Archive for » March 29th, 2012«

Toward a Lower-Cesium Diet

A year after the nuclear accident in Fukushima caused a global scare about Japanese food safety, the country is trying to reassure the consuming public with stricter new standards on radiation contamination coming into effect this Sunday.

Yomiuri Shimbun/Reuters
Livestock from Fukushima prefecture last July, after high cesium levels were detected in the prefecture’s beef.

The new rules tighten the country’s already tight limits on permissible levels of radioactive cesium — the most common source of long-term contamination after last year’s accident — in everything from drinking water to milk and meat.

The limit for drinking water will fall to one-twentieth of what it had been. For most foods, the new level will be one-fifth the old limits. Japan’s new standards will also include a separate, lower level for food given to infants, who, researchers say, are the most vulnerable to the effects of radiation.

Figuring out how much radiation is safe in food is a murky process. Scientists measure the radioactive content by tracking how many times each second radioactive energy is released by the cesium inside the food, a unit called a becquerel. After that, health authorities decide how much radioactive exposure their populations will tolerate annually from food, and how much exposure they’ll likely get from other sources.

The acceptable level assesses the anticipated physical impact of radiation. There’s also a lot of wiggle room to adjust assumptions to account for how worried people seem to be about it. The authorities then figure out how much contaminated food would have to be eaten, every day, to reach that level.

Japan’s new permissible level for drinking water, 10 becquerels per kilogram, is lower than that for milk, at 50 becquerels per kilogram, since the government assumes people will drink more water than milk.

Japan’s health ministry says the new standards bring Japan in line with some of the strictest recommendations from international bodies. The U.S. and European Union each have their own standards that permit considerably higher levels of radioactive cesium than Japan does. Their rules vary widely – both in how food categories should be grouped and in levels of radiation permissible. U.S. food-safety restrictions wouldn’t go into effect, for instance, until 1,200 becquerels of radioactive cesium had been detected per kilogram. The EU’s standard for radiation in food in the case of future nuclear accidents has one limit for liquids — 1,000 becquerels per kilogram — and another for other kinds of foods — 1,250 becquerels per kilogram.

Scientists say all those limits are far below levels of contamination where they can see any evidence of an effect on health. to Host Spring Fitness Challenge, Prepare Dieters for Summer Months Ahead’s new Fitness Challenge will use weekly guides like the one above to progress members through 8 weeks of increasingly challenging workouts to help them get in shape for summer.

The Spring Fitness Challenge will be hosted on’s Blogs pages, where each week they’ll feature a new printable, trainer-designed workout routine.

Brookline, MA (PRWEB) March 29, 2012, one of the web’s leading resources for diet, fitness and nutrition content and tools, has announced that the site will host an 8-week Spring Fitness Challenge for its members starting this April. The Challenge, which will begin on Monday, April 2 and run through May 27, aims to motivate members to get into shape for summer.’s new Spring Fitness Challenge comes on the heels of the website’s annual New Year’s Weight Loss Challenge, which earlier this year drew over 500 participants from all over the world. The Spring Fitness Challenge will be hosted on’s Blogs pages, where each week they’ll feature a new printable, trainer-designed workout routine. The workouts will increase in difficulty each week, progressing participants through a wide range of exercises to help them push themselves and set new goals.

According to, participants will have the option to print their workout each week or to follow along with the workout in real-time using’s Workout Builder tool, which allows users to combine video clips of different exercises into a custom-designed, full-length workout video.

Challenge participants will check in with their own member blogs each week, reporting on how the week’s workout is going, noting any weight loss and sharing their own successes and struggles with the Challenge.

At the conclusions of the 8-week Challenge, a winner will be chosen randomly from those who complete the Challenge and submit a short narrative about their own Challenge experience. The final prize package will include a 1-year Premium Membership, which grants access to the site’s brand new Diet Plan, including meal plans, exercise plans and access to personal consultations with a registered dietitian.

The Spring Fitness Challenge is open to all site members. Create a free account here to participate in the Spring Fitness Challenge as well as gain access to’s fitness and diet tools, including expert blogs, instructional fitness videos, healthy recipes and more.

Read the full rules about the Challenge here.

About is a multifaceted health and wellness organization that provides quality information and cutting edge tools and services to consumers and businesses alike. Since its founding, has been a valuable online resource for dieters and those seeking information on living a healthy lifestyle. As one of the web’s leading resources for diet, nutrition, and fitness content and tools, has created a platform where consumers are able to set and track diet and fitness goals, browse over 1,000
healthy recipes, learn new exercises, and interact with others in the thriving online community. The diethealth YouTube channel ( has a library of over 500 videos, over 116,000 subscribers, and has received upwards of 94 million views. For any inquiries, please contact Lauren Alford, Director of Business Development, at or 919-616-7532.


Diet Plan For Fat Cat Moggies

ALWAYS on a diet, prone to catfights and with a name like Fifi Bottomley, you would be forgiven for thinking that this high-profile dieter made her name on The Only Way Is Essex.

In fact, Fifi, eight, is a morbidly obese moggy battling to lose the pounds in a competition run by an animal charity.

The Bradford-based cat weighs 9.3 kilogrammes – more than twice her ideal body weight – but has managed to cheat diet plans for years by stealing food from other cats and charming neighbours into feeding her.

She faces heavy competition from a roast dinner-loving Labrador from Tamworth, Staffordshire, who was too heavy to have an X-ray, a border collie from the Wirral whose excess pounds exacerbate his arthritis and a Wakefield rabbit named Samantha who weighs more than an average cat.

Complicated link between diet drinks, health: study

Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:15pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Studies have hinted that diet-soda lovers could face higher risks of diabetes and heart disease, but new findings suggest that overall diet may be what matters most in the end.

Several studies have found that people who regularly down diet soda are more likely than people who don’t to have certain risk factors for those chronic diseases — like high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

And one recent study became the first to link the beverages to the risk of actual heart attacks and strokes (see Reuters Health story of February 17, 2012).

Still, researchers have not been able to say whether it’s the sugar-free drinks, themselves, that deserve the blame.

Many factors separate diet- and regular-beverage drinkers — and, for that matter, people who stick with water. Overall diet is one.

So this latest study tried to account for people’s general diet patterns, said lead researcher Kiyah J. Duffey, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She and her colleagues used data on more than 4,000 Americans taking part in a long-term study of heart health. They were all between the ages of 18 and 30 when the study began in the mid-1980s.

Over the next 20 years, 827 study participants developed metabolic syndrome — a cluster of risk factors for heart problems and diabetes including extra weight around the waist, unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar.

. The researchers found that young adults who drank diet beverages were more likely than those who didn’t to develop metabolic syndrome over the next 20 years.


The picture became more complex when Duffey’s team considered the role of diet as well.

The lowest risk of metabolic syndrome was seen among people who drank no diet beverages and stuck to a “prudent” diet — one rich in foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish.

Meanwhile, people who also ate a prudent diet but did drink diet beverages had a somewhat higher rate of metabolic syndrome — but not by much.

Over 20 years, 20 percent of those men and women developed metabolic syndrome. That compared with 18 percent of prudent eaters who didn’t regularly have diet drinks, Duffey’s team writes in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Participants with the highest rate of metabolic syndrome — at 32 percent — were those who drank diet soda and downed the typical “Western” diet. That means lots of meat, processed foods and sugar.

Duffey’s team weighed factors other than diet, too, like people’s weight and exercise habits at the start of the study.

With all of that considered, healthy eaters who steered clear of diet drinks still had the lowest risk of developing metabolic syndrome — more than one-third lower than Western-style eaters who did drink diet beverages.

“I really think it’s overall diet that’s important,” Duffey said in an interview.

If you want to cut calories, replacing sugary drinks with sugar-free versions will do that, she noted. “But if the goal is a broader impact on your health,” she said, “you need to consider the whole diet.”


Duffey stressed that this study was observational — meaning it followed people over time, looking for links between eating and drinking habits and the risk of metabolic syndrome.

That type of study can’t prove that diet drinks have a negative effect on cardiovascular health, as some researchers have theorized, or whether some other factor is responsible.

That is still “definitely an open question,” said Hannah Gardener, a researcher at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine who led the recent study linking diet beverages to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

“We’re still a long way from making any public health guidance” on diet beverages and health, Gardener told Reuters Health. It’s estimated about one-third of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome — with older age and obesity being prime risk factors.

There’s some evidence from animal research that artificial sweeteners can end up boosting appetite and food intake. But no one knows yet if that translates to humans.

Whether diet drinks have specific health effects or not, Gardener agreed on the importance of overall diet.

“It’s very important to have a healthy, balanced diet,” she said.

And if you enjoy your sugar-sweetened drinks, Gardener said, “you shouldn’t think that simply switching to diet (drinks) is going to be enough without taking into consideration your overall diet.”

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2012.

Q&A: Losing Weight Doesn’t Help Obese Girls Love Themselves — Can Parents?

Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

From tough-love anti-obesity ads to dieting 7-year-olds, the fight against childhood obesity is escalating and everyone has a battle strategy. Yet the crusade is not without casualties and surprisingly, those carrying the heaviest emotional tolls are the kids that do shed pounds.

That’s what Purdue University researchers report in a new study on the effects of obesity stigma on teenage girls’ self-esteem. Published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, the study found that obese black and white teenage girls who transitioned out of obesity continued to see themselves as fat, despite physical changes from their weight loss. Obese white girls also had lower self-esteem than their normal-weight peers and their self-esteem remained low even when they lost weight. It turns out the effect of the stigma lingers long after the weight is gone.

Lead researcher Sarah Mustillo, an associate professor at Purdue University studying childhood and adolescent obesity, believes parents can play an active role in curbing their overweight child’s self-loathing. Healthland spoke with her about the study and how parents can guide their kids toward healthier weights without insinuating something is “wrong” with them.

(MOREChildhood Obesity: Most U.S. Schools Don’t Require P.E. Class or Recess)

Why do obese girls report strong insecurity issues at such young ages?

Studies have shown that in general, people in the U.S. tend to internalize the negative stereotypes we have of obese people. It starts at a very young age. Studies show 3-year-olds have negative stereotypes of obese people. These stereotypes are part of our society and we learn them through peers and social interactions. Kids learn these before they become obese themselves. Then when they do become overweight, these stereotypes become about them.

Why are negative feelings of self-worth so difficult to shake even after weight loss? Can positive self-images return?

In our study, we found that girls appeared to be integrating their obesity into their identity. Being overweight becomes a part of who they are. Shedding weight is a physical change, but changing how you view yourself is very different. It is a much longer process, but I do believe it is possible to have an identity transformation. People who experience a change can take a while to adapt. When someone gets divorced, it takes them a while to view themselves as a divorced person rather than a married person. Big changes take time.

In the study, black girls who moved into the normal weight range experienced more increased self-esteem than any other group of girls. Why is there a difference in confidence rebounds among races?

This is total speculation, but our thinking is that studies have shown in the black community, especially when it comes to black women, there are different ideals about body and size. In the African American community there tends to be more acceptance of a wider range of body types. This could be because African Americans experience stigmas in other areas and reject the white image of beauty and have their own image.

(MORE: An Obese Boy Is Placed in Foster Care. Can It Help?)

How can parents ensure their overweight child understands the importance of being healthier without feeling bad about themselves?

There are a couple ways parents can do this. First, parents should focus on the health aspects of weight loss and not the appearance aspects. Focus on how it will be easier to walk up and down stairs, how gym class will be better, they will have more energy. Don’t say, “Your clothes will fit better.” Don’t talk about appearance, just focus on health. In terms of preventing them from feeling bad about themselves, a child needs to know their value comes from who they are as a person and not what they look like. In terms of identity formation, teens develop their identity based on their personal characteristics and roles. Help them identify with the positive roles in their life, like being a musician or an artist. Encourage them to get their sense of self from being a good artist instead of how they look. It will help counter the negative feedback they get. Focus on the positive and find something they can participate in and excel at.

How can parents treat their child’s emotional damage from teasing at school and the public stigma of obesity?

First off, parents need to realize they can actually have a bigger impact on their kids’ views of themselves than their kids do. First and foremost, we need make sure the parents are not contributing to the problem. Sometimes it’s inadvertent. Sometimes it is saying things like, “You look great in these pants.” Parents may mean it as a compliment, but the child hears, “Given how big you are, you look good in these pants.” Parents need to examine their own stereotypes of obesity and make sure they do not share them at home. Kids pick up on these attitudes. Some parents say things directly, and some parents may not say things not about their child, but about other people in public. For instance, “That lady on the bus is huge.” Parents may think, “I am not talking about my kid, so they won’t be offended,” but saying a person is not a good person due to their size is harmful.

Communication is also really important. Parents can’t combat the negative feedback if they don’t know what children are hearing. Really try to open up communication. If your child won’t talk about it, look for other cues like social isolation. Parents can really take an active role in helping their child process the negative messages they are getting. If the parent teaches the child about bullying and teasing, it explains more about what the other kids are doing wrong than what is wrong with their child. You don’t focus on the weight of the child, but what is really wrong with the other kid that they are treating them poorly.

(MORE: ‘Maggie Goes on a Diet’: A Kids’ Book About Dieting? Not Without Controversy)

A recent essay in Vogue by a mother who put her 7-year-old on a strict diet is sparking outrage. What do you recommend for parents who need to take measures for their child’s weight loss?

From what I know, it is more effective to emphasize the positive than eliminate the negative. Push the benefits of eating yogurt instead of junk food. Encourage your kids to eat fruits and veggies and whole grains as opposed to really strictly limiting particular foods. Parents also have a choice of what they put in the house. If you don’t want your kids eating garbage, don’t buy it. In terms of messages, it is far more effective to be a model for your kids. Get out there and exercise and take your kids with you. I drive my kids crazy trying to get them to go running with me. It is good to keep active and have our kids see us doing that.

Do you think current anti-obesity campaigns are doing a good job?

I think our current emphasis on combating childhood obesity is a good thing. It is an issue that needs attention and putting it in the spotlight is a good thing. Lets Move! is very positive. But I would love to see them incorporate more messages for building self-esteem. Ideally, in terms in combating stigma, we would not let these negative stereotypes happen. If they didn’t exist, kids wouldn’t feel bad about being overweight. But that’s unrealistic. If we can get kids to base their identity on something other than appearance, all kids can benefit from that. We need to teach kids not to base self-worth on what you look like and how to locate self-esteem in something besides appearance. As kids do lose weight, we also need to work on assisting them to change their perceptions of themselves. In our study, as kids lost weight, they continued to see themselves as heavy. We need to help them update their vision of themselves.

MORE: Outrage over Vogue Essay by a Mom Who Put Her 7-Year-Old on a Diet

Lifescript Launches New Diet And Fitness Section

MISSION VIEJO, Calif., March 28, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ –, a women’s health and wellness website headquartered in Mission Viejo, Calif., has just released a new Diet and Fitness section to help women eat right, exercise, and get to their healthiest weight. The section features exclusive celebrity workout videos, profiles of today’s most popular diet and exercise plans, tips from nutrition experts and more.

“For women who want to lose weight and improve their health, we have a huge amount of information,” says Laurie Berger, Lifescript Editor-in-Chief. “Our Diet and Fitness section is encouraging, informative, and has several fun, interactive tools that readers can depend on throughout their weight-loss journeys.”

The new section includes step-by-step instructions for numerous exercise plans, searchable by body part, fitness goal, fitness level, equipment and health condition. The Diet and Fitness channel also features free fitness videos from celebrity trainer Adam Ernster – who trains dozens of Hollywood stars such as Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, actress Jamie Lee Curtis, actor Ben Affleck and more. He invited Lifescript to his Beverly Hills “Bunker” to film tips on how he trains the stars, and all his videos are available on the site.

The new section also features news and descriptions of today’s most popular diet plans to lose weight, with complete guidance from top nutritionists; as well as specialized exercise and nutrition advice for women with arthritis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis and other common conditions. There’s even health and fitness advice from celebrities and famous chefs.

“Diet and Fitness” is one of five sections on Lifescript’s rapidly growing health website, including “Health” (conditions), “Healthy Food” (a recipe collection) “Life” and “Soul.” A Parenting section is scheduled for later in 2012.

ABOUT LIFESCRIPT: One of the fastest-growing online healthy living publishers, ( ) attracts 6.3 million unique visitors monthly and is the only site focusing exclusively on women’s health. More than 7 million readers also subscribe to its six daily email newsletters. The company is headquartered in Mission Viejo, Calif., with additional offices in Beverly Hills and New York City.

SOURCE Lifescript

Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved