Would you look at that…

Finally got some time to go through my stack of unread, recently published articles. Wow, it’s a bit overwhelming the amount and quality of papers that are published on a monthly basis.

A few highlights:
1) Remembering Jerry Morris on his 100th birthday
    Ursula A. Ackermann-Liebrich

Check out my earlier post on Jerry Morris for more information and links to some of his papers. 

2) Improved Health Outcomes In Urban Slums Through Infrastructure Upgrading
    Neel Butala, Michael J. VanRooyen, Ronak Bhailal Patel

The world is rapidly urbanizing with over half the population now living in urban areas. As the urban population grows, so does the proportion of these persons living in slums where conditions are deplorable. These conditions concentrate health hazards leading to higher rates of morbidity and mortality. This growing problem creates a unique challenge for policymakers and public health practitioners. While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aim to address these conditions and standards for water and sanitation as well as pertinent health outcomes, little evidence on interventions exists to guide policymakers. Upgrades in slum household water and sanitation systems have not yet been rigorously evaluated to demonstrate whether there is a direct link to improved health outcomes. This study aims to show that slum upgrading as carried out in Ahmedabad, India led to a significant decline in waterborne illness incidence. We employ a quasi-experimental regression model using health insurance claims (for 2001-2008) as a proxy for passive surveillance of disease incidence. We find that slum upgrading reduced a claimant’s likelihood of claiming for waterborne illness from 32% to 14% and from 25% to 10% excluding mosquito-related illnesses. This study shows that upgrades in slum household infrastructure can lead to improved health outcomes and help achieve the MDGs. It also provides guidance on how upgrading in this context using microfinance and a public private partnership can provide an avenue to affect positive change.

3) The “fit but fat” concept revisited: population-based estimates using NHANES
     Glen E Duncan

Low cardiovascular fitness is an independent risk factor for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults. The “fit but fat” concept suggests that cardiovascular fitness attenuates risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease independent of body mass index (BMI), even among the obese. However, the proportion of U.S. adults considered both fit and obese is unknown. Thus, the purposes of this short paper were to estimate the proportion of U.S. adults who are obese yet have a high cardiovascular fitness level (fit but fat), and determine the independent effect of obesity on cardiovascular fitness. The study was a secondary data analysis of 4,675 adults (20-49 years) who completed a submaximal exercise test, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2002). Cardiovascular fitness and body weight were expressed as continuous (estimated VO2max [ml.kg-1.min-1] and BMI [kg/m2]) and categorical variables (low, moderate, and high cardiovascular fitness level; normal weight, overweight, and obese), the later using sex and age-specific criteria from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study and standard BMI cut-points, respectively. Using these methods, the prevalence of meeting the fit but fat definition among U.S. adults was 8.9% (95% C.I. = 6.9 – 10.9%), whereas 17.4% were overweight and high fit, and 30% were normal weight and high fit. Importantly, the proportion of low, moderate, and high cardiovascular fitness differed significantly (p < 0.05) by BMI level. Using multiple regression, being obese was associated with a 9.2% lower estimated VO2max compared to being normal weight, even after controlling for age, sex, race/ethnicity, and income. These results suggest that a small percentage of U.S. adults can be considered fit but fat, and that obesity is independently associated with reduced cardiovascular fitness. The likely explanation for the low proportion of U.S. adults who can be considered fit but fat is a low level of physical activity, which constributes to both a positive energy balance and low fitness. Thus, engaging obese adults in physical activity that is sufficient to improve cardiovascular fitness may help to reduce not only body weight, but the excess health burden in this population.

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