Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Research shows trans fats cause brain damage?

Journal abstract follows the popular article below. It is a fairly sophisticated study of a small group of very elderly ladies but to some extent its sophistication is its undoing. It relies on a factor analysis of blood chemicals and finds that a weak third factor correlates with "less favorable cognitive function".

As an old hand at the factor analytic method used (PCA), I had to laugh. Factors are extremely unstable. Do the same study on another group of people and you will get different factors. And his very unrepresentative sample means that the factor structure could be VERY different elsewhere. So the generalizability of the findings is nil.

I note further that only the third factor and not a direct trans fats marker itself is said to show the correlation with "less favorable cognitive function". That suggests that trans fats were in fact found to be totally innocent of the damage alleged.

I won't go on but will note again that correlations are not causation and correlations are all this guy has. The assertions he makes are at best sheer speculation

Not only does it rot your teeth and add inches to your waistline, but now researchers have discovered that junk food actually hurts your brain.

By consuming trans fats, found often in fried or processed food, the chemicals send mixed and damaging signals to the brain and lessens its ability to control appetite.

Essentially, by eating junk food, your brain becomes less and less able to tell what you have eaten and continues to make you feel as if you are hungry so that you proceed to eat more.

'It's clear that trans fats are bad -- both for your heart and now, we see, for your brain,' said Dr Gene Bowman of Oregon Health & Science University.

Given the somewhat complicated nature of trans fats, it is harder for shoppers to spot goods that contain loads of the molecule. Trans fat is the common name for unsaturated fats which are harder for the body to digest given its double carbon-carbon bond.

Brain injury comes as the latest addition to a long list of health problems that stem from the consumption of unsaturated fat. Coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes.

The battle against trans fats is not a new one. While restaurants in New York and Switzerland have been banned from serving dishes that have high levels of trans fats, there are still plenty of everyday foods that are stealthily hiding the destructive ingredients.

Girl Scout cookies, microwavable popcorn, and crackers- like Saltines and Ritz- are some of the worst offenders, and that's ignoring the obvious choices like French fries or fried chicken.

Though Mr Bowman conducted a relatively limited study among elderly white Oregonians, his findings have been backed up by countless earlier studies that highlight the difference between the yummy taste and disgusting after-effects of junk food.

Nutrient biomarker patterns, cognitive function, and MRI measures of brain aging

By G.L. Bowman et al.


Objective: To examine the cross-sectional relationship between nutrient status and psychometric and imaging indices of brain health in dementia-free elders.

Methods: Thirty plasma biomarkers of diet were assayed in the Oregon Brain Aging Study cohort (n = 104). Principal component analysis constructed nutrient biomarker patterns (NBPs) and regression models assessed the relationship of these with cognitive and MRI outcomes.

Results: Mean age was 87 ± 10 years and 62% of subjects were female. Two NBPs associated with more favorable cognitive and MRI measures: one high in plasma vitamins B (B1, B2, B6, folate, and B12), C, D, and E, and another high in plasma marine ω-3 fatty acids. A third pattern characterized by high trans fat was associated with less favorable cognitive function and less total cerebral brain volume. Depression attenuated the relationship between the marine ω-3 pattern and white matter hyperintensity volume.

Conclusion: Distinct nutrient biomarker patterns detected in plasma are interpretable and account for a significant degree of variance in both cognitive function and brain volume. Objective and multivariate approaches to the study of nutrition in brain health warrant further study. These findings should be confirmed in a separate population.


Time for another mince pie! First natural diet pill is available over the counter (and it costs just £2)

This sounds implausible but as the alleged research is not detailed, it is hard to say

A diet pill which claims to help women drop two dress sizes in just weeks is available over the counter - and it has no side effects.

Experts found that the £2 pill can help people lower the calories they consume by as much as 500 per day if they take two tablets three times a day after each meal.

People who took part in clinical trials of the drug lost nearly three pounds for every one pound lost by those not taking the pill.

It comes as new research shows a quarter of the UK population has an obese Body Mass Index (BMI), but a high number 'deny' how severely their weight could be affecting their health, according to new figures.

Only 6 per cent of people believe their weight problem is severe enough to be described as obese, Slimming World's annual survey showed.

Three quarters of people with an obese BMI underestimate their weight category according to the National Slimming Survey, which had 2,065 respondents.

More than one in three who are regarded as overweight said they felt weight 'is the most important issue in life'.

Half of those classified as obese said their weight made them feel embarrassed, while others said they felt awkward, disgusted, ashamed, clumsy or trapped.

Called XLS-Medical Fat Binder the tablet, which is made from a fibre taken from dried leaves of the prickly pear cactus, works by binding dietary fat so it cannot be absorbed by the body. This prevents the build up of fatty deposits and as it is made of fibre it helps dieters feel full up for longer.

Experts who tested the pill - the first naturally occurring product found to work - also found it cut food cravings and desire to eat.

Singer Mica Paris is a fan, according to the Daily Express, and claims she has dropped from a size 16 to a size 12 in three months. She said: 'I can’t believe how well it’s worked. Like most women my age, I often found it difficult to lose that last bit of weight but XLS-Medical gives me a helping hand.'

Experts hope it could help tackle Britain's obesity crisis. The pills are available for anyone over 18 to buy over the counter without a prescription and cost £24.99 for a 10-day supply.

Spokesman for the product Juliet Oosthuysen told the newspaper: 'XLS-Medical Fat Binder is not another fad diet or a miracle pill. When used in conjunction with sensible eating and keeping active as part of the ‘123 hello me’ weight loss programme, it has been clinically proven to help overweight individuals lose three times more weight than dieting alone. 'We genuinely believe it is a realistic programme and will help many people reach their 2012 weight loss goals.'

Dietician Helen Bond, who is backing the use of the diet pill in conjunction with a balanced diet, added: 'Crash or fad diets do not work in the long-term.

'The only way to lose weight healthily is to eat a nutritionally balanced diet, with adequate portion control and being physically active.'


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