Ominous new warnings issued about Toxic Fat

I have often said that if you’re fat, it may not be your fault. Recent research goes further to illustrate this point. In particular, an article published in Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology (2009;2009:867041) demonstrates what happens when you take genetically identical mice and put them on different diets for three generations. The diets were equal in calories and total fat, but only differed in the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. By the third generation, the mice on the high omega-6 fatty-acid diet were considerably fatter, had higher levels of arachidonic acid (i.e. Toxic Fat) and had more damage to their organs.

Nothing contained in this blog is intended to be instructional for medial diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your personal physician immediately.

Motivation through the buddy system

Think about a time when you’ve been really successful with a health-related goal. It could be something as small as trying to decrease your intake of fast food, cutting back on sodium to reduce your blood pressure, or trying to up your activity either through more steps per day or getting to an exercise class.

Were you able to keep doing these activities even when your motivation was lacking a bit? How?
If you were able to stick with your goal, pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Unfortunately for many of us, we start out really strong but that motivation seems to go away. We have the carrot at the end of the stick, whether it’s Jan. 1, the approach of summer and bathing suit season, the class reunion, or a visit to the doctor that didn’t go as well as anticipated; but at times it’s not always enough.

Sometimes all it takes is someone holding us accountable to keep up the change and add a little push. A study published in the journal Health Psychology found that sedentary adults who received regular phone calls either by a health educator or an automated system reported greater physical activity than those who didn’t (1). The act of being accountable and having to report to someone what they did in terms of physical activity was enough to make these individuals stick with their goals.

So the next time you decide to make a health-related change in your life, think about enlisting the support of others. Join a social network, have friends e-mail or call to make sure you got up in the morning to walk that day or report back to them what you ate for the day or find a “buddy” who may have a similar goal that the two of or you or group of you can do it together.

1) King AC, Friedman R, Marcus B, Castro C, Napolitano M, Ahn D, Baker L. Ongoing physical activity advice by humans versus computers: the Community Health Advice by Telephone (CHAT) trial. Health Psychol. 2007 Nov;26(6):718-27.

Nothing contained in this blog is intended to be instructional for medial diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your personal physician immediately.

Sleep…it does a body good

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to most people that a recent sleep poll reported a discrepancy between the number of hours people said they needed to sleep to function properly and the actual amount they reported getting. Only about one-third of respondents were getting enough sleep (1). What people may not be aware of is that not clocking enough hours each night might be putting your health at risk. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that even a partial night’s rest over a single night induces insulin resistance (2). Nine healthy individuals were studied after a night of normal sleep (up to 8.5 hours) and a night of partial sleep (4 hours duration). In those with only 4 hours of sleep there was a significant decline in glucose disposal suggesting decreased insulin sensitivity (2). Insulin is a key hormone involved in blood glucose control. When insulin is secreted by the pancreas, it allows for glucose to be drawn into your cells to be used for energy. If insulin resistance is present, cells don’t respond to this hormone, so more insulin is needed in order for glucose to get into your cells. It’s when the levels of insulin and glucose build up in the body that it puts individuals at greater risk for disease, especially type II diabetes and heart disease (3). Time to get those Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s!

1. 2010 Sleep in America Poll. Available at:
http://www.sleepfoundation.org/sites/default/files/nsaw/NSF%20Sleep%20in%20%20America%20Poll%20-%20Summary%20of%20Findings%20.pdf
Accessed: May 11, 2010.

2. Donga E, van Dijk M, van Dijk JG, Biermasz NR, Lammers GJ, van Kralingen KW, Corssmit EP, Romijn JA. A Single Night of Partial Sleep Deprivation Induces Insulin Resistance in Multiple Metabolic Pathways in Healthy Subjects. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Apr 6. [Epub ahead of print]

3. Insulin Resistance and Pre-diabetes. Available at: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/insulinresistance/#what. Accessed: May 11, 2010.

Nothing contained in this blog is intended to be instructional for medial diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your personal physician immediately.

A calorie’s a calorie … not quite

Anyone who has tried to lose weight before I’m sure is familiar with the magic number of 3,500. That is the number of calories believed to be equivalent to one pound of body weight. Simply lower your caloric intake by 500 calories per day, and you’ll lose one pound per week. If only it were this easy. For people who like dealing with numbers, equations like this make sense, but for those of us who have tried to make this equation a reality, it can lead to frustration when the scale doesn’t change at the end of the week or as quickly as we’d like despite our hard efforts.

Unfortunately, our bodies aren’t machines and don’t always react to changes in intake or expenditure as we’d like them to. A recent commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Katan and Ludwig brings this equation to light with regards to public health initiatives to influence the obesity epidemic (1).

Traditional thinking suggests that when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure, weight gain results; and when energy intake is less than energy expenditure, it leads to weight loss. In the short term this may be true, but it may not be as simple as a 500-calorie deficit per day. Katan and Ludwig point out that if someone were to consume a 60-calorie cookie every day for the rest of their lives, in theory it should produce a one-half-pound weight gain in a month, six pounds in one year and 27 pounds in a decade; but this doesn’t happen. Overfeeding studies suggest that this additional 60 calories will result in about a six-pound weight gain, which will level off after a few years. These additional calories will go into repairing, replacing, and carrying the extra body tissue (1). The same thing happens with weight loss. The initial decrease in intake and expenditure will result in weight loss, but our bodies become very efficient and go into a conservation mode where these deficits will eventually stabilize. It will take an even greater reduction in calorie intake and expenditure to accomplish a new low. Although little changes can make a difference, when dealing with the obesity epidemic, it would take drastic reductions that would be unrealistic on a personal level, so public health initiatives will need to focus on the food supply, manufacturing policies and environment to encourage change (1).

1) Katan MB, Ludwig DS. Extra calories cause weight gain–but how much? JAMA. 2010 Jan 6;303(1):65-6.

Nothing contained in this blog is intended to be instructional for medial diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your personal physician immediately.