Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Avoiding chocolate is a bad move for dieters

Struggling to resist a chocolatey treat may do women more harm than good. Psychologists have found that suppressing the desire leads to a "rebound" effect in which a woman simply eats more when she gives in. Scientists at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain believe their findings may help explain why some women are prone to binge eating after cutting back. Their research reveals that women who were asked to suppress their thoughts about chocolate consumed 50 per cent more when offered it, compared with women who were told to express their feelings about chocolate.

Psychologist James Erskine believes the findings may help people who are struggling to give up unhealthy foods or smoking. "The act of avoidance appears to completely backfire," Erskine says. "The most harmful thing you can do is to tell people not to think about eating chocolate. We have to tackle behaviour itself by giving women alternatives instead of making them abstain."

Erskine studied 130 volunteers who were asked to eat chocolate after being told either to suppress or to express their thoughts about chocolate by talking aloud. Women who tried to suppress their feelings showed a clear rebound effect. Men who took part in the study were less prone to the effect, instead eating more when told to express their feelings about chocolate.

Erskine has also carried out similar research in people trying to give up smoking and found similar results in women that prove they are more vulnerable to rebound if they are trying to give up something they crave. He is now conducting research to try to understand why women are more prone to this rebound effect. "The rebound effect seems to be most prevalent when people are trying to suppress something that they see as problematic," he says. "It could just be that women see eating chocolate as more problematic than men do. We now need to find new ways to help women change their behaviour rather than just telling them not to eat things."

Lyzette Barnard, 36, a confessed chocoholic and a member of Weight Watchers, spent years as a yo-yo dieter fighting her cravings. "I have a real weak spot for chocolate," she says. "I would try to go without it but then when I caved in I would end up eating a whole bar rather than just a few pieces. "Diets make me think I can't eat chocolate any more but it just makes me want it more. I have found the best way is to find other things to replace chocolate so I don't get any cravings."

Diet specialists insist that the research supports evidence that eating sensibly rather than trying to eliminate "sinful" foods helps people to control their weight. Emma Hetherington, the head of program development at Weight Watchers UK, says: "We know if you set yourself an unrealistic goal such as 'I'll never eat chocolate again' or 'I'll never have a glass of wine', automatically that is all you will think about. It then becomes more likely that you give in to these cravings. "We advocate getting plenty of variety in your daily diet - that means all food groups - and this keeps you interested and focused and therefore maintains your weight loss."


Sleeping pill Zolpidem awakens girl from coma

A girl who has spent six years in a coma is showing signs of life after taking a sleeping pill. Amy Pickard, 23, had lain in her bed, unable to eat or breathe for herself since falling unconscious in 2001. But after being enrolled in a study of the side-effects of the sleeping pill Zolpidem, her eyes have begun to sparkle and she has even managed to stand.

Amy's mother, Thelma Pickard, 54, has visited her every day at the Raphael Medical Centre in Tonbridge, Kent, and claims that she can see her "feisty and determined" daughter fighting her way to recovery. She reacts to strong-tasting foods, can breathe unaided, focus on objects in her room and is beginning to formulate words. When she takes the pill, I see her face relax and the old sparkle return to her eyes. It truly is remarkable," said Mrs Pickard.

Amy, who is the subject of a BBC1 documentary The Waking Pill to be broadcast tonight, was 17 and studying for her A-Levels at Filsham Valley School in East Sussex when she was persuaded to inject heroin by her then boyfriend. She is one of 360 people taking part in a worldwide trial of Zolpidem as a treatment for people in comas. Sixty per cent of patients taking part in the study have started showing signs of life.

The drug's side-effects were first discovered after a 24-year-old South African cyclist suffered a serious brain injury after being hit by a lorry in 1994. Doctors told his parents that he would never regain consciousness. Five years after his accident, nurses noticed he was involuntarily grabbing at his mattress and gave him Zolpidem to help him sleep more deeply. Instead, just 25 minutes later, he sat up in bed and said: "Hello, mummy."

The British firm ReGen Therapeutics began a trial and, as one of those involved, Amy's mother was flown to South Africa to meet other patients who had tried it. She said: "I've had so many disappointments in my life, so I didn't set my expectations too high. When I came back from South Africa, I was exhausted, but the hope in my heart was intense. "But the more I saw, the more I heard and the more I experienced, the more I realised Amy must try this new treatment."

Barely four weeks after taking her first pill, Amy, who has an older brother David, 27, is making good progress. Doctors have warned Mrs Pickard it could take months for a breakthrough, but she believes her daughter is already on the road to recovery. "When I look at her now I can see the old Amy coming through, fighting to get out. It's a day-to-day waiting game to see what will happen next, but I just know she's going to speak any day," she said. "Every day she takes the tablet, it gives me more and more hope. My life is better now than it's ever been over the past six years."

The story echoes the plot of the film Awakenings, which stars Robert de Niro and Robin Williams. It is based on real events, in which a research physician uses an experimental drug to "awaken" the catatonic victims of a rare sleeping sickness.



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].

And will "this generation of Western children be the first in history to lead shorter lives than their parents did"? This idea emanates from a much-cited editorial in a prominent medical journal that said so. Yet this editorial offered no statistical basis for its opinion -- an opinion that flies directly in the face of the available evidence.


1 comment:

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this