New Call to Action to Boost Physical Activity in Young People

August 4th, 2021

Kids playng on playground equipmentResearchers from around the world published a series of studies on July 21 calling for urgent action to boost physical activity among young people and get them moving more.

Physical Activity in Children and Adolescents

An estimated 80 percent of school age adolescents worldwide do not meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) physical activity guidelines, according to new research.

Forty percent of adolescents worldwide never walk to school and 25 percent sit for more than three hours per day. Up to 60 percent of adolescents living in Europe spend two or more hours a day watching television and up to 50 percent devoting two hours or more a day to playing video games, the researchers said.

In the United States, physical activity levels among adolescents age 10 to 17 declines with age and remains well below the 60 minutes per day recommended by the WHO for this age group, data showed.

Lack of exercise has been linked to an increased risk of non-communicable diseases such as, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, and leads to at least $54 billion per year in direct healthcare costs globally.

Exercise Standards

The benefits of exercise include improved heart health, muscle strength, physical function and mental health, the Centers for Disease Control say. How much physical activity your child needs depends upon their age:

  • Preschool age children (ages 3 through 5 years): Should be physically active throughout the day for growth and development. Adult caregivers should encourage preschool age children to be active when they play.
  • School age children and adolescents (ages 6 through 17 years): 60 minutes a day or more of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity each day, including daily aerobic activity and activities that strengthen  bones (like running or jumping) three days a week, and that build muscle (like climbing or doing pushups) three days a week.

More than 5 million people globally die each year due to lack of physical activity, according to the WHO.    

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America knows that parents want their children to be healthy. It might be time to evaluate how much exercise your child is getting on a daily basis. IAA wants you and your family to live the healthiest life possible! 

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Experimental Test can Help Spot Glaucoma Earlier

July 28th, 2021

EyeballAustralian researchers say their experimental genetic test for glaucoma can identify 15 times more people at high risk for the disease compared to the current genetic test.

New Genetic Test for Glaucoma

The new test analyzes blood or saliva samples and may be able to identify people at high risk for glaucoma before they suffer irreversible vision loss.

The new study involved more than 2,500 people in Australia with glaucoma and more than 411,000 with or without glaucoma in the United Kingdom.

The study was published online July 15 in “JAMA Ophthalmology.”

Glaucoma Symptoms

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve. The damage is often caused by abnormally high pressure in your eye. Elevated eye pressure is due to a buildup of fluid that flows throughout the inside of your eye. The internal fluid normally drains out through a tissue called the trabecular meshwork at the angle where the iris and cornea meet.  When fluid is overproduced or the drainage system doesn’t work properly, the fluid can’t flow out at its normal rate and eye pressure increases.

Many forms of glaucoma have no warning signs. The effect is so gradual that you may not notice a change in vision until the condition is at an advanced stage. The signs and symptoms of glaucoma vary depending on the type and stage of your condition:

1. Open-angle glaucoma: The most common form of the disease. Signs and symptoms of this type of glaucoma include:

  • Patchy blind spots in your side or central vision, frequently in both eyes
  • Tunnel vision in the advanced stages

2. Acute angle-closure glaucoma: Occurs when the iris bulges forward to narrow or block the drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris. Signs and symptoms of this type of glaucoma include: 

  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Halos around lights
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe headache

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60. It can occur at any age, but it is more common in older adults.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to know what is going on in the world of health. Keep up to date with IAA!

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Learning a New Language? Get Out Your Pencil

July 21st, 2021

Two pencils crossingNew research suggests people learn certain skills significantly better and faster when writing them by hand.

Experimenting With Learning Types

Researchers conducted an experiment in which 42 adults learned the Arabic alphabet. The participants were split into three groups of learners: writers, typists and video watchers.

Everyone learned the letters one at a time by watching videos of them being written along with hearing names and sounds.

The video group then got an onscreen flash of a letter and had to say if it was the same letter they’d just seen. Those typing found the letter on the keyboard. The writers copied the letter with pen and paper.

The Result

After six sessions, all groups could recognize the letters and made few mistakes when tested.

The writing group, however, reached this level of proficiency faster than the other groups. Some were able to repeat this skill after only two sessions.

The researchers said handwriting reinforces the visual and aural lessons. The act of writing by hand provides a perceptual-motor experience that unifies what is being learned about the letters, including their shapes, their sounds and their motor plans.

The researchers then wanted to determine to what extent if at all, the groups could generalize this knowledge and apply it more broadly. For example, could the study participants use the letters to read and spell unfamiliar words? The writing group performed better at these new tasks.

The writing group was the best at every measure and they took less time to get there. This group ended up with more of the skills needed for expert adult-level reading and spelling.

The participants in this study were all adults. Yet researchers said they would expect the same results in children.

The findings were recently published in the journal “Psychological Science.”

What IAA has to Say

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New Experimental Drug Could Help Patients With Celiac Disease

July 14th, 2021

Bread products with the words no gluten across them An experimental drug can prevent intestinal damage caused by celiac disease, an early trial has found. This could be the first medication for this digestive disorder.

New Treatment for Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune system response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction damages your small intestine’s lining and prevents it from absorbing nutrients.

The experimental drug currently called ZED 1227 inhibits the activity of an enzyme called transglutaminase2, or TG2 in the intestines. TG2 plays a key role in the autoimmune response that marks celiac disease.

The trial enrolled 163 adults with celiac disease who had been successful with a gluten free diet for at least a year.

The researchers randomly assigned the patients to one of four groups: three were given various doses of ZED 1227 to take every morning for six weeks; the fourth took placebo pills.

Thirty minutes after each morning dose, the study patients ate a biscuit containing a moderate amount of gluten, as a way to test the drug’s ability to block gluten-induced inflammation.

After six weeks, the trial found that patients on any dose of the drug showed fewer signs of intestinal damage versus the placebo group.

While patients will still most likely have to follow diet restrictions, the medication could make people’s lives easier by not having to avoid gluten entirely.

The new study was published in the “New England Journal of Medicine.”

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

There is no cure for celiac disease—but for most people following a strict gluten free diet can help manage symptoms and promote intestinal healing. Digestive signs and symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss

More than half the adults with celiac disease have signs and symptoms unrelated to the digestive system including:

  • Anemia, usually from iron deficiency
  • Headaches and fatigue
  • Itchy, blistery skin rash
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of bone density or softening of the bone
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nervous system injury, including numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, possible problems with balance and cognitive impairment
  • Reduced functioning of the spleen

About one percent of the world’s population has celiac disease. In the United States, it is estimated that 2.5 million people are diagnosed.

What IAA has to Say

Celiac disease can be a life-altering diagnosis as the patient has to rethink their entire diet. Any new research into celiac disease is something Insurance Administrator of America likes to hear about. Researchers are finding new information every day, and IAA wants to make sure you are in the know.

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Cancer Detecting Blood Test is Accurate Enough to be Used on Older Population

July 7th, 2021

Test tubes filled with bloodScientists have concluded that a blood test that can detect 50 types of cancer (even before signs of the disease) is accurate enough to be used as a screening test for older people.

Blood Test

Scientists found that the test could detect cancers with a high level of accuracy. It is intended for people at greater risk of cancer over age 50.

Scientists said the test can detect cancer before any signs or symptoms appear, and has a low false positive rate—just 0.5 percent.

The test is able to identify many types of the disease that are difficult to diagnose in the early stages, such as head and neck, ovarian, pancreatic, esophageal, and some blood cancers.

In solid tumors that do not have any screening options—such as esophageal, liver and pancreatic cancers—the ability to generate a positive result was twice as high (65.6 percent) as that for solid tumors that do have screening options such as breast, bowel, cervical, and prostate cancers.

Meanwhile, the overall ability to generate a positive test result in cancers of the blood, such as lymphoma and myeloma was 55.1 percent.

The test also correctly identified the tissue in which the cancer was located in the body in 88.7 percent of cases.

The test is being piloted by NHS England in the autumn. The results of the pilot test, which will include 140,000 participants, are expected by 2023.

The research was published in the “Annals of Oncology.”

The Study

Scientists conducting the study ran tests in 2,800 volunteers who have cancer and 1,200 who don’t.  They said the test accurately identified when cancer was present at all stages and classes almost 52 percent of the time.

The test had been developed using a machine learning algorithm—a type of artificial intelligence. It works by examining the DNA that is shed by tumors and found circulating in the blood. More specifically, it focuses on chemical changes to this DNA known as methylation patterns.

The data suggests that if used alongside existing screening tests, the multi-cancer detection test could have profound impact on how cancer is detected, according to study author Dr. Eric Klein.  

What IAA has to Say

Any new research in the fight against cancer is something Insurance Administrator of America likes to hear about. Researchers are finding new information every day, and IAA wants to make sure you are in the know.

Interested in reading more on this topic? Click here.