Get Some Sleep!
Poor sleep may reduce brain volume and lead to brain disorders says a study published online in the journal Neurology. Researchers followed 147 adults, ages 20-84. Before completing a questionnaire on their sleep habits, participants were given an MRI to assess brain volume. A second MRI was done about 3 1/2 years later. Results of the questionnaire showed that 35% of participants had poor sleep health. Researchers found that those with sleep problems had a more rapid decline in brain volume over the course of the study. This was particularly true in participants aged 60+. Sleep problems can affect heart health, weight and memory and cause protein buildup in the brain that attacks brain cells. Future research is needed to see if improving quality of sleep improves brain health.
Probably Not Says Study
Current exercise guidelines - 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 60 minutes of vigorous exercise per week - may not be enough for weight loss finds a study from the KG Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine, Norway. Researchers don’t say how much to exercise but advocate as much as possible to maintain weight and stave off chronic illnesses. They studied the weight and exercise patterns of 19,000+ adults over 22 years and found that, during that time, women gained about 19 pounds; men gained about 17 pounds. People with the largest weight gains were the least active and vice versa. “The study clearly shows we gain weight over time” [and if] we want to slow the gain in weight, we need to increase the physical activity,” said one health expert who was not associated with the study.
Model No More
Tara Costa, a Biggest Loser contestant who lost 155 pounds during the filming of the show, is being sued by a fitness company for gaining back too much weight and therefore violating a business agreement. The lawsuit, filed by FC Online Marketing, which owns the website I Love Kickboxing, alleges that Costa gained too much weight to make personal appearances on behalf of the company and violated their agreement to “maintain her current level of fitness and conditioning" during the length of the agreement. Costa went from 294 pounds to 139 pounds during the show and has since gained 22 pounds. The company also alleges that Costa entered into an agreement with one of their competitors. The company is seeking unspecified damages. Costa has yet to respond to the legal challenge.
Risk Before and After Surgery
While being overweight puts people at risk of needing knee replacement surgery, a new study finds that many gain weight post-operatively. The study involving 917 patients who had knee-replacement surgeries found that almost a third gained at least five percent of their body weight five years later. The goal after surgery to reduce pain, increase mobility and strengthen the knee through physical therapy. But many have managed the pain by reducing their activity, and these results suggest it does not go up after surgery. Typically patients are in their 50s and 60s, a group that has a tendency to gain weight. But even those who lose weight have the surgery have a tendency to gain weight post-op, likely because they stopped after meeting their goal weight for surgery.
Pills Linked to Bleeding, Death
Reumofan Plus and Reumofan Plus Premium dietary supplements contain potentially harmful active pharmaceutical ingredients that aren't listed on the product label, warns the FDA. The supplements are marketed for treating bone cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, muscle pain and other conditions. Since the FDA first warned about Reumofan Plus on June 1 of this year, they've received dozens of additional reports of adverse effects from taking the supplements, including stroke and death. Other potential adverse effect include severe bleeding, liver injury, weight gain, swelling, leg cramps, sudden worsening of glucose control, adrenal suppression and withdrawal syndrome. The products are produced by Riger Naturals in Mexico, and sold in the U.S. at retail outlets, online and flea markets.
Brain Activates Reward Center
When you do not get enough sleep, the brain will cause you to crave junk food finds a new study from Columbia University. Marie-Pierre St-Onge and colleagues studied the brains of 25 men and women using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they looked at pictures of healthy foods and unhealthy foods. The scans were taken under two conditions – after five nights of restricted sleep or after a good night’s rest of 9 continuous hours. When presented with unhealthy foods, the brain was activated in certain reward regions. The volunteers were more likely to crave foods that were sweet or salty after periods of sleep deprivation. Previous research has also shown that lack of sleep triggers other responses that cause people to increase calorie consumption, leading to weight gain.
Miracle Molecule Found
Scientists with the Polytechnic School in Lausanne, Switzerland have discovered a “miracle molecule” in beer that may help prevent weight gain and diabetes, improve muscular performance and provide other health benefits. Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a molecule, which is also present in milk, found to indirectly influence the activity of cell metabolism. Mice on a high-fat diet who were fed NR gained 60 percent less weight than mice eating the same diet without NR supplementation. They also had better endurance over the 10-week study and were in better shape. But, unfortunately, at this time, because the molecule is so small and difficult to reproduce, it is impossible to know exactly how much beer or milk a person would have to drink to get the same effects.
When Offered Spuds Just Say Nuts
A massive study by the Harvard School of Public Health has determined that not all calories are equal, and that independent of calorie content, certain foods cause people to gain more weight, or to prevent weight gain, than other, similar foods. Of all the starches, for example, potatoes were singularly fattening, with each additional serving per day adding weight over the course of a year, ranging from a few ounces for baked or boiled potatoes, to over 3/4 of a pound for french fries. By contrast, each extra serving of nuts per day prevented a half a pound worth of weight gain, while yogurt, despite its dairy fat content, reduced weight gain by a quarter pound per year. The study was based on data for 120,877 U.S. adults over 20 years.
Watch WHAT You Eat
New research from Harvard U says that counting calories is not the best approach for weight loss. The decades-long study followed 120,877 healthy weight men and women who completed detailed questionnaires about their eating and lifestyle habits every two years. Researchers conclude that, while physical activity had definite weight control benefits, the kinds of foods consumed had a larger effect on weight. Not surprisingly, fried and fatty foods contributed to the greatest weight gain with French fries leading the list that included potato chips, sugary drinks, red and processed meats, refined grains and sweets. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contributed to weight loss or no gains. Dairy had no effect on weight but metabolism slowed with the consumption of refined grains.
Another Myth Put to Rest?
Yo-yo dieting, the cycle of repeatedly losing and gaining weight, is commonly thought to be unhealthy although “there is little hard scientific evidence to support that," says Edward List, PhD, Ohio U. List, lead investigator of a study that compared yo-yo dieting with lifelong obesity in mice, concludes that while it’s best to remain on a stable, healthy diet for wellness and longevity, yo-yo dieting is better for a body, despite its inherent weight fluctuations, than remaining obese. List separated 30 mice into 3 groups. The groups were fed either a high fat diet; low fat diet or a “yo-yo diet” that resulted in large weight fluctuations. The mice on the yo-yo diet had a similar life span to that of the low-fat-fed group. Both lived 35% longer than the obese mice.
Pelvic Widening Happens
Skeletal enlargement, thought to stop by about age 20 along with skeletal maturity, continues throughout life says a study that finds that, while we stop growing taller, we continue to widen into old age. "Until recently we assumed this was caused simply by an increase in body fat. Our findings suggest that pelvic growth may contribute to people becoming wider and having a larger waist size as they get older, whether or not they also have an increase in body fat," says senior author Dr. Laurence E. Dahners, UNC. A one-inch differential was recorded in the pelvic widths of volunteers, ages 20 to 79. This could lead to a three-inch increase in waist size and a significant amount of body fat over a person’s lifetime, say researchers who used CT scans to confirm their findings.
Headaches Also Hurt Waistline
Over 3,700 women were questioned about their weight and height at 18 years old, just before getting pregnant and whether a doctor diagnosed them with a migraine. Of the women who were of a normal weight, one in every six was told they had a migraine compared to one in four women who were obese. Other factors were accounted for and a history of migraines was still most strongly associated with weight gain. Previous research has linked weight gain with headaches in kids and young adults and one hypothesis is that the pain of migraines may alter diet and exercise. The study did not look at how the two are related and a study based on memories has to be interpreted with caution, but researchers believe these results warrant further investigation.
Poor Diet and Sedentary Kids
There have been several studies to suggest that when moms work, their children are at greater risk for poor diets and more sedentary lifestyles, so they therefore have a greater tendency toward childhood obesity. Another study conducted at American University has found that third grade children experience approximately a one pound gain in excess weight for every six months their mother works. The link became stronger as children matured into fifth and sixth grades. The implication is not that moms leave the workforce, stresses author Taryn Morrissey, but that there should be more policies in place to protect families of working mothers such as greater access to child care, healthier foods in schools and more flexible work schedules.
Contributing to Obesity?
Children who have their tonsils removed tend to gain weight, finds an analysis of four decades worth of studies. One study found that within one year of surgery, the average increase in BMI was about 7 percent among children who had tonsillectomies. Another finds that up to 75 percent of children experienced weight gain in the year following surgery. Study author Anita Jeyakumar MD of St. Louis University is hesitant to suggest that there is a direct link between tonsillectomy and weight gain, but it does raise questions if the surgery may be contributing in some way to the dramatic rise in childhood obesity. Fewer American children are having their tonsils removed today than in years past. Reasons for removing the throat tissue clumps include infection and sleep disordered breathing.
Individual Differences May Occur
Stress has been linked to weight gain in several studies, but when you pool all of the research together, the effect is very small says researchers from the University College London in the UK. The scientists, led by Dr. Andrew Steptoe and Dr. Jane Wardle, compiled data from 32 previously published studies conducted in the 1990’s and 2000’s. All assessed participants stress levels and evaluated subsequent weight gain. Sixty-nine percent of the studies showed no clear association between stress and weight and six percent actually found a link between stress and weight loss. Stress is thought to cause weight gain due to the release of the hormone cortisol and the propensity to eat more junk food and exercise less.
Roommates’ Weight a Factor
Not all freshman women put on the dreaded “freshman 15,” finds a study from the U of Michigan that says that women with heavier roommates gain less weight than those with slimmer ones. While it may seem counterintuitive, researcher Kandice Kapinos says that heavier women tend to diet and exercise more. "It's not really the weight of your roommate that's important, but the behaviors your roommate engages in.” Previous studies indicate that having an obese spouse or friends increases one’s likelihood of being overweight “because people often select those who are similar to themselves.” Women with heavier randomly assigned roommates gained an average of half a pound. They also found that the average freshman weight gain is 2.5 to 6 pounds, much less than the dreaded Freshman 15.
Men Have Hormonal Shifts Too
Experts estimate that more than 5 million men suffer from hair loss, lack of concentration, mood swings, decreased desire for sex, weight gain and fatigue, all due to age-related hormone changes referred to as menopause in women. "This disorder is not something that should be ignored," said Robert Brannigan, MD, urologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He believes that male menopause (male hypogonadism) is a highly prevalent disorder with 95 percent of cases left undiagnosed and untreated. The hormonal shifts in men occur more slowly than the shifts experienced by women. In men, testosterone levels drop about one percent every year starting in a male's late thirties. Male hypogonadism may be treated with hormone replacement therapy via gels, patches, injections or pellet implants.
Depression Meds Got You Down?
Patients who stop taking depression medication often blame it on side effects such as weight gain and sexual dysfunction. However, a new Rhode Island Hospital study published in the Journal of Psychiatry, indicates that psychiatrists often don’t document patient complaints about side effects. For the study, participants filled out questionnaires which were then compared with their psychiatrists’ documentations. It was found that patient complaints occurred at a rate of about 20 times higher than those recorded by their doctors. Said lead researcher Mark Zimmerman, MD, director of outpatient psychiatry, "[W]e believe that ongoing dialogue about side effects during treatment will help to reduce premature medication discontinuation and would help reduce depression relapse rates.”
Sweet Not Low
"The solution to obesity is not to sweeten our 64-ounce Super Big Gulp Cokes with glucose, but rather to substitute water."
- Mike in the comments
In animal experiments conducted by a Princeton University research team, rats who consumed high fructose corn syrup gained much more weight than rats given regular table sugar, even when the caloric intake of both groups was equal. Researchers determined that high fructose corn syrup, when consumed over the long term, results in significant increases in body fat, particularly in the abdomen. They hope this research helps break the US trend of increasing obesity. "Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said psychology professor Bart Hoebel.