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Advisory: Mediterranean lifestyle good model for heart health, says WFU professor

By Sarah Mansell
336.758.5237
March 25, 2004

When Peter Brubaker returned in December from his semester abroad teaching in Italy, the director of Wake Forest University’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program had lost weight without trying, despite regular consumption of pasta, breads and oils. The difference, he says, was an increase in physical activity and decreases in portion size.

Brubaker, associate professor of health and exercise science, says his experience may hold the key in combating America’s vascular disease epidemic. Brubaker was the faculty advisor at Casa Artom, the university’s study abroad house in Venice, during the fall 2003 semester. He taught human physiology and comparative health and medicine to the 20 Wake Forest students studying there. He is also adviser to the nearly 200 participants in the university’s cardiac rehabilitation program. Brubaker is available for interviews on cardiovascular disease and how the Mediterranean lifestyle works to promote a healthy heart.

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in America, and obesity is one of the major controllable factors that cause it,” says Brubaker. “More than 25 percent of Americans are obese compared with less than 10 percent of Italian residents. Obesity is an unusual sight there.”

Brubaker says the low-stress lifestyle he lived while in Italy, which included a daily two-mile roundtrip walk to the market, early evening strolls with neighbors, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, wine with meals and an abundance of monounsaturated fats, is a good model for how daily routines can affect heart health. Statistics support his theory: 49 percent of all deaths in the United States are due to heart problems, compared with just 31 percent in Italy.

To arrange an interview with Brubaker, contact Sarah Mansell, manselss@wfu.edu or 336-758-4393.


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