Newsbites: Slower Eating; Ultraprocessed Foods; Weight Loss Programs; Religious Fasting

Slower Eating May Help To Keep Pounds Off

A study of Japanese adults with diabetes found a possible link between eating slowly and maintaining a healthy body weight, according to a research in BMJ Open.

For the study, researchers examined the health records of nearly 60,000 Japanese adults with type 2 diabetes, covering up to 6 years of medical check ups. During checkups, patients were asked whether they considered their eating speed fast, normal or slow. This could be relevant to weight control, since fast eaters may consume excessive calories before their brains catch up with their stomachs, whereas slow eaters may feel satisfied with smaller portions.

At the start of the study period, roughly a third of patients reported that they ate quickly. Compared with fast eaters, normal-speed eaters were 29% less likely to be obese, defined in this population as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher. Those who said they ate slowly were 42% less likely to be obese. This work adds to the body of data suggesting that slowing down at meal times is one strategy to achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Ultraprocessed Foods Linked To Cancer

Consumption of ultraprocessed foods is associated with greater risk of cancer, according to new research study in the BMJ. This is the first study that specifically links highly processed foods to cancer.

Ultraprocessed foods undergo significant changes in their raw ingredients (like grains, vegetables, and fruits) and may contain numerous additives to engineer their flavor, color, texture and shelf life. Typical ultraprocessed foods include frozen pizza, instant soup mixes, prepared desserts, ready-to-eat frozen meals and salted and flavored snacks.

The study followed nearly 105,000 French adults for an average of 5 years. Every 10% increment in consumption of ultraprocessed foods was associated with a 12% higher risk for overall cancer and an 11% increased risk of breast cancer. No significant link was found for prostate or colorectal cancer. 

Why the connection? The study authors say that potential culprits could be the additives in ultraprocessed foods. Chemical byproducts from heating may also play a role, the researchers suggest. More research on the health effects of additives and by-products in processed foods is needed.

Weight Loss Programs Effectively Prevent Disease and Premature Death

The influential US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has concluded there is “adequate evidence” that intensive weight loss or weight-loss maintenance programs based on behavior change help people with obesity to lose enough weight to prevent chronic diseases. The recommendation is based on a review of 124 studies, including 89 clinical trials. The draft recommendation noted that the evidence that weight-loss drugs can help people achieve and maintain a healthier weight is less convincing than the evidence for behavior change. For that reason, the USPSTF concluded, primary care doctors should first suggest a behavioral approach. The USPSTF determined that successful weight loss or weight-loss management programs include group sessions (12 sessions or more in the first year), guidance to help people make healthier dietary choices, encouragement to increase physical activity and tools to help people monitor their weight and physical activity.

No Weight Loss From Religious Fasting

According to a small study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, changes in metabolism and physical activity during fasting in the month of Ramadan did not lead to weight loss. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk, providing researchers a natural experiment to observe the effects of intermittent fasting on body weight. Previous studies have observed mixed results, from no weight loss to modest but temporary weight loss.

The study involved 13 men and 16 women who underwent tests for resting metabolism and total daily calories burned during Ramadan and the month after. Participants burned fewer calories at rest after the first week and were about 10% less active during the fasting period as measured by step-counting devices worn by some participants in the study.

Overall, the month of fasting did not lead to weight loss. This may be because any fewer calories consumed during fasting were offset by compensatory eating at night. Also, less sleep during Ramadan may have offset the effects of decreased resting metabolism and physical activity.

The post Newsbites: Slower Eating; Ultraprocessed Foods; Weight Loss Programs; Religious Fasting appeared first on University Health News.

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