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[check mark] Brown Fat May Help Type 2 Diabetes


[check mark] Groups Tackle Childhood Obesity


[check mark] Healthy Food and Exercise Help Cancer Prevention


Study Identifies "Good" Energy Burning Fat in Lean Adults

Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center have demonstrated that humans still have a type of "good" fat previously believed to be present only in babies and children. Unlike white fat, which stores energy and comprises most body fat, this fat, called brown fat, is active in burning calories and using energy. The finding could pave the way for new treatments both for obesity and type 2 diabetes.


Scientists had thought that brown fat existed in humans only during childhood and was mostly gone by adulthood. But brown fat not only exists in adult humans but is also metabolically active.


Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. According to the researchers, the idea behind a new therapy would be to find a way to stimulate brown fat growth to both control weight and improve glucose metabolism.


Younger patients were more likely to have larger amounts of brown fat, and the brown fat was more active during colder weather, keeping with its role of burning energy to generate heat. It was also more common in adults who were thin and had normal blood glucose levels.


What is of particular interest is that individuals who were overweight or obese as measured by higher body mass index were less likely to have substantial amounts of brown fat. Likewise, patients taking [beta]-blockers and patients who were older than 64 years were also less likely to have active brown fat.


The findings, particularly those having to do with body mass index, suggest a potential role for brown fat in regulating body weight metabolism, the article says, suggesting that higher levels of brown fat may protect against age-related obesity.


The researchers are hopeful that an increased ability to measure brown fat mass and activity in vivo in humans will lead to a better understanding of its role in physiology and its potential as a target for therapy of obesity and other metabolic disorders.


The researchers analyzed a database of 1,972 patients who had undergone positron emission tomography/computed tomography scans for a variety of reasons over a 3-year period. They identified substantial brown fat deposits in 7.5% of the female patients and more than 3% of male patients.


In addition, the researchers identified 33 other patients whose pathology records had indicated the presence of brown fat in their necks in the same places where the positron emission tomography/computed tomography scans had identified the largest concentrations of brown fat. They tested the tissue of 2 of those patients and detected the presence of a special heat-generating protein called uncoupling protein 1 that is unique to brown fat.


There is a good possibility that brown fat may be present in significant amounts in a much higher percentage of the population, but that it may be more spread out and not as easily seen on imaging in many cases. Most of the deposits found on the scans were located in the neck region.


This study demonstrates that it is both present and seems to be physiologically important in terms of body weight and glucose metabolism.


Source: New England Journal of Medicine


Health Groups to Tackle Childhood Obesity

In what they called a "landmark agreement," former President Bill Clinton and the American Heart Association announced on Thursday the launch of a national initiative on childhood obesity, aimed at getting up to 6 million American kids covered for routine visits to both primary care physicians and dietitians.


The new collaboration links medical organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association with insurance companies such as Aetna, WellPoint, and Blue Cross of North Carolina and of Massachusetts and private companies like PepsiCo, Owens Corning, and Paychex.


The current initiative aims to address the obesity-related healthcare needs of almost 1 million children in the program's first year by reimbursing physicians and registered dietitians for providing healthcare and in-depth nutritional counseling to kids on an ongoing basis. In addition, participating companies will offer their employees access to the initiative's benefits. The new alliance will also offer parents educational and nutritional information on tackling childhood obesity.


The planned coverage is set to ratchet up to approximately 6.2 million children (25% of all overweight American children) by the end of 3 years.


The new effort, called the "Alliance Healthcare Initiative," is the latest venture of The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, created in 2005 by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation. In 2006, the alliance helped shepherd an agreement among soft drink manufacturers that established sweetener, calorie, and fat guidelines and limited the sale of sodas in elementary, middle, and high schools attended by 35 million American students.


The direct healthcare costs for the treatment of children who are already overweight or obese currently tops $14 billion annually, and overall, obesity costs the nation an estimated $117 billion annually in both healthcare costs and lost productivity.


Source: American Dietetic Association


Healthy People With High Urinary Protein Levels Have Elevated Kidney Disease Risk

Measuring the amount of protein lost in the urine can identify individuals at risk of developing kidney disease, according to a new study. The results suggest that a simple and low-cost urine screen is a promising way to address the epidemic of chronic kidney disease.


More than 40,000 individuals of the general population were asked to collect a urine sample. Investigators followed these individuals and noted who developed end-stage kidney disease over the next 9 years. A subgroup of 8,592 patients visited an outpatient department once every 3 years for a detailed study of the rate of kidney function decline during follow-up.


Patients from the general population who were found to have increased urinary protein levels were shown to represent more than half of the patients who started dialysis or had a kidney transplant during follow-up. Restricting screening to those individuals with hypertension, with diabetes, with cardiovascular disease history, or older than 55 years having increased urinary protein levels identified nearly all cases needing kidney disease treatment during follow-up.


Individuals with high urinary protein levels seem to be at high risk of losing their kidney function and needing dialysis or a kidney transplantation. The higher the level of proteins in the urine, the higher the risk of needing dialysis or a kidney transplantation and the more rapid the rate of kidney function decline. The findings suggest that people with a high amount of urinary protein loss should be invited to a medical center for further investigation and for start of preventive treatment to protect the kidney should consult a nephrologist.


Source: Journal of the American Society Nephrology


Healthy Food, Exercise, Keys to Cancer Prevention

Better eating and physical activity habits could prevent about a third of all cancers in the United States, a new report says. The figure-from Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention-does not include the cancers that could be prevented by not smoking, a habit estimated to cause another third of malignancies. The message coming out of this report is that many, many more cancers are preventable by healthy patterns of diet, weight, and physical activity. Published by World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, the report is based on 2007 findings about how different patterns of diet and physical activity affect risk of cancer. That earlier data were combined with dietary surveys from 4 countries-the United States, Great Britain, China, and Brazil-to arrive at policy recommendations.


In each of the 4 countries, the current report says, about a third of cancers could be prevented by proper diet, more physical activity, and avoiding obesity, although the details vary. For instance, the report authors estimate that about 11% of prostate cancer cases in the United States could be prevented, but the same changes would yield a 20% decrease in Great Britain. Conversely, about 70% of endometrial cancer cases in the United States could be prevented, compared with 56% in Great Britain-probably, because of the greater prevalence of obesity in the United States. The report makes recommendations for action by 9 groups of so-called "actors"-including governments, industry, schools, and individuals.


Among the recommendations are the following:


* Governments should require widespread walking and cycling routes to encourage physical activity.


* Industry should give a higher priority for goods and services that encourage people to be active, particularly young people.


* The food industry should make public health an explicit priority.


* Schools should encourage physical activity and provide healthy food.


* Schools, workplaces, and institutions should not have unhealthy foods available in vending machines.


* Health professionals should lead in providing information about public health, including cancer prevention.


* Individuals should use independent nutrition guides and food labels to ensure they buy healthy food.



Source: MedPage Today