Night shift workers have an increased risk of obesity. An editorial in PLoS Medicine, an online medical journal, attributed this in part to diet. Options for eating at 3 am seem to be limited to convenience stores and fast food restaurants. Night shift workers who don’t bring food from home and who don’t have time to leave the building are stuck with vending machine food. Night shift workers also tend to exercise and sleep less because of their schedules. For the 15 million Americans who work the night shift, a healthy diet could make a “night and day” difference.
Obesity may change the brain. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, rodents were fed a typical, high-fat, American diet. In just one day inflammation was found in their hypothalamus – the part of the brain that helps regulate body weight and hunger. Within a week the animals’ brains activated brain cells that repair and protect damaged neurons. Then researchers looked at brain scans of 34 humans and found obese people had more repair activity in the hypothalamus. Because researchers think this may explain why it’s hard to keep weight off, this information should be “weightlisted”.
Obese or overweight - if people eat too much, decreasing or increasing protein won’t cause weight loss. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association put 25 normal-weight people – ages 18-35 – on a low-protein diet (5%), a normal diet (15%) or a high-protein diet (25%) for 12 weeks. For the last 8 weeks everyone ate 1,000 extra calories. Although the low-protein dieters gained only half as much weight, it was because they lost muscle. They actually stored a higher percentage of calories as fat. The high-protein dieters had the opposite results. That decreasing or increasing protein can cause weight loss is a big, “fat” lie.
Weight loss surgery does more than reduce risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. It also reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. Another study published in JAMA included about 2,000 weight-loss surgery patients and a similar number of obese people. Most were in their 40’s and 50’s and all were followed for an average of 14 years. Weight-loss surgery was associated with 33% fewer heart attacks and stokes and 53% fewer deaths from both. About 200,000 weight-reduction surgeries are performed yearly in the U.S. That’s a lot of heart attack and stroke reduction too.