Read Yourself Thin?

Need to lose some pounds before the holidays? Then start reading. Yes, yes, we know you’re already reading this blog (thank you)…but what you really need to start doing, according to a new study, is reading food labels while you shop.

You see, people, and women in particular, who read food labels while they grocery shop weigh, on average, 9 pounds less than people who don’t.

An international team of scientists led by Maria Loureiro, of the University of Santiago de Compostela, in Spain analyzed more than 25,000 observations on health, eating and shopping habits from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey.  Among the data collected were responses about reading nutritional information in supermarkets.

First we analyzed who read the nutritional label when purchasing foods, and then we moved on to the relationship with their weight,” said Loureiro.

The study found big differences between the people who read food labels and those who did not. Interestingly, smokers paid little attention to the nutritional information on foods.

Their lifestyle involves less healthy habits and, as a consequence, it could be the case that they are not so worried about the nutritional content of the food they eat, according to our results,” the researchers suggested.

People who live in cities were the most careful about reading food labels. People with high school and college educations also paid more attention to nutritional labels. Fifty-eight percent of men took the time to read labels, compared with 74% of women. And white women who lived in cities read food labels most often.

On average, women who read the nutritional information have a body-mass index of 1.48 points lower, whereas this difference is just 0.12 points in men,” Loureiro said. “We know that this information can be used as a mechanism to prevent obesity.”

The researchers suggest that campaigns and public policy should be designed to promote the use of nutritional labeling, not just on the foods we buy in stores but also on menus at restaurants and other public establishments.

As someone, who lives the vida low-carb, I for one would fully support this move.  Would you?

Apples, Pears & Risk of Death

Are you an apple or a pear? Could your big belly shorten your life?

Conventional wisdom tells us that the shape of our body and where we store fat can drastically alter our health outlook. For example, apple shapes – people who carry their weight around their middles – have long been thought to have a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, when compared to the general population. But recent research suggests that this risk might be overstated and that excess fat anywhere on the body raises disease risk equally.

Body mass index (BMI), the most commonly accepted measure of obesity, has long been criticized because it doesn’t take into account body composition. Because it only uses height and weight, it can classify muscular people as overweight or obese.

So a father-son team of researchers from New York have come up a new tool – the A Body Shape Index (ABSI).

This formula takes into account waist circumference (WC), BMI, and height.

In a study of  more than 14,000 adults, above average ABSIs correlated with a higher risk of premature death — even when adjusted for risk factors like smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol. Regardless of age, gender, BMI, and ethnicity, elevated death rates were found for both high and low BMIs and WCs.  This led the researchers to conclude that both measures are inaccurate for predicting premature death risk.

Measuring body dimensions is straightforward compared to other most medical tests, but it’s been challenging to link these with health,” says researcher Nir Krakauer, assistant professor in the department of civil engineering at the City College of New York.

The bottom line of all this?  It’s not just belly fat that can kill you, excess pounds anywhere can have an adverse effect on health.

However, before you throw in the towel or start ordering your coffin, other studies suggest you shouldn’t worry if have a bit of junk in the trunk!  According to new research from Oxford University, fat in the thighs and buttocks might actually help protect you from metabolic disease and a Danish study even found that people with thin thighs have a greater risk of premature death.

What’s your body shape, and how do you feel about it? We look forward to hearing from you.