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.

Sports Drinks & Kids

The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition and the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness have issued a report in the June Pediatrics (1) that looks at the use of sports drinks and energy drinks for children and adolescents.
They conclude that these types of drinks are no better than water or skim milk and may have worrisome health effects. Especially worrisome are those that contain caffeine.

The Bumper Book's advice

The Bumper Book, published in 1954 by Platt & Munk Co., Inc. is a book of stories and verses that I still have from my childhood. It must have been a classic because my wife had a copy too from her childhood. Among the edifying stories in The Bumper Book was one called "The Little Boy-who-was-too-thin." You can get the jist of this story from a few quotes: "Once upon a time there was a boy named John who was very, very thin....This did not trouble Little-Boy-Who-Was-Too-Thin, because he did not care to run races with the other children or throw a ball fast and high....

The Obesity Gene

Actually isolating a gene that causes obesity would complete our story. When it was announced that such a gene was found in mice it made big headlines. This gene is called the obese gene or the ob gene. In order to find a gene like this it helps to have inbred mice that are almost identical in every way except that some are obese and some aren't. Scientists have had such a breed of mice. It has been long known that the ob gene is recessive in these mice.

Tibetan Children

A report appeared recently in The New England Journal of Medicine that is disturbing and interesting and then disturbing again. This far flung study was done by investigators from the University of California at Berkeley together with local health workers in Tibet. They weighed and measured and interviewed the families of 2078 Tibetan children. They found that the children were shorter than they should be and attributed that to malnutrition. They said the children's growth was "stunted." That's the disturbing part.

TV viewing and increased type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and demise

The same issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association that had last week's column topic had another article about the influence of watching TV on type 2 diabetes, heart disease and all-cause mortality. (1) I have a problem with this TV-causes-obesity thing because the purported mechanism of how TV does this involve unhealthy eating, taking time away from physical activity and exposure to advertisements for bad food. But those things studied individually don't have any effect on obesity. How could TV indirectly do it.

Which Comes First - Dieting or Overeating?

There are simultaneous epidemics of dieting, overweight and bulimia in the developed world. These symptoms are also closely correlated in most epidemiologic studies. That is, the more overweight you are, the more you diet and the more you binge eat. Which comes first?

A prevalent hypothesis is based on the presumption that frequent consumption of large quantities of food leads to weight gain and so the overeating comes first.

A better theory is that the dieting comes first.