Posted by on September 3, 2013 - 1:30pm

A recent study published by researchers at Duke University highlighted the fact that some populations of women are more receptive to weight-management interventions than programs advertising weight loss. Weight loss is difficult across all populations and many programs aimed at reducing the pounds may end up providing only a temporary reprieve.  As weight gain and obesity are ever-increasing concerns, some researchers have tried to tackle this problem from another angle.  Instead of designing weight loss programs, health enthusiasts should focus on weight management initiatives for certain populations.

Duke University researcher Gary Bennett, PhD, who headed this study, found that African-American women responded more favorably to a weight control program than the traditional weight loss regime. On average, premenopausal African-American women have more weight gain per year than women of other racial and ethnic groups.  Furthermore, by the time African-American women are 59, twice as many “have class 2 obesity as do white women and three times have the prevalence of class 3 obesity.”  Current obesity treatments are not as effective for this population of women, and their underrepresentation in clinical trials studying weight loss interventions points to a dire need for understanding and implementing positive approaches to fight obesity. Re-angling the strategy towards prevention of weight gain requires a less-intensive intervention strategy, which many women are more responsive to.

The clinical trial involved overweight and class 1 obese women between the ages of 25 to 44.  The women were randomly placed in either a health clinic’s usual care cohort or the experimental “Shape Program.” The intervention program had five primary components: tailored behavior modification goals, weekly self-monitoring by interactive voice response, 12 monthly counseling calls by a registered dietitian, tailored skills training, and a 12-month YMCA membership. After the 18 month trial, patients in the “Shape Program” had a “mean weight loss of more than 2 pounds versus continued weight gain” in the control group. These positive results have inspired Duke researchers to continue unlocking the motivations behind weight management and weight loss in women. Furthermore, this research provides an opportunity for clinicians to breach the subject of weight management with their patients through a new lens.

To read more about this study, please click here.

 

Posted by on May 10, 2012 - 12:56pm


In May 2012, an HBO Documentary Films series on obesity, “The Weight of the Nation,” premieres.  Make sure you view the trailer, it's explosive!  The four-part series—Consequences, Choices, Children in Crisis, and Challenges—highlights several NIH research advances and addresses the factors contributing to the country’s obesity problem. The films are the centerpiece to a public awareness campaign, which also includes a three-part HBO Family series for kids, 12 short films, a website and social media, and a nationwide community-based outreach effort using free film discussion guides and other tools. To visit the website and see the trailer click HERE.

 

The network, in consultation with NIH and other major health organizations, developed four documentaries focused on obesity. The project also includes a three-part HBO Family series for kids, 12 short features, a social media campaign, and a nationwide community-based campaign to mobilize action to move the country to a healthier weight.

“If we don't take the obesity epidemic seriously as individuals and as a nation, we will pay a serious price,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., who appears in all of the main documentaries in the series. “It's going to take diverse and rigorous research to understand the causes of obesity and to identify interventions that work in the real world. The results from federally funded research, as seen in these documentaries, can help to prevent and treat obesity and its complications.”

More than one-third of adults in the United States and nearly 17 percent of the nation's children are obese, which increases their chances of developing many health problems, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, fatty liver disease, and some cancers. In 2008, the nation's obesity-related medical costs were an estimated $147 billion.

 

Posted by on February 2, 2012 - 7:54am

Last weekend I noticed a billboard on the highway that read:   Obesity is a disease, it is not a choice!   Nice way to avoid responsibility--put the blame elsewhere.   This billboard was promoting a weight loss program (not a bad idea, but a misleading headline!)  Remember the days when the main excuse for weight gain was "it's a hormonal problem, I can't do anything about it"  or "it's in my genes".   Yes , there are some hormonal issues (e.g. hypothyroidism)  and genetics  that can predispose you to  weight gain.    However, the rise in obesity and its associated health problems far surpasses the number of people who have a hormonal or genetic problem!

In a recent Chicago Tribune interview given by Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones at Northwestern University about heart disease ( a major outcome of obesity), he points out that "your lifestyle and behavior choices can trump much of genetics."    As far as thyroid conditions, the number of people with thyroid problems averages about 16% of the population.   And some thyroid conditions actually make you lose weight.

In 2020 in the US, 83 percent of men and 72 percent of women will be overweight or obese. Currently, 72 percent of men and 63 percent of women are overweight or obese (people who are overweight have a BMI of 25 to 29, people who are obese have a BMI of 30 or greater).  Obesity is a huge factor when it come to diabetes risk.  In 2020, 77 percent of men and 53 percent of women will have dysglycemia (either diabetes or pre-diabetes). Currently, 62 percent of men and 43 percent of women have dysglycemia.

"We’ve been dealing with the obesity trend for the past three decades, but the impact we project on blood sugar is a true shock,” said Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, chair and associate professor of preventive medicine at Feinberg. “Those are some really scary numbers. When blood sugar goes up like that all of the complications of diabetes come into play."

Less than five percent of Americans currently are considered to have ideal cardiovascular health. The modest six percent improvement in cardiovascular health that is projected for 2020 means better cholesterol and blood pressure numbers for Americans and fewer smokers. Improvements in treatment and control of cholesterol and blood pressure with medication and declines in smoking would partially account for this small boost, but they wouldn’t be enough to offset the weight and diabetes problems Americans face. Projected improvements in diet and physical activity also contribute to the six percent projection, but the absolute increase in Americans who consume ideal diets will remain less than two percent by 2020, if current trends continue.

“Since the 1960s cardiovascular disease death rates have substantially decreased, but if the weight and dysglycemia trends continue to grow past 2020, we are in danger of seeing those overall numbers start to reverse,” Mark Huffman, a cardiologist at Northwestern, said.  Achieving a healthy weight through diet and physical activity is the best way most Americans can improve their cardiovascular health, besides quitting smoking.

Just remember, you can have a bowl of cereal in the morning or a chocolate covered donut.    It's your choice...not some disease.

 

Posted by on April 27, 2011 - 9:27am

Fat talk (women speaking negatively about the size and shape of their bodies) is a popular phenomenon among college women according to a study done by researchers at U of Wisconsin and Northwestern University.  Rachel Salk and Renee Engeln-Maddox interviewed 168 female students at a midwestern U.S. university.  Their work was published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly.

Fat talk goes like this:

Friend #1:  Yuck, I feel sooo fat!"  Friend #2:  "You look great!"  Friend #1:  "You're just saying that!"   Friend #2:  "How would you like to have my hips!"  etcetera...

The researchers found that most women participating in the study engaged in fat talk with their friends, and a third of them did it frequently, even though (according to their Body Mass Index or BMI) they did not meet the definition of overweight.     Those who complained the most, even if they were thin, had greater dissatisfaction with their bodies according to the study.   This group also bought into the media image of the thin, perfect body.      Many of the young women indicated that fat talk made them feel better because "it helps to know that I'm  not the only one who feels bad about my body".

According to the study, the most common response to fat talk was denial that the friend was fat, most typically leading to a back-and-forth conversation where each of the two healthy weight peers denies the other is fat while claiming to be fat themselves.    "Although social support and empathy are usually viewed as psychologically healthy constructs, constant reminders that one's  normal weight or underweight friends also feel fat may not be helpful in the long run.  Such fat talk simply serves to reinforce the thin body ideal and the notion that disliking one's body is normative for women.   Women come to expect this type of talk from their peers and likely feel pressured to engage in it," say the authors.   They further conclude that "fat talk in not about being fat, but rather about feeling fat."

Readers, perhaps instead of fat talk, we should concentrate on wellness talk!   For example, call up a friend and ask her to take a walk or meet you at the gym because it might be fun and a way to meet some health minded guys!!