Health Scan: MDA app brings help through your smartphone

By
November 3, 2013 01:05

School food and TV linked to obesity; Muscle quality.

4 minute read.



A Magen David Adom emergency vehicle responds to murder call on July 30, 2013.

MDA on the scene 370. (photo credit: Courtesy MDA)

Magen David Adom, Israel’s first-aid, blood supply and ambulance service, has launched its official smartphone application aimed at saving lives in various possible situation.

Users can immediately access – in Hebrew – urgent medical information written in simple language, detailed animations, safety advice, training videos and tips. It also enables people to call MDA immediately and get emergency assistance over the phone and even alert the organization asking for immediate help.

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The advantage, says MDA, is that the app is available to people without an Internet connection.

If someone has been hurt away from home in Israel, during a flight or while broad, information can be obtained.

The application can be downloaded via Apple’s App Store and from the Play Store for Android smartphones. Keywords for searching include “first aid,” “Magen David Adom,” “lifesaving” and “first aid guide.” The International Red Cross has launched in other languages a similar app in Canada, Mexico, Australia, China, Ireland, Sweden, the Czech Republic and others.

Although much emergency information is provided, MDA nevertheless recommends that people participate in person in its first-aid and resuscitation courses; more information is available at https://commerce.mdais.org.

SCHOOL FOOD AND TV LINKED TO OBESITY

Among children, the behaviors most often linked with obesity are what they eat for lunch at school and how many hours of TV they watch daily, according to an article published recently by University of Michigan Medical School researchers in the journal Pediatrics.

While some habits were the same for all overweight and obese children, the study found some gender differences in the habits influencing body weight.

Data from 1,714 sixth grade students enrolled in Michigan’s Project Healthy Schools showed girls who drank two glasses of milk daily were less likely to be obese, and boys who played on a sports team were also at a healthier weight.

“Additional work is needed to help us understand the beneficial impact of improving school lunches and decreasing screen time,” said cardiologist and senior study author Prof. Elizabeth Jackson.

“Presumably playing video games or watching TV replaces physical activity.”

Sixth graders aged around 11 years old and attending any of 20 state schools participated in the study. Obese boys and girls had poor cardiovascular profiles with lower HDL-cholesterol and higher triglycerides, blood pressure and heart rate recovery – indicating a lower level of fitness – compared to normal- weight kids.

“Cardiovascular disease doesn’t just start in adulthood, and there may be factors that could help us identify during youth or adolescence who might be at increased risk for developing health problems later on,” Jackson said.

Other studies have linked eating school lunch with obesity, but a major issue with such studies, Jackson says, is the influence of socioeconomic status. Poor children eligible for free or reduced school lunch may already be overweight, considering the link between obesity and lower socioeconomic status.

“Although we were not able to examine the specific nutritional content of school lunches, previous research suggests school lunches include nutrient- poor and calorie-rich foods,” Jackson suggested.

Milk consumption seemed to protect girls from obesity, but made no difference for boys. A possible explanation would be a reduction in sugary drinks, which girls replaced with milk. In the study, 61 percent of obese boys and 63% of obese girls reported watching TV for two or more hours a day. The assumption is watching television mediates physical activity, but there were gender differences in how children spent their time in front of the screen.

When asked, obese girls were more likely than any other group to use a computer.

Obese boys reported playing video games more often than normal weight boys, although the association was not as strong as in other studies.

MUSCLE QUALITY

If Popeye were to age naturally like the rest of us, he would need more than just big muscles to stay independent during his senior years. When it comes to muscles and aging, the important thing is quality, not quantity, as shown by the findings of a study by Dr. Mylène Aubertin- Leheudre, a researcher at the Research Center of the University of Montreal’s Geriatric Institute.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, the study looked at the relationship between functional independence and muscle mass and quality in 1,219 healthy women aged 75 and older, but the researchers said the results were applicable to men’s health as well. Physical functions were measured with the chair stand test and gait speed test (usual and fast). Participants also had to indicate whether they experienced difficulty performing functional tasks. Independently of muscle mass, participants with high muscle quality had low risks of functional impairment, whereas people with high muscle mass but low muscle quality had high risks of impairment.

The analysis showed that women who maintained better muscle quality (the ratio of strength to muscle mass) also had better functional reserves, which help people maintain independence.

Women with lower muscle quality had a three-to-six times higher risk of developing functional impairments, such as difficulty walking, getting up from a chair or climbing stairs.“These results contradict what has been believed for a long time about muscles and aging.

Many seniors, whom we often perceive as frail and fragile, can surprise us by their muscle strength.” normal process called sarcopenia) should no longer be seen as a sign of weakness,” she concluded.

She hopes that these findings will give healthcare professionals tools to better identify seniors at risk of functional decline and to design physical activity programs that would specifically target resistance and power and not simply a gain in muscle mass.


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