22 Jul

Chicken or the egg: obesity and sleep deprivation

Another MedicalNewsToday.com article (I must be bored this morning) caught my eye. It appears that a definite link has been found between sleep deprivation and obesity:

“The ‘epidemic’ of obesity is paralleled by a ‘silent epidemic’ of reduced sleep duration with short sleep duration linked to increased risk of obesity both in adults and in children.These trends are detectable in adults as well as in children as young as 5 years.”Professor Cappuccio points out that short sleep duration may lead to obesity through an increase of appetite via hormonal changes caused by the sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep produces Ghrelin which, among other effects, stimulates appetite and creates less leptin which, among other effects, suppresses appetite. However he says more research is needed to understand the mechanisms by which short sleep is linked to chronic conditions of affluent societies, such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

So which comes first? Is a person obese because they are sleep deprived, or does the sleep deprivation start from being obese (e.g. sleep apnea)? Either way, it leads directly into a vicious cycle, one that is surprisingly hard to break out of. But apparently one can add “consistently getting a good night’s sleep” to the list of things to do to help lose weight.

22 Jul

Online diet services very successful, or thinly-disguised spam?

An article on Medical News Today suggests that online weight loss services can be very, very successful in helping one lose weight:

Now, Americans are even dieting online — seeking the tools, support and motivation of online communities to achieve weight loss goals.

A study by Brown University found that people who enrolled in a structured online dieting program lost three times more weight in six months than those who casually surfed the Internet for diet information.(2)

Normally, I would be extremely optimistic about this news. However, I am a little hesitant about this, because the rest of the article seems to be a paid advertisement for an online diet service, MyMedifast. So is this legitimate? Is it spam? I dunno.

10 Jul

Fast food eating guides

So some dude over at DrGourmet.com came up with a list of “healthy” fast food selections:

I have created this list of selected items from common fast food restaurants for you to use when you must eat out. I have kept it pretty straightforward and the only information included is calories and fat. The items listed fall generally under 400 calories or so and under 15 grams of fat. If you are going to be stuck eating at such restaurants this is a fairly good guideline to use for any meal.

The guides are in the form of PDF documents, one per fast food chain. I think that this is a fantastic idea. It’s good to have these and not have to guess at how many calories a given entree has. Especially for chains that aren’t exactly friendly about giving out nutritional information. I recommend printing these out and keeping them handy.