Summer Weight Loss Science News Roundup

This summer, we’ve been watching some fascinating news in the science world, summarized below for you.
Microbiome research continues to be a hot area. Lab animals are getting fatter and we don’t know why. Debate continues on carbs vs fat vs protein (we say: the best science supports balanced eating that features fiber and all good things in moderation.) Sugar is compared to cocaine. There’s a new way to measure your health with a tape measure, and weight is a key factor in many disease processes. All this and more in the science news roundup below.

Rodent addicts?

Is sugar is an addictive substance? In most rodent studies, we can get the poor creatures to behave as though they are “hooked”. But there is some disagreement over whether this is also true in humans who have more complex reward behaviors, or how strong the proposed addictive property of refined sugar in humans is.

Read more: http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2017/08/23/bjsports-2017-097971
Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/25/is-sugar-really-as-addictive-as-cocaine-scientists-row-over-effect-on-body-and-brain

Just 10 foods:

A new study shines lights on the type of foods that can be link to chronic disease risk. It focuses on eating more of 6 foods and less of 4 foods that combined are associated with preventing 45 percent of cardiac deaths. The recommendation is for more: fatty fish, nuts and seeds, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and polyunsaturated (vegetable) fats. The recommendation is also for less: red meat, cured meats (like bacon), salt, and sweetened beverages (soda and juices)

Read more: https://www.statnews.com/2017/03/07/bacon-soda-nuts-death/

Dealing with stress eating:

Stress eating is never healthy. It’s what therapists might call maladaptive — because there are healthier ways than eating excess food to deal with stress.
If you are a stress, emotional or binge eater, pay particular attention to your need for food: if you’re having a craving, ask yourself if it is true hunger or an emotional need? Try drinking a glass of water and waiting 10 minutes to see if the hunger abates. And look for programs such as iDiet that help you develop new habits to replace emotional eating.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/24/health/stress-eating-explainer/index.html

10% Happier:

Participants in a study were assigned to either spend money to save time (e.g.: grocery delivery or cleaning services) or to spend money to buy products (e.g.: a new item of clothing). The time-savers were measured to be about 10% happier. The study looked at 6,271 people from around the world — which is an excellent sample size. We wonder if you could benefit doubly by using a weekly grocery-delivery service to buy all the healthy foods on your list while avoiding the many unhealthy in-store food displays. If you try this, let us know!

Read more: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/08/28/545839192/need-a-happiness-boost-spend-your-money-to-buy-time-not-more-stuff

Lowering your Alzheimer’s risk:

New theoretical research suggests you could reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by eating leafy greens, vegetables, whole grains, and fish. And by getting enough exercise (including walking), getting enough mental and social stimulation, pursuing lifelong learning, avoiding smoking and hearing loss, and controlling conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes that are particularly damaging to the brain.

Read more: https://www.statnews.com/2017/07/20/lifestyle-changes-stave-off-alzheimers-hints-no-proof/

Extinct friendly microbes:

Some good species of intestinal microbes are disappearing in first-world countries. A low-fiber and highly-refined diet is wiping out species of bacteria from our intestines. A more-varied and higher-fiber diet could help protect you.

Read more: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/08/24/545631521/is-the-secret-to-a-healthier-microbiome-hidden-in-the-hadza-diet

Animals are gaining weight, and we don’t know why:

During the past 50 years, laboratory mice got 12 percent fatter every ten years, rhesus monkeys grew 7 percent fatter every 10 years, laboratory rats grew 3 percent fatter every 10 years, and the average body mass of even Baltimore’s feral rats increased by almost 7 percent each decade. The changes in lab animals were controlled for variables like age, activity, feeding style, and the studies they are being used for.
This is true for house pets too: The average weight of cats increased by almost 10 percent each decade over the same 50 years, and dogs’ weights increased by 3 percent every decade. In fact, all of the 12 species of animals studied that live with or near humans got fatter. Not only did body weight increase significantly, but so did the chances than an animal would be obese.
Several studies have linked environmental endocrine disruptors such as bisphenol A (BPA) and some tin-containing compounds to increased body mass. Infections by viruses, specifically a type of the common cold-causing adenovirus, have also been linked to significantly increased body mass. But we really have no idea why species in addition to humans are gaining weight .

Read more: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/29373/title/Animals-are-getting-fatter–too/
Read more: http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2015/08/21/is-everything-getting-fatter
Read more: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/278/1712/1626.short

Colon cancer and weight:

Colon cancer is increasing in younger people, and a new study shows the younger you become overweight, the greater your risk becomes. It is already understood that being overweight confers a higher risk for colon cancer.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/well/live/more-young-people-are-dying-of-colon-cancer.html
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/well/live/overweight-at-17-your-colon-cancer-risk-rises.html

Do we need another label and more restrictions?

A researcher proposes that “carboholics” need to maintain a lifelong carb-restricted, higher-fat diet or suffer “relapse” eating behavior when temptation beckons. And over 1000 readers engage in a lively debate in the comments section.
Note: This contrasts with studies using iDiet meals that demonstrate you can safely eat a healthy moderate-carb plan without eliminating any food groups while still reducing cravings and controlling hunger.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/well/eat/are-you-a-carboholic-why-cutting-carbs-is-so-tough.html

BMI vs “Overfat”:

Your BMI (a ratio of your weight to your height) is inaccurate as a health indicator and can’t take fitness into account. But waist circumference will show you how much metabolically-dangerous belly fat you have. If your waist circumference (measured at the belly button) is half your height or less, you are at a healthy fat level.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/31/health/overfat-obesity-study/index.html

It’s not about low-carb vs low-fat vs high-protein. It’s about hunger control.

iDiet founder and Tufts University nutrition professor Susan Roberts recently told Time Magazine: “You need a plan that satisfies hunger. Most diets fail because hunger erodes willpower.” This is a practical and reasonable response to the many here-and-gone diet approaches that demonize one ingredient or focus on one aspect of eating in a vacuum. You’ll do better following a plan that eschews deprivation and does not rely on willpower or “white knuckling” your way through hunger.

Read more: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/news/a45181/low-carb-vs-low-fat-which-diet-is-better/

Reducing calories could have a profound effect on your life:

iDiet’s Dr. Roberts is a leading scientist in a 10+ year study called Comprehensive Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy trial, (CALERIE). The study is looking for signs of increasing your healthspan and lifespan through eating strategies. It’s measuring early biological signs of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. In the blood of moderately calorie-restricted people, the ratio of “good” cholesterol to “bad” cholesterol is increasing, molecules associated with tumor formation — called tumor necrosis factors (TNFs) — are lower by around 25%, and levels of insulin resistance — a sign of diabetes — fell by nearly 40% compared to people who ate their normal diets. And overall blood pressure was lower as well. As Dr. Roberts points out in the interview, reducing calories does not need to result in hunger or loss of enjoyment.

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170601-the-secret-to-a-long-and-healthy-life-eat-less

iDiet’s Dr. Roberts interviewed by U.S. News & World Report (excerpts):

Target hunger
The Volumetrics Diet emphasizes bulky foods, the Atkins Diet favors protein-packed options and the glycemic-index diet focuses on foods that steady blood sugar. All those types of foods, plus those high in fiber, are proven to help curb hunger, but few diets combine them all, says Susan Roberts, senior scientist and director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts University. “These diets that focus on one thing … they’re not hitting all of the biological signals [related to hunger],” she says. That’s why her lab created the iDiet, a program whose menus incorporate all four aspects of satiety. As a result, followers actually reduce hunger and cravings, her (independently validated) research has shown.

Eat foods you like
Ask a steak-and-eggs lover to adopt a kale-and-wheatberry diet, and you’ve essentially asked her to fail. “We’re supposed to enjoy food,” Roberts says. That’s why the iDiet offers recipes for indulgences including macaroni and cheese, ice cream sundaes and hot dogs that are made with strategically satisfying (and healthy) ingredients. The sundae recipe, for example, calls for sugar-free ice cream mixed with a high-fiber cereal. “It’s amazingly good,” Roberts says. Even better, MRIs of the diet’s followers have shown that their brains’ reward centers become more sensitive to healthy, lower-calorie foods over time. “People learn to prefer healthy foods and be less tempted by junk food,” Roberts says.

Read more: http://health.usnews.com/wellness/slideshows/6-ways-to-train-your-brain-for-healthy-eating?slide=5