Two options: honey lemon chicken or marinated tofu. I know, I know that’s not a tough choice and face it, even vegans would choose the chicken if they could. But for the 150 million+ diabetics worldwide, tofu and cooked millet may become your new favorite meal. OK, so the favorite part may be an exaggeration, but hey, if a vegetarian diet can increase weight loss and improve your metabolism then it’s worth a shot, or a taste. Yep, according a new study this veggie diet beat out the conventional diabetic diet on both counts, just not the taste category. Of course with diabetes prevalence expected to double by 2025 and with one-third of the world now considered overweight, we may want to consider rewiring our taste buds.
When dietary guidelines were issued by the US and UK governments in 1977 and 1983, they were badly supported by evidence, so says a recent publication in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Guidelines called for total fat and saturated fat to contribute no more than 30% and 10%, respectively, to a person’s total energy intake. According to study authors, while authorities acknowledged at the time that the link between fat consumption and heart problems was unsupported, guidelines were released on the grounds that “it couldn’t hurt.” Study authors draw parallels between the introduction of the fat guidelines and the beginning of the rise in rates of obesity and diabetes. They posit that lowering fat consumption may have been instrumental in the skyrocketing incidence and prevalence rates for diabesity.
Is it possible to be simultaneously hefty and healthy? In a study presented at the European Congress of Obesity, researchers who scrutinized 20 years of electronic health records for 3.5 million people discovered that people who were overweight, but did not have any of the metabolic problems usually linked to excess weight, were more prone to develop metabolic problems. Compared to non-overweight individuals, “healthy obese people had a 50% higher risk of heart disease, a 7% higher risk of stroke, twice the risk of heart failure and a greater risk for peripheral artery disease.” The takeaway: physicians should encourage weight loss among obese patients irrespective of metabolic abnormalities.
There is new research on a method to combat diabetes and obesity, and you won’t need a pharmacy card or a gym membership to give it a try—just permission to mess with the bottom line of the utility bill. A new study, “Healthy Excursions Outside the Thermal Comfort Zone,” shows that dropping your building’s temperature below the comfort zone (21-22 °C; 69.8-71.6 °F for you Americans) can increase metabolism and energy expenditure. Mild cold, specifically, can increase glucose metabolism and was shown to increase insulin sensitivity by 40% in patients with Type 2 diabetes over a 10-day period. “This is comparable with the best available pharmaceutical or physical activity therapies,” according to the study. So…go adjust your coworker’s thermostat. They can thank you later.
In the past several decades, Americans have made great strides towards social acceptance of differences in lifestyle, whether it’s including women in the workforce, minorities in politics or welcoming LGBTQ members in our communities. Many consider these good things. But, too much of a good thing can be harmful. And, our increased social acceptance of excessive body weight is an example of how a good thing may have a downside. A recent study shows American waistlines have continued to expand, but attempts at weight loss have shrunk. The hypothesis: overweight people who are OK with their shape are less motivated to lose unhealthy weight. Not good, considering obesity has a greater negative impact on one’s health than smoking, drinking alcohol and poverty.
The well-intentioned “Time to lose weight” recommendation from doctors to their overweight patients may actually end up doing more harm than good. Of the 30% of Americans that are now considered clinically obese, physicians are facing a growing dilemma of how to treat medical problems without using their weight as a blanket explanation. Pain in your chest? Get to the gym. Agonizing back pain? Cut the calories. Research shows that this type of thinking results in physicians spending less time with overweight patients, and even forgoing recommendations for potentially life-saving diagnostics tests. It’s no surprise that this can lead to pretty awful health outcomes that could be preventable at any size. So in the words of a nondescript wise man, “Assumptions. Can we like, not?”