суббота, 29 января 2011 г.

Many New Immigrants To US Change Diet

Diet and Immigration

Coming to the land of milk and honey can be hazardous to new immigrants' diet and health.
So says Ilana Redstone Akresh (pronounced AY-kresh), a visiting professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the author of a new analysis of dietary assimilation and immigrant health. In her study, Akresh considered the changes in immigrants' diets after coming to the United States and the subsequent relationship between those changes and Body Mass Index (BMI) and health status.
She found that 39 percent of her sample of 6,637 adults reported at least one significant change in their diet. The most commonly reported dietary changes were an increased consumption of junk food and meat, according to her findings in the not-yet published study.
More than 10 percent of the sample reported eating more junk food in the United States, while more than 8 percent said they ate more meat in America than they ate in their home countries. Nearly 15 percent reported eating fewer vegetables, fruit, fish or rice and beans. As a consequence of their acquired tastes, many new immigrants are not only bulking up, but also becoming less healthy, Akresh said.
Dietary change as an area of assimilation had not been studied, but Akresh believes that "in perhaps no realm more so than what one eats is assimilation more visible, tangible and directly experienced."
The changes that immigrants make may have short- and long-term health consequences, the professor said. "Understanding these changes and examining their determinants is an important precursor to a fuller understanding of immigrant health."
In her research, Akresh focuses on several aspects of immigrant acculturation and assimilation to the United States, giving a portrait of immigrant behaviors.
A second new study that will be published later this year explores the occupational mobility among legal immigrants to the United States. A third focuses on immigrant intentions and mobility.
For the latter two analyses, Akresh used data from the New Immigrant Survey Pilot study, which followed immigrants who received their green cards in 1996 for one year. The RAND Corp. conducted the pilot study. For her examination of dietary change, Akresh used the full New Immigrant Survey, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. The first cohort of the survey was interviewed in 2003. Other findings from her dietary analysis:
  • Consuming more junk food is associated with acculturation. Those immigrants who reported consuming more junk food in the United States also have more experience in the country, a higher likelihood of having a spouse from the United States, and a lower likelihood of having a spouse from the same country. They are also more likely to speak English as one of multiple languages at home, to speak English exclusively at work and with friends, and to have a significantly higher average BMI than those who do not.

  • Immigrants who eat more meat in the United States have been here longer, have more children and live in younger households. They also have fewer years of education, a lower proportion of them are able to speak English well and they have lower rates of English language use with friends and at work than those who do not consume more meat. Individuals reporting increased meat consumption also have higher household incomes and higher average BMI.
"This pattern depicts immigrants who are perhaps less integrated, yet are doing well enough financially to afford meat. They may not have the nutrition information necessary to accurately assess the value of increased meat consumption or they may choose to ignore this information," Akresh wrote.
  • Those who are married are more likely to maintain a diet similar to that which they had prior to immigration, while having a spouse born in the United States is associated with a greater change in diet.

  • The fewer changes the immigrant incorporates into his diet, the lower his BMI.
The findings have policy implications, "particularly related to informing immigrants about the pros and cons of selecting the items in the grocery store that they might not be familiar with," Akresh said.
"Nutrition education targeting immigrants may decrease this trend and increase the proportion of this population that chooses the trajectory of dietary change associated with a positive health outcome. Using the New Immigrant Survey to identify immigrants' eating patterns by region of origin and to identify the prevalence of these behavioral changes will increase our understanding of what many may consider a negative outcome of the assimilation process."
In a second analysis, to be published later this year in International Migration Review, Akresh focused on occupational mobility, comparing immigrants' occupation in the United States with that of their last job abroad.
In that study she found that 50 percent of the immigrants experienced "occupational downgrading."
Among the highest skilled immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, more than three-fourths end up in lower-skilled jobs than what they had abroad.
"Human capital acquired in Latin America and the Caribbean is valued less than that from Europe, Australia and Canada in the U.S. labor market," she said, "while immigrants with some U.S. education can increase the returns to that acquired previously abroad."
In a third study, co-written with Princeton University sociologist Douglas S. Massey, to be published in Social Science Quarterly in December, the authors looked at immigrants' intentions and mobility in a global economy, connecting immigrants' objective circumstances to satisfaction with life in the United States, intentions with regard to naturalization and settlement, and "concrete behaviors" such as sending money back home and leaving the country.
They found that those people expressing a high degree of U.S. satisfaction are significantly more likely to intend to naturalize and also are more likely to want to stay in the United States forever.
However, those with high earnings and U.S. property are less likely to plan on naturalizing; those with high levels of education are least likely to be satisfied with the United States.
"The picture that emerges from this analysis is of a fluid and dynamic global market for human capital in which the bearers of skills, education and abilities seek to maximize earnings in the short term while retaining little commitment to any particular society or national labor market over the longer term," Akresh said.

вторник, 25 января 2011 г.

Weight Watchers Vs. Fitness Centers: Which Works Best

In the first study of its kind, using sophisticated methods to measure body composition, the nationally known commercial weight loss program, Weight Watchers, was compared to gym membership programs to find out which method wins in the game of good health. A University of Missouri researcher examined the real-life experiences of participants to determine which program helps people lose pounds, reduce body fat and gain health benefits. The answer is that both have pros and cons and that a combination of the two produces the best results.
Participants who attended Weight Watchers for 12 weeks lost an average of 5 percent of their body weight, or about nine pounds. However, Steve Ball, assistant professor of exercise physiology in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences, found that a large percentage of the lost weight was lean tissue and not fat.
“Participants’ body fat percentage did not improve at all because they lost a much higher percentage than expected of lean tissue,” said Ball, MU Extension state fitness specialist. “It is advantageous to keep lean tissue because it is correlated with higher metabolism. Losing lean tissue often slows metabolism. What your body is made of is more important than what you weigh.”
The majority of other Weight Watcher studies had not considered body fat percentage change and only focused on body weight.
“This is one aspect of our study that makes it unique,” Ball said. “We used a sophisticated measure of body composition – the Bod Pod – to look at what type of weight was lost: lean or fat.”
In addition, Ball said the study was novel because Computer Tomography (CT scans) were used to investigate changes in abdominal fat, which is more predictive of cardiovascular disease. Although the fitness center group lost very little weight, they probably improved their health because they lost a significant amount of intraabdominal fat (fat around vital organs). These results imply that exercise may have positive influence on the metabolic syndrome despite the number on the scale, Ball concluded.
Ball also found that group support is very important. Most of the Weight Watchers participants stuck with the program during the duration of the study, while many of the fitness center participants quit.
“These results imply that overweight, sedentary women joining a fitness center with the intent of weight loss or body fat change will likely fail without support and without altering their diets,” Ball said. “Nearly 50 percent of people who start an exercise program will quit within six months.”
“This study attempted to discover what takes place in the real world when overweight women attempt to lose weight.” Ball said. “I think the outcome of the study speaks volumes about the necessity for a multi-pronged approach in order to lose weight, body fat and gain health benefits. I hope that this will be the first in a series of studies investigating commercial weight-loss programs.”
The study – “Comparison of a Commercial Weight Loss Program to a Fitness Center” – was published online in the June edition of the Journal of Exercise Physiology.

суббота, 22 января 2011 г.

High Carb, Vegan Diet Causes Major Weight Loss

Vegan Diet

Even with No Calorie Cutting or Exercise, Diet is More Effective Than a Typical Low Fat Diet.
A low fat, plant based diet is more effective at helping women lose weight and improve insulin sensitivity than an omnivorous diet, shows a new study appearing in the September issue of The American Journal of Medicine. The study, involving 59 overweight, postmenopausal women, was conducted by Neal D. Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), together with colleagues at Georgetown University Hospital and George Washington University. Half of the study participants followed a vegan diet; the other half followed a control diet based on National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines.
"The study participants following the vegan diet enjoyed unlimited servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthful foods that enabled them to lose weight without feeling hungry," says Dr. Barnard, the lead author. "As they began to experience the positive effects, weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity, the women in the intervention group became even more motivated to follow the plant-based eating plan."
Scientific studies show that obesity and overweight are far less prevalent in populations following a plant-based diet. In a recent study of more than 55,000 Swedish women, Tufts University researcher P. Kirstin Newby and her colleagues found that 40 percent of meat-eaters were overweight or obese while only 25 to 29 percent of vegetarians and vegans were. Worldwide, vegetarian populations experience lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening diseases. A new study appearing in September's Journal of Urology shows that a low-fat, primarily vegan diet may slow the progression of prostate cancer.
The simplicity of a vegan diet appeals to people who are busy with work and family, and many familiar recipes are easy to adapt. At least four studies published in peer-reviewed journals show that patients give the low-fat vegetarian diet a high rating in terms of acceptability, and that the transition only takes about three weeks or less.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, especially good nutrition. PCRM also conducts clinical research studies, opposes unethical human experimentation, and promotes alternatives to animal research.

понедельник, 17 января 2011 г.

Resveratrol From Red Wine May Offset Effects of High Calorie Diet

Red Wine Diet?
Red wine and red grapes contain a chemical, called resveratrol, that can offset some of the effects of gluttony, say researchers from the National Institute on Aging, Harvard Medical School, USA. Resveratrol does not seem to be able to get rid of the obesity, but it can lower glucose levels, help your liver and improve your heart.
Studies had already indicated that resveratrol slows down the aging process in some non-mammalian animals. In this study, the scientists wanted to see what the effects of resveratrol might be on mammals.
They had lab rats which were fed 60% calories coming from fat. The rats were obese, had insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases. The rats were divided into two groups. One group continued to eat 60% of calories from fat, while the other group had the same diet, but with resveratrol added to it.
The rats receiving resveratrol had lower glucose levels, their hearts became healthier, as did their liver tissue. The scientists also noticed that the rats that consumed resveratrol were more nimble on their feet, compared to the other group.
Even though the resveratrol-fed mice did not lose any weight, their health became as good as that of a mouse on a normal diet. Although the non-resveratrol fed mice continued to have a short lifespan, the resveratrol-fed mice lived as long as mice on a normal diet.
The scientists believe resveratrol may activate SIRT1, a gene associated with longevity.
If what happened to the mice could happen to humans, resveratrol could help prevent obese people from developing Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, cancer and some other illnesses, say the researchers.

среда, 12 января 2011 г.

Weight concerns more impairing for those with body dysmorphic disorder

In a new study on Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) - a distressing or impairing preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in one's appearance - researchers from Bradley Hospital and Brown Medical School found that individuals who are concerned about their weight are more impaired than those whose appearance-concerns are not weight-related. This is particularly important, as weight-related preoccupations have at times not been considered diagnostic of BDD.
Researchers looked at a group of 200 individuals, between the ages of 14 and 64, with BDD. They compared two groups of participants: those who listed weight as "area of concern", and those who did not. The most frequent BDD areas of concern were: skin, hair, nose, stomach, teeth and weight. The study found that individuals with BDD who had weight concerns (29 percent of the sample) also had more overall areas of body image concern, poorer social functioning, more BDD symptoms overall, more frequent suicide attempts, and higher levels of comorbidity than BDD sufferers who did not endorse weight concerns.
In addition, participants who listed weight concerns were significantly younger and more likely to be female. They also more frequently cited the stomach as an area of concern and were more likely to diet, excessively change their clothes and exercise in an attempt to improve their appearance.
The study appears in the January 2007 issue of the journal Eating Behaviors.
"This is important because although we know that it is a serious and disabling condition, in many ways BDD remains poorly understood," says lead author Jennifer Kittler, PhD, a child psychologist at Bradley Hospital and the department of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School.
In particular, there is controversy within the field as to whether individuals with preoccupations that focus on weight should be considered to have BDD (instead of, for example, an eating disorder). This study indicates that BDD sufferers who have weight concerns may actually be more impaired than other BDD patients, further underscoring the importance of obtaining more information about this population, and of correctly diagnosing and treating those with impairing and preoccupying concerns about their weight, the authors note.
"We know that BDD is a disorder associated with severe symptoms and high levels of comorbidity. This study indicates that the presence of weight-related concerns and preoccupations among individuals with BDD may actually be associated with even higher levels of distress and impairment," says Kittler.
The correct diagnosis and treatment of individuals with weight-related preoccupations, in the absence of eating disorder symptoms, is obviously crucial, as these preoccupations are associated with a high level of psychopathology and distress, the authors write.