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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: Obesity can lead to the alteration of specific genes

In a new study from the University of Minnesota, researchers found there are numerous areas of the genome where obese and non-obese individuals differ in terms of their “methylome.”

Essentially, the researchers found that the level of DNA methylation (addition or subtraction of a methyl group on the DNA molecule) was related to level of body mass index (BMI), a marker of obesity. These differences in methylome are a type of “epigenetic” variation, which does not involve the genetic sequence itself, but rather is thought to alter which genes are turned “on” and “off” at a given point in time in a given tissue. Typical genetic sequences do differ but data shows these differences go beyond that.

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research-and-clinical-trials

U of M study finds sit-stand workstations help improve blood pressure, reduce cardiometabolic risk

You’re likely sitting down as you read this, but perhaps you should stand instead.

On average, adult Americans spend more than 7.5 hours per day sedentary (not counting sleep time), and employed adults in primarily office jobs spend up to 75 percent of their time at work sitting.

Recent studies also suggest that even modest decreases in sedentary time can help reduce your risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and premature mortality.

Still sitting?

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: More research-based evidence needed in legislative discussions about childhood obesity in Minnesota

How our legislators make decisions depends on a variety of factors such as expert beliefs, constituents’ opinions, political principles and research-based evidence. And while we’d like to think more decisions are made utilizing research-based evidence, a new study by researchers at the School of Public Health and the Medical School at the University of Minnesota along with collaborators at the American Heart Association and the Public Health Law Center found only 41 percent of all formal legislative discussions over childhood obesity-related bills in Minnesota from 2007-2011 cited some form of research-based evidence.

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expert-perspectives

New sugar recommendations are bittersweet

What do sweet and sour chicken, fruit yogurt, and pasta sauces have in common? It may surprise you, but all of these pre-packaged foods typically contain more than your recommended daily amount of sugar.

According to new draft guidelines published by the World Health Organization (WHO), people should try and limit the amount of sugar they consume to 5 percent of their daily calorie intake. But if 5 percent is too difficult, the WHO has determined that to avoid weight gain and minimize risk of diseases like diabetes, absolutely no more than 10 percent of a person’s daily calorie intake should be made up of sugar.

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nutrition

Taking a deeper dive into the latest CDC obesity data

Given the intense volume of media coverage this week around the CDC’s latest report on obesity in the U.S., many in the public now know that obesity rates among children aged two to five have fallen over the last decade, a key takeaway from the report.

The media’s interpretation and coverage of that particular point has varied widely; some headlines celebrated the shift as a positive as others focused on the statistic as a lone bright spot among otherwise unchanging obesity rates. As is often the case, perusing multiple media stories – even around the same issue – can generate a feeling of “OK, what’s really going on?”

According to Simone French, Ph.D., a University of Minnesota epidemiologist and obesity prevention expert, a deeper dive into the study is critical for a thorough understanding of what the study actually tells us about obesity trends in the U.S. She points out that where some may see stalled obesity rates as a negative, the flat rates could actually be viewed as a sign of progress.

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expert-perspectives

Can Halloween happen without candy?

It’s almost Halloween, which means it’s time for dressing up, trick-or-treating, going to parties, and attending school gatherings – all events that involve candy.

It’s also a time when parents might feel caught in a dilemma. Healthy eating concerns seem to throw the fun out of fully experiencing Halloween. Yet at the same time, it’s a special celebration, not a daily event, and what is the harm in a minor candy overdose once a year?

According to Simone French, Ph.D., a School of Public Health Professor and the Director of the Obesity Prevention Center, a little candy one day a year is probably harmless, but more and more, parents are realizing that our candy-culture is not just a one-time holiday for kids. We live in a world where candy dresses up as fruit snacks and granola bars, tricking us into treating all year round.

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