Friday, February 25, 2011

Which Weight Loss Method Is Most Effective In the Long Run?

More and more people are aware of the negative consequences that overweight and obesity will bring to them. Therefore, people who are overweight and obese will use whatever weight loss methods and tactics to help them getting rid of the extra weight they have. Unfortunately, not many of them would succeed in keeping their weight off in the long run.

Some health experts believe that losing lot of weight quickly at the outset would make the dieters gain most of the weight back. Hence, overweight and obese patients have often been encouraged losing weight in small increments. But others found this more of a myth. In fact, scientists have found that no matter how much weight people initially lose, they seem to gain back a similar percentage of that weight over the next year.

According to a new study published online in ‘Obesity Reviews’ in March 2010, people should lose a high amount of weight initially if they were concerned about the long-term weight. The findings were also presented on July 12, 2010 at the International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm, Sweden.

Researchers from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands analyzed data from 12 different weight-loss studies covering almost 1,000 overweight and obese participants, who went through an intensive weight-loss program comprising of exercise and nutrition guidance. Duration of all the weight-loss programs differed; each lasted between 10 weeks and one and a half years.

Each participant was weighed at the start and end of the weight-loss program, and again at least one year after completing the program. On average, participant who began at 209 pounds lost about 20 pounds over the duration of the program. One year later, participants were found to gain back an average of about half of the weight initially lost. This indicated that the participants who had initially lost the most weight also ended up with the best long-term results.

Nevertheless, the researchers cautioned people not to drop their weights at unsafe levels. 1 or 2 pounds a week should still be desirable for people wishing to lose weight. Meanwhile, they also suggested that future studies should follow participants for longer than one year after their initial weight loss to better understand the long-term effect of that initial weight loss.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Cause The Diabetes Epidemic in Southeast Asia?

Junk food refers to food that is high in calories but low in nutritional content, according to the definition by Merriam-Webster. For decades, health experts have blamed junk food for causing obesity epidemic, especially among the youngsters.

On July 7, 2010, Australian and Vietnamese researchers from Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research warned that the growing popularity of Western junk food is the culprit responding for the diabetes boom across Southeast Asia.

The study showed that about 11 percent of men and 12 percent of women in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City had Type-2 diabetes without even realizing it, in addition to the 4 percent of people who had already been diagnosed with diabetes. Their findings were based on testing a random sample of more than 2,000 people including 721 men and 1,421 women.

Being the most common form of diabetes, Type-2 diabetes is a medical disorder that is caused by high level of sugar and fat in the diet and inadequate exercise. If a patient with Type-2 diabetes were not getting timely treatment, he or she would face a higher risk of developing many complications including heart disease, kidney failure, limb amputation and vision loss.

In recent years, dietary patterns have been altered dramatically in Vietnam, particularly in cities that have become more westernized. Fast food outlets are available everywhere. This is rather sad because while developing countries are facing hunger and poverty, they are also affected by Western lifestyle diseases without adequate health resources to deal with.

Since similar study carried out in Thailand supported the link, the researchers are confident that their findings could be extrapolated to other parts of Southeast Asia including Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Singapore.

Meanwhile, the researchers have also developed a simple risk assessment for diabetes, using blood pressure and waist-to-hip ratio. Hopefully, this can help doctors detect those who are most likely to have diabetes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lose Weight Can Help You Stay Away From Hypertension!

When a person’s systemic arterial blood pressure is elevated, this person is said to have hypertension, or more commonly known as high blood pressure. Having hypertension over a long period of time can place a person at higher risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, heart failure, arterial aneurysm, and even kidney failure.

Blood pressure measurements consist of 2 readings: systolic (higher) and diastolic (lower). A systolic blood pressure of more than 140 is high, and a diastolic blood pressure of over 90 is also high.

For most patients, dietary and lifestyle changes could improve blood pressure control thus reducing the risk of the likely health complications. However, medication treatment might still be required for other patients, especially those who cannot effectively or sufficiently change their lifestyle.

Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that overweight or obese people were more likely to have a high systolic blood pressure, and for those with a high body mass index (BMI), how in shape they were only had a small impact on their blood pressure. Their findings were published in the American Heart Journal, July 2010.

BMI stands for body mass index, which is a measure commonly used to determine whether a person is overweight or obese. BMI is calculated by dividing the weight (in kilos) by the square of height (in meters). Overweight or obesity is a known risk factor of hypertension.

Data of approximately 35,000 patients consisting mostly white males was collected over the last 20 years at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas and analyzed. Measurements recorded when patients came into the clinic included body composition, blood pressure and fitness levels.

Results of analysis showed that having a higher BMI was associated with having a higher systolic blood pressure for all participants. Such correlation has already been found many times in the past. For people of the same age and gender, fitness did not seem to have any effect on blood pressure at all.

While fitness plays an important role in the overall health and mortality, the results suggested that people trying to reduce their risk for hypertension should set losing their weight as first priority and increasing physical fitness as a secondary goal. In other words, achieving a normal body weight is the key to lower one’s blood pressure.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Can Alcohol Curb Weight Gain?

The French are lovers of high-fat diet yet low rate of coronary heart disease is found among them. Perhaps there is something to do with the wine they consume regularly.

Red wine such as Madiran, (made from the tannat grape) stimulates enzymes so as to increase levels of nitric oxide, lower blood pressure, and inhibit plaque formation in arteries. Some studies have already shown that moderate alcohol drinkers have lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a predictor of heart disease, than non-drinkers. Alcohol is also known to have an anticoagulant effect reducing blood clots.

On March 8, 2010, researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston reported in the “Archives of Internal Medicine”, a publication of the American Medical Association, that women who drink a few glasses of red wine, beer or spirits a day are better at losing weight than women who do not drink at all.

More than 19,000, normal-weight American women aged 39 or older were asked how many alcoholic beverages they typically drank in a day, and then these women were tracked for around 13 years.

Among the participants, 38 percent did not drink a drop, nearly 33 percent drank the equivalent of around a third of a 5-ounce glass of wine or a third of a 12-ounce beer, 20 percent drank the equivalent of up to a glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or a single-shot drink made with 80-proof spirits, 6 percent had up to 2 drinks a day, and the remaining 3 percent had more than 2 drinks.

Women who did not drink at all were found to gain the most weight and women who had the equivalent of 2 drinks a day were the least likely to gain weight.

Red wine seems to be the best drink to curb weight gain. However, all the 4 types of tipple included in the study, namely red wine, white wine, beer and spirits, indicated the same inverse association between alcohol intake and the risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Nevertheless, the researchers warned against using alcohol as a tool to prevent overweight or obesity because of the potential medical and psycho-social problems associated with drinking.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Is Mini-Meals A Good Way To Lose Weight?

There is a widespread perception that eating little meals more often could be a good appetite control. Even some health professionals seemed to favor such claim, too.

However, the findings of researchers from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, however, did not seem to agree. In their study, men who were overweight and obese and on low-calorie, high-protein diets felt more satisfied and less hungry when they ate 3 times a day compared to when they ate 6 times a day. Their findings appeared in the journal “Obesity”.

It has been known that studies on whether eating frequency affects appetite control have had conflicting results. To investigate further, 27 men who were overweight or obese were randomly assigned to eat either a high-protein diet or a normal-protein diet for 12 weeks. Their diets contained 750 fewer calories than each man required to maintain his current weight.

From week 7 onwards, the male participants either ate their assigned diet in 3 meals, spaced 5 hour apart or in 6 meals eaten every 2 hours, for 3 consecutive days. Then, these participants switched to the other eating pattern for the next 3 days.

Participants who ate the higher protein diet (25 percent of total calories from protein) felt fuller throughout the day and refused to eat late at night, and were less preoccupied with thoughts of food than those participants who were consuming 14 percent of their energy as protein.

It was reported in the paper that eating frequency did not seem to influence appetite in the participants in the men on the normal-protein diet. Nevertheless, the researchers did find that participants on high protein diet felt fuller in the evening and late at night after eating just 3 meals a day.

Adopting the appropriate diet plays an important part in weight management. People who were overweight or obese are very likely the victims of many chronic diseases including Type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Playing Video Game Could Help Stroke Patients’ Recovery!

A person is said to have stroke when blood supply to part of his or her brain is disrupted causing the brain cells to die. Advanced age, hypertension (high blood pressure), previous stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol, and smoking are some of the risk factors for stroke.

Stroke is a serious medical condition as it could cause permanent neurological damage, complications, and even death. Survived stroke patients might not be able to move one or more limbs on one side of the body, understand or formulate speech, or see one side of the visual field. Treatment often involves health professionals like speech and language, physical and occupational therapy.

Canadian researchers from Stroke Outcomes Research Unit at St Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada reported on February 25, 2010 at a conference of the American Stroke Association that playing on a virtual reality gaming system like Wii might help stroke patients improve their motor function. Wii is nothing but a home video game console released by Nintendo on November 19, 2006.

In the first randomized clinical study, 20 stroke patients, who had suffered stroke around 2 months ago, were randomly assigned either to play 2 Wii games (Wii Tennis and Wii Cooking Mama) or to play cards or a game called Jenga. Wii Cooking Mama requires players stimulate cutting a potato, peeling an onion, slicing meat and shredding cheese, while Jenga involves stacking and balancing wooden blocks.

Both groups played 8 hour-long sessions of Wii or cards and blocks, over a period of 2 weeks. Not a single patient in the Wii group suffered any adverse effects in the study but 1 person in the card or block-stacking group had nausea or dizziness during the study.

The study focused on getting the patients to move their impaired arms to help small- and large-muscle motor function. Researchers concluded that the group using Wii showed significant motor improvement in speed and extend of recovery.