People with type 2 diabetes who sit all day have a riskier blood fat mixture than those who move around or exercise periodically throughout the day, according to researchers in Australia.
“We have previously shown that interrupting prolonged sitting with light intensity activity after meals reduces risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, such as elevated blood sugars and high blood pressure,” said lead author Dr. Megan S. Grace from Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and Monash University in Melbourne.
Past research has also shown that patients with type 2 diabetes have an altered blood fat profile that contributes to inflammation and insulin resistance and that exercise can improve this profile.
“What we found interesting about this study was that breaking up sitting also reduces levels of lipids (fats) in the bloodstream that are associated with risk for type 2 diabetes and its complications,” Grace said by email. “Our study showed that breaks which include either simple resistance exercise or light walking were generally equally beneficial in reducing blood lipids.”
Researchers looked at blood lipid profiles in 21 overweight or obese adults with type 2 diabetes under three different conditions: sitting throughout the day (rising only to use the bathroom); breaking up sitting by light walking for three minutes every 30 minutes; and breaking up sitting by doing light exercise like squats and knee raises for three minutes every 30 minutes.
During sitting, and especially after meals, the lipid profile reflected an inflammatory state that also lacked the antioxidants needed to fight inflammation, according to the results in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Both light walking and light exercise changed this profile into one that was less inflammatory and had a greater capacity for fighting inflammation. Light exercise also improved fat-burning capacity.
“Our current findings reinforce the message that avoiding prolonged periods of sitting, and finding ways to increase activity across the day, is beneficial for health,” Grace said. “In line with the recent American Diabetes Association Position Statement, we recommend interrupting sitting every 30 minutes with a few minutes of light intensity activity, in addition to regularly taking part in a structured exercise program.”
Her best advice: “Stand up, sit less, and move more - particularly after meals.”
"The results are novel and important because they identified new mechanisms to explain why sitting time has been linked with poor health,” said Dr. Sarah Kozey-Keadle from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, who has studied ways to reduce sitting time and increase physical activity.
“Although not directly addressed in this report, the most important message related to physical activity is that exercise can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and prevent complications for those who already have type 2 diabetes,” she told Reuters Health by email.
“The second message is that there are health benefits for replacing and breaking up sitting time with activities that are not considered exercise, such as standing and lower intensity activities of daily living, especially for people who are currently less active,” Kozey-Keadle said.
Food labels that say ‘low salt’ or ‘no fat’ may be misleading, suggests a new study.
These ‘low-content’ claims are based on comparisons with other foods and are not standard definitions. Making such a claim doesn’t necessarily mean the food is more nutritious than other brands, the authors say.
Consumers should “turn the package around and look at the entire nutritional profile as well as the ingredients list in order to get a better sense of whether the product overall is healthier or less healthy,” Lindsey Smith Taillie of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill told Reuters Health in a phone call.
Smith Taillie and colleagues analyzed data on more than 80 million food and beverage purchases made in the United States by 40,000 families from 2008 to 2012.
“We found that higher-income households tended to be more likely to buy products with these types of claims, which is consistent with previous research that suggests that claims tend to be more utilized by people with higher levels of education,” Smith Taillie said.
As reported in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 13 percent of food and 35 percent of beverage purchases included products with some type of low-content claim. Low-fat purchases were the most common, followed by low-calorie, low-sugar, and low-sodium claims.
On average, packaged foods with low-nutrient claims had 32 percent fewer calories, 11 percent less sugar, and about half the fat and sodium compared to foods that didn’t carry any claims on the packaging.
However, some products with low-nutrient claims actually had more of that substance than foods without those claims.
Also, Smith Taillie said, when a product has a low-sugar claim, for example, it might have less sugar than a reference product or a similar product, “but it doesn't mean that it has an overall better nutritional quality.”
Or, "it could be a high-sugar food but be low in fat, so it's going to say low fat on the label. That doesn't mean that it's healthy," she said.
“Essentially, it can be kind of misleading to make a decision about a product based on a front-of-package claim," she added.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates what products can claim, Smith Taillie said.
"It's not that the products are technically wrong in making a low-content claim, it's just that the rules that allow them to make this kind of claim vary by the claim and by food category," she said.
Food labels can be confusing, agreed Melissa Rifkin, a dietitian with Montefiore Medical Center in New York City who was not involved in the study.
Understanding what a nutrition fact label means is more important than focusing on marketing claims,” Rifkin told Reuters Health by email.
Key items to focus on are serving size, quantity per container, calories, fat, sodium and sugar, she said.
A new and revamped nutrition fact label is under development, Rifkin said.
“Slowly we will begin to see all labeling take on the new information,” she said.
Mixing alcoholic beverages with highly caffeinated energy drinks could be increasing the risk of falls and injury, according to Canadian researchers.
A team from the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia (CARBC) looked at 13 studies on the topic of alcohol and energy drinks published from 1981 to 2016.
From the 13 studies that fit the criteria, 10 showed evidence of a link between drinking alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) and an increased risk of injury compared to drinking alcohol only.
The study included both unintentional injuries such as falls or car accidents, and intentional ones such as fights or other types of physical violence.
Dangers of AmED
According to the researchers, AmED use is increasingly popular across North America, as in the common case of mixing Red Bull and vodka. These types of beverages can also be bought as premixed drinks from liquor stores.
Explaining the findings, lead study author Audra Roemer, M.Sc. said, “The stimulant effects of caffeine mask the result that most people get when they drink. Usually when you’re drinking alcohol, you get tired and you go home. Energy drinks mask that, so people may underestimate how intoxicated they are, end up staying out later, consume more alcohol, and engage in risky behavior and more hazardous drinking practices.”
Three of the studies also looked at whether risk-taking or sensation-seeking personality traits could also increase the risk of injuries when partaking in AmED use, with Roemer adding that, “We know that these are risk factors for alcohol-related injuries, and some research has suggested that people who have these traits might prefer the awake-drunk state that you get from mixing alcohol and energy drinks.”
“This could be a population that’s at even higher risk for injuries.”
However, Roemer did point out that there is a lack of research in this area, and wide variability in the studies analyzed.
More research is now needed in order to confirm the team’s findings, with Roemer adding, “Hopefully, that will bring more answers. The research we’ve done so far points to an increased risk of injuries with the use of AmED that could be a serious public health concern.”
The results can be found published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
International researchers said Tuesday they have found a way to assess a person’s genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by a given age, a tool that could lead to better diagnosis and treatment.
The report in the journal PLOS Medicine was based on genetic data from more than 70,000 Alzheimer’s patients and elderly people without the disease participating in several major global studies on dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting some 47 million people worldwide, and has no cure and no effective treatments.
Most people with the disease begin to show symptoms in their 60s, but rarer cases of early onset Alzheimer’s can begin as early as the 30s.
“For any given individual, for a given age and genetic information, we can calculate your ‘personalized’ annualized risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD),” said co-author Rahul Desikan, clinical instructor at the University of California San Francisco Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging.
“That is, if you don’t already have dementia, what is your yearly risk for AD onset, based on your age and genetic information.”
More research is needed before the test can be made available to the public.
Also, researchers noted that their databases mainly included people of European descent, and therefore they could not accurately predict the risk of Alzheimer’s in other ethnicities, including African Americans or Latinos.
“This limitation is an unfortunate product of available genetic studies,” said co-author Chun Chieh Fan, a doctor in the department of cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego.
“To have good predictive performance, the genetic risk score requires a large amount of data to train, but currently only European cohorts have reached this critical mass.”
Older men who take vitamin E and selenium supplements have the same risk of dementia as people who don't use these products, according to a new study that quashes hopes these antioxidants might prevent cognitive decline.
Previous research has linked antioxidants to the prevention of cellular damage that can occur with aging as well as in cancer and other diseases. Antioxidants may achieve this by halting or slowing oxidative stress, which has also been linked to the progression of dementia.
As the body uses oxygen, it produces by-products called free radicals. Damage to cells and tissues by oxygen free radicals is known as oxidative stress.
"Antioxidants, either through food or supplements, are believed to reduce oxidative stress throughout the body," said senior study author Frederick Schmitt of the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
"It could be that antioxidant supplements are less effective than those consumed through food," Schmitt said by email. "The take-home message is that the evidence for antioxidant supplements is limited."
For the current study, researchers examined data on 7,540 older men who took part in a larger trial of the effects of selenium and vitamin E on cancer risk. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups that received either vitamin E or selenium supplements, both supplements or placebo pills.
About half the men were followed for five years and half for an additional six years. The study found no differences in dementia risk between any of the groups, researchers report in JAMA Neurology.
At the start of the study, the men were 68 years old on average and had no history of cognitive or neurological problems. During the study, 325 of them developed dementia, or roughly 4.4 percent of the men in each treatment group.
One limitation of the study is that many participants dropped out early. During the study, other research emerged linking vitamin E to an increased risk of prostate cancer and linking selenium to higher odds of diabetes; these findings may have prompted at least some men to leave the antioxidant study, the authors note.
Based on the results, however, people without dementia should not be taking antioxidant supplements just to prevent cognitive decline, the researchers conclude.
It's possible that the study participants got enough antioxidants from their diets that the supplements didn't appear beneficial, Schmitt said. The dose of supplements or the formulation might have also contributed to the lack of benefit found in the study.
A Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish and healthy fats may help ward off dementia even if supplements do not, and exercise may also help prevent cognitive decline, Schmitt said.
Foods rich in antioxidants include a variety of berries like blueberries, cranberries, goji berries and elderberries as well as dark chocolate, pecans, artichokes and kidney beans.
The antioxidant vitamin E can be found in nuts, seeds, vegetables and fish oil but the body may need supplements to get enough of this nutrient. Brazil nuts, tuna and certain other fish, as well as red meat and poultry can contain selenium, but supplements may also be needed to boost supplies of this nutrient.
"If you aren't taking antioxidant supplements, there is scant evidence that they will be of significant help in preventing dementia," said Dr. Steven DeKosky of the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
"However, healthy diets that contain vegetables with antioxidants would be good to choose as it does have the natural compounds needed," DeKosky, author of an accompanying editorial, said by email.