If you’re having trouble coping with both obesity and depression, new research says improving your mood might be the key to losing weight.
Researchers at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle evaluated 203 women aged 40 to 65 with an average body mass index (BMI) of 38.3 (30 or more is classified as obese). The study subjects underwent baseline tests to measure their weight, depression score, food intake and physical activity. The researchers placed the women into two treatment groups. One was focused on weight loss while the other focused on both weight loss and depression. Both interventions included as many as 26 group sessions over a year, and researchers followed up on the participants at six, 12 and 24 months after enrollment.
The researchers found that the most significant changes occurred in the first six months and then remained stable after that. At six months after enrollment, 38 percent of the women who had at least a one-half point decrease on their depression score lost at least 5 percent of their body weight. This is compared to the 21 percent of the women who lost the same amount but had no decrease — or an increase — in their depression score.
The authors of the study say most weight loss programs don’t pay enough attention to screening and treatment of depression, and these findings underscore the importance of doing so.
If you want to experience a substantial reduction in mental and physical fatigue and depressive symptoms, a recent study suggests retirement might be the answer. Researchers at Stockholm University have found that retirement leads to a reduction in those symptoms, but does not change the risk of major chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease.
The researchers studied 11,246 men and 2,858 women who were surveyed annually from 1989 to 2007 as part of a large French cohort study. Most participants were married and belonged to higher or middle employment grades. All of them had retired by the age of 64. One in four participants had suffered from depressive symptoms in the year before retirement, and 728 of them were diagnosed with one or more of the following: diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease or stroke. The respondents who weren’t married and those in low employment grades had higher odds of physical, but not mental, fatigue.
The researchers found that retirement is associated with a substantial decrease in both mental and physical fatigue, with a smaller but also significant decrease in depressive symptoms. However, the authors of the study found no association between retirement and chronic disease.
One explanation the researchers offer for the link is the fact that work is tiring for many older workers and removing work from the equation may account for the reduction in fatigue. In addition, they point out that retirement may allow people more time to engage in stimulating and restorative activities like physical exercise.
If you’re struggling with a child who you think is a picky eater, new research suggests you should take a look at your own diet. Researchers at Michigan State University’s College of Nursing have found that a mother’s own eating habits — and whether she views her child as a ‘picky eater’ — has a huge impact on whether her child eats enough fruits and vegetables.
The researchers looked at about 400 low-income women (black and non-Hispanic white) with children between the ages of 1 and 3 who were enrolled in Early Head Start programs. They found that toddlers were less likely to eat fruits and vegetables four or more times a week if their mothers did not eat that amount or if their mothers viewed their children as picky eaters.
The authors of the study say what and how mothers eat is the most direct influence on what toddlers eat, and that health professionals need to take this into account when trying to figure out how to increase a child’s consumption of healthy foods.
The study also revealed differences among race. Black moms and toddlers did not eat as many fruits and veggies as non-Hispanic whites, though a majority of study participants fell below the recommended U.S. dietary guidelines.
Here’s yet another reason to kick the habit, especially if you have kids. Harvard researchers have found that children between the ages of 12 and 17 who live in households with secondhand smoke are 1.67 times more prone to have recurrent ear infections than teens who live in a smoke-free environment.
The researchers analyzed the smoking behavior of 90,961 families surveyed between April 2007 and July 2008. They found that family members are increasingly more likely to smoke inside as their kids become preteens and teenagers. While they’re not sure why secondhand smoke may cause ear infections, they say it is clearly an irritant that may increase children’s and adolescents’ susceptibility to them.
The authors of the study suggest pediatricians should do more to make parents aware of the dangers of secondhand smoke.
If you eat almonds on a regular basis, you might be decreasing your chances of developing diabetes. That’s according to a recent study by researchers from Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. According to the study, consuming an almond-rich diet may help improve insulin sensitivity and decrease LDL-cholesterol levels in those with prediabetes, a condition that is the precursor to type 2 diabetes.
The researchers looked at the effects of eating an almond-enriched diet on factors linked to the progression of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in 65 adults (48 women and 17 men, average age of 53.5) with prediabetes. They found that after 16 weeks of eating either a regular diet or an almond-enriched diet , the group that ate the diet high in almonds showed significantly improved LDL-cholesterol levels and measures of insulin sensitivity, which are risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. However, researchers note that although study participants in both groups were told to consume the same amount of calories from carbohydrates, those in the almond group reported less intake of carbs.
The authors of the study say these findings suggest that consuming an American Diabetes Association (ADA)-recommended diet consisting of 20 % of total calories from almonds for 16 weeks is effective in improving LDL cholesterol levels and measures of insulin sensitivity in people with prediabetes. However, they admit that more tightly controlled studies are needed to confirm these findings.
If you’ve ever felt uneasy sitting in a doctor’s waiting room or nervous waiting for your test results, you might be causing yourself even more stress than knowing you have a serious illness. That’s the findings of a recent study by researchers at Harvard Medical School.
The researchers studied the stress levels of 214 women scheduled to undergo different diagnostic and treatment procedures. The women completed four standardized tests measuring stress and anxiety levels immediately prior to the procedures. 112 out of the 214 women were awaiting breast biopsy, while 42 were awaiting a treatment for liver cancer called hepatic chemoembolization and 60 were awaiting uterine fibroidembolization, a treatment for uterine myoma or benign fibroids.
The patients about to undergo a breast biopsy reported significantly higher levels of anxiety than chemoembolization patients and fibroid embolization patients, but all the patients reported anxiety.
The authors of study say these results prove that the distress of not knowing your diagnosis is serious, a fact they don’t believe health care providers and patients are fully aware of. They urge training for providers in how to talk to patients, so they can take steps to diffuse tension and help patients to shape expectations in a more helpful fashion.
If you’ve had kids, this new research may not come as much of a surprise to you. According to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan, working mothers are two-and-a-half times as likely as working fathers to interrupt their sleep to take care of others.
This is the first known nationally representative data that documents substantial gender differences in getting up at night, mainly with babies and small children. Not only are women more likely to get up at night to care for others, but their sleep interruptions also last longer — an average of 44 minutes, compared to about 30 minutes for men.
The researchers analyzed time-diary data from about 20,000 working parents from 2003 to 2007, and found that the gender gap in sleep interruptions was greatest during the prime childbearing and child-rearing years of the twenties and thirties. 32 percent of women in dual-career couples with a child under the age of one reported sleep interruptions to take care of the baby, compared with only 11 percent of men. The proportion of women and men reporting interrupted sleep declined with the age of the child.
The authors of the study found it especially surprising that gender differences remained even after adjusting for the employment status, income and education levels of each parent.
They say these findings have implications for public health interventions to improve sleep. But, they admit, for parents of young children the best approach might be negotiations about whose turn it is to get up with the baby tonight. Good luck with that!
Here’s something else you can do to prevent your risk of lung cancer – eat plenty of different kinds of fruit. According to a recent study, eating a variety of fruits can reduce the risk by up to 23%.
Experts frequently recommend eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to prevent cancer. But European researchers have found that, in the case of lung cancer, the important thing is not just the quantity but also the variety of fruits consumed.
Interestingly, a significant link was only found in smokers. According to the findings of the study, for every two additional units of different kinds of fruits and vegetables in the diet, the risk of lung cancer falls by 3%.
Of course, say the researchers, the most effective way of preventing lung cancer is not smoking.