Category Archives: Belly Fat

Skipping meals? Increased belly fat may be the unhealthy results.

belly-fatToo busy for breakfast? Working through lunch? If these things are happening in your life on a consistent basis, it may be time to rethink your schedule.

A new study in animals suggests that skipping meals sets off a series of metabolic miscues that can result in abdominal weight gain.

In the study, mice that ate all of their food as a single meal and fasted the rest of the day developed insulin resistance in their livers — which scientists consider a telltale sign of prediabetes. When the liver doesn’t respond to insulin signals telling it to stop producing glucose, that extra sugar in the blood is stored as fat.

These mice initially were put on a restricted diet and lost weight compared to controls that had unlimited access to food. The restricted-diet mice regained weight as calories were added back into their diets and nearly caught up to controls by the study’s end.

But fat around their middles — the equivalent to human belly fat — weighed more in the restricted-diet mice than in mice that were free to nibble all day long. An excess of that kind of fat is associated with insulin resistance and risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

“This does support the notion that small meals throughout the day can be helpful for weight loss, though that may not be practical for many people,” said Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University and senior author of the study. “But you definitely don’t want to skip meals to save calories because it sets your body up for larger fluctuations in insulin and glucose and could be setting you up for more fat gain instead of fat loss.”

The research is published online in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

Belury and colleagues were able to tie these findings to the human tendency to skip meals because of the behavior they expected to see — based on previous work — in the mice on restricted diets. For three days, these mice received half of the calories that were consumed daily by control mice. Food was gradually added so that by day six, all mice received the same amount of food each day.

But the mice that had been on restricted diets developed gorging behavior that persisted throughout the study, meaning they finished their day’s worth of food in about four hours and then ended up fasting for the next 20 hours.

“With the mice, this is basically binging and then fasting,” Belury said. “People don’t necessarily do that over a 24-hour period, but some people do eat just one large meal a day.”

The gorging and fasting in these mice affected a host of metabolic measures that the researchers attributed to a spike and then severe drop in insulin production. In mice that gorged and then fasted, the researchers saw elevations in inflammation, higher activation of genes that promote storage of fatty molecules and plumper fat cells — especially in the abdominal area — compared to the mice that nibbled all day.

To check for insulin resistance, the scientists used a sophisticated technique to assess glucose production. The liver pumps out glucose when it receives signals that insulin levels are low — for example, while people sleep, the liver supplies glucose to the brain. But that production stops after a meal, when insulin is released by the pancreas and performs its main task of removing sugar from the blood and shepherding the glucose to multiple types of cells that absorb it for energy.

With this research technique, Belury and colleagues found that glucose lingered in the blood of mice that gorged and fasted — meaning the liver wasn’t getting the insulin message.

“Under conditions when the liver is not stimulated by insulin, increased glucose output from the liver means the liver isn’t responding to signals telling it to shut down glucose production,” Belury said. “These mice don’t have type 2 diabetes yet, but they’re not responding to insulin anymore and that state of insulin resistance is referred to as prediabetes.”

Insulin resistance is also a risk for gaining abdominal fat known as white adipose tissue, which stores energy.

“Even though the gorging and fasting mice had about the same body weights as control mice, their adipose depots were heavier. If you’re pumping out more sugar into the blood, adipose is happy to pick up glucose and store it. That makes for a happy fat cell — but it’s not the one you want to have. We want to shrink these cells to reduce fat tissue,” Belury said.

Skipping meals may seem like an easy answer to an overcrowded schedule. As this study points out though, it may have some very negative effects for our bodies. FoodFacts.com is already aware that skipping meals does have a negative effect on weight. Now, this study draws a clear connection between skipped meals and belly fat. Let’s remember to take time out of our day at mealtimes. Making meals a part of our schedule instead of disposable time that can be rearranged is the healthy thing to do!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150519141508.htm

Scientists block obesity-related protein in mice and stop fat formation

150506133621_1_540x360We’ve known for a while that where a person develops fat in their body is very significant in the determination of obesity-related health issues. Belly fat is bad fat and puts people at a higher risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes as well as other metabolic issues. A new study out of Oxford University looked at how blocking one protein in mice might change the course of obesity-related conditions.

By changing mouse genes to block a protein associated with obesity, Oxford University scientists have prevented fat from forming around the animals’ internal organs, even when the animals eat an unhealthy diet. The study in Nature Medicine found that these genetically engineered mice also retained their sensitivity to insulin (normally blunted by obesity), despite gaining weight.

Visceral fat deposits around internal organs in the stomach are particularly harmful: they are associated with insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes and heart disease. The study, conducted in close collaboration with researchers at the at the French Institute of Health and Medical research (INSERM) in Paris, shows that changing the pattern of fat deposition from around the stomach to under the skin starts a chain of events which result in insulin sensitivity being maintained, reducing the chances of type-2 diabetes.

Researchers already know that visceral fat attracts special M1-type macrophages (immune cells that attack infections and damaged cells). These M1-type macrophages produce harmful proteins that promote insulin resistance. ‘We’ve previously found that a protein called interferon regulatory factor-5 (IRF-5) seems to push macrophages to change from a more ‘peaceful’, M2-type to the more aggressive M1-type’, said Professor Irina Udalova at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at Oxford University, ‘so we wondered if ‘deleting’ IRF-5 might have a beneficial effect’.

To test this idea, the two research teams fed the mice that were lacking the gene coding for IRF-5 with a healthy diet or a high-fat one. The mice with genetic changes were no different from standard lab mice when both the groups ate the healthy diet. Both groups of mice gained weight when they ate the high-fat diet. However, the mice with the altered gene piled on the fat under the skin, rather than around the internal organs in their stomach. The size of the fat cells in the stomach was also smaller in these mice, because there was more collagen (a ‘scaffolding’ protein that provides the structure for many parts of the body) deposits, holding the fat cells in.

‘The mice without IRF-5 still got fat, but what was different was where they deposited this fat. We know that people who put on fat around their belly have a higher risk of developing obesity-related illnesses such as type-2 diabetes, compared to people who put on weight around their thighs. But we can’t change the pattern of fat deposition in people, which we can now do in these mice. So this turned out to be an excellent way of testing if changing the pattern of fat deposition actually changes the factors that lead to type-2 diabetes’, said Professor Udalova.

The researchers tested this idea by giving the mice a very sweet drink, containing glucose. They then tracked how quickly the glucose was broken down by insulin. Obesity can make the body less sensitive to insulin, which means that it takes longer for the glucose to disappear from the blood stream. This loss of sensitivity can eventually lead to type-2 diabetes. Despite being fatter, the mice without IRF-5 did better than the standard mice on this glucose challenge test.

Researchers at INSERM also found that IRF-5 levels were elevated in fatty tissue from very obese people, especially in their visceral fat. A gene analysis of this group of people found that the higher the levels of IRF-5, the lower the levels of another protein produced by macrophages, transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta). By mimicking the environment in fatty tissue in a test-tube, the researchers also found that artificially increasing the levels of IRF-5 in cells from thin people reduced the levels of TGFbeta, similar to what was found in the obese people. The researchers think that reducing IRF-5 levels sets off a chain of events, starting with increased TGFbeta levels. Increased TGFbeta in turn leads to more collagen being deposited, which results in ‘remodelling’ of abdominal fat deposits, and the release of other chemicals that maintain insulin sensitivity.

‘We found that the mice without IRF-5 were essentially healthy, despite being significantly fatter. Blocking IRF-5′s activity may however have other side-effects, such as increasing allergies. So more work is needed to understand if changing levels of IRF-5 (by using new drugs to target the protein) in humans would be a good way of treating the problem of obesity and obesity associated metabolic diseases. But the results show very clearly that where you get fat matters a lot’, said Professor Udalova.

We can’t genetically engineer human beings — at least not just yet, thankfully. But this information certainly raises the idea that science may come up with a way to block the protein in humans, thus redirecting the course of obesity related disease. FoodFacts.com is certainly encouraged by the findings. We still do believe that a healthy, balanced diet beginning in childhood would do everyone a world of good. The before-the-fact solution is easier, less expensive and ultimately healthier than treating obesity after it has already occurred.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150506133621.htm

The counterintuitive effect of diet soda: belly fat

article-0-0EE9B85F00000578-823_634x425There are people out there who know that soda is bad for them. They love it though. They reason that if they aren’t drinking soda every day or limiting their consumption to one can each day, they’re limiting the harmful effects that are associated with it. Even better, they think, if they’re only drinking diet soda. After all, it’s a diet product. It contains less sugar and no calories. If there aren’t any calories in diet soda, it can’t be associated with obesity the way that sugary drinks have been.

FoodFacts.com would agree that this is a seemingly logical thought process. We have to remind ourselves, though, that we’re applying a seemingly logical thought process to a chemical concoction with zero nutritional benefits. Logic may, as they say, fly right out the window. There’s a study out that seems to open that window up for all of us.

Researchers examined data taken periodically for nearly 10 years from 749 Mexican-Americans and European-Americans ages 65 and older in the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (known by the fine acronym SALSA).

They determined that daily and occasional diet soda drinkers gained nearly three times as much belly fat as non-drinkers, after they ruled out other factors such as age, exercise and smoking. The diet soda drinkers added an average of 2.11 centimeters (.83 inches) to their waist circumferences, while the non-drinkers added .77 centimeters (.3 inches). Daily consumers gained a striking 3.04 centimeters (1.19 inches).

Men, European Americans, people with a body mass index greater than 30 and people who did not have diabetes fared the worst.

You don’t want belly fat (visceral fat in technical terms), especially as you reach your later years, when it is associated with greater incidence of mortality, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. High waist circumference is also one component of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that also includes high triglycerides, blood pressure and blood glucose.

“This is a more vulnerable population,” Sharon Fowler, an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and lead author of the study said in an interview. According to one study, about a fifth of the U.S. population consumed some form of diet drink on any given day in 2009-2010, and 11 percent of those people drank 16 ounces or more.

A couple of caveats here that are worth mentioning: There is considerable debate over the impact of diet soda and artificial sweeteners, with various studies showing conflicting results. (Another Fowler study in 2008 showed significant increases in body mass index among diet soda drinkers.)

This study, because of the way it was designed, could not prove cause and effect; it showed an association between drinking diet soda and increases in waist circumference. Most strangely, the data revealed no relationship between consumption of regular, sugary soda and waist circumference growth, which Fowler acknowledged would have been expected.

In a statement, the American Beverage Association, said that “previous research, including human clinical trials, supports that diet beverages are an effective tool as part of an overall weight management plan. Numerous studies have repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of diet beverages – as well as low calorie sweeteners, which are in thousands of foods and beverages – in helping to reduce calorie intake.”

The Calorie Control Council, which represents producers of no- and low-calorie foods and beverages, also urged that the study “be treated with caution” due to some limitations. The organization noted that older people tend to lose muscle mass and gain waist circumference as a result of aging and contended that some important information on Mexican-American lifestyles, diet records and family histories were not available to the researchers.

Nevertheless, she said, there are a number of possible explanations for the findings. A psychological one may be that regular diet soda drinkers conclude (as I have) that they are saving calories by not consuming sugary drinks and let themselves go overboard on other foods.

“There can be underestimation of the impact of other foods,” she said. “People can give themselves extra permission to eat. They also can just do bad calorie math.”

Based on other research, she said, the sweeteners and/or the acid in diet soda may have an impact on gut bacteria, the ability to handle sugar from other food and drink or the part of the brain that signals us to stop eating.

With so much uncertain, Fowler said, a safe path is to drink water, milk, 100 percent fruit juice, tea and coffee – perhaps adding a tiny bit of sugar or fruit juice for added sweetness in some.

Personally, most diet soda drinkers we know aren’t drinking it in order to give themselves permission to eat more food. Many don’t like the flavor of sugared sodas. Others feel like the zero calorie count fits into their already existing dietary plan. Most aren’t thinking that a savings of a few hundred calories opens them up to increasing their food consumption. We’re more likely to agree with the acids in diet soda or the artificial sweeteners having an impact on gut bacteria. That makes more sense from our perspective, especially when it comes to the chemical profile of diet soda.

We know sometimes that iced cold, bubbly diet soda would hit the spot. We also know that you can make a better decision in the moment. Iced cold water or iced tea will quench your thirst without chemicals — or belly fat.

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/health/2015/03/30/diet-soda-may-lead-belly-fat-age/70644966/

For older adults, diet soda isn’t “diet” at all

150317093142-largeWe all expect that certain products do certain things. Multi-vitamins, for instance, give us our daily requirements for a variety of necessary vitamins. 2% milk contains 2% milk fat. Olive oil is made from olives, not peanuts. And diet soda is calorie free and will help maintain weight. Unfortunately some things just aren’t what they appear to be.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that increasing diet soda intake is directly linked to greater abdominal obesity in adults 65 years of age and older. Findings raise concerns about the safety of chronic diet soda consumption, which may increase belly fat and contribute to greater risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases.

Metabolic syndrome–a combination of risk factors that may lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke–is one of the results of the obesity epidemic. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.9 billion adults were overweight (body mass index [BMI] of 25 or more) in 2014. Of this group, 600 million people fell into the obese range (BMI of 30 or more)–a figure that has more than doubled since 1980.

In an effort to combat obesity, many adults try to reduce sugar intake by turning to nonnutritive or artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, or sucralose. Previous research shows that in the past 30 years, artificial sweeteners and diet soda intake have increased, yet the prevalence of obesity has also seen a dramatic increase in the same time period. Many of the studies exploring diet soda consumption and cardiometabolic diseases have focused on middle-aged and younger adults.

“Our study seeks to fill the age gap by exploring the adverse health effects of diet soda intake in individuals 65 years of age and older,” explains lead author Sharon Fowler, MPH, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “The burden of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, along with healthcare costs, is great in the ever-increasing senior population.”

The San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA) enrolled 749 Mexican- and European-Americans who were aged 65 and older at the start of the study (1992-96). Diet soda intake, waist circumference, height, and weight were measured at study onset, and at three follow-ups in 2000-01, 2001-03, and 2003-04, for a total of 9.4 follow-up years. At the first follow-up there were 474 (79.1%) surviving participants; there were 413 (73.4%) at the second follow-up and 375 (71.0%) at the third follow-up.

Findings indicate that the increase in waist circumference among diet soda drinkers, per follow-up interval, was almost triple that among non-users: 2.11 cm versus 0.77 cm, respectively. After adjustment for multiple potential confounders, interval waist circumference increases were 0.77 cm for non-users, 1.76 cm for occasional users, and 3.04 cm for daily users. This translates to waist circumference increases of 0.80 inches for non-users, 1.83 inches for occasional users, and 3.16 inches for daily users over the total 9.4-year SALSA follow-up period.

“The SALSA study shows that increasing diet soda intake was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, which may increase cardiometabolic risk in older adults,” Fowler concludes. The authors recommend that older individuals who drink diet soda daily, particularly those at high cardiometabolic risk, should try to curb their consumption of artificially sweetened drinks.

FoodFacts.com isn’t surprised by this news, but we know that there are consumers across the country who wouldn’t expect this — and who need to hear it. No matter what age, diet soda consumers are drinking the beverage with their weight in mind. They don’t understand that the product they’re using to help control their weight can be having a completely opposite effect. It’s time to spread this news and explain the facts!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150317093142.htm

Watching your waistline takes on new meaning

heart-diseaseWhile we know that obesity elevates the risk of cardiovascular disease, we may not be aware of how a growing waistline effects health. Abdominal obesity — sometimes benignly referred to as belly fat or midriff bulge — might not appear to be a tremendous concern. Being overweight isn’t necessarily associated with obesity. But extra weight gathering in your midsection may not actually be harmless as some might think.

Sudden cardiac death, or SCD for short, occurs without warning, and is caused by a sudden unexpected loss of heart function, which rapidly reduces blood flow around the body, including to the brain. It is distinct from a heart attack, and kills around 300,000 people in the USA every year.

Obesity has long been associated with various unfavourable changes in cardiovascular health, including SCD. But researchers wanted to find out if a persistent midriff bulge may carry a greater risk of SCD than general obesity as the evidence suggests this body fat distribution may be more dangerous.

They therefore studied almost 15,000 middle aged men and women (45-64 years of age), all of whom were taking part in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.

ARIC has been tracking the causes of artery narrowing in middle aged Americans since 1987.
All the participants (55% women; 26% African American) underwent a detailed health assessment in 1987-9, and then again in 1990-92, 1993-5, 1996-8, and 2011-13. This included measurements of weight, height, waist circumference, and the waist to hip ratio.

During the monitoring period, which averaged 12.5 years, 253 SCDs occurred. Those affected were in their mid-fifties, on average; one in three was female; and four out of 10 were of African American heritage.
Unsurprisingly, those who died suddenly tended to have a higher prevalence of known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

They also had a higher BMI (body mass index), larger waist circumference, and a larger waist to hip ratio–an indicator of central obesity–than those who did not sustain an SCD.

The risk of SCD was associated with general obesity, but only in non-smokers. And of the measures of obesity–BMI, waist circumference, and waist to hip ratio–waist to hip ratio was the most strongly associated with SCD risk after taking account of other influential factors.
Those with the highest waist to hip ratio had double the risk of SCD of those with a normal ratio.

And unlike BMI and waist circumference, the association between waist to hip ratio was independent of existing coronary heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure and other known risk factors.

This is an observational study so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, added to which the precise mechanisms for the association between SCD and central obesity are not known, say the researchers.

But fat around the midriff is thought to be more critical than fat stored elsewhere in the body, because of its influence on inflammation.

Even though this study is observational in nature, it certainly points to links between excess abdominal weight and heart health. FoodFacts.com wants us all to remain aware that even without the presence of technical obesity, carrying too much weight in your midsection may have detrimental health effects. Watch your waistline … not because a smaller waist measurement helps you look better, but because you’ll stay healthier longer without belly fat.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141210204626.htm

Belly fat might be worse for your heart than obesity

FoodFacts.com is well aware that, especially, as we age, we may develop an unfortunate situation around our mid-sections. You know what that’s like … suddenly the weight that you gain seems to gather in one specific area, affectionately known as your belly. Some of us appear to be more prone to this than others. But one thing is becoming very clear. Even if you aren’t overweight, that excess belly fat can be a precursor to heart disease and other serious health problems.

New research has been released that links belly fat in a person of normal body weight with more than a 50% likelihood of dying earlier than obese persons. Research presented in Munich this last week at a European Society of Cardiology meeting explored data from 12,785 Americans who had been followed for about 14 years in a large CDC study. Information was studied on both BMI (the measure of how fat you are in relationship to how tall you are) as well as WHR or the circumference of your belly in relationship to your hips.

Participants were split into three BMI categories … normal, overweight, and obese. Ina ddition they were divided into two categories of WHR (normal or high).

At the end of the 14-year study period, over 2500 people had passed away. Among those who had died, it was found that the people with a normal BMI but a high WHR had the greatest mortality rate of the subgroups studied. And even more importantly, that same group had a higher death rate than obese study participants. It appears that belly fat is actually different than other kinds of fat. It is composed of visceral fat cells that are more likely to promote insulin-resistance. In addition, the placement of those cells in the mid-section can cause inflammation as well.

It appears that this research is considered controversial because it analyzes not only the risks of heart disease from belly fat, but also death. It is felt that the study needs to be replicated before any conclusions can be drawn.

Advice in the meantime remains consistent with healthy eating concepts. Watch your diet: concentrate on adding more vegetables, fruits and whole grains, eliminate trans fat, reduce overall fat intake and improve the quality of the fats in your diet. And, please don’t leave exercise out of your health equation. It’s the same advice FoodFacts.com has been standing behind for years.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2012/08/30/can-love-handles-kill-why-having-a-paunch-may-be-worse-than-being-obese/#ixzz254er4DZa