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Feb 7th 2018

Drinking full-fat milk may actually be better for your heart than having skimmed

Full-fat milk may be better for the heart than “healthy” skimmed alternatives, a study has found.

It boosted levels of “good” HDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, said researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Their report stated: “Dietary guidelines have for decades recommended choosing low-fat dairy products due to the high content of saturated fat in dairy known to increase blood concentration of LDL cholesterol .

“But studies show no association between overall dairy intake and risk of cardiovascular disease and even point to an inverse association with type 2 diabetes.

"Our findings suggest whole milk might be considered a part of a healthy diet among the healthy population.”

The findings fly in the face of decades of health advice. Health experts have long advocated switching to skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, as well as other low-fat dairy products, to reduce the risk of clogged arteries that could trigger a heart attack or stroke.

As a result, sales of low-fat dairy products in the UK have soared in recent years, with 85 per cent of all milk sold now skimmed or semi-skimmed.

In 2016, the same team found eating low-fat cheese did not reduce cholesterol, cut blood pressure or help to trim the waistline.

Volunteers who spent three months chomping on a daily portion of regular fat-cheese, or a low-calorie option, saw little or no difference in heart disease risk by the end of the experiment.

Feb 2nd 2018

Can standing instead of sitting all day help you lose weight?

Substituting time spent sitting for standing for six hours a day could help you shed nearly half a stone, new research suggests. 

Published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, the study found that the switch saw participants burn an extra 54 calories a day, which resulted in significant weight loss.

The international research examined data of more than 1,000 men and women who had previously taken part in 46 different studies.

Participants were, on average, 33-years-old with an average weight of 65kg (10 stone).

Interestingly, the average difference in energy expenditure between sitting and standing was 0.15 calories a minute and the effects were more pronounced in men than women, due to their higher muscle mass.

Over the course of a year, researchers say that by standing instead of sitting, people could lose 2.5kg (5.5lbs) without changing their eating habits – a figure that amounts to more than a stone and half in four years.

Similarly, previous work has described how a different number and volume of muscles are involved in sitting compared to standing. 

As such, researchers suggest that office workers could achieve significant weight loss if they were to spend more time on their feet and less time spent perched at their desks.

“Standing not only burns more calories, the additional muscle activity is linked to lower rates of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes, so the benefits of standing could go beyond weight control,” said senior author Professor Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, chief of preventive cardiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, US.

“It's important to avoid sitting for hours at a time. Standing is a very good first step, no pun intended, to avoid this mind-set of sitting interminably without moving.

“Who knows, it may also prompt some people to do a little more and take up some mild physical activity, which would be even more beneficial.”

Jan 31st 2018

Why drinking full-fat milk may actually be better for your heart than skimmed

Full-fat milk may be better for the heart than “healthy” skimmed alternatives, a study has found.

It boosted levels of “good” HDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, said researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Their report stated: “Dietary guidelines have for decades recommended choosing low-fat dairy products due to the high content of saturated fat in dairy known to increase blood concentration of LDL cholesterol .

“But studies show no association between overall dairy intake and risk of cardiovascular disease and even point to an inverse association with type 2 diabetes.

"Our findings suggest whole milk might be considered a part of a healthy diet among the healthy population.”

The findings fly in the face of decades of health advice. Health experts have long advocated switching to skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, as well as other low-fat dairy products, to reduce the risk of clogged arteries that could trigger a heart attack or stroke.

As a result, sales of low-fat dairy products in the UK have soared in recent years, with 85 per cent of all milk sold now skimmed or semi-skimmed.

In 2016, the same team found eating low-fat cheese did not reduce cholesterol, cut blood pressure or help to trim the waistline.

Volunteers who spent three months chomping on a daily portion of regular fat-cheese, or a low-calorie option, saw little or no difference in heart disease risk by the end of the experiment.

Jan 22nd 2018

How parents can sensitively handle the issue of their child's weight.

With calls for the government to “try harder” to tackle the childhood obesity and Change4Life campaigns educating parents and kids about leading healthier lifestyles, weight is not an issue parents can ignore.

Mums and dads know only too well how important a healthy lifestyle is to give their kids the best start in life.

But having these conversations with children without causing them to become overly focused on their weight can be tricky, especially as a study in 2016 found kids as young as three have body image issues. 

And national health bodies are aware of the difficult position parents are in.

“Overweight children may face stigma and bullying, as well as health issues such as type 2 diabetes and some cancers, so it’s important to make healthier choices,” Eustace De Sousa, national lead for children, young people and families at Public Health England (PHE), told HuffPost UK. 

“Discussing a child’s weight can be a sensitive subject - parents are the best judge of whether to talk to their child, and how to go about it.”

“We’re not telling parents what to do, but positive language and making lifestyle changes as a family may help.”

According to PHE some parents decide to talk to their children about weight and discuss the changes they need to make together, and others decide not to talk about it and just make subtle changes in their family’s lifestyle. 

When and how you do this is completely up to the parent, but the most important thing is to ensure your child knows you just want them to be healthy and happy. 

If you do decide to bring it up, handle it sensitively. 

Parents are advised to take care with the language they use and ensure they keep it as positive as possible.

Focusing on terms such as “healthier weight” and “healthier lifestyle” is better than using the term “overweight”.

Jenny Rosborough, nutritionist and campaign manager at Action on Sugar told HuffPost UK it is important not to make the child feel like weight is a subject that can’t or shouldn’t be spoken about.

“How parents talk about it is really important,” she said. “For example, it is never helpful to speak to a child about their weight in a way that makes them feel ashamed of themselves or their eating habits, or refers to aspects of their personality in a negative way.

“Parents should avoid criticising their own weight in front of their child too.”

Speak about lifestyle changes rather than measurements. 

Rosborough said focusing on lifestyle changes “rather than weight status” when having these conversations is important to ensure your child understands health and happiness are what matters.

“Overall, it’s important to focus on healthy behaviours,” she explained. “Conversations about weight should focus on steps towards living a healthier lifestyle and be about feeling good, not looking good.”

'It is never helpful to speak to a child about their weight in a way that makes them feel ashamed of themselves."Jenny Rosborough, nutritionist and campaign manager at Action on Sugar

PHE suggests some lifestyle changes you can speak to kids about within this conversation may include: eating more more fruit and vegetables, and having fewer sugary drinks and snacks; more physical activity, such as getting outside as a family for walks, playground visits and kicking a ball about in the local park; getting more sleep and having regular bedtimes.

All of these changes can help achieve healthier eating and support moving towards a healthy weight. 

Make having a healthy lifestyle a family affair.

“Eating healthily and being active is a whole family affair,” a spokesperson from HENRY, an organisation focusing on healthy starts in life, told HuffPost UK.

“It is best to avoid singling out one particular child for different treatment than the others, instead adopt a whole-family approach.

“Parents are really influential role models for their children so it’s important that parents find opportunities for the whole family to get active together doing things that everyone enjoys and that they model enjoyment of healthy food.

“Parents could start with thinking about meals that the whole family likes and think about how they can make them healthier. HENRY has lots of simple, healthy and low-cost recipes online.”

Rosborough agreed, adding: “Find healthy behaviours that the family can engage in together, such as preparing and trying different nutritious, tasty foods together as a family and leading an active lifestyle.” 

Educate yourself as parents.

PHE advise parents to educate themselves on ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle in the family, such as using the Change4Life Food Scanner app, which reveals the sugar, salt, fat and calories in everyday food and drinks. 

If you are worried about your child’s weight, speak to your GP or practice nurse who can give you further advice and support.

Jan 20th 2018

Brits being 'put on a diet' as fast food chains ordered to 'calorie cap' meals

Brits are being 'put on a diet' as fast food chains could be ordered to 'calorie cap' meals. 

Public Health England (PHE) has told fast-food chains and supermarket ready-meal makers to cut the calories in lunches and dinners to 600 calories, and breakfasts to 400, according to the The Times .

But the 'calorie cap' on chains such as KFC, McDonald's and Burger King could change your favourite meals forever, the Liverpool Echo reports.

To put things into context, a box meal from KFC currently has around 1400 calories while a Big Mac and regular fries has 845.

PHE's new initiative, which is essentially 'to put the country on a diet', is due out in March.

Alison Tedstone, PHE’s chief nutritionist, told food bosses that 27% of UK adults are obese, 36% more were overweight and meals “out of home” were a key cause “people eat 200-300 calories too many a day".

She added: "We will work with the industry to reduce the calories in everyday food."

And the calorie cap isn't all.

Research has also shown the UK's alcohol rules are too lax, with even drinking one pint or glass of wine a day poisoning the brain and raising the risk of dementia.

Current health guidelines recommend that men and women should not regularly drink more than two units of alcohol a day.

But the new study in the Journal of Public Health found that consuming more than one unit of alcohol a day is 'detrimental to cognitive performance', especially among older people.

One unit is equivalent to around a third of a pint of beer or half a glass of red wine, according to DrinkAware.

Jan 10th 2018

Coconut oil may reduce risk of heart disease, finds new study

It’s been hailed as superfood, demonised as a saturated fat, extolled an all-round beauty product and vilified for its calorific contents.

When it comes to coconut oil, the world cannot make up its mind.

With more saturated fat than butter and lard, experts have long-debated whether consuming the oil could actually do you more harm than good.

Now, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge has found that coconut oil might actually lower the risk of heart disease and stroke when consumed every day for just four weeks.

As part of the BBC2 series of Trust Me I’m a Doctor, Professor Kay-Tee Khaw and Professor Nita Forouhi recruited 94 volunteers between the ages of 50 and 75, none of whom had a history of heart disease or diabetes.

They split the participants into three groups and each was asked to consume 50 grams (roughly three tablespoons) of either coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter every day for four weeks.

Scientists were interested in seeing how eating these fats regularly would affect the volunteers’ cholesterol levels - and the results were surprising.

While the butter consumers saw an average rise of 10 per cent in their levels of LDL cholesterol, widely-known as the “bad cholesterol”, those consuming olive oil saw a slight reduction in LDL levels and a 5 per cent rise in HDL cholesterol levels, which is often referred to as the “good cholesterol” because it boasts protective properties.

Meanwhile, those who ate coconut oil saw the biggest rise in HDL levels with an average of 15 per cent, leading researchers to believe that the supposed superfood could be a little bit super after all as it may lower one’s chances of developing heart disease or stroke.

While the results are promising, Khaw was quick to stress that the study was only short-term that changing one’s dietary habits based on their findings would be “irresponsible”.

“I think decisions to eat particular oils depend on more than just the health effects,” she told BBC.

Jan 6th 2018

Sugary drinks banned from sale in NHS hospitals from July

Sugary drinks will be banned from sale in NHS hospitals across England from July, the health service has announced.

This week NHS England released an updated contract for hospitals, which for the first time included a clause prohibiting the sale of sugar sweetened beverages.

Retailers including Marks & Spencer, WH Smiths and Subway had already agreed to cut sales of sweet drinks to a maximum of 10 per cent of their output. 

But the new rule will stop outlets from selling the drinks entirely should they fail to meet that target, a move which was welcomed by campaigners. It also means a ban for fizzy and sugary drinks in hundreds of NHS cafes and staff canteens.

Katherine Button, of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said: “We welcome this move by NHS England to ban the sale of sugary drinks in our hospitals.

“Tooth extraction as a result of tooth decay is the most common cause for hospitalisation of children under five – putting unnecessary pressure on stretched NHS services.

“This bold leadership from NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens is exactly what we need to tackle these big health challenges.”

Sugary drinks breakdown

England will be just the second country in the world to introduce such a plan, with Portugal taking pioneering action last year.

The new contract, which came into effect in January states: "With effect from 1 July 2018, the Provider must not itself sell or offer for sale any Sugar-Sweetened Beverage at the Provider’s Premises.

"The Provider must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that, with effect from 1 July 2018, its tenants, sub-tenants, licensees, contractors, concessionaires and agents do not sell or offer for sale any Sugar-Sweetened Beverage at the Provider’s Premises."

New rules will also heavily restrict the sale of any high calorie foods.

From next April 60 per cent of sandwiches and pre-packed meals on sale in hospitals must contain a maximum of 400 calories per serving - rising to 75 per cent of cases a year later.

And 60 per cent of sweets and chocolates sold must not exceed 250 calories - rising to 80 per cent of items by 2019.

Almost 700,000 of the 1.3 million people employed by the NHS are thought to be overweight or obese.

Health officials have previously announced measures to improve healthy eating in hospitals, including axeing deals on sugary drinks as well as those for salty, fatty or sugary foods.


Children's snacking habits setting them up for obesity in later life

Children’s snacking habits are setting them up for obesity and poor health, Public Health England has warned, calling on parents to take a tougher line on sweets and cakes and fizzy drinks between meals.

Children in England are eating on average at least three unhealthy high-calorie sugary snacks and drinks every day, says PHE, and about a third of children eat four or more. It is urging parents to draw the line at two and make sure they are not more than 100 calories each.

The diet of the average child can contain three times more sugar than recommended, says PHE. Half the equivalent of seven sugar cubes a day they consume comes from unhealthy snacks and drinks. Each year that includes almost 400 biscuits, more than 120 cakes, 100 sweets, 70 chocolate bars and 70 ice creams, washed down with more than 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.

That could lead to a significant change in diet. An ice-cream contains about 175 calories, a pack of crisps contains about 190 calories, a chocolate bar contains about 200 calories and a pastry contains about 270 calories, says PHE.The slogan of a new campaign under the Change4Life banner is: “Look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day max”.

There will be a drive to encourage healthier snacking, with signposting at supermarkets and special offers on fruit and vegetables. Parents can sign up on the Change4Life website to get vouchers for money off snacks PHE identifies as healthier, such as malt loaf, lower sugar fromage frais, and drinks with no added sugar.

Other snack foods PHE says are healthier include fresh or tinned fruit salad, chopped vegetables and lower fat hummus, plain rice cakes, crackers, lower fat cheese, small low-fat, lower sugar yoghurt, sugar free jelly, crumpets and Scotch pancakes.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “The true extent of children’s snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar. Children are having unhealthy snacks throughout the day and parents have told us they’re concerned.

“To make it easier for busy families, we’ve developed a simple rule of thumb to help them move towards healthier snacking – look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day max.” 

The campaign will include a new TV advert from Aardman Animations as well as leaflets in schools.

Justine Roberts, CEO and founder of Mumsnet, said: “The volume of sugar kids are getting from snacks and sugary drinks alone is pretty mindblowing, and it can often be difficult to distinguish which snacks are healthy and which aren’t.

A third of children are leaving primary school obese or overweight. Recent figures from the National Child Measurement Programme in schools show the number of obese children in reception year has risen for the second consecutive year (to 9.6%) and has shown no improvement in year 6 (20%).

A quarter of children (24.7%) suffer from tooth decay by the time they turn five. Tooth extraction is the most common cause of hospital admissions in children aged 5 to 9 years.

Jan 4th 2018 Item 1

The truth about how many calories you need to eat to lose weight

Want to drop some pounds? Eat less, lose weight has always been the simple answer. And here's another proven diet tip: Since one pound of fat is equal to roughly 3,500 calories, simply delete this amount of food from your weekly diet and the scale will go down.


Well, there are a few more factors to consider when it comes to calorie counting in order to shrink your waistline. For one thing, not all calories are created equal.

'Calories matter when it comes to weight loss and maintenance, and in order to lose weight, you must take in less energy than you expend,' says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies. 'And how much energy you burn each day is dependent on your metabolic rate, as well as your physical activity.'

She further explains that part of your metabolic rate is determined by the number of calories you burn during digestion. "'This is where the calorie equation becomes tricky,' continues Palinski-Wade. 'A calorie from a simple to digest source - for example, a calorie from a simple sugar, like a fizzy drink - can be converted into energy easily. Therefore, your body won't have to burn much energy at all to utilise and store energy coming from a simple sugar.'

However, a calorie that derives from a resistant starch (such as fibre-rich pulses, like beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas) or from lean protein are harder for the body to breakdown and convert into energy.'And this means more energy will be burnt up during the digestion of these foods, increasing the total amount of calories you burn during the day,' she says.

Palinski-Wade breaks it down with numbers: For example, if you consume a 1,600 calorie diet rich in simple sugars, an estimated 100 calories would be needed to digest this food. 'But if your diet is made up of 1,600 calories from fibre and protein-rich foods, you may burn closer to 300 calories during digestion,' she states. 'And that difference in calorie expenditure during digestion can have a big impact on body weight over time.'

Also, calories count when it comes to hunger and satiety. Palinski-Wade refers to a study published in the journal Nutrition Journal, which concluded that pea protein was more effective at starving off hunger than whey protein.

'And if the majority of your calories come from simple sugars you will most likely be left feeling hungry and unsatisfied, which will impact your ability to keep weight off long term - not to mention the negative health impact of consuming all of those empty calories and added sugars,' she says.

But generally speaking, there are benefits to becoming more mindful about the number of calories you're consuming on a regular basis.

'Determining the right number of calories for your body is highly educational if you have never paid much mind to calories before,' says Elizabeth M. Ward, MS, RD, author of Expect the Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy. 'It's great to be aware of calorie needs because it forces you to measure portions, so if you can learn how many portions you need for a healthy weight, you can quit thinking about every calorie.'

And while cutting back on calories will most likely lead to a smaller number on the scale - especially if you have a BMI (body mass index) that falls into the overweight or obese category - this strategy will only work for a period of time. 'That's where physical activity and a regular re-calculation of calorie needs comes in,' continues Ward.

So what's the bottom line when it comes to calories and weight loss? 

'Be aware of your total calories needs and intake,' encourages Palinski-Wade. 'Focus on a meal plan rich in fibre, plant-based fats, and lean proteins to promote satiety, which will naturally help you to control your portions and lose weight while taking in nutrients that promote health.'

'The most important thing to remember is that eating healthier, less processed foods will probably help you lose weight and improve your energy level – and consulting ChooseMyPlate.gov is a great place to start,' says Ward. She suggests following the simple icon on the site, which advises filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter of the plate with protein, and the rest with grains. 

'I would like the grains to be whole grains because they're filling and more nutritious,' she concludes. 'Round it out with a glass of milk or a cup of yogurt - and no calorie counting needed.'

4th Jan 2018 Item 2

Veganuary: The biggest health mistakes people make when they go vegan 

With our clothes little tighter after the indulgences of the Christmas period, lots of us have entered 2018 pledging to eat healthier. And for some that means following Veganuary.

Launched in 2014, Veganuary sees meat-eaters and vegetarians alike challenging themselves to stick to a plant-based diet for 31 days. Followers must ditch all animal products – including meat, fish milk, cheese, eggs and honey.

The evidence suggests that, followed correctly, a vegan diet packed with grains, vegetables and fruits can be healthier than the typical Western fare of meat and two veg. A 2016 study at Oxford University found that adopted universally, a vegan diet would save 8.1 million lives by 2050 preventing chronic diseases as well as cutting greenhouse gas emissions caused by industrial farming.

"If followed correctly a vegan diet generally results in a wider variety of fruit and vegetables being eaten and a diet higher in fibre, due to the choices that have to be made when animal sources are excluded from the diet," Clare Thornton-Wood, an NHS dietitian, tells IBTimes UK. It can also be higher in antioxidants, potassium, folate and Vitamin A, she adds.

But switching overnight from a diet centred around animal products to one where a person only consumes plants can be tough to stick to.

"There are so many available options now – it's great. But if you think you're a healthy vegan by relying on vegan cheese on toast for every meal you would be mistaken," says British Dietetic association spokesperson Aisling Piggott.

"We are so keen to find the 'magic answer' when it comes to diet and nutrition that most people jump to the conclusion that if a vegan diet can be healthy then meat and animal products must be unhealthy," she add. All this will achieve is swapping one unbalanced diet for another.

As showcased by the hundreds of photos of chocolate, crisps and alcohol on the Accidentally Vegan Instagram account – which highlights high street foods that are manufactured using plant products– plenty of junk food fits the lifestyle. Of course, these can be enjoyed in moderation, but those newly acquainted to veganism must be careful not to fall back on snacks high in sugar, salt and saturated fat to fill the gap left by meat.

Jan 1st 2018

New tummy patch could reduce fat by more than 30 per cent in weeks

A new tummy patch could reduce weight gain and fat mass by more than 30 per cent over four weeks, research has found. 

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore invented a patch which contains hundreds of micro-needles, each thinner than a human hair, loaded with weight loss drugs.

While the drugs themselves are established forms of treatment for obesity, the new approach to delivery showed significant promise - albeit in trials on mice - and suggests a cost-effective programme could be developed for humans.

The drugs work by breaking down the energy-storing white fat underneath skin, turning it into energy-burning brown fats.

NTU Professor Chen Peng and Assistant Professor Xu Chenjie said this approach could help to tackle obesity.

“With the embedded microneedles in the skin of the mice, the surrounding fats started browning in five days, which helped to increase the energy expenditure of the mice, leading to a reduction in body fat gain,” Assistant Prof Xu said.

“The amount of drugs we used in the patch is much less than those used in oral medication or an injected dose. This lowers the drug ingredient costs while our slow-release design minimises its side effects.”

Professor Chen said the aim was to use a person’s own body fat to burn more energy.

The mice that were tested also had significantly lower blood cholesterol and fatty acids levels compared to the untreated mice, the scientists said.

“What we aim to develop is a painless patch that everyone could use easily, is unobtrusive and yet affordable,” Prof Chen said.

Dec 26th 2017

What parents need to know about childhood obesity to keep their kids healthy

It’s hard to ignore the headlines about child obesity – but it can feel even harder to know what to do about it. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned we’re facing a “global obesity epidemic” after a study found that there’s been a tenfold increase in the number of obese and overweight children and teens over the last 40 years.

This means our children are facing a greater risk of developing future health problems such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as issues including back and joint pain.

While it’s easy to spout off scary statistics and health warnings, it’s not so easy knowing how to approach these things as a parent – especially when there’s so much conflicting advice around.

We’ve asked some trusted experts to clear things up…

I’m so confused about BMI charts – are they accurate or not?

Yes and no. “BMI charts are the standard way of checking for a healthy weight as they give you a ratio of the best weight for your height,” says NHS weight-loss consultant surgeon Dr Sally Norton (vavistalife.com).

“However, it’s not completely accurate in adults as it’s not a measure of fat, and very muscular people are heavier. It’s even less accurate in kids as they grow at different rates.”

She adds: “Make sure you use a specific BMI chart for children but, even so, just take it as a guide. The best way to tell if your child is overweight is by looking at them. For example, do they have a roll of fat around the midriff?

“Babies and toddlers are a different matter, of course. And kids sometimes grow out a bit before they shoot up – so a bit of padding shouldn’t be a cause for immediate alarm, especially if you and your family are active and eat well.

“But if you have weight issues yourself, you should be a little more concerned, as children of overweight parents have an 80% chance of being overweight themselves. So now could be a good time to overhaul your own diet and exercise, along with the family’s.”

There’s a lot of focus on child obesity health risks – is it really that serious?

The figures for UK kids are worrying. “For the first time, in England, the number of children leaving primary school overweight or obese has hit 200,000,” says Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s expert on cancer prevention.

“Right now, in a class of 30, the odds are that seven children will be overweight or obese when they start school.

“By the time they leave for secondary school, 10 of them will be in this category. As a parent, it’s difficult to make sure your child is eating well and exercising. But an obese child is five times more likely to stay obese into adulthood.

“If you’re an obese adult, you’re more at risk of having serious health conditions, including cancer.”

We’re not a sporty family – how can we keep active?

Terry Austin, senior physiologist at Nuffield Health (nuffieldhealth.com), says: “Children should be participating in at least 60 minutes of activity per day, but that doesn’t just mean sports. It is really important physical activity is seen as something fun for the whole family, and that parents are role models.

“Look into local park runs, which are free and organised up and down the country. You could even enter a charity event, such as Race for Life or Sport Relief 5km.

“Volunteer to help neighbours or friends with their garden or car washing, and pledge to buy ‘active’ Christmas presents for each other, such as exercise clothing, skipping ropes, a tennis racquet or Frisbee.

“Set two-hour limits for technology, including phones, iPads and TV, to encourage you all to be active.”

My child’s too self-conscious to do PE – how can we help?

Talking to your children about issues that worry them can be difficult but there are ways.

“Childhood can be a very sensitive period,” says Austin. “Make time to listen to how they feel. Time to Change (time-to-change.org.uk) and Young Minds (youngminds.org.uk) have good tips on how to have helpful conversations with children if they’re struggling.

“Remind them all children are different shapes and sizes, and they have nothing to be embarrassed about. Talk to their PE teacher too to make them more aware, and ask about extra-curricular activities to promote confidence away from school.

“Can your child go swimming with a friend or with you? They need to learn positive emotions associated with the activities – so highlight the fun aspects, rather than it being something they ‘have’ to do. If they really don’t enjoy swimming, encourage them to try something else instead.”

How can I talk to my children about weight, food and overeating without damaging their self-esteem?

The prospect of talking to your child about weight can be terrifying, but it’s important.

“Think about the language you use – terms like ‘fat’, ‘obese’ and ‘diet’ can be much more damaging than we realise,” says Alexia Dempsey, specialist eating disorder dietician at the Priory Hospital in Roehampton.

“Talk about ‘kindness’ and ‘compassion’ rather than ‘weight’ and ‘shape’ as the most important values.

“If your child believes weight and shape dictate their identity, these will be the values they think are most important.

“Talk about social media too – there is a lot of pressure on young people to be part of it. This might not always be 

a positive experience – cyber-bulling, trolling and pro-anorexic sites are common – and there are lots of so-called ‘experts’ pushing their lifestyle choices on these platforms, along with airbrushed images.

“Make sure you seek professional advice if you are worried about your child’s eating. With obesity on the rise, it’s important to feel you can ask for help and not be judged.”

My child won’t eat healthy food – what am I meant to do?

Persistence and starting early are key. “Getting children into good habits when they’re young will bring lifelong benefits, but meal times can be challenging,” says nutritionist Katherine Hale, Prevention Programme Manager for the National Charity Partnership. 

“There’s nothing like leading by example. If a child sees you eating all the food on your plate, they’re much more likely to do the same. It’s a good idea to eat together, which also makes meals more sociable and fun.

“Go little by little. A big plate filled with food can be overwhelming, so try offering smaller amounts and let them have more if they’re still hungry.

“Letting children make choices about what they eat will mean they enjoy it more too.

“Of course, it’s important to make the choice a healthy one – for example, by offering an apple or banana, not an apple or biscuit.

“It’s best not to let meals drag on for more than 20-30 minutes. That should be enough to know if they’re going to eat. If they haven’t, clear the plate without fuss.”

My GP said my child needs to lose weight – but how do we cut down and still ensure they get enough nutrients?

Weight loss shouldn’t be at the cost of nutrients, says Hale. “Your child is still growing and developing, so they will need a well-balanced diet to get all the nutrients they need. Unlike adults, it may be that they can grow into their weight rather than need to lose it, so achieving an energy balance rather than an energy deficit may be enough.

“Start by making sure there’s a regular pattern of balanced meals, including plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrain starchy carbohydrates and protein foods like beans, fish, lean meat or eggs. To begin with, rather than cut down on everything, try just limiting the extras that are nice but not necessary – sweets, chocolates, sugary drinks.

“Focus on the foods you want them to eat, rather than the ones they’re going to be eating less of. Ask your GP if there’s support available locally or within the practice. There may be community groups or other health professionals that can help. You are not alone!”

How many treats can I give my kids?

It depends on their age. “Regularly consuming high-sugar food and drinks increases your risk of long-term health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as tooth decay,” says Hale.

“Added sugars shouldn’t make up more than 5% of daily calorie intake. This amounts to no more than 19g a day for four to six-year-olds; 24g a day for seven to 10-year-olds; and 30g a day for 11-year-olds and older.

“Given that a tablespoon of ketchup contains around one teaspoon of sugar, a chocolate biscuit up to two, and a small serving of baked beans almost three – you can see how quickly it tots up. Our advice would be to limit the amount of treats you give children to as few as possible.

“Try making fruit the snack of choice, and when you do give them chocolate, have just a bit rather than a whole bar; have natural yoghurt with nuts or chopped fruit for puddings; drink water rather than fizzy drinks, juice or sugary squash; opt for plain breakfast cereals, such as porridge oats.

“Also, keep an eye on reduced-fat foods – many actually contain more sugar to compensate for the altered taste and texture. Always look at the ingredients list on the packaging.”

Dec 21st 2017

We know diet trends come and go, but there are two new weight-loss wonders that seem to have some staying power. Up first is the keto diet, a low-carb, high-fat diet approach that touts weight loss, increased energy, and better blood sugar numbers among its many benefits. You've probably also at least heard of intermittent fasting, which cuts down your daily eating window to aid in weight loss (among other health perks).

If both of these diets are really that great, could they be even better together, or could it be too much of a good thing? We turned to a couple of experts to find out if these diets can be done together safely and effectively. But first, a little refresher.

What is the keto diet?

Dr. Anthony Gustin, a functional medicine practitioner and creator of the Perfect Keto supplement line, describes keto as a 'high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein diet.' When you eat this way, your body begins to burn ketones, instead of glucose, for energy. This boosts your body's ability to burn fat stores, improves symptoms of diet-related conditions like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and improves energy. Basically, you'll be eating a lot less pizza and oatmeal and a lot more eggs and avocado.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting boasts similar benefits to the keto diet, but the approach is much different. According to Dr. Josh Axe, a doctor of clinical medicine and clinical nutritionist, 'Consuming solid foods within a finite window of time gives your body a chance to fully utilise the nutrients as building blocks while benefiting from focused time each day to cleanse from unwanted toxins.' There are even studies that show that 'fasting can increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind), while decreasing LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.'

How can keto and intermittent fasting work together?

Think you're ready to take on keto and intermittent fasting? Dr. Axe feels it's actually ideal to do these diets in tandem. Let's face it, fasting can definitely leave you feeling hungry (especially while you adjust to your new eating schedule), and 'an advantage of the keto diet is that it can help to decrease hunger and cravings, making it easier to comfortably go longer periods without eating.' 

Dr. Gustin agrees and says, 'Intermittent fasting and ketosis work wonderfully together. Intermittent fasting helps raise levels of ketones by keeping insulin levels low, allowing you to burn fat for fuel and decrease your appetite.' Because these diets share a lot of the same health benefits, it makes sense that they can work together to boost your health improvement efforts.

What the heck can you eat?

Curious what a typical day of the ketogenic diet combined with intermittent fasting might look like? Here's a quick rundown from Dr. Axe:

Morning: black coffee

Noon-ish: a high-fat, moderate-protein lunch (we like this chicken salad with bacon and avocado)

Afternoon: optional snack, like these fat bombs

Dinner (no later than 8 p.m.): a meal similar to lunch, with several servings of fat, some non-starchy veggies, and some protein

Using this schedule, all of your eating is done within an eight-hour window, but this can be tweaked to meet your needs. If you plan to do a workout, Dr. Gustin recommends you do it in the late morning or early afternoon, before you start eating your meals for the day.

How long should you follow these diets?

Dr. Gustin says, 'Intermittent fasting and ketosis don't have to be short-term diets. Humans ate like this for many thousands of years, and they are completely normal ways to approach eating.' Obviously, cavemen didn't have a Starbucks on every corner where they could get their morning caffeine fix with a giant blueberry scone on the side, so we totally get that humans probably weren't eating three square meals and two snacks every day. If this way of eating is working for you (i.e. your doctor says your health is good, you aren't starving all the time, and you feel great), there is no reason to stop after a set amount of time.

A few words of warning

OK, so following a keto diet while intermittent fasting may be a great idea for some people, but is there anybody who should stay away from this approach? While a safe combination for most people, Dr. Gustin advises that, 'People with preexisting hormonal conditions or who have had their gallbladder removed should probably skip out on both of these nutritional therapies.' Dr. Axe added to that list people who suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), diabetes, or kidney disease and those with a history of eating disorders (because it could trigger symptoms).

All in all, if this way of eating appeals to you, there is no harm in giving it a try. Anyone, no matter what their level of health, should speak with a qualified health practitioner before making any dietary changes to make sure it is right for their body and lifestyle. And, of course, stock up on avocados and bulletproof coffee.

Dec 7th 2017

More than one in three British teenagers are overweight or obese'

More than one in three British teenagers are overweight or obese, a new study has found.

Researchers have found that 20% of 14 year olds in the UK are obese.

And a further 15% were deemed to be overweight.

Leading children’s doctors said the study was further evidence of the “childhood obesity crisis” gripping Britain.

The new figures come from research conducted by experts at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at University College London (UCL).

Researchers from UCL’s Institute of Education examined data from more than 10,000 teenagers who are taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study – a study tracking the lives of thousands of youngsters born at the turn of the century.

They found varying responses from across the UK – 40% of 14 year olds in Northern Ireland were overweight or obese compared to 38% in Wales and 35% in both Scotland and England.

Youngsters whose mothers had a low level of education were more likely to be of excess weight than those whose mothers had a degree.

Meanwhile, the authors also found differences between white and black teenagers – with 48% of young black people classified as having excess weight, compared to 34.5% of white adolescents.

Commenting on the research, Professor Mary Fewtrell, lead on nutrition at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Data from the Millennium Cohort Study provides further evidence of the scale of the childhood obesity crisis in the UK.

“A range of measures must be considered including restrictions on junk food marketing before the 9pm watershed, statutory school-based health education in all schools, and, in order to determine what effect taxation is having on consumption of sugary drinks, robust evaluation of the soft drinks and sugar reduction programme is needed.”

Professor Emla Fitzsimons, co-author of the study, said: “Children who are overweight or obese face an increased risk of many health problems later in life, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

“Overweight and obesity are also associated with psychological problems such as low self-esteem and depression, and with lower educational attainment.”

You can purchase this work of fiction from here.


Dec 17th 2017

Taking a brisk walk for at least 10 minutes every day can reduce your chances of an early death. But many adults aren't managing this once a month, let alone seven times a week. Our busy, modern lives are making it difficult for many to find the time for exercise.

But that's a big problem. It's estimated that inactivity contributes to one in six deaths in the UK.

Findings from Public Health England show people in the UK are 20% less active now than they were in the 1960s and walk on average 15 miles less a year than two decades ago.

So the organisation has launched its One You physical activity campaign to encourage adults to build 10 minutes continuous brisk walking into their day as a simple way to improve their health.

The 'Active 10' app has been developed to show how much brisk walking a person is doing each day and how to incorporate more of it into their lives.

What a 10 minute walk can do

Taking at least one brisk 10 minute walk a day has been shown to reduce the risk of early death by 15%. This can lead to health benefits including a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes (by 40%), heart disease (by 35%), dementia (by 30%) and some cancers (by 20%).

The free app combines walking intensity and time, rather than just distance or steps and is the first of its kind. It helps people gradually introduce more activity into their daily routine, with goal setting advice and motivational tips. It has already helped 50,000 adults get more active.

Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Medical Director at PHE, said: 'I know first hand that juggling the priorities of everyday life often means exercise takes a back seat. Walking to the shops instead of driving or going for a brisk 10 minute walk on your lunch break each day can add many healthy years to your life.

'The Active 10 app is a free and easy way to help anyone build more brisk walking into their daily routine.'

Dec 13th 2017

Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle site, Goop - along with the actress's personal trainer, Tracy Anderson - have come under fire after a nutritionist tore apart advice the trainer gave in a column, citing that it could be "extremely damaging."

Since then, opinions have been flaring on social media, prompting Goop and Anderson to clarify the statements.

In the original Goop story, Anderson's asked an all-too-common (and all-too-Googled) question: How do we jump-start weight loss?

The fitness guru, who runs seven workout studios worldwide that follow The Tracy Anderson Method she created, recommended working out daily, going "very low carb," and cutting out gluten entirely. "You are how you move, you are how you eat. Ideally, you want to be regular and strategic with the design of your body and your weight management all year," she explained.

Later on, Anderson shared a meal plan for people who've reached an unhealthy weight and are looking to drop pounds quickly. "If you have weight to lose, you can effectively do a fourteen-pound weight loss in four weeks," she said. "This requires focus and physical, mental, and emotional willpower."

These statements struck nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert, who told The Independent she was "in complete shock that this article has been published, as this has the potential to harm a lot of relationships with food." She warned that exercising daily, as Anderson suggests, may not give your body time to recover, and that eliminating gluten shouldn't be seen as a magic bullet to lasting weight loss.

"It is not sensible to eliminate whole food groups or make drastic dietary changes which are not sustainable - you may end up deficient in micronutrients and lacking important dietary diversity which aid gut bacteria," Lambert said.

Though Anderson's advice for Goop was originally published months ago, at the start of summer, The Independent story recently prompted a wave of tweets from people who felt Anderson's advice was "science-free bunk" and "promote[s] anorexia lite," among other complaints.


- Timothy Caulfield (@CaulfieldTim) December 7, 2017


- Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) June 28, 2017

Anderson and a spokesperson for Goop responded to these accusations, clarifying the

article's - and the trainer's - intent with the advice.

"Over the course of her 20-year career, Tracy has consistently practiced owning a 1-2 lb. weight loss per week when someone has unhealthy weight to lose. Owning a 1-2 lb. weight loss per week is different than simply dropping 1-2 lbs. per week, which causes people to hold onto unhealthy weight," Anderson's spokesperson told E! News. "Of the 14 lbs. that someone could effectively lose in a month - if they have excess weight on them - the goal is to own 8 lbs. of that, which is aligned with Tracy's practice of not living on extreme diets."

Similarly, a representative for Goop told E! that the brand doesn't promote weight loss, "only healthy eating." (Note: The headline of the story is "Tracy Anderson On How To Lose Weight Fast," though the first paragraph details how often people ask Anderson to answer diet-related questions.)

"We would never advocate for an unhealthy diet or extreme routine," the Goop spokesperson explained. "As Tracy said in the interview, you should make choices based on what is best for your individual body."

Dec 3rd 2017

Eating while standing can make you fat: Here's why

Good eating habits are not just about what we ingest but also, and above all, how we ingest it. Eating slowly and thoughtfully, chewing thoroughly and enjoying a meal sitting down, for example, are all behaviors that can affect your weight.

Good eating habits are not just about what we ingest but also, and above all, how we ingest it. Eating slowly and thoughtfully, chewing thoroughly and enjoying a meal sitting down, for example, are all behaviors that can affect your weight.

Eating while Standing = Weight Gain

You do it all the time—at parties, office functions, cocktail bars. Eating while standing up has become a common practice in all areas of life, due to various circumstances. You might associate standing up with losing weight; after all, sitting for long hours throughout the day has been linked to weight gain and multiple other health issues—unfortunately, it's not. If you're trying to lose weight, it's advisable to eat while seated. Just being at a table encourages you to focus on your meal, which helps you feel fuller and reduces the temptation to snack later on.

If you're standing, however, you might be more likely to consider your meal as a snack, even if it has the same amount of calories. At least that's what research findings suggest in a study from University of Surrey, published in the journal Appetite.

The study's survey looked at 80 women, who were asked to designate what they ate as a snack or as a meal. Some received food that was served in a bowl with plastic cutlery while standing up; others were served food in a ceramic dish with steel cutlery while sitting. After the meal, the women were taken to a second room to do a taste test of various unhealthy foods (chocolate cookies, cheese, chocolate icing, etc.)

The researchers found that study participants who had eaten on their feet considered what they ate to be a "snack" rather than a meal and proceeded to eat substantially more during the taste test than those who had eaten sitting down at the table, despite equal calorie intake. In total, they ingested 50 percent more calories.

The researchers found that study participants who had eaten on their feet considered what they ate to be a "snack" rather than a meal and proceeded to eat substantially more during the taste test than those who had eaten sitting down at the table, despite equal calorie intake. In total, they ingested 50 percent more calories.

It just goes to show how connected our minds are to our physical state while eating, and the same goes for other bad habits, such as watching TV or using technology while eating.

Bottom line? Keep mealtimes sacred. Focus on your food, listen to your body, and above all, don't forget to sit down and enjoy!

Nov 28th 2017 2 items

‘Tis the season for looking for the best way to avoid holiday weight gain, and there’s one flavor you’ll find this season that could help balance that overindulgence. If you’re a fan of cinnamon, a new study has good news for your waistline.

A recent study found that when rats paired high-fat foods with cinnamon, they weighed less and had less belly fat than the rodents that didn’t take cinnamon supplements. Other studies suggest cinnamaldehyde, the essential oil that gives cinnamon its flavor, helps mice eat less and ward off weight gain, but researchers weren’t sure if it would hold true for humans—until now.

University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute researchers treated human fat cell samples with cinnamaldehyde, and their findings in the journal Metabolism have some promising findings.

Frustrating as it is, your body is designed to start storing energy in the form of fat as soon as possible. For our ancestors, storing fat meant keeping warm and having more energy when times got tough, says study co-author Jun Wu, PhD. 'It’s only been relatively recently that energy surplus has become a problem,' she says in a statement. 'Throughout evolution, the opposite—energy deficiency—has been the problem. So any energy-consuming process usually turns off the moment the body doesn’t need it.' Check out these other 17 ways to get over a weight-loss plateau.

The trick, then, is keeping your metabolism going so your body doesn’t resort to fat storage—and that’s where cinnamon comes in. This new research discovered that cells treated with cinnamaldehyde started expressing more metabolism-boosting genes and enzymes. The cinnamon compound prompted fat cells to keep on burning instead of going into storage, so the researchers think it could help fight against obesity. Don’t miss these other 14 foods that burn away stubborn fat.

Even if you aren’t worried about your weight, study after study totes the benefits of cinnamon. Other research suggests cinnamon could help ward off Alzheimer’s, boost learning ability, and cut risk of diabetes. Weight loss is just one more reason to start sprinkling on the good stuff.

More research needs to be done before scientists know how much weight you could actually lose just from a hefty shake of cinnamon, says Dr. Wu. Until then, a little spice can’t hurt, as long as you keep the rest of your diet in check. An eggnog latte is packed with sugar, but a dash of cinnamon in your everyday cup of coffee could be a healthy (and tasty) treat. You could also add it to this expert-approved breakfast that burns fat all day.

Item 2

Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol isn’t all bad. This waxy, fat-like substance plays a vital role in our body.

There are two types: LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) and HDL (‘good’ cholesterol).

High levels of LDL can build up in artery walls, raising the risk of heart disease but ‘good’ cholesterol helps carry excesses of the bad kind out of the body, protecting against heart disease.

Charity Heart UK says everyone from 40 to 75 should have cholesterol levels checked every five years (or every year if on cholesterol-lowering medication).

Your Total Cholesterol Measurement should ideally be 5mmol/L or less; LDL-Cholesterol 3mmol/L or less; and HDL-Cholesterol over 1mmol/L for men and 1.2mmol/L for women.

If you’ve had a high reading, here are some simple swaps to help get your cholesterol levels back on track...

Switch: Full-fat milk - Skimmed milk

Why? “Full-cream milk contains saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol levels,” says registered dietitian Linda Main, co-author with Baldeesh Rai of 4 Steps to Lower Cholesterol (Vermilion, £12.99).

Try it Today: First, switch to semi-skimmed in tea and coffee, then in your cereals for a couple of weeks before moving on to skimmed. “Your palate will fine-tune itself to the thinner, less creamy consistency of skimmed milk if you give it time to adjust,” says Linda.

Switch: 3pm Biscuits - Unsalted nuts

Why? Biscuits are high in saturated fat. Linda says: “Unsalted nuts are just as convenient to snack on and the fibre, protein and good fats in them help keep hunger at bay and lower cholesterol.” Studies show they can raise ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and lower LDL.

Try it today: “Keep nuts on your desk or in your handbag, so if you’re hungry or tempted by other snacks you have your preferred one at hand,” says Linda. Choose from walnuts, almonds, pistachios, Brazils and cashews. Uncooked and unsalted are best. Eat in moderation as they are calorific.

Switch: Meat - Pulses

Why? Pulses (such as beans, lentils, chickpeas) are not only low in fat but also a good source of protein and soluble fibre. Linda says: “Soluble fibre has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering properties. It dissolves in water in the gut to form a gel-like substance a bit like wallpaper paste. But instead of sticking to the walls of your intestines, it soaks up cholesterol, like a sponge, and carries it out of the body.”

Try it today: Linda says: “Select recipes where you can add pulses and minimise red meat content, such as chilli, casseroles, soups, salads and stir fries. The great selection of canned beans and pulses available makes it easy to incorporate them into many recipes.”

Switch: Sugary breakfast cereals - Porridge

Why? “Oats contain a special form of soluble fibre called beta glucan – one of the most effective forms,” says Linda. Look for ‘rougher’ oats as they probably contain more beta-glucan than the smoother processed instant type.

Try it Today: Resist sweetening porridge with sugar and try adding strawberries, blueberries or raspberries instead. Research has shown berries can boost levels of good HDL cholesterol. If you don’t like porridge you can add oats to your diet by snacking on oatcakes.

Switch: Pork stir fry - Tofu stir fry

Why? “Pork is high in cholesterol, particularly if you don’t trim off visible fat before cooking,” says Will Hawkins, nutritionist at online GP service Push Doctor (pushdoctor.co.uk). “Tofu contains plant-based compounds known as isoflavones. These reduce LDL before it has a chance to clog your arteries.”

Try it today: Stir fry your tofu as you would pork, with plenty of veg. “People find tofu more palatable if it’s served with plenty of sauce,” adds Will.

Switch: Creamy salad dressings - Olive oil

Why? Will says: “Dressings such as Caesar and ranch may taste nice, but they’re extremely calorific and will certainly have a negative impact on your cholesterol.

“Many people don’t realise this and cover their healthy salad in dressings high in saturated fat.

“Often, the nutritional information on bottles relates to a serving size far smaller than what many people use. Extra virgin olive oil is better. It contains monounsaturated fat, which helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

“It also lowers inflammation, protects LDL from oxidation, improves the function of blood vessel linings and helps prevent unwanted blood clotting.”

Try it today: “Instead of lettuce, cucumber and tomato, serve roasted Mediterranean vegetables as a side dish. Drizzle olive oil over the top to bring the flavours together,” says Will.

Switch: Treacle pudding - Stewed fruit dessert

Why? Will says: “Given the choice between a high-sugar dessert and one with fresh fruit, it’s not hard to work out which option has the best chance of keeping your cholesterol down,” says Will. “A lot of puddings are made with butter, a sure-fire way to send your cholesterol soaring. Fruit provides natural sweetness for your taste buds.”

Try it today: “A bowl of stewed apples or pears is a healthy option - but with no sugar added, of course,” says Will. If you love stewed fruit crumbles, add oats to the mixture for a cholesterol-lowering boost.

Switch: White wine - Red wine

Why? When it comes to alcoholic drinks, red wine is the one that can lower cholesterol.

Israeli University researchers found diabetic patients who drank red with their evening meals for two years had higher levels of ‘good’ HDL and lower total cholesterol levels at the end of the study. Another Spanish University study found consuming a grape supplement found in red wine lowered ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels by up to 12% in volunteers.

Try it today: Too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and increase your risk of cancer so watch your units (health guidelines suggest no more than 14 units a week for men and women). An average bottle of red wine (13.5%) contains 10 units. A small (125ml) glass contains 1.5 units.

Nov 23rd 2017

Dieters had been pinning their hopes on apple cider vinegar long before Victoria Beckham made her recent  endorsement on Instagram . But what is it about this store cupboard staple that's causing such a stir?

 What is apple cider vinegar?

The recipe for apple cider vinegar? Mix chopped-up apples, water and sugar and leave it to ferment. During the fermentation process, the apples will produce acetic acid. Easy...

Apple cider vinegar is well known for its acidic tasteCredit: Molly Aaker/Getty images

 How do you use apple cider vinegar?

With a distinctly acidic taste, it's frequently used in salad dressings. Heralded as one of the latest health trends, some people also dilute it with water to drink.

 What are the benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar?

A few studies have found that drinking apple cider vinegar can help manage blood sugar levels and aid weight loss. However, registered dietitian and BDA spokesperson Alana MacDonald argues there's not enough evidence to support these claims. "As a professional using evidence based practice, I would not be recommending the incorporation of apple cider vinegar as a measure to improve health," she says.

Could two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar have health benefits?

So where have these claims come from? In a study carried out on adults with Type 2 Diabetes by the American Diabetes Association, researchers found that two tablespoons of vinegar before going to sleep helped moderate glucose concentrations.

In a bid to decipher whether these claims were true, the BBC carried out a study on 30 people and found that while drinking dilute apple cider vinegar had no effect on weight loss or inflammation in the body, it did appear to bring blood sugar levels down.

A very small study on 30 people suggests that vinegar could help moderate blood sugar levels but more testing is neededCredit: Getty Images

But 30 people is a very small sample and dietitians require further investigations to be carried out before they validate those claims. "The methods, size and duration of these studies doesn’t provide satisfactory evidence to support real benefits," says Alana.

What are the benefits of apple cider vinegar for weight loss?

Anecdotally, people who try apple cider vinegar to achieve their weight loss goals report greater feelings of satiety and fullness. However, as with other health claims made about drinking cider vinegar for health reasons, there needs to be more evidence before professionals can make solid conclusions.

 How much apple cider vinegar should you drink in a day?

While a small amount of apple cider vinegar used in salad dressings is unlikely to be harmful, dietitians are concerned about over-use. "There is some professional caution regarding dental health (tooth enamel erosion) and oesophageal irritation due to its acidic nature," says Alana.

Over-use of vinegar could cause dental problems Credit: Alamy

Instead, she advises people wanting to achieve the desired health benefits to improve their diet in other ways. "A diet which is high in fruit, veg, beans, pulses, fish and lean meats will support weight loss, lowering blood sugar and reducing cholesterol," she says.

Nov 14th 2017

If you've ever followed the Weight Watchers plan you'll be all-too-familiar with the SmartPoints system, which gives members a daily allowance of points that they can use to construct their meals and snacks.

Foods that are higher in sugar and saturated fat are higher in points value, while leaner meats have lower points values and most fruit and veg are zero points (foods that do not cost you any of your points budget).

But now they've introduced WW Flex, a new programme that apparently gives members 'more freedom to enjoy food' by expanding that zero Points food list. And by expand, we mean they've now added foods to it that would have been a higher points value in the old programme. Hooray!

So how does it work exactly?

Like the old programme, WW Flex gives users a points budget but it now has more than 200 zero points food to choose from. This includes eggs, all fresh fish and seafood, skinless chicken and turkey breast, fat free plain yoghurt, beans, peas, sweetcorn, lentils and tofu.

And that's not all, up to four unused points from each day can be rolled over into a member's weekly bank to be used another time, something you weren't allowed to do previously.

'WW Flex expands our range of zero Points foods to guide members toward a healthier pattern of eating,' says Zoe Griffiths, Head of Programme and Public Health at Weight Watchers.

'It offers the freedom and flexibility they need to make significant lifestyle changes that have positive benefits beyond just weight loss. The results are the best we've ever seen for a Weight Watchers programme in a clinical trial.'

Will Hawkins, a nutritionist from Push Doctor does stress the importance of understanding portion control however...

'These are foods that should be promoted in every staple diet, so it's good to give people more freedom to work them into their diet. Of course, we can assume that by choosing this diet, your main goal is weight loss. To keep that target achievable, ensure that when you eat these foods, you stay in control of the quantity on your plate. As far as poultry and fish goes, I'd recommend a portion around the size of your hand.'

This revamp of the programme is big news for Weight Watchers members, and will hopefully give users even more freedom to pick and choose healthy meal options. For more info, you can head to the Weight Watchers website.

Related: Jennifer Hudson reveals the secret to her weight loss (Provided by Wochit Entertainment)

Nov 5th 2017 updated

Oct 11th 2017

Being overweight or obese increases a person's risk for at least 13 types of cancer, according to a new report. The cancers, which include those of the brain, esophagus, thyroid, gallbladder, stomach, pancreas, kidney, uterus and colon, make up 40 percent of all diagnosed cancers in the U.S., according to the report.

In the report, published Oct. 3 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers found that in 2014 alone, more than 630,000 people in the U.S.  had a type of cancer that was associated with being overweight or obese. These cases amounted to more than 55 percent of all cancers diagnosed among women and 24 percent of all cancers diagnosed among men in the U.S.

The link between a person's weight and the risk of certain cancers may come as news to many, the researchers said. Though the relationships between a higher body-mass index (BMI) and chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are well-touted, researchers know far less about how a higher body weight may be linked to certain cancers. [10 Do's and Don’ts to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer]

Indeed, the “awareness of some cancers being associated with obesity and [being] overweight is not yet widespread" among Americans, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the deputy director of the CDC, said in a press conference on Oct. 3.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, says that there is "sufficient evidence" to link excess body fat to at least 13 different cancers, according to the report. Excess weight may increase a person's risk of cancer by increasing levels of inflammation in the body, according to the report. Excess weight may also increase levels of certain hormones, such as insulin and sex hormones, and a compound called insulin-like growth factor, which plays a role in growth, the report said; these factors have been linked to cancer risk.

In the report, the researchers used government data on 2014 cancer rates, as well as data from 2005 to 2014 to study any changes that may have occurred in the rates of certain cancers. One limitation of the study, the researchers noted, was that they did not have data on patient's' weights or BMIs.

The researchers found that weight-related cancers were increasingly being diagnosed among younger people. From 2005 and 2014, there was a 1.4 percent uptick in cancers related to being overweight and obese among people ages 20 to 49, compared with a 0.4 percent increase in these cancers among the 50-to-64 set. In addition, nearly half of all cancers in people younger than 65 were associated with excess weight, the researchers found.

The report also found that people who are overweight or obese are nearly twice as likely as people who are of normal weight to develop cancers of the esophagus, stomach, liver and kidney. People who are overweight or obese are also about 30 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancerthan individuals with normal weight, according to the report. And women who are overweight or obese are about two to four times more likely to develop endometrial cancer, the scientists said.

The researchers noted the importance of public health efforts to promote healthy weight.

"The burden of overweight- and obesity-related cancers might be reduced through efforts to prevent and control" excess weight gain and obesity, the study authors wrote. "Comprehensive cancer-control strategies, including use of evidence-based interventions to promote healthy weight, could help decrease the incidence of these cancers in the United States."


Oct 9th 2017

There's increasing evidence to suggest that the "one size fits all" approach to weight loss doesn't work.

In fact, new research suggests that getting your stool tested and your gut bacteria counted could predict whether or not a particular diet will work for you.

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that the increasingly popular fibre-rich "New Nordic Diet" might not work for everyone.

In an experiment a group of 62 overweight participants were randomly assigned to follow either the New Nordic Diet or the "Average Danish Diet" for 26 weeks, with their weight and body measurements taken before and after.

The eating plans vary significantly. The former is the more fibre-rich option and places greater emphasis on wholefoods such as vegetables, grains, and fruits.

Their stools were also tested to divide participants into two different gut bacteria groups, one with a higher ratio of Prevotella bacteria found in their intestines to Bacteroides species, and the other half with a low ratio. Both types of bacteria are naturally found in the human digestive system.

After the initial 26-week period, all participants followed the New Nordic Diet for another year.

The results showed that those in the higher ratio group — with more Prevotella bacteria — lost 3.15 kilos more body fat when they followed the New Nordic Diet compared to the Average Danish Diet. Their waistlines also decreased more significantly, and the weight loss was maintained after following the diet for one year.

However, for participants in the low ratio group, the type of diet they followed had no influence on how much weight they lost.

Mads Hjorth of the department of nutrition, exercise and sports at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark said in a statement: "People with a high Prevotella/Bacteroides ratio were more susceptible to body fat loss on a diet rich in fibre and wholegrain compared to an average Danish diet."

"The health promoting aspects of the New Nordic Diet in terms of body weight regulation seem mainly to apply to a subset of the population," he adds. "This could apply to as much as half of the population."

If you're curious as to which Prevotella/Bacteroides ratio category you fit into you can request a stool sample with a doctor or dietitian, who can advise on which diets are best to follow.

Oct 5th 2017

Sugar and refined carbohydrates are considered 'empty calories', mainly because they don't contain any useful nutrients. Some foods high in sugar are heavily processed, and the sweet stuff is added to make them more palatable and desirable. It's these foods that are not always easy to spot the sugar in, and often those that are marketed as 'healthy', or low in fat which can be the worst offenders. In some cases, ready meals could contain up to 12 teaspoons of sugar per portion, a can of cola houses six and a bowl of dry Bran Flakes has three.

To help ascertain if you're eating too much sugar, leading nutritional therapist, Natalie Lamb from high-fibre supplement Lepicol Lighter told us the tell-tale signs to watch out for.

1. Premature ageing

Excessive sugar consumption can cause long-term damage to skin proteins, collagen and elastin, leading to premature wrinkles and ageing. Too much sugar could also contribute to an imbalance of the female menstrual hormones which could result in acne along the jaw line. Sugar is also the favourite food of less desirable gut bacteria and yeast, and consuming too much could lead to an imbalanced gut flora and inflammation in the body, typically seen in skin conditions such as eczema.

2. Constant cravings

Sugary foods are addictive, giving us a quick 'fix' that tempts us back time and time again. Foods high in sugar have been shown to activate the reward pathway in the brain by releasing dopamine, similar to that of addictive drugs. The nutrient chromium could help to restore normal insulin function and supplementation has been shown to contribute to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels and to reduce sugar and carbohydrate cravings. I recommend Lepicol Lighter (£17.99), a new supplement which contains seven strains of live bacteria, chromium, glucomannan and psyllium husk fibres which increase satiety and support healthy bowel movements.

3. Low energy

Glucose is essential for energy production throughout the body, however, it is important to keep blood sugar levels balanced as opposed to experiencing the peaks and troughs that occur when we binge on sugary snacks. Following the consumption of sugar, the pancreas releases insulin to help transfer glucose to the cells, meaning we may experience a rush of energy. Once used up, we can experience a dip in energy as the body demands more sugar to start the cycle all over again. It is not hard to imagine that the higher the sugar peak, the more extreme the sugar dip that will follow.

4. Unexplained bloating

Less desirable bacteria and yeast produce gases when they ferment our undigested food in the colon. Bad bacteria particularly love eating sugars, whereas beneficial bifidobacteria, who love veggies, are not believed to produce any gas. An overproduction of gas can lead to pain after eating, uncomfortable bloating and flatulence.

5. Weakened immune system

Did you know that 70% of our immune system is located in the gut, and supported by beneficial gut bacteria? It's therefore important to keep a balance of good bacteria. A diet high in sugar, however, will feed the less desirable bacteria and yeast and consequently affect how well the immune system functions.

6. Insomnia

Eating sugary foods late at night could lead to a rush in energy at a time when we should be focusing on slowing down and preparing the body to rest. Our 'happy hormone', serotonin is largely produced in the gut and is essential for melatonin production – the 'relaxation' hormone – necessary to aid a good night's sleep. If you're someone who has trouble sleeping, then it might help to reduce the sugar in your diet, and be kinder to your gut.

7. Weight gain

Glucose is a major source of energy for the body, but if it is not used immediately as energy, the body stores excess in the liver, muscles, or as fat around the middle. Glucose storage worked well when we were hunter-gatherers, but nowadays food shortage is rarely a problem so we end up storing more glucose as fat around the middle.

Oct 3rd 2017

For your health and for your wallet, losing weight is always a good choice. But even after months at the gym and plenty of progress, there always seems to be something amiss, an anatomical anomaly which fails to reflect all the hard work that you put in. This, of course, is your gut. Why is it that stomach fat is always so hard to lose?

Cosmopolitan spoke to an expert on the topic, Dr. Luke James, a staffed specialist from the U.K. health insurance company Bupa. Ultimately, a lot of it comes down to the specific type of fat which tends to congregate around your navel, a body fat which is tough to melt away.

“To put it simply: it’s more difficult to shift belly fat because it has a higher amount of fat cells that don’t respond as easily to the fat-breakdown process (lipolysis),' says James.

When it comes to fat, the human body has two types: alpha and beta cells. These two breeds (love) handle your latest workout routine differently due to their designed purpose; alpha cells are designed to restrict blood flow to cells and stymy the fat-burning process, while beta cells increase blood flow and stimulate the fat-burning process.

Someone’s concentration of alpha versus beta cells comes down to genetics, so some people may be more predisposed to weight loss than others. This is by evolutionary design, but when it comes to dropping weight, it can make certain areas slim down quicker than others

“When you’re actively trying to lose fat, you may see changes on your legs, face, and arms first because these areas have more alpha cells,” but eventually, he says, your body will catch up. 'With regular, intense exercise, an increased intake in protein and less sugar in your diet, you should start to notice a change after three months,' he said.

It may be slow going at first, but it ultimately is out of the exerciser’s hands.


We know we shouldn't eat too much sugar; we've been taught it ever since our parents cruelly withheld sweets from us as kids.

'But new research suggests there might be an entirely different reason - unrelated to your weight and the state of your teeth - that we should steer clear of overloading on the sweet stuff.

And it's all to do with our mental health. Interestingly, a recent study has drawn up a potential link between the overconsumption of sugar and the onset of mental health issues like stress and depression.

While it's widely known that eating sugar causes your brain to release dopamine, a chemical which makes you feel good, Insider points to other studies which lead scientists to believe there might be a big downside to a sugary diet when it comes to your emotional health.

A study back in 2016 published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found a link between inflammation in the brain, and having depression or stress. Another piece of research, dating back to 2010, suggested that diets rich in starchy and sugary foods lead to much higher levels of inflammation in the body than diets containing heavy in vegetables and healthy proteins.

So if you put these two bits of information together, it suggests that a high sugar diet could theoretically trigger the onset of depression or high stress. And registered nurse Rebecca Lee confirmed this was likely the case.

"Sugar increases inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain," she told Insider.

While lots more research needs to be carried out into the possible correlation, perhaps it's worth trying to cut down on foods that are high in sugar if you've found yourself experiencing depressive or stressful episodes. Plus, there's the added bonus that eating less sugar is great where your weight is concerned, too.

Oct 1st 2017

In order to lose weight, you need to eat less. It sounds so simple, yet the reason our bellies are overflowing out of our jeans is because we overeat at every meal.

Here's a simple trick to help you eat less without missing out on your favourite foods so you still feel satisfied.

Sit down with your plate or bowl of food — be sure you're actually hungry! — and stop eating when you are 80-percent full. What does 80-percent full mean? Think of it as about a six on the hunger scale: satisfied but not so full that you're tired or so overly stuffed that your belly hurts. This will not only help you eat fewer daily calories, but if you've been suffering from constant belly bloat, this could be the cure!

Eat slowly and stay focused on how your stomach feels after each bite. Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, of Whole Health Nutrition suggests that you can even take a 10-minute break halfway through your meal to assess whether you should continue eating more or be done.

Now the hardest part about this is to actually stop eating once you reach this point of being 80-percent full.

Get the food out of your sight immediately. Don't push the plate away and keep talking with your lunch date or go back to working on your computer.

If the food is there, you'll feel too tempted to start picking at it. Wrap it up and put it in the fridge for later, give it to someone else, or just throw it away. Don't feel bad — it'll do better in the compost than in your belly!

Sept 28th 2017

How long will it take for me to lose weight?

With a range of contributing factors, there is no ‘one size fits all’ formula to losing weight. Your current weight, activity level and diet all play a part in deciphering how much weight you should lose and how long it will take.

In fact, the one factor that really is applicable to all weight loss goals is that they should be approached very carefully.

While, according to the British Dietetics Association (BDA), healthy weight loss can be massively beneficial and help to lower the risk of conditions like type two diabetes and high blood pressure, fast, unsustainable weight loss or trying to lose weight by starving can result in long term health problems.

 How does your body lose weight?

When your body is in calorie deficit, it will begin using fat stores for energy. As this fat store is used, you will gradually lose weight.

So, what counts as ‘healthy weight loss’? Current guidelines say 0.5 to 2 lb a week. This is based on a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories. As one pound of fat contains 3,500 calories, an individual should technically lose 1 lb over seven days.

However, while a well managed calorie deficit is encouraged, a dramatic one can be very harmful. If your intake of food is not sufficient, you are at risk of nutritional deficiencies which can lead to further health problems.

As your body begins using fat stores for energy, you will gradually lose weight.Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

A lack of iron, for example, can result in an iron deficiency and then anemia.

If your body experiences prolonged periods of low energy intake, it will enter starvation mode. In this state, your body may start breaking down muscle for energy, instead of fat.

While you may still notice weight loss on the scales, your body’s lean mass to muscle ratio will be altered in a negative way.

Some crash diets rely on massively reducing carbohydrate intake to produce fast weight loss results. This works by cutting carbohydrates so the body doesn’t need to store excess carbohydrate as glycogen.

Losing excess fat around your stomach and important organs can also reduce the risk of heart disease. Credit: Alamy

It’s all about water weight, says dietitian and BDA spokesperson Chloe Miles. “When you eat carbohydrates, your body stores it as glycogen in the liver and muscle.

"Your muscles store approximately 500g and your liver approximately 100g and it’s thought that every gram of glycogen in the human muscle is bound to 3g of water,” she says.

Because glycogen holds onto water, this in turn means you lose that water too. Dietitians warn against this type of weight loss because it is unsustainable.

What are the health benefits of losing weight?

If you’re overweight then losing weight can reduce the risk of many serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, higher risk of strokes, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and back pain.

A healthy weight loss of between 0.5 and 2lbs every week is sustainable. Credit: Getty Images

Losing excess fat around your stomach and important organs, regardless of whether you are technically overweight or not, can also reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and strokes.

For men, their waist should be below 94cm. For women it should be no more than 80cm.

 How can I lose weight healthily?

Aim to lose up to 2lb a day by making gradual and sustainable changes to your lifestyle. This includes introducing a deficit of 500 calories a day while increasing activity.

The NHS have put together a 12-week diet plan that works towards achieving this realistic weight loss goal. Each week comes with a guide and a food and activity chart so you can monitor your calorie intake and usage.

Other weight loss diet plans that work at changing relationships to food long term to instill lifelong healthy habits include Lighter Life, Slimming World and Weight Watchers.

 How long does it take to lose weight with exercise?

Most know that exercise burns calories, so increasing activity will aid weight loss. Simple changes like taking the stairs, walking some of the way to work and going for a walk of an evening can instill healthy habits for life.

Gradually increasing exercise is the key to maintaining a more active lifestyle, rather than beginning a rigorous regime that’s unsustainable.

The NHS guidelines recommend individuals do 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each day. Credit: Alamy

NHS guidelines specify that you should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking a week. That's 30 minutes a day. Strength exercises should be done twice a week on top of aerobic activity.

Guidelines issued by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend 150-250 minutes per week of moderate exercise for moderate weight loss.

For overweight individuals, their guidelines recommend more than 250 minutes a week.

 Do you need to lose weight?

Calculating your BMI can give you an indication of if you need to lose weight and how much weight you should aim to lose.

Work on the assumption that you will lose within the safe range of 0.5 - 2 lb a week and you can calculate how long it would take you to reach your weight loss goal.

How to | Work out BMI

 How to measure weight loss

While many measure weight loss on the scales, it’s also important to measure your waistline. Losing inches off your waist is good for heart health as it reduces the amount of visceral fat (the fat surrounding your liver, pancreas, intestines).

Reducing the fat around these important organs lessens the risk of Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease.

Sept 22nd 2017

Household chores such as vacuuming or floor scrubbing provide enough exercise to protect the heart and extend life, a study has shown.

Scientists found that 30 minutes of activity per day, or 150 minutes per week, reduced the risk of death from any cause by 28% and rates of heart disease by a fifth.

But it was not necessary to run, swim or work out in the gym, said the researchers writing in The Lancet journal.

Of the more than 130,000 people from 17 countries who took part in the international study, fewer than 3% who achieved high levels of activity did so through leisure pursuits.

In contrast, almost 40% of highly active participants benefited from commuting, having a physical job or domestic chores.

Lead investigator Dr Scott Lear, from McMaster University in Canada, said: “By including low and middle-income countries in this study, we were able to determine the benefit of activities such as active commuting, having an active job or even doing housework.”

He added: “Going to the gym is great, but we only have so much time we can spend there. If we can walk to work, or at lunchtime, that will help too.”

The Pure (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology) study found that if everyone was active for at least 150 minutes per week, 8% of global deaths over seven years would be prevented.

It also showed there appeared to be no ceiling to the health benefits of taking exercise.

People who did more than 750 minutes of brisk walking per week reduced their risk of death by 36%.

Professor Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “In an age where we’re living increasingly busy but often sedentary lives in the west, weaving physical activity into our daily routines has never been more important, not only to improve our physical health but also overall well-being.

“Increased physical activity could have an even greater beneficial impact in lower income countries, due to its low cost and the high incidence of heart disease in those countries.”

Sept 17th 2017

Your body clock could be more responsible for weight gain than you thought, a new study has found.

Different people have different approaches to timing your meals if you want to lose weight or stay healthy.

Some argue you shouldn’t eat less than two hours before bed, and others advocate waiting until lunchtime to eat your first meal of the day, thus giving your body a fasting period overnight.

But little research has been conducted into how our eating habits can be affected by our sleeping patterns - until now.

The study by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, US, has discovered how mealtimes affect your weight gain, based on what time you wake up and go to sleep.

They analysed data from 110 adults aged 18 to 22 to document sleep and circadian behaviours within their regular daily routines.

Using an app, all their food intake was logged for seven consecutive days during their regular daily routines. Body composition and timing of melatonin release (which marks the onset of sleep) was assessed in a laboratory.

The researchers found that the most important thing is to wait a few hours after eating before going to bed, so your body has time to digest.

The participants with the highest body fat percentages consumed most of their calories shortly before bed, when their levels of melatonin were high.

In contrast, those with lower percentages of body fat tended to go to bed a few hours after finishing eating.

Our metabolism is affected by our circadian rhythm, and this varies greatly from person to person, whether due to irregular work shifts or simply natural preference for rising early or staying up late.

“We found that the timing of food intake relative to melatonin onset, a marker of a person’s biological night, is associated with higher percent body fat and BMI, and not associated with the time of day, amount or composition of food intake,” lead author Andrew McHill, Ph.D., researcher with the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at BWH, said.

“These findings suggest that the timing of when you consume calories, relative to your own biological timing may be more important for health than the actual time of day,” he added.

The researchers accepted that university-aged students may not be representative of the population as a whole, but they concluded that the study’s results provide evidence that the consumption of food during the circadian evening plays an important role in body composition.

Aug 31st 2017


Bay State schools are participating in a fundraising program that rewards students for purchasing sugar-laden foods and makes children brand ambassadors for products that contribute to childhood obesity, according to researchers from Harvard and MassGeneral Hospital for Children.

“The bottom line is that while schools and children are participating in this program, it isn’t promoting the best health,” said one of the study’s researchers, MassGeneral’s Chief of General Academic Pediatrics Dr. Elsie Taveras. “The program is leveraging caring parents to promote these unhealthy foods.”

Box Tops for Education, a campaign launched by food company General Mills, gives schools 10 cents for each label that has been clipped from eligible products. But a study published last week in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that fewer than a third of those products — which include high-sugar cereals and Gushers fruit snacks — met nutritional standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Taveras said.

The doctor said she was prompted to take a deeper look at the program when her daughter, who attends elementary school in Brookline, asked to buy a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch at the grocery store so she could take the label to her school.

“She said there was a competition in school, and the class who brought in the most box tops would get a pizza and ice cream party,” Taveras said. “School is an environment where children expect adults are doing the best they can to provide the highest-quality foods. It’s paradoxical.”

Taveras said she still contributes to the program but sticks to the non-food items that qualify, like Ziploc bags.

About 90,000 schools nationwide that raise money through Box Tops for Education. Nearly 2,000 schools in the Bay State, including Boston Latin School and Boston Trinity Academy, take part in the program.

Despite the criticism, General Mills has pointed out the company has reduced sodium in more than 420 of its products by 5 to 25 percent and stresses that Box Tops for Education allows many schools to buy physical education and playground equipment, “which is costly and difficult to fund through other means.”

Aug 10th 2017

The sun's out and holidays are looming - and suddenly supermarket shelves seem to be full of mysterious 'teatox' packages and 'skinny' teas, promising miraculously fast weight loss just in time for the beach. Perhaps you've been tempted - or maybe you've even bought a pack yourself. But here, GP Dr. Louise Newson, who runs a private clinic at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull tells us why they're so dangerous - and why exactly we should steer clear….

1. They're all different

...Making it hard to know what's actually in them. "Detox teas aren't regulated and they're not all the same," explains Dr. Newson. "Some are harmless, but some contain laxatives such as senna, which work by stimulating your colon to contract more than it usually does, forcing out water and waste." And while senna makes you look slimmer temporarily (thanks to losing water weight) there's no impact on actual fat loss, says Dr. Newson, because any calories from food have already been absorbed by this point.

The difficulty comes in working out which teas are safe, and which probably aren't. "As a rule, teas with senna should definitely be avoided," she says. "Senna should only be used for short-term relief of constipation whereas many of these teas recommend use for weeks at a time when constipation isn't a problem - which can be dangerous."

2. Natural doesn't mean 'safe'

Natural = good, right? Not necessarily. "Just because something is labelled 'natural', it doesn't mean it's safe for us to eat or drink," explains Dr. Newson. "None of these products are regulated and manufacturers don't really know the combined effect the ingredients will have on the body.

And don't make the mistake of believing the celebrities advertising it are taking it either. "It's highly unlikely they're using it themselves," Dr. Newson points out.

3. Medication might not be as effective

From thyroid medication to antidepressants - sipping a seemingly innocuous tea could have serious repercussions on medication we're already taking, it turns out. "Laxative teas could interact and stop medications from working, which is incredibly dangerous," says Dr. Newson. If in doubt, it's always worth a quick chat with your GP or medical professional. Better safe than sorry…

4… meaning you could get pregnant

Alongside other medication, widespread accounts of detox teas causing the contraceptive pill to stop working have already hit headlines and according to Dr. Newson, it's worth listening to. "When you suffer from diarrhoea (passing six to eight watery stools in 24 hours) there's a high chance the contraceptive pill hasn't worked because it hasn't been absorbed properly. If in doubt, call your GP to find out the best course of action - you might need to take a replacement pill ASAP."

5. Sleep problems are common

Thanks to most detox teas containing medium to high levels of caffeine (there are links to suggest caffeine can suppress appetite) it's possible your sleep cycle could be affected, too – especially if you rarely drink caffeine normally. It's best to check how much caffeine you're consuming either way – the general advice is that four or five cups of coffee a day is safe (which equals around 400mg of caffeine) although everybody has different tolerances.

6. Your body won't absorb vital nutrients

"The irony is, many people start drinking detox teas to be 'healthy' and 'detox', but the laxative effect means food isn't properly absorbed," explains Dr. Newson. "Going to the toilet too quickly after eating means the gut isn't getting the opportunity to absorb food which means vitamins and minerals aren't being absorbed by the body either." The result? Trying to be 'healthy' has exactly the opposite effect, sadly…

7. Digestive problems are likely, too

"As a doctor, I've seen lots of patients who have abused laxatives as teens experiencing serious constipation when older as a result," says Dr. Newson. "It doesn't take long for laxatives to cause problems if you're using them when you don't need them. As well as affecting the chemicals in the blood (electrolytes) your gut can become lazy as a result, which means you'll need to continue using laxatives long-term and become reliant on them - another problem in itself."

And be wary of anything claiming to 'speed up the metabolism' too, says Dr. Newson. "Anything that speeds up the metabolism is dangerous because when you stop taking it, it can slow the metabolism down," she explains.

8. You probably won't lose weight

"As discussed, detox teas won't actually help you lose weight – they're just a temporary quick-fix which doesn't last," says Dr. Newson. "If you really want to lose weight and improve your health, you're better off looking at your diet – increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, and cutting out processed rubbish – it's a far safer, healthier way of doing it. My rule of thumb is that if you're embarrassed about the diet you're on (and don't want to talk about it to friends, for example) then it's probably not a sensible diet to be on!"

Aug 3rd 2017

Oprah Winfrey is all for accepting your body -- but she has her limits when it comes to her own physique and how it affects her health.

The 63-year-old media mogul gave an interview to The New York Times Magazine for an in-depth story focusing on the changing dieting culture over the years, and discussed her own well-known struggles with her weight. Oprah discussed the movement of women accepting their bodies at any weight, but acknowledged that this thinking doesn't work for her.

"This whole P.C. about accepting yourself as you are -- you should, 100 percent," she says. "[But] for your heart to pump, pump, pump, pump, it needs the least amount of weight possible to do that. So all of the people who are saying, 'Oh, I need to accept myself as I am' -- I can't accept myself if I'm over 200 pounds, because it's too much work on my heart. It causes high blood pressure for me. It puts me at risk for diabetes, because I have diabetes in my family."

According to the magazine, Oprah says she doesn't care if she's never skinny again, but rather, that she feels as if she has control. Oprah shares that she decided to get involved in Weight Watchers in 2015 -- which uses a point system that assigns points to foods based on their caloric and nutritional content -- to be more conscious of her eating. She admits she used eating as a way to deal with stress during the height of her career though she wasn't aware of it, eating bags of potato chips instead of confronting emotions.

"It's a mechanism to keep myself on track that brings a level of consciousness and awareness to my eating," she explains about Weight Watchers. "It actually is, for me, mindful eating, because the points are so ingrained now."

"In the particular moment in time that I got the call, I was desperate: What's going to work? I've tried all of the green juices and protein shakes, and let's do a cleanse, and all that stuff," she adds. "That doesn't work. It doesn't last. What is going to be consistent, keep me conscious and mindful?"

However, Oprah acknowledges that people have to find what works for them.

"I used to say this to my producers all the time. We are never going to win with this show looking back to see what other people are doing on their shows," she says. "The only way you win is to keep looking forward for yourself. What's best for you?"

ET spoke to Oprah last July at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, where she explained that she doesn't actually have a goal weight in mind.

"It's a feeling where you get to the point where [you think], 'Oh, I can go to the store, I can pick that size, it's available, I don't have to, like, have it altered and all that stuff,'" she explained. "So I'll know when I'm there."

July 31st 2017


They are rich in fibre, alpha-linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), manganese, biotin and other health-boosting nutrients, and now a study suggests that the humble walnut could promote gut health. Research published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggests that walnuts make beneficial changes to gut bacteria.

The researchers added walnuts to the diet of rodents, while another group's diet contained none of the nuts. After measuring the numbers and types of bacteria in the colon, the team discovered that the bacteria had changed in the walnut-eating rodents. Not only did the functional capacity change, but there was an increase in good bacteria.

According to Medical Xpress, Dr Lauri Byerley Associate Professor of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine noted: "We found that walnuts in the diet increased the diversity of bacteria in the gut, and other non-related studies have associated less bacterial diversity with obesity and other diseases like inflammatory bowel disease… Walnuts increased several bacteria, like Lactobacillus, typically associated with probiotics suggesting walnuts may act as a prebiotic."

NetDoctor's nutritionist Naomi Mead explains that prebiotics are foods that feed the 'good' bacteria in the gut, and include foods such as onion, garlic, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), lentils and beans. "A plant-based diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables nourishes a healthy gut microbiome," she says.

Dr Byerley added that greater diversity of bacteria in the gut is increasingly being associated with an improvement of overall health outcomes.

Walnuts have previously been linked to an improvement in colon health.

While further research is needed before any conclusions can be drawn, walnuts are a great addition to a healthy diet. Try adding them to breakfast cereal or porridge, smoothies, soups or salads.

July 28th 2017

By now, we all know that sugary drinks are bad for you, but it turns out that consuming them alongside one particular type of meal could be disastrous for your waistline...

That's according to a new study published in the journal BMC Nutrition, which says that having a sweetened beverage with high-protein foods can increase how much fat you store, Business Insider reports.

Researchers from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Grand Forks Human Nutrition Center in America looked at 27 individuals over two days to test whether adding a sugary drink to a meal affects the way the body stores fat.

And it turns out that combining protein-rich foods with a sweet drink is a big no-no...

On the day when participants consumed a high-protein meal with a sugary drink their fat oxidation – the process that breaks down fat molecules – slowed down by eight per cent.

'We found that about a third of the additional calories provided by the sugar-sweetened drinks were not expended, fat metabolism was reduced, and it took less energy to metabolise the meals. This decreased metabolic efficiency may "prime" the body to store more fat,' said study author Dr Shanon Casperson.

Even worse, scientists found that this particular combination seems to make you crave more unhealthy food just a few hours after eating...

'We were surprised by the impact that the sugar-sweetened drinks had on metabolism when they were paired with higher-protein meals,' Dr Casperson added. 'This combination also increased study subjects' desire to eat savoury and salty foods for four hours after eating.

'Our findings suggest that having a sugar-sweetened drink with a meal impacts both sides of the energy balance equation,' she concluded.

While the study was only small, and further research is needed, we reckon this is further proof that it's time to quit your fizzy drink habit for good!

July 19th 2017

Consuming food and drink containing artificial sweeteners could lead to weight gain and heighten the risk of suffering from health issues including diabetes, scientists claim.

A large-scale study on the effects of the sugar substitute found it can potentially negatively impact on a person's metabolism, gut bacteria and appetite.

Sweeteners are widely used as a low-kilojoule alternative to sugar, but researchers fear its perceived slimming abilities have been overblown.

Instead it could lead to relatively increased threats of developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity, the study claims.

But the findings were dismissed by industry bosses, who said the no-kilojoule ingredient had been "deemed safe" by health regulators across the world.

Scientists from the University of Manitoba, Canada, reviewed 37 studies following more than 400,000 people for an average of 10 years to unpick the realities behind artificial sweeteners.

They found that scientific evidence does "not clearly support" its intended weight-loss benefits, one author of the paper, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, said.

Ryan Zarychanski, a professor from the Canadian institution, said: "Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products."

Evidence about the benefits and drawbacks of sweeteners was conflicting, however, the study said.

Lead author Meghan Azad said: "Caution is warranted until the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are fully characterised.

"Given the widespread and increasing use of artificial sweeteners, and the current epidemic of obesity and related diseases, more research is needed to determine the long-term risks and benefits of these products."

June 22nd 2017

WARNING: This article contains discussion of eating disorders and caution is recommended

Experts are warning about the dangerous consequences of a weight loss method known as the 'Sleeping Beauty' diet.

The basic premise behind the fad, which has been embraced by some 'pro-anorexia' blogs, is that if you are sleeping more, you will not be awake to eat. It's a worrying idea and according to a recent report by Broadly, some women have been taking this diet to the extreme by taking sedatives to sleep for abnormally long periods of time – in some cases up to 20 hours per day.

One simple and relatively moderate version of the diet was populated by sleep expert Dr Michael Breus in his 2012 book 'The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep'. In the book, 7-9 hours of sleep are encouraged and followers of the diet should not drink caffeine or alcohol near bedtime or exercise within four hours of sleeping.

Since then, some 'pro-ana' websites, where some sufferers consult and encourage each other on their eating disorders, have been discussing why they sleep to avoid eating. Some have talked of taking strong pain killers to "dope themselves out" and curb hunger while others explained the 'Sleeping Beauty diet' is where you take sedatives so you sleep for days and don't eat.

Users on the forums have spoken about trying to sleep all weekend in order to avoid eating or being monitored by their families. Others have discussed taking sleeping pills so that they would not binge or purge – which are signs of binge eating disorder and bulimia.

"Anyone worried about themselves or someone they know should seek advice."

Linia Patel, a dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietician Association, has warned that following the diet to this extreme is dangerous and could even result in death.

"The sad reality is that sleeping for several days straight won't make thinner," she told Cosmopolitan. "If you do manage to wake up two pounds lighter you will wake up being potentially addicted to sedative pills which is not good news. Being addicted to sedative pills means one day you might not wake up at all. This diet has not been proven to be a safe and effective way to help weight loss by any means. If abused it would lead to death."

But it might not cause weight loss

Patel also said that the premise behind the diet may not even contribute to weight loss at all. While it is true that there have been previous studies linking sleep deprivation to obesity, there have been others suggesting oversleeping can do the same.

"One study showed that people who slept for 9 – 10 hours a night were 21% more likely to become obese," she explained. "Oversleeping has been linked to a number of medical problems such as heart disease and diabetes as well as an increased risk of death."

Although Dr Breus made a link between sleep and dieting in his 2012 book, he said his idea has now been taken to the "extreme".

"Research shows that when the body is sleep deprived the hormonal imbalance produced between leptin and ghrelin can cause weight gain," he explained to Cosmopolitan. "So one idea was that if you have insomnia, and use a pill to help with sleep, it should keep your metabolism moving."

Dr Breus continued: "In the Broadly article, the idea has been taken to the extreme, where an individual will sleep longer than needed to avoid food, or to continue to fast. The idea that people are being prescribed sleep aids to be used to sleep longer to avoid food, is clearly an abuse of the prescription. Physicians with patients who have these types of food issues need to be clear with their patients about this form of prescription abuse."

"Sleep is important to manage stress and obesity, but too much sleep can also be harmful."

While lots of people experiment with all kinds of diets for weight loss, there have been a number of seemingly extreme diets emerge from the industry which can be dangerous. Just last week, Australian media were reporting on a new craze which involved people injecting themselves with pregnancy hormones.

Everything in moderation is key (even sleep)

If somebody is vulnerable to an eating disorder then the constant bombardment and advertisements of diet plans and products can make the likelihood of the disorder developing increase. A spokesperson for the eating disorder charity B-eat told Cosmopolitan that while the diet industry is unlikely to be the sole reason of the development of an eating disorder, they may "exacerbate the problem or be a contributing factor" for somebody already at risk.

"If someone has become obsessive about what they're eating or appears to be going to extremes in order to lose weight, it could be a sign that they are developing or have developed an eating disorder," the representative said. "It's important in that case that they seek treatment as soon as possible, as this will give them the best chance of recovery. Anyone worried about themselves or someone they know should seek advice from a doctor at the earliest opportunity."

Essentially, when it comes to being healthy, the same rule of everything in moderation still applies, even with sleep.

"Getting enough sleep is important to manage stress and obesity, but too much sleep can also be harmful, " Patel says. "If you want to lose weight then please find and see a registered Dietitian or Nutritionist. They will be able to advise you on how to lose weight in a safe and effective way and how to keep it off."

* If you, or someone you know, are worried about disordered eating, contact B-eat 365 days a year 3pm-10pm on 0808 801 0677 or any time on help@b-eat.co.uk

June 15th 2017

Diet sodas get plenty of heat for being unhealthy, even causing weight gain despite containing zero calories, but a new study found that drinking artificially sweetened beverages while pregnant can actually make your children heavy.

Researchers looked at data from 1996 to 2002 collected in the Danish National Birth Cohort study, which compiled long-term research from 92,000 pregnant woman living in Denmark. In this original study, participants completed a questionnaire about diets after being pregnant six months. Children’s weight was also captured at the time of birth and again at 7 years old. In the new study, researchers looked at 900 pregnancies where the mother was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a condition only pregnant woman receive.

About nine percent of the participants consumed at least one artificially sweetened drink per day. The team found that their kids had a 60 percent chance of being heavier at birth, compared to moms who never drank these beverages. At seven years old, these kids were almost twice as likely to have weight problems, according to a release on ScienceDaily.

While many often think that fake sugar is better than real sugar, researchers found no advantages to drinking a beverage using a substitute over the real thing.

"Our findings suggest that artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy are not likely to be any better at reducing the risk for later childhood obesity than sugar-sweetened beverages," said study co-author Cuilin Zhang, Ph.D., in a statement. "Not surprisingly, we also observed that children born to women who drank water instead of sweetened beverages were less likely to be obese by age 7."

Babies of moms who included real sugar and sugar substitute drinks into their diets had equal chances of being obese or overweight. Moms who only drank water reduced their kid’s risk of obesity by 17 percent.

The team couldn’t determine why this occurred, but cited a study suggesting that artificial sweeteners caused the intestines to absorb blood sugar glucose, however that study was conducted in animals.

As with most scientific studies, there are other pieces of research which state that using sugar substitutes are totally fine. Vice explored the reason behind the discrepancies in a story earlier this year and found that the conflicting research is partially due to the prevalence of studies funded by food makers.

"Right now, the simple answer is this is science versus the food industry," Robert Lustig, neuroendocrinologist at the University of California, told Vice.

Another researcher, Kristina Rother, chief of the National Institutes of Health’s division of pediatric diabetes, told Vice that many are surprised to hear that something without calories could make them fat.

"A lot of people were like, 'Kristina, are you saying something with no calories can cause weight gain?'" she explained to Vice of the reactions she receives. "It was like I was challenging the law of thermodynamics."

Rother has published numerous studies on the subject and tells the website that sugar substitutes are not exactly guilt-free.

"I'm not blaming artificial sweeteners for America's obesity epidemic, but I think they're a part of it," she said.

Related: Diet Soda Increases Risk Of Stroke And Dementia (Provided by Wochit News)

June 14th 2017

WARNING: This article contains discussion of eating disorders and caution is recommended

Experts are warning about the dangerous consequences of a weight loss method known as the 'Sleeping Beauty' diet.

The basic premise behind the fad, which has been embraced by some 'pro-anorexia' blogs, is that if you are sleeping more, you will not be awake to eat. It's a worrying idea and according to a recent report by Broadly, some women have been taking this diet to the extreme by taking sedatives to sleep for abnormally long periods of time – in some cases up to 20 hours per day.

One simple and relatively moderate version of the diet was populated by sleep expert Dr Michael Breus in his 2012 book 'The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep'. In the book, 7-9 hours of sleep are encouraged and followers of the diet should not drink caffeine or alcohol near bedtime or exercise within four hours of sleeping.

Since then, some 'pro-ana' websites, where some sufferers consult and encourage each other on their eating disorders, have been discussing why they sleep to avoid eating. Some have talked of taking strong pain killers to "dope themselves out" and curb hunger while others explained the 'Sleeping Beauty diet' is where you take sedatives so you sleep for days and don't eat.

Users on the forums have spoken about trying to sleep all weekend in order to avoid eating or being monitored by their families. Others have discussed taking sleeping pills so that they would not binge or purge – which are signs of binge eating disorder and bulimia.

"Anyone worried about themselves or someone they know should seek advice."

Linia Patel, a dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietician Association, has warned that following the diet to this extreme is dangerous and could even result in death.

"The sad reality is that sleeping for several days straight won't make thinner," she told Cosmopolitan. "If you do manage to wake up two pounds lighter you will wake up being potentially addicted to sedative pills which is not good news. Being addicted to sedative pills means one day you might not wake up at all. This diet has not been proven to be a safe and effective way to help weight loss by any means. If abused it would lead to death."

But it might not cause weight loss

Patel also said that the premise behind the diet may not even contribute to weight loss at all. While it is true that there have been previous studies linking sleep deprivation to obesity, there have been others suggesting oversleeping can do the same.

"One study showed that people who slept for 9 – 10 hours a night were 21% more likely to become obese," she explained. "Oversleeping has been linked to a number of medical problems such as heart disease and diabetes as well as an increased risk of death."

Although Dr Breus made a link between sleep and dieting in his 2012 book, he said his idea has now been taken to the "extreme".

"Research shows that when the body is sleep deprived the hormonal imbalance produced between leptin and ghrelin can cause weight gain," he explained to Cosmopolitan. "So one idea was that if you have insomnia, and use a pill to help with sleep, it should keep your metabolism moving."

Dr Breus continued: "In the Broadly article, the idea has been taken to the extreme, where an individual will sleep longer than needed to avoid food, or to continue to fast. The idea that people are being prescribed sleep aids to be used to sleep longer to avoid food, is clearly an abuse of the prescription. Physicians with patients who have these types of food issues need to be clear with their patients about this form of prescription abuse."

"Sleep is important to manage stress and obesity, but too much sleep can also be harmful."

While lots of people experiment with all kinds of diets for weight loss, there have been a number of seemingly extreme diets emerge from the industry which can be dangerous. Just last week, Australian media were reporting on a new craze which involved people injecting themselves with pregnancy hormones.

But it might not cause weight loss

Patel also said that the premise behind the diet may not even contribute to weight loss at all. While it is true that there have been previous studies linking sleep deprivation to obesity, there have been others suggesting oversleeping can do the same.

"One study showed that people who slept for 9 – 10 hours a night were 21% more likely to become obese," she explained. "Oversleeping has been linked to a number of medical problems such as heart disease and diabetes as well as an increased risk of death."

Although Dr Breus made a link between sleep and dieting in his 2012 book, he said his idea has now been taken to the "extreme".

"Research shows that when the body is sleep deprived the hormonal imbalance produced between leptin and ghrelin can cause weight gain," he explained to Cosmopolitan. "So one idea was that if you have insomnia, and use a pill to help with sleep, it should keep your metabolism moving."

Dr Breus continued: "In the Broadly article, the idea has been taken to the extreme, where an individual will sleep longer than needed to avoid food, or to continue to fast. The idea that people are being prescribed sleep aids to be used to sleep longer to avoid food, is clearly an abuse of the prescription. Physicians with patients who have these types of food issues need to be clear with their patients about this form of prescription abuse."

"Sleep is important to manage stress and obesity, but too much sleep can also be harmful."

While lots of people experiment with all kinds of diets for weight loss, there have been a number of seemingly extreme diets emerge from the industry which can be dangerous. Just last week, Australian media were reporting on a new craze which involved people injecting themselves with pregnancy hormones.

Everything in moderation is key (even sleep)

If somebody is vulnerable to an eating disorder then the constant bombardment and advertisements of diet plans and products can make the likelihood of the disorder developing increase. A spokesperson for the eating disorder charity B-eat told Cosmopolitan that while the diet industry is unlikely to be the sole reason of the development of an eating disorder, they may "exacerbate the problem or be a contributing factor" for somebody already at risk.

"If someone has become obsessive about what they're eating or appears to be going to extremes in order to lose weight, it could be a sign that they are developing or have developed an eating disorder," the representative said. "It's important in that case that they seek treatment as soon as possible, as this will give them the best chance of recovery. Anyone worried about themselves or someone they know should seek advice from a doctor at the earliest opportunity."

Essentially, when it comes to being healthy, the same rule of everything in moderation still applies, even with sleep. 

"Getting enough sleep is important to manage stress and obesity, but too much sleep can also be harmful, " Patel says. "If you want to lose weight then please find and see a registered Dietitian or Nutritionist. They will be able to advise you on how to lose weight in a safe and effective way and how to keep it off."

* If you, or someone you know, are worried about disordered eating, contact B-eat 365 days a year 3pm-10pm on 0808 801 0677 or any time on help@b-eat.co.uk

June 12th 2017

Trying to lose a few pounds before the summer "officially" hits? That's probably a struggle that many of us go through every single year. If you have tried to lose weight at any point of your life, then I bet you have heard of following claim - spicy food helps you lose weight. A lot of you have probably tried it, too. Now you are either recollecting the time when you did, or seriously doubting if this is real science. Especially for those of you who loathed spicy food your entire lives, does it really worth it to venture down this road? Does spicy food really help you lose weight? Well, let's find out.

Boosting Your Metabolism?

One of the most commonly recognised and supported arguments is that eating spicy food raises your body temperature and therefore boosts your metabolism. Generally, the increase in body temperature after eating spicy food is associated with a chemical compound called "capsaicin." While the exact mechanism remains unclear, what scientists do know is that capsaicin excites the receptors in our skin which normally respond to heat, causing physical reactions such as burning and sweating. However, hold your applause there for a minute. Even though spicy food increases your metabolism, it does so at a rate ever so slightly - about 8 percent, and only temporarily - that the effect is almost negligible.

So is that a "no?" Not quite yet. Despite the disappointing findings, scientists did not give up there. On the contrary, they presented the next argument - spicy food helps reduce appetite. It appears that the same chemical and burning sensation as mentioned above tend to suppress appetite and curb cravings. More specifically, in a study conducted at Purdue University, those who did not consume spicy meals regularly ate 60 fewer calories when red pepper was added to their soup. So the pain may not be so bad after all.

Moreover, many researchers have studied the effect of capsaicin on the fat-burning process. According to a study completed by researches at the University of Wyoming, dietary capsaicin suppresses obesity induced by high-fat diets - in mice. In other words, for those of you on a high-fat diet, spicy food will prevent weight gain to a certain extent. In fact, multiple studies conducted in a similar manner produced positive results. It's reasonable to conclude that eating spicy food does lead to less fat gain, possibly even more effective fat-burning.Are you fully convinced by the arguments yet? If not, there is more to come. Aside from helping you lose weight, spicy food has other health benefits that should not be ignored. A study conducted from 2004 to 2008 that tracked 20,224 people over a 7-year period produced data suggested a lower risk of premature deaths for those who ate spicy food six to seven times per week. The difference was as large as 14%. Capsaicin intake is also widely researched for its potential cancer-fighting properties, as the compound seems to play a significant role in killing cancer cells.

The last thing you need to know before heading out on your spicy food adventure is that despite all these health benefits, capsaicin is a blood thinner. However, this should only be a concern to the people taking medications like warfarin. So just be careful how much red pepper you are eating and don't go crazy!

After all, we should return to the initial question, does spicy food help you lose weight? Simply put, it can, though only to a certain extent. You might be disappointed by this answer, but relying on spicy food as a shortcut to weight loss is probably not the best idea. That being said, spicy food does have many other health benefits that you should not ignore. So unless you absolutely loathe red peppers, go get spiced up!

June 7th 2017

A promising new weight-loss procedure may be a safe and effective way to help people who want to lose 40 pounds or more.

A promising new weight-loss procedure may be a safe and effective way to help people who want to lose 40 pounds or more, but want to avoid drastic obesity surgery.

The innovative, surgery-free method helped patients drop close to 18 percent of their body weight, researchers reported last month.

"It's like a glorified sewing machine," says gastroenterologist Dr. Reem Sharaiha of New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, who led the study.

"There are a series of sutures going from one part of the stomach to the bottom of the stomach all the way to the top. No scars, no cuts. You are asleep, like going to the dentist to pull your teeth out."

Her team found that the accordion procedure helped patients, on average, lose 17.6 percent of their weight and nearly 27 inches from around their waists. The BMIs of the 91 patients who underwent the procedure between 2013 and 2016 decreased from 40.7 — considered morbidly obese — to a BMI of 32. The results were published in the May Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

The minimally invasive, non-surgery procedure involves using an endoscopic tube with a camera attached that goes down the mouth into the esophagus and lets a gastroenterologist see inside the stomach.

The doctors sews stitches in the stomach to pull it tight and make it smaller without making any cuts. Over time a patient's weight loss can plateau, but doctors can go back and re-tighten the stomach, leading to more pounds shed. After the procedure, post-op recovery involves a liquid diet for two weeks.

New York resident Jaheidi Fonseca, 31, was having trouble losing weight after having three children. Two-years ago Fonseca tipped the scale at 219 pounds, trying everything from diet pills to protein shakes to shed the weight — without success.

"It was incremental, after I had my first child I gained weight that never came off, having two other children I just kept gaining and harder for me to lose," Fonseca, a medical technician, told NBC News. "I wasn't on the right track to start losing weight."

After seeing her fellow colleagues lose weight, Fonseca met with a gastroenterologist who recommended the endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG), also called the accordian procedure.

Obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) over 30, affects 78.6 million Americans — more than one-third of U.S. adults, according to the National Institutes of Health.

This procedure is meant for people with type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, unhealthy cholesterol and a BMI of less than 40.

The study's early results show that the accordion procedure is safe, effective and less expensive than surgery for people who have been unable to lose weight through lifestyle changes, said Dr. Stacy Bethauer, president of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, who was not involved in the study.

"While it may not be as effective as surgery, it has fewer complications and may be the ideal treatment for patients with less severe obesity," said Brethaur. "Like any weight loss treatment, endoscopic procedures should be done as part of a multidisciplinary weight management program that can help each patient determine the best option for them."

Dr. Scott Kahan, a weight loss expert at the Obesity Society and George Washington University Medical Center, sees promise in the procedure since it can be offered to a wider group of people. "This procedure includes patients with BMI over 30, whereas traditional bariatric surgery is usually only offered to people with a BMI of at least 35," Kahan, who was also not involved in the study, told NBC News.

Currently, the procedure costs between $10,000-$15,000 and insurance coverage is limited. However, with more studies coming in, the accordion procedure could be covered. One limiting factor is accessibility, since approximately 25 centers in the U.S. currently perform this procedure, Sharaiha said.

After the 40-minute procedure, Fonseca went home the same day and the pounds came off and continued to drop. She lost nearly 60 pounds and found the stamina to start exercising and eating better.

"You see the weight loss right away," Fonseca said. "Three days later you start feeling different and you start seeing changes little by little, day by day. You just lose more and that's the best thing the best feeling ever. I wanted to make a change for me."

7th June 2017

J.D. Roth is once again on a mission to help people lose weight, starting with former contestants of The Biggest Loser who regained the hundreds of pounds they dropped on the show.

The former executive producer of The Biggest Loser is back with a new show, The Big Fat Truth, and he kicks off the series by following up with his former contestants.

"I feel badly that some people from the show went back to some bad decision making patterns and gained the weight back, and felt ashamed," Roth tells PEOPLE. "Here they are, they won the lottery and got on the show and lost all the weight and then gained it back."

Roth says that examining their experience can help people lose weight for good.

"What can we learn from someone who lost 200 lbs. and gained back? What emotional hurdle could they not get over that another contestant who lost 200 lbs. and kept it off was able to do? I wanted to compare the differences, and get these people back on track," he says.

Roth dismisses the theory presented in the headline-making study published in The New York Times, which followed former contestants and found that their metabolism is permanently damaged by the extreme weight loss tactics on the show.

"I cancelled my subscription that day. Not only did they not call the creator of the show [Roth], but they also never compared the people who gained the weight back on The Biggest Loser with the ones who kept it off. If they had shown the science, that the metabolism of the people who kept the weight off, has the same issue as the people who gained the weight back, that would be interesting," he says.

Roth believes it comes down to their mindset, and those that regained the weight weren’t able to let go of their former self.

He cites the first-ever winner, Ryan Benson - who will be on The Big Fat Truth - as one example.

"He said, ‘I collected my check for $250,000, went straight to my favorite hamburger place, and never looked back.’ So for him, he never made the emotional commitment to really want to change," Roth says.

"And for every contestant it’s different. Life gets in the way sometimes, and they can’t keep up with the good decision-making they were doing before. And for some of them, I think they never solved those emotional problems. It’s always going to be there, but you have to figure out how to get past it."

Roth - who readily admits that he has no background in science or medicine - says the researchers needed to perform a double-blind study for him to be convinced that the show damaged contestants’ metabolisms.

"Everyone needs to see both sides of that story. And if it’s true, and you do a double-blind study and you compare it to the 50 percent of people who lost weight on The Biggest Loser and kept it off, then it’s even more interesting if it’s true. So I’m willing to learn," he says.

Roth says he would "love" to redo the study, but for now he’s content to help the former contestants - along with moms, type 2 diabetics, nurses and more - on his new show.

"For the last 15 years, I’ve been kind of at the forefront of the weight loss genre in television, and I love it," he says. "I love watching people transform in front of my eyes, I love watching the human spirit take hold, and watching a person find themselves again. It’s always been about more than weight loss."

The Big Fat Truth premieres Sunday, June 11 at 8 p.m. ET on Z Living

This article was originally published on PEOPLE.com

April 18th 2017

"For years, we were told that fat was the mortal enemy," said Elissa Goodman, holistic nutritionist and lifestyle cleanse expert. And it's true. We've lived by this idea that eating fat would in turn make us fat. "That has changed over the past two decades as more research has been publicized about the detriment of sugar on our well-being."

Nutritionist Cara Clark agrees - "Live by the phrase, fat doesn't make you fat, sugar does!" All those years we've been demonizing fat? We've been ignoring a larger problem at hand: sugar.

Sugar can be dangerous for a number of reasons. According to Clark, it can be worse than some drugs, mostly because it's legal, available, and people in general are not as educated about the ramifications of sugar addiction. "There are many reasons I believe that sugar is worse for you than fat," she said. "It overstimulates the pleasure or reward center of the brain, which creates the addiction. Like other addictive substances, it creates withdrawal symptoms when trying to break the habit. Think headaches, nervousness, other cravings, mood changes."

Physiologically, sugar impacts many aspects of your health. We only need a certain amount of energy from glucose (sugar), and if we have too much, "then the excess is stored in our liver and turned into fat cells to use in the future," said Clark. So, the sugar literally becomes stored fat in your body. Clark said, "If we don't use those fat cells, we have the potential to continue storing and storing and storing - and that's what causes obesity, which can lead to hundreds of health issues!"

Unlike fat - which is an essential macronutrient our body actually needs, "Our body doesn't need any added sugar," says Lori Zanini, RD, CDE. "All quality carbohydrates (fresh fruit, whole grains, legumes, sweet potatoes, etc.) will eventually break down to sugar in our bloodstream; they also deliver essential nutrients to our body, which is the difference."

"Fat serves a purpose in the body," said Goodman, "whereas added and refined sugars do not. Healthy fats provide essential fatty acids that are important for balancing hormones, proper nervous system function, and healthy vessels and heart. Fat also helps us absorb (fat soluble) vitamins." Think of that the next time you opt for a fat-free salad dressing! You actually need a little bit to help you get the nutrients from your veggies.

Additionally, Goodman told POPSUGAR "Healthy fats are essential to your health, they're needed to prevent illness and disease." Zanini seconded this, saying that good kinds of fat can help with weight loss and fight off life-threatening health risks. "Healthy fat keeps us feeling satisfied after meals, and research has shown improves insulin sensitivity and increased good HDL cholesterol, which lowers risk of heart disease."

But not all fat is good fat - and that's important to keep in mind. Zanini said, "When it comes to fat, it's all about the type of fat, not necessarily the amount," she said. Clark warned that "saturated fat should be limited, and trans-fat should be avoided! These are the two that can cause high cholesterol." Goodman cited "avocado, coconut, ghee, olive oil, seeds, and nuts" as good sources of fat in her diet, and credits those foods for her weight maintenance, energy, strong immune system, and great thyroid health.

"You can avoid the whole fat or sugar debate by focusing on eating real, whole foods," said Goodman. "Whole foods provide the types of sugars and fats that your body can use and process naturally."

April 12th 2017

Two in five people say they have experienced ‘fat bias’ from within the NHS, according to a new survey.

The findings, released to coincide with new BBC documentary ‘Obesity: How Prejudiced is the NHS?’, found that a significant proportion of people had experienced negative attitudes from parts of the NHS because of their weight.

One person said doctors always linked their health issues, regardless of what they were, back to their weight, which made them reluctant to go back and see them.

Another said they’d been made to feel “lazy” by medical staff.

As part of the documentary, which airs on BBC 2 on 11 April at 9pm, Professor Rachel Batterham, head of the obesity services at University College Hospital and a research scientist, explored whether there is ‘fat prejudice’ against obese patients within parts of the NHS that is stopping them accessing a potentially cost effective surgery, even when recent scientific research supports it.

Professor Batterham said she considers obesity to be a disease that needs specialist treatment, including weight-loss surgery, whereas many others contend that it is a lifestyle choice.

As such, she met with several NHS patients who were denied life-changing bariatric surgery and other routine operations.

According to the NHS, bariatric surgery is a surgical procedure and “should only be considered for selected patients where the full range of other weight management approaches have been considered, with expert support, but have not been successful”.

Professor Batterham also spoke to others who have tried to use the NHS weight management services, with one admitting it actually resulted in her gaining two stone.

From a survey of 993 people, 43% agreed that they had experienced ‘fat bias’, with one person saying they were treated as a “second class citizen by the NHS”.

One quarter (25%) of participants said their GPs had referred them to NHS weight management or healthy living services.

Nearly a fifth (18%) said they had been refused a NHS service due to their weight, which included a range of procedures from fertility treatment, knee and hip operations, hernia removal, kidney transplant and treatment for varicose veins.

Several respondents said GPs and nurses would always refer back to their weight when discussing medical conditions.

One individual said: “No matter what ailment I go to my GP with - my skin condition or my back problem - she always brings it right back to my weight.”

Another added: “[I] Feel like I won’t get any further with any medical issues because of my weight.”

“Dismissive attitudes” from medical staff also arose as an issue. One person said health professionals treated them “as if they didn’t understand things” and added: “You feel worthless and come away feeling very depressed.”

In response to the survey’s findings, an NHS England spokesperson told The Huffington Post UK: “Ultimately these are legally decisions for Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), but informed by best evidence and national guidance where appropriate.”

Tackling obesity and diabetes is one of the biggest healthcare challenges of our time and the number of people being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are rising.

The NHS launched a ‘Healthier You’ programme to help promote awareness of, and ultimately prevent, diabetes. As of now, it offers services across half of the country and by 2020 expects that up to 100,000 people a year will be referred and offered intensive support to help avoid developing Type 2 diabetes.

April 5th 2017

Your beach body is waiting.

In his work with celebrity clients with last names like Kardashian and Hemsworth, nutritionist Philip Goglia must meet high demands – and fast. A trio of actresses, for instance, recently called on Goglia to help whip them into tip-top shape for leading roles in action adventure films. So he put them on strict eating plans – and watched their body fat percentages drop by more than 10 percent in just six weeks.

"They are as focused as any elite pro athlete I work with," says Goglia, co-founder of G-Plans, an online nutrition platform catered to users' metabolic type, who's based in Santa Monica, California.

Other folks may desire such dramatic results but lack the personalized nutrition advice, access to elite training facilities and time to commit to a strict diet and exercise regimen – not to mention a job that depends on physical perfection. "It's not realistic to think that people can [achieve what they see on TV] at home," says Cheryl Forberg, the nutritionist for the NBC reality show "The Biggest Loser," who lives in Kelseyville, California. "It's [participants'] full-time jobs; they're really working out for hours literally every day."

Still, noticeable body changes are entirely possible in two months – even for laypeople, experts say. For example, aiming to lose as many as 15 pounds is "doable," Forberg says, depending on your current weight and motivation level, and assuming you include exercise in your plan. Goglia says cutting more than 1 percent body fat per week is achievable too – "if you find religion with your food pattern" or comply more than 80 percent of the time.

So whether you're counting down to a beach vacation, saying "I do" in a summer wedding or simply striving for more poolside confidence, here are five simple diet changes you can begin making today:

Would you rather carry around some breath mints or carry around some extra weight? If you prefer the mints, use them to chase meals with garlic and onion – two of Goglia's picks for best spring weight-loss foods since they both contain minerals and oils that help break down fat deposits and speed up metabolism, he says. (Eat the onions raw, he adds, to maximize these benefits.) Fish high in omega fatty acids like salmon, black cod, arctic char and sea bass are also worth their stink – especially if you eat them for dinner, Goglia says. "The result is a deeper sleep, increased growth hormone release and reduction of inflammation," he says.

Advice to drink plenty of water – Goglia recommends chugging up to 1 ounce per pound of body weight daily – isn't new, but it bears repeating since people aiming to lose weight often don't heed it, Forberg says. "They don't realize how incredibly helpful that could be to help them lose weight," she says. Why? Because drinking water before and during meals can help fill you up – or help you realize that you're actually thirsty rather than hungry. What's more, as you amp up your fiber intake via fruit and vegetables, you'll need more water to help flush it all through. "It helps to cleanse you from the inside out," Stoler says. Water, too, is an ideal substitute for calorie-laden, blood sugar–affecting drinks including booze, many juices and soda. Though research on the topic is mixed, Goglia recommends also avoiding diet soda: "In many cases," he says, "the use of diet soda stimulates unwanted sugar cravings."

If you think you're eating healthier but not seeing results, keep an honest food journal to keep you accountable and prevent you from mindless eating, Forberg suggests. Indeed, one study of 1,700 people showed that people who kept food diaries lost twice as much weight as people who didn't. Forberg recommends writing down activities like meal prep and exercise in a calendar, too. Try, for example, setting aside some time on Sundays to chop vegetables to snack on all week, says Forberg, a self-proclaimed "grazer" who keeps out bowls of vegetables like Brussels sprouts and broccoli to promote responsible munching. "If you really want to prioritize health and weight … you really need to write it down in your calendar – just like a conference call," she says. "Treat it with that kind of priority."

March 20th 2017

A South American tribe with a highly active lifestyle has the healthiest arteries of any population yet studied, say researchers.

The Tsimane people, who live in the Bolivian Amazon, spend most of every day hunting, fishing, farming and gathering wild fruits and nuts, and follow a carbohydrate-based diet containing little protein and fat.

Scientists who examined hundreds of men and women from the group found that almost nine out of 10 had clear arteries showing no risk of heart disease.

Even in old age most remained in astonishingly good health.

Almost two thirds of people aged over 75 were nearly risk free and just eight per cent had a moderate-to-high risk level.

One 80-year-old had arteries resembling those of Americans in their mid-fifties.

The American lead scientist, Professor Hillard Kaplan, from the University of New Mexico, said: "Our study shows that the Tsimane indigenous South Americans have the lowest prevalence of coronary atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) of any population yet studied.

"Their lifestyle suggests that a diet low in saturated fats and high in non-processed fibre-rich carbohydrates, along with wild game and fish, not smoking and being active throughout the day could help prevent hardening in the arteries of the heart.

"The loss of subsistence diets and lifestyles could be classed as a new risk factor for vascular ageing and we believe that components of this way of life could benefit contemporary sedentary populations."

While people living in cities are sedentary for more than half their waking hours, the Tsimane are inactive for only 10 per cent of the day.

Men spend an average of six to seven hours a day engaged in physical activity, while women are active for four to six hours, said the researchers, whose findings are reported in The Lancet medical journal.

The Tsimane diet largely consists of non-processed carbohydrates high in fibre, such as rice, plantain, manioc, corn, nuts and fruits.

Protein, from animal meat, accounts for only 14 per cent of the diet and fat makes up the same proportion.

Each member of the tribe consumes roughly 38 grams of fat per day, of which just 11 grams is saturated fat.

The researchers visited 85 Tsimane villages between 2004 and 2015 and measured heart disease risk by carrying out computed tomography (CT) X-ray scans on 705 adults aged 40 to 94.

Similar scans of nearly 7,000 Americans in a previous study showed that only 14 per cent had no risk of heart disease.

Half were at moderate-to-high risk – a five-fold greater prevalence rate than that seen in the Tsimane population.

Members of the tribe also had low readings for heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

But strangely, half the population had raised inflammation markers, despite this normally being seen as a risk factor for unhealthy arteries.

Co-author Professor Randall Thompson, from Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, said: "Conventional thinking is that inflammation increases the risk of heart disease.

"However, the inflammation common to the Tsimane was not associated with increased risk of heart disease, and may instead be the result of high rates of infections."

The research is being presented at an American College of Cardiology conference taking place in Washington DC.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: "We already know that certain aspects of lifestyle increase your risk of heart disease, and we've been providing advice on these for many years now.

"This study simply adds to the wealth of research already done on this topic.

"There are some lessons we can learn from this study though.

"It may not be possible for people in the industrialised world to copy the Tsimane community's way of life, but there are certainly aspects of their diet and lifestyle, such as not smoking and eating a diet low in fat, that we can better incorporate into our lives to help reduce our risk of heart disease."

March 5th 2017

If your motivation for tucking into a ready meal or frozen pizza is that you’d prefer not to splurge on fresh fruit and veg, then you might want to rethink your dietary habits.

Data published by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) shows healthier foods bought in super markets tend to have a smaller price tag than their unhealthier counterparts, dealing a blow to the argument that poor diets and obesity are directly caused by economic deprivation.

The data compiles prices offered by Asda and Tesco on 78 common food and drink products and finds that healthier options are generally cheaper than less healthy alternatives.

When measured by edible weight, a wide range of fruit and vegetable are available for less than £2.00 per kilogramme. By contrast, the cheapest ready meals, chocolate, crisps and bacon cost more than £3 per kilogramme, the study found.

The IEA said the £1 cost of a cheeseburger could also buy a kilo of sweet potatoes, two kilos of carrots, or 10 apples, claiming that the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day could cost as little as 30p.

"A diet of muesli, rice, white meat, fruit and vegetables is much cheaper than a diet of Coco Pops, ready meals, red meat, sugary drinks and fast food. The idea that poor nutrition is caused by the high cost of healthy food is simply wrong. People are prepared to pay a premium for taste and convenience,” Chris Snowdon, the report's author and head of lifestyle economics at the IEA, said

"A nutritious diet that meets government recommendations is more affordable than ever.

"Given the relatively high cost of junk food, it is unlikely that taxing unhealthy food or subsidising healthy food would change people's eating habits. Instead, it would transfer wealth from the poor to the rich," he added.

Nearly 70 per cent, or two-thirds of British households, said they find healthy food and drinks more expensive when compared to other products, according to a YouGov survey released earlier this year.

The same survey found that a staggering 40 per cent of 18 to 34 years olds said they can’t afford to purchase healthy products because of their price.

A separate study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found increasing the portions of fruit and vegetables consumed each day from five to 10 could significantly reduce a person's risk of heart disease and cancer.

Feb 19th 2017

cider diet

There’s no weight loss secret that thin people are keeping to themselves: To slim down simply requires sticking to a disciplined diet and exercising consistently.

With that being said, there are certain drinkable concoctions that make it easier to follow a strict eating regimen — and a pre-breakfast beverage of apple cider vinegar, warm water, and honey might just be one of them.

Drinking a mixture of eight ounces of water, one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and one teaspoon of honey before a meal can help aid in digestion and lower blood glucose levels, but it can also result in the overall calorie reduction of your meal. I know you’re probably reading this with a degree of skepticism, but research shows that apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss by interrupting the body’s digestion of starch; if less starch is broken down then the overall calorie absorption of the meal is disrupted.

 But if you’ve ever tried choking apple cider vinegar by itself, you’ll recall that it feels like downing a shot of the cheapest house whiskey. Adding a teaspoon of honey not only makes the drink palatable, but it also endows it with honey’s natural ability to speed up metabolism.

And while the studies supporting apple cider vinegar’s miracle weight loss potential are limited, there are also few studies suggesting any serious negative side effects from drinking apple cider vinegar. Try this mixture a few times a week before breakfast and see what happens!

Jan 16th 2017


As the cliché goes, you are what you eat.

There’s a somewhat accepted logic that no food is bad for you in moderation – we need a balanced diet, and there’s nothing wrong with the odd chocolate bar or McDonald’s every now and then, as long as that’s not all you eat.

A calorie from ice cream is the same as one from a vegetable, right? Just don’t eat too many.

That's just what the sugar companies want you to think.

A new article in the New York Times breaks down how for decades, the sugar industry has helped perpetuate the idea that sugar itself is not necessary fattening, and all calories are essentially equal (check out this great old advert reporting on ‘The importance of sugar’).

It even goes all the way back to when President Dwight D. Eisenhower started using sweetener in his coffee, on his doctor's advice, no less, and the sugar people went on the offensive to say how needless that was.

Much like how tobacco firms tried to disprove they caused lung cancer, the sugar industry sought to find scientific evidence to play down the damage it does.

But there’s also plenty of research to say how bad it is.

Here’s the science part – pay attention

Since the 1960s, researchers have found that different carbohydrates (like glucose and fructose) are metabolised differently, and affect how the body accumulates fat.

Sugar has a unique composition, being half glucose, half fructose.

The impact of that can build up over the years and decades, and profound over a lifetime.

According to NYT: 'In light of this research, arguing today that your body fat responds to everything you eat the exact same way is almost inconceivably naïve.'

So what's the lesson here?

Put down the doughnuts, and don't belive everything the adverts tell you.

Dec 29th 2016

Four-fifths of middle aged adults are putting themselves at risk of disease as busy lives and desk jobs make it increasingly hard to stay healthy, experts have said.

Eighty-three percent of 40 to 60 year-olds are either drinking too much, are inactive or are overweight, Public Health England (PHE) said.

Officials said that nine in 10 men (87%) and eight in 10 women (79%) are not doing enough exercise, exceeding the recommended limits for alcohol or are either overweight or obese.

— PublicHealthEngland (@PHE_uk) December 28, 2016

Figures taken from the Health Survey for England show that 77% of men and 63% of women in middle age are either overweight or obese – with the rate of obesity shooting up 16% in the last two decades.

The diabetes rate among this age group also doubled in this period in England, PHE said.

Meanwhile, many are also not being physically active and drinking too much.

— One You (@OneYouPHE) December 28, 2016

The health body is encouraging adults to take its One You – How Are You health quiz which may highlight problems and areas for improvement.

People who take the quiz and are flagged as having a problem are directed to apps including Couch to 5K, Alcohol Checker and Easy Meals

“The demands of modern day living are taking their toll on the health of the nation, and it’s those in middle age that are suffering the consequences most, as their health reaches worrying new levels,” said Professor Sir Muir Gray, clinical adviser for PHE’s One You lifestyle campaign.

— NHS Choices (@NHSChoices) December 23, 2016

“Over 15 million Britons are living with a long term health condition, and busy lives and desk jobs make it difficult to live healthily.

“But just making a few small changes will have significant benefits to people’s health now and in later life.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: “People are busy with work, with families, with the daily grind and sometimes their own health is the least of their priorities.

“The How Are You Quiz will help anyone who wants to take a few minutes to take stock and find out quickly where they can take a little action to make a big difference to their health.”

Dan Howarth, head of care at Diabetes UK, added: “We know that people often bury their heads in the sand when it comes to their general health but the consequences of doing nothing can be catastrophic

Dec 6th 2016 UK

Obese people on benefits could be forced to talk to doctors or nurses about how their weight affects their ability to work.

In trials being considered by the Government claimants would be asked to discuss their weight with a healthcare professional to ensure the benefits system is providing “value for money”.

The recommendation by health expert Dame Carol Black to the Department for Work and Pensions could pave the way for sanctions if people do not attend their appointments.

Jobcentre Plus advisers will be trained to refer claimants to local weight-management services when it is clear that their weight was a barrier to work.

The news came as doctors today urged the Government to ensure that the new sugar tax rate was high enough to help Britain’s obesity crisis.

The British Medical Association is backing former chancellor George Osborne’s proposal for surcharges to manufacturers and distributors based on the sugar content of their drinks, but warned that the Government must stand firm on the intended levies as the legislation was introduced in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Dr Paul Darragh, BMA board of science deputy chairman, said: “The Government’s drive to introduce the levy is a positive first step to encourage healthier diets, and urge the Treasury to set the rates at a high enough level to ensure it is as effective as possible in reducing the growing levels of obesity.”

Today, the Government said that obesity was the “major public health challenge of our time” and that the sugar level of drinks must change because one in three children was overweight or obese.

The levy will force companies to pay more when their drinks have a five per cent sugar content a higher levy for an eight per cent sugar content.

Dr Darragh said: “Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges facing our country, with one in five children starting primary school overweight or obese.

“While sugary drinks are very high in calories, they are of limited nutritional value. As the largest source of sugar for children, doctors are increasingly concerned about how they contribute towards conditions like diabetes.”

Dec 1st 2016


In a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, Cani and de Vos discovered something more. Since December 2015, Akkermansia-based treatment trials for humans have been ongoing. While the effects are yet to be conclusive, it’s clear that the treatment isn’t harmful to humans — after all, A. muciniphila is one of the more common gut bacteria.

Then something came up. They discovered that pasteurization had very positive effects on the bacterium. “Unexpectedly, we discovered that pasteurization of A. muciniphila enhanced its capacity to reduce fat mass development, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia in mice,” says the study.

Pasteurization, it would seem, makes the bacterium effective because it kills off everything else in A. muciniphila except for a protein — the genetically engineered version of it is called Amuc_1100. When tested on mice, this protein appeared to be good for the immune system, blocking toxins from reaching the bloodstream, and strengthening intestinal immunity.

Amuc_1100 is the key to how A. muciniphila can combat obesity in mice. In the near future, it’s expected to be able to do the same thing in humans.

Nov 9th 2016

Sugary drinks could be banned from England's hospitals as the NHS attempts to tackle the obesity problem affecting its staff.

NHS England is considering a ban on the sale of drinks with added sugar or, alternatively, making vendors pay a levy to be allowed to sell such drinks on NHS premises.

The rules would cover fizzy drinks but also sweetened milk, sweetened coffee and fruit juice with added sugar.

It is estimated that more than half of the health service's 1.3 million employees are overweight or obese and NHS England says this is not just bad for their own health but also affects their credibility when they advise patients to lose weight.

Chief executive Simon Stevens said: "Confronted by rising obesity, type 2 diabetes and child dental decay, it's time for the NHS to practice what we preach.

"Nurses, visitors and patients all tell us they increasingly want healthy, tasty and affordable food and drink options.

"So, like a number of other countries, we're now calling time on hospitals as marketing outlets for junk food and fizzy drinks."

Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said the idea was "brilliant", adding that staff "know full well the ravages caused by sugary drinks on a patient's health".

Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: "It's hard to see how a ban on soft drinks can be justified given that the sector has led the way in reducing consumers' sugar intake - down by over 17% since 2012."

Mr Stevens is to announce the consultation later on Wednesday at a conference in London and, if adopted, the plan could be in place next year.

Money raised would go towards staff health and wellbeing programmes.

Any levy would be in addition to plans for a new tax on the soft drinks industry that was announced by the Government in March.

Sept 21st 2016

People with a gene linked to weight gain are just as likely to benefit from weight loss programmes as those without, researchers have discovered.

The findings suggest diet, exercise and drug-based approaches to losing weight can be widely beneficial, even if some people may have a greater risk of piling on the pounds due to their genetics. In short, your DNA is not a barrier to weight loss.

While many genes are believed to affect body weight, a particular version of the so-called FTO gene shows one of the strongest associations with fat gain. Those carrying two copies of the genetic variant – about 16% of the population – are on average 3kg heavier than those without, and 1.7 times more likely to be obese.

While it is not known exactly how the genetic variant promotes weight gain, it is believed to increase the appeal of high-calorie foods and reduce the feeling of fullness after a meal. But whether it also affects efforts to shed pounds has been a matter of debate.

“It has become clear that genetics play a part in the reason why some of us get fatter,” said John Mathers, lead author of the research from Newcastle University. “The one that has the biggest effect in most people is the FTO gene, so we wondered whether having the [high-risk version of the] FTO gene would affect how well you could lose weight.”

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Mathers and an international team of collaborators describe how they analysed eight previously published randomised control trials involving a total of more than 9,500 overweight or obese adults to investigate whether carrying the obesity-linked version of the FTO gene affects the ability to lose weight.

In all of the studies, the participants were tested to discover whether they carried the genetic variant, and whether they had one copy or two, but the results were not disclosed to the participants. The researchers found that for each copy of the high-risk gene the participants possessed, they were, on average, almost 0.9kg heavier.

The participants took part in a variety of weight-loss programmes, including diet-based, exercise-based and drug-based approaches. “To our surprise, we discovered that carrying the [high-risk] FTO gene made no difference to your ability to lose weight. So people lost weight at just the same rate if they had the [high-risk version of the] FTO gene as if they didn’t,” said Mathers.

“There was no link between the type of the intervention – so whether the people were losing weight through diet or physical activity – and the gene. It seemed to work equally well.”

The genetic variant that promotes weight gain is believed to increase the appeal of high-calorie foods. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

Sex and ethnicity, the authors said, did not affect the rate of weight loss, although they noted there was a lack of participants of Asian descent.

The studies, added Mathers, did not show whether carrying the obesity-linked version of the FTO gene affects whether weight loss was sustained, as the longest follow-up time was three years.

Dr Jude Oben, co-founder of the Obesity Action Campaign and senior lecturer in hepatology at University College London, welcomed the results. “Obesity is costing the NHS £16bn a year. We at Obesity Action Campaign are alarmed by this. Obesity causes cancer, diabetes, heart disease and liver cirrhosis. It is the HIV of our age. It is killing millions of our patients,” he said.

“That this size of study and its robust statistical methodologies support common sense is great. It means that general weight loss strategies which must involve the psychological, nutritional, physical and policy changes should be developed.”

Andrew Hattersley, professor of molecular medicine at the University of Exeter and part of the team that discovered the influence of the FTO genetic variant on weight gain, said it was not surprising that those with the variant were as able to lose weight as those without.

“Part of [obesity] is environmental, part of it is genetic, part of the genetic component is the FTO gene,” he said. “This isn’t a group that is remarkably different genetically. It is a very minor change and it is only a minor part of their susceptibility.”

Sept 19th

We know that a gastric band can successfully treat obesity and the attendant Type 2 diabetes.

Not just that, gastric bypass surgery can also have dramatic effects on reducing your appetite and increasing your weight loss.

We now also know that while a gastric bypass prevents the absorption of food, the key reason for a patient’s change in appetite is hormonal.

With a gastric bypass, digested food is delivered further down the gut than normal. As a result, the gut releases a different mix of hormones. These hormones are capable of tricking your brain into thinking you’re full.

Afterall bariatric surgery is expensive and has a one-in-500 risk of death. In addition, it’s beyond the scope of the NHS to perform a sufficient number of gastric bypass ops to bring the obesity epidemic under control.

So now comes an interesting question. With an injection of these hormones could you mimic the effects of a gastric bypass without the actual surgery?

Scientists at Imperial College London have done this precise experiment with a hormone injection – and it appears it can indeed mimic the effects of a gastric bypass and make the brain think you’re full, so patients actually eat less.

In the study it was around a third less for every meal.

Researchers have discovered obese people have lower levels of hormones telling the brain to stop eating, lower than levels typically found in slimmer people.

Sir Steve Bloom, professor of medicine at Imperial College, London, believes obesity won’t be a problem in 10 years.

“They’ll have the injections, they will be painless, with no side effects and will actually be really inexpensive and freely available – I think this is going to make an enormous difference.”

In tests, two obese men injected with the hormones were given a huge bowl containing three supermarket chicken curry ready meals. They each ate around 280 fewer calories than they had after a placebo jab.

The two men said they felt “not hungry at all” and “comfortably full”. Sir Steve’s fellow researcher Patricia Tan said: “With the injections of hormones, the patients are eating up to 30% less.”

So far, the three hormones OXM, PYY and GLP1, which tell the brain to stop eating, have had to be given in a jab before each meal, but the scientists hope to develop a longer-lasting injection.

This novel and imaginative approach with a triple hormone jab could mean that a simple cure for obesity does exist.

Sept 18th

Obese thinking

 Telling overweight people to eat healthily does not work because their brains override rational advice when presented with food, the University of Cambridge has found.

Although the government and NHS has attempted to educate people with healthy eating campaigns, the researchers say that removing temptation is probably the best solution.

The study found that both lean and overweight people were aware of which foods are nutritious and were inclined to choose healthier options in a computer-based task.

“The presence of unhealthy food options is likely to override people’s decisions.” Dr Nenad Medic from the Department of Psychiatry

But when presented with a buffet of real food, the overweight people ate far more unhealthy foods than the thinner participants.

“There’s a clear difference between hypothetical food choices that overweight people make and the food they actually eat,” says Dr Nenad Medic from the Department of Psychiatry.

“Even though they know that some foods are less healthy than others and say they wouldn’t necessarily choose them, when they are faced with the foods, it’s a different matter.

 “This is an important insight for public health campaigns as it suggests that just trying to educate people about the healthiness of food choices is not enough.

“The presence of unhealthy food options is likely to override people’s decisions. In this respect, food choice does not appear to be a rational decision - it can become divorced from what the person knows and values.”

The inability to pick healthy foods appears to stem from differences in the brain. In a second study, the researchers looked at the brain structure of over 200 healthy individuals using an MRI scanner and found an association between body mass index (BMI) and brain structure.

In particular, an area of the brain linked to rational thought and decision making – the ventromedial prefrontal cortex - was found to have less grey matter in people with high BMI.

Perhaps this offers us some clues about the first observation – that rational, hypothetical valuation decisions don’t fully translate into healthy choices in the overweight people when they are offered real food choices,” says Professor Paul Fletcher from the Department of Psychiatry.

“While the region is clearly responding in a way that is not distinct from leaner people, perhaps the structural differences suggest a reduced ability to translate what one knows into what one chooses.

“Although we can only speculate at this stage, and we really don’t know, for example, whether this brain change is a cause or a consequence of increased weight, this could help explain why this same group of people found it harder to stick to their original, healthier food choices when presented with a buffet selection.”

A recent study, published in The Lancet, found that Britain will be the fattest country in Europe by 2025, with nearly four in 10 people clinically obese.

Professor Theresa Marteau, Director of the Behaviour and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge, a co-author of the study, adds: "These findings attest to the power of environments in overwhelming many people’s desires and intentions to eat more healthily.

“The findings also reinforce the growing evidence that effective obesity policies are those that target food environments rather than education alone.”

The two pieces of research were published in the online journal eNeuro and the International Journal of Obesity.


Babies born by Caesarean section are more likely to be obese than those delivered naturally, according to new research. 

The study found that those born by C-section are 15% more likely to be obese in childhood.

That increased risk could persist through adulthood, according to researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

Reseachers examined 16 years of data from more than 22,000 young adults in the study, published in the journal Jama Paediatrics.

It found that youngsters born by Caesarean were 64% more likely to be obese than siblings born by vaginal birth.

Around one in every four to five pregnant women in the UK has a Caesarean section.

Jorge Chavarro, an author on the study, said: "Caesarean deliveries are without a doubt a necessary and lifesaving procedure in many cases.

"But Caesareans also have some known risks to the mother and the newborn.

"Our findings show that risk of obesity in the offspring could be another factor to consider."

Dr Daghni Rajasingam, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said the study should be interpreted cautiously.

She said it did not include data on why a Caesarean section was required or other details surround the labour or delivery.

"Currently in England, the rate of Caesarean section is 26.2%," she said.

"This figure has been rising slowly over the last decade and could be explained by various factors which make childbirth more difficult including a rise in older mothers and more obese mothers.

"We must remember that in some cases an emergency Caesarean section is carried out to save the life of the mother and/or baby.

"Further research is needed to clarify the mechanisms underlying this possible association, but as with any intervention all doctors must ensure that women are informed about the risks and benefits of a Caesarean section, as well as the alternative options."

Sep 4th

You know a fast-food diet is bad for you – but I’ll bet you can’t come close to guessing just how bad it is.

An experiment that aimed to mimic the US diet and lifestyle (and we’re fast approaching it in the UK) put volunteers to bed for a week.

Six healthy men were fed 6,000 calories a day of pizza, burgers and other junk food. It took just two days for their bodies to go haywire and show signs of serious disease.

At the start, three of the men were a normal weight, three were overweight and none were obese or unhealthy. They were all on bed rest throughout the study.

In a week, they had gained an average of 3.5kg (7.7 lb) and showed signs of insulin resistance, the forerunner of diabetes .

Half of all US adults are suffering from diabetes or are at risk of developing it in the near future (pre-diabetes). And the vast majority don’t know.

Researchers designed the study to find out about insulin resistance, the main culprit in Type 2 diabetes.

They found that insulin resistance is a key component – but the mechanism by which obesity promotes it is not yet fully understood.

Guenther Boden and Salim Merali of Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, US, said their aim was to recreate the average American diet and find out how it can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Merali told New Scientist: “Here, we have shown that feeding a common US diet to healthy non-obese men at two to two and a half times their regular caloric intake for as little as one to two days produced severe systemic and adipose tissue insulin resistance in every one of six study subjects.

Boden added: “It was a regular, American diet, composed of pizzas, hamburgers and that sort of thing. They took to the diet and liked it.”

The study lasted a week. “In that time, the men gained an average of 3.5 kg and showed signs of insulin resistance as well as oxidative stress,” the team wrote in Science Translational Medicine.

By day two, all had a rapid and continuous rise in both blood insulin and insulin-resistance levels.

It is truly a wake-up call for us all that all of them suffered severe systemic and adipose tissue insulin resistance in such a short space of time.

Now granted, enforced bed rest isn’t something that happens to many of us, but on the other hand, it’s pretty close to what life is like as a couch potato, which many of us are.

Food for thought.

Sept 3rd

Latest news from England

Obese people will be routinely refused operations across the NHS, health service bosses have warned, after one authority said it would limit procedures on an unprecedented scale.

Hospital leaders in North Yorkshire said that patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above – as well as smokers – will be barred from most surgery for up to a year amid increasingly desperate measures to plug a funding black hole. The restrictions will apply to standard hip and knee operations.

The decision, described by the Royal College of Surgeons as the “most severe the modern NHS has ever seen”, led to warnings that other trusts will soon be forced to follow suit and rationing become the norm if the current funding crisis continues.

Chris Hopson, the head of NHS Providers, which represents acute care, ambulance and community services, said: “I think we are going to see more and more decisions like this.

“It’s the only way providers are going to be able to balance their books, and in a way you have to applaud their honesty. You can see why they’re doing this – the service is bursting at the seams.” 

The announcement is the latest in a series of setbacks for patients, who are facing rolling strikes by junior doctors that threaten to cripple the health service as winter approaches.

The decision by Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) comes amid increasing limits across the NHS on surgery for cataracts, and hip and knee operations.

How to | Work out BMI

Under the latest restrictions, patients in the catchment area who have a BMI of 30 or more will be barred from routine surgery for non-life-threatening conditions for a year, although they may secure a referral sooner if they shed 10 per cent of their weight.

A BMI – weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared – of 30 is the point at which a person is classed as obese and, on current estimates, more than half the population could be classified as such by 2050.

Smokers who refuse to quit will have planned operations postponed for six months, but may be included on surgeons’ waiting lists earlier by proving they have given up for at least eight weeks.

The ban will not apply to cancer patients, or those with some conditions that could becoming life threatening, or if exceptional circumstances can be shown.

The restrictions echo others made by health bosses in Hertfordshire, the North West and London in the past two years, where blanket referral bans were imposed on patients on the basis of their weight.

Last month St Helens CCG in Merseyside said it was considering temporarily suspending all non-essential hospital referrals by GPs because of financial concerns.

Reports of rationing have emerged after NHS England admitted in May that its provider sector overspent by £2.45 billion in 2015-16, a more-than-threefold increase on the previous year.

The figure, which was described as conservative by think-tanks, prompted some hospital chief executives to question the future viability of free universal healthcare.

Mr Hopson called for a “realistic national conversation” about how much should be spent on the health service, and said that if procedures had to be restricted, the reduction should be managed on an NHS-wide basis.

However, Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, condemned the decision to bar obese patients and smokers from routine surgery.

“This policy from Vale of York is among the most severe the modern NHS has ever seen,” she said.

“Leaving patients waiting in pain for treatment longer than is clinically necessary cannot be accepted. In the last month alone, the Royal College of Surgeons has learnt of at least three clinical commissioning groups that are planning to introduce policies that deny or delay patients’ access to surgery as a means to cut spending.

“At this rate we may see brutal service reductions becoming the norm, rather than just being exceptions.”

A statement from Vale of York CCG said: “The local system is under severe pressure. Hospitals are being warned they will not be paid for surgery if they carry out operations on obese patients who are not exempt from the policy.

“This work will help to ensure that we get the very best value from the NHS and not exceed our resources or risk the ability of the NHS being there when people really need it.” 


Aug 29th

"In the analysis of obesity prevalence across 170 countries, we have found that sugar availability in a nation explains 50 percent of obesity variation while meat availability [explains] another 50 percent," says Prof. Henneberg.

"After correcting for differences in nations' wealth (Gross Domestic Product), calorie consumption, levels of urbanization and of physical inactivity, which are all major contributors to obesity, sugar availability remained an important factor, contributing independently 13 percent, while meat contributed another 13 percent to obesity," he adds.

Aug 19th

LONDON (AP) — Britain has unveiled a plan to battle rising child obesity by urging food manufacturers to cut down on sugar and getting primary schools to make pupils do more exercise.

 But health campaigners have slammed the government for failing to restrict junk food advertising aimed at children.

 The government wants manufacturers to cut the amount of sugar in products popular with children, including cereals, candy and desserts, by 20 percent over five years. Officials say they will consider "alternative levers" if the voluntary target isn't met.

 Britain has already announced a "sugar tax" on sodas to start in 2018.

 Parveen Kumar, chairwoman of the British Medical Association board of science, said Thursday that it was "incredibly disappointing" that the plan didn't include restrictions on marketing of unhealthy food and drinks.

July 17th

Caroline Flack might be busy sending a host of attractive singles off into the sunshine for the holiday of a lifetime but the Love Island presenter has revealed that her busy schedule hasn’t stopped her from staying fit and healthy this summer.
Speaking to Your Fitness magazine, she said: ”I work out three times a week and used to feel really intimidated entering the free weights area but now I feel comfortable. I've been lifting heavy weights for 14 weeks and I haven't become any bigger.”
And the hard work is clearly paying off. She recently revealed she had shed a stone in three months despite still eating a plentiful and varied diet, owing her slimming waistline to a ‘hardcore’ sugar-free diet.
“I'm consuming more calories now than ever before,” she confessed. “They're just the right calories.
“I'm always starving in the morning so I eat a lot for breakfast it's usually scrambled or poached eggs, bacon, avocado, mushrooms or sometimes even steak.
“What made the biggest difference to how I looked and felt was cutting out all sugar.”
Her recent weight loss has been highly publicised, with speculation that online trolls were the motivation for Flack, 36, to hit the gym.
“I’d hate to think I did this for anyone else,” Caroline hits back in the latest issue of Your Fitness magazine. “The truth is I did this for me to make myself feel the very best I could and this is the way I decided to do it. I don't like to weigh myself. But it was never really about losing weight.”
Keen to be an advocate of ‘strong not skinny’, her recent body transformation has also made her rethink how the media portray women’s bodies.
She says: ”There seems to be one type of body out there at the moment. If anyone looked through a magazine from a different era they'd assume that that's what all humans looked like.
“It's not and it's time we started to show what actual bodies look like and that all women don't look the same. I want to set a good example and show what's real. “

July 15th

If you need more convincing that refined sugars are wreaking havoc on your health, then look no further than this newest study, which shows that cutting added sugar for just a few days dramatically improves health.

The study, published in Obesity, followed 43 obese children with chronic metabolic conditions such as hypertension. The researchers changed their diets for nine days, substituting their normal snacks and drinks with ones that kept the calorie counts the same but restricted sugar - so instead of sugary yoghurts, pastries, and cereals, the kids were fed hot dogs, bagels, fruit, and pizza.
The results were "striking," says lead author and pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, MD. Even though the children were eating the same amount of calories, just eliminating added sugar from their diets improved almost all areas of their metabolic health, such as lower blood pressure, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels, and improved liver function tests. Plus, even though the experiment was designed to maintain weight - the children were given more food whenever they started to lose weight - the kids told researchers that they felt fuller on the lower-sugar diet.
Lustig calls this finding "the strongest evidence to date that the negative effects of sugar are not because of calories or obesity." "This study definitively shows that sugar is metabolically harmful not because of its calories or its effects on weight; rather sugar is metabolically harmful because it's sugar," he says.
The findings are also a clear indication that monitoring added sugars in your family's diet is extremely important for improving health and may affect how your body deals with cravings and satiety cues. Added sugars can show up as many different names on ingredient lists, so it pays to read nutrition labels and go for unprocessed foods whenever possible. Take it from Lustig, who explains that when it comes to what you put on your plate, a calorie is not just a calorie, and in fact, "sugar calories are the worst."
This is exactly what happens to your body when you eat a ton of sugar

Slimzene Internet Diet Scam Finally Exposed

After months of campaigning against the notorious diet company Slimzene, FORZA is pleased to give details of some recent developments that should bolster the spirits of the UK supplement industry.

Slimzene is a US-based company owned by Natural Health Network that is part of an on-going internet diet scam. Since the turn of the year, the Slimzene scam has started to spread to the UK where it has made millions of pounds after duping countless numbers of innocent customers.

When ordering from the Slimzene website, customers are urged to sign up to a ‘free trial’ of diet pills. However, once signed up they are charged a large amount of money (ranging from £70 to as much as £140) from their bank accounts at the end of every month.

Slimzene will then continue charging a customer’s bank account every month until the customer cancels the trial offer, which in itself is very long and incredibly difficult process.

When UK supplement firm forza became mistakenly associated with the fraudulent organisation on the internet, it immediately launched a public awareness movement in order to warn customers not to trust those companies offering an online free trial of diet pills as it will usually end up costing them a lot of money.

After posting as much information as she could find about Slimzene onto the forum, forsa's Commercial Director Karen Page was shocked to find just how many innocent victims had been lured in by the scam.

“After doing some research on Slimzene and the Natural Health Network, I could immediately see why so many people had put their trust in the free trial offer. It did not look like a cheap and nasty website; a lot of time and effort had gone into making it look completely honest and professional.

“The forum discussion currently has 437 posts, all from customers who have been misled by Slimzene and who are desperately searching for a way of terminating the payments.

“The process for stopping the card payments is certainly not easy, but by doing a bit of investigating and then sharing our findings online we were able to help a large number of people resolve the issue.”

The free trial scam is nothing new – the concept has been around for a long time – but Slimzene are the first company to go the extra mile in making it seem entirely legitimate to the average customer.

The company gained trust from customers by using paid advertisements on Facebook which featured lots of fake weight loss claims as well as apparently genuine celebrity endorsements from the likes of British singer Adele and former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham.

May 20th

Sugar face

Many of the dangers of a high sugar diet are well known, from causing tooth rot to adding unwanted extra inches to your waistband. But a little known effect is how sugar can seriously harm your face.

A phenomenon known as ‘sugar face’ can occur when people have a high presence of sugar in their diet; causing acne, under-eye bags and pallid skin. Scientists warn that the under-acknowledged issue may be causing more harm than many people realise.

Dr Tamara Griffiths from the British Association of Dermatologists told The Independent: “Sugary foods have a high glycaemic index (GI) resulting in a rapid sugar load into the body and dramatic fluctuations in the hormone insulin. Over time this can result in insulin-resistance and diabetes, which can accelerate the ageing process."

Many of the dangers of a high sugar diet are well known, from causing tooth rot to adding unwanted extra inches to your waistband. But a little known effect is how sugar can seriously harm your face.

A phenomenon known as ‘sugar face’ can occur when people have a high presence of sugar in their diet; causing acne, under-eye bags and pallid skin. Scientists warn that the under-acknowledged issue may be causing more harm than many people realise.

Dr Tamara Griffiths from the British Association of Dermatologists told The Independent: “Sugary foods have a high glycaemic index (GI) resulting in a rapid sugar load into the body and dramatic fluctuations in the hormone insulin. Over time this can result in insulin-resistance and diabetes, which can accelerate the ageing process."

May 17th

Losing weight can often feel like a war of attrition.

And one battle you might not expect to end up fighting is the one with your best friends or even your partner.

Because the complicated and controversial truth of the matter is that it's often those closest to you who are keeping you fat.

While we all seemingly strive to stay slim, you don't have to look very hard to find weight-loss detractors. They're all around you and they might not even know it themselves.

But you need to be mindful, and wary, of their motives because it's these very people who are the most likely to throw a huge spanner in your fitness works.

In an ideal world, it's your good pals or spouse who should be the most supportive of your choices.

They're the ones who should be subtly hiding the chocolate biscuits when you pop round for a cup of tea or suggesting you skip the late-night pizza on the way home from the pub. But in actual fact, they're the ones who'll scupper your well laid plans.

And I can't help but feel this is an overlooked element of dieting which goes on to cause real issues.

So why are our loved ones trying to sabotage us?

It's simple - they feel threatened because you're actively trying to change yourself.

Perhaps they'll begin by telling you they love you just as you are, that you don't need to change because you're already perfect

It's a nice sentiment, but let's be honest, if you've already voiced concerns about your body then you're probably not happy with it.

And then it gets even worse.

Because when you persist in working to reach your goals, your friends and family may even start to poke fun at you and, in the extreme, start arguments about it.

You find yourself in a situation which is, at best, undermining your efforts and at worst, absolutely soul destroying and likely to have you reaching for the comfort of cake as you slip back in to the perpetual vicious circle.

But it's also important to understand they're not usually doing this for any other reason than they're afraid.

Change is scary, especially when it's in someone else whom you're close to, and the longer you've been close to them, the scarier it is.

They may be frightened that the 'new you' will mean the end of your old routine - that you'll no longer want to go out for a Chinese every Thursday night, or that you're spending so long in the gym they never get to see you.

Will those cherished nights in front of Netflix evaporate as you spend more time analysing your Fitbit device?

If that all sounds depressing, what you need to remember is that their criticism or disparaging remarks are all about them, not you.

In my experience, involving them in the process is the best medicine.

Sell them the idea on the benefits they themselves will enjoy: if you're feeling better about yourself and you've lost weight, you'll have more energy, be happier, and most importantly to your partner, feel sexier! All of this is going to benefit the people closest to you.

It's difficult enough embarking on an exercise programme without being told by our nearest and dearest that we'll 'never stick it out or that 'it's futile' because we'll just go back to our old ways once we've achieved what we set out to do.

Think I'm exaggerating? Are you reading this and tutting, 'Well, that would never happen to me...'? Please take note of a recent survey.

This research, conducted on behalf of healthy snack food provider, found that a quarter of Brits will deliberately try to 'sabotage' a friend's diet.

And the most common reason given for doing so was because said friend became 'too boring' while trying to shed excess fat.

A fifth admitted trying to ruin their friends' diets by trying to tempt them out for a drink or dinner.

It's men who are the worst culprits - 39 per cent are willing to sabotage weight loss attempts, compared with just 20 per cent of women.

While one in six overall purposely tempted mates with unhealthy treats and a cruel 7 per cent even tried to persuade them to give up on losing weight altogether.

Just when you thought you didn't have even hurdles to jump through to get your fitness plan on track...

May 6th 2016

Obesity could be a contagious condition which spreads in the same way as bugs like C.diff, scientists have suggested.

A huge study of bacteria in the human gut has found that one third of species produce spores which survive in the open air and can potentially move between people.

Scientists now believe that many diseases and conditions, are triggered or exacerbated by changes in gut bacteria.

A decade ago, Washington University discovered that adding gut microbes from obese mice to thin mice caused huge gains in weight, a finding which has been replicated many times.

But the new research suggests that those microbes can live outside of the body and be ingested, potentially upsetting populations of healthy bacteria in the gut and triggering disease.

Intriguingly it could explain why some illnesses run in families. Far from being simply genetic, family members could be picking up conditions through close contact or sharing bathrooms.

Spores are a form of bacterial hibernation which allow species to remain dormant for long periods of time. It is the first time that scientists have considered that transmission of disease might be possible through gut bacteria.

Dr Trevor Lawley, who led the new study at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said the conditions like obesity and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which includes Crohn’s Disease and Colitis, could be passed on.

“I think there are definitely disease that are caused by an imbalance in microbiotia. If you look at something like Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Or obesity, that’s a possibility.

“People who live in the same house share a similar microbiome. And genetics only really accounts for between 7 – 13 per cent of the risk. There are definitely people who are more susceptible to disease and so it could be a combination of things.

Being able to cast light on this microbial 'Dark matter' has implications for the whole of biology and how we consider health.”

Bacteria in the guy could be passed through faeces in bathrooms Credit: Alamy

However scientists are confident that by mapping the bacteria in the gut of healthy people they should be able to reset the balance.

Around two per cent of a person's body weight is due to bacteria. Many of these bacteria are sensitive to oxygen and are difficult to culture in the laboratory, so until now it has been extremely difficult to isolate and study them.

But now the team has compiled a library of new bacteria they are hoping to create a pill containing a mix of bugs which could restore healthy levels.

Hilary Browne, based in the Host-Microbiota Interactions Laboratory, at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, explains: "It has become increasingly evident that microbial communities play a large role in human health and disease.

By developing a new process to isolate gastrointestinal bacteria, we were able to sequence their genomes to understand more about their biology. We can also store them for long periods of time making them available for further research."

The research was published in the journal Nature .

Cause and cure

Easier said than done,  is it in the genes?, obesity? or is it a question of lifelong bad eating habits? these are questions which we will try to find the answers to.

In your daily life. You need to heed the warning signs when in the course of conversation. Your companion says you’re looking a bit podgy today, or you’re getting a bit of a pot on you . It means other people are noticing what you have been aware of for quite some time now, so now is the time to do something about it. The longer you leave it, the more difficult it is going to be, you could lose a few pounds fairly easily getting rid of a few stone is another matter altogether.

 There are ways that you can very quickly assess the degree of excess weight that you are carrying, the most common one is your BMI index, it’s a good guide, but you have to make allowances for unusual stature, another way is to measure your waistline. You probably remember what it used to be. And if it’s got a inches more then it’s time to do something about it.

How to calculate BMI? If you wish to calculate BMI yourself, below are the BMI formulas for both English units and metric units:

Metric Units: BMI = Weight (kg) / (Height (m) x Height (m)) English Units: BMI = Weight (lb) / (Height (in) x Height (in)) x 703

Examples 1: Someone who is 1.70 m and weights 60 kg has a BMI of

BMI Calculation = 60 / (1.7 x 1.7) = 20.8 <== This person is in the Normal category.

Example 2: Someone who is 5'6" (5'6" = 66") and weights 160 lb has a BMI of

BMI Calculation = 160 / (66 x 66) x 703 = 25.8 <== This person is in the Overweight category.

There is an age-old saying, you are what you eat and it’s as true today as ever It was, you have to, consider very carefully what you eat and drink, so start today and keep a record, but you have to record everything, yes everything, that you eat or drink every single day.

 You will soon find that you are not eating as much as you did when you first started to record it. This is because the very fact of having to write it down will give you feelings of guilt, because to be honest, you know you shouldn’t be eating it in the first place, now we’re off to a good start, do not say to yourself, yes, I know I’m fat. I’ve just got to live with it, the fact is you will live with it. You will more likely die with it,

There are two aspects to losing weight. First of all, eating less, and then there is moving yourself, eating less is fairly easy, especially if you’ve been eating everything you fancy without much thought to the damage it is doing to your body. Trying to get off your backside and do some regular exercise for some overweight people would appear to be an impossible task.

 Let’s take things one at a time, if you like to eat a lot of food. You can still do that, you just have to eat less of the damaging food and bulk up on the things that are good for you, I’m going to mention now the scourge of all overweight people, sugar, manufacturers put sugar in practically everything because they know if it tastes good people will buy it, but it’s got to ridiculous proportions now, if they weren’t intent on screwing every last penny out of the shoppers they could quite likely reduce the sugar content by 50% and we would hardly notice it. So the point is they won’t do it, so you must do it yourself.

 So we made a good start. We are recording our intake, cutting down on our sugars, and we thought about how we can get some exercise, now do we need help?. It’s much better if you have the support of the people around you, psychologists are beginning to believe that overweight mothers overfeed their families, including their children to reduce their own guilt feelings and embarrassment.

 You must stop telling yourself. We can’t help it. It’s in the genes. It is much more likely to be in the refrigerator, so your first step is cut down on the goodies when you do your shopping, there is an old adage that says never do your shopping when you’re hungry, and another good tip is don’t buy anything from around the tills they load up this area with sweets and candies as a last-minute temptation, you know this scam, so be strong and resist the temptation.

 The next step is to put those oversize plates away, a smaller plate will look full despite the fact it’s got less food on it, now try to get the whole family interested even if some of them don’t need to lose any weight, get them to support you. It will make the world of difference, and the first step is for you to admit that you have a problem. Use a method that they use in the Alcoholics Anonymous programme If you can, before you sit down to eat. See if you can say out loud "I am overweight, but I’m working on it."

getting a grip on obesity

To be continued. There is much more to be said yet.

Whenever you feel the need to eat try this, it may not be that you are actually hungry, you may be suffering from a simple sugar craving, you can cure this  by keeping a packet of boiled sweets close by, so instead of going to get some food. You suck on a boiled sweet and you will find your hunger feeling will disappear, if you compare the amount of calories you will see that this is a good idea.

It is much better to constantly eat sensibly not missing any meals than it is to have a complete fast for a day or two, fasting alters the body’s chemistry and sends the message food is short, we better make some fat, this of course is the last thing you want to tell your body to do.

And if you do it more than once. This message is reinforced into your body’s metabolism and becomes a source of trouble.

Some people think it’s a good idea to have part of their digestive system clamped off so it cannot be used. The result of this is you can only eat a very small amount before you feel discomfort, eating a little bit much more often, apart from the discomfort, this is not a good idea.

Alcohol plays a big part in making people overweight, apart from the fact that there is always sugar in alcohol. If you drink sufficient alcohol, you tend to worry less about the fact that you are overweight, and that’s not a good situation.

I strongly suggest that you watch the following videos and try to follow the advice that is given.

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