Category Archives: obesity

Going green can reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes (we mean your leafy greens!)

greensWe’re all trying to be green! We’re making efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, choosing brown bags over plastic, using recycled everything as much as we can. New research we found today though is encouraging us to go green with our vegetables too — to reduce risks to the environment, but to reduce risks to our health!

Three new studies reveal that a chemical called nitrate – found in green vegetables including spinach, lettuce and celery – may aid heart health and reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes.

The three studies were conducted by researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton – both in the UK.

In the first study, co-led by Dr. Andrew Murray from the University of Cambridge and published in The FASEB Journal, researchers found that eating more vegetables rich in nitrate may reduce production of a hormone made by the liver and kidneys, called erythropoietin. This hormone regulates the number of red blood cells in the body.

The team explains that at high altitudes or in cardiovascular diseases, the body is subject to a shortage of oxygen. In order to get more oxygen around the body, erythropoietin increases its production of blood cells.

However, high numbers of blood cells can cause the blood to become too thick. This means that the body’s organs and tissues may be starved of oxygen because the blood is unable to flow through small blood vessels to get to them.

But the findings from the team indicate that eating more nitrate-rich vegetables could thin the blood by lowering the number of red blood cells produced, which could have important implications for health. Dr. Murray says:

“Here we show that nitrate from the diet can help regulate the delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues and its use, matching oxygen supply and demand. This ensures cells and tissues in the body have enough oxygen to function without needing to overproduce red blood cells, which can make the blood too thick and compromise health.

Lowering the blood’s thickness without compromising oxygen delivery may also help prevent blood clots, reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.”

In addition, the researchers note that their findings could lead to the discovery of better ways to deliver oxygen to cells, which may help the recovery of patients in intensive care units.

Dr. Murray led the second study, which was recently published in The Journal of Physiology.
In this research, the team exposed rats to high altitudes in order to trigger increased production of red blood cells.

They found that rats fed a diet with nitrate – the equivalent to humans adding slightly more green vegetables to their diets – were better protected against an array of heart and circulatory conditions than rats fed a nitrate-free diet.

This is because nitrate increases production of a compound that widens the blood vessels, according to the researchers, improving blood flow. What is more, the researchers found that nitrate protects proteins in heart cells that are crucial for heart health.

“Nitrate supplementation may thus be of benefit to individuals exposed to hypobaric hypoxia at altitude or in patients with diseases characterized by tissue hypoxia and energetic impairment, such as heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or in the critically ill,” the team says.

In the third study – published in the journal Diabetes and led by Lee Roberts from the University of Cambridge – the team found that nitrate subjects “bad” white fat cells to a process called “browning,” which converts them into beige cells.

The researchers explain that beige cells are similar to “good” brown fat cells, which burn fat in order to generate heat. Increased levels of brown fat have been associated with reduced risk of obesity and diabetes, therefore the team hypothesizes that incorporating nitrate into the diet could protect against these conditions.

Commenting on the findings of all three studies, Dr. Murray says:

“There have been a great many findings demonstrating a role for nitrate in reducing blood pressure and regulating the body’s metabolism.

These studies represent three further ways in which simple changes in the diet can modify people’s risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as potentially alleviating symptoms of existing cardiovascular conditions to achieve an overall healthier life.”

FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize the idea of simple dietary changes improving health and quality of life. This particular change is especially simple. There are so many green vegetables to choose from, we can easily enjoy a few different options every day. Salads, broccoli, spinach, kale, chard, mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage … the list goes on. Greens offer variety and texture to our meals, not to mention great flavor.

So the next time you’re thinking about the benefits of going green — don’t forget the health benefits of eating green as well!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286515.php

Dads consuming too much sugar may increase the risk of obesity in their children

High SugarMost research regarding childhood obesity as it relates to parents and pregnancy points to the dietary habits of mothers. We’re actually quite accustomed to moms, as the carriers of their children, as the “important link” to their health. Expectant mothers shouldn’t smoke, shouldn’t consume caffeine, need to be concerned about mercury levels in their diets, need to avoid alcohol, are discouraged from dying their hair … the list grows longer just about every year. And that makes sense. Growing babies receive their nourishment directly from the women in which they develop. And proper development requires some restrictions. We rarely hear about dads in the same manner.

But now there appears to be a link between a father’s sugar consumption just before conception and an increased risk of obesity in his offspring.

A new study shows that increasing sugar in the diet of male fruit flies for just 1 or 2 days before mating can cause obesity in their offspring through alterations that affect gene expression in the embryo. There is also evidence that a similar system regulates obesity susceptibility in mice and humans. The research, which is published online December 4 in the Cell Press journal Cell, provides insights into how certain metabolic traits are inherited and may help investigators determine whether they can be altered.

Research has shown that various factors that are passed on by parents or are present in the uterine environment can affect offspring’s metabolism and body type. Investigators led by Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik, of the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Germany, and team member Dr. Anita Öst, now at Linkoping University in Sweden, sought to understand whether normal fluctuations in a parent’s diet might have such an impact on the next generation.

Through mating experiments in Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit flies, the scientists found that dietary interventions in males could change the body composition of offspring, with increased sugar leading to obesity in the next generation. High dietary sugar increased gene expression through epigenetic changes, which affect gene activity without changing the DNA’s underlying sequence. “To use computer terms, if our genes are the hardware, our epigenetics is the software that decides how the hardware is used,” explains Dr. Öst. “It turns out that the father’s diet reprograms the epigenetic ‘software’ so that genes needed for fat production are turned on in their sons.”

Because epigenetic programs are somewhat plastic, the investigators suspect that it might be possible to reprogram obese epigenetic programs to lean epigenetic programs. “At the moment, we and other researchers are manipulating the epigenetics in early life, but we don’t know if it is possible to rewrite an adult program,” says Dr. Öst.

The fruit fly models and experiments that the team designed will be valuable resources for the scientific community. Because the flies reproduce quickly, they can allow investigators to quickly map out the details of how nutrition and other environmental stimuli affect epigenetics and whether or not they can be modulated, both early and later in life.

“It’s very early days for our understanding of how parental experiences can stably reprogram offspring physiology, lifelong. The mechanisms mapped here, which seem in some way to be conserved in mouse and man, provide a seed for research that has the potential to profoundly change views and practices in medicine,” says Dr. Pospisilik.

FoodFacts.com found this research exceptionally fascinating. First, it brings fathers directly into the health mix on a different level, clearly stating that their contribution to the developing child goes beyond genetics. And subsequently, the idea that science can use this information to determine whether or not there can be some sort of modulation of these effects may prove to be quite valuable in the war against obesity.

Until that can be determined, it’s probably a good — and simple — idea for dads to limit their sugar intake prior to conception. Moms already give up quite a bit in order to achieve healthy pregnancies. Giving up sugar is surely an easy and temporary sacrifice for fathers to make to contribute to that goal.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141204140737.htm

Rates of obesity-related cancers rising … and it’s mostly in developed countries

picCanmexIn case anyone was wondering if the obesity crisis has been contained or is showing any signs of reversing course, the unfortunate fact is that from all available information, the world is still suffering. This reversible and tragic situation is still continuing at an alarming rate. In addition to actual obesity statistics, news surrounding the crisis points squarely to the concept that millions of people across the globe continue to gain far too much weight to be able to maintain health.

Being overweight or obese have become major risk factors for developing cancer, particularly among women and in more developed countries, the specialized cancer agency of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.

Overweight and obesity are responsible for an estimated 481,000 or 3.6 per cent of all new cancer cases in 2012, and reducing such health issues at the population level could have significant health benefits, according to a new study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The study, which was published in The Lancet Oncology today, also shows that one quarter of all cancers attributable to overweight and obesity worldwide 118,00 cases could have been prevented if populations had simply maintained their average body-mass index of 30 years ago.

The number of cancers linked to obesity and overweight is expected to rise globally along with economic development, Dr. Christopher Wild, Director of IARC, said in a press release.

This study stresses the importance of putting in place efficient weight control measures, to curb the high number of cancers associated with excess body weight and to avoid the problems faced by rich countries being repeated in those now undergoing rapid development, he added.

Cancer due to overweight and obesity is currently far more common in more developed countries which reported 393,000 cases, or 5.2 per cent of all new cancer cases than in less developed countries which reported 88,000 cases, or 1.5 per cent of all new cancer cases.
North America remains the most affected, with an estimated 111,000 obesity-related cancers in 2012, accounting for 23 per cent of the total global cancer burden linked to high body-mass index, the agency said.

In Europe, the proportion of cancers due to overweight and obesity is also large, particularly in eastern Europe which reported 65,000 cases, or 6.5 per cent of all new cancer cases in the region, according to the study.

Overall, the countries with the highest cancer burden attributable to overweight and obesity in men are the Czech Republic (5.5 per cent of the countrys new cancer cases); Jordan (4.5 per cent); the United Kingdom (4.4 per cent); and Malta (4.4 per cent).

Among women, Barbados (12.7 per cent), the Czech Republic (12.0 per cent) and Puerto Rico (11.6 per cent) are most affected. In the United States one of the largest contributors of global cancers associated with high body-mass index 3.5 per cent and 9.5 per cent of the country’s new cancer cases are linked to excess body weight in men and women, respectively.

Although in most Asian countries the proportion of cancers associated with overweight and obesity is not large, it still translates into a considerable absolute number of cases due to the large population size, the study noted.

For example, in China, about 50,000 cancer cases in women and men are associated with overweight and obesity, accounting for 1.6 per cent of the countrys new cancer cases, according to the study.

In contrast, the contribution of overweight and obesity to cancer burden remains low in Africa which had 7,300 cases, or 1.5 per cent of all new cancer cases in the continent.

Overall, we see that while the number of cancer cases associated with overweight and obesity remains highest in richer countries, similar effects are already visible in parts of the developing world, said Dr. Isabelle Soerjomataram, one of the study’s lead authors and the projects principal investigator.

A high body-mass index is a known risk factor for cancers of the oesophagus, colon, rectum, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, postmenopausal breast, ovary and endometrium, as well as for other non-communicable diseases, notably cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

A body-mass index is a measure of body fat that is calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of the height in metres.

The study also highlights that the proportion of cancers related to obesity is higher in women than in men, with population-attributable fractions of 5.3 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively.

Women are disproportionately affected by obesity-related cancers, said IARCs Dr. Melina Arnold, one of the study’s lead authors.

For example, for postmenopausal breast cancer, the most common cancer in women worldwide, the study suggests that 10 per cent of these cancers could have been prevented by having a healthy body weight.

FoodFacts.com can clearly understand how the rates of obesity-related cancers are higher in more developed, wealthier countries. Our grocery store shelves are lined with the seeds of obesity far more than those in underdeveloped nations. We’re surrounded by the processed foods and sugary beverages that are the sources of obesity problems. We need changes that begin with our food supply and carry down through to our dietary habits. It’s only then that we’ll see a reversal in worldwide obesity statistics and a reduction in the rate of obesity-related cancers.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49453#.VH_BmVWJOuZ

How much money does obesity cost the world? A new report claims that it’s just as much as war and terrorism.

_pek102d_4944201It’s no secret that the obesity epidemic is costing governments money. Until now though, it’s been difficult to measure exactly how expensive it’s become.

The obesity epidemic is now so widespread it is hurting economies as much as war and terrorism, new research reveals.

More than 2.1 billion people are overweight or obese – costing the world US $2 trillion a year.  And while China has lower obesity rates than advanced economies, its numbers are rising fast.

The study, published by McKinsey & Company, calculated the combined social burden by estimating the cost of health care, lost productivity and mitigating the impact of obesity.
According to the research, obesity costs US$600 billion more than alcoholism, US$1.1 trillion more than outdoor air pollution and US$1.3 trillion more than drug use. It has the same impact on the economy as war and terrorism, and is just short of having the same negative impact as smoking.

Almost 30 per cent of the world’s people are overweight or obese, more than twice the number who are undernourished.

McKinsey estimates that if obesity rates continue, almost half of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese by 2030.

A report in medical journal The Lancet reveals China has 62 million obese people – behind only the United States.

While the battle of the bulge remains a relatively adult problem in China, obesity in children is growing at alarming rates. Almost a quarter – about 23 per cent – of Chinese boys under the age of 20 are either overweight or obese, as are 14 per cent of girls.

The prevalence of obesity in cities is up to four times that in rural areas. And obesity rates are expected to rise as incomes go up in poorer areas.

China is attempting to combat the growing obesity problem by constructing more playgrounds and making exercise mandatory in schools.

However, McKinsey argues that obesity reduction requires engagement from many sectors, including government, retailers, consumer-goods companies, restaurants, media organisations, educators and health-care providers.

It’s so important to emphasize that the obesity crisis is a global problem. FoodFacts.com also wants to emphasize that the growth of this crisis tracks closely with the enormous growth in the availability and popularity of processed foods, junk foods and fast foods across the globe. That’s not coincidental. Fat, sugar and sodium ARE the issues of the day. Controversial ingredients like high fructose corn syrup are adversely affecting our health, regardless of how the food industry attempts to explain them away.

Obesity, at its most minor level, changes people’s lifestyles in countless negative manners. At it’s worst, it causes debilitating disease and death. And it’s costing countries horrendous amounts of money for a condition that is completely preventable. It’s time to make real changes to our food supply on a global level.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1645764/obesity-epidemic-costs-world-much-wars-and-terrorism-report-says

Healthy, overweight or obese? Surprisingly we can’t tell by looking

chris-christie-townhall_mediumWith all of the news surrounding obesity and the focus we all seem to put on weight, you would probably assume that you (and everyone else) is able to determine whether or not someone is a healthy weight simply by their visual image. Especially when it comes to obesity, this doesn’t seem like a difficult determination.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool say most of us — even healthcare professionals — are unable to visually identify whether a person is a healthy weight, overweight or obese.

The researchers asked participants to look at photographs of male models and categorize whether they were a healthy weight, overweight or obese according to World Health Organization (WHO) Body Mass Index (BMI) guidelines.

The majority flunked. They underestimated weight, often believing that overweight men were a healthy weight.

In a related study of healthcare professionals, the researchers also found that general practitioners and trainee GPs were unable to visually identify if a person was overweight or obese.

The researchers also examined whether increased exposure to overweight and obese people affected a person’s ability to estimate the weight of a person. Their findings suggested that exposure to heavier body weights may influence what people see as a normal and healthy weight and causes people to underestimate a person’s weight.

“We wanted to find out if people can identify a healthy, overweight or obese person just by looking at them,” said Dr. Eric Robinson, who conducted the research. Primarily we found that people were often very inaccurate and this included trainee doctors and qualified doctors too. Moreover, we found that participants systematically underestimated when a person was overweight or obese.”

“Our study of GPs also found a tendency to underestimate weight which has important implications as it means that overweight and obese patients could end up not being offered weight management support or advice,” he said.

Recent studies have found that parents underestimate their overweight or obese child’s weight and this could also act as a barrier to intervention.

FoodFacts.com wonders if the tendency to underestimate obesity by sight has something to do with people not having a clear understanding of their own weight. Of course there are weight ranges easily available that categorize healthy weights by gender, age and height. Those weight ranges do vary by source, however and may serve to confuse some. Those ranges also can’t take body type into account. While we understand that people shouldn’t be overly focused on weight for a number of good reasons, we do think that we should all have a reasonable understanding of where we stand on the healthy weight scale. Our doctors should also undoubtedly be able to guide us to what a healthy weight should be for each of us. If we can’t “see weight,” we do need that guidance. While we might be thinking it’s just “a few extra pounds,” the reality may, in fact, be quite a bit different. We owe it to ourselves to find out.

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/whos-fat-most-of-us-cant-recognize-obesity-111214.html

Nutritionally, it’s all about the first 1,000 days of life

the-importance-of-fiber-during-pregnancy-newFoodFacts.com has devoted a lot of blog space discussing the importance of children’s nutrition. We’ve certainly had plenty of good reasons for that — the obesity epidemic has affected our kids in a profound way, compromising their health and altering their young lifestyles. Much has been done in an effort to change and ultimately reverse the crisis. School lunches are under new regulations. First Lady Michelle Obama has done a wonderful job with her groundbreaking Let’s Move campaign. We’ve even seen some major manufacturers commit to ditching artificial food colors in products our children love.

But what if we started earlier in our children’s lives? What if healthy eating started, say, at conception, and lasted throughout the first 1,000 days of a child’s life?

That is what Lucy Martinez Sullivan hopes to drill into the national and international conversation with her organization, 1,000 Days. “I realized how little attention and how little money had been focused” on this stage in life, she said.

The most important time to pay attention to a child’s nutrition is from the time of conception until they are 2 years old. Good nutrition during this critical window can change their lives, leading to better growth of brain and body.

Certainly, some of the important focuses of 1,000 Days are conditions in poorer countries without great infrastructure. But the U.S. ranks among the top 10 worst-performing countries when it comes to several major factors of child and maternal health. We are a part of this as much as anywhere else.
Sullivan is on a campaign to get the message out to decision makers, world leaders, and perhaps most important, parents.

To try to help her expand the reach of her campaign, she partnered with a woman so many of us know, Heidi Murkoff — otherwise known as the writer of the “What to Expect” books.

“The lack of interest” in the earliest years of life “is just startling,” Murkoff said. “The whole focus is on elementary school kids. They’re already 9 years old.”

Did you know, according to the Journal of Obesity in 2012, that french fries are the most common “vegetable” among 12-15 month olds in North America? With 18.5 percent of them eating fries at least once a day? Or that by 19 to 24 months, 62 percent of toddlers had eaten a baked dessert, 20 percent consumed candy, and 44 percent had consumed a sweetened beverage, according to the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism in 2013?

So while many countries that Sullivan deals with are in crisis mode because the children are undernourished, ours are poorly nourished. And that means their brains aren’t growing, they are in trouble physically, and it will be hard to dig out from under the damage already done.

So what now? As far as these two powerhouses are concerned, they will work together to try to engage the next generation of moms, policy makers and advocates to ensure a better start for babies worldwide.

Murkoff said she wants to see healthy food become more affordable and available. She wants to see more help to support breastfeeding for those who are able. “It’s a process that doesn’t come naturally,” she said. But many women want to, they just don’t know how. Or they are forced to return to work, many times to a place or shift work that doesn’t allow for pumping.

What does this mean for you and me? We need to change the way we all look at nutrition, childhood obesity and what causes a lack of good health — from the earliest days. That will help us prevent the worst diseases and health outcomes for the newest generation.

And, Murkoff noted, we have to “nurture the nurturer.”

That sentiment, Sullivan noted, will happen if we work to change policies, like a lack of paid maternity leave. How can we feed our children well, or even attempt to breastfeed them, if we have to return to work shortly after birth? How can we watch what goes into their little bodies if we can’t cobble together good childcare for those of us who do work? How can we feed them fresh fruits if we live in areas that have nothing but corner stores?

“The more we neglect populations…the more these families get locked into a cycle of bad health,” Sullivan said. “We need to set moms up to succeed.”

There’s so much critical information that’s revealed here. The research cited is fairly astounding. And it certainly points to the idea that we can do so much better for our children here in the U.S. We can remember when people were appalled when ketchup was considered a vegetable in school cafeterias and now we’re finding out that french fries are the most common “vegetable” for a substantial percentage of one-year-olds. It’s absolutely time to focus more energy on the nutritional quality of diets for the youngest among us. We’ll be doing so much for the health of future generations — and, in doing so, we’ll have a better opportunity reverse the obesity crisis once and for all.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/10/21/good-nutrition-during-the-first-1000-days-of-life-is-critically-important/

Fast food menus claiming less calories … sort of

fast food slimmingFoodFacts.com ran across some seemingly encouraging news today regarding calories and fast food menus. As we read further, though, we realized that there’s a bit of a “smoke and mirrors” component going on with these claims.

A comprehensive new report is revealing that fast-food chains have been cutting calories on their menus.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, menu items introduced by big chain restaurants—including McDonald’s, Chipotle, and IHOP—had, on average, 60 fewer calories than items released in 2012. That’s a 12 percent drop in calories.

The study looked at 19,000 menu items served in 66 of the 100 largest restaurant chains in the U.S. from 2012 to 2013. The biggest drops were in new main course offerings (67 calories), followed by new children’s (46 calories) and beverage (26 calories) items.

However, the overall mean calories didn’t budge. The burger chains aren’t cutting the calories of their signature burgers; they’re just adding healthier items, such as salads, to the menu. Time posits that the lower-calorie menu additions are popping up because restaurants with 20 or more locations in the U.S. have to list calorie counts on menus.

But according to the study’s lead author, Sara N. Bleich, 200 extra calories a day can contribute to obesity.

“You can’t prohibit people from eating fast food, but offering consumers lower calorie options at chain restaurants may help reduce caloric intake without asking the individual to change their behavior—a very difficult thing to do,” Bleich said in a statement.

“This voluntary action by large chain restaurants to offer lower calorie menu options may indicate a trend toward increased transparency of nutritional information, which could have a significant impact on obesity and the public’s health,” Bleich said.

On the other hand, FoodFacts.com just wants to put out there that these voluntary actions by large fast food chains may be more about seeking to change public perception than an attempt to increase nutritional transparency of menu items. Since there is no chain that’s actually reformulating their signature items in attempt to decrease calories, we do have to think this might be true. While it’s important for fast food restaurants to introduce lower calorie options, as long as their main offerings remain as they are, it’s somewhat misleading to say that menus are slimming down. It all depends on what the consumer chooses to eat, not on the concentrated efforts of chains to reduce calories in items across their menus.

http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/10/12/fast-food-menus-are-slimming-down–theres-catch

Obesity link in cancer

Cancer &-fatOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so we want to spend time spotlighting new research illustrating possible nutritional links with cancer that can be of help to the FoodFacts.com community. Knowledge is power — especially when it comes to helping us avoid health conditions and disease. So let’s look at some new research that can make us more powerful in the fight against cancer.

You likely know that being overweight increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But did you know it also increases your risk for cancer?

If you didn’t, you’re not alone. While around 90% of Americans know that smoking is linked to higher rates of cancer, Dr. Clifford Hudis says, the inverse is true for obesity and cancer; less than 10% of us realize how fat is related to this chronic disease.

“Obesity is a major, under-recognized contributor to the nation’s cancer toll and is quickly overtaking tobacco as the leading preventable cause of cancer,” Hudis and his colleagues at the American Society of Clinical Oncology write in a new position paper.

In fact, as many as 84,000 cancer diagnoses each year are linked to obesity, according to the National Cancer Institute. Excess fat also affects how cancer treatments work and may increase a cancer patient’s risk of death, either from cancer or from other related causes.
The key word, Hudis says, is preventable. While we can’t change the fact that we’re all getting older (incidence rates for most cancers increase as patients age), we can change our weight through diet, exercise, sleep and stress management.

In 2003, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study that included more than 900,000 American adults. Researchers followed the healthy study participants for 16 years, and found the heaviest participants were more likely to develop and die from cancer than participants who were at a healthy weight.

After their analysis, the study authors concluded that excess fat “could account for 14% of all deaths from cancer in men and 20% of those in women.”

Since then, research has simply strengthened the link between obesity and cancer. Studies have found a relationship between weight and the risk of as many as 12 cancers, says Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, including endometrial, colorectal, esophageal, kidney and pancreatic cancers.

A recent report published in the American Association for Cancer Research’s journal predicted the top cancer killers in the United States by 2030 will be lung, pancreas and liver — in part because of rising obesity rates.

“It’s not enough to say there’s an association between obesity and cancer. We need to know why,” Hudis says. “With the why, we can do something about it.”

Scientists are exploring several hypotheses on how excess fat increases a person’s risk for cancer. The answer may be slightly different for each type of cancer, but the encompassing explanation seems to be that obesity triggers changes in how the body operates, which can cause harmful cell growth and cell division.

Many of these changes may be linked to inflammation. In general, inflammation occurs when your body is reacting to something out of the norm — say a virus or a splinter in your foot. Obesity seems to cause chronic inflammation, which in turn may promote cancer development.

Take for example, Hudis says, hormone-sensitive breast cancers. Chemicals in the body meant to regulate inflammation also increase production of the hormone estrogen. And studies have shown excess estrogen can cause breast cancer tumors.

Fat tissue also produces hormones called adipokines, which can stimulate or inhibit cell growth, according to a fact sheet from the oncology society. If these hormones are out of balance, the body may not be able to properly fight cell damage.

Obesity can affect a cancer patient’s outcome from diagnosis to remission, Hudis says.
Obesity-related pain or unbalanced hormone levels may distract patients from the early warning signs of some cancers. Fatty tissue can also make it difficult for doctors to see tumors on imaging scans. And a late diagnosis often means a lower chance for survival.
The relationship between cancer and obesity also matters after diagnosis. Cancer treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy, may be hindered by a patient’s size. If the patient needs surgery, studies show excess fat puts them at a higher risk of complications, infections and death.

A recent study of 80,000 breast cancer patients found that pre-menopausal women with a BMI over 30 had a 21.5% chance of dying, compared to women with an average BMI who had a 16.6% chance of death.

Remaining obese as a survivor can also increase your risk of developing what’s called a secondary cancer, the authors of this new position paper say.

In general, “people should be aware that overweight and obesity, as common as they are in our population, have serious consequences,” Hudis says. “Cancer is really just another one.”

Start reducing your risk now: Stay active. Eat nutritious foods that are low in calories. Get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Manage your stress levels. All these behaviors will help you reach a healthy weight.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology is recommending more research be done on weight loss in the cancer survivor population to determine the best intervention method — and whether losing weight after a diagnosis improves patient outcomes. The results of these future studies could help persuade insurance providers to reimburse patients for weight management programs.

There’s so much great information here that gives us all significant reasons to continue our commitment to a healthy lifestyle. So many contributing risk factors for cancer are within our own control. We do have power here and can work to make the decisions that will ultimately improve our health and well being.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/01/health/obesity-cancer-asco/

Increasing waistlines signal bad news for the obesity crisis

waistlinesNews regarding the obesity crisis continues to be conflicting. Some reports would lead us to believe that if the obesity trend isn’t reversing, it may at least be stabilizing. So what’s actually going on? New information released last week isn’t as encouraging as some of the recent reports infer.

The prevalence of abdominal obesity and average waist circumference increased among U.S. adults from 1999 to 2012, according to a study in the September 17 issue of JAMA.

Waist circumference is a simple measure of total and intra-abdominal body fat. Although the prevalence of abdominal obesity has increased in the United States through 2008, its trend in recent years has not been known, according to background information in the article.

Earl S. Ford, M.D., M.P.H., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues used data from seven 2-year cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) starting with 1999-2000 and concluding with 2011-2012 to determine trends in average waist circumference and prevalence of abdominal obesity among adults in the United States. Abdominal obesity was defined as a waist circumference greater than 40.2 inches (102 cm) in men and greater than 34.6 inches (88 cm) in women.

Data from 32,816 men and nonpregnant women ages 20 years or older were analyzed. The overall age-adjusted average waist circumference increased progressively and significantly, from 37.6 inches in 1999-2000 to 38.8 inches in 2011-2012. Significant increases occurred in men (0.8 inch), women (1.5 inch), non-Hispanic whites (1.2 inch), non­Hispanic blacks (1.6 inch), and Mexican Americans (1.8 inch).

The overall age-adjusted prevalence of abdominal obesity increased significantly from 46.4 percent in 1999-2000 to 54.2 percent in 2011-2012. Significant increases were present in men (37.1 percent to 43.5 percent), women (55.4 percent to 64.7 percent), non-Hispanic whites (45.8 percent to 53.8 percent), non-Hispanic blacks (52.4 percent to 60.9 percent), and Mexican Americans (48.1 percent to 57.4 percent).

The authors write that previous analyses of data from NHANES show that the prevalence of obesity calculated from body mass index (BMI) did not change significantly from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012. “In contrast, our analyses using data from the same surveys indicate that the prevalence of abdominal obesity is still increasing. The reasons for increases in waist circumference in excess of what would be expected from changes in BMI remain speculative, but several factors, including sleep deprivation, endocrine disruptors, and certain medications, have been proposed as potential explanations.”

“Our results support the routine measurement of waist circumference in clinical care consistent with current recommendations as a key step in initiating the prevention, control, and management of obesity among patients.”

While body mass index statistics are pointing to a leveling out of the obesity statistics, abdominal obesity is still on the rise. FoodFacts.com takes this as bad news. Abdominal obesity is referred to as obesity for a reason. This is important information that speaks to the continuation of a crisis and begs from all of us a renewed commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140916162401.htm

Can you walk off the negative health effects associated with high-fructose corn syrup?

Pouring a glass of colaWe all know the details of the controversies surrounding high-fructose corn syrup. We all remember the “corn sugar” commercials that tried to convince us that “sugar is sugar.” And we know that just about everyone in the FoodFacts.com community remembers the angrily disputed research linking high-fructose corn syrup to obesity, diabetes and even cancer. There have been some attempts by manufacturers to remove it from a variety of products, but for the most part, high-fructose corn syrup is still a far too popular ingredient in far too many common products, including — and most especially soda.

We’re pretty comfortable with the idea that the consumption of high fructose corn syrup puts people at risk for developing a variety of health problems. But the risk drops substantially if those people get up and move around, even if they don’t formally exercise, two new studies found.

The problem with the sweetener is that, unlike sucrose, the formal name for common table sugar, fructose is metabolized primarily in the liver. There, much of the fructose is transformed into fatty acids, some of which remain in the liver, marbling that organ and contributing to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The rest of the fatty acids migrate into the bloodstream, causing metabolic havoc. Past animal and human studies have linked the intake of even moderate amounts of fructose with dangerous gyrations in blood sugar levels, escalating insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, added fat around the middle, obesity, poor cholesterol profiles and other metabolic disruptions.

But Amy Bidwell, then a researcher at Syracuse University, noticed that few of these studies had examined interactions between physical activity and fructose. That was a critical omission, she thought, because movement and exercise change how the body utilizes fuels, including fructose.

Dr. Bidwell sought out healthy, college-aged men and women who would agree to drink soda in the pursuit of science. They were easy to find. She gathered 22.

The volunteers showed up at the university’s physiology lab for a series of baseline tests. The researchers assessed how their bodies responded to a fructose-rich meal, recording their blood sugar and insulin levels, and other measures of general and metabolic health, including cholesterol profiles and blood markers of bodily inflammation. The students also completed questionnaires about their normal diets and activity levels and subsequently wore an activity monitor for a week to gauge how much they generally moved.

Then half of the volunteers spent two weeks moving about half as much as they had before. The other 11 volunteers began moving around about twice as much as before, for a daily total of at least 12,000 steps a day, or about six miles.

After a rest period of a week, the groups switched, so that every volunteer had moved a lot and a little.

Throughout, they also consumed two fructose-rich servings of a lemon-lime soda, designed to provide 75 grams of fructose a day, which is about what an average American typically consumes. The sodas contained about 250 calories each, and the volunteers were asked to reduce their nonfructose calories by the same amount, to avoid weight gain.

After each two-week session, the volunteers returned to the lab for a repeat of the metabolic and health tests.

Their results diverged widely, depending on how much they’d moved. As one of two new studies based on the research, published in May in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, reports, after two weeks of fructose loading and relative inactivity, these young, healthy volunteers displayed a notable shift in their cholesterol and health profiles. There was a significant increase in their blood concentrations of dangerous very-low-density lipoproteins, and a soaring 116-percent increase in markers of bodily inflammation.

The second study, published this month in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, focused on blood-sugar responses to fructose and activity, and found equally striking changes among the young people when they didn’t move much. Two weeks of extra fructose left them with clear signs of incipient insulin resistance, which is typically the first step toward Type 2 diabetes.

But in both studies, walking at least 12,000 steps a day effectively wiped out all of the disagreeable changes wrought by the extra fructose. When the young people moved more, their cholesterol and blood sugar levels remained normal, even though they were consuming plenty of fructose every day.

The lesson from these studies is not that we should blithely down huge amounts of fructose and assume that a long walk will undo all harmful effects, said Dr. Bidwell, who is now an assistant professor of exercise science at the State University of New York in Oswego. “I don’t want people to consider these results as a license to eat badly,” she added.

But the data suggests that “if you are going to regularly consume fructose,” she said, “be sure to get up and move around.”

The study did not examine how activity ameliorates some of the worst impacts of fructose, but it’s likely, Dr. Bidwell said, that the “additional muscular contractions” involved in standing and taking 12,000 steps a day produce a cascade of physiological effects that alter how the body uses fructose.

Interestingly, the young people in the study did not increase the lengths of their normal workouts to achieve the requisite step totals, and most did not formally exercise at all, Dr. Bidwell said. They parked their cars further away from stores; took stairs instead of elevators; strolled the campus; and generally “sat less, moved more,” she said. “That’s a formula for good health, in any case,” she added, “but it appears to be key,” if you’re determined to have that soda.

FoodFacts.com still thinks that avoiding high fructose corn syrup AND soda is really what makes the most sense. What is striking here is that keeping our bodies moving can have such a tremendous effect on our health — and how that effect can be achieved with small efforts. Staying active can sometimes appear daunting — getting to a gym and exercising for a certain period of time each day can seem constricting and time consuming for some. But our bodies seem to appreciate increased activity in even the most basic of forms. Regardless of our dietary habits, it’s in our best interest to get moving and stay moving!

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/drink-soda-keep-walking/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0