December 10, 2008

So how is Minnesota doing?

According to the 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey, many Minnesota adults are overweight or obese, have developed health problems and chronic diseases and continue to not
practice healthy behaviors:
- 51 percent do not achieve weekly recommended physical activity recommendations
- 81 percent consume fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day
- 1 in 4 are obese and 1 in 3 are overweight
- 33 percent have high cholesterol
- 22 percent have high blood pressure
- 6 percent have diabetes and 26 percent have prediabetes

The prevalence of risk behaviors among youth in Minnesota is setting up the next generation of adults for earlier onset and more widespread chronic disease. According to the 2007 Minnesota Student Survey:
- 67 percent of 12th grade girls report not participating in moderate physical activity five or more days per week
- 34 percent of 12th grade boys and 48 percent of 12th grade girls report not participating in vigorous physical activity at least three day per week
- 49 percent of 12th grade boys and 37 percent of 12th grade girls report watching six hours or more of television or videos per week
- 32 percent of 12th grade boys report playing computer or video games for six hours or more per week
- Fewer than 20 percent of elementary, middle and high school students surveyed report eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day
- 47 percent of 12th grade girls and 65 percent of 12th grade boys report drinking at least one soda a day

But Minnesota has a plan- this year the Minnesota Department of Health released an Obesity Action Plan. It can be found at

December 5, 2008

A simple scale

New research from the University of Minnesota looked at whether a scale can be a helpful tool in the fight against obesity.

The study found that teens who weighed themselves at least once a week tended to be less heavy and eat a better diet than teens who did not weigh themselves. Many experts feel that self-monitoring such as weighing onesself can help keep everyone honest - kids and adults alike - when it comes to better weight control.

Teenagers struggling with a few extra pounds might get assistance from a simple bathroom scale. According to new research from the University of Minnesota, adolescents who weighed themselves at least once a week had better weight control and healthier habits than those who didn't use the scale as often

Doctors studied 130 teenagers who were moderately overweight and found that those who regularly used a scale weighed an average of 7 pounds less and were less likely to eat junk food or meals with saturated fats. Self-weighers also exercised more and were nearly 5 times as likely to follow a structured diet. Experts say the scale provides valuable feedback to teens, allowing them to make changes in their eating behavior before their clothes get too tight. Past studies have also shown that frequent weighing helps dieters keep the pounds off over the long-term. But some nutrition experts caution parents against making their kids "slaves to the scale" -- weekly or twice weekly weighing provides useful feedback, but more than that could create an unhealthy obsession.

I think there has been some controvery about whether weighing oneself on a regular basis can be harmful too. At what point is a person becoming obsessed with a number on a scale. I think that is a common behavior among people with eating disorders. I think we need to be careful not to help one disease at the cost of introducing another disorder.

There is a news video on this research that can be found at

December 2, 2008

Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity

The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity
Research has shown that as weight increases to reach the levels referred to as "overweight" and "obesity,"* the risks for the following conditions also increases:

Coronary heart disease
Type 2 diabetes
Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
Liver and Gallbladder disease
Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)
*Overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher; obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.


Continue reading "Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity" »

December 1, 2008

Obesity and Economics


An article the economic crisis of obesity came out today in the state of Delaware. The article discusses the obesity epidemic in light of society today. Here are a few exercepts from the article:

Today, an average family spends 40 percent of its food budget on meals purchased outside the home. Fast food makes up a large portion of that percentage because of the convenient allure of the drive through and the high number of fast food restaurants.

While nominal food prices dropped 38 percent between 1978 and 2005, the most dramatic drop was in soft drinks, sweets and fatty snacks, he said.

While the sticker price of fatty food may be lower than healthy items like fresh fruits and vegetables, there are more costs to consider than dollars and cents, Carter said. Milk costs more than soda, but milk is also more valuable for the body than soda, so it is impossible to compare healthy and unhealthy foods based only on price, she said.

Nationally, a 2008 Conference Board report found that obesity is associated with a 36 percent increase in spending on healthcare services, more than smoking or problem drinking, and that obesity costs the private sector a super-sized $45 billion a year in medical expenses and lost productivity.

In another report that examined national numbers from multiple organizations, overweight and obesity costs were estimated to cost the U.S a whopping $117 billion (Direct cost, $61 billion. Indirect cost, $56 billion). The study estimated that the direct costs of physical inactivity alone were more than $24 billion.


November 22, 2008

Obesity Consortium Presentations

Obesity Consortium of Minnesota
Upcoming Presentations:

Thursday, Dec. 4, 20089:00-11:00 AM Center, Cowles Audtrm.
Obesity Prevention Efforts in the Netherlands: Mass Media Education, Worksite and School-Based Interventions. Johannes Brug, PhD, Director, EMGO Institute for Trans & Extramural Health & Medical Research and Professor of Epidemiology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Sr. Academic Associate, Faculty of Health, Medicine, Nursing & Behavioral Sciences, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

Friday, Dec. 5, 2008 10:00-11:00 AM 364 WBOB
Web-Based Computer-Tailored Nutrition Education: Efficacious but Not Effective. Johannes Brug, PhD, Professor, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Sr. Academic Associate, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

November 18, 2008

Minnesota Obesity Center

The Minnesota Obesity Center is an Obesity Nutrition Research Center funded by the National Institute of Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

MNOC has a strong and diverse research base consisting of 68 active investigators with 114 funded projects in obesity, energy metabolism and eating disorders, generating over $32 million per year in grant support for their investigations.

The Center incorporates 60 principle investigators who are studying the causes and treatments of obesity. These investigators are from the University of Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Medical Center, Hennepin County Medical Center, and HealthPartners Research Foundation.

MNOC awards small research grants through its Pilot and Feasibility Program, with additional support provided through the Core Facilities. The Education Enrichment Program for MNOC provides the general public with a source of information on the happenings of the Center and on the current developments in the field of obesity. This program includes a biomonthly seminar series.

The Minnesota Obesity Center is a proud member of the Obesity Consortium of Minnesota. The Consortium was formed to further facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration and foster cooperation in obesity research, education, and outreach efforts. Co-chairs of the Consortium are Robert W. Jeffery, PhD and Allen Levine, PhD.

The mission of the Minnesota Obesity Center is to find ways to prevent weight gain and secondarily the onset of obesity and complications of obesity.

Obesity is clearly a major source of illness and death, and is the most common nutritional ailment in the United States. Despite its prevalence, there is little known about effective measures to prevent obesity, and therefore its attendant complications. Further, it is well known that obese individuals can more easily lose weight than maintain the loss. It now seems clear that the emphasis should be prevention of initial weight gain, and failing that, prevention of regain after weight loss.

With the mission of prevention defined, our vision establishes three goals:
1. Find the underlying problems that lead to obesity;
2. Identify behaviors that lead to obesity and find ways to help change those behaviors;
3. Determine public health and public policy measures that will reduce the frequency and severity of obesity.


November 9, 2008

Nutrition and Exercise Smarts Increasing

A nationwide survey of nearly 800 mean and women conducted by the American Dietetic Association revealed that americans are getting smarter about nutrition and exercise.

When asked about maintaining a healthful diet and engaging in regular exercise, 43% said, "I'm already doing it." In 2002, that number was 38%. And just 19% of men and women put themselves in the "don't bother me" category -- not believing that diet and exercise are important. That's down from 32% in 2002.

In 2008, 40% said they were actively seeking more information on nutrition, up from 19% in 2000.

People also are making different choices. In the last five years, 56% of people surveyed increased their consumption of whole-grain foods; 50%, vegetables; 48%, fruits; and 42%, chicken. And 41% decreased their intake of beef; 23%, dairy; and 33%, pork.

This article, although not containing as much information as I would have liked about the survey results, it gives a glimpse of what american know about nutrition and exercise and what they are doing about it. However, I looked up the results from ADA which has a lot more information. The report and a summary can be accessed at the following web-site:


October 23, 2008

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.?