medical news fast-food like burgers and fries rather than healthier fruits and vegetables lead to have higher stroke rates

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Your Fast Food?

Cheeseburger with Fries by Chris Bloom

You’re relaxing at home, flipping through some channels and a news headline suddenly catches your eye

  SAN DIEGO, Feb. 20 — Neighborhoods where fast-food joints abound appear to have higher stroke rates but whether the link is causal is under question, researchers said.


Action Points   

  • Explain to interested patients that the observational study looked only at neighborhood-level data without the ability to measure individuals’ fast-food intake or other risk factors.

  • Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented as a poster at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

In a community-based study, individuals living in areas with the highest concentration of fast-food restaurants were at 13% higher risk of stroke than those in areas with the lowest density, Lewis B. Morgenstern, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues reported here at the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference.


“Where we live and where our kids go to school has a profound effect on our health,” Dr. Morgenstern said.


Although it’s tempting to blame fast food, Brian Silver, M.D., of Henry Ford Hospital in East Lansing, Mich., who was not involved in the study, agreed that fast food might be just another marker for community risk factors.


He also said it’s important to put the modest risk in perspective. “It’s not as important as blood pressure or atrial fibrillation, but if you’re trying to look for all potentially modifiable risk factors, this may be one more thing.”


The analysis was part of the larger ecological Brain Attack Surveillance in Corpus Christi (BASIC) study, which has looked ata wide range of correlates of stroke in Nueces County, Texas.


Active and passive surveillance identified 1,247 ischemic strokes in county residents from January 2000 through June 2003.


When each case was linked to the census tract of residence, the researchers found a significant association (P=0.02) with the number of nearby fast-food restaurants — defined as having two or more of the following characteristics: expedited service, limited wait staff, takeout business, and payment before being served.


Areas in the top quartile for fast-food density with an average of 33 per neighborhood had a 23% higher relative stroke risk (95% confidence interval 1.08 to 1.41) than areas in the lowest quartile with an average of 12.


After controlling for demographic factors including age, gender, race or ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, a higher fast-food restaurant density remained significantly linked to stroke risk (RR 1.13, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.25).


Likewise, stroke rates in a neighborhood rose with increasing numbers of local fast food restaurants. The number of events per 1,000 residents was:


  • 0 to 2.0 in the lowest 20% for fast-food restaurant density.
  • 2.0 to 3.4 in communities that fell in the second quintile for fast-food density.
  • 3.4 to 4.4 in communities in the middle between the 40th and 60th percentiles.
  • 4.4 to 5.4 in neighborhoods in the top 60% to 80% for fast-food density.
  • 5.4 to 8.5 in the highest quintile.



Dr. Morgenstern said he was confident that the study captured all stroke cases because of the isolated geography and concentrated healthcare facilities in the area.


However, his team cautioned that the observational study could not prove whether the association was caused by higher consumption of fast food among stroke cases, other unmeasured neighborhood factors such as green space for exercise, or simply a spurious artifact of the study.


But if causal, “the findings have large public health importance due to the high prevalence of fast food restaurants,” the researchers said. “These are the neighborhoods that need to be targeted for conventional stroke prevention,” Dr. Morgenstern said.




The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health. The researchers reported no conflicts of interest.Dr. Silver reported no conflicts of interest.



By Crystal Phend, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: February 20, 2009
Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.         

Primary source: American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference
Source reference:
Morgenstern LB, et al “Fast food and stroke risk” 
ASA 2009; Abstract P162.    

Teen-agers follow parental example in gorging on fast foods

Teen-agers follow parental example in gorging on fast foods
Teenagers are more likely to follow their parents in gorging on fast foods like burgers and fries rather than healthier fruits and vegetables.
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers found that adolescents are more likely to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day if their parents do. Conversely, teens whose parents eat fast food or drink soda are more likely to do the same.
Daily, more than two million California adolescents (62 percent) drink soda and 1.4 million (43 percent) eat fast food, but only 38 percent eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, according to a UCLA policy brief.
The new research is a reminder, however, that “good dietary habits start at home,” according to UCLA research scientist Susan H. Babey, co-author of the policy brief. “If parents are eating poorly, chances are their kids are too.”
Nearly one-third (30 percent) of California’s teenagers are overweight or obese. Poor dietary habits, along with environmental and other factors, are strongly linked to obesity, said an UCLA release.
The policy brief, which was funded by a grant from the California Endowment, drew upon the responses of thousands of California teenagers queried by the centre-administered California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the nation’s largest state health survey.
Source: Indo-Asian News Service 

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