Archive for the ‘Obesity’ Category

There’s been a fast growing body of evidence in the last several years that lack of exercise – or sedentariness – is a major risk factor in health. It’s been linked to heart disease, cancer, and to an early death. And now, a new study finds that lack of exercise may actually be even more of a risk than obesity in early mortality: The researchers calculate that a sedentary lifestyle may actually confer twice the risk of death as being obese. That said, the two are both important and, luckily, closely related: So if you start getting active, you’ll probably lose a little weight along the way, which itself is a very good thing.

The new study looked at data from over 334,000 people who participated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study. Over a period of 12 years, the participants’ height, weight, and waist circumferences were tracked, along with self-reports of activity levels, both at work and in free time. All-cause mortality (i.e., death from any cause) was the main outcome of interest.

It turned out that lack of physical activity was linked to the greatest risk of death – and the greatest reduction in death risk was in the difference between the lowest two activity groups. In other words, just moving from “inactive” to “moderately inactive” showed the largest reduction in death risk, especially for normal weight people, but true for people of all body weights. And, the authors say, just taking a brisk 20-minute walk per day can move you from one category to the other, and reduce the risk of death anywhere from 16% to 30%.

Using a statistical model, the team also calculated that being sedentary may account for double the death risk of obesity. According to their math, of the 9.2 million deaths in Europe in 2008, about 337,000 were attributable to obesity, whereas 676,000 were attributable to sedentariness.

Another takeaway from the study, however, is that waist circumference is a bigger player in mortality risk than overall body weight, which has certainly been suggested by previous studies. Belly fat seems to be disproportionately linked to chronic health issues like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and of course, early mortality. So reducing belly fat is always a significant benefit to one’s health.

“This large study is rather complex in its details, but the take-away messages are actually both clear and simple,” says David L, Katz, Director of the Yale University Prevention Research CenterGriffin Hospital. “At any given body weight, going from inactive to active can reduce the risk of premature mortality substantially. At any given level of activity, going from overweight to a more optimal weight can do the same. We have long known that not all forms of obesity are equally hazardous, and this study reaffirms that. Losing weight if you have an excess around the middle, where it is most dangerous, exerts an influence on mortality comparable to physical activity. Losing excess weight that is not associated with a high waist circumference reduces mortality risk, but less — as we would expect.”

But perhaps the main point in all of this is that being active and being a healthy weight are inextricably linked. Though activity by itself can offer an immediate health benefit if you remain overweight, getting active also leads naturally to loss of body weight. “This study reminds that being both fit and unfat are good for health,” says Katz, “and can add both life to years, and years to life. These are not really disparate challenges, since the physical activity that leads to fitness is on the short list of priorities for avoiding fatness as well. The challenge before us now is for our culture to make it easier to get there from here.”

Earlier this month a study showed that the concept of “healthy obesity” may be very misleading, since health markers in an obese person tend to deteriorate over time. Though the current study suggests that fitness may matter more than fatness, the two are really two sides of a coin: It would be silly to become active and not lose weight — and it would be very hard to do, since the one leads to the other. But perhaps given the great benefits of exercise alone, public health campaigns should focus not just on losing weight, but on encouraging people to add just small amounts physical activity to their lives right off the bat, and to see where it goes from there.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/01/15/is-lack-of-exercise-worse-for-your-health-than-obesity/

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Could a new sugar substitute actually lower blood sugar and help you lose weight? That’s the tantalizing – but distant – promise of new research presented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) this week.

Agavins, derived from the agave plant that’s used to make tequila, were found in mouse studies to trigger insulin production and lower blood sugar, as well as help obese mice lose weight.

Unlike sucrose, glucose, and fructose, agavins aren’t absorbed by the body, so they can’t elevate blood glucose, according to research by Mercedes G. López, a researcher at the Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados, Biotechnology and Biochemistry Irapuato, in Guanajuato, Mexico.

And by boosting the level of a peptide called GLP-1 (short for glucagon-like peptide-1), which triggers the body’s production of insulin, agavins aid the body’s natural blood sugar control. Also, because agavins are type of fiber, they can make people feel fuller and reduce appetite, López’s research shows.

“We believe that agavins have a great potential as light sweeteners since they are sugars, highly soluble, have a low glycemic index, and a neutral taste, but most important, they are not metabolized by humans,” read the study abstract. “This puts agavins in a tremendous position for their consumption by obese and diabetic people.”

The caveat: The research was conducted in mice, and more study is necessary before we’ll know whether agavins are effective and safe in humans. In other words, we’re a long way from agavins appearing on grocery store shelves.

That said, with almost 26 millions of Americans living with diabetes and another 2 million diagnosed each year, a sweetener that lowered blood sugar levels rather than raised them would be quite a useful discovery. Not to mention the potential for a sugar substitute with the potential to help people lose weight.

In the study, titled “Agavins as Potential Novel Sweeteners for Obese and Diabetic People”, López added agavins to the water of mice who were fed a standard diet, weighing them and monitoring blood sugar levels every week. The majority of the mice given the agavin-supplemented water had lower blood glucose levels, ate less, and lost weight compared with other mice whose water was supplemented with glucose, sucrose, fructose, agave syrup, and aspartame.

Unlike other types of fructose, Agavins are fructans, which are long-chain fructoses that the body can’t use, so they are not absorbed into the bloodstream to raise blood sugar. And despite the similarity in the name, agavins are not to be confused with agave nectar or agave syrup, natural sweeteners that are increasingly popular sugar substitutes. In these products the fructans are broken down into fructose, which does raise blood sugar – and add calories.

López has been studying fructans for some time, and has published previous studies showing that they have protective prebiotic effects in the digestive tract and contribute to weight loss in obese mice.

A 2012 study by another team of researchers published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition found that fructans boosted levels of the beneficial probiotics lactobacillus and bifidus. And like many types of fiber, agavins also lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

But the news isn’t all good; a 2011 literature review of human studies of the relationship between fructans (not agavins specifically) and blood sugar found that of 13 randomized studies of fructans, only three documented positive results. It remains to be seen whether – as López argues – agavins are distinct from other fructans in their action.

The downside: Agavins are don’t taste as sweet as other forms of sugar such as sucrose, fructose and glucose. And not everyone can tolerate them; like other types of fiber they have the potential to cause digestive problems.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2014/03/17/new-sweetener-from-the-tequila-plant-may-aid-diabetes-weight-loss/

Thanks to Dr. Rajadhyaksha for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

 

Scientists have developed an injection that could target stubborn spare tyres or double chins without affecting the rest of the body.

The researchers have found they can burn off excess fat in specific areas of the body by injecting tiny capsules filled with a modified type of heat-producing cell commonly found in animals and babies.

The cells release “signals” that alter the surrounding fat tissue so surplus calories are used up by producing body heat rather than being stored as fat.

Tests in animals have shown that injecting the capsules caused obese mice to lose up to 10 per cent of their body weight even when being fed a high calorie diet. The researchers are now planning to begin treating obese dogs later this year. If successful and found to be safe, it is hoped that the treatment could be available for use in humans in around six years.

The researchers believe the capsules, which are around three times the width of a human hair, could be injected into specific fat deposits such as the thighs, buttocks, arms or under the chin to reduce the amount of fat stored there.

It could solve the problem faced by many dieters who find that no matter how much weight they lose or how much they exercise, there are some areas of the body where fat stubbornly refuses to come off.

Dr Ouliana Ziouzenkova, who led the research at the department of human nutrition at Ohio State University, said: “We found the capsules completely remodelled the fat they were put into.

“Our goal was to achieve a way of targeting deleterious visceral fat that increases the risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“We have to prove that this is safe and effective in humans, but we could think about using it for body sculpturing. So if you wanted to remove a small amount of fat under your face like a double chin, or in their arms or legs, you could target these with a single injection.

“We have a grant now to carry out some work with obese dogs as it could also be of great benefit for veterinary purposes as there is a growing problem with obese pets.”

In a study published in the scientific journal Biomaterials, Dr Ziouzenkova and her colleagues used fatlike cells from mice that had been genetically modified to burn off excess energy as body temperature.

They found that by encasing these cells inside plastic-like microcapsules, they could be transplanted without being destroyed by the recipients immune system. Obese mice that received the capsules lost a tenth of their body fat in a month and after 80 days were 20 per cent less fat than mice that received empty capsules.

The cells are thought to cause this change by releasing signals known as thermogenic factors through pores in the capsules into the surrounding unhealthy body fat. These then changed the fat into heat producing cells known as thermocytes.

Thermocytes, sometimes called brown fat, are abundant in many small animals and in human babies where they help maintain body temperature by burning off energy as heat rather than storing it like normal fat. Humans, however, lose these cells as they grow older.

Dr Ziouzenkova believes that by transplanting cells from animals such as mice into adult humans, known as xenotransplantation, it may be possible to increase the number of thermocytes in adults and so help them reduce the amount of body fat they carry.

“Microcapsules are cost effective as it means the same cells can be used for different patients,” she said. “The capsules are like a plastic bag that have pores in them so the immune system cannot enter but the thermogenic factors can escape.

“The cells essentially become invisible to the immune system and so can start to change the fat around them.

“Xenotransplantation will reduce the cost of treatment and cells could be stored to specifically address patients needs. In our preliminary studies in animals, we observed only minor local inflammation caused by degraded capsules with a xenotransplant.

“If implanted cells from animals do not work in humans, however, we aim to modify human cells so they have the same effect.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9591390/Injections-of-animal-cells-may-rid-dieters-of-their-double-chins.html

Just when we thought fast food news could not get any more exciting, Burger King announced that it will be offering a bacon sundae throughout the U.S. this summer.

The dessert — a 510 calorie monstrosity featuring both a whole strip of bacon and bacon crumbles atop a fudge and caramel sundae — was released in April in Nashville to reasonable fanfare, but will now receive a wide release as part of Burger King’s expanded summer menu. This move coincides with the world’s second largest hamburger chain’s new strategy to rebrand itself, changing its tagline from “Have It Your Way” to “Taste Is King.” It’s already made several changes to its menu this year, adding new snack wraps and salads and adjusting its recipes for staples like French fries and the Whopper.

(LIST: Top 10 Worst Fast-Food Meals)

Burger King first saw success for its bacon sundae earlier this year when it “took Nashville, TN by storm,” according to a company press release. The cold treat — which boasts 8 grams of fat and 61 grams of sugar — is described in the release as a “sweet and savory dessert [featuring] rich and creamy vanilla soft serve, drizzled with chocolate fudge, caramel and topped with bacon crumbles, complete with a thick-cut, hardwood smoked bacon garnish.”

Bacon garnishes are not the only new development on the BK menu: summer additions also include the Memphis Pulled Pork BBQ sandwich, Carolina and Texas BBQ sandwiches, frozen lemonade and sweet potato fries. These items will be available throughout the summer, or while supplies last.

Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/06/13/the-bacon-sundae-is-coming/?iid=nf-article-mostpop1#ixzz1xr1krrOL

 

 

Obesity during pregnancy may increase chances for having a child with autism, provocative new research suggests.

It’s among the first studies linking the two, and though it doesn’t prove obesity causes autism, the authors say their results raise public health concerns because of the high level of obesity in this country.

Study women who were obese during pregnancy were about 67 percent more likely than normal-weight women to have autistic children. They also faced double the risk of having children with other developmental delays.

On average, women face a 1 in 88 chance of having a child with autism; the results suggest that obesity during pregnancy would increase that to a 1 in 53 chance, the authors said.

The study was released online Monday in Pediatrics.

Since more than one-third of U.S. women of child-bearing age are obese, the results are potentially worrisome and add yet another incentive for maintaining a normal weight, said researcher Paula Krakowiak, a study co-author and scientist at the University of California, Davis.

Previous research has linked obesity during pregnancy with stillbirths, preterm births and some birth defects.

Dr. Daniel Coury, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said the results “raise quite a concern.”

He noted that U.S. autism rates have increased along with obesity rates and said the research suggests that may be more than a coincidence.

More research is needed to confirm the results. But if mothers’ obesity is truly related to autism, it would be only one of many contributing factors, said Coury, who was not involved in the study.

Genetics has been linked to autism, and scientists are examining whether mothers’ illnesses and use of certain medicines during pregnancy might also play a role.

The study involved about 1,000 California children, ages 2 to 5. Nearly 700 had autism or other developmental delays, and 315 did not have those problems.

Mothers were asked about their health. Medical records were available for more than half the women and confirmed their conditions. It’s not clear how mothers’ obesity might affect fetal development, but the authors offer some theories.

Obesity, generally about 35 pounds overweight, is linked with inflammation and sometimes elevated levels of blood sugar. Excess blood sugar and inflammation-related substances in a mother’s blood may reach the fetus and damage the developing brain, Krakowiak said.

The study lacks information on blood tests during pregnancy. There’s also no information on women’s diets and other habits during pregnancy that might have influenced fetal development.

There were no racial, ethnic, education or health insurance differences among mothers of autistic kids and those with unaffected children that might have influenced the results, the researchers said.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-04-09/Autism-obesity-pregnancy/54126558/1

 

The same bacterium responsible for most stomach ulcers may play a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes among overweight and obese adults, New York University researchers recently reported.

And in the same way that antibiotics eradicate the bacterium and heal ulcers, antibiotics might eventually prove useful in diabetes prevention, they suggest in an article appearing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Non-diabetic adults infected with Helicobacter pylori (whether or not they had ulcer symptoms), tended to have higher blood sugar than adults without H. pylori, according to the study co-authored by Yu Chen, an associate professor of environmental medicine at NYU, and Dr. Martin J. Blaser, chairman of NYU’s department of medicine.

Chen and Blaser assessed blood sugar levels using measurements of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c or A1c), a marker of excess glucose in the bloodstream that in recent years has become a key tool for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes.

Helicobacteri pylori is a complicated bacterium. Persistent H. pylori infections beginning in childhood have been linked decades later to ulcers of the stomach and small intestine, and a heightened risk of stomach cancer. Although H. pylori can inflame the stomach, many infected people have no symptoms.

Blaser called H. pylori a complicated and interesting organism that affects children and adults in entirely different ways. In previous work he and Chen found that H. pylori protects children against asthma and allergy.

“This study provides further evidence of late-in-life cost to having H. pylori,” Blaser said in an interview. The findings also give new support to “the concept of eradicating H. pylori in older people.”

Theoretically, antibiotics that wipe out H. pylori might protect older, overweight men and women from developing diabetes, Blaser and Chen said. However, scientists still need to determine how eliminating H. pylori might affect Type 2 diabetes, and how H. pylori affects sugar breakdown among people of different weights.

Chen and Blaser proposed a mechanism for how H. pylori might set the stage for diabetes. They said the bacterium might alter levels of two important digestive hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin, sometimes called the hunger hormone, decreases calorie-burning and promotes weight gain. Leptin reduces appetite and boosts calorie-burning. Previous research has linked H. pylori with decreased ghrelin and increased leptin.

In the past, scientists working with small samples came up with conflicting findings about an association between H. pylori and Type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease strongly associated with excess body weight, as well as heredity. Formerly called adult onset or late onset diabetes, Type 2 diabetes has become epidemic among overweight and obese youngsters. It kills an estimated 3.8 million adults worldwide each year.

One of the strengths of the NYU study is that Blaser and Chen worked with a bigger study population, analyzing data from 7,417 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III and 6,072 adults and children 3 and older in NHANES 1999-2000.

“H. pylori was consistently positively related to HbA1c level in adults, a valid and reliable biomarker for long-term blood glucose levels,” they wrote.

In an editorial appearing in the same issue of the journal, lead author Dani Cohen, an epidemiologist at Tel Aviv University in Israel, suggested that the new findings could have important implications for diabetes prevention and control.

Cohen, a specialist in H. pylori’s health effects, said the next step should be conducting rigorous studies to examine the impact of H. pylori treatment on A1c levels and on the development of diabetes among older adults carrying excess pounds.

http://www.12newsnow.com/story/17156233/diabetes-linked-to-ulcer-causing-bacteria

A new craze is sweeping Japan that involves underwear, a promise to burn calories and a mesmerizing infomercial to back it all up.

Introducing MXP Calorie Shaper Pants, the shiny boxer briefs that hold claim to a revolutionary technology that purportedly enables users to burn extra calories by simply wearing them around.

The makers of these “Calorie Shapers” say their product is built with “honeycomb spring,” a special resin coating, that adds resistance while you walk, thus allegedly increasing the number of calories you burn.

Priced at $32 per pair and holding out the promise to lose weight with no effort, it seems the spandex biker short-like product would sell itself.

The “Calorie Shaper” is being pitched across Japan with an infomercial that looks like a 1980s flashback, complete with choreographed dance routines – in the park, on the street and in the office – and all.

In Japan, where the obesity rate is just 5 percent but alarm-raising headlines have spurred citizens’ concerns, the infomercial has worked and the product is a best-seller.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/11/japanese-calorie-burning-underwear-sparks-youtube-interest/

http://www.calorieshaper.jp/