Personalized Coupons, Recipes and Education Helped Shoppers Make Healthier Food Purchases

we are interested in scaling this work so it can reach more US adults and help them improve their diet quality and diet-related health.

WeightControl.com Interview with:
Maya Vadiveloo, PhD, RD
Assistant Professor
Nutrition and Food Sciences
University of Rhode Island

Dr.  Vadiveloo

WeightControl.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: We conducted this study with the goal of helping people make healthier dietary choices while at the grocery store. We know that food companies use personalized messages and discounts that prompt people to buy unhealthy foods. We tested whether similar approaches could be used to encourage people to buy healthier foods by sending people 2 personalized, healthy food coupons each week to make these foods more affordable. We also wanted our recommendations to reflect people’s dietary preferences, so we only sent people coupons that aligned with preferences they told us at the beginning of the study .

The coupons were directly linked to people’s loyalty cards and they also received a brief nutrition message and recipe via email every week.

Overall, we found that people liked the personalized healthy food incentives, that it prompted them to purchase more healthy foods, and improved the overall diet quality of their grocery purchases.

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Mediterranean Diet Linked to Liver Fat Reduction

The main finding from this study is that the green Mediterranean diet, the enhanced version of the Mediterranean diet, rich in walnuts, green tea, and Mankai aquatic plant and low in red/processed meat, was the most successful in liver fat reduction.

WeightControl.com Interview with:
Anat Yaskolka Meir RD Ph.D.
Post-doctoral fellow
Department of Epidemiology
Faculty of Health Sciences
Ben-Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel

WeightControl.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: In the past 15 years, Prof. Shai’s group at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev has conducted several large-scale, long-term clinical trials among over 1000 participants. Results from our previous DIRECT, CASCADE, and CENTRAL trials indicated that the Mediterranean diet is superior to other diets in terms of reducing cardiometabolic risk (e.g., by achieving lower blood lipids levels). Moreover, specific plant components named “polyphenols” (secondary metabolites of plants with antioxidant properties) might associate with this beneficial effect observed. Following the conclusions from these trials, we designed the DIRECT PLUS trial, aimed to examine whether we can enhance the observed and known effect of the Mediterranean diet by adding specific polyphenol-rich food items. Specifically, we enriched the Mediterranean diet, naturally rich in polyphenols, by adding specific components: Mankai aquatic plant (as green shake), walnuts, and green tea, which provided additional 1240 mg polyphenols a day. We also instructed the participants to avoid red and processed meat. 

The main finding from this study is that the green Mediterranean diet, the enhanced version of the Mediterranean diet, rich in walnuts, green tea, and Mankai aquatic plant and low in red/processed meat, was the most successful in liver fat reduction. This group showed the greatest reduction of hepatic fat (-39%), as compared to the traditional Mediterranean diet (-20%) and the healthy dietary guidelines (-12%). The results were significant after adjusting for weight loss (currently, the primary treatment for fatty liver). Moreover, the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases was reduced in the green group by 50%.

Which Sugar Suppresses Appetite Better?

I would advise reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and instead eating more whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, which have many health benefits.

WeightControl.com Interview with:
Katie Page, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Co-Director, Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute
Department of Internal Medicine
Division of Endocrinology
USC Keck School of Medicine

WeightControl.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Health experts advise people to cut back on sugar. My team at Keck School of Medicine at USC has been researching whether the type of sugar people consume makes a difference on their health. In this paper, we examined how appetite regulating hormones respond to sucrose compared to glucose. Sucrose is a disaccharide that contains equal parts of glucose and fructose, whereas glucose is a simple sugar (or monosaccharide).

The different structures affect the way the sugars interact with tissues, which influences their effects on the body. In prior studies, we showed that the monosaccharide, fructose, produces lower levels of hunger suppressing hormones than glucose. In this study, we were interested in examining sucrose because it is more of a real-world sugar and one of the most commonly consumed added sugars in our diet.  

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Older Patients Are Able to Lose Weight As Well as Younger Patients

Weight gain and obesity can affect anyone, regardless of age. There may be barriers that exist for older people with obesity.

Weightcontrol.com Interview with:
Dr. Thomas M Barber MRCP, PhD
Associate Professor
Honorary Consultant Endocrinologist
University of Warwick and UHCW NHS Trust

Dr. Barber

Weightcontrol.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Obesity management within the UK is structured into a 4-tiered system. Tier 3 refers to hospital-based management that usually consists of medical input combined with focused dietary and psychological support where required. Typically within hospital-based tier 3 obesity services, certain subgroups of the population are under-represented, including men and older people. There are likely multiple reasons for this. However, obesity can affect anyone regardless of sex, age or any other classification.

To improve the health and wellbeing of the nation, it is important that we facilitate effective weight management for as many people with obesity as possible. Much of the chronic effects of weight gain and obesity are similar to those that occur with ageing (including, for example increased cardiovascular risk). Therefore, older people with obesity can experience a type of ‘accelerated ageing’ with increased risk for co-morbidities and premature mortality.

The effective management of obesity is therefore particularly important for older people. Unfortunately, we live in an ageist society, which perhaps explains, at least in part, why older people are currently under-represented in obesity services provided by the NHS. The aim of our study was to explore the effects of older age on ability to lose weight within the context of a hospital-based tier 3 obesity service.

Weight Loss in Low Income Patients in Primary Care Settings

Clinically significant weight loss is possible in underserved, low-income patients in primary care settings.

WeightControl.com Interview with:
Peter Katzmarzyk, Ph.D., FACSM, FAHA, FTOS
Professor and Marie Edana Corcoran Endowed Chair
Pediatric Obesity and Diabetes
Assoc Exec Dir for Population and Public Health Sciences
Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Baton Rouge, LA

WeightControl.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: Obesity remains one of the greatest public health threats, and there is good evidence that intensive lifestyle interventions should be a primary approach to obesity management and treatment. However, there has been minimal uptake of obesity treatment approaches in primary care, which is the cornerstone of medicine in the US.

WeightControl.com: What are the main findings?

Response: We developed an intervention to reduce calorie intake and increase physical activity that was delivered by health coaches embedded in primary care clinics. The sample was diverse with a large percentage of low-income and African American patients. The results demonstrated that patients in the intensive lifestyle intervention lost approximately 5% of their initial body weight, compared to patients in usual care who lost about 0.5% of their body weight. These weight loss differences between the two groups were maintained out to 2 years, which demonstrates the durability of the intervention.    

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COVID-19 Linked to Difficulty with Weight Control

With the current concerns that the pandemic may lead to increases in obesity rates, it’s important to develop appropriate and large-scale support options for those aiming to manage their weight.

WeightControl.com Interview with:

Dr Sarah-Elizabeth Bennett
Senior Research Associate
Slimming World, UK

WeightControl.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: This research is part of a larger Health and Wellbeing study, investigating the behaviour changes made by members of Slimming World, the UK’s largest group-based weight management organisation. New members were surveyed regularly over the course of one year and a representative sample of non-members were also surveyed at similar timepoints for comparison. The survey at the six-month point coincided with lockdown, so questions were added to learn more about how lockdown measures had impacted the nation’s health, wellbeing, and lifestyle behaviours. The following findings were based on the responses of 222 members who had completed all 3 surveys to-date and 637 non-members.

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How Much Fasting Is Necessary to Lose Weight?

The main findings of this study were a 3% weight loss in 8 weeks in both groups with a 550-calorie restriction (unintentional) and good adherence to both diets.

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sofia Cienfuegos
PhD Candidate, Human Nutrition.
Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition
University of Illinois at Chicago

MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: Intermittent fasting has been gaining a lot of popularity lately mainly due to a large group of the general population that don’t like to keep tabs on their caloric intake. Intermittent fasting is a safe and effective alternative to weight loss that does not require people consciously restricting calories. Time restricted feeding (TRF) is one specific type of IF that has been gaining a lot of popularity and public interest lately. Previous studies in TRF with the 16/8 method made people want to try and follow this diet strategy achieving promising results. Some people were wondering if shortening the feeding  window even further would induce better results in terms of weight loss and cardiometabolic health.

Based on this question, we decided to test two different short time restricted feeding methods (18/6 and 20/4) to see if they could induce even better results in weight and health outcomes. We were also wondering if people were able to stick to these interventions considering the short eating window.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: The main findings of this study were a 3% weight loss in 8 weeks in both groups with a 550-calorie restriction (unintentional) and good adherence to both diets. Also, we found significant reductions in insulin resistance and oxidative stress in both intervention groups.

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Weight Control: Better to Eat a Big Breakfast than Big Dinner

The importance of the time of day and our internal clock for food intake and energy metabolism is a very exciting research field. Future studies should investigate why we spend so much more energy after breakfast than after dinner

WeightControl.com Interview with:
M. Sc. Juliane Richter
University of Lübeck
Center of Brain, Behavior and Metabolism
Section of Psychoneurobiology

WeightControl.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: The background for this study is that there is still the misbelief that it does not matter when we eat and that the only thing that counts is the energy balance of the whole day. However, since our body has an internal clock and many processes in the body, for example glucose metabolism, are subject to diurnal variations, we investigated whether diet-induced thermogenesis also varies during the course of the day.

Diet-induced thermogenesis is the energy our body spends for the digestion, absorption and transport of nutrients. We found that diet-induced thermogenesis after breakfast is more than twice as high as after dinner. We also investigated whether this difference in time of day depends on the amount of calories consumed. In both cases, high- and low-calorie meals, the body spends more energy after breakfast than after dinner.

breakfast-timing of meals for weight control
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Red Raspberries May Help Control Blood Sugar in Prediabetes

WeightControl.com Interview with:
Britt BurtonFreeman, Ph.D
Director of the Center for Nutrition Research at IFSH
Associate Professor, Food Science and Nutrition
Illinois Institute of Technology

"Raspberries" by theslowlane is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0
“Raspberries” by theslowlane

WeightControl.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Red raspberries contain appreciable amounts of dietary fiber and a variety of other nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium and potassium. They also contain phytochemicals, such as polyphenols with documented biological activity suggesting metabolic benefits. However, there is limited data assessing the potential effects of red raspberries in humans, particularly in those people who might benefit the most, ie., people at risk for diabetes mellitus.

We investigated the health benefits of consuming 1-2 cups of red raspberries in a group of people who were overweight/obesity and had prediabetes and insulin resistance.

The results showed that when a breakfast meal was consumed with raspberries, less insulin was needed to manage blood sugar compared with a meal with no raspberries. Moreover, when two cups of red raspberries were included in the breakfast meal, blood sugar concentrations were significantly lower compared to consuming breakfast without raspberries.

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Same Health Benefits with Fast or Slow Weight Loss

WeightControl.com Interview with:

Jennifer L. Kuk, PhD
Associate Professor
York University
School of Kinesiology and Health Science
Sherman Health Science Research Centre, Rm 2002
Toronto, Ontario 

WeightControl.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Traditionally, weight loss is prescribed at the rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week.  However, this is largely based on the observation that weight losses faster than 2 pounds per week put patients at an increased risk for gallstones.  It is unclear whether this is the optimal rate of weight loss for CVD or diabetes outcomes. Furthermore, fast weight loss has historically thought to be associated with poorer long term weight loss.  However, this was largely based on research using liquid diets.  Recent evidence suggests that faster weight loss may be similar to slower weight loss when more sensible lifestyle interventions are used.  Thus, if there are additional benefits of faster weight loss for CVD or diabetes outcomes, then there may a rationale for prescribing faster weight loss as the overall rate of gallstones is fairly low.

We observed that those who lose weight faster than 2lb/wk tend to lose more weight overall, but for the same overall weight loss, there is no difference in terms of health benefits with fast or slow weight loss.

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