Obesity and Diet 7

Why you love coffee and beer

May 2, 2019

Science Daily/Northwestern University

Why do you swig bitter, dark roast coffee or hoppy beer while your coworker guzzles sweet cola?

 

Scientist Marilyn Cornelis searched for variations in our taste genes that could explain our beverage preferences, because understanding those preferences could indicate ways to intervene in people's diets.

 

To Cornelis' surprise, her new Northwestern Medicine study showed taste preferences for bitter or sweet beverages aren't based on variations in our taste genes, but rather genes related to the psychoactive properties of these beverages.

 

"The genetics underlying our preferences are related to the psychoactive components of these drinks," said Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "People like the way coffee and alcohol make them feel. That's why they drink it. It's not the taste."

 

The paper will be published May 2 in Human Molecular Genetics.

 

The study highlights important behavior-reward components to beverage choice and adds to our understanding of the link between genetics and beverage consumption -- and the potential barriers to intervening in people's diets, Cornelis said.

 

Sugary beverages are linked to many disease and health conditions. Alcohol intake is related to more than 200 diseases and accounts for about 6 percent of deaths globally.

 

Cornelis did find one variant in a gene, called FTO, linked to sugar-sweetened drinks. People who had a variant in the FTO gene -- the same variant previously related to lower risk of obesity -- surprisingly preferred sugar-sweetened beverages.

 

"It's counterintuitive," Cornelis said. "FTO has been something of a mystery gene, and we don't know exactly how it's linked to obesity. It likely plays a role in behavior, which would be linked to weight management."

 

"To our knowledge, this is the first genome-wide association study of beverage consumption based on taste perspective," said Victor Zhong, the study's first author and postdoctoral fellow in preventive medicine at Northwestern. "It's also the most comprehensive genome-wide association study of beverage consumption to date."

 

How the study worked

Beverages were categorized into a bitter-tasting group and a sweet-tasting group. Bitter included coffee, tea, grapefruit juice, beer, red wine and liquor. Sweet included sugar-sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened beverages and non-grapefruit juices. This taste classification has been previously validated.

 

Beverage intake was collected using 24-hour dietary recalls or questionnaires. Scientists counted the number of servings of these bitter and sweet beverages consumed by about 336,000 individuals in the UK Biobank. Then they did a genome-wide association study of bitter beverage consumption and of sweet beverage consumption. Lastly, they looked to replicate their key findings in three U.S. cohorts.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190502100814.htm

How eating feeds into the body clock

April 25, 2019

Science Daily/Medical Research Council

New research has found it is not just what you eat, but when you eat that is important -- knowledge which could improve the health of shift workers and people suffering from jet lag.

 

The Medical Research Council (MRC)-funded study, published today in the journal Cell, is the first to identify insulin as a primary signal that helps communicate the timing of meals to the cellular clocks located across our body, commonly known as the body clock.

 

The team behind the research believe this improved understanding may lead to new ways to alleviate the ill-health associated with disruption to the body clock. These could include eating at specific times or taking drugs that target insulin signalling.

 

The body clock -- also known as the circadian rhythm -- is a 24-hour biological cycle that occurs individually in every cell of the body, driving daily rhythms in our physiology, from when we sleep, to hormone levels, to how we respond to medication. Our body clock is synchronised with the surrounding environment by exposure to daylight and the timing of meals. This synchrony is important for long-term health, and it is well known that disrupting your circadian rhythm by shift work or travel across time zones can be detrimental for health. Importantly, it is thought that eating at unusual times, as often occurrs during shift work and jet lag, is a major cause of body clock disruption. However, it has not previously been known exactly how the body clock senses and responds to meal timing, making it difficult to provide medical advice or interventions that might alleviate the problem.

 

Researchers at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge and the University of Manchester have now identified insulin as a primary signal that helps communicate the timing of meals to the cellular clocks across our body, and in doing so strengthen the circadian rhythm. The team's experiments in cultured cells, and replicated in mice, show that insulin, a hormone released when we eat, adjusts circadian rhythms in many different cells and tissues individually, by stimulating production of a protein called PERIOD, an essential cog within every cell's circadian clock.

 

Dr John O'Neill, a research leader at the MRC LMB who led the Cambridge research team, said: "At the heart of these cellular clocks is a complex set of molecules whose interaction provides precise 24-hour timing. What we have shown here is that the insulin, released when we eat, can act as a timing signal to cells throughout our body."

 

Working with Dr David Bechtold, a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester, the researchers found that when insulin was provided to mice at the 'wrong' biological time -- when the animals would normally be resting -- it disrupted normal circadian rhythms, causing less distinction between day and night.

 

Dr Bechtold said: "We already know that modern society poses many challenges to our health and wellbeing -- things that are viewed as commonplace, such as shift-work, sleep deprivation, and jet lag, disrupt our body clock. It is now becoming clear that circadian disruption is increasing the incidence and severity of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes."

 

Dr Priya Crosby, a researcher at the MRC LMB and lead author on the study, highlighted: "Our data suggests that eating at the wrong times could have a major impact on our circadian rhythms. There is still work to do here, but paying particular attention to meal timing and light exposure is likely the best way to mitigate the adverse effects of shift-work. Even for those who work more traditional hours, being careful about when we eat is an important way to help maintain healthy body clocks, especially as we age."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190425143607.htm

Eating small amounts of red and processed meats may increase risk of early death

March 27, 2019

Science Daily/Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center

A new study out of Loma Linda University Health suggests that eating red and processed meats -- even in small amounts -- may increase the risk of death from all causes, especially cardiovascular disease.

 

Saeed Mastour Alshahrani, lead author of the study and a doctoral student at Loma Linda University School of Public Health, said the research fills an important gap left by previous studies that looked at relatively higher levels of red meat intake and compared them with low intakes.

 

"A question about the effect of lower levels of intakes compared to no-meat eating remained unanswered," Alshahrani said. "We wanted to take a closer look at the association of low intakes of red and processed meat with all-cause, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer mortality compared to those who didn't eat meat at all."

 

This study, "Red and Processed Meat and Mortality in a Low Meat Intake Population" is part of the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2), a prospective cohort study of approximately 96,000 Seventh-day Adventist men and women in the United States and Canada. The principal investigator of AHS-2 is Gary E. Fraser, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Loma Linda University Health.

 

Adventists are a unique population -- approximately 50 percent are vegetarians, and those who consume meat do so at low levels. This allowed researchers to investigate the effect of low levels of red and processed meat intake compared to zero-intake in a large setting such as the Adventist Health Study.

 

The study evaluated the deaths of over 7,900 individuals over an 11-year period. Diet was assessed by a validated quantitative food frequency questionnaire and mortality outcome data were obtained from the National Death Index. Of those individuals who consumed meat, 90 percent of them only ate about two ounces or less of red meat per day.

 

Nearly 2,600 of the reported deaths were due to cardiovascular disease, and over 1,800 were cancer deaths. Processed meat -- modified to improve flavor through curing, smoking, or salting (such as ham and salami) -- alone was not significantly associated with risk of mortality possibly due to a very small proportion of the population who consume such meat. However, the total intake of red and processed meat was associated with relatively higher risks of total and cardiovascular disease deaths.

 

Michael Orlich, MD, PhD, co-director of AHS-2 and co-author of the present study, said these new findings support a significant body of research that affirms the potential ill health effects of red and processed meats.

 

"Our findings give additional weight to the evidence already suggesting that eating red and processed meat may negatively impact health an

Integrated therapy treating obesity and depression is effective

March 5, 2019

Science Daily/University of Illinois at Chicago

An intervention combining behavioral weight loss treatment and problem-solving therapy with as-needed antidepressant medication for participants with co-occurring obesity and depression improved weight loss and depressive symptoms compared with routine physician care.

 

Obesity and depression commonly occur together. Approximately 43 percent of adults with depression are obese, and adults with obesity are at increased risk of experiencing depression. To treat both conditions, patients must visit multiple practitioners usually including dietitians, wellness coaches and mental health counselors or psychiatrists. The burden associated with visiting multiple health care providers consistently over the long periods of time required to treat obesity and depression can be significant and lead to dropping out of therapy altogether. Additionally, these health services may not be available due to a lack of trained providers or reimbursement, and the cost of seeing numerous specialists can be prohibitive.

 

"Treatments exist that are effective at treating obesity and depression separately, but none that address both conditions in concert, which is a critical unmet need because of the high prevalence of obesity and depression together," said Dr. Jun Ma, professor of medicine in the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and principal investigator on the study. "We have shown that delivering obesity and depression therapy in one integrated program using dually trained health coaches who work within a care team that includes a primary care physician and a psychiatrist, is effective at reducing weight and improving depressive symptoms."

 

Ma and colleagues analyzed results of the Research Aimed at Improving Both Mood and Weight (RAINBOW) randomized clinical trial, which compared an integrated collaborative care program to treat co-occurring obesity and depression -- delivered by trained health coaches -- with usual care provided by a personal physician in primary care settings.

 

The RAINBOW weight loss intervention promotes healthy eating and physical activity, while the psychotherapy portion focuses on problem-solving skills. A psychiatrist is able to recommend adding antidepressant medication if needed, which the participant's personal physician would prescribe and manage.

 

Health coaches trained to deliver this integrated program worked in consultation with a primary care physician and a psychiatrist who jointly reviewed the clinical status of patients and advised on treatment adjustments for patients who were not progressing. The primary care physician and psychiatrist did not have direct contact with patients, nor did they prescribe medications or furnish other treatment to patients in the program directly. Their role was supportive and consultative to the health coaches with whom they worked as a team. This care team communicated and collaborated with patients' personal physicians who oversaw the patients' care, including prescribing medications, providing treatments for medical conditions and making referrals to specialty care when needed.

 

Participants in the RAINBOW trial included 409 patients with obesity and depression. All participants received usual medical care from their personal physicians and were provided with information on health care services for obesity and depression at their clinic as well as wireless physical activity trackers.

 

Two hundred and four participants were randomly assigned to receive the integrated collaborative care program and were seen by a health coach for one year. In the first six months, they participated in nine individual counseling sessions and watched 11 videos on healthy lifestyles. In the following six months, participants had monthly telephone calls with their health coach. Two hundred and five participants randomly assigned to the usual care control group did not receive any additional intervention.

 

Participants in the integrated care program experienced more weight loss and decline in the severity of depressive symptoms over one year compared with control participants receiving usual care. On average, patients in the integrated program experienced a decline in body mass index from 36.7 to 35.9 while participants in the usual care group had no change in BMI. Participants receiving integrated therapy reported a decline in depression severity scores based on responses to a questionnaire from 1.5 to 1.1, compared with a change from 1.5 to 1.4 among those in the control group.

 

"While the demonstrated improvements in obesity and depression among participants receiving the integrated therapy were modest, the study represents a step forward because it points to an effective, practical way to integrate fragmented obesity and depression care into one combined therapy, with good potential for implementation in primary care settings, in part because the integrated mental health treatment in primary care settings is now also reimbursable by Medicare. For patients, this approach is an attractive alternative to seeing multiple practitioners each charging for their services as is done traditionally," Ma said.

 

Ma and colleagues are currently investigating ways to tailor the integrated therapy for individual patients by targeting underlying neurobehavioral mechanisms to further improve outcomes.

 

"We have some preliminary data that suggests if we can tailor therapy based on the patient's engagement and response early in the treatment -- for example by offering motivational interviewing to augment integrated therapy for patients who show early signs of poor engagement or progress -- we may further improve the effectiveness of the therapy," Ma said. "In addition, a better understanding of the mechanisms of brain function and behavior change can guide targeted therapy."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190305124714.htm

Daily intake of nutritional supplements cannot prevent depression

March 6, 2019

Science Daily/European Association for the Study of Obesity

MooDFOOD, the largest randomized clinical trial to study the effects of nutritional strategies on the prevention of major depressive disorder concludes that daily intake of nutritional supplements cannot prevent depression.

 

Over 1000 participants who were overweight or had obesity and were identified as being at elevated risk for depression but who were not currently depressed, from four European countries -the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain, took part in the study. Participants were randomized to either take nutritional supplements containing folic acid, vitamin D, zinc, selenium or to a pill placebo, and half of participants also received a behavioural lifestyle intervention intended to change dietary behaviours and patterns.

 

Researcher Mariska Bot from Amsterdam UMC reported: "Daily intake of nutritional supplements over a year does not effectively prevent the onset of a major depressive episode in this sample. Nutritional supplements were not better than placebo. Therapeutic sessions aimed at making changes towards a healthy dietary behaviour did also not convincingly prevent depression." Dr. Bot is first author of a paper showing these results in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

 

Depression is a common disorder

 

More than 40 million Europeans experience a major depressive disorder. One in ten men and one in five women suffer from clinical depression at least once during their lifetime. Depression is one of the most prevalent and disabling disorders in the EU.

 

Given the increasing prevalence of depression, more people are actively searching for ways to decrease their risk through lifestyle modification, but are often overwhelmed by confusing and contradictory information. To help European citizens the MooDFOOD project has developed evidence-based nutritional strategies to help prevent depression.

 

Prevention of depression through a healthy diet

 

The MooDFOOD prevention trial formed a crucial part of the five year MooDFOOD project, which investigated the relationship between nutrition and depression. MooDFOOD was funded by the European Commission and led by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

 

Although the behavioural therapy to encourage a healthy dietary behavior and improve diet was not effective at preventing depression overall, there was some evidence that it prevented depressive episodes in those participants who attended a recommended number of sessions. This may suggest the food behavioural therapy only works if the participants get sufficient exposure and are able to sufficiently improve their diet and dietary behaviour.

 

MooDFOOD project coordinators professor Marjolein Visser and professor Ingeborg Brouwer of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam said:

 

"Several studies within, and outside the five year MooDFOOD project show that consuming a healthy dietary pattern is important for European citizens, not only for physical health, but it may also help to prevent depressive symptoms. " Based on a large number of studies and careful analysis, MooDFOOD researchers have come to three important conclusions at the end of their project. First, a healthy dietary pattern, typified by a Mediterranean style diet high in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish, pulses and olive oil, and low in red meat and full-fat dairy products, may reduce the risk of developing depression. Second, in people with obesity, weight loss can lead to a reduction in depressive symptoms. Third, current evidence does not support the use of nutritional supplements in order to prevent depression.

 

Practical tools

 

These recent results have important implications for all Europeans. The MooDFOOD team has translated these findings into tools for the general population, health professionals (GPs, dieticians and psychologists), researchers and policy makers.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190306100545.htm

Insufficient sleep in children is associated with poor diet, obesity and more screen time

New study suggests a relationship between insufficient sleep and an unhealthy lifestyle

November 12, 2018

Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine

A new study conducted among more than 177,000 students suggests that insufficient sleep duration is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle profile among children and adolescents.

 

Results show that insufficient sleep duration was associated with unhealthy dietary habits such as skipping breakfast (adjusted odds ratio 1.30), fast-food consumption (OR 1.35) and consuming sweets regularly (OR 1.32). Insufficient sleep duration also was associated with increased screen time (OR 1.26) and being overweight/obese (OR 1.21).

 

"Approximately 40 percent of schoolchildren in the study slept less than recommended," said senior author Labros Sidossis, PhD, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. "Insufficient sleeping levels were associated with poor dietary habits, increased screen time and obesity in both genders."

 

The study results are published in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

 

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep nine to 12 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health. Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep eight to 10 hours.

 

Population data were derived from a school-based health survey completed in Greece by 177,091 children (51 percent male) between the ages of 8 and 17 years. Dietary habits, usual weekday and weekend sleeping hours, physical activity status, and sedentary activities were assessed through electronic questionnaires completed at school. Children who reported that they usually sleep fewer than nine hours per day, and adolescents sleeping fewer than eight hours per day, were classified as having insufficient sleep. Anthropometric and physical fitness measurements were obtained by physical education teachers.

 

A greater proportion of males than females (42.3 percent versus 37.3 percent) and of children compared with adolescents (42.1 percent versus 32.8 percent) reported insufficient sleep duration. Adolescents with an insufficient sleep duration also had lower aerobic fitness and physical activity.

 

"The most surprising finding was that aerobic fitness was associated with sleep habits," said Sidossis. "In other words, better sleep habits were associated with better levels of aerobic fitness. We can speculate that adequate sleep results in higher energy levels during the day. Therefore, children who sleep well are maybe more physically active during the day and hence have higher aerobic capacity."

 

The authors noted that the results support the development of interventions to help students improve sleep duration.

 

"Insufficient sleep duration among children constitutes an understated health problem in Westernized societies," Sidossis said. "Taking into consideration these epidemiologic findings, parents, teachers and health professionals should promote strategies emphasizing healthy sleeping patterns for school-aged children in terms of quality and duration."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181112191814.htm

Sitting in front of the TV puts kids in the obesity hotseat

February 8, 2019

Science Daily/University of South Australia

The simple act of switching on the TV for some downtime could be making a bigger contribution to childhood obesity than we realize, according to new research.

 

The study investigated the impact of different sitting behaviours -- watching television, playing video games, playing computer, sitting down to eat, or travelling in a car -- and found that watching TV is more strongly associated with obesity in both boys and girls than any other type of sitting.

 

While childhood obesity is a global issue, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017-18 show that in Australia almost a quarter of children aged 5-17 years are considered overweight or obese.

 

UniSA researcher, Dr Margarita Tsiros says the study provides new insights about the impact of sedentary behaviours on children.

 

"It's no surprise that the more inactive a child is, the greater their risk of being overweight," Dr Tsiros says.

 

"But not all sedentary behaviours are created equal when it comes to children's weight. This research suggests that how long children spend sitting may be less important that what they do when they are sitting.

 

"For instance, some types of sitting are more strongly associated with body fat in children than others, and time spent watching TV seems to be the worst culprit."

 

The study assessed the sedentary behaviours of 234 Australian children aged 10-13 years who either were of a healthy weight (74 boys, 56 girls) or classified as obese (56 boys, 48 girls).

 

It found that, excluding sleep, children spent more than 50 per cent of their day sitting, with television dominating their time for 2.5 -- 3 hours each day.

 

Dr Tsiros says that the study also found differences between the sitting behaviours of boys and girls.

 

"Boys not only watched more TV than girls -- an extra 37 minutes per day -- but also spent significantly more time playing video games," Dr Tsiros says.

 

"Video gaming and computer use are popular past times, but our data suggests these activities may be linked with higher body fat in boys.

 

"Boys who are sitting for longer than 30 minutes may also have higher body fat, so it's important to monitor their screen and sitting time and ensure they take regular breaks."

 

Dr Tsiros says that setting children up on a path towards a healthy weight is extremely important to their health now and in the future.

 

"When we look at adult obesity, almost two thirds of Australians are overweight or obese, which is causing many serious health issues," Dr Tsiros says.

 

"An overweight child is more likely to grow up into an overweight adult, so the importance of tackling unhealthy behaviours in childhood is critical.

 

"Children who are obese have an increased risk of developing serious health disorders, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.

 

"They may also experience reduced wellbeing, social and self-esteem issues, along with pain and difficulties with movement and activity.

 

"By understanding children's sedentary behaviours -- especially those that are placing our kids at risk -- we'll ensure they stay on a better path towards a healthier weight."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190208085857.htm

Fruit and vegetables may be important for mental as well as physical well-being

Consuming more fruit and vegetables can improve your mental well-being, according to a new study.

February 5, 2019

Science Daily/University of Leeds

Researchers have analyzed data from more than 40,000 people in the UK, and found that changes in fruit and vegetable consumption are correlated with changes in mental well-being.

 

A key feature of this work is that the study was able to follow the same individuals over time.

 

The study also controlled for alternative factors that may affect mental well-being, such as age, education, income, marital status, employment status, lifestyle and health, as well as consumption of other foods such as bread or dairy products.

 

The research showed a positive association between the quantity of fruit and vegetables consumed and people's self-reported mental well-being.

 

Specifically, the findings indicate that eating just one extra portion of fruits and vegetables a day could have an equivalent effect on mental well-being as around 8 extra days of walking a month (for at least 10 minutes at a time).

 

Dr Neel Ocean of the University of Leeds, who authored the study with Dr Peter Howley (University of Leeds) and Dr Jonathan Ensor (University of York), said: "It's well-established that eating fruit and vegetables can benefit physical health.

 

"Recently, newer studies have suggested that it may also benefit psychological well-being. Our research builds on previous work in Australia and New Zealand by verifying this relationship using a much bigger UK sample.

 

"While further work is needed to demonstrate cause and effect, the results are clear: people who do eat more fruit and vegetables report a higher level of mental well-being and life satisfaction than those who eat less."

 

Dr Howley said: "There appears to be accumulating evidence for the psychological benefits of fruits and vegetables. Despite this, the data show that the vast majority of people in the UK still consume less than their five-a-day.

 

"Encouraging better dietary habits may not just be beneficial to physical health in the long run but may also improve mental well-being in the shorter term."

 

Dr Ensor added: "This work is part of a broader project between our universities known as "IKnowFood". As well as investigating consumer behaviour and wellbeing, IKnowFood is exploring how farmers in the UK, and businesses across the global food supply chain, can become more resilient in the face of growing uncertainty in markets, regulation and the natural environment."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190205144450.htm

Persistent low body weight in young kids increases risk for anorexia nervosa later

January 31, 2019

Science Daily/University of North Carolina Health Care

A new study has found that a persistent low body mass index (BMI) in children, starting as young as age 2 for boys and 4 for girls, may be a risk factor for the development of anorexia nervosa in adolescence.

 

In addition, the study, published in the February 2019 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that a persistent high BMI in childhood may be a risk factor for later development of bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and purging disorder. This large population study is based on analysis of data from 1,502 individuals who participated in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children in the UK.

 

"Until now, we have had very little guidance on how to identify children who might be at increased risk for developing eating disorders later in adolescence," said Zeynep Yilmaz, PhD, study first author and an assistant professor of psychiatry and genetics at the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "By looking at growth records of thousands of children across time, we saw early warning profiles that could signal children at risk."

 

Co-author Cynthia Bulik, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders also from UNC highlights, "Clinically, this means that pediatricians should be alert for children who fall off and stay below the growth curve throughout childhood. This could be an early warning sign of risk for anorexia nervosa. The same holds for children who exceed and remain above the growth curve -- only their risk is increased for the other eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder."

 

Yilmaz said that although eating disorders are psychiatric in nature, the study highlights the need to also consider metabolic risk factors alongside psychological, sociocultural, and environmental components. "The differences in childhood body weight of adolescents who later developed eating disorders started to emerge at a very early age -- way too early to be caused by social pressures to be thin or dieting. A more likely explanation is that underlying metabolic factors that are driven by genetics, could predispose these individuals to weight dysregulation. This aligns with our other genetic work that has highlighted a metabolic component to anorexia nervosa."

 

Corresponding author of the study is Nadia Micali, MD, MRCPsych PhD, Full Professor at University of Geneva Faculty of Medicine and Head of Geneva University Hospitals' Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

 

"Our results also highlight the multi-factorial composition of eating disorders, as well as the need to develop early detection tools that could be used as part of routine checks by all pediatricians. Indeed, the earlier the problem is identified, the better it can be managed, especially if support is provided to the family as a whole, rather than just the individual," Micali said.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190131143436.htm

Want healthier eating habits? Start with a workout

January 30, 2019

Science Daily/University of Texas at Austin

Researchers have found that formerly sedentary young adults who were instructed to exercise regularly for several weeks started choosing healthier foods without being asked to.

 

In the latest evidence that it's worth sticking to your health-focused New Year's resolutions, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have found that exercising regularly is linked to better eating habits.

 

The new study, published this week in the International Journal of Obesity, looked at 2,680 young adults who were not exercising regularly or dieting. Scientists found that after exercising for several weeks, formerly sedentary study participants were more likely to choose foods like lean meats, fruits and vegetables, while preferences for fried foods, sodas and other unhealthy options decreased.

 

Participants were instructed not to change their diets in any significant way, but it happened anyway. Although this study did not examine the mechanism at work behind the changes, previous research has found that moderate exercise can reduce a preference for high-fat foods in animals through changes in dopamine levels. Several studies also have shown a relationship between the intensity of exercise and the amount of appetite-regulating hormones in the body.

 

"The process of becoming physically active can influence dietary behavior," said Molly Bray, corresponding author of the paper and chair of the Nutritional Sciences department at UT Austin and a pediatrics faculty member at Dell Medical School. "One of the reasons that we need to promote exercise is for the healthy habits it can create in other areas. That combination is very powerful."

 

Bray says what drives food-preference changes when people exercise would probably be consistent across a wide span of ages. The study examined people between the ages of 18 and 35, a period of young adulthood critical for forming healthy habits. Previous studies have found that considerable weight gain occurs during the college years and that being mildly to moderately overweight at age 20-22 increases the risk of obesity later in life.

 

"Many people in the study didn't know they had this active, healthy person inside them," Bray said. "Some of them thought their size was inevitable. For many of these young people, they are choosing what to eat and when to exercise for the first time in their lives."

 

The participants in the study were students at the University of Houston and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Participants who said they exercised less than 30 minutes a week at the beginning of the study started 30-minute aerobic workouts three times a week for 15 weeks, with instructions not to change their diet in any significant way. The exercise sessions consisted of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at 65-85 percent of the person's age- and gender-specific maximum heart rate, along with a 5-minute warmup and a 5-minute cool down. Participants wore heart-rate monitors and could choose from a variety of exercise types, such as on stationary bikes, treadmills or elliptical machines.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190130112728.htm

Women gain weight when job demands are high

January 25, 2019

Science Daily/University of Gothenburg

Heavy pressures at work seem to predispose women to weight gain, irrespective of whether they have received an academic education. This is shown in a study of more than 3,800 people in Sweden.

 

"We were able to see that high job demands played a part in women's weight gain, while for men there was no association between high demands and weight gain," says Sofia Klingberg, a researcher in community medicine and public health at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and the study's lead author.

 

The basis for the article, published in the journal International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, was the Västerbotten Intervention Program, a Swedish population-based study. Klingberg's study included 3,872 participants in this program.

 

The women and men in the study were investigated on three occasions over a 20-year period with respect to such variables as body weight and demands and control at work. They were followed either from age 30 to 50 or from 40 to 60.

 

To estimate the level of job demands, the respondents were asked about their work pace, psychological pressures, whether there was enough time for their duties and how often the demands made were contradictory.

 

The questions about control at work covered such matters as how often they learned something new; whether the job called for imagination or advanced skills; and whether the respondent was personally able to choose what to do and how to do it.

 

The results show that the respondents with a low degree of control in their work more frequently gained considerable weight, defined as a weight gain of 10 percent or more, in the course of the study. This applied to women and men alike.

 

On the other hand, long-term exposure to high job demands played a part only for women. In just over half of the women who had been subjected to high demands, a major increase in weight took place over the 20 years. This gain in weight was some 20 percent higher than in women subject to low job demands.

 

"When it came to the level of demands at work, only the women were affected. We haven't investigated the underlying causes, but it may conceivably be about a combination of job demands and the greater responsibility for the home that women often assume. This may make it difficult to find time to exercise and live a healthy life," Klingberg says.

 

Having had or not had an academic education does not explain the associations in the study. Neither do quality of diet or other lifestyle factors. However, the information about dietary intake comes from the respondents themselves, with a certain risk of incorrect reporting.

 

At the same time, given the problems associated with work-related stress, the study is relevant in terms of public health. The researchers think identification of groups who are susceptible to stress and efforts to reduce work-related stress would likely achieve a decrease not only in weight gain but also in the incidence of ill health, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190125172950.htm

Want healthier eating habits? Start with a workout

January 30, 2019

Science Daily/University of Texas at Austin

Researchers have found that formerly sedentary young adults who were instructed to exercise regularly for several weeks started choosing healthier foods without being asked to.

 

In the latest evidence that it's worth sticking to your health-focused New Year's resolutions, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have found that exercising regularly is linked to better eating habits.

 

The new study, published this week in the International Journal of Obesity, looked at 2,680 young adults who were not exercising regularly or dieting. Scientists found that after exercising for several weeks, formerly sedentary study participants were more likely to choose foods like lean meats, fruits and vegetables, while preferences for fried foods, sodas and other unhealthy options decreased.

 

Participants were instructed not to change their diets in any significant way, but it happened anyway. Although this study did not examine the mechanism at work behind the changes, previous research has found that moderate exercise can reduce a preference for high-fat foods in animals through changes in dopamine levels. Several studies also have shown a relationship between the intensity of exercise and the amount of appetite-regulating hormones in the body.

 

"The process of becoming physically active can influence dietary behavior," said Molly Bray, corresponding author of the paper and chair of the Nutritional Sciences department at UT Austin and a pediatrics faculty member at Dell Medical School. "One of the reasons that we need to promote exercise is for the healthy habits it can create in other areas. That combination is very powerful."

 

Bray says what drives food-preference changes when people exercise would probably be consistent across a wide span of ages. The study examined people between the ages of 18 and 35, a period of young adulthood critical for forming healthy habits. Previous studies have found that considerable weight gain occurs during the college years and that being mildly to moderately overweight at age 20-22 increases the risk of obesity later in life.

 

"Many people in the study didn't know they had this active, healthy person inside them," Bray said. "Some of them thought their size was inevitable. For many of these young people, they are choosing what to eat and when to exercise for the first time in their lives."

 

The participants in the study were students at the University of Houston and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Participants who said they exercised less than 30 minutes a week at the beginning of the study started 30-minute aerobic workouts three times a week for 15 weeks, with instructions not to change their diet in any significant way. The exercise sessions consisted of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at 65-85 percent of the person's age- and gender-specific maximum heart rate, along with a 5-minute warmup and a 5-minute cool down. Participants wore heart-rate monitors and could choose from a variety of exercise types, such as on stationary bikes, treadmills or elliptical machines.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190130112728.htm

Not all saturated fats are equal when it comes to heart health

Cardiovascular risk of diets rich in saturated fats found in meats and the benefits of plant-based and dairy alternatives

January 28, 2019

Science Daily/Elsevier

The type of saturated fats we eat can affect our risk of a heart attack, according to a study published in the International Journal of Cardiology. People whose diets contain relatively little palmitic and stearic acid -- saturated fats composed of 16 or more carbon atoms (longer-chain saturated fats) that are typically found in meats -- and eat plant-based proteins instead have decreased chances of myocardial infarction. Moreover, individuals who eat more saturated fats with 14 or fewer carbon atoms (shorter-chain saturated fats) that are typically found in dairy products have lower risk of myocardial infarction.

 

"Our analysis of the diets of large groups of individuals in two countries over time shows that the type of saturated fats we consume could affect our cardiovascular heath," explained lead investigator Ivonne Sluijs, PhD, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.

 

The study investigated whether saturated fats with chains varying in length from 4 to 18 carbon atoms are associated with the risk of developing a myocardial infarction. Data from approximately 75,000 people in the UK and Denmark were analyzed. Of these two groups, nearly 3,500 people experienced myocardial infarction in the period between the study's initial outreach and follow-up 13 years later (in Denmark) and 18 years later (in the UK).

 

"We found that eating relatively little of the longer chained saturated fatty acids and consuming plant-based proteins instead was associated with a lowered risk. Substitution of those saturated fats with other energy sources such as carbohydrates did not affect the risk to develop myocardial infarction," said Dr. Sluijs. Although diets vary by nationality and other factors, the most frequently consumed saturated fat is palmitic acid, with 16 carbon atoms, followed by stearic acid, with 18 carbon atoms, both of which are found in meat products. Consumption of saturated fats that have shorter carbon atom chains and are present in dairy products is less prevalent.

 

Since the 1960s, when diets high in saturated fat were linked to elevated "bad" LDL cholesterol and coronary heart disease, dietary guidelines recommended restricting saturated fatty acids across the board. In recent years, research studies have raised some questions about what was considered established evidence. Inconsistent findings have pointed to the possibility that different types of saturated fats have different effects on cholesterol levels and the development of coronary heart disease. Despite the fact that their study's findings support this hypothesis, Dr. Sluijs and her fellow investigators recommend proceeding with caution before changing dietary guidelines:

 

"Our study only allowed us to draw conclusions on the level of associations between saturated fatty acids and the development of myocardial infarction. We do not know whether those fatty acids are actually the cause of differences between the occurrences of myocardial infarction we observed. To further explore this, we need experiments in which the consumption of saturated fatty acids is more controlled and, for instance, compared with consumption of unsaturated fatty acids," she noted.

 

"The study is applaudable for its large size, prospective cohort study design, and detailed assessment of diet and lifestyle factors. In addition, it is among the few studies that specifically examined individual saturated fatty acids in relation to coronary heart disease risk and compared with different macronutrients," commented Jun Li, MD, PhD, and Qi Sun, MD, ScD, both at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA, in an accompanying editorial. They also noted a few limitations of the study and thus called for cautious interpretation of the overall null results for the primary saturated fatty acids.

 

Dr. Li and Dr. Sun advise that shifts in fat intake should align with the recommended healthy dietary patterns, which emphasize limited intakes of red and processed meat and added sugars, lower salt intake, replacement of refined grains with whole grains, and higher consumption of fruits and vegetables.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190128105230.htm

Excessive body fat around the middle linked to smaller brain size

January 9, 2019

Science Daily/American Academy of Neurology

Carrying extra body fat, especially around the middle, may be linked to brain shrinkage, according to new research. For the study, researchers determined obesity by measuring body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio in study participants and found those with higher ratios of both measures had the lowest brain volume.

 

BMI is a weight-to-height ratio. It is determined by dividing a person's weight by the square of their height. People with a BMI above 30.0 are considered obese. Waist-to-hip ratio is determined by dividing waist circumference by hip circumference. People with bigger bellies compared to their hips have higher ratios. Men above 0.90 and women above 0.85 are considered to be centrally obese.

 

"Existing research has linked brain shrinkage to memory decline and a higher risk of dementia, but research on whether extra body fat is protective or detrimental to brain size has been inconclusive," said study author Mark Hamer, PhD, of Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England. "Our research looked at a large group of people and found obesity, specifically around the middle, may be linked with brain shrinkage."

 

The study looked at 9,652 people with an average age of 55. Of that group, 19 percent were determined to be obese. Researchers measured BMI, waist-to-hip ratio and overall body fat and surveyed participants about their health. Researchers then used magnetic resonance imaging to determine brain volumes for white and gray brain matter and volumes in the various regions of the brain.

 

Gray matter contains most of the brain's nerve cells and includes brain regions involved in self-control, muscle control and sensory perception. White matter contains nerve fiber bundles that connect various regions of the brain.

 

After adjusting for other factors that may affect brain volume, such as age, physical activity, smoking and high blood pressure, researchers found that while a high BMI alone was linked to slightly lower brain volumes, those with high BMI and waist-to-hip ratios had lower gray matter brain volumes than participants who did not have a high waist-to-hip ratio. Specifically, researchers found that 1,291 people who had a high BMI and a high waist-to-hip ratio had the lowest average gray matter brain volume of 786 cubic centimeters, compared to 3,025 people of healthy weight who had an average gray matter brain volume of 798 cubic centimeters and 514 people with a high BMI but without high waist-to-hip ratio who had an average gray matter brain volume of 793 cubic centimeters. They found no significant differences in white matter brain volume.

 

"While our study found obesity, especially around the middle, was associated with lower gray matter brain volumes, it's unclear if abnormalities in brain structure lead to obesity or if obesity leads to these changes in the brain," said Hamer. "We also found links between obesity and shrinkage in specific regions of the brain. This will need further research but it may be possible that someday regularly measuring BMI and waist-to-hip ratio may help determine brain health."

 

A limitation of the study was that only 5 percent of those invited to participate in the study took part, and those who participated tended to be healthier than those who did not, so the results may not reflect the population as a whole.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190109164233.htm

Personality type could shape attitudes toward body weight of others

January 15, 2019

Science Daily/Florida State University

Researchers found that personality traits have significant bearing on a person's attitudes toward obesity, their implicit theories of weight and their willingness to engage in derisive fat talk or weight discrimination.

 

Studies show there is a major link between personality traits and personal body image, but the relationship between personality and attitudes toward others' bodies has gone largely unexplored.

 

Now, Florida State University researchers suggest that the specific alchemy of an individual's personality -- their distinct blend of conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness, neuroticism and extraversion -- is directly related to their beliefs about others' bodies and the ways those beliefs are expressed in social interactions.

 

In a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, researchers found that the relative prominence of these five personality traits, which together constitute the Five Factor model of personality, has a significant bearing on a person's attitudes toward obesity, their implicit theories of weight and their willingness to engage in derisive fat talk or weight discrimination.

 

"Individuals who are higher in neuroticism hold more negative attitudes about obesity, they show more phobia toward weight, they talk more negatively about their body to their friends and around their children, and they are more likely to perceive weight discrimination," said study co-author Angelina Sutin, associate professor in FSU's College of Medicine.

 

The scientific literature has long suggested a strong connection between personality and body weight. People who score high in conscientiousness, for example, tend to weigh less and have lower long-term risk of obesity, whereas people higher in neuroticism tend to harbor negative emotions about their bodies.

 

While these connections present a compelling case for the power of personality in predicting a person's body weight or coloring a person's body image, Sutin and her team were interested in broadening this line of inquiry beyond the individual. They wanted to learn more about how personality may be modulating body weight experiences in the social realm.

 

"There is a social dimension to body weight," Sutin said. "People have attitudes about body weight and what contributes to obesity. People also often vocalize their fears about how they look and what they need to do to lose weight. We wanted to know whether personality contributes to this social experience."

 

Sutin and her team interviewed 3,099 women with children using a series of carefully crafted surveys that allowed researchers to map respondents' attitudes and behaviors onto their individual Five Factor personality profiles. Their results were largely in line with expectation: higher neuroticism foretold more negative attitudes, and higher conscientiousness generally aligned with more positive attitudes and behaviors.

 

One finding, though, surprised Sutin and her team. Their surveys pointed to a significant association between conscientiousness and greater fat phobia.

 

"One aspect of conscientiousness is following the norms of society," Sutin said. "Even though two-thirds of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, there are strong social ideals for health and fitness -- even if, on average, we do not meet these ideals."

 

People high in conscientiousness -- already preconditioned to follow rules and hold to prevailing social beliefs -- may internalize these ideals, Sutin said. Eventually, that may result in expressions of phobia toward obesity.

 

"Their endorsement of obesity stereotypes may be consistent with their need to fit with beliefs held by society more broadly," Sutin and her co-author, FSU College of Medicine Associate Professor Antonio Terracciano, wrote in their study.

 

While these results need to be replicated to confirm their validity beyond this specific cohort of mothers, Sutin said both individuals and society would benefit from renewed scrutiny on attitudes toward others' bodies.

 

"Attitudes have broad-reaching consequences -- for how the individual feels and responds to their body, for shaping children's attitudes toward their own bodies and the bodies of those around them, and for policy," she said. "If people hold negative attitudes toward obesity, that could shape the way that policies are made and implemented and perpetuate stigma toward obesity rather than constructive ways to address it."

 

This research was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190115124436.htm

Slim people have a genetic advantage when it comes to maintaining their weight

January 24, 2019

Science Daily/University of Cambridge

In the largest study of its kind to date, researchers have looked at why some people manage to stay thin while others gain weight easily. They have found that the genetic dice are loaded in favor of thin people and against those at the obese end of the spectrum.

 

More than six in ten adults in the UK are overweight, and one in four adults is obese. By age five, almost one in four children is either overweight or obese. Excess weight increases the risk of related health problems including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

 

While it is well known that changes in our environment, such as easy access to high calorie foods and sedentary lifestyles, have driven the rise in obesity in recent years, there is considerable individual variation in weight within a population that shares the same environment. Some people seem able to eat what they like and remain thin. This has led some people to characterise overweight people as lazy or lacking willpower.

 

With support from Wellcome and the European Research Council, a team led by Professor Sadaf Farooqi at the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, established the Study Into Lean and Thin Subjects -- STILTS -- to examine why and how some people find it easier to stay thin than others. Studies of twins have shown that variation in body weight is largely influenced by our genes. To date studies have overwhelmingly focused on people who are overweight. Hundreds of genes have been found that increase the chance of a person being overweight and in some people faulty genes can cause severe obesity from a young age.

 

Professor Sadaf Farooqi's team were able to recruit 2,000 people who were thin (defined as a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18 kg/m2) but healthy, with no medical conditions or eating disorders. They worked with general practices across the UK, taking saliva samples to enable DNA analysis and asking participants to answer questions about their general health and lifestyles. It is thought to be the only cohort of its kind in the world and the researchers say that the UK's National Institute for Health Research -- the National Health Service's research infrastructure -- strongly enabled and supported their research.

 

In a study published today in the journal PLOS Genetics, Professor Farooqi's team collaborated with Dr Inês Barroso's team at the Wellcome Sanger Institute to compare the DNA of some 14,000 people -1,622 thin volunteers from the STILTS cohort, 1,985 severely obese people and a further 10,433 normal weight controls.

 

Our DNA comprises of a sequence of molecules known as base pairs, represented by the letters A, C, G and T. Strings of these base pairs form genetic regions (which include or make up our genes). Our genes provide the code for how our body functions and changes in the spelling -- for example, a C in place of an A -- can have subtle or sometimes dramatic changes on features such as hair colour and eye colour but also on a person's weight.

 

The team found several common genetic variants already identified as playing a role in obesity. In addition, they found new genetic regions involved in severe obesity and some involved in healthy thinness.

 

To see what impact these genes had on an individual's weight, the researchers added up the contribution of the different genetic variants to calculate a genetic risk score.

 

"As anticipated, we found that obese people had a higher genetic risk score than normal weight people, which contributes to their risk of being overweight. The genetic dice are loaded against them," explains Dr Barroso.

 

Importantly, the team also showed that thin people, had a much lower genetic risk score -- they had fewer genetic variants that we know increase a person's chances of being overweight.

 

"This research shows for the first time that healthy thin people are generally thin because they have a lower burden of genes that increase a person's chances of being overweight and not because they are morally superior, as some people like to suggest," says Professor Farooqi. "It's easy to rush to judgement and criticise people for their weight, but the science shows that things are far more complex. We have far less control over our weight than we might wish to think."

 

Three out of four people (74%) in the STILTS cohort had a family history of being thin and healthy and the team found some genetic changes that were significantly more common in thin people, which they say may allow them to pinpoint new genes and biological mechanisms that help people stay thin.

 

"We already know that people can be thin for different reasons" says Professor Farooqi. "Some people are just not that interested in food whereas others can eat what they like, but never put on weight. If we can find the genes that prevent them from putting on weight, we may be able to target those genes to find new weight loss strategies and help people who do not have this advantage."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190124141538.htm

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