Archive for July, 2011

One-third of America’s children are overweight or obese. The beckoning calls of fast-foods, grocery aisles laden with high-calorie temptations, and ubiquitous bloated vending machines with high-salt high-fat offerings often sabotage healthy eating. What can be done to help children choose wisely and lose weight?

Education programs with simple solutions for weight-loss help children and parents. Studies in the 1990s showed that when overweight children attended educational classes on nutrition, one-third decreased their weight by twenty percent. Education of parents without their kids showed equal weight improvement for their off-spring. Parents recognized the damage of excessive weight to their children’s health.

What do parents need to know? They generally control food brought into the home. When buying trends shift toward more healthful eating, it impacts the entire family, especially children. Parents, who more readily understand the seriousness of their children’s weight problems, prepare and present meals lower in calories and higher in nutrient-dense foods. Substituting healthful snacks of fruit, vegetables, nuts, cheese, or other nutritious foods for salty, fatty, and sweet foods offer a great start for controlling children’s weight.

More importantly, parents serve as role-models. Young children mimic what they see at home. Parents who eat healthy foods and exercise provide an invaluable example that will encourage children. What will you do? If you are a parent, check reliable sources for information. Below are resources that can guide you in combating excessive weight gain in your children.




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Losing extra pounds is only half the battle. How do you keep from regaining unwanted weight? People who lose weight often continue to follow the same lifestyle patterns that brought about success or they revert back to old ways. About twenty percent of those who lose weight maintain that loss for one year. Approximately one-third regain weight within one year, and typically the rest regain within three to five years.

A recent study found several differences in successful methods for losing weight and for keeping it off. Researchers identified fourteen practices that helped with either weight loss or weight-loss maintenance, but not both. The following practices were associated more with losing weight than with keeping it off.

  • Participate in weight loss program
  • Look for information about weight loss, nutrition, or exercise
  • Eat healthy snacks
  • Limit intake of sugar
  • Avoid skipping meals
  • Do different kinds of exercise
  • Do enjoyable exercises
  • Think about how much better you will feel when thinner
  • Plan meals ahead

Practices linked to successful weight-loss maintenance included:

  • Follow consistent exercise routine
  • Eat plenty of low-fat protein sources
  • Reward self for following diet or exercise plan
  • Remind self of why you need to control weight

The next time you wonder why you can’t avoid putting on pounds after losing them, see if you follow these four practices that can help you stay at a healthier weight.

 Am J Prev Med 2011;  www.ajpmonline.org


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Just when you thought you were helping the body by substituting artificial sweeteners for sugars, along comes evidence to the contrary.

A 2006 study found that substituting aspartame sweetened products for sugar-based ones resulted in weight loss of nearly a half-pound per week. Food Insight (July/August 2008) reported that “low-calorie sweeteners can be effective for weight management.” But a Purdue University study that same year found that saccharin led to increased appetite and weight gain in rats.

Two recent studies indicate diet colas may increase problems we don’t want. A Texas study of subjects aged 65 to 74 found that over nearly a decade, those who drank diet colas had a seventy percent greater increase in waist size than those who avoided artificially sweetened drinks. When consumption increased to two or more diet colas per day, waist circumference increased 500 percent or five times that of their non-diet drinking friends. Over a span of seven to eight years, diet colas significantly increased the chance of becoming overweight.

How could this be? According to researchers, you can fool the sense of taste, but you can’t fool the brain. Artificial sweeteners confuse the body’s ability to tell when you are full and may trigger appetite. They may also damage brain cells and inhibit feelings of fullness.

A 2004 position paper in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Vol. 104:2), reported “Nonnutritive sweeteners do not affect glycemic response and can be safely used by those with diabetes.”  Now recent studies refute those findings. The sweet taste of artificial sweeteners may cause the body to produce insulin which blocks the body’s ability to burn fat. Mice fed aspartame in their food for three months had higher blood sugar levels than mice that ate regular food. Other studies have linked diet colas to increased incidences of diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.

What should you do? Like all foods, moderation is the key. Beverages such as unsweetened juice, low-fat milk, or plain ol’ water may be wiser choices. Diet colas contain no nutritive value, and now studies find they may cause harm. Limiting the amount you drink can decrease concerns about the impact of diet colas on health and whether they help your figure or make you fat.






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