Chapter 9. Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment

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By Laura Sanders Bulging stomachs often take the blame for ending holiday indulging. But bulging guts might be the real appetite killer, a study in mice suggests. The results, published November 14 in Cell, could point out new ways to treat obesity, or even help explain how gastric bypass surgeries limit eating. Those procedures result in food moving faster through the stomach into the intestines, stretching the gut in a way that might signal fullness, the authors speculate. Zachary Knight, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues identified and studied nerve cells in mice’s intestines that sense mechanical stretching. To simulate full intestines, the team activated these nerve cells with light and chemicals. As a result, the mice ate less food. Physically stretching the mice’s intestines with a salty liquid or a diuretic also caused the mice to eat less. Different stretch-sensing cells in the stomach also curbed mice’s appetites, but to a lesser extent, the researchers found. These nerve cell endings relay messages up the vagus nerve (SN: 11/13/15), which then zips signals to the brain. These messages about intestinal stretching help influence the eat-or-not decision, researchers suspect. L. Bai et al. Genetic identification of vagal sensory neurons that control feeding. Cell. Vol. 179, November 14, 2019, p. 1129. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.10.031 © Society for Science & the Public 2000–2019.

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 26834 - Posted: 11.20.2019

By David S. Ludwig and Steven B. Heymsfield Most diet trials in the best journals fail even the most basic of quality control measures. That’s the finding of a study by us to be published today in JAMA Network Open. Investigators receiving funding for any clinical trial from the National Institutes of Health must register in advance what they plan to test, among other design features, to ensure that the data are fairly analyzed. Comparing the original registries with the final published studies, we found that diet trials in the past decade were about four times as likely as drug trials to have a discrepancy in the main outcome or measurement — raising concern for bias. This quality-control problem of diet trials in comparison to ones on pharmaceuticals leads to a bigger issue: underinvestment in nutrition research and in how we tackle the mysteries of a healthy diet. Although the problems with observational studies have received much attention (“Association doesn’t prove causation,” as scientists say), clinical trials can suffer from equally important limitations. In a clinical trial, investigators assign volunteers to receive different treatments — such as a a low-carbohydrate versus low-fat diet — ideally in random order. Beyond registry issues, trials may provide misleading results for many reasons, including small size, short duration and weak interventions (they lack power to actually make the intended change in behavior). These failures are disturbing because epidemics of diet-related disease will shorten life expectancy and impose huge economic costs on the United States in coming years. We continue to lack effective dietary prevention, in part because clinical trials have been too poorly designed and conducted to reach definitive conclusions. We’re still debating questions that have raged for decades: Should we focus on reducing carbs or fat? Is red meat harmful? Is sugar toxic? What about artificially sweetened beverages or moderate amounts of alcohol? © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 26820 - Posted: 11.14.2019

By Veronique Greenwood When a bird preens its feathers, it uses a little of nature’s own pomade: an oil made by glands just above the tail. This oil helps clean and protect the bird’s plumage, but also contains a delicate bouquet of scents. To other birds — potential mates or would-be rivals — these smells carry many messages, not unlike the birdsongs and fancy feathers that are more obvious to human observers. These scents may signal that a bird would be dangerous to encounter or might be ready to mate, or any number of other cues. However, new research using dark-eyed juncos, a common North American bird, suggests that these odoriferous messages may not be entirely of the bird’s own making. In a study published last month in the Journal of Experimental Biology, biologists reported that microbes living peacefully on the birds’ oil glands may play an important role in making the scent molecules involved. That implies that the birds’ microbiomes may influence both the smell and the behavior it provokes in other birds. Birds’ scented messages are the focus of the research of Danielle Whittaker, managing director of the Beacon Center for the Study of Evolution in Action at Michigan State University and an author of the paper. Some years ago, after she gave a talk, Kevin Theis, a colleague who studied scent-producing bacteria living on hyenas and who is a co-author of the new paper, asked her whether she had ever looked at the birds’ microbes. “I had never thought about bacteria at all,” said Dr. Whittaker. “But all the compounds I was describing were known byproducts of bacterial metabolism.” Dr. Whittaker took samples of bacteria living on the oil glands of 10 captive dark-eyed juncos and then injected the glands with an antibiotic. When she compared the microbes before and after the treatment, the results seemed to show that two groups of bacteria in particular had taken a hit from the treatment. Furthermore, when she compared the scent molecules in the oil before and after the treatment, there were significant differences. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Chemical Senses (Smell & Taste)
Link ID: 26812 - Posted: 11.11.2019

By Nicholas Bakalar A healthy diet may help relieve the symptoms of depression. There is good evidence from observational studies that diet can affect mood, and now a randomized controlled trial suggests that healthy eating can modestly improve clinical levels of depression. The study, in PLOS One, randomized 76 college students with poor diet and depression symptoms to two groups. One group was put on a Mediterranean-style diet high in fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and low in refined carbohydrates, sugar and saturated fat. The other continued their usual eating habits. At the beginning and end of the three-week trial, all participants were assessed with well-validated scales measuring depression, anxiety, current mood, memory and self-efficacy (confidence in one’s ability to exert control over behavior). Symptoms of depression improved, on average, in the diet group, shifting from the moderate severity range to the normal range. Depressive symptoms among the controls, meanwhile, remained stable, staying within the moderate severity range. On tests of anxiety and stress, the diet group had significantly lower scores than the controls, after controlling for levels of anxiety and stress at the start of the study. There were no differences between the two groups in memory or self-efficacy scores. The study controlled for smoking, physical activity, B.M.I. and other factors. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Depression; Obesity
Link ID: 26772 - Posted: 10.31.2019

By Anahad O’Connor In recent years, hospitals and medical centers across the country have stopped selling sugar-sweetened beverages in an effort to reduce obesity and diabetes. Now a new study carried out at the University of California, San Francisco, has documented the health impact of a soda sales ban on its employees. Ten months after a sales ban went into effect, U.C.S.F. workers who tended to drink a lot of sugary beverages had cut their daily intake by about half. By the end of the study period, the group had, on average, reduced their waist sizes and belly fat, though they did not see any changes in their body mass index. Those who cut back on sugary beverages also tended to see improvements in insulin resistance, a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. The new research, published on Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, is the first peer-reviewed study to examine whether a workplace sales ban on sugary drinks could lead to reduced consumption of the beverages and improve employee health. At least nine other University of California campuses have said they are going to adopt similar initiatives to reduce sugary beverage sales and promote water consumption. “This was an intervention that was easy to implement,” said Elissa Epel, an author of the study and director of the Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center at U.C.S.F. “It’s promising because it shows that an environmental change can help people over the long run, particularly those who are consuming large-amounts of sugary beverages, and possibly even lead to a reduction in their risk of cardiometabolic disease.” In recent years, the link between sugar and obesity has drawn increasing scientific attention. Health authorities say that Americans have gotten fatter because they are consuming too many calories of all kinds. But some experts have singled out the role of added sugar consumption, which increased more than 30 percent between 1977 and 2010. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 26763 - Posted: 10.29.2019

By Kim Tingley In the United States and other Western countries, diet and nutrition researchers face an urgent imperative: Figure out how to solve the crisis of obesity. About 40 percent of the adults and 19 percent of the children and adolescents in the United States have obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More and more of them face the increased risks of suffering from diabetes, cardiovascular disease and countless other negative health effects. This situation looks like a single problem from a population standpoint — one that simple guidelines for balancing calorie consumption and expenditure should be able to solve. Instead, a seeming infinitude of variables influence what each of us eats and how the body responds. That is: Obesity, like cancer, “is not one disease,” says Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, a professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In order to treat it, “you really have to be thinking about biology and behavior and society and culture and policy all at the same time. Because if you miss any one of those pieces, your intervention or your diet — it’s less likely to actually work.” The same diet can affect even identical twins differently. “It’s also why there have been so many conflicting studies in nutrition,” Mayer-Davis says. “The public is very frustrated.” Indeed, just last month a paper in Annals of Internal Medicine created controversy when it argued that there’s not enough evidence to say whether red and processed meats are bad for us, despite years of guidance claiming just that. It also reignited a growing debate: How valuable can universal diet guidelines be for individuals? In recent decades, popular weight-loss plans have largely seesawed between low-fat strategies, which U.S. health agencies have also promoted, and low-carbohydrate ones. Many of them appear to work especially well for some people and not well for others; on average, however, in studies comparing the two kinds of regimens, participants lose the same moderate amount of weight. In those cases when opposing diets produce equivalent results, Kevin Hall, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, wondered if there was, in fact, an explanation other than the nutrients. He noticed that many of those diets tended to have at least one rule in common: Avoid ultraprocessed food, the sort of packaged fare containing artificial flavorings and ingredients you wouldn’t find in your kitchen that make processed food cheap, convenient, tasty and shelf-stable — and popular. It currently accounts for 57 percent of the American diet (a proportion that is rising). Previous studies have found correlations between ultraprocessed-food consumption and obesity but no proof that it’s a cause. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 26749 - Posted: 10.25.2019

By Elizabeth Pennisi The more researchers look, the more connections they find between the microbes in our intestines and those in our brain. Gut bacteria appear to influence everything from depression to autism. Now, a study on how mice overcome fear is starting to reveal more about the mysterious link between gut and mind. “This work is amazing,” says Peng Zheng, a neuroscientist at Chongqing Medical University in China who was not involved with the research. The study, he says, could provide new insight into several mental disorders. The research used a classic Pavlovian test: Shock a mouse on the foot while playing a tone and the rodent will quickly learn to associate the noise with pain, flinching whenever it hears the sound. But the association doesn’t last forever. After several sessions of hearing the tone but not getting the shock, the mouse will forget the association, and the sound will have no effect. This “forgetting” is important for people as well; it’s impaired, for example, in those with chronic anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. David Artis, an immunologist and microbiologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, wondered whether gut bacteria played any role in the learning and forgetting responses. He and colleagues treated mice with antibiotics to totally rid them of the bacteria in their gut, collectively known as the microbiome. They then played a tone and right after gave the mouse a mild shock, doing this multiple times. © 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 26747 - Posted: 10.24.2019

By Nicholas Bakalar Trans fatty acids, known to increase the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, have now been linked to an increased risk for dementia. Researchers measured blood levels of elaidic acid, the most common trans fats, in 1,628 men and women 60 and older and free of dementia. Over the following 10 years, 377 developed some type of dementia. Trans fats, which are added to processed food in the form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, increase levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Meat and dairy products naturally contain small amounts of trans fats, but whether these fats raise bad cholesterol is unknown. After controlling for other factors, the scientists found that compared with those in the lowest one-quarter in blood levels of elaidic acid, those in the highest were 50 percent more likely to develop any form of dementia and 39 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease in particular. Elaidic acid levels were not associated with vascular dementia considered alone. The study is in Neurology. The senior author, Dr. Toshiharu Ninomiya, a professor of public health at Kyushu University in Japan, said the study is observational so cannot prove cause and effect. “It is difficult to avoid trans fats completely, and the risk of a small amount of trans fats is unclear,” he said. “But it would be better to try to avoid them as much as possible.” © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 26744 - Posted: 10.24.2019

/ By Elizabeth Preston On the first page of Heinz Koop’s fecal analysis test results, a bar showed where he fell on a gradient from green to red. A label above said, in German: “Overall dysbiosis.” Koop was not in the green or even the yellow regions, but a worrisome orange. It was a bad result — but, he says, “I was kind of happy.” Doctors hadn’t given him a satisfying answer about his recurring bloody diarrhea and other gut troubles. But Koop had learned on Facebook that he could test his gut microbiome — the community of bacteria and other organisms living in his gastrointestinal tract — to look for problems. Koop ordered a test from a German laboratory called Medivere. The results said his gut microbes were imbalanced, which was something he thought he could treat. Soon he would be attempting to correct this imbalance by chauffering a friend’s fresh stool samples home to implant up his own colon. Trillions of microbes living on and in our bodies, especially our guts, make up our microbiome. The bugs in our bowel are not just there to slow down our poop, as one researcher speculated in 1970, but are intricately connected to our health. Gut microbes help us digest our food, make critical vitamins, and keep pathogens out. Over the past decade or so, research into the microbiome has exploded as researchers have tried to tease apart the complex connections between our diseases and our resident microbes. Today, at least 10 percent of published microbiome papers use the term dysbiosis to describe changes in the microbiome, estimates Katarzyna Hooks, a computational biologist now at Evotec, a global biotechnology company headquartered in Germany. Some scientists say the term is useful for communicating a specific finding, though they acknowledge its limitations. Other scientists hate it. Copyright 2019 Undark

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 26729 - Posted: 10.22.2019

Jon Hamilton Brain scientists are offering a new reason to control blood sugar levels: It might help lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. "There's many reasons to get [blood sugar] under control," says David Holtzman, chairman of neurology at Washington University in St. Louis. "But this is certainly one." Holtzman moderated a panel Sunday at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago that featured new research exploring the links between Alzheimer's and diabetes. "The risk for dementia is elevated about twofold in people who have diabetes or metabolic syndrome (a group of risk factors that often precedes diabetes)," Holtzman says. "But what's not been clear is, what's the connection?" One possibility involves the way the brain metabolizes sugar, says Liqin Zhao, an associate professor in the school of pharmacy at the University of Kansas. Zhao wanted to know why people whose bodies produce a protein called ApoE2 are less likely to get Alzheimer's. Previous research has shown that these people are less likely to develop the sticky plaques in the brain associated with the disease. But Zhao looked at how ApoE2 affects glycolysis, a part of the process that allows brain cells to turn sugar into energy. So she gave ApoE2 to mice that develop a form of Alzheimer's. And sure enough, Zhao says, the substance not only improved energy production in brain cells but made the cells healthier overall. "All of this together increased the brain's resilience against Alzheimer's disease," she says. © 2019 npr

Keyword: Alzheimers; Obesity
Link ID: 26728 - Posted: 10.22.2019

Fatty tissue has been found in the lungs of overweight and obese people for the first time. Australian researchers analysed lung samples from 52 people and found the amount of fat increased in line with body mass index. They said their findings could explain why being overweight or obese increased asthma risk. Lung experts said it would be interesting to see if the effect could be reversed by weight loss. In the study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, scientists looked at post-mortem samples of lung donated for research. Fifteen had had no reported asthma, 21 had asthma but died of other causes and 16 died of the condition. The scientists used dyes to carry out detailed analyses of almost 1,400 airways from the lung samples under the microscope. The researchers found adipose (fatty) tissue in the walls of airways, with more present in people with a higher body mass index, And they say the increase in fat appears to alter the normal structure of the airways and cause inflammation in the lungs - which could explain the increased risk of asthma in overweight or obese people. Dr Peter Noble, an associate professor at the University of Western Australia, in Perth who worked on the study, said: "Being overweight or obese has already been linked to having asthma or having worse asthma symptoms. "Researchers have suggested that the link might be explained by the direct pressure of excess weight on the lungs or by a general increase in inflammation created by excess weight." But, he said, their study suggested "another mechanism is also at play". © 2019 BBC.

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 26722 - Posted: 10.19.2019

Jules Montague In a dark, nondescript room tucked away in the depths of a London research centre, Lucy Gallop is demonstrating how we might treat eating disorders in future. Improbably, she presses on a pedal under a desk, like a driver pulling away in first gear. Magnetic pulses pass through an electromagnetic coil which is held to a patient’s head. Clicking sounds fill the room and the patient’s neural activity is temporarily altered over the course of a few minutes. A brain scan is visible to her right, the target area already visualised. “The neuronavigation tells you whether or not you’re at the right place,” Gallop says of the process, known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). “It’s replicable so you know when the participants come in the next time, you’re stimulating the same area.” Gallop’s work carries deep personal significance: “My sister had anorexia so I was exposed to family therapy from a young age. And truthfully, it really exposed me to how treatment is very difficult – making a full recovery from anorexia is very difficult.” New treatment innovations are urgently needed for eating disorders, which affect an estimated 1.25 million people in the UK. Hospital admissions have almost doubled in the last six years and patients are sent hundreds of miles away from home for treatment. Earlier this month, new figures showed that one in six consultant posts in eating disorder services are vacant. Patients with eating disorders are twice as likely to die prematurely than the general population. © 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited

Keyword: Anorexia & Bulimia
Link ID: 26719 - Posted: 10.18.2019

Tim McDonnell High rates of childhood obesity are a problem in a rising number of low- and middle-income countries, according to a new global assessment of child malnutrition by UNICEF. It's the agency's most comprehensive nutrition report in two decades. The report paints a complex, dire picture of the state of children's health. Overall, it found that around 200 million children under age 5, or 1 in 3 worldwide, are either undernourished or overweight. Wasting (below-average weight for height) and micronutrient deficiency remain persistent challenges in Africa and South Asia. Still, there's some good news: Stunting (below-average height for age) has dropped sharply in the last two decades on every continent except Africa. Meanwhile, at least 340 million adolescents worldwide between ages 5-19, and 40 million children under age 5, have been classified as overweight, the report found. The most profound increase has been in the 5-19 age group, where the global rate of overweight increased from 10.3% in 2000 to 18.4% in 2018. "It's a shockingly fast increase," says Laurence Chandy, director of UNICEF's Office of Global Insights and Policy and a lead author of the report. "It's hard to think of any development indicator where you see such a rapid deterioration." Most of those children live in high- and middle-income countries in North America, Eastern Europe, Pacific island nations and the Middle East. The U.S. is near the top of the list, with a rate of adolescent overweight around 42% (the highest rates, up to 65% are in Palau, Nauru and other in Pacific island nations, which have long struggled with obesity driven by a heavy reliance on imported food). © 2019 npr

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 26717 - Posted: 10.18.2019

By Aaron E. Carroll There’s a decent chance you’ll be reading about diet soda studies until the day you die. (The odds are exceedingly good it won’t be the soda that kills you.) The latest batch of news reports came last month, based on another study linking diet soda to an increased risk of death. As usual, the study (and some of the articles) lacked some important context and caused more worry than was warranted. There are specific reasons that this cycle is unlikely to end. 1. If it’s artificial, it must be bad. People suspect, and not always incorrectly, that putting things created in a lab into their bodies cannot be good. People worry about genetically modified organisms, and monosodium glutamate and, yes, artificial sweeteners because they sound scary. But everything is a chemical, including dihydrogen monoxide (that’s another way of saying water). These are just words we use to describe ingredients. Some ingredients occur naturally, and some are coaxed into existence. That doesn’t inherently make one better than another. In fact, I’ve argued that research supports consuming artificial sweeteners over added sugars. (The latest study concludes the opposite.) 2. Soda is an easy target In a health-conscious era, soda has become almost stigmatized in some circles (and sales have fallen as a result). It’s true that no one “needs” soda. There are a million varieties, and almost none taste like anything in nature. Some, like Dr Pepper, defy description. But there are many things we eat and drink that we don’t “need.” We don’t need ice cream or pie, but for a lot of people, life would be less enjoyable without those things. None of this should be taken as a license to drink cases of soda a week. A lack of evidence of danger at normal amounts doesn’t mean that consuming any one thing is huge amounts is a good idea. Moderation still matters. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 26696 - Posted: 10.14.2019

Allison Aubrey There's fresh evidence that eating a healthy diet, one that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and limits highly processed foods, can help reduce symptoms of depression. A randomized controlled trial published in the journal PLOS ONE finds that symptoms of depression dropped significantly among a group of young adults after they followed a Mediterranean-style pattern of eating for three weeks. Participants saw their depression "score" fall from the "moderate" range down to the "normal" range, and they reported lower levels of anxiety and stress too. Alternatively, the depression scores among the control group of participants — who didn't change their diets — didn't budge. These participants continued to eat a diet higher in refined carbohydrates, processed foods and sugary foods and beverages. Their depression scores remained in the "moderate severity" range. "We were quite surprised by the findings," researcher Heather Francis, a lecturer in clinical neuropsychology at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, told NPR via email. "I think the next step is to demonstrate the physiological mechanism underlying how diet can improve depression symptoms," Francis said. In this study, participants in the "healthy eating" arm of the study ate about six more servings of fruits and vegetables per week, compared with the control group. Participants "who had a greater increase in fruit and vegetable intake showed the greatest improvement in depression symptoms," Francis said. © 2019 npr

Keyword: Depression; Obesity
Link ID: 26693 - Posted: 10.11.2019

By Eva Frederick As the weather cools, one species of squirrel in the U.S. Midwest is gearing up for one of the most intense naps in the animal kingdom. For up to 8 months, the tiny mammals won’t eat or drink anything at all—and now scientists know how they do it. Most squirrels don’t hibernate—instead, they stash food for the cold season and spend the winter snug in their nests. Not the 13-lined ground squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus), whose heart rate, metabolism, and body temperature dramatically plummet during their long rest—similar to bears, woodchucks, and other hibernating animals. To find out how the squirrels suppress their thirst—a powerful force that could potentially wake them up—researchers measured the blood fluid, or serum, of dozens of squirrels, divided into three groups: those that were still active, those that were in a sleep-of-the-dead hibernation state called torpor, and those that were still hibernating, but in a drowsy in-between state. Generally, a high serum concentration makes animals, including humans, feel thirsty. The sleeping squirrels’ serum concentration was low, preventing them from waking up for a drink. Even when researchers roused the torpid squirrels, they wouldn’t drink a drop—until the team artificially increased the concentration of their blood serum. Next, the researchers wanted to know how the squirrels’ blood concentration dropped so low. Perhaps the squirrels drank a lot of water prehibernation to dilute their blood, the researchers thought. But when they filmed squirrels preparing for their winter snooze, they found the animals actually drank less water than they normally did. © 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 26661 - Posted: 10.02.2019

By Tina Hesman Saey Mice (and maybe people) may metabolize food according to daily, circadian rhythms set by gut bacteria. Microbes in the small intestine of mice rhythmically dictate when fat is taken up by cells that line the organ, researchers report. The study, described in the Sept. 27 Science, details how gut microbes influence a host’s metabolism. If the findings carry over to people, the research may give clues to why jet lag and night-shift work, which can throw off circadian rhythms, often lead to obesity, diabetes and other health problems. Researchers knew that human cells have molecular clocks that time 24-hour circadian cycles of metabolism (SN: 11/8/18), and that gut microbes in the colon follow their hosts’ biological beat (SN: 10/16/14). But the new study finds that, at least in the small intestine, microbes can set rhythms for host cells to follow. That work was done in mice, but the process may work similarly in people. The new research “is helping us appreciate just how intertwined are the metabolisms of the microbiota and their mammalian hosts,” says microbiologist and immunologist Andrew Gewirtz of Georgia State University in Atlanta who was not involved in the work. “It’s a very intimate interaction, regulating things as basic as circadian rhythms, which was quite a surprise.” © Society for Science & the Public 2000–2019.

Keyword: Biological Rhythms
Link ID: 26651 - Posted: 09.27.2019

Obesity is not a choice and making people feel ashamed results only in them feeling worse about themselves, a report by top psychologists says. It calls for changes in language to reduce stigma, such as saying "a person with obesity" rather than an "obese person". And it says health professionals should be trained to talk about weight loss in a more supportive way. A cancer charity's recent ad campaign was criticised for "fat shaming". Obesity levels rose by 18% in England between 2005 and 2017 and by similar amounts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This means just over one in four UK adults is obese while nearly two-thirds are overweight or obese. But these increases cannot be explained by a sudden loss of motivation across the UK - it is a lot more complicated than that, according to the British Psychological Society report, which concludes it "is not simply down to an individual's lack of willpower". "The people who are most likely to be an unhealthy weight are those who have a high genetic risk of developing obesity and whose lives are also shaped by work, school and social environments that promote overeating and inactivity," it says. "People who live in deprived areas often experience high levels of stress, including major life challenges and trauma, often their neighbourhoods offer few opportunities and incentives for physical activity and options for accessing affordable healthy food are limited." Psychological experiences also play a big role, the report says, with up to half of adults attending specialist obesity services having experienced difficulties in childhood. And stress caused by fat shaming - being made to feel bad about one's weight - by public health campaigns, GPs, nurses and policymakers, often leads to increased eating and more weight gain. © 2019 BBC

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 26640 - Posted: 09.24.2019

A landmark French trial is due to begin to decide whether a diabetes pill prescribed for weight loss was behind the deaths of up to 2,000 people. Servier, the drug's manufacturer, is accused of deceiving users over the killer side effects of a drug later used to treat overweight diabetics. Believed to be one of France's biggest healthcare scandals, the firm is on trial for manslaughter and deceit. Servier has denied the charges, saying it did not lie about the side effects. French health experts believe the drug known as Mediator could have killed anywhere between 500 and 2,000 people before it was finally taken off the market in 2009. The country's state drug regulator, accused of not acting to prevent deaths and injuries, is also on trial. The trial will involve more than 2,600 plaintiffs and 21 defendants, and is expected to run over the course of six months. It will also look into why the drug, which was introduced in 1976, was allowed to sell for so long despite various warnings. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs argue that the drug manufacturer purposely misled patients for decades, and that this was bolstered by lenient authorities. Servier has been accused of profiting at least €1bn ($1.1bn, £880m) from the drug's sales. "The trial comes as huge relief. Finally, we are to see the end of an intolerable scandal," Dr Irene Frachon, a pulmonologist credited with lifting the lid on the side effects, told Reuters news agency. Dr Frachon's research drew on medical records across France and concluded that there was a clear pattern of heart valve problems among Mediator users. This prompted many more studies which ultimately led to the drug's ban. One study concluded that 500 deaths could be linked to Mediator between 1976 and 2009. A second one put the figure at 2,000. Those numbers have been disputed by Servier, which has said that there are only three documented cases where death can be clearly attributed to the use of Mediator. In other cases, it says, aggravating factors were at work. © 2019 BBC

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 26639 - Posted: 09.24.2019

By Perri Klass, M.D. Cesarean delivery can save a baby — or a mother — at a moment of medical danger. However, cesarean births have been linked to an increased risk of various long-term health issues for both women and children, and a recent study shows an association between cesarean birth and the risk of developing autism or attention deficit disorder. The study, published in August in JAMA Network Open, was a meta-analysis. It looked at data from 61 previously published studies, which together included more than 20 million deliveries, and found that birth by cesarean section was associated with a 33 percent higher risk of autism and a 17 percent higher risk of attention deficit disorder. The increased risk was present for both planned and unplanned cesarean deliveries. The first and most important thing to say is that these were observational studies, and that association is not the same as causation. The children born by cesarean section may be different in important ways from the children born vaginally, and those differences may include factors that could affect their later neurodevelopment, from maternal health issues to developmental problems already present during pregnancy to prematurity to difficult deliveries. If your child was born by cesarean section, there’s nothing you can do to change that, and knowing about this association may make you worry, while if you’re pregnant it may make you even more anxious about how the delivery will go. But the information about long-term associations and mode of birth should help to drive further research and understanding of how and why these associations play out. Tianyang Zhang, a Ph.D. student in clinical neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm who was the first author on the article, said that earlier research had shown various associations between cesarean delivery and long-term health problems, including higher rates of obesity and asthma in children. This study looked at a range of developmental and mental health issues. Though it did find an association between cesarean delivery and autism spectrum and attention deficit disorders, it did not find significant associations with others, such as tic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders or eating disorders. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Autism; ADHD
Link ID: 26638 - Posted: 09.23.2019