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Take A Stand Against Sitting January 10, 2013

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Brain Power, Easy As Pie, Human Body, Nutrition and Health, Obesity.
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Exercise is good – you probably already know that, don’t you? So it makes sense that people who have jobs involving lots of sitting might not be getting enough. What’s the solution? According to exercise expert John Buckley from the University of Chester, we should all stand up more. Dr Buckley explains:

It’s little changes in behaviour…that can add up to make quite a big difference to your health.

Dr Buckley likes to practice what he preaches. Check him out standing straight as he works on his laptop!

Jump Up!

A mere three hours a day of standing can burn off 8lbs (3.6kg) of fat each year. Dr Buckley points out that between working at a desk, sitting in a car and perching in front of the television, people are far too sedentary – meaning they’re way too inactive.

Fortunately, there are some neat desks designed to allow you to stand while you’re working. So for adults, there are no more excuses if you’re stuck at a desk all day.

What About Kids In School?

If you’re in school, it’s a bit trickier because of the standard desks. Plus, your teacher will probably think you’re standing to answer questions. Instead, you can fight inactivity by making sure you get plenty of movement during lunch and breaks. Try kicking around a ball on the field. If walking to school is an option, it’s good exercise and also a great way to shake off the sleep cobwebs for the day.

I bet there are many more ways to stay fit if you’re often at a desk. Tell me – how do you stay active?

The Not-So-Sweet Side of Sugar Substitutes February 18, 2008

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Human Body, Nutrition and Health, Think About It.
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For people with a sweet tooth who are concerned about calories, artificial sweeteners have seemed to be the ideal answer. Now, however, it’s not looking all that sweet. A new study suggests that artificial sweeteners may actually cause weight gain. For those who have been chugging back diet drinks on a regular basis, the news could be super surprising and upsetting.

Confusing Information

For a lot of people, the news was perplexing. Why? Because there is the idea that by cutting back calories through artificial sweeteners, a person can more easily lose weight. It’s confusing to hear that the opposite may, in fact, be true. So, how does this work? The researchers who conducted the study think that when you experience a sweet taste in your mouth but don’t consume any calories after, it leaves your body craving more food. Scientists at Purdue University in the United States tested out their theory on rats. Their work was published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience.

Hello Rats!

Rat First, they gave yogurt to different groups of rats. One group got to chow down on yogurt sweetened with sugar while the other group got to slurp up some yogurt sweetened with saccharin – an artificial sweetener. The rats were given an abundant supply of food. This means that they weren’t in starvation mode, which could have swayed the results because it affects the body’s metabolism and how appetite is regulated. Next, the researchers checked out how each rat reacted to the yogurt.

The Results Are In

Saccharin Based Sweetener The rats who ate the saccharin sweetened yogurt not only ate more calories, but they put on more fat and gained more weight than their friends who ate the yogurt sweetened with sugar. But wait, there’s more! Later on, the rats that were fed the saccharin sweetened yogurt didn’t eat less in an attempt to regulate their weight. This means that the effects of consuming sweeteners could be quite long-lasting.

Getting Inside The Body

If you are like me when I first heard about this study, you might be wondering just what is going on in the human body to cause the rats to eat more. Well, the researchers have a theory about it all. They think one possible reason is that normally, a person who experiences a sweet taste from food gets a metabolism that is all primed and revved up for a high-calorie, sweet and heavy meal. Instead, the consumption of an artificial sweetener can leave the body very confused as it asks: Where is my meal? Without the arrival of food, the body then has difficulty regulating appetite later on when other food is around.

Still, there are some studies showing that artificial sweeteners can help people lose weight. We definitely will need to see more research on this one. For now, I still say that a treat here and there with real sugar is delicious and works nicely in a healthy diet that incorporates a lot of different, nutritious and yummy foods. On that note, I think those little rats have had enough yogurt for now. I’m off to have a bowl of yogurt and fruit!

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Size Doesn’t Matter October 2, 2007

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Human Body, Nutrition and Health, Obesity, Psychology and Behavior, Think About It.
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When it comes to teen issues with weight – heavy or thin – size doesn’t matter. At least, it doesn’t matter as much as you might think. Whether teens are overweight or not, they are struggling with unhealthy ideas and behaviors around their size. While it was once thought that skinnier teens were more likely to have these issues, it seems that weight issues are affecting a broader range of teens today.

Worrying Results

An interesting new study was led by Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, who is a professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. The study can be seen in the Journal of Preventative Medicine; it looked at 2500 teens over the course of five years. What did the study show? It found that 44 percent of girls and 29 percent of boys were overweight, regular binge eaters or had utilized unhealthy measures to lose weight. These unhealthy tactics included laxative use, vomiting or taking diet pills.

Making It Worse

One really upsetting result that I read about in the study was that girls who were teased about their weight by a family member were twice as likely to be overweight five years later – toward the end of the study. They were also 41 percent more likely to engage in unhealthy weight loss strategies. Other stuff that put girls at risk for these behaviors around their weight included having a mother who dieted or reading magazine articles that advise on how to lose weight.

The Good Stuff

One study finding that I found really cool was that girls who ate meals with their families and did so regularly, were less likely to have weight issues. They also described the mealtimes as an overall positive and enjoyable experience.

What About The Boys?

Behaviors such as binge eating and dieting were less common among the boys, but there were still as many overweight boys as girls. When weight problems do occur, they tend to result from similar factors that influence the girls. Things like being teased about weight – especially by family members – really affected both boys and girls.

Family Teasing

One area that the study stressed was how family teasing has such a detrimental effect on self image for teens. I guess it’s maybe more hurtful when a family member does the teasing because your family is meant to love and support you as well as unconditionally accept you as a person. It’s not that the teasing itself had malicious intent. Neumark-Sztainer actually addressed this point, saying that family members:

just don’t realize how hurtful it is.

A better alternative is for parents and other family members to set a good example by engaging in healthy eating habits along with positive lifestyle changes such as getting more exercise. You might even have a sibling who looks up to you and can benefit from you showing them how to eat healthy. This means that instead of talking about weight loss, the best example is one that involves action! So get to it!

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