Entries in Fat (25)


Schools Take Aim at Popular Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- School districts in California and New Mexico are trying to ban the popular snack food Flamin’ Hot Cheetos because they say it is a health hazard to students.

School officials say the concern is their nutritional value, or lack thereof.  Each bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos contains 26 grams of fat and a quarter of the amount of salt that’s recommended for the entire day.

One school district in Illinois, which used to sell about 150,000 bags each year, has already taken the snack off its menu.

“If children were to bring in snacks that are high in fat, high in calories, that’s their choice,” Rockford School District Interim Superintendent Robert Willis said.  “We’re not going to be providing those kinds of foods.”

On top of the artificial coloring and flavoring, some experts say the Cheetos are “hyperpalatable,” meaning they’re highly addictive.

“Our brain is really hardwired to find things like fat and salt really rewarding and now we have foods that have them in such high levels that it can trigger an addictive process,” said Ashley Gearhardt, a clinical psychologist at the University of Michigan.

Frito Lay, which makes and sells Cheetos, says it is “committed to responsible and ethical practices, which includes not marketing our products to children ages 12 and under.”

While Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are under fire in schools, kids can’t get enough of them.  So much so that there is a YouTube video featuring kids rapping about their love of the snack.

“Got my fingers stained red and I can’t get them off me.  You can catch me and my crew eating hot Cheetos and takis,” one boy raps in the video.

Takis are a chili pepper- and lime-flavored corn snack.

The video has already been viewed more than 3.3 million times and there are even Facebook fan pages dedicated to the snack.

One fan page has more than 49,000 “likes,” with many fans posting photos and videos with the snack.

“Don’t feel like leaving to get food,” one person writes.  “So I’m eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Foodie Alert: How Palate Cleansers Work on ‘Fatty Mouth’

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- “Red wine with red meat,” or so the old adage goes. Now new findings may help us better understand how palate cleansers like wine or tea refresh our mouths between courses.

A study, published on Monday in Current Biology, enlisted 21 volunteers to rate the feelings in their mouth after repeatedly sipping either tea or water while eating salami.

When subjects ate fatty food, they experienced a “fatty mouth feel” -- a sensation that their mouths felt slippery or coated, said senior author of the study, Paul A.S. Breslin, a professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University and member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

“If they are sipping tea while they eat this meat, then that tea helped bring the ‘fatty mouth feel’ back down again, more so when compared to sipping just water,” he said.

These findings show that sipping an astringent beverage can counteract the oral sensation of fatty foods during a meal.

Palate cleansers feel astringent or dry in our mouths because they contain compounds that break down the lubricating proteins in our saliva, Breslin said. This is what allows them to provide a sensation of cleanness in our mouths by removing after-tastes and fatty mouth-coating sensations.

“If you notice how we eat fatty foods in general, we tend to pair them with something astringent,” Breslin said. “They go together because they balance each other out."

“This is a principle in cuisines throughout the world.”

One nutrition expert not involved with the study agreed.

“The process of dining involves a back and forth interplay of astringency and fat,” said Dr. Jana Klauer, a New York City-based physician who specializes in nutrition, “The French have long known this.”

In a typical French meal, she explained, you consume an aperitif -- which is astringent -- then a creamy soup, then a main course with some fat balanced with an astringent wine, then a palate-cleansing sorbet, and lastly, a dessert containing fat.

So food-lovers around the globe may have another reason to rejoice.  Whether you consume a juicy steak with red wine, salad dressing containing oil and vinegar, or sushi with a side of ginger, these and other complementary pairings of fat and astringency may be good for our bodies, Breslin said.

“This natural tendency for seeking balance in our mouths might have benefits for maintaining a diversity of foods in our diet.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Newly Identified 'Beige Fat' Cells Could Help Fight Obesity

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have isolated a new type of energy-burning cell known as "beige fat," which they say may have therapeutic potential for aiding weight loss and treating obesity in adults.

According to a new report published in the journal Cell, beige fat is scattered in pea-size deposits beneath the skin near the collarbone and along the spine. But rather than storing excess calories in the form of jiggly thighs and a jelly belly as blubbery-and-prolific white fat does, this type of fat is a calorie burner.

"During exercise, muscles release the hormone irisin, which then converts ordinary white fat cells into beige ones – and those beige cells burn up extra calories," explains Bruce Spiegelman, the senior author of the paper.

It's long been known that the calories burned during exercise exceed the number used during the actual activity. Beige fat could be responsible for torching these extra calories. However, because the muscles also release irisin when the body is cold, Spiegelman speculates that the beige fat mechanism might have evolved as a response to shivering, which, like exercise, is a neuromuscular activity.

Spiegelman doesn't necessarily believe the conversion of cells to beige is permanent. "It's an adaptive process," he says. "They probably increase or decrease depending on physiological conditions such as age, sex and obesity."

This could be why more brown fat and perhaps more beige fat is present in people who are fit and physically active versus those who are slothful couch potatoes. An attractive hypothesis to be sure, but Spiegelman cautions there's not yet enough evidence to prove it.

Beige fat appears to be genetically distinct from "brown fat" another type of fat found in small amounts in the necks and collarbones of adults and in larger amounts in rodents and human infants. It's distinct from the white fat that plagues anyone who struggles to lose weight. Both brown and beige fat have an abundance of mitochondria, the tiny power plants of the cell that convert food into energy and generate heat. Both types contain iron, which gives them their distinctive brown and beige hues.

But the two fats differ in a number of ways. One key difference is that brown fat cells express high levels of UCP1, a protein required by mitochondria that burns calories and generates heat, whereas beige cells normally express low levels of it. Beige cells can, however, turn on high levels of UCP1 in response to cold or the release of irisin, enabling beige fat to burn calories nearly as effectively as brown fat. Also, brown fat cells appear to arise from stem cells precursors that also produce muscle cells, while beige fat forms within deposits of white fat cells from beige cell precursors.

The discovery of irisin, and its ability to transform white fat to brown fat was originally announced in another paper by Spiegelman that his team published earlier this year. This latest Cell report confirms that irisin specifically stimulates white fat to produce beige fat.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fat Forecast: 42% of Americans Obese by 2030

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- About 32 million more Americans will become obese by 2030, upping obesity rates to 42 percent of the U.S. population, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report also predicts that the proportion of Americans who are severely obese, meaning more than 100 pounds overweight, will reach 11 percent, about double the current rate.

The report’s authors give a sobering price tag for these predictions: such an increase would create $550 billion of obesity-related health care costs.

The report was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and was released at the CDC’s Weight of the Nation conference Monday, a gathering focused on the impact of the obesity epidemic. The authors analyzed data collected from each state and made projections based on a number of factors influencing obesity rates, including the cost of healthy and unhealthy foods, gas prices and Internet access.

Although recent data suggest that rates of obesity have reached a plateau, current rates of obesity are still alarmingly high. About 34 percent of adults are currently obese, creating a whole host of expensive, chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The report’s authors said a number of factors could lead to the predicted rise in obesity. About two-thirds of Americans are currently overweight and could continue to gain weight and move into the obese category.

Dr. William Dietz, one of the study’s authors and director of the CDC’s division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, also noted that children who are currently overweight or obese will likely be a major source of the increasing rates.

Currently about 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese.

Anti-obesity measures such as better urban design, access to recreational facilities, workplace health promotion and new drugs could help reign in the problem, the authors noted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Get Up! Sitting Makes You Fat, Research Suggests

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- New research gives many of us yet another reason to get up off our desk chairs  and get moving.

The findings, published in Cell Physiology, suggest that the pressure placed in the buttocks and hips from sitting down for too long can generate up to 50 percent more fat in those areas.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University looked at MRI images of muscle tissue in people who had been paralyzed by spinal cord injuries and found that major amounts of fat cells stretched to surround the areas around the muscles that endured pressure from lying or sitting. The researchers then manipulated a group of fat cells to stretch and stay sedentary for long periods of time, representing the time spent sitting or lying down. After two weeks, they found that stretched cells produced nearly 50 percent more liquid fat than regular fat cells.

“These findings indicate that we need to take our cells’ mechanical environment into account as well as pay attention to calories consumed and burned,” Amit Gefen, one of the Tel Aviv researchers, told the U.K.’s Telegraph.

Previous research found that those who were bound to wheelchairs or were bedridden developed abnormal muscle and fat growth in areas of the body where more pressure was placed. But Gefen said this research could also translate to the not so extreme sedentary lifestyle.

Even those who eat well and exercise can suffer the consequences of a bigger butt and waistline if they stay seated for longer periods of time, according to this research. But forgo the exercise and become a couch potato and the results could be worse, Gefen told The Telegraph.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Do Thin Parents Pass On Skinny Genes?

Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision(LONDON) -- People with thin parents are more likely to be thin themselves, a new study has found. But don't go chalking up weight woes to bad genes just yet.

Researchers from University College London in the U.K. studied more than 4,400 families with more than 7,000 children. Kids with two thin parents were twice as likely to be thin themselves compared to kids with two parents at the heavy end of a healthy weight range. And kids with overweight or obese parents were progressively less likely to be thin.

"We found evidence of a strong family association, with most thin children and adolescents coming from families in which both parents were thinner than average," the researchers reported in the October issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

Previous studies have uncovered a similar trend at the other end of the scale: kids with overweight or obese parents are more likely to be overweight. Some studies have even implicated specific genes. But experts say genes alone can't explain the drastic rise in obesity over the past 30 years.

"Have our genes changed enough to account for this? Absolutely not," said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. "But certain genes could account for the fact that some people are more vulnerable than others."

We share more than just genes with our parents, Katz said, adding behaviors like diet and exercise habits as well as education levels to the list.

"The distinction between nature and nurture in a study like this is absolutely impossible," Katz said. "You can break away from your family pattern if you behave differently than your family did."

Family history can provide helpful insight into risk factors for certain conditions, such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. But family history is not destiny, Katz said.

"We have a major influence on our medical destiny in how we choose to live every day," he said. "Your genes may make you less vulnerable to weight gain, but anyone can gain weight."

While scientists continue to study the heredity of weight woes, parents can help keep kids on track by setting a good example.

"The example that the parents set and the environment in which you live are very strong determinants of obesity or thinness," said Lisa Cimperman, a registered dietician at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland. "The sooner we get kids on the path toward eating healthy foods, the more likely they are to carry that on into adulthood."

While genetics do play a role in body weight and shape, they're not the "be-all, end-all," Cimperman said.

"Being healthy is a choice, not something handed to you in your genes," she said, adding that thinness does not necessary go hand-in-hand with health.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Woman Dies After Injecting Face with Hot Beef Fat

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- An Illinois woman who injected hot beef fat into her face died Thursday of a bacterial infection soon after she administered the homemade cosmetic surgery. Oddly, doctors say the questionable injections had nothing to do with her death, which was deemed natural by Illinois’ Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Janet Hardt, 63 of Homewood, Ill., boiled beef, extracted the fat and injected it into her face before she went to the hospital complaining that her face felt as if it was burning, according to ABC News Chicago affiliate WLS-TV.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Hardt had infections and scarring in her mouth and on her lips, but an autopsy declared her death was a result of peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdomen’s inner wall.

This bizarre story does not come without lessons, experts say.

“There are a lot people out there doing self-injections for wrinkles, but I don’t know of any medical associations that would recommend this,” said Dr. Phillip Haeck, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “It’s not worth taking a chance with your face to try to save money when it could ultimately cost you a lot more money.”

Hardt reportedly injected her face with the beef fat several times, and she also underwent several legitimate plastic surgery procedures. Because she injected herself multiple times with the animal product, Haeck said she was at risk of developing an allergic reaction.

“One of the injections could cause the skin to erode or ulcerate,” said Haeck. “We know that injections of animal proteins do not cause systemwide failure, but it tends to cause local reactions. A lot of people who have allergic reactions to animal proteins will say that their face is burning like this woman did. That’s probably what was going on here.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rat Study Finds that Fat Triggers the Munchies

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(IRVINE, Calif.) -- New research suggests that fatty foods give people a high that may contribute insatiable food cravings.

The study was conducted on rats by researchers at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. The rats were given various liquids containing fat, sugar, or protein. Scientists then found that the fatty liquid triggered endocannabinoids, naturally-produced substances which control the appetite.

Endocannabinoid research could lead to medication that helps regulate food cravings.

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Can Fat Make You Lose Weight?

Photodisc/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Looking for the holy grail of weight loss? In the future, people may be able to receive an injection that burns calories and melts away fat -- or at least that's what a new study on mice may suggest.

Our bodies contain two kinds of fat: white and brown. White fat is the kind that most people are trying to get rid of. It stores calories, but too much causes obesity and increases risk of type 2 diabetes, along with several other obesity-related diseases. Brown fat acts like muscle—it contains iron and even burns calories within the cells. It is also responsible for maintaining body temperature. The brown fat is naturally lost as people age, and it cannot be gained by eating certain foods or performing certain exercises.

But in a finding that may be exciting for many, researchers were able to turn white fat into brown fat by blocking a natural chemical in the body. The change led to weight loss, improved blood sugar levels and insulin tolerance in the mice.

"Considering that efforts to combat obesity with anti-obesity drugs have been frustrating, and that reducing obesity by dieting are often challenging in the long term, there is certainly a need for a new out-of-the-box approach," Sushil G. Rane, lead author of the study, told ABC News. "Our findings have the potential to offer a new avenue, and our data suggests that the strategy is a rational approach to combat obesity."

Dr. Ken Fujioka, director of nutrition and metabolic research at Scripps Clinic in San Diego, said that the findings could be "huge if you could apply it to humans," but he added that research is "very very very far away" from curing obesity through simple injections and drugs.

Rane was also quick to note that the research is a long way from being applicable in people.

"The data we have provide good proof of concept that the strategy is promising, but real data needs to be generated to support the utility in humans," said Rane.

More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and childhood obesity is climbing at a rapid rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict that as many as one in three Americans will have diabetes by mid-century. Fujioka noted that the study's findings, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, may contribute to the future of obesity research, but similar approaches have disappointed in the past.

Meanwhile, some doctors wonder why so much money is going into biomedical attempts at weight loss when we all know the tried and true methods of shedding pounds.

"Do we apply a costly, cutting edge treatment to two-thirds of the population to treat what eating better and being active could have fixed for free?" wondered Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center.

"I often wince when hearing about large sums of money spent on finding new ways to do at high cost and with high danger what we already know how to do at low cost and with no danger," Katz continued. "If only we could muster the societal resolve to turn what we already know into what we routinely do."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Could Eating Fake Fat Make You Gain Weight?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.) -- Another diet myth bites the dust: products containing the calorie-less fake fat Olean, of fat-free potato chips fame, may make you gain weight, not lose it.

In a new study released Tuesday by Purdue University, researchers found that rats who were fed Olean-containing potato chips as part of a high-fat diet ate more overall and gained more weight than those who were fed a high-fat diet and regular, full-fat potato chips.

This counter-intuitive finding shakes the conventional wisdom that substituting lower calorie, lower fat foods for the full-fat versions will help reduce overall caloric intake and encourage weight loss.

"Fat substitutes can interfere with the body's ability to regulate what it eats, and that can result in overeating," said Susan Swithers, lead author and psychology professor at Purdue University.

But overeating may not be the only reason why fat substitutes make you pack on the pounds.  Researchers suspect that fake fats actually tamper with our body's ability to digest and metabolize food, making us more likely to retain weight from what we eat.

"Our bodies make predictions on what to prepare to digest based on taste and how food feels in our mouth," Swithers said.  When something tastes sweet or fatty, our body gears up to digest a high density of calories, stimulating the metabolism and triggering a chain of hormonal secretions to process the fat, calories, and nutrients."

"When we get cues that something is fatty, but no calories arrive -- like with fat substitutes -- our body gets confused," Swithers said.  "This confusion can make the body stop preparing to digest fatty food when it does come."

Olean is the brand name for Olestra, a calorie-less, fat-free fat-substitute discovered accidentally by Procter & Gamble in 1968.  Olestra was approved for use as a food additive in snack foods in 1996 and soon after became famous for its negative gastrointestinal side effects, including intense diarrhea and anal leakage.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio