Health Headlines: Eating Speed, Depression and Exercise

Does Eating Faster Increase Obesity Risk? A Reuters story reported on a New Zealand study which suggested middle-aged women who scarfed down their meals tended to be heavier. ABC News talked to diet experts Keith Ayoob from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Connie Diekman at Washington University St. Louis about the legitimacy of this link between speed of eating and weight.

Diekman said: “Previous studies have indicated that fast eaters eat more than slow eaters. The likely reasons range from failure to taste food increasing the need to eat more in order to ‘enjoy’ the food to the delayed satiety signal which causes overeating.”

Ayoob said: “The author’s theory is correct – it takes a while for the brain to register satiety.  If you cram in tons of calories before that signal gets sent from the stomach to the brain’s satiety center, you may have overeaten already.  Think about this: how many times have you heard this from people, ‘Why did I eat that much?  I’m way too stuffed now.’  But a few minutes ago they didn’t feel that way.”

Ayoob added:  ”I tell all my weight-loss patients, including the parents of the overweight children, take at least 20 minutes to eat a meal, even if you have to stop halfway through and take a break.  Get a glass of water, pretend you’ve already eaten your portion, then re-evaluate your hunger ini a few minutes.  Because of this delayed-satiety issue, I also often tell people to eat the low-calorie foods first, and progress to foods of increasing calories.”

Can You Prescribe Exercise for Depression? Also in Healthy Living, a story in the New York Times discusses treating depression with exercise. The story says a study, comparing two levels of exercise to the standard SSRI drugs for depression, is part of “a growing movement among some physiologists and doctors to consider and study exercise as a formal medicine, with patients given a prescription and their progress monitored, as it would be if they were prescribed a pill.”

Among those involved in the study were the Cooper Institute, one of the country’s leading exercise research centers named after the doctor, Ken Cooper, who is considered a pioneer of aerobic exercise. The story says in the depression patients who exercised “29.5 percent had achieved remission,” which the author described as “a very robust result,” equal to or better than the remission rates achieved using drugs as a back-up treatment.

Still, we heard this from Dr. David Fassler, psychiatrist at the University of Vermont: “It’s clear that exercise can help reduce the symptoms of mild depression.  But exercise, by itself, is not generally an adequate intervention for serious psychiatric disorders.”

Making a Safer Backpack: It’s back to school season, and we all know about how the weight of backpacks carried by children and teens is increasing risks for back pain problems. An article in the Wall Street Journal says, “Backpack makers are consulting chiropractors and occupational therapists to design packs that won’t strain kids’ backs.”  Still, there seems to be an arms race in backpacks.   “The fastest growing backpack by sales at L.L. Bean Inc. this back-to-school season is the Turbo Transit II. It’s the retailer’s largest daypack — measuring 2,400 cubic inches, about the capacity of a small dorm refrigerator — with a separate compartment at the bottom that allows a child to store a change of clothes or shoes,” the story reports.

New Battleground in War Against Smoking: College Campuses: And back to college — CNN has an enterprise story on banning smoking at colleges. The story says “more than 500 college campuses across the country…have enacted 100% smoke-free or tobacco-free policies as of July 1. Although policy enforcement varies from school to school, most prohibit smoking on all campus grounds, including athletic stadiums, restaurants and parking lots.” The story opens with a  description of how University of Kentucky “students and staff have been patrolling campus grounds — scouting out any student, employee or visitor lighting a cigarette.”

Foreclosures and Health: From an association study covered in the Wall Street Journal: “New research by Janet Currie of Princeton University and Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University shows a direct correlation between foreclosure rates and the health of residents in Arizona, California, Florida and New Jersey.”  The economists found in a paper published in the National Bureau of Economic Research that “an increase of 100 foreclosures corresponded to a 7.2% rise in emergency room visits and hospitalizations for hypertension, and an 8.1% increase for diabetes, among people aged 20 to 49.” And it goes on “Each rise of 100 foreclosures was also associated with 12% more visits related to anxiety in the same age category. And the same rise in foreclosures was associated with 39% more visits for suicide attempts among the same group, though this still represents a small number of patients, the researchers say.”

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