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Weight Loss

Study confirms that low-calorie sweeteners are helpful in weight control

Dieting To Lose Weight • • Weight LossFeb 11 08

A recent review of the scientific literature concluded that low-calorie (or no-calorie) sweeteners may be of help in resolving the obesity problem. Although they are not magic bullets, low-calorie sweeteners in beverages and foods can help people reduce their calorie (energy) intakes. “Low-calorie sweeteners reduce the energy of most beverages to zero and lower the energy density of many foods,” said study co-author, Dr. Adam Drewnowski, Director, Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington. “Every dietary guideline these days tells us to bulk up, hydrate, and consume foods with fewer calories but more volume.”

The study by Bellisle and Drewnowski, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, evaluated a variety of laboratory, clinical and epidemiological studies on low-calorie sweeteners, energy density and satiety. Their findings, based on extensive studies with humans, are completely at odds with a new study on 27 Sprague-Dawley rats eating yogurt, published in the February issue of Behavioral Neuroscience.

The February study, “A Role for Sweet Taste: Caloric Predictive Relations in Energy Regulation by Rats,” alleges a link between low-calorie sweeteners and weight gain. However, previous studies in humans have shown that low-calorie sweeteners can be helpful in weight control.

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Artificial sweeteners linked to weight gain

Weight LossFeb 11 08

Want to lose weight” It might help to pour that diet soda down the drain. Researchers have laboratory evidence that the widespread use of no-calorie sweeteners may actually make it harder for people to control their intake and body weight. The findings appear in the February issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Psychologists at Purdue University’s Ingestive Behavior Research Center reported that relative to rats that ate yogurt sweetened with glucose (a simple sugar with 15 calories/teaspoon, the same as table sugar), rats given yogurt sweetened with zero-calorie saccharin later consumed more calories, gained more weight, put on more body fat, and didn’t make up for it by cutting back later, all at levels of statistical significance.

Authors Susan Swithers, PhD, and Terry Davidson, PhD, surmised that by breaking the connection between a sweet sensation and high-calorie food, the use of saccharin changes the body’s ability to regulate intake. That change depends on experience. Problems with self-regulation might explain in part why obesity has risen in parallel with the use of artificial sweeteners. It also might explain why, says Swithers, scientific consensus on human use of artificial sweeteners is inconclusive, with various studies finding evidence of weight loss, weight gain or little effect. Because people may have different experiences with artificial and natural sweeteners, human studies that don’t take into account prior consumption may produce a variety of outcomes.

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Bone Mineral Content Continues to Increase in Obese Adolescents During Weight Loss

Children's Health • • Dieting To Lose Weight • • Weight LossFeb 03 08

Obese teenagers who succeeded in losing weight in a year-long medically supervised weight control program also saw their bone mineral content increase over that period, say researchers from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The finding was reassuring, because adolescence is a critical period for bone health in later life.

A study in the current issue of the journal Obesity studied 62 adolescents between the ages of nine and 17 years who participated in a trial looking at the effectiveness of a comprehensive, family-based, behavioral weight control program in conjunction with a weight loss drug, sibutramine. The researchers previously reported the combination of behavioral changes and medication helped very obese teenagers lose weight.

In adults, obesity is associated with increased bone mineral density and voluntary weight loss is associated with a decrease in bone mineral density. The findings in this study show that bone mineral content continues to increase in this adolescent population despite weight loss.

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Eat breakfast to curb middle-age weight gain

Dieting • • Dieting To Lose Weight • • Weight LossJan 23 08

Looking for ways to limit middle-age weight gain? Eat more at breakfast and less later in the day, researchers suggest.

“Shifting a greater proportion of a day’s total calorie intake to breakfast time is potentially beneficial for lower weight gain over time among middle-aged men and women,” Dr. Nita Forouhi told Reuters Health.

Forouhi, of the Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, UK, and colleagues studied 6,764 men and women, 40 to 75 years old, who were assessed at the start of the study and an average of 3.7 years later.

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Study gives scientific weight to high-protein diet

Dieting • • Weight LossJan 23 08

New research suggests that high-protein foods may be better at curbing a key “hunger hormone” than either fats or carbohydrates.

In a study of 16 healthy adults, researchers found that a high-protein drink was more effective than either a high-fat or high-carb drink at suppressing an appetite-stimulating hormone called ghrelin.

All three beverages caused blood levels of ghrelin to dip, but the fatty drink was least effective. The high-carb drink, by comparison, was most effective at curbing the hormone in the first three hours after the “meal,” but over the next three hours ghrelin levels shot back up to levels that were higher than before the test meal.

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Mental Health Care Needed Before, After Bariatric Surgery

Psychiatry / Psychology • • Surgery • • Weight LossDec 20 07

Bariatric surgery is the most effective weight-loss option for people who are severely obese. However, the surgery involves substantial risks and requires a lifelong commitment to behavioral change. People eligible for the surgery often have a history of mental health problems or eating disorders. Therefore, patients must be prepared mentally as well as physically before surgery, reports the January 2008 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

The psychological aspects of bariatric surgery are less well understood than the physical risks and benefits. Although the surgery is generally associated with improved mental health and quality of life, postsurgical psychological and behavioral changes are less predictable than physical changes.

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Overweight People Are More Likely to Have Bad Breath, TAU Study Finds

Obesity • • Respiratory Problems • • Weight LossDec 13 07

Researchers publish study that finds a direct link between obesity and bad breath

Now there’s another good reason to go on that diet after the holidays. Tel Aviv University researchers have published a study that finds a direct link between obesity and bad breath: the more overweight you are, the more likely your breath will smell unpleasant to those around you.

The research, led by breath expert Prof. Mel Rosenberg from the Department of Human Microbiology and The Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, was reported in the Journal of Dental Research in October. The study also reported, for the first time, scientific evidence that links bad breath to alcohol consumption.

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Few overweight people trim down after heart attack

Heart • • Obesity • • Weight LossNov 19 07

Overweight people lose virtually no weight after suffering a heart attack, according to the first study to evaluate factors associated with post-heart attack weight changes.

“On average less than a half of a percent change in body weight occurred, and that’s really small,” Dr. John A. Spertus of the Mid America Heart Institute of Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, one of the study’s authors, told Reuters Health. People need to lose at least 5 percent of their body weight to significantly improve their heart health, he added.

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Long-term pharmacotherapy for obesity and overweight: updated meta-analysis

Drug News • • Obesity • • Weight LossNov 16 07

Patients taking anti-obesity drugs will only see “modest” weight loss and many will remain significantly obese or overweight, according to a study published on bmj.com today.

The study, which looked at the long-term effectiveness of anti-obesity medications, found that three drugs recommended for long-term use - orlistat, sibutramine and rimonabant, reduced weight by less than 5kg (11 pounds). This equated to a loss of less than 5% of total body weight. Guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommend stopping the use of anti-obesity drugs if 5% of total body weight is not lost after three months.

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Weight gain may make asthma control more difficult

Asthma • • Obesity • • Weight LossNov 12 07

Weight gain is associated with an increased risk of poorly controlled asthma, according to findings presented in Grapevine, Texas, at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

In a 3-year study, the researchers observed 2,396 patients with severe or difficult-to-treat asthma. Those who gained 5 pounds or more between the beginning of the study and 1 year reported poorer asthma control and worse quality of life than patients who maintained their initial weight or lost 5 or more pounds during the same period, researchers reported.

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Obesity estimated to cost U.S. billions

Obesity • • Public Health • • Weight LossOct 24 07

A new study suggests that obesity among older Americans costs taxpayers billions of extra dollars in Medicare expenses—a financial burden that will only grow in years to come.

Using data from Medicare surveys conducted between 1992 and 2001, researchers found that men who were obese at age 65 had lifetime healthcare expenses that were up to13 percent higher than normal-weight men their age. Among women, that figure was as high as 17 percent.

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Obese often return to full-time work after surgery

Obesity • • Surgery • • Weight LossOct 19 07

After undergoing gastric bypass surgery to treat extreme obesity, also known as “morbid” obesity, roughly one third of patients who were medically disabled and on Medicaid can return to full-time work, according to a report in the Archives of Surgery. The likelihood appears to be greatest among patients with obesity-related conditions that resolve after treatment.

Gastric bypass surgery, also referred to as bariatric surgery, “is the only effective treatment for morbid obesity,” according to Dr. Richard C. Thirlby and associates at the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.

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Obesity Strongest Risk Factor for Colorectal Cancer Among Women

Cancer • • Obesity • • Weight LossOct 16 07

Research presented at the 72nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology found that obesity, among other important risk factors, was the strongest risk factor for colorectal cancer in women.

Joseph C. Anderson, MD of Stony Brook University in New York (and the University of Connecticut) and his colleagues examined data from 1,252 women who underwent colonoscopy. They classified patients according to their age, smoking history, family history of colorectal cancer, and body mass index (BMI).

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Incisionless surgery revises stomach bypass

Surgery • • Weight LossSep 26 07

When weight loss stalls or other problems arise years after gastric bypass, the surgery can be successfully revised with an incisionless, from-the-inside approach, researchers from Ohio State University in Columbus report.

The technique, involves the use of a device called StomaphyX, which has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. The device is inserted with an endoscope via the mouth into the stomach, where suction pulls the stomach walls against the device. Staple-like fasteners are then deployed to create pleats in the walls, effectively reducing the size of the stomach.

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Obesity may raise the risk of stillbirth

Obesity • • Pregnancy • • Weight LossSep 13 07

Obese pregnant women may have an increased risk of losing their baby relatively late in pregnancy, and black women appear particularly at risk, a large study suggests.

Researchers found that obese women were 40 percent more likely than normal-weight and overweight women to have their pregnancy end in stillbirth—defined as fetal death in the 20th week of pregnancy or later.

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