Category: Weight Loss & Obesity News
Study offers clearer understanding of how obese people can sustain weight loss

Maintaining a stable weight loss is the biggest struggle for obese individuals, yet new research from University of Copenhagen have allowed researchers new insights into the complex processes involved in obesity and especially weight loss in obesity. It is now possible to offer overweight people a clearer understanding of how to sustain weight loss.

“This study shows that if an overweight person is able to maintain an initial weight loss — in this case for a year — the body will eventually ‘accept’ this new weight and thus not fight against it, as is otherwise normally the case when you are in a calorie-deficit state,” says Associate Professor Signe Sorensen Torekov from the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research.

The research has recently been published in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

Appetite inhibiting hormones

The main finding in the study revealed that after one year of successful weight loss maintenance, the researchers were able to demonstrate that postprandial levels of two appetite inhibiting hormones (GLP-1 and PYY) increased (=appetite inhibition) from before-weight loss level — in contrast to the hunger hormone ghrelin, which increased immediately after weight loss but returned to normal levels (= low hunger) after one year. This demonstrates that the hormones GLP-1 and PYY are able to adjust to a new ‘set point’ and thus may facilitate the continuation of a new and lower body weight.

“We know that obese people have low levels of the appetite inhibiting hormone GLP-1. The good thing is that now we are able to show that you can actually increase the levels of this hormone as well as the appetite inhibiting hormone PYY by weight loss and that the levels are kept high (=increased appetite inhibition) when you maintain your weight loss for a year,” adds first author of the study MD and PhD student Eva Winning Iepsen.

Maintain your weight loss

Twenty healthy, but obese, individuals followed an 8-week low-calorie powder diet and lost on average 13 % of their body weight. After the initial weight loss, the participants entered a 52-week weight maintenance protocol, which consisted of regular meetings with a clinical dietician with instructions on lifestyle changes as well as diet calendar tracking. In case of weight gain, the participants could replace up to two meals per day with a low-calorie diet product.

During the study period the participants completed three meal tests — before weight loss, immediately after weight loss and after 52 weeks of weight loss maintenance, where blood samples were collected after fasting as well as postprandially and subsequently analysed.

“The interesting and uplifting news in this study is that if you are able to maintain your weight loss for a longer period of time, it seems as if you have ‘passed the critical point’, and after this point, it will actually become easier for you to maintain your weight loss than is was immediately after the initial weight loss.”

“Thus, the body is no longer fighting against you, but actually with you, which is good news for anyone trying to lose weight,” concludes Associate Professor Signe Sorensen Torekov.

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Reduce childhood obesity by replacing junk food with organic alternatives

According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the rate of childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. Junk food is one of the culprits for the obesity epidemic. Kids are exposed to junk food in many ways, from unhealthy parental role models to marketing geared towards kids and teens that encourages them to make unhealthy food choices. Kids are also offered poor food choices at school. A clean environment is the first step in helping kids make healthier choices. School lunches and vending machines are loaded with extra fat and calories. Replacing these junk foods with organic alternatives gives kids better options.

The problem with fast food items and junk food is they lack nutritional value, while also delivering a high dose of fat, calories, sugar, salt and carbs. These foods are robbing kids of essential vitamins and minerals. Eating excessive amounts of these foods leads to obesity and malnutrition.

Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 that lets the government set new guidelines for nutrition standards in schools. This bill involves totally revamping the current school lunch program. Healthy organic alternatives are to replace french fries, pizza, fried chicken, nachos and corndogs.

School cafeterias are only part of the problem though. 74% of middle schools and 98% of high schools have vending machines and snack bars that offer endless choices of junk food. Its important to give kids healthy options. Some healthy alternatives to junk food include: organic yogurt, gluten-free snacks, nuts, whole grain crackers and whole fruits.

Junk food and processed foods are cheap and easy to serve. That has made them easy choices for school lunches until now. Cost has always been a factor in providing a healthier school lunch. The higher cost of school lunches will be offset by an increase in government funding provided by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Federal funds are to increase 6 cents per school lunch thanks to this bill. It is expected to cover the higher cost of whole foods and may include the use of healthy vending machines.

Replacing junk food with organic alternatives will ensure that kids get at least one nutritious meal per day. Trimming calories and fat from school lunches alone won’t cure childhood obesity. Healthy choices need to be made at home as well, but removing junk food from school lunches and vending machines is a good start.

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Potato extract helps prevent weight gain

Potato extract may help prevent weight gain, according to a study conducted by researchers from McGill University and published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

“We were astonished by the results,” researcher Luis Agellon said. “We thought this can’t be right — in fact, we ran the experiment again using a different batch of extract prepared from potatoes grown in another season, just to be certain.”

The study was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Rich in polyphenols

For 10 weeks, the researchers fed mice a diet designed to produce obesity, high in fats and refined carbohydrates. As expected, the mice increased their weight by an average of 64 percent. However, mice fed a potato extract along with the obesity-promoting diet increased their weight by less than half as much, gaining only 28 percent.

The findings suggest that potato extract may be used to help prevent obesity, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The researchers believe that the benefits of potato extract likely come from its high concentration of polyphenols, a family of plant chemicals being linked to many health benefits.

“In the famous French diet, considered to be very healthy, potatoes — not red wine — are the primary source of polyphenols,” lead author Stan Kubow said. “In North America, potatoes come third as a source of polyphenols — before the popular blueberries.”

“Potatoes have the advantage of being cheap to produce, and they’re already part of the basic diet in many countries,” Kubow said. “We chose a cultivated variety that is consumed in Canada and especially rich in polyphenols.”

The researchers hope to make the extract available as a dietary supplement or a cooking ingredient. They are now seeking food industry partners to fund clinical trials.

“The daily dose of extract comes from 30 potatoes,” Kubow said, “but of course we don’t advise anyone to eat 30 potatoes a day, as that would be an enormous number of calories.”

May produce weight loss

Evidence continues to emerge that, in spite of their reputation as a dieters’ bane, potatoes are not incompatible with weight loss.

“Some people have questioned the role of potatoes in a weight loss regimen because of the vegetable’s designation as a high glycemic index food,” said Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman, PhD, lead researcher of a study into potatoes and weight loss published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in October 2014. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of California at Davis and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

“However, the results of this study confirm what health professionals and nutrition experts have said for years: it is not about eliminating a certain food or food groups, rather, it is reducing calories that count,” Burton-Freeman said.

The researchers randomly assigned overweight adults either one of two reduced-calorie diets (high-glycemic-index or low-glycemic-index) or to a control group with no dietary restrictions. All three groups were instructed to consume five to seven servings of potatoes per week and were provided with both potatoes and healthy recipes for preparing them.

After 12 weeks, all three groups had lost weight, with no difference in the amount of weight loss between groups.

“There is no evidence that potatoes, when prepared in a healthful manner, contribute to weight gain,” Burton-Freeman said. “In fact, we are seeing that they can be part of a weight loss program.”

Aside from their potential weight-regulating benefits, potatoes are simply a nutritious food. When consumed with the skin, a medium-sized, 5.3 oz potato provides 45 percent of a person’s daily vitamin C needs, and more potassium than a banana.

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The 5 best ways to resist belly fat as we age

Have you ever asked a real estate agent what’s the most critical factor when it comes to selling a house? Their answer was probably something you’ve heard before: “Location, location, location.” Well, oddly enough, when it comes to our health and being even a little overweight, that same, worn out real estate proverb is true, as well. Study after study has shown that where our bodies store fat is nearly as important as how much extra weight we’re holding onto. People whose bodies store more fat in their mid-sections face higher risks of heart disease, certain types of cancer, diabetes and even premature death than those who store extra weight in other ways.

Apples versus pears

Just knowing you should strive to be pear-shaped instead of apple-shaped doesn’t make it any easier to fight that expanding waistline. You need tools. And aging adds its own set of challenges. Some people find that the battle of the bulge gets harder as they get older. After all, our metabolisms start to slow, and arthritis or other health conditions may make it harder to stay as active as we once were.

While cutting calories and adding regular, low-impact exercise — such as swimming or biking — are two great first steps, there are other, very specific things you can do in your fight against unwanted belly fat. Here are the 5 best ways to resist belly fat as we age.

  • The cortisol connection – Cortisol has been called the stress hormone. Part of our natural fight-or-flight mechanism, cortisol is released by our bodies when we’re sick, frightened or even feel a lack of control over events in our lives. High cortisol levels have been linked with an impaired immune system, heart disease, high blood pressure and even memory loss. Worse still, if you’re trying to slim your waistline, cortisol tells your body to lay down belly fat. A study published by the National Institutes of Health, “Stress-induced Cortisol Response and Fat Distribution in Women,” found that, when women were subjected to stressful situations, those who felt the least control over the situation released the most cortisol and gained weight in the abdominal region in response. Relaxation techniques — such as meditation or yoga — in response to stress can lower those toxic cortisol levels and keep added weight off your waistline


  • Supplementation – Many vitamins and minerals have been found to have an impact on weight gain. This is especially significant for older people. As you age, it’s harder for your body to get all the nutrients that you need from your food. This makes supplementation even more important than ever. Vitamins and minerals that have been shown to aid in weight loss and the maintenance of a healthy weight include vitamin D, chromium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.


  • Aim for whole grains – The benefits of whole grains cannot be disputed. They stabilize blood sugar levels, stave of hunger pains and lower cholesterol, all good news for anyone hoping to maintain a healthy weight. And, since weight gain of any kind often means belly fat, the more whole grains you add to your diet, the slimmer your waistline is likely to be. Oats are a great whole grain choice. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, oats are not only high in fat-fighting fiber but also a good source of magnesium, chromium and protein.


  • Drink more water – We’ve all heard the old saying, “Drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day.” It turns out, drinking enough water every day may be even more important as we age, especially if we want to lose weight. A 12-week study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, with middle-aged and older participants, showed that participants who drank 500 ml of water before each meal lost 44 percent more weight while on a low-calorie diet than those on a low-calorie diet alone.


  • Get enough sleep – You may already associate not getting enough sleep with the health of your immune system or your ability to concentrate, but a follow-up study reported by SCIENCE Natural News, shows a strong connection between sleep and weight gain. The study showed significant weight gain among study participants who reported the least amount of sleep. To stave off overall weight gain and resist belly fat, put getting a good night’s rest at the top of your “to do” list.

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Weight loss advertisements lead people to consume MORE junk food

A recent study conducted by researchers from Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth College has revealed that advertisements and marketing messages designed to help people lose weight may actually have the opposite effect, causing individuals to engage in unhealthy eating habits instead. Even though they know that they need to shed excess pounds and are aware that not eating junk foods paves the way toward a slimmer body, when certain weight-loss advertisements enter the picture, they still gravitate toward unhealthy foods without hesitation.

Blame it on what the study researchers call the “boomerang effect,” whereby efforts to change behaviors backfire because people decide to do the opposite of what’s advised.

In the study, which has recently been accepted into the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, researchers provided 134 participants with two different messages. Some of the people read about the health hazards of eating a high-fat diet and then read nothing more. The other participants not only read about the dangers of eating unhealthy foods, but then were exposed to messaging about a weight-loss aid that said it was “capable of absorbing up to 60 percent of the fat” in food. Next, the volunteers were given a plate of 30 cookies.

The results?

How the boomerang effect causes people to choose unhealthy foods

Those who were exposed to the weight-loss aid messaging ate significantly more than those who were not. In some instances, people ate all 30 cookies. According to authors of the study, “Weight management remedies that promise to reduce the risks of being overweight may undermine consumer motivation to engage in health-supportive behaviors.

Marketing professor at Penn State and study author Lisa Bolton, pointed to the aforementioned boomerang effect, saying, “People see the drug as a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card” that reduces not only overall weight-loss motivation but the feeling that people have the power within themselves to lose weight on their own. “Why make healthier food choices to manage weight if a weight-management drug can manage your weight for you?” the authors conclude.

The fact that people tend to engage in unhealthy eating behaviors once the promise of a weight-loss aid becomes part of the equation can be dangerous. First, it reinforces a kind of false dependency on the power of a diet pill, pills which already have a less-than-favorable perception in the public eye due to the fact that some, such as Meridia and Fen-Phen, have been taken off the market because of the severe health risks that they pose. Furthermore, reliance on weight-loss aids creates the feeling that people can easily undo bad eating habits while at the same time continue to keep at it; popping a pill, many think, cancels out the junk foods that they consumed prior and makes the behavior acceptable.

Bolton uses finance to illustrate how the quick-fix solution of a wight-loss aid can be detrimental. “Just being exposed to marketing for a debt-consolidation loan makes you think, ‘Hey, the risks of my credit-card spending aren’t too bad, because if I do get into trouble, I can get one of these debt-consolidation loans,'” she said.

She went on to explain that such thinking diminishes the perceived severity of risks while also creating the feeling that it’s alright to engage in more risky financial behaviors. In the same manner, weight-loss aids create a security blanket, a place where people think they can turn to when the issue becomes too much for them to manage on their own.

The growing challenges of weight gain and loss

So begins a vicious yo-yo lifestyle that too many dieters understand.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over one-third of adult Americans are obese, and the Boston Medical Center notes that about 45 million Americans diet annually, spending over $30 billion as part of their effort. Still, statistics show that many people regain a great deal of the weight they lose, a cycle that continues to fuel the weight-loss industry and toy with Americans’ health. Being overweight can lead to physical and mental conditions such as diabetes, stroke, heart problems, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.

Furthermore, other findings show that even in the victory of weight loss, emotional shifts occur that reflect anything but elation; one study found that 78 percent of those who lost weight developed feelings of depression likely due to the fact that they no longer experienced the same comfort that other foods once provided them and also because, unlike what advertising images convey, all aspects of their life had not become full of happiness.

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How to lose belly fat – real weight loss tips that work

Easy access to convenient food without the hassle of preparation may well be the reason of the rising obesity trend. The ubiquity of fast food restaurants offering instant tasty meals with sweetened carbonated drinks and other high calorie snacks have encouraged abnormal eating patterns for all hours of the day. Processed food rich in chemical additives plus sedentary lifestyles has made the Western lifestyle the unhealthiest in the world.

In an EU report backed by Britain’s own National Health Service (NHS), it was shown that 24 percent of British women were found to be overweight compared to only 15.6 percent in Germany, 12.7 percent in France and just 9.3 percent in Italy. This report raised concerns regarding the obesity trend among younger women in the UK which has almost doubled over the last decade.

Time-tested weight loss methods

The best way to lose weight is not necessarily the fastest one. With all the diet trends, accessories and supplements on the market, we are bombarded by testimonials of people sporting flat abs and six packs endorsing the latest fad diet. They swear by how effective it has been for them and how they are having the time of their lives.

Truth be told, who wouldn’t want flat abs or a six pack? Unfortunately, short-term gains are difficult to sustain unless the individual actually decides to make the personal decision to want to live a healthy life.

The best approach to losing weight is to choose a system that, once initiated, can be sustained in the long run. Below are some tips that you can slowly incorporate into your everyday activities. If you have been practicing them already, congratulations! If not, it’s not yet too late to give it a try:

1. Practice Mindful Eating– Recently, the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior revealed that individuals can still lose weight even if they eat out.

Researchers from the University of Texas observed 35 healthy pre-menopausal women who ate out frequently. Test subjects took part in a six-week program called “Mindful Restaurant Eating.” The focus of this program was on preventing weight gain and not weight loss. Test findings revealed that participants in the intervention group lost more weight, had a lower percentage of fat and a lower average daily caloric intake, and experienced increased self-efficacy in managing diet when eating out.

The message here may simply be to eat in moderation, or, not eating in excess. Depriving yourself of your favorite food may no longer be necessary if you reduce your normal serving to a smaller portion so your body can burn it faster and avoid weight gain.

2. Learn to handle stress – Stress, especially stress related to work, is found to increase the chances of obesity. Researchers from the University of Rochester studied the causes of and solutions to obesity in employees from a manufacturing facility in New York. The study looked at 2800 professional male employees and discovered that those in more stressful positions had a BMI unit of weight more than those in less demanding jobs.

The same finding also holds true for women. In 2000, a study conducted by Yale University showed that non-overweight women vulnerable to the effects of stress were more likely to have excess abdominal fat with higher levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress. Studies have shown that cortisol can affect fat distribution by causing it to be stored in the abdomen around the organs.

3. Drink plenty of water – Recent studies have now shown that drinking water is an effective weight loss strategy. In a study, it was discovered that dieters who drank water before eating three times a day over the course of roughly three months lost five pounds more than those who did not have increased water consumption. Water has no calories and consuming it before meals makes less space for food in the stomach.

Researchers also noted that consuming water was better than soda and other sweetened drinks, which are packed with sugar or artificial sweeteners, additives that have found to contribute heavily to weight gain.

Moreover, it is suggested that six to eight glasses of water be taken daily to maintain the water content of the bile, according to Michael Murray, N.D., and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., in their book “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.” Fresh fruit, pure water and vegetable juices are the preferred methods of meeting the body’s water requirements.

4. Get a sufficient amount of sleep – Not getting enough sleep may increase your chances of becoming overweight in the long run. A recent study from Uppsala University revealed that the brain’s response to food is more active after one night of sleep loss.

Researchers from Uppsala University together with researchers from other European universities studied the brain of 12 males with normal weights while the subjects viewed images of food. They examined regions in the brain involved with appetite sensation using magnetic imaging and compared results after a night with normal sleep and one obtained after one night without sleep. According to Christian Benedict, the lead researcher in the study, “After a night of total sleep loss, these males showed a high level of activation in an area of the brain that is involved in a desire to eat.”

Insufficient sleep appears to be a problem that plagues modern society. Being able to get at least eight hours a night may be crucial in maintaining health and avoiding cardiovascular and weight-related conditions.

5. Exercise your way to health – In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, maintaining weight and fitness levels as we grow older may be enough to see significant benefits.

According to Duck-chul Lee, a lead researcher in the study, if you’re overweight, losing weight and improving your fitness may be the best combination for health maintenance. The study discovered that people who kept up or improved their fitness levels lowered their risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and their risk to metabolic syndrome (a term used to refer to a group of risk factors for heart disease such as unhealthy cholesterol level, abdominal obesity and high blood sugar.)

At the onset, people who are overweight often fail to notice their weight loss because they get hungrier and start eating more. This shouldn’t discourage them, according to Dr. Lee. What is essential is to use exercise to get fit, and one way to decipher progress is to see how you feel when going through your exercise routine. If it’s getting easier, you are getting fitter.

Don’t settle for the quick fix

The best way to lose weight is not necessarily the fastest way. Resorting to fad diets may not be feasible in the long run, especially if no exercise is incorporated into the program. Furthermore, if moderation in food intake is not learned, the subject may be subject to binging episodes, leading to the regaining of more weight than what was originally lost.

What then is the best strategy for those earnestly looking for an authentic weight loss program?

The best strategy should be something that can be sustained in the long run. The five tips offered above can be incorporated into any lifestyle with no cost to the individual. These can produce incremental changes that eventually add up to the desired result: a better option for weight loss than quick fixes that only provide temporary relief.

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Compound in apples fights obesity, diabetes and fatty liver disease

Overweight and obesity continue to plague a majority of men, women and children alike, placing them at considerable risk for heart disease, diabetes and fatty liver disease as a result of chronic metabolic dysfunction. Alternative health practitioners understand that the problem is the result of much more than a simple ‘calories-in, calories-out’ equation, as refined, synthetic foods provide the dominant source of calories in most modern diets. Our genetic structure does not support a high yield of calories from unnatural sources, and we rapidly become metabolically ‘broken.’

Researchers from the University of Iowa, publishing the result of their work in the journal PLoS ONE, have found that a substance known as ursolic acid reduces obesity and its associated health problems by increasing the amount of muscle and brown fat, two tissues recognized for their calorie-burning properties. Ursolic acid is highly concentrated in the skin of apples, and can now be added to the growing list of natural compounds (including green tea and green coffee bean extracts) that increase metabolism and directly influence gene expression to aid weight management and health issues.

Ursolic acid from apple skins triggers weight loss and improves metabolic dysfunction

The study, conducted on mice that have demonstrated similar metabolic characteristics to humans, involved feeding a high-fat diet over a period of three weeks to test for weight gain or loss, and comparing to a control group. Prior studies have shown that the active natural compound, ursolic acid, increases muscle mass and also stimulates the production of metabolically active brown adipose tissue. Recent studies have shown that this type of fatty tissue is associated with reduced body weight as compared to white adipose cells known to expand and store excess body weight.

The lead study author, Dr. Christopher Adams commented “Since muscle is very good at burning calories, the increased muscle in ursolic acid-treated mice may be sufficient to explain how ursolic acid reduces obesity. However, we were surprised to find that ursolic acid also increased brown fat, a fantastic calorie burner.” The mice that received a high-fat diet along with ursolic acid derived from apples gained less weight and their blood sugar level remained near normal. Ursolic acid-treated mice also failed to develop obesity-related fatty liver disease, a common and currently untreatable condition.

Dr. Adams concluded “Our study suggests that ursolic acid increases skeletal muscle and brown fat leading to increased calorie burning, which in turn protects against diet-induced obesity, pre-diabetes and fatty liver disease.” The researchers used a low concentration of ursolic acid equivalent to eating one or two apples each day to conduct their study. An apple a day, along with a natural food diet void of refined carbohydrates and hydrogenated fats may be just what the naturopathic doctor ordered to control obesity and prevent metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease.

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Schools tackle the childhood obesity problem with hands-on approach: will it work?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.”


As is the case with adults, carrying around extra pounds can cause health problems or worsen existing ones, ranging from diabetes and heart disease to breathing issues and disrupted sleeping patterns. None of these conditions are good for the child wishing to do well in school (missed classes due to ongoing medical concerns can be detrimental to studies at any grade level). Furthermore, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “Child and adolescent obesity is also associated with increased risk of emotional problems. Teens with weight problems tend to have much lower self-esteem and be less popular with their peers. Depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder can also occur.”

A better way for children to learn about nutritious foods

In an effort to tackle the obesity issue among young children and teens, schools are encouraging them to eat more cleansing foods, especially ones that they personally had a hand in growing and preparing. Seems to go hand in hand with the “learn by doing” approach, no? If it works, it’s a significant step in changing the way children think about food so they go on to become healthier and maintain an appropriate weight.

A 2013 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior reported on a study which found that direct involvement between children and foods increased their willingness to choose new and more nutritious options. Researchers found that kids who grew and cooked their foods were more inclined to make better decisions, an outcome that has sparked educators and parents to look at the ways youth are taught about nutrition.

What schools are doing to fight childhood obesity

Some schools purchase updated books about food and health or even bring in specialists who provide hands-on demos. For example, many teachers have a garden class where an expert discusses everything from how seeds grow to when certain vegetables should be planted. Sometimes, cooks are brought in to teach the importance of nutrition and portions.

Of course, fighting the childhood obesity crisis doesn’t rest solely on our school systems. Follow-through at home is necessary to keep the health momentum going. It’s recommended to eat together as a family, encourage more outdoor physical activity and engage with children by growing and eating fresh fruits and vegetables that are planted in home gardens.

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More good news for chocolate eaters – cocoa flavanols lower risk of obesity and diabetes

It should come as no big surprise to alternative health followers that many foods in their unprocessed form contain a host of protective compounds that have repeatedly been shown to promote human health. Fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids that protect vegetation from disease and pests, and many provide antioxidant support to help prevent a large variety of chronic illnesses when consumed by people. Dark chocolate has received extensive research coverage over the past several years to explain how natural compounds from cocoa protect against vascular conditions including cardiovascular disease and stroke.

A new body of research now provides evidence to show that eating dark chocolate in moderation can aid weight management to prevent obesity and thwart metabolic deterioration to help prevent diabetes. Two out of three Americans are either overweight or obese, and as many as one-third or more are pre-diabetic or have been diagnosed as diabetic. A research study team from the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, has released the results of their findings in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry that demonstrates how flavonols from cocoa found in dark chocolate are helpful in preventing weight gain and can also lower blood glucose levels.

Dark chocolate compound aids weight management and lowers blood sugar to slash diabetes risk

Prior studies have confirmed that that eating chocolate, as well as wine and berries, protects against type 2 diabetes, while other research has found that teens who consume higher amounts of chocolate tend to be slimmer. To conduct their study, the scientists set out to determine which of the previously identified cocoa flavonols were responsible for the positive health benefits exhibited by those eating dark chocolate. Using a mouse model known to simulate human metabolism, researchers assigned mice to one of six different diets for a period of 12 weeks.

The different diets consisted of high and low-fat diets, with the high-fat diets supplemented with either of three different types of flavanols (identified as monomeric, oligomeric or polymeric procyandins). Mice were given 25 mg of these flavanols each day for every kilogram of their body weight. The research team found that a high-fat diet supplemented with oligomeric procyandins was the most effective for maintaining the weight of the mice and improving glucose tolerance, a factor that could help prevent type 2 diabetes.

The research team concluded “Oligomeric PCs appear to possess the greatest anti-obesity and anti-diabetic bioactivities of the flavanols in cocoa… Therefore, our data suggest that moderate doses of cocoa flavanols or cocoa powder have the potential to be more effective in human clinical trials than previously thought.” It is important to note that the scientists performing this study used 70 grams of dark chocolate (equivalent to 2 scored pieces of chocolate) to achieve the reported results, and indicated that increasing this amount had no additional positive effect on weight management or diabetic risk.

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Mixed messages: The obesity epidemic needs to be addressed, but first try the latest junk food craze

A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says that, by 2030, 42% of Americans will be obese. And according to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, more than 1 billion adults are overweight, and at least 300 million of these people are obese.

With the obesity crisis more prevalent in society, people are urged to keep their weight in check to avoid problems such as increased risk of diabetes complications, heart conditions and even damaging psychological social interactions.

To help combat this issue, many efforts exist to raise awareness of the problem. Yet at the very same time, it seems that a paradox exists. On one hand, people are encouraged to eat fresh vegetables and whole, organic foods, but on the other hand, the influx of junk food inventions suggest that much of the food industry is turning a blind eye toward the obesity epidemic.

The rise of unhealthy foods in the marketplace

1) The pizza layer cake

The layered pizza “cake,” which is filled with multiple layers of crust, cheese and meat, may make its way to the menu of its inventor, Canadian-based Boston Pizza. Recent online voting frenzies have caused a great deal of media coverage about the possibility of the pizza becoming dining reality.

Thankfully, not everyone is excited. Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum in Britain, said, “If this arrived in Britain, I would emigrate. It is a horror. The real danger is that there is no portion control. If presented with this, children would go wild. It is stuffed full of calories.”

2) Vegetable-flavored ice cream

Haagan-Dazs has announced that, around the mid-May 2014 time frame, their vegetable-flavored line of ice creams, “Spoon Vege,” will launch in Japan. With names like Carrot-Orange and Tomato-Cherry, they may sound healthy, but they’re made with concentrated juices which are low in nutrients and high in refined sugars.

Professor Kui-Hian Sim, President-Elect of the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology, said, “In many of the countries in Asia Pacific the malnutrition problem nowadays is not undernutrition it is overnutrition, which has resulted in overweight and obesity.”

3) Coca-Cola’s mega soda dispenser

“Freestyle,” the soda dispenser that lets people create their own soda from over 140 sugary flavor combinations, is already in many fast food restaurants, such as Moe’s Southwest Grill, as well University campuses. However, consider that a 20-ounce soda typically has upwards of 18 teaspoons of sugar, and suddenly this dispenser, which is touted in the beverage industry as a “game changer,” isn’t very appealing.

But Paul Damico, president of Moe’s Southwest Grill, disagrees. “We’re converting water-only customers into beverage customers,” he says. “I love this machine.”

Sadly, they’re also converting them into unhealthy, obese customers.

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