People who drank the most sugary drinks gained 27 percent more of this so-called visceral fat than people who never or almost never drank them, the researchers found.
The findings give people one more reason to cut back on sugar. Just last week the federal government advised people to get no more than 10 percent of their calories from added sugar.
"Our message to consumers is to follow the current dietary guidelines and to be mindful of how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink," said Dr. Carolyn Fox of Tufts University and Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the study.
"To policy makers, this study adds another piece of evidence to the growing body of research suggesting sugar-sweetened beverages may be harmful to our health."
Related: Here's how sugar may fuel the growth of cancer
There's more and more research showing the dangerous health effects of eating or drinking too much added sugar. And on Monday, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen and a city council member, Nick Mosby, introduced a bill that would require warning labels for sugar-sweetened beverages in advertisements, restaurant menus, and in any city store that sells those products.
"The science is clear: The biggest contributor to childhood obesity is sugary drinks," Wen said in a statement. "Childhood obesity will lead to adult diseases that kill, and we must do everything we can to protect the health of our children. We must inform our residents about the danger of sugar-sweetened beverages."
Fox and colleagues looked at 1,000 volunteers taking part in a larger study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health.
They volunteered to have computed tomography (CT) scans to show just how much of their body fat was inside the abdomen. People with more fat there have a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.
The men and women, who ranged in age from 19 to 72, also filled out food diaries. Six years later, they came back for a second CT scan.
Almost everyone gained weight over the six years and almost everyone also gained more visceral fat, the team reported in the journal Circulation. But those who said they drank a soda or other sweet drink every day or more often gained the most.
They gained an average of 852 cubic centimeters more visceral fat over the six years, compared to 658 extra centimeters for those who drank none.
Related: Trying to get flat abs? These 11 foods may help
Diet soda did not seem to affect how much fat people added.
"We observed that individuals who consumed at least one serving of sugar-sweetened beverages per day had a 27 percent greater increase in visceral adipose tissue volume over six years compared to non-consumers," they wrote.
There could be several reasons for this. Fructose, which makes up much of the sugar used to sweeten soft drinks, is metabolized by the liver and from there it can raise levels of a type of cholesterol called triglycerides.
This can either directly affect fat production or do it indirectly by affecting how insulin is produced and works. Insulin helps the body process sugar.
Their findings back up other studies that show added sugar not only make people fat, but can worsen the causes of heart disease and make tumors grow faster.
Baltimore also launched a public health campaign about sugary drinks.
"Research shows that companies disproportionally market sugary drinks to poor neighborhoods, increasing health disparities in our most vulnerable communities," Wen said.
Are you someone that deals with chronic or occasional stiffness or discomfort? If you have arthritis, it may be difficult for you to exercise, work, socialize, and enjoy life overall.
Taking medicine may help your symptoms but not their cause. Reducing your arthritis pain with pain relievers so that you can continue with your normal daily activities can actually increase wear and tear on your arthritic knee joints.1
It’s easy to understand how extra weight can put more stress on weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees, and ankles. A large belly can also affect posture, pulling the body out of alignment and stressing the back, shoulders, and neck.
What’s more, joint pain can make exercise difficult. Since regular physical activity is a Habit of Health, you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to make exercise safe and comfortable.
Many of us have experienced it, and science backs up the fact: Losing weight can ease the pain of arthritis. Researchers in Denmark showed that overweight patients with arthritis in their knees experienced a “highly significant increase in function” by losing weight—specifically, body fat. Just a 10% decrease in body weight helped to improve symptoms of knee osteoarthritis by 28%.2
With healthy weight loss, the Habits of Health, and your Health Coach’s guidance, you may find you can move more easily and comfortably in creating your life of Optimal Health™.
1Christensen R, Astrup A, Bliddal H. Weight loss: the treatment of choice for knee osteoarthritis? A randomized trial. OsteoArthritis and Cartilage (2005) 13:20-27.
It may be a bit brisk where you are with winter in full swing. Perhaps you are avoiding the outdoors. And maybe you just want to bundle up and lay on the sofa by the fireplace.
While that sounds picturesque, it doesn’t mean you can’t move your body indoors! Keep yourself fit this winter with these tips!
Exercise at home
Exercising at home is really convenient – just walk from your bed to your living room and you are there! Rent an exercise DVD at your library. Do some research online for different types of exercise. Check out the latest fitness magazine. You don’t need to have a full gym to get a good workout. In fact, your body is all you need!
Exercise at the gym
If exercising at home doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, consider joining a gym. With the new year in swing, many gyms are offering discounts and other special offers. Take advantage!
Exercise with a group
Consider this: exercise and socialize with your friends. Have a mall nearby? Go for a walk! Have a yoga studio or community center nearby? Try out a new class and bring a friend along. You can sweat it out together! Remember roller skating and ice skating as a kid? Gather some family and friends and make a fun night of it! The point is to find an enjoyable healthy activity and share it with others!
Be sure to always consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
Happy New Year! It’s the time of resolutions and making a clean slate. Perhaps this is the year you want to do something healthy for yourself? If you are looking to lose weight, then the Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan™ is for you!
The 5 Meal Replacements you eat a day is easy – all you have to do is make the difficult decision of what to eat next! The lean and green may be more of the challenge. Never fear! We have some suggested combos for you to consider.
Can a steady diet of cheeseburgers change your brain? It might just be possible, according to a 2012 study from Nature Neuroscience that linked high fat diets to neurogenesis and obesity in mice.
Brain changes: good or bad?
Neurogenesis is the growth of new brain cells, and the adult neurogenes is observed by this study’s researchers is a rare form of brain change.
Neurogenesis is one manifestation of neuroplasticity, which can be promoted through good lifestyle choices—think of how Lumosity training builds connections that make everyday tasks easier, for example. On the other hand, poor lifestyle decisions might also unfavorable results. The Johns Hopkins researchers in this study found that a high fat diet could trigger unwanted neurogenesis.
High fat diets change the brain
The study put mice into two groups: those fed a normal diet and those who feasted regularly on high fat foods. After 1 month of chowing down, adult mice on high fat diets had quadruple the rate of neurogenesis in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain responsible for regulating many metabolic processes.
But did neurogenesis also cause obesity? To answer this question, researchers irradiated the newly created portions of rats’ brains. Not only did radiation inhibit 85% of neurogenesis, but irradiated mice gained significantly less weight and fat mass compared to the group that kept their new neural growth—even though all of them stayed on the same high fat diet. Furthermore, irradiated mice used more energy and were more active despite their unhealthy diet.
Fighting obesity: current methods
The link between diet, obesity, and the brain is thought-provoking. But take it with a grain of salt: the same connection between diet and neurogenesis has yet to be confirmed in humans. As we wait for more research, consider some current methods that could help change your eating habits—methods that don’t involve a lab.
Many scientists have pointed out that obesity often functions like an addiction to food in the brain. And a 2012 study from the University of Amsterdam found that challenging cognitive training lowered addiction symptoms in individuals with a drinking problem. People who trained not only drank less—they actually improved memory capacity as well.
As we await new discoveries about food habits and the brain, why not try some challenging brain training to help strengthen your own willpower? Exercises similar to Lumosity’s Memory Matrix and Monster Garden were used in the University of Amsterdam study to great effect. Unlock full access today to try out all 35+ games!
Did you know you are 10 times more likely to stick with a change made at the New Year than in one made in the middle of the year. Got a health resolution? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqbAsr6wN_I