Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Weight Research / 04.05.2020 Interview with: Florian Keifer, M.D., Ph.D Associate Professor of Medicine Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism Department of Medicine III Medical University of Vienna What is the background for this study? Response: Brown fat, in contrast to white fat, burns significant amounts of chemical energy through heat production. In numerous animal models the activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) increases energy expenditure and counteracts weight gain. Therefore BAT has been established as a promising target in the fight against obesity and related metabolic disorders. In humans, BAT can be activated by moderate cold exposure, however the function and relevance of BAT are incompletely understood. Using PET scans we identified two groups of individuals those with and without active BAT and studied their differences in energy expenditure and blood fatty acid composition.  (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Exercise - Fitness, Weight Research / 25.02.2019 Interview with: "Colnago M10 Campagnolo Record Custom Bike 067" by Glory Cycles is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit: Dr Paul Gentil Faculty of Physical Education and Dance Federal University of Goias Goiania, Brazil What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although being overweight and/or obese are associated with numerous health risks, the prevalence of both are continuing to increase worldwide. The treatment would include anything that results in an increase in energy expenditure (exercise) or a decrease in energy intake (diet). However, our metabolism seems to adapt to variations in physical activity to maintain total energy expenditure. Although lower-than-expected weight loss is often attributed to incomplete adherence to prescribed  interventions, there are other factors that might influence the results, such as, metabolic downregulation. So, instead of making people spend more calories, maybe we have to think on how to promote metabolic changes in order to overcome these physiological adaptations above-mentioned. In this regard, high intensity training might be particularly interesting as a strategy to promote fat loss. Irrespective the amount of calories spent during training, higher intensity exercise seems to promote many physiological changes that might favor long-term weight loss. For example, previous studies have shown that interval training is able to promote upregulation of important enzymes associated with glycolysis and beta oxidation pathways, which occurs in a greater extent than with moderate intensity continuous exercise. Our findings suggest that interval training might be an important tool to promote weigh loss. However, I t might be performed adequately and under direct supervision in order to get better results. (more…)
Author Interviews, Weight Research / 17.09.2018 Interview with: John Cawley PhD Professor of policy analysis and management College of Human Ecology Cornell University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The background is that diet-related chronic disease has increased dramatically in the US and many other economically developed countries. For example, the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. has roughly tripled since 1960, and the prevalence of Type II diabetes has also increased significantly.  As a result, policymakers are looking for ways to facilitate healthy eating.  One possible approach is to require that restaurants list on their menus the number of calories in each menu item.  Several cities such as New York City and Philadelphia passed such laws, and in May of this year (2018) a nationwide law took effect requiring such calorie labels on the menus of chain restaurants. However, the effects of this information is not well known. To answer that question, we conducted randomized controlled field experiments in two sit-down, full-service restaurants.  Parties of guests were randomly assigned to either the control group that got the regular menu without calorie information, or the treatment group that got the same menus but with calorie counts on the menu.  We then documented what items people ordered and then surveyed the patrons after their dinner.  Overall we collected data from over 5,000 patrons. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Weight Research / 21.07.2018 Interview with: “In-N-Out meal #1” by Chris Makarsky is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Christina Holzapfel PhD Junior Research Group Leader at Institute for Nutritional Medicine Technical University of Munich What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A lot of articles about genetic factors and nutritional intake have been published in the last years. Findings are inconsistent and it is not clear, whether genetic variants, especially associated with body mass index, are associated with nutritional intake. Therefore we performed a systematic literature search in order to get an overview about the association between single nucleotide polymorphisms and total energy, carbohydrate and fat intakes. We identified about specific search terms and their combinations more than 10,000 articles. Of these, 39 articles were identified for a relationship between genetic factors and total energy, carbohydrate, or fat consumption. In all studies, we most frequently encountered the fat mass and obesity (FTO) associated gene as well as the melanocortin 4 receptor gene (MC4R). There are indications of a relationship between these two genes and total energy intake. However, the evaluation of the studies did not provide a uniform picture. There is only limited evidence for the relationship between the FTO gene and low energy intake as well as between the MC4R gene and increased energy intake. (more…)
Artificial Sweeteners, Author Interviews, Nutrition, Sugar, Weight Research / 17.05.2018 Interview with: “Soda” by Jannes Pockele is licensed under CC BY 2.0Kimber L. Stanhope, Ph.D., M.S., R.D. Research Nutritional Biologist Department of Molecular Biosciences: SVM University of California, Davis What are the main findings of this study? Response: Sugar-sweetened beverages increase risk factors for cardiometabolic disease compared with calorically-equal amounts of starch. We are not the first group of experts to reach this conclusion. The Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert Group reached a similar conclusion last year (Micha, 2017). Yet very different conclusions/opinions are being still being published by other researchers. (Latest example: Archer E., In Defense of Sugar: A Critique of Diet-Centrism. Progress in Cardiovascular Disease, May 1, 2018). These conflicting conclusions confuse the public and undermine the implementation of public health policies, such as soda taxes and warning labels, that could help to slow the epidemics of obesity and cardiometabolic disease. We hope that the careful review of the evidence and the discussion of issues that can lead to conflicting opinions in nutrition research in this paper will help to clarify this issue. Consumption of polyunsaturated (n-6) fats, such as those found in some vegetable oils, seeds, and nuts, lowers disease risk when compared with equal amounts of saturated fats. It is important to note however, that the effects of saturated fat can vary depending on the type of food. Dairy foods such as cheese and yogurts, which can be high in saturated fats, have been associated with reduced cardiometabolic risk. The non-caloric sweetener aspartame does not promote weight gain in adults. Aspartame is the most extensively studied of the non-caloric sweeteners. None of the dietary intervention studies that have investigated the effects of aspartame consumption have shown it promotes body weight gain. This includes studies in which the adult research participants consumed aspartame for 6 months, 1 year or 3 years. (more…)
Author Interviews, Global Health, Weight Research / 27.03.2018 Interview with:

Pepita Barlow, MSc, Department of Sociology University of Oxford, Manor Road Building, Manor Road, Oxford, United Kingdom  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: The escalating global prevalence of overweight and obesity, or “globesity,” is often described as a pandemic. Globalization via free trade agreements (FTAs) with the US has been implicated in this pandemic because of its role in spreading high-calorie diets rich in salt, sugar, and fat through the reduction of trade barriers like tariffs in the food and beverage sector.  

We used a “natural experiment” design (that mimics a randomized controlled trial as closely as possible) and data from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Office to evaluate the impact of the 1989 Canada-US Free Trade Agreement on caloric availability in Canada (CUSFTA).  

We found that CUSFTA was associated with an increase in caloric availability and likely intake of approximately 170 kilocalories per person per day in Canada. Additional models showed that this rise in caloric intake can contribute to weight gain of between 1.8-9.3 kg for men and 2.0-12.2 kg for women aged 40, depending on their physical activity levels and the extent to which availability affects caloric intake.  (more…)

Author Interviews, Coffee, Nutrition, Weight Research / 31.01.2017 Interview with: Ruopeng An, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Kinesiology and Community Health College of Applied Health Sciences University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 61820 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Coffee and tea are among the most widely consumed beverages in U.S. adults.1,2 Unlike other popular beverages including alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages that are typically consumed in isolation, many people prefer drinking coffee and tea with add-ins like sugar or cream. These add-in items are often dense in energy and fat but low in nutritional value. Drinking coffee and tea with add-ins on a regular basis might impact an individual’s daily energy/nutrient intake and diet quality.3 The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests that “coffee, tea, and flavored waters also can be selected, but calories from cream, added sugars, and other additions should be accounted for within the eating pattern.”4 To our knowledge, no study has been conducted to assess consumption of coffee and tea with add-ins in relation to daily energy and nutrient intake at the population level. Bouchard et al. examined the association between coffee and tea consumption with add-ins and body weight status rather than energy/nutrient intake, and consumption was measured by a few frequency-related questions instead of a 24-hour dietary recall.5 The purpose of this study was to examine consumption of coffee and tea with add-ins (e.g., sugar, cream) in relation to energy, sugar, and fat intake among U.S. adults 18 years of age and above. Data came from 2001-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), comprising a nationally-representative (biennially) repeated cross-sectional sample of 13,185 and 6,215 adults who reported coffee and tea consumption in in-person 24-hour dietary recalls, respectively. (more…)
Author Interviews, Johns Hopkins, Nutrition, Sugar / 18.10.2014

Sara N. Bleich, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Health Policy and Management Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore, MD 21205 Interview with: Sara N. Bleich, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Health Policy and Management Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore, MD 21205 Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Bleich: Providing easily understandable calorie information — particularly in the form of miles of walking — makes adolescents more likely to buy a beverage with fewer calories, a healthier beverage or a smaller size beverage. Adolescents were also more likely to not buy any drink at all after seeing the signs with calorie information. (more…)
Author Interviews, Johns Hopkins, Nutrition / 15.10.2014

Sara N. Bleich, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Health Policy and Management Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore, MD 21205 Interview Invitation Sara N. Bleich, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Health Policy and Management Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore, MD 21205 Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Bleich: Large chain restaurants appear to be voluntarily reducing the calories in their newly introduced menu items which contain an average of 60 fewer calories than items only on the menu in the prior year. This decline is primarily driven by new lower calorie salads and sandwiches. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Weight Research / 17.09.2014

Aner Tal, PhD Food and Brand Lab Department of Applied Economics and Management Cornell University, Ithaca, New Interview with: Aner Tal, PhD Food and Brand Lab Department of Applied Economics and Management Cornell University, Ithaca, New York Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Tal: Some TV programs might lead people to eat twice as much as other programs. “We find that if you’re watching an action movie while snacking your mouth will see more action too!” says Aner Tal, Ph.D. lead author on the new article just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine. “In other words, the more distracting the program is the more you will eat.” In the study 94 undergraduates snacked on M&Ms, cookies, carrots and grapes while watching 20 minutes of television programming. A third of the participants watched a segment of the action movie The Island, a third watched a segment from the talk show, the Charlie Rose Show, and a third watched the same segment from The Island without sound. “People who were watching The Island ate almost twice as many snacks – 98% more than those watching the talk show!” says co-author Brian Wansink, author of Slim by Design (forthcoming) and Professor and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. “Even those watching “The Island” without sound ate 36% more.” People watching the more distracting content also consumed more calories, with 354 calories consumed by those watching The Island (314 calories with no sound) compared to 215 calories consumed by those watching the Charlie Rose Show. “More stimulating programs that are fast paced, include many camera cuts, really draw you in and distract you from what you are eating. They can make you eat more because you're paying less attention to how much you are putting in your mouth,” explains Tal. Because of this, programs that engage viewers more might wind up being worse for their diets. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nutrition, Weight Research / 16.04.2014 Interview with: Jeffrey R. Parker Assistant Professor of Marketing Robinson College of Business - Georgia State University What are the main findings of the study? Mr. Parker: Recently, there has been quite a bit of debate about the effectiveness of providing dish-specific calorie information (a practice called “calorie posting”) on restaurant menus in terms of the healthiness of consumers’ food choices. Some results suggest that such labels lead to lower-calorie choices, while other research shows that there is no effect. We examined one factor that might impact the effectiveness of calorie posting: the practice of grouping low-calorie options on a menu and labeling this category accordingly (i.e., incorporating a low-calorie menu/category in the menu)—which we call “calorie organizing”—as opposed to simply allowing them to appear in their natural categories with the caloric content appearing in the dish descriptions (e.g., Sandwiches, Salads, Pastas, etc.). On the surface it seems obvious that making low-calorie options easier to find—by giving them their own labeled category on the menu—would bolster the positive effects of calorie posting. However, we found the opposite: additionally calorie organizing an already calorie-posted menu regularly eliminates the benefits that calorie posting can have. We argued and found evidence indicating that the underlying cause of this effect stems from how consumers make decisions. Restaurant menus are often too large for a consumer to seriously consider all of the dishes. Some consumers typically eliminate large portions of the menu on the basis of simple criteria (e.g., “I don’t like seafood.”, “It’s too early to eat pasta.”, etc. ). Since consumers generally make negative inferences about low-calorie dishes (e.g., “They don’t taste good.”, “They are small dishes.”, etc.) they are likely to summarily dismiss all of the low-calorie options early in the decision process when the menu is calorie-organized (i.e., has grouped the low-calorie dished and labeled the new category accordingly). Thus, they are likely to choose as poorly as they would were they given no calorie information. In contrast, when the menu is just calorie-posted, and the low-calorie dishes appear in their natural categories, these dishes are unlikely to be dismissed in the early choice-simplification stages. Thus, low-calorie dishes are likely to be seriously considered in the final decision process, during which the pros and cons of dishes can be more comprehensively traded off, and are therefore more likely to be chosen. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nutrition, Weight Research / 28.03.2014

Barbara J. Rolls, PhD Department of Nutritional Sciences The Pennsylvania State University, 226 Henderson Building University Park, PA Interview with: Barbara J. Rolls, PhD Department of Nutritional Sciences The Pennsylvania State University, 226 Henderson Building University Park, PA 16802-6501 What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Rolls:  We found that as we reduced the flake size of a breakfast cereal so that it filled a smaller volume, individuals ate a greater weight and more calories of the cereal. On four occasions, we served a popular wheat flake cereal, or the same weight of cereal crushed to 80%, 60%, or 40% of its volume, to 41 adults for breakfast. As the flake size was reduced, people made reductions in the volume of cereal they poured, but they still took a greater amount of weight and calories. They ended up eating 72 more calories at breakfast when they ate the cereal with the smallest flake size, an increase of 34%. These findings show that variations in food volume due to the size of individual food pieces affect the portion of food that people take, which in turn affects how much they eat. (more…)