutes and Centers to accelerate nutrition science and uncover the role of human nutrition in improving public health and reducing disease.

The strategic plan is organized around four strategic goals that answer key questions in nutrition research:

  1. Spur Discovery and Innovation through Foundational Research: What do we eat and how does it affect us?
  2. Investigate the Role of Dietary Patterns and Behaviors for Optimal Health: What and when should we eat?
  3. Define the Role of Nutrition Across the Lifespan: How does what we eat promote health across our lifespan?
  4. Reduce the Burden of Disease in Clinical Settings: How can we improve the use of food as medicine?

The plan has five cross-cutting areas relevant to all these strategic goals, including minority health and health disparities; health of women; rigor and reproducibility; data science, systems science, and artificial intelligence; and training the nutrition scientific workforce.

The strategic plan aligns with the National Nutrition Research Roadmap 2016-2021 created by the Interagency Committee on Human Nutrition Research, a trans-federal government committee charged with enhancing the coordination and communication among multiple federal agencies conducting nutrition research.

As the plan is put into action, NIH will continue to seek input from the nutrition community and others. The task force will guide the plan’s application through implementation working groups that will pursue opportunities to:

  • Advance the priorities identified in each of the strategic goals and cross-cutting research areas
  • Catalyze nutrition research at NIH-funded universities and institutions and in NIH labs
  • The task force will track the progress of the plan and post information on its website.

Rate of metabolic syndrome rising among under-40 group

According to HealthDay News, U.S. News & World Report, a new study finds that 1 in 5 people under age 40 now have metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that together increase the odds for many serious conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The rate of metabolic syndrome is rising in all age groups – as many as half of adults over 60 have it. But among 20- to 39-year-olds, the rate rose 5 percentage points over five years, the study reported.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of heart disease risk factors that occur together. They include:

  • A large waistline,
  • High blood pressure,
  • Higher-than-normal blood sugar levels,
  • High triglyceride levels (triglycerides are a type of blood fat),
  • Low levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.

“The trends for metabolic syndrome are very alarming. A huge proportion of the adult population is affected – overall, 37% of adults in the United States. In young adults, the prevalence was remarkably higher than in our previous study through 2012,” said study co-author Dr. Robert Wong, from the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in California. Read more at: