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Facebook can lead to eating disorders

Facebook can lead to eating disorders

The more time adolescent girls spend in front of Facebook, the more their chances of developing a negative body image and various eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia and exaggerated dieting. This has been shown in a new study from the University of Haifa.

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Eating disorders include a wide spectrum of abnormal mental and behavioral conducts related to food and body weight, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. This study, conducted by Prof. Yael Latzer, Prof. Ruth Katz and Zohar Spivak of the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences at the University of Haifa, set out to examine the effects of two factors on the development of eating disorders in young girls: exposure to the media and self-empowerment.

A group of 248 girls aged 12-19 (average age: 14.8) took part in the survey. These girls were asked to provide information on their Internet and television viewing habits. Regarding the latter, they were asked to give the number of popular shows related to extreme standards of physical image (the “Barbie” model) that they watched. The girls also filled out questionnaires that examined their approach to slimming, bulimia, physical satisfaction or dissatisfaction, their general outlook on eating, and their sense of personal empowerment.

The results showed that the more time girls spend on Facebook, the more they suffered conditions of bulimia, anorexia, physical dissatisfaction, negative physical self-image, negative approach to eating and more of an urge to be on a weight-loss diet. Extensive online exposure to fashion and music content showed similar tendencies, but manifested in fewer types of eating disorders. As such, the more the exposure to fashion content on the Internet, the higher a girl’s chances of developing anorexia. A similar direct link was found between viewing gossip- and leisure-related television programs (the likes of “Gossip Girl”) and eating disorders in adolescent girls. The study also revealed that the level of personal empowerment in these girls is negatively linked to eating disorders, such that the higher the level of empowerment, the more positive the physical self-image and the lower the chances of developing an eating disorder.

In this study, exposure to the media and the consequential sense of personal empowerment was found to be associated to parenting practices. Girls whose parents were involved in their media usage; who knew what they were viewing and reading and where they were surfing on the web; who watched, surfed or read along with them; and who conducted cooperative and critical discussions with their daughters about the content of their surfing habits, showed more personal empowerment, forming a protective shield against eating disorders.

On the other hand, parents who were not involved in their media exposure, were not aware of the content that their daughters were consuming, and instead of sharing and becoming familiar with that content chose to limit or prohibit exposure, led to lower self-empowerment in their daughters. This, in turn, has a positive link to various eating problems and negative body image.

“Significant potential for future research and application of eating disorder prevention lies in an understanding of how parenting decisions can have effect on an adolescent girl’s sense of empowerment and that enforcing a girl’s sense of empowerment is a means to strengthening body image. This study has shown that a parent has potential ability to prevent dangerous behavioral disorders and negative eating behavior in particular,” the researchers stated.

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White rice increases diabetes risk

Japanese women who eat three or more bowls of rice a day face a 50 percent greater risk of developing diabetes than those who eat one bowl, according to research by the National Cancer Center and other institutions. Although it has long been known that consuming large amounts of carbohydrates can increase the risk of developing the disease, the study was the first of its kind to explore the connection between eating rice and developing diabetes.

Conducted over five years from the early 1990s, the study covered about 60,000 people aged 45 to 74 in Iwate, Nagano, Ibaraki, Okinawa and four other prefectures. Of the subjects, 1,103–625 men and 478 women–developed diabetes during the study period.

Women who ate three bowls of rice a day were 1.48 times more likely to develop diabetes than those who ate one serving daily, the study found. Eating four or more bowls of rice a day raised the risk of women developing diabetes to 1.65 times that of women who ate only one bowl of rice a day. However, among women who performed physical labor or exercised vigorously for at least one hour a day, there was no significant difference in their risk of developing diabetes regardless of whether they habitually gorged on the grain.

For men, there was less evidence of a connection between rice intake and diabetes risk.

But regardless of gender, the less physical exercise a person did, the higher their risk of developing the disease.

While it is possible that eating a lot of rice can contribute to the onset of diabetes in some women, the study produced no conclusive evidence that overindulging is a direct cause of diabetes. Researchers at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine who analyzed the study’s results said it was important to monitor rice intake as part of maintaining a balanced diet.

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1 in 3 believe cancer is down to fate

A new UK research has found that more than a third believe cancer is down to fate and there is nothing they can do to avoid it. Cancer Research UK stated that one in five men and women feared cancer ahead of debt, knife crime, Alzheimer's disease and losing their job whereas 34 percent believed the disease was down to fate, rising to 41 percent of those aged 55 to 64.

The findings come in the midst of growing evidence suggesting lifestyle factors such as losing weight, taking exercise, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of developing cancer.

The survey questioned more than 2,000 adults aged 16 and over. Those questioned were asked to choose what they feared most from a list including developing Alzheimer's, being in debt, old age, being the victim of knife crime, cancer, being in a plane crash, motor neurone disease, being in a car accident, having a heart attack, losing your job and losing your home.

More people (20 per cent) overall chose cancer than anything else, followed by 16 per cent who feared Alzheimer's disease the most. Among adults up to the age of 44, cancer was feared most by 25 per cent while 7.5 per cent feared Alzheimer's most. For those aged over 65, Alzheimer's was feared most by 30 per cent while 14 per cent feared cancer most.

John Fyall, Cancer Research UK's spokesman for Scotland, said: “It's absolutely vital for us to get the message out that people can do something to alleviate their emphatic fear of cancer. Cancer is no longer the death sentence people still seem to dread,” the Scotsman quoted, John Fyall, Cancer Research UK's spokesman for Scotland, as saying. “Spotting early signs and symptoms of what could be cancer – but probably isn't – and getting these checked out by a doctor means that the disease can be diagnosed more quickly,” he added.

Teresa Nightingale, general manager of the World Cancer Research Fund, said, “It is a concern that so many people think cancer is a matter of fate, because there is now strong scientific evidence that people can make relatively simple changes to reduce their risk.” “Scientists estimate about a third of the most common cancers in the UK could be prevented just by eating a healthy, plant-based diet, being regularly physically active and maintaining a healthy weight. This includes about 40 per cent of breast and bowel cancer cases,” she added. Nightingale further informed that, “The strong evidence that diet, activity and weight affect our risk, together with other well-known risk factors such as smoking and sunburn, means that cancer is actually a largely preventable disease.” (ANI)

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Mediterranean Diet prevents Diabetes

Could the Mediterranean diet actually help prevent diabetes? The Mediterranean Diet, which is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats from nuts and olive oil, with moderate amounts of fish, low-fat dairy, and wine, and minimal red meat and processed meats, is considered to be an especially healthy eating plan.

Previous research conducted on newly diagnosed diabetic participants showed the diet did indeed help control the sugar spikes. The previous study found the mediterranean diet eating diabetics had better glycemic control. Furthermore, they had less needs for diabetes medications when adhering to the Mediterranean diet as opposed to a simple low-fat diet.

Recently, a team of researchers in Spain conducted a study using data from a large clinical trial to determine the effects of the Mediterranean Diet on preventing the onset of Type-2 diabetes. Participants were followed for an average of 4 years. Upon completion of the study, 54 participants had developed diabetes–but the split varied significantly among groups. The researchers found that the risk of developing diabetes was reduced by 52% among both groups of people who followed the Mediterranean Diet plans compared to the low-fat control group. In analyzing diet adherence, the researchers further noted that the closer an individual followed the Med-Diet plan, the lower their risk of developing diabetes. Interestingly, the weight of all participants did not change significantly throughout the study, nor did it vary significantly among the three groups.

The participants were divided in one of three groups: adherence to the Med-Diet with 1 liter per week of extra virgin olive oil, adherence to the Med-Diet with 1 oz per day of mixed nuts, or a standard low-fat diet as a control. No calorie restrictions were imposed on any of the groups. The two Med-Diet groups were instructed to increase fruit and vegetable intake, decrease meat intake, stay away from refined sweets and unhealthy fats such as butter, and consume red wine in moderation, if desired. The control group was given general instructions to lower overall fat intake. Baseline measurements and annual follow-up involved an oral glucose tolerance test and interviews to assess diet adherence.

Interestingly, the weight of all participants did not change significantly throughout the study, nor did it vary significantly among the three groups.

This study reinforces prior study results suggesting that the Mediterranean Diet – even without weight loss – may be protective against Type-2 diabetes. The researchers suggest that future studies should focus on the Med-Diet’s effects on younger people, and point out the possible benefits of the Mediterranean Diet as an effective intervention against complications of Type-2 diabetes.

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Breastfeeding reduces diabetes risk

Mothers who did not breastfeed their children have significantly higher rates of type 2 diabetes later in life than moms who breastfed, report University of Pittsburgh researchers in a study published in the September issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

“We have seen dramatic increases in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes over the last century,” said Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, MD, MS, assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. She also has a secondary appointment in epidemiology at the GSPH. “Diet and exercise are widely known to impact the risk of type 2 diabetes, but few people realize that breastfeeding also reduces mothers’ risk of developing the disease later in life by decreasing maternal belly fat.”

The study included 2,233 women between the ages of 40 and 78. Overall, 56 percent of mothers reported they had breastfed an infant for at least one month. Twenty-seven percent of mothers who did not breastfeed developed type 2 diabetes and were almost twice as likely to develop the disease as women who had breastfed or never given birth. In contrast, mothers who breastfed all of their children were no more likely to develop diabetes than women who never gave birth. These long-term differences were notable even after considering age, race, physical activity and tobacco and alcohol use.

“Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breastfeed their infants, at least for the infant’s first month of life,” said Schwarz. “Clinicians need to consider women’s pregnancy and lactation history when advising women about their risk for developing type 2 diabetes.”

Schwarz also is an assistant investigator at the Magee-Womens Research Institute. Co-authors of the study include Jeanette Brown, MD, Jennifer M. Creasman, MPH, and David Thom, MD, PhD, University of California, San Francisco; Alison Stuebe, MD, MSc, University of North Carolina School of Medicine; Candace K. McClure, PhD, University of Pittsburgh; and Stephen K. Van Den Eeden, PhD, Kaiser Permanente, CA.

The research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Institute of Child Health and Development.

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Depression – Diabetes Relationship

A baseline questionnaire about medical history and health practices was completed and then repeated every 2 years through 2006. Self-reported symptoms of depression, use of antidepressant medication, and physician-diagnosed depression were used as measures of depression. Depressed mood was assessed using the 5-item Mental Health Index, with a score of 52 or less indicating severe depression.

Those who reported a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes mellitus had the diagnosis confirmed by means of a supplementary questionnaire validated by medical record review.

During the 10-year follow-up, 2844 women were diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes and 7415 developed depression.

The relative risk of developing type 2 diabetes among women who were depressed was 1.17 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05 – 1.30). Study participants using antidepressants had a relative risk of 1.25 (95% CI, 1.10 – 1.41).

After controlling for all covariates, the investigators found women with diabetes had a relative risk of 1.29 (95% CI, 1.18 – 1.40) of developing clinical depression.

In addition, the relative risk for depression in diabetic subjects taking no diabetic medication, oral hypoglycemic agents, and insulin was 1.25 (95% CI, 1.09 – 1.42), 1.24 (95% CI, 1.09 – 1.41), and 1.53 (95% CI, 1.26 – 1.85), respectively.

The results also showed that compared with their nondiabetic counterparts, women with diabetes were more likely to have a higher body mass index and less likely to be physically active, a finding that suggests these 2 risk factors could be “major mediating factors.”

Nevertheless, they note the association remained significant after controlling for body mass index and lifestyle factors, which suggests “depression has effects on incident diabetes independent of adiposity and inactivity.”

The finding that women taking antidepressant medications were at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those with severe depressive symptoms or physician-diagnosed depression has at least 2 possible explanations — antidepressant medications may be a marker of more severe, chronic, or recurrent depression or the medications themselves may increase diabetes risk.

“Although antidepressant medication use might be a marker of severe depression, its specific association with elevated risk of diabetes warrants further scrutiny,” they write.

In addition, the study authors note that these findings reinforce the hypothesis that diabetes may be related to stress: “Depression may result from the biochemical changes directly caused by diabetes or its treatment, or from the stresses and strains associated with living with diabetes and its often debilitating consequences.”

“This large, well-established cohort study provides evidence that the association between depression and diabetes is bidirectional and this association is partially explained by, but independent of, other known risk factors such as adiposity and lifestyle variables. Future studies are needed to confirm our findings in different populations and to investigate the potential mechanisms underlying this association,” the investigators conclude.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression. The study authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Arch Intern Med. 2010;170:1884-1891.

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Green leafy vegetables can cut risk of diabetes

“Fruit and vegetables are all good, but the data significantly show that green leafy vegetables are particularly interesting, so further investigation is warranted,” Carter said. “Green leafy vegetables contain antioxidants, magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids — all of which have been shown to have health benefits”, she added.

Each of the studies that Carter and her colleagues analyzed followed a group of adults over periods of 4-and-a-half to 23 years, recording how many servings of fruits and vegetables each participant ate on a daily basis then examining who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found no significant difference in diabetes risk with higher intake of vegetables in general, fruits in general, or combinations of vegetables and fruits.

Green leafy vegetables stood out, however, with an increase of 1.15 servings a day producing a 14 percent decrease in an individual's risk of developing diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is caused by the body's inability to adequately use insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, to regulate levels of glucose produced from food. Uncontrolled, the sugar levels rise and can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and major arteries.

An estimated 180 million people worldwide have diabetes. The costs of caring for those with the disease are soaring in wealthy nations and becoming an increasing burden in developing countries too. Although there is no cure for diabetes, people with the condition can minimize their chances of getting sicker by being more active and losing weight.

Source: Reuters.

 

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Dementia Can Be Avoided By Reading, Eating Well And Keeping Spirits High

According to the study published today in the British Medical Journal, the combined effects of reading, eating well and keeping spirits high would far outstrip the theoretical possibility of eliminating a gene known to increase the risk of dementia.

Dr. Karen Ritchie, a neuro-psychologist at the French National Institute of Medical Research leading her team of researchers assessed the change in the cognitive ability of 1,433 pensioners in Montpellier, over a period of seven years.

The participants in the study were asked series of questions regarding their lifestyle, medical history and educational background, including carrying out reading tests.

According to their findings, the amount of intellectual exercise a person indulges in greatly influences their likelihood of developing dementia.

Those with lower reading scores were 18% more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or dementia, the former the forerunner of the latter.

Those suffering from depression were 10% more likely to develop it; while eating fruit and vegetables less than twice a day meant a 6.5% chance of developing dementia. Having diabetes was also a significant factor, leading to a 5% higher risk than those without.

In comparison, possessing a gene associated with dementia increased the risk by 7%.

These findings indicate intellectual activity to be the most important factor, which means the public health message should be to encourage literacy at all ages irrespective of innate ability.

Similarly, while the study found depression to be strongly linked to the development of dementia, treating it did not necessarily offer protection, nor was it easy getting people to eat more fruit and vegetables.

In conclusion, due to these problems, the most practical short-term solution was tackling diabetes, previous studies have also confirmed to be a causal factor. Obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are other risk factors associated with the disease.

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High Fructose Sugar Intake Increases Risk for High Blood Pressure

The researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2003-2006) which consisted of 4,528 US adults 18 years of age or older that had no previous hypertension diagnosis. The survey asked about dietary habits and what foods and beverages that they consumed. The researchers said that those who ate 74 grams (about 2.5 cans of sugared soda) or more each day of fructose sugar, had shown an increased risk for developing hypertension. There was a 26 percent chance for these individuals to have high blood pressure reading at 135/85mmHg , a 30 percent higher risk to have high blood pressure measured at 140/90, and a 77 percent higher risk for having blood pressure measured at 160/100 mmHg. A normal blood pressure reading is under 120/80 mmHg.

The researchers point out that even though this shows a potential trigger for high blood pressure, a randomized clinical study would need to be conducted in order to prove that a low fructose diet would prevent hypertension.

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Gestational Diabetes Can Be Prevent by Dietary Changes

According to UCSF Professor Michael German, MD, who is also the senior author of the paper, tryptophan hydroxylase (Tph1), the enzyme that produces serotonin from tryptophan increased by as much 1000-fold during the early pregnancy. The researchers found that inhibition of serotonin synthesis by restricting the intake of tryptophan in pregnant mice blocked beta cell proliferation and resulted in the development of glucose intolerance and gestational diabetes in the mice.

The research indicates that anything that affects the production of serotonin, such as drugs, diet or genetic inheritance may affect the risk of developing gestational diabetes and possibly the long-term risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Serotonin has been widely studied as a neurotransmitter in the brain for its effects on appetite and mood, especially depression. Since it also influences the insulin production, this could explain why some patients with gestational diabetes experience depression. This would also explain the effect of some classes of psychiatric medications on diabetes.

The study will be published in the upcoming issue of “Nature Medicine” and was published online on June 27, 2010.

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