Monday, February 19, 2007

Sleep yourself slim?

The following three reports are from here. I have not so far been able to access the journal abstracts. All seem a bit dubious

SLEEPING in and starting school later would be popular with kids, and it could even keep their weight down. A new study in the journal Child Development has found that children aged three to 18 are at greater risk of being overweight if they don't get enough sleep.

Even just one extra hour of sleep made a big difference to body weight, reducing young children's chance of being overweight from 36 per cent to 30 per cent, and reducing older children's risk from 34 per cent to 30 per cent. The study was conducted in two stages, approximately five years apart, and involved 2,182 children. At the start of the study and again five years later, diaries were kept by either the children's carers or the children themselves, recording bedtime, time asleep and wake time during one weekday and one weekend day. Later bedtime was linked to being overweight in children aged 3 to 8, and earlier wake time had the greatest effect on weight in those aged 8 to 13.

Loneliness causes Alzheimers?

LONELY people are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, according to a study in the latest issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. Over a four-year period, researchers studied 823 adults who had an average age of 80 and were free of dementia at the start of the study. Loneliness was measured on a scale of one to five, with a higher score indicating a more intense feeling of loneliness. At the start of the study, the average loneliness score was 2.3, and this was tested again at yearly intervals. Over the next four years, 76 participants were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. For each point on the loneliness scale, the risk of Alzheimer's disease increased by 51 per cent. So a person with a high loneliness score (3.2) had 2.1 times the risk of developing the disease as a person with a low score (1.4). The authors stress that further studies are needed to discover how negative emotions may cause changes in the brain.

Cure for Crohn's?

NALTREXONE - the drug used to ease withdrawal symptoms from drugs and alcohol - could soon be used to treat sufferers of a painful intestinal condition known as Crohn's disease. The study, published this week in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, involved 17 patients with active Crohn's disease. They were treated with a low dose of naltrexone (4.5mg per day in tablet form) for 12 weeks, and monitored for any improvement in their symptoms. While the study did not include a group of patients taking placebo tablets for comparison, 89 per cent of participants showed an improvement in their symptoms with naltrexone treatment, and 67 per cent reported that their symptoms disappeared. The only side effect of naltrexone was sleep disturbance in some patients. The authors note that a thorough placebo-controlled trial is now required to prove the drug's effectiveness.


Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.