Friday, October 24, 2008

Fatties eat faster. So what?

Once again the direction of causation is assumed below. They assume that eating faster LEADS TO people being overweight. The perfectly reasonable possibility that strong food needs cause people to eat faster is not considered. So the implied claim that making people slow down will make them slimmer is simply a non-sequitur

People who eat quickly and eat until full are three times more likely to be overweight, according to a study published today on the website of the British Medical Journal. Researchers from Osaka University in Japan studied over 3,200 men (1,122) and women (2,165) aged 30–69 between 2003 and 2006 to examine whether eating until full and speed of eating were associated with being overweight.

Until the last decade or so most adults did not have the opportunity to consume enough energy to enable fat to be stored, but this has changed with the increased availability of inexpensive food in larger portions, fast food, fewer families eating together and eating while distracted.

Professor Hiroyasu Iso, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan and colleagues, sent the study’s participants a diet history questionnaire about their eating habits including questions about eating until full and their speed of eating. They found that around half (50.9%) of the men and just over half (58.4%) of the women said they ate until they were full. Just under half (45.6%) of men and 36% of women said they ate quickly.

The group of participants who said they ate “until full and ate quickly” had a higher body mass index (BMI) and total energy intake than those who did not “eat until full and did not eat quickly”. Results showed that men and women in the “eating until full and eating quickly” group were three times more likely to be overweight than the participants from the “not eating until full and not eating quickly” group.

The report says: “In conclusion, eating until full and eating quickly were associated with being overweight in Japanese men and women, and the combination of the two eating behaviours may have a substantial impact on being overweight.”

In an accompanying editorial, Elizabeth Denney-Wilson from University of NSW and Karen Campbell from Deakin University, both in Australia, said the findings demonstrated how current eating patterns may contribute to the current epidemic of obesity. “Clinicians should recognise that behavioural counselling, using cognitive therapy, can help in the management of this aggressively “eat more” food environment,” says the editorial.

The authors call on doctors to work with parents to encourage healthy eating habits in their children like eating slowly, serving appropriate portion sizes, and eating as a family in a non-distracting environment.


New drug raises hope of reversing multiple sclerosis in early stages

Sounds good. Might work on Alzheimers too

A step change in the treatment of multiple sclerosis is heralded today by the first study to suggest that a drug can stop the disease in its tracks and even reverse its progress. A trial of the medicine, known as alemtuzumab, has found that it offers benefits that are “better by a country mile” than other treatments for MS, and that it is effective for a much wider cross-section of patients.

The results offer hope that thousands of people who suffer from MS will eventually be able to control the condition, which causes nerve damage, loss of mobility, blindness and cognitive decline.

Scientists cautioned, however, that alemtuzumab will not be available outside clinical trials for about five years, and that it is suitable only for patients with early-phase MS. Those in whom the disease has already been diagnosed are unlikely to benefit.

When people with early-stage MS were treated with alemtuzumab, their condition improved significantly more than those on beta interferon, the best treatment available now, across three standard clinical indicators.

The drug reduced the number of MS attacks by 74 per cent, and the progression of disability by 71 per cent, when compared with beta interferon. Patients on alemtuzumab also showed recovery of brain function, so that they were less disabled at the end of the three-year study than at the beginning, while those on beta interferon continued to decline. Almost every patient taking alemtuzumab improved, whereas about half of MS patients show no response to beta interferon.

Scientists behind the research said that if the findings were repeated in a larger sample it would promise a revolution in MS care within five years, though only for patients who had yet to develop much nerve damage. “It is a landmark, a step change,” said Alistair Compston, Professor of Neurology at the University of Cambridge, who led the study. “It is more effective than beta interferon by a country mile, and the efficacy is so high that we hope it will represent the definitive treatment if used in the right people.”

Alasdair Coles, another member of the team, said: “It is our view that alemtuzumab offers the most effective treatment for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis described to date. The ability of an MS drug to promote brain repair is unprecedented. We are witnessing a drug which, if given early enough, might effectively stop the advancement of the disease and also restore lost function by promoting repair of damaged brain tissue.”

The study, which is published in The New England Journal of Medicine, was a phase 2 trial, conducted on 334 patients as the first test of the drug's efficacy. Two phase 3 trials, of 600 and 1,200 patients, are now under way and positive reports will be needed from these before it can be licensed. Alemtuzumab was also shown to have some potentially serious side-effects, which means that patients who take it will have to be monitored by their doctors. One patient taking the drug died of a brain haemorrhage after developing an autoimmune condition that destroys a clotting agent in the blood, and two others were successfully treated for the same disorder.

Lee Dunster, head of research at the MS Society, said that the charity was delighted at the results. “This news will rightly bring hope to people living with the condition day in, day out.”


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