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Regular weigh-ins, simple tips help avoid Christmas weight gain

13/12/2018

Christmas Day is less than two weeks away and that means many of us will soon be gorging ourselves on all sorts of culinary delights. It’s a reality that will see a lot of people piling on the pounds this month ahead of the inevitable January fitness drive. But what if there was a simple way to limit the impact of Christmas feasting on our waistlines? A new study by the Universities of Birmingham and Loughborough in the UK suggests there is. According to the study involving 272 volunteers, regular home weigh-ins coupled with simple weight-loss tips can prevent people from putting on weight over the festive period. For the study, the volunteers were divided into two groups. One group weighed themselves regularly and were given dietary advice, including information on how many calories they needed to burn to negate Christmas food. The other group didn’t weight themselves and were only given a small amount of healthy lifestyle advice. The group that weighed themselves and had access to the additional information weighed 0.49kg less than the "comparison" group come the end of the study. Study lead author, Frances Mason, of the University of Birmingham's Institute of Applied Health Research, said “People gain a kilo of weight on average annually. Often this weight gain happens at Christmas, and is never fully lost. This could possibly be a factor driving the obesity epidemic.” In other words, by simply keeping track of your weight and understanding the impact the foods you are eating are having on your waistline, you stand a better chance of avoiding weight gain at a time of year that’s traditionally associated with piling on the pounds. [Related reading: Why being overweight increases your risk of cancer]

Could blocking a single gene be the key to curing obesity?

05/12/2018

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is a “global epidemic” that must be tackled if we are to prevent its ill effects. In the United States, nearly 40% of adults and 18.5% of children aged 2 to 19 are obese. Obesity is a major risk factor for type-2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. That’s why finding effective ways to treat the condition is paramount. But now scientists say they are on the verge of creating a pill that could make obesity a thing of the past - without the need for diet and exercise. Sounds too good to be true, right? Nevertheless, the team at Flinders University in South Australia say that they key to curbing obesity could lie in a single gene known as RCAN1. The team found that when RCAN1 was removed in mice and they were then fed a high fat diet, they did not gain weight. In fact, they could eat as much food as they wanted over a prolonged period of time, the researchers say. Damien Keating, Ph.D., professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Flinders, and leader of the research team, said blocking RCAN1 allows the body to transform unhealthy white fat into calorie-burning brown fat. Stunning pictures of the mice used for the trial highlight the difference when RCAN1 was blocked and when it wasn’t. The results of the research are published in the journal EMBO Reports.

Why being overweight increases your risk of cancer

13/11/2018

We are often told that being overweight increases our risk of cancer. In fact, in the UK, obesity is the biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, according to Cancer Research UK. But why does being overweight increase a person’s likelihood of developing cancer? A group of scientists say they now know. The team from Trinity College Dublin say the reason overweight people are at greater risk of developing cancer is because a certain cell in the body that’s used to destroy cancer gets clogged with fat and stops working as a result. Publishing their findings in the Nature Immunology journal, the team said they were able to show that the body’s natural cancer-fighting cells get clogged by fat. They are hopeful that new drug treatments can be developed that will reverse the effects and restore the cancer-killing ability of said cells. Until then, though, the best advice remains to stay a healthy weight, stop smoking and cut down on alcohol. Speaking about the findings of the research, Dr Leo Carlin, from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, said: “Although we know that obesity increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer, we still don't fully understand the mechanisms underlying the link. “This study reveals how fat molecules prevent immune cells from properly positioning their tumour-killing machinery, and provides new avenues to investigate treatments.” [Related reading: Major study finds eating processed meat raises risk of breast cancer]

Obesity set to overtake smoking as number one preventable cause of cancer in UK women, charity warns

25/09/2018

By 2043, obesity will surpass smoking to be the biggest preventable cause of cancer in UK women. That’s one of the shocking new predictions to come out of a report by Cancer Research UK. At present, around 7% of cancers in women are linked to being overweight and obese, while 12% are said to be caused by smoking. But as the number of individuals who smoke continues to fall and obesity rates continue to rise, the UK cancer charity believes that gap will completely disappear over the next 25 years (assuming current trends continue). In fact, by 2035, the percentage of cancers caused by smoking and by carrying excess weight will almost be equal (25,000 cancer cases each year related to smoking vs. 23,000 related to being overweight). However, after just another eight years (by 2043), being overweight and obese is likely to be linked to even more cases of cancer in women than smoking. Interestingly, the cancer charity says that obesity will not overtake smoking as the leading cause of cancer in men until some time later. The reason for this, though, is simply because more men than women smoke. While obesity is more prevalent among men too, it is thought to be a greater catalyst in women for developing cancer. Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK's prevention expert, said the UK government must act now to stem the tide of obesity-related cancers. “That's why we are raising awareness of the link between cancer and obesity and calling for measures to protect children, like a ban on junk food adverts before 9pm and for restrictions on price promotions of 'less healthy' products,” she said. Smoking-related cancers include: acute myeloid leukaemia lung bladder bowel cervical pancreatic stomach Obesity-related cancers include: bowel gall bladder kidney liver breast ovarian thyroid

Most yoghurts contain more sugar than cola, study finds

20/09/2018

We recently wrote about how foods packed with good bacteria provide no benefits. Now, new research is dragging yoghurts under the spotlight because of the amount of sugar many contain. In fact, according to the research led by Leeds University in the UK, some yoghurts contain more sugar per 100g than cola. Publishing their findings in the journal BMJ Open, the team of researchers said that even organic yoghurts often contain way too much sugar. The only yoghurts, they said, that can be considered low in sugar are natural and Greek-style. For the research, the team analysed 900 different yoghurts on sale in supermarkets in the UK. Perhaps unsurprisingly, yoghurt deserts were found to contain the most sugar (an average of 16.4g per 100g). More surprising, though, are the findings relating to organic yoghurts. That’s because many people see them as a healthy option, not knowing they contain so much sugar. The UK government are trying to reduce the amount of sugar consumed by the public and yoghurts are one of the areas they want to see addressed. This new research underlines why. To be classed as ‘low sugar’ a product needs to contain no more than 5g of sugar per 100g. Just 9% of the yoghurts studied were found to be below this threshold. Dr Bernadette Moore, lead researcher of the study, said: “I think people, including parents, will be surprised to know just how much sugar there is in yoghurt. “My advice would be to buy natural yoghurt and mix in your own fruit.”

Serving food on smaller plates doesn't fool hungry people - study

31/07/2018

If you’re trying desperately to lose weight, you’ll know that diets are difficult. But did you also know that the old trick of using a smaller plate when you eat to reduce portion sizes also (apparently) doesn’t work? That’s the finding of a new study that analysed how tricking the brain with a smaller plate doesn’t work when someone is hungry. According to the study by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), “plate size doesn’t matter as much as we think it does” – especially when people are food deprived. For the study, the results of which were published in the peer-reviewed journal Appetite, the researchers set to out to see if people could identify pizza portion sizes when they were placed on plates of differing sizes. They found that people who had not eaten for at least three hours prior to the test were more likely to identify the pizza portions on both smaller and larger plates than their counterparts who were not hungry. Interestingly, this only happened when applied to food, with both groups similarly inaccurate when asked to compare the size of black circles placed within different sized circles. The researchers say this shows that hunger plays a role in heightening the analytical abilities of individuals. "Over the last decade, restaurants and other food businesses have been using progressively smaller dishes to conform to the perceptual bias that it will reduce food consumption," says Dr. Ganel, head of the Laboratory for Visual Perception and Action in BGU's Department of Psychology. "This study debunks that notion. When people are hungry, especially when dieting, they are less likely to be fooled by the plate size, more likely to realize they are eating less and more prone to overeating later."

Environment not genes responsible for emotional eating in children

25/06/2018

Some of us turn to food for comfort when we are feeling emotional or stressed. Likewise, some of us cut back on food when we are feeling upset. But they are habits that could be influencing our children too. That’s because new research by University College London has found that children who eat more or less when stressed or upset have learnt the behaviour rather than inherited it, suggesting home environments are the primary cause of emotional eating. Parental acts such as giving children their favourite food when they are feeling upset have been highlighted as potential reasons for the habits forming. But UK-based eating disorder charity Beat says parents shouldn’t be blamed for their children’s eating issues. "Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses and never have one sole cause," the charity said. The study, which was published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, analysed 398 four-year-old British twins. Half came from families with obese parents and half from parents with a healthy weight. The parents were asked questions about their children’s eating habits, including their tendencies to emotionally eat. The researchers compared the questionnaire data relating to eating disorders between identical and non-identical twins and found very little difference between the two, which suggests environment plays a bigger role than genes.

Healthy but obese women still at increased risk of CVD

31/05/2018

Have you ever encountered someone who calls themself ‘fat but fit’? It’s not uncommon to meet people who are clearly overweight, yet not perturbed by their situation because they consider themselves to be fit and healthy. However, a large study conducted in America has found that women who are overweight or obese but otherwise healthy are still at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). For the study, researchers from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke tracked the health of some 90,257 women in the US over a 30-year period. They found that women who were overweight or obese, but had none of the typical cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, excess cholesterol and diabetes, were 20% and 39% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than their normal weight and metabolically healthy peers. Speaking about the findings of the study, Prof Matthias Schulze, who led it, said: "Our large cohort study confirms that metabolically healthy obesity is not a harmless condition, and even women who remain free of metabolic diseases for decades face an increased risk of cardiovascular events.” The study also found women who were of normal weight, but metabolically unhealthy, were over two-times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than their peers of the same weight who were metabolically healthy. Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, added: "This large scale study confirms that obesity, even if unaccompanied by other warning signs, increases risk of cardiovascular disease in women."

UK soft drink sugar tax takes effect

09/04/2018

From Friday, drinks manufacturers in the UK will have to pay a levy on the high-sugar drinks they sell, following the implementation of the ground-breaking sugar tax in the country. While ministers and campaigners say the tax is already driving positive results, with many manufacturers cutting the amount of sugar in their drinks ahead of the change, others say it’s still too early to tell. Indeed, while Fanta, Ribena and Lucozade have cut the sugar content of their drinks, Coca-Cola hasn’t. The UK joins a small handful of countries, including France, Mexico and Norway, which have introduced similar taxes in an attempt to reduce sugar consumption. Manufacturers will need to pay the levy – equivalent to 24p per litre - on any of their drinks that contain more than 8g per 100ml. It is not yet known whether the costs will be passed on to consumers in the form of price increases. Drinks containing 5-8g of sugar per 100ml will be subject to a lower rate of tax of 18p per litre. Pure fruit juices that do not contain any added sugar will be exempt, as are drinks with high milk content (due to the beneficial calcium they contain). The new tax is expected to raise around £240 million a year, which will be invested in schools sports and breakfast clubs.

Some blueberry muffins have more than a day's worth of sugar

27/03/2018

Are you partial to blueberry muffins? If you are, did you ever stop and think that just one could contain more than your entire recommended daily sugar allowance? According to an analysis in January by Action on Sugar and the Obesity Health Alliance, a single blueberry muffin can contain as much as eight teaspoons of sugar. The recommended daily intake for adults in the UK is just seven and it’s even less for children. The analysis highlights just how easy it is for people to exceed the recommended daily intake without even knowing it. For the analysis, Action on Sugar and the Obesity Health Alliance looked at 28 different muffins sold in a variety of locations, such as train stations and supermarkets. It found that 61% contained at least six teaspoons of sugar. Furthermore, muffins purchased at train station retailers had 19% more sugar per portion and were 32% bigger than those found in supermarkets. Caroline Cerny, from the Obesity Health Alliance, said: "We may think grabbing a blueberry muffin is a reasonably healthy option for a snack on the go compared to other cakes or a chocolate bar - yet the figures suggest otherwise. "There is huge variation in both the size of muffins and the sugar content, and with limited nutrition labelling, it's all too easy to eat a huge amount of sugar in just one serving."

Public Health England tells Britain to 'go on a diet'

08/03/2018

As part of a new obesity drive, Public Health England is telling people in the UK to “get on a diet” and wants to cut portion sizes of some of the nation’s most popular foods. Pizzas, ready meals, takeaways and processed meat will all be targeted as part of the initiative to cut calorie consumption by 20% by 2024. In addition, the government agency has called on the food industry to start using healthier ingredients and encourage people to choose lower calorie foods. The drive to eat healthier will not only improve the health of the nation, but also reduce the burden on the NHS associated with obesity-related illnesses. Public Health England says the cost per year of obesity to the NHS is £6 billion. Combined with the sugar reduction programme that came into effect last year and the sugary drinks levy which comes into force next month, this new initiative will also help reduce the number of calories consumed by children in the UK. Talking about the new steps, Public Heath England chief executive Duncan Selbie said: "Britain needs to go on a diet. Children and adults routinely eat too many calories, and it's why so many are overweight or obese." Food manufacturers, supermarkets, takeaways and fast-food outlets have all been told they need to reduce the calories in the foods such as crisps and savoury snacks, cooking sauces and dressings, ready meals and takeaways, and food-to-go like sandwiches. If these companies do not listen to PHE, the agency said it would be willing to ask the government to legislate. Guidelines suggest that women eat no more than 2,000 calories a day, while men should limit themselves to 2,500.

Diabetes is actually five diseases, not two

06/03/2018

Diabetes has long been split into two types: type 1 and type 2. But new research suggests it could actually be five different diseases and treatment could be tailored to tackle each form. Researchers in Sweden and Finland say the more complicated diabetes picture they’ve uncovered could lead to a new era of personalised medicine being ushered in. Affecting approximately one in 11 people around the world, diabetes doesn’t just play havoc with blood sugar levels, but also increases the risk of stroke, blindness, heart attack, kidney failure and limb amputation. Type 1 diabetes, which affects around 10% of sufferers in the UK, is a disease of the immune system that attacks the body’s insulin factories, leading to there being a shortage of the hormone to control blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is associated with poor lifestyle choices and obesity, which affect the way in which insulin works. For the study, the researchers analysed blood samples from 14,775 patients. They found that people could be separated into five distinct diabetes clusters. Talking to the BBC, Prof Leif Groop, one of the researchers, said: "This is extremely important, we're taking a real step towards precision medicine. "In the ideal scenario, this is applied at diagnosis and we target treatment better."

‘Apple shape’ women at greater risk of heart attack than their ‘pear shape’ peers

28/02/2018

New research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows that waist-to-hip ratio is a better heart attack predictor than body mass index (BMI), with so-called “apple shape” women at greater risk than their male counterparts. According to the research from the George Institute for Global Health, waist-to-hip ratio is an 18% better heart attack predictor than BMI in women and 6% in men. However, the research also found that BMI was linked to heart disease risk in both sexes. For the research, the team from the George Institute in Oxford interviewed nearly 500,000 UK adults aged 40 to 69. They found women who had bigger waists relative to their hips are at more risk of heart attacks than men with similar body shapes. Speaking about the findings of the research, Ashleigh Doggett, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Considering the large amount of UK participants, this is a very interesting study which highlights that obesity remains a risk factor for heart attacks in both men and women. "Interestingly, it suggests that those of us who are 'apple' as opposed to 'pear' shape, especially women, may be at higher risk of a heart attack.” The researchers say their findings suggest the differences in the way men and women store fat may affect their risk of heart disease. While more research is needed, these findings do support the notion that being “apple shape” (having proportionally more fat around the abdomen) is more hazardous for your health than being “pear shape” (having proportionally more fat stored around the hips. The full findings of the research can be found in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

UK millennials on course to be 'fattest generation', says leading cancer charity

27/02/2018

By the time they reach middle age, seven in 10 UK millennials (people born between the early 1980s and mid-90s) will be too fat, health experts say. In fact, millennials are on course to be the fattest generation ever since records began. In comparison, only about half of the so-called “baby boomer” generation (those born just after the Second World War) were fat at middle age. It’s a worrying revelation, especially as being fat as an adult is linked to an increased risk of developing 13 different types of cancer, according to Cancer Research UK who conducted the research. The charity said only 15% of the UK population are aware that being fat puts them at increased risk of breast, bowel and kidney cancer. Even more sobering is the fact Britain is now the most obese country in Western Europe and its obesity rates are rising faster than any other developed nation. In 1993, obesity prevalence was 15%, but that figure had almost doubled risen to 27% in 2015. Professor Linda Bauld from Cancer Research UK said: "Extra body fat doesn't just sit there; it sends messages around the body that can cause damage to cells. "This damage can build up over time and increase the risk of cancer in the same way that damage from smoking causes cancer.”

Indulgent grandparents could be damaging their grandchildren's health

16/11/2017

It’s natural for grandparents to dote on their grandchildren and give them sweet treats whenever they see them. But new research suggests this and other influences could have a negative impact on their grandchildren’s health. For the research, the team from the University of Glasgow analysed 56 different studies which included data from 18 countries, including the UK, US, China and Japan. They focused on the influence of grandparents who were significant in their grandchildren’s lives, but who weren’t necessarily primary caregivers. Three areas of influence were considered: diet and weight, physical activity and smoking. When it came to their grandchildren’s diet and weight, grandparents were found to have an adverse impact, with many studies highlighting how they feed their grandchildren high-sugar or high-fat foods - often in the guise of a treat. The researchers also found that grandchildren were perceived to get too little exercise while under the supervision of their grandparents. However, this did depend on whether the grandparents were physically active themselves or not. Furthermore, smoking around grandchildren became an area of conflict between parents and grandparents, with the latter often smoking while their grandchildren were present, even though they had been asked not to. Talking about the findings of the study, lead researcher Dr Stephanie Chambers said: "While the results of this review are clear that behaviour such as exposure to smoking and regularly treating children increases cancer risks as children grow into adulthood, it is also clear from the evidence that these risks are unintentional. "Given that many parents now rely on grandparents for care, the mixed messages about health that children might be getting is perhaps an important discussion that needs to be had."

Super-sized chocolate bars to be banned in UK hospitals

17/10/2017

We recently reported that childhood obesity rates are 10 times higher today than they were in 1975. This worrying trend is only set to continue unless more is done to tackle obesity in children. So-called “sugar taxes” on soft drinks in various countries around the world and France’s decision to ban unlimited fizzy drinks in restaurants, fast food-chains, schools and holiday camps, are definitely steps in the right direction. Now, hospitals in England have laid out plans to ban the sale of any sweets or chocolate that contain more than 250 calories. Going forward, super-sized chocolate bars will become a thing of the past in hospital vending machines and canteens. In addition, pre-packed sandwiches with more than 450 calories and/or 5g of saturated fat per 100g will also be banned. Hospitals will be given a cash boost to help them facilitate the changes. The decision to ban fattening and sugary food products in hospitals is actually win-win for the National Health Service (NHS). These foods are major contributors to obesity and many other conditions/diseases, such as preventable diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and cancer – all of which put enormous strain on the health service. Public Health England says hospitals have an "important role" in tackling obesity and not just dealing with the consequences.

Childhood obesity rates now 10 times higher than they were in 1975

12/10/2017

A new report by Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), reveals that obesity in children is 10 times higher today than it was in 1975. Even more startling is the report’s prediction that within five years, more children will be obese than underweight. For the research, lead author Prof. Majid Ezzati, of the School of Public Health at ICL, and his team of over 1,000 researchers examined the body mass index (BMI) of almost 130 million people living in 200 countries, including 31.5 million individuals between 5 and 19 years old – making this study the largest of its kind. They found that total childhood obesity rates have risen globally by more than 10-fold in the past forty years. More specifically, in 1975, there were 5 million obese girls. In 2016, this number had risen to 50 million. A similar trend was found for boys, with 6 million obese in 1975 compared to 74 million in 2016. The researchers say that if the trend continues, there will be more obese children in the world than underweight ones by the end of 2020. Commenting on the findings, Prof. Ezzati said: “The trend predicts a generation of children and adolescents growing up obese and also malnourished. We need ways to make healthy, nutritious food more available at home and school, especially in poor families and communities, and regulations and taxes to protect children from unhealthy foods.” The findings of the study were published in The Lancet.

Loneliness, social isolation bigger killers than obesity, finds study

10/08/2017

While it’s commonly accepted that obesity is a major public health concern in the United States, new research has uncovered two bigger threats to people’s lives: loneliness and social isolation. Presenting the findings of their two meta-analyses of studies at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C., study co-author Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University (BYU), and colleagues revealed that loneliness and social isolation have the potential to increase people’s risk of premature death by as much as 50%. In fact, the researchers found that the risk of premature death associated with loneliness and social isolation was equal to or greater than for obesity. While people often think loneliness and social isolation are the same, there are actually notable differences between them. Social isolation, for example, is defined as a lack of contact with other people. Loneliness, on the other hand, is the feeling that a person is emotionally disconnected from other people. The bottom line being that a person can be in regular contact with other people, but still feel lonely. A 2016 Harris Poll of US adults found that 72% have felt lonely at some point in their lives, while just under a third said they feel lonely at least once a week. Prof. Holt-Lunstad said more needs to be done at a community level to tackle the loneliness epidemic being faced. 

Children with TVs in their bedrooms have an increased risk of obesity

06/06/2017

Children who have TVs in their bedrooms are more likely to be overweight than those who don’t, according to new research. Published in the International Journal of Obesity, the study by scientists from University College London analysed data from more than 12,000 children in the UK. They found that girls in particular were more likely to put on weight the longer they spent watching TV. The scientists found more than 50% of the children had TVs in their bedrooms at the age of seven. Interestingly, girls who had TVs in their bedrooms at the age of seven were 30% more likely to be overweight by the time they were 11, compared to kids who did not have TVs in their bedrooms. For boys, the risk was slightly less at 20%. While the link between TVs and being overweight isn’t fully known, the researchers believe it is due to the children getting less sleep and snacking while they are in front of their TVs. Researcher Dr Anja Heilmann said: "Our study shows there is clear link between having a TV in the bedroom as a young child and being overweight a few years later." The scientists behind the research are now calling for more studies to see if similar patterns exist with laptops and mobile phones.

How waist size can predict cancer risk

25/05/2017

Men with waists over 40 inches and women with waists over 35 inches are at greater risk of certain cancers, as well as type 2 diabetes. That’s the message to come out of a study by scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is an arm of the World Health Organisation. According to Dr Heinz Freisling, the lead author of the study published in the British Journal of Cancer, a person’s waist measurement is as good at predicting cancer risk as their body mass index (BMI). His advice is for people to know their waistlines. “You only need to put a tape measure around your belly button. This is easy to do and can give a person an indication of whether their risk for specific cancers is increased or not – for instance pancreas or liver cancer which are known to be related to increased body fatness or obesity,” he said. Being overweight or obese is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking and is linked to 13 types of cancer, including bowel, breast and pancreas. The study combined data from about 43,000 participants who had been followed for an average of 12 years and more than 1,600 people were diagnosed with an obesity-related cancer.

Risk of chronic disease increases with just 14 days of physical inactivity

23/05/2017

While the association between a lack of exercise and an increased risk of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, is well-established, new research shows that just 14 days of physical inactivity can increase a person's risk such conditions. A study by the University of Liverpool found that young, healthy adults who switched from moderate-to-vigorous activity and then to near-sedentary behaviour for just 14 days experienced metabolic changes that could raise their risk of chronic disease and even premature death. Presenting their findings at the European Congress on Obesity 2017 in Portugal, Study leader Dr. Dan Cuthbertson and colleagues said that reducing physical activity for just 14 days led to a loss of skeletal muscle mass in the participants. However, the reduction of physical activity for 14 days also led to an increase in total body fat. Furthermore, said body fat was most likely to accumulate centrally, which the team notes is a significant risk factor for chronic disease. Current guidelines recommend that adults aged 18-64 undertake at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity every week. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that fewer than 50% of adults meet these exercise recommendations. Are you doing enough exercise each week? Even just small lifestyle changes can make a big difference when it comes to your risk of chronic disease.

People are getting fatter, but fewer than ever are trying to lose weight - study

09/03/2017

Despite the fact the number of people who are overweight or obese has risen over the past 30 years, fewer people are actually attempting to shed weight, according to a new study, the findings of which were published in JAMA. Around two thirds of the adult population in the United States are obese or overweight, putting them at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. However, new research has found that even though there has been a significant rise in the number of people who are overweight or obese since the 1980s, the percentage of U.S. adults who are trying to lose weight has fallen. For their research, study co-author Dr. Jian Zhang and her colleagues from the Georgia Southern University, analysed the data of 27,350 U.S. adults aged between 20 and 59 years. The analyses revealed that the rates of overweight and obesity increased by 13%, from 53% in 1988-1994 to 66% in 2009-2014. Furthermore, the researchers also found that the percentage of people who attempted to lose weight over the same period actually dropped by 7%, from 56% in 1988-1994 to 49% in 2009-2014. At present, people are deemed to be overweight or obese depending on their body mass index (BMI). A BMI of 25 to under 30 is considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese. A healthy diet and regular physical activity are proven to help curb weight gain, which is why we should all make a conscientious effort to watch what we eat and exercise more. [Recommended read: BMI Wrongly Labelling People Unhealthy, Finds New Research]

Average life expectancy to exceed 90 by 2030

23/02/2017

South Korean women will become the first people in the world to have an average life expectancy above 90, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The study, conducted by Imperial College London and the World Health Organisation, analysed the lifespans of people living in 35 industrialised countries. In each country analysed, the average life expectancy is expected to increase by 2030 and the gap between men and women will start to close in most countries. "As recently as the turn of the century, many researchers believed that life expectancy would never surpass 90 years," said study lead author Majid Ezzati in a journal news release. Ezzati is a professor at Imperial College London's School of Public Health in England. "Our predictions of increasing life spans," he added, "highlight our public health and health care successes. However, it is important that policies to support the growing older population are in place." The biggest issue for governments, say the researchers, will be how they overcome the challenges associated with pensions and care for elderly people. Equality of life, say the researchers, is the secret to South Korea's success, with things like education and nutrition benefitting most people in the country. Furthermore, South Korea is better at dealing with hypertension and has some of the lowest obesity rates in the whole of the world. Surprisingly, Japan, which currently has the longest life expectancy for women, is expected to tumble down the rankings going forward and be overtaken by both South Korea and France. By 2030, the US will have the shortest life expectancy of all the rich countries analysed for the research.

BMI Wrongly Labelling People Unhealthy, Finds New Research

21/02/2017

Half of people labelled 'obese' because of their body mass index (BMI) scores are actually healthy, according to new research, bringing into question the validity of the scoring system. Scientists claim the BMI scoring system is wrongly labelling millions of people 'unhealthy' when, in fact, they are actually much healthier than their slimmer counterparts. Dr. A. Janet Tomiyama, an assistant professor in the department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said: "Many people see obesity as a death sentence. But the data shows there are tens of millions of people who are overweight and obese and are perfectly healthy." Scientists say that BMI is being used by healthcare companies to increase premiums in some countries and that the latest findings will be "the final nail in the coffin for BMI." The problem with BMI is that it can give people false hope. For example, a person can have a 'normal' BMI, yet be at risk of disease, highlighting that it is not always an accurate predictor of future health. Prof Tomiyama and her colleagues discovered that more than 54 million Americans are being labelled as "unhealthy," even though they are not. The study - the results of which were published in the International Journal of Obesity - analysed the link between BMI and several health indicators, including blood pressure and glucose, and cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It found nearly half of Americans who are labelled 'overweight' because of their BMIs (34.4 million people) are healthy, as are 19.8 million who are considered 'obese'.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers Linked to Longer Lifespan

17/01/2017

Great news for fans of spicy food as research finds a link between eating red hot chilli peppers and a longer lifespan. The study of more than 16,000 people living in the United States found that those who ate red hot chilli peppers - ranging from a single chilli to several chillies every day - had a 13% lower risk of death from all causes compared to individuals who didn't eat them. Study co-authors Mustafa Chopan and Benjamin Littenberg, both from the Robert Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, recently published their findings in the journal PLOS One. While it still hasn't been determined exactly why chilli peppers might extend lifespan, the researchers believe it is likely down to capsaicin, which activities transient receptor potential (TRP) channels. Capsaicin is also where chilli peppers get their distinctive fiery flavour. There are many different types of chilli pepper, all with varying levels of heat. They are the fruits of the Capsicum plant, which belongs to the nightshade family. Capsaicin is also believed to have anti-inflammatory and/or anti-oxidant effects, as well as helping to boost the metabolism, which can help combat obesity. The team says that further study is needed to investigate the benefits of other spices and differential effects of certain chilli pepper sub-types, which "may lead to new insights into the relationships between diet and health, updated dietary recommendations, and the development of new therapies."

Dopamine could be to blame for people's reduced motivation to exercise

05/01/2017

The New Year is here and for many of you that will mean a new exercise regime designed to get you into shape and improve your overall health. For some people, though, sticking to a disciplined program of physical exercise is one of the hardest resolutions they can make because a lack of motivation gets in the way. But now new research sheds some light on why many people, despite understanding the benefits of regular exercise, find it hard in practice to stay physically active. Researchers from the Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Obesity Branch at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), led by Alexxai V. Kravitz, focused on why obese animals also have a hard time carrying out physical activity. They found that a dysfunction in obese rodents' dopamine systems might help explain why. Mice fed on a high-fat diet started gaining significantly more weight than mice fed on a normal diet. They were also observed to have fewer movements; spend less time moving; and were slower when they did move, compared with the lean mice. Most interesting of all was that the overweight mice's changes in movements did not correlate with body weight gain. Instead, the researchers found that a deficit in striatal D2R explained the obese mice's lack of activity. "In many cases, willpower is invoked as a way to modify behavior. But if we don't understand the underlying physical basis for that behavior, it is difficult to say that willpower alone can solve it," said Kravitz.

France Surgery Partner, La Clinique Turin, Installs New da Vinci Xi Surgical Robot

14/12/2016

La Clinique Turin, one of France Surgery's partners, becomes one of the first private establishments in the Paris region to install the new da Vinci Xi surgical robot. Dr. Olivier Dumonceau , a urologist surgeon of the La Clinique Turin in Paris, performed the first prostatectomy procedure in a private center in the Paris region using the new da Vinci Xi robot. This new generation of the da Vinci robotic surgical system allows for even more precise gestures for patient safety and helps obtain better intervention results. Surgeons benefit from improved 3D vision and increased movement accuracy with this new generation of surgical robot. Dr Olivier Dumonceau said: "This new generation of surgical robot marks an additional step of technology for the patient and surgeon. Our gestures are even safer, the patient can benefit from more precise surgery. We are now developing ambulatory robotic surgery for interventions that previously required several days of hospitalisation. Patient recovers faster and can leave the hospital quickly and safely. " Dr. Perrine Goyer, a digestive surgeon at the La Clinique Turin, added: "Robotic surgery offers today opportunities for minimally invasive surgery in new areas such as obesity surgery and digestive cancer for the most complex cases." Dr. Ludovic Friederich, gynecologist surgeon at the La Clinique Turin, said: "With this latest generation of machines, robotic surgery opens new perspectives for the treatment of endometriosis in very short stay with lightened suites. In particular, there is a reduction in postoperative pain." "Our development towards minimally invasive surgery and shorter hospital stays is strategic. The replacement of our previous robot with this new technology is a huge step forward. "The possibilities for interventions are now extended to pathologies as diverse as Prostatectomy, endometriosis or digestive surgery with an even higher level of result. The treatment can be performed on an outpatient basis without compromising the quality," said Stéphane Lievain, director of La Clinique Turin. La Clinique Turin carries out some 25,000 interventions per year. It features: 150 practitioners and offers complete care in surgery, medicine, dialysis and imaging (scanner, MRI and interventional radiology). Main specialties: urology, digestive, maxillofacial surgery, cardiology, ENT, orthopedics, vascular, plastic, gastroenterology, gynecology, nephrology. With a leading technical platform, it has 216 beds and places, 16 operating rooms as well as an intensive care unit in cardiology and a monitoring unit in the heart of Paris. It is regularly quoted in the health charts of the press.

Gastric Surgery Should be Offered Regardless of Weight, Says Leading UK Surgeon

25/10/2016

A leading bariatric surgeon in the UK has urged the government to offer gastric surgery to patients regardless of their weight. According to Professor Francesco Rubino, the Chair of Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery at Kings College, thousands of type-2 diabetes patients in the UK are missing out on vital weight loss surgery because they do not meet the NHS's guidelines when it comes to weight. That's because, at present, only type-2 diabetes patients who have a BMI of over 30 are currently eligible for bariatric surgery. Rubino says that weight loss surgery is "the closest thing to a cure" and should be used more often. In the UK, there are around 3.6 million people with type-2 diabetes, which costs the NHS up to £10 billion a year to treat. However, approximately 15% of sufferers are "normal weight" and so don't qualify for weight loss surgery under the NHS's current guidelines. "The biggest barrier we have is primarily one of stigma against obesity. The vast majority of the public believes this is a cosmetic intervention and unfortunately many physicians think the same way," said Rubino. Rubino also highlighted that weight loss surgeries, which manipulate the stomach or small intestine, do not just help people lose weight, but actually influence insulin production by altering hormones in the person's gut. "More than 50% of people with type 2 diabetes can enjoy long term remission. Another 30 or 40% enjoy a major improvement," he added.

WHO Backs Tax on Sugary Foods and Drinks

18/10/2016

A report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that the global body has added its support to countries that place a "sugar tax" on soft drinks. It's the first time the WHO has thrown its support behind taxation. Previously, it had stopped short, simply advising a lower sugar intake. Several countries, including Mexico and Hungary, already tax added sugar products, and South Africa is introducing a sugar tax next year - the only country in Africa to do so. The WHO said that incidences of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay can be lowered if people lower their consumption of "free sugars". Free sugars are all the different types of sugar people eat, except for the ones found naturally in milk and fruit. Dr Francesco Branca, nutrition director for the WHO, said that people should keep their sugar intake below 10% of their total calorie intake, and below 5% if possible. "Nutritionally, people don't need any sugar in their diet," he said. The WHO report found that raising prices by 20% or more leads to lower consumption and "improved nutrition". It also noted that government subsidies for fruit and vegetables, which inevitably lead to lower prices, can have a positive impact on the amount people consume.

Overweight people's brains look 10 years older than those of lean peers

11/08/2016

As people grow older, their brains naturally lose a certain amount of white matter. But new brain scanning research by a team from Cambridge University has found that being overweight exacerbates that loss. Published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, the study revealed that the brains of overweight middle-aged adults appear 10 years older than those of their leaner peers. However, the greater shrinkage in the volume of white matter does not appear to affect cognitive performance. White matter is the part of the brain that transmits information, and is often referred to as "the subway of the brain" because it connects different brain regions together. Obesity has long been linked to a number of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer, but research is increasingly showing that it may also have a negative impact on the brain. Indeed, the Cambridge researchers said that the findings from their study show we need to better understand how extra weight affects the brain. The author of the study, Lisa Ronan, from the University of Cambridge, said: “This study raises the possibility that if you are overweight or obese you may be more susceptible to diseases [linked] to age-related decline such as dementia and Alzheimer’s."

Britons under-reporting their calorie intakes - study

09/08/2016

Rising obesity levels in Britain could be attributed to the fact that may people in the country under-report their daily calorie intakes when quizzed for official surveys. According to research from the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), policymakers who are attempting to curb obesity are being mislead by the British public when it comes to how many calories they are actually consuming on a daily basis. So while decades of surveys seemingly reveal that people are eating less - which should lead to lower levels of obesity - the truth is that people are not being totally honest when asked. The BIT's report, which has been compiled using scientific and economic data, shows that many people are eating up to 3,000 calories a day and not the 2,000 often cited in official surveys. As a result, government statisticians have already said that the way calorie data is collected will change going forward. But why would people deliberately under-report their calorie consumption? The BIT researchers don't believe that people are necessarily under-reporting their calorie consumptions on purpose. Instead, they point to the fact that snacks can difficult to track on a daily basis, which leads people to think they are consuming less calories than they actually are. Here at France Surgery, we have helped many individuals undergo weight loss surgery here in France. If you would like more information about any of our services, don't hesitate to contact us today for a free quotation.

A girl's breast cancer risk may be influenced by her obese father

28/06/2016

It's been thought for some time now that a mother's weight and diet during pregnancy has the potential to affect the breast cancer risk of her female offspring. But now new research suggests that obese father's also risk raising their children's chances of breast cancer, due to the way obesity alters the gene expression of sperm. Experts have long agreed that a woman's breast cancer risk is influenced by changes in genes, and approximately 5-10 percent of these gene changes are inherited. According to Sonia de Assis, Ph.D., from the Department of Oncology at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Washington, D.C., who led the investigative team, said few studies have previously investigated the link between a father's weight and an offspring's breast cancer risk in later life. Presenting their findings in the journal Scientific Reports, de Assis and her colleagues outlined how they had studied how both normal weight male mice and obese male mice influence the breast tissue off their offspring. They found that female pups sired by obese males had delayed breast tissue development, and were more likely to develop breast cancer as a result. They revealed that the obese males' sperm had an altered microRNA (miRNA) signature, which was subsequently found in the breast tissue of their female offspring. The researchers now plan to conduct more studies to see if the same is true in humans.

Malnutrition now being fuelled by obesity

21/06/2016

We recently told you about how obesity rates in the US continue to rise, despite significant sums of money having been spent to try and curb the trend. But now a new report has worryingly revealed that malnutrition across the world is being fuelled by obesity, and not just starvation. The 2016 Global Nutrition Report, which includes data from 129 countries, says that 44% are experiencing "very serious levels" of both under-nutrition and obesity. In other words, one in three people suffers from malnutrition even in this day and age. In fact, the report's authors said that malnutrition is now "the new normal", and while a lot of great work has been done to combat the problem of malnutrition stemming from starvation, there is a "staggering global challenge" presented by rising obesity levels needs urgently addressing. The report outlined how hundreds of millions of people are malnourished because they are obese. Many also have too much sugar, salt and cholesterol in their blood. Professor Corinna Hawkes, who co-chaired the research, said that the report should serve to highlight how the traditional image of malnutrition is changing, and it's no longer just something that is linked to starvation. "Malnutrition literally means bad nutrition - that's anyone who isn't adequately nourished," she said.

Obesity rates rising among US women

09/06/2016

A pair of studies released on Tuesday show that the battle against rising obesity levels in the United States isn't currently being won. According to the two articles published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 35% of men; 40% of women; and 17% of children and teenagers in the US are obese. Not overweight, obese. These startling figures are in spite of hundreds of millions of dollars having been pumped into trials, research, drugs, observational studies, and community and hospital programmes. Additional efforts in schools, communities, businesses and places of worship have also fallen short when it comes to tackling an obesity epidemic that is three decades old. Dr. Jody Zylke and Dr. Howard Bauchner, the deputy editor and editor in chief, respectively, of JAMA, which wrote an editorial to accompany the research findings, said: "Although it is impossible to know what the extent of the obesity epidemic would have been without these efforts, the data reported ... certainly do not suggest much success." One of the research's biggest surprises was that obesity prevalence among women went up by 5% over the course of a decade, while the prevalence for men remained the same. [Related reading: Study shows bariatric weight loss surgery saves lives]

Study shows bariatric weight loss surgery saves lives

07/06/2016

A new study has found that obese patients who undergo bariatric weight loss surgery have a greater chance of survival than those who do not. According to the research from a team at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, weight loss surgery decreased the chance of death by as much as 57% compared with not having it. Being obese or overweight has been linked to many diseases, including heart attack, stroke and several different cancers, and can increases a person's risk of death as a result. Of the 48,693 patients (aged 18 to 74 years old), 22,581 underwent bariatric surgery - a gastric band was fitted in 92.8% of cases. The remaining 26,112 obese patients had no surgery at all. The researchers, led by Dr Christina Persson, found that the mortality rate in the group that did not have surgery was 4.21% compared to just 1.1% for the surgical group. That's equivalent to 7.7 deaths per 1,000 people each year versus just 2.1. Cardiovascular disease was the most common cause of death in the non-surgical group, followed by cancer, while external causes of mortality, such as suicide and accidents, were found to be the most common causes of death in the surgical group. "The study indicates that the overall all-cause mortality is considerably lower among obese individuals who undergo bariatric surgery compared to non-surgical obese individuals, and the differences lies mainly in cardiovascular disease and cancer," said Dr Persson. The findings of the study were presented at the recent European Obesity Summit in Sweden. To find out how France Surgery can help you undergo bariatric weight loss surgery, contact us today.

More obese people in the UK should undergo weight loss surgery, say surgeons

12/05/2016

Surgeons in the UK have said that the number of weight loss operations performed on the NHS each year needs to rise dramatically, so that people become healthier and the health service itself saves money. Writing recently in the British Medical Journal, the bariatric surgeons said that less than 1% of people who could benefit from weight loss surgery are getting treatment, and the numbers are actually dropping, despite rising rates of obesity and diabetes. [Related article: Mediterranean diet reduces heart attacks and strokes] The surgeons also highlighted that the UK is lagging behind its European counterparts when it comes to weight loss surgery, and that there are 2.6 million people in the country who stand to benefit from surgery. According to the surgeons, people who have stomach shrinking operations lose 25-35% of their body weight, on average, in just a year. In comparison, the average loss through diets and weight loss drugs is just 7% a year. It's thought that a quarter of adults in the UK are now classified as obese - the second highest rate in Europe behind Hungary - and this reality is putting a huge strain on NHS resources and funds. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has previously indicated that surgery should be considered for severely obese people who have unsuccessfully tried all other means to lose weight. Find out more about bariatric surgery with us in France here.

Study: Childhood obesity in US remains high

28/04/2016

From 1999 to 2014, rates of severe obesity among kids in the US climbed, highlighting that the issue still very much continues to plague American children today. Examining national data over the 15-year period, researchers found that a third of children in the US aged between two and 19 were overweight. They also found, more worryingly, that nearly a quarter were obese and two per cent severely obese. Lead researcher Asheley Skinner, from the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C., said: "Despite other recent reports, all categories of obesity have increased from 1999 to 2014, and there is no evidence of a decline in the last few years." Skinner added that there are currently 4.5 million obese kids in the US who urgently need treatment because they have a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, compared with children their age who are not obese. "Unless we make big changes on a national level, we're not going to see huge changes in obesity," Skinner said. By changing school lunches; increasing opportunities for physical activity, and allowing parents access to more healthy food options, the problem of childhood obesity can be tackled head-on, according to Skinner. The study, the results of which were published in the journal Obesity, also found that rates of obesity were higher in black and hispanic children, suggesting these groups need particular help going forward to combat the problem.

Nuts linked to reduction in colon cancer risk

21/04/2016

New research from South Korea shows that a nut-rich diet can reduce a person's risk of developing colon cancer. It adds to the list of health benefits already associated with nuts, such as a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and obesity. According to the findings of the research, which was conducted by a team at Seoul National University College of Medicine, eating a serving of nuts three or more times per week appeared to have a big impact on risk. This reduction was noted in both men and women. For the study, a serving of nuts was considered to be 15g, which is actually significantly smaller than serving sizes found across the world. And while many types of nuts were used for the study, the majority of participants consumed peanuts - presumably because of their availability in South Korea. Men who ate three or more servings of nuts every week were found to have a 69% lower risk of colon cancer than those who didn't. The risk reduction in women was even greater, with 81% found to have a lower risk. Also worthy of note is the fact that the researchers discovered that nut consumption was associated with a reduced risk across all of the different areas where colon cancer is seen and different types of colon cancer. So if nuts aren't a part of your regular diet, perhaps they should be...

Womb cancer rise likely due to obesity

14/04/2016

Cancer Research UK has warned that rising levels of obesity could be fuelling an increase in the number of women diagnosed with cancer of the womb. According to figures released by the charity, 19 in every 100,000 women in the UK were found to have the disease in the 1990s. However, this figure had risen to 29 in 100,000 by 2013. It's thought that hormones associated with carrying extra fat could be playing a part in this rise, but researchers have acknowledged that this still remains unclear and that more studies are needed. Each year in the UK, approximately 9,000 women are diagnosed with womb cancer and 2,000 die from the disease. Nevertheless, treatments are improving and higher survival rates today reflect this. But researchers are still concerned why more women are getting the disease nowadays than before. Cancer Research UK's Prof Jonathan Lederman said: "It is worrying that womb cancer cases are going up so sharply. "We don't know all the reasons why, but we do know that about a third of cases are linked to being overweight - so it is no surprise to see the increases in womb cancer cases echo rising obesity levels." The exact causes of womb cancer remain unclear, but experts believe that extra fat may produce hormones which could increase the chances of tumours forming. Other risk factors include: lack of exercise, age and genetics. Being overweight increases a person's risk of developing some cancers, which is why it's important to get regular exercise and keep an eye on portion sizes, as well as sugar and fat intake.

Study: American heart attack victims now younger and fatter

29/03/2016

A new study has revealed that heart attack victims in the United States are becoming younger and fatter. Over the past two decades alone, the average age of people suffering the deadliest heart attacks has fallen from 64 to 60, and obesity has been implicated in 40% of the most severe, according to researchers at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. In addition, heart attack sufferers nowadays are more likely to be smokers and people with high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), compared to 20 years ago. It's a reality that is raising alarm bells. "Lifestyle changes to reduce weight, eat right, exercise and quit smoking are critical for prevention of heart attack," said senior researcher Dr. Samir Kapadia, an an interventional cardiologist in the Cleveland Clinic Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Kapadia added that the responsibility for making these lifestyle changes should be shared between the patient and their medical doctor, and the issue discussed at routine checkups. The study focused on analysing heart disease risk factors among more than 3,900 patients; all of whom had been treated for an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). One of the most severe types of heart attack, STEMIs often result in disability or death and occur when the heart's main artery is completely blocked by plaque. The results of the study are scheduled to be presented on April 4 at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting in Chicago.

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