Tag Archives | Obesity

Loneliness and Social Isolation Are Just as Much a Threat to Longevity as Obesity

via Brigham Young University:

Ask people what it takes to live a long life, and they’ll say things like exercise, take Omega-3s, and see your doctor regularly.

Now research from Brigham Young University shows that loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity.

“The effect of this is comparable to obesity, something that public health takes very seriously,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, the lead study author. “We need to start taking our social relationships more seriously.”

Loneliness and social isolation can look very different. For example, someone may be surrounded by many people but still feel alone. Other people may isolate themselves because they prefer to be alone. The effect on longevity, however, is much the same for those two scenarios.

The association between loneliness and risk for mortality among young populations is  actually greater than among older populations. Although older people are more likely to be lonely and face a higher mortality risk, loneliness and social isolation better predict premature death among populations younger than 65 years.

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How Emulsifiers Are Messing with Our Guts (and Making us Fat)

Common food ingredients like polysorbate 80, lecithin, and carrageenan interfere with microbes in the gastrointestinal tract, reports Elizabeth Grossman at Civil Eats:

Scan the fine print on almost any processed food in the grocery store and you’re likely to find emulsifiers: Ingredients such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan and other “gums,” all of which keep ingredientsoften oils and fatsfrom separating. They are also used to improve the texture and shelf-life of many foods found in supermarkets, from ice cream and baked goods, to salad dressings, veggie burgers, non-dairy milks, and hamburger patties.

Light Mayo Ingredients

Now, a new study released today in the journal Nature suggests these ingredients may also be contributing to the rising incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease by interfering with microbes in the gastrointestinal tract, known as “gut microbio.”

This news may surprise consumers, given the fact that emulsifiers are approved for use by the U.S. 

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EU Rules Obesity Can Count As Disability

Just when you thought that the obese were the last large class of people left unprotected by discrimination laws, the European Union Court of Justice has ruled that if the obesity of a worker “hinders the full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers”, then obesity can fall within the concept of “disability.” From BBC News:

Obesity can constitute a disability in certain circumstances, the EU’s highest court has ruled.

The European Court of Justice was asked to consider the case of a male childminder in Denmark who says he was sacked for being too fat.

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Photo Fj.toloza992 (CC)

The court said that if obesity could hinder “full and effective participation” at work then it could count as a disability.

The ruling is binding across the EU…

Clive Coleman, the BBC’s legal correspondent, comments:

Today’s ruling was of great interest to employers across Europe.

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This is Why Americans are Overweight and Broke

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Are the girths of your wallet and your pants contracting and expanding in inverse proportion? Casey Hill explains why Americans are overweight and broke and how the two relate at Marketwatch:

According to a survey of more than 1,123 American workers released Tuesday by Principal Financial Group, two in three Americans said they blew their budget in 2014 — and it’s Americans’ appetites for food that are the main causes for this budget busting.

Dining out is the No. 1 thing Americans say they blew their budget on in 2014 (consequently, it also means they blow their diets: a study of more than 12,500 people published by Public Health Nutrition this year shows that on days when people eat out they consume an average of 200 calories more than those who eat at home). Eating out is followed closely by spending on food/groceries, with 18% of American workers saying they blew their budget on food/groceries.

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Cost of Obesity Equivalent to Global Impact of Smoking or War

Wide Chair.jpg

Obese person’s chair (CC)

Some of you may recall the opening sequence to the obesity documentary Killer At Large where then-Surgeon General Richard Carmona says that the greatest threat to America, bigger than terrorism or anything else, is obesity.

He was right: The McKinsey Global Institute, the business and economics research arm of the global consulting firm McKinsey, has published a new report saying that “Obesity is responsible for about 5 percent of all deaths a year worldwide, and its global economic impact amounts to roughly $2 trillion annually, or 2.8 percent of global GDP—nearly equivalent to the global impact of smoking or of armed violence, war, and terrorism.” That’s right, obesity costs as much as the ridiculous wars and armed violence perpetrated against one another throughout the world. More from the report:

Obesity is a critical global issue that requires a comprehensive, international intervention strategy. More than 2.1 billion people—nearly 30 percent of the global population—are overweight or obese.1 That’s almost two and a half times the number of adults and children who are undernourished…

And the problem—which is preventable—is rapidly getting worse.

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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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