Chew to Lose
A hormone that helps people consume fewer calories but when taken orally is destroyed in the stomach, may be delivered in chewing gum, says researcher Robert Doyle, Syracuse U. The hormone, PYY, regulates appetite and energy and is released into the bloodstream when people exercise or eat. Previous studies have shown the efficacy of PYY when taken intravenously. Several years ago, Doyle developed a way to use vitamin B12, which is able to easily pass through the digestive system, as the delivery system for insulin and found the same theory to work with PYY. The next step in the research is to find ways to insert B12-PYY into gum or oral pills to create a nutritional supplement. “If we are successful, PYY-laced gum would be a natural way to help people lose weight," says Doyle.
Supersizing the US
Most adults in the US will be overweight by the year 2020 and more than half will suffer from diabetes or pre-diabetes project researchers at the Am. Heart Assn. which has set a target to help Americans improve their heart health by 20%. But the prognosis is grim. If current trends continue, Americans can expect only small improvements in heart health by 2020. The stats: In 2020, 83% of men and 72% of women will be obese or overweight. Now, 72% of men and 63% of women are overweight or obese. In 2020, 77% of men and 53% of women will have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Today, 62% of men and 43% of women have those conditions. Achieving a healthy weight through diet and exercise is the best way to improve heart health, say AHA spokespeople who also stress the importance of not smoking.
But Skip the Butter
Potatoes have a bad reputation when it comes to healthy eating, but says researcher Joe Vinson, Ph.D, are as good as oatmeal at lowering blood pressure. When simply prepared, without frying, “one potato has only 110 calories and dozens of healthful phytochemicals and vitamins.” For the study, researchers measured the blood pressure of 18 overweight patients who ate 6-8 purple potatoes with skins 2x/day for a month. None of the participants gained weight. The average diastolic blood pressure dropped by 4.3%; systolic pressure dropped by 3.5%. Researchers point out that the best way to preserve nutrients is to cook potatoes in a microwave oven. Although purple potatoes were used for the study, researchers say other potatoes will work too - but skip the butter and sour cream.
More than 2/3 of Americans are overweight and 1/3 are considered obese, says the Centers for Disease Control. Overweight is the new norm; manufacturers are adapting. To wit: many scales can now accommodate 400 or 500 lbs., up from 300 lbs. With 19 % of Americans too large for car seat belts (according to the Nat’l. Hwy. Traffic Safety Admin.) some car makers include belts that are 20 in. longer than the standard, set in 1960 and required to fit a 215 lb. man with 47 in. hips. Some movie theater chains have replaced 20 in. wide seats with those that are 26 in. wide. Toilets, to accommodate the widening bottoms of Americans, now come in 19 in. seats vs. 14 in. ones. And finally, some coffins can be had in 54 in. widths. The standard is 24 in., which can hold up to 700 lbs.
We Need Our D
We all know the importance of optimal vitamin D levels. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, protects older adults from osteoporosis, influences cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and reduces inflammation. Studies have shown a possible link between a vitamin D deficiency and chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Now, a new, long-term study by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center indicates that overweight or obese women with low vitamin D levels who lose more than 15 percent of their body weight experience significant increases in circulating levels of this fat-soluble nutrient. It’s suspected that vitamin D, which is stored in fat deposits, is released into the blood and available for use throughout the body after weight loss.
How Much Is Enough?
Obese and overweight people exercise more than commonly thought, finds a new study that studied the activities and intentions of 175 overweight and obese people who answered questions about their exercise habits. Results indicate the following: 29% had been exercising for six months; 39% said they exercised regularly and 12% said they had no desire or thoughts of exercising. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 34% of the US population is obese, a condition that results in 300,000 deaths per year due to complications which include diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It’s notable that the study found that those with lower BMIs exercised more. Researchers hope to use results to help people move from contemplating exercising to actually doing it.
Comparing Twins Reduced Link
A 30 year study in Sweden involving almost 9,000 twins showed that being overweight may increase the likelihood of developing dementia. One in three that were overweight or obese in middle age had an 80 percent greater risk of dementia compared to normal weight individuals which affected. One or two percent of overweight and obese individuals had an increased risk of “questionable dementia” which is minor thinking and reasoning difficulties. When one twin had dementia and the other did not, the link was significantly reduced. Researchers think fat may release chemicals that alter the brain’s function. Obesity-related conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are also associated with dementia, but when these conditions were taken into account the link remained.
Denial Leads to Inaction
Nearly 70 percent of Americans are classified as either overweight or obese, but Duke University researchers have found that 1 in 4 of those people do not believe that they have a weight problem. As a result, they did not see a need to take on efforts to improve their health. Men were more likely than women to be in denial of their weight issues in a study that used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the CDC. African-Americans were more likely than whites to misperceive their weight and were particularly less likely to try to lose weight. “It’s often said that the first step in improving a problem is believing you have one,” said senior author Gary Bennett. “That’s particularly true for obesity.”
Think About It
Does being in the presence of an overweight person cause us to overeat? Research indicates that just seeing a heavy person “leads to a temporary decrease in a person’s own felt commitment to his or her health goal,” say the authors of a new study. For the study, participants were asked to do a cookie taste test. After seeing an overweight person, participants ate twice as many cookies, even if they had a weight goal and recognized that cookies lead to weight gain. Researchers identified two main strategies to offset the tendency to overeat in the presence of overweight people: being conscious of weight goals and recognizing the link between overeating and weight gain. "Thinking about personal health goals ... can help people avoid eating too much," say the authors.
A government-funded long term study of 76,628 women found that normal weight and overweight women (BMI under 30) who smoked were at a higher risk of breast cancer compared to no added risk in obese women (BMI over 30). The longer normal weight and overweight women smoked, the higher the risk. These results surprised researchers because estrogen fuels a lot of breast cancers and fat tissue produces it. They think the risk of breast cancer from obesity is masking the smaller risk from smoking and also hypothesize the obese women die of other problems such as heart disease before cancer even develops. Researchers want to emphasize more studies need to be done before they can confirm or refute the possible relationship between smoking, weight and the risk of breast cancer.
Along with Other Risk Factors
Several studies suggest that high doses of the cholesterol drug Lipitor (atorvastatin) increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially in people who are overweight or obese, hyperglycemic, have high triglycerides and hypertension. One study involving 3,800 non-diabetic adults who suffered a “mini” stroke known as transient ischemic attacks linked Lipitor to a 37 percent increase in developing diabetes compared to the placebo group. Almost half of those with all the risk factors on Lipitor developed diabetes. If people change those factors for the better, they might lower the increased risk. Researchers emphasize that the increased risk is small and the taking it to reduce the risk cardiovascular disease in those on statins which outweigh the risk of developing diabetes.
Former "Fat Actress"
"I've lost 60 pounds, and I have 30 or 40 more to go," Kirstie Alley, a contestant on this season’s Dancing with the Stars, told US magazine. "And I think with this strenuous, rigorous dance schedule, I think it's going to work." Alley, who lost 75 pounds on the Jenny Craig weight loss system and who became a spokesperson for the company, gained back the weight, reaching 228 pounds. Her recent weight loss is due to her own diet plan, Organic Liaison. She hopes that DWTS will help her reach her ultimate weight loss goal. Could be. We’ve watched as other stars danced their way to buffness. The American Cancer Society indicates that one hour of dancing burns 370 calories. With the rigorous schedules the show demands, Kirstie’s Alley’s weight loss goals are a distinct possibility.
Lower BMI Reduces Death Risk
"The ideal woman's BMI from the standpoint of attracting men is 20.8. So you need to choose between a longer life, or a better love life."
- Mark in the comments
A body mass index between 20.0 and 24.9 is associated with the lowest risk of death in healthy, non-smoking, non-Hispanic white adults, finds a study from the National Institutes of Health. Researchers pooled data from 19 long-term studies and found that healthy, non-smoking, overweight women were 13 % more likely to die during the study’s follow-up period than were women with a BMI between 22.5 and 24.9. Researchers report a 44 % increase in risk of death for obese women with BMIs of 30 to 34.9. Results were the same for men. Researchers accounted for lifestyle risk factors and came up with similar results, indicating that BMI plays a large role as a risk factor for death. They plan to broaden the range of the study to include other ethnic and racial groups.
Support and Guidance Are Key
Women have long been advised not to gain too much, or too little, weight during pregnancy because of potential risks to both mom and baby. Overweight and obese mothers-to-be are at a greater risk of complications such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and C-section. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can lead to macrosomia, or larger babies, which can lead to the child having health issues later in life, including childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. A lifestyle program for expectant women through the California Polytechnic State University found that during the support period, more women achieved a healthy weight gain as opposed to gaining too much or too little. Women also were found to return to their pre-pregnancy weight more often after receiving guidance.
Dieting Alone Won’t Do It
Evidence from researchers at Oregon Health & Science U indicates that dieting alone does not result in significant weight loss. Scientists believe this is due to the body’s compensatory mechanism of reducing its level of physical activity when caloric intake is reduced. For the study, primates ate high fat diets for several years and then were placed on calorie reduced diets while scientists tracked their activity levels. While there was no significant weight loss while on the low fat diet, the monkeys’ activity levels were dramatically reduced. The scientists, writing in the American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, believe this is due to the body’s natural reaction of reducing activity levels in response to reduced caloric intake.
"The study doesn't say that the fatter you are, the fewer heart attacks, contradicting the headline in the present post. It says, instead, that given that you have a cardiac event, you’re more likely to survive it, the fatter you are. Not the same at all."
- Margaret in the comments
Researchers out to debunk the theory that extra weight protects against heart attacks not only failed, but ended up finding more evidence to support the so-called "obesity paradox." Specifically, non-obese patients who already suffer from the condition called "heart failure," which is a technical term describing a weakening of the heart muscle (the term is used informally in other senses), were found to be 76 percent more likely to die from a sudden cardiac event (such as a heart attack or myocardial infarction) than obese patients with heart failure. And according to the University of Rochester Medical Center researchers, if the underweight/normal group is compared to the obese group, the non-obese patients are almost twice at risk than the obese patients.