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Higher Energy Density Diets Linked To Higher Body Weight

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Main Category: Obesity / Weight Loss / Fitness
Also Included In: Nutrition / Diet
Article Date: 03 Apr 2012 – 5:00 PDT

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Strong and consistent evidence indicates that adults consuming a higher energy density (ED) diet have a higher body weight, whilst those who eat a relatively low ED diet experience weight loss and maintain their weight, whilst there is moderate proof that children and adolescents who eat higher ED diets are linked to higher weight.

The study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, consisted of systematical reviews and updates of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommendations to consume a low energy density diet. The study examines mounting evidence that ED, i.e. the amount of calories in a certain amount of foods, is associated with body weight in children, adolescents and adults.

Leading author Rafael Perez-Escamilla, PhD, of Yale University, who is a member of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, declared:

“The conclusions reached in our review strengthen the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines to consume such foods as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean animal protein sources, which are generally lower in ED, while lowering consumption of total fat, saturated fat, and added sugars, which increase ED of foods. It also strengthens the focus on considering overall dietary patterns rather than simply targeting modifications to individual components of the diet.”

The authors reviewed 17 studies of dietary ED and body weight in adults. The studies were performed in Brazil, the U.S., South Korea and in European countries, including Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Seven of the studies were randomized controlled trials (RCT), one was a non-controlled trial, and 9 were cohort studies. The review demonstrated that 15 of the 17 studies supported the evidence that a lower ED diet was associated with improved weight loss or maintaining weight.

According to numerous reviewed weight loss trials, during the active intervention period, decreasing ED proved most beneficial in terms of improving weight loss, although some studies reported that the weight loss was not always maintained over time. Based on the reviewed cohort studies, the researchers found that the association between lower ED and improved weight maintenance proved highly consistent.

They also reviewed evidence on dietary ED and body weight in children and adolescents from six prospective studies in Germany, the U.K. and in the U.S. that included boys and girls of normal weight and those who were overweight. The findings of most of these studies confirmed the link between higher dietary ED and higher weight in children.

Dr. Perez-Escamilla explained:

“While the mechanisms for the relationship between ED and weight have not been widely studied, it has been hypothesized that lowering ED can enhance satiety and contribute to reductions in calorie intake.”

Even though the findings of the review indicate that eating foods that are lower in ED could be an effective method to control one’s body weight, Dr. Perez-Escamilla remarks that public health strategies need to explain what ED means that how it is linked to body weight. He concludes, saying:

“Guidelines for how to estimate ED for different products based on food label information, how to decrease dietary ED, and how to sustain weight loss benefits using lower ED diets in the long term are needed.”

Both, Dr. Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD, and Dr. Julie E Obbagy, PhD, RD, discuss the association between energy density and weight and its effect on children, adolescents and adults in a podcast, which is available here.

Written by Petra Rattue

Copyright: Medical News Today

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Diet Detective: Health advocate weighs in on US food safety

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Diet Detective: What’s the biggest food label atrocity?

Rangan: The “natural” label doesn’t mean much at all. And polls show that many consumers falsely believe it means more than “organic,” which has hundreds of pages of standards and is verified.

The “uncured” and “no nitrates” labels are also very deceiving. They can mean that natural nitrates were used to cure meat.

Diet Detective: Why should we care about genetically modified foods?

Rangan: As opposed to conventional (or organic) seed, a genetically engineered seed is owned and may not be propagated by the farmer. (That means the seed is actually owned by the company. Monsanto is one of the largest soybean seed owners. For more, watch the movie Food Inc.)

Pesticides designed to be sold for genetically engineered crops to kill weeds without harming the crops have led to the creation of superweeds.

The promise of genetically engineered crops to feed the world has not been met. And now the question of whether genetically engineered salmon should be approved sits with a veterinary drug committee at the FDA as it examines sketchy safety data submitted for approval by the company that makes the genetically engineered fish.

There are many more questions about the safety of genetically engineered foods for the environment and public health than there are answers. According to polls from Consumer Reports, more than 95 percent of consumers want GE foods labeled.

Diet Detective: Should we all be eating locally grown foods? Are they better tasting and better for the environment?

Rangan: The advantage of local production often means getting fresher food. Why? Because it hasn’t been trucked thousands of miles, which can leave more time for food to spoil, especially produce.

But there are even more advantages to local food production. It saves on gasoline, pollution from transporting food (which can have a positive impact on global warming) and in many cases supports smaller-scale farmers.

Diet Detective: If you were the “Queen of Food,” how would you fix our food system?

Rangan: Less faux, more real. Less pink slime, more real meat. Fewer drugs, chemicals and pesticides. And a less consolidated food system where more local and fresh food could be available to more people.

Diet Detective: How dangerous are pesticides used on our food?

Rangan: Pesticides were derived from chemicals developed for warfare to kill people. Diluted down, they kill bugs. But studies in farmworkers suggest that these agents are indeed harmful to those who work on the farm, and several have carcinogenic potential, which can be concerning when it comes to chronic low-level exposure.

Charles Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of

From Training Schedules to Meal Plans: Everything You Need For Your First Race

With the Boston Marathon a few weeks away, race season is just around the corner. And whether you consider yourself new to the running scene or a seasoned vet, it’s never too early to start training for one of Summer or Fall’s big races. From a 5K and beyond, here are all the tips and training plans you need to make yourself race ready.

The Beginning: 5K
Running 3.1 miles might seem like a daunting feat, but with a plan in hand, the process becomes so much easier. A 5K is considered a gateway race, and once you complete it, you will want to take on longer distances. Here are three posts to help you finish the race:

Doubling Up: The 10K
Once you have a 5K under your belt, it’s time to tackle a 10K. The 6.2-mile race means adding to your weekly mileage to help build up endurance.

Learn how to prepare for a half marathon, marathon, and triathlon after the break!

Going Halfsies: Half Marathon
When you’re ready for the challenge of running 13.1 miles, the half marathon begins to call your name. Upping your mileage to cover this much ground requires careful planning.

  • This half-marathon training schedule starts with weekly mileage of just under 10 and builds up to 25 miles in seven days, before tapering before the race. Before starting this plan, be running for at least two months with a base mileage of about eight to 10 miles per week.
  • Not sure if you’re ready to meet the challenge of a half? Get inspired by this tale of a first timer’s half-marathon race.

All the Way: Marathon
Once you start, it’s hard to stop. A good mindset will only get you so far when it comes to running 26.2 miles, but a solid plan will have you crossing the finish line.

Trying It All: Sprint Triathlon
If pounding the pavement day in and day out isn’t your thing, mix it up a little and train for a sprint triathlon. The blend of swimming, biking, and running builds cross training into your schedule.

Walking your dog can help you lose weight and get fit

For most of his 18 years as a veterinarian, Phil Zeltzman has been troubled by what has been happening to man’s best friend.

“Every single year, the number of pets that are obese or overweight is higher than it was the previous year,” says Zeltzman of Allentown.

He has seen the numbers climb in his practice as a traveling surgeon based in the Lehigh Valley and as a member of the Board of Application for the Prevention of Obesity in Pets.

Dogs, it appears, are following in the footsteps of their human owners. Currently, 70 percent of Americans and 53 percent of dogs are overweight.

The health consequences and costs are similar for both. Studies show for both man and dog that being overweight increases the risk of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, degenerative joints, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, tumors, skin diseases and a shortened life span.

Despite all the research, advice from medical experts, diets and diet foods available for man and dog, obesity statistics keep climbing, Zeltzman says. The reasons: eating too much and exercising too little.

So two years ago, he set out to explore a theory he first thought about in veterinary school — that man and his canine companion could work together in combating this rising obesity trend. It’s based on the power of the human-animal bond, or what he refers to as “puppy love.”

He shares the results of his research in his book, “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound: How You and Your Dog Can Lose Weight, Stay Fit and Have Fun Together” (Purdue University Press, $16.95; 160 pp.)

In his research, Zeltzman found studies proving his theory that you and your dog could lose weight with regular walks. Some of the statistics he found were in articles by Rebecca Johnson, a nurse and the director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, who has written more than 40 publications on the human-canine bond. They teamed up to write “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound.”

Although there are many ways to exercise with a dog — throwing a Frisbee, playing chase, etc. — walking is perhaps the easiest to accomplish, Zeltzman says.

And, your dog is the perfect walking partner, he says. Dogs find exercise to be fun. They are never too busy and will always have time for you, never canceling your walk at the last minute. And they are great company, never judgmental or argumentative.

You can benefit from Zeltzman’s weight-loss approach, even if you don’t have a dog. He recommends “borrowing” one from a local shelter. These facilities often are grateful for volunteers who will spend time exercising dogs. For the dogs, there are benefits beyond exercise. The time you spend walking helps socialize them, making them more adoptable.

The first step is acknowledging a weight problem. In his book, he includes charts and diagrams to help you determine if you and/or your dog need to shed a few pounds.

You also must recognize who is responsible, he says.

“The dog does not fill his own bowl. Somebody fills it for him,” he says.

Also be aware, that even though you may be feeding the right amount at meals, you might be lavishing your dog with treats throughout the day, adding extra calories. If so, you are killing your dog with that kind of love.

“We need to move away from ‘food-centric’ relationships, where food equals love, and move toward an ‘exercise-centric’ relationship,” Zeltzman says. “Not only is it healthier for both, but also more rewarding.”

Another problem, he finds, is that dog owners often are less likely to admit their dog is overweight than to admit they themselves are, he says. They’ll offer excuses, like “she’s too old to walk” or “she doesn’t have much time left so I spoil her with treats.”

Zeltzman acknowledges that there are medical conditions that can limit what an older dog can do, but excess weight can compound a senior dog’s problems. The key for any dog or person that has not been exercising is to start slowly and gradually build.

All too often dog owners are willing to spend money on orthopedic problems that develop from excessive weight, when weight loss alone often can alleviate problems with knees and hips. In 2011, veterinary costs for treating one incidence of diabetes ranged from $900 to $5,700. For obesity-related conditions of arthritis, cost per incident ranged from $2,000 to $9,600.

How to have a gluten free diet

MARQUETTE — It may be hard for many folks to handle a diet with gluten in it. At least one in every 133 Americans have a gluten intolerance.

Gluten is a protein composite that is found in popular grains like wheat, barley, and rye.

Registered Dietitian Sherri Rule said some people think the solution is to eliminate grains.

“Then you’re missing out on fiber, vitamins and minerals that are characteristic of those grains. You can get those through gluten free grains, but it’s really important that you don’t cut out that group altogether,” said Rule.

Facebooker Lydia Kauppi wrote, “I am gluten free, corn free, and dairy free for dietary reasons. Lost 50 pounds since August! I feel about 1000 times better than I did before the switch.”

Don’t know where to start? Well, turn to your produce section, purchase more fruits and vegetables.

Next thing you should do is trade your grains for packaged rice and buckwheat. You can still enjoy pizza, sandwiches, and pastas.

Try rice, pasta, and a variety of breads without gluten. They even have baking mixes and cookies.

Natasha Lantz holds a class at the Food Co-op once a month that teaches people how to adjust to a no-gluten lifestyle. She says to stay away from processed foods.

“They’re not labeled as being gluten. So they’re hiding in a lot of those preservatives. So yes, if you are someone who, in fact, has a gluten intolerance or lactose intolerant it’s always better to stick with whole foods. That way you can control and know what goes into that food as it’s prepared,” said Lantz.

Some restaurants offer gluten-free meals, but call ahead to make sure. If you have any doubts, read the labels on products or call the company.

Steven Cohen, 25, of Roswell, Ga., lost 75 pounds

For the AJC

Former weight: 255 pounds
Current weight: 180 pounds
Pounds lost: 75 pounds
Height: 5 feet 10 inches
Age: 25 years

Steven Cohen weighed 170 pounds in this March 2012 photo.

Family photo

Steven Cohen weighed 170 pounds in this March 2012 photo.

Steven Cohen weighed 255 pounds when photo was taken in  December 2009 in New York.

Family photo

Steven Cohen weighed 255 pounds when photo was taken in December 2009 in New York.

How long he’s kept it off: He started in January 2010 and reached his current weight in September 2011.

Personal life: “I graduated from the University of Georgia in December of 2011 with a bachelor’s in business administration in economics through the Terry College of Business. I have been working for Chick-fil-A since 2002, and I currently manage a store in Roswell.” He lives in Roswell.

Turning point: “Sadly, it took my grandmother telling me ‘you need to lose weight’ on Christmas 2009 to get the wheels turning,” he says. “I was never happy with my body the way that it was, but not being happy and actually doing something about it are two completely different stories. It was a very good feeling when my Grandma saw my transformation a year later.”

Diet plan: He eats five to six times a day usually char-grilled chicken in a sandwich or salad. “One day a week, I will cheat a meal and have some sushi rolls with my girlfriend,” he says.

Exercise routine: Cohen trains with Pete Estes featured in Success March 28. They’ve run marathons and their ultimate goal is Ironman. “Our main routine is working out five times a week with each day: abs, arms, chest, shoulders, back, abs and legs with swimming, biking and running incorporated into it.”

Biggest challenge: “My biggest challenge in the beginning was breaking the plateau effect,” he says. “Whether in training or weight loss, you will always reach a point at which you feel stuck. The key… is to evolve your workouts.”

How life has changed: “I was very insecure in many facets of life prior to the weight loss, but now those things have definitely changed. Although there are a lot physical changes one will go through with weight loss, the mental and psychological changes are almost more overwhelming,” he says. “One of the most important things in the process has been having the ability to train with a friend. A friend holds you accountable on the days that you are struggling to put the running shoes on.”

Be an inspiration: If you’ve made positive changes in your diet and/or fitness routine and are happy with the results, please share your success with us. Include your email address, a daytime phone number and before and after photos (by mail or JPEG). Write: Success Stories, c/o Holly Steel, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 223 Perimeter Center Parkway, Atlanta, GA, 30346-1301; or e-mail