Studies: Why Diet Sodas Are No Benefit to Dieters
By MEREDITH MELNICK
Correction [June 29, 2011]: An earlier version of this article misidentified the research institution as the University of Texas, San Antonio. Rather, the research was conducted at the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. We regret the error.
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Thursday, June 30, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Calories, Not Protein or Carbs, Are Key to Weight Loss: Study
Diabetics gained similar benefits from low-fat diet emphasizing either proteins or carbohydrates.
Curbing calories is the key ingredient for diabetics seeking to lose weight, and low-fat diets that are either high in protein or high in carbs are equally effective, researchers say.
"I think there are two key messages from this study," said study lead author Jeremy D. Krebs, a senior lecturer with the school of medicine and health sciences at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand. "The first is that no matter what diet we prescribe, people find it extremely difficult to sustain the changes from their habitual diet over a long time. But if they are able to follow either a high-protein diet or a high-carbohydrate diet, they can achieve modest weight loss."
Krebs said this first message conveys flexibility and allows people to choose the approach that best suits them and "even to swap between dietary approaches when they get bored."
The second point "is that for people with diabetes, if they can adhere to either diet and achieve weight loss, then they do get benefits in terms of their diabetes control and cardiovascular risk," he added.
Krebs and his colleagues are scheduled to report their findings Sunday in San Diego at the American Diabetes Association meeting.
To compare the potential benefits of two popular dietetic approaches, the authors tracked nearly 300 overweight men and women between the ages of 35 and 75 who were on a new, two-year nutritional program.
To start, all the participants had a body mass index greater than 27, meaning they were moderately overweight, and all had type 2 diabetes.
The researchers randomly assigned the participants to one of two groups: a low-fat/high-protein group or a low-fat/high-carb group.
For the first half year, all attended twice-weekly group sessions led by a dietitian; for the following six months, sessions took place monthly.
Weight and waist circumference were measured at six months, one year, and two years. Kidney function and lipid (blood fats) profiles were also assessed throughout.
Food diaries indicated that total calorie intake went down in both groups. Ultimately, both groups lost a similar amount of weight and reduced their waist size in similar measure, the investigators found. And by the end of the two-year period, both groups had similar blood fat profiles.
Krebs and his colleagues concluded that their "real-world" experiment demonstrated that both approaches afford similar benefits, with the principal driving factor behind sustained weight loss being calorie reduction rather than either high-carb or high-protein consumption.
Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, said the observations were "not at all surprising."
"This is pretty consistent with other research out there that has conducted other long-term comparisons in the general population," she said. "In the first six months you might see a little better benefit from a high-protein approach. But long-term, the initial benefits from a high-protein diet seem to diminish over time, and the two diets end up being essentially equivalent," Sandon explained.
"The bottom-line is that the issue for weight loss is calories," Sandon added. "Not where those calories come from. You need to create an energy deficit to lead to weight loss, and that happens by decreasing those calories. That's just been shown again and again."
Experts note that research presented at medical meetings is considered preliminary because it has not been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny required for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Is Type 1 Diabetes Being Ignored?
Some people believe the type 2 diabetes epidemic is taking attention away from type 1 and needed research. Find out what's behind the controversy.
What do you know about diabetes? If you've read an online news source or watched the nightly report lately, you probably know that this health condition is on the rise. Diabetes currently affects almost 26 million people in the United States, or over 8 percent of the population. However, many may not realize that there are two kinds of diabetes — type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes — and that there are significant differences between them. For this reason, some people active in the field of diabetes are calling for a name change for type 1 diabetes.
As similar as the two types sound in name, only about 7 percent of diabetics have type 1. Type 1 diabetes occurs in all ages, but it primarily develops in children and young adults. Those with type 1 diabetes do not produce any insulin, a hormone which is necessary to change food into energy.
Riva Greenberg, author of 50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It, knows all about type 1 diabetes distinctions. She has been living with type 1 diabetes for 39 years.
Living With Type 1 Diabetes
Greenberg's experience has led her to believe that unless you or a family member lives with type 1 diabetes, it's hard to understand the intense management type 1 diabetes requires. "There's a tape constantly running in your head calculating what you're eating, when you'll exercise, how much insulin you need, and where your blood sugar is at any given moment to stay within a defined target zone to avoid diabetes complications," she says.
Like most people with type 1 diabetes, Greenberg pricks her fingers several times a day to test her blood's glucose level and gives herself multiple insulin injections a day, all to replicate what a normal body does automatically — maintain a relatively normal blood sugar level. And this delicate dance is repeated day after day and year after year to attempt to maintain just the right balance. Too many high blood sugar readings can cause long-term damage, including a shortened lifespan, while low blood sugars can result in immediate danger from hypoglycemia, which leads to confusion, disorientation, and in the worst case, death.
Type 1 diabetes exacts a psychological toll as well. "Living with type 1 diabetes causes emotional stress, a mental exhaustion, and sometimes anguish from doing this every day," says Greenberg. "There's also a certain amount of anxiety about the future and feeling nearly invisible to the public. Some days there is a very human desire to say, ‘Please see me and what I live with and how hard I work at this.'"
Facts About Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is much more common, but also requires less intense management. Unlike type 1 in which the body does not produce any insulin, those with type 2 either produce less insulin than normal or have insulin resistance — their body does not properly utilize insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is often found in people who are overweight, especially around the middle, though not always. Poor eating habits and little or no physical activity are other risk factors along with genetics, ethnicity, and having had gestational diabetes or a larger than normal size baby.
Whereas treatment for type 1 diabetes requires frequent blood monitoring and insulin injections or wearing an insulin pump, most people with type 2 do not need to test their blood sugar levels as frequently and are not nearly as vulnerable to hypoglycemia. Exercise, a healthier diet, moderate blood testing, and sometimes medication make up the usual course of prescribed action. Further, some people with type 2 diabetes are able to cut down on or stop taking medication if they lose weight. This is never the case with type 1 diabetes patients, who must take insulin for the rest of their lives.
What's in a Name?
Clearly, there is a significant difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The question is, should their names be less similar as well?
Those in favor of a name change believe type 1 diabetes may now be overlooked with so much attention on the much more common type 2. By altering the name, proponents hope to change several things.
"Of course no one can predict," says Greenberg, "but the intended benefit of changing the name of type 1 diabetes is greater awareness of the condition for the purpose of gaining more funding to research a cure, gaining respect for what [people with type 1] live with and do on a daily basis to live as full a life as possible, and prompting the health care system to begin looking at ways to provide greater support and education for living with this life-long demanding condition."
The discovery of insulin almost 90 years ago was the last significant medical advance made in managing type 1 diabetes. So it's no wonder many want more research funding and advances for the disease. At the same time, however, there may still be benefits of keeping the name.
"Some say type 1 benefits from being under the media spotlight and umbrella of type 2 diabetes, and they may be right," says Greenberg. "Frankly, I don't know. If we did change the name there would need to be an educational campaign to explain to the public the difference and why type 1 diabetes needs its own urgent stream of funding for a cure."
But there's one thing everyone can agree on: the need for further medical advancement in diabetes research.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Men's Waistlines Could Be Key to Health
40 inches put most men in risk zone for serious illnesses, experts say.
Men can gain significant health benefits from watching their waist size and, if necessary, losing some flab around the middle, the American Dietetic Association says.
"Just as it's important to know your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight numbers, men need to know their waist circumference. So, get out the tape measure," registered dietitian and ADA spokesman Jim White said in an ADA news release.
For an average male, a waistline of 40 inches puts him into the "disease-risk zone," the experts warned.
Excess abdominal fat, as opposed to fat elsewhere on the body, increases men's risk for health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. This fat around internal organs is known as visceral fat.
To correctly measure your waist size, wrap the tape measure over bare skin on your natural waistline, a little above the belly button at the narrowest part of your torso. Don't hold the tape measure too loose or too tight, White said.
"Eating better, decreasing stress levels, engaging in physical activity and getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep every day can help keep a man's midsection under control," registered dietitian and ADA spokesman Manuel Villacorta said in the news release.
Villacorta suggested reducing portion sizes, cutting back on alcohol and exercising regularly.