Tag Archives: obesity

New insight into the obesity gene

FoodFacts.com is continually on the lookout for new research and information regarding the obesity epidemic. There have been a number of studies released over the last year offering insights into this growing health problem that is affecting millions of people worldwide. We’re always especially concerned with our children and hopeful that scientists will pinpoint new methods of fighting this ongoing crisis.

Today we learned that researchers in Great Britain have unraveled the puzzle regarding how the gene associated with obesity actually makes people fat. A common variation of the FTO gene affects one in six of the population. That genetic variation makes the population carrying it 70 percent more likely to become obese than those without it.

Researchers from the University College London followed studies of blood samples from people after meals, combined with functional magnetic resonance imaging of volunteers’ brains and cell-based studies looking at ghrelin production at a molecular level.   They found that people with the FTO gene variation not only had higher levels of the hunger hormone called ghrelin in their blood, but also had an increased sensitivity to the chemical in their brains. For the population with this genetic variation, it’s a double hunger effect.

Researchers feel that this work provides new insights and opens up the possibility of new and different treatments. Some experimental drugs that are meant to suppress ghrelin might be effective if they can be targeted to patients with the obesity-risk variant of the FTO gene.

Previous research has already shown that ghrelin can be reduced by eating a high-protein diet, so this new information may mean dietary recommendations that take those previous findings into consideration. While scientists feel that the FTO gene can only explain a small part of the obesity epidemic, they do note that this study’s discovery is an important step forward to understanding the puzzle of the many factors involved in obesity.

Obesity is growing across the globe at an unprecedented pace. The World Health Organization reports that almost 3 million adults die every year as a result of being overweight or obese. And over 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2011. Obesity puts people at major risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

FoodFacts.com knows that knowledge is power. Research like this will advance the cause of defeating obesity around the world. An elevated understanding of our bodies, coupled with the nutritional awareness necessary to commit to a healthy lifestyle will help millions of people across the globe to reverse this growing and debilitating trend.


Link between childhood obesity and height and adult endometrial cancer

FoodFacts.com tries to keep our community informed of any new information regarding the obesity epidemic that’s plaguing not only our own country, but countries around the world. Childhood obesity is especially disturbing as excessive weight in childhood sets the youngest generations up for lifetimes of chronic health problems and serious disease.

New research from the Institute of Preventive Medicine at the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark has now shown a possible link between obesity and height in childhood and adult endometrial cancer.

This study used data from a group of 158,000 women from the Copenhagen School Health Records Register that included information on heights and weights at 7 to 13 years of age. These women were born between 1930 and 1989. The BMI and height for each women were translated into age-related z-scores. This is a method for comparing height and weight of a child in comparison to a reference population. They linked these scores via personal identification numbers to the Danish Cancer Registry and the Hospital Discharge Register for hysterectomy information as well as the vital statistics register. Each woman’s records were followed until one of the following occurred: a diagnosis of endometrial cancer, hysterectomy, death, emigration, loss-to-follow-up (discontinuation of treatment) or December 31, 2010.

The researchers found a correlation between both weight and height and the later development of endometrial cancer. At age 7 the risk of endometrial cancer in adulthood increased 18% per increase in BMI z-score and by 12% per increase in height z-score. In other words at age 7, a girl of average height (a little over 4 feet tall) weighing about 58 pounds had an 18% higher risk of developing adult endometrial cancer than a girl of the same height who was of average weight (about 50 pounds). Additionally a girl the same age who was a little over two inches taller than that average-sized girl had a 12% increased risk for endometrial cancer. A 13 year old girl born in the late 50s of average height (almost 5 ft., 2 in. tall) who weighed about 113 pounds had a 24% increased risk for endometrial cancer than a girl the same height, but of average weight (about 98 pounds).

The study shows a possible association between both weight and height in childhood and adult endometrial cancer. Endometrial cancer diagnoses peak at about age 65. Data from those women who have not reached peak age will continue to be followed in order to obtain further information regarding this association.

FoodFacts.com will continue to bring our community new information regarding this study as it continues and on the obesity epidemic and its affect on the health on the worldwide population.


It’s all about the serving size …

FoodFacts.com does our best to stay on top of the news regarding the obesity epidemic that’s become such a concern – not only for our own country, but countries around the world. Every new research study that’s published that brings a greater understanding of how and why we’ve become so prone to weight gain offers valuable insights into how the problem can be corrected. We are confident that this will lead to healthier lives for our population.

Today we found new information out of the University of New South Wales, Australia regarding the effects of larger serving sizes on our eating habits. It appears that people who were taught how to engage in mindful (as opposed to mindless) eating were still prone to eat much more food than those who were presented with smaller serving sizes who were not educated at all in regards to mindful eating.

The study included 96 female participants and is the first to examine how educating people about mindful eating would affect eating habits. The women were randomly selected to be served one of two portion sizes of macaroni with tomato sauce for lunch. The large portion was 600 grams and the smaller portion was 350 grams.

Half of the women in each group were given information regarding mindful eating – a brochure about how external factors, including portion size, social and cultural influences, advertising and mood can contribute to overeating. They were asked to write about how these factors may have affected their own eating habits in the past. They were then taught how to concentrate on internal sensations like hunger and fullness, in addition to the flavor of the foods they consume before they were given their lunch.

As it turns out, the women who were served a larger portion size consumed about a third more pasta than those served the smaller portion size. The exercises some of the women engaged in regarding mindful eating did not affect their consumption. Participants in the larger portion group consumed 87 more calories than those presented with the smaller serving of pasta.

Experts believe that portion sizes both at home and in restaurants have contributed to the obesity epidemic. Portion sizes have increased considerably at the same time that obesity rates have risen. In addition, hunger and taste are felt to have little to do with our increased levels of food consumption.

FoodFacts.com feels that this study makes a great deal of sense. We live in a “super-sized” society, where the concept of more is better has embedded itself in our eating habits. Every day we are presented with extra-large cups of coffee, quarter-pound burgers, 16 ounce steaks, 32 ounce sodas, large-sized fries … the list can go on and on. We don’t view our portion sizes realistically because our view of a normal serving size has been altered. And we eat most of what we see placed before us. So if the portion is that much bigger – even if we aren’t cleaning our plates – we’re still consuming more than is considered healthy. Perhaps if we can all stay more aware of those larger portions, we can make the healthier choice. Perhaps in today’s society, we shouldn’t be encouraging anyone to become a member of the clean plate club. Food for thought.


Sugar-sweetened beverages directly linked to deaths all over the world

FoodFacts.com has been keeping up to date on the subject of sugary beverages. The New York City ban on sugary drinks has been in the news consistently and has been responsible for shining a brighter spotlight on the subject. Today we found important new information that we wanted to make sure and share with our community.

New research has revealed that drinking sugary soft drinks is responsible for close to 180,000 deaths worldwide every year. The finding comes from research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions.

We are already aware that sugary beverages are associated with increased body weight and obesity. These conditions can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Using data published in the 2010 Global Burden of Diabetes Study, researchers found an association between the consumption of sugary drinks and 180,000 deaths around the world. 133,000 of those deaths were related to diabetes, 44,000 to cardiovascular disease and 6,000 to cancer. In the United States, data showed that about 25,000 deaths were linked to sugary beverages in 2010.

Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean had the highest number of diabetes deaths due to consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks with 38,000. Mexico had the highest rate of death due to sugary drink consumption at about 318 deaths per million.

Japan, the country that consumes the least amount of sugary drinks in the world only had 10 deaths per million linked to sugary beverage consumption.

Over the past 30 years, global consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has risen tremendously. The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and obesity has stated that sugary drinks are the number one source of calories for American Adolescents.

This study is quite a bit different than those we normally read regarding the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. And seeing a direct link between sugary drink intake and death certainly puts things in better perspective. FoodFacts.com hopes that this information receives the attention it deserves and serves as a catalyst for consumers to reconsider their beverage choices for the sake of their health and longevity.

Read more here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/257958.php

Learning difficulties and ADHD may be linked with childhood obesity

FoodFacts.com tries to stay aware of the latest news regarding the growing obesity epidemic and how it affects the health and well being of the population. Today we found an interesting study out of the University of Illinois that highlights a possible link between diets high in fat and conditions that affect children in our country like ADHD and learning disabilities connected to memory.

Both childhood obesity and childhood conditions like ADHD and learning disabilities have been on an upsurge. The researchers involved in this study explored the effects of a high-fat diet (with 60% of its calories derived from fat) versus a low-fat diet with only 10% of calories coming from fat on the behavior of two different groups of one month old mice. Before the mice on the high-fat diet were able to gain any weight from their food consumption, the behavior of the group began to change.

The mice on the high-fat diet experienced an increase in anxiety, evidenced by increased burrowing and wheel running as well as a hesitance to explore available open spaces. Those same mice also developed learning and memory problems. They experienced difficulty negotiating a maize as well as difficulty recognizing objects. When some of these mice were switched over to a low-fat diet, their memory was back to normal in one week’s time.

Some of the mice were kept on the high-fat diet and the memory problems continued for a three week period. At about 10 weeks, their bodies seemed to compensate for the diet – but by that point the mice became obese and developed diabetes. These results suggested to researchers that a high-fat diet could possibly trigger anxiety and memory problems in children.

While the researchers expected that the high-fat diet would encourage inflammation which is associated with obesity, they didn’t see an inflammatory response in the brains of the mice consuming the higher-fat food. What they did find, however, was the initiation of a chemical response that was similar to the responses seen in addiction … the increase of dopamine, which is associated with pleasurable feelings in an addict. The increase in dopamine is felt to have triggered the anxious behaviors and learning difficulties in the high-fat diet group. It was noted that the increase of dopamine in the brain is common to both the ADHD condition as well as obesity.

FoodFacts.com found the information in this study to be very valuable. While we understand that further research must be conducted to clarify these results, and we understand that not every child with ADHD or a learning disability is obese, the study certainly calls into question how diets high in fat affect our children. Let’s continue to be mindful of building healthy nutrition habits for our families and to develop a deeper understanding of how the foods we (and our children) eat affect our health and well being.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130219121021.htm

Obesity may pose brain development risks for newborns

FoodFacts.com tries to keep our community informed about the latest news regarding the obesity epidemic plaguing the United States and the rest of the world. There’s been so much news in recent months about the causes and effects of obesity. And today, we found new information regarding the risks to babies of obese moms.

It appears that genes found in the amniotic fluid of obese pregnant women suggest that the brains of their babies are developing differently than the babies of mothers of typical weight. With about one-third of American women suffering from obesity when they become pregnant, this is of particular concern.

A new study from Tufts University in Boston extends information found in previous research that sought to pinpoint differences in the fetuses of typical-weight and obese women. Such studies have found an association between a mother’s obesity and autism and ADHD in their children.

As a fetus develops, its brain cells don’t just multiply … some of them also die. It’s a necessary process that rids the growing brain of unnecessary cells. That process is called apoptosis. Research in rats has shown brain differences (including apoptosis) between the fetuses of obese and normal-weight rodents.

This new, small study looked for changes like this in the amniotic fluid of human mothers. The amniotic fluid gives scientists an important view of fetal brain development.

Researchers analyzed the amniotic fluid samples from 8 women who were obese according to their body mass index (BMI) and 8 women of typical weight. Each of these women had undergone an amniocentesis for unrelated reasons. Both groups of women were of similar ages and at the same stages in their pregnancies. In total, between both groups, the mothers were carrying 4 male and 4 female fetuses.

The analysis showed that in the amniotic fluid samples of obese women, the genes identified favored decreased apoptosis. So the appropriate death of some of the developing fetus’s brain cells was lower for the obese mothers’ fluid samples.

This new study was very small, so it’s much too early to conclude that the brains of babies born to obese women are abnormal. Researchers noted that the next best step is to compare brain images of the developing fetuses of obese and typical-weight mothers in order to get a clearer view of the effects of the observations.

Regardless of the small size of the study, or further steps taken to arrive at more certain conclusions, FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize that obesity’s affects are many, varied and severe. And this research points out that those affects may not be limited simply to the obese person. Share this with anyone in your network who you feel may benefit from it. And read much more here: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/779429

The link between obesity and vitamin D deficiency

Most everyone in the FoodFacts.com community knows that we are always gathering as much information as we can on the current obesity epidemic affecting our population. We try to stay on top of research that points to possible causes of obesity as well as the negative effects of obesity. Today we found this important, new information.

It appears that being obese can cause a deficiency in Vitamin D. This important vitamin aids the body in the absorption of calcium. It’s vital to maintaining healthy bones. The study also finds that the reverse equation – increasing Vitamin D intake – won’t do anything to help obese people lose weight.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that obesity affects over one-third of the American population. Obesity increases the risk of diabetes, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, stroke and coronary heart disease. This new study adds to that list.

This new study linked obesity to Vitamin D deficiencies. Prior studies had linked the two conditions, but this new study was the first that explored whether Vitamin D deficiency affected obesity risk – or if obesity caused Vitamin D deficiency.

We’ve posted more than a few reports regarding Vitamin D deficiency on our blog in recent months, as it has grown to be a concern worldwide. Vitamin D is produced by the body when ultraviolet rays from the sun are absorbed by the skin and processed into the fat-soluble vitamin. It naturally occurs in several foods and can be taken as a supplement.
For this study, researchers studied genetic markers from about 42,000 participants to find a connection between body mass and vitamin D, as well as an about another 123,000 subjects to confirm results.

What they found was fascinating and fairly unmistakable. For each 10 percent rise in body mass index (BMI), there was a 4 percent drop in vitamin D concentration. The statistics held true for both genders, regardless of age.

It was noted that it had been previously suggested that obesity can be caused by the body’s natural response to winter months. There is less sun help the body develop the vitamin and circulate it in the body. Since Vitamin D is stored in the fatty tissue, however, the researchers believe that the larger fat amount in obese people can cause vitamin D to be continually stored instead of circulated.

The researchers stressed that the study should remind people about the importance of physical activity, noting that while food intake and genetics play a role in the obesity epidemic, physical activity can positively affect both weight and Vitamin D levels.

FoodFacts.com will continue to actively look for information that helps us to understand the obesity epidemic. We’re hopeful that the growing body of research on obesity will lead us to the solutions needed slow down the progression of the epidemic and eventually eradicate it from the population.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57568049/obesity-causes-vitamin-d-deficiency-study-shows/

Does grilling contribute to the American obesity problem?

FoodFacts.com has been staying on top of everything related to the growing rates of obesity in the United States. When we find information we deem valuable we share it with our community through here, through our blog. And today we came across some new research that might link the development of abdominal obesity along with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes with the cooking of food over dry heat (aka grilling).

The study was conducted by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. They’ve identified a common compound in our diets that results from grilling food or cooking food with dry heat. That compound is methyl-glyoxal or MG. They have published their findings this month in Proccedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study found that mice who were fed a diet of food cooked with dry heat on a consistent basis (therefore experiencing prolonged exposure to MG) gained a significant amount of abdominal weight, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. MG is a type of advanced glycation endproduct or AGE. And AGEs can lower the body’s protection against inflammation.

The study spanned four generations of mice and was split into two groups. One was fed a traditional diet without MG and one group was fed a diet high in MG. Over those foru generations of mice, the group fed high-MG food experienced and increase in body fat, and early insulin resistance. The other control group did not develop any of these conditions. There was a definite deficiency in the protective mechanisms of the mice bodies that was related to MG.

Led by Helen Vlassara, MD, Professor and Director of the Division of Experimental Diabetes and Aging, the study presents important information regarding the control and possible prevention of both obesity and diabetes. “This was a prolonged but rewarding study showing that a specific AGE compound … contributes to the increase in weight gain, insulin resistance and diabetes, reproducing the pattern seen increasingly in humans over the last decades,” said Dr. Vlassara.

“The study demonstrates how the prolonged ingestion of seemingly innocuous substances common in human food, such as MG, can reduce defenses and compromise native resistance to metabolic and other diseases,” said Dr. Vlassara. “The mouse findings are also quite exciting because they provide us with new tools, not only to study, but to begin taking measures to prevent diabetes, either by suppressing their formation or by blocking their absorption with our food.”

Because of this research it does appear that just a small decrease in foods high in AGEs can really improve the insulin resistance of adults with type 2 diabetes. The researchers are recommending that clinical guidelines be revised to eliminate foods cooked with dry heat. Of course, further study is needed to corroborate these findings. But it is possible that avoiding consumption of foods cooked with dry heat and using other methods instead of grilling our foods, we might be able to reduce the instances of both obesity and diabetes.

FoodFacts.com invites our community to read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120820152102.htm

Another clue to the obesity problem

Food Facts is keeping a close eye out news that can help our community and the people they reach in their communities understand more about and combat the growing obesity problem in our country. Today we came across a fascinating new study that we wanted to make sure we shared with you.

A study conducted by Planet Money/National Public Radio outlines how Americans are spending money on the foods they eat. It uncovered that the country is spending more of their food budgets on sweets and processed foods than they were 30 years ago, in 1982. And while spending more on those items, we are spending the same percentage on fruits and vegetables. The scale is tipping, but in the wrong direction.

On average consumers spend 14.6% of their grocery money on fruits and vegetables. In 1982, that figure was 14.5%. Back in 1982, the grocery budget allowance for sweets and processed foods was 11.6% — considerably less than the amount allocated for fruits and vegetables. Today, in 2012, that figure has risen a whopping 11.6% to 22.9%! That’s a fairly dramatic increase.

There were other changes reflected in American spending habits as well. Meats, for instance, dropped by almost 10% of expenditures. Dairy product expenditures dropped to 11.1% from 13.3%. And spending on grains and baked goods increased from 13.2% to 14.4%.

So it appears that the data which was compiled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reflects increases in spending on foods that aren’t nutritionally important for us and decreases in foods that are actually good for us.

There are reasons to believe that cost plays a part in these statistical changes. There are some fruits and vegetables that are less expensive now than they were in 1982 (costs adjusted for inflation) and others that are markedly higher. But in today’s economic climate and consumers trying to do whatever they can to stretch their dollars and make them go further, the perception may, in fact, be different than the reality. It does appear that people look at processed foods as a less expensive alternative to fresh and are moved by their budgets as opposed to nutritional quality. The concept of convenience also rears its head here, as it’s acknowledged that the idea of packaged products is still very appealing in our busy day and age.

While finances are a concern for all Americans right now, Food Facts wonders if we’re not sacrificing our health in an effort to tighten our belts. And sadly, if we’re tightening our belts with our food budgets, maybe that’s making more of us need to loosen our belts – literally.

Read more here: http://www.factsfiguresfuture.com/issues/july-2012/where-consumers-put-their-food-money.html

Are GMOs adding to obesity problems?

Here at Food Facts, we’re always discussing the effect of ingredients on our health and well being. We’ve always believed that the ingredient list is key to many, many issues … including weight gain. While calories are important, we don’t believe that they are the be all and end all of weight control for anyone. If a low-calorie food has a bad ingredient list, we understand that a person might actually end up hungrier and looking for more to eat. We understand that ingredients like MSG or hidden MSG ingredients are actually known to increase hunger.

With the country more focused than ever on the obesity epidemic, we feel that it’s more important than ever to pay close attention to the foods we eat and their effects. Now it appears that we may be able to add GMO ingredients to the list of those that might make you eat more and consequently gain more weight.

There’s some new research coming from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. Yes, it’s an animal study, but its results are certainly a cause for concern throughout the human population. It has linked GMO food products to weight gain.

The study was conducted over a 90-day period and involved both rats and salmon and was focused specifically on how these populations reacted to a diet of genetically modified foods.

The rat population was divided into two study groups. One group was fed only GMO foods and the other only non-GMO foods. The rats who were fed genetically modified corn not only got slowly fatter than the non-GMO population, they also grew considerably quicker and ate more food, more often.

The salmon population studied experienced the same results, with some extra findings. The GMO salmon population experienced more weight gain, and ate more food, more often. In addition, they developed an inability to properly digest protein and developed intestinal changes.

In both rats and salmon, there was a link between the consumption of genetically modified foods, hunger and weight gain. It’s important to remember that in both the rat and salmon populations, there was no restriction of movement (or calorie expenditure). The weight gain occurred regardless of the normal energy expenditure of either the rats or the salmon. Therefore, calories consumed vs. calories burned had nothing to do with the weight gain.

While the study concentrates on animals and fish, it does lead you to ask if it’s possible that the obesity explosion we’re experiencing in our own country and throughout the world, might just have something to do with the amount of processed foods we’re ingesting and their ingredients. Considering that corn is present in almost every processed food available, soy is a common ingredient (and mostly GMO) and canola oil is a popular and “better” oil (that’s also GMO), and that the phenomenal infiltration of these food products actually might coincide with the obesity problem, it’s definitely something we want to keep an eye on.

Food Facts wanted to make sure our community has this important information so that we can all continue to make the best choices we can for our diet and health. Read more here: http://sciencenordic.com/growing-fatter-gm-diet