Tag Archives: Obesity

Healthy Nibbles: 12 March 2012 Edition

19 Mar

From our eyes to yours … here’s what was up in health and nutrition news for the week of March 12th, 2012:

Pic Courtesy of J.Mulik

Can’t get over the taste(lessness) of healthy foods? If you think ‘unprocessed’ is synonymous with ‘unpalatable’, perhaps your taste buds need reprogramming. [The Atlantic]

Managing the plethora of nutrition information currently available can be a challenge for anyone. To help navigate between fact and fiction, here are a few popular nutrition myths, debunked. [Vancouver Sun]

The Guiding Stars® nutrition rating system isn’t the only method around aiming to simplify dietary information. Joint research out of Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital suggests that both visual (colour) and spatial (eye level) cues can go a long way towards helping consumers make health-conscious choices. [The Atlantic]

As if the decision to have a baby isn’t weighty enough, moms-to-be may want to consider adding ‘overcoming obesity’ to their pre-pregnancy To Do lists. [Healthland TIME]

Who says people these days don’t read signs? With just the right kind of wording, signs can have a huge impact on behavior. Just ask the growing number of New Yorkers who have not only read the ‘Burn Calories, Not Electricity’ signs, but have opted to take the stairs instead of the elevator, as a result. [The Atlantic]

In spite of their recent rise in popularity, active video game consoles, such as Wii-Fit™, may not be doing much to enhance the actual fitness of children. [National Post]

Instead of eating less, how about just not eating more? According to researchers from Duke University, although this strategy won’t do much to solve the current obesity problem, over time, it may keep the epidemic from growing any bigger (no pun intended). And as far as nutrition advice is concerned, for many people, this kind of approach is much easier to digest than calorie restriction. [Healthland TIME]

Healthy Nibbles: 13 February 2012 Edition

21 Feb

From our eyes to yours … here’s what’s up in health and nutrition news for the week of February 13th, 2012:

The US First Lady, Michelle Obama, getting involved in her "Let's Move" anti-obesity campaign.

Welcome back post-Family Day! Hope everyone was able to get up, get out, and enjoy some extra time with loved ones. Fresh off the heels of this holiday weekend, here are some pics of one of the most prominent North American family figureheads, Michelle Obama, modeling various states of UNrest as part of her “Let’s Move” anti-obesity initiative. [The Guardian UK]

Supersizing hasn’t done much to help consumers cut back on already oversized restaurant portions. Instead, how about just asking them if they’d like less? [Healthland TIME]

Immigrating to the United States? The culture shock may include more than just having to learn a second language or navigate novel customs. Planting new roots may also involve increasing the risk of obesity in subseqent generations. [Science Daily]

Contrary to popular belief, trouble isn’t the only thing that teens get into when left to their own devices. When given the right tools and support, they may just surprise parents by developing an improved body image and healthy eating habits. [Healthland TIME]

You know it’s time to reconsider your snack choice when your snack itself is cutting calories. [Reuters]

That being said, when it comes to snacking on chocolate, if you consider a high content of cacao, add a few other healthy ingredients, and minimize as much superfluous sugar as possible, and you may just rediscover the FUN in this proposed functional food. [Healthland TIME]

Healthy Nibbles: 10 October 2011 Edition

17 Oct

From our eyes to yours … here’s what’s up in health and nutrition news for the week of October 10th, 2011:

Groupon, the online group shopping incentive (think group + coupon), has heads turning in Indianapolis for its recent deal-of-the-day on … wait for it … breast milk. That’s right, human B.R.E.A.S.T milk. While the purported health benefits of breast milk are numerous, not all new moms may be able to produce and supply sufficient amounts of it. This particular groupon therefore aims to make accessing it from other sources (i.e. donors) more affordable, essentially bridging yet another gap in nutrition accessibility. Is it weird that since hearing about this groupon all I can think about is Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath? [Healthland TIME]

Thanks to the collaborative effort of researchers from Australia and the United States, another piece of the obesity puzzle has been put into place. Not only does this research highlight the discovery of a novel protein influencing leptin sensitivity (or more specifically, leptin IN-sensitivity), but also that the timing of leptin modulation can impact obesity progression. Just another reminder that there is far more to solving the obesity problem than a simple balancing of calories in and calories out. [Science Daily]

Speaking of modulating sensitivity, researchers from Duke University have found that sensitivity to simvastatin (Zocor®), a conventional pharmaceutical therapy for high cholesterol, may be influenced by the type of microbes present in the gut. Not only does this finding suggest a novel means by which to pre-screen for simvastatin responsiveness (i.e. by identifying what kinds of microbes are present), but also a relatively simple way to improve treatment efficacy (i.e. by consuming simvastatin-friendly probiotics). [Healthland TIME]

Too much of a good thing, any good thing, is rarely a good idea. In fact, according to recent research examining the risk of death in older women and prostate cancer prevention in men, too much of certain supplements may actually do more harm than good. Though a necessary means to compensate for an existing nutrient deficiency, researchers caution against the unnecessary OVER-use of supplements. Instead, they suggest adopting a healthy diet as a safer alternative to achieving optimum nutrient balance. Adding further credence to the benefits of whole foods …

… are the results from a new study out of Oregon State University which suggest that the bioactive constituents of broccoli may be best consumed in vegetable form, rather than as an isolated supplement, in order to maximize their beneficial anti-cancer health effects. Just how many more times does it need to be said? Eat. Your. Vegetables. Even just a little bit, everyday. [Science Daily]

Healthy Nibbles: 03 October 2011 Edition

10 Oct

From our eyes to yours … here’s what’s up in health and nutrition news for the week of October 3rd, 2011:

It’s Thanksgiving! Here’s hoping that at some point over this long weekend you’ve found time to reflect and revel in all that you have to be thankful for. When you’re done doing that though and are ready to indulge in some tasty thanksgiving treats, here are a few tips to help keep you from crossing that fine line into OVERindulgence. Although an older post, it’s nonetheless still a relevant one – for future thanksgivings to come, and indeed for any non-holiday day as well. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 🙂 [Kombat Arts Blog]

New hope has emerged for type II diabetics. Animal research out of the Washington University School of Medicine suggests that administration of nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), a naturally occurring upstream molecule on the pathway to NAD production, improves glucose tolerance to almost normal levels (!!!) Okay, so maybe it’s not so much a ‘new’ hope after all – more like ‘newly re-discovered.’ Either way, these pre-clinical results offer some early hope for the amelioration of one of Canada’s fastest growing diseases. [Science Daily]

Ordering a salad from a fast-food joint may be equally as counterintuitive as getting a diet coke with your combo. For most patrons, it just doesn’t make sense. Not surprisingly therefore, recent food survey results demonstrate that less than half of the American consumers who say they want healthy fast-food menu options, actually order them. According to popular food journalist Mark Bittman, the REAL problem may not be what we order in fast-food lines, but rather that we even join the line in the first place. Rather than pointing the finger at fast-food moguls for their contribution to the current obesity epidemic, perhaps it’s time we consider turning at least one of those fingers inwards, towards ourselves. [Healthland TIME]

Speaking of self-initiative, though much has changed since the 1970’s (i.e. the popularity of bell-bottoms, lava lamps, and disco music), other things such as self-empowerment have endured. It’s been 40 years since the inception of Our bodies, Ourselves, a comprehensive, candid, and easy-to-read road map of women’s sexuality and reproductive health, and yet its popularity continues to grow. Surely an ongoing testament to the significance of self-empowerment, it also sounds remarkably like an uber successful grassroots knowledge translation (KT) initiative, non? [Washington Post]

Healthy Nibbles: 26 September 2011 Edition

3 Oct

From our eyes to yours … here’s what’s up in health and nutrition news for the week of September 26th, 2011:

I used to think that I was relatively immune to some of the more common illnesses such as seasonal colds (naively walking around outside during bitter winters with long, wet hair). But alas, I’ve since realized that regrettably I am so NOT 😦 Although last week I had good intentions to blog about sketchy supplement labeling, the relationship between weight and food impulses, how exercise may help in the fight against smoking, and the 40th anniversary of cancer research, due to a wicked head cold I opted to hide out in bed instead. Just in case you too fell victim to Mother Nature’s chilly disposition as of late, or were just plain old curious, click on each of the respective links above to catch up on these healthful nibbles.

In the nutrition world there are a handful of questions that continually pop up yet remain relatively unresolved. For example, which are better – whole foods or concentrated supplements, and what exactly does ‘natural’ mean? Equally uncertain are the health benefits of organic versus conventionally grown produce … until now that is. Spanish researchers have tackled this enduring question in a recent study examining the polyphenol content of organic and non-organic tomato juice. With an infinite amount of other foods that could be up for similar examination, I’m thinking that these researchers will be clocking some seriously LONG working hours in the near future! [Science Daily]

For athletes, choosing the right diet cannot only make the difference for short and long term health, but also for performance. With a plethora of different diet fads currently available, choosing which one can actually optimize performance can be a challenge in its own right. To help shed some light on this issue, registered dietitian Jennifer Sygo breaks down which fad diets for athletes are worthy of a gold medal, and which are best left to watch from the sidelines. [National Post]

Besides just semantics, what’s the difference between ‘fatness’ and ‘fitness’? According to researchers from Duke University, a ton (no pun intended). In their recent animal study, they found that engaging mice in regular exercise routines (fitness) helped mitigate the negative effects of obesity on the progression of arthritis-related inflammation irrespective of any weight loss (fatness). These findings suggest that tipping the scale towards skinny may not be the only reason to get your sweat on. Exercising just for the sake of exercising? Sounds so simple and yet why is it sometimes still SO hard. [Science Daily]

Healthy Nibbles: 22 August 2011 Edition

31 Aug

After a brief hiatus to cope with yet another semester’s end (sporadic madness … such is the life of a student), NUTRInitiative’s weekly link dump is gearing up to get back on schedule. Okay, so technically this post is a little past due, but better late than never, non?

From our eyes to yours … here’s what (was) up in health and nutrition news for the week of August 22nd, 2011:

There are always two sides to every story. After touting the many benefits of farmers’ markets, here’s the flip (down) side of that story. Supply and demand – it’s economics 101 and clearly nothing, not even farmers’ markets, are immune to its principles. [NY Times]

Choosing one’s words carefully is never more important than when discussing life’s sensitive topics. Throw children into the mix and it becomes even more imperative. As such, critics of a forthcoming children’s book, Maggie Goes on a Diet, are debating the nuances of verbiage. According to them, there are two very different messages being conveyed when talking about dieting versus healthy eating. Whatever happened to just silly rhyming fun circa Green Eggs and Ham? Unless of course that has since transformed into an Atkins Diet promotion – in which case, man am I getting old! [TIME Healthland]

Pop is definitely high up on the list of the most miscreant empty calorie foods. Replacing it with other more nutrient rich beverages is therefore one of the fundamental strategies for curtailing obesity. Such is the rationale behind NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed purchasing ban on pop by food stamp users. What about instead of banning food stamp users from buying pop retailers just jack its price up REALLY high and make fruits and vegetables much cheaper instead? After all, it’s not just the impoverished that stand to benefit from accessible nutrition incentives – we could ALL use some extra encouragement in that regard. [NY Times]

Metabolic rate makes a difference, especially when it comes to weight loss.  Given that there is a lot of inter-individual variability in metabolic rate, researchers from the National Institutes of Health have developed a mathematical algorithm and online program that simulates how changes in diet and exercise can differently affect a person’s individual metabolism and, as a result, predict any subsequent weight changes. Yet another innovative marriage between math and science … kind of makes me wish I wasn’t quite so mathematically challenged. [Science Daily]

It’s a well-known fact that shopping on an empty stomach inevitably leads to unhealthy food choices and excessive spending. Darn you peanut M&Ms for being so delicious and easy to grab! To help avoid financial pit falls while stocking up on food, here are some common grocery store marketing strategies to be wary of and tips on how to avoid succumbing to them. [Health Zone]

Healthy Nibbles: 25 July 2011 Edition

31 Jul

From our eyes to yours … here’s what’s up in health and nutrition news for the week of July 25th, 2011:

As anyone who conducts research involving human participants knows, there is a vast array of paperwork that comes part in parcel with the process. Though the premise behind this mass tree killing is primarily the protection of participants and the encouragement of verifiable science, there has been growing concern that the associated red tape is actually stifling the progress of the research itself. In the hopes of minimizing this administrative burden, the US federal government is proposing various changes to the existing process. Such changes will include centralized ethics boards for multi-site trials and proportionate review for qualitative studies. Sounds great on paper, but the Debbie-downer side of me cautions to wait and see how it pans out in real-life. [NY Times]

Though the token toys of McDonalds’ Happy Meals are here to stay, apple slices will be replacing one half the portion of fries. Acknowledging that this pending change marks a step in the right direction, health advocates are still concerned it represents a band-aid solution in the battle against childhood obesity. And given McDonalds’ notoriously aggressive child-centric ad campaigns, there is particular concern that the addition of apple slices will just mask the Happy Meal’s still sub-par nutritional content. Err … since when did McDonalds even START selling apple slices? From what I could see on TV, I just thought the McRib was back. [TIME Healthland]

What harm can come from a little white lie, right? Okay, that’s up for debate. However, a recent study by researchers from Penn State suggests that modifying standard, child-friendly recipes to incorporate a variety of pureed vegetables can help to increase preschoolers’ daily vegetable intake and decrease their total daily caloric intake. What’s more, the tots still gave the revised meals two (tiny) thumbs up for taste. Now, if only McDonalds could find a way to do something similar with their happy meals (see previous link). [Science Daily]

According to a Dutch study, cranberries fall short compared to their antibiotic counterparts when it comes to preventing recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). However, in spite of these feeble findings in favour of cranberries, additional results from this study are giving some health care practitioners cause to reconsider their potential health benefit; in particular, their improved resilience to the development of antibiotic resistance. Proof positive that there is merit in applying some innovative thinking and critical re-evaluating to traditional science. [TIME Healthland]

Is it me or has gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease (CD) really stolen the spotlight as of late? Not to diminish the experience of sufferers or to downplay the necessity of awareness, but heightened advocacy for CD is evidenced by the growing number of gluten-free food products and eateries. In support of awareness, researchers from Sweden and South Africa have just published the first global estimates of CD and its associated mortality. When it comes to health, every little bit of information helps so here’s to many more scientific advances! [Science Daily]