Tag Archives: obesity

Are sugary drink interventions cutting consumption?

I have written repeatedly about the ill effects of soft drinks, both sugary and diet, on our bodies. You can check out my Page – What’s wrong with soft drinks? for chapter and verse. So this item in Medical News Today citing efforts to curb sugary drink consumption caught my eye.

An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people’s habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

sugar

Nutritionists at the University of Leeds have carried out the first comprehensive review of interventions to reduce sugary drinks consumption. The team analyzed 40 studies with 16,500 participants across three age groups: children, teenagers and adults.

Their study, published in the Obesity Reviews journal, found that children participating in these programs reduced their sugary drink intake by around 30%, removing nearly 2.5 teaspoons of sugar from a child’s average intake of 16 teaspoons per day.

Interventions aimed at teenagers saw sugary drink consumption reduced by nearly 10%. However, there was almost no measurable change in adults participating in these programs. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under childhood obesity, diabetes, obesity, prediabetes, sugar, sugary soda, sugary soft drinks, Type 2 diabetes

Beware of blue light at night – Harvard

Sleep, like walking, is one of the critical elements of good health very commonly not appreciated by the man on the street. I have a Page – How important is a good night’s sleep with a ton of information on it.

Here is some valuable info from the Harvard Health Letter on getting a good night’s sleep.

by-lemat-works

Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.

But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. (My emphasis)

But not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.

Daily rhythms influenced by light

Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds fall short of 24 hours. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.

The health risks of nighttime light

Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be so bad for us. But we do know that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, and there’s some experimental evidence (it’s very preliminary) that lower melatonin levels might explain the association with cancer.

A Harvard study shed a little bit of light on the possible connection to diabetes and possibly obesity. The researchers put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a prediabetic state, and levels of leptin, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal, went down.

Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect, notes Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, says Lockley, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

The power of the blues

While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).

In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they’re not suitable for use indoors at night. Glasses that block out only blue light can cost up to $80.

Less-blue light

If blue light does have adverse health effects, then environmental concerns, and the quest for energy-efficient lighting, could be at odds with personal health. Those curlicue compact fluorescent lightbulbs and LED lights are much more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs we grew up with. But they also tend to produce more blue light.

The physics of fluorescent lights can’t be changed, but coatings inside the bulbs can be so they produce a warmer, less blue light. LED lights are more efficient than fluorescent lights, but they also produce a fair amount of light in the blue spectrum. Richard Hansler, a light researcher at John Carroll University in Cleveland, notes that ordinary incandescent lights also produce some blue light, although less than most fluorescent lightbulbs.

What you can do

  • Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  • If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.When I work on my computer late at night, I always wear a pair of blue blocker sunglasses. You can buy them on Amazon for under $20. I have no problems getting to sleep.

    Tony

2 Comments

Filed under good night's sleep, harvard health letter, Harvard Medical School, sleep, sleep deprivation

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.

beer-belly-890x395_c.jpg

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

4 Comments

Filed under big waistline, obesity, overweight, Weight, weight control, weight loss

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.

 

brain-sleep-wake-neurosciencenews-public

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

3 Comments

Filed under diabetes, obesity, Type 2 diabetes

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.

UNCLE-SAM-EXERCISE
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

2 Comments

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.

bmi_istock_60288872_1050x600.jpg

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…

View original post 310 more words

2 Comments

Filed under BMI, BODY MASS image, obesity

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.

does-being-a-diabetic-affect-my-chances-to-conceive.png

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

3 Comments

Filed under diabetes, prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes

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.

8b273653382c52dac7a0219269c9a889

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

5 Comments

Filed under heart problems, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke

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.”

Sick-Epidemic-Of-Chrnonic-Disease-Infographic-infographicsmania.jpg

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under chronic disease

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.

shrimp-pasta-vodka-horiz-a-1600.jpg

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

2 Comments

Filed under obesity, pasta

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.

tv watch

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

View original post 185 more words

2 Comments

Filed under junk food, junk food calories

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.

c215335e53d08c54bc07ecfcce2c4307

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

 

5 Comments

Filed under heart disease, obesity

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.

overweight

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…

View original post 694 more words

1 Comment

Filed under emotional eating

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….”

cigarette smoker.jpg
Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under healthy living, unhealthy people

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

6 Comments

Filed under sugar

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.

19389

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Exercise, obesity, Uncategorized, weight loss