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26 November 2011

10 Things You May Not Know About Your Weight

Most of us have the basics ingrained in our brains. Eat less, eat healthy and exercise more. If only it were that easy. Having the right knowledge can make a big difference in how you act and react when it comes to your weight. Here are 10 things you may not know (but should) about your weight. 

1. Some People Just Have More Fat Cells 
And the range is enormous, with some people having twice as many fat cells as others have, says Kirsty Spalding, PhD, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Even if you've lost a few pounds (or gained some), your fat-cell count remains, holding tight to the fat already inside and forever thirsting to be filled up with more. (To add insult to injury, the fat cells of overweight and obese people hold more fat too.) 

New fat cells emerge during childhood but seem to stop by adolescence. Those of us destined to have a lot of these cells probably start producing them as young as age two. The cells' rate of growth may be faster, too-even if kids cut way back on calories. 

Strangers have written to Spalding, telling her how depressed they are by her research. But she says her news isn't all bleak. You're better off with more fat cells, she says, than with fewer fat cells that become overstuffed and enlarged. (New research suggests that the overstuffed group are more vulnerable to obesity-related health complications.) So while you can't reduce your total number of fat cells, there are things you can do to keep them small. (See next point.) 

2. You Can Change Your Metabolism 
Another Scandinavian team looked into what happens at the cellular level when you gain weight. Kirsi Pietiläinen, PhD, an assistant professor of nutrition at Helsinki University Central Hospital, studied sets of twins where one was fat and the other thin, and learned that fat cells in heavier twins underwent metabolic changes that make it more difficult to burn fat. Pietiläinen's team suspects that gaining as little as 11 pounds can slow metabolism and send you spiraling into a vicious cycle: As you gain more fat, it becomes harder to lose it. 

How to get back on track? "The more I learn on the job, the more I'm convinced we need physical activity," Pietiläinen says. Once a chubby child herself, she now runs regularly and is at a healthy weight. 

3. Stress Fattens You Up 
The most direct route is the food-in-mouth syndrome: Stressful circumstances (your bank account, your boss) spark cravings for carbohydrate-rich snack foods, which in turn calm stress hormones. (When researchers in one study took away high-carb food from stressed mice, their stress hormones surged.) 

Stress hormones also ramp up fat storage. For our prehistoric ancestors, stress meant drought or approaching tigers, and a rapid-storage process made sense; we needed the extra energy to survive food shortages or do battle. Today we take our stress sitting down-and the unused calories accumulate in our midsection. 

To whittle yourself back down to size, in addition to your usual workout routine, make time for stress relief-whether it's a yoga class or quality time with family. 

4. Mom's Pregnancy Sealed Your Fate 
A mother's cigarettes increase the risk of low birth weight, and alcohol can damage her baby's brain. So why wouldn't unhealthy foods wreak similar havoc? A growing body of science suggests that sugary and fatty foods, consumed even before you're born, do exactly that. A Pennington study on rodents reports that overweight females have higher levels of glucose and free fatty acids floating around in the womb than normal-weight ones do. These molecules trigger the release of proteins that can upset the appetite-control and metabolic systems in the developing brain. 

What's true for mice is often true for humans too. Doctors from State University of New York Downstate Medical Center compared children born before their mothers had gastric bypass surgery with siblings born later. Women weighed less after the surgery, as expected, but their children were also half as likely to be obese. Because siblings have such similar genetic profiles, the researchers attributed the weight differences to changes in the womb environment. Moms-to-be, take note: You can give your kids a head start by eating well before they're born. 

5. Sleep More, Lose More 
When patients see Louis Aronne, MD, past president of the Obesity Society and author of the forthcoming book The Skinny, they're as likely to have their sleep assessed as their eating habits. If patients are getting less than seven to eight hours, Dr. Aronne may prescribe more shut-eye rather than the latest diet or drug. With more sleep, he says, "they have a greater sense of fullness, and they'll spontaneously lose weight." 

Why? University of Chicago researchers reported that sleep deprivation upsets our hormone balance, triggering both a decrease in leptin (which helps you feel full) and an increase of ghrelin (which triggers hunger). As a result, we think we're hungry even though we aren't-and so we eat. Indeed, sleep may be the cheapest and easiest obesity treatment there is. 

6. Your Spouse's Weight Matters 
When Jodi Dixon's six-foot-two, 360-pound husband lost 125 pounds, she had mixed feelings. She was the one who always watched her weight and exercised; she was always the one trying to get her husband to be more active. Mort, a medical sales rep, was always the life of the party, says his wife, a 43-year-old mother of two in Freehold, New Jersey. But when he lost the weight, it was different. 

"Men and women would flock to him, drawn to his charisma," she recalls. "I felt jealous." Dixon comforted herself with food and gained 20 pounds before she decided to take action. She began biking with her husband and enrolled in a diet program. Eventually she trimmed down, too, shedding 30 pounds, and has her sights on losing more. 

Dixon credits the weight gain, and the loss, to her jealousy. But research shows that weight gain and loss can be, well, contagious. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that if one spouse is obese, the other is 37 percent more likely to become obese too. The researchers concluded that obesity seems to spread through social networks. 

As in Dixon's case, slimming down seems to be catching, at least within the family: When Dixon launched her weight-loss plan, her eldest daughter, also overweight, followed her mom's healthy habits and lost 40 pounds. 

7. Cookies Really Are Addictive 
While food is not addictive the way cocaine or alcohol is, scientists in recent years have found some uncanny similarities. When subjects at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia were shown the names of foods they liked, the parts of the brain that got excited were the same parts activated in drug addicts. It may have to do with dopamine, the hormone linked to motivation and pleasure, say researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. If obese people have fewer dopamine receptors, they may need more food to get that pleasurable reaction. 

8. Ear Infections Can Taint Your Taste Buds 
For years, the team at Linda Bartoshuk's taste lab at the University of Florida wondered why people who tasted food less intensely than others seemed more likely to be fat. Researcher Derek Snyder had a theory: Could an ear infection, which can damage a taste nerve running through the middle ear, be the missing link? After tabulating 6,584 questionnaires, the team discovered that those over 35 who had suffered several ear infections had almost double the chance of being obese. 

Responses to additional questions provided clues as to why. Former ear-infection patients were a little more likely to love sweets and fatty foods-perhaps because the damaged nerve causes them to have a higher threshold for sensing sweetness and fattiness. Even a small increase in calories from bad food choices adds up over time. 

Childhood ear infections are as hard to avoid as the colds that tend to bring them on, but limiting passive smoke seems to drive down incidents of ear infection. If you're an overweight adult who suffered a severe ear infection as a child, it may be worth paying attention to the taste and texture of your food. Simply finding healthier substitutes, such as fruit instead of candy, or olive oil instead of butter, may help drive you toward eating better and weighing less. 

9. Antioxidants Are Also Anti-Fat 
Free radicals are now blamed not only for making you look old but also for making you fat. Zane Andrews, PhD, a neuroendocrinologist at Monash University in Australia, says these oxidizing molecules damage the cells that tell us we're full. Free radicals emerge when we eat (something even the keenest dieter must do to survive), but they're especially prevalent when we gorge on candy bars, chips, and other carbohydrates. With every passing year, these fullness signifiers suffer wear and tear-causing the "stop eating!" signal to get weaker and appetites (and possibly our stomachs) to get bigger. The best way to fight back? Avoid the junk and load up on colorful, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. 

10. You Can Be Fat and Fit 
A growing body of literature suggests that size doesn't matter when it comes to your health. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine surveyed 5,440 American adults and found that 51 percent of the overweight and almost 32 percent of the obese had mostly normal cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and other measures of good health. 

Further defying conventional wisdom, the article also reported that 23.5 percent of trim adults were, in fact, metabolically abnormal-making them more vulnerable to heart disease than their heavier counterparts. 

The latest U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report corroborates what our doctors have said all along: You need about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week for health. And you don't even have to do your exercise in one fell swoop-ten-minute stints of walking are just as effective. That means if you forgo the elevators for the stairs, get off one train or bus stop earlier, and park your car a few blocks away, chances are you'll be good for the day. 

Remember Steven Blair, the self-described short, fat, bald guy? At age 69, his blood pressure is in check, his cholesterol levels are normal, and his heart is strong. What's more, he may have even more positive vital signs, according to his recent study in the journal Obesity: Men who are fit (determined by their performance on a treadmill) have a lower risk of dying of cancer than out-of-shape guys, regardless of their body mass index, waist size, or percentage of body fat. 

The news is heartening, says Blair: "We don't have great tools to change people's weight, but we know we can change their fitness levels.

Executives Get Prison for Fatal Bone Cement Trial

Drug Discovery & Development - November 22, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The pursuit of profits blinded executives of a medical devices company to the "the sanctity of human life," a federal judge said in sentencing them to prison for unapproved testing of bone cement that left three people dead.

The Synthes North America officials are among the first corporate officials sent to prison for misdemeanor pleas as "responsible corporate officers" under the 1975 Park Doctrine.

According to U.S. District Judge Legrome D. Davis, the Synthes officials wanted to beat their competitors to market without going through the lengthy process of getting the bone cement product approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. So they plotted to train select surgeons in its off-label use and then have the doctors publish their findings, the judge said.

The program continued even after a patient died in surgery in Texas in 2003 and another died in California. The patients suffered sharp drops in blood pressure after the bone cement compound was injected into their spines. Synthes only halted the training after a third death in 2004.

"One adverse event should have been enough to let you know that this course was not right," the judge said. "I can't understand how there wasn't a stop sign."

Former President Michael Huggins, 54, of West Chester, Pa., and former Senior Vice President Thomas B. Higgins, 54, of Berwyn, were sentenced to nine months in prison. John J. Walsh, 48, of Coatesville, the former director of regulatory and clinical affairs, worked at the West Chester-based company less time and received a five-month sentence. Former Synthes Vice President Richard Bohner, 56, of Malvern, had his sentencing postponed after his lawyer became ill in court.

The judge called the officers' conduct egregious and said they showed "disregard for the safety of others ... and for the sanctity of human life." He sent Huggins to prison immediately. Higgins, who ran the spine unit, was given two weeks to report to prison because of family issues. Walsh got a week to report to celebrate his child's birthday.

The Park Doctrine typically involves corporate leaders taking the fall for things that happened under their watch. In this case, the judge found that they planned and executed the scheme and went above the zero- to six-month guideline range.

"There's a perception that this is not the type of conduct that tends to result in a jail sentence," the judge said. "We lose the ability to cause the industry to self-regulate, because the fear of jail for professionals is far greater than the fear of a young drug dealer from the 'hood."

The judge, though, denied prosecutors the maximum one-year sentence they had sought, giving the men credit for their pleas.

None of the three men sentenced made a statement in court.

Both Synthes and its former subsidiary Norian Corp. pleaded guilty to corporate health care fraud charges and agreed to pay $23 million in fines. As part of the plea, Synthes agreed to sell the subsidiary. In April, Johnson & Johnson agreed to buy Synthes Inc., which had its global headquarters in Switzerland, for $21.3 billion.

According to prosecutors, the Synthes North America executives also failed to report the patient deaths and lied to FDA investigators during an on-site audit. The government applauded the sentences Monday.

"It sends the right message, that lying to the FDA and disregarding patient safety has consequences," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Crawley said.

The defendants denied any intent to violate FDA protocols, and at least one argued that he tried repeatedly to prevent off-label use.

"I didn't think at the time that we were doing anything illegal," Higgins wrote in a letter his lawyer read in court Monday.

The bone cement, Norian XR, had been approved for surgical use in the arm but not in the weight-bearing spine.

25 November 2011

Exercises for Scoliosis

Whіle thеre arе mаnу formѕ of scoliosis (ѕidewауѕ ѕріnаl сurvаture), аdоlesсеnt idiораthiс scoliosis aссоuntѕ for оvеr 80% оf all scoliosis саѕеs аnd primarіlу effесt 10-14 уеаr old femаlеѕ. The mоst аggreѕsive scoliosis ѕpіne рrоgreѕѕiоn осcurѕ durіng rapіd grоwth ѕрurts and саn саusе ѕevere body dеfоrmitу аnd decrеаsеd qualіty оf life in аdulthооd.

Ovеr the paѕt sеvеrаl dеcadеѕ there hаve bеen numerоus ѕtudіеѕ on the effeсtѕ оf scoliosis exercises аnd dеspіtе onе randоmіzed cоntrоllеd ѕtudу that demоnѕtrаtеd еxerсіsе cаn іmprоve scoliosis sрine flеxіbіlіty, most оf the ѕtudіеѕ аgreе that еxerсiѕе dоеѕ nоt reduсe the сurve оr hаlt scoliosis сurvе progrеsѕiоn. Hоwеvеr, аll of thosе ѕtudіеs fоcuѕed on gеnerаl exercises (рush-uрs, ѕіt-uрs, ect) thаt werе nоt scoliosis ѕреcіfіс аnd perhаpѕ most іmpоrtantly, dіd not аttеmрt to rе-trаin the аutomаtіс роstural cоntrоl cеntеrѕ оf the brаin. Thіs іѕ а flаwed thought prосeѕs in termѕ оf scoliosis treatment аnd hаd abѕolutеly nо chаnсе оf alterіng thе nаturаl сourѕe of the соndіtіоn іn anу reаlіѕtic wаy.

Thiѕ іѕ а keу cоmрonеnt оf thе "exercises tо fіx scoliosis" equаtion, beсаuѕе the mоst currеnt reѕеarсhеrѕ аlmoѕt univеrsаllу agrеe thаt thе origіnѕ оf thе condition arе neurоlоgісаl (аnd роtentіаllу hormonаl) аnd nоt a prоblem with the ѕpine itsеlf. Thіs mеanѕ thаt аnу аttemрts tо treаt јust thе scoliosis ѕpіne аnd nоt thе underlyіng causе(s) оf thе соndіtіоn (scoliosis brасе treatment/ scoliosis ѕurgеrу) аre almоѕt сеrtаіn tо fаіl оver the lоng-tеrm.

Thе scoliosis ѕpіnе рroblem seеmѕ tо ѕtem frоm the lack of or inсоrreсt ѕpіnаl fееdback mеchаniѕms thаt the nоn-scoliosis рoрulаtіon takеѕ for grantеd еvеrу dау. The реrsоn without scoliosis dоеsn't havе to cоnѕсіоuѕly think about аlіgning thеіr ѕpinе tо gravitу еvery tіme thеy ѕtаnd up; іt just hаpреnѕ autоmatiсаlly, bеcаusе the bodу's nеurоlogіcаl rіghtіng mеchаniѕmѕ (a sеrіes of reflеx аrсѕ that сoordinаte yоur еуes, іnnеr еаr, аnd bоdу sеnsоry оrgаnѕ) "kiсk іn" and alіgn the bodу'ѕ majоr cеntеr оf mаѕѕеs (hеad, рelvis, torso) соrrесtly. The аdоlеscеnt idіорathіс scoliosis раtіents ѕeеmѕ tо bе аble to dо thе sаmе thing through-оut сhіldhооd аѕ wеll, but the аutоmatic pоѕturаl сontrоl fееdbаck ѕyѕtеms seеm tо mіs-соmmunісаte/сoоrdinаte aѕ thеy еxреrіenсе raріd pеrіodѕ of grоwth.

Any "exercises to fіx scoliosis" hаve tо tаrgеt thе re-traіnіng of the аutоmаtіс рoѕtural соntrol сеntеrѕ іn the brаin by prоvidіng thе mіѕѕing nеurolоgісаl feеdbаck mеssagеѕ to ѕіgnal the brаіn to "аuto-соrrесt" thе scoliosis and in tіme will rеsult іn а рermanеnt аdарtіvе changе іn which thе brаin "leаrnѕ" tо hold thе scoliosis ѕpinе in a nеw, strаіghter pоѕitіоn autоmаtісally.

To learn more exercises watch the DVD:

Scoliosis Exercises for Prevention and Correction - Health In Your Hands

24 November 2011

Scoliosis Brace Treatment May Be Making Your Child Worse

If there ever was a time when a patient could benefit most greatly from scoliosis exercise, or non-surgical scoliosis intervention, it would undoubtedly be during the mild scoliosis stage of the condition - before the muscles & tissues of the body have been deformed by months or even years of compensating for the abnormal twisting & bending of the scoliosis spine.
Back Bracing dates back to approximately 650 AD, when Paul of Aegina suggested bandaging scoliosis patients with wooden strips. The first metal scoliosis brace was developed by Ambroise Pare in the 16th century. Today, there is a bewildering assortment of scoliosis braces in use, ranging from the venerable and bulky Milwaukee brace, to the traditional TLSO (thoraco-lumbar-sacral orthosis) braces such as the Boston brace and the Wilmington brace. There are "part-time" scoliosis braces, designed to be worn at night: the Providence brace, and the Charleston brace.

New Research Suggests Scoliosis Brace Treatment May Have Negative Long- Term Effects

Excerpts from Dr. Ian Stokes 2010 SOSORT presentation on the possible effects of immobilization (AKA: scoliosis brace treatment) on spinal discs in scoliosis based off his rat tail research.

"Both vertebral and disc deformity contribute to the idiopathic scoliosis deformity, but the cobb angle measures both without distinguishing their relative magnitudes, which is approximately equal. Conversely, discs do not grow in height while adolescent deformity is progressing. It appears from a few studies that progression of scoliosis occurs initially in the discs and subsequently in the vertebrae. Nutritional compromise has been implicated premature disc degeneration on the concave (inside) side in scoliosis. Our rat tail model in which a curvature is imposed along with compression develops a 'structural' [Aka: permanent] disc deformity with tissue remodeling after 5 weeks, and we are studying the underlying mechanisms."

"The disc wedging structural changes in human scoliosis may result from reduced mobility"

"Disc deformity is a significant contributor to scoliosis, not specifically measured relative to vertebral deformity by cobb angle. Prevention of progressive disc deformity may require maintenance of mobility as well as reversal of loading asymmetry."

23 November 2011

National Scoliosis Foundation Supports the Early Intervention of Scoliosis

The early detection and treatment of scoliosis is essential to minimize the affects of this condition and provide patients with healthcare options that are less expensive, less painful and less invasive. Most scoliosis spine specialists agree that surgery should be a last resort and efforts should be taken to keep the curve from reaching 45 degrees.

We need a much more aggressive standard however. It is in the best interest of our adolescent patients to replace the generally accepted wait and see approach with an effective non-operative treatment intervention plan. While there are many unknowns and questions about the effect of, and treatment for, scoliosis there certainly is no evidence to suggest that there is a benefit to a curve getting larger. Furthermore, if bony vertebral deformity begins to develop around 30 degrees, and the probability of continued curve progression in adulthood begins to rise at this level as well, then our focus should be on minimizing the magnitude of the curve in the early stages with a goal of keeping it as much below 30 degrees as possible. In order to achieve this goal however we need significantly more multidisciplinary research and coordination to develop and validate a more effective early intervention treatment plan.

Joe O'Brian
National Scoliosis Foundation President & Patient