Fat Canadians, Green Tea, Happy Weekends, and Fructose

  • Canadians are way less healthy than they used to be. In the early 80s, only around 5% of Canadians between 20 and 39 were at risk for health problems because of their weight, but a new three-year study shows that 21% of Canadian men and 31% of women in that age range are now too fat. This means Canadians may actually be fatter than Americans
  • Don't smoke, but if you do, at least drink some green tea with your cigarettes. New research shows green tea reduces smokers' risk of developing lung cancer.
  • You really are happier on the weekend, says new research, even if you love your job. Sort of obvious, but in mood data gathered by the study, everything from digestive problems to depression was better on the weekend, regardless of work satisfaction.
  • A new study shoes that fructose (as in high fructose corn syrup) can cause dangerous growth of fat cells near vital organs. Similar amounts of glucose didn't lead to the same effect in study participants. Either way, maybe it's time to go sugar-free for a while.   

Stand Up

One Hour of TV Equals 11% Greater Odds of Dying

If you're not doing the New Year's Edition Challenge "Stand Up" Feat, you should probably reconsider. New research says that every hour of TV you watch per day increases your odds of premature death by 11%. So watch five hours a day, and you're 55% more likely to die prematurely than someone who watches no TV at all. But here's the thing. It's not just TV time. The scientists leading the study point out that any prolonged sedentary activity, like sitting at a desk, is bad for your blood sugar and blood fats, even if you're a healthy weight. Every hour you spend sitting at a desk doesn't increase your odds of dying at exactly the 11% rate otherwise we'd be in really bad shape, but still, you should probably program your calendar to say "Stretch or Die" every hour on the hour just to be safe. 

sandyliz said "

ha! totally changing my alarm to say "Stretch or Die" instead of ..." More comments...


Running Shoes, Lying Labels, and Fat but Fit Research

  • Running shoes may be good for your feet, but they're really bad for your knees, shows new research. Even worse, apparently, than walking around in high-heel shoes.  Another point for barefoot running.
  • Bad news, new research shows that lots of packaged and restaurant foods have more calories than their labels claim.
  • Lots of research shows people who are fit but overweight have better health outcomes that skinny people who are out of shape, but a new study shows that fitness isn't a free pass. Fit people with a few extra pounds are still at far greater risk for heart disease than they would be if they dropped to a lower BMI. 


Best Of

2009's Most Notable Studies

Lots of research is amusing (overly skinny thighs are tied to early death, perhaps my favorite '09 finding). Some research is interesting (scientists have come up with a drug cocktail that suppresses appetite and increases metabolism in mice). But then there are studies that actually make you change the way you do things. Here, a few of the '09 studies worth remembering....   


Annals of Conflicting Research: Calorie Restriction and Convenience Stores

  • Remember how we told you living close to convenience stores, fast food establishments and supermarkets actually lowers your risk for obesity? Unfortunately, it's not true for kids. Kids who live close to convenience stores are fatter. Sad, but makes sense since they're darling little sponges and 99% of food ads aimed at kids are for junk food. Literally, 99%.
  • Remember how we told you new research showed calorie restriction may not be the holy grail of life extension it claims to be? Well that was two weeks ago. Even newer research shows that restricting glucose increases the life span of lung cells, which are, um, kind of important. Unfortunately, to lower your own personal glucose levels to the levels in the study, you'd only get to eat like 4 almonds and a leaf of lettuce for the rest of your life. So you might want to cling to the earlier study. 


Coffee Good, Brain Enzymes and TV Make You Fat

  • Last week the news was coffee reduced risk for prostate cancer. This week the news is coffee reduces risk for diabetes. Just don't forget the news from September that drinking too much coffee is linked to hearing non-existent voices.  
  • The Sirt1 enzyme in the brain gets lots of scientific attention for its connection to longevity (activate Sirt1 and you live longer). But researchers have just uncovered a connection between Sirt1 and bodyweight: Inhibiting Sirt1 in certain regions of the brain suppresses appetite. Drug companies currently pulling all-nighters to turn this into pharmaceutical pay dirt. 
  • New research shows that people who watch less TV burn more calories a day. Duh. But the news is it's not because less TV means you're suddenly fabulously active — participants in the study whose TVs were set to shut down after a couple of hours burned 119 more calories a day. Not playing pick-up basketball or anything, just puttering around without noticing. 

Workout Buddies

Dogs Are Better Workout Companions Than Humans

Blogging all your workouts on Social Workout keeps you on track, but if you want guaranteed fitness you should probably get a dog, too. Today's New York Times reports new research out of the University of Michigan showing that people assigned to walk a dog five days a week became much fitter than people assigned to walk with a walking partner. One factor was that the dogs made their companions walk faster (28% improvement in walking speed, in fact). But by far the biggest difference was that the dogs never talked their companions out of going on a walk because it was hot or cold or they were tired. Now if only you could take your dog to the gym with you. Oh, wait...

cholonbil said "

Dog walking is a great way to stay in shape and you'd be amazed how ..." More comments...

Longitudinal Blog Research

Teacher Training in America: A Comparative Study

Ever wonder exactly how much training that Zumba teacher had to complete to get "certified?" Better yet, ever wonder what you would have to do to become a pole dancing teacher? Teacher training! It's the next step, the mind-body tenure track of the 21st century! (Recall that state after state is lining up to tax the income of yoga studios' medieval apprentice programs.) Well, we decided it was high time to compare and contrast the requirements of fitness guru-hood. And here's the truth, honey: Zumba is an easy date compared to Pilates and pole dancing. Read on, and dream of your bright future teaching Zumba, the S Factor, yoga, Spinning, Punk Rope, and Pilates....

Zumba: The "worlds largest latin-inspired fitness program" claims to have classes in 40,00 locations in 75 countries. How has it spread so fast? Well, it's just $250 for the basic one day workshop, and you're good to go. Hell, that's nearly as easy as getting ordained by the Universal Life Church. Pay another $30 per month to be a member of the Zumba Instructor Network.


Body Clocks

Chronobiologists Say Your Heart is Different at Night

Gina Kolata, New York Times fitness writer, has stumbled onto a strange phenomenon: Her heart beats faster in the evening, given the same apparent exertion, than it does in the morning. Why, she wondered, staring at her heart rate monitor? The question led her on a fact finding mission among exercise physiologists and "chronobiologists," i.e. those who study the human body clock. Love that.

And here's the counterintuitive upshot: First, your body is most "biologically efficient" in the evening. "Most components (strength, power, speed) of athletic performance are worst in the early hours of the morning," one doc told Kolata. Basically, your body is warmed up later in the day. So, you would think that your heart would beat faster in the morning when you're less "efficient," and slower during evening exercise. Apparently, not the case. The heart seems to beat faster, even though the exercise is easier on the body. Why?


Oliver said "

Doh! You scooped me! Must be because you're up at the crack of ..." More comments...

Research News

Slim Fast Recalls Every Single Can, But It's Not a Big Deal, And Other News

  • Slim Fast is recalling ten million (get that? ten million!) cans of its diet drink for fear of possible "bacterial contamination." This is not the diet we signed up for! Call it a slim faster. Anyway, the "voluntary" recall applies to virtually every size and flavor. Not to worry, though, Unilever says the chances of a problem are "remote...." (Via ThatsFit.)
  • Attention partiers: Coffee does not make you sober. It simply makes you think you're sober. Thus, says the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, don't pound a cup of coffee after that last glass of wine and think you're good to drive home.
  • But don't beat yourself up for that coffee habit either. Another new study shows that men who drink coffee regularly are "60% less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than non-coffee drinkers." Coffee is so confusing.
  • FYI: New data shows that African American women, ages 35 to 44, have a death rate twice that of white women the same age. NPR reports that, for them, putting off mammogram testing -- as per recent government guidelines -- may not be a good idea.