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May 7, 2008, 6:44 PM CT

Caution on new anti-obesity drug in kids

Caution on new anti-obesity drug in kids
Anti-obesity drugs that work by blocking brain molecules similar to those in marijuana could also interfere with neural development in young children, as per a new study from MITs Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.

Marijuana is known to be an appetite stimulant, and a new class of anti-obesity drugssuch as rimonabant (trade name Acomplia) developed by Sanofi-Aventis and awaiting approval for use in the United Stateswork by blocking brain receptors that bind to marijuana and other cannabinoids.

Marijuana, derived from the plant Cannabis sativa, contains special active compounds that are referred to collectively as cannabinoids. But other cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) are generated naturally inside the body.

The MIT study, which was done in mice, observed that blocking cannabinoid receptors could also suppress the adaptive rewiring of the brain necessary for neural development in children. The work is published in the May 8 issue of Neuron.

Our finding of a profound disruption of cortical plasticity in juvenile mice suggests caution is advised in the use of such compounds in children, wrote lead author Mark F. Bear, director of the Picower Institute and Picower Professor of Neuroscience.

The scientists investigated plasticitythe brains ability to change in response to experienceby temporarily depriving newborn mice of vision in one eye soon after birth. This well-known experiment induces a long-lasting loss of synapses that causes blindness in the covered eye, while synapses shift to the uncovered eye. How and where this synaptic shift occurs in the primary visual cortex has remained controversial.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 6, 2008, 10:41 PM CT

Hunger hormone: makes food look more attractive

Hunger hormone: makes food look more attractive
A new brain-imaging study by scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University reveals that ghrelin - a stomach hormone, acts on specific regions of the brain to enhance our response to food related cues and eating for pleasure. This study, reported in the May 7 issue of Cell Metabolism, is critical to advance understanding and treating obesity, a condition affecting millions world-wide.

Appetite was previously thought of as being controlled by two separate mechanisms: homeostatic and non-homeostatic or hedonic food consumption. Homeostatic feeding is controlled by hormones such as ghrelin, that act on the brain to tell the body when to eat in an attempt to keep a constant body weight. Hedonic consumption is triggered by visual or smell cues. For example, wanting to eat a piece of cake just because it looks good and will bring pleasure when eaten. This study demonstrates that both food consumption behaviours are inter-connected and a key player in their regulation is the stomach hormone ghrelin.

"Our study demonstrates that ghrelin actually activates certain regions of the brain to be more responsive to visual food cues, thereby enhancing the hedonic and incentive responses to food-related cues,' says Dr. Alain Dagher, neurologist at the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University and principal investigator in the study. "Ghrelin is a hormone that triggers hunger, and is secreted by the stomach [when it is empty]. An easy analogy would be to think about when you go shopping on an empty stomach, you tend to buy more food and products higher in calories. The reason is that your brain views the food as more appealing, largely due to the action of ghrelin on the brain".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 5, 2008, 9:05 PM CT

Flip flops, mulch and no coat

Flip flops, mulch and no coat
At a time when over half of US children (aged 3-6) are in child care centers, and growing concern over childhood obesity has led physicians to focus on whether children are getting enough physical activity, a new study of outdoor physical activity at child care centers, conducted by scientists at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center, has identified some surprising reasons why the kids may be staying inside. The study, will be presented May 5 at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Its things we never expected, from flip flops, mulch near the playground, children who come to child care without a coat on chilly days, to teachers talking or texting on cell phones while they were supposed to be supervising the children, as per Kristen Copeland, M.D., lead author of the study which was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. She noted that because there are so a number of benefits of physical activity for children from prevention of obesity, to better concentration and development of gross motor skills its important to know what barriers to physical activity may exist at child-care centers.

With so a number of American preschool-aged children in child care centers, and prior reports that the amount of physical activity children get varies widely across different centers, we wanted to explore what some of the barriers to physical activity at these centers might be, said Dr. Copeland, a doctor scientist and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of General and Community Pediatrics at Cincinnati Childrens. As per the most recent statistics 74% of US children aged 3-6 years are in some form of non-parental child care. 56% percent of 3-6 year old children spend time in centers, including child care centers and preschools. Her team began by exploring child-care center staff members perceptions of barriers to childrens physical activity. They conducted focus groups with 49 staff members from 34 child-care centers in the Cincinnati area (including Montessori, Head Start and centers in the inner city and suburban areas) as the first of several studies on this subject.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 30, 2008, 6:02 PM CT

Better-educated women are a healthier weight

Better-educated women are a healthier weight
A new comparison of multi-national data, released this month, reveals that highly educated women have a healthier average weight than less educated women, but that the meaning of healthier changes as per a nations relative wealth. In countries where malnutrition is prevalent, better-educated women weigh more. But in wealthier countries with rapidly growing rates of obesity better-educated women weigh less.

As a population moves through the nutrition transition, it is the most educated, and highest income, who are the first to exit under-nutrition. They are also the first to adjust their diet and physical activity to avoid the deleterious effects of being overweight, explained John Strauss, professor of economics at the University of Southern California.

It appears that it is women who tend to lead this transition, he added.

More than half of the adult population is underweight in Bangladesh, the poorest country analyzed by Strauss and Duncan Thomas (Duke University). In Bangladesh, average female body mass increased with every additional year of schooling.

In contrast, only 1 percent of people in the United States are underweight. Better-educated women in the United States, the wealthiest country in the study, had a lower average body mass index the more education theyd received, the scientists found.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 29, 2008, 8:22 PM CT

Body image program reduces onset of obesity

Body image program reduces onset of obesity
In their research on eating disorders, Oregon Research Institute (ORI) researchers help young women reduce the influence of the thin ideal, which is described as associating success and happiness with being thin.

ORI scientist Eric Stice, Ph.D. and colleagues have observed that their obesity prevention program reduced the risk for onset of eating disorders by 61% and obesity by 55% in young women. These effects continued for as long as 3 years after the program ended. Results of this study are reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

These results are noteworthy because, to date, the idea that we can reduce risk for future onset of eating disorders and obesity has been an unrealized goal: over 80 prevention programs have been reviewed, but no prior program had been found to significantly reduce risk for onset of these serious health problems.

Stice notes that, One reason these programs might be more effective is that they require youth to take a more healthy perspective, which leads them to internalize the more healthy attitudes. In addition, these programs have simple take-home messages, which may be easier to remember in the future than messages from more complex prevention programs.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Stice has been studying eating disorders for 18 years. He has conducted this line of research at Stanford University and the University of Texas, and now continues at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, Oregon. He is presently funded by NIH to conduct two research studies to further test these programs with young women in Eugene/Springfield.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 21, 2008, 8:09 PM CT

Chocolate bar shown to lower cholesterol

Chocolate bar shown to lower cholesterol
The results of a University of Illinois study have demonstrated an effective way to lower cholesterol levels by eating chocolate bars.

Eating two CocoaVia dark chocolate bars a day not only lowered cholesterol, it had the unexpected effect of also lowering systolic blood pressure, said John Erdman, a U. of I. professor of food science and human nutrition.

The study, funded in part by Mars Inc., the company that makes the bars, was published in this months Journal of Nutrition.

Erdman attributes the drop in cholesterol numbers (total cholesterol by 2 percent and LDL or bad cholesterol by 5.3 percent) to the plant sterols that have been added to the bar and the drop in blood pressure to the flavanols found in dark chocolate.

Erdman says that some people will assume the study is flawed because of Mars funding role.

I know that it was a double-blinded trial that wasnt skewed toward a particular result, said Erdman, who chairs the Mars Scientific Advisory Council. Moreover, the paper was peer-evaluated and reported in the Journal of Nutrition, which ranks in the top 10 percent of all the biological science journals. Mars has spent millions of dollars studying the biological impact of the flavanols found in cocoa beans and learning how to retain their benefits during the refining process, Erdman said.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 17, 2008, 8:14 PM CT

How dietary restriction slows down aging

How dietary restriction slows down aging
Ribosome
University of Washington researchers have uncovered details about the mechanisms through which dietary restriction slows the aging process. Working in yeast cells, the scientists have linked ribosomes, the protein-making factories in living cells, and Gcn4, a specialized protein that aids in the expression of genetic information, to the pathways correlation to dietary response and aging. The study, which was led by UW faculty members Brian Kennedy and Matt Kaeberlein, appears in the April 18 issue of the journal Cell.

Prior research has shown that the lifespan-extending properties of dietary restriction are mediated in part by reduced signaling through TOR, an enzyme involved in a number of vital operations in a cell. When an organism has less TOR signaling in response to dietary restriction, one side effect is that the organism also decreases the rate at which it makes new proteins, a process called translation.

In this project, the UW scientists studied a number of different strains of yeast cells that had lower protein production. They observed that mutations to the ribosome, the cell's protein factory, sometimes led to increased life span. Ribosomes are made up of two parts -- the large and small subunits -- and the scientists tried to isolate the life-span-related mutation to one of those parts.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


April 13, 2008, 9:32 PM CT

Macadamia nuts can be included in heart healthy diet

Macadamia nuts can be included in heart healthy diet
Image courtesy of bfeedme.com
Macadamia nuts included in a heart healthy diet reduced low-density cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and should be included among nuts with qualified health claims, as per researchers.

"We looked at macadamia nuts because they are not currently included in the health claim for tree nuts, while other tree nuts are currently recommended as part of a heart healthy diet," says Dr. Amy E. Griel, a recent Penn State Ph.D. recipient in nutrition and now senior nutrition scientist at The Hershey Company. "Macadamia nuts have higher levels of monosaturated fats, like those found in olive oil compared with other tree nuts".

Along with Brazil nuts and cashews, macadamia nuts are not included in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's list of nuts with qualified health claims because the cut-off point is 4 grams of saturated fat per 50 grams of nuts. Macadamia nuts have 6 grams of saturated fat per 50 grams, cashew nuts have 4.6 grams and Brazil nuts have 7.6 grams of saturated fat per 50 grams of nuts.

"Epidemiological studies showed that people who are frequent nut consumers have decreased risk of heart disease," says Penny Kris-Etherton, co-author and distinguished professor of nutritional sciences.

The scientists used a controlled feeding study to compare a heart-healthy diet with 1.5 ounces a small handful of macadamia nuts to a standard American diet. The participants had slightly elevated cholesterol levels, normal blood pressure and were not taking lipid-lowering drugs. Scientists randomly assigned participants to either the macadamia nut diet or the standard American diet and provided all meals for the participants for five weeks. The participants then switched diets and continued eating only food provided by the scientists for another five weeks.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 13, 2008, 8:56 PM CT

Exercise may lead to faster prostate tumor growth

Exercise may lead to faster prostate tumor growth
Prostate tumors grew more quickly in mice who exercised than in those who did not, leading to speculation that exercise may increase blood flow to tumors, as per a new study by scientists in the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center (DCCC) and the Duke Prostate Center.

Our study showed that exercise led to significantly greater tumor growth than a more sedentary lifestyle did, in this mouse model, said Lee Jones, Ph.D., a researcher in the DCCC and senior investigator on this study. Our thought is that we may, in the future, be able to use this finding to design better drug delivery models to more effectively treat patients with prostate cancer, and those with other types of cancer as well.

The findings were presented in a poster session at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting on April 13 in San Diego, Calif. The study was funded by the United States Department of Defense, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the American Urological Association Foundation, Rising Star in Urology Award, given to Stephen Freedland, one of the studys investigators.

The scientists implanted prostate tumors subcutaneously in the flanks of 50 mice and then put half of the mice in cages with exercise wheels and half in cages with no wheels. All mice were fed the same diet. On average, the exercising mice ran more than half a mile each day.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


April 7, 2008, 10:54 PM CT

Where College Students Live Can Impact Their Weight

Where College Students Live Can Impact Their Weight
The first year of college is often linked to the "freshman 15," a reference to the 15 pounds that female college freshman are alleged to gain during the first year of higher education. The causes of the freshman 15 range from stress-related over-eating to excessive consumption of alcohol. A new study of female freshman dorm residents adds a new perspective to this phenomenon, finding that those who avail themselves of school housing consume significantly higher numbers of calories and more sugar and - unlike their off-campus counterparts - engage in higher levels of calorie- curbing physical activity.

Study Being Presented at the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society.

The study was conducted by Sukho Lee and Kyung-shin Park, both of the Department of Fitness & Sports in Teacher Preparation, Texas A & M International University, Laredo, TX. Dr. Lee will present their findings, entitled On Campus Living Increases Level of Physical Activity While Consuming More Calories at the 121st Annual Meeting of The American Physiological Society (APS; www.the-APS.org/press), part of the Experimental Biology 2008 scientific conference.

The Study:

The purpose of the study was to compare the levels of physical activity and diet patterns between students who lived on campus and off campus. Forty-three first-year female students at Texas A & M International University participated in the one-year study, which was conducted during the 2006-2007 school year. At the beginning of the study the women completed a detailed lifestyle questionnaire. At both the beginning and the end of the study they underwent measurements of body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist and hip (W/H) ratio and percentage of body fat. Physical activity levels were monitored using a pedometer for seven days per week once a month. Personal daily logs (recording sheet for food consumption) were given to the subjects. The subjects were asked to record food consumption for seven days per week once a month. Dietary patterns were analyzed using specialized computer software.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Exercise can't stop the aging process, but experts at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston say that for the elderly, whether it's weight training, walking, swimming or biking, 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week is a good prescription for aging."It's never too late to start exercising," said Dr. Robert Roush, an associate professor of medicine-geriatrics at BCM. "Being physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay some diseases and disabilities as people age.".

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