For Girls, Mom’s Physical Activity Level Sets
the Example

Moms who want to encourage their daughters to be active should practice what they preach, a new study shows.

“Mothers are the first potentially powerful female role model for their daughters, and their daughters’ beliefs and behaviors may stem directly from those of their mothers,” said study co-author Alyce Barnes, an education researcher at the University of Newcastle in Australia.

“Importantly, our study has shown that mothers have an important influence on their daughters’ physical activity in relation to their parenting for physical activity and behaviors,” Barnes said.

To better understand how moms influence their daughters’ physical activity, Barnes and her colleagues looked at mother-daughter pairs who had enrolled in a physical activity intervention trial. Both mothers and daughters wore accelerometers for seven days in a row, for at least eight hours a day, to measure their physical activity levels. The mothers also reported the amount of time they spent in sedentary activities, as well as the amount of time their daughters spent being sedentary and doing screen time during a typical week.

Daughters whose mothers had strong beliefs about the benefits of regular exercise spent more time doing moderate-to-vigorous
physical activity, the researchers found. And daughters with mothers who provided more logistical support for their physical
activity – or example, enrolling them in sports programs, driving them to practice and watching them play – spent more time being active. The less logistical support a mother provided, the more time her daughter spent being sedentary.

Only One in 10 Americans Eats Enough Fruits
and Veggies

Only about one in every 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables, a new government report shows.

Just 13 percent of U.S. residents consume 1.5-2 cups of fruit every day as recommended by federal dietary guidelines, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found. The news on the vegetable front was even worse. Less than nine percent of Americans eat 2-3 cups of vegetables every day as recommended.

Eating a good amount of colorful fruits and vegetables is important because they help lower a person’s risk of chronic illnesses such as obesity, heart disease and type-2 diabetes, said Jordana Turkel, a dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Turkel said that fruits and vegetables are generally low in fat, which helps control cholesterol. They also contain a lot of fiber, which helps control spikes in blood sugar by slowing the digestive process.

“We are seeing now what is going to happen if this trend continues,” Turkel said. “Obesity is on the rise. The rates of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are on the rise. I think we are seeing the effects of all of this now.”

Part of the problem might be that people have a hard time grasping just how much fruit or vegetables are needed to meet daily requirements, said study author Latetia Moore, an epidemiologist with the CDC’s Obesity Prevention and Control Branch.

“It’s not that hard to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables,” she noted. “If you eat at least a banana and half an apple, you’re done for the day with fruit. For vegetables, if you have a side salad with lunch and a couple of vegetables with dinner, you’re done for the day.”

Insulin Patches Could Replace Injections
for Diabetics

A joint North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina research project aims to replace insulin injections with an insulin patch.

Dr. Zhen Gu, a professor at the schools’ Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, says the work aims to make administering insulin autonomous for patients.

“Basically, we developed this kind of
so-called smart insulin patch, which can sense the blood sugar level and release insulin at the right time only once the blood sugar goes up,” Dr. Gu explained. “And the insulin can be quickly released from the patch. And meanwhile, once the blood sugar level goes to a normal range, less insulin is released or is just inhibited.

Basically, this kind of smart insulin patch is not only smart, it is also painless.”

For the 21 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, and the more than 387 million people worldwide affected by the disease, insulin injections and attached insulin pumps could become things of the past.

Dr. Gu and others at the lab found a way to fit more than 100 microneedles onto the patch, which is less than the size of a dime. Each microneedle is filled with insulin and enzymes that can tell when blood sugar levels change.

Currently, the patch works for up to nine hours, but Dr. Gu hopes they can design it to last for several days. This measure, he says, will decrease the chance of human error when administering insulin shots, which he says can be imprecise both in location and in the amount of insulin injected.

“Currently we are working with our collaborators and testing it on animals in a study,” he reports. “If this study is successful, we will move to the human being testing immediately.”