Tag Archives: obesity

More bad news for expanding waistlines

For decades, American waistlines have been expanding and there is increasing cause for alarm. Researchers make the case that metabolic syndrome is the new silent killer and that the “love handle” can be fatal.

I have posted on obesity in general and expanding waistlines in particular. If you want to read further on these subjects, check the links at the end of this post.

For decades, American waistlines have been expanding and there is increasing cause for alarm. Researchers from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University make the case that metabolic syndrome — a cluster of three of more risk factors that include abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, abnormal lipids, and insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes — is the new “silent killer,” analogous to hypertension in the 1970s. As it turns out, the “love handle” can be fatal.

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In a commentary published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics , the authors describe how being overweight and obesity contribute to metabolic syndrome, which affects 1 in 3 adults and about 40 percent of adults aged 40 and older. Clinicians have traditionally evaluated each of the major risk factors contributing to metabolic syndrome on an individual basis. There is evidence, however, that the risk factors are more than just the sum of their parts.  Continue reading

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Fructose is generated in the human brain

Fructose, a form of sugar linked to obesity and diabetes, is converted in the human brain from glucose, according to a new Yale study. The finding raises questions about fructose’s effects on the brain and eating behavior.

The study was published on Feb. 23 by JCI Insight.

Fructose is a simple sugar found in fruits, vegetables, table sugar, and many processed foods. Excess consumption of fructose contributes to high blood sugar and chronic diseases like obesity. The Yale research team had demonstrated in a prior study that fructose and another simple sugar, glucose, had different effects on brain activity. But it was not known whether fructose was produced in the brain or crossed over from the bloodstream.

 

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To investigate, the research team gave eight healthy, lean individuals infusions of glucose over a four-hour period. They measured sugar concentrations in the brains of the study participants using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a noninvasive neuroimaging technique. Sugar concentrations in the blood were also assessed.

Continue reading

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Some Facts About Weight Loss That Work

I would rather focus on eating healthy and exercising regularly than losing weight. However, since we are in the holiday season and eating temptations abound, I thought I would share these observations:

“…. There are facts about obesity of which we may be reasonably certain — facts that are useful today,” says researcher Krista Casazza, PhD, RD, from the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in a prepared statement, WebMD reported.

Here they are:

1. “Your genes are not your destiny. Moderate environmental changes can promote as much weight loss as even the best weight-loss drugs.”

I love this one. So often people use ‘bad genes’ as an excuse for their weight problems, ignoring completely their own bad eating habits.

2.”Even without weight loss, physical activity improves health.”

Another winner. I have reiterated this statement in at least 25 different posts on this blog. Eat less; move more; live longer.

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3. “Physical activity or exercise in the right amounts does help people lose weight.”

Amen. Listen to Uncle Sam.

4. “Continuation of conditions that promote weight loss helps people keep the weight off. Think of obesity as a chronic condition.”

Likewise, I think of good eating and exercise habits as chronic, too.

5. “For overweight children, involving the family and home environment in weight-loss efforts is ideal.”

6. “Providing actual meals or meal replacements works better for weight loss than does general advice about food choices.”

Both 5 and 6 sound like first rate advice.

7. “Weight-loss drugs can help some people lose weight.”

I am not going to argue with the experts here, but I doubt that the weight stays off if the person doesn’t change his/her eating and exercise habits. I repeat my recommendation to pay attention to what you eat and exercise regularly. That will melt the pounds away. You won’t need drugs.

8. “Bariatric surgery can help achieve long-term weight loss in some people.”

The study was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health. Our tax dollars at work.

Last, but not least, let me mention the Page that I have written – How to lose weight (and keep it off).

Tony

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Filed under American diet, calorie counting, childhood obesity, Exercise, exercise benefits, obesity, Weight, weight control

Don’t get hung up on your BMI (Body Mass Index)

I thought it might be timely to take another look at BMI (Body Mass Index) as we enter the holidays and we battle the bulge at holiday parties, family dinners, etc.

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Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

The usually reliable WebMD has a very nice quiz on fat that I recommend you take. It’s fun and can fill you in on some aspects of body fat that most folks don’t understand.

Having said that, I would like to take exception to the final question in the quiz which asks which BMI category is healthier? Anything below obese; The low end of normal; Anything in the normal range.

I wish we would do away with the BMI as a tool in evaluating fitness, health, fatness, you name it.

First of all, a lot of people think it tells them their percentage of body fat. It doesn’t. A person’s BMI is calculated as her weight in kilograms divided by her height in meters, squared.

It is an index, not a body fat measurement.

The readings are as follows: Underweight: less than 18.5; normal weight 18.5 – 24.9; overweight…

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Study supports lower cut-off point for defining prediabetes

At the risk of being a wet blanket on Thanksgiving Day, this seems an appropriate topic.

Let’s face it the majority of us are bad eaters. Some 60 percent of us are overweight and half of them outright obese. Additionally, we are seeing adult onset diabetes occurring in teenagers. We need to start eating better and exercising more.

The health risks and mortality associated with prediabetes seem to increase at the lower cut-off point for blood sugar levels recommended by some guidelines, finds a large study published in The BMJ today.

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Prediabetes is a “pre-diagnosis” of diabetes — when a person’s blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. If left untreated, prediabetes can develop into type 2 diabetes. An estimated 79 million people in the US and 7 million people in the UK are thought to be affected. Continue reading

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Poor sleep may raise risk for irregular heart rhythms – AHA

Regular readers know that I feel strongly that sleep is one of the cornerstones of good health. You can check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? for more details.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA):
• Poor sleep – even if you don’t have sleep apnea – may be linked to higher risks of developing an irregular heartbeat.
• In addition, getting less rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep may also be linked to higher atrial fibrillation risks.

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Disruptions in sleep may be raising your risks of an irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation (AF), according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016. Continue reading

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Chronic diseases and us – Infographic

I ran across this infographic in my meanderings and thought it had a lot of interesting if depressing information, like the increase in diabetes in the last few decades. On the positive side, “Many chronic diseases have a root in lifestyle decisions, from obesity to smoking. And, many of these conditions can be treated or even prevented by changing behavior.”

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Tony

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Pasta not fattening study reports

Good news for Italian food lovers everywhere! Research from I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy, shows that, unlike popular beliefs, pasta consumption does not contribute to obesity; on the contrary: it is associated with a decrease in body mass index.

In recent years pasta gained a bad reputation: it will fatten you. This led lots of people to limit its consumption, often as part of some aggressive “do it yourself” diets. Now a study conducted by the Department of Epidemiology, I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy, does justice to this fundamental element of the Mediterranean diet, showing how pasta consumption is actually associated with a reduced likelihood of both general and abdominal obesity.

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A typical bowl of pasta amounts to more than a single serving.

The research, published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, examined over 23,000 people recruited in two large epidemiological studies: Moli-sani and INHES (Italian Nutrition & Health Survey), conducted by the same Department. “By analyzing anthropometric data of the participants and their eating habits – explains George Pounis, first author of the paper – we have seen that consumption of pasta, contrary to what many think, is not associated with an increase in body weight, rather the opposite. Our data show that enjoying pasta according to individuals’ needs contributes to a healthy body mass index, lower waist circumference and better waist-hip ratio.” Continue reading

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Junk Food Ads Sway Kids’ Preferences

We really do have to pay attention to what our kids are consuming, both visually and by mouth. Sadly, they can form habits and develop food preferences in their youth that will damage them their entire lives.

The fact that more than 80 pct of televised food ads are for unhealthy products is downright scary.

Tony

Our Better Health

Children under 8 most vulnerable to marketing’s effects, study says

Any parent who’s ever endured a whining child begging for that colorful box of cereal won’t be surprised by a new study’s findings: Children are more likely to eat junk food when they’ve seen ads for unhealthy foods and beverages.

The new review included 29 past studies. There were more than 6,000 children involved in those studies.

The researchers found that ads and other marketing for products high in sugar or salt have an immediate and major impact on youngsters. And children younger than age 8 might be most susceptible to junk food and beverage marketing, the study authors reported.

The findings show the influence that such ads can have on children, said lead author Behnam Sadeghirad, a doctoral student at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

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“This [review] shows that the extensive exposure kids have to marketing of unhealthy foods…

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How does obesity cause disease in organs distant from those where fat accumulates?

With two-thirds of us overweight and one third outright obese, I have written about the dangers of obesity since the blog began.

Now comes the European Society of Genetics with news of increased risks from obesity.

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Barcelona, Spain: Obesity is on the rise throughout the world, and in some developed countries two-thirds of the adult population is either overweight or obese. This brings with it an increased risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and osteoarthritis. Many of these conditions do not appear to affect the parts of the body where the excess fat accumulates, but rather to involve body systems that are remote from the fat accumulation. Now an international group of scientists has taken an important step towards understanding the links between obesity and the related, yet physically distant, diseases it causes, the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics heard yesterday.

Ms Taru Tukiainen, D.Sc., a postdoctoral researcher working at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), Helsinki, Finland and colleagues from the UK and US, set out to study the relationship between body mass index (BMI), a common-used way of measuring obesity, and gene expression in 44 different tissue types, including some that are rarely accessible in large sample sizes, for example the brain and internal organs. “Most tissue sampling is invasive, but we were able to use the GTEx* dataset of tissues from autopsy donors, and therefore sample a far wider range than is usually possible,” Ms Tukiainen explains. “This is the first time that such changes in human tissue function in response to alterations in BMI have been explored among so many body systems simultaneously.”

The researchers found simultaneous changes in response to obesity in almost all the tissues studied. “These results show that obesity really is a systemic condition, and particularly a condition of systemic inflammation. Interestingly, though, the changes in tissue function appeared to be only partially shared between different types of tissues; some tissues clearly act in pairs with one half of the pair compensating for – or enhancing – the dysfunction of the other. For instance, adipose tissue and adrenal glands, which are both organs secreting hormones essential to metabolism, often react to changes in BMI in completely opposite ways, including a decrease in metabolic activity in the former and an increase in the latter,” Ms Tukiainen will say.

Although lifestyle changes are the most effective way to combat obesity, they can be hard work and difficult to maintain. Therefore the biological processes identified by the researchers may help the treatment of obesity by identifying potential drug targets, and particularly tissue-specific targets, they say. The results may also help to distinguish groups of individual who are at higher risk of developing complications, and lead toward personalized care.

“Our research highlights the burden of overweight and obesity on the digestive system. Although this is unsurprising, given the role of digestive system tissues in food processing, we found alarming links between BMI-related changes in different parts of the digestive tract and genes implicated in some diseases, for example Crohn’s disease.

“An association between two variables does not necessarily imply there is a causal link and, from the gene expression results alone, we cannot tell which is driving which. Do changes in BMI or changes in gene expression come first? We can, however, address the potential causes by using genetic variants known to be associated with BMI in combination with our data on gene expression,” says Ms Tukiainen.

Large-scale genome-wide association studies have already identified nearly 100 genetic variants that influence BMI. Analyses by the group that interpret this information further have shown that many of these gene expression changes, particularly in adipose tissue, appear to be caused by increased BMI.
“I believe that our work adds to the weight of evidence, and provides hypotheses for other researchers to follow up in the hope of being able to translate the results into ways of preventing and treating the very serious complications of obesity,” Ms Tukiainen will conclude.

*GTEx is a dataset consisting of thousands of tissue samples in which the RNA from each sample has been sequenced to measure gene expression. Because it is not a dataset collected specifically for obesity research, the donors are representative of the population as a whole, and the obesity epidemic is clearly reflected in that only 31% of GTEx donors are or normal weight; the remainder are either overweight or obese.

If you want to know more about obesity, check out these posts:

How does obesity affect you?

The public is largely ignorant about obesity risks

What are some obesity statistics?

Exercise can help to battle the obesity gene

Heart attack patients getting younger more obese

Eat less; move more; live longer are words to live by.

Tony

 

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How Emotional Eating Is a Habit That Can Start in Childhood

Considering how many of us relate to food far more emotionally than rationally, I think this applies to a lot of folks.

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If you are one of the emotional eaters, try looking at your situation with your mind instead.

Tony

Our Better Health

The way we feed children may be just as important as what we feed them.

By Claire Farrow, Emma Haycraft, Jackie Blissett / The Conversation May 16, 2016

Food can be an extremely effective tool for calming young children. If they are bored on a long car journey, or fed up with being in the pushchair, many parents use snack foods to distract them for a little longer. Or if children are upset because they have hurt themselves or want something they cannot have, the offer of something sweet is often used to “make them feel better.”

But what are the effects of using food as a tool to deal with emotions like boredom or sadness? Does it turn children into adults who cannot cope with being bored or upset without a sweet snack? Probably not. There certainly isn’t any evidence to suggest that occasionally resorting to the biscuit tin…

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Why do some unhealthy people live so long?

Eat less; move more; live longer. I don’t know how many times I have written those words or  you have read them. But, they are one of the cornerstones of this blog. You can get lots more detail throughout these pages, but check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) for a good concise serving.

However, while reading Time Magazine’s Longevity Issue (Feb 22, 2016) I ran across an interesting item, namely, why do some unhealthy people live so long?

The author states, ” I don’t know how many unfiltered Chesterfields my grandfather smoked, but if you figure two packs a day for 75 years, it comes out to 1,095,000. He died on a Monday, at age 91, and he had been at work the previous Friday….”

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Is Sugar As Dangerous as Alcohol?

Many people are saying yes and calls have started to regulate sugar in food and beverages.

The report ran in the research journal Nature and points to sugar as a greater health burden than infectious disease as it is behind heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

We have an epidemic of obesity with 30 percent of us suffering from it and another 30 percent of us overweight and possibly on the way to obesity. In addition, we have teenagers coming down with adult onset diabetes.

But, we don’t need the government stepping in and making laws about sugar consumption. What we eat is a private matter and we need to be more sensible about it and get those onerous obesity statistics going the other direction.

The way to regulate our sugar intake is for us to be smarter about what we eat. It’s on you and me to decide for ourselves. The last thing we need is the government sticking its heavy hand into our kitchen cupboards.

Tony

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Move it AND Lose it – IOM

Eat less; move more; live longer

You have read that phrase here a hundred times if you have read it once. Also, you are familiar with the fact that two thirds of us are overweight and half of them are outright obese. Because of that, the government is creating a National Physical Activity Plan.

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In April the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) two-day workshop on solving the national problem of obesity summarized the state of the science of physical activity in prevention and treatment of obesity and it highlighted strategies to promote physical activities across different segments of the population.

Here are some of the findings:

Keynote speaker James O. Hill Ph.D, Executive Director of and Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado, said strong evidence indicates that the net impact of adding physical activity to a weight loss program is a total increase in energy expenditure. In other words, most people lose weight. The few who gain weight do so because they increase their energy intake at the same time.

In other words if you eat less and move more and you will lose weight. I add the phrase ‘live longer’ because I would like to get the positive idea of living longer into people’s brains, rather than stopping at the losing weight part. That is the game not the candle.

Hill continued, “There is no magic here,” he said. Even more important than its effects on energy expenditure, in Hill’s opinion, is physical activity’s effect on the regulation of energy balance. He referred to the “amazing science” that has been conducted over the past decade on brain circuitry that regulates food intake and the way physical activity affects that circuitry, with important differences between people who occupy what he called the “regulated zone” versus the “unregulated zone.” People who occupy the regulated zone are physically active, and their bodies match intake and expenditure. People who occupy the unregulated zone, which Hill suspects is the majority of the human population, are physically inactive or not as physically active and their bodies are not doing a good job matching food intake and energy expenditure.

I have covered many of the benefits of exercise here including how the brain benefits from it far beyond the body’s firming muscles and burning fat. I am proud of the information on my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits). But, this brain circuitry information was news to me. It appears that the vehicle of the body like a car needs to be revved up and blown out on the expressway. You can’t just park it in the garage, or in the case of the body, on the couch, and expect to get peak performance out of it.

Ulf Ekelund, Ph.D, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, said that evidence indicates a strong relationship between physical activity and other health outcomes, including all-cause mortality. Increasing physical activity by simply adding 20 minutes of brisk walking a day has shown to reduce risk of mortality by 24 percent in people of normal weight and 16 percent in people who are obese. Ekelund called for a greater focus on promoting physical activity for health rather than for weight.

It was truly gratifying to see professor Ekelund’s words about promoting physical activity for better health not just weight loss.

Tony

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Heart Health and Brain Health Linked – AA

Regular readers know that I am strongly concerned about my health, both physical and mental. At least two of my family members have suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia. So, I was thrilled to learn that the Alzheimer’s Association thinks there are links between heart health and brain health.

IMG_7718“Growing evidence suggests a close link between the health of the heart and the health of the brain. The brain is nourished by one of the body’s richest networks of blood vessels. With every beat, the heart pumps about 20 to 25 percent of the blood to the head, where brain cells use at least 20 percent of the food and oxygen carried by the blood in order to function normally. As a result, many factors that damage the heart or blood vessels may also damage the brain – and may increase the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias”, according to the Alzheimer’s Association (AA).

“Some autopsy studies show that as many as 80 percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease also have cardiovascular disease. This may be a key to understanding why some people who develop plaques and tangles on the brain – the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease – do not develop the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Autopsy studies suggest that plaques and tangles may be present in the brain without causing symptoms of cognitive decline unless the brain also shows evidence of vascular disease.”

Some of the factors for which there may be a heart-brain health connection include:
Smoking: There is fairly strong evidence that current smoking increases the risk of cognitive decline and possibly also dementia, and that quitting smoking may reduce the associated risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
Diabetes: Diabetes is associated with lower cognitive performance, and there appears to be strong, 
but not conclusive, evidence for an association between diabetes and dementia.
Obesity: Mid-life obesity increases the risk of cognitive decline and may also be associated with an 
increased risk of dementia.
High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure, or hypertension, especially in midlife, has been shown 
to be associated with a higher risk of cognitive decline. Some evidence has also shown that medi- cine for treating high blood pressure may be effective in reducing the risk of decline.

“What’s good for your heart may in fact be good for your brain, too. Physical activity is one such factor that not only protects the heart but improves cognitive function and may also protect against dementia. And, some emerging evidence suggests that consuming a heart-healthy diet may also protect the brain.

“Many cardiovascular disease risk factors are modifiable – that is, they can be changed to decrease the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. Many experts believe that controlling cardiovascular risk factors may be the most cost-effective and helpful approach to protecting brain health. In fact, some researchers have suggested that the improved cardiovascular health of the population in the last 25 years has had a spillover effect by also reducing the incidence of dementia. Thus, reducing the burden of diabetes, cardio- vascular disease, and obesity may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. By including brain health promotion messages in existing heart-health campaigns, the public health community may help reduce both the incidence of chronic cardiovascular conditions and future cognitive decline.”

To read further on this check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise).

Tony

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What About Vitamin C Replacing Exercise?

I don’t know if you saw any of them but in early September stories started circulating about vitamin C  being used successfully as a substitute for exercise, having similar cardiovascular benefits as regular exercise in adults.

athletic runner's shape made out of vitamin pills

The LA Times carried the story from the 14th International Conference on Endothelin: Physiology, Pathophysiology and Therapeutics.

According to an American Physiological Society press release, “Overweight and obese adults are advised to exercise to improve their health, but more than 50 percent do not do so….

“The blood vessels of overweight and obese adults have elevated activity of the small vessel-constricting protein endothelin (ET)-1. Because of the high ET-1 activity, these vessels are more prone to constricting, becoming less responsive to blood flow demand and increasing risk of developing vascular disease. Exercise has been shown to reduce ET-1 activity, but incorporating an exercise regimen into a daily routine can be challenging. This study, conducted at the University of Colorado, Boulder, examined whether vitamin C supplements, which have been reported to improve vessel function, can also lower ET-1 activity. The researchers found that daily supplementation of vitamin C (500 mg/day, time-released) reduced ET-1-related vessel constriction as much as walking for exercise did. Vitamin C supplementation represents an effective lifestyle strategy for reducing ET-1-mediated vessel constriction in overweight and obese adults, the researchers wrote.

“Caitlin Dow, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Colorado, Boulder, presented “Vitamin C Supplementation Reduces ET-1 System Activity in Overweight and Obese Adults” Friday, September 4.

As a believer in the mantra, eat less; move more; live longer, I was extremely skeptical. Taking a pill doesn’t work muscles or create movement which our bodies must have to remain healthy. But, I am not a doctor, nor do I mean to play one writing this blog.

So, I was pleased to see that Peter Lipson of Forbes, shared my skepticism. He wrote, “This was a report at a conference. If the study is ever published I look forward to seeing more details, but not as a clinician. As a doctor who has an interest in physiology, this stuff sounds really cool. But it is just a tiny study, with no clinical significance of any kind. To be clinically significant, it would have to be a much larger study, it would need a control group of subjects who did not get exercise or vitamin C, and it would have to measure a clinically relevant outcome, something like blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes–something that would tell us if the findings can help real patients.

“The only way to decrease the risks of being sedentary and obese is to eat healthier and to get moving.”

Amen.

Tony

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