We can avoid weight creep – here’s how

Many of us enter a new year reflecting on where we have been and our plans for the future. For some, this will mean acknowledging that a couple more kilos have crept on over the past year.

Walking briskly for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week is a good start. etorres/Shutterstock

celine handbags canada goose Many of us enter a new year reflecting on where we have been and our plans for the future. For some, this will mean acknowledging that a couple more kilos have crept on over the past year. Others will have health on their hit list for 2016; resolving to eat better and lose weight could be part of that.

canada goose It can be difficult to lose weight and keep it off in the long term. So how can we support communities to avoid weight gain over time?

New research published today in PLOS Medicine suggests that simple lifestyle programs can help prevent weight gain. But GPs, communities and individuals also have a role to play.

It’s OK to aim low

Even a small weight loss can result in positive health impacts. It has been estimated that a 1% reduction in body mass index (BMI) – the equivalent to approximately 1kg for an average adult – across the United States population would avoid 2 million cases of diabetes, 1.5 million cardiovascular diseases, and more than 73,000 cases of cancer.

It is the norm to be overweight or obese in Australia. Figures released last month showed 63% of adults (71% men, 56% women) and 27% of children were in this category in 2014/15. Further, rates of obesity in women in Australasia are growing faster than anywhere else in the world.

Challenging the accepted dogma that we will gain weight as we age was put to a recent meeting of the Queensland Clinical Senate, which helps set the agenda for long-term health strategies. The resolution of the meeting, convened with Health Consumers Queensland, was to focus on preventing weight gain in the community, rather than weight loss, particularly given the problems faced in achieving the latter.

Lifestyle programs

In today’s study, the researchers randomly assigned 649 women in 41 rural Australian towns to either the intervention group or the control group.

Women in the intervention group took part in information sessions, received a personalised self-management plan, were sent monthly text message reminders and undertook a 20-minute phone-based coaching session.

Women in the control group attended a general session on women’s health.

Over 12 months, the women in the towns who received the targeted intervention program lost almost half a kilogram, while those in the control towns gained almost half a kilo.

This shows that delivering programs with community integration, a focus on small changes in behaviour, self-management, and minimal burden on the participants using a mix of personal and electronic modes of delivery, can be feasible, cheap and effective.

Role of GPs

General and nurse practitioners play an important role in providing advice and strategies on healthy and active lifestyles to prevent and manage obesity.

However, a Monash University study, published in The Medical Journal of Australia, found GPs recorded the weight of only 25.8% of a sample of 270,426 patients. Some of the barriers for recording this information are difficulty in approaching the discussion and a perceived lack of available training.

It is important for governments to support all health-care providers to be able to raise the issue of weight control – not just with those who are overweight or obese, but also to encourage those who are a healthy weight to remain in that category.

Guidelines for health professionals already exist, however, better integration with community programs (particularly those which offer social benefits), referral to tailored services and alignment with mass media campaigns are likely to add enormous value at relatively low cost.

There is no single strategy that will address excess weight and obesity in our community. But health professionals are important influencers. Empowering this group with effective, low-intensity strategies and programs is one element of a comprehensive approach to address poor diets and weight issues.

Community response

Another key element is to support communities to create healthy environments, to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Schools, workplaces, sports and community centres are all environments that should support healthy eating and active lifestyles.

If communities are funded and empowered, such as through the OPAL (Obesity prevention and lifestyle) program in South Australia and Healthy Together Victoria, they can link into statewide programs but also develop local solutions to solve the unique issues that exist in their catchment.

Recently we saw the funding removed from the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health, which provided valuable investment for the implementation of policies and programs to support healthy lifestyles. Funding to support community based initiatives so local populations can engage this issue is critically important, along with the implementation of policies such as reducing junk food marketing to children, mandatory health star labels and taxing sugary drinks.

Individual action

In the meantime, how can individuals who regularly pledge to get fit and lose weight make sustainable and significant healthy changes, as the women in today’s rural Australia study have done?

celine bags Aiming to avoid weight gain is a good starting point, followed by small lifestyle changes, such as:

  • reducing serving sizes
  • aiming for two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day
  • reducing sugary drinks
  • walking briskly for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

These changes can make a big difference to your risk of weight gain and developing serious health problems in the future.

Jane Martin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Read the Original Article at TheConservation.com

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Four common myths about exercise and weight loss

It’s that time of year when many are trying, and some are failing, to live up to their New Years’ resolution of losing weight.

Exercise isn’t the best way to lose weight, in fact it’s one of the hardest. Nottingham Trent University/Flickr, CC BY-SA

It’s that time of year when many are trying, and some are failing, to live up to their New Years’ resolution of losing weight. Many of these probably include resolutions to be more physically active in striving for this goal. But first, there are some common misconceptions about exercise and weight loss that need to be addressed.

Myth 1. Exercise is the best way to lose weight

While there is plenty of evidence showing people can lose weight just by being physically active, it is also one of the hardest ways to go about it.

Our energy balance is mostly determined by what we eat and our metabolic rate (the energy you burn when you do nothing). Our energy balance is determined only to a small extent by how active we are. That means losing weight just by being active is very hard work.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends accumulating 250 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week for weight loss. That is twice the amount of physical activity recommended for good health (30 minutes on most days), and most Australians don’t even manage that.

The best way to lose weight is through combining a nutritious, low-calorie diet with regular physical activity.

Just exercising is an extremely difficult way to shed kilos.
Nina Hale/Flickr, CC BY

Myth 2. You can’t be fat and fit

Inactive people of healthy weight may look OK, but this isn’t necessarily the case. When you’re not active you have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, some cancers, depression and anxiety. Several studies have demonstrated the association between premature death and being overweight or obese disappears when fitness is taken into account (although another study disputed this).

This means you can still be metabolically healthy while being overweight, but only if you’re regularly active. Of course, people who are fit and of normal weight have the best health outcomes, so there are still plenty of reasons to try to shed some weight.

Myth 3. No pain, no gain

Or in other words, “no suffering, no weight loss”. As mentioned earlier, if you want to lose weight by being active, you will need to do a lot of it. But while physical activity of a moderate intensity is recommended, guidelines do not say activity needs to be of vigorous intensity.

Moderate intensity physical activity makes you breathe harder and may make it more difficult to talk, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation (such as brisk walking, riding a bicycle at a moderate pace). This is unlike vigorous physical activity, which will make you completely out of breath and will make you sweat profusely regardless of the weather conditions (such as running).

Moderate intensity physical activity is not painful and does not include excessive suffering to meet your goals. A study of weight loss in groups with higher intensity and lower volumes of activity compared to groups of lower intensity and higher volumes of activity did not find significant differences.

Myth 4. Only resistance training will help you lose weight

Resistance or strength training is good for you for several reasons. It increases functional capacity (the ability to perform tasks safely and independently) and lean body mass, and prevents falls and osteoporosis. But the main idea for promoting it to lose weight is that muscle mass needs more energy than fat mass, even when at rest. Therefore the more muscular you are, the higher your metabolic rate, which makes it easier to expend the energy you’re taking on board.

However, building muscle mass takes a serious effort, and you need to keep doing resistance training or significant loss of muscle mass will occur within weeks.

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Not everyone enjoys weight lifting, so do what you prefer.
Sherri Abendroth/Flickr, CC BY

More importantly though, aerobic or endurance training is also good to help you lose weight. In fact, a recent study demonstrated that endurance training was more effective in producing weight loss compared to resistance training. It’s also likely many people will get more enjoyment out of a brisk walk than a session of weight-lifting, so the most important thing is to pick an exercise routine you enjoy and thus will actually stick to.

To help you get started on your journey to a more active and potentially leaner lifestyle, you can sign up for free physical activity programs such as www.10000steps.org.au. If you want to take part in our web-based physical activity research study, you can register your interest here.

Corneel Vandelanotte receives funding from Queensland Health (for maintaining the 10,000 Steps Australia program), the National Health and Medical Research Council (project funding) and the National Heart Foundation of Australia (salary support).

Read the Original Article at TheConservation.com

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Measuring up: this year, aim for fitness over fat loss for long-term success

Getting fit and losing weight are consistently among the top New Year’s resolutions, and January is the boom period for the billion-dollar gym industry.

January is the boom period for the billion-dollar gym industry. Hotel Der Oeschberghof – Golf – Spa – Tagung/Flickr, CC BY-ND

Getting fit and losing weight are consistently among the top New Year’s resolutions, and January is the boom period for the billion-dollar gym industry. While any attempt to incorporate more exercise into our lives should be welcomed, it’s time to rethink the reasons for joining the gym. And, in particular, the way we measure success when it comes to exercise.

Weight loss is one of the most common reasons why people start an exercise program, linking sweating it out with reduced fat. Sadly, they’re setting themselves up to fail because there’s good evidence that exercise in the absence of dietary modification is not all that effective for weight loss. In other words, “you can’t outrun a bad diet.”

In fact, the idea that exercise will lead to weight loss is potentially dangerous because it acts as a disincentive for people who stick to their exercise goals to only find the scales haven’t turned in their favour – and throw in the towel.

A better measure

Research published a few months ago shows the likelihood of an obese man achieving normal weight without surgery is one in 210. And the chances are only a little better for women, at one in 124. Among those who manage to lose significant weight (at least 5% of bodyweight), at least half will regain it within two years.

Weight loss is very important for improving health and reducing risk of chronic disease. But when focusing on the reasons people should be physically active and engage in regular exercise, fitness, as opposed to fatness is a better focus.

Exercise can directly improve fitness independent of changes in weight. And it may be protective of developing chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, even for people who are overweight or obese. But the importance of trying to lose weight through broad lifestyle change shouldn’t be ignored.

A recent study of over 1.3 million Swedish men found that when it comes to risk of dying early, high fitness isn’t protective for people who are obese. But it showed fitness was an important factor nonetheless and didn’t measure other key health outcomes. Most importantly, improving fitness is a tangible and achievable outcome, so it’s more motivating.

Poor fitness is a modifiable factor associated with heart disease. Other benefits people may gain from exercise, apart from weight loss, include improved mental health, improved sleep and reduced risk of conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Helpful hints

Joining a gym may work for some, but it’s not the only way of getting the benefits of regular exercise. Here are some practical tips to get moving.

You can’t outrun a bad diet.
liebeslakritze/Flickr, CC BY-SA

1. Avoid a “all-or-nothing” mentality and remember that every bit of time spent exercising instead of being sedentary counts.

When you’re in the habit of exercising regularly, it’s easier to keep going and find the motivation to continue. But when you’ve been inactive for a while, such as over the holiday season, it’s often difficult to overcome the mindset of feeling overwhelmed and out of touch with exercising. This often leaves people feeling unsure about where to begin.

To avoid feeling lost, try setting some realistic, and achievable goals that can be written down and achieved every day. Plan for the worse-case scenario (such as those extra long lunches). Even one set of squats, five minutes of yoga, or a brief walk around the block may be enough to avoid the build-up of post-holiday exercise fear.

2. Seek help getting active, especially if you have a chronic or complex medical conditions. Australia has one of the most progressive physical activity referral schemes in the world, which means people with chronic conditions can be referred to accredited exercise physiologists or physiotherapists to receive individualised exercise programs.

If weight loss is your primary aim, seek help from an accredited practising dietitian to help modify your diet.

3. When it comes to exercise, forget the scales and focus on moving more and sitting less. Wearable technology can help with monitoring and goal setting.

Use other ways of measuring progress, such as how breathless you feel after walking up that set of stairs or how much easier it is to carry the groceries, as well.

4. Don’t forget resistance training (muscle building exercise). Working muscles is not only for young men; it has considerable benefits for men and women of all ages.

Most importantly, the best exercise program is the one that’s realistic for your situation, enjoyable and progressively more challenging. And it’s not necessarily one limited to the gym.


This article is part of our series about New Year’s resolutions, A Fresh Start.

Simon Rosenbaum is funded by a Society for Mental Health Research Early Career Fellowship. He is a National Director of Exercise and Sports Science Australia.

Read the Original Article at TheConservation.com

Stored fat is a feat of evolution – and your body will fight to keep it

In spite of the bad press, stored fat is actually a really wonderful thing. Without the capacity to store energy in the form of fat, we would have been unlikely to survive through millions of years of evolution and we would certainly look very different to the way we look today.

Know why stored fat is bad for modern humans? kurhan/www.shutterstock.com

In spite of the bad press, stored fat is actually a really wonderful thing. Without the capacity to store energy in the form of fat, we would have been unlikely to survive through millions of years of evolution and we would certainly look very different to the way we look today. We needed the capacity to store energy to survive periods of famine, and fat is a very sensible way to do this.

Even a relatively lean 75kg man typically has over 100,000kcal stored in the form of fat. If we had to store this energy in other forms – for example as glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate – our weight would increase by 40-60kg (because glycogen is less energy dense and also stored in combination with water). Imagine dragging around two packed suitcases while hunting or gathering and you’ll get the idea of why it has been so useful to package stored energy in the form of fat.

So, while fat is often demonised, it has also been our friend through millions of years of evolution. It makes sense for our bodies to store energy in this way and to develop systems to cling on to it just in case there is a famine around the corner.

But, our relationship with fat has changed. While some fat is essential and healthy, accumulating too much body fat has a detrimental impact on our health by increasing the risk of chronic diseases. So, storing too much energy in the form of fat is clearly not a good thing. Sadly, most people are now storing too much energy as fat and many people in the developed and developing world are now considered overweight or obese.

Difficult to let go

Excess stored fat is a particularly difficult problem to solve in part because we have evolved such sophisticated processes to protect fat stores once we have them.

One of the best-characterised physiological systems involves leptin, a protein secreted by our fat stores (adipose tissue) – that tells the brain that there is plenty of energy available stored in the form of fat. When discovered, there was a great deal of excitement about whether leptin could be administered as a treatment for obesity – perhaps in an injection that would trick the body into thinking that there were large amounts of fat available so that we do not eat as much. Sadly, these potential treatments were not effective and we now understand why.

As we store more and more fat the leptin level in our blood will increase in proportion to the increase in stored fat. Our brains get used to this higher level of leptin, so administering more leptin over and above this higher level of leptin does not seem to help. Instead, it is when leptin levels fall that leptin becomes a very important signal. When we try to lose weight, there is a disproportionately large fall in circulating leptin in spite of only modest fat loss.

A fall in leptin is an attempt to defend fat stores with leptin functioning as the signal to the brain in a negative feedback loop that maintains the stability of fat mass. A fall in leptin is associated with increased sensations of hunger and an increase in “reward-related” behaviours. Reduced leptin is also a trigger for depressive symptoms in animals. So, when we try to lose weight, our fat tissue sends signals to the brain to try to resist any further loss of fat; we feel hungry, we seek rewards, and we might feel a little down or depressed.

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Weight loss by Shutterstock

What can we do about this? Well, a recent study indicated that fat tissue may have some other properties that we might be able to manipulate to help. Some specialised types of fat cells (adipocytes) have the ability to burn energy to help keep us warm (a process called thermogenesis). The authors showed that this type of thermogenesis is normally turned off by a specific protein called sLR11. This makes sense because for millions of years we have been striving to store fat and only use it when there is a very good reason.

Interestingly, in this study, mice created without sLR11 did not gain weight when overfed because they burned more of the energy that was consumed. The authors also showed in a small number of patients undergoing bariatric surgery that the fall in sLR11 was related to the decrease in fat mass. Based on these observations, they suggested that sLR11 stops energy from being wasted via thermogenesis in fat tissue. By inference, if we can turn this off in humans then we might be able to get the body to use (waste) energy rather than clinging on to it.

Before we get too carried away, a caveat here is that this type of thermogenesis is mostly confined to certain types of fat cells (brown adipocytes or “brown fat”) and these cells are more rare and probably less important in humans than in rodents. We can also achieve thermogenesis through other means such as burning energy through movement. We know that increasing thermogenesis through movement leads to a fall in leptin and that this probably explains why an exercise programme causes people to eat more and not lose as much weight as they should. Whether burning energy through increased adipose thermogenesis will have the same effect in humans still also needs to be established.

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Dylan Thompson receives funding from BBSRC, MRC, British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK, and Unilever.

Read the Original Article at TheConservation.com

What is the best exercise for losing weight?

It may come as little surprise that taking exercise is a way to lose weight. However, a debate about the best type of exercise for weight loss is likely to divide opinion.

Pumping iron: Is it really all worth it? W_Minshull, CC BY

It may come as little surprise that taking exercise is a way to lose weight. However, a debate about the best type of exercise for weight loss is likely to divide opinion.

The most obvious choice is endurance-type exercise which is usually done at a moderate intensity or steady state. The rationale is clear. This type of exercise expends more energy than resistance training.

Others will stress the importance of resistance training and its effects on basal metabolic rate (BMR). A single bout of resistance exercise can lead to a sustained increase in BMR that persists for up to 48 hours after exercise. Furthermore, increases in BMR have been observed after ten weeks of resistance training compared to endurance training and this may assist with weight control in the long term – at the cellular level, muscle tissue is denser than fat tissue and is therefore more “expensive” to run.

An alternative option is high-intensity interval training or HIT. Exercise is carried out at a low or moderate intensity with the caveat that several short bouts of high-intensity, often “all-out”’, exercise are included. It is considered to be more time-efficient and research shows this type of exercise can bring about rapid beneficial changes in metabolic function and even reductions in body fat. However, such exercise is likely intolerable for many people due to its explosive, rather gruelling nature.

Others still might focus on increasing profiles of activity in everyday life – more gardening, say, or walking to work – rather than embarking on structured exercise routines.

No pain, no gain
San Diego Shooter/flickr, CC BY

Can you keep up?

But the answer to the original question is simple. The best type of exercise for losing weight is the one that you will actually do.

Most people will not sustain a behaviour from which they derive no pleasure. The incentives for losing weight are obvious, but human behaviour is unpredictable when pleasure is involved. The optimum approach is probably to combine different types of exercise to receive the benefit of each. Alongside this, some form of conscious control over energy intake must be considered because the reality for many is that a considerable volume of exercise is required to significantly reduce body fat.

Exercise-induced weight loss also varies markedly between individuals, with behavioural, biological and genetic factors also playing their part. However, judging exercise solely by its effects on body weight might be damaging since exercise provides a plethora of other benefits.

We are designed to move and as such must respect our genes or accept the consequences. Arguably we should stop focusing on the optimum approach to exercise and find an approach that we might deem to be “good enough”.

Matthew Haines does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Read the Original Article at TheConservation.com

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Will you gain weight this Christmas?

For most of us, Christmas and its festivities revolve around consuming tasty food and drinks with colleagues, friends and family. Between work Christmas parties, Christmas lunch or dinner, edible presents and New Year’s Eve, it can be an effort not to gain weight.

Food, food, everywhere. Pixabay

For most of us, Christmas and its festivities revolve around consuming tasty food and drinks with colleagues, friends and family. Between work Christmas parties, Christmas lunch or dinner, edible presents and New Year’s Eve, it can be an effort not to gain weight.

Seasonal variations in body weight

The human body can be quite remarkable in its ability to maintain a stable weight over the long term. One small American study reported average fluctuations of just 0.5 kg throughout a year. Weight peaked in winter, which may be due to poorer weather and lower physical activity, but returned to normal.

Others, however, gradually gain weight over the years.
A study of 120,000 Americans found weight gain averaged 3.35 lb (1.52 kg) over four-year periods.

The good news is that reducing your energy intake
by around 100 calories (418 kilojoules) per day can prevent such weight gain. This could equate to not having that extra biscuit, or walking more each day.

Are we likely to gain weight over Christmas?

We often don’t follow our normal routines during the holidays. Therefore our lifestyle behaviours and body weight can change.

There aren’t many high-quality studies that look at body weight and fat changes over the Christmas period, but the studies that have been done report conflicting results.

A 2009 American study of 195 adults over the six- to eight-week winter holiday reported an average weight increase of 0.37 kg.

Another study of 26 English adults over a two-week Christmas holiday found they gained an average of 1 kg, even though five were sick (and three lost weight). The maximum weight gain was 4.4 kg.

Go for a smaller plate if you want to eat less.
Pixabay, CC BY

Yet another study reported a weight change of around 0.4 kg in non-obese Swedish adults over a two- to three-week Christmas break. Obese participants, however, reported highly variable changes in weight, from a gain of 6.1 kg to a loss of 8.8 kg.

This difference between people of contrasting starting weights was also found in another American study of 94 college students. Over a two-week Thanksgiving period, the overweight/obese students gained an average of 1.0 kg, while those with a normal body mass index (BMI) gained just 0.2 kg.

Some studies reported no weight gain, but an increase in body fat over the holidays.

However, other studies found no change in either body weight or body fat over festive periods, even if there were changes to eating and physical activity patterns.

What’s to blame?

In the large study of 120,000 American adults, the foods associated with weight increase over four-year periods include potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages and unprocessed and processed red meats.

Foods that were associated with lower weight included vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yoghurt.

Other lifestyle behaviours were also associated with weight gain: physical inactivity (including television watching), alcohol intake and sleeping less than six or more than eight hours each day.

It’s not hard to imagine these factors at play in someone’s Christmas holidays. Potato chips, soft drinks and alcohol might fill the table at the work Christmas party.

Hangovers and too little or too much sleep might mean that you indulge excessively in fast food burgers while binge-watching Netflix.

If you’re drinking spirits, choose soda as a mixer.
Pixabay, CC BY

Five tips to avoid a belly like Santa’s

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  • salads (including fruit, green, potato and quinoa ones) over white bread
  • oat slices or biscuits over shortbread biscuits
  • roasted nuts over potato chips
  • turkey breast over salami
  • shrimps and other seafood over sausages.

2) Eat intuitively: try to listen to your hunger and fullness. This will help with the feeling of sickness that can come at the end of Christmas day due to overconsumption.

Choose smaller plates, as these are associated with reduced food intake compared to larger plates – even if you have a level of intuitive eating.

Put a smaller variety of foods on your (smaller) plate – and don’t go back for seconds. If you have a large variety of foods, you are more likely to eat more – something called sensory-specific satiety.

3) Self-monitor! One study reported that systematically recording what you eat, drink and how much you move during holiday periods was associated with improved weight. Use goal-setting and self-monitoring sheets or apps to help regulate the amount of alcohol or potato chips you consume each day.

4) Go for walks or swims if the weather allows, and avoid spending the whole break binge-watching television.

5) Avoid soft drinks and excessive alcohol every day. When you do drink alcohol, choose a soda mixer with a piece of fresh lime to have with your spirits and drink water in between each alcoholic drink.

Keep it in perspective

At the end of the silly season, you may still have gained some weight. But keep it in perspective: it might have been due to quite pleasurable activities and it’s unlikely to be a problem in the long term, if you get back to your usual balanced exercise and eating routine.

It’s fine to indulge every now and then, even if it means going back for seconds of Christmas pudding on Christmas day. Just don’t indulge every other day of the holidays, too.

Dr Reynolds is the owner of The Real Bok Choy, www.therealbokchoy.com, a nutrition and lifestyle consultancy.

Read the Original Article at TheConservation.com

Explainer: why is it so hard to lose weight?

We are designed to seek food – our drive to do so is essential to our survival and we have a complex system to control this.

The new you: harder than it sounds www.shutterstock.com

We are designed to seek food – our drive to do so is essential to our survival and we have a complex system to control this. Recent research shows that following weight loss, levels of circulating hormones which affect our appetite tend to promote over-eating and weight regain.

Indeed, the Minnesota experiment published in 1950 showed that we tend to overeat after a period of energy restriction until fat mass has returned to or exceeded initial levels. And although we might consider fat a simple energy reserve, during periods of food shortage fuel partitioning is not straightforward – muscle protein is just as readily converted to energy which protects fat stores.

Blame the hunter-gatherers

It can be surprising to hear that excess fat is rigorously defended by our own bodies. However, a moment’s thought explains why this should be. Our physiology has been shaped over millennia by evolutionary processes which make us suited to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle – which necessitates high levels of physical activity and likely periods of famine and feast.

Those with thrifty metabolic adaptations, which favoured storage of excess energy as fat would have been more likely to survive and pass on their genes. During periods of famine, the ability to hold on to stored fat would also have been advantageous. These adaptations which were once useful, are now causing unprecedented levels of obesity across all populations that lead a lifestyle characterised by low levels of physical activity and an abundance of food. In short, we are designed to store fat, and to keep it once we have it.

Designed for fat

To understand our physiology, we must understand homeostasis whereby biological systems are regulated mostly via negative feedback systems. Changes to a monitored condition (such as body fat) produce responses that oppose the change until the monitored condition returns to a “set point”. This seems to be the case for weight loss. A reduction of fat tissue results in changes in levels of hormones that typically lead to a return to the original level of fat.

Crucially however, this does not seem to be the case when dealing with weight gain. Our biological systems seem insufficiently powerful to return us to our set-point. Perhaps the environment is too overwhelmingly obesogenic? Or perhaps our physiology has always relied on an external event, such as famine or high levels of physical activity, to regulate body weight?

As long as the environment remains obesogenic, the problem of obesity will remain. We can no longer rely on our instinct to regulate body fat – we must now rely on our intellect.

Matthew Haines does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Read the Original Article at TheConservation.com

Health Check: should we really chew each mouthful of food 32 times?

There are many sayings, myths and recommendations about how we should eat our food. Some of it is cultural – such as the use of tools – some involve noise while eating, keeping the mouth closed, spilling food, or for women, being “dainty”.

Chewing your food for longer gives your brain more time to realise you’re full, meaning you’re less likely to overeat. from www.shutterstock.com.au

There are many sayings, myths and recommendations about how we should eat our food. Some of it is cultural – such as the use of tools – some involve noise while eating, keeping the mouth closed, spilling food, or for women, being “dainty”.

Most mothers tell children not to “gobble” their food but to eat more slowly. But is eating behaviour in terms of bite size, chewing and swallowing quickly really related to weight gain and obesity? And is there any truth to the old saying that chewing your food 32 times will make you lose weight?

The chewing movement

Chewing food slowly and many times has been a strategy for weight management for decades. Originally it was based on ideas emanating from medicine. A 1926 book on obesity by physician Leonard Williams holds some good examples of the medical thinking of the time.

He noted that the stomach requires the food to be “thoroughly disintegrated by the teeth” and “steeped in saliva” to work properly and that “everyone knows” that food should be chewed properly.

In recent decades it has become common in dietary regimens for losing weight to include advice about chewing thoroughly, or even specifying a set number of chews per bite or mouthful. This goes along with other “tips” such as putting the knife and fork down between every mouthful, as a way of slowing eating time and reducing intake.

It takes time for the brain to realise the stomach is full.
from www.shutterstock.com

What happens when you chew

When you eat, you chew food into smaller particles and mix it with saliva in the mouth. Saliva starts the process of digestion and the breaking down of food. This continues in the stomach, where it is mixed with acid.

The broken-down components are then moved along the gut, with nutrients and water being absorbed along the way, and the undigested portion of fibres and partly digested foods passes out of the body. Chewing food well allows this process to start properly and continue well.

You all will have noticed what happens when you fail to chew peas or corn. It is not processed at all! That is because the outer covering of these foods is resistant to the acid in the stomach. If not chewed, the inner parts cannot be reached so they are not digested.download movie Guardians

Some might think this is a good thing – if a lot of the food is not digested, well there is a good weight-control strategy! But this is false thinking.

There needs to be enough time during eating for the brain to recognise that you have eaten. If you eat too quickly you may have eaten too much before this happens and you overeat relative to what the body needs. This is why the idea of slowing down the eating process as a weight-management strategy can work.

The food also needs to be in contact with the gut to stimulate the hormones that regulate hunger. More recent evidence supports this. Researchers from The University of Birmingham confirmed that not only does prolonged chewing reduce meal intakes, but snacking two hours later can be reduced as well.

Others have shown that obese persons chewed less and for shorter times than people of a normal weight. This knowledge has led to the development of devices, such as mouth volume reducers, to slow eating and increase chewing.

So what about the 32 times? This is just an arbitrary number, but the science behind it is sound.

In a society where evidence drives health interventions, this time it appears mother did know best and you should savour, rather than gobble your food. It’s better for overall nutrition, digestion and for telling the brain we’re full so we don’t overeat.

Sandra Capra receives funding from government bodies such as the Australian Research Council, research foundations and similar. She is affiliated with the Dietitians Association of Australia and the International Confederation of Dietetic Associations.

Read the Original Article at TheConservation.com

Pregnancy diabetes is a red flashing light that we can’t ignore

Most people are well aware of two of the main forms of diabetes – type 1, which usually first appears in young people; and the more common type 2, which often emerges in the over 40s and is associated with obesity and sedentary lifestyles.

The diabetes self-test: up to 16% of pregnant women are positive Image Point Fr

Most people are well aware of two of the main forms of diabetes – type 1, which usually first appears in young people; and the more common type 2, which often emerges in the over 40s and is associated with obesity and sedentary lifestyles. We hear far less about the third form, gestational diabetes, which temporarily affects as many as 16% of pregnant women.

Gestational diabetes is defined as glucose intolerance that is first diagnosed during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes are unable to produce enough insulin to meet the extra demands of carrying a child, the risk of which increases with each successive pregnancy. For the majority of them, the condition is diagnosed during the second or third trimester. Many of the risk factors, such as age, obesity and family history, are the same as those for type 2 diabetes. And, just like type 2 diabetes, many countries have seen prevalence rates rise over the past few decades.

Risky business

Most women with gestational diabetes return to normal glucose tolerance after delivery, but there are immediate risks for both mother and baby. These include spontaneous pre-term labour, delivering a large baby, infant respiratory distress syndrome and <a href="http://www viagra generique canada.nhs.uk/conditions/cardiomyopathy/Pages/Introduction.aspx”>heart muscle diseases.

But gestational diabetes is also associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later life: seven times that of the general population. This equates to a staggering 50% chance of developing type 2 diabetes within ten years. The children of women who have had gestational diabetes are also six times more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes as the general population.film Spotlight 2015 trailer

Women with gestational diabetes are not unaware of these risks. Claire Eades, a University of Stirling researcher, recently interviewed some Scottish women who had had the condition. At the time of diagnosis, most had worried about the possible side effects to the baby, and talked graphically about their fears of delivering a big baby. Some changed their lifestyles during pregnancy as a result.

The women usually also knew their increased risk of type 2 diabetes, having been told by their healthcare professionals. But once they had delivered a healthy baby and returned to normal glucose tolerance, many quickly forgot. One compared gestational diabetes to maternity clothes – put away and forgotten until the next pregnancy.

Healthy baby, why worry?
LiAndStudio

The case for action

Since the risks of type 2 diabetes can be reduced by taking more exercise, a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight, we need to find ways to encourage this where it is needed. The later stages of pregnancy and early stages of motherhood are hardly the best time when women are dealing with big life changes and pressing demands on time and energy.

To date, there have been few attempts to measure which kinds of interventions are best to encourage women to take the best steps – which possibly reflects the scale of the challenge. There is some evidence that women are more likely to respond positively if the interventions include face-to-face interaction either with peers or professionals, if their partners are involved, and if the women are offered childcare support. We’ve been asking women who have had gestational diabetes about what they think would be the best kinds of interventions to try out.

We probably also need to remind women of the increased risk of type 2 diabetes more regularly once the early-motherhood period has passed. It is therefore time to think about raising the profile of gestational diabetes across the whole population. It offers a big opportunity to gain ground in the fight against diabetes. World diabetes rates are set to rise 50% to nearly 600m by 2035 – and the disease has been described as a global pandemic. So long as gestational diabetes is out of sight and out of mind except during pregnancy, we won’t be able to use it to make people aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle and to prevent more cases of type 2. Instead, it offers a big opportunity to gain ground in the fight against diabetes.

Josie receives funding from the Medical Research Council and the Chief Scientist Office

Read the Original Article at TheConservation.com

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There is a longstanding debate in the research community about the importance of fitness versus fatness in health. Are exercise and improving fitness more important than eating well and maintaining a healthy weight?

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Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s campaign to introduce a sugar tax on fizzy drinks and snacks has been gaining momentum. Oliver has a history of trying to persuade the British public to eat more healthily, with mixed results – his campaign for healthier school dinners led to some parents feeding their children chips through the school railings.

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Sugar isn’t just empty, fattening calories — it’s making us sick

Children are manifesting increased rates of adult diseases like hypertension or high triglycerides. And they are getting diseases that used to be unheard of in children, like Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.

Don’t add sugar. Sugar bowl via www.shutterstock.com

Children are manifesting increased rates of adult diseases like hypertension or high triglycerides. And they are getting diseases that used to be unheard of in children, like Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease. So why is this happening?

Everyone assumes this is the result of the obesity epidemic – too many calories in, too few out. Children and adults are getting fat, so they’re getting sick. And it is generally assumed that no one specific food causes it, because “a calorie is a calorie”.

I’ve been studying the role that sugar plays in contributing to chronic disease for years, and my research group at the University of California, San Francisco has just published research in the journal Obesity that challenges this assumption. If calories come from sugar, they just aren’t the same.

Diabetes is increasing faster than obesity

It’s clear that the cause of rising rates of health conditions like Type 2 diabetes isn’t as simple as people just eating too many calories.

Obesity is increasing globally at 1% per year, while diabetes is increasing globally at 4% per year. If diabetes were just a subset of obesity, how can you explain its more rapid increase?

And certain countries are obese without being diabetic (such as Iceland, Mongolia and Micronesia), while other countries are diabetic without being obese (India, Pakistan and China, for instance). Twelve percent of people in China have diabetes, but the obesity rate is much lower. The US is the fattest nation on Earth and our diabetes prevalence is 9.3%.

While 80% of the obese population in the US is metabolically ill (meaning they have conditions like diabetes, hypertension, lipid problems and heart disease), 20% is not. Conversely, 40% of the normal weight population has metabolic syndrome.

If normal weight people have these conditions, how then are they related to obesity? Indeed, we now know that obesity is a marker rather than a cause for these diseases.

Epidemiological studies have found a correlation between added sugar consumption and health conditions like cardiovascular disease. So could cutting excess sugar out of our diets reverse metabolic syndrome?

What happens when you stop feeding kids added sugar?

Our group at UCSF studied 43 Latino and African-American children with obesity and metabolic syndrome over a 10-day period. We started by assessing their metabolic status – insulin and glucose levels, as well as blood fats and other markers for disease, like lactate and free fatty acids – on their home diet.

For the next nine days, each child ate an individual tailored diet. We catered their meals to provide same number of calories and protein and fat content as their usual home diet. We gave them the same percentage of carbohydrate, but we substituted starch for sugar. The big difference: this special diet had no added sugar. This means their diet had no sugar from sugarcane or high fructose corn syrup. The kids consumed foods such as fruits and other whole foods that naturally contain some sugar. These foods also have fiber, which reduces the rate of sugar absorption, so they don’t affect the body the same way that added sugar does.

We took chicken teriyaki out. We put turkey hot dogs in. We took sweetened yogurt out. We put baked potato chips in. We took donuts out. We put bagels in. We gave them unhealthy processed food, just with no added sugar. Each child was given a scale to take home, and if their weight was declining, we made them eat more. Then we studied them again.

The children had eaten the same number of calories and had not lost any weight, and yet every aspect of their metabolic health improved. With added sugar cut out of their diet for 10 days, blood pressure, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad cholesterol”), insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance all improved. And remember, we weren’t giving them just leafy greens and tofu – we fed the kids processed foods, just ones without sugar.

Further studies are needed to see if this will also work in adults, and if the benefits are short-term or long-term.

Sugar is like alcohol

This study demonstrates that a calorie is not a calorie, and that sugar is a primary contributor to metabolic syndrome, unrelated to calories or weight gain. By removing added sugar, we improved metabolic health.

Sugar may not be the only contributor to chronic disease, but it is far and away the easiest one to avoid. Kids could improve their metabolic health – even while continuing to eat processed food – just by dumping the sugar. Can you imagine how much healthier they’d be if they ate real food?

The naysayers will say, “But sugar is natural. Sugar has been with us for thousands of years. Sugar is food, and how can food be toxic?”

Webster’s Dictionary defines food as:

material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy.

Sugar by itself furnishes energy, and that’s about it. In that sense, sugar is like alcohol. It’s got calories, but it’s not nutrition. There’s no biochemical reaction that requires it. And at high doses, alcohol can fry your liver.

Same with sugar. Fructose, the sweet molecule in sugar, contains calories that you can burn for energy, but it’s not nutrition, because there’s no biochemical reaction that requires it. In excess, it can fry your liver, just like alcohol. And this makes sense, because where do you get alcohol from? Fermentation of sugar.

Too much sugar causes diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease and tooth decay. When consumed in excess, it’s a toxin. And it’s addictive – just like alcohol. That’s why children are getting the diseases of alcohol – Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease – without alcohol. But our research suggests we could turn this around in 10 days – if we chose to.

Robert Lustig does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Read the Original Article at TheConservation.com

Game your way to weight loss, thanks to new research

There are many different ways which people try to lose weight. After a long day in the office some people manage to drag themselves to the gym and squeeze in that all-important cardio session.

New goals Shutterstock

There are many different ways which people try to lose weight. After a long day in the office some people manage to drag themselves to the gym and squeeze in that all-important cardio session. Others may regularly find themselves forgoing the gym to head home and relax. And there are a huge range of diet plans, many of which require significant effort to change your daily routine and eating habits. But what if there was a way to change your attitude to food from the comfort of your living room sofa?

Researchers from the University of Exeter have developed a simple computer game that aims to help people to control their snacking impulses and lose weight. They trialled the game with adults who had a body-mass index that indicated that they were overweight and/or who reported unhealthy snacking habits. The intervention lasted for one week and participants completed up to four training sessions using the online computer game.

The game works by asking people to avoid pressing on pictures of certain images (including calorie-dense foods such as biscuits), whilst responding to other images (including healthy foods such as fruit, and unrelated items such as clothes). The online training lasts for just 10 minutes and is designed to be easily managed in everyday life.

The game is based on the “go/no-go” principle in psychology. Players are led to associate the “go” category of healthy foods with motor impulses, the signals the nervous system use to tell our muscles to move (in this case using our arm and hand to press a button). The “no-go” (stop) category of high-calorie foods is linked to the desire to withhold motor responses (in this case not pressing the button).

Putting unhealthy food out of reach
Shutterstock

Repeating this process is designed to lead players to associate high-calorie foods with stopping motor activity. In other words, the idea is that when trained individuals see unhealthy foods they will no longer feel the ingrained need to reach for them. They may even no longer associate such foods with a feeling of reward.

To test the effectiveness of the game, researchers asked 41 participants to spend 10 minutes playing it on four occasions in one week. Players were also weighed and asked to complete food rating tasks and food diaries one week before and one week after the training. A follow-up was also made six months after training.

Another 42 volunteers formed a “control” group that was asked to play a similar game that only featured non-food objects. Those playing the food game lost an average of 0.7kg during the training week and consumed an average of around 220 fewer calories per day – while the control group on average gained weight. The active group also reported liking the unhealthy snack foods they were trained to stop reaching for less than they had when they started. And the further weight loss they self-reported six months later indicates the training effects may persist over longer periods.

Changing your mind

Cognitive brain-training apps that promise to easily improve our intellect or change our behaviour have become a multi-million pound business in recent years. Companies such as Nintendo and Luminosity have developed a wide range of user-friendly neuroscientific puzzles. These apps typically aim to provide a mental workout and often promise to improve memory, IQ or cognitive abilities such as spatial awareness or verbal reasoning. Brain training apps have even become associated with the ability to delay the onset of dementia.

In reality, the scientific proof for these grand claims is fairly limited. A 2010 study reported that individuals actually get better at the specific tasks set in the brain training games through familiarity, but showed no overall improvement in memory or general IQ.

The activities in brain training apps usually take up mere minutes of your long day. Is this really enough time to counteract a lifetime of bad habits, or even our very regular exposure to advertisements endorsing all things unhealthy? Intelligence and behaviours such as eating habits are developed over our entire lifetime. It is possible to form new neural pathways in the brain representing new patterns of thought or behaviour. But for us to favour these over long-established pathways we will likely need much more effort than that required to play a ten-minute computer game every day.

Exeter’s research shows such brain training techniques show promise in helping people control problematic and undesirable behaviour like overeating. Other recent research suggests similar internet-based “go/no-go” tasks can be particularly helpful in training those most vulnerable to overeating. Plus, the fact that such games can fit easily into our often busy daily lifestyles suggest it might be easier to convince people to use them than traditional diets.

But despite the success of these efforts, we should regard the results of this research with some caution. There is no quick-fix solution to losing weight. It is likely that the participants who volunteered to enter these studies were already motivated individuals with an existing desire to change their eating habits. That means that this kind of brain-training game may have less success with those are unconcerned with or unwilling to change their diets in the first place.

Kira Shaw is a member of the Sheffield NeuroGirls (@Shef_NeuroGirls)

Read the Original Article at TheConservation.com

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Genre : Comedy.

‘Punching Henry’ is a movie genre Comedy, was released in February 24, 2017. Gregori Viens was directed this movie and starring by Henry Phillips. This movie tell story about Comedian Henry Phillips is lured to LA by a renowned TV producer who wants to bring his story of failure to the screen. But when a major network gets involved, Henry must decide whether he wants to make jokes for a living, or be the butt of them.

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