Health and Fitness

Target Identified That May Reduce Complications Of Obesity

Although obesity is a risk factor for diabetes and coronary heart disease worldwide, only some obese individuals go on to develop these metabolic complications, while others are relatively protected. Defining these protective factors could help scientists prevent disease in the wider population. To this end, a research team at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, led by Suneil Koliwad, MD, PhD, recently added new details that link obesity to diabetes and heart disease. When individuals become obese from overeating, cells called adipocytes located in the fat tissue fill up with dietary fats and begin to die. Immune cells called macrophages move out of the blood stream and into this tissue, where they accumulate around dying adipocytes. As the macrophages work to clear away the dead cells, they are exposed to large amounts of dietary fat that can result in unwanted consequences. Exposure to saturated fats, in particular, causes the macrophages to enter an inflammatory state.

NIH Grant Will Examine Preeclampsia, Gestational Diabetes In Pregnant Women With Hypertension Or Obesity

The link between obesity and high-risk pregnancies caused by preeclampsia and diabetes will be the focus of a $2.4 million National Institutes of Health research grant received by Sean Blackwell, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Sean Blackwell, M.D. Researchers hope the observational study will provide them with a better understanding of the cause, diagnosis and history of preeclampsia and diabetes in pregnant women and whether or not obese pregnant women and non-obese pregnant women are at the same risk of having complications during their pregnancy. "We hope our findings from this study will be used to develop effective treatments and therapies and have the potential to save lives, " said Blackwell, lead investigator of the grant and director of the Larry C. Gilstrap Center for Perinatal and Women's Health Research at the UT Medical School at Houston. Preeclampsia is a leading cause of fetal complications including low birth weight, premature birth and stillbirth and is the second leading cause of maternal death in the United States.

Low-Carb Diet May Lead To Similar Benefits As Weight Loss Medication Combined With A Low-Fat Diet

A low-carbohydrate diet appears to be associated with substantial weight loss similar to that produced by a combination of the weight-loss drug orlistat and a low-fat diet, but may be more effective in reducing blood pressure. William S. Yancy Jr., M.D., M.H.S., and colleagues at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C., examined body weight, metabolic and adverse effects in obese or overweight outpatients ages 18 to 70 who were randomly assigned to one therapy or the other for 48 weeks. Of the participants, 57 in the low-carb diet group and 65 in the orlistat and low-fat diet group completed the study. Weight loss was similar for both groups (an average of 8.5 percent to 9.5 percent of body weight), but the low-carb diet resulted in greater reductions to systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressures. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels improved similarly in both groups. "In conclusion, the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and the orlistat plus low-fat diet were equally effective for weight loss and several cardiovascular disease risk factors, although the low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for lowering blood pressure, " the authors conclude.

Research Finds That Fat Behaves Differently In Patients With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Fat tissue in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome produces an inadequate amount of the hormone that regulates how fats and glucose are processed, promoting increased insulin resistance and inflammation, glucose intolerance, and greater risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to a study conducted at the Center for Androgen-Related Research and Discovery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is the most common hormonal disorder of women of childbearing age, affecting approximately 10 percent of women. It is the most common cause of infertility, and an important risk factor for early diabetes in women. "We're beginning to find that fat tissue behaves very differently in patients with PCOS than in other women, " said Ricardo Azziz, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Center for Androgen-Related Research and Discovery, and principal investigator on the study. "Identifying the unusual behavior of this fat-produced hormone is an important step to better understanding the causes underlying the disorder, and may be helpful in developing treatments that will protect patients against developing heart disease and insulin resistance.

TGen And Geisinger Health System Announce Strategic Partnership

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Geisinger Health System have announced the signing of a strategic research agreement that provides for a focused look at the gaps in clinical medicine where biomedical research can make a difference. One of the first projects will focus on the causes of obesity, diabetes and other metabolic conditions. Researchers plan to look at the possible genetic reasons why so many Americans are overweight, and why diet, exercise and, specifically, bariatric surgery may fail to significantly reduce excess weight in some patients. TGen, a non-profit biomedical research institute based in Phoenix, will pair its genomic and proteomic research expertise with the clinical excellence and research expertise of Geisinger, a non-profit medical and insurance provider based in Danville, Pa. Geisinger's strength is its integrated healthcare delivery model, nontransitory population and advanced electronic health record (EHR) with nearly two decades of data.

In Fight Against Obesity, Tiny Fruit Fly Could Offer Big Clues

The tiny tongue of a fruit fly could provide big answers to questions about human eating habits, possibly even leading to new ways to treat obesity, according to a study from a team of Texas A&M University researchers. Paul Hardin, who holds the rank of Distinguished Professor of Biology, along with colleagues Abhishek Chatterjee, Shintaro Tanoue and Jerry Houl, examined the taste organs on Drosophila's proboscis (tongue), which triggers the minute fruit fly's desire to eat or not to eat. They found that several factors, especially the creature's internal daily clock, determine feeding behaviors - and these same taste sensitivities very likely apply to humans. Their work is published in the new issue of the journal Current Biology. "The 'clock' that influences this decision to eat or not to eat is found inside the taste sensing cells, which send a signal to eat, " Hardin explains. "Once this signal is sent, the brain then tells the fly to eat or not, but all of this seems to depend on the time of day.

Obesity And Diabetes Study Weighs Influence Of Genetics, Lifestyle

A team of Northern Arizona University-led researchers is using nearly $1.3 million in new funding from the National Institutes of Health to continue with the world's longest-running study on obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Obesity and diabetes have been described as the major public health concerns of the 21st century, explains Leslie Schulz, executive dean of NAU's College of Health and Human Services and the study's principal investigator. "This study is taking those necessary steps toward finding a way to protect people against the development of these pervasive diseases, " she says. Schulz is being joined by researchers from the National Institutes of Health, the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Mexico's Center for the Investigation of Nutrition and Development. A related study already has shown that Pima Indians in Arizona who have a diet and lifestyle similar to most Americans have a much higher rate of diabetes than the national average: 38 percent versus 8 percent nationally, giving them the distinction of being the most diabetes-prone group in the world.

News From The Journal Of Clinical Investigation: Feb. 1, 2010

METABOLIC DISEASE: Making macrophages protect against effects of obesity It is well known that diet-induced obesity increases dramatically a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One reason underlying this susceptibility is that diet-induced obesity triggers the accumulation of inflammatory immune cells known as macrophages in fat tissue known as white adipose tissue (WAT). A team of researchers, led by Robert Farese Jr. and Suneil Koliwad, at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, San Francisco, has now determined that engineering macrophages to store increased amounts of triacylglycerol (the main constituent of vegetable oil and animal fats) is sufficient to protect mice from diet-induced inflammatory macrophage activation, macrophage accumulation in WAT, and insulin resistance, a condition that preempts the onset of type 2 diabetes. The team made macrophages store increased amounts of triacylglycerol by using mice overexpressing the protein DGAT1, which is crucial for triaclyglycerol synthesis, in macrophages and fat cells.

Consumption Of Whole Grain Falls Short Of Guidelines

Three daily servings of whole grains are recommended for prevention of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and excess weight gain. Yet few adolescents or young adults follow these guidelines, according to national survey data. In a study published in the February 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers from the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota report that young people are consuming less than 1 serving of whole grains per day. The study took an in-depth look at influencers, modifiable factors, and interventions that are critical for successfully addressing this gap. Using the results of Project EAT (Eating Among Teens)-II, researchers analyzed the consumption of whole grains by 792 adolescents and 1, 686 young adults between the ages of 15 and 23. There were 1, 110 males (44.8%) and 1, 368 females (55.2%) in the sample. Demographic characteristics were also collected to identify factors associated with daily intake of whole grains.

American Nurses Association Supports Nation's First Lady In Combating Childhood Obesity

The American Nurses Association (ANA) is eager to support the First Lady Michelle Obama in her critical efforts to combat childhood obesity. As the largest nursing organization in the U.S., ANA stands ready to assist the First Lady to address this significant health problem through her program, "Let's Move" America's Move for a Healthier Generation. "Nurses see first hand the devastating effects of obesity, " said ANA President Rebecca M. Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR. "We recognize the impact it has on our society and our health system. Obesity can increase the risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension as well as many other illnesses. In addition to the impact on the health of our population, it also threatens the health and safety of nurses and other health care providers who may injure themselves while assisting obese patients. ANA recognizes the effects of obesity and pledges its ongoing support of programs that serve to address the issue." Registered nurses, as the largest group of health care providers, are involved in every aspect of the health care system.

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