Monthly Archives: June 2015
Pakistan 9th most obese country

PARIS: Pakistan ranks ninth of 188 countries in terms of obesity, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study published in the medical journal The Lancet, said Thursday that no country has turned the tide of obesity since 1980.

A staggering 671 million people are now covered by the obese category, according to the study – 78 million of them in the United States, which accounts for five percent of the world population, but more than a tenth of its population grossly of weight.

China and India, with much larger populations, trailed 2nd and 3rd in the top 10 obese countries with 46 million and 30 million people respectively, followed by Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Nearly a third of adults and a quarter of children today are overweight, the report further stated.

Traditionally associated with an affluent lifestyle, the problem is expanding worldwide, with more than 62 percent of overweight people now in developing nations, said the report.

There are some 2.1 billion overweight or obese people in the world today – up from 857 million 33 years earlier.

Among the most striking statistics: more than half the population of Tonga is now classified as obese – a dangerous level of overweight – as are more than 50 percent of women in Kuwait, Libya, Qatar and Samoa.

The United States also stands out with nearly 75 percent of men and 60 percent of women overweight or obese, according to the report.

“Obesity is an issue affecting people of all ages and incomes, everywhere,” said Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, who helped collate the data for the period 1980 to 2013.

“In the last three decades, not one country has achieved success in reducing obesity rates, and we expect obesity to rise steadily as incomes rise in low- and middle-income countries in particular, unless urgent steps are taken to address this public health crisis.”

One is considered overweight with a weight-to-height (BMI) ratio of 25 or over, and obese from 30 upward.

Overweight people are more prone to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis and kidney disease, and the soaring numbers are placing a heavy burden on health care systems, said the study.

Excess body weight is estimated to have caused 3.4 million deaths in 2010, and previous research has warned that an unabated rise in obesity could start eating away at life expectancy.

The study, based on data from 188 countries, said the prevalence of obese and overweight adults grew by 28 percent worldwide, and by nearly 50 percent for children.

For men, the increase was from 29 to 37 percent, and for women from 30 to 38 percent of the population.

The study authors expressed concern that nearly a quarter of kids in developed countries and 13 percent in developing ones were overweight or obese – up from 16 percent and eight percent in 1980.

Thirteen percent of American children are obese, almost 30 percent if you include overweight – up from 19 percent in 1980.

“Particularly high rates of child and adolescent obesity were seen in Middle Eastern and North African countries, notably among girls,” the study authors noted.

Other regional differences included a slower rate of increase in developed countries, but fast expanding waistlines in the Middle East, North Africa, Central America and Pacific and Caribbean Islands – regions where many countries’ overweight rates exceed 44 percent.

Fast gains were measured in Britain and Australia.

Women are heavier in developing countries and men in developed ones, said the study.

The World Health Organization aims to halt the rise in obesity by 2025, a target the study authors said appeared “very ambitious and unlikely to be attained without concerted action and further research”.

One solution, said Klim McPherson from Oxford University, was to return to the BMI levels of 1980 – which would mean an eight percent drop in consumption across the UK alone, at a cost to the food industry of some 8.7 billion pounds per year.

“The solution has to be mainly political,” he wrote in a comment on the study.

“Where is the international will to act decisively in a way that might restrict economic growth in a competitive world, for the public’s health? Nowhere yet.”


Weight loss vs. It Getting Healthy: What is harder?

Weight. It is something I have fought all my life. I was above a size 14 in high school. I hit my maximum weight in my 30s, and was just miserable with myself and my life. I married and accept the horrible treatment, because that’s all I thought it was worth.

In January 2012, he weighed 262 pounds. and I had enough. At first I tried one of those “centers of weight loss” in which you simply pumped full of phentermine and B12, which connect to a machine that reads a percentage of body fat mass, compared with normal BMI, and a pat on back by reducing the number on the scale each week going on. However, they do nothing to encourage their actual health. Just a number on a scale is all that is important. I lose a lot of weight in his “program” and that really was the jump start I needed to really take responsibility for my physical health.

I joined a gym next door, and really looked at what was putting in my body. I lost something like 10 pounds just by drinking water instead of soda. I changed the way I ate, not necessarily what I ate at first, but the form routines. Still, I was honestly a way to change my lifestyle. As the weight began to come out, I noticed the way my husband treated me was different, and not in a good way. The more confidence I found more turned away at one point even called me.

At the time, it broke my heart to hear that. Now, of course, I see it as a true compliment. Hell yes, I am insatiable at life. I would hate to become stagnant or satisfied, how selfish would that be? I want to always strive to do and be better. Six months later, my husband left me, rocking my entire being to the core with the zip of a duffle bag and the slam of the door. There I was, over 50 lbs. lighter in body weight, but still believing no one would want to treat me any better.

The next year of my life was a complete blur. In total, I lost 130 lbs. of my body weight, and a 200 lb. jerk of a man off my brain. But something still wasn’t right. I tried dating, and after several failed attempts, I moved in with a guy. I had no idea I had set myself up for failure and fallen right back into the same exact pattern of being treated as if I didn’t matter. Accepting as a compliment, “I like you because you are a fat chick stuck in a hot chick’s body; that means you will always be a good woman for me.”

Once again, slapped in the face and willing to accept it because why would anyone treat me better? Between that and the men who never noticed me before, but were begging for my attention after the weight loss, I actually contemplated putting the weight back on. I would rather be overweight and under the radar than looked at like some sort of “sexy” object. (Still really weird to acknowledge myself as sexy.)

After that relationship ended, I took some time to really look in the mirror, and really look at myself. While I may have made my body healthy, I destroyed my mind in the process. How does one reconcile the comment of: “A fat chick stuck in a hot chick’s body”? Does that mean it was blatantly clear that I had little or no self-esteem? As if “fat chicks” get automatically treated horribly and that is okay? Does that mean that I will always put a man’s needs and wants in front of my own because that’s what I deserve? How did I let myself get so out of whack with a healthy body and a destroyed self-esteem? That is when I realized it was time to change. Everything about who I was needed to change.

I slowly started to try new things, different classes and experiences. Tried going new places and even different volunteering opportunities, just in an attempt to find my own happy, for me. I realized that I am horrible at Zumba, but man alive is it fun to try! I love to hike and read, and I have a very good eye for photography. I learned that I love the feeling of seeing fresh cut flowers on my counter every week and started buying them for myself. I took myself to movies and ball games, concerts and car shows. I dated myself and found out how to love myself.

It was not an easy process. Losing the 130 lbs. of body fat was much easier for me than losing the 30+ years of telling myself that “this is good enough,” “if I want to keep him, I need to just accept the treatment,” and an adult lifetime of telling myself I can’t do it on my own, I need a man to complete me, to hold me and protect me. It was not easy, but I did it — and continue to do it every day. It’s a mixture now of mind, body and soul to be healthy. There are questions you need to really ask yourself like why do you eat the way you do? If it were worded as “you are torturing yourself with a slow suicide,” would it change how you treat your body? How would you deal the emotional side effects of losing half your body weight?

Choose to get your brain healthy as you work on the health of your body. It is nearly impossible to have one without the other. Love what you see in the mirror not just for the curves, dips and straight-away, but because the combination of your body and mind is the open road to a future only you can drive.


5 different types of tea to help your fitness goals

Each of these 5 best teas for weight loss has its own person, magical properties, alleviate their hunger hormones up your calorie burn for literally melting the fat stored in fat cells .

Better yet, they can also help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes as well. Stick to 3-4 cups of tea or tea bags a day. Start with these five delicious varieties now to start losing weight through the magical powers of tea!

1. Green Tea:

Fat cells are unlocked. Before a workout, boost the effects of jet fat having a cup of green tea. In a recent study of 12 weeks, participants who combined a daily habit of 4-5 cups of green tea each day with a sweat session 25 minutes lost an average of two pounds more than non-athletes drinking tea. Thanks to the compounds called catechins in green tea, crossed belly fat explosion adipose tissue by activating the release of fat from fat cells (especially in the stomach) and then accelerating the ability of the liver to convert fat into energy.

2.  Oolong Tea:

They increase metabolism. Oolong, a Chinese name for “black dragon” is a light, floral tea, including green tea, is also full of catechins, which help promote weight loss by increasing your body’s ability to metabolize lipids (fat). A study in the Journal Chinese Integrative Medicine found that participants who regularly sipped tea oolong lost six pounds over the course of six weeks. That is almost a pound a week! It also has a calming effect. Drink a cup if you are a nervous or calm down after a hard day traveler.

3. Mint Tea:

It protects for snacks. Fill a large cup of tea with mint tea soft, and smell yourself skinny! While certain smells can trigger hunger, others may actually suppress appetite. A study published in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine found that people who inhaled peppermint every two hours lost an average of five pounds per month. Although tea is relatively low in caffeine, about 25 percent of what a coffee mug features, decaffeinated varieties are great to have on hand for a gift of soothing bedtime.

4. White Tea:

Prevent new fat cells from forming. White tea is dried naturally, often in the sunlight, so it is the least processed and richest source of antioxidants among teas as much as three times more polyphenols as green tea!). A study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism showed that white tea may increase while lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and block adipogenesis (the formation of fat cells) due to high levels of ingredients, it believed to be active in human fat cells.

5. Rooibos Tea;

Hormones regulate fat storage. Rooibos tea is made from the leaves of the plant “red bush”, grown exclusively in the small Cederberg region of South Africa, near Cape Town. What makes that particularly good rooibos tea for your belly is a unique and powerful flavonoid called aspalathin. Research shows that this compound can reduce stress hormones that trigger hunger and fat storage and are linked to hypertension, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes Sometimes the kettle of water can be as effective as the kettlebell.


Too hot to handle: how to avoid heat-related illness

Hot weather can be extremely pleasant and relaxing, but it also comes with its dangers. Sometimes, the human body is unable to handle exposure to extreme heat and maintain the stable core temperature essential for normal bodily functioning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there was a total of 7,415 deaths in the US between 1999-2010 as a result of extreme heat. Despite being highly preventable, heat-related illness can be lethal.

In Europe in 2003, unprecedented heatwaves were responsible for an increase in deaths. In England, temperatures reached record highs (101 degrees) over a period of 9 days.

“There is considerable evidence that heatwaves are dangerous and can kill,” states Graham Bickler of Public Health England. “In the 2003 heatwave, there were 2,000 to 3,000 excess deaths in England. Across Europe, there were around 30,000 excess deaths.”

Extreme heat is defined by the CDC as “summertime temperatures that are substantially hotter and/or more humid than average for location at that time of year.” Although certain groups of people are more susceptible to these temperatures than others, anyone can be affected in the wrong situation.

In this Spotlight, we take a look at the effects extreme heat have on the body and the measures that can be taken to prevent dangerous conditions such as heat stroke from occurring.

Regulating core internal temperature

Problems begin to occur in extreme heat when the body struggles to cool itself down properly. The human body has a very precise core internal temperature that needs to be maintained – a state that is known as homeostasis. A healthy core temperature should sit between 98 degrees and 100 degrees.

A part of the brain known as the hypothalamus is responsible for controlling the way in which the body regulates its temperature. If the body’s core internal temperature starts to get too low or too high, then it can send signals to glands, muscles, nerves and organs activating mechanisms to adjust the body temperature.

The mechanism the body normally uses to cool itself is sweating. Liquid containing salt is released from the sweat glands, and when this sweat evaporates from the body, the body cools down. However, on some occasions, sweating is not enough.

For example, if humidity is high – when large amounts of damp air are trapped near the ground – sweat will not evaporate as quickly as it normally would, meaning that the body’s ability to cool itself down is compromised.

A number of other factors limit how well the body can regulate temperature and, therefore, increase the risk of heat-related illness. These include the following:

  • Old age
  • Youth (age 0-4)
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Mental illness affecting judgment
  • Medical conditions that limit activity or restrain blood flow
  • Sunburn
  • Use of certain medications
  • Use of alcohol.

In terms of medication, there are a number of different reasons why these can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses. Some, such as those taken for Parkinson’s disease, can inhibit sweating while others, such as diuretic medications or “water pills,” alter the balance of fluids in the body.

When the body is struggling or unable to regulate temperature properly, a number of different illnesses can occur. These vary in severity from heat rash – a common problem in hot work environments – to heat stroke, a medical emergency that can kill.

What types of heat-related illnesses are there?

Heat-related illnesses come in all shapes, sizes and levels of severity. Some present solely external symptoms, some only internal symptoms and some a combination of the two. Some can be debilitating, some can be lethal and some require nothing more than keeping an affected area of skin dry.

Heat rash

Probably the least problematic of the heat-related illnesses, heat rash is caused when the skin becomes irritated due to excessive sweating and sweat that does not evaporate. The rash is formed by clusters of red bumps or small blisters on the skin, commonly in areas such as the groin, the upper chest and in folds of the skin.

Man sleeping in the shade of a tree.
Moving to a cooler location such as the shade of a tree can help cool the body down and reduce the risk of heat-related illness.

Young children are most likely to be affected by the condition. Heat rash is best treated by keeping the affected area as dry as possible and moving to a cooler, less humid environment.

Heat cramps

Heat cramps are muscle spasms and pains that typically occur in the abdomen, arms and legs. Sweating decreases the level of salt and moisture in the body, and it is low salt levels that cause heat cramps.

These cramps normally occur in association with strenuous activity and exercise, affecting those who sweat a lot during these pursuits. Drinking water and other cool beverages helps, as does stopping strenuous activity for a few hours. If heat cramps persist for an hour, medical attention should be sought.

Heat cramps can also be a sign of more advanced heat-related illnesses – heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion takes a little longer to develop than the forms of illness above, occurring after several days of exposure to extreme heat and imbalanced body fluid levels. The condition is due to the loss and inadequate replacement of water and salt from heavy sweating.

People with heat exhaustion can appear pale and sweat heavily, leaving their skin cool and moist. Their heartbeat will be fast but weak, and their breathing is likely to be quick and shallow. In addition to muscle cramps, people with heat exhaustion can experience headaches, nausea or vomiting, fainting and fatigue.

Heat exhaustion is most likely to affect older people, people with hypertension and people carrying out activities in hot environments. People with heat exhaustion should cool their bodies by drinking plenty of water or other cool beverages, taking a cool shower or bath and resting in a cooler environment.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is the most dangerous of all the heat-related illnesses and occurs when the body is unable to regulate its core internal temperature. Within 10-15 minutes, the core internal temperature can rise to over 106 degrees, a dangerous increase that can lead to permanent disability or death if untreated.

The symptoms of heat stroke are far more extreme than those of heat exhaustion. The individual will no longer be able to sweat and, therefore, have red, hot and often dry skin. Their heartbeat will be rapid and strong. Other symptoms include dizziness, throbbing headaches, seizures and unconsciousness.

As heat stroke is a medical emergency, action should be taken as quickly as possible. While immediate medical assistance is summoned, the person’s body must be cooled down rapidly by whatever means are available.

Removing clothing, applying ice packs, immersing the individual in cool water, spraying them with a hose, wrapping them in damp sheets, fanning them: all are methods that can help lower body temperature to safer levels.

In all instances of heat-related illness, including heat stroke, moving to a cooler location is one measure that should be taken to improving the situation. This is just one common step that everyone can take to reduce the risk of developing these illnesses.

How to keep your cool

When the body is struggling to cool itself down, cooling down the location that the body is in is a great way to prevent heat-related illness. In fact, the CDC state that “air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death.”

If a person’s home is not air conditioned, they can derive benefit from visiting public spaces that are, such as shopping malls or libraries. Exposure to air conditioning for just a few hours a day is enough to reduce the risk of heat-related illness.

Woman drinking a glass of water.
The body requires more liquid in extreme heat. Do not wait until feeling thirsty before drinking.

To improve the body’s chances of cooling itself down, it is important that people drink enough fluids. In extreme heat, people should drink more water than they normally would and should not wait until feeling thirsty before drinking.

If exercising, the CDC recommend drinking two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool nonalcoholic fluid every hour. Drinking sports beverages can also help by replacing the salt and minerals that are also lost through sweating.

Outdoor exercise is best carried out in the morning and evening rather than the afternoon, as these are the times of day when outdoor temperatures are coolest. Resting in shaded areas will give the body more of a chance to regulate its temperature. It is also important that people take care to pace themselves when exercising or carrying out strenuous activities in hot environments.

Wearing appropriate clothing helps. Loose, lightweight and light-colored clothing is best, as is wearing as little as you can get away with. Accessories that shade the body such as hats and umbrellas are useful. Of course, any skin that is exposed to the sun will need to be adequately protected from its rays.

As sunburn disrupts the skin’s ability to cool itself and results in the loss of body fluid, apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher around 30 minutes before venturing outside. Be sure to follow the directions on the sunscreen’s packaging concerning how frequently it should be reapplied.

In terms of keeping cool, a lot of what can be done is common sense. Large, hot meals should be avoided as they heat the body, as does the use of appliances such as ovens. To cool down, take cold showers or baths or have a swim. Keep an eye on weather reports so you can be prepared for a day of extreme heat if one is forecast.

Look out for each other!

Some of the people who are most at risk from heat-related illnesses are vulnerable individuals who depend on others for care. Be sure to look out for young children, people older than 65, people with chronic and mental disorders and pets during times of extreme heat.

Do not leave children or animals alone in cars, where interior temperatures can rise suddenly in a very short space of time, even when the windows are open slightly.

If working or exercising in hot environments, be sure to monitor the condition of your colleagues and teammates and have them do the same for you. Some heat-induced illnesses can lead to confusion and visible symptoms that others may be better placed to identify.

Most heat-related illnesses are avoidable. By keeping cool, drinking plenty of fluids and being alert, these health conditions should not stop you and others from enjoying a lovely warm summer.

 

 


Daily weigh-in helps keep the weight off

A study recently published in the Journal of Obesity suggests that frequently weighing oneself and looking at the progress on a chart every day is an effective way to lose a modest amount of weight and – just as importantly – keep it off.

The researchers say measuring and charting our weight daily makes us see the link between what we eat and our weight.

However, for reasons they could not explain, the researchers found this method seems to work better for men than for women.

“You just need a bathroom scale and an excel spreadsheet or even a piece of graph paper,” explains senior author David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

He says this forces you to be aware of the link between your weight and what you eat, and notes that this goes against what we used to be told:

“It used to be taught that you shouldn’t weigh yourself daily, and this is just the reverse.”

In the 2-year study, participants who lost weight in the first year were able to keep it off through the second year. The result is significant because many studies show that around 40% of weight lost through dieting is often put back on within a year, and within 5 years, all of it is regained.

For their study, Prof. Levitsky and first author Carly Pacanowski, a nutritional sciences PhD candidate, randomly assigned 162 overweight men and women to an intervention group and a control group.

All participants attended an initial educational session where they learned about evidence-based strategies for weight loss, including specific approaches based on choosing one’s own weight loss method – with an emphasis on making small changes.

The small changes suggested included skipping dessert a few times per week, using a meal replacement for lunch three times a week and avoiding snacks between meals most of the time.

Members of the control group then left the session, which went on to give the intervention group instructions and equipment for daily self-monitoring.

They were given a typical bathroom scale and asked to weigh themselves at the same time every day – preferably first thing in the morning – and record the result on a website chart set up by the researchers.

Self-monitoring men more successful than women at losing weight

The intervention group were then given a target of losing 1% of their weight, in any manner they chose. This is roughly the equivalent of consuming around 150 calories a day less than usual for around 2 weeks.

Once the participants had maintained their 1% weight loss for 10 days, they were asked to lose another 1%. This pattern continued with a long-term goal of losing 10% of their starting body weight in the first year.

Prof. Levitsky says each participant devised his or her own way of losing weight – some reduced portion size, others stopped snacking, and some skipped meals.

After the first year, the control group was then given bathroom scales and briefed on self-monitoring, as the intervention group had been at the start of the first year.

During the second year, the intervention group were asked to just monitor their weight every day by stepping on the scales and plotting the result on the website chart. On average, the intervention group members measured and plotted their weight four times a week.

Even though weight loss is modest, self-monitoring seems to be effective

The results in the first year showed that on average, the intervention group lost more weight than the controls (2.6 kg versus 0.5 kg). The researchers also found that men were significantly more successful than women at losing weight in the first year, and keeping it off in the second year.

Commenting on the findings, Prof. Levitsky says the self-monitoring approach “seems to work better for men than women, for reasons we cannot figure out yet.”

The authors suggest that by stepping on a scale and seeing the results tracked on a chart every day acts as a reinforcer of behavior that helps reduce weight and keep it off – such as eating less, and taking exercise. Prof. Levitsky adds:

“We think the scale also acts as a priming mechanism, making you conscious of food and enabling you to make choices that are consistent with your weight.”

The authors conclude that even though the intervention group on average only managed to lose 2% of their starting weight and keep it off over the 2-year period, it is enough to show that self-weighing and visual feedback could be a useful weight management strategy, combined with other techniques.

They note that as little as 5% weight loss has been shown to be clinically significant in overweight people.

It is well-known that obesity is linked to type 2 diabetes – fat cells help spur the disease by changing metabolism and inducing chronic inflammation. However, less well-known is that a possible route through which this happens is via the microbiome – the diverse colonies of bacteria that inhabit our bodies.

As people gain weight, they are likely to have large amounts of staph bacteria living on their skin. MNT recently learned that this could help trigger type 2 diabetes because the staph bacteria release toxins that interact with fat cells and the immune system to cause inflammation.

Join our weight loss program and lose upto 16-20 pounds in just 26 days. Call us at +923125100200 to speak to our weight loss expert or email us at wecare@vitatious.com.

 


High salt in high-fat diet found to prevent weight gain in mice

A new study has found, contrary to researchers’ expectations, that adding a high level of salt to a high-fat diet prevented weight gain in mice.

The findings of the study, published in Scientific Reports, may suggest that public health efforts to continue lowering sodium intake might have unexpected and unintended consequences, according to one of the study’s authors.

“People focus on how much fat or sugar is in the food they eat, but [in our experiments] something that has nothing to do with caloric content – sodium – has an even bigger effect on weight gain,” says co-senior author Justin Grobe, an assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

The team began their research wanting to test the hypothesis that fat and salt would act together to increase both food consumption and weight gain, following on from suggestions that fast food and processed foods could stimulate reward mechanisms in the body.

To test the theory, the researchers fed groups of mice different diets and assessed the amount of weight each group gained. One group of mice consumed a diet of standard rodent food, while other groups consumed food with a high-fat content and varying concentrations of salt, ranging from 0.25-4%.

The researchers found the mice that gained the most weight were those given high-fat food with the lowest salt content, gaining around 15 grams over the 16-week study period. In contrast, the mice on the high-fat, highest salt diet had a level of weight gain – around 5 grams – similar to that experienced by the mice eating standard rodent food.

“We found out that our ‘french fry’ hypothesis was perfectly wrong,” admits Grobe.

Weight gain suppression attributed to reduced digestive efficiency

The researchers then set out to investigate why high levels of dietary salt led to minimal weight gain. After analyzing four key factors that affect energy balance in animals, they found that the level of dietary salt influenced how effective the mice digested their food and how much fat was absorbed by the body.

“This suppression of weight gain with increased sodium was due entirely to a reduced efficiency of the digestive tract to extract calories from the food that was consumed,” explains Grobe. He believes that the finding could also explain why certain fast foods high in both fat and salt can cause digestive ill effects.

Although the findings of the study might initially suggest that there are positives to be taken from a diet containing high levels of salt, the researchers are keen to point out that there are significant dangers that come with such a diet, including an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Instead, the findings could potentially lead to the development of new anti-obesity treatments. The team was already aware that salt levels affect the activity of an enzyme in the body called renin, part of the renin-angiotensin hormone system that is frequently targeted in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

The new study indicates that adjusting the renin-angiotensin system can in turn reduce dietary efficiency, and this discovery could give researchers a new target for obesity treatment.

Dr. Michael Lutter, co-senior study author and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa, says that it is important for scientists researching the health effects of diets to analyze diets that more accurately reflect normal human eating behaviors, rather than simplified ones often used in animal experiments.

“Our findings, in conjunction with other studies, are showing that there is a wide range of dietary efficiency, or absorption of calories, in the populations,” he states, “and that may contribute to resistance or sensitivity to weight gain.”


Shift work linked to sleep problems, poor metabolic health

Dolly Parton once sang that working 9-5 is “all taking and no giving,” but working outside of these hours may take away much more – when it comes to our health, at least. A new study finds people who work shifts are more likely to have sleep problems than people who follow conventional work schedules, which may raise their risk of metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes.

Lead investigator Dr. Marjory Givens, an associate scientist at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, and colleagues published their findings in Sleep Health – a journal of the National Sleep Foundation.

The link between shift work and poor health is not new. In July 2014, a study linked shift work – particularly rotating shifts – to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, while a more recent study found people who work rotating night shifts for at least 5 years are at higher risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

Using 2008-12 data from the Survey of the Health Wisconsin (SHOW), Dr. Givens and colleagues set out to investigate the health implications of shift work further – specifically, how shift work affects sleep, weight and diabetes risk.

For SHOW, all participants were subject to home- and clinical-based physical assessments and interviews.

The team analyzed 1,593 participants who underwent a physical examination, using the data to calculate their body mass index (BMI) in order to establish their overweight or obesity status.

The data of a further 1,400 participants with type 2 diabetes was assessed. Their condition was determined by either a self-reported physician diagnosis or by the presence of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in the blood at levels of 6.5% or higher at physical assessment.

The working patterns of participants were recorded during interviews.

Getting sufficient sleep ‘may reduce shift workers’ risk of metabolic disorders

Compared with individuals who worked traditional 9-5 schedules, those who worked shifts were more likely to be overweight, at 34.7% and 47.9%, respectively.

Shift workers were also more likely experience sleep problems than 9-5 workers. Around 23.6% of shift workers had insomnia, compared with 16.3% of people who worked standard hours. Insufficient sleep was reported by 53% of shift workers and 42.9% of 9-5 workers, while 31.8% of shift workers experienced excessive wake-time sleepiness, compared with 24.4% of 9-5 workers.

The researchers were not surprised that shift workers had more sleep problems. “Shiftwork employees are particularly vulnerable to experiencing sleep problems as their jobs require them to work night, flex, extended, or rotating shifts,” explains Dr. Givens.

“Shift workers are more commonly men, minorities, and individuals with lower educational attainment and typically work in hospital settings, production, or shipping industries,” she adds.

Further investigation revealed that the increase in sleep problems among shift workers correlated with an increase in obesity and diabetes, with this association being strongest among shift workers who reported insufficient sleep – defined as less than 7 hours each day.

This finding, the researchers say, indicates that by getting sufficient sleep, shift workers may be able to reduce their risk of obesity and diabetes.

Dr. Givens adds:

“This study adds to a growing body of literature calling attention to the metabolic health burden commonly experienced by shift workers and suggests that obtaining sufficient sleep could lessen this burden.

More research in this area could inform workplace wellness or health care provider interventions on the role of sleep in addressing shift worker health disparities.”

The team notes, however, that the positive association between sleep problems and metabolic disorders among shift workers does not fully explain why shift work raises the risk of metabolic disorders.

While this study is strengthened by the fact it drew its conclusions from a population-based sample and objective markers of overweight and diabetes, the researchers say there are some limitations.

They did not account for confounding factors, for example, and sleep duration and sleep quality of participants was self-reported. Finally, the team says that because they used cross-sectional data, they are unable to establish a causal relationship between shift work and poor metabolic health.


‘Slimming chocolate’ study fools the world media

A miracle study received significant worldwide media coverage after finding that people following a low-carbohydrate diet lost weight 10% faster if they ate one chocolate bar every day. The problem? The real aim of the study was to see how easy it would be to get bad science into the news.

A woman tempted to eat chocolate.
Although many news sources have reported about a study finding chocolate could help people lose weight, the study is significantly and purposefully flawed.

The mastermind behind the study can be identified as either journalist John Bohannon or Johannes Bohannon, PhD, research director of the Institute of Diet and Health. Both are one and the same person.

Bohannon was approached by a German television reporter named Peter Onneken, who was working at the time on producing a documentary film examining the junk-science diet industry. Bohannon had previously investigated how rigorously fee-charging open access journals checked the submissions of flawed papers, making him an ideal candidate for such an investigative project.

It appears as though the project was a resounding success. The findings of the study were reported by newspapers such as Bild in Germany – Europe’s largest daily newspaper – The Daily Mail and The Daily Express in the UK, websites such as the Times of India and the Huffington Post and television shows in the US and Australia.

The study was submitted to 20 journals and was ultimately published by the International Archives of Medicine. Backed with a very helpful news release, the team sent word out about the study and swiftly news outlets began to cover the research.

A clinical trial had been conducted, providing actual data that indicate eating a bar of chocolate every day while following a low-carbohydrate diet can speed up weight loss.

Volunteers aged 19-67 were split into three groups. One group followed a low-carbohydrate diet, one followed a low-carbohydrate diet augmented with 42 g of dark chocolate each day and one control group followed their normal diets. The researchers tracked the participants’ body weights as well as measuring their blood and assessing sleep quality and well-being.

Participants eating chocolate were found to lose weight 10% quicker than those following the diet without chocolate. Additionally, this weight loss remained after 3 weeks, unlike the weight loss of those who followed the low-carbohydrate diet without the chocolate.

A small number of participants, a large number of measurements

Unfortunately, there were a number of key flaws with the study that were significant enough to render the results largely meaningless. Notably, only 16 volunteers participated in the study, which ran for just 3 weeks. The researchers also assessed 18 different measurements, planning to base their story around whichever provided them with a statistically significant result.

With such a small number of participants and such a wide variety of measurements being taken, the researchers had a 60% chance of finding something that could be described as “significant” and turned into the cornerstone of their story for the media.

The paper has since been removed from the International Archives of Medicine website.

Gary Schweitzer, publisher of HealthNewsReview.org, told Retraction Watch what he felt the main point to be taken from this story is:

“John Bohannon claims he ‘fooled millions into thinking chocolate helps weight loss.’ But he may have directly fooled only a few – not millions. And those few – whom I will politely call ‘journalists’ – did the rest of the fooling for him. And they do it all the time, gobbling up crumbs from a steady diet of weak, hyped studies.”

There are countless studies such as this that are produced every day and reported on by the media. Journalists should be careful to check studies and news releases to make sure that what they are reporting is accurate and informed.

Unfortunately, as this study proves, sometimes the lure of an eye-catching headline and provocative findings can be enough to distract from shortcomings that can be obscured by numbers, symbols and highly specific language.

This story should serve as a cautionary tale, both to readers and reporters, reminding us all to be extra discerning when it comes to evaluating the worth of studies that appear in the news.