Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fish-eating Eskimos are healthier

So what is different about Eskimos who eat a more traditional (fish-heavy) diet? It could be more than diet. They might exercise more, for instance.

We have long known that traditional Eskimos are unusually healthy at any given age despite their huge fat consumption. And the recent study below confirms some of that. Saying that it is the Omega 3 component of their diet that causes the better health is however just another epidemiological speculation. Omega 3 might be a marker of heavy fish consumption and a more traditional lifestyle generally while not being the cause of anything. There may (or may not) be something in the fish diet that promotes health but what it is can only be speculated in the absence of a double-blind trial

An amusing note: Eskimos are now Inuit in Canada but are still Eskimos in Alaska! The follies of the human race are unending

A study of Yup'ik Eskimos in Alaska, who on average consume 20 times more omega-3 fats from fish than people in the lower 48 states, suggests that a high intake of these fats helps prevent obesity-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

The study, led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and conducted in collaboration with the Center for Alaska Native Health Research at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, was published online March 23 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"Because Yup'ik Eskimos have a traditional diet that includes large amounts of fatty fish and have a prevalence of overweight or obesity that is similar to that of the general U.S. population, this offered a unique opportunity to study whether omega-3 fats change the association between obesity and chronic disease risk," said lead author Zeina Makhoul, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in the Cancer Prevention Program of the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center.

The fats the researchers were interested in measuring were those found in salmon, sardines and other fatty fish: docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA.

Researchers analyzed data from a community-based study of 330 people living in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta region of southwest Alaska, 70 percent of whom were overweight or obese. As expected, the researchers found that in participants with low blood levels of DHA and EPA, obesity strongly increased both blood triglycerides (a blood lipid abnormality) and C-reactive protein, or CRP (a measure of overall body inflammation). Elevated levels of triglycerides and CRP increase the risk of heart disease and, possibly, diabetes.

"These results mimic those found in populations living in the Lower 48 who have similarly low blood levels of EPA and DHA," said senior author Alan Kristal, Dr. P.H., a member of the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division. "However, the new finding was that obesity did not increase these risk factors among study participants with high blood levels of omega-3 fats," he said.

"Interestingly, we found that obese persons with high blood levels of omega-3 fats had triglyceride and CRP concentrations that did not differ from those of normal-weight persons," Makhoul said. "It appeared that high intakes of omega-3-rich seafood protected Yup'ik Eskios from some of the harmful effects of obesity."

While Yup'ik Eskimos have overweight/obesity levels similar to those in the U.S. overall, their prevalence of type 2 diabetes is significantly lower -- 3.3 percent versus 7.7 percent. "While genetic, lifestyle and dietary factors may account for this difference," Makhoul said, "it is reasonable to ask, based on our findings, whether the lower prevalence of diabetes in this population might be attributed, at least in part, to their high consumption of omega-3-rich fish."

For the study, the participants provided blood samples and health information via in-person interviews and questionnaires. Diet was assessed by asking participants what they ate in the past 24 hours and asking them to keep a food log for three consecutive days. Height, weight, percent body fat, blood pressure and physical activity were also measured.

The median age of the participants was 45 and slightly more than half were female. The women were more likely than the men to be heavy, and body mass index (height-to-weight ratio) for all increased with age.

"Residents of Yup'ik villages joined this research because they were interested in their communities' health and were particularly concerned about the health effects of moving away from their traditional ways and adopting lifestyle patterns similar to those of residents in the lower 48 states," Makhoul said.

Based on these findings, should overweight and obese people concerned about their chronic disease risk start popping fish oil supplements or eat more fatty fish? "There are good reasons to increase intake of fatty fish, such as the well-established association of fish intake with reduced heart disease risk," Makhoul said. "But we have learned from many other studies that nutritional supplementation at very high doses is more often harmful than helpful."

Before making a public health recommendation, the researchers said that a randomized clinical trial is needed to test whether increasing omega-3 fat intake significantly reduces the effects of obesity on inflammation and blood triglycerides. "If the results of such a trial were positive, it would strongly suggest that omega-3 fats could help prevent obesity-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes," she said.

The National Center for Research Resources, and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health funded the study, which also involved investigators from the University of California-Davis.


KFC's 1939kj Double Down Burger

Sounds good. I think I'll try one

OBESITY crisis? What obesity crisis? KFC will tomorrow unleash on the market its latest fat-and-sodium laden creation that has done away with the most basic of burger ingredients - the bun.

The Double Down instead has bacon, sauce and two slices of melted cheese between two pieces of deep fried chicken, The Daily Telegraph reported. The 212g original recipe version has 1939kj and 22.3g of fat, while the 232g Zinger version packs 35.7g of fat 2515kj, well more than a quarter of the average daily adult intake of 8700kj.

However, the kilojoule punch is much less than a McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder, which hits a mammoth 3560kj, while Macca's Grand Crispy Chicken is 2510kj.

Leading nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton labelled KFC's Double Down burger "horrifying". In the grips of an obesity epidemic, Australians did not need any more fattening burgers, Dr Stanton said. "Two-thirds of men and more than half of women are overweight [Overweight by what standard? A purely arbitrary standard]. We don't need more of these sorts of things. It's horrifying," Dr Stanton said.

Nutritionist Susie Burrell said it would take an hour of intense exercise to burn off the 1939kj. "It's gross over-consumption because it is above and beyond a regular burger," Ms Burrell said.

KFC said the Double Down should be enjoyed as an occasional treat and part of a balanced lifestyle.

A huge hit in the US and Canada with 15 million sold, the Double Down is being squarely marketed at men in the Down Under marketing campaign. Describing it as one of the "manliest" burgers available, KFC is marking the launch with a "Month of ManTime" in which Aussie men are encouraged to enjoy more time with their mates.



Anonymous said...

Wait a minute, if this is a quarter of someone's daily intake then provided they do not eat more than the other "required" three quarters during the same 24 hour period what is the problem?

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful product aimed at low carb dieters. After age 40 I have come to rely on a simplified Atkins diet to easily pull my weight down indefinitely thanks to French, Indian and Chinese home cooking along with homemade beef jerky. I'm still a bachelor so ridding myself of a double chin allows me to date younger women. I call it the "Piss stick diet" since I use Ketosticks to test if my body is in ketosis mode. If the stick doesn't turn purple then carbs are sneaking into my diet and so I root them out.

This meal had a very reasonable 560 kcal but only 3g carbs. KFC had also introduced roasted chicken without all that crispy breading based on flour.

I can lose 0.5 lbs a DAY on The Piss Stick diet. This means I can indulge in beer and pizza during a crazy stressful month and easily slim back down. The feeling of control I now have over my life is now immense. I was 20-30 lbs above where I look like a young and fit boy toy that women light up for.

In NYC fast food joints have a retro hipsterish romantic quality that can be highly seductive since it makes chicks feel like you've been on three dates already when you fit a coffee shop, a wine bar and then fast food into a single afternoon spilling into evening. But it avoids the traditional formal dinner date that makes most women think of traditional dating instead of a fling. Fast food prevents her from sizing you up as a boyfriend and thus a husband.

Many variables are at play here!