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How to fix our food problems

2 Jan

This is a very interesting opinion by Mark Bittman of NYT about our food and how we should tackle our food problems in the coming year. The writer identified – sugar as a big issue to our growing obesity. He believes that we should tackle sugar as we tackle tobacco; we should be vigilant about how our food is produced and should reject pork produced in crate – we should care better for the animals destined for our dinner tables. And good food should be available to the poorest in our midst.
When people are poor they reach for the cheapest foods that are often the most unhealthy. If more unhealthy foods are eliminated then everyone would stand a better chance at health and healthy foods. Some of the stuff that we spend good money on are anything but food. Read the article for yourself here:

Nothing affects public health in the United States more than food. Gun violence kills tens of thousands of Americans a year. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes kill more than a million people a year — nearly half of all deaths — and diet is a root cause of many of those diseases.

And the root of that dangerous diet is our system of hyper-industrial agriculture, the kind that uses 10 times as much energy as it produces.


Stop Eating Too Much

4 Feb

As the nation’s obesity crisis continues unabated, federal regulators on Monday issued their bluntest nutrition advice to date: drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda, fill your plate with fruits and vegetables and cut down on processed foods filled with sodium, fat or sugar.More important, perhaps, the government told Americans, “Enjoy your food, but eat less.” Many Americans eat too many calories every day, expanding their waistlines and imperiling their health.

Employers discriminate against fat people

25 Jan

Did you know that fat are hired less often, paid less wages and are more accident prone than others.  An employer can fire you just because you are fat in the United States and there is not much you can do as being “fat” is not a protected characteristics under the  human rights code.
According to a study at Duke University study, “obese workers filed twice the number of workers’ compensation claims, had seven times higher medical costs from those claims and lost 13 times more days of work from work injury or work illness than did nonobese workers.

It is discrimination to treat fat people in this manner but it is not against the law it appears.

Environmental Influences our Weight

31 Oct

The temptations of our environment — the sedentary living, the ready supply of rich food — may not be entirely to blame for rising obesity rates. In fact, new research suggests that the environment that most strongly influences body composition may be the very first one anybody experiences: the womb.


According to several animal studies, conditions during pregnancy, including the mother’s diet, may determine how fat the offspring are as adults. Human studies have shown that women who eat little in pregnancy, surprisingly, more often have children who grow into fat adults. More than a dozen studies have found that children are more likely to be fat if their mothers smoke during pregnancy.


The research is just beginning, true, but already it has upended some hoary myths about dieting. The body establishes its optimal weight early on, perhaps even before birth, and defends it vigorously through adulthood. As a result, weight control is difficult for most of us. And obesity, the terrible new epidemic of the developed world, is almost impossible to cure.

Schools are improving in cafetaria nutrition, study finds

22 Oct

Schools Found Improvinand Fitness – New York Times g on Nutrition and Fitness – New York Times Schools Found Improving on Nutrition

Recent study finds that US schools are meeting the challenge of improving students nutrition as far as the cafetaria options go. Spurred by the growing crisis in child obesity, the nation’s schools have made “considerable improvements” in nutrition, fitness and health over the last six years, according to a new government survey that found that more schools require physical education and fewer sell French fries.

Growing Evidence CLA May Help in the Fight against Obesity

27 Aug

Evidence is beginning to show that conjugated  linoleic acid (CLA) may succeed where other weight loss supplements have failed according to recent research by University of Wisconsin researchers.  CLA is a polyunsaturated fat that comes mainly from beef and dairy products, breast milk and some vegetable oils.  Research concludes that it reduces body fat, increases muscle mass.  The researchers cautioned that further study is needed to provide conclusive evidence

Tackling Obesity Needs a Strategy Now.

27 Aug

 Self-described “recovering foodaholic” Mike Huckabee who lost 110 pounds a few years ago warned his Southern governors recently that an obesity epidemic a wreak havoc with the American economy.  There needs to be a war on fat.“Let me ask this question: Who’s going to fight it in the future if we’re a generation so sick that we don’t have the capacity to show up for work?” Poverty has a lot to do with obesity.  Bad foods are cheaper than better quality food.As clearly indicated in a recent report, most of the fifteen states with the highest obesity rate are in the southern states which are also among the poorest in the US.Mississippi clocked in as the fattest adult states followed in descending order by West Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Indiana and Michigan, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Georgia and Ohio.The 15 states with the highest obesity rates for youths ages 10 through 17 were: D.C., West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, and Indiana. Georgia and Arkansas tied for 12th.

Waste your waist away for better health

14 Aug


Winnipeg, August 13, 2007 

Don’t belive anyone who tells you that you can spot reduce. The only way you can do that is by surgery.  When you reduce you reduce all over your body.

According to a BBC article of August 13, 2007, researchers at University of Texas found that a person’s waist size relative to their hip size is a key indicator of possible pending heard disease.

According to the experts whose research included over 2000 men and women, a size of 32 inches (81cm) for a woman or 37in (84cm) for a man,  and over spells trouble.

Researchers recommed that moderate exercise  e.g. walking hal-hour, five days a week is the minimum required to maintain good health.

The key: Move your body, every movement uses calories and it counts!

Diet food, drink could set young kids up for later obesity: study

8 Aug

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 8, 2007 | 10:55 AM ET

The Canadian Press

 Parents who feed young children low-calorie foods and beverages in a bid to keep them at a healthy weight may inadvertently contribute to overeating and even childhood obesity, researchers from the University of Alberta suggest. In studies of laboratory rats, researchers found that young rodents could be trained to connect the taste of food with their caloric value. When food flavours were associated with low-caloric energy — as with diet foods and drinks — the rodents would chow down on far more food at regular meals than their bodies required. Consuming diet foods and drinks may inadvertently contribute to overeating, according to a study from the University of Alberta.(Canadian Press) “They ate more when they had a cue that indicated ‘I haven’t had any calories,’ even though they had just taken in a good number of calories,” David Pierce, a professor of sociology and lead author of the study told CBC News. Calorie-wise foods that taste the same as their full-calorie counterparts may undermine the body’s natural ability to regulate food intake and weight, said Pierce. He theorizes that the body “gets a sensory cue that it hasn’t had any calories,” even though it is actually receiving an ample amount. He speculated that a similar mechanism could lead young children who consume diet foods and drinks to also end up overeating and gaining excess weight over time. “I think the data showed that if you subvert the usual relationship between taste and calorie content, it leads to disruption of the normal physiological and behavioural energy balance in juveniles, resulting in an overeating effect,” Pierce said Tuesday from Edmonton. Continue Article “Based on what we’ve learned, it is better for children to eat healthy, well-balanced diets with sufficient calories for their daily activities, rather than low-calorie snacks or meals,” he said. For one of the studies in their research paper, published Wednesday in the journal Obesity, four-week-old lab rats were conditioned over 16 days to associate certain sweet or salty flavours with low-calorie food. Following that conditioning, the rodents were fed a high-calorie rice cake snack dipped in a flavour they’d come to associate with low-energy foods. And even though the rice cake should have helped satiate their need for energy-producing calories, the animals still overate when it came to the regular meal that followed. In a second study, eight-week-old “adolescent” rats had low-cal foods added to their diet, but those animals did not display the same tendency to overeat. The researchers believe the older rats didn’t eat excessively because they had learned as youngsters to rely on a variety of taste-related cues to correctly assess the energy value of their food. “It may be that the adolescent rat is probably relying on other sensory and gustatory cues in addition to the ones we were using to energy-regulate,” said Pierce. Fruits, vegetables good after school snacksDr. Katherine Morrison, a pediatric endocrinologist and childhood obesity expert at McMaster University, called the study intriguing. “I welcome a study such as this to help us to move further in our understanding of how do we become full and what is it that encourages us to eat,” Morrison said from Hamilton. ‘It is better for children to eat healthy, well-balanced diets with sufficient calories for their daily activities, rather than low-calorie snacks or meals.’— David Pierce, researcher”When it comes specifically to sweetened drinks, I think this study raises a question [about] just substituting diet pop for [regular] pop. It doesn’t tell us that we shouldn’t do it. It raises the question: Is that a good approach?” Morrison said she encourages parents when their child comes home “famished” after school to have healthy foods on hand — such as vegetables, fruits or salad — “that will sort of take the edge off as you move into your evening meal. “You certainly don’t want to be going with something like chips or chocolate bars or even granola bars, which give a pretty high-calorie punch in short order.”

Find Yourself Packing It On? Blame Friends

27 Jul

July 26, 2007

Obesity can spread from person to person, much like a virus, researchers are reporting today. When one person gains weight, close friends tend to gain weight, too.

Their study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, involved a detailed analysis of a large social network of 12,067 people who had been closely followed for 32 years, from 1971 to 2003.

The investigators knew who was friends with whom as well as who was a spouse or sibling or neighbor, and they knew how much each person weighed at various times over three decades. That let them reconstruct what happened over the years as individuals became obese. Did their friends also become obese? Did family members? Or neighbors?

The answer, the researchers report, was that people were most likely to become obese when a friend became obese. That increased a person’s chances of becoming obese by 57 percent. There was no effect when a neighbor gained or lost weight, however, and family members had less influence than friends.

It did not even matter if the friend was hundreds of miles away, the influence remained. And the greatest influence of all was between close mutual friends. There, if one became obese, the other had a 171 percent increased chance of becoming obese, too.

The same effect seemed to occur for weight loss, the investigators say. But since most people were gaining, not losing, over the 32 years, the result was, on average, that people grew fatter.

Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis, a physician and professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School and a principal investigator in the new study, said one explanation was that friends affected each others’ perception of fatness. When a close friend becomes obese, obesity may not look so bad.

“You change your idea of what is an acceptable body type by looking at the people around you,” Dr. Christakis said.

The investigators say their findings can help explain why Americans have become fatter in recent years — each person who became obese was likely to drag along some friends.

Their analysis was unique, Dr. Christakis said, because it moved beyond a simple analysis of one person and his or her social contacts and instead examined an entire social network at once, looking at how a person’s friend’s friends, or a spouse’s sibling’s friends, could have an influence on a person’s weight.

The effects, he said, “highlight the importance of a spreading process, a kind of social contagion, that spreads through the network.”

Of course, the investigators say, social networks are not the only factors that affect body weight. There is a strong genetic component at work, too.

Science has shown that individuals have genetically determined ranges of weights, spanning perhaps 30 or so pounds for each person. But that leaves a large role for the environment in determining whether a person’s weight is near the top of his or her range or near the bottom. As people have gotten fatter, it appears that many are edging toward the top of their ranges. The question has been why.

If the new research is correct, it may say that something in the environment seeded what some call an obesity epidemic, making a few people gain weight. Then social networks let the obesity spread rapidly.

It may also mean that the way to avoid becoming fat is to avoid having fat friends.

That is not the message they mean to convey, say the study investigators, Dr. Christakis and his colleague, James H. Fowler, an associate professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego.

You do not want to lose a friend who becomes obese, Dr. Christakis said. Friends are good for your overall health, he explained. So why not make friends with a thin person, he suggested, and let the thin person’s behavior influence you and your obese friend?

That answer does not satisfy obesity researchers like Kelly D. Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.

“I think there’s a great risk here in blaming obese people even more for things that are caused by a terrible environment,” Dr. Brownell said.

On average, the investigators said, their rough calculations show that a person who became obese gained 17 pounds and the newly obese person’s friend gained five. But some gained less or did not gain weight at all, while others gained much more. Those extra pounds were added onto the natural increases in weight that occur when people get older.

What usually happened was that peoples’ weights got high enough to push them over the boundary, a body mass index of 30, that divides overweight and obese. (For example, a 6-foot-tall man who went from 220 pounds to 225 would go from being overweight to obese.)

While other researchers were surprised by the findings, the big surprise for Dr. Christakis was that he could do the study at all. He got the idea for it from all the talk of an obesity epidemic.

“One day I said: ‘Maybe it really is an epidemic. Maybe it spreads from person to person,’ ” Dr. Christakis recalled.

It was only by chance that he discovered a way to find out. He learned that the data he needed were in a large federal study of heart disease, the Framingham Heart Study, that had followed the population of Framingham, Mass., for decades, keeping track of nearly every one of its participants.

The study’s records included each participant’s address and the names of family members. To ensure that researchers would not lose track of their subjects, each subject was asked to name a close friend who would know where the person was at the time of the next exam, in roughly four years.

Since much of the town and most of the subjects’ relatives were participating, the data contained all that Dr. Christakis and his colleagues needed to reconstruct the social network and track it through 32 years.

Their research has taken obesity specialists and social scientists aback. But many say the finding is pathbreaking and can shed light on how and why people have gotten so fat so fast.

“It is an extraordinarily subtle and sophisticated way of getting a handle on aspects of the environment that are not normally considered,” said Dr. Rudolph L. Leibel, an obesity researcher at Columbia University.

Richard M. Suzman, who directs the office of behavioral and social research programs at the National Institute on Aging, called the research “one of the most exciting studies to come out of medical sociology in decades.” The National Institute on Aging financed the study.

But Dr. Stephen O’Rahilly, an obesity researcher at the University of Cambridge, said the very uniqueness of the Framingham data would make it hard to try to replicate the new findings. No other study that he knows of has the same sort of long-term and detailed data on social interactions.

“I don’t want to look like an old curmudgeon,” Dr. O’Rahilly said, “but when you come upon things that inherently look a bit implausible, you raise the bar for standards of proof. Good science is all about replication, but it is hard to see how science will ever replicate this.”

“Boy,” he said, “is the Framingham Study unique.”

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