Monday, 31 August 2009

Expanding waistlines may cause shrinking brains

Expanding waistlines may cause shrinking brains

BRAIN regions key to cognition are smaller in older people who are obese compared with their leaner peers, making their brains look up to 16 years older than their true age. As brain shrinkage is linked to dementia, this adds weight to the suspicion that piling on the pounds may up a person's risk of the brain condition.
The brains of elderly obese people looked 16 years older than the brains of those who were lean
Previous studies suggested that obesity in middle age increases the risk of dementia decades later, which is accompanied by increased brain shrinkage compared with leaner people. Now brain scans of older people have revealed the areas that are hardest hit, as well as the full extent of brain size differences between obese people and those of average weight.
From brain scans initially carried out for a different study, Paul Thompson from the University of California in Los Angeles and colleagues selected 94 from people in their 70s who were still "cognitively normal" five years after the scan. This was to exclude people with disorders that might have confused the results. The researchers then transformed these scans into detailed three-dimensional maps.
People with higher body mass indexes had smaller brains on average, with the frontal and temporal lobes - important for planning and memory, respectively - particularly affected (Human Brain Mapping, DOI: 10.1002/hbm.20870). While no one knows whether these people are more likely to develop dementia, a smaller brain is indicative of destructive processes that can develop into dementia.
The team also found that the brains of the 51 overweight people were 6 per cent smaller than those of their normal-weight counterparts, on average, and those of the 14 obese people were 8 per cent smaller. "The brains of overweight people looked eight years older than the brains of those who were lean, and 16 years older in obese people," says Thompson.
High insulin levels and type 2 diabetes tend to accompany being overweight and are risk factors for brain tissue loss and dementia. However, the relationship between brain size and body mass index still stood when the researchers accounted for these conditions, indicating that body fat levels may be linked directly to brain shrinkage. Thompson suggests that as increased body fat ups the chances of having clogged arteries, which can reduce blood and oxygen flow to brain cells, the resulting reduction in metabolism could cause brain celldeath and the shrinking seen.
In an as yet unpublished study, Thompson's team has shown that exercise, which improves cardiovascular health and blood flow, protects the very brain regions that had shrunk in the current study. "The most strenuous kind of exercise can save about the same amount of brain tissue that is lost in the obese," he says. This indicates that it is blood flow that drives brain health, not the other way round. As these areas undergo the most remodelling throughout adult life, they may be more sensitive to any changes in oxygen supply and nutrients, Thompson suggests.
But Deborah Gustafson at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, who previously found that overweight women had less brain tissue than their leaner counterparts, questions whether obesity is driving brain atrophy or vice versa. She points out that brain atrophy in the frontal and temporal lobes, which also control eating behaviour and metabolism, could cause weight gain. "There are not enough longitudinal data available for us to know which is the chicken and which is the egg."

Raise a glass and cut dementia risk

Daily Express
By: Presswatch
Raise a glass and cut dementia risk
A drink or two a day could help ward off dementia, according to new research. Light to moderate alcohol consumption has been found to cut the chances of older people developing the condition by more than a quarter. Research team leader Dr Kaarin Anstey said: "we found that light to moderate drinkers were 28 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer's than non-drinkers, 25 per cent less likely to develop vascular dementia and 26 per cent less likely to develop any dementia." The Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University analysed the results of several research projects involving some 10,000 people globally. The centre's report, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, found that the benefits of modest drinking in reducing dementia risk were the same for men and women.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Stomach stapling cuts diabetes symptoms

The Times
By: Presswatch
Weight-loss surgery can eliminate the symptoms of type 2 diabetes in nearly eight out of ten patients who have the drastic procedure, a large international study has found. A review of medical research involving 135,000 patients found the symptoms of diabetes were resolved or improved in a majority of those who had bariatric surgery to help to lose weight. Overall, 78 per cent of patients had a "complete resolution" of their diabetes for up to two years after surgery, while 87 per cent experienced either resolution or an improvement in their condition. The new study was presented yesterday at a conference of the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders in Paris. The study was led by Professor Henry Buchwald, of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. It found patients lost an average of 38.5kg after the procedure, representing 55.9 per cent of their excess weight. The benefits of the operation for diabetes are not fully understood, but are thought to be related to weight loss.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

LloydsPharmacy Body Composition Monitor

An amazing £5 from LloydsPharmacy. I spotted the same machine in a shop for Euro70 in Finland!

It works by bio-electrical impedance by passing an electric signal through the body when holding the unit in both hands. Fat is more resistant than muscle and other tissues in the body, thereby allowing the Hand Held Body Composition Monitor to calculate the Body Fat %.

For my age range, at 28.1% I'm in the Body Fat High category (22-28%) borderline to Very high Body Fat associated with obesity 28%+. The healthy range is 11-22% body Fat. (BMI 25.7, 11st 10lbs)

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Four golden rules for a long life

reposted from:

Daily Telegraph
By: Presswatch
People who take regular exercise, stay slim, eat a healthy diet and never smoke reduce their chances of developing chronic diseases by almost 80 per cent. Those who followed the four golden rules, the key to a long life, were also 93 per cent less likely to develop diabetes than those who adhered to none of the four factors, according to researchers in the US. 

"Our results reinforce current public health recommendations to avoid smoking, to maintain a healthy weight, to engage in physical activity appropriately and to eat adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables and foods containing whole grains and to partake of red meat prudently," said Dr Earl S Ford, of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, who led the study. June Davison, senior cardiac nurse with the British Heart Foundation, said: "These results should highlight the importance of not smoking, doing regular physical activity and eating a healthy, balanced diet, all of which can make a big difference to our heart health."