New trends increasing childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the current century. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016, the number of overweight children under the age of 5 worldwide, is estimated to be over 41 million. Almost half of all overweight children under this age lived in Asia and one quarter lived in Africa.

Societal trends and food marketing are the guilty ones

WHO recognized that the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity results from changes in society. These comprise social and economic development and policies in the areas of agriculture, transport, urban planning, the environment, food processing, distribution and marketing, as well as education.

As stated by Childhood Obesity Foundation, “societal trends have dramatically altered the nature of play and the way children interact with their environment”. Nowadays, they are exposed to marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages high in fat, sugar and/or sodium. A study made by WHO adds that “researchers examining food brand websites have found that child-oriented webpages frequently promote unhealthy products with dynamic, engaging, persuasive techniques”. A lack of access to physical activity opportunities and a sedentary “screen time” habit are also contributors to this scenario.

Prevention through a healthy diet

A healthy diet is crucial to prevent malnutrition in all forms as well as a range of noncommunicable diseases and conditions. There isn’t a unique formula to everyone since each individual has his own needs, there are nevertheless basic principles to follow (according to Eatwell Guide):

– Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day;- Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, choosing wholegrain versions where possible;

– Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks), choosing lower fat and lower sugar options;

– Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily);

– Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts;

– Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of fluid a day;

– If consuming foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar have these less often and in small amounts.

 

In case of infants, WHO adds:

– They should be breastfed exclusively during the first 6 months of life.

–  From 6 months of age, breast milk should be complemented with a variety of adequate, safe and nutrient dense complementary foods. Salt and sugars should not be added to complementary foods.

 

Keep your child healthy

The future of health at the Web Summit

Medical Port visited the tech conference that brought people from all over the world to Lisbon. The future of health was among the topics discussed at the Web Summit.

From alternative therapies to wearables, transplants and hybrid humans: a broad range of topics were discussed at the Web Summit.

The possibility of ever achieving a disease-free world was debated, but the opinion was clear: the majority of the attendees agreed it is quite utopic to ever achieve of such thing, despite the great advances of science.

Longevity was also discussed: could 125 be the new 80 in the future? Maybe, according to Gabriel Otte, who runs an enterprise working on disease prevention. Unfortunately, not all can be controlled by us, as the key seems to lie on a combination of genetics and lifestyle effects. However, Gabriel Otte recommends us to be as proactive about out general health as most people are with their teeth – checking it regularly and focusing on prevention.

Medical Port can help you keeping up your health and taking preventive steps during your stay in Portugal. Contact us for more information!

Have you taken your child to the pediatrician this year?

August celebrates children’s Eye Health month and Safety. Now it’s the perfect timing to get a pediatric consultation and ensure all is well with your children, just before school starts again. Medical Port can help you book a pediatric consultation while you are enjoying your stay in Portugal.

In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that over 40 million children under 5 were overweight, a number that tends to rise in all regions. Among teenagers, risky behaviors like alcohol or tobacco use, a sedentary lifestyle, unprotected sex and violence are some of the factors that can put their health at risk, with consequences for the future.

Society, parents and other carers should work together so that children can be first properly informed and followed to grow in a healthy way. A routine visit to a pediatrician is a good start to predict risks and promote a healthy lifestyle.

What can you expect from a visit to the pediatrician? Medical Port has prepared an infographic that covers the most common issues that are evaluated during a pediatric consultation, including physical, behavioral and development aspects.  If you want to know more about getting a pediatric consultation, visit our website.

 

infografico_pediatria-02-02
Click the image to enlarge

World Hepatitis Day: knowing the viruses

Yesterday the world observed the “World Hepatitis Day” that was created to raise awareness about this condition. There are five different types of hepatitis: A, B, C, D and E. Viruses B and C are the deadliest ones. Nowadays, Portugal is one of the most successful countries in the world dealing with Hepatitis C.

An image of a doctor writing on a notepad. and a piece of text saying "world hepatitis day 2016"

Hepatitis viruses have different incubation periods and can be symptomless for many years. In fact, less than 5% of infected individuals with hepatitis B and C know that they are infected – even nowadays, when it’s possible to detect Hepatitis with a simple blood test. Among those who are aware that they have hepatitis, the vast majority does not get any type of treatment. In a recent press release by the World Health Organization (WHO), Director General Dr. Margaret Chan says: “The world has ignored hepatitis at its peril. It is time to mobilize a global response to hepatitis on the scale similar to that generated to fight other communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.”

The five virus’ types are very distinct and spread in different ways. Transmission of types A and E are linked to eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water, and is most common in regions that lack access to safe water, as well as in poor sanitation conditions. Hepatitis B and C commonly spread when blood-to-blood contact occurs, through unsafe injections, syringe sharing and medical procedures, during childbirth (from mother to child), and through sexual contact. Hepatitis D is also transmitted via infected blood, however, it only occurs if the person is already infected with the hepatitis B virus.

Currently, Portugal has an unique approach against hepatitis C, offering universal treatment covering people in all stages of the disease, unlike other countries that only treat more advanced cases. Another example of Portugal’s leading expertise on the field is the participation of Dr. Ana Cláudia Miranda, a specialist in infectious diseases, who represents Portugal at “Committed to Cure”, an European initiative to help cure Hepatitis C – in which only countries with solid and renown expertise in Hepatitis C are invited to be part of. 

Like most diseases, it is helpful to keep in mind that prevention and an early diagnosis are the key to stay healthy. If you are planning on coming to Portugal this summer, take the opportunity and look after your health. We will gladly arrange the right check-up for you, based on your needs, preferences and availability.

Source: World Health Organization, World Hepatitis Day, World Hepatitis Alliance, SOS Hepatites, Committed to Cure

July 28 celebrates World Hepatitis Day

Hepatitis is the seventh leading cause of death and disability in the world according to a recently released report from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Over 90% of deaths are linked to hepatitis B and C. Early diagnosis could save many lives.

A graphic explains that 400 million people are infected with hepatitis B and C, only 5% are aware they are infected and only 1 in 100 people gets treatment.

World Hepatitis Day was set up in 2010 by the World Health Organization to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and promote access to better treatment and prevention programmes.

Hepatitis is a liver inflammation caused by a virus. There are five hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D and E. Treating hepatitis can be a simple process (or it can be untreatable), depending on the type of hepatitis, its stage of development and the damage already done to the liver. In the worst scenarios, acute or chronic hepatitis can lead to more serious problems such as cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. Over 90% of hepatitis-related deaths are linked to viruses B and C.

Portugal is one of the countries that has registered a great progress against hepatitis. Earlier this year, a successful and innovative treatment for Hepatitis C in Portugal – with a healing rate of 95% – has been praised within the medical community.

An early diagnosis can make the difference. Hepatitis can be detected with a simple blood test that you can choose to include in your next check-up. If you are visiting Portugal, we can arrange a complete check-up for you, according to your needs.

In the next blog post we will explain the different hepatitis viruses and their transmission modes.

Source: World Health Organization, World Hepatitis Day, World Hepatitis Alliance, SOS Hepatites

Consequences of hypertension

Hypertension is a silent and symptomless disease.

Those who suffer from high blood pressure can go on without noticing the condition for years and years and only learn about it when other related diseases appear. If left untreated, hypertension can originate many other diseases and health conditions, and some can be fatal.

According to the American Heart Association, some of the health consequences of untreated hypertension are:

  • Damage to the heart and coronary arteries which can lead to heart attack, heart disease, congestive heart failure, aortic dissection and atherosclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Kidney damage
  • Vision loss
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Memory loss
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Angina
  • Peripheral artery disease

Controlling blood pressure is essential to keep track of the way the condition is affecting those with hypertension. Blood pressure values vary with age, gender and ethnicity so you should be aware of what values are considered normal and what values are considered high and need immediate action. Regular doctor visits and regular screenings are very important to control existing hypertension or to prevent hypertension.

May is the month of Hypertension awareness at Health Abroad. It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers. Read our previous blog posts of the hypertension month:

The best way to learn how good your health is, and if you are in risk of having high blood pressure or other health condition, is to do a check-up. Medical Port offers a wide range of check-ups from the most general to the most specific ones. Learn more about our check-ups in our website.

Causes of hypertension

May is the month of Hypertension awareness at Health Abroad. It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers.

According to UK’s National Health System (NHS), the cause of 90% of hypertension cases isn’t known and this is called primary hypertension. Only 10% of hypertension cases have known causes and it’s called secondary hypertension, meaning it is originated by other diseases or conditions.

Several factors can be responsible for the development of primary hypertension:

  • Age – hypertension risk increases with age
  • Hereditary – hypertension seems to be inherited from family members
  • Consume of daily excessive amounts of salt
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Smoking
  • Drink alcohol in excess.

Secondary hypertension, although less common, can be originated from several causes:

  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Narrowing the arteries supplying the kidneys
  • Hormonal conditions
  • Conditions like lupus
  • Use of oral contraceptive pill
  • Use of painkillers

As a reference for those who believe they might have high blood pressure, there are four different blood pressure levels:

  1. Normal: less than 120 over 80
  2. Prehypertension: 120-139 over 80-89
  3. Stage 1 high blood pressure: 140-159 over 90-99
  4. Stage 2 high blood pressure: 160 and above over 100 and above

When people reach levels of blood pressure above 120 over above 80, they should go see a doctor and start to treat and control the condition right away. While it can be a normal body response to increase blood pressure momentarily, increased continuous values of high blood pressure are indicative of a condition and not a body response.

If you would like to learn more about hypertension you can read our previous post that answers to 3 common questions about hypertension. Our next post will be about the World Hypertension Day and why this day is observed all over the world.

Foods to lower the risk of certain types of cancer

Recent studies show that some foods can help lower cancer risk. New research is helping scientists’ every day to find ways to cure and prevent cancer, yet new variants of cancer continue to appear.

While we can’t prevent all types of cancer, there are some eating and drinking habits that can help prevent some types of cancer.

  1. Drink coffee to prevent liver cancer. According to a recent research from the World Cancer Research Fund International drinking coffee can lover liver inflammation: “While scientists aren’t completely sure how coffee battles liver cancer, they believe it might have something to do with lowering liver inflammation — which is one of the factors behind development of liver disease and cancer.”
  2. Mediterranean Diet to prevent uterine cancer “The Mediterranean Diet is considered one of the healthiest ways to eat, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it has been linked to a lower risk of cancer too.”, according to a study by the British Journal of Cancer.
  3. Eating nuts can protect against prostate cancer according to a study from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

A healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits are drivers of a good overall health, and while we can’t prevent cancer there are small actions everyone can take in order to be healthier. Eating fruits, vegetables and cereals on a daily basis, and reducing the amount of salt and sugar intake are good ways to start a healthy diet. We have already discussed the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet on previous posts you can read here.

Read the full article from Medical Daily, here.

4 tips to lose weight effectively and for the long term

When summer approaches, millions of people start looking for diets and for ways to lose those extra pounds gained during winter.

Most people want to lose weight fast and are willing to try several weight loss methods, only to find out that those methods don’t work for the long term. Those who lose weight fast also can regain it fast. So what are the best ways to lose weight and maintain it? There isn’t a unique answer for this question. Losing weight results from a combination of healthy eating, exercising and changing lifestyles. Commit to have a healthy weight should be a long-term commitment, not just for the summer months.

Remember these 4 tips the next time you think about losing weight:

  1. Drink water – Every adult should drink at least eight cups of water a day to keep hydrated, and maintain kidneys and intestines working which will lead to a better digestion and consequently lose weight.
  2. Do more than 3 meals a day – Don’t limit yourself to the main meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eating light snacks (like fresh fruits or dried nuts) every 2 to 3 hours will keep the body function and prevent hunger.
  3. Practice exercise – Physical exercise is of great importance for the body. Not only to lose weight but to maintain a health body and mind. A great way to start exercising is to take a walk t least for 30 minutes every day.
  4. Sleep well – Resting is very important for the body. Those who want to lose excess weight should take into account that the body needs to rest every night for at least 7 hours. A diet can deliver poor results if the body isn’t restoring properly every night and a tired body will ask for more food than a rested one.

Being healthy entails to eat, drink, exercise and sleep well. When the body and the mind are aligned to produce the desired results, they will appear and continue for the long term.

Do not forget to do a health check-up before starting your weight loss program and to monitor Key variables each 6 months to be sure you are keeping your health along the program. Contact us – we can help you to start.

10 facts about diabetes

April 7 is the World Health Day. Every year the World Health Organization chooses a health problem that concerns millions and millions of people around the world and raises awareness to that problem.

This year, the World Health Day is dedicated to Diabetes, a disease that affects 422 million people, according to the World Health Organization. In order to join the conversation about diabetes we will highlight 10 facts about the disease:

  1. 422 million is the estimated number of people worldwide who suffer from the disease
  2. It is one of the leading causes of death
  3. There are two major types of diabetes: type 1 (caused by lack of insulin production) and type 2 (caused by the ineffective use of insulin)
  4. The third type of diabetes is related to pregnancy, the gestational diabetes
  5. The incidence of type 2 diabetes is much greater than the others
  6. When diabetes is detected and well-managed, people can live a long and healthy life with the disease
  7. Early detection and diagnosis is crucial for patients to live a long life
  8. The majority of deaths related to diabetes occur in low and middle-income countries
  9. Diabetes can cause blindness, amputation and kidney failure
  10. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle increases the chances to avoid being affected by diseases such as diabetes type 2 that are caused by sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition. Eat well and be physically active are two of the most important tips for those who want to live longer.

Read the full article on the World Health Organization’s website, here.