Thursday, February 07, 2008

Obesity hardwired in rats

This SHOULD be no surprise. There is plenty of evidence of similar processes in humans

OBESITY may be hard-wired into the brain from birth, according to a new animal study that appears to bolster the notion that some people are more prone to pile on the pounds than others. The study showed that obese rats had faulty brain wiring that impaired their response to the hunger-suppressing hormone leptin.

In obesity-prone rats, "it seems that appetite and obesity are built into the brain," said Sebastien Bouret, an assistant professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. "The neurodevelopmental differences in these animals can be seen as early as the first week. "The results show that obesity can be wired into the brain from early life. The three-million-dollar question now is how to get around the problem."

Leptin plays a central role in fat metabolism. Produced by fat tissue, it acts as a signal to the brain about the body's energy status. Its role in weight regulation is still unclear, but what scientists do know is that the brain calibrates the need for food intake based in part on leptin levels. Previous research had shown that the brains of obesity-prone rats were insensitive to these leptin signals, so the researchers looked for brain abnormalities that could explain this. They found defects in the brain circuits that relay leptin signals throughout the hypothalamus - the brain's central switchboard for regulating conditions in the body. While the rats' condition might be improved by exercising and eating right, the findings suggest that the propensity to gain weight can't be reversed, Prof Bouret said.

If the findings were replicated in humans, then those individuals who were genetically predisposed to obesity because of the way their brains were configured would have to be very careful about "diet and energy balance", said Richard Simerly, another researcher who worked on the study.

The findings also fly in the face of the one-size-fits-all approach that characterises much of the discussion about weight management and weight loss in the media, said Mr Simerly, who is director of the neuroscience program at the Saban Research Institute at the University of Southern California. "The message in the media that weight regulation is all a matter of nutrition or lifestyle choices does a disservice to people whose biology predisposes them to obesity," he said.

The study appears in the February issue of Cell Metabolism


British teachers ordered to 'police children's lunchboxes'

The intrusion of the British State into people's lives grows daily. They make Hitler and Mussolini look like amateurs in some respects

School lunchboxes could soon be monitored by dinner ladies to ensure children are eating healthy meals, ministers said. Under the Government's obesity strategy, all schools will be expected to design a "healthy lunchbox policy" on what makes a nutritional packed lunch over the next year. Some parents may even be asked to sign a form agreeing to ban unhealthy foods from their children's lunches.

If a packed lunch is deemed to contain too much fat and sugar, parents could be sent warning letters or their children's meals confiscated. Although the Government has already unveiled proposals to make canteen lunches much healthier, it is concerned many parents do not have clear advice about what should be included in a healthy packed lunch.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson and Schools Secretary Ed Balls praised a Hertfordshire school which has designed lunchbox menu ideas for parents. These include falafel and houmous pitta bread with a tomato and avocado salad, followed by fruit yoghurt. The Government has also called on heads to stop children from leaving schoolgrounds during lunchtimes.

But critics have attacked the plans, claiming it is a gimmick. Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat's health spokesman, said: "Childhood obesity begins in the home, so the proposed lunchbox police won't tackle the problem's root causes." Margaret Morrissey, of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said: "Many parents will say these are our children and we know what we're doing. "We don't need politicians to tell us what to put in our lunchboxes."


Gym Germs

When you grab a set of weights, hold the treadmill's handrails or hit the mat to stretch, do you ever stop and think about all of the other gym goers who have done exactly the same thing? If not, dermatologists say, you should. While logging a half-hour of circuit training will obviously do your body good, touching equipment that might have been recently handled by another sweaty, sick or infected person could do the opposite. And athlete's foot is just the beginning

Experts warn that if you're using a shared yoga mat, for example, you could be at risk for ringworm, which causes red, scaly rings on the skin's surface. Coming into contact with sweat left behind on a machine could lead to a staph infection, usually manifesting in the form of pimples or boils. If not treated properly, it can invade the bloodstream. "I don't want people to avoid going to the gym, because it's a healthful activity," says Dr. Joshua Fox, founder of the New York-based practice Advanced Dermatology and a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology. "But you have to prepare and use common sense."

Rosemary Lavery, a spokeswoman for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) , says the organization isn't aware of any documented cases in which someone has contracted the sometimes deadly staph infection methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus from a gym. MRSA is transmitted most frequently by skin-to-skin contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But, to be safe, the nonprofit group aimed at promoting the health club industry recently re-released a list of tips and tactics to help its 5,600 U.S. member clubs prevent staph and MRSA infections. They include providing disinfecting wipes or spray for cleaning equipment, using a bleach solution when laundering club towels and encouraging gym goers to do their part, too.



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].

9). And how odd it is that we never hear of the huge American study which showed that women who eat lots of veggies have an INCREASED risk of stomach cancer? So the official recommendation to eat five lots of veggies every day might just be creating lots of cancer for the future! It's as plausible (i.e. not very) as all the other dietary "wisdom" we read about fat etc.

10). And will "this generation of Western children be the first in history to lead shorter lives than their parents did"? This is another anti-fat scare that 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.

Even statistical correlations far stronger than anything found in medical research may disappear if more data is used. A remarkable example from Sociology:
"The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre's yield of cotton. He calculated the correlation coefficient between the two series at -0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic conditions and lynchings in Raper's data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his analysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic conditions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added."
So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. But in medical research, data selectivity and the "overlooking" of discordant research findings is epidemic.

"What we should be doing is monitoring children from birth so we can detect any deviations from the norm at an early stage and action can be taken". Who said that? Joe Stalin? Adolf Hitler? Orwell's "Big Brother"? The Spanish Inquisition? Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde? None of those. It was Dr Colin Waine, chairman of Britain's National Obesity Forum. What a fine fellow!


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