I am very excited to report a new finding published in the June 2010 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. I am excited because it is good news for all of us - and it is so easy!
The article is entitled "Snacking is associated with reduced risk of overweight and reduced abdominal obesity in adolescents", and researchers found that the more frequently children aged 12-18 years old snacked throughout the day, the less likely they were not only to be obese but to have excess abdominal fat.
Kids who consumed 2 snacks a day were 37% less likely to be obese and 60% less likely to have abdominal obesity (excess weight in the abdominal region) than children who did not snack. More astoundingly, those who snacked 4 or more times a day were 39% less likely to be obese and 64% less likely to have abdominal obesity than kids who did not snack.
Every time we eat, our metabolism increases in speed, burning more calories. This is called the thermogenic effect of food. And as I always say, the best appetite suppressant is FOOD. When we snack often, we are keeping our blood sugar levels steady, protecting ourselves from becoming overly hungry and therefore overeating later. So although this particular study focused on teens, snacking has obesity-protecting effects on people of all ages.
We are born with an innate desire to eat small, frequent meals. From babies to preschoolers: they eat often. When we grow older, we often stop snacking from inconvenience and hurried lives. Let's make time for snacks again. Great snacks are fruit, dried fruit, nuts and seeds of all types, and trail mix. Also, carrots and celery with hummus and small sandwiches (like half of a sandwich). Or instead of eating an entire meal at once, eating it in two halves, three hours apart.
So snack away, and keep that metabolism working.
(To read the abstract of the study for yourself, click here.)
When I speak about artificial sweeteners, most people seem to know they are not "healthful", but few know why.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (June 30, 2010 - read the abstract here) gives us some insight as to the danger of artificial sweeteners - on newborn babies. Now, before you dismiss this blog post (perhaps you are not pregnant), remember that if artificial sweeteners have ill effects on babies in the womb, they will also have them elsewhere - although it may take longer, or be more difficult, to detect in adults.
This study, conducted in the Denmark, followed almost 60,000 pregnant women, accessing their intake of soft drinks containing artificial sweeteners, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and preterm delivery.
Researchers found women who consumed one or more servings of artificially sweetened soft drinks per day were 38% more likely to give birth prematurely compared to women who consumed no artificially sweetened soft drinks. Women who consumed 4 or more artificially sweetened soft drinks per day were 78% more likely to have a premature birth vs. women who did not consume said soft drinks. (There was no association between sugar-sweetened soft drinks and preterm births.)
In the words of the researchers: "Daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks may increase the risk of preterm delivery."
If you know anyone who is pregnant, please forward this post along to them. For the rest of us, let's allow this study to reinforce the notion that the chemicals in artificial sweeteners can be detrimental to our health. If artificial sweeteners can have such a powerful effect on the health of babies, we should beware of their effect on us as well.