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Colored Potato Chips Curb Snacking

>> Saturday, May 26, 2012

I'm pretty sure that most of us have had that experience where we open a package of our favorite (insert: candy, chips, chocolate) for a little taste... and the next thing you know, it's gone!  In an effort to discover ways to help us curb our snacking habits, researchers have discovered that inserting the occasional red potato chip into a stack of regular chips helped to curb snack size by over 50%!

The study, just published in the journal Health Psychology, asked a group of American undergraduate students to eat chips from a tube while watching a movie.  Red chips were inserted at regular intervals (eg every 5th chip) in one group, with no red chips in the tubes of the other group.

They found that when red chips were inserted, the number of chips consumed was reduced by more than 50%.  Further, when participants were asked how much they ate, they were more accurate in their estimates when the red chips were inserted, compared to when there were no red chips inserted.

So what does this teach us?  It seems that having a natural 'break' in a snack, in this case created by a different color, helps us to curb our portions.  This may be because the alternate color gives us pause to actually think about the fact that we are eating (ie avoiding Mindless Eating), or to think about how much we have eaten, or how much we should be eating.  It is also possible that the color gives us a subconscious cue to portion control.

Perhaps in the future, we will see a new wave of colored snack products on the shelves in response to this study.   In the meantime, think about what your favorite snacks are, and how you could adapt them to take advantage of these findings.  I'd be thrilled to hear your ideas!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2012 

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen


Liposuction Increases Bad Fat

>> Saturday, May 19, 2012

While liposuction is a commonly performed cosmetic procedure, the long term health effects are not well understood. A recent study reveals that not only is there regain of fat after liposuction, but that fat regain is in the form of ‘bad fat’ – the fat that increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The study evaluated 36 healthy, normal weight women, who underwent abdominal (tummy) liposuction at the University of Sao Paolo, Brazil.  Two months after surgery, participants were randomly allocated to two groups: one group was put into a 4 month exercise program, and the other group was not put onto an exercise program.

At 6 months after liposuction, while fat did not reaccumulate in the area of liposuction, the group that was not in the exercise program had a 10% increase in visceral fat – this is the fat that surrounds our organs, which, in excess, is the ‘bad fat’ that secretes hormones and inflammatory chemicals that increase our risk of getting diabetes and heart disease.  The ‘bad fat’ did not increase in the exercise group, suggesting that the physical activity was sufficient to keep the bad fat at bay.

So, what this study teaches us is that although the lipo-sucked areas do not reaccumulate fat, the body’s compensation mechanisms do kick in to reaccumulate fat in more dangerous places around the organs, thereby increasing the risk of health complications of excess fat.  While exercise kept the bad fat away in this study, it would be very interesting to see what happened to these women six months or a year after the study was complete – if they stopped exercising, did they regain bad fat too?  Yet another research study that needs to be done.  

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2012 

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen


Breast Feeding and Obesity Risk Later in Childhood

>> Saturday, May 12, 2012

There is a long list of established benefits of breast feeding, including benefits to baby's immune defenses, gastrointestinal function, nutrition, and psychological well being.  It is controversial as to whether breast feeding decreases the risk of obesity later in life, but the evidence is mounting, with another new study lending support to this claim.

The study by Cathal McCrory and colleagues examined data from nearly 8,000 Irish children and their families, to see if breast feeding vs formula feeding had an impact on the risk of obesity later in childhood.  They found that kids who had been breast feed for 3 to 6 months were 38% less likely to be obese at 9 years of age, compared with kids who were exclusively formula fed.  Those who were breast fed for 6 months or more had half the risk of obesity at age 9, compared with formula fed kids.

While the mechanism responsible for these findings is still up for debate, the study lends further credence to the mantra we already know: Breast is Best!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2012 

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen 


Healthy Obesity - Is There Such A Thing?

>> Saturday, May 5, 2012

In this era where obesity is so prevalent, the question has arisen as to whether everyone with obesity is at risk of developing complications of their excess weight, such as heart disease.  It turns out that all obesity is not equal, and that Healthy Obesity is a very real phenomenon.

A recent study that adds to our growing knowledge on this topic examined data from over 22,000 people in the United Kingdom, and compared the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, or death, in people who were obese vs not obese, according to whether they had other metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular disease or not (including high blood pressure, low levels of good cholesterol, diabetes, waist circumference, and a blood marker of inflammation called CRP).

Over an average of 7 years, the obese people who were metabolically healthy (with 0 or 1 of the above risk factors) were not at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with metabolically healthy people who were not obese.  Amongst people who were metabolically unhealthy (with 2 or more of the above risk factors), body weight didn't make a difference in risk - it was the metabolic factors that mattered, not the body weight.   Amongst people with obesity, those who were metabolically unhealthy were at 72% increased risk of death compared to those who were metabolically healthy.

The bottom line here is that it is not body weight that is the primary determinant of health, but rather, it is the risk factors for disease that may or may not be present (or develop) in the person who carries excess body weight that are the key.  In this study, one quarter of the people who were obese were metabolically healthy, and were therefore not at increased risk.

Once again, we learn that it is not about 'curing' obesity.  Rather, it is about each individual achieving their Best Weight - a realistic weight goal (which is different for everyone) that optimizes metabolic health and overall wellbeing.

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2012 

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen 



I am excited that you have arrived at my site, and I hope you are too - consider this the first step towards a Healthier New You!! As a medical doctor, Endocrinologist, and obesity specialist, I am absolutely passionate about helping people with weight management. Though there is certainly no magic cure for obesity, there IS a successful treatment plan out there for you - it is all about understanding the elements that contribute to your personal weight struggle, and then finding the treatment plan that suits your needs and your lifestyle. The way to finding your personal solution is to learn as much as you can about obesity: how our toxic environment has shaped us into an overweight society; the diversity of contributors to obesity; and what the treatment options out there are really all about. Knowledge Is Power!!

Are you ready to change your life? Let's begin our journey together, towards a healthier, happier you!!

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