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How Our Stone Age Bodies Struggle To Stay Healthy In Modern TimesWritten By Daniel Leiberman and posted on Npr.org/sections/your-health If you got sick, you probably wouldn't go to an evolutionary biologist to get treated. But Daniel Lieberman, professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard University, says that his field can help you understand why you got sick, and make...
Teens gaining healthy habits, but not enoughPost by Jacque Wilson on Cnn.com health on September 26th, 2013 Efforts to increase healthy habits in American teens may be making an impact, according to a new study. Adolescents are moving more, eating better and watching less TV than they used to, and researchers say obesity rates in this group may finally be stabilizing.The...
Obesity kills more Americans than we thoughtWritten by Rachel Auerbach and posted on cnn.com/health on 8/15/2013Just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics showing promise in the fight against childhood obesity, another study suggests the American public health system shouldn't be celebrating quite yet.While new statistics show childhood...
Skip breakfast, lose weight? Not so fastThis Article was written on July, 25th 2013 by Danille Dellorto and posted on cnn.com/healthSkipping breakfast doesn’t mean you’ll consume more calories later in the day, according to a new report from Cornell University.Researchers split 400 college-age students into two groups; they fed one group breakfast and the other no...
We May Not Care About Calorie Counts, But The Food Industry Does Thanks to calorie counts on menus, we now know a Big Mac packs 550 calories, but that hasn’t deterred us from ordering the fast food burger. Those designed-to-make-you-feel-guilty numbers may, however, be changing the American eating landscape in more subtler ways.Several studies, including a recent one...
Written by Alexandra Sifferlin and posted on healthandtime.com on April 22, 2013
When it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes, which should come first — changing your diet or becoming more physically active?
Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine report in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine that neither strategy was likely to help individuals meet healthy eating and fitness recommendations and stick with them for a year. For the best results, the scientists found that changing diet and fitness habits simultaneously made the most sense.
Previous studies suggested that providing people with too much information about nutrition and physical activity at once can be overwhelming, and tends to discourage, rather than motivate them to improve their habits. That, say the researchers, has led to the popularity of advising people to make incremental changes, and set smaller, more achievable goals to eat healthier meals and to become less sedentary. But, say some experts, continually making new changes can also drain energy and motivation, and lead to a drop in compliance over time.
So to assess how the two strategies fared in a head-to-head comparison, the scientists recruited 200 inactive participants who were age 45 or older and randomly assigned them to one of four groups that provided nutrition and exercise coaching over the phone. One group was instructed about making diet and fitness changes at the same time, the second group were taught about diet changes first, then fitness changes four months later, the third group changed their exercise habits first and made changes in their eating habits four months later, and the final, control group were not instructed about either diet or fitness changes but about how to manage their stress.
The researchers tracked the groups for a full year to determine which strategy was more successful in helping participants achieve the nationally recommended goals of 150 minutes of exercise per week, eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily and keeping saturated fat intake at less than 10%.
Compared to the group that did not receive any dietary or exercise advice, the three intervention groups made healthy changes in their diet. Those that changed their fitness regimen first also significantly increased the amount of exercise they received daily compared to the other groups after four months. However, at the end of the year, the group that changed both diet and exercise at the same time was the only one that met the nationally recommended targets for both exercise and nutrition levels, while those who worked on improving their nutrition first were unable to meet the recommended levels of fitness after a year.
The results raise interesting questions about behavior changes and compliance. The researches suspect that modifications to diet are easier to make than changes to physical activity, since meals are already part of a daily schedule, and exercise requires more effort to incorporate into an already busy day.
The findings show, however, that pairing dietary and exercise changes may help to overcome some of the barriers people face in adding more physical activity into their lives. If folks change diet and exercise sequentially, the scientists say, they may end up placing more importance on the first set of behavior changes and feel less pressured to address the second set. Paying attention to both healthy behaviors at the beginning of a program, on the other hand, could help to give them equal priority, and therefore make it more likely that people will be able to maintain the habits over a longer period of time.
Denying certain foods to children or pressuring them to eat every bit of a meal are common practices among many parents. But researchers at the University of Minnesota found parents who restricted foods were more likely to have overweight or obese children. And while those who pressured children to eat all of their meals mostly had children of normal weight, it adversely affected the way those children ate as they grew older, according to the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Investigators combined data from two separate research studies. The first, EAT 2010 (Eating and Activity in Teens), studied around 2,800 middle and high school students from public schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Participants in the project responded to survey questionnaires designed to examine dietary intake and weight status.
Researchers combined that data with information from the Project F-EAT (Families and Eating and Activity Among Teens), a study designed to examine factors within the family environment on weight in adolescents.
From the combined information, researchers were able to gain a better understanding of how parents' approach to food and feeding is related to adolescents' weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States - triple the rate from just a generation ago.
“We found that between 50 and 60% of parents from our sample reported requiring that their child eat all of the food on their plate at a meal," said researcher Katie Loth, the study's lead author. "Further, we found that between 30-40% of parents from within our sample reported encouraging their child to continue eating even after their child stated that they were full.
"While these pressure-to-eat behaviors were more frequent among parents of non-overweight adolescents, they were still endorsed quite frequently by parents of overweight and obese adolescents, indicating that many parents endorse these behaviors regardless of their child's current weight status," she said.
Researchers also found dads were more likely than moms to pressure their sons and daughters to eat, and adolescent boys were pressured more than adolescent girls.
“Parental pressure to eat can be detrimental to children because it takes away from a child's ability to respond naturally to their own hunger," said Loth. “Instead, (it) encourages them to respond to cues in their environment which can lead to unhealthy weight gain over time.”
The data also showed that restricting food from kids was a common practice of either parent, in both boys and girls.
“Research has shown that when a parent places a restriction on a particular food item (i.e. no treats) that a child becomes more interested in consuming that food item and will often overeat that food when given the opportunity,” Loth continued. “Instead, parents should be encouraged to allow their children to eat all foods in moderation.”
Investigators believe that parents should keep an eye on their child's weight and make an effort to better understand good eating practices, instead of worrying about whether their kids clean their plates or have a cookie now and then.
Study authors recommended such practices as eating regular family meals, having nutritious snacks at home, choosing healthy foods and encouraging young people to make better food choices as a way to fight weight problems, Loth said.
And most importantly, “parents should also work hard to model healthy eating and a healthy relationship with food to their child" by eating a well-balanced diet, Loth said
Eat Fish And Prosper?
Written by Audrey Carlsen and posted on npr.org/blogs/thesalt on April 1st, 2013
Now here's some more good news: A study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that eating oily fish once or twice a week could maybe – just maybe — add a few years to your life.
Oily fish like salmon, trout and herring are, of course, a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to numerous bodily functions. Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington wanted to know how eating fish high in omega-3s affected health. So over the course of 16 years, they monitored a group of almost 2,700 healthy adults aged 65 years or older.
But unlike most studies that have looked at the question, the researchers didn't want to rely on study subjects to accurately recall what they ate, so they measured blood levels of omega-3s instead. And since they were interested in dietary intake only, they excluded participants who took fish oil supplements.
After controlling for factors like age, sex and lifestyle, the researchers found that, on average, adults with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids lived 2.2 years longer. In particular, these adults had a 35 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease – which is in line with other studies that have tied omega-3s to cardiovascular benefits.
Higher levels of fatty acids were most strongly associated with decreased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
"Omega-3 fatty acids are very unique in that, at very small levels in the diet, they have pretty powerful effects on a range of body functions," says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, lead author of the study.
According to Mozaffarian, the main reason why omega-3s are important is because of their role in building cell membranes. "Our cell membranes are 95 percent fat," he explains. "If we didn't have fatty acids, we wouldn't have cells."
Foods That Fight Muscle SorenessSeptember 5, 2013, 12:00AMYou’ve made a commitment to healthier living—including exercising regularly. But that post-exercise muscle soreness sometimes gets in the way of your next workout. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Many of us suffer from delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS) quite often. However, recent studies point...
Diet soda drinkers have the same health issues as those who drink regular soda, according to a new report published Wednesday.
Purdue University researchers reviewed a dozen studies published in past five years that examined the relationship between consuming diet soda and health outcomes. They then published an opinion piece on their findings in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, saying they were “shocked” by the results.
"Honestly, I thought that diet soda would be marginally better compared to regular soda in terms of health," said Susan Swithers, the report's author and a behavioral neuroscientist and professor of psychological sciences. “But in reality it has a counterintuitive effect.”
Artificial sweeteners in diet soda fulfill a person’s craving for a sweet taste, without the calories. But that's the problem, according to researchers. Think of it like crying wolf.
The fake sugar in diet sodas teases your body by pretending to give it real food. But when your body doesn't get the things it expects to get, it becomes confused on how to respond. While the studies they reviewed only looked at diet soft drinks, the researchers suggest that this could apply to other products that contain artificial sweeteners as well.
"You've messed up the whole system, so when you consume real sugar, your body doesn't know if it should try to process it because it's been tricked by the fake sugar so many times," says Swithers.
On a physiological level, this means when diet soda drinkers consume real sugar, the body doesn’t release the hormone that regulates blood sugar and blood pressure.
Diet soda drinkers also tend to pack on more pounds than those who don’t drink it, the report says.
“Research shows that sweet taste can increase appetite and the regular consumption of the high intensity sweetness of artificial sweeteners may encourage sugar cravings and dependence,” says CNN diet and fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis.
The artificial sweeteners also dampen the "reward center" in your brain, which may lead you to indulge in more calorie-rich, sweet-tasting food, according to the report.
The American Beverage Association says the report was "an opinion piece, not a scientific study."
"Low-calorie sweeteners are some of the most studied and reviewed ingredients in the food supply today," the association said in a statement. "They are safe and an effective tool in weight loss and weight management, according to decades of scientific research and regulatory agencies around the globe."
Diet soda's negative effects are not just linked to weight gain, however, the report says.
It found that diet soda drinkers who maintained a healthy weight range still had a significantly increased risk of the top three killers in the United States: diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
"We've gotten to a place where it is normal to drink diet soda because people have the false impression that it is healthier than indulging in a regular soda," says Swithers. "But research is now very clear that we need to also be mindful of how much fake sugar they are consuming."
There are five FDA-approved artificial sweeteners: acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One), aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), neotame, saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet'N Low), and sucralose (Splenda).
“Saccharin was one of the first commercially-available artificially sweeteners, and it’s actually a derivative of tar,” says Swithers.
Even natural sweeteners like Stevia, which has no calories and is 250 times sweeter than regular sugar, are still processed extracts of a natural plant and may have increased health risks.
“Just because something is natural does not always mean that it is safer,” says Jampolis.
There more studies and research that need to be done. But in the meantime, experts say: Limit consumption.
“No one is saying cut it out completely,” says Swithers. “But diet soda should be a treat or indulgence just like your favorite candy, not an everyday thing.”