Sunday Roundup – March 10

Lots of interesting studies and stories await you in this week’s roundup!

Gene Identified That Causes Obesity in Mice: Deleting Gene Eliminates Obesity, Could Work for Humans

If someone told you that by deleting one of your genes, you won’t gain weight and you will be healthy, would you do it? In a mouse study, researchers discovered that by deleting a certain gene (Plin2), the mice ate less food and increased their physical activity even when given a high-fat diet. They even had smaller fat cells and did not suffer from all the health repercussions of obesity (fatty liver, inflammation of fat cells, high triglycerides…). Since humans also have this Plin2 gene, the researchers are positive that they can reproduce similar results in humans. I don’t know about you but I am against genetically-modified foods, let alone genetically-modified humans!! Plus we always seem to forget the social, behavioral, emotional, cognitive, psychological, and environmental aspects and causes of eating and obesity. We always want a quick fix. We lose the weight but almost always gain it back. Can pressing DELETE on a gene provide a long-term solution? I don’t know. Maybe time will prove me wrong.

“It could mean that we have finally discovered a way to disrupt obesity in humans” – J. Mcnaman , Lead researcher as quoted in ScienceDaily

Salami Suicide: Processed Meats Linked To Heart Disease And Cancer

We all know that bacon and salami are not the best foods to have in your diet but a new study is showing more evidence that processed meats may play a role in early death and are linked to heart disease and cancer. Again, this is not a one food causality but probably the result of a lifestyle. People who consume more processed meats are less likely to eat fruits and vegetables, less likely to exercise and more likely to smoke. Processed meats are a high source of fat, salt and nitrates and their intake should be limited.

“…my recommendation is to limit the [total] amount of meat to about 300 to 600 grams a week.” Sabine Rorhmann, Lead Researcher as quoted in The Salt

Peanuts, eggs and milk OK for young babies, report finds

A new report released by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests that there is no reason in delaying the introduction of certain allergenic foods to babies such as peanuts, eggs and milk. According to the academy, they shouldn’t be first baby foods but their introduction as early as 4 or 6 months is OK. A related story but this time from Sweden where researchers suggest introducing gluten-containing foods starting 4-months but while the mother is still breastfeeding to lower the risk of celiac disease. I started introducing food to my daughter at 5 months and 3 weeks. She is now 8 and a half months old and has the most varied diet*. She has had cod, salmon, eggs, and different grains from oats to wheat to kamut, millet, and freekeh…

“We’re living in such a cleaner world now; we’re using antibiotics that are fighting infection and so the body, the immune system is reacting to things that are harmless in the environment instead of things that are harmful.” Dr. Levine, pediatrician on the hygiene theory as quoted in Today Health

What is the Aztec Diet? and England Develops a Voracious Appetite for a new diet

Two titles, two different stories, one conclusion.

The Aztec Diet is a new diet book that puts forefront the powers of chia seeds. It includes three phases: the first consists of three chia smoothies a day, the second consists of two chia smoothies with a balanced lunch and the third is weight maintenance with recipes involving chia seeds. I don’t know about you but as much as I love chia seeds, having to center my whole meals around them is discouraging and I cannot maintain it on the long run. Not to mention that meal replacements i.e. smoothies instead of real meals is the first warning sign of a fad diet. Still not convinced that it’s a fad? The book’s author is the Chief Wellness Expert for Lifemax, a company that distributes chia seeds.                                                                                                                                     The Fast Diet, the diet Britain is eating up, is another book that advocates intermittent fasting. On this diet, one can eat anything during five days then fast during two days. The fasting days consist of 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men. The science behind fasting is not decisive and it does not come without some side effects including bad breath, anxiety, dehydration and irritability. Not only that, people will probably overeat of unhealthy foods on the feasting days and may develop nutrition deficiencies if they do not consume enough fruits and vegetables… Not to mention that people’s behavior will remain unchanged or worse yet they may develop eating disorders. As a matter of fact, the author cautions that anyone under 20, is pregnant, or suffers from eating disorders should not try this diet. My conclusion: beware of fads!

Chia seeds; photo credit:

Chia seeds; photo source:

“Our earliest antecedents lived a feast-or-famine existence, gorging themselves after a big hunt and then not eating until they scored the next one.” Dr. Mosley, author of The Fast Diet as quoted in New York Times
 Losing Weight Sooner Rather Than Later Gives Best Chance of Reversing Heart Damage from Obesity

In a mouse study, researchers found that when young obese mice lost weight their heart damage was reversed. Older rats who also lost weight on the same diet still suffered from heart damage. The same hasn’t been replicated yet on humans but obesity is known for its negative effect on heart health. So the sooner one starts losing weight the better.

Photo source: (Credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Mice before and after weight loss Photo source: (Credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

“The study should encourage people who are obese to try to lose weight as early as possible in order to reduce their risk of heart disease later on.” Lili Barouch, MD, Researcher as quoted in ScienceDaily

Cash Incentives, Penalties May Spur People to Shed More Pounds

The following study doesn’t come as much of a surprise. People like incentives, they love rewards, and they hate losing money! In the one-year long study, participants who had to win or pay $2o by the end of each month were more compliant with their diet and lost more weight than the group who had no monetary incentives.

Cash rewards; Photo source:

Cash rewards; Photo source:

“The challenge is how to help people lose weight in a way that is sustainable. ….But things like this are not likely to make a long-term impact on the obesity epidemic by themselves.” Kahan, MD, as quoted in HealthDay

     A few years back, a friend of mine had a bet with his boss. The boss who was trying to encourage him to lose weight put up a $1000 incentive. He had two choices: lose a specific amount of weight in 2 months and win the cash or fail to lose the weight and pay up. My friend lost the weight the Atkins way and won the $1000, but soon after that the weight started finding its way back! Now, with a sustainable internal motivation and commitment my friend is losing and keeping off the weight following a healthy clean diet and exercising. Morale of the story: cash and material rewards will only last until the satisfaction from the reward wears off or until you’ve spent the money! I am not saying that you shouldn’t set reasonable small rewards when you reach a goal but let good health and a strong body be your internal motivators!

Have a great Sunday!


 *My husband and I do not have any allergies, that’s why I was even more relaxed introducing any food. Nonetheless, I introduced probable allergens during the day and when my husband was home. In case of allergy, you would want the fastest reaction from phoning your pediatrician to going to the hospital.  

4 thoughts on “Sunday Roundup – March 10

  1. Nice review Christele! a nuance could be added however regarding the “effectiveness” of a tangible reward when addressing variables affecting weight loss. Although tangible reinforcement isn’t the key element to rely on when reaching sustainable weight loss (on the long run), it has nevertheless a huge power to motivate a first change attempt. With an issue as “multivariate” as weight problems, intrinsic motivation often lacks at first and that’s why an extrinsic motivation gives that initial push to establish a first change. Once some tangible results are seen/felt/commented by entourage (i.e. tangible weight loss), the pleasure and pride felt will act as natural reward and give a motivational boost to pursue the path of healthy living, consequently increasing the intrinsic motivation. Keep up the good work Christele!

    • Thank you Joelle and you are absolutely right. I guess my point needed a little bit more elaboration. Thank you for taking the time and commenting. I couldn’t have said it better myself. :)

      • It’s a pleasure! always rewarding to exchange ideas with you; I love your blog as it gives up to date information without any partiality. Way to go!

  2. Pingback: Sunday Roundup–April 14 | Health 'n' Horizons

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