Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Junkfood Science

With apologies to the fine blog of that name. But if you read a lot of reports from new studies being done in weight loss and nutrition--and how often they contradict each other--you learn to take everything with a grain of salt. No, wait. I think this week salt's really bad for you again. Regina, over at Weight of the Evidence has been doing some deconstruction of conflicting science.

I do no deconstruction here, just a roundup of recent headlines, for whatever they're worth...

• ANOTHER FAT GENE: Scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have found a "relative" of the anti-aging gene "Klotho" that works to help lower glood glucose levels in the fat cells of mice, making it a "novel target for developing drugs to treat human obesity and dibetes." Sounds like another magic pill in the works. Oh boy.

• A recent report in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that high levels of symptoms of depression -- such as irritability and sleep problems -- are associated with an increased risk of development of type 2 diabetes. Gee, Einstein. Depressed people can be stress eaters, and stress eaters rarely binge on broccoli (okay, I know, I do have a reader who binged on brussels sprouts, and she is my hero!).

• Duke Medical Center researchers have concluded that obesity increases employers' workers compensation costs. Seems obese employees are more likely to file workers' comp claims. Hmmmm...I haven't taken a sick day in more than three years. Maybe I should throw myself down the stairs and take some time off.

• Researchers at the University of Calgary have found that consuming a single high-fat meal makes a person "more prone to suffer the physical consequences of stress" than those who eat a low-fat meal. They found "shocking" the difference between the stress responses of a group of students eating a McDonald's breakfast as opposed to students who had dry cereal with skim milk, cereal bars and nonfat yogurt. “It’s been well documented that a high-fat diet leads to artherosclerosis and high blood pressure, and that exaggerated and prolonged cardiovascular responses to stress are associated with high blood pressure in the future," said researcher Tavis Campbell. "So when we learn that even a single, high-fat meal can make you more reactive to stress, it’s cause for concern because it suggests a new and damaging way that a high-fat diet affects cardiovascular function.” So, were these students all of exactly equal health and genetic background to begin with? Did the "shocking" results persist beyond 30 minutes past the given meal? How many students participated--400 or 4? Yawn.

• New baby foods are being developed in England that contain supplements of hunger-suppressing leptin, so feeding your baby the new foods will ensure that he doesn't grow up to be a big fat slob. Since such early exposure and prolonged exposure to leptin supplements is untested, however, he might turn out to be a very thin guy with three horns. But he won't be fat.

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