Saturday, August 30, 2008
People want to believe that there is a magic bullet that will help them lose weight with little or no effort. Products like "Skinny Water," a new drink that purports to be a natural appetite suppressant, take advantage of this desire. Products like Skinny Water are rushed to market with little or no evidence that any of the benefits claimed are real. If you haven't heard of Skinny Water yet, you will. The company is signing on new distributors across the country. Skinny water may soon be finding its way to your supermarket shelves.
Skinny Water's Marketing Claims
Skinny Water, like many of these products, would like you to believe that there is strong scientific evidence behind their claims. From a press release found on their website, skinnywater.com, the company says "Super CitriMax is clinically proven to suppress appetite and improve weight loss by 350 percent. Super CitriMax includes Calcium that promotes fat burning and bone density." This is the statement that supposedly backs up the name Skinny Water. It is also the statement that they seem to be building the product marketing (and certainly the name, Skinny Water) around. No specific studies that could be reviewed were found on the company's web site. If the data is solid, present it.
Vitamin-Fortified Skinny Water
First, I want to say a couple things about other ingredients in Skinny Water. Skinny Water comes in several different varieties, I hesitate to say flavors since each variety claims different health benefits. I suppose a consumer would choose the one that provides the specific health benefit they need rather than the one whose taste they like better. At any rate, they offer one variety which is vitamin fortified and which provides 100% of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin B6, B12, C, E, and A. Assuming their measurements are correct and the nutrients are provided in a bio-available form, this is a good thing. Vitamin enriched foods are much better than the nutritionally void products put out by many companies. If they were marketing their products as a healthy and easier way to get your daily vitamins, I'd support the products wholeheartedly. We've been adding vitamin D to milk for years, after all. Instead, the folks behind Skinny Water seem to be taking the gimmicky approach, relying on the name Skinny Water and dubious weight loss claims to gain customers.
Study on Skinny Water's Active Ingredient
Skinny Water claims to aid weight loss through appetite suppression and by boosting the metabolism. They also claim that this ingredient is clinically proven to be effective. I looked through the available research and found a study (Heymsfeld, S.B., et al, 1998) published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The six doctors who co-authored the study stated that Hydroxycitric Acid (the "active" ingredient in CitriMax) "failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo." That's a pretty clear statement about the effectiveness of the ingredients in Skinny Water. This information existed ten years ago, long before Skinny Water began hyping itself as a weight loss aid. I have to wonder whether they looked at existing research before making their claims.
Don't rely on gimmicky advertising claims if you need to lose weight. Reducing calories and undertaking a sensible exercise program works. It will also provide many other scientifically proven health benefits.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Data from Medco Health Solutions, Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) and the marketing data collection company Verispan show an increasing number of youths are on drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and acid reflux, The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) reported.
The newspaper said many medications children are taking typically treat health conditions that were significantly less common among youths in the 1980s.
Experts have said they fear too many children are being prescribed adult medications.
"I worry that some providers and some families are looking for the quick fix, and are going to want to start medication immediately," said Dr. Russell L. Rothman, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Childhood obesity rates in the United States have leveled off after decades of increases, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Analysts say the study, which found no significant increases in the prevalence of high body mass index (BMI) in U.S. children and adolescents between 1999 and 2006, shows individuals' personal decisions are more effective than government regulation at solving such problems.
The study examined a sample of 8,165 children and adolescents from the 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and found no significant increases in high BMI among U.S. children, and no significant changes between 1999 and 2006.
BMI is the measure of an individual's body/mass ratio, determined in this study by comparing the height and weight statistics of various representative populations.
Prosperity Increases Obesity Rates
Analysts caution against panicking over obesity rates or using them as a proxy for overall health.
"Despite obesity, our life expectancy has increased dramatically in the last century. Given our current lifestyles, a higher level of obesity than existed in the good old days may be unavoidable for most Americans," said John R. Graham, director of health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute.
"Obesity rates typically rise as a nation's standard of living increases, and our society is becoming more aware of problems associated with rising obesity," noted Devon Herrick, Ph.D., a senior fellow for the National Center for Policy Analysis.
Increases Have Stopped
The JAMA study suggests the United States may have reached the end of a decades-long increase in obesity rates in children, often attributed to increases in standards of living and the prevalence of less-healthy foods and less-active lifestyles.
"Although I do not see U.S. schoolchildren returning to the weights typically seen a generation ago, hopefully we have slowed the rate of growth," said Herrick.
Graham urged caution in considering the results of the study, recommending people take with a grain of salt any conclusions drawn from it. He argues the results of the study should be considered neither a fully accurate picture of the obesity problem, nor a prescription for how the issue should be dealt with politically.
Rates Still Relatively High
While the study shows a leveling off of obesity rates, the percentage of children sampled who were found to have a BMI that would classify them as "overweight," "obese," or "morbidly obese" was still 30 percent. Graham and other experts caution that the numbers from this or any other study on obesity should not be used as an excuse for government intervention.
"I would never recommend using only one study to conclude that the trend in obesity is changing," said Graham. "On the other hand, I also do not think we should allow governments to use these statistics to further interfere in our lives."
Government Intervention Unnecessary
The federal government often has considered legislation aimed at combating what was perceived as an ongoing obesity epidemic.
This year Congress will consider the Strengthening Physical Education Act (HR 1224) and the Eat Healthy America Act (HR 1600), as well as several other bills aimed at legislating healthy behavior and reducing the percentage of Americans classified as obese.
Graham warns these policies are unnecessary and could even be harmful if people fail to take personal accountability when dealing with childhood obesity.
"Constant drumbeats of information about how many pounds we're gaining or losing simply encourage governments to 'do something about it' with little hope of success and many unintended consequences," Graham said.
Aleks Karnick (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Indiana.
For more information ...
"High Body Mass Index for Age Among US Children and Adolescents, 2003-2006," Journal of the American Medical Association, May 28, 2008: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/299/20/2401
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The long reign of trans fats as worst dietary substance may be nearing an end. Trans fats are still very, very bad, mind you. But lately, researchers have pointed to a new culprit in the country's battle with obesity: fructose. A study published in the new issue of the Journal of Nutrition suggests that one of the reasons people on low-carbohydrate diets lose weight is that they reduce their intake of fructose. Fructose, a type of sugar found in fruit, can be made into body fat with stunning speed.
The researchers, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, asked healthy, normal-weight volunteers to consume three different drinks in three separate tests. The drinks varied in their composition of fructose and glucose. After a drink, the subjects ate a regular lunch an hour later. The study found that the process by which sugars are turned into body fat increased when as little as half of the glucose was replaced with fructose. While glucose passes through the liver, which decides whether to burn it for energy or turn it into fat, fructose hits the ground running.
"It's basically sneaking into the rock concert through the fence," says Dr. Elizabeth Parks, the lead investigator. "It's a less-controlled movement of fructose through these pathways that causes it to contribute to greater triglyceride synthesis. The bottom line of this study is that fructose very quickly gets made into fat in the body."
Fructose consumed in the morning changed the way the body handled food eaten at lunch. Primed by the earlier fructose, the lunch fat was more likely to be stored than burned, the study showed.
This doesn't mean fruit is bad for you. Fruit has some redeeming values. But beware of the high-fructose corn syrup added to many processed foods, Parks says.
A study released last month also fingered fructose. A paper presented at the Endocrine Society meeting by a UC Davis scientist showed that people who ate a diet in which 25% of their energy came from fructose gained more intra-abdominal fat (the pot-belly effect) and had higher triglycerides than people who ate a similar diet in which 25% of their energy came from glucose. The author of that study, So Peter Havel, concluded that people with metabolic syndrome should avoid drinking too many fructose-containing beverages.
-- Shari Roan
High-fructose corn syrup is found in many sodas, snacks and processed foods.
Photo: Hal Wells/Los Angeles Times
Monday, August 25, 2008
Several of Britain's food and beverage, retail, media, advertising, fitness and healthcare companies have joined forces with the government to form a partnership to fight obesity.
With support from the Advertising Association, these firms and the government will encourage people to follow a healthy diet coupled with an exercise routine in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics.
According to Australian Food News, the government will contribute GBP75 million for this three-year advertising and marketing campaign. The consortium of companies will contribute in excess of GBP200 million.
Just Food quoted Alan Johnson, health secretary, as saying: "Tackling obesity requires a much broader partnership, not only with families, but with employers, retailers, the leisure industry, the media, local government and the voluntary sector. We need a national movement that will bring about a fundamental change in the way we live our lives."
This initiative of the government, termed as Change4Life, will be launched in the autumn, according to Just Food.
Some of the firms who have joined this initiative of the government include Cadbury, Kellogg, Nestle, Mars, Kraft Foods and PepsiCo.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Is it really necessary to be careful when you're dining out? Can't you just splurge when you eat out and watch your intake when you're at home? Not if you want to lose weight! According to the National Restaurant Association, American restaurants bring in over 500 billion dollars in sales annually! Imagine what that figure must be worldwide! With grocery prices soaring, the majority of mothers working outside of the home, and so many people working long hours and living hectic lives, is it any wonder that we don't cook anymore?
The problem, of course, is that with the growing obesity problem, and all the health-related issues that come with it, people are going to have to learn how to make wise choices when eating out in restaurants.
There's absolutely no reason to give up restaurants! Let's face it; their sales will probably continue to soar! Just follow these quick and easy dining out tips to help you make wise choices and you will be successful on your weight loss journey.
Follow the new 5-4-3-2-1 Diet when dining out. No foods are off-limits! This new diet will help you learn how to be satisfied with smaller portions while feeling satisfied.
Plan your meal out in your mind before going to the restaurant. You might not be familiar with their menu, but you'll be able to guess the basic choices. Go through step by step, from wine and appetizer to dessert, visualizing how you want the evening to unfold. When you sit down and look at the menu, remember your plan.
Split a meal with your dining companion. Save money and have room for dessert! If no one wants to share a meal with you, put half to two-thirds in a "to-go" box for the next day.
Order an appetizer as your meal. Add a small salad with the dressing on the side. Be specific when ordering. Ask questions and make requests. The restaurant is there to serve you and most are happy to do so. They want repeat customers!
Order all dressings and sauces on the side so that you can dip your fork and control your portion. Order your food grilled, broiled, or roasted--never fried!
Limit yourself to one glass of wine. When you overindulge, your defenses are compromised. Share one dessert with the whole table, or skip dessert entirely!
A good dining out tip is to ask the waiter to keep the breadbasket or chip basket. If your dining companions want these things, then decide ahead of time exactly how much you will have and stick to the plan!
Eat SLOWLY and savor your food. Put down your fork between bites. Chew well. Remember that it takes approximately 20 minutes for you stomach to register that you've eaten enough. Assess how you feel and stop eating when you're no longer hungry. Don´t wait to be full!
Eat with intention! Be a good listener and focus on your companions instead of your food. Try to wait at least a minute between bites. This will purposely slow you down and allow your stomach to register the fact that you´ve had enough.
If eating in a fast food restaurant, never super-size. Ask the people at the counter what the healthiest choices are. Most have been trained to provide this information.
At a buffet, use the salad-sized plates for your meal. Stay away from the salad bar with the exception of the fresh lettuce that you fix yourself. No creamy dressings! Don't load your salad up with croûtons, sunflower seeds, and cheese. Add only vegetables or beans. The other "salads" are loaded with fat and calories. Stay away from them. Choose meat from the carving station and add some vegetables. Allow yourself one small dessert.
Never show up at a restaurant starving. If your hunger is over the top, eat a small salad before leaving home or order a cup of soup to eat before you place an additional order.
Know that foods described as "smoked", "barbecued", or "teriyaki" are going to have high sodium and anything "breaded", "sautéed", "au gratin", "scalloped", or "creamed" is going to be high in fat.
Use these simple dining out tips to help you enjoy your restaurant experience. There's no reason why you can't enjoy a guilt-free meal and continue to lose weight!