US Justice Department to Investigate Metabolife Manufacturer
Concern is over whether or not the manufacturer repressed evidence of adverse effects due to the ingredient ephedra. [ BMJ 2002;325:460 ( 31 August )
Plasma Vitamin C Levels Associated With Decreased Preeclampsia
This study found that both dietary intake and plasma levels of vitamin C were inversely associated with preeclampsia risk. Pregnant women with the lowest levels of dietary vitamin C ( < 85 mg/day ) compared with those taking >= 85 mg/day had approximately twice the risk of preeclampsia. Comment: it appears that the benefit of multivitamin supplementation in pregnancy comes not only from folic acid, but also from vitamin C. [ EPIDEMIOLOGY 2002;13:409-416 ]
Multivitamin Supplementation During Pregnancy Associated With Decreased Risk of Brain Cancer
This study found that daily multivitamin and mineral supplementation in the month before pregnancy and in each trimester was associated with a decreased risk of neuroblastoma. The authors were unable to isolate the effects of a specific vitamin or mineral. Comment: this is yet more evidence that multivitamin & mineral supplementation helps improve the diet in America and Canada, at least during pregnancy. [ Epidemiology 2002; 13(5):575-580 ]
LA School District Bans Carbonated Soft Drinks
In a move intended to help decrease childhood obesity, the Los Angeles School District board voted unanimously to ban the sale of carbonated soft drinks during school hours on school campuses. Comment: regular (non-diet) soft drinks are a significant source of empty calories. The move by the school district is likely to have a positive effect. [ Yahoo! article ]
Multivitamin Use Associated With Fewer Birth Defects
This study not only looked at the association of multivitamin use and birth defects, but at whether or not multivitamin use decreased the birth defects associated with a febrile illness during pregnancy. The authors conclude that periconceptional use of multivitamins may decrease the risk associated with a febrile illness. Comment: here's further evidence that the standard American diet can benefit from multivitamin supplementation, at least around the time of conception in women. [ EPIDEMIOLOGY 2002;13:485-488 ]
Oat Fiber Better Than Wheat Fiber in Lowering Cholesterol
This study looked at 36 overweight men aged 50 - 75 years who where randomly assigned to either an oat cereal or wheat cereal containing diet providing 14 g/day of dietary fiber. Only those on the oat cereal diet had decreases in their LDL cholesterol. Insulin sensitivity did not change significantly in either group. Comment: this is a fascinating study because of the lack of any benefit of the wheat fiber in terms of cholesterol. The time period of 12 weeks probably is sufficient. From this study, it appears that oat fiber has a unique ability to lower cholesterol compared with wheat fiber. [ American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 76, No. 2, 351-358, August 2002 ]
Six Week Trial Shows No Benefit of Ginkgo
This six week trial showed no benefit of ginkgo supplementation on memory and other mental faculties. Comment: it is absurd to believe that six weeks is enough time for this type of nutritional intervention (giving supplements to otherwise well nourished elderly adults) to show a statistically significant change. The authors' conclusion that the data suggest "ginkgo provides no measurable benefit in memory or related cognitive function to adults with healthy cognitive function" is a prime example of academic arrogance--and faulty thinking. Perhaps ginkgo is of no benefit- but this trial adds nothing to that hypothesis. Why did the authors choose a six week time period? [JAMA. 2002;288:835-840 ]
Multivitamin Supplementation Not Associated With a Reduced Number of Respiratory Tract Infections
This study of 652 individuals aged 60 years or older found that multivitamin supplementation, vitamin E supplementation, or both together did not decrease the incidence or severity of acute upper respiratory tract infections. Vitamin E supplementation (when taken alone without a multivitamin) was associated with an increased severity of infection. Comment: it would be nice to have more details about absorption of the supplements. Nevertheless, this study suggests that vitamin E supplementation should be accompanied by multivitamin supplementation as well. Of note, the multivitamin & vitamin E supplementation group did not show any harmful side-effects. Other studies clearly show a benefit of supplementation. Thus, the main conclusion of this study should be that #1- no harmful side-effects from multivitamin & vitamin E supplementation was shown, and #2- vitamin E supplements should not be taken without a multivitamin. [ JAMA. 2002;288:715-721 ]
Childhood obesity: public-health crisis, common sense cure
This review of childhood obesity concludes that straightforward solutions exist, although politically difficult. Some of the solutions suggested are: a) setting aside time at home for healthy meals, physical activity, as well as limiting TV viewing, b) establishing stricter standards for school lunch programs, c) stop providing junk food through school concession stands and vending machines, d) improve health insurance coverage for obesity treatment, e) tax fast foods and subsidize nutritious foods, f) regulate political contributions from the food industry. Comment: its amazing how fast food stores continue to push junk food while offering few healthy alternatives. For example, whole wheat bread would be much better than the white enriched wheat flour used by the vast majority of all hamburger buns used in fast food joints. [ Lancet 2002, 360: 473-82 ]
Weight-Loss Hormone Studied
The hormone PYY3-36 has been shown to decrease the appetite for up to 12 hours. Volunteers taking the hormone also ate a third less food at the meal following injection with the hormone. [ Nature 8 Aug 2002
Australian Group Calls For Limits to Junk Food Advertisements
A group of Australian physicians and researchers have called for limits on junk food television advertisements, stating that they contribute to the growing obesity epidemic among children. The group is the Coalition on Food Advertising to Children in Australia. article
Vitamin Supplementation Not Associated With a Reduced Cardiovascular Mortality
This prospective cohort study looked at 83 639 male US physicians and found that self-reported supplementation with vitamin E, vitamin C, or multivitamins was not associated with a reduced rate of cardiovascular mortality. Comment: It would be interesting to look more closely at the type of vitamin supplements that the participants took, and see if there were any differences between synthetic versus natural supplementation. [ Arch Intern Med 2002 Jul 8;162(13):1472-6 ]
Placebo Controlled Trial Shows No Benefit of Vitamin Supplementation in Five Years
This study looked at 20 536 UK adults (aged 40 - 80) who received either placebo or vitamin supplementation with 600 mg of vitamin E, 250 mg of vitamin C, and 20 mg of beta-carotene daily. Blood measurements of vitamin levels confirmed that supplementation raised body levels of the vitamins. Over the five year study period, vitamin supplementation with the mix of vitamins E, C and beta-carotene did not lower all-cause mortality, cardiovascular morbidity or mortality, or cancer incidence. Comment: trials looking at vitamin supplementation and colon cancer found no significant differences until 15 years. It's possible that long-term supplementation (greater than 5 years) is required to show a benefit. It would also be interesting to know if the self-reported quality of life differed between the two groups. [ Lancet 2002 Jul 6;360(9326):23-33 ]
Weight Stability More Important Than Body Mass Index in the Elderly
This analysis of data from the Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program found that those with an intermediate body mass index (23.6 to 27.9 kg/m**2) and weight stability (defined as a weight change of no more than -0.7 kg to + 0.5 kg a year) had a lower risk of all-cause mortality compared those who gained or lost weight at a greater weight. Weight stability was associated with a lower mortality risk even in those with a high or low body mass index. Comment: the body seems to respond better to gradual changes when it comes to weight. [ Am J Epidemiol 2002 Jul 15;156(2):132-8 ]
Prevention and cure of type 2 diabetes
This editorial in BMJ
emphasizes that the key to controlling the diabetes epidemic is weight-loss. One study cited was the nurses' health study, which found that the risk of type 2 diabetes was 28 times higher in women with a body mass index of greater than 30 compared to those with an index lower than 22 kg/m**2. [ BMJ 2002;325:232-233 ( 3 August )
Vegetarians Critique Atkins Diet
NewsMax Wires, Tuesday, July 30, 2002. WASHINGTON -- A vegetarian advocacy group says high-fat/low-carbohydrate diets - such as the Atkins diet - are dangerous and will launch an ad campaign later this week targeted at physicians and consumers.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine "is particularly concerned about the health effects of these high-fat diets" because "more people are going on them," spokeswoman Simon Chaitowitz told United Press International.
The goal of the ad campaign, which will appear on the Internet on Yahoo.com and in a medical journal, is to "alert both consumers and physicians to the dangers of high-protein diets," Chaitowitz said.
PCRM also will launch a Web site - scheduled to premiere on Thursday - for consumers who have had problems with high-fat/low-carb diets to register their experiences. PCRM will compile this information to help evaluate these types of diets. The group's main objections to the high-fat diets is they are composed of foods - particularly animal products - that may increase the risk of colorectal cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, kidney problems and diabetes complications.
"Even if the diets induce weight loss ... people need to focus beyond weight loss and focus on overall health," Brie Turner-McGrievy, a clinical research coordinator and registered dietician with the physicians committee, told UPI. She noted little research has been done on these diets so the long-term effects are unknown, adding there are concerns diets high in protein can lead to kidney problems and diets rich in saturated fats found in meat and dairy products can lead to clogged arteries and cancer.
Katherine Tallmedge, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, said, "Diets high in fruits and vegetables produce a lower risk of cancers and without them you have a higher risk." Fruits and vegetables "have also been shown to lower blood pressure and the risk of stroke and heart disease."
"Diets high in saturated fat raises LDL ['bad' cholesterol] in most people," which increases the risk of heart disease and heart attacks, Tallmedge said, noting that Atkins himself recently developed heart problems.
Low-carbohydrate diets often are touted for their ability to reduce LDL and triglycerides, but this effect is caused by the initial weight loss, Tallmedge said. "Once the weight loss has stopped, they often go higher than ever before," she said.
Another dangerous facet of the high-fat diets is ketosis - a state the body goes into when it is deprived of carbohydrates. In ketosis, the body mainly relies on fat and protein for energy, but it can lead to a variety of physical problems, including calcium loss from the bones and kidney stones. "Ketosis is not a state you want to be in," Turner-McGrievy said.
There are other health consequences of these diets. Tallmedge said an unpublished, six-month study funded by Atkins found 68 percent of the people in the study who were on his diet experienced constipation, 63 percent had bad breath, 51 percent had headaches and some also experienced hair loss.
Some people swear by the high-fat diets and insist nothing else has worked for them, but two studies found people on these diets only lost about an average of 20 pounds in six months. That is similar to the type of weight loss that could be achieved by any kind of diet you would put people on, Turner-McGrievy said.
She said a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found vegetarians had lower body mass indexes and were slimmer overall than people on high-fat diets. Turner-McGrievy conceded people may lose weight on the Atkins or similar diets, but said, "A lot of things help people lose weight. Smoking can help you lose weight ... but it's about overall health. There are definitely a lot better weight loss diets out there for people to try."
Tallmedge agreed. "You don't have to go through a depressing angst-ridden diet to keep the weight off," she said. Long-term studies have shown most people who successfully lose weight and keep it off did so with a low-fat diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole-grain foods, she said.
Reprinted with permission from newsmax.com
Copyright 2002 by United Press International. All rights reserved.
Obesity and the Risk of Heart Failure
This study compared the body-mass index (kg/m**2) with the incidence of heart failure among 5881 participants in the Framingham Study. The authors found that a steady increase in heart failure as the BMI increase. For men, the rate was a 5% increase in heart failure for each increment of 1 in the BMI. For women the rate was 7%. Comment: this is more evidence that lifestyle is of primary importance in keeping you healthy. [ article ]