In the 20 years since Barbara Corkey, PhD, was named Editor in Chief of the journal Obesity, obesity among adults has risen significantly. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that one third of U.S. adults 20 years of age and older have obesity. Obesity continues to be a common, serious and costly disease.
In an editorial in Obesity, Corkey discusses the many different theories explaining why obesity continues to increase despite best efforts at controlling weight gain in this environment, including increased availability and marketing of high-calorie and high-glycemic-index foods and drinks, larger food portions, leisure time physical activities being replaced with sedentary activities such as watching television and use of electronic devices, inadequate sleep, and the use of medications that increase weight.
According to Corkey, all of these purported explanations assume an environmental cause that is detrimental to the organism involved, (humans). “However, if we use the principle of symbiosis and Darwin’s theory of evolution, perhaps we can understand obesity prevalence as an interim stage in the evolution of man reacting to his environment in order to gain long-term survival and ultimate longevity,” says corresponding author Corkey, professor emeritus of medicine and biochemistry at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.
Humans have developed a method to feed the billions of people on the planet, by developing processed foods with preservatives and other chemicals that can make food last longer and can be made cheaply to increase calorie density in small packages. Corkey points out that those who develop obesity store body fat in response to excess calories. “Therefore the cause of obesity has as much to do as the human reaction to overfeeding as it does the production of foods that are being overfed,” she states.
Corkey notes that key developments in the obesity/diabetes field include bariatric surgery as well as multiple agents (drugs) with different mechanisms of action to treat obesity and prevent weight regain. “Novel drug combinations are beginning to close the gap with bariatric surgery and appear to be very powerful new tools to treat obesity as a disease.”
Corkey believes recognition of obesity as a disease and earlier diagnosis of diabetes and other consequences of obesity will support early and more effective treatment and prevention. “Importantly, disease recognition will help to support insurance coverage of effective obesity treatments,” she adds.
Lastly, Corkey examines culinary medicine as an emerging evidence-based field that brings together nutrition and culinary knowledge and skills to assist patients in maintaining health and preventing and treating food-related disease by choosing high-quality, healthy food in conjunction with appropriate medical care. “Culinary medicine has the advantage of being an intervention that can be implemented at the earliest time point in the development of obesity with no negative side effects,” says Corkey.
Exercise is one of the first strategies used to treat obesity-related health problems like Type 2 diabetes and other cardiovascular disease, but scientists don’t understand exactly how it works to improve metabolic health.
To that end, University of Michigan researchers examined the effects of three months of exercise on people with obesity, and found that exercise can favorably modify abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue, the fat tissue just beneath the skin, in ways that can improve metabolic health—even without weight loss.
Surprisingly, moderate and high-intensity exercise yielded the same positive changes in fat tissue composition and structure, and fat cells shrank a bit even without weight loss, said principal investigator Jeffrey Horowitz, U-M professor of kinesiology.
Eating late increases hunger, decreases calories burned, and changes fat tissue
Obesity afflicts approximately 42 percent of the U.S. adult population and contributes to the onset of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and other conditions. While popular healthy diet mantras advise against midnight snacking, few studies have comprehensively investigated the simultaneous effects of late eating on the three main players in body weight regulation and thus obesity risk: regulation of calorie intake, the number of calories you burn, and molecular changes in fat tissue. A new study by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, found that when we eat significantly impacts our energy expenditure, appetite, and molecular pathways in adipose tissue. Their results are published in Cell Metabolism.
“We wanted to test the mechanisms that may explain why late eating increases obesity risk,” explained senior author Frank A. J. L. Scheer, PhD, Director of the Medical Chronobiology Program in the Brigham’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders. “Previous research by us and others had shown that late eating is associated with increased obesity risk, increased body fat, and impaired weight loss success. We wanted to understand why.”
Intermittent fasting is a popular eating strategy being studied in labs and practiced in kitchens across America. And it’s more than a fad. Restricting your calories or mealtimes may have the potential for many benefits, such as weight loss and reduced risk of various diseases. We don’t have much evidence, however, about intermittent fasting’s effect on the health of older adults, according to Harvard Medical School.
Intermittent fasting restricts when or how much you eat — and sometimes both. There are several approaches.
In alternate-day fasting, you eat normally every other day. On days in between, you eat just 25% of your daily calorie needs, in one meal. So if you consume 1,800 calories on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you’d eat a 450-calorie meal (and nothing else) on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
I confess: I am a snacker. When I had my weight problem: weight over 220 pounds and 44 inch waist, snacking was one of the reasons. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter agrees.
People in the U.S. are snacking more than ever before. According to a 2019 survey, 59 percent of adults worldwide prefer snacking to eating regular meals, and that figure jumps to 70 percent for young people. We have a lot of misconceptions about this increasingly common activity that can have an outsized impact on our health. Let’s take a look at five common myths:
Myth 1: Snacking is healthy (or unhealthy)
Snacking in and of itself is neither healthy nor unhealthy. A snack is, technically, any food eaten between meals. Unhealthy foods are clearly…well…unhealthy, but even healthy foods can cause unhealthy weight gain if they lead to excess calorie intake. If you are hungry between meals, choose low calorie foods, so you don’t end up eating more calories than your body needs in a day. The fact is, very few well-designed studies have looked at the impact of eating frequency on health, so we have little evidence to support either health benefits or detriments to snacking versus sticking to three meals per day.
Although trends indicate people are looking for healthier snack options, much of what they are getting is junk food in misleading packaging. Market research shows a rising demand for organic and plant-based foods, and products without additives. Organic potato chips, rice crackers, and even some cookies and candy bars meet all three of those criteria, but they are not necessarily good choices. Refined grains (like white flour and rice flour), added sugars (including concentrated fruit juice, honey, agave nectar, and “raw” sugar), and saturated fats (including butter and coconut oil) are associated with health problems even if they are organic, “natural,” vegan, gluten-free, or any other “health-halo” label food manufacturers put on the package.
Cutting just 200 calories a day with moderate exercise reaped bigger rewards than exercise alone for older, obese adults. Among older adults with obesity, combining aerobic exercise with a moderate reduction in daily calories resulted in greater improvements in aortic stiffness (a measure of vascular health, which impacts cardiovascular disease), compared to exercise only or to exercise plus a more restrictive diet, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.
Eat less; move more; live longer sounds very familiar here.
Modifiable lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet and regular physical activity may help offset age-related increases in aortic stiffness. Although aerobic exercise generally has favorable effects on aortic structure and function, previous studies have shown that exercise alone may not be sufficient to improve aortic stiffness in older adults with obesity.
“This is the first study to assess the effects of aerobic exercise training with and without reducing calories on aortic stiffness, which was measured via cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) to obtain detailed images of the aorta,” said Tina E. Brinkley, Ph.D., lead author of the study and associate professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at the Sticht Center for Healthy Aging and Alzheimer’s Prevention at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “We sought to determine whether adding caloric restriction for weight loss would lead to greater improvements in vascular health compared to aerobic exercise alone in older adults with obesity.”
A new study, which involved participants eating pizza well after feeling ‘full’ in order to test what immediate effects this had on the body, finds that our metabolism is surprisingly good at coping with over-indulgence.
Researchers with the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism at the University of Bath compared the effects of normal eating (i.e. ‘eat until you are comfortably full’) with maximal eating (i.e. ‘eat until you cannot manage another bite’).
They found that the young, healthy men (aged 22 – 37) who volunteered for the trial consumed almost twice as much pizza when pushing beyond their usual limits, doubling their calorie intake, yet, remarkably, managed to keep the amount of nutrients in the bloodstream within normal range.
Initially, when I was mostly concerned about getting my weight down, I found that serving size and portion size were key concepts. So, I started reading food labels. I recommend that practice to everyone who wants to live a healthy life starting with controlling food intake.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods and drinks. FDA is requiring changes to the Nutrition Facts label based on updated scientific information, new nutrition research, and input from the public. This is the first major update to the label in over 20 years. The label’s refreshed design and updated information will make it easier for you to make informed food choices that contribute to lifelong healthy eating habits.
Serving Sizes Get Real
Servings per container and serving size information appear in large, bold font. Serving sizes have also been updated to better reflect the amount people typically eat and drink today. NOTE: The serving size is not a recommendation of how much to eat.
The nutrition information listed on the Nutrition Facts label is usually based on one serving of the food; however some containers may also have information displayed per package.
One package of food may contain more than one serving.
Feeling blue on Friday the 13th? Perhaps you are triscadecaphobic, which is to say, fearful of Friday the 13th.
The publication Environmental Nutrition offers the following 5 foods that are super nutritious and might bring you good luck at least in terms of your general health.
Amazing avocados, is their first offering. “Ounce for ounce, they contain more blood-pressure lowering potassium than bananas. Avocados are rich in good-for-you monounsaturated fats, and cholesterole-lowering beta-sitosterol and cancer-protective glutathione, along with Vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6 and fiber.”
Brain-boosting blueberries come in second. “These little blue marvels are the antioxidant leaders, plump and nearly 4 grams of fiber per cup and a good dose of vitamin C. They also have cancer-protective ellagic acid, and may boost your brain health and vision.”
Anti-cancer Brazil nuts come in third. “This hearty tree nut is a ‘trigger food’ that may cause cancer cells to self-destruct. It’s a super source of selenium, a promising anti-cancer trace mineral that also promotes DNA repair and boosts immunity. Just two medium nuts contain enough selenium to perhaps reduce the incidence of prostate, colon and lung cancers.”
Good old Broccoli is number four. “Here’s an easy way to get two cancer-blockers that modify natural estrogens into less damaging forms and increase the activity of enzymes that fight carcinogens. Aim for three servings a week of broccoli or its cruciferous cousins.”
Number five is Butternut Squash. “This tasty fruit (yes, fruit) is an exceptional source of beta-carotene, the antiooxidant tyour body converts to vitamin A. But it’s also an overlooked source of bone-building calcium.”
So, look on the bright side and focus on the great nutritional benefits you can derive from these five super foods and forget about the fact that today is Friday the 13th. Just don’t walk under any ladders.
Snacking is kind of like the weather, everyone talks about it, but nobody does anything about it. Well, about over-snacking anyway. Seems like some of us just can’t pass up a sweet or tasty tidbit.
Anyone who works in an office knows the spot: The place where co-workers share sweet treats they brought from home, or leftovers from lunch meetings and birthday celebrations. Food appears out of the blue, and disappears just as quickly.
But why can some people walk right by the free snacks without stopping, or only go there when they’re hungry, while others can’t resist eating every time they see food there? Some may even go out of their way to pass the food-sharing spot just in case there’s something out.
Neuroscientists like Shelly Flagel, Ph.D. want to find out — and not just because of the long-term harmful effects of too many calories. The same variation between people can happen with drugs like cocaine and heroin. Continue reading →
A new study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research shows how bones in mammals are negatively impacted by calorie restriction, and particularly by the combination of exercise and calorie restriction. Maya Styner, MD, associate professor of medicine at the UNC School of Medicine, is the senior author on the study.
“These findings were somewhat of a surprise for us,” Styner said. “Past studies in mice have shown us that exercise paired with a normal calorie diet, and even a high calorie diet, is good for bone health. Now we’re learning this isn’t true for exercise along with a calorie-restricted diet.”
Styner’s research focuses on the fat in bone marrow of mice. Although fat in the bone is poorly understood, to date it is thought to be harmful to bones of mammals, including humans, because it makes bone weaker. Less fat is usually an indication of better bone health. Styner’s past studies have looked at the effects of calorie consumption on bone marrow fat, along with the role exercise plays. She’s found that in obesity caused by excess calories, the amount of bone marrow fat is increased. Exercise in both obese and normal weight mice decreased bone marrow fat and improved the density of bones. Continue reading →
I have to confess that the taste of the Jamba Juice Orange Dream Machine takes me all the way back to the joy of my childhood instantaneously. Even though I know that I now have far fewer taste buds functioning in my mouth than I did when I was a child, the Jamba Juice flavor is identical to what I remember the original Orange Dreamsicle starburst of flavor tasted like in my mouth as a child. I know I had one before I was a teenager, so it was many years ago.
Whenever I pass a Jamba Juice I will stop in and order an Orange Dream Machine and savor it for the next quarter of an hour or so. I think it costs around $5.00. I wondered if it would be possible to duplicate that flavor at home on my Vita-Mix machine.
It seems simple enough. There is the taste of orange and the mellowing flavor of milk. This is the kind of ingredient list made to order for Mr. Lazy Cook.
After a number of ‘close calls’ I have come up with the following recipe:
1/2 cup of vanilla soymilk 1/2 cup of orange juice 1/2 cup of vanilla non-fat yogurt 2/3 cup of orange sherbet 1/2 cup of ice cubes
Place it all in the Vita-Mix container and close the lid. Begin on the lowest speed and build to the top. I did not shift into the top speed as I did not want to make it solid. Blend just till smooth.
By my taste buds this is an exact match as far as taste goes to the Jamba Juice product. I specified taste because nutrition-wise, Mr. Lazy Cook’s is far superior. Continue reading →
What’s the best way to prevent children from overloading on bad food choices? Flinders University in Adelaide South Australia researchers have found that promoting substitution is the answer to turn around children’s excessive consumption of nutrient-poor foods and beverages – resulting in nutritional benefits that are even better than reducing intake of these discretionary food and drink choices.
Flinders University researchers studied the impact on the energy and nutrient intakes of more than 2000 Australian 2- to 18-year-olds through simulations of three dietary strategies. Continue reading →
The information on food labels was updated recently by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I think they did a good job on helping the consumer to better understand the nutrients in food packages.
Below is an example of the updated label.
On the left is the old format, one the right, the new. As you can see the Serving Size and Calories are now more prominently displayed. Additionally, the number of servings per container is also given. In the past many folks would read the calories without paying attention to the serving size or number of servings per container. For example, a package of potato chips might have told you innocently that there were 150 calories per serving. Not bad, you might conclude … if you weren’t aware that the package contained four servings, so, if you ate the whole bag, you were getting 600 calories.
Here are some tips offered by Rush Medical Center on reading the labels:
I confess that I love french fries. I also confess that I don’t eat them very often because of their fat content and fears of what I am putting into my system. The following is from The Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
Q. Potatoes are a vegetable, so why aren’t French fries good for you? Are the nutrients destroyed in the frying process?
A. “A medium baked potato (with skin) is a good source of potassium, vitamins C and B6, and fiber. But potatoes don’t contain other nutrients, such as the carotenoids and phytochemicals found in more brightly-colored vegetables,” says Helen Rasmussen, PhD, RD, a senior research dietitian at Tufts’ Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. “Peeling to remove the skin to make fries and chips results in the loss of a large portion of the fiber, further diminishing the potato’s nutritional value. In addition, French fries are typically salted. Most of us consume more than the recommended amount of sodium, and eating highly salted foods like fries makes that situation worse.”
“Deep frying potatoes to turn them into French fries does not change them that much, but it does increase the number of calories per serving, so we get less nutrients per calorie when we eat them. We each need a particular number of calories to fuel our bodies, and we also need a sufficient intake of many different nutrients. If we choose to consume something like French fries frequently and in a large quantity, we will surpass our calorie needs before we meet all of our nutrient needs, which can impact health.”
“Enjoy potatoes sometimes as part of a balanced, healthy dietary pattern. Think of them as a substitute for grains rather than vegetables when you fill up your plate. Leave the skin on, prepare them in a variety of ways, and avoid adding a lot of butter, cream, and salt. Round out your plate with plenty of colorful vegetables and other plant foods.”