Friday, June 29, 2012

Link between religion and being overweight, Australian  academics find

The way overweight people are stigmatized these days, it's no wonder they turn to the churches,  where they are simply accepted as all part of God's children.

But that didn't occur to the brainiacs below, of course.  It must be wonderful to "just know" by instinct which way the causal arrow points

RELIGION could be fattening, a new Australian study has found.

The study, by two northern NSW academics, has found a link between religion and higher body mass index (BMI) readings.

They say the "sin of gluttony" might not be as frowned upon by religious people as much as other vices such as drinking, smoking and pre-marital sex - and that many religious celebrations might even encourage over-eating.

Southern Cross University business academic Michael Kortt and University of New England colleague Brian Dollery collaborated on the study, which has just been published in the Journal of Religion and Health.

They analysed data from 9408 adults and found religious denomination was "significantly related to higher BMI" - a warning sign of potential health problems heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.  Dr Kortt and Professor Dollery found Baptist and Catholic men had a higher BMI compared with those with no religious affiliations.

They also revealed non-Christian women had lower BMIs.

"There has been a growing body of evidence to suggest that there is a positive relationship between religion and health," the academics said in their paper.  "We have identified a statistically significant association between religion and BMI for Australian men and women."

The study results reflected previous research cited by Dr Kortt and Prof Dollery in their paper, "Religion and BMI in Australia".

"In the first place, religion may both condemn and serve to control certain types of 'aberrant' behaviour such as excessive drinking, smoking and pre-marital sex," the academics said, referring to leading obesity research in the US.

"However, excessive eating, or the sin of gluttony, may not receive the same level of condemnation and could even be viewed as an 'accepted vice' by religious leaders and followers."

Dr Kortt and Prof Dollery also noted research suggesting many religious functions and celebrations revolved around food "which, in turn may (exacerbate) an environment conducive to excessive eating".

The academics noted that people who practised religion at home - for example, by watching TV evangelists - were more likely to consume high-calorie foods and drinks and might prefer a sedentary lifestyle.


The wonders of coffee again

New Yorkers must all be supermen and women at that rate.  They do kinda like their coffee.  What world do the writers of this mush live in?

Drinking coffee could help older people maintain their strength and reduce their chances of falling and injuring themselves, a new study has found.

The decline in muscle strength that occurs as we age can reduce quality of life by making everyday tasks harder.

The process is not well understood, but it is clear that preserving muscle tone is key.

It is known that in adults in their prime caffeine helps the muscles to produce more force. But as we age, our muscles naturally change and become weaker.

So, sports scientists at Coventry University looked for the first time at whether caffeine could also have a strengthening effect on pensioners.

Their study on mice revealed that caffeine boosted power in two different muscles in elderly adults - an effect that was not seen in developing youngsters.

Jason Tallis, the study's primary author, said: 'With the importance of maintaining a physically active lifestyle to preserve health and functional capacity, the performance-enhancing benefit of caffeine could prove beneficial in the aging population.'

The researchers isolated muscles from mice ranging in age from juvenile to elderly, then tested their performance before and after caffeine treatment. The stimulant is found in coffee and a number of soft drinks.

They looked at two different skeletal muscles, which are the muscles we can control voluntarily. The first was the diaphragm, a core muscle used for respiration; the second was a leg muscle called the extensor digitorum longus (EDL), used for locomotion.

Tallis said: 'Despite a reduced effect in the elderly, caffeine may still provide performance-enhancing benefits.'

Consuming caffeine has also been linked to improved thinking processes and improved memory skills in later life.

However, previous research has shown that excessive caffeine intake may cause the body to rid itself of calcium - a nutrient vital in supporting bone strength in later life.  It can also temporarily increase blood pressure, although the long-term effects of this are unclear.

The latest study will be presented at the Society for Experimental Biology this month.


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