Obesity Epidemic

Published Online: Monday, January 18, 2010

Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice—Except for the Sugary Beverages!

Little girls are widely known to be sweet, and recent research has shown that adding to it with sweetened beverages can set the youngsters up for obesity. Published in the October issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study looked at a group of non-Hispanic white girls and their beverage intake habits.

By monitoring the participants biennially between the ages of 5 and 15, the researchers determined that drinking sweetened beverages at age 5 was associated with packing on higher amounts of body fat over the following 10 years. The girls who consumed 2 or more sugary beverages per day at age 5 had greater rates of overweight and obesity during the next decade of their lives. Fruit juice and milk intake, however, was not associated with increased body fat in girls.


Yet Another Reason to Lose Weight—Cancer

Despite the sincere desire on the part of countless obese patients trying to lose weight, waning motivation can be a real problem. Sobering statistics released late last year by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) pointed to excess body fat as the cause of over 100,000 cancer cases annually in the United States. The data were gathered by combining the most recent US cancer incidence research with information from the AICR/World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) International report, “Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention.”

The estimations for US cancer cases linked to excess body fat include:

• Breast— 33,000
• Endometrial—20,700
• Kidney—13,900
• Colorectal—13,200
• Pancreatic—11,900
• Esophageal—5800
• Gallbladder—2000

“We now know that carrying excess body fat plays a central role in many of the most common cancers,” said Laurence Kolonel, MD, PhD, Deputy Director of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and AICR/WCRF expert panel member. “And it’s clearer than ever that obesity’s impact is felt before, during, and after cancer—it increases risk, makes treatment more difficult, and shortens survival.”


Adolescents with Excess Weight Bear Brunt of More Back Problems

Young people who are overweight and obese can face a host of problems, and recent findings have revealed that back pain and spinal abnormalities are yet another way excess weight can have a negative impact. Research reported at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America revealed that spinal disk abnormalities are more prevalent in young people who are overweight or obese.

For the study, researchers examined spinal images from 188 adolescents aged 12 to 20 years who were seen at hospitals due to back pain during a 4-year timeframe. Those with a predisposition to back pain due to trauma or other conditions were excluded from the study.

Of the 108 patients for whom height and weight data were available, 66% of overweight individuals showed spine abnormality, compared with 38% of normal weight patients.


Eating Slow and Steady Wins the Race Toward Healthy Weight

A fast-paced lifestyle may be the norm for many Americans, but a recent study shows that people should slow down when it comes to eating. Those who eat faster are more likely to become obese, due to a difference in gut hormone activity, according to study findings published online November 4 by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The researchers enrolled 17 healthy adult men for the study, each of whom consumed 300 mL of ice cream, either over a period of 5 or 30 minutes, on 2 separate occasions. Before and after participants ate the ice cream, their blood levels of glucose, insulin, lipids, and gut hormones were measured.

Findings revealed that those who took 30 minutes to consume the ice cream showed higher levels of the gut hormones peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide, both of which serve as indicators to the brain to stop eating. In line with those results was the greater feeling of fullness among those who took their time eating, compared with those who ate the ice cream within 5 minutes.


Obesity Impedes HIV Treatment

Patients with HIV who are obese could benefit from losing weight, as their immune systems do not respond to antiretroviral therapy as well as their normal weight counterparts, according to study results from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU).

The research revealed that obese patients regained fewer CD4-positive T cells after starting therapy than people of normal weight. Although the reason for the discrepancy is unclear, Nancy Crum Cianflone, MD, of USU, said obese patients’ lower T cell recuperation could be attributed to standard drug doses being insufficient for their weight, or that excess weight could somehow limit the effects of the medications. ■


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