Obesity and Diet 2

Women's age at first menstrual cycle linked to heart disease risk

December 15, 2014

Science Daily/American Heart Association

The risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure was significantly higher when menstruation began at age 10 or younger, or age 17 or older. First menstrual cycle at the age of 13 posed the lowest risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.


Researchers analyzed data collected from 1.3 million women aged 50 to 64 years old, who were mostly white. After over a decade of observation, those women who had their first menstrual cycle at the age of 13 had the least risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.


Compared to women who had their first menstrual cycle at age 13, women with their first menstrual cycle at age 10 or younger, or age 17 or older, had up to:


  • ·      27 percent more hospitalizations or deaths due to heart disease;
  • ·      16 percent more hospitalizations or deaths from stroke; and
  • ·      20 percent more hospitalizations with high blood pressure, or deaths due to its complications.


"The size of our study, the wide range of ages considered, and the vascular diseases being examined made it unique and informative," said Dexter Canoy, M.D, Ph.D., study lead author and cardiovascular epidemiologist at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford in the U.K.


"Childhood obesity, widespread in many industrialized countries, is linked particularly to early age at which the first menstrual cycle occurs. Public health strategies to tackle childhood obesity may possibly prevent the lowering of the average age of first menstrual cycle, which may in turn reduce their risk of developing heart disease over the long term."


The effect of age of the first occurrence of menstruation on heart disease was consistently found among lean, over-weight, and obese women, among never, past or current smokers, and among women in lower, middle, or higher socioeconomic groups.


For the majority of these women, however, their additional risk of developing a vascular disease was small. Of the million women, only four percent of them had their first menstrual cycle occurring at age 10 or younger, and only one percent at age 17 or older.


Can Breakfast Make Kids Smarter?

February 5, 2013

Science Daily/University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

New research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing has found that children who regularly have breakfast on a near-daily basis had significantly higher full scale, verbal, and performance IQ test scores.


In one of the first studies to examine IQ and breakfast consumption, researchers examined data from 1,269 children six years old in China, where breakfast is highly valued, and concluded that children who did not eat breakfast regularly had 5.58 points lower verbal, 2.50 points lower performance, and 4.6 points lower total IQ scores than children who often or always ate breakfast after adjusting for seven sociodemographic confounders.


The researchers suggest that schools play a role in stressing the importance of eating breakfast by delaying start times and/or providing breakfast to allow students to profit from the cognitive benefits of eating before a morning curriculum.


"Because adequate nutrition in early childhood has been linked to increased IQ through childhood, which is related to decreased childhood behavioral disorders, better career satisfaction, and socioeconomic success in adults, breakfast consumption could ultimately benefit long-term physical and mental health outcomes as well a quality of life," said Dr. Liu.


"These findings may reflect nutritional as well as social benefits of breakfast consumption on children and hold important public health implications regarding regular breakfast consumption in early young children.


Light exposure and kids' weight: Is there a link?

World-first study revealing light exposure plays a role in the weight of preschool children

January 7, 2016

Science Daily/Queensland University of Technology

Light exposure plays a role in the weight of preschool children, a world-first study reveals. The researchers studied children aged three to five, from six childcare centers, measuring the children's sleep, activity and light exposure for a two week period, along with height and weight to calculate their BMI, then followed up 12-months later.


Around 42 million children around the globe under the age of five are classified as overweight or obese so this study is a significant breakthrough and a world-first, say the researchers.

Credit: © TuTheLens / Fotolia


PhD student Cassandra Pattinson and colleagues Simon Smith, Alicia Allan, Sally Staton and Karen Thorpe studied children aged three to five, from six Brisbane childcare centres. At time 1, they measured children's sleep, activity and light exposure for a two week period, along with height and weight to calculate their BMI, then followed up 12-months later


"At time 1, we found moderate intensity light exposure earlier in the day was associated with increased body mass index (BMI) while children who received their biggest dose of light -- outdoors and indoors -- in the afternoon were slimmer," said Ms Pattinson of the Environmental Light Exposure is Associated with Increased Body Mass in Children study.


"At follow-up, children who had more total light exposure at Time 1 had higher body mass 12 months later. Light had a significant impact on weight even after we accounted for Time 1 body weight, sleep, and activity.


"Around 42 million children around the globe under the age of five are classified as overweight or obese so this is a significant breakthrough and a world-first.


"Artificial lighting, including light given off by tablets, mobile phones, night lights, and television, means modern children are exposed to more environmental light than any previous generation. This increase in light exposure has paralleled global increases in obesity."


The research team is from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and the Centre for Children's Health Research


Ms Pattinson said it is known the timing, intensity and duration of exposure to both artificial and natural light have acute biological effects in mammals.


"The circadian clock -- also known as the internal body clock -- is largely driven by our exposure to light and the timing of when that happens. It impacts on sleep patterns, weight gain or loss, hormonal changes and our mood," Ms Pattinson said


"Factors that impact on obesity include calorie intake, decreased physical activity, short sleep duration, and variable sleep timing. Now light can be added to the mix."


Ms Pattinson said the next step was to figure out how the research can be used in the fight against obesity in children.


"We plan to conduct further studies with pre-schoolers and also infants," she said.


"Animal studies have shown that timing and intensity of light exposure is critical for metabolic functioning and weight status. Our findings suggest that the same applies to us.


"This research suggests that exposure to different types of light (both artificial and natural) at different times now needs to be part of the conversation about the weight of children."


Stressed parent? New research shows your children may be twice as likely to have obesity

November 4, 2015

Science Daily/Obesity Society

Prior research has shown that stress is associated with obesity in adults, and now for the first time, research suggests Latino parents who feel high levels of stress are twice as likely to have children with obesity as well. Researchers examined data from the Study of Latino Youth (SOL Youth) to determine the relationship between parental stress and child weight status in the Latino population.


"Obesity and chronic stress were both prevalent among this Latino population, with more than one-quarter (28%) of children ages 8-16 with obesity, and nearly one-third (29%) of their parents reporting high levels of stress," said Dr. Isasi. "This study is among the first of its kind to show that parental stress is a risk factor for childhood obesity among Latinos, and adds to the understanding of family influences on child weight status."


In this study, Dr. Isasi and colleagues examined data on weight and stress from children and their parents from the SOL Youth study, an ancillary study to HCHC/SOL, a large community-based cohort study of Latino individuals living in the Bronx (New York City), Chicago, Miami and San Diego. The researchers followed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to define child weight status, and assessed parental stress using the Chronic Stress Burden Scale, an eight-item measure of ongoing stressors in important life domains. Stress factors included having difficulties at work or difficulties in a relationship, among others. The researchers found that prevalence of obesity in the child increased with the number of parental stress factors, from 20% among parents who experienced no stress to 34% among parents with three or more stress factors. After adjusting the data for age, sex, place of birth and location, researchers found that parents who experienced three or more chronic stressors were twice as likely to have children with obesity than parents who experienced no stress.


"This research should encourage clinicians and healthcare practitioners to consider high stress levels as a warning sign for developing obesity not only in the adult patient, but also in the patient's entire family," said Margarita Teran-Garcia, MD, PhD, FTOS, At-Large Mexico Council member for The Obesity Society. "Although the study is cross-sectional, it suggests that special attention should be paid to adult patients who report experiencing high stress levels in this population, and providers are encouraged to consider behavioral counseling as one measure for obesity prevention and treatments."


Future research is needed to examine the causes and possible preventive strategies to address the parental stress and childhood obesity associations. Additionally, future research should explore these relationships in other populations.


To help providers integrate obesity treatment in their practices, The Obesity Society offers free tools as part of the Treat Obesity Seriously campaign, including a BMI pad, an office poster and a BMI-measurement wheel. Clinicians can sign up to receive these materials online.



When it comes to children's ability to think, weight and activity level both matter

October 27, 2015

Science Daily/Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University

Weight and physical activity levels are both factors in a child's ability to acquire and use knowledge, a new study finds. Children who were lean and active scored better on cognitive tests than either their lean, inactive peers or overweight, inactive children, according to the study, which provides some of the first evidence that weight, independent of physical activity, is a factor.


"The question this paper asks that has not been asked before is whether it is just fitness that influences children's cognition," said Dr. Catherine Davis, clinical health psychologist at the Georgia Prevention Institute at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. "What we found is weight and physical activity both matter."


Children who were lean and active scored better on cognitive tests than either their lean, inactive peers or overweight, inactive children, according to the study in the journal Pediatric Exercise Science. The study provides some of the first evidence that weight, independent of physical activity, is a factor.


The study looked at 45 normal-weight children age 7-11, including 24 who were active and 21 who weren't. Children were considered physically active if they participated in organized activities such as swimming, gymnastics, soccer or dance for more than an hour per week. Researchers corroborated this participation with an adult, and children self-reported their physical activity. The study also looked at 45 inactive, overweight children with very similar demographics, with exact matches on gender and race, and close matches on other relevant issues such as parents' marital status and education level and age to help ensure any differences were not strongly linked to socioeconomic status.


As expected, the 24 normal-weight, physically active children had a lower body mass index, or BMI, less fat and a lower resting heart rate than the overweight, inactive children.


When researchers used the well-verified Cognitive Assessment System, the advantages continued to hold. For example, comparing the active, healthy-weight group with the overweight, inactive children, the active group scored nine points higher for planning -- things such as figuring out and carrying out a strategy and using knowledge -- and eight points higher for their ability to pay attention.


Weight as an independent factor among inactive children generated an even bigger difference in the ability to pay attention, with normal-weight inactive children scoring 12 points higher. Those kinds of numbers could be the difference between a child being average in terms of his cognitive function and at the top end of the normal range, Davis said. In fact, the thinner, inactive kids scored higher on attention as well as a summary measure of cognition than their heavier peers.


Still, comparing inactive and active children who were all a healthy weight showed that activity alone clearly provided an edge, with the active children scoring higher in most areas of cognitive function, including 11 points higher for their ability to plan and seven points higher in attention.


"Activity made a difference even among normal-weight kids. That verifies that physical activity makes a difference in brain function," Davis said. The good news is that children, with the help of their families and schools, have time to make healthy lifestyle changes that will modify their weight trajectory, she said.


"These kids are still growing. If they can cut some of the empty calories out of their diet and pick up the pace on physical activity, they may grow into their weight," Davis said.


The long-time investigator of how physical activity affects overweight children was surprised that weight was an independent factor affecting cognition, acknowledging that exactly how and why is unclear. It could be excessive inflammation, hormones, both or neither, Davis said. She noted that while this study focused on weight, it's likely the amount of body fat that actually matters and overweight children in the study consistently had more fat, rather than having a higher weight because of extra muscle mass, for example.


Next steps include studies that also include overweight, active kids to see if heavier children derive as much benefit from physical activity as their normal-weight peers, and to learn more about how weight and physical activity relate to children's brain health.


Both overweight and inactivity have been independently associated with a cognitive disadvantage in children. Davis published a study in 2011 in Health Psychology that showed regular exercise improves the ability of overweight, previously inactive children to think, plan and even do math. Those who participated in 40 minutes of exercise every day after school garnered even more improvement than those who were active for about 20 minutes daily. That study also used the Cognitive Assessment System as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging, which showed those who exercised experienced increased brain activity in the prefrontal cortex -- an area associated with complex thinking, decision-making and correct social behavior. A later study comparing an after-school exercise program to an after-school sedentary program, showed better brain development in the exercise group.


Mediterranean diet is good for the mind, research confirms

September 3, 2013
Science Daily/University of Exeter
Many pieces of research have identified a link between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and a lower risk of age-related disease such as dementia. Scientists have carried out the first systematic review and their findings.

Until now there has been no systematic review of such research, where a number of studies regarding a Mediterranean diet and cognitive function are reviewed for consistencies, common trends and inconsistencies.

A Mediterranean diet typically consists of higher levels of olive oil, vegetables, fruit and fish. A higher adherence to the diet means higher daily intakes of fruit and vegetables and fish, and reduced intakes of meat and dairy products.

The study was led by researcher Iliana Lourida. She said: "Mediterranean food is both delicious and nutritious, and our systematic review shows it may help to protect the ageing brain by reducing the risk of dementia. While the link between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and dementia risk is not new, ours is the first study to systematically analyse all existing evidence."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130903101951.htm

Five regular meals a day reduce obesity risk among adolescents

October 3, 2013
Science Daily/University of Eastern Finland
A regular eating pattern may protect adolescents from obesity, according to a population-based study with more than 4,000 participants. When eating five meals - breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks - a day, even those with a genetic predisposition to obesity had no higher body mass index (BMI) than their controls. 

The collection of the data on the study population began prenatally, and the participants were followed up until the age of 16. The aim was to identify early-life risk factors associated with obesity, to investigate the association between meal frequencies, obesity and metabolic syndrome, and to examine whether meal frequency could modulate the effect of common genetic variants linked to obesity. The genetic data comprised eight single nucleotide polymorphisms at or near eight obesity-susceptibility loci.

According to the results, a regular five-meal pattern was associated with a reduced risk of overweight and obesity in both sexes and with a reduced risk of abdominal obesity in boys. Moreover, the regular five-meal pattern attenuated the BMI-increasing effect of the common genetic variants. Conversely, skipping breakfast was associated with greater BMI and waist circumference.

Obese parents increase the risk

Maternal weight gain of more than seven kilograms during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy increased the risk of obesity in the offspring. However, maternal obesity before pregnancy was a more important risk factor than weight gain during pregnancy.

Paternal obesity before pregnancy was nearly as important as maternal pregravid obesity as a risk factor for the offspring obesity during adolescence. The risk of obesity was strikingly high in adolescents whose both parents had a BMI of 25 or over throughout the 16-year follow-up period.

"These findings emphasise the importance of taking an early whole-family approach to childhood obesity prevention. Furthermore, it is important to be aware that the effects of predisposing genotypes can be modified by lifestyle habits such as regular meal frequency," says Ms Anne Jääskeläinen, MHSc.

Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003095450.htm

When the going gets negative, recruit working memory

November 21, 2016
Science Daily/University of North Florida
Working memory, the ability to process information, may play an important role in coping with negative life events, according to a new study.
This research is one of the first to look at the role of working memory in the context of depression and dispositional optimism.
Credit: © Catwoman / Fotolia

The research, published in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology, is one of the first to look at the role of working memory in the context of depression and dispositional optimism.

"There is a growing body of research supporting the role of working memory in emotional regulation. We know that those with clinical depression have difficulties in suppressing irrelevant negative information, while those with high working memory are able to ignore negative emotions. But we wanted to investigate whether you see a similar pattern in healthy adults across the lifespan," said Alloway, who conducted the study with UNF graduate student John Horton.

The research duo tested over 2,000 nonclinical volunteers, between the ages of 16 and 79 years from a wide demographic range. They were asked questions, like 'I think about how sad I feel.' Participants also responded to questions about their dispositional optimism to find out whether they were typically more optimistic, believing in positive future outcomes or typically more pessimistic, holding to a more fatalistic outcome.

There were three main findings. One is age is a major predictor in determining how pessimistic we are. Younger individuals (late teens and 20s) had higher pessimism scores compared to their older peers. Almost 20 percent of individual differences in pessimistic outlooks was explained by age.

Another finding was a pessimistic outlook predicts depression. Almost 85 percent of those who reported feeling depressed had negative views about the future. They believed that "If something can go wrong for me, it will" and "I hardly ever expect things to go my way."

A strong working memory can refocus attention on a positive outcome was the third finding in this research. Working memory predicted the participants' dispositional optimism. A strong working memory can counter a pessimistic outlook and focus on an optimistic perspective.

While previous studies have used visual working memory tasks that involve emotional content -- happy or sad faces -- in this study, working memory was measured using a shape task. The use of stimuli that didn't involve any emotional content allowed the researchers to disentangle working memory capacity from the emotional content of the stimuli.

The results showed that dispositional optimism determines our outlook and whether we succumb to depressive symptoms. Participants who were more pessimistic, believing that "If something can go wrong for me," reported feeling more depressed.

"Human behavior is goal-directed and when we face an impediment to achieving a goal, we can respond with either a pessimistic outlook or an optimistic one," noted Alloway.

According to the negativity bias, the default mode is to focus attention on negative stimuli because it's linked to survival. For example, when there are competing stimuli of a snake and a flower on the ground, one attends to the snake, rather than the flower, in order to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation.

According to Alloway, a strong working memory can refocus attention on a positive outcome -- the results showed that working memory predicted the participants' dispositional optimism.

"A strong working memory can counter a pessimistic outlook," she said. "This is good news, especially for younger individuals (teens and those in their 20s), who had higher pessimism scores compared to their older peers."
Science Daily/SOURCE :https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161121111324.htm

Depression in young people affects the stomach, anxiety the skin

November 24, 2016
Science Daily/Universität Basel
Mental disorders and physical diseases frequently go hand in hand. For the first time, psychologists have identified temporal patterns in young people: arthritis and diseases of the digestive system are more common after depression, while anxiety disorders tend to be followed by skin diseases.
Affective disorders such as depression are frequently followed by arthritis and diseases of the digestive system, while the same relationship exists between anxiety disorders and skin diseases, say investigators.
Credit: © AntonioDiaz / Fotolia

Physical diseases and mental disorders affect a person's quality of life and present a huge challenge for the healthcare system. If physical and mental disorders systematically co-occur from an early age, there is a risk that the sick child or adolescent will suffer from untoward developments.

Data from 6,500 teenagers

In a project financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation, a research group led by PD Dr. Marion Tegethoff in collaboration with Professor Gunther Meinlschmidt from the University of Basel's Faculty of Psychology has now examined the temporal pattern and relationship between physical diseases and mental disorders in children and young people. In the journal PLOS ONE, they analyzed data from a representative sample of 6,483 teenagers from the US aged between 13 and 18.

The researchers noted that some physical diseases tend to occur more frequently in children and adolescents if they have previously suffered from certain mental disorders. Likewise, certain mental disorders tend to occur more frequently after the onset of particular physical diseases. Affective disorders such as depression were frequently followed by arthritis and diseases of the digestive system, while the same relationship existed between anxiety disorders and skin diseases. Anxiety disorders were more common if the person had already suffered from heart disease. A close association was also established for the first time between epileptic disorders and subsequent eating disorders.

Epilepsy and eating disorders

The results offer important insights into the causal relationship between mental disorders and physical diseases. The newly identified temporal associations draw attention to processes that could be relevant both to the origins of physical diseases and mental disorders and to their treatment. In an earlier study, the same authors had already provided evidence for the relationship between mental disorders and physical diseases in young people.

"For the first time, we have established that epilepsy is followed by an increased risk of eating disorders -- a phenomenon, that had previously been described only in single case reports. This suggests that approaches to epilepsy treatment could also have potential in the context of eating disorders," explains Marion Tegethoff, the study's lead author. From a health policy perspective, the findings underscore that the treatment of mental disorders and physical diseases should be closely interlinked from an early age on.
Science Daily/SOURCE :https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161124081604.htm

Neurological researchers find fat may be linked to memory loss

October 9, 2013
Science Daily/Rush University Medical Center
Although there are several risk factors of dementia, abnormal fat metabolism has been known to pose a risk for memory and learning. People with high amounts of abdominal fat in their middle age are 3.6 times as likely to develop memory loss and dementia later in their life.

Although there are several risk factors of dementia, abnormal fat metabolism has been known to pose a risk for memory and learning. People with high amounts of abdominal fat in their middle age are 3.6 times as likely to develop memory loss and dementia later in their life.

Neurological scientists at the Rush University Medical Center in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health have discovered that same protein that controls fat metabolism in the liver resides in the memory center of the brain (hippocampus) and controls memory and learning.

"We need to better understand how fat is connected to memory and learning so that we can develop effective approach to protect memory and learning," said Kalipada Pahan, PhD, the Floyd A. Davis professor of neurology at Rush University Medical Center.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131009100620.htm

Lower Blood Sugars May Be Good for the Brain

October 23, 2013
Science Daily/American Academy of Neurology (AAN)
Even for people who don’t have diabetes or high blood sugar, those with higher blood sugar levels are more likely to have memory problems, according to a new study published in the October 23, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

People with lower blood sugar levels were more likely to have better scores on the memory tests. On a test where participants needed to recall a list of 15 words 30 minutes after hearing them, recalling fewer words was associated with higher blood sugar levels. For example, an increase of about seven mmol/mol of a long-term marker of glucose control called HbA1c went along with recalling two fewer words. People with higher blood sugar levels also had smaller volumes in the hippocampus.

“These results suggest that even for people within the normal range of blood sugar, lowering their blood sugar levels could be a promising strategy for preventing memory problems and cognitive decline as they age,” said study author Agnes Flöel, MD, of Charité University Medicine in Berlin, Germany. “Strategies such as lowering calorie intake and increasing physical activity should be tested.”
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023165016.htm

Consistent bed, wake time linked to healthier weight

November 18, 2013
Science Daily/Brigham Young University
Prior research has shown not getting enough sleep can impact your weight, but new research finds the consistency of your bed time and wake time can also influence body fat.

Exercise science professor Bruce Bailey studied more than 300 women from two major Western U.S. universities over the course of several weeks and found that those with the best sleeping habits had healthier weights.
The main findings from the study, published online in the American Journal of Health Promotion:

•    A consistent bed time and, especially, a consistent wake time are related to lower body fat.

•    Getting less than 6.5 or more than 8.5 hours of sleep per night is associated with higher body fat.

•    Quality of sleep is important for body composition.

Women in the study were first assessed for body composition, and then were given an activity tracker to record their movements during the day and their sleep patterns at night. Researchers tracked sleep patterns of the participants (ages 17-26) for one week.

The most surprising finding from the study, according to the researchers, was the link between bed time and wake time consistency and body weight. Study participants who went to bed and woke up at, or around the same time each day had lower body fat. Those with more than 90 minutes of variation in sleep and wake time during the week had higher body fat than those with less than 60 minutes of variation.

Wake time was particularly linked to body fat: Those who woke up at the same time each morning had lower body fat. Staying up late and even sleeping in may be doing more harm than good, Bailey said.

"We have these internal clocks and throwing them off and not allowing them to get into a pattern does have an impact on our physiology," Bailey said.

Bailey related consistent sleep patterns to having good sleep hygiene. When sleep hygiene is altered, it can influence physical activity patterns, and affect some of the hormones related to food consumption contributing to excess body fat.

Bailey and his team also found there was a sweet spot for amount of sleep: Those who slept between 8 and 8.5 hours per night had the lowest body fat.

Sleep quality also proved to have a strong relationship to body fat. Sleep quality is a measure of how effective sleep is, or how much time spent in bed is spent sleeping. Those who had better sleep quality had lower body fat.

To improve sleep quality Bailey recommended exercising, keeping the temperature in the room cool, having a quiet room, having a dark room, and using beds only for sleeping.
"Sleep is often a casualty of trying to do more and be better and it is often sacrificed, especially by college students, who kind of wear it as a badge of honor," Bailey said.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131118133050.htm

Study Links Sleep to Mood Disturbance, Poor Quality of Life in Obese

December 4, 2013
Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine
A new study shows that poor sleep quality is strongly associated with mood disturbance and lower quality of life among people with extreme obesity.

Results show that 74.8 percent of participants were poor sleepers, and their mean self-reported sleep duration was only six hours and 20 minutes. Fifty-two percent of study subjects were anxious, and 43 percent were depressed. After controlling for age, sex, hypertension, diabetes, and obstructive sleep apnea, sleep quality and daytime sleepiness were significantly associated with mood disturbance and quality of life impairment.

"There was a clear association between the sleep problems such as short sleep duration and the psychological disorders and with quality of life,"

"This study emphasizes the need for physicians to conduct routine screenings for sleep problems among people with severe obesity," said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. M. Safwan Badr. "Improving sleep quality and quantity will provide a physical, mental and emotional boost for people who are making the difficult lifestyle changes involved in managing obesity."

According to the authors, the potential role of sleep in the health and well-being of individuals with severe obesity is underappreciated. Although the cross-sectional design of the study did not allow for an examination of causality, the results suggest that the early detection of disturbed sleep could prevent the potential development and perpetuation of psychological problems among people with extreme obesity.

"Despite the very high levels of problems in these patients, those involved with their care usually don't ask about sleep problems and often pay little heed to the psychological issues underlying the obesity," said Thomas. "The focus is often on treating the obesity and its consequences, such as diet and exercise interventions, rather than addressing its underlying cause, which may be psychological in nature, such as an unhappy marriage or job stress."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204182437.htm

Nutrition Influences Metabolism Through Circadian Rhythms

December 19, 2013
Science Daily/University of California - Irvine
A high-fat diet affects the molecular mechanism controlling the internal body clock that regulates metabolic functions in the liver, UC Irvine scientists have found. Disruption of these circadian rhythms may contribute to metabolic distress ailments, such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

The researchers also discovered that returning to a balanced, low-fat diet normalized the rhythms. This study reveals that the circadian clock is able to reprogram itself depending on a diet's nutritional content -- which could lead to the identification of novel pharmacological targets for controlled diets.

A high-fat diet reprograms the liver clock through two main mechanisms. One blocks normal cycles by impeding the clock regulator genes called CLOCK:BMAL1. The other initiates a new program of oscillations by activating genes that normally do not oscillate, principally through a factor called PPAR-gamma. Previously implicated in inflammatory responses and the formation of fatty tissue, this factor oscillates with a high-fat diet.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131219134453.htm

Excess weight linked to brain changes in memory, emotions, and appetite

February 11, 2014
Science Daily/SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Being overweight appears related to reduced levels of a molecule that reflects brain cell health in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory, learning, and emotions, and likely also involved in appetite control, according to a new study.

The importance of the hippocampus -- a seahorse-shaped organ deep within the brain -- to the formation and preservation of memory and to emotional control is well known, Dr. Coplan notes, but its role in appetite control is less established.

"The relevance of the finding is that being overweight is associated with specific changes in a part of the brain that is crucial to memory formation and emotions, and probably to appetite," said Dr. Coplan. The study is believed to be the first human research documenting the association of NAA with body weight.

"Whether low NAA is a consequence of being overweight, causes being overweight, or a combination of both remains to be determined," Dr. Coplan added. "Future studies are planned to focus on whether weight loss leads to an increase in NAA."

"We also found that high worry also produced low levels of NAA in the hippocampus, but was not associated with a high body mass index (BMI)," Dr. Coplan said. Dr. Coplan and his team looked at persons with a BMI equal to or greater than 25. Normal weight is defined as a BMI of 18.5-24.9, overweight between 25 and 29.9, and obesity at a BMI of 30 or greater.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140211121829.htm

Using attention modification program to decrease overeating in obese children

February 14, 2014
Science Daily/University of California, San Diego Health Sciences
Attention modification programs, which train a person to ignore or disregard specific, problematic cues or triggers, have been used effectively to treat cases of anxiety and substance abuse. In a novel study published this week, a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry reports using a single session of attention modification to decrease overeating in obese children.

Boutelle and colleagues investigated whether attention modification training might be another way to treat problematic eating and obesity in children. In a novel pilot study, they recruited 24 overweight and obese children between the ages of 8 and 12 and split them into two groups.

One group underwent an attention modification program (AMP) in which they watched pairs of words quickly flash upon a computer screen. One was a food word, such as "cake;" the other was a non-food word, such as "desk." After the words had flashed and disappeared, a letter appeared on-screen in the place of either the food word or the non-food word. The viewing child was asked to immediately press the right or left button associated with the letter's location.

"This is called 'implicit training' as it happens so fast that some people might not realize what is happening," said Boutelle. "The AMP trained attention away from food words because the letter always appeared in the spot of the non-food word while in the other group, the condition trained attention was split with the letter appearing half of the time in the food word location and half in the non-food word location."

The two computer programs differentially affected eating in the overweight children after only one training session. "It's surprising to find differences in eating after just one training program," said Boutelle, "but it's encouraging because it suggests that a longer program might have greater effect."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140214203849.htm

Shorter sleepers are over-eaters, study in children shows

March 25, 2014
Science Daily/University College London
Young children who sleep less eat more, which can lead to obesity and related health problems later in life, reports a new study. The study found that 16 month-old children who slept for less than 10 hours each day consumed on average 105kcal more per day than children who slept for more than 13 hours. This is an increase of around 10% from 982kcal to 1087kcal.

"We know that shorter sleep in early life increases the risk of obesity, so we wanted to understand whether shorter sleeping children consume more calories" explains Dr Abi Fisher of the Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL. "Previous studies in adults and older children have shown that sleep loss causes people to eat more, but in early life parents make most of the decisions about when and how much their children eat, so young children cannot be assumed to show the same patterns.

"The key message here is that shorter sleeping children may prone to consume too many calories," says Dr Fisher. "Although more research is needed to understand why this might be, it is something parents should be made aware of."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140325100254.htm

Diet can predict cognitive decline

April 27, 2014
Science Daily/Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
Lower dietary consumption of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) might be risk factors for cognitive decline, researchers say. There is growing evidence that very long chain omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for maintaining cognitive health. 

"While more research is needed to determine whether intake of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and trout can help prevent against cognitive decline, our preliminary data support previous research showing that intake of these types of fish have health benefits," one researcher said.

What is the takeaway from this research? There is growing evidence that very long chain omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for maintaining cognitive health, and many Americans do not have an adequate intake of these nutrients. "While more research is needed to determine whether intake of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and trout can help prevent against cognitive decline, our preliminary data support previous research showing that intake of these types of fish have health benefits," Scott said.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140427121051.htm

Chronic stress heightens vulnerability to diet-related metabolic risk

April 29, 2014
Science Daily/University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Highly stressed people who eat a lot of high-fat, high-sugar food are more prone to health risks than low-stress people who eat the same amount of unhealthy food, new research finds for the first time. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of abnormalities -- increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels -- that occur together, increasing a person's risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

"We found that more frequent high fat, high sugar consumption significantly predicted a larger waistline, more truncal fat, higher oxidative damage, and more insulin resistance, but only among the group of women exposed to chronic stress," said Aschbacher. "The chronically stressed women didn't report eating more high sugar, high fat foods than the low stressed women; however, they did have higher levels of a stress-related biomarker, peripheral Neuropeptide Y (NPY)."

Based on what is known from animal studies, stress triggers greater peripheral NPY which, in combination with junk food, creates larger abdominal fat cells, and these cells may be more prone to metabolic dysregulation.

"The medical community is starting to appreciate how important chronic stress is in promoting and worsening early disease processes," said Aschbacher. "But there are no guidelines for 'treating' chronic stress. We need treatment studies to understand whether increasing stress resilience could reduce the metabolic syndrome, obesity or diabetes."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429142117.htm

Chronic insufficient sleep increases obesity, overall body fat in children

May 20, 2014
Science Daily/Massachusetts General Hospital
One of the most comprehensive studies of the potential link between reduced sleep and childhood obesity finds compelling evidence that children who consistently received less than the recommended hours of sleep during infancy and early childhood had increases in both obesity and in adiposity or overall body fat at age 7.

"Our study found convincing evidence that getting less than recommended amounts of sleep across early childhood is an independent and strong risk factor for obesity and adiposity," says Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH, chief of General Pediatrics at MGHfC and lead author of the Pediatrics paper. "Contrary to some published studies, we did not find a particular 'critical period' for the influence of sleep duration on weight gain. Instead, insufficient sleep at any time in early childhood had adverse effects."

While several studies have found evidence of an association between sleep and obesity in young children, few have examined the effects of constant sleep deprivation across time or used measures other than body mass index (BMI), which determines obesity based solely on height and weight. 

The current study analyzed data from Project Viva, a long-term investigation of the health impacts of several factors during pregnancy and after birth. Information used in this study was gathered from mothers at in-person interviews when their children were around 6 months, 3 years and 7 years old, and from questionnaires completed when the children were ages 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520134338.htm

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