Friday, April 25, 2008

Disordered Eating, Survey Suggests

Sixty-five percent of American women between the ages of 25 and 45 report having disordered eating behaviors, according to the results of a new survey by Self Magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

An additional 10 percent of women report symptoms consistent with eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, meaning that a total of 75 percent of American women surveyed endorse some unhealthy thoughts, feelings or behaviors related to food or their bodies.

Survey found that these behaviors cut across racial and ethnic lines and are not limited to any one group . Women who identified their ethnic backgrounds as Hispanic or Latina, white, black or African American and Asian were all represented among the women who reported unhealthy eating behaviors.”

Most surprising was the unexpectedly high number of women who engage in unhealthy purging activities. More than 31 percent of women in the survey reported that in an attempt to lose weight they had induced vomiting or had taken laxatives, diuretics or diet pills at some point in their life. Among these women, more than 50 percent engaged in purging activities at least a few times a week and many did so every day.

Although the type of disordered eating behaviors the survey uncovered don’t necessarily have potentially lethal consequences like anorexia or bulimia nervosa, women report they are associated with emotional and physical distress. And despite the stereotype that eating issues affect mostly young women, the survey found that those in their 30s and 40s report disordered eating at virtually the same rates. Findings show that:

  • 75 percent of women report disordered eating behaviors or symptoms consistent with eating disorders; so three out of four have an unhealthy relationship with food or their bodies
  • 67 percent of women (excluding those with actual eating disorders) are trying to lose weight
  • 53 percent of dieters are already at a healthy weight and are still trying to lose weight
  • 39 percent of women say concerns about what they eat or weigh interfere with their happiness
  • 37 percent regularly skip meals to try to lose weight
  • 27 percent would be “extremely upset” if they gained just five pounds
  • 26 percent cut out entire food groups
  • 16 percent have dieted on 1,000 calories a day or fewer
  • 13 percent smoke to lose weight
  • 12 percent often eat when they’re not hungry; 49 percent sometimes do

Eating habits that women think are normal – such as banishing carbohydrates, skipping meals and in some cases extreme dieting – may actually be symptoms of disordered eating.

The online survey garnered responses from 4,023 women who answered detailed questions about their eating habits. Results and analysis appear in Self’s May 2008 issue.

Bulik and study co-author Lauren Reba-Harrelson, a third year clinical psychology graduate student in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, will give a presentation about the survey and their collaboration with Self on May 17 at the Academy for Eating Disorders’ 2008 International Conference on Eating Disorders in Seattle.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dangers of Excessive Body Fat

The common reason why people reduce weight is not only to look good but also to avoid the dangers of excessive body fat and being obese. Weight loss helps to be fit and healthy and also increases resistance power. Obesity is a health disorder and may cause heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Obese people’s cholesterol level tends to shoot up. It occurs when the accumulation of body fat exceeds a limit of 25% in men and over 32% in women. One out of three Americans possess extra body fat and study shows that almost 20% of them suffer from obesity.

If you have obese disorder you will notice breathing becomes a difficulty. The heart finds the process of pumping blood strenuous. Blood pressure increases and also the heart become larger. When the cholesterol levels shoots up, it causes depositing of plaque narrowing the arteries and increases the blood pressure even more. This is a risking factor that can lead to heart attacks. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, body fat reduction is more effective than any drug therapy as cardiac structure modulator.

Nearly 25% of problems related to the heart and the related vessels are caused due to obesity. Clinically it is proven that cancer and body fat are inter-related. Fat are considered as the storage areas of carcinogens which are the cancer causing chemicals. This may occur in women as well as men. Obesity disturbs the hormonal balance and messes up production of insulin and absorption of blood sugar. The excess amount of sugar present in the blood is transformed into fat globules. All this leads to diabetes and diseases related to the gall bladder, intestines, osteoarthritis, and stroke. On an average, people tend to gain one pound each year after 25 years of age. By the age of 50 you would have gained 25 pounds. This slows down metabolic rate and causes fatigue. At the same time, if you don’t exercise you will gain more weight which is risky. These are the major ill effects caused by obesity, apart from fatigue and low stamina and incompetence in physical activities.

A sedentary lifestyle contributes too in a negative way. Thus in order to avoid all this it is better to lead a healthy lifestyle. Less use of oil and dairy products, low fat meals and intake of water keeps the metabolism in a good condition. A good and an effective exercise regime and periodic review of the health condition helps you to assess the body condition better and adjust your eating and exercising patterns accordingly. This can be easily achieved with the help of a fitness trainer or through experienced guidance. So follow a weight reduction program and go on a diet to avoid fattening food, this itself will contribute in a major way to a reduce obesity. Believe in natural weight reduction and don’t force your body to achieve it. Eventually things will fall in place and you will feel fresh and healthy.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Caffeine, green tea and tart cherries may guard against multiple sclerosis, cancer and cardiovascular troubles

Caffeine, green tea and tart cherries may guard against multiple sclerosis, cancer and cardiovascular troubles, respectively, new research suggests.

All three findings, which confirm the healthy properties of these foods, were presented this week at the Experimental Biology 2008 meeting in San Diego.

Caffeine appears to help ward off multiple sclerosis, at least in a preliminary animal study. Mice given caffeine were 75 percent less likely to develop the animal model of MS than those not given it, said study senior author Dr. Margaret Bynoe, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine, in Ithaca, N.Y.

MS is a debilitating autoimmune disease, and about 400,000 Americans are affected, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In MS, the immune system attacks the myelin, the fatty sheath that protects the nerve fibers in the central nervous system.

The myelin, as it is damaged, forms scar tissue that prevents or hinders nerve impulses from getting through, leading to a variety of symptoms such as numbness in the limbs or loss of vision. Treatments include medications, physical therapy and the use of assistive devices.

Why does caffeine help?

Caffeine is known to block a compound called adenosine. "Inhibiting adenosine prevents the infiltration of lymphocytes [a type of white blood cell involved in immune system response] into the central nervous system," Bynoe explained. "If the lymphocytes cannot get in, you cannot get the inflammation characteristic of MS. The inflammatory response is what causes the damage to the myelin covering the nerve cells."

Bynoe believes her team is the first to demonstrate this mechanism.

In the animals given caffeine, the equivalent of 6 to 8 cups of coffee a day for humans, "there was a reduction in the inflammation, the pathology, a reduction in the brain pathology," Bynoe said.

Adenosine plays a crucial role in many body processes, including energy transfer, the promotion of sleep and the suppression of arousal. On the cellular level, caffeine can bind to the same receptors as adenosine, preventing the adenosine from attaching to cells in the central nervous system.

The new finding is "certainly deserving of further study," said Dr. John Richert, executive vice president of research and clinical programs for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

But he had a caveat: "It's important to note that EAE [the animal model of MS] is not MS, and many potential treatments that have worked on EAE have not worked on MS."

In a second study, green tea extracts, already known for their antioxidant properties that help protect against cancer, had anticancer effects on cancer cell lines in the laboratory.

Scientists wanted to find out whether undigested extracts of black and green tea cancer-fighting compounds, known as catechins, would have more anticancer activity against the cancer cells than digested extracts, said study author Joshua Bomser, an associate professor of nutrition at Ohio State University.

"We set out to look at the effect of digestion, subjecting tea extracts to simulated digestion in the lab setting and looking for changes in biological activity between digested and undigested samples exposed to cancer cell lines," Bomser said.

In the laboratory study, they found that whether the extracts were digested or not and the type of tea affected the anticancer activity, as did the type of cancer cell.

"For the black tea, digestion didn't have much of an impact on colon cancer activity," he said. However, the anticancer effect of the green tea on the colon cancer cells was about 50 percent less when the extracts were digested. And the gastric cancer cells, overall, were less sensitive to the anticancer effects than were the colon cancer cells.

More study is needed, Bomser said, but, "If catechins [such as EGCG] are in fact the primary compounds responsible for anticancer activity rather than the breakdown products, you want to maintain and absorb as many catechins [as possible]," he said.

In a previous study, one researcher on the current team found that one way to protect the catechins from breaking down was to add lemon or vitamin C to tea.

The tea research is interesting, and the results not unexpected, said Tom Gasiewicz, chairman of the department of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who has studied tea's health benefits extensively.

"To me, it's not unexpected that digestion would be accompanied by loss of [anticancer] activity," he said. "The bottom line is, we still don't know what concentrations are effective and have anticancer activity in other organs besides the GI tract."

Yet another team of researchers found in animal studies that tart cherries help reduce inflammation, in turn potentially reducing the risk of getting heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Inflammation is a normal process that fights infection or injury, but when it's chronic, it increases the risk for heart problems and diabetes.

The cherries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, believed to give them their anti-inflammatory powers. The cherry study was funded by the Cherry Marketing Institute, but the institute had no other role in the study, conducted at the University of Michigan.

Compounds in the cherries, said Gasiewicz, may work in similar ways as the tea extracts.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Can beta blockers, such as atenolol, cause weight gain?

Weight gain can occur as a side effect of some beta blockers, especially the older ones, such as atenolol (Tenormin) and metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL). The average weight gain is between 2 and 4 pounds (0.9 and 1.8 kilograms). Newer beta blockers, such as carvedilol (Coreg) and nebivolol (Bystolic), are not associated with weight gain.

Beta blockers are used to treat a variety of conditions, including high blood pressure and migraines. The exact cause of weight gain associated with some beta blockers isn't clearly understood. But it may be due to a lower metabolic rate and reduced physical activity. In addition, if you switch from a diuretic to a beta blocker, you may gain a few pounds of weight that the diuretic kept off.

It is important to note that weight gain may also be due to fluid retention, which may indicate worsening heart failure. Talk to your doctor if you experience unexplained weight gain soon after starting a beta blocker — especially if you gain more than 3 to 4 pounds (1.3 to 1.8 kilograms). If you have sudden weight gain — a weight gain of 3 to 4 pounds in 24 to 48 hours — consult your doctor promptly.