For several years I had been writing "Fat Science," the column, for our local paper, The Portsmouth Daily Times. Those articles are small, easily digested items that convey a lot of news but skip around from topic to topic.

Girls Often Smoke To Control Weight

I just received this distressing press release. Smoking is a really bad tactic for weight control.

If a girl is concerned about weight and wants to be thin, she has an increased risk of becoming a daily smoker by the time she's 18 or 19 years old, according to a new study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Weight concerns increased the risk for both black and white girls.

High Blood Pressure - Low Salt

Salt is a vital part of life. The levels of salt in the blood are carefully monitored and defended by many body systems. Humans and all animals will go to extremes to obtain salt if they are deprived. That's just like thirst and hunger.

The cheap abundance of salt in our diets has become a liability though. Everyone knows that people with high blood pressure should reduce their salt intake. However, it seems like salt has little or no effect on the blood pressures of people without hypertension.

How Does Gastric Bypass Work?

When we talked about gastric bypass surgery we explained that it doesn't work by keeping you from eating or by keeping you from absorbing the calories you do eat, even tho some misguided people think that's how it works and this kind of surgery is often labeled by terms that sound like that's how it works.

We mentioned that maybe surgery like this mucks up some other hormonal or neural control of appetite and fat storage.

An intriguing report in the New England Journal of Medicine of July 21, 2005 may offer some insight into this question.

Hunger Hurts

Hunger is the most powerful way that your body uses to keep you from changing your weight and shape. Obese people get just as hungry when they lose weight as skinny people.

Still there are some people who can walk through fire and some who can sleep on a bed of nails and some who can lose a lot of weight and keep it off.

Kids Drink Too Much Juice, Doctors Say

I am a loyal, dues paying, member of the American Academy of Pediatrics but I think they were silly when they said last week that fruit juices are causing our kids to get a sweet tooth and get too fat. They also say that small babies should not drink juice for these same reasons.

It is true that juice has lots of sugar - more than pop. Juice has lots of calories too, but not more than milk. And milk has more fat. It is true that sometimes the sugars in juice, especially sorbitol and fructose, can cause diarrhea and stomach aches. And finally sugar causes cavities, sure.

Leptin. What Is It For?

Remember when we talked about the discovery of the obesity gene in certain mice, we said that the protein made by that gene was called Leptin. The mice who were fat did not make Leptin or they made a flawed version of it. This really was a major breakthrough in the science of fat because for the first time a specific cause that has nothing to do with diet and exercise was identified - in those mice.

The discovery of Leptin unleashed a feeding frenzy of research that shows how important this subject is to everybody.

Pima Indians

So if obesity is caused by genes, how come we are having an epidemic of obesity that arose in less than two generations? Maybe there is a clue in the story of the Pima Indians.

Possible Breakthrough in the Battle of the Bulge

An epidemic of obesity plagues us to an ever greater degree, despite huge efforts to combat it. Researchers at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine reported last Spring in Science magazine, on an important discovery in mice that may be a breakthrough in this battle. The team of researchers led by Franicis Kuhajda found that inhibitors of an enzyme called fatty acid synthase (FAS), reduced food intake dramatically in mice. FAS builds fatty acids from small molecular pieces called malonyl.