Saturday, 28 July 2007

Can Obesity Spread?

The "obesity epidemic" may be real, after all. Those whose close friends are obese are likely to become obese themselves, according to a new study that was carried out in the US. It was reported in the New York Times - read "Find Yourself Packing it On? Blame Friends" here.

I am so determined to stay slim that I will not gain weight even if my close friends were overweight. But I can see how obesity can become more acceptable among close friends.

So, what do you think of this research? And what would you do if your close friend became obese?

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Weight loss or psychiatric illness?

Earlier, I wrote about a new weight loss drug that was launched in the UK last year. The drug is being appraised for use on the NHS.

Rimonabant, or the brand name Acomplia, can cause psychiatric side effects in one in ten patients. Some of these side effects are low mood, depression, anxiety, irritability and nervousness. And one in hundred patients may experience suicidal thoughts.

As a result, the European Medicines Agency has advised patients who are taking anti-depressants or who suffer major depression against taking rimonabant.

I don't understand why anyone would want to take a drug to lose weight, never mind taking a drug like rimonabant, with its side effects. As a weight loss coach who has helped many people to control their weight, I know that weight loss can be achieved through diet and exercise by almost anyone who is serious about slimming down.

If you are keen to lose weight or you know someone who is, and you or they don't want to risk psychiatric illness by taking a pill, ask me for a free consultation about weight loss. Hey, I know this is a blatant plug for my services, but it may help someone.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Red 2G and the Big C

I used to enjoy eating sausages and sausage rolls, but after I watched a TV documentary about sausages, my taste buds changed. And I'm so glad they did.

Because there is new evidence that an additive that is used in some sausages and burgers could cause cancer. The additive, a food colouring known as E128 or Red 2G, is converted in the body into an oily substance called aniline which has the potential to trigger cancer.

The expert panel for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) does not consider Red 2G safe for human consumption. And the Food Standards Authority is currently considering whether this colouring is used in foods sold in the UK. Red 2G is already banned in some countries including Japan.

Under current EU laws, small amounts of Red 2G are allowed to be used in sausages and burgers. However, the EFSA believes that it is not possible to determine a level of aniline that is safe for humans and it is currently looking at the scientific evidence on all food colourings.

Sausage and burger lovers who are also health conscious (I know this sounds like a contradiction) may want to think carefully about re-training their taste buds.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

IVF and complementary therapies

Infertility affects many people, as many as one in seven couples in the UK. It can be very stressful experience - I know this from personal experience.

New research carried out by a Cardiff University team found that women using complementary and alternative therapies (CAM) alongside conventional IVF treatment were 30 percent less likely to get pregnant than those who used IVF alone. Some herbs, such as St John's Wort, may interact with IVF drug treatments.

Lead researcher Dr Jackie Boivin is quoted here as saying "it could be that there are interactions between herbal medicines and fertility medicines." She also suggested that women hold off until they have tried conventional fertility treatments. Frankly, I'm surprised at her suggestion as the research found that women who used CAMs had been trying IVF for longer. And Dr Boivin concedes that repeated failure with IVF may prompt women to use CAMs.

Some fertility experts believe that stress is a key factor. True. And many CAM therapies help to reduce stress, which is a good thing, as anyone who has undergone IVF knows. It's an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy (if I had one).

And so while I agree that some complementary therapies may interact with fertility drugs and reduce the effectiveness of the latter, I can understand why many women would still want to use them. The first reason may be to "cover all bases" and increase their chances of getting pregnant. And secondly, to reduce their stress levels because IVF is challenging on many levels - physical, emotional and financial.