Tag Archives | Obesity

Do Gut Bacteria Rule Our Minds? In an Ecosystem within Us, Microbes Evolved to Sway Food Choices

This image illustrates the relationship between gut bacteria and unhealthy eating. Credit: Courtesy of UC San Francisco

This image illustrates the relationship between gut bacteria and unhealthy eating. Credit: Courtesy of UC San Francisco

via ScienceDaily:

It sounds like science fiction, but it seems that bacteria within us — which outnumber our own cells about 100-fold — may very well be affecting both our cravings and moods to get us to eat what they want, and often are driving us toward obesity.

In an article published this week in the journal BioEssays, researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexico concluded from a review of the recent scientific literature that microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favor consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on, rather than simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way.

Bacterial species vary in the nutrients they need. Some prefer fat, and others sugar, for instance. But they not only vie with each other for food and to retain a niche within their ecosystem — our digestive tracts — they also often have different aims than we do when it comes to our own actions, according to senior author Athena Aktipis, PhD, co-founder of the Center for Evolution and Cancer with the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF.

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Should Obesity Be Categorized As A Disability?

PIC: PD

“Brilliant, my good man. I must make haste to the haberdasher at once to seek recompense for the injury of this comically small hat. Ta.”

Should obesity be considered a disability, the door would be opened for obese people to sue in cases of discrimination.

As the number of people struggling with obesity continues to rise around the world, governments are faced with the increasingly complex problem of helping these individuals deal with the unique challenges they face. Case in point: Discrimination against overweight and obese individuals in the workplace. While weight-based bias is well-documented in many countries, legislation is only just beginning to address the issue.

This week, for example, the highest court in the European Union is hearing a case brought by a babysitter who says he was fired because he was obese. Judges in the case will be forced to decide whether obesity itself can be considered a disability, independent of any other medical issues.

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Researchers Suggest Long-Term, Sustained Weight-Loss Is Nearly Impossible

PIC: PD

PIC: PD

I went from 194 to about 153 lbs. last year, and have held my weight steadily between 152 and 159 lbs. ever since. That said, what is considered a healthy weight varies between individuals, and with genetics, lifestyle factors, and environmental influences, it’s hard for me to make any sweeping judgments about body size, health, weight loss, and your average person’s experiences. I’m inclined to be skeptical about this study’s conclusion for many of the same reasons Cory Doctorow is.

Here’s a CBC science piece quoting several obesity experts argues that long-term weight loss is almost impossible, saying that (uncited) meta-analyses of weight-loss intervention found that in the 5- to 10-year range, most weight-loss was reversed. According to Tim Caulfield, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, this is an open secret in scholarly and scientific weight-loss circles, but no one wants to talk about it for fear that it will scare people off of healthier eating and exercise regimes, which have benefits independent of weight-loss.

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You’re More Likely To Eat High-Calorie Foods If You Believe Obesity Is A Disease

PIC: PD

PIC: PD

In 2013, the American Medical Association recognized obesity as a disease. The decision had unintended consequences, among them that believing that it is a disease makes you more likely to eat high calorie food. The belief does help people to have a more positive body image, though.

Via PsyPost:

…new psychology research suggests the “obesity is a disease” message actually undermines important weight-loss efforts.

“The term disease suggests that bodies, physiology, and genes are malfunctioning. By invoking physiological explanations for obesity, the disease label encourages the perception that weight is unchangeable,” Crystal L. Hoyt of the University of Richmond and her colleagues wrote in their study, which was published in the April issue of Psychological Science.

In three separate studies with more than 700 participants, the researchers found that obese participants who read a New York Times article about the AMA declaring obesity to be a disease were subsequently less likely to be concerned about their weight and more likely to choose to eat higher-calorie foods.

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Humans Can Use Smell to Detect Levels of Dietary Fat

Pic: Rasbak (CC)

Pic: Rasbak (CC)

Via ScienceDaily:

New research from the Monell Center reveals humans can use the sense of smell to detect dietary fat in food. As food smell almost always is detected before taste, the findings identify one of the first sensory qualities that signals whether a food contains fat. Innovative methods using odor to make low-fat foods more palatable could someday aid public health efforts to reduce dietary fat intake.

“The human sense of smell is far better at guiding us through our everyday lives than we give it credit for,” said senior author Johan Lundström, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist at Monell. “That we have the ability to detect and discriminate minute differences in the fat content of our food suggests that this ability must have had considerable evolutionary importance.”

As the most calorically dense nutrient, fat has been a desired energy source across much of human evolution. As such, it would have been advantageous to be able to detect sources of fat in food, just as sweet taste is thought to signal a source of carbohydrate energy.

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Junk Food Might Be Destroying Ancient Beneficial Gut Bacteria

Pic: Evan-Amos (CC)

Pic: Evan-Amos (CC)

Could we be carpet bombing our bacterial allies with Twinkies, french fries, and other examples of Western junk food? Maybe so, and it might be making us obese.

Via Next Nature:

It’s an old axe that you are what you eat, but a growing body of evidence suggests that, in terms of our gut bacteria, it’s really true. Recent research shows that the standard ‘Western’ diet high in animal fat, sugars, and refined carbohydrates fundamentally alters the bacterial ecosystem in our intestines. The bacteria that thrive in the house that McDonald’s built are not only associated with obesity, but may actually excrete waste compounds that cause obesity.

So, what’s an overweight person to do? If they’ve still got healthy bacteria lurking around, a switch to whole grains, fruits and vegetables will do the trick. The truly desperate – those who find losing weight to be nigh impossible – they can try a fecal transplant from a skinny person.

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Expert Says We Should Shame the Obese Into Losing Weight

Pic: Fj.toloza992 (CC)

Pic: Fj.toloza992 (CC)

Hastings Center Professor Emeritus Daniel Callahan thinks that shaming obese people might be a good strategy for conquering America’s weight problem.

Via Addicting Info:

Daniel Callahan thinks that we ought to fat shame overweight people so that they will lose weight faster. He’s not at all happy with the lack of progress in the effort to slow America’s obesity epidemic. With 69.2% of adults overweight and obese and 12.1% of children 2-5 who are, it’s something we need to work on, for sure. But those kids who are 6-19 and overweight/obese do not need to have schools condone fat shaming. It’s hard enough to lose weight as a teen — ask me how I know — we do not need to add further stigmatization.

Keep reading.

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North Dakota Woman To Hand Out Anti-Obesity Flyers To Overweight Trick-Or-Treaters

halloweenBrilliant, asinine, or both? North Dakota’s Valley News Live reports on a regional Halloween controversy:

A local woman stated her intentions to take childhood obesity into her own hands during a Y-94 radio interview the morning of Oct. 29. She has decided to give a letter instead of candy to Halloween trick-or-treaters that she feels are “moderately obese.”

“I just want to send a message to the parents of kids that are really overweight… I think it’s just really irresponsible of parents to send them out looking for free candy just ’cause all the other kids are doing it,” says the author in a Y-94 morning radio interview. That’s where the letter first surfaced and started to spread through social media.

“I’m contributing to their health problems and really, their kids are everybody’s kids. It’s a whole village,” says the letter’s author in the interview.

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This Is Why You’re Fat – And What You Should Do About It

Grasa-abdominal-cinturaGreg Stevens is a brave man. He explains why people get fat, what to do about it and why fat people should stop complaining about being ‘shamed’ by society, at The Kernel:

…If you are reading this, there’s a good chance you are obese. Over 35 per cent of Americans are, and over 23 per cent of British people. More people are getting unacceptably overweight every year. And yet the science of getting fat is not terribly complicated. People who are obese eat too much, and exercise too little. Although some people have a mild predisposition toward weight gain, obesity is not a “glandular” issue for any more than a tiny fraction of the people who are overweight, nor is it a disease.

Obesity only appears complicated because weight is tied up with self-image, politics, marketing regulations, the for-profit health industry, corporate economics, political correctness, and hosts of other cultural albatrosses.

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