News Chocolate Lovers Can Literally Take to Heart

Eating chocolate moderately — note the word moderately, now — can significantly lower risk of being diagnosed with a common and dangerous type of irregular heartbeat, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health.

The study was published Tuesday in Heart.

The new findings add to the consensus of previous studies that suggested cocoa — particularly dark chocolate — is yummy as well as good for the heart muscle. The new findings shed light on atrial fibrillation for the first time.

“Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake and highlights the importance of behavioral factors for potentially lowering the risk of arrhythmias,” said Elizabeth Mostofsky, instructor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard.

The study included 55,502 men and women participating in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Heath Study.

“Despite the fact that most of the chocolate consumed by the study participants likely had relatively low concentrations of potentially protective ingredients, we still observed a significant association between eating chocolate and a lower risk of AF,” Mostofsky said.

To read more on the study click here.

Study: Pot increases risk of heart failure, stroke

Well, if smoking increases the risk of heart failure, then it goes to reason that marijuana use would as well.

Now new research analyzing millions of U.S. medical records bear this out, according to CBS News.

“Even when we corrected for known risk factors, we still found a higher rate of both stroke and heart failure in these patients,” lead researcher Dr. Aditi Kalla, a cardiologist at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, told CBS.

Kalla’s study looked at 20 million health records of patients aged 18 to 55 who were discharged from one of more than a thousand hospitals across the United States in 2009 and 2010. Of those patients, 1.5 percent said they’d used marijuana.

Researchers also associated pot with a 26 percent increased risk of stroke and a 10 percent increased risk of heart failure.

“More research will be needed to understand the [reasons] behind this effect,” Kalla said.

The study was not without its detractors

Paul Armentaro, deputy director of the marijuana advocacy group NORML, said the study “is inconsistent with other studies finding no adverse effects to those who consume marijuana.”

Kalla said now that medical or recreational marijuana use is now legal in more than half of U.S. states and a better understanding of pot’s health effects is needed.

You can read the whole CBS story by clicking here.

America is fat – and Florida is no exception, report says

So does all this beach living and sunshine keep Florida skinny?

Nah, not even close.

But Florida does fall in the third-tier of states where more than 26 percent of its citizens are considered obese, according to new data ranking state-by-state obesity rates.

The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation compiled the report. The fattest states were Louisiana at 36.2 percent. Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia weren’t far behind, all with obesity rates above 35 percent.obesity-state-map-trust-for-americas-health

Colorado had the lowest obesity rate in 2015 at 20.2 percent.

Florida was the 35th.

But how bad has it gotten in the USA for our waist lines?

Adult obesity rates now exceed 35 percent in four states and 30 percent in 25 states. What’s more, obesity rates are above 20 percent in every single state across the country.

In 1991, no state had a rate above 20 percent.

It’s like America is becoming the citizenry of the animated movie Wall-E.

“The stakes could not be higher,” said Dr. Donald F. Schwarz of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He called the report an “urgent call to action.”

A huge swath of the Midwest from Texas to Michigan, sport obesity rates 30 percent or higher.

“Obesity remains one of the biggest and costliest health threats in the country,” said Richard Hamburg, interim president and CEO, Trust for America’s Health.Wall-E

Being overweight increases the risk for a range of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, and costs the country between $147 billion and $210 billion each year.

Other findings in the report were of little solace on the health front:

  • Adult obesity rates are at or above 40 percent for blacks in 14 states.
  • Adult obesity rates are at or above 30 percent for blacks in 40 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Adult obesity rates are at or above 30 percent for Latinos in 29 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Adult obesity rates are at or above 30 percent for whites in 16 states and Washington, D.C.
  • American Indian/Alaska Natives have an adult obesity rate of 42.3 percent.