Friday, August 01, 2008


Older, more feet-friendly neighborhoods can help keep waistlines trim, U.S. researchers report.

"We were excited to find that ... living in an older neighborhood and higher proportion of residents who walk to work -- both predict lower weight," said lead researcher Barbara Brown, a professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah.

They found that neighborhood type did seem to be correlated to body weight. For example, a man of average size -- 6 feet tall weighing 200 pounds -- weighed 10 pounds less if he lived in an older, more walkable neighborhood. A woman of average size -- 5'5" tall weighing 149 pounds -- was six pounds lighter if she lived in a similar area versus a newer, less pedestrian-friendly locale.

Of course, walkable neighborhoods may select for fitter people (the folks who want to walk will choose to live in places where they can walk). This is a wonky blow off of the data that doesn't fully explain what's going on.

If your living space supports activity, you will be more likely to be active, lose weight, and buy smaller pants.

To change our culture in a positive direction, more individuals need to choose neighborhoods with sidewalks, local stores, and bike lanes. And we can ask for the walk-ability of our boroughs and towns to improve as well.
Create demand and the supply will follow.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vitamin "C" does NOT stand for "Contradiction"

The new findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed some 21,831 men and women over 12 years, for us to learn that increased blood levels of vitamin C may reduce the risk of developing diabetes by a full 62 %!

Here is the science-speak conclusion:

“The strong independent association observed in this prospective study, together with biological plausibility, provides persuasive evidence of a beneficial effect of vitamin C and fruit and vegetable intake on diabetes risk,” wrote lead author Anne-Helen Harding from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, England.

But what can we make of the overwhelming data showing that antioxidant supplementation may increase the risks of cancer, as in today's release of a huge summary of summaries (Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2008 Jun 30. "Systematic review and meta-analysis: primary and secondary prevention of gastrointestinal cancers with antioxidant supplements.")

Here is what they found:

Conclusion: We could not find evidence that the studied antioxidant supplements prevent gastrointestinal cancers. On the contrary, they seem to increase overall mortality. (emphsis mine).

But wait, there's more:

CONCLUSIONS: Supplemental multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate were not associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer. Supplemental vitamin E was associated with a small increased risk. Patients should be counseled against using these supplements to prevent lung cancer. (emphsis mine, click here for reference)

Take-home message:

Vitamin C is good for you. Period. But the form of vitamin C matters. Your body expects this critical nutrient in the form it has been created for -- food. So, to get your vitamin C, eat foods with vitamin C.

The only reason we might see the above results as contradictory is if we assume that vitamin C, abstracted into a pill, is treated the same way by the body as the vitamin C you get from pepper, citrus, or onion. We shouldn't really need a full blown study to show us that but, now that we have it, it should serve as a confirmation of the rule: eat food.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine Volume 168, Number 14, Pages 1493-1499"Plasma Vitamin C Level, Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, and the Risk of New-Onset Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus - The European Prospective Investigation of Cancer - Norfolk Prospective Study"

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Kids' egg allergy? Let them eat cake!!

In order to "treat" egg allergies in kids, Greek physicians have turned to eggs themselves as the solution. Heat modifies certain egg allergens and, in turn, allows some children with egg allergies to tolerate ever increasing amounts of egg baked in a cake, according to Dr. George N. Konstantinou, at the University of Athens.

In their study, they wanted to see if this method could develop increased tolerance to hen's eggs. 94 boys and girls, aged 12 to 48 months, were referred to the food allergy department at the university and, after 6 months of desensitization, 90 percent of them could tolerate egg baked in a cake.

This is a new way of handling allergies and shouldn't be "tried at home" without the supervision of a physician.

Basically, these findings suggest that consuming small quantities of baked egg might alter the natural course of egg allergy, the investigators note. They are currently conducting a study to compare this egg allergy desensitization approach in allergic children who will receive desensitization treatment and those who with receive a "placebo."

Over 6 months, almost all the children no longer suffered from itching, eczema, or more severe reactions to the initial baked egg challenge. The investigators then gave a whole egg to the 87 children who did not react to baked eggs and only 4 reacted with itching or eczema.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Article in Press, July 15, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

100% fat free fructose linked to fat build-up

"Eat Fat, Get Fat."
This notion has driven nutrition science and policy for 40 years. But the simplicity of the dogma is revealed as being a bit simplistic.
In fact, in the most recent issue of the Journal of Nutrition, researchers from the University of Texas found that fat build-up from fructose consumption may be greater than what occurs when we eat other types of sugars, such as glucose and sucrose.

According to Elizabeth Parks from the UT's Southwestern Medical Center, "Our study shows for the first time the surprising speed with which humans make body fat from fructose. [Fructose, glucose and sucrose] can be made into triglycerides, a form of body fat; however, once you start the process of fat synthesis from fructose, it's hard to slow it down," she added.

However, Dr Parks was quick to point out that it is misleading to suggest the consumption of a specific food or food ingredient was the cause of obesity and the rise of type-2 diabetes.

"There are lots of people out there who want to demonize fructose as the cause of the obesity epidemic," she said. "I think it may be a contributor, but it's not the only problem. Americans are eating too many calories for their activity level. We're overeating fat, we're overeating protein; and we're over-eating all sugars," she said.

Yes, we are overconsuming many things, but one of the contributors for that trend has been the constant admonition that it is okay to eat more, as long as it is low in fat. This thesis needs to be bolstered by more evidence because, as we are now seeing, the overconsumption of low fat foods spiked with fructose can also contribute to our overweight and obesity problems.

It is important to keep in mind, too, that fructose in a piece of fruit is not what we are talking about. The fructose in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup that is present in the majority of processed food products, candies, and sodas, doesn't come with the fiber you find in fruit, nor with their vitamins, minerals, and co-factors.

Eat food. This is our rule, and one that gives us the freedom to step outside of the need to parse macromolecules. If you just Eat Food, you need not establish, one at a time, whether a food product is or is not good for you.

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