Everyday Health Survey to help manage Queensland’s obesity epidemic

Queensland is in the midst of an obesity epidemic. Around 65 per cent of Queensland adults and 27 per cent of Queensland children currently weigh in as overweight or obese.

On current trends, around three million Queenslanders will be overweight or obese by 2020, increasing their risk of chronic disease, including certain cancers.

It’s a statistic public health experts want to change, so they have today’s launched Queensland’s first population-wide Everyday Health Survey.

The survey seeks to evaluate individual diet and lifestyle habits in order to improve community health and wellbeing. The survey focuses on factors such as nutrition, food marketing, and consumer psychology and behaviour.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift called on Queenslanders aged 18 and over to complete the online survey and test their everyday health. “Our Everyday Health Survey will inform the development of targeted strategies to help all Queenslanders live healthier, happier and more empowered lives,” Ms Clift said.

“We want to get a snapshot of how Queenslanders access information about healthy eating and what changes they would like to see in the community to help improve dietary habits.

“Understanding what influences food choices, how Queenslanders prepare meals and the biggest barriers to healthy eating are crucial to help us take action and support our State to get healthy.

“Survey respondents will also have their say on food marketing practices – including marketing to children, social marketing and the positioning of unhealthy food to encourage sales.

“The Everyday Health Survey also seeks to better understand any interactions between mental health, diet and physical activity, and how food habits may be affected by mood.

“This comprehensive study will allow us to take action, develop initiatives and strategies to help the community lead healthier lives, and guide the development of future research.”

Queenslanders can complete Cancer Council’s Everyday Health Survey online at cancerqld.org.au. The survey closes on 29 February. Participants will be able to request a copy of survey answers and findings once they have completed the anonymous test.

 

Energy drinks causing heart problems in under-40s

A new study has revealed a link between energy drink consumption and hospital admissions for heart complications in people under 40.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide have discovered that drinking more than two energy drinks per day is associated with heart problems that include a fast heartbeat, heart palpitations and chest pain.

The study found 36 per cent of patients aged between 13 and 40 who attended a South Australian emergency department with heart palpitations had consumed at least one energy drink in the previous 24 hours.

Dr Ian Musgrave, of the University of Adelaide’s Discipline of Pharmacology told The Advertiser different brands of energy drinks contained a mixture of ingredients that create a “toxic combination” and are even more harmful when consumed with alcohol.

“Different brands of energy drinks contain different ingredients, but most of them combine high levels of caffeine with large quantities of sugar as well as vitamins and herbal extracts,” he said.

He believes more research needs to be conducted to determine what ingredients in energy drinks lead to adverse heart reactions.

The study has been published in the International Journal of Cardiology.

How to boost vitamin D levels without increasing the risk of skin cancer

Vitamin D is essential for strong bones and and muscle health.

But the best source of the vitamin comes from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, which is the major cause of skin cancer.

With more and more Aussies being told by doctors to get more Vitamin D, many are confused how to increase their levels without increasing their skin cancer risk.

To help, experts from Cancer Council Australia, the Australasian College of Dermatologists, the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society, Osteoporosis Australia and the Endocrine Society of Australia have released some clear and simple recommendations.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the experts agreed that adequate vitamin D can be obtained without risk of harmful UV exposure. “The majority of Queenslanders only need a few minutes of sun exposure on most days, even in winter, for sufficient levels of vitamin D,” Ms Clift said.

“This exposure should occur when the UV Index level is below three, even on cooler and cloudier days. Exposure to harmful UV radiation when the UV Index level is three or above can significantly increase a person’s risk of skin cancer.”

She continued: “Queenslanders only need a small amount of sun exposure to receive adequate vitamin D, and most people get it through typical outdoor day-to-day activities. Just five or six minutes of sunshine, when the UV Index is below three, is adequate exposure to maintain healthy vitamin D levels – hanging your clothes on the washing line or walking to your mailbox, for example.”

“It’s important for Queenslanders to prioritise sun safety and ensure full sun protection when outdoors, and the UV Index level is three or above – which it is all year round in Queensland. Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunnies to best reduce your risk of skin cancer.”

The recommendations also contain advice for people considered at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, including Australians with naturally very dark skin, the frail and/or elderly, and people who are chronically ill or institutionalised and live largely indoors, are on particular medications, or cover up for religious or cultural reasons.

A full copy of the recommendations can be found at cancer.org.au/vitamindposition.

5 ways to improve your health and wellbeing at work

On average, Australians spend 70 per cent of their work day sitting down. For most of us, that’s more than five hours glued to a chair!

While some sedentary behaviour is unavoidable, it’s important to focus on your health and wellbeing at work to reduce the risk of illness and increase overall productivity.

Cancer Council Queensland has five top tips to get you started:

1. Stand up.
Implement simple strategies to break up prolonged periods of sitting. Why not request standing meetings or make an effort to stand while talking on the telephone? Research shows frequent micro breaks improve comfort, work performance and overall wellbeing.

2. Take a break.
When your schedule fills up, it feels easier to eat on the go. However, it’s important to make your break a priority. Block out a break in your calendar each day to avoid the temptation of eating at your desk. Spend the time re-energising with a walk around the block, having lunch with friends, or simply doing gentle muscle stretches.

3. Assess your desk.
Notice aches and pains after a long day in the office? Poor posture and incorrect desk ergonomics may be the cause. When sitting on your chair you should be able to put your feet flat on the floor, with knees in line with your hips. Position your computer screen directly in front of you, with the top of the screen approximately 2-3 inches above eye level. Sit at least an arm’s length away for maximum comfort.

4. Stretch.
Every 20 minutes, stop and stretch for 30 seconds. Gently stretch your neck, shoulders, back, arms and feet to keep your muscles, bones and joints in fine form. If you work at a computer, frequently take your eyes off the screen to avoid strain. Roll your eyes a couple of times and focus on objects at various distances, before returning to the screen.

5. Get social.
With such a large percentage of our day spent at work, it’s important to spend time interacting with colleagues. Not only will you make new friends, but socialising for small snippets throughout the day can boost morale, build a sense of community and heighten creativity.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at cancerqld.org.au or 13 11 20.

Six ways coconut oil has changed my life

A few years ago I started hearing about coconut oil. Naturally skeptical me thought it was just a fad and continued with my rice bran oil. My partner on the other hand was a convert and insisted that I use it for just about anything. Fast forward three years later and I have only praise for this remarkable product.

Here’s my top six uses for coconut oil as tried and tested by yours truly.

STRETCH MARK CREAM

Seriously, I didn’t believe it at first but nine months later and not a single stretch mark on my belly or boobs. I didn’t apply it religiously either, probably about every second night or when I remembered. Plus it’s natural so no risk of harmful chemicals leeching into your skin.

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BABY DIAPER CREAM

Again, I wanted something natural for my son who has very sensitive skin and is prone to eczema. So far he has only had a handful of nappy rashes when teething. I’ve also used this for small eczema outbreaks on his back and neck and again they’ve cleared in a matter of days.

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HAIR TREATMENT

If like me, you’ve been blessed with frizzy and unruly dry hair, coconut oil will help to tame your tresses. I like to apply mine to wet hair after conditioning as I normally tend to wear my hair curly. The coconut oil locks in moisture and prevents a crazy frizzy look.

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EYE MAKE-UP REMOVER

As a contact lens wearer, I can easily and safely remove eye make-up without the dreaded sting. And of course coconut oil also lubricates the skin as you clean your eyes so it’s a win-win situation.

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COOKING OIL

If you buy a quality organic virgin coconut oil, you shouldn’t experience a nasty aftertaste. A quality coconut oil will cost a bit more though but it’s worth it. I generally use coconut oil when shallow frying, stewing and roasting. I tend to also substitute coconut oil when baking cakes and biscuits.

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MOUTHWASH

Pop a teaspoon of coconut oil into your mouth before brushing your teeth; swish the oil around your teeth and gums for at least 15 minutes and spit out. This helps to remove bacteria and plaque from your teeth.

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Of course there are several other uses for coconut oil too but these six are my absolute favourites. Have you found coconut oil useful in your life? Any tips to share?