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October 28, 2008

Smart Choices Labeling on Food Products


Some of the nation’s largest food and beverage companies have agreed to accept common nutritional standards and to use the same logo on their packages to denote the products that qualify. The “Smart Choices Program,? as it is called, is expected to be in stores in the middle of next summer.

Products that fit with the program’s nutritional guidelines will have the Smart Choices logo, which is a check mark on the front of the package with the amount of calories per serving and the number of servings in the package.

Coca-Cola, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Unilever and Wal-Mart are some of the companies who are participating in this program.

Some food companies have already created logos to help consumers pick more nutritious products, but they were too weak.

The nutrition standards for the Smart Choices Program are based on the federal government’s dietary guidelines.

I think this a really good step forward to help people make difficult choices at the grocery store. Having a quick symbol and universal standard will allow people to make their choices easier and healthier. I know I have been at the grocery store and looked at two items and say to myself do I get this one which is reduced fat or do I get this one which is whole grain. Hopefully this labeling will allow people to make healthier choices when it comes to nutrition.


October 23, 2008

Speed of eating maybe 'key to obesity'

_45127331_eating_cred226.jpg Wolfing down meals may be enough to nearly double a person's risk of being overweight, Japanese research suggests. Compared with those who did not eat quickly, fast-eating men were 84% more likely to be overweight, and women were just over twice as likely. "The old wives' tale about chewing everything 20 times might be true - if you did take a bit more time eating, it could have an impact, researcher Ian McDonald said. Source:

New Obesity Drug

A new obesity drug, Tesofensine, produces weight loss twice that of currently approved obesity drugs, according to Danish researchers. Tesofensine works by suppressing hunger, leading to an energy deficit which burns off excess body fat.

This randomized-controlled trial in phase II prescribed 203 obese patients a low calorie diet and one of four different treatments for 24 weeks.

low calorie diet and placebo
tesofensine 0.25mg
tesofensine 0.5 mg
tesofensine 1.0 mg

The primary outcome was percentage change in bodyweight. A total of 161 patients completed the study.

Mean weight loss
placebo and diet: 2.2kg (5 lbs)
tesofensine 0.25mg: 6.7kg (15 lbs)
tesofensine 0.5mg: 6.7kg 11.3kg (25 lbs)
tesofensine 1.0mg: 12.8kg (28 lbs)

However this drug does seem to have side effects such as dry mouth, nausea, constipation, hard stools, diarrhoea, and insomnia.

The authors conclude that the 0.5mg dose of tesofensine is more promising than the 1.0mg dose because it produces a similar weight loss with less side-effects. They say: “We conclude that tesofensine 0.5 mg, once daily for 6 months, has the potential to produce twice the weight loss as currently approved drugs; however, larger phase III studies are needed to substantiate our findings.?


October 21, 2008

Suggestions for Overcoming Physical Activity Barriers

Given the health benefits of regular physical activity, we might have to ask why two out of three (60%) Americans are not active at recommended levels.

Understanding common barriers to physical activity and creating strategies to overcome them may help you make physical activity part of your daily life.

Lack of time:
Identify available time slots.
Monitor your daily activities for one week.
Identify at least three 30-minute time slots you could use for physical activity.
Add physical activity to your daily routine. For example, walk or ride your bike to work or shopping, organize school activities around physical activity, walk the dog, exercise while you watch TV, park farther away from your destination, etc.
Select activities requiring minimal time, such as walking, jogging, or stairclimbing.

Social influence:
Explain your interest in physical activity to friends and family.
Ask them to support your efforts.
Invite friends and family members to exercise with you.
Plan social activities involving exercise.
Develop new friendships with physically active people.
Join a group, such as the YMCA or a hiking club.

Lack of energy:
Schedule physical activity for times in the day or week when you feel energetic.
Convince yourself that if you give it a chance, physical activity will increase your energy level; then, try it.

Lack of motivation:
Plan ahead.
Make physical activity a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule and write it on your calendar.
Invite a friend to exercise with you on a regular basis and write it on both your calendars.
Join an exercise group or class.

Fear of injury:
Learn how to warm up and cool down to prevent injury.
Learn how to exercise appropriately considering your age, fitness level, skill level, and health status.
Choose activities involving minimum risk.

Lack of skill:
Select activities requiring no new skills, such as walking, climbing stairs, or jogging.
Take a class to develop new skills.

Lack of resources:
Select activities that require minimal facilities or equipment, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope, or calisthenics.
Identify inexpensive, convenient resources available in your community (community education programs, park and recreation programs, worksite programs, etc.).

Weather conditions:
Develop a set of regular activities that are always available regardless of weather (indoor cycling, aerobic dance, indoor swimming, calisthenics, stair climbing, rope skipping, mall walking, dancing, gymnasium games, etc.)

Travel :
Put a jump rope in your suitcase and jump rope.
Walk the halls and climb the stairs in hotels.
Stay in places with swimming pools or exercise facilities.
Join the YMCA or YWCA (ask about reciprocal membership agreement).
Visit the local shopping mall and walk for half an hour or more.
Bring your mp3 player your favorite aerobic exercise music.

Family obligations:
Trade babysitting time with a friend, neighbor, or family member who also has small children.
Exercise with the kids-go for a walk together, play tag or other running games, get an aerobic dance or exercise tape for kids (there are several on the market) and exercise together. You can spend time together and still get your exercise.
Jump rope, do calisthenics, ride a stationary bicycle, or use other home gymnasium equipment while the kids are busy playing or sleeping.
Try to exercise when the kids are not around (e.g., during school hours or their nap time).

Retirement years:
Look upon your retirement as an opportunity to become more active instead of less.
Spend more time gardening, walking the dog, and playing with your grandchildren.
Children with short legs and grandparents with slower gaits are often great walking partners.
Learn a new skill you've always been interested in, such as ballroom dancing, square dancing, or swimming.
Now that you have the time, make regular physical activity a part of every day. Go for a walk every morning or every evening before dinner. Treat yourself to an exercycle and ride every day while reading a favorite book or magazine.


October 16, 2008

Cartoon of the Day


Today, children aren't getting outdoors to play and engage in physical activity. With the available technologies like video games, computers, and television children are not getting as much physical activity as they used to. Allowing only a specified number of hours for these activities may be beneficial to increasing exercise lebels. When I think about my childhood, growing up on farm, our days were spend outside running about or helping out with the chores. I think Establishing these habits when children are young will prove to be incredibly important.

Obese People Enjoy Food Less

Obese people enjoy food less than lean people, according to a brain imaging study from the Oregon Research Institute.

It might be expected that obese people would enjoy food more; however this study shows that is where the problem is. Obese people eat more high-calorie food to make up for the lack of enjoyment.

"We originally thought obese people would experience more reward from food. But we see obese people only anticipate more reward; they get less reward. It is an ironic process," Stice tells WebMD.

The research involved showing women a picture of a chocolate milkshake and a picture of a glass of water. They found the heavier the woman, the more active the pleasure center in her brain. Then the women actually tasted a chocolate milkshake or a neutral solution. Heavier women had less activity in their brains' pleasure centers.

"The more you do things that are rewarding, the less reward you see," Stice says. "The more you eat an unhealthy diet, the more you see this blunted pleasure response to high-energy foods."

"People with the most blunted reward circuits are at the most risk of overeating, and the more they engage in eating, the more you see downregulation of their reward circuitry," Stice says. "They eat more to get the same reward."

Stice is now looking at whether obese people who switch to a healthy diet can reset their pleasure circuitry. He finds that when obese people stop eating energy-dense foods, their craving for such foods goes down, not up.

"If we can get obese people to improve the quality of their diets and stay the course for long time, eventually they do much better in craving and their pleasure circuits should go back to their old balance," he says.

These findings are found in the Oct. 17 issue of the journal Science.

This article is rather interesting in that we generally think of obesity as a metabolic, genetic, behavioral problem, but looking at obesity in terms of the brain may bring us closer to understanding this epidemic.


October 12, 2008

Honesty About Exercise Tied to Weight

When people with weight problems talk about their exercise and eating habits, many doctors and nutritionists don’t believe them. That’s because studies show that overweight people commonly underestimate the amount of food they’re eating.

But exercise habits appear to be a different story. New research shows that people with weight problems are far more tuned into how much they exercise than they are often given credit for.

In a study presented at the Obesity Society’s annual meeting, researchers from Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education in Philadelphia found that obese women were more accurate in reporting their activity levels than overweight or normal weight women.

For 12 months, the researchers studied 280 normal weight, overweight and obese women whose average age was 47. The women were equipped with accelerometers, devices that measure physical activity, and asked how much they exercised at the beginning of the study, after three months and at 12 months. Notably, women who were normal weight or overweight, but not obese, had a more difficult time estimating their physical activity levels. But women who were obese — meaning they had a body mass index above 30 — came much closer to accurately estimating how much they were exercising.

Study lead author Tracy Oliver said that obese women are often considered “less credible? when they report their caloric intake, and that she expected they would also have a difficult time estimating their physical activity. She speculated that the opposite finding may be due to the fact that exercise and even low levels of physical activity may be particularly challenging for an obese person.

“They want to give themselves credit for every little bit engaged in due to the effort put forth,? she said.

This was a rather interesting short article on a research study. Although, I would have like more information about why these results were found and what they might mean. Why were obese women more accurate in estimating their physical activity levels? Were non-obese women underestimating or overestimating? And why? What about men? What does this mean for normal or overweight women? This is a great news piece despite not being in a peer reviewed scholarly journal. However, I would have liked to see more detail and greater depth of meaning.


October 7, 2008

New Physical Activity Recommendations

The Department of Health and Human Services Announces New Physical Activity Recommendations

Adults can gain substantial health benefits from two and a half hours a week of moderate aerobic physical activity.

The new guidelines, from the Health and Human Services Department, aim to end years of confusion about how much physical activity is enough, while making clear that there are lots of ways to achieve it.

Key Guidelines for Adults
Adults gain substantial health benefits from two and one half hours a week of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity. Walking briskly, water aerobics, ballroom dancing and general gardening are examples of moderate intensity aerobic activities. Vigorous intensity aerobic activities include racewalking, jogging or running, swimming laps, jumping rope and hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes. For more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to five hours a week moderate-intensity or two and one half hours a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Adults should incorporate muscle strengthening activities, such as weight training, push-ups, sit-ups and carrying heavy loads or heavy gardening, at least two days a week.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are the most comprehensive of their kind. They are based on the first thorough review of scientific research about physical activity and health in more than a decade. A 13-member advisory committee appointed in April 2007 by Secretary Leavitt reviewed research and produced an extensive report.

It’s important for all Americans to be active, and the guidelines are a roadmap to include physical activity in their daily routine,? HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “The evidence is clear -- regular physical activity over months and years produces long-term health benefits and reduces the risk of many diseases. The more physically active you are, the more health benefits you gain.?


October 1, 2008

Should snacks be taxed?

Yesterday, lawmakers in France proposed raising the tax on chocolate, chips and other snacks from 5.5% to almost 20% whle reducing taxes on fruits and veggies from 5.5% to 2% in an effort to reduce childhood obesity.

Would a higher tax on unhealthy foods make you eat better?

I think this is a very interesting concept. It makes me wonder why there isn't a tax already. There is a cigarette tax. Why not a high tax for potatp chips or McDonalds. While most people would have major issues on raising taxes for goodies, I think majority of us wouldn't mind a break for fresh produce. This certainly would decreases barriers related to access. All in all I would say It would be easier to eat healthier if there was a higher price for chips and candy. But then again I love fruits and veggies and have a tendency to be tight with my money.

Source: USA Today