Saturday, November 01, 2008

Parents, Kids, and Weight

This article argues the obvious: our weight and health problems are best solved within families.

According to UK researchers, found benefits for both children and their parents. The children, who were all overweight or obese at the study's start, became less sedentary and managed to lose some weight.

Their parents, meanwhile, reported improvements in their relationships with their children, and in their own mental well-being.

Does this surprise anyone? What surprises me is the need to prove the obvious -- that improving the health of any members of a family will trickle down to all those with relationships with that person.

One thing that was novel about this study was the effect, not just of teaching healthy behaviors, but of showing parents how to set boundaries (on faux food consumption, for example) and enforce those consistently.

When parents set clear guidelines, and did so in the context of positive, constructive support, the kids responded by eating better, being more active and -- no surprise -- lowering BMI.

Those are lessons we all could use a little reinforcement on.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Red Wine Pill: FDA takes a closer look

Good for the FDA. They stepped up and smacked down a Georgia-based supplements manufacturer for making unfounded (read, rediculous) drug claims about one of its resveratrol pills. Read the report here.

The FDA told the company, Natural Biology, that its Red Wine
Resveratrol pills were being marketed as a cure and therefore violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act which controls such claims.

For example, this miracle pill was said to fix the following:
· Anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory claims (by inhibiting cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1))
· Improved insulin signaling for those with diabetes
· Improved fat metabolism
· Controls high blood pressure
· Inhibits blood clots
· Reduces risk of breast cancer
· Causes aptosis (death of cancer cells)
· Reduces the risk of prostate cancer
· Works as anti-depressant

The FDA said this elixer vitae blatantly marketed itself as a cancer cure on the company website, including a section called ‘Health News and Research’, where reference was made to scientific papers.

There are so many times when the FDA is forced -- after the fact -- to recall products that have oversold themselves, or turn out to be harmful, that it is good to see them take these misleading claims to task, right up front.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yea tho' I walk through the shadow ...

Temptation is not often easily avoided. Halloween is a perfect example.

Every year, the confection flood gates open, and test the mettle of your dreams of moderation. Just keep in mind that moderation can come in many forms. You may be a "cold turkey" person ... that wonderful and rare individual who can just, you know, STOP!!

If that is you, you can ditch all the candy, and never look back, ye of iron will power.

For others, the moderate solution would be to allow yourself a bit, to curtail comsumption volume slowly over time. In fact, this article from Reuters reports on research in female college students, in which the women exerted greater self-control when they had previously been given a sweet treat -- rather than just pictures or smells of them.

The implication?
"The main message is that banishing food temptations may not be the best way to limit the amount eaten. Tempting foods can actually increase willpower," explained lead author Kelly Geyskens. The findings, according to Geyskens, suggest that trying to remove all tempting foods from your daily life may not be the best weight-loss solution.

Of course, you know who you are, and you know your own tendencies. So, use your judgement as to whether you think you can toss the entire pillowcase of nuget nuggets. If you need a bridge to wean yourself off, go ahead and give yourself that freedom.
SOURCE: Journal of Consumer Research, December 2008.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'Halloween diarrhea': Medical Mystery Solved

This research looks at the Tricks that certain Treats can cause for us after Halloween.

According to this report, patients with severe diarrhea and flatulence may need to consider a particular "food" source.

The laxative effect of the sorbitol sweetener can be dangerous, particularly if these artificial sweeteners are taken in "Halloweenian proportions".

learn more about the indications, this article gives a solid summary.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And the Children Shall Lead Them ...

According to this research, the message may be sinking in -- in the UK, at least.

Regardless of the location, it gives hope that we are actually having a positive impact on kids, by marketing healthy messasges to them.

The data, looking at UK children from 11-16 years old found significant improvements in kids' attitude toward food: in 2003, only 71% believed a balanced diet was important. By 2007, 80% said so.

However, as children get older, the effect starts to slip somewhat. Older children have more spending power than pre-teens, and more independence from their parents. This is why they are such a key demographic for food manufacturers, with "figures they admire or identify with”, rather than through parents.

Admittedly, increased awareness and education (through positive marketing messages) is only the first of a 10,000 step trek to improve the culture of health for our children. But ... even though there is a long way to go yet ... even though this is only an indicator for change ... it is a movement in the right direction.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I've heard it ... you've heard it. "Don't pass out candy. It's bad for the kids!!"

Then you hear the response: "But they won't eat it. Kids' will HATE the pencils, or toys, or whatever ... just give them the Jolly Ranchers!!"

This conversation happens every year at this time. So Yale University researchers from their Center for Eating and Weight Disorders wanted to see if it was true. If children can choose, will they pick candy over toys, when offered both on Halloween.


In this study, seven households gave trick-or-treaters (all between 3 and 14 years old) a choice between comparably sized toys and candies.

The result? Conventional wisdom takes it on the chin. Children were just as likely to choose toys as candy. There were no gender differences.

The implication of this study is that children will not be disappointed by toy treats on Halloween.

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