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January 8, 2009, 9:42 PM CT

Obesity starts in the head?

Obesity starts in the head?
Joint press release by the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the German National Genome Research Network.

Neuherberg, 2008-01-08. Obesity is known to increase the risk of chronic disorders, such as diabetes (type 2). An international team of researchers with German participation through the Helmholtz Zentrum München identified six new obesity genes. Gene expression analyses have shown that all six genes are active in brain cells.

The international GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Parameters) consortium works on the discovery of obesity genes. So far, the researchers have analyzed two million DNA variations in 15 genome-wide association studies with a total of more than 32,000 participants. The hereby identified candidate genes were validated in 14 further studies including 59,000 participants. In addition to the FTO and MC4R genes already known, it was now possible for six more obesity genes to be identified: TMEM18, KCTD15, GNPDA2, SH2B1, MTCH2, and NEGR1.

Gene expression analyses have shown that all six genes are active in brain cells. Also the previously known two obesity genes, FTO and MC4R, show a similar expression pattern; in case of the MC4R gene, a genotype-dependant influence on the behavior of appetite is already established. Researchers of the German National Genome Research Network (NGFN), Prof. H.-Erich Wichmann and Dr. Iris Heid from the Helmholtz Zentrum München, Institute of Epidemiology, who lead the German participation of this consortium, emphasize: "Definitely, the two main causes for obesity are poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. But the biology of these genes suggests genetic factors underlying the different reaction of people to lifestyle and environmental conditions".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 7, 2009, 11:37 PM CT

Catching sports cheats

Catching sports cheats
Avoiding detection just got harder for drug cheats who try to use a particular range of untested, but potentially enhancing, compounds. In the past, tests have been developed once a drug is known to be in circulation. Now a German research team has developed tests for a class of drugs that they believe could be used in the near future.

On the face of it, the Beijing Olympics were remarkably drug free with only six athletes being caught during the games and three further suspect cases identified after the games closed. Rumours suggest that a number of athletes were in fact using performance-enhancing drugs that could not be detected using standard tests. One possibility is that some athletes were using compounds that have still not been tested in humans, but have shown performance enhancing properties in animal trials. Because these compounds are in the early stage of development no test has been developed, so their use will go undetected.

A new test, announced in the launch issue of the new journal, Drug Testing and Analysis, will help sports officials stay one step ahead of the game by allowing them to screen for some of these emerging drugs, as well as others in the same class that have still not reached the market.

The test detects a core chemical structure belonging to a class of compounds called benzothiazepines. These compounds stabilise protein channels that would otherwise "leak" calcium from muscle cells during strenuous exercise. Calcium is needed for muscle contraction and this "leaking" effect weakens the contractions and is a causal factor in muscle fatigue.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 7, 2009, 11:35 PM CT

'Controlling the blood vessels to combat obesity

'Controlling the blood vessels to combat obesity
Mice exposed to low temperatures develop more blood vessels in their adipose tissue and metabolise body fat more quickly, as per a newly released study from Karolinska Institutet. Researchers now hope to learn how to control blood vessel development in humans in order to combat obesity and diabetes.

The growth of fat cells and their metabolism depend on oxygen and blood-borne nutrients. A possible way to regulate the amount of body fat in order, for instance, to combat obesity can therefore be to affect the development of blood vessels in the adipose tissue.

A team of scientists at Karolinska Institutet have now demonstrated the rapid development of blood vessels in the adipose tissue of mice exposed to low temperatures. This is followed in its turn by a transformation of the adipose tissue from 'white' fat to 'brown' fat, which has higher metabolic activity and which breaks down more quickly.

"This is the first time it's been shown that blood vessel growth affects the metabolic activity of adipose tissue rather than vice versa," says Professor Yihai Cao, who led the study. "If we can learn how to regulate the development of blood vessels in humans, we'd open up new therapeutic avenues for obesity and metabolic diseases like diabetes".

Brown fat releases heat when it breaks down, and is mainly found in hibernating animals. In humans, it is found in newborn babies, but researchers believe by controlling blood vessel development that it might be possible to transform white fat to brown fat in adults as well.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 6, 2009, 9:02 PM CT

Link between physical inactivity and obesity

Link between physical inactivity and obesity
A recent international study fails to support the common belief that the number of calories burned in physical activity is a key factor in rising rates of obesity.

Scientists from Loyola University Health System and other centers compared African American women in metropolitan Chicago with women in rural Nigeria. On average, the Chicago women weighed 184 pounds and the Nigerian women weighed 127 pounds.

Scientists had expected to find that the slimmer Nigerian women would be more physically active. To their surprise, they found no significant difference between the two groups in the amount of calories burned during physical activity.

"Decreased physical activity may not be the primary driver of the obesity epidemic," said Loyola nutritionist Amy Luke, Ph.D., corresponding author of the study in the September 2008 issue of the journal Obesity. Luke is an associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Physical activity is defined as anything that gets your body moving. U.S. government guidelines say that each week, adults need at least 2 ½ hours of moderate aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (such as jogging). Adults also should do muscle-strengthening activities, such as weight-lifting or sit-ups, at least twice a week.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 6, 2009, 7:45 PM CT

Find some to locate a healthy meal place

Find some to locate a healthy meal place
As adolescents mature into young adults, increasing time constraints due to school or work can begin to impact eating habits in a negative way. As per a research findings reported in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, scientists found that while young adults enjoy and value time spent eating with others, 35% of males and 42% of females reported lacking time to sit down and eat a meal. They further noted that "eating on the run" was correlation to higher consumption of unhealthy items like fast foods and lower consumption of a number of healthful foods.

By surveying 1687 young adults between 18 and 25, who had previously participated in the Project EAT (Eating Among Teens) study while in high school, researchers from the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota assessed both eating behaviors and dietary balance. In particular, the participants were asked whether they enjoyed eating with friends or family in social settings, whether eating regular meals was important and whether they felt they had to eat on the run due to time pressures. Regarding dietary balance, they were asked about their past year intake of fruit, vegetables, dark-green and orange vegetables, whole grains and soft drinks, as well as their consumption of fast food in the past week.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 6, 2009, 6:50 PM CT

Wii Fit can promote physical activities

Wii Fit can promote physical activities
Image courtesy of Howstuffworks
While some emerging technologies can create environments that require very little physical effort, one Kansas State University researcher thinks games like Nintendo's Wii Fit can help promote physical rather than sedentary activities for people of all ages.

"I think there is a great potential to develop ways to promote physical activity through technology," said David Dzewaltowski, professor and head of the department of kinesiology at K-State and director of the university's Community Health Institute. "Kids innately like to move, so I think that there is a big future in games that use emerging technologies and require movement because the games will be enjoyed by children and also be more healthy than existing games".

In a commentary reported in the October 2008 Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, Dzewaltowski discussed how technology is changing our everyday life and affecting our health.

Wii Fit has games that incorporate yoga, strength training, balance and aerobics. The games are interactive and require the player to physically move, which is better than nothing, Dzewaltowski said. It uses a balance board and allows gamers to simulate challenges like snowboarding down a mountain.

"Anything that gets people to move more than they have in the past is positive, but if people are trying to replace physical activity that demands more movement with the Wii, then that will be negative," Dzewaltowski said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 22, 2008, 9:38 PM CT

Weight issues in children starting school

Weight issues in children starting school
Immigrant children have a greater risk of suffering from overweight and obesity. This is the result of a study from Augsburg with 2306 children examined on starting school. Elisabeth Weber and her coauthors present the results in the current issue of Deutsches rzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztbl Int 2008; 105 [51-52]: 883-9). The doctors recorded not only the age, sex, weight, and height of the children, but also their mother tongue. Their parents had to answer a questionnaire covering sporting activity, amount of television watched, and eating behavior.

German was the mother tongue of 1398 of the children examined. Turkish was the most frequent foreign language (395 children), followed by Russian (183 children). Other languages were subsumed under "other" (419 children). In all, 302 children (13.1%) suffered from overweight and 133 children (4.9%) were obese. The results showed that half of all the children engaged in no sporting activity. In particular, 65% of Turkish speaking children and 59% of Russian speaking children were not in any sporting group. There were also ethnic differences in the amount of television watched. Almost two thirds of Turkish and Russian speaking children watched one to three hours of television per dayabout twice as a number of as Germans. The eating habits of the Turkish children were especially striking. Only 12.4% had five meals a daythe lowest of any group.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 22, 2008, 9:27 PM CT

Nutritious fast-food kids' meals are scarce

Nutritious fast-food kids' meals are scarce
Only 3 percent of kids' meals served at fast-food restaurants met federal dietary guidelines in the first study to examine the nutrient quality of such meals in a major U.S. metropolitan market.

Michigan State University's Sharon Hoerr, a food science and human nutrition researcher with the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, teamed up with economist Sharon O'Donnell and pediatrician Jason Mendoza from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to assess the nutritional status of kids' meals in the Houston market.

The small percentage of meals that did meet dietary guidelines included fruit as a side dish and milk, and nearly all were deli-sandwich meals. They also had about one-third the fat, one-sixth the added sugars, twice the iron and three times the amount of vitamin A and calcium as did meals not meeting the criteria.

"This report is the first to characterize and compare the nutrient quality of all combinations of fast-food kids' meals in a major metropolitan market," Hoerr said. "Because 25 percent of children aged 4 to 8 years consume fast food on a typical day, the diet quality of kids' meals offered by fast-food companies contributes significantly to their overall health and well-being.

"Two trends motivate the need for an evaluation of the nutrient quality of fast-food kids' meals: the increased prevalence of childhood obesity and the amount of food consumed away from home".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 22, 2008, 5:19 AM CT

How you see yourself while pregnant

How you see yourself while pregnant
Body image is a tricky thing for a number of women. Like looking into a funhouse mirror, the way they perceive their bodies can make them think they're thinner or more obese than they actually are. Scientists led by Temple University's Sharon Herring, MD, MPH, have observed that this misperception is linked to excess weight gain during pregnancy which can cause complications for both mother and baby.

As per a research findings published on December 19 in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, Herring and a team of scientists from the department of ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care observed that overweight and obese women who thought they weighed less than they actually did at the start of pregnancy had seven times the odds of gaining excessive weight during their pregnancy. In contrast, normal weight women who thought they weighed more than they actually did had twice to the odds of gaining excessive weight during their pregnancy.

The reasons for misperceived body weight aren't clear, but Herring and her team speculate that the high prevalence of obesity in the US might account for a skewed body image among the overweight or obese group so that they believe they are at a normal weight, and may be less likely to follow pregnancy weight gain guidelines as a result.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 19, 2008, 5:14 AM CT

Group treatment may help children achieve healthier weights

Group treatment may help children achieve healthier weights
Group-based therapy programs may effectively combat childhood obesity in rural communities, as per a new University of Florida study.

Children who participated in one of two group programs family-based or parent-only were less overweight compared with children in a control group. The findings are reported in the recent issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine

The UF study is the first to assess the effectiveness of a child weight-management program in a real-world, community-based setting for families in rural areas.

"Given the scope and seriousness of obesity in America and the limited access to services for children in rural settings, there is a pressing need for programs that help rural families adopt healthy dietary habits and increase physical activity," said David Janicke, Ph.D., lead investigator and an assistant professor in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions' department of clinical and health psychology.

More than 16 percent of rural children are obese compared with 14 percent of urban children. Factors contributing to the disparity include greater rates of poverty in rural areas and geographical barriers that limit access to medical care, healthy foods and facilities for physical activity.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Exercise can't stop the aging process, but experts at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston say that for the elderly, whether it's weight training, walking, swimming or biking, 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week is a good prescription for aging."It's never too late to start exercising," said Dr. Robert Roush, an associate professor of medicine-geriatrics at BCM. "Being physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay some diseases and disabilities as people age.".

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