We’re constantly bombarded with information connecting obesity with a variety of chronic and debilitating diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. The presumption is that the excess weight is the cause of these illnesses, rather than a co-symptom of an underlying problem. A new study out of Texas A&M University shines a bright light on that presumption by showing that a subset of the obese have none of these chronic illnesses, and seem to possess an enzyme that increases their fat deposition while simultaneously suppressing inflammation and improving insulin sensitivity (the exact opposite of what most overweight people experience). Furthermore, the researchers pointed out that a certain percentage of lean folks exhibit the inflammation and insulin resistance normally associated with obesity.
While the study’s primary goal was to explore the enzyme in question—in hopes of someday developing a proprietary drug based on it, of course—the real point is that you can’t tell a book by the size of its cover. Just because you see someone carrying excessive weight, you can’t assume that they have high blood sugar or blood pressure or that their heart is a ticking time bomb. In fact, they may be healthier and have a longer life in front of them than their slender companions.
Explore the research further at AgriLife Today (Is there a ‘healthy’ obesity gene?), or dig into the nitty-gritty details at The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg once again proves he has a serious God Complex. His latest “food police” proposal involves outlawing sales of any sugar-containing beverage over 16 oz, except for those he deems acceptable, such as fruit juices and milkshakes(!). Put aside for a moment the economic impact of this edict, and let’s focus on what’s really going on here. This guy thinks he knows enough about health and nutrition to tell everybody else how they should live. He actually thinks he’s going to single-handedly do what thousands of educated, talented scientists have so far been unable to do, which is solve the very complex problem of obesity by controlling one tiny piece of the puzzle—what people eat and drink. His arrogance is enough to make me choke on a Diet Coke, and those lovely little chemical concoctions are, by the way, still permitted under his proposal.
Mayor Bloomberg, here’s a clue. Some people are convinced that sun exposure will give them skin cancer, while others are concerned about the transdermal absorption of carcinogens and hormone disruptors in common sunscreen products. Some folks think they will die of food poisoning if they drink raw milk, while others are concerned about the loss of nutrients and digestibility of the pasteurized stuff. Some swear off coffee, claiming the caffeine will kill them, while others know that coffee’s been linked to longevity and a reduced risk of diabetes. And we all know someone who consistently drank vodka with breakfast and smoked three packs a day and lived to be 95. The fact is, no health information is absolute for everyone, and even if it was, this is still a free country (at least for now), and that means we should all be free to make lifestyle choices for our own bodies, and then live—or die—with the consequences thereof. In other words, Mayor Bloomberg, last I checked, you’re not the boss of me, and I’d like to keep it that way.
Read more about Bloomberg Almighty and his latest crusade against personal liberty in Time Magazine’s Healthland piece or Hot Air’s treatise on the topic.
For years, Kellogg’s Kashi brand has been associated with wholesome, all natural goodness. Folks who care about what they’re putting in their bodies and feeding to their children, chose Kashi cereals over Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms and even Cheerios, because they were looking for food they could trust to be free from chemical additives. Well, a little research from the Cornucopia Institute proved that while Kashi’s cereals may not have chemicals added after the fact, they are made with grains that have been genetically modified in order to withstand direct spraying with powerful, dangerous weedkillers like Monsanto’s Round-Up, which is taken up into the grain and later finds its way into your digestive tract.
Learn more about the Kashi controversy from Lucine Biotechnology or from the original investigative report about Kashi’s ingredients, the Cornucopia Institute’s “Cereal Crimes”.
A new study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that reading about characters in fictional works can cause us to become more like those characters, but only if we identify and sympathize with them. In other words, if you find a character likeable or admirable, you will actually begin to think and act more like him. A talented writer, of course, can lead us to sympathize with characters we wouldn’t ordinarily like, so this study has some interesting implications.
To learn more, see these stories: The Body Odd – You Are What You Read or Science Daily – ‘Losing Yourself’ in a Fictional Character Can Affect Your Real Life, or explore the research yourself.
In a New England Journal of Medicine study of 400,000 aging Americans, the NIH once again proved that coffee drinking is good for your heart, and a bunch of other organs, too. The study showed it was not about “moderation”, either, as the breakpoint for living a significantly longer lifespan (10%-15% longer) was based on folks having 6 or more cups a day!
For more details, read the full article in Time or check out the study itself.