Recent Articles

  1. air-pollution-cause-and-effect

    May 19, 19 10:29 AM

    Air-pollution is detroying our hibitat

    Read More

  2. Mednews-latest-informal-medical-news-items

    May 12, 19 03:34 PM

    Mednews announcements of latest treatments, medicines and discoveries

    Read More

  3. obesity-cause-and-cure

    Apr 28, 19 05:19 PM

    obesity is a growing problem worldwide.

    Read More


April 28th

Parents are 'in denial' over childhood obesity with 54% underestimating how overweight their boys and girls are

·       'Big boned', 'thick' and 'solid' are words used by parents as substitutes for 'fat'

·       Experts at European Congress on Obesity found 54% misjudged child's weight 

·       But doctors and even the child itself are also guilty of underestimating obesity

·       Scientists have accused parents of being 'in denial' over their child's obesity as fresh evidence suggests that more than half underestimate their offspring's weight issues.

·       But doctors and even the child itself are also guilty of misjudging whether they are overweight, the research found.

·       And 'big boned', 'thick' and 'solid' have been revealed as the choice words mothers and fathers prefer to use instead of calling their sons and daughters fat. 

·       Experts at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow found that 54 per cent underestimated whether they overweight or obese.

·       Some 34% of children and adolescents also underestimated whether they were fat, while doctors also tend to think children are lighter than they were   

·       According to the study, parents of younger children were less likely to think their child was overweight, and were less accurate at judging the weight of boys than girls.

·       Researchers also found that less educated parents, and those who were overweight themselves, tended to not regard their child as overweight. 

·       Abrar Alshahrani, from the University of Nottingham, who led the study, said: 'Despite attempts to raise public awareness of the obesity problem, our findings indicate that underestimation of child higher weight status is very common.

·       'This misperception is important because the first step for a health professional in supporting families is a mutual recognition of higher weight status.

·       'This is particularly important for the child themselves, the parents, and the health professionals who look after them.

·       'Our study also found a tendency for health professionals to underestimate weight, which suggests that overweight children may not be offered the support they need to ensure good health.'

·       Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: 'Nobody wants to think of themselves or their child as overweight or unhealthy, but the stark truth is that overweight and obese children face numerous, serious health-related problems - both physical and mental - in the years ahead, if their weight is not addressed.

·       'This study shows how underestimation is prevalent across the board - including amongst healthcare professionals - and highlights the importance of taking accurate measurements, so that appropriate and consistent interventions can be implemented to support a child to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.

It also emphasises how vital it is to be frank about weight from an early age as forging healthy behaviours in early life will have a very real impact on a patient's long-term health and wellbeing into adulthood.

'Childhood obesity is one of the most serious health challenges of our time and one that mustn't be swept under the carpet.'

She said GPs routinely talk to parents about simple lifestyle changes that can have a positive impact on their children's health.

But she said there was a 'society-wide responsibility', adding: 'We need to work with parents, healthcare professionals, teachers, advertisers, food manufacturers, retailers, public health officials and others, in order to evoke genuine change.

'Now that this finding has been observed, it would be useful to see some research into the reasons why people are more likely to underestimate children's weight, so that we can start properly and effectively addressing the problem.

'Physical activity and lifestyle is a clinical priority for the College and we have developed resources to support GPs and healthcare professionals to have what can often be difficult conversations with patients about their weight, and the weight of their children.

'We have also embarked on a partnership with parkrun UK, which has already seen thousands of patients - including children - take part in local running events in their communities, and we will soon be launching another scheme to support GP practices in encouraging patients to get more active.'

Data for 2017/18 in England shows that 12.8 per cent of children in Reception year (ages four to five) are overweight, with a further 9.5 per cent being obese.

In year six (ages 10 to 11), 14.2 per cent are overweight, with a further 20.1 per cent being obese.

Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: 'Millions of parents are in denial about their own and their children's weight and they are doing their kids no favours at all since, as the researchers point out, they are denied the help to prevent them spiralling into becoming seriously overweight or obese.

'The greater tragedy is that the health profession has for years colluded with this medical error by not requiring its staff to assess children's weight routinely, by not telling the parents the true figures and by not intervening to correct excess weight gain until it's too late.' 

Mar 1st

How using a food journal can help you lose weight

Using a Food Journal Can Help You Lose Weight — And Actually Keep It Off

A new study found that tracking what you eat only takes 15 minutes per day.

Let’s start with some honesty: Keeping a food journal seems like a drag. Scribbling on a notepad amidst friends — "Was that seven croutons or eight, Karen?" — can feel awkward after every meal or snack. But in reality, logging what you eat really can help you lose weight and take a lot less time than you may think, according to a new study published in Obesity.

In the first month of a weight-loss program, the 142 participants took an average of 23 minutes per day to log the foods they ate. By the sixth month, it only took 14.6 minutes. Plus, people who logged their food at least twice a day were more successful at losing weight than those who did it once — and the three time per day-ers lost the most.

Does keeping a food journal help you lose weight?

Yes. Tracking what you eat at each meal or snack can help you improve your health and lose weight for two major reasons. 

First, you’re accountable to an observant yet nonjudgmental party (the trusty food log). Consistently logging your food helps you consider why and when you’re eating and how hungry or satisfied you feel. This record-keeping can help you have a more positive relationship with food in general. It draws your attention to food-related pitfalls that may have previously thrown you off-track and gives you the information you need to move forward from a place of honesty.

The second reason why it works is that provides you with a wealth of information about you. You’ll learn more about both the foods you enjoy (and don't enjoy) plus the places and situations that you find yourself eating. It can help you notice any negative feelings related food, and identify why you might be eating for reasons that have nothing to do with how hungry you actually felt.

Just try to stay as consistent as possible and be patient with yourself while you adjust. If it feels challenging yet manageable, it’s likely to be beneficial. If you miss a day, don’t sweat it. Just pick it back up the next. And keep in mind that it's not forever. Food logs can tell you a lot whether you do it daily for a year or daily for today.

Pen and paper is a tried and trusty way to do it, but it may not be realistic for you. Try writing in a note on your phone, taking pictures, or using an app. MyFitnessPal and LoseIt — both free — are two of the most popular ones. Fitbit also has a food tracker built into its app. To start:


Log foods as soon as you can. The key to nailing the whole food journaling thing is to actually record what you’re having at the exact moment you’re having it. But since that’s not always realistic, don’t fret. If you can take a quick pic of what you’re ordering or a meal before you eat it and fill in the details after-the-fact, that’s okay too.

Write down where you're eating. Most of us don't eat every meal and snack in a dining room on a table with a tablecloth. Keeping a physical or electronic record of where you eat will help you become aware of your current habits and the scenarios that impact them.

Thank about how you're feeling or what you're doing. Reviewing patterns is helpful for finding ways to make specific changes, like if you always reach for a snack when you're stressed at work. Could you try a different form of stress-relief, like going for a 15-minute walk to clear your head?

Feb 22nd

The health benefits of eating chocolate

According to a nutritionist, chocolate can have some surprisingly positive effects on both your mental and physical wellbeing.

Chocolate is usually considered to be unhealthy and a naughty treat, but you might want to reconsider this assumption. From boosting your mood to helping alleviate a nasty cough, chocolate comes with a surprising number of health benefits.

Studies have shown that chocolate has the feel-good factor, thanks to a mix of mood-elevating chemicals, including caffeine, theobromine, tyrosine and tryptophan, and its delicious taste. Having said that, it's important to opt for dark chocolate with a high cocoa solid content, where possible, as it offers more health benefits than milk chocolate, it is also lower in fat and contains antioxidants

With the help of Ceitanna Cooper, Associate Nutritionist at AXA PPP healthcare, we've put together the top five health benefits of snacking on chocolate (a few squares or a small bar) as part of a well-balanced diet:

1. Chocolate can cheer you up

The taste, smell and texture of chocolate stimulates feel-good areas of the brain. Chocolate also contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that stimulates production of serotonin, the brain's natural anti-depressant. Experts equate the delicious feelings it induces to those we experience when we fall in love.

2. Chocolate improves heart health

Eating chocolate can lower blood pressure, thin the blood (reducing stroke risk) and comes with anti-inflammatory benefits, thanks to a high content of chemicals called flavonoids.

'Flavonoids also seem to stimulate the body to make more nitric oxide, which helps to widen and relax blood vessels, which may help to lower blood pressure,' says Cooper.

3. Chocolate protects your arteries

Flavonoids in chocolate also help to stop LDL (dubbed the bad) cholesterol from oxidising, helping to prevent the furring up of arteries. Flavonoids contain more than 50 per cent of an unusual type of saturated fat called stearic acid, present in cocoa butter, that doesn't raise bad cholesterol and may even increase levels of the protective good cholesterol.

4. Chocolate calms coughs

Chocolate also contains a chemical called theobromine, which has been shown to suppress coughing by acting on the vagus nerve, which carries messages from the central nervous system to the brain.

5. Chocolate benefits the brain

A chemical called epicatechin - found in cocoa and green tea - may also help protect the brain against the formation of sticky proteins or amyloid plaques which develop in Alzheimer's disease.

There's no need to feel guilty about indulging your cravings now and then, as long as it's part of a well-balanced diet.

'We all know that too much sugary or fatty food can contribute to obesity and other health problems, but the good news for chocolate lovers is that small amounts can also have some health benefits,' says Cooper. 'So there's no need to feel guilty about indulging your cravings now and then, as long as it's part of a well-balanced diet.'

What sort of chocolate is best?

Generally, the darker the chocolate (look for 70% and above cocoa), the higher the flavonoid content. Flavonoids are found in foods like broccoli, onions, fruit, as well as tea, and may help protect people against some types of cancer and heart disease.

'It's most likely that you get more flavonoids in a dark chocolate that lists cocoa beans, cacao, chocolate liquor or cocoa mass on its ingredients list, so check the label,' says Cooper. 'Milk chocolate tends to have very few flavonoids and white chocolate has none.'

Does chocolate make a good snack?

Surprisingly, dark chocolate is classified as 'low GI' food, which means a small bar makes a suitable snack between meals, as it doesn't cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels after being eaten. This is because the fat that it contains slows down the absorption of the sugar.

The caffeine content of chocolate has also been shown to help boost concentration and energy temporarily.

The caffeine content of chocolate has also been shown to help boost concentration and energy temporarily. But if you're curbing your caffeine intake then be sure to remember that chocolate counts as a caffeinated product!

If you eat it in small amounts, alongside a healthy, balanced diet, chocolate shouldn't contribute to weight gain and it will certainly not do you any harm.


Feb 19th

There's even more evidence that drinking diet soda is bad for you

·       A large-scale study into post-menopausal women has found a link between consuming two or more artificially sweetened diet sodas or juices per day and increased risk of heart attacks, clot-based strokes, and earlier death. ·       The researchers note that they cannot prove causation, and the results may not be applicable to younger women or men. ·       Limiting consumption of diet beverages is recommended by experts.

The narrative around diet sodas is continually changing — for every study claiming they're linked to dementia, there's a nutritionist recommending them.

The latest research, however, claims that consuming diet sodas and juices is linked to a higher risk of stroke and heart disease, as well as a higher risk of dying early from any cause.

A large-scale study of women over the age of 50 by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association found that drinking two or more artificially sweetened drinks per day was linked to having an increased risk of heart attacks, clot-based strokes and early death.

The study, published in Stroke, involved over 80,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 and found that drinking two or more diet drinks (one serving being 335ml) a day increased a woman's chance of stroke by 23% compared to women who consumed less than one a week.

The women who drank more of the artificially sweetened drinks were also found to be 29% more likely to develop heart disease and 16% more likely to die from any cause during the 12-year trial.

The health risks were found to be higher in certain sub-sets of women: those who were obese, African-American, or without previous heart disease or diabetes.

The researchers adjusted for various stroke risk factors such as age, high blood pressure, and smoking, and point out that the results may not be applicable to men or younger women.

Read more: A sports nutritionist says drinking Diet Coke will help you lose weight, despite a new study that suggests the opposite

Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, lead author of the study and an associate professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said: "Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet.

"Our research and other observational studies have shown that artificially sweetened beverages may not be harmless and high consumption is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease."

She continued: "We don't know specifically what types of artificially sweetened beverages they were consuming, so we don't know which artificial sweeteners may be harmful and which may be harmless."

The researchers note that they cannot say drinking diet drinks directly causes these consequences, mainly because the study was observational and relied on participants' own reporting, but they say the link is worth noting.

Read more: Low-calorie sweeteners are no better for weight loss than sugar, according to a new study

"Unfortunately, current research simply does not provide enough evidence to distinguish between the effects of different low-calorie sweeteners on heart and brain health," said Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., professor of nutrition emeritus, University of Vermont and the chair of the writing group for the American Heart Association's science advisory, Low-Calorie Sweetened Beverages and Cardiometabolic Health.

"This study adds to the evidence that limiting use of diet beverages is the most prudent thing to do for your health.

"The American Heart Association suggests water as the best choice for a no-calorie beverage. However, for some adults, diet drinks with low calorie sweeteners may be helpful as they transition to adopting water as their primary drink.

"Since long-term clinical trial data are not available on the effects of low-calorie sweetened drinks and cardiovascular health, given their lack of nutritional value, it may be prudent to limit their prolonged use."


Feb 8th

I kept a sugar diary for my son and was shocked at what it revealed

Ten year olds are consuming an average of 52.2 grams of sugar a day Children in the UK are exceeding the recommended sugar intake of an 18-year-old by the time they reach the age of 10

Who, really, has a clue how much sugar their children consume? Chocolate bars, bags of sweets, even slices of cake, are one thing; but a total amount, in grams or teaspoons? I haven’t a clue, I’m afraid, not being obsessive about reading nutritional labels or a whizz at calculating the sweetness of a home-made meal in percentage terms. Which meant I took a recent warning from Public Health England that children in the UK are exceeding the recommended sugar intake of an 18-year-old by the time they reach the age of 10 with a pinch of the white stuff, albeit the salty kind. I usually cook from scratch; I almost never succumb to whingeing for supermarket treats; and – shudder – I don’t dish out the fizzy drinks except on very rare occasions. I thought it would show how little sugar he ate Keeping a sugar diary for my seven-year-old son would be a doddle, I assumed. If anything, he’d look too angelic and I’d have to slip him some Haribo. How wrong I was. It takes Lucy Upton, a paediatric specialist dietician who has seen what he’s spent the week eating, mere seconds to burst my bubble. “At first glance, you’d say that looks like a balanced diet. But it’s how the sugar accumulates,” she says. 

There isn’t a single day when he eats less than the recommended maximum amount, which for seven- to 10-year-olds is 24 grams, or six teaspoons. Danger zones range from the obvious post-Christmas fallout mince pie and slice of cake, to spurts of tomato sauce or the cans of baked beans I crack open without thinking I’m serving up processed food. Then there are his school lunches, a blank zone where anything goes in my deluded imagination. Agave syrup is, I found out, still sugar I know without being told which day was worst: Saturday, thanks to that breakfast of waffles and syrup, which apparently clocked in at nearly 30 grams. “I smiled when I saw it was agave syrup. Perhaps because of the wellness trend, lots of people assume it’s better than plain old sugar, but it’s all just sugar,” warns Upton, whose calculations excluded naturally occurring sugars in fresh and dried fruit or dairy products. “We’d never tell people to limit the amount of fresh fruit or vegetables they serve children,” she adds. Seven days of sugar Monday Breakfast: bacon sandwich (4g) Lunch: pizza (2g) with potato wedges and sweetcorn. Jam and coconut sponge (22g) Dinner: Itsu sushi (10g). Portion of strawberry and banana crumble (8g) Snacks: pear, one shortbread biscuit (4g) TOTAL: 50g Tuesday Breakfast: baked beans (5g), scrambled egg, 1 rasher bacon, tomato, one piece of toast and peanut butter (2g). Lunch: rice, peas, sweetcorn, tomato sauce and jelly. (15g) Snacks: mince pie (19g), apple, orange. Dinner: spelt and vegetable broth. Two water biscuits with peanut butter. Total: 41g Wednesday Breakfast: cereal: Shreddies, Cheerios and Weetabix. (5g) Lunch: spinach and chickpea dal curry with rice. Chocolate cake. (8g) Dinner: tofu and broccoli rice stir fry. Snacks: apple, small piece of fruit cake (16g, not counting the naturally occurring sugars from dried fruit). TOTAL: 29g Thursday Breakfast: cereal: Shreddies, Cheerios and Weetabix (5g). One piece of toast with peanut butter. (2g) Lunch: vegetable sausage (1g), roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding. Fresh fruit salad. Dinner: Quorn spaghetti bolognese. Half a mince pie (9.5g) Snacks: one-and-a-quarter hot cross buns. (20g), apple. TOTAL: 27.5g Friday Breakfast: cereal: Shreddies, Cheerios and Weetabix. (5g) Lunch: fish fingers, chips, beans (5g). Banana flapjack (12g) Dinner: homemade tomato soup, bread (2g). Macaroni cheese with tomato ketchup (3.5g) Snacks: small packet of Haribo sweets (8g) TOTAL: 35.5g Saturday Breakfast: half a piece of bread (1g), two waffles (15g) and four teaspoons of agave syrup (12g) Lunch: half a sausage roll. Two pieces of cheese on toast (4g) Dinner: chickpea and tomato curry with rice. Snacks: Hot chocolate (17g if made with water). Portion of raisins (8g) and nuts. TOTAL: 57g Sunday Breakfast: two pieces of toast with jam and peanut butter (12g) Lunch: vegetable stir fry Dinner: tacos and black beans with cheese and tomatoes. Portion of plum crumble and cream (18g) TOTAL: 30g The recommended daily maximum of sugar is 24 grams

Everyone needs to be involved This isn’t to conclude I’ve completely failed in my maternal duties, however. Upton doesn’t want to “guilt trip” me into a radical dietary overhaul. Everyone, from food manufacturers to schools, should be helping parents get a grip on what their children are eating, Upton thinks.

One person doing just that is Dominic Green, a food industry consultant who advises schools on the Government’s school food standards. He checks those lunch menus for added sugar and stipulates that schools should serve fruit as a dessert at least twice a week. That said, he warns that sugar remains a “grey area” because those school food standards “don’t restrict sugar in a recipe”. The news that 10-year-olds are consuming an average of 52.2 grams of sugar a day has prompted one government department to offer dedicated teaching resources for the core subjects to try to promote healthier eating habits among schoolchildren. English lessons, for example, will include healthy recipes from around the world, while maths classes will use problems suggesting healthier swaps for sugar. One lunch box contained the equivalent of 48 teaspoons of sugar Teachers are alert to the scale of the challenge. One reception teacher told me she once opened a kid’s packed lunch to find it contained the equivalent of 48 teaspoons – that’s 192 grams – of sugar. “And he was already challenged weight and attention-wise,” she added.

One primary school headteacher, who asked not to be named, said they already used a “cross-curricular approach” to teach about diet and healthy lifestyle choices, adding: “As educators, it is our role to inform children about healthy eating. But we find it tricky to find out the sugar content of many foods, such as bread.”

Feb 5th

What drinking diet soda does to your body and brain

Artificial sweeteners are one of diet soda's main ingredients. But studies have shown that the artificial sweeteners within diet sodas can cause a series of health problems. We decided to take a look at what happens to the body when you only drink diet soda. Following is a transcript of the video.

In the early 1960s, a new kind of beverage took the stage.It wasn't a new shape, or color, or flavor. No, this was diet soda. And It. Was. Awesome.

With fewer calories and less sugar, diet soda promised to be a healthier alternative to regular soda. But like most promises in life that sound too good to be true, it probably is.

Can you tell the difference between a glass of regular and diet soda? Turns out, neither can your body. And that's where the trouble starts.

Until recently, everything we ate contained some amount of calories. When we ate something sweet, for example, the brain sent signals to our pancreas. Which started producing insulin, that stored the sugar molecules in our cells for energy.

So, when we drink diet soda, the sweetness tricks our body into thinking it's real sugar. But when those energy-packed calories don't arrive, the insulin has nothing to store.

Scientists think that repeatedly tricking our body this way could explain why study after study keeps finding the same thing: that drinking diet soda is associated with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a mix of conditions that includes: increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and weight gain. Which can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

In fact, one study found that diet soda drinkers had a higher risk of stroke and dementia than regular soda drinkers. And for another 8-year-long study between 1979-1988, participants who started out at a normal weight and drank an average of 21 diet beverages a week faced DOUBLE the risk of becoming overweight or obese by the end of the study, compared to people who avoided diet beverages completely.

And while drinking diet soda with a meal may sound like a tasty, calorie-free alternative to plain water, a growing body of research is starting to find that this may be the WORST time to drink it. Because the fake calories in the diet soda could ultimately disrupt how many of the real calories we metabolize. Potentially leaving excess calories behind that we then store as fat.

Another issue could be the fact that artificial sweeteners in diet sodas can be tens to hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. So when we taste it, our brains anticipate more calories than what we give it. It's like when you go to a party expecting loads of food and you end up with a handful of veggies and vegan cheese. You're left unsatisfied and hangry. In the same way, artificial sweeteners can leave our brains wanting more, which studies have shown leads to increased appetite, and potential weight gain, in fruit flies, mice, and humans.

So if the reason you're drinking diet soda is to drop a few pounds, maybe stick to water.


Feb 3rd

Most Important Meal? Review Questions Whether Breakfast Is Really Good for Weight Loss

Breakfast may not be the "most important meal of the day" after all, at least for people trying to lose weight.

A new review study finds no strong evidence to support the ideas that eating breakfast helps with weight loss or that skipping breakfast promotes weight gain.

Rather, the review found that people who ate breakfast consumed more calories during the day and weighed slightly more than people who skipped the morning meal.

"This review questions the recommendation for breakfast consumption" to help with weight loss, the researchers, from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, wrote in the Jan. 30 issue of the journal The BMJ.

However, the new review is far from the last word on breakfast. Indeed, the researchers cautioned that many of the studies included in the review had notable limitations. For example, many were conducted over a short period of time, and the study researchers often knew which participants were eating breakfast and which weren't — a design that could affect the interpretation of the study. [11 Surprising Things That Can Make Us Gain Weight]

Still, at the very least, the results suggest that caution is needed when recommending breakfast for people trying to lose weight, "as it could have the opposite effect," the researchers said.

They called for more long-term, high-quality studies to further examine the role of breakfast in weight control.

Eat or skip breakfast?

Some previous studies have suggested that people who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight than people who skip the morning meal. But these studies observed large populations over time, and it's possible that breakfast eaters in those studies tended to have other healthy lifestyle habits — like a healthier diet in general or a better exercise regime — that are responsible for the link.

In the new review, the researchers analyzed information from 13 previous studies in which participants were randomly assigned to either eat breakfast or skip breakfast. Some of the studies focused on the effect of breakfast consumption on weight change, while others focused on participants' total daily calorie intake. The shortest study lasted just 24 hours, while the longest study lasted 16 weeks.

Overall, the review found that people who ate breakfast consumed, on average, about 260 calories more per day than people who skipped breakfast.

In addition, people who ate breakfast weighted about 1 lb. (0.44 kilograms) more at the end of the study period (seven weeks, on average) than people who skipped breakfast.

What's more, researchers have thought that people who skip breakfast would feel hungrier later in the day and thus eat more. But the new review did not find evidence that breakfast skippers felt hungrier in the afternoon, based on an analysis of hunger hormones.

No recommendations yet

Dana Hunnes, a senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, who was not involved in the review, said that its conclusions don't appear strong enough to warrant recommending for or against skipping breakfast. Hunnes noted that the review found only a 1-lb.difference between breakfast eaters and breakfast skippers, and the studies included in the review were conducted for relatively short periods.

"I don't feel the findings are robust enough to recommend [skipping breakfast] as a weight-loss strategy for most people," Hunnes told Live Science.

That means that if you like to eat breakfast, Hunnes would not recommend changing your habits, in part because the review found such a small difference in weight between the two groups. Likewise, if you just don't like eating breakfast, you don't need to start, Hunnes said.

She added that she would like to see future studies on this topic that are conducted over a longer time, around six months to a year. And rather than asking people to report what they eat after the fact, future studies could use apps that allow people to quickly enter all the foods they are eating during the day, she said.

Jan 24th

Why women store fat in different places than men

An ongoing report from Uppsala University has discovered that genetic elements impact whether individuals store fat around the trunk or in different parts of your body and that this impact is overwhelming in ladies and much lower in men.

Lead author Mathias Rask-Andersen, Ph.D. and postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology at Uppsala University said, “We know that women and men tend to store fat differently—women have the ability to more easily store fat on the hips and legs, while men tend to accumulate fat around the abdomen to a higher extent.”

“This has been attributed to the effects of sex hormones such as estrogen. But the molecular mechanisms that control this phenomenon are fairly unknown.”

Scientists used data from U.K. Biobank, which is a cohort study of a half-million participants in the U.K. The members gave blood tests for genotyping and the conveyance of fat tissue was evaluated utilizing impedance estimations, i.e., estimations of opposition when an electrical flow is sustained through the body.

In the flow consider, a huge number of genetic variations over the genome were tried for connection with the dissemination of fat to the arms, legs or trunk, and the examination group recognized almost a hundred genes that influence dispersion of fat tissue to the diverse compartments of the human body. The analysts additionally observed a high level of heterogeneity between genders.

The group leader docent Åsa Johansson said, “We were struck by a large number of genetic effects that were stronger, or only present, in females. Upon closer examination, several of the associated genes were found to encode proteins that actively shape the extracellular matrix, which makes up the supporting structure around cells.”

“The findings suggest that remodeling of the extracellular matrix is one of the mechanisms that generate differences in body fat distribution.”

Fat stored in the trunk has recently been related with expanded disease chance. Men have a more prominent measure of stomach fat than ladies and this may clarify the expanded predominance of cardiovascular infection observed in males.

Epidemiological examinations have even demonstrated that the capacity to store fat around hips and legs gives ladies some insurance against cardiovascular sickness. The aftereffect of the flow study may along these lines lead to the advancement of new medications to decrease the danger of cardiovascular ailment.

Mathias Rask-Andersen said, “The biological systems we highlight in our study have the potential to be used as points-of-intervention for new drugs that are aimed at improving the distribution of body fat and thereby reducing the risk of disease.”


Jan 10th 

What I learned about weight loss from spending a day inside a metabolic chamber

When scientists offer mice or rats a spread of junk food, they consistently find that only some overeat and puff out into little rodent blimps, while others maintain a normal body size.

A similar thing happens in people. In the US, and around the world, we are now overwhelmed with highly palatable, cheap calories. This has helped obesity rates soar on average. But not everyone overeats and becomes overweight, and not everyone who becomes overweight or obese develops illnesses like diabetes or heart disease. This individual variation — why we have different responses to extra calories and weight — is one of the greatest mysteries of modern medicine.

The best place to find answers is an 11-by-11.5-foot room in suburban Washington, DC. This summer, I spent a day there, one of fewer than 100 patients who will do so this year.

The National Institutes of Health Clinical Center’s airtight “metabolic chamber” is furnished only with an exercise bike, a toilet, and a bed. For 23 hours in June, I was sealed in the chamber, while nurses monitored me constantly through a plexiglass window and video camera in the ceiling.

Like a prisoner in solitary confinement, I ate meals delivered through a small, air-locked opening in the wall. Since researchers were measuring every calorie I used, any leftover scrap had to be sent back through the wall and recorded. A heart monitor and three accelerometers on my wrist, waist, and ankle tracked my every heartbeat and movement.

There are only about 30 metabolic chambers in the world, and the NIH is home to three. These highly sensitive, multimillion-dollar scientific instruments are considered the gold standard for measuring metabolism. They’ve furthered our understanding of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes — diseases that are now among the greatest threats to health worldwide — by letting researchers carefully track how individual bodies respond to the calories they’re offered.

My participation, as a normal weight “control” subject in an obesity phenotyping study, would be used toward this lofty goal.

But I wasn’t interested in joining the study just for the sake of science; I had selfish motivations too. As kids, my two brothers and many of my friends seemed to be able to binge on junk food without gaining weight. Today, my husband can gulp down mountains of pasta and remain skinny. I, on the other hand, have always noticed the scale creeps up quickly when I’m not careful about my diet. And I’ve harbored a suspicion that a “slow metabolism” might help explain my lifelong struggle to control my weight.

Being a self-imposed NIH prisoner was an exciting and rare opportunity — to see one of the most important scientific tools in obesity research up close and to finally get some answers on this long-simmering question about my body.

But my day in the chamber revealed the depths of my misunderstanding about my metabolism. And that the obsession with metabolism speed is distracting, destructive, and based on a myth about obesity and weight management.

If you’ve surveyed the covers of women’s magazines, watched Dr. Oz’s TV show, or strolled down the supplement aisle at the grocery store, you might think your metabolism is a single thing that can be calibrated with “metabolism boosters” like chili peppers or coffee, or by following special diets.

In reality, metabolism is the thousands of chemical reactions that turn the energy we eat and drink into fuel in every cell of the body. These reactions change in response to our environments and behaviors, and in ways we have little control over. (Eating certain foods and exercising a little more generally shifts our metabolic rate only marginally.)

There are three main ways the body uses calories. There’s the energy needed to keep our hearts, brains, and every cell of our body working, known as the basal metabolism. There’s the energy used to break down food, known as the thermic effect of food. And there’s the energy burned off during physical activity — like walking around, fidgeting, or exercising.

The basal metabolic rate accounts for the largest amount of the total calories a person burns each day (65 to 80 percent for most adults). Physical activity, on the other hand, accounts for a much smaller portion — 10 to 30 percent for most people — despite what many people believe. And digesting food accounts for about 10 percent.

There are several predictors of how fast or slow a person’s metabolic rate will be. These include the amount of lean muscle and fat tissue in the body, age, and genetics. Women tend to burn fewer calories than men. Having a higher metabolic rate means your body uses food for fuel (instead of storing it as fat) more quickly. But you can still gain weight if you consume more calories than your body needs. Counterintuitively, heavier people generally have higher metabolic rates than skinny folks to meet the fuel demands of their larger bodies.

These processes, essential to any living organism, are complex, and scientists had been working to unravel them for centuries before the obesity crisis hit.

In the early 1600s, Santorio Sanctorius, an Italian doctor and “founding father of metabolic balance studies,” ran one of the first controlled experiments of human metabolism. He invented the “static weighing chair,” a device that allowed him to weigh himself before and after meals, sleep, toilet breaks, even sex. He noticed fluctuations in his bodyweight, and concluded these could be explained by “insensible perspiration.”

One hundred years after that, French chemist Antoine Lavoisier used a device called an “ice calorimeter” to gauge the energy burn from animals —like guinea pigs — in cages by watching how quickly ice or snow around the cages melted. This research suggested that the heat and gases respired by animals, including humans, related to the energy they burn.

The “metabolic chamber” I entered evolved from Sanctorius and Lavoisier’s work. Over the years, researchers probing the mysteries of the metabolism figured out that the amount of oxygen we take in, and carbon dioxide we let off, changes depending on how quickly we’re using calories and the type of calories we’re using. Measuring these gases in airtight environments can determine a person’s metabolic rate.

The metabolic chamber — also known as a whole-room calorimeter — is the most precise tool available to track this gas exchange minute by minute.

NIH’s three chambers opened in 2007 to focus on the growing obesity epidemic. Eighteen researchers now use the rooms to run about 400 studies every year. And they are part of a broader “metabolic unit” dedicated to understanding the weight problems, obesity, and diabetes that currently affect up to a third of the people on earth.

Studying thousands of subjects in the metabolic unit — the chambers plus NIH hospital wings for patients with diabetes and obesity — has helped researchers show how adaptable the metabolism is, and how it works with our appetite, body composition, and physical activity levels to adjust the calories we’re burning at any moment.

For example, by giving people a medication that causes them to lose (through their urine) an extra 360 calories per day, they’ve shown that we unknowingly compensate for those calories lost by eating more.

They’ve found that exposing people to cold temperatures while they sleep causes them to accumulate more brown fat — fat tissue whose main function is heat production — and burn more calories. (These results reversed completely when the study participants slept in warmer temperatures again, revealing how dynamic metabolism is.)

In a remarkable study of Biggest Loser reality TV show participants with obesity, researchers showed that crash dieting can permanently slow a person’s metabolic rate, leading them to hang on to the calories they were eating for longer, though this isn’t true for everybody who loses weight.

The big theme in many of these studies: Our metabolism silently shifts under new conditions and environments in ways we’re not usually aware of.

When it comes to diets, the researchers have also debunked the notion that bodies burn more body fat while on a high-fat and low-carb ketogenic diet, compared to a higher-carb diet, despite all the hype.

“We could have found out that if we cut carbs, we’d lose way more fat because energy expenditure would go up and fat oxidation would go up,” said Kevin Hall, an obesity researcher at NIH and an author on many of these studies. “But the body is really good at adapting to the fuels coming in.” Another related takeaway: There appears to be no silver bullet diet for fat loss, at least not yet.

Many basic metabolism mysteries remain. It’s not fully known why two people with the same size and body composition have different metabolic rates. They also don’t know why people can have different metabolic responses to weight gain (where some people with obesity develop insulin resistance and diabetes, for example, and others don’t). They don’t know why certain ethnic groups — African Americans, South Asians — have a higher risk of developing metabolic disorders like diabetes, and why people with diabetes have a higher cardiovascular disease risk.

They haven’t even figured out how the brain knows what the body weighs and, therefore, the mechanism that controls our metabolic rate.

“If I knew how the brain is aware of how much the body weighs, and how to regulate how many calories it burned off, I could change that setting and help an overweight person burn more calories through an increase in metabolic rate,” NIH metabolism and brown fat researcher Aaron Cypess told me over the phone before my stay.

Cypess is using the chambers to work toward that, and figure out whether there might be a drug that can do what very cold temperatures do: help people burn more calories. These and other studies in the chamber are a gold mine for data on the metabolism’s mysteries — data that could eventually help uncover cures for obesity and diabetes.

For my part in the research, I’d undergo a battery of physical tests — from blood draws to an EKG — and spend a day and night in the chamber. In addition to watching how much I moved and what I ate, the scientists would get a reading on precisely how many calories I burned and what type (carbohydrates, fat, or protein), every minute of the 23 hours I called the chamber home. I’d also have my metabolic rate checked using two other methods (the “metabolic cart” and “doubly labeled water”; more on these later).

In return, I’d get more granular data about how my body works than I ever could’ve hoped for. And that made me anxious.

At age 34 and 5-foot-9, my weight hovers in the 150s, and my BMI is normal. But even as a child, I was chubby and seemed to enjoy sugary and fatty foods more than other members of my family. During my late teens and 20s, I struggled to manage my weight and was at times overweight — a situation that worsened at the end of high school. I moved to Italy and indulged in all the pizza, ice cream, carpaccio, and mozzarella my little town in Abruzzo had to offer. Like a research mouse, I puffed out and returned to Canada the following year depressed about my body. It took several years to really start the process of slimming down.

I’d long believed these fat years somehow wreaked havoc on my body. Specifically, I thought they slowed down my metabolic rate, and that that made me prone to weight gain. But I was about to learn this idea I’d held on to for so long was wrong.

Halfway through my morning in the metabolic chamber, I had eaten and rested at prescribed intervals, and hit the exercise bike for 30 minutes. I also meticulously recorded all my activities in a log — when I was standing and reading, lying down, on the bike — so that the researchers could compare how they tracked against my calorie burn.

Just before lunch arrived, Kong Chen, a metabolism investigator at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, turned up on the other side of my plexiglass window to say hello.

“How are you doing in there?” he asked.

I was surprisingly comfortable in the little room, I told him, and asked if he could walk me through precisely how the chamber does the work of measuring the metabolism.

Chen, who has a PhD in biomedical engineering, explained that the room I was standing in was almost airtight, with a fixed volume of oxygen and CO2. Through an array of metal pipes spread across the ceiling, researchers captured and measured the oxygen I consumed and the CO2 I produced at every minute.

The reason these gasses matter for metabolism is simple, Chen said. We get fuel in the form of calories — from carbohydrates, fat, and protein. But to unlock those calories, the body needs oxygen. When we breathe in, oxygen interacts with the food we’ve consumed, breaking down (or oxidizing) chemical bonds where the calories are stored and releasing them for use by our cells. The product of the process is CO2.

When air is sucked out of the chamber through the pipes, two things happen: First, gas analyzers measure everything the person inside respired, Chen said. Then the gas analyzers send the values for oxygen consumption and CO2 production to a computer, where researchers like Chen plug them into equations to calculate calories burned and what type of fuel was oxidized.

The amount of CO2 we’re releasing, and the proportions of CO2 to O2, changes depending on how many calories we’re using and whether those calories came from carbs, fat, or protein.

The reason these minute-to-minute measurements are so important is that they allow the chamber to detect subtle shifts of energy expenditure — as little as a 1.5 to 2 percent change over 24 hours — in a way no other tool can. “If you have an intervention — a drug or diet — that changes a person’s physiology by a small percentage, we can measure that,” Chen said proudly.

The next best metabolism measuring method, called doubly labeled water, involves drinking a sample of water that contains (or is “labeled with”) forms of the elements deuterium and oxygen-18. Since they’re not normally found in the body, researchers can determine a person’s metabolic rate by tracking how quickly they’re expelled through urine sampling. But doubly labeled water can only detect a 5 percent change in metabolic rate over seven to 10 days, which is less than half as precise as the metabolic chamber.

These tiny changes in calorie burn might sound insignificant, but over time, they add up. “Ultimately,” Chen said, “it only takes maybe a 100 calorie-per-day difference between food intake and energy expenditure over a few years to gain 10 pounds.” So an extra cookie a day can mean the difference between fitting in your jeans or not.

I asked Chen whether he’d ever used the chamber himself. He told me he was his own first subject, part of an early validation study. What did he learn, and did it change his behavior?

“I found myself to be fairly normal in terms of metabolic rate, which is good and bad I suppose,” he said. “Good because I’m metabolically normal. But it also means that I’m probably just as at risk to anyone else to gaining weight if I’m not watching it. So I’m not one of those people that can eat all they want and not gain weight.”

After Chen’s visit, the rest of my day in isolation whirred by with several more rest periods, exercise bursts, and meals. I went to bed that night thinking about Chen’s results and wondering what the chamber would reveal about me.

The next morning, I woke up groggy from six hours of light sleep. I was eager to open the heavy steel door and get into fresh air.

But the experiment wasn’t over. A “metabolic cart” — which looked like a computer on rollers connected to a tube and a plastic hood — arrived to measure my resting energy expenditure, or metabolic rate when I’m awake but not physically active, and before eating anything. So I lay in a hospital bed as a technician fitted the clear domed hood over my head while the machine captured the CO2 I respired.

On my way out of the hospital, I said goodbye to Chen and thanked the nurses who had cared for me. They reminded me to collect urine samples every day for a week so they’d get a final measure of my metabolism, using the doubly labeled water method. I’d also continue wearing the three accelerometers. Together, this data would give the researchers a sense of my average daily calorie burn as a “free-living subject,” outside the hospital.

A few weeks later, I called Kevin Hall to go over my results. What most surprised me: There was a pretty wide gap between how healthy I was and how unhealthy I expected I’d be.

“[The results] suggest you’re perfectly normal,” Hall said.

My metabolic rate was what he’d have predicted for someone my age, height, sex, and weight. In other words, I didn’t have a “slow metabolism.” I had burned the equivalent of 2,330 calories per day in the chamber, including during sleep, and most of those calories (more than 1,400) were from my resting energy expenditure. My biomarkers — my heart rate, cholesterol levels, blood pressure — were all excellent, suggesting no heightened disease risk leftover from my overweight years.

There were other revealing takeaways. Staying awake cost my body only a few more calories than sleeping, which didn’t surprise Hall. “We know the sleeping metabolic rate is about 5 percent less than resting metabolic rate when you’re awake,” he explained.

What’s more, the 405 calories I burned during 90 minutes on the exercise bike was both less than is advertised in spinning classes and just 17 percent of the total calories I had used, validating once again that workouts typically account for a relatively minor part of total energy expenditure.

Even during sleep, my body was busy. “This goes into the question of, ‘Does your brain’s energy expenditure go up when you’re doing a hard math problem compared to when you’re zoning out watching TV?’ And everyone who has measured that has said ‘no’ — it’s a fixed amount, and your brain is not inactive at any point in time,” Hall said.

As for the “calories in” part: I consumed about 1,850 calories (including 18 percent protein, 36 percent fat, and 46 percent carbs) of the 2,250 calories provided to me. That means I was in an energy deficit, and if I continued eating that much, I’d lose weight.

I also found out that I’m bad at estimating my calorie consumption. During my chamber stay, I told a nutritionist what I’d eaten the day before and filled in a survey of my food consumption over the past year. Based on that, she’d calculated I was eating only 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day. I thought I was being incredibly thorough and generous in my accounting, but if this was really all I ate, I’d be thinner than I am.

The results of these food surveys made me wonder how many of us blame some aspect of our biology for weight gain when we’re really just underestimating our calorie intake, forgetting all the little extras we eat and drink that can add up to pounds over the years. It seems I had too.

I asked Hall if there were any other potential explanations for why I felt I gained weight so easily. He told me NIH does other studies that could answer that. If he had tracked my metabolism before I had lost weight earlier in life, he’d be able to detect any slowdown in response to slimming. Or if I participated in an “overfeeding study” — where I was deliberately fed more calories than my body required — he might detect no change in my metabolic rate.There are some people whose metabolic rate speeds up when they overeat, using the extra calories as fuel instead of storing them as fat, and it’s possible I’m not one of them.

But we didn’t have that data, and according to what he could see, I was in perfect health.

I hung up the phone and reflected on the chamber experience — and my quest to better understand my body.

Spending time at NIH reminded me that our epidemic of weight problems, in addition to damaging our physical health, has left in its wake an epidemic of psychological scars — even in those who, like me, manage to lose weight.

I was genuinely surprised, and somewhat relieved, when nurses and doctors kept referring to my biomarkers as “excellent” and to me as “very fit.” Even though I know my bodyweight is in a healthy range, I still feel like a chubby kid.

And you don’t need a history of weight problems to experience these feelings of inadequacy. Celebrities and big businesses — like Goop and Dr. Oz and many of the supplement, wellness, and exercise companies out there — have minted billions off stoking our anxieties about our physical shortcomings. If we only tried a new exercise, bought a new gizmo, or ate a certain way, they suggest, we’d be slimmer, glowier, healthier.

Yet the truth of the metabolic chamber is that there’s a lot of variation in how people respond to diets and exercises, and so far, no single approach has worked to help everybody. That’s why so much of the one-size-fits-all weight loss advice we’re steeped in is so frustrating and futile for so many.

The chamber has also shown that while some people have a “slow metabolism” relative to others their size and age, this isn’t a major cause of obesity. And despite the focus on “metabolism boosting” for weight loss, there’s nothing money can buy that will speed your metabolism up in way that will lead to substantial slimming.

When I look back at what helped me lose weight, there was never a magic bullet — a special diet, exercise regimen, or supplement — that worked. Through plodding trial and error, I discovered habits and routines I could stick with to help me eat less and move more.

I don’t keep junk food in the house, I avoid eating out a lot, I prioritize sleep, and I try to fill my plates with fruits and vegetables. As for exercise, I build it into my daily life — walking or biking to work, or during lunch breaks. And I’ve found mornings and weekends best for dedicated workouts (yoga, running, swimming, spinning, Pilates, etc.).

These routines are a work in progress, and I know that my ability to maintain them is strongly tied to my socioeconomic status and where I live. If I had more personal or financial stress, or lived in a different neighborhood with a long commute to work, I’d probably sleep less and eat more. I certainly wouldn’t be doing Pilates.

Research from the chamber won’t alleviate these socioeconomic drivers of obesity. But a better understanding of human physiology and metabolism — with the help of the chamber — might level the playing field through the discovery of effective treatments. As Lex Kravitz, an NIH neuroscientist and obesity researcher, told me, “Even if a slow metabolism isn’t the reason people become obese, it may still be a place to intervene for weight loss.” The same goes for the other common illnesses — diabetes, cardiovascular disease — linked to extra weight.

More immediately, science from the chamber should debunk our metabolism myths. It certainly debunked mine.


Dec 26th 2018

Here's how to deal with bloating over Christmas

Let's face it: Christmas isn't Christmas if you don't end the day slumped on the sofa having changed into your pyjamas because you can't deal with your jeans digging into your belly anymore. 

And that's usually thanks to being bloated (which, in turn, is thanks to the 377292 roast potatoes you ate).

But it can be uncomfortable, especially if you want to dress up and look nice, and don't want to have to wear a giant bin bag in preparation for your stomach's inevitable expansion.

To find out a little more about why we bloat so much over the festive period - and more importantly how we might be able to prevent it - we spoke to Dr Naila Arebi, Consultant Gastroentorologist at St Mark's Hospital.

Why do we bloat during the Christmas period?

"The most common cause of bloating is overindulgence," says Dr Naila, as I start having flashbacks to the entire Cadbury's selection pack I single-handedly devoured in one day

ast year. And it's particularly common this time of year because the foods we often choose are high in fat and sugar.

"Excess fat slows the gut motility," explains the expert. "Their incompatibility with water makes fats resistant to the digestive process, and their arrival in your stomach triggers physiologic responses that delay gastric emptying."

As well as that, the influx of sugar doesn't help. "In addition, excess sugars ferment in the gut. This is not dissimilar to the fermentation process of champagne, in which sugars are added grape juice to cause bubbles. Slow gut function with excess fermentation contributes to bloating," Dr Naila says. And it actually makes total sense; we're like one great big festive fizzy drink.

How can we avoid bloating at Christmas?

Unfortunately there aren't that many ways to avoid it unless you want to stick to the rigid #cleaneating you do for the rest of the year, and we all know how hard that can be with so much delicious food on offer. But the doctor does have a couple of bits of advice: "I would recommend limiting each meal to one sweet. In addition, try to opt for the lower fat content main dishes e.g. fish or turkey rather than lamb/beef or pork."

What Christmas foods trigger bloating?

"If you're a sufferer of IBS, certain foods can trigger symptoms in individuals, which would we recommend avoiding and/or limiting during Christmas," advises Dr Naila.

And for those who don't have IBS but still bloat? "For others, the main reason we bloat during the festive period is because of the excess of food and drink, particularly if our body is not used to that type of diet. As mentioned, foods containing sugars and fats can lead to bloating. A roast dinner contains lots of fat and also is a large meal and therefore, this is why many of us feel extremely bloated following Christmas lunch. It might be wise to have less cream on your Christmas pudding and be sensible with the box of chocolates!"

What tips and tricks are there for preventing bloating when we still want to eat our body weight in food?

"I would recommend avoiding eating a large volume of food in one sitting, as this can lead us to become uncomfortably full and bloat." So little and often it is, which suits me because that more or less means we can eat all day, right?

"In addition, you can use antacids to minimise any heartburn," suggests the medical expert. "Antacids are medicines that counteract the acid in your stomach to relieve indigestion and heartburn. After a heavy meal try to follow with a light day of steamed vegetables and water. Treat this as a 'detox day' after overindulging." But let's be realistic here: we'll probably need a detox month.

If already bloated, how can we ease it or help it go down?

"A hot water bottle relieves discomfort," says Dr Naila, and I can totally get on board with the idea of that plus my new Christmas PJs. "Its heat and weight will help the gas leave your body and the pressure subside," she explains.

"Trapped gas contributes to bloating and alternative cardiovascular exercise helps move this gas. Therefore try not to sit out of the family walk on Christmas day, as this could in fact help relieve your discomfort." And who doesn't like a Christmas Day walk in the woods?

More of Dr Naila's advice includes swapping "your Christmas evening tipple for peppermint tea as it can be very beneficial for your digestive system. Peppermint has relaxant and antispasmodic properties and can help reduce bloating by encouraging the release of gas."

And on a slightly more serious note, Dr Naila says this:

"It's important to note that if bloating doesn't subside it may be the sign of a more serious medical condition such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease or bowel cancer. Therefore, seek help if tummy problems persist past the Christmas period, particularly if there is blood in your faeces and you experience weight loss."

Merry Christmas - here's to a prosperous festive period with all the eating and none of the bloating.

Dec 22nd 2018

Success with weight loss is all in the mind

Whenever I’ve tried to lose weight I know my efforts will be unsuccessful unless a switch in my brain flicks on. You could call it the willpower switch. Well, it seems some brains aren’t wired for self-control.

Turns out high-level brain functions play a major role in weight loss, according to a study of 24 patients at a weight-loss clinic. It’s a small sample number but the results are interesting.

Those who achieved greatest success in terms of weight loss demonstrated more activity in the brain regions linked to self-control.

Alain Dagher, the study’s lead author, said: “What we found is that in humans, the control of body weight is dependent largely on the areas of the brain involved in self-control and self-regulation. That area of the brain has the ability to take into account long-term information, such as the desire to be healthy, in order to control immediate desires.”

In other words, the more able you are to control desire in the short-term the more likely you are to enjoy health in the long-term.

Two hormones, ghrelin and leptin , are known to trigger the body to eat or not eat. Previous research confirms that these hormone levels change rapidly when weight is shed. To assess the roles these hormones and self-control have in achieving weight loss, the researchers studied the 24 subjects at the weight-loss clinic.

Prior to starting a standard diet of 1,200 kcal/day, all participants received a functional MRI scan of the brain, which assessed regions linked to self-regulation, motivation, desire, and value. The subjects were shown pictures of appetising foods as well as control pictures of scenery.

The researchers compared the response in brain activity to the food pictures, particularly pictures of high-calorie food for each patient at time zero, one month, and three months.

During the study, researchers noted that at one month and three months, the signal from the desire centre in the brain tended to go down, and it declined most in people who were more successful at losing weight. At the same time the self-control signal increased throughout the study.

Dagher says these results suggest weight loss treatments which increase self-control, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, may be helpful – particularly when stress is the cause behind overeating.

Stress disrupts the brain centre for self-control, but it may be possible to train people to seek a different strategy to beat both stress and overeating.


Dec 16th 2018

These Simple Tips May Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

'Tis the season for festivities … and also weight gain. Indeed, holiday parties and large meals with family make it all too easy to pack on the pounds this time of year. But a new study from the United Kingdom suggests that some simple tips, including weighing yourself regularly, can help prevent holiday weight gain.

The study, known as the Winter Weight Watch, examined whether providing people with simple advice to curb eating and drinking over the holidays could prevent weight gain. The results were published today (Dec. 10) in the Christmas issue of the journal The BMJ; the holiday edition features research that is more lighthearted than the journal's usual fare.

The study's 272 participants were randomly divided into two groups. People in one group, known as the intervention group, were advised to weigh themselves at least twice a week during the holidays and to record and reflect on their weight. This group also received 10 tips for managing weight; these suggestions included being careful with portion sizes, limiting alcohol and sugary drinks, and engaging in regular physical activity. [13 Kitchen Changes that Can Help You Lose Weight]

This group also received a list showing how much exercise you'd need to burn off popular holiday foods and drinks. For example, it would take 16 minutes of running to burn off three large roasted potatoes, and a small glass of mulled wine would require 33 minutes of walking.

The other group, known as the "control group," received a leaflet about leading a healthy lifestyle, but this did not include dietary advice or advice specific to the holidays.

The researchers weighed participants once before the Christmas holidays (in November or December) and again about a month later (in January or February).

The study found that participants in the control group gained a little weight over the holidays (about 0.8 lbs. or 0.4 kilograms, on average), while the intervention group did not gain weight. Overall, participants in the intervention group weighed about 1 lb. (0.5 kg) less at the end of the study, on average, compared with the control group.

Although the difference in weight between the two groups was small, it's still important, given that "any weight gain prevented will have a positive impact on health outcomes," the authors said.

The researchers noted that their study has some limitations; the follow-up period was relativity short, and most participants were women who had a healthy weight or were overweight, rather than obese. So, it's unclear how well the findings apply to other groups of people.

Still, "these results should be considered by health policymakers to prevent weight gain in the population during high-risk periods such as holidays," the authors concluded.


Dec 12th 2018

Seven surprising ways sugar can affect your body

There's a reason sweet foods taste so nice: they contain sugar. And while we enjoy consuming sugary foods (especially those with added sugar), sadly they're not particularly good for us.

We know that too much refined sugar eventually equals weight gain, and we also know sugar is the devil for our teeth. But did you know that sugar can affect your body in an array of other ways, too? Here's how:

1. It can affect your mood

To help you stay focused throughout the day, your brain requires a steady supply of energy in the form of glucose from carbohydrates. But when you opt for sugary carbs, these will "send blood sugar levels soaring, then crashing, which in turn leads to fatigue and low mood," explains dietician Helen Bond, who's working in partnership with sugar alternative brand Splenda. "To help prevent a roller coaster in mood, it is important that we all seek out complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain breads and cereals, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, couscous, pulses and beans, which release their energy slowly," she explains. A slow release of energy will in turn keep your blood sugar levels steady, which is better for refuelling the brain consistently and enhancing mood.

2. It may accelerate ageing

Research suggests that the balance of foods we eat – or don’t eat could lead to premature skin ageing. Dr Nicholas Perricone, dermatologist and author of The Wrinkle Cure believes that sugar causes skin ageing by creating cellular inflammation throughout the body. "Sugar molecules bind to collagen, in our skin in a process called glycation. Glycation creates inflammation that breaks down collagen, resulting in wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity. Skin then becomes stiff and inflexible and more vulnerable to sun damage, wrinkles and sagging," says Helen, explaining Dr Perricone's theory. But the dietician points out that, as it stands, it's just that: a theory. "In reality there is no strong evidence to show or prove this. Glycation is a normal process and the damage takes place over a lifetime, so cutting out sugar from your diet wont stop you getting wrinkles, but it definitely will help keep your teeth and waistline healthy," Helen adds.

3. It could have an effect on your fitness

Everything you eat and drink has an effect on your body when you exercise, and a high sugar diet could have an indirect impact on your fitness levels. "Carbs are important to give you energy during exercise, prevent early fatigue and replace the fuel that you’ve burned," explains Helen, clarifying: "but in balance it's important to eat the right carbs – especially wholegrain versions. High-sugar diets tend to be low in nutritional value, as well as being highly calorific, and won’t provide you with the essential nutrients to allow you to exercise harder, go faster, get stronger and recover faster."

4. It can cause bad skin

High GI foods - which are digested quickly and make blood glucose levels rise just as fast - also cause high insulin levels, "which is thought to lead to hormonal changes that cause and exacerbate acne," notes Helen. The dietician advises that if you are suffering with acne or other skin problems, the 'secret weapons' you want are "low GI carbohydrate foods, such as porridge oats, wholemeal bread, wholegrain pasta, quinoa, sweet potatoes, buckwheat noodles, brown rice, barley, oatcakes and pulses." These, Helen notes, "release energy slowly and steadily, filling you up without piling on the pounds and provide you with skin-friendly B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin and biotin and prebiotics.

5. It can negatively affect your digestive system

Foods that contain natural sugar, like fruits, usually come hand-in-hand with fibre, vitamins, minerals and water. "This combination is good for our digestive health, and will have beneficial effects on the balance and diversity of our gut bacteria which could affect our overall health, too," explains Helen. But foods that are high in refined sugar are the opposite; they tend to be low in nutrients and fibre, "which is not good news for our digestive health and preventing constipation," says Helen, adding that a high-sugar diet can result in bloating for this reason.

6. It can increase your chance of getting a yeast infection

The internal fungus candida is responsible for most vaginal yeast infections, and as Helen points out: "A poor diet – particularly one that is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates - will feed candida, and cause it to flourish." So if you're a regular sufferer of yeast infections, and you're guilty of a relatively high-sugar diet, try cutting out the white stuff.

7. It will make you feel more hungry

"Sweets and sugary carbs like chocolate or biscuits are digested rapidly, and enter the blood stream quickly causing spikes in blood sugars," explains the dietician. "Sugar and refined carbs are not filling, and the lows that follow will leave you feeling hungry and reaching for the sweet stuff again," she adds.

Dec 10th 2018

Children ‘can avoid getting fat when older’ if put to bed at same time each night

A study adds to the growing evidence that insufficient sleep is fuelling the obesity epidemic in youngsters

§  Developing a proper routine in childhood is crucial for the future health of the child, researchers say

§  Despite growing evidence, just one in three youngsters are put down for the night at the recommended times

Parents who put their children to bed at the same time each night are helping them avoid getting fat when older, a study suggests.

Researchers also believe that kids who get regular sleep have better physical and mental health in their teenage years, and learn better.

But despite the evidence, just one in three youngsters aged between five and nine were put down for the night at the recommended times.

The finding in the study, at Penn State University in the US, adds to the growing proof that a lack of sleep is fuelling childhood obesity.

Study co-author Professor Orfeu Buxton said: “Parenting practices in childhood affect physical health and BMI in the teenage years.

“Developing a proper routine in childhood is crucial for the future health of the child.

“We think sleep affects physical and mental health, and the ability to learn.”

The study was based on an analysis of more than 2,000 five-year-olds who were placed into groups depending on their sleep routines and followed for 10 years.

Just one in three consistently adhered to age-appropriate bedtimes between the age of five and nine.

Those who had no such routine had shorter self-reported sleep duration and higher body mass index (BMI) at 15 compared to those who did.

Sleep factors

The study, published in the journal Sleep, supports existing paediatric recommendations that regular bedtimes are important for children’s health.

These should be determined by various factors such as when the child has to wake up to get ready for school and how long the journey is.

Prof Buxton said school start times aren’t determined by parents – but bedtime routines are.

He said: “Giving children the time frame to get the appropriate amount of sleep is paramount.”

It should provide enough of a “window” to get an appropriate amount of sleep – even if the child doesn’t nod off right away, he said.

Lead author Soomi Lee, now assistant professor of ageing studies at the University of South Florida, said the study underlines the importance of continuity in sleep behaviours.

Those who had the best bedtime routines during childhood also had sufficient sleep duration in adolescence.

On the other hand those with the worst did not get enough.

Her team analysed data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a national cohort from 20 US cities with 2,196 subjects.


Bedtime and sleep routines were assessed using mothers’ reports on their children when they were five and nine years old.

At 15, the participants themselves reported their height and weight which were used to calculate BMI.

Prof Lee said the study also highlights the importance of educating parents in bedtime parenting, especially for those in low-income households.

She said: “In our sample that includes a large proportion of low-income, low-education, and ethnic minority households, only less than one third of children had age-appropriate bedtime routines at age five and nine.

“This raises a concern about development and health of children in disadvantaged households.

“Future family interventions may need to include parental educations about sleep health, particularly focusing on parents with low income and low education.”

Additionally, future studies should focus on whether childhood sleep behaviour interventions promote healthier sleep and weight in later life course stages, she said.

Sleep.org has outlined the recommended amount of sleep for each age group.

These are:

Newborns (up to three months): 14 to 17 hours
Infants (four to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours
Toddlers (one to two): 11 to 14 hours
Preschoolers (three to five): 10 to 13 hours
School-age (six to 13): 9 to 11 hours
Tweens and Teens (14 to 17): 8 to 10 hours


Dec 6th 2018

4 signs your weight gain is probably just water weight

·       Water weight happens when extra water is stored in the body's tissue or between blood vessels ·       There are a number of factors that can cause water retention ·       You can gain or lose a few pounds of water weight in a day

If you've gained a few pounds over the last couple of days, you might be alarmed if there doesn't seem to be a reason for it. It's possible, though, that your sudden weight gain is just down to water retention.

Water weight gain occurs when extra water is stored in the tissue or between blood vessels. There are a number of factors that can cause water retention including consuming high amounts of sodium or carbohydrates, dehydration, lifestyle, hormones, medication, or even the weather.

"[Water weight] generally has to do with eating high salt-laden foods, lack of exercise or sweating where you would dissipate the salt," Dr. John P. Salerno, founder of The Salerno Center, told INSIDER. "Sometimes it has to do with kidney dysfunction, where the kidneys can't disperse water," he said. "Also, hormone imbalances … water retention can be exacerbated by problematic cycling."

Consuming more potassium and drinking more water will help reduce your water weight by giving your kidneys a chance to flush out excess water.

Here are four signs that you're just retaining water.

If your extremities such as your wrists, ankles or fingers are swelling, it's probably from water weight gain

If you've noticed your wrists or ankles are swollen or your rings are tighter than usual, that probably means you've retained some water.

"For the general public, they can just see swelling and fluid around their ankles, socks that leave indentations, for example. That's all water retention, water weight, that's causing weight gain," Dr. Salerno said.

If you press on your skin and an indentation stays there for a couple of seconds, that's a sign you have water weight

One way to check if you're retaining water is to press on swollen skin. If there's an indention that stays for a little while, that's a sign that you could be retaining water.

"We've all been on a plane ... got off the plane, you press on your ankles and there's a bump and it stays there for a little while. Well, that's a sign in the setting of someone who has a normal heart function, that you're retaining some water weight," Holly Lofton, MD, director of the Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Health told INSIDER.

Gaining weight in a short amount of time is a sign those pounds are probably just water

If you weigh yourself every day, you might have noticed that the number on the scale might shift between two to four pounds. That's just water weight. It takes longer for fat to register on the scale.

To gain just one pound of fat you'd have to eat 3,500 calories more than what you need. Dietitian Monica Reinagel told Livestrong that it can take several weeks for fat weight to build up in your body.

If your stomach is swollen and you feel bloated, especially after meals, that's likely just water weight

One meal isn't going to make you gain fat weight right away, but it might make your stomach bloated. If the swelling doesn't last for a long time, the heaviness is probably just water weight.

As your kidneys restore your body's water and salt balance, the water retention should go down.

"[The kidney] decides whether to hold on to water. If you've had too much salt the night before, then your kidneys will hold on to more water to dilute or correct that salty imbalance ... then they flush it all out," Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., a Mayo Clinic nutritionist and dietitian and coauthor of The Mayo Clinic Diet told WebMD.


Nov 21st 2018

Nine in ten people WANT sugar and calories to be reduced in food to save them from obesity, survey reveals

·       Most people want the Government to demand food be made healthier

·       Public Health England threatened it will make more laws if companies don't act 

·       The food industry has been told to cut sugar in popular food by 20% by 2020

·       Nine out 10 people want their food to be made healthier to stop them becoming obese, a survey has revealed.

·       Pressure is building on the food industry to reduce the amount of sugar and calories in their foods as more and more people become overweight.

·       A huge majority of people believe supermarkets should have healthier foods by the check-outs and agree obesity is one of the UK's biggest health concerns.

·       Public Health England has warned it will call for more laws restricting the food industry if it doesn't work hard enough to reduce sugar levels. 

·       Obesity is the pandemic of modern times,' said Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England (PHE), which commissioned the research.

·       'Customers are saying they want faster progress from the food industry and in particular those businesses that have taken little or no action.'

·       PHE warned it will be keeping a close eye on food businesses to track the Government's ambition of reducing sugar intake by 20 per cent by 2020.

·       Companies have been told to cut a fifth of the sugar content out of popular foods such as breakfast cereals, yoghurts, pizzas and ready meals.

·       People are overwhelmingly in favour of the industry being forced to make its food healthier, according to PHE's survey.


·       The proposed plans to restrict the number of calories in pizzas, pies and ready meals comes as part of drastic Government moves over the past year to try and cut down on obesity.

·       A tax on added sugar in drinks came into force in April, requiring companies to hand over more of the money they make from drinks which contain more than 5g of sugar per 100ml of liquid.

·       As a result, many soft drinks have had their recipes changed in order to avoid paying the tax and putting prices up. Sugary drinks are the biggest single source of sugar for children and teenagers.

·       The Government is also considering making it compulsory for all restaurants and fast food outlets to display the number of calories in each meal on their menu.

·       Some food outlets already do this but there can be unexpected numbers of calories in popular dishes, and the Government is consulting on the plans before a decision is due in spring.

·       In March this year, Public Health England warned Brits to crack down on the number of calories they're eating, advising people to consume no more than 1,600 per day.

·       The watchdog says adults shouldn't eat any more than 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner – this would allow for some snacks, experts said.

·       Examples of 600-calorie meals include a tuna pasta salad and a small cereal bar, a chicken salad sandwich and a pack of crisps, or half a pepperoni pizza with a quarter of a garlic baguette and a banana.

·       In the same announcement PHE said shops selling the food should cut down their portion sizes to help people slim their waistlines.

·       Plans are also being considered to ban advertising junk food on television before 9pm, to reduce the number of children who are exposed to it. 

·       Most people – 90 per cent in a survey of 1,000 – admitted individual and family responsibility are the most important.

·       But 80 per cent added the food industry must take steps to help, with another 72 per cent saying the Government needs to help people be healthy.

·       Some 87 per cent of people support swapping unhealthy snacks at supermarket tills with healthier ones.

·       The survey comes after a sugar tax was this year placed on soft drinks and there are plans to restrict the number of calories allowed on pizzas and pies.

·       Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: 'Severe obesity in ten-to-eleven year olds is at an all-time high.

·       'Plans to improve the nation’s diet are often described as "nanny state" interference, but it’s clear people want healthier food and they expect the industry to play their full part in this.'

·       Figures last month revealed children in England are fatter than ever, with more than 200,000 10 to 11-year-olds classed as overweight or obese, and 24,000 of those severely obese. 

·       Places selling hot meals such as restaurants, cafes, pubs and takeaways have been targeted by PHE's warning to crack down.

·       It warns it will highlight places which aren't working towards providing healthier meals, and may take more action against the industry as a whole – though it is not clear what form this could take.

·       Dr Tedstone suggested the Government could bring in more laws like the sugar tax to control what goes into food.

·       'We would hope to see significant reduction in the amount of sugar in the nine categories and products included in PHE's sugar reduction programme,' she added.

·       'We will advise if there is need for further action by Government when the data is published.

·       'In chapter two of the Childhood Obesity Plan they said they would consider other fiscal levers if progress was not good enough – we have already got a levy on sugary drinks.'

·       A report published in May this year revealed the food industry had failed to meet its target of cutting five per cent of sugar from popular foods by August 2017.

·       Pressure will continue to grow on companies producing and selling food as increasing numbers of people become obese.

·       Around a quarter of all adults in the UK are now obese, according to the NHS, and Public Health England's survey – run by pollster Ipsos Mori – found 79 per cent of people agreed obesity has a negative impact on the NHS.

·       The public acknowledged it as the third biggest health concern for people in the UK – behind only cancer and mental health.


Nov 3rd 2018

‘I thought it was a miracle. Then I started shaking’: the danger of buying diet pills online

They promise instant results, but put lives at risk. So why is the market booming?

Elaine Gormley was desperate when she turned to slimming pills. She had been obese since childhood, but lost a significant amount of weight by going to Slimming World classes in her early 20s. But by 2012, following a breakup and an operation, the 29-year-old from Belleek in County Fermanagh had gained all 10 stone 6lb of it back. She now weighed 21 stone 5lb.

“I lost my focus. I felt I was unloved,” she says. “A friend said to me that his sister had tried these pills called Dexaprine. She got them on the internet. I said I would give them a go. I heard she was getting massive results.”

Having ordered the pills from Amazon, she started having unpleasant side effects almost immediately. “Within minutes I was beginning to get really, really hot sweats,” she says. “I wasn’t even moving, and the sweat was lashing off me. But at the same time I felt really cold, and my heart was beginning to beat so hard. By the time I got to work, my hands were shaking.”

She tolerated the side effects for three days, weighing herself on the third day. She had lost 8lb. “I thought, ‘This is the miracle that I have been waiting for.’ But then on the fourth day, I took the tablet and my chest started to really ache. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I had no choice but to stick my fingers down my throat to force myself to be sick – to get the tablet out.”

Gormley told her mother, who threw the pills away. She was lucky. Dexaprine is a potent thermogenic fat-burning dietary supplement, which has since been banned in the UK and the Netherlands. It contains the amphetamine derivative DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine), which has been linked to psychiatric disorders, heart attacks and strokes. In 2012, it was implicated in the death of 30-year-old London marathon runner Claire Squires, who collapsed a mile from the finish line. In 2014, Dutch scientists announced that they had found a “cocktail of synthetic stimulants” in the supplement.

When it comes to losing weight, most of us know the only real way to do it is a sustained period of healthy eating and exercise, requiring hard work and patience. But every year, thousands of people buy illegal slimming pills on the internet, enticed by miracle claims of rapid weight loss. One in three slimmers have purchased pills online, according to the joint #FakeMedssurvey by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Slimming World. “You just don’t know what you are putting in your body,” warns Danny Lee-Frost, head of enforcement at the MHRA. Many slimming pills have an amphetamine-like effect, and will increase your heart rate. “If there’s a weakness in your heart, you’re in trouble. If you don’t know about it, you will once you start taking them.”


Everything I read linked obesity to every cancer you could imagine. It frightened me into thinking I had to do something

The desperation to lose weight can cause otherwise sensible people to be reckless: four out of 10 survey respondents said they used slimming pills knowing there were health risks. Others are taken in by slick websites and promises of “natural” ingredients.

This is what happened to Sue Golder, 51, a hairdresser from Hatfield in Hertfordshire. She had been overweight when she was young, later compounded by three pregnancies and a hectic family life, but it was only after she lost her husband that she felt compelled to do something drastic. “Everything I read and saw on TV said obesity was linked to every cancer you could imagine. It frightened me into thinking, ‘You’ve got to do something, you’ve only got yourself here for the kids now,” she says.

“I’d been to my doctors. I had sat in tears and asked for help. They had been helpful, just said, ‘You need to exercise more and eat less,’ but it wasn’t the quick fix that I wanted. I Googled “diet pills”, and loads of sites came up. And the one that I was drawn to showed a doctor with a stethoscope around his neck. I thought, ‘That might be all right.’ I didn’t know that people could set up all these fake websites. I looked through it and there was this questionnaire. It looked official. It was so easy to order them on my credit card.”

Golder took the pills for three weeks before a terrifying episode made her stop. “I was here on my own – the children were all at school. I just felt awful – it came over me like a wave. I thought I was going to be sick. My legs were shaking, I could see all these silver dots flying around my head and I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to die. My kids are going to find me dead on the floor.’”

The pills that Golder took were Reductil, which contained the now-prohibited substance sibutramine. In 2010 a large clinical trial, the Sibutramine Cardiovascular Outcomes study, found that the cardiovascular risks of sibutramine outweighed its benefits. Although banned throughout the EU, it is still available widely online, and there have been numerous reports of disturbing side effects. In 2012 an Irish teenager developed ischaemic colitis, a severe swelling of blood vessels supplying the intestines, after taking pills containing the substance.

Sibutramine poses a serious threat, Lee-Frost says. “Reductil was a big blockbuster, sold all over the world. Very popular, and then reports came in of unforeseen incidents. Strokes and heart attacks. Eventually it was pulled. You will still find [sibutramine] on the internet, being churned out. It comes out of factories in China. It shouldn’t be sold – it’s an unlicensed product.”

He explains that, although some pills will openly contain sibutramine – an infamous version coming out of China has a blister pack in the shape of a woman’s hourglass figure and lists sibutramine as an ingredient – others don’t mention it at all. “You have pills, capsules and tablets that say they are natural, safe, herbal. But when we have them analysed they contain more sibutramine than the original withdrawn Reductil did.” Aduki diet pills, which claim to be completely natural, are one dangerous example. More than 28,000 of them were seized in a Manchester raid in 2016.

Lee-Frost says Instagram influencers are compounding the problem by promoting their own toned bodies and aspirational lifestyles, and the diet pills to go with them. Instead of glossy magazines, now it is “real people” who are telling us that we all have the potential to look like models (though they all have retouching apps on their phones, and can remove swaths of underarm flab with the swipe of a fingertip).

Women have been subjected to the pressure to conform to the “perfect” body type for decades, but it is increasingly affecting men, too. A university friend of mine, who preferred not to be named, took various internet-bought diet pills along with her boyfriend, who was just as preoccupied with having a slim, toned physique as she was. They both worked at a clothes shop and were recommended them by male models who worked there.

In 2017, 24-year-old Liam Willis died in Swansea after taking diet pills containing 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP), which speeds up the metabolism to a dangerously fast level. Two years before, pills containing DNP had been blamed for the death of Eloise Parry, 21, from Shrewsbury. The dealer who sold those pills was later jailed for seven years. The same chemical also killed schoolboy rugby star Chris Mapletoft, 18, in 2013. “This was never about rugby. It was never about sport. I think it was all about the six-pack,” his mother, Lesley, told the BBC after his inquest. “A parent should never have to bury their child, not over something like this.”


Pills are not packed in spotless labs. ‘On one raid, we found six blokes living in one room, with one toilet. It stank’

Thankfully, Josh Hewitt, 20, from Richhill in County Armagh, stopped taking the pills he bought on eBay before they could do serious harm, but they did have a detrimental effect on his mental health, making him feel paranoid and anxious (some diet pills have been linked to psychotic episodes). They also made him put on weight. The aspiring vlogger points to the role that social networks played in his decision to use them. “There are pressures that come from online,” he says. “People look for likes, and want to look the best for photos.”

Hewitt had always had a weight problem and suffered low self-esteem, but never confided in anyone. “You see girls on TV saying they suffer from body confidence issues, but as a guy you bottle it in. You don’t want someone to think less of you, what you’re going through. It’s a big issue for men.”

What can be done to curb the market? Thousands of unlicensed pills are coming into the UK, distributed by people several steps removed from the manufacturers in Asia. Some are Britons paid to “work from home” and sign for the packages of drugs; other distributors are here illegally. Though Lee-Frost compares the crackdown to playing a game of “whack-a-mole”, the MHRA has seized nearly £4m-worth of weight loss pills since April 2013. It works on the basis of referrals from GPs, test purchases, package tracing and tip-offs from Border Force and the Royal Mail. As far as pills containing DNP are concerned, the Food Standards Agency, which is responsible for policing pills that do not claim to be medicines, made only three seizures between December 2014 and August 2017, according to a freedom of information request. The FSA did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment. The pills remain easy to buy online.

When the MHRA raids premises alongside the police, the scenes it encounters can be deeply unpleasant: these pills are not being packed in spotless white labs. “There is cigarette ash everywhere, a bottle of Johnnie Walker there, half a kebab there; on the table the blister packs are all loose… They don’t care,” says Lee-Frost. “We turned up one morning, on an immigration raid in west London. [The immigration raid team had called the MHRA once they saw the pills.] There were six blokes living in one room with a double bed. It stank. There was one toilet and it was disgusting. I didn’t want to touch it with gloves on.”

If more people knew about the conditions in which these pills were being stored, they might be less likely to buy them. One thing is clear: focusing only on the side effects, even when they can kill you, isn’t enough of a deterrent.

“I knew there were risks, but it was more important to me to be skinny at that time,” my university friend tells me. “There were loads of things I have done that weren’t particularly healthy, but when you’re younger, any health problems seem so far away. It’s only now that I actually think, ‘Oh God, I have to start being healthy.’ Ten years ago, this immediate thing was a lot more important to me.”

She describes herself as having been “obsessive” about being thin. “If you’re a young person who has an unhealthy relationship with food anyway, and you’re not following normal standards of eating, there is no way you are going to get put off by pills. It was a risk I was willing to take.” In other words, being thin was more important to her than anything else.

Another woman, who worked in PR for the pharmaceuticals industry and asked not to be named, shared her experience of working to promote a leading legal diet pill. “One big memory is sitting in a focus group watching 10 women discuss their experiences of a rival leading pill. All of them happily offered up the worst places they’d shat themselves – at the supermarket, at a dinner party, at work. Such was their belief it would help them lose weight, they carried on, using sanitary towels for the diarrhoea, and generally living on their nerves. They were all completely relaxed talking about it to each other, as a necessary burden of being an overweight woman.”

She believes what she witnessed says a lot about the stigma of obesity. “The only conclusion I can draw is that being overweight is seen as worse than shitting yourself. In the groups, they would talk about feeling invisible, ugly, disgusting, old, ‘not me’ and insist on how slim they were when they were younger. This was a momentary aberration and they were postponing their happiness until they corrected it.”

Almost all the diet pill users I spoke to mentioned their very low self-esteem, whether they were overweight or not (my university friend wasn’t). Many felt isolated and were dealing with feelings of shame that prevented them from confiding in others. We need, the psychotherapist Susie Orbach says, to “diversify the damn aesthetic”. Society’s perception of physical beauty – male and female – is still so one-note. “Body positive” campaigners are working to change this, but there is still a long way to go.

 “How to stop these pills being attractive?” asks Orbach. “There’s the rub. It isn’t one thing, it’s systemic, which means we need to help parents and educators relax about food and bodies so their preoccupations don’t become their children’s addictions. We need to challenge the narrowness of the government’s ludicrous obesity policy. We need to prosecute [slimming pill] companies for false advertising. We need to show bodies moving and active at all sizes, as the Sport England This Girl Can advert did. We need to start to question the narrow aesthetic and the notion that body is all.”

Golder and Gormley eventually lost their weight healthily, thanks to Slimming World. Hewitt is eating a more balanced diet and taking his dog for more walks. The promise of a miracle transformation didn’t work for them. They were lucky to stop before anything worse could happen to them, but their cases illustrate just how little consumers know about the tablets they are buying. The MHRA encourages people to use its free search function to check that suppliers are licensed. Had Golder used that, she would never have bought those pills. “It’s taken me years to realise it but there is no quick fix,” she says. “Nothing is worth losing your life.”


Oct 31st 2018

Butter nonsense: the rise of the cholesterol deniers

A group of scientists has been challenging everything we know about cholesterol, saying we should eat fat and stop taking statins. This is not just bad science – it will cost lives, say experts

Butter is back. Saturated fat is good for you. Cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease. Claims along these lines keep finding their way into newspapers and mainstream websites – even though they contradict decades of medical advice. There is a battle going on for our hearts and minds.

According to a small group of dissident scientists, whose work usually first appears in minor medical journals, by far the greatest threat to our hearts and vascular systems comes from sugar, while saturated fat has been wrongly demonised. And because cholesterol levels don’t matter, they argue, we don’t need the statins that millions have been prescribed to lower them. A high-fat diet is the secret to a healthy life, they say. Enjoy your butter and other animal fats. Cheese is great. Meat is back on the menu.

Get Society Weekly: our newsletter for public service professionals


Read more

This is more than bad science, according to leading scientists and medical authorities. It will cost lives. “Encouraging people to eat more saturated fat is dangerous and irresponsible,” is a typical verdict, in this case from Prof Louis Levy, the head of nutrition science at Public Health England (PHE). “There is good evidence that a high intake of saturated fat increases your risk of heart disease. We need to think about where the sources of saturated fat are and how we can reduce them. The largest contributions are dairy products, including butter, and meat and meat products.”

The advice from PHE, the World Health Organization, the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Heart UK and other institutions and top academics is consistent. Butter and cheese may be fine in modest amounts in a balanced diet, but the saturated fat that they contain is potentially risky. Too much of it causes the liver to overproduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, which is implicated in heart disease.

Mainstream scientists usually keep their disquiet to themselves. But last week, some broke cover over what they see as one medical journal’s support for advocates of a high-fat diet. More than 170 academics signed a letter accusing the British Journal of Sports Medicine of bias, triggered by an opinion piece that it ran in April 2017 calling for changes to the public messaging on saturated fat and heart disease. Saturated fat “does not clog the arteries”, said the piece, which was not prompted by original research. “Coronary artery disease is a chronic inflammatory disease and it can be reduced effectively by walking 22 minutes a day and eating real food,” wrote the cardiologist Aseem Malhotra and colleagues. The BHF criticised the claims as “misleading and wrong”.

David Nunan, from Oxford University’s centre for evidence-based medicine, and three colleagues wrote a rebuttal that the journal at first did not use and then, more than a year later, put behind a paywall, while the original article was free. Last week’s letter of complaint asked Dr Fiona Godlee, the editor-in-chief of the BMJ, which publishes the British Journal of Sports Medicine, to intervene, saying the journal had run 10 pieces advocating low-carb diets and criticising statins in the past three years and that the reluctance to run the rebuttal showed a bias and lack of transparency. She replied defending the journal’s right to challenge “the status quo in some settings”, but allowed free access to the rebuttal.

Every time a new review or opinion is published in an obscure or unlikely journal – sports medicine is, after all, primarily about helping the fit get even fitter – it is picked up by newspapers that know statin scares sell. Very often in the UK they quote Malhotra, a charming and telegenic young cardiologist in private practice whose website describes him as “one of the most influential and effective campaigning doctors in the world on issues that affect obesity, heart disease and population health”. He is, it says, “not just a cardiologist. This is a man who wants to change the world one meal at a time by not just rocking the system but by rebuilding it.”

Malhotra urges a low-carb, high-fat diet. His book, The Pioppi Diet, has the distinction of being named by the British Dietetic Association as one of the five worst “celeb” diet books in Britain – celebrities who have tried it include MPs Keith Vaz and Andy Burnham. It includes lots of fruit and vegetables, olive oil and fish, but otherwise “hijacks” the Mediterranean diet, says the BDA.

“The authors may well be the only people in the history of the planet who have been to Italy and come back with a diet named after an Italian village that excludes pasta, rice and bread – but includes coconuts – perhaps because they have a low-carb agenda,” says the BDA. “The suggestion that this Italian village should be associated with recipes for cauliflower-base pizza and rice substitute made from grated cauliflower or anything made using coconut oil is ridiculous. It also uses potentially dangerous expressions like ‘clean meat’ and encourages people to starve themselves for 24 hours at a time every week.”

Malhotra was appointed as the first medical director of Action on Sugar, formed in 2014 by Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine. Two years later, the group agreed to go their separate ways. By that time, Malhotra was expressing strong views about statins, claiming in a BMJ article that was later partially retracted that they caused side-effects in 20% of patients. On BBC radio, he went further. “It was actually probably an underestimate,” he said, and questioned the benefits of the drug for any patient, citing the cholesterol sceptic Michel de Lorgeril.

He was accused by Prof Rory Collins at Oxford University of endangering lives. Collins said scare stories about statins could do as much harm as Andrew Wakefield did when he claimed that vaccines caused autism.

When it comes to statins, there is a huge database of research. Since 1994, the Nuffield department of population health at Oxford University, led by two eminent epidemiologists, Collins and Prof Richard Peto, has been amassing and analysing the data in order to figure out how well they work in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

They have published many papers. In 2016, in a major review in the Lancet, they concluded that lowering cholesterol over five years with a cheap daily statin would prevent 1,000 heart attacks, strokes and coronary artery bypasses among 10,000 people who had already had one. It would also prevent 500 in people who were at increased risk, for instance because of high blood pressure or diabetes.

“Our review shows that the numbers of people who avoid heart attacks and strokes by taking statin therapy are very much larger than the numbers who have side-effects with it,” Collins said at the time. Most side-effects can be reversed by stopping the statin, he pointed out – but heart attacks cause permanent damage. “Consequently,” he said, “there is a serious cost to public health from making misleading claims about high side-effect rates that inappropriately dissuade people from taking statin therapy despite the proven benefits.”

But the cholesterol sceptics and statins critics reject the evidence on the basis that the trial data is from big pharma and that the raw data is not in the public domain. Maryanne Demasi, a journalist in Australia whose TV programmes questioning statins were pulled from the ABC network because of concerns over impartiality, wrote in January – again in the British Journal of Sports Medicine – of a “crisis of confidence” in the public because “the raw data on the efficacy and safety of statins are being kept secret and have not been subjected to scrutiny by other scientists … Doctors and patients are being misled.”

There were cholesterol sceptics before statins existed, doubting the hypothesis that high cholesterol in the blood, particularly in the form of LDL, furs up the arteries, leading in the worst cases to a blood clot that can trigger a heart attack or stroke. Yet, says Dermot Neely, a consultant in clinical biochemistry and metabolic medicine and a founder trustee of the Heart UK charity: “The cholesterol hypothesis is supported by a vast amount of scientific data.” Recently, an expert paper was published by the European Atherosclerosis Society summarising all the evidence, to try to silence the sceptics.

But they won’t be silenced. A website called Thincs – The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics – links to published and unpublished papers as well as the various books its members have written, including a joint one entitled Fat and Cholesterol Don’t Cause Heart Attacks. And Statins Are Not the Solution.”

The director and author of many dissident papers is Uffe Ravnskov, a Danish doctor living in Sweden who has been an independent researcher, not part of any university, since 1979. His most recent review, with 15 others who are mostly members of Thincs, was published last month in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology – an obscure source for newspaper stories that has been brought to the attention of media in the US and the UK, including the Daily Express, which has run many anti-statins pieces. “There is no evidence that high levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol cause heart disease and the widespread use of statins is ‘of doubtful benefit’, according to a study by 17 [sic] international physicians,” said the newspaper.

That is flat-earthism, says Collins. “The claims that blood LDL cholesterol levels are not causally related to cardiovascular disease (which is really in the same realm as claiming that smoking does not cause cancer) are factually false,” he maintains. He believes there is an argument for refusing to give cholesterol-deniers a platform, just as some will no longer debate with climate change sceptics.

Neely says a lot of people ring the nurses and dieticians staffing the Heart UK helpline after reading such stories or hearing about them from family and friends. “We’re very concerned whenever these messages result in people stopping a statin that they were prescribed after their heart attack. Every time there has been a statin scare story in the papers, there is a wave of people who just stop picking up their prescriptions. And as a result of that, many will probably be readmitted with another heart attack down the line,” he says. Some of those are young people who have high cholesterol from birth because of a mutated gene. One of Neely’s patients is a young man whose grandfather and father died of heart attacks at 50. He is on a statin and will be the first in three generations to escape that fate, says Neely.

Asked how he can be sure of his position when the vast majority of top research scientists disagree, Ravnskov says: “Because I am right. The reason why the so-called experts say that I am mistaken is that the vast majority are paid generously by the drug companies.” Asked to elaborate, since statins are out of patent and therefore no longer make money for the companies that originally put them on the market, he expounds on the corruption, illegal practices and wealth of pharmaceutical companies.

The Oxford researchers, including Collins, have published their funding. The unit has research funds from pharmaceutical companies, but the individuals do not take money from them. Ironically, say the researchers, if people refuse statins because of concerns over side-effects, they may be put on expensive newer drugs to lower their cholesterol – and this will make money for big pharma.

A furore was triggered by the recommendation by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in 2014 that millions more people should be offered statins. Anybody who has a 10% chance of a heart attack in the next 10 years – judged on factors including weight, age and blood pressure – should consider taking a statin, it said. Anybody who has already had a heart attack or stroke is strongly advised to take one. Because the patents had expired, the pills had become highly cost-effective.

That means statins are given to healthy people to prevent disease and side-effects have become a major issue. The stories are so widespread that people repeat them as if they are incontrovertible, yet the evidence from trials is that even the much-discussed muscle pain is rare. The sceptics dismiss that evidence. Those trials were funded by big pharma, they say, which had a vested interest in hiding any problems with the drugs.

Some side-effects may be caused by interactions with other drugs people are on, such as antibiotics. But there is also evidence that some people get muscle pain because they expect to after everything they have heard. It is called the nocebo effect.

The dissidents’ arguments are attractively simple. Eat fat, avoid carbs and don’t take the tablets, says Malhotra – who declined to answer questions for this article. We would probably all agree that we should ditch junk food and eat well instead of taking pills. But, realistically, telling people to “eat good food” isn’t going to cut it. The majority of people in the UK and the US are now overweight or obese, with all the heart and vascular problems that brings, and the trend is ever upwards.

One thing is for sure – the dissidents are not going to shut up shop. “My belief about the cholesterol sceptics is that they are a bit like religious fundamentalists,” said Neely. “They are not open to argument. Whatever argument you present, they will find another argument because this basically defines who they are.” He cites a cardiologist in the 1980s, Prof Michael Oliver, who was a sceptic of the cholesterol hypothesis that more LDL increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Oliver did a U-turn as more evidence accumulated, saying: “When the facts change, I change my mind.” But, says Neely, “unfortunately the cholesterol sceptics we know currently don’t do that”.


Oct 28th 2018

Are honey and maple syrup healthier than sugar?

It’s widely known that excess sugar is linked to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some cancers. The World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugars to 10 percent of your daily calories. This includes sugar from any type of sweetener, but not sugar found naturally in whole foods like fruit, vegetables and milk. That 10 percent works out to about 40 to 50 grams per day for most women. To put that into perspective, a can of Coke contains 55 grams and a Starbucks Grande White Chocolate Mocha contains 60 grams.

Granulated table sugar, or sucrose, comes from sugar cane or sugar beets. It provides 49 calories and 13 grams of sugar per tablespoon (and nothing in the way of other nutrients). Other natural sweeteners are often marketed as “healthy” alternatives to sugar. Is there any truth to those claims? Here are the facts:


Produced by bees from nectar in flowers, honey contains 65 calories and 18 grams of sugar per tablespoon. This means you need less honey than you would table sugar to achieve the same level of sweetness. It contains trace amounts of nutrients, including manganese (0.9%)*, zinc (0.6%), iron (0.5%), selenium (0.4%), vitamin B6 (0.4%), niacin (0.2%), potassium (0.2%) and calcium (0.1%). Honey also contains phenolic acids, flavonoids and certain enzymes that are thought to have antibacterial, anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer properties. Raw, unpasteurized honey has more health benefits than honey that has been highly processed, and local honey may be more beneficial for allergies. Swap honey for sugar in your coffee or tea, use it in homemade granola, energy balls and salad dressings, drizzle a little on unsweetened yogurt, or on toast spread with all-natural peanut butter. Brew a jug of your favourite tea, add a little honey, then chill, to make lightly sweetened iced tea.

MSN has launched a campaign to tackle loneliness, which affects 9 million across all age groups and walks of life in the UK. Discover more on this 'silent epidemic': Please donate now


Molasses is the thick, syrupy byproduct of boiling down sugarcane juice to make granulated sugar. It’s a source of nutrients like iron (5.6%), calcium (4.4%), manganese (18%), magnesium (16%), selenium (7%), phosphorus (1%) and potassium (6.6%), and has 62 calories and 16 grams of sugar per tablespoon. It’s best used in recipes like cakes, cookies, baked beans and homemade ketchup rather than on its own. Fancy molasses is most common in cooking and baking. Blackstrap molasses, made from the third boiling of the cane juice, has less moisture and tastes saltier and more bitter. It contains higher levels of nutrients, especially iron (20%) and calcium (18%). It’s too bitter to be used interchangeably in most recipes, but some people like it stirred into coffee or oatmeal.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is the boiled down sap collected from maple trees. One tablespoon contains 51 calories and 12 grams of sugar. It also has some minerals, including manganese (26%), calcium (2.2%), zinc (1.8%), magnesium (1.3%), potassium (1%), and iron (0.3%), as well as phenolic compounds with antioxidant properties. Roast squash or Brussels sprouts with a fine drizzle of maple syrup (Brussels sprout haters will become converts with this trick!), brush onto baked salmon fillets, stir a little into pureed soups or use it in cocktails instead of simple syrup.

Agave Nectar

Agave is a syrup made from the sap of the cactus-like agave plant. It tastes sweeter than sugar, so less is needed. Agave provides 43 calories and 9.5 grams of sugar per tablespoon, as well as vitamin K (3.4%), vitamin C (3.2%), riboflavin (2.1%), beta carotene (1.9%), thiamin (1.5%), folate (1%), niacin (0.7%) and selenium (0.4%). Agave has been touted as a healthier sugar for people with diabetes, the claim being that its high fructose content means it doesn’t spike blood sugars as much. However, even though fructose doesn’t raise blood sugar levels in the short-term, it’s possible that it may actually be harmful and lead to insulin resistance over time.


Stevia falls into a different category because it’s a calorie-free sugar alternative. Approved and regulated by Health Canada, Stevia contains zero grams of sugar and no nutrients, so it has no effect on blood sugars. Because it comes from the leaves of the stevia plant and is “all natural,” it’s seen by some as a good alternative to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose. Even though it’s natural, some people find it has an artificial taste and a slight bitterness, which is why it’s often paired with other sweeteners when used in products like ice cream, snack bars or breakfast cereals. Stevia is sold in powder and liquid drop form. It won’t work for baking, but it can be used in coffee, tea and other beverages, and to sweeten foods such as oatmeal, sauces or yogurt. Some people experience side effects from Stevia such as bloating or diarrhea. As with all non-nutritive sweeteners, there may be unintended long-term metabolic effects that we don’t know about yet.

The Verdict on Sugar Substitutes

If a sweetener contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and/or enzymes, is it healthy to eat lots of it? These components do make sweeteners like honey, molasses and maple syrup marginally more nutritious than refined granulated sugar, so swap them in where you’d normally use sugar, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy to consume them in excess. The trace amounts of nutrients are still outweighed by the excess energy. Sugar makes foods delicious, which makes life wonderful! But don’t fool yourself — all sweeteners should be eaten in moderation.

*Note: These percentages, based on a serving size of one tablespoon, come from the vitamin and mineral Recommended Dietary Allowances/Adequate Intakes for women ages 31–50.

Oct 20th 2018

Keto Diet: What It Is, How It Works and Why It May Not Be Safe

The latest diet craze among celebrities promises weight loss without sacrificing bacon.

The keto diet, short for "ketogenic," involves eating a high amount of fat, a moderate amount of protein and very few carbs — even fruit is off the table. As with any fad diet, adherents tout weight loss, increased energy and greater mental clarity among the benefits. But is the keto diet all it's cracked up to be?

Not precisely, nutritionists and dietitians say. Low-carb diets like the keto do appear to lead to some short-term weight loss, but they're not significantly more effective than any other commercial or self-help diet. And they don't appear to improve athletic performance. [Diet and Weight Loss: The Best Ways to Eat]

"Depending on your approach, [keto diets] can contribute to significant lean body mass loss along with fat loss," said Melinda Manore, a professor of nutrition at Oregon State University. (Typically, dieters want to shed only fat, not lean body mass, which includes muscle.) And as with other fad diets, people typically regain the weight once they go off the diet.

So, what is the keto diet?

The keto diet was originally designed not for weight loss, but for epilepsy. In the 1920s, doctors realized that keeping their patients on low-carb diets forced their bodies to use fat as the first-line source of fuel, instead of the usual glucose. When only fat is available for the body to burn, the body converts the fats into fatty acids, and then into compounds called ketones, which can be taken up and used to fuel the body's cells.

For reasons not entirely understood even today, fueling the body on primarily ketones reduces seizures. However, with the development of anti-seizure medications, few people with epilepsy rely on ketogenic diets today, according to a 2008 paper in the journal Current Treatment Options in Neurology, but some people who don't respond to medications can still benefit.

For weight loss, today's keto diets are the descendants of low-carb diets like the Atkins diet, which peaked in popularity in the early 2000s. Both types of diets reject carbs in favor of meatier meals. There is no single blueprint for the keto diet, but plans usually call for eating fewer than 50 grams of carbohydrates a day. (Wheat bread contains about 16 grams of carbohydrates per ounce, according to the USDA.) Celebrity adherents to the diet include Halle Berry and Kourtney Kardashian.

A keto diet forces the body into a state called ketosis, meaning that the body's cells depend largely on ketones for energy. It's not entirely clear why that leads to weight loss, said Jo Ann Carson, a professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center and the chair of the American Heart Association's (AHA) Nutrition Committee, but ketosis seems to blunt the appetite and may affect hormones like insulin that regulate hunger. Fats and proteins may also keep people fuller than carbohydrates, leading to lower calorie intake overall, Carson told Live Science.

Diets, head-to-head

Still, studies of low-carb diets don't paint them in a particularly revolutionary light. When researchers pit branded diets head-to-head in studies, they find that no particular diet, be it low-carb or low-fat, stands out as a winner.  

In one head-to-head comparison published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2014, researchers analyzed 48 separate diet experiments in which participants were randomly assigned to one of several popular diets. The diets included the low-carb Atkins, South Beach and Zone diets as well as low-fat diets like the Ornish diet and portion-control diets like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers.

They found that any diet resulted in more weight loss than no diet at all after six months. Low-fat and low-carb diets were pretty much indistinguishable, with low-carb dieters losing 19 pounds (8.73 kilograms), on average, and low-fat dieters losing an average of 17.6 pounds (7.99 kg), both compared to non-dieters. At 12 months, the benefits showed signs of leveling off for both types of diets, with both low-fat and low-carb dieters reporting being 16 pounds (7.27 kg) lighter, on average, than non-dieters.

"Weight loss differences between individual named diets were small," the researchers concluded. "This supports the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight."

Another analysis of popular diets published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in April 2015 found the Atkins diet to result in more weight loss than simply educating people on portion control, but also noted that most of the studies of this low-carb diet involved registered dieticians helping participants make food choices, rather than the self-directed process by which most people pick up the diets. That's true of many diet studies, the researchers noted, so study results likely look rosier than weight loss in the real world. 

Finally, a direct comparison of low-fat and low-carb dieting, published in February in the journal JAMA, found that over a year, there was no statistically significant difference in the amount of weight dropped. Low-fat dieters lost 11.7 pounds (5.3 kg), on average, and low-carb dieters lost 13 pounds (6 kg), on average.

Keto diets "can help us lose weight, but compared to other diet strategies, they're not more helpful," said Melissa Majumdar, a dietitian at the Brigham and Women's Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Much of the weight lost in the initial stages of a keto diet is water weight, because carbohydrate stores in the body carry water molecules with them, Majumdar told Live Science. That can move the scale an exciting amount initially, but weight loss inevitably slows with time.

Proceed with care

Unfortunately, keto diets are probably more prone than many others to end with weight regain because they can be hard to stick to in the long run, Carson said. And being in ketosis for more than a few weeks might not be best for overall health, she said. [The Best Way to Lose Weight Safely]

What's more, "there is concern about [levels of] saturated fat and cholesterol" in the diet, she said. Some of this is genetically determined: The extent to which dietary fats and cholesterol translate to increased levels of blood cholesterol (which are associated with heart disease) is partly individual, Carson said.

"It probably is particularly important if you're going to try something like a ketogenic diet is to really check with your physician [and] get lab work done to make sure you're not doing extreme harm," she said.

Ketogenic diets also tend to cause more calcium to be lost in the urine, Carson said, which can lead to a decrease in bone density over time and increase the risk of osteoporosis.

"Another overall issue is that when you're following a ketogenic diet, you're probably not eating as much regular fruits and vegetables as a heart-healthy diet pattern would have," Carson said.

The AHA recommends eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry and non-fried fish, nuts and legumes, and limiting red meat, saturated fat and sweets for a heart-healthy diet.

"I do not promote the ketogenic diet for patients, because it's generally not sustainable, and anytime we're taking out whole food groups we're missing whole nutrients," Majumdar said. In the case of keto diets, putting the kibosh on fruits, many veggies and whole grains means that people don't end up consuming much fiber.

The AHA also recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for heart health. Weight loss and maintenance might take a lot more exercise than that, Carson said, which could be a problem for those on ketogenic diets.

Regarding ketones as fuel, Carson said, "It's harder to have energy to be physically active."


Oct 17th 2018

Research finds link between time online and obesity in children

Young children who spend just over half an hour a day online are almost twice as likely to pester their parents for junk food, according to a new Cancer Research UK report.

Researchers from the charity's Cancer Policy Research Centre and the University of Liverpool found that primary school children who used the internet for three hours or more a day were three times more likely to pester their parents for junk food and four times more likely to use pocket money to buy junk food - such as chocolate, crisps, sugary drinks and takeaways - than their peers who browsed for less than half an hour.

The researchers surveyed 2,500 seven to 11-year-olds and their parents about their eating habits and screen time. On average, children were online for 16 hours a week - not including time spent for homework - and watched 22 hours of television.

These children were also 79 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese while those who were online between 30 minutes and three hours a day were 53 per cent more likely to be carrying excess weight than those who were online for less.

Obese children are five times more likely to remain obese into adulthood and being overweight or obese as an adult increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer.

New data published earlier this week showed the rate of severe obesity among year 6 children (aged 10 to 11) has increased by more than a third since 2006 to 2007 to 4.2 per cent, its highest rate ever. One in every 25 is severely obese.

Familiar feeling

In the new study, the amount of exercise done by the children had no impact on the results, showing that for this research, excess weight was not linked with being sedentary. Each additional hour of commercial TV that children watched was linked with an increased likelihood of pestering their parents to buy products they had seen advertised.

Dr Emma Boyland, a lead researcher from the University of Liverpool, said: “Young children who spend more time on the Internet and watching commercial TV are more likely to pester for, buy and eat unhealthy food and drinks.

Parents are all too familiar with being nagged for sweets and fizzy drinks in the supermarket or corner shop. Our research shows that this behaviour can be linked to the amount of time children spend in front of a screen and as a result, the increased number of enticing adverts they see for these sorts of products.”

The UK government has published plans to halve childhood obesity by 2030 and will be opening consultations on policies including a 9pm watershed for unhealthy food adverts on TV, and how best to regulate on-demand and online adverts.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “Children face a double epidemic of obesity and mental ill health. The NHS is rapidly improving and increasing children’s care, but tackling these challenges must be more than just the health service picking up the pieces, so the food industry, advertisers, social media firms and other industries need to step up and prevent harm to young people.”

A Government spokeswoman said: "We know that obesity is a huge challenge in this country. It can often be difficult to make healthy choices, which is why tackling 'pester power' and empowering parents is at the heart of our childhood obesity plan. As part of our plans to halve child obesity by 2030, we will be consulting on a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts."

Oct 9th 2018

Experts talk strategies to curb obesity worldwide

Nutrition and public health experts are meeting today in D.C. to talk about tackling the global pandemic of obesity. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The background: The meeting is being convened by the National Academies. It’s the latest in a series of workshops on weight, including a meeting on obesity in the armed forces.
  • The issue: Obesity rates have at least doubled in more than 70 countries since 1980. “Many countries now face a ‘double burden,’ where undernutrition coexists with overnutrition,” the National Academies say.
  • The agenda: The roundtable meeting will look at global obesity rates and prevention efforts; the effect of obesity on disease and treatments; and reducing disparities in obesity rates. Tune in to the talks live throughout the day here


Oct 1st 2018

Conditions that could explain your sudden weight gain

You know you might put on extra pounds if you regularly skip barre class or keep selecting M&Ms when you hit up the office vending machine. But if you haven’t changed your eating and exercise habits yet the number on the scale has suddenly crept up, something more could be going on.

Carrying extra pounds isn't necessarily a problem, of course. But it could signal an underlying medical issue you'll want to address. Maybe it's a hormone condition, or a mood disorder, or another factor altering your physiology without you realizing it. The only way to be 100% sure of what it means is to consult your doctor. In the meantime, consider these 8 health-related reasons that might explain why the scale has soared.

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

Aside from realizing that your jeans are more snug, have you noticed other body changes—like exhaustion, drier skin, or thinner hair? These are all signs of hypothyroidism, a condition in which the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland in your neck isn’t producing enough of thyroid hormone. Your thyroid is kind of a master gland controlling many body functions, so when it's not working right, symptoms appear throughout your system.

A major function it controls is your metabolism. “Think of your body as a car. You have an engine, and the thyroid hormone maintains the idling of the engine,” Michael Nusbaum, MD, bariatric surgeon and founder of Healthy Weight Loss Centers, tells Health. “If you’re not producing enough thyroid hormone, your idle gets turned down and you’re not burning as much energy overall.” When your resting metabolism slows, it decreases the amount of calories you burn throughout the day.

One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime, according to the American Thyroid Association. Dr. Nusbaum says other symptoms to look out for are muscle weakness, constantly feeling cold, bloating, and constipation. If your doctor diagnoses hypothyroidism, you’ll likely be prescribed an oral replacement for thyroid hormone that can alleviate symptoms, including weight creepage, within weeks.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is another condition caused by out-of-whack hormones. This endocrine disorder is characterized by an imbalance in the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone (women produce testosterone too, though in much smaller quantities than men do). This imbalance leads to irregular periods, acne, and even facial hair growth.

This disorder, which strikes one in 10 women of childbearing age, also disrupts the way the body uses insulin—the hormone responsible for converting carbohydrates into energy, Dr. Nusbaum says. Yep, you guessed it, that means weight gain. When your body becomes insulin resistant, the sugars and starches you consume are stored as fat instead of turned into fuel, he explains.

While there’s no cure for PCOS, women who have it can manage their symptoms with lifestyle changes as well as medication. Your doctor will help you find the method that’s right for you. Mood disorders like depression and anxiety

Dealing with anxious or sad feelings by mindlessly munching is something almost all of us do on occasion. But either of these mood disorders can make overeating a regular coping mechanism. Dr. Nusbaum gives the example of breaking open a bag of chips, and after three, four, then five handfuls, “you’re not even tasting the chips anymore, your taste buds are completely saturated with the flavor, but you’re still eating, and you’re thinking, Why am I still eating?”

Depression and anxiety can both bring on fatigue, irritability, and a lack of focus. All three can throw you off your game when you work out or lead you to ditch the gym altogether...and pretty soon, pounds pack on.

Reflect on your mood over the past few weeks. If you’ve been consistently down on yourself, on edge, disinterested in things you usually enjoy, or have had trouble sleeping, consider asking your MD for a referral to a mental health professional. A therapist can help get to the bottom of what’s going on, and with proper treatment, help you keep extra pounds at bay.

Perimenopause and menopause

How the five or so years leading up to menopause affects you partially depends on genetics, Dr. Nusbaum says. “I joke around with my patients because they’ll typically come in saying, ‘Holy crap, I’m starting to look like my mother.’” One way to get an idea of the way your body will change during perimenopause and then menopause itself is by asking your mom what changes she noticed in herself. Though your experience could be different than hers, there’s a good chance it’ll be similar—so if she began gaining weight at this point in her life, it could be the explanation for your weight change.

Once again, hormones are to blame for the extra pounds. "The rapid reduction in the amount of hormones present in your body throws you off kilter pretty quickly,” Dr. Nusbaum says. Lifestyle changes can help, so talk to your ob-gyn.

Cushing's disease

Cortisol is nicknamed the stress hormone, Diondra Atoyebi, DO, family physician at Piedmont Healthcare in Georgia, tells Health; your body releases it in response to overwhelming or dangerous situations. But when your system makes too much cortisol over an extended period of time, you can develop Cushing's disease. One unpleasant side effect: abnormal fatty deposits in the abdominal area and around the face.

If you’re taking long-term steroids, you’re more likely to develop Cushing's disease, Dr. Atoyebi says. The condition can also be brought on by tumors on the pituitary gland in the brain, which triggers an uptick in the production and release of adrenocorticotropic hormone—the catalyst that signals the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.

Weight gain is a hallmark sign of Cushing's, but other symptoms include discolored stretch marks, acne, and fragile skin. Depending on the cause, Cushing's disease can be treated in a variety of ways. If you have Cushing's disease, your doctor will help you determine what's best.

An ovarian or uterine tumor

Earlier this month, a 53-year-old woman in Singapore had a 61-pound tumor removed from from her uterus after showing up at the hospital struggling to breathe. To grow so large, the tumor was likely developing inside her for years. It's an extreme case, sure. But it shows that if left untreated, large pelvic area tumors, such as uterine or ovarian tumors, can distend the abdomen the way excess fat does and send the scale soaring. In the case of the Singaporean woman, the tumor was benign, but others can be cancerous.

In addition to weight gain, symptoms of ovarian or uterine tumors include lower back pain, vaginal bleeding, painful intercourse, and constipation. But these signs are common for other conditions as well, Dr. Nusbaum says, which is why you should always consult your doctor to confirm the root cause of the problem.


Before starting any new OTC or prescription medication, ask your doctor if extra pounds are a possible side effect. Psychiatric medications, especially for depression and bipolar disorder, commonly cause weight gain, Dr. Nusbaum says. “They act centrally on the brain, and while they intend to lower your depression, they inadvertently increase your desire to eat.”

Meds that combat high blood pressure can also cause extra poundage, Susan Besser, MD, family practitioner at Mercy Personal Physicians in Maryland, tells Health. Another culprit is taking insulin, a frustrating side effect for people who are battling diabetes—because maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to managing the disease. Staying active and sticking to a strict meal plan can help you take insulin without adding pounds.


If you rock up to work on only four hours of sleep, you'll probably turn to snacking to give you the energy to get through the day. Why does exhaustion trigger cravings? Dr. Besser says lack of sleep messes with your hunger-regulating hormones. Levels of ghrelin, a hormone that tells your body it's time to eat, increase after a restless night. At the same time, leptin, the hormone that signals fullness, may plunge. Put the two together, and no wonder your belt feels tight.

Sleep deprivation can also affect your decision making. Let's say you can eat either a banana or a cookie. When you're tired, you become more impulsive, and that impulsivity can coax you into grabbing that Oreo. A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that getting more shuteye can mean consuming up to 10 fewer grams of sugar throughout the day. That's the best reason to turn in early that we've heard in a long time.

Sept 23rd 2018

Coffee chains fuelling obesity crisis via ‘little nudges’, nutritionist claims

Coffee shops have come under fire for encouraging customers to add sweet treats to their drink orders, which health officials warn is fuelling the country’s obesity crisis.

Speaking at Public Health England’s annual conference at Warwick University, nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said that chains such as Costa, Pret A Manger and Caffé Nero are giving customers “little nudges” towards snacks like muffins and croissants, which can add an additional 400 calories to their order. 

“If the muffin has got a lovely name that implies it’s healthy, you don’t think about it in the same way you necessarily think about a burger,” she said. 

“It’s part of the problem. All those little nudges are encouraging you to buy a little bit more every time.

“Major coffee chains have committed publicly to reducing sugar and now is the time for all to raise their game. More action is needed to help tackle obesity.”

Nearly five million people are expected to be diagnosed with morbid obesity in Great Britain over the next two decades, recent figures have revealed.

Tedstone argues that coffee shops have an important part to play when it comes to battling the rising levels of obesity in this country, adding that they “have got a long way to go”.

The NHS advises adults consume no more than 30g sugar a day, however, many of the indulgent offerings on menus at UK coffee chains match this amount in a single serving.

Pret A Manger’s pecan slice contains 29.8g of sugars while Costa Coffee’s layered carrot cake contains 45.2g per portion.

However, it’s not just the snacks that contain high amounts of sugar, as the drinks themselves can also be very high in calories due to the addition of sugary syrups and indulgent toppings.

For example, a venti oat vanilla latte at Starbucks contains 438 calories and 52.2g of sugar.

Meanwhile, a bonfire spice hot chocolate at Costa Coffee boasts 311 calories and 36.9g of sugar.

Tedstone is calling for clearer labelling in order to make people aware of the calorie contents of these foods prior to purchasing them.

“Having a pastry or a muffin with a coffee is adding hidden extra calories to our diet as many coffee shops do not have good nutrition labelling,” she said.

“When they ask ‘Would you like a muffin with that?’, you’re actually purchasing 400 additional calories.”

Eating too much sugar has been linked to increasing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

Public Health England has called on coffee chains and restaurants to reduce the levels of sugar in their products by 20 per cent by 2020.

Watch this sugar-free space.

Sept 21st 2018

Follow this simple  plan to start losing weight today

Are you having a hard time getting started on your weight-loss journey? With so much advice out there about how to lose weight, it can feel so overwhelming that you have no idea where or how to begin. Or maybe you've tried a plan and haven't seen any progress, so you just give up.

Here's a simple plan from fat-loss coach Carter Good (@cartergood on Instagram) to help you get started today. He said, "For the next month, I want you to implement as many (if not all) of these strategies as you can."

He doesn't believe in cutting carbs or sugar or fruit or whatever. Although you do need to cut calories in order to lose weight, he said, "if you go in with a list of 'bad' foods you can't have anymore, it'll just worsen your relationship with food, and you may end up quitting altogether."

A more effective approach is to start adding healthy habits into your life, like these six:

1.      Instead of eliminating foods, start adding more low-calorie veggies like leafy greens, cucumbers, and celery.

2.     Start incorporating more lean protein into every meal including tofu, chicken, and eggs.

3.     Instead of eliminating all snacks, eat snack once a day, and choose fresh fruit or protein.

4.     Instead of eliminating liquid calories, dressings, and sauces, use lower or zero calorie alternatives.

5.     When it comes to exercise, there's no need to go from zero to 100 instantly. Carter said people assume more is always better. "If lifting 2-3 times per week is good, 6-7 times is better! If walking every day is good, running sprints every day is better!" He added, "It's really just a matter of time before you burn out and have to, a) reassess your plan, or b) quit ." A better strategy is to move throughout the day, aiming to get 8,000 to 12,000 steps per day.

6.     Also start including weight lifting a few times a week.

Give it a try. For one month, keep your weight-loss plan simple with these six strategies. Carter said, "Best case scenario? It kickstarts your weight loss journey in a healthy, sustainable way. Worst case scenario? You don't lose much weight, but you're at least feeling better and engaging in a buttload of healthy habits that'll lead to success." What have you got to lose?


Sept 17th 2018

Moments in your life when you are most prone to putting on weight

Here’s how to jump over the common weight-gain hurdles ...from puberty to peri-menopause and beyond

There are certain times in our lives when we’re prone to putting on a few pounds.

Here’s how to jump over the common weight-gain hurdles ...from puberty to peri-menopause and beyond.


Why? Girls naturally gain weight at this stage because fat cells increase in size and number, says Dr Marilyn Glenville, nutritional expert and bestselling author of Fat Around the Middle (Kyle Cathie Ltd, £9.99).

Puberty creates changes in body shape and periods don’t start until there is enough body fat in place. Teenagers also need more calories than adults to supply the energy they require for growth and shouldn’t be alarmed about putting on weight.

Combat it: Don’t worry. Social pressure and media images don’t help but weight gain at this time is perfectly natural. Faddy and very low-calorie diets send the body into counter-productive starvation mode, reducing its metabolic rate and increasing its fat store, explains Dr Glenville.

Dr Sally Norton, an NHS weight-loss consultant surgeon and founder of vavistalife.com, says we must lead by example. If you obsess about your weight, embark on fad diets and describe foods as good and bad, your children will copy you.

Leaving home/ starting university

Why? A culture of stress, drinking and unhealthy eating means eight in 10 students gain weight during their time at university, according to a recent survey.

“The combination of being able to eat what you want, when you want, managing a budget and newfound freedom, means many young people eat a poor diet, drink too much alcohol and don’t get enough sleep,” explains Dr Norton.

Combat it: Teach your teenagers basic cooking skills before they leave home, she advises. Worryingly, a Sainsbury’s survey showed that more than a third of students can’t even boil an egg!

“Show how it’s possible to eat healthily on a budget. And encourage them to sign up to societies that involve team sports and activities during Freshers’ Week.”

See studentrecipes.com for ideas.


Why? The average mother-to-be puts on a perfectly normal 10kg during pregnancy “although all women are different and some gain more,” adds Dr Norton.

As well as the baby, placenta and amniotic fluid, that weight includes an extra two litres of blood and fat reserves for energy and breastfeeding.

But, while gaining some extra padding is necessary and healthy, “eating for two” isn’t.

Combat it: “Be guided by your midwife and focus on nutrients rather than weight gained,” says Dr Norton. And stay active: walking and swimming are great.

Marriage or moving in together

Why? A study by the University of Glasgow found newlyweds each gained an average of 4lb to 5lb in the first year of marriage, while people who cohabit gain 3lb to 4lb in three months.

Catherine Hankey, the nutritionist who led the research, said when people get married or cohabit, food can become central to the relationship as couples share meals and treats. “It’s easy to slide into the trap of eating the same size meals as our partners,” explains Dr Norton. And we’re more likely to cook ‘hearty’ meals than if we were eating alone.

Combat it: Get back to basics with portion sizes, avoid getting into a routine of takeaways every weekend, and find exercise you can enjoy together.

A sedentary job

Why? Researchers found the average office employee puts on just under half a stone in their first year. Six in 10 admit their sedentary lifestyle – sitting at a desk for eight hours a day – has contributed to their weight gain with more than half finding it impossible to resist biscuits, sweets and cakes brought in by colleagues.

Combat it: “Sitting is the new smoking because of the impact it has on increasing your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, so make a conscious effort to stand up and move around more,” says Dr Norton. “Use the stairs, walk to a colleague rather than email, and stand up when you use the phone.”

She also suggests taking food into work rather than buying lunch, avoiding the vending machine and, rather than eating at your desk, going out for a brisk walk.

Quitting smoking

Why? Typically, people gain 11lb in the year after they stop smoking, according to research by Deborah Lycett, consultant dietitian and researcher at the University of Birmingham. Smoking speeds up your metabolism so your body burns calories at a faster rate and suppresses your appetite.

Quitters also find food tastes better after they stop smoking and may replace the “hand-to-mouth” action of smoking with snacking.

Combat it: Keep your metabolism high by taking regular exercise and combat hunger pangs by keeping a stash of healthy treats to hand.

Nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit and veg sticks are ideal. Food tastes better but try not to eat more.

Try nicotine replacement therapy, such as gum or patches, to fight cravings.


Why? We all admit to reaching for fatty and sugary foods when we are under stress, simply because they trigger the pleasure zones in the brain and make us feel better, says Dr Norton. “And, unfortunately, cortisol (a stress hormone) encourages weight gain around our waist which is very bad for our health.”

Combat it: Eliminating stress from our lives entirely is near impossible, but find healthy strategies that work. So, rather than reaching for cake or an alcoholic drink, head out for a walk or chat with a friend.

Hitting 40

Why? “Our body needs less energy than growing teenagers, or when we were pregnant, breastfeeding or running around after young children… and yet we often carry on eating the same!” explains Dr Norton.

“We also naturally lose muscle mass as we get older. It’s called sarcopenia and we may lose around 8% of our muscle mass per decade – reducing our metabolism and making it harder to lose weight.

“And don’t forget the psychological reasons too – maybe we have less to occupy our time as kids leave home, we may be caring for older relatives, be overstretched in high-pressure jobs or worrying about our own health or finances – all of which can cause stress and overeating.”

Combat it: Try to eat more protein and exercise with weights, advises Dr Norton.

“Women, in particular, simply don’t realise how much ensuring a good protein intake and muscle-building exercise could help us to drop 
the pounds.”

And sleep can have a bigger effect on your weight than you might think, she adds. Research has shown that getting a poor night’s sleep has us eating a few hundred more calories during the next day as we reach for high sugar, high-fat foods in our attempts to get an energy boost to combat fatigue.


Why? According to the International Menopause Society, women in mid-life typically gain an average of 1lb a year, so a woman entering perimenopause at 45 could easily be 10lb heavier by the time she is 55. The drop in oestrogen levels has the effect of redistributing body fat, so excess pounds tend to settle round the waist as unwelcome “middle-aged spread”.

“Years of yo-yo dieting also catch up with you at this time and it becomes harder to shift excess weight,” says Dr Norton.

Combat it: Most women need about 200 fewer calories a day in their 50s than they did in their 30s and 40s.

“Acknowledge the changes that are occurring and concentrate on nutrients rather than embarking on a faddy diet or calorie counting,” advises Dr Norton.

“It’s vital to also stay active and continue doing weight-bearing exercise which will also protect your bones as well as muscle mass.

“Most importantly, speak to your GP about HRT if you are experiencing menopause symptoms.

“It can really help and the benefits far outweigh the risks,” she adds.

“Research studies have identified that losing just 5% of your body weight can improve your glucose control, helping those with diabetes and perhaps reducing the risk for those on the verge of developing it.”

Something else?

Genes: Obesity-susceptibility genes, such as FTO (a fat mass and obesity-associated gene), exist, making people more likely to give in to hunger pangs and high-calorie foods. But overall scientists say a person’s genetic make-up has a limited effect.

Underactive thyroid: The thyroid affects the metabolism. Too much of the hormone thyroxin causes weight loss, while too little causes weight gain.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome: This causes an imbalance of the female hormones and an excess of the male hormone testosterone, causing weight gain.

Medication: Some antidepressants and corticosteroid tablets, used to treat certain inflammatory conditions, can cause an increase in appetite.


Sept 13th 2018

Seven U.S. states have adult obesity rates of 35 percent or higher

As recently as 2012, not a single state had an adult obesity rate above 35 percent. In 2017 data just released by the CDC, seven states do: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Here's a closer look at the numbers:

  • In every state, at least 1 in 5 adults is obese. Only Colorado, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii had rates below 25 percent.
  • The adult obesity rate was at 36 percent for those without a high school degree; 32 percent for those who’d finished high school; 32 percent for those with some college-level education; and 23 percent for college graduates.
  • For black adults, the obesity rate was 39 percent, compared with 32 percent for Hispanics and 29 percent for whites.

Sept 8th 2018

Dangerous fat is inherited from father, study reveals

While brown fat cells can protect against obesity by burning excess calories, too many white fat cells can have the opposite effect, leading to excess weight gain and associated health risks. New findings reveal which parent's genes lead to the development of which type of fat.

The study titled "LincRNA H19 protects from dietary obesity by constraining expression of monoallelic genes in brown fat" was published in the journal Nature Communications on Sept.7.

By examining the gene H19, the research team found it could have a unique protective effect against excess weight gain. This gene is among the monoallelic genes i.e. the one percent of genes which are inherited exclusively from either our mother or father.

According to the researchers, the gene could play an important role in the onset of diseases linked to obesity such as cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, liver manifestations of metabolic disease, and type 2 diabetes.

The genes people inherit from their father are linked to white tissue fat which is the type created by our body to store energy when we consume too many calories. This dangerous kind of fat is found on body parts like the stomach and thighs, which can potentially lead to metabolic diseases. 

On the other hand, genes inherited from the mother seem to lead to the development of brown tissue fat. Being the "good" kind of fat, it performs the function of converting the food we consume into body heat.

The findings aid the potential to develop interventions and strategies against diet-induced obesity. In experiments from past studies, for instance, increasing brown fat mass in mice was found to increase the rate at which they burn energy and reduce fat in their bodies. The research team behind the new study said they were "delighted" with the results.

"By using mouse models, we have identified that the gene H19 performs a form of gene control in brown fat cells. We have been able to demonstrate that an overexpression of the H19 gene in mice protects against obesity and insulin resistance," said Professor Jan-Wilhelm Kornfeld from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Denmark.

"In addition, we have been able to detect similar patterns of gene control in obese people. We, therefore, believe that our results can be the first step towards developing groundbreaking new and improved treatments for obesity-related diseases," the professor added.

Earlier this year, Harvard researchers also found that a mother's adherence to an overall healthy lifestyle can help in lowering the risk of obesity in their children. The recommended healthful habits included regular physical activity, eating a nutritious diet, drinking alcohol in moderation, avoiding smoking, and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Aug 27th 2018

Weight-loss drug could be ‘holy grail’ in fight against obesity

A weight-loss pill has been hailed as a potential “holy grail” in the fight against obesity after a major study showed it did not increase the risk of serious heart problems.

Researchers say lorcaserin is the first weight-loss drug to be deemed safe for heart health with long-term use, which could see regulators approve it for prescription on the NHS.

Taken twice a day, the drug is an appetite suppressant which works by stimulating brain chemicals to induce a feeling of fullness.

A US study saw 12,000 people who were either obese or overweight given the pills or a placebo – with those who took the drug shedding an average of nine pounds in 40 months.

Further analysis showed no big differences in tests for heart valve damage.

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said the drug is potentially the “holy grail” of weight-loss medicine.

“I think it is the thing everybody has been looking for,” he told the Press Association.

“I think there will be several holy grails, but this is a holy grail and one which has been certainly at the back of the mind of a lot of specialists for a long time.”

“But all of the other things apply – lifestyle change has got to be root and branch part of this.”

CAMELLIA-TIMI 61: Lorcaserin, a selective serotonin 2C receptor agonist, facilitated sustained weight loss without apparent increased risk of major adverse CV events in a high-risk population of overweight or obese patients. https://t.co/VAHLhfwfgs#ESCCongresspic.twitter.com/DuLde75d25

Professor Jason Halford, an obesity expert at the University of Liverpool, told the Daily Telegraph that the drug’s availability in the UK depends on whether it is approved by NHS regulators.

“We don’t have any appetite suppressants available on the NHS. We have a massive great gap between lifestyle modification and surgery,” he said.

“At the moment you either get support and advice, or you get to surgery – there is nothing in between.

“This could be widely prescribed if it is approved by Nice (the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) in the UK.”

The Food and Drug Administration, the US medicines watchdog, approved lorcaserin’s use in some adults in 2012.

The drug has been on sale there since 2013, where it costs between 220 and 290 dollars (£155-£225) a month.

The study into its long-term effects was led by Dr Erin Bohula, a cardiovascular medicine expert at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

She said: “Patients and their doctors have been nervous about using drugs to treat obesity and for good reason. There’s a history of these drugs having serious complications.”

As well as affecting the heart, there are concerns weight-loss drugs can lead to mental health issues.

The results of the study into lorcaserin were discussed at the European Society of Cardiology in Munich on Sunday and have been published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers found after one year 39% of participants given lorcaserin had lost at least 5% of their starting weight, compared with 17% of those given placebo.

Analysis also showed fewer people taking lorcaserin developed diabetes, 8.5% compared with 10.3% on placebo.

Tests for heart valve damage were done on 3,270 participants, but no significant differences in rates were identified.

Suicidal thoughts or behaviour were reported in 21 people taking lorcaserin compared with 11 people given placebo, however those taking the weight-loss drug had a history of depression.

The researchers said: “Among overweight or obese patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or multiple cardiovascular risk factors who were being treated with dietary and exercise interventions, those who received lorcaserin had better long-term rates of weight loss than those who received placebo at a median follow-up of 3.3 years.

“The higher weight-loss rates were achieved without an accompanying increase in the risk of cardiovascular events.”

Aug 26th 2018

This Professor Called Coconut Oil 'Pure Poison.' Is She Right?

A Harvard nutrition professor's lecture has ignited a new front in the battle over coconut oil.

In one camp, coconut oil acolytes who claim the stuff can prevent heart disease, increase metabolism and burn fat. In the other, researchers like University of Freiburg professor Karin Michels, who called the stuff "pure poison" in a German-language YouTube video posted in July. On Monday, Business Insider brought Michels' comments to an English-speaking audience with an article about the lecture. Michels holds a joint appointment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

As it turns out, Michels' assessment of coconut oil is a lot closer to what the scientific evidence has to say about the fat than what acolytes claim — though "poison" may be a bit of stretch. Coconut oil is rich in saturated fats, which puts it on the American Heart Association's (AHA) list of foods that are better to avoid. While the occasional splashy study argues that saturated fat is actually healthy, the preponderance of evidence supports the same old conclusion: Saturated fat, and coconut oil by extension, just isn't that good for you. [7 Foods Your Heart Will Hate]

"It's not a difficult topic, scientifically," said Frank Sacks, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of an AHA advisory on dietary fats released last year. Sacks said that he is acquainted with Michels, but did not know of her interest in dietary fats. 

The scoop on saturated fat

Coconut oil is about 82 percent saturated fat, according to the AHA. If a fat is saturated, that means it is molecularly structured so that each carbon atom in the fatty acid chain is linked to its maximum number of hydrogen atoms.

The 2017 report by the AHA said that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, like the kind found in olive oil and other vegetable oils, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by around 30 percent, as found in randomized control trials (in which people are randomly assigned one type of fat in their diet versus another). Because of these experiments, the organization recommends that people keep their daily calories from saturated fats at 5 percent to 6 percent of their daily calories. In a 2,000-calorie diet, that's about 13 grams (0.5 ounces) of saturated fat per day. A tablespoon (15 milliliters) of coconut oil provides 11 grams (0.4 ounces) of saturated fat.

"For most people, that's not going to be where they want to choose their saturated fats from," said Melissa Majumdar, a dietitian at the Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and a spokesperson for the U.S. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

That 2017 report was nothing new; the AHA has remained staunch in its advice regarding saturated fats for years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Diabetes Association publish similar guidelines.

"It's very straightforward. There's a huge amount of scientific evidence of many different types from population studies to experiments in animals to experiments in humans that show that saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol," Sacks told Live Science.

Excess LDLs, or low-density lipoproteins, in the blood build up into plaques inside arteries that stiffen the vessel walls and lead to cardiovascular disease. Occasionally, Sacks said, a study comes out that contradicts the preponderance of evidence. These studies usually get a lot of media play, he said, but they are often flawed. For example, a 2017 study in the journal The Lancet found that high carbohydrate intake in a population increased cardiovascular deaths in that group, but high saturated-fat intake did not.

However, Sacks said, that study had major methodological problems. These included not breaking down carbohydrates by type (processed or whole grain?) and not taking into account that many of the populations studied were subsisting on a high-carb, low-nutrient poverty diet.     

Coconut oil claims

Many of the health claims surrounding coconut oil rely on animal studies or research not intended to test the stuff as a part of the human diet. For example, the website of chiropractor and clinical nutritionist Josh Axe, a coconut-oil proponent, touts a 1985 study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health as showing that coconut oil can boost weight loss. That study actually injected rats with a synthetic chemical resembling the capric acid found in coconut oil. The rats did indeed stop eating and lost weight, but the injection also slowed the animals' heart rates and lowered their basal body temperature, a toxic effect — though fortunately not one particularly relevant to eating coconut products, given that the study was not about diet or even coconut oil. [7 Biggest Diet Myths]

Another study commonly cited as evidence that coconut oil boosts metabolism does not, in fact, make any such claim, said that study's author, Columbia University's Marie-Pierre St-Onge. Her research has found that refined medium-chain triglyceride oil, a type of fat found in coconut oil, appears to be no more unhealthy than olive oil when included in a weight-loss diet. Some of St-Onge's studies suggest that medium-chain triglycerides might even promote fat loss compared to the long-chain triglycerides found in other vegetable oils.

But, St-Onge told the AHA in July, her research used a refined oil consisting only of medium-chain triglycerides, different from the off-the-shelf coconut, which is only partly medium-chain triglycerides. It would take 10 tablespoons (150 milliliters) of typical coconut oil to equal the levels of medium-chain triglycerides in St-Onge's research, which would add up to more than 1,000 calories.

In fact, when St-Onge and her colleagues tested standard coconut oil versus corn oil in a study published in the journal Insights in Nutrition and Metabolism in July 2017, they found no evidence that coconut oil was better for feelings of being satiated, insulin levels, glucose levels or resting energy expenditure. (The study focused on overweight and obese adolescents.)

The bottom line, Majumdar told Live Science, is that coconut oil is fine — say it with us — in moderation.

"I think Americans, in general, like to look at something independently, and we can't look at any food like that," she said. There's no one miracle food that can provide a quick fix for weight loss or health, she said; everything is about balance.

"My message is that we can eat coconut oil," Majumdar said, "but to be mindful of how it fits into our daily life."

Originally published on Live Science.


Aug 25th 2018

Will Baby Poop Bacteria Become the New Probiotic?

Could the key to better gut health reside in a probiotic cocktail brewed from the contents of an infant's dirty diaper?

That's the question driving a new line of research investigating the power of baby poop as a potential source of microbes that could contribute to healthier digestion. And experiments recently showed that certain types of bacteria extracted from baby feces could promote the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in mice, and in a medium simulating the human gut.

SCFA molecules are a subset of fatty acids that are churned out by some types of gut microbes during the fermentation of fiber. They're associated with maintaining gut health and protecting against disease, so a probiotic containing baby-poop microbes could provide health benefits by boosting SCFA production in a compromised digestive system, researchers reported in the new study. [5 Ways Gut Bacteria Affect Your Health]

"Short-chain fatty acids are a key component of good gut health," lead study author Hariom Yadav, an assistant professor of molecular medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, said in a statement. "People with diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disorders and cancers frequently have fewer short-chain fatty acids. Increasing them may be helpful in maintaining or even restoring a normal gut environment, and hopefully, improving health," Yadav said.

Fecal microbiota transplants (FMT), or "poop transplants," can treat a type of gut disorder with an infusion of diverse bacteria from a healthy digestive system, distilled from a donor's poop. This helps to correct imbalances of microbial diversity when the gut microbiome is dominated by the bacteria Clostridium difficile (C. diff), which can lead to serious gut disorders. 

Previous studies have investigated the use of probiotics — those healthy gut bacteria — by testing their impact in guts already affected by disease, the researchers wrote in the study. For the new investigation, they wanted to see how a probiotic would impact SCFA production in a healthy gut. They chose to work with baby poop because infants' gut microbiomes are typically free from age-related diseases "such as diabetes and cancer," and because of the sheer abundance of infant feces at their disposal. ("Their poop is readily available," Yadav said.)

In the small, new study, the researchers isolated 10 bacterial strains — five species of Lactobacillus bacteria, and five species of Enterococcus — in samples from 34 babies, identifying the strains as good candidates for crafting a probiotic cocktail of microbes that could survive in a human host's gut and stimulate SCFA production, according to the study.

They then tested different doses of the 10-bacterial probiotic blend in mice, as well as in a slurry of human feces meant to mimic the environment of a human digestive system. The scientists found that even single doses maintained the healthy microbial balance and increased SCFA production in both the mice and the feces medium, the researchers reported.

"This work provides evidence that these human-origin probiotics could be exploited as [treatments] for human diseases associated with gut microbiome imbalance and decreased SCFA production in the gut," Yadav said.

Still, much more research is needed before you'll find baby-poop probiotics on the shelves of your health-food stores.

"Our data should be useful for future studies aimed at investigating the influence of probiotics on human microbiome, metabolism and associated diseases," Yadav said.


Aug 24th 2018

Four factors that contribute to belly fat - and how to combat them

Sometimes I look at myself naked in the mirror and tilt my head in confusion about why some parts of my body seem to store more fat than other parts of my body. Take my stomach, for example. It doesn't matter how many sit-ups I do or how long I hold the plank position, getting rid of belly fat seems like an impossible mission.

Of course, diet and exercise are always a good way to start when looking to get in shape and ditch some of the fat around your belly, but there are also other things that you might not even realize are going into the reason why getting rid of belly fat is harder to do than you think.

Here are four factors that contribute to belly fat and what you need to know about each one.


It's a fact that stress can wreak havoc on your body, but you may not know that it can target your belly.

Julie Adams of Thrive to Glow Health Coaching says that stress can keep your body storing fact in your belly because of an overproduction of cortisol when a person is dealing with a lot.

"One's body is stuck in the 'fight or flight' mode which turns the 'fat switch' on in order to protect from a future danger (think famine)," says Adams. "This is an ancient mechanism that has proven to serve us well when needed - sadly, it's not always needed!"

Adams explains that when a woman is stressed, she gains weight (particularly in her midsection) as her body is trying to protect her. In order to alleviate the effects of stress, Adams says the body craves the opposite of stress - relaxation and bliss.

"We gravitate toward sugar, carbs, caffeine, alcohol - anything to help us relax," says Adams. "Sadly, this does not cure anything and typically leads to weight gain."

2. Hormones


A lot happens to our bodies when our hormones are out of whack, and one of those things could be belly fat.

Armen Ghazarians, the CEO of Finish Fit, LLC, says that one such hormone that can contribute to abdominal fat deposits in women is estrogen.

"Estrogen is produced by fat cells, which in turn cause fat production," says Ghazarians. "This cycle of hormone and fat cell production is what causes abdominal fat gain."

Ghazarians suggests increasing fiber intake, adding indoles (broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), and increasing fatty acids in your diet to regulate your belly fat.

3. Diet


It's no surprise that food plays a large role in your gut health.

According to Ghazarians, studies have shown that you should use the following macronutrient breakdown in your diet (carbohydrates = 25 percent, proteins = 40 percent, and fats = 35 percent) to help burn the maximum amount of belly fat.

Ghazarians also recommends staying away from sugar or sweetened drinks, eating protein with every meal, and reducing the refined carbs in your diet.

4. Insulin Resistance


Dr. Barry Sears, a leader in the field of anti-inflammatory nutrition and author of the Zone Diet book, says that excess belly fat is partially genetic but primarily driven by increased insulin resistance.

"Increased insulin resistance is a consequence of inflammation that disrupts the signaling between the insulin receptor and the interior of the cells," says Dr. Sears. "This results in visceral (belly fat) that is stored in all the wrong places and causes significant inflammation. Visceral fat accumulates with decreasing estrogen levels. As estrogen levels decrease, insulin levels increase and drives dietary fat into storage in the fat cells and prevent its release for energy production."

Dr. Sears recommends reducing insulin resistance caused by inflammation to lose excess belly fat.

"It is insulin resistance that causes cells to accumulate excess fat," says Dr. Sears. "Only by reducing it can the stored fat leave the tissue to be burned as fuel for energy. In order to use stored fat for energy, you have to reduce your calorie intake to reduce diet-induced inflammation."

Aug 22nd 2018

Scientists develop a drug that prevents weight gain

A pill to stop obesity may be on the horizon after the discovery of a protein that makes people fat.

It would be the 'holy grail' of modern medicine - helping reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and even dementia. 

When the enzyme known as CerS1 (ceramide synthase 1) was blocked in mice they remained lean - even after gorging on high fat food.

The Australian team is hopeful the same will apply to humans. They hailed it as a "major step forward" in combating obesity and related diseases.

Their drug, dubbed PO53, was developed to specifically target the protein because it was believed to be linked to insulin resistance in muscles, liver and fat.

Surprisingly, it did not prevent the lab rodents' levels of blood sugar rising - but lipids instead.

These are fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides that increase the risk of heart attacks and other illnesses.

The researchers found stopping CerS1 burned them up in skeletal muscle - meaning the mice had less adipose tissue.

Corresponding author Professor Nigel Turner, of the University of New South Wales, said: "We anticipated that targeting this enzyme would have insulin-sensitising, rather than anti-obesity effects.

However, since obesity is a strong risk factor for many different diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer, any new therapy in this space could have widespread benefits."

Prof Turner and colleagues said the results published in Nature Communications were unexpected.

They were intending to stop insulin resistance that triggers Type 2 diabetes, the form caused by eating junk food, rather than obesity itself.

But it is the first time scientists have been able to develop a drug that successfully destroys lipid producing proteins that cause metabolic disease.

This makes it a significant advancement in the understanding and prevention of a range of chronic health conditions.

The ceramide proteins are lipids are involved in regulating metabolism. There are six of them. But the role of each is not fully understood.

Inhibition of certain ones is predicted to produce significant benefits for metabolic health, whereas with others it is likely to be detrimental.

But drugs with sufficient potency, selectivity and suitable properties for use in a living organism have been elusive - until now.

he molecule PO53 stopped the activity of CerS1 in its tracks - reducing fat across the whole body without effecting insulin resistance in mice fed a high-fat diet.

Prof Turner and colleagues believe it was due to the drug boosting the oxidation of fatty acids in the muscles of the animals.

Co-corresponding author Prof Anthony Don, of the University of Sydney, added: "From here, I would like to develop drugs which target both the CerS1 and 6 enzymes together, and see whether it produces a much stronger anti-obesity and insulin sensitising response.

"Although these drugs need more work before they are suitable for use in the clinic, our work so far has been a very important step in that direction."

In Australia two in three adults are classified as being overweight or obese, about the same as Britain which has the worst rates in Europe.

The researchers said the findings open up a potential new therapeutic avenue for the treatment of obesity. But further studies are required to determine if they translate to humans.


Aug 20th 2018

This is why you bloat during your period

Along with other less-than-desirable side effects of your period, which include eating literally everything in sight and enduring the uncomfortable hum of stomach cramps, is the inevitable bloating.

During the four-to-seven days of your period (depending on how your body works), the bloat arrives and, with it, comes an increased desire to wear pyjama bottoms 98% of the time. But if you've ever wondered why bloating occurs during your time of the month, read on.

As Dr Penelope Law, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at HCA UK's The Portland Hospital, explains: 'The uterus contracts daily in a mild, almost imperceptible manner.

'As you get closer to your period, these oscillating waves – usually from the fundus (the upper end of the uterus closer to the belly button) work their way down to the cervix –with a frequency of about every 40 minutes. During your period these are more intense – they originate from the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, and are responsible for the pain some women feel,' Dr Penelope told Cosmopolitan.com/uk.

Although menstrual bloating is linked to these 'contractions', the expert explained how it's actually your digestive system, and not your reproductive system, that causes the swelling of your lower abdomen during your monthly bleed.

'During menstruation, the bowel works more slowly because the increased contractions, "waves", of the uterus have an impact on how quickly food moves through the digestive system, known as peristalsis,' Dr Penelope said.

'This leads to the familiar swollen feeling many women experience whilst on their periods and can also be linked to why you can feel more constipated during menstruation.'


Of course, there may be other contributing factors to the cause of bloating on your period, like water retention. As explained on Medical News Today, this is linked to 'changes in levels of the sex hormones progesterone and oestrogen.

'About a week before a woman's period starts, levels of the hormone progesterone fall. Research suggests that changes in progesterone and oestrogen levels cause the body to retain more water and salt. The body's cells become swollen with water, causing the feeling of bloating,' the medical site reads.

So now you know: you're bloated on your period due to a mix of excess water and full bowels. Delightful.


Aug 17th 2018

The one exercise that will help trim down your thigh fat

How do you lose fat off your thighs? Most people have parts of their body they'd most like to trim down, and thighs are a common one for women (especially in summer, because... chafing.)

Because we know it's (sadly) not possible to self-select an area for fat to shed with a healthy diet and exercise, the main thing we can do to target certain parts of the body is muscle-toning exercises. Thigh muscles are some of the strongest in the body, however, so you might be wondering how to go about slimming down the fat on your thighs without bulking up the muscle too much.

We asked celebrity PT and founder of The Dan Roberts Group, Dan Roberts, to share his expert opinion...

'Any general weight loss plan will help legs lose fat,' Dan told Cosmopolitan, adding that 'with such an emphasis on the "gym body" look nowadays, many women come to me as they don’t want the look that is prevalent on Instagram and amongst the gym instructor nowadays'.

If you're not keen on getting legs that are too muscular, listen up...

'The key offender in the squat pattern,' explained Dan. 'Squats are good, I do them myself, but for most women who are already functionally quad dominant with weak firing glutes, tight hip flexors and tilted pelvises (which 75% of our new female clients have – regardless of age or profession), squats will just exacerbate the issues and bulk up legs more.'

So what to do instead? 'One-legged hip thrusts are a great place to start,' advised Dan.

The trick is to still use big compound (multi-joint) movements which we all know are fat burning, but pick ones that don’t work the quads,' the PT suggested. Enter: one-legged hip thrusts.

The move, which Dan includes as part of his online body sculpting and mindful fitness plan for women, Methodology X, is a fairly simple one. It involves lying with your back flat on the floor and your legs bent up on a bench. From there, you raise one leg up straight in the air, while the other remains at a 90-degree angle.

Squeeze your glutes and your core as you move your leg back down to your starting position, and then swap to the other leg.

Doing this exercise one leg at a time, Dan explains, will make the exercise 'unilateral' and will 'reduce stress on the back and even out the body'.

As well as the hip thrusts, Dan recommends doing upper body strength training – 'such as close grip lat pull down, one-armed rows and bench presses' – to help burn fat everywhere without touching your lower body.

'I also recommend that all my clients try and walk 20,000 steps a day. Exercise and activity are both needed to lose fat we don’t need,' Dan said.

Right, looks like I'll be walking to work from now on, then...

Aug 15th 2018

Yes, Men Lose Weight Faster Than Women. Here's Why.

Women who have gone on a diet alongside men may have noticed a frustrating outcome: The pounds seem to fall off the men, while stubbornly sticking to women. Now, a new study delves into differences that take place when men and women diet — and confirms that, yes, men do lose weight faster.

In the study, published online Aug. 7 in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, the researchers tracked more than 2,000 overweight adults with prediabetes from Europe, Australia and New Zealand. For eightweeks, the participants followed an 800-calorie, mostly liquid dietthat consisted of soups, shakes and hot cereals, plus a daily intake of 1.5 cups (375 grams) of low-calorie vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.

At the end of the eight weeks, 35 percent of the men and women had normal blood-glucose levels and no longer had prediabetes, according to the findings. (Prediabetes means that a person has slightly elevated blood-sugar levels— a change that raises his or her risk of developing type 2 diabetes.) In addition, the researchers found that the men lost about 26 lbs.(11.8 kilograms), on average, over eightweeks, compared with about 22 lbs.(10.2 kg), on average, in women. [The Science of Weight Loss]

But it wasn't just that men dropped more total pounds than women — the researchers also found that men had larger reductions than women on other measures linked with better health, such as a lower heart rate and less body fat as well as a decreased risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The latter refers to a collection ofsymptoms, such as high blood pressure and body mass index (BMI), that can raise risk for diabetes and heart disease.

The low-calorie diet affected womendifferently in other ways, the researchers found — and not all of the differences were positive. For example, compared with men, women experienced larger reductions in HDL cholesterol, the so-called good cholesterol—a change that could be bad for heart health. What's more, women in the study saw larger reductions in both bone mineral density, which may indicate weaker bones, and lean body mass, meaning less muscle. However, women did lose more inches in their hips than men. 

Gender-specific differences

The study confirms what any woman who has gone on a diet at the same time as her husband has already observed — men typically lose weight faster than women, said Dr. Elizabeth Lowden, a bariatric endocrinologist at Northwestern Medicine's Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center at Delnor Hospital in Geneva, Illinois, who was not involved in the new study.

What's more, the gender differences in weight loss and improved health outcomes observed in this study physiologically make sense, Lowden told Live Science.

Men, thanks to their body composition, have more muscle and a higher metabolic rate than women, Lowden said. Since all of the participants were following a roughly 800-calorie-a-day diet, and men typically consume more daily calories than women when following their usual diets, they would have experienced a larger caloric deficit on the study diet and thus would be expected to lose weight faster than women, she said.

But the study went one step further to show different metabolic effects of the diet in men when compared towomen. Men typically have more weight in their midsection, known as visceral fat, which surrounds the internal organs, Lowden said. When peoplelose visceral fat, it improves their metabolic rate, helping them to burn more calories, she explained.

Women, on the other hand, typically have more subcutaneous fat, which is fat around their thighs, rear and hips that is important for childbearing, Lowden said. When people lose subcutaneous fat, this does not improve their metabolic risk factors, because this type of fat is not metabolically active, she explained.

Indeed, in the study, the researchers pointed to previous research that has suggested that the differences in metabolic outcomes observed in men and women who follow the same diet could be because men may mobilize more fat from their abdomens during weight loss, while women may lose more subcutaneous fat.

Still, though overweight men and women may experience some different health effects during a low-calorie diet, weight loss is always beneficial, Lowden said.

One of the limitations of the study is that it did not indicate whether some of the women participants had gone through menopause, Lowden said. After menopause, women tend to hold onto fat around their midsection like men do, and have more metabolically active fat, which could influence the results, she said.

Another limitation of the study is that the findings only focused on short-term changes and not on whether the weight lost by the participants and the health benefits achieved could be maintained over a longer period of time, the researchers wrote.

Aug 4th 2018

Do men lose weight faster than women?

I recently started dieting with my fiance, Nick. We’re both following the Weight Watchers program—I stick to it pretty religiously, while he follows the rules about 60-70 percent of the time. It’s a little frustrating to watch him buck the system, but ultimately I’m proud of him for trying to make a change in his diet at all.

He travels for work several days a week and often swings through a drive-thru, counting only half of his Weight Watchers points. Meanwhile, I’m at home eating kale salads and boneless, skinless chicken breasts and tracking points like a mad woman.

We weigh in together on Friday mornings for accountability. Over the past two weeks, I’ve lost about two and a half pounds (yay, me!)—and he lost nine.

NINE POUNDS, Y’ALL! I almost died.

After complaining to talking with my female friends, I’ve learned that this dynamic has frustrated many women who diet with male friends or partners. Here's a typical comment: “If I smell a cookie, I’ll gain weight. But if he skips drinking beer for a weekend, he loses five pounds! It’s just not fair!”

This got me thinking—is it all in our heads, or do men really have a physiological advantage when it comes to losing weight? I turned to the experts to find out the truth.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory studied the differences in gender and weight loss back in 2009 and found that gender does play a major difference in our brain's ability to inhibit its response to food and hunger—but only because (and I hate to write this) women tend to be emotional eaters.

I know, I know. That sounds incredibly sexist. But it turns out there’s some legit science behind it, so hear me out.

The study showed that even when women said they weren’t hungry, their brains still fired away in the regions that control our drive to eat. In contrast, men’s brain activity decreased along with their self-reports of feeling hungry.

The study's lead author, Gene-Jack Wang, put it succinctly in a press release: "The finding of a lack of response to inhibition in women is consistent with behavioral studies showing that women have a higher tendency than men to overeat when presented with palatable food or under emotional distress."

Wang, went on to make the point crystal clear: "This decreased inhibitory control in women could be a major factor contributing to the observed differences in the prevalence rates of obesity and eating disorders such as binge eating between the genders, and may also underlie women's lower success in losing weight while dieting when compared with men."

Wang believes that differences in sex hormones, such as estrogen, may influence food intake, body weight, and fat distribution, as well as eating behavior. So those insane cupcake cravings I have aren’t just me having a lack of willpower—they’re part of evolutionary makeup as a female. Great. Just great.

Adding to the weight loss schism, men are generally taller and have more muscle mass than women, which can actually work to their advantage. The Mayo Clinic says people who are larger or have more muscle burn more calories, even at rest.

So, you’re not imagining it. Men do lose weight faster in the short-term, but there’s a pretty big caveat: the weight loss scales will eventually balance out.

In a British Journal of Nutrition study, men and women dieted together using weight loss programs like Atkins, Weight Watchers, and Slim Fast. In the first 2 months, the men lost twice as much weight and three times as much body fat as the women. But, their weight loss eventually plateaued—after 6 months, the total pounds lost between men and women were almost completely even.

Cooking Light’s Assistant Nutrition Editor, Jamie Vespa, MS, RD, explains why this may be the case: “Men typically start their weight loss journey consuming significantly higher calories than women. For example, if a male consumes an average of 3,000 calories per day and then drastically drops down to a regimented 2,200 calorie diet, that’s almost a 30% reduction. Many women, on the other hand, are likely already consuming under 2,000 calories and may drop to 1,600-1,800 (a 10-20% reduction) on a weight loss plan. So the number on the scale may drop more quickly for men, but a plateau will eventually set in and both sexes may level off.”

The bottom line: Nick and I are only a few weeks into trying to diet together, but I hope we can both continue to lose weight at a steady—and healthy—rate.

If you’re a female who’s getting discouraged by your male friend or partner who’s losing weight faster, try to relax and focus on your own health journey. As someone who’s going through it, I know it’s easier said than done, but as long as you’re making strides to become healthier version of yourself, you’re already doing great.

Aug 3rd 2018

Five ways to fight the bloat and get a flatter stomach

Ask a group of women what body part they struggle with most and chances are, many will point to their middle. 

Sometimes no matter how much exercise you do or how well you eat, its hard to get rid of the bloated, uncomfortable feeling in your tummy. 

But there are ways to battle the bloat which can make a big difference to how you look and feel. 

Here’s 5 ways to battle the bloat 

Also, try to avoid eating your meals too quickly. Eating too fast and not chewing properly can lead to air swallowing which leads to bloating. Meals should last at least 30 minutes, experts say. 

Chewing more and eating slower can prevent bloating and also lead to you eating less as your body has more time to process that it is full. 

2. Rule out any allergies or intolerance 

Continually consuming something that your body reacts to causes inflammation in the gut and bloating. 

If you suspect you may be reacting to something in your diet, see your GP for a diagnosis before you start eliminating certain food groups from your diet. 

3. Take it easy on the fizz

Peppermint and fennel teas can also help reduce bloating. 

4. Avoid salty, processed foods

When buying processed, canned, or frozen foods read the label and make sure there is less than 500 mg of sodium per serving in any product — or a total of 1,500 to 2,300 mg of sodium per day.

5. Go high in fibre 


June 26th 2018

Here's what you can actually do about arm fat

'Arm fat' is such an ugly phrase for something so common: that little bit of flab that hangs from our arms or sticks out of our sports bras. But such a small part of our bodies can be a major sore spot for so many women.

In fact, so many women hate their upper arms that they’re actually seeking surgery to get rid of it.

Nearly 25,000 women received upper arm lifts – a cosmetic surgery procedure that reduces drooping skin and tightens the underlying tissue to give the arm more definition – in 2016. That number is up 4,959 percent since 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

But here’s the most important thing to remember about arm fat: it’s totally normal.

So many women have it because, thanks to our higher oestrogen levels, we store more fat than men. On average, women carry six to 11 per cent more body fat than men do, according to Australian research.

After all, women need a certain amount of fat to be healthy – a minimum of 12 percent of their total weight, to be exact, should come from essential fat, which is found in your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, intestines, muscles, and tissues of the central nervous system, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

'Body fat is structurally important,' explains Stefanie Mendez, R.D., co-founder of Matriarch, a women's fitness and nutrition service. 'It cushions our organs and insulates our body for temperature control and also is our body’s source of energy reserves. Beyond that, fat is needed for the production of hormones and reproduction functions.' And that fat can show up in your thighs, your belly, and, yes, your upper arms. Where it goes is partly due to genetics; if your mum has arm fat, science says you have a 62 percent chance of inheriting that trait.

The reality, there’s nothing you can do about about your hormones or your DNA, and spot-reduction just flat-out doesn't work, Mendez says. 

For example, in one study of tennis players, researchers found that there were no significant differences in the amount of fat on their dominant and non-dominant arms.

The bottom line: Arm fat is natural. So stop stressing over it.

Instead, focus on living the healthy, well-fuelled and physically active lifestyle that you know you need to lead anyway. By doing that, you'll see far greater results in the arm department, anyway, Mendez says.

Through a combination of balanced eating (hit all three macros at every meal!) and performing a combination of high intensity interval cardio and strength training, you'll naturally shed fat all over, including around your arms, explains Lauren Williams, C.P.T., a trainer at PROJECT Equinox.

You'll also build muscle to fill out your arms and firm them up. 'Generally, when people are complaining about underarm jiggle, they’re usually referring to the area that is governed by the tricep,' says Williams.

'If the jiggle or looseness in that part of your arm is due to a lack of muscle, then strengthening and building muscle in your tricep will also create some change in the aesthetic of that area.' She recommends performing triceps push-ups, extensions, and dips to hone in on that area and add some muscular definition to your arms.

But, no, they aren't going to zap your arm fat. At least now you know the truth of what you're dealing with!

June 25th 2018

'I'd feast on Doritos, family blocks of chocolate and nuggets': Woman, 33, who binged on junk food for weeks at a time to make her feel 'better' reveals how she lost 39kg within a year

·       An Australian woman has struggled with binge eating disorder most of her life 

·       Now Kymberley Cook, 33, is taking control of her health and has lost 39.2 kilos

·       She is also a size 18 after previously struggling to fit into a pair of size 26 pants 

·       Ms Cook has always had a destructive relationship with food but is recovering 

A woman who has struggled with a binge eating disorder most of her life is now on the road to a fit and healthy lifestyle and has lost 39.2 kilos since August last year.

Although Kymberley Cook, from Australia, isn't yet comfortable sharing how much she weighed before, she is already a size 18 after previously struggling to fit into size 26 pants.

Previously the 33-year-old always had a destructive relationship with food and used it to deal with any emotion she experienced, be it happiness, sadness or anxiety. 

'Food was something that I used for both punishment and reward. I thought about it all the time, it consumed my thoughts and I had recurrent episodes of binge eating,' she told FEMAIL. 


Although Kymberley Cook, from Australia, isn't yet comfortable sharing how much she weighed before, she is already a size 18 after previously struggling to fit into size 26 pants

Ms Cook has been big her whole life and had always felt different to everyone else around her. 

Once she thought about food she couldn't stop the intense compulsion that came over her that meant she had to eat whatever was in front of her, it was like she had no control.

Ms Cook would eat until she physically couldn't eat anymore and while it was happening she would tell herself that 'tomorrow I'll be better'.

'On a bad binge day as well as eating my normal meals I would add to that a big bag of Doritos, family blocks of chocolate, bags of lollies, nuggets and toasted sandwiches. Whatever I felt like until I felt "better",' she said.

'On a bad binge day as well as eating my normal meals I would add to that a big bag of Doritos, family blocks of chocolate, bags of lollies, nuggets and toasted sandwiches. Whatever I felt like until I felt 'better',' she said

'Unfortunately when food is your addiction and the substance that you use to self-medicate and self soothe, it causes you to eat more,' she added.

'You eat and you get bigger. You cry your eyes out because you have so much guilt and shame all the while stuffing your face with food because you're trying to make yourself feel better,' she added.

A binge could last anywhere from a day to an entire month because she would lose all control - she would be 'in a food frenzy'. 

'The guilt and shame that I felt for my behaviour was immense, I knew what I was doing was not normal but I couldn't stop it,' Ms Cook explained.

'Unfortunately when food is your addiction and the substance that you use to self-medicate and self sooth, it causes you to eat more,' she said A binge could last anywhere from a day to an entire month because she would lose all control - she would be 'in a food frenzy'

The highest size in most shops is a size 26 and she often couldn't do the button up.

'I would wear a big fabric belt over my pants to try and cover it but I am now down to a size 18 plus size,' Ms Cook revealed.  

I've always struggled with being bigger; I have been on and off diets for a long time as I desperately try to control myself 

Binge eating disorder is a recognised eating disorder, just like anorexia and bulimia, but it is still relatively misunderstood.

Despite what some members of the general public may think, Ms Cook has been trying to lose weight for as long as she can remember.

'I've always struggled with being bigger; I have been on and off diets for a long time as I desperately try to control myself,' she said.

'Last August I hit rock bottom. I was the heaviest I had ever been and felt more depressed that I ever had.

'I felt like I was out of options, I didn't know what to try next and if anything would ever work.'

The highest size in most shops is a size 26 and she often couldn't do the button up (left before and right after)

By some miracle she stumbled across the Whole30 program, which focuses on eating real whole foods.

It eliminates the foods that caused Ms Cook intense cravings, such as sugar, grains, legumes and dairy.

'It doesn't let you recreate sweet foods even with compliant ingredients because the effect of treating yourself with something sweet is not psychologically beneficial,' she said.

'The program has you remove these foods for at least 30 days and makes a pretty strong statement saying that if you stick to this for 30 days it will 'change your life'.

'I've always struggled with being bigger; I have been on and off diets for a long time as I desperately try to control myself,' she said

Ms Cook explained that the main focus of the program isn't weight loss, but it's about changing her relationship with food. 

'I've now completed six successful rounds of Whole30, I literally owe my life to it. I told myself it's just 30 days but it has turned into the most life changing experience that I have ever been through,' she said. 

During the first six months Ms Cook did no exercise as she wasn't ready to make such a drastic chance in the beginning. 

It was after the first six months that she decided to join her local gym and she now I goes two to three times a week for 30 to 40 minutes each session. 


Breakfast: Fast food breakfast meal

Snack: Two to three processed iced sugary drinks

Lunch: Lasagna and chips or a steak sandwich, potato cake, chicken tender and an iced coffee

Snack: She would binge on lollies and chocolate followed by chips

Dinner: Pasta or risotto takeaway

Dessert: Chocolate or ice cream or biscuits and cakes 

This is an example of what 'normal' day looked like for her.

On a bad binge day she could add to that a big bag of Doritos, family blocks of chocolate, bags of lollies, nuggets, toasted sandwiches.



Breakfast: Leftover tapioca coated chicken, smashed potatoes, steamed greens and cashews

Lunch: Two fried eggs, steamed greens and cashews

Dinner: Roasted onion, white potato, sweet potato, carrots, steamed greens, porterhouse steak with homemade garlic ghee 

Each meal consists of protein, vegetables and fat, as per the Whole30 meal template.

If I eat something that is not from the normal way I eat now it's because I have made a conscious decision to do so. I will have asked myself is it worth it and am I ready to suffer the physiological consequences.

Ms Cook explained that the main focus of the program isn't weight loss, but it's about changing her relationship with food

'I didn't join for weight loss, I joined because I knew that being completely inactive was not part of a healthy lifestyle,' she said.

In the old days if the scales did not reflect what I had hoped I would become discouraged, I would give up and this would lead to a binge 

'I don't push my limits that's for sure. I imagine that as my goals change I may change what I do but for now I am happy with my small amount of exercise.'

At the moment the 33-year-old avoids focusing on her weight as it triggers too many emotional reactions.

'It's not healthy for me to obsess about a goal weight, I don't weigh myself very often now, I have only weighed six times in the past 10 months,' she said.

'In the old days if the scales did not reflect what I had hoped I would become discouraged, I would give up and this would lead to a binge.

At the moment the 33-year-old avoids focusing on her weight as it triggers too many emotional reactions

Ms Cook wants other people who are currently suffering from binge eating disorder to know that through all of the despair and anguish they may feel, there is hope.

'It's scary for me to share my journey so publicly and I have a fear of failing to this day but for almost 10 months I feel like I have been learning food freedom and recovery,' she said. 

Although she has had days when she can feel herself slipping back into old habits, she is now aware of her old behaviours and she now knows how she can regain control. 

'Before judging someone with a weight issue, please be mindful that they are possibly desperately trying to change but can't get control,' she said. 

Ms Cook hopes that by sharing her experience she can light the fire in at least one other person's heart so they can start their own journey to recovery. 

'This journey is about so much more than just weight loss, it's about the freedom I have gained,' the 33-year-old said.

'Food no longer controls my life, I don't have the emotional ups and downs the way I used to, I feel happier and I know my self-worth. I am learning self-love and I feel motivated.

June 11th 2018

Majority of schoolchildren buy takeaway for lunch at least once a week, child obesity study finds 

Most children are buying takeaway for their lunch at least once a week, according to a new study from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF).

The research found that 60 percent of 11 to 16-year-olds said they bought food such as chips or fried chicken from takeaways at lunchtime or after school at least once a week

Takeaways are too readily available to children, the BNF has warned, pointing to the results of the survey.

The study also found that 48 per cent of primary school students and 39 per cent of secondary school students reported eating three or more snacks a day.

While fruit was the most popular snack among the majority of primary and secondary school students,  this was closely followed by less healthy options, with almost half of children aged 7 – 11 years saying they snack on crisps (46 percent) and chocolate (46 percent). 

The survey revealed that many children do not enjoy eating healthily, with 36 percent reporting that they don’t like healthy foods, 20 percent saying that healthy foods are boring and 12 percent not sure what the healthiest foods are.

Figures released earlier this year showed that more than 50 per cent of children were overweight or obese upon leaving primary school in some areas.

Camberwell Green in South London was revealed as the only neighbourhood where more children have a BMI of 25 or above than are healthy, according to Public Health England.

This area of London is full of takeaway shops that children flock to after school, with head teachers warning The Telegraph of the £1 “school kids offer” local chicken shops are using to draw in students after school.


June 8th 2018

We asked an expert how many calories you need in a day - the answer may surprise you

If you asked 10 people how many calories you should eat in a day, you would probably get 10 different responses (and be even more confused than when you started). It's not an easy question, yet everyone seems to think they know the answer.

Instead of turning to an online macro calculator or fitspo Instagrammer, I took this question straight to an expert, Dr. Preeya Alexander. 

Dr. Alexander, also known as The Wholesome Doctor, is an Australia-based general practitioner who is passionate about prevention and enjoys a glass of wine with her healthy meals every once in a while. She gave me the lowdown on how to really figure out how many calories you need in a day, and her answers may surprise you.

Is There Really a Baseline For Daily Calorie Intake?

If you've ever picked up a fitness magazine, you've probably seen headlines like "Eat 1,200 Calories a Day to Lose Weight Quick!" or "1,200 Calorie Jump-Start Diet." According to Dr. Alexander, however, there is no certain calorie intake that is right for everyone; how many calories you need varies based on a number of factors (so please don't fall for those lose-weight-quick starvation diets).

In medicine, energy is often measured in kilojoules (as opposed to calories), and 8,700 kJ per day is a common baseline. This is roughly the equivalent of 2,000 calories per day, a higher number than you might expect. The mistake so many of us make, though, is thinking of food intake only in terms of weight loss or weight gain.

The food we eat does so much more than that - we need the nutrients from food to fuel every single thing happening in our bodies all day long. This includes things typically associated with food like digestion and energy for exercise but also for hormone production, brain function, disease prevention, and countless other processes.

How Do You Know If You Are Eating the Right Amount of Calories For You?

How many calories you need in a day can vary quite a bit based on your age, sex, and level of physical activity. According to Dr. Alexander, there are many factors that can make that baseline number go up or down. Children and teens, for example, "require

extra energy to grow and develop," she said. Men typically need more calories than women because they have more muscle mass, and, according to her, muscle requires energy to function. No matter your sex, the more physically active you are, the more calories you need to replace the energy you burn during exercise (or a physically demanding job).

Pregnant and breastfeeding women also need additional calories to support the growth of their baby and milk production.

In order to know if you are truly getting the calories you need, Dr. Alexander recommends you look at a few key factors:

Do you have enough energy to complete your daily tasks?

Are your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers at healthy levels?

Is your weight within a healthy range?

Oddly enough, Dr. Alexander advises her patients to take the focus away from calories and instead look to food quality and upping their physical activity. She said, "It can become an obsessive counting ritual. . . . So I often try to focus on how to change their diet to make it healthier while bumping up their physical activity."

Eating healthy whole foods tends to slightly decrease calorie intake (a handful of almonds is certainly more nutritious than a handful of marshmallows), while increasing exercise naturally ups calorie expenditure. When you combine these two things, the result is often slow, steady, sustainable weight loss.

Bottom line, if you feel great, your doctor is happy, and you eat mostly whole foods (and the occasional glass of wine, if you choose), you are probably getting just the right number of calories for you.If you're not sure, getting the answers to these questions is as easy as scheduling a wellness exam with your general practitioner. They can help you determine if your calorie intake is right for your needs and lifestyle.

June 6th 2018

Sweet tooth? Scientists develop a way to 'switch off' sugar cravings

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll know all too well the temptation to reach for the biscuit jar.

But help could soon be at hand, thanks to a new study that has identified a way to ‘switch off’ sugar cravings.

Researchers from Columbia University discovered a way to remove cravings for sugar in mice, and say that the technique could one day be applied to humans. 

The study builds upon previous research in which the researchers revealed that when the tongue encounters one of the five tastes - sweet, bitter, salty, sour or umami - cells on the tongue send signals to regions of the brain so as to identify the taste, and trigger the appropriate actions.

In this follow-up study, the researchers focused on sweet and bitter tastes and the amygdala - a brain region that is key for making judgements about sensory experience.

Dr Li Wang, who led the study, said: “Our earlier work revealed a clear divide between the sweet and bitter regions of the taste cortex.

“This new study showed that same division continued all the way into the amygdala.

“This segregation between sweet and bitter regions in both the taste cortex and amygdala meant we could independently manipulate these brain regions and monitor any resulting changes in behaviour.”

The team performed several experiments in which the sweet or bitter connections to the amygdala were artificially switched off.

When the sweet connections were turned off, the mice could still recognise and distinguish sweet from bitter, but lacked the basic emotional reactions, like preference for sugar or aversion to bitter.

Dr Wang said: “It would be like taking a bite of your favourite chocolate cake but not deriving any enjoyment from doing so. After a few bites, you may stop eating, whereas otherwise you would have scarfed it down.”

The researchers believe that the technique could one day be applied to humans, and could be used to treat people with obesity or eating disorders.


June 2nd 2018

Hospital admissions due to obesity have risen nearly a fifth in just a year

Hospital admissions due to obesity have risen nearly a fifth in just a year, to almost 1,700 a day.

Obesity was a factor in 617,000 admissions in England in 2016/17, NHS Digital data shows. That is an 18% rise on 525,725 the year before.

Two thirds of those were women, found the report, called the Statistics On Obesity, Physical Activity And Diet.

It found that obesity is more common in the north of England and the Midlands than in the South.

More than 4,000 of the admissions were for children under 16.

More than one in four kids in the most deprived areas were obese, compared with one in 10 in the wealthiest regions.

The numbers having weight-loss surgery also rose to 6,760, up from 6,438.

The report comes just as the Government introduces a new tax on sugary drinks.

Caroline Cerny, of the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “When it comes to obesity, there is no one silver bullet.

“This tax certainly will help, but it needs to work with lots of other measures, in particular tackling junk food marketing.”

Shadow Health Secretary, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, said: “The Government are failing our children with a watered-down obesity strategy, alongside severe cuts to public health.”

May 16th 2018

Number of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes rockets by 25 per cent in just four years

The number of children and teenagers with type 2 diabetes – a condition more typically associated with middle age – has soared by 25 per cent in just four years.

The condition is caused by eating too much and exercising too little. It is not usually diagnosed until later in life because it tends to take years for problems to accumulate to such an extent that blood sugar levels spiral dangerously out of control.

The latest figures show that in 2016-17, the number of people under 20 with type 2 diabetes was 1,043 – the first time it has risen above 1,000. In March 2013, the figure stood at 836.

If left uncontrolled, type 2 diabetes can lead to blindness, infections resulting in amputations, and an early death.

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said the 25 per cent rise had occurred because

Britain had ‘totally failed to stop obesity in its tracks in the early years’

One in three children leaving primary school is now overweight or obese, according to the National Child Measurement Programme.

In the worst areas one in two is affected. Mr Fry said: ‘We have ignored these rises in childhood obesity. Now we are living with the consequences.’

As The Mail on Sunday reported last week, TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has accused Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt of ‘running scared’ over the issue. 

He revealed he wanted to question Mr Hunt on his series Britain’s Fat Fight over whether the Government planned to curb junk food adverts aimed at youngsters but had been fobbed off.

A Health Department spokesman defended the Government’s record on diabetes, saying: ‘There is nowhere in the world setting more stringent sugar reduction targets than this Government has set.

‘We are also taxing sugary drinks, helping children to exercise more and funding research on junk food advertising. We are monitoring progress closely and have not ruled out taking further action.’


May 7th 2018

How to reduce junk food cravings in 7 easy steps

I'm going to be honest with you: I can't live without junk food. It's just not going to happen. Life is too short to miss out on things like dripping chocolate ice cream cones and greasy french fries. Although this is true, there comes a point when I eat way too much junk food and end up with a stomachache, complete remorse, and a new declaration to completely revolutionize my eating habits. And then, miraculously, somehow, the next day I'm back to shoving cookies in my mouth.

The question is, when do you step in to take control of your diet, and how do you maintain it? How can you make yourself feel better while still enjoy the foods you love? The following steps are some general guidelines to help you reduce cravings for junk food to help create a happier, confidence-filled you.

1.     Don't Deprive Yourself 

2.     This is probably the most important and most commonly mistaken concept of dieting. Let me start by saying this: always listen to your body. Do not deprive yourself of a certain food group or follow a harsh diet if you don't feel it's right for you. There are too many diets that completely restrict some of your favorite foods. While it is good to follow a consistent plan, treat yourself. 

3.     Not all dieting is bad, but a strenuous one can potentially cause intense cravings that lead to over-indulgence, overeating, and feelings of guilt. Before you start new eating habits, it may be a good idea to contact a doctor to organize a plan and determine what is best for your personal health. 

4.     2. Notice What You're Craving

5.     What have you been craving lately? Is it chocolate? Pizza? Or just a really nice doughnut with some sprinkles? Write it down, or make a mental note of it. By knowing what you're up against, you can begin to pick out patterns and start to form a strategy for battling these cravings.

6.     Remember that rule I mentioned earlier? Always listen to your body. Next time you're craving those Cheeto Puffs, eat them. I know—I'm supposed to be writing an article about how to reduce cravings for junk food. There is method behind the madness, I swear.

7.     Here's the trick: indulge, but not as often as you normally would. A recent study observed that food cravings decreased when they were consumed less frequently at normal portion sizes; eating less of it actually had no effect on the cravings. Ultimately, you don't necessarily have to decrease the amount you eat but how frequently you eat it.

8.     4. Find an Alternative

9.     There is literally nothing better than waffle fries. Nothing. But sometimes, I want the same potatoey goodness without the heavy feeling I get after eating them. Enter sweet potato fries, my newfound soulmate. Being some of the most delicious things to have ever hit my taste buds, these beauts almost always bless me with a surge of happiness.

10.  The only reason this love affair blossomed is that I searched for alternatives. Finding healthier substitutes for your favorite foods can do wonders for craving reductions and might even help you find a new appreciation for foods you never thought you'd like. For the sweet-tooths out there, don't fret. You can still satisfy your cravings with donuts, brownies, and even Girl Scout cookie alternatives.

11.  #SpoonTip: Be aware of recipes with extreme titles. Just because you are replacing eggs with avocados in your "Guiltless Brownie Recipe" does not mean eating the whole tray is necessary.

12.  5. Distract Yourself

13.  What's the easiest way to avoid something? To "forget" about it. Although this concept normally comes into play when you "forgot" your homework at home, it can be applied to reducing cravings for junk food as well.

14.  A study in Addictive Behaviors suggests that playing Tetris for just three minutes can drastically reduce a craving. If Tetris isn't your forte, talking to a friend can also be a great way to steer your mind away from those nagging cravings. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

15.  6. End Your Meals Right

16.  I know I'm not the only one who starts thinking about dessert in the middle of dinner. To avoid the inevitable binge of eats, let your body know you're done. To do this, try developing a positive trigger to signal your body that you're done eating for the night. For example, finishing dinner with a cup of lavender tea and honey may fill a sweet craving and also provide your body with the benefits you need to help you sleep. In this situation, you are getting the sweet satisfaction from the honey, but you're also giving your body awesome benefits that will decrease your dependency on sugary treats.

17.  7. Create a Schedule

18.  Schedules can be hard to commit to, but here's the bottom line: change is only as effective as you make it. Coordinating a schedule can be very beneficial for both your eating habits and your budget. By setting meal times, you reduce the amount of mindless snacking and rescue your wallet from spur-of-the-moment purchases. Full credit card, full stomach, full confidence. 

19.  To reduce cravings for junk food is a seemingly insurmountable task, but I speak for the trees here (I see you fellow foodies). Although eating junk food is part of my lifestyle, I don't have to give it up completely, and neither do you. Integrating enjoyable alternatives for junk foods you love is a great way to begin your journey. Moderation and consistency are the keys to success. As long as you are happy with what you're eating, you can curb your cravings and achieve peak confidence in your body and mind.

20.  Related: These are the 15 superfoods your kitchen needs in 2018 (PopSugar) 

May 4th 2018

Sugar could be sabotaging your sex life: From erectile dysfunction to weaker orgasms - all the ways sweet stuff crushes your passion, and how to beat it

Many of us are considering the effects of consuming too much sugar on our long-term health. 

One such effect is increasing our risk of type 2 diabetes, which is now at epidemic proportions, with no signs of slowing down.

Millions of people may have type 2 diabetes but don't know they have it, health officials warn.

Yet few of us know the devastating effects that type 2 diabetes can have on our bodies and our lives including blindness, increased risk of heart attack and foot problems.

And what only a tiny proportion of us know is that type 2 diabetes can seriously affect our sex lives.

May 2nd 2018

Childhood obesity capital of England revealed - where does your area rank?

Kids in Camberwell Green in Southwark, London, are the most likely in England to be obese or overweight.

New figures from the National Child Measurement Programme show that a shocking 33% of Year 6 children (those aged 10 and 11) in the ward are considered obese, while a further 51% are overweight.

Similarly, 18% of Reception-aged children (four and five year olds) in Camberwell Green are obese, and another 34% are heavier than they should be.

It means the area has the highest rate of childhood obesity and excess weight of all council wards in England.

Across the country, 20% of 10 and 11 year olds and 9% of four and five year olds are obese, while a further 34% of Year 6 pupils and 22% of kids in Reception are overweight.

Thamesmead East in Bexley, London, also has similarly high rates of children who are struggling with their weight as Camberwell Green, with 32% of children in Year 6 and 16% of Reception pupils considered obese.

A further 47% of 10 and 11 year olds and 32% of four and five year olds in the ward are overweight.

Also included in the top five places with the highest rates of childhood obesity and excess weight are Grangetown in Redcar and Cleveland, and Thamesmead Moorings and Woolwich Riverside in Greenwich.

Meanwhile, Wilmslow East in Cheshire East has the lowest proportion of childhood obesity and excess weight in the country.

There, just 3% of Reception kids and 7% of those in Year 6 are clinically obese, while a further 13% of four and five year olds and 17% of 10 and 11 year olds are overweight.

Wilmslow West and Chorley, also in Cheshire East, Twickenham Riverside in Richmond upon Thames, Nonsuch in Epsom and Ewell and Lindfield in Mid Sussex make up the rest of the top 5 places with the lowest rates of overweight kids.


May 1st 2018

7 signs you're making fat loss harder than it needs to be

No matter how you slice it, weight loss isn't easy. But unless you have an underlying physical condition like hypothyroidism that impairs your ability to shed pounds, it doesn't have to feel exhausting, next-to-impossible, or mind-numbingly frustrating.

Trust us. Here are seven common signs you're making it harder on yourself to slim down.

You're always working out

'Back-to-back cycling classes sound like a great idea, but they may actually work against you,' says Karen Ansel, R.D.N., co-author of Healthy in a Hurry: Simple, Wholesome Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

That's because overtraining makes post-workout recovery all but impossible and gives you a crazy-high appetite, says Holly Perkins, C.S.C.S., author of Lift to Get Lean. 'Over-exercising puts your body into a chronic state of shock,' she says.

'Stress hormone levels rise, you experience unnecessary fatigue and brain fog, and your appetite and hunger soar.'

For most women trying to lose weight, it's best to cap your exercise at 45 minutes to an hour, five days a week. Any more than that and you run a serious risk of out-of-control cravings, says Ansel.

And even if you're exercising well within those limits, feeling worn-down might be a sign you need to cut back a bit more.


The best Pilates moves for targeting your bum

You're following your best friend's diet

'When it comes to losing weight, everyone is completely unique. What worked for your best friend isn't necessarily going to give you the same results,' says Ansel.

And with so many women following fad diets, the strategy that helped your bestie drop 10 pounds in three days probably isn't the healthiest approach. (Trust us, it was all water weight anyway.)

Forget the new 'it' diet. 'Find a way of eating that works for you,' says Ansel. In fact, a 2014 meta-analysis published in JAMA shows that the most successful diet is the one that you actually like and can stick with.

(You know, as long as it's not three square meals of Dominos pizza and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes) 'You'll want to sustain that way of eating for the long term, so the pounds don't creep back on,' she says.

You're the cardio queen

While cardio can certainly help you burn calories in the gym, strength training is the key to burning more calories 24/7. 'Your workouts should turn your body into a fat-burning machine,' says Perkins. 'And strength training helps you do that.'

Unlike cardio, resistance training builds muscle, which is the single greatest asset you have in revving your metabolism, according to Harvard researchers.

In a 2015 study of 10,500 adults, the Harvard team found that regular strength training was more effective at combating abdominal fat than cardio.

You don't have to completely cut out your favourite classes. Just start incorporating a couple of days of strength training into your exercise routine, she says. From there, you can tweak your workouts based how much time you have and your goals.

You avoid carbs and fat

Stop stressing over the carbs vs fat debate. 'You really need both of these nutrients to lose weight,' says Ansel. Both fibre from whole carbs (yay, whole-grain pasta!) and fat from foods like dairy and eggs are incredibly satiating, she says. Cutting them out is a surefire way to screw with your blood sugar and insulin. What's up, hanger?

'In the end, focusing on portion size rather than cutting back on a single nutrient will help the pounds melt off much faster,' she says.

So instead of banishing one or more of the three macronutrients (carbs, fat, and protein) from your plate, bring them all on board. Carbs, fat, and protein at every meal!

You're not eating enough

'Women think that they need to cut more calories than they really do to lose weight,' says Perkins. 'The difference between maintaining and losing is only about 500 calories a day.' Cutting that amount from your daily intake (or even fewer, if you increase your exercise) really isn't that much in the grand scheme of your refrigerator.

However, cutting more calories than that could make weight loss more difficult. When you don't eat enough, your metabolism actually slows and you wind up bingeing (thanks to an onslaught of appetite-stimulating hormones that come with restricting calories).

Bonus: You're more apt to store those calories as fat, says Ansel. So that's fun.

While everyone's exact calorie needs are unique, most women need to consume at least 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day in order to lose weight without a stalled metabolism, extra hunger, or fatigue, she says.

Anyone who's ever been on a diet could tell you there's nothing more frustrating than seeing your initial weight loss taper off.

The good news? Those weight loss plateaus are not only completely normal but there are several steps you can take to help the numbers on the scale start moving again.

'While it's normal for weight loss to slow down after the initial stage weight loss, plateaus are very frustrating,' nutritionist and weight loss coach Pippa Campbell tells Prima.co.uk.

'Often people can be doing everything right and eating the right things but still hit a wall, and there are several factors I look at with new or existing clients who have seen their weight loss slow down.'

Here are five likely reasons why your weight loss may have stalled – and what you can do about it...


You run on minimal sleep

It doesn't matter how well you function on six hours of rest or that you woke up early to work out, losing weight is soooo much harder when you don't get that beauty sleep.

For instance, Diabetologia research shows that just four days of 4.5 hours per night reduces the body's insulin sensitivity, increasing the risk for fat storage.

And a 2016 SLEEP study found that poor sleep pumps your brain full of the same chemicals that cause marijuana-fueled munchies.

Prioritise bedtime. When it comes to keeping your body fat percentage in a healthy range, maintaining a regular sleep schedule is even more important than logging more Z's per night, according to research from Brigham Young University.

You don't eat before you workout

'A lot of women go into their workouts without eating in hopes of a bigger caloric deficit,' says Perkins. But if you're exercising for weight loss, you need to power your sweat sessions with food. Without proper fuelling, your body can't perform at its best.

Perkins recommends eating a meal two to three hours before your workout or snacking 30 to 60 minutes prior to sweat time. Opt for a part-carb, part-protein snack (think: an apple and cheese) to give your body the energy it needs to help you build more metabolism-boosting muscle.


April 26th 2018

How to get rid of back fat – fitness guru shares his tips, exercises and recipes

Back fat, oh so wobbly, can prove troubling. It doesn't bother everyone. We're not all keen to be lean.

But if you're keen to shed some pounds, we have some tips to help.

The back area is a funny one – a lot of people concentrate on squats, ever in vogue, relentlessly work on their abs and pump their chest and biceps in readiness for the sunshine.

Whatever people say of health, aesthetic is as much a point of focus as fitness. Unless you're a professional athlete, say.

Richard Tidmarsh from Reach Fitness shares his expertise

And so the back is an often forgotten part of the body. But its strength is vital to a strong core, and vice versa. It's a large part of the body – and a strong one helps us perform.

What's more, it'll do us good in later life. Less of a chance of shouting, "Ohh, I've put my back out!" while pulling up weeds in the garden.

Richard Tidmarsh, owner of London gym Reach Fitness who trains the likes of England rugby players, Professor Green, and Jessie Ware, stressed the importance of back workouts and shared some tips with Mirror Online.

"It's important to realise you can't spot burn body fat from a particular area," Richard said.

Here's Richard's recommended circuit:

Lat pull-down x 8

Kettle bell swing x 8

Bent-over row x 8

Burpee x 6

Rest 1 minute x 6 to 10 rounds depending on your ability

Richard explained: "Compound movements are the way to go, best bang for your buck.

"For shoulders, kettle bell shoulder presses are good. Bent-over row also helps. For the lower back, Romanian deadlifts are important. Don't waste time on 'accessory' lifts (non-compound movements)."

Compound movements are: barbell squat; deadlift; bench press; overhead press; and the barbell row. Details here.

Richard advised us not to work the back more than twice a week.

"To have a strong back you need a good core, so throw in a yoga session once per week. And don't forget leg day."

What to eat

Eating to support gym work is vital.

"Eat smaller meals more regularly," Richard said. "Six feeds a day rather than three meals.

"Use carbohydrates before and after training for energy and to recover. Lots of green tea and minimum of 2L of water per day.

"Get high protein. And avoid fats directly after training but don't fear them overall."

Why do we want a strong back, anyway?

"A strong back provides a good foundation for all athletic work," Richard said.

"More importantly, as we all get older having a strong back, with good posture is key for longevity of training and to avoid pain in later life."

Why push-ups are good

Push-ups are another good way to increase back strength, and burn fat.

"Push-ups help to increase lumbar stability with focus on the spinal erectors," said Jay Cardiello, celebrity personal trainer and star of ABC’s My Diet Is Better Than Yours.

This means it helps get you lean. Make sure you get your technique right. Your physique will benefit hugely from getting the workout on point

Simply, raise your hips, thighs and chest from the floor and support yourself with your hands and toes. Keep you arms straight, body straight, and make sure you bum doesn't drop, or push too high in the air.

Align your ankles and shoulders and aim to exhale as you lift up.

Try side crunches

Another exercise to try is side crunches. Doing these a few times a week can prove rewarding.

Eat This, Not That reports: "Doing side crunches a few times a week can tuck in your abs and sculpt your obliques so they don’t spill over your slacks.

"To perform the exercise, place a Swiss ball a couple of feet from a wall. Rest one hip against the ball while bracing your splayed feet in the crux of the wall and floor.

"Clasp your fingers behind your head and push the higher elbow toward the wall until your torso is nearly upright. Reverse the motion, getting a good stretch in your rib cage before pulling your torso back toward the wall."

As mentioned, it's also crucial to eat the right foods to support all that effort. Obviously, you shouldn't be too restrictive. Don't cause yourself sadness.

But eating good fats, lean meats and plenty of fruit and vegetables will do you no harm. Drink lots of water, green tea and remember to get enough rest.

April 16th 2018

Skipping breakfast is the key to weight loss, gastric surgeon claims

We have always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but could we be wrong?

An Australian gastric surgeon is now claiming that skipping breakfast is the key to slimming our waist line.

Dr Andrew Renaut thinks we should stop eating breakfast all together.

'Breakfast, as far as I'm concerned, is the least important meal of the day and I think is contributing to the problem as far as obesity is concerned,' he told Sunrise.

Dr Renaut explained that there are three main factors we need to consider when it comes to our diet and they are how much we eat, what foods we eat and when we eat.

This is because when we are constantly eating and digesting food our bodies aren't given a chance to have a break.

Dr Renault said this means our bodies aren't able to bring insulin levels down.

'We need to address the amount of insulin we're causing the body to produce because that translates to insulin resistance, and that's the underlying problem with obesity,' he said.

With obesity levels at a record high in this country, Dr Renault believes this technique can help stop obesity.

Not having breakfast isn't the only step, as there is also only a six hour window that you're allowed to eat in each day, which is 1pm to 7pm. 

An added bonus is that you don't need to count calories within that time frame. 

You don't need to restrict anything, with one exception, and that is refined carbohydrates,' Dr Renault explained.

'So everything else, fresh meat, fresh vegetables, fresh fish, nuts, avocados and dairy is absolutely fine.

'You can eat all that beautiful food and you don't need to restrict the amount. It's very important that you don't calorie restrict.' 

For those that are worried that they won't be able to go about their day without having a meal, Dr Renault said your body will adjust. 

'What you're doing in the 18 hours that you're not eating is you're allowing your insulin to come back down to zero,' he said. 

Although you can eat whatever you want in that six hour window, Dr Renault said that it has to be within reason, as of course this doesn't mean you can go off and eat six burgers. 

Everything in moderation. The only thing you need to watch is refined carbohydrates,' he explained.

'That's sugar and anything that contains sugar so anything that's processed and anything out of a packet probably has had sugar added.'

He recommends looking in your fridge and chucking out anything with a fat-free label as they take out the fat and put sugar in its place instead. 

'Fat doesn't make you fat, sugar makes you fat,' he added.

'I have two promises - the first is that this will work and secondly, this is the only thing that will work.' 

April 14th 2018

'Wake-up call' over liver disease risks due to weight

One in eight middle-aged adults in the UK could have a potentially serious form of liver disease - because they are overweight.

Scans of nearly 3,000 individuals from the UK Biobank research project showed that 12% had inflamed, fatty livers.

The British Liver Trust said the "very alarming" findings were a 'wake-up call' because the condition can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and death.

Hepatologists said there was a silent epidemic of fatty liver disease.

This is especially worrying because symptoms often do not emerge until permanent damage is done - but the condition is reversible if caught in time.

Back to normal

Frances Carroll, aged 52, from Oxford, was told she had fatty liver disease seven years ago.

At the time she weighed over 18 stone (116 kilos).

She lost 7 stone, and went down from a size 22 to a 12.

Frances said: "I was shocked when I was told my liver was diseased, but determined to do something about it. I started by eating more healthily and then combined that with physical activity - I'm delighted my liver is back to normal."

Frances now teaches fitness classes and does nutrition coaching.

She said: "Back in 2011 I would not have believed that I would end up as a personal trainer. I used to get out of breath when I walked any distance - now I run up hills!"

And she has had a new type of MRI scan which has showed her liver is healthy again.

The results of the MRI scanning study, led by scientists in Oxford, were announced at the International Liver Congress in Paris.

They were made possible by an innovative software analysis tool called LiverMultiScan, developed by Perspectum Diagnositics, a spin-out company from the University of Oxford.

Dr Rajarshi Banerjee, CEO of Perspectum Diagnostics said: "LiverMultiScan is a great example of a smart health technology discovered and developed by UK clinicians and scientists with clear benefits for patients, the NHS, and taxpayers.

"Whilst liver biopsy remains an important part of hepatology practice, clearly we need better non-invasive tools at our disposal to evaluate the nature and severity of liver disease."

Needle biopsies are the gold standard for assessing liver disease, but they are costly, invasive, painful and carry some health risks.

The software tool can be used in any MRI scanner but is not yet in routine clinical practice.

Southampton General is the first NHS hospital to use the new system outside of research.

David Breen, associate professor of radiology at University Hospital Southampton believes it could reduce the need for biopsies.

He said: "The scan gives a map of the entire liver as opposed to a needle-core biopsy which samples just one area and can be unpleasant.

"It also allows us to re-scan patients over time and see if they improve."

Previous studies had suggested that around one in 20 adults might have the potentially serious form of fatty liver disease known as NASH (non-alcoholic steatophepatitis).

This is where there is inflammation in and around the liver cells liver which, over time, can can lead to the build up of scar tissue known as fibrosis - eventually this can lead to cirrhosis.

But the scanning study suggests the proportion could be much higher.

Steve Ryder, consultant liver specialist in Nottingham said: "This study accords with what we are seeing on the ground - a lot of people are coming to hospital with significant liver disease because they are overweight."

Ninety per cent of liver disease is reversible if caught in time.

Judi Rhys, chief executive of the British Liver Trust said: "Reducing alcohol is important which most people already know, but for fatty liver disease the key things are having a healthy weight and doing exercise."

The charity has an online screening tool to assess your risk of liver disease.


April 13th 2018

Here's why you've hit a weight loss plateau

Anyone who's ever been on a diet could tell you there's nothing more frustrating than seeing your initial weight loss taper off.

The good news? Those weight loss plateaus are not only completely normal but there are several steps you can take to help the numbers on the scale start moving again.

'While it's normal for weight loss to slow down after the initial stage weight loss, plateaus are very frustrating,' nutritionist and weight loss coach Pippa Campbell tells Prima.co.uk.

'Often people can be doing everything right and eating the right things but still hit a wall, and there are several factors I look at with new or existing clients who have seen their weight loss slow down.'

Here are five likely reasons why your weight loss may have stalled – and what you can do about it...

1. You're doing the wrong type of exercise

As we all know, healthy weight loss requires exercise, too. But, if you've been slogging it out at the gym hoping to burn calories through traditional cardio, then you could be sabotaging yourself.

'Cardio does not actually burn huge amounts of fat,' Pippa tells us. 'So, if you're doing long, steady runs, for example, it is time to think about changing your exercise.'

The best type of workout for weight loss? High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which involves alternating between high intensity activity and set rest periods.

'Not only do you burn more calories during a HIIT workout, but the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body's repair cycle into hyperdrive,' Pippa says. 'That means you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a HIIT workout than you do after, say, a steady-pace run.'

Oh, and did we mention that you can easily do HIIT at home without any fancy gym equipment? If you're intrigued, check our our expert guide to HIIT here for more information on how to get started.

2. You're being too strict with your diet

Now this one is genuine music to our ears... If you've been following a healthy diet religiously for a while but have started to see your weight loss plateau, then it might be time to hit the reset button by having a good old-fashioned 'cheat' meal.

'If you are constantly calorie-restricting, your metabolism can slow down,' Pippa explains. 'I believe that you need to "shock" your system once a week with a treat meal to boost your metabolism.'

To be fair, numerous scientific studies have shown that having an occasional 'cheat' meal can help boost weight loss.

For example, a team from the University of Tasmania in Australia found that participants who took regular breaks from their diets actually lost more weight than those who stuck to a rigid regime, and ultimately gained less weight back once the study ended.

Like we said, best news ever. Anyone fancy spag bol tonight?

3. You're eating more than you realise

This may be a difficult to swallow, but it could be that you are inadvertently eating more than you should for weight loss.

'Many new clients that come to see me are eating far too much,' Pippa tell us. 'They can often be eating up to three times the amount a nutritionist would recommend for them.'

For this reason, it could be worth swatting up on healthy portion sizes to ensure you're not accidentally overdoing it. Check out our detailed guide here, which covers a whole range of foods, from snacks to condiments. For instance, did you realise that one serving of meat should be no larger than a deck of cards? Nope, us neither...

And taking the time to use a (free) calorie-counting app, such as MyFitnessPal, could also be useful if you want to ensure you're accurately sticking to your diet plan of choice.

Study finds cities with more exercise options have less diabetes (GES)

4. You're developed some sneaky bad habits

Once you've been making an effort to eat healthily for a while, it's easy for some unhelpful habits to sneak back into your routine.

'I often find that clients have slipped back into old habits, which is why their weight loss has slowed down,' Pippa tells us. 'It could be that your meals are too rich in carbohydrates, without enough protein to keep you full, or that you're snacking more than you realise.'

For a full guide to the diet-destroying habits that could be undermining your weight loss, check out our expert guide here.

And, if you really can't get through the afternoon without snacking, that's not a problem: here are 10 of the best snacks for weight loss to try.

5. Your gut bacteria could be imbalanced

A lot has been said about the link between gut bacteria and weight loss in recent years. One study from 2017 showed that participants with higher levels of 'good' bacteria in their guts found it easier to shed weight than those who didn't.

Pippa agrees that a gut bacteria imbalance could be playing a part in your weight loss struggle.

'Scientists now know that the bacteria in our gut can have profound effects on weight and metabolism,' she says. 'Some bacteria actually extract more energy from food, leading to weight gain, while others trigger inflammation, leading to insulin resistance, independent of your calorie intake.'

With that in mind, Pippa says it's crucial to try and heal any gut imbalances you may be harbouring. While it's tempting to pop a probiotic supplement, there are numerous other ways you can maintain your gut health, too.

'Try to eat whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods,' suggests Pippa. 'Cutting out sugar and refined carbs, while increasing gut-supporting fibre from vegetables and consuming plenty of good fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, will all help.

'You should also aim to reduce the amount of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids you eat (found in the likes of vegetable oil) and consider introducing fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, into your diet as well.'


April 5th 2018

Hospital admissions due to obesity have risen nearly a fifth in just a year

Hospital admissions due to obesity have risen nearly a fifth in just a year, to almost 1,700 a day.

Obesity was a factor in 617,000 admissions in England in 2016/17, NHS Digital data shows. That is an 18% rise on 525,725 the year before.

Two thirds of those were women, found the report, called the Statistics On Obesity, Physical Activity And Diet.

It found that obesity is more common in the north of England and the Midlands than in the South.

More than 4,000 of the admissions were for children under 16.

More than one in four kids in the most deprived areas were obese, compared with one in 10 in the wealthiest regions.

The numbers having weight-loss surgery also rose to 6,760, up from 6,438.

The report comes just as the Government introduces a new tax on sugary drinks.

Caroline Cerny, of the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “When it comes to obesity, there is no one silver bullet.

“This tax certainly will help, but it needs to work with lots of other measures, in particular tackling junk food marketing.”

Shadow Health Secretary, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, said: “The Government are failing our children with a watered-down obesity strategy, alongside severe cuts to public health.”

April 1st 2018 Its no joke

Sale of super-sized Easter eggs should be regulated, says obesity expert

A growing trend towards selling super-sized Easter eggs should be made regulated, a leading obesity expert has warned.

Professor Donal O’Shea said more needs to be done by the Government to crack down on the growing size of high-sugar treats being sold.

Professor O’Shea issued the warning as Lindt chocolate Easter bunnies are now available up to 200g for the holiday season.

‘When you see what’s going on in shops around Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Easter, it reflects industry’s inability to self-regulate. They have to go for the quick win,’ he told the Sunday Independent.

‘I have spoken to the CEO of a soft drinks company and managers of wholesalers and, when they speak off the record, they are quite clear that what they are trying to promote is sales and it is not something they apply to their own children, family life or values.

‘If you speak with them on a personal level about what they give their own kid, they say “no way is my kid having three Easter eggs”, because they are socio-economic one or two [families] but they have got to feed the market.

He warned the way companies focus on sales ‘shouldn’t surprise us because that’s what they have to do – take responsibility for their shareholders and profit. So they go for it. We need to deal with this and if that means regulation, well, then regulate.’

He added there needs to be ‘a continued evaluation of what they (sweet companies) are doing’ by increasing junk food sizes for special occasions.

Prof O’Shea warned: ‘This is all happening at the same time we know our health system crisis is now a direct result of lifestyle. At this stage, there is nothing in it for the Government not to deal with the obesity problem. There really isn’t.’

It is estimated over 17m eggs – or 2,100 tonnes of chocolate – are eaten during the holiday season, while sales of Easter eggs are predicted to top €38.5m.

March 27th 2018

The best type of exercise for burning belly fat

Belly fat is notorious for being the hardest to shift, and there's a biological reason for that (you can read more on why here). Because the fat that gathers around your abdomen can be so stubborn, many people find themselves fixating their workouts around toning their stomach. But according to an expert, that's the wrong approach.

Bupa UK's Dr Luke James told us that "only doing abdominal-focussed workouts, like crunches, won’t help you banish the bulge. Belly fat is simply where your body stores energy, so you need to take a whole-body approach to tackle it," he explained.

So that's where we've been going wrong.

According to the doctor, straying from exercises that just work your stomach muscles and focussing on HIIT training (high intensity interval training) instead is a better way to target fat, because it gets your heart rate right up. "Squats, burpees and treadmill sprints are all examples to try," Dr Luke suggested.

Apparently, HIIT can have a positive effect on your hormones, "especially those that are responsible for the process of lowering fat from areas like the belly", which is why it's the ideal exercise for burning fat in that part of the body.

But don't be disheartened if you think all those abdominal crunches have now gone to waste - Dr Luke says they're "great for building endurance" - they just "do little to tackle the bulge". You live and learn.

March 26th 2018

Five signs you’re actually eating too much sugar

The recommended daily amount of sugar intake for a woman is around 25 grams or six teaspoons.

However, everyone’s body is different so you may have to consume even less sugar than this. As well as that, so many people eat far too much sugar anyway.

If you are eating too much sugar, your body will let you know with a few tell tale signs – but what are they?

If you’re having migranes more than once a month, then perhaps it’s time to cut down on the sugar.

2. Hormone Imbalance

A sugary diet can be linked to so many different hormone issues, especially for women.

It can also affect your stress levels! Yay! And with hormone imbalance comes something we thought we had out grown.

3. Acne

Due to sugar, our hormones become unbalanced leading to break outs. So thanks for that fizzy drinks!

4. Mood Swings

As if the hormone imbalance was enough to make us feeling irrational, sugar can just cause mood swings by itself! No hormones needed, my friend.

This happens because sugar is absorbed much more quickly into your body than fat or protein, so this results in a surge of energy and a very sudden drop. So, eating a healthier meal will lead to us being fuller and happier.

5. Being Unable To Lose Weight

If you have a constant stream of sugar in your body, you apparently can’t utilise its own fat stores which means you won’t lose any weight.

March 13th 2018

One in four adults have multiple health problems, 'startling' data finds

More than a quarter of adults in Britain have multiple health problems, according to a major study warning of “alarming” pressures being placed on the NHS.

The research shows that the vast majority of GPs’ time is being taken up by patients with several conditions, with eight in 10 prescriptions now issued to patients with more than one health complaint.

Researchers from Cambridge University said the trend was set to worsen, amid soaring rates of obesity fuel diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The four-year study of more than 400,000 adults in England found 27.2 per cent were suffering from more than one health condition - with even higher rates among women.

High blood pressure was the most common - with almost one in five patients found to be suffering from it. And one in ten patients were diagnosed with depression or anxiety, while one in ten had chronic pain.

The research showed that overlaps between the diseases were common, with an average of three conditions each for those aged 75 and over.

Overall, 30 per cent of women had multiple conditions, along with 24.4 per cent of men.

More than half of GP visits and hospital admissions were found to be devoted to those with multiple conditions, and 79 per cent of prescriptions were issued to those with more than one complaint.

Researchers said the shocking figures showed the need to redesign services to create “one stop shops” to treat patients more holistically.

They said NHS systems - which fund hospitals for appointments to treat separate diseases - did not put the patient first, and wasted precious resources.

Dr Duncan Edwards, a research fellow from Cambridge University, said: “The numbers are just startling when you see them in black and white.

“The average person with diabetes has three or four other conditions, yet the NHS structures forbid looking after patients properly. We need a one-stop shop, not a system that thinks in terms of single diseases.”

Dr Edwards said pressures were expected to deepen, given Britain’s rising obesity rates.

Two in three adults are now overweight or obese, while three quarters of millenials are set to reach this point by the age of around 40, on current trends.

“Chronic pain, high blood pressure and diabetes are some of the most common conditions, and all are fuelled by obesity - we are going to be seeing more and more of this in future,” he warned.

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum said too many people were eating “relentlessly” despite constant reminders about the number of diseases linked to excess weight.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said the research showed that family doctors need far more time with many of their patients.

“This large-scale, comprehensive research is further evidence of the increasing complexity of cases that GPs are dealing with, and the inadequacy of the standard 10-minute consultation," she said.

The GP said the slots were not long enough for patients with complex needs, but said that attempts to give longer appointments meant others had to wait even longer to see a doctor.

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.

- -

- -

we advise the World

AWeber Click Automations - Click this, send that