Flavour of the Week


  • As the weather gets nicer, it may be time to help the environment AND your waistline by walking, cycling or taking the bus to work. Based on the responses of more than 4,000 adults in the British Household Panel Survey (2004 – 2007), researchers found that switching from the car to alternative means of transport was associated with an average reduction of 0.32 BMI units (about 1 kg or 2 lbs).

    Sounds minor, but those who reported driving to work GAINED about 0.34 BMI units; simply avoiding weight gain in adulthood can be viewed as a major success! Distance played a significant role too – those with a commute of 30 minutes or more experienced an average reduction of 2.25 BMI units, or around 15 lbs (7 kg) over the two years.
  • It may sound a bit like something from The Jetsons, but University of Kentucky researchers are helping people lower their salt intake with the help of an electronic, sodium-detecting spoon. As a part of the “Family Sodium Watchers Program“, study participants are asked to use an electronic spoon, which can detect the amount of sodium in food through an ionic sensor.

    TGIFResearchers hope this “smart” spoon, in addition to info on label reading and low-sodium cooking, will help people monitor their sodium intake and adjust their diet accordingly – in fact, a three-month pilot study found the salt spoon was successful in helping people decrease the amount of salt in their diet.
  • For all those in the food industry who worry healthier options are money-losers, data from from ChildObesity180 at Tufts University Friedman School suggests otherwise. When Silver Diner, a family restaurant chain, improved kid’s menu options by adding healthier choices, making healthy side dishes the default and nixing unhealthy entrees not only were the menu changes popular but chain revenue continued to grow.
  • In terms of diabetes management, the “Forks vs. Feet” debate is a moot point – for the best results, diet and exercise together offer cumulative results. Researchers from Saint Louis University found that insulin sensitivity improved TWO-FOLD in those who restricted kcalories AND exercised, compared with those in single-approach groups.

    Study participants were sedentary, overweight, middle-aged men and women who were assigned to either calorie restriction, exercise or a combination of both. Although all three groups lost a similar amount of weight (about 6% of their initial body weight), markers of diabetes control were significantly better in the combination treatment group.
  • Why is night-time noshing so difficult to stop? According to preliminary MRI research from Brigham Young University, your brain may respond to food differently based on the time of day. When study participants were shown images of both low-calorie foods (vegetables, fruits, fish, grains) and high-calorie foods (candy, baked goods, ice cream, fast food), high-calorie foods, as expected, showed greater neural responses to images of high-calorie foods.

    But that’s not the whole picture – there was lower reward-related brain reactivity to the food images in the evening, which is when many people over-consume with “mindless” eating. Are we eating more to try to satisfy a lower reward-responsive brain? Researchers’ next plan is to investigate whether this brain activity translates into actual eating behavior or influences weight management.

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