Dieters inclined to ignore alcohol calories, says new medical research

Alcohol is almost as calorific as fat but many dieters tend to ignore it, according to research from the World Cancer Fund.
A drinker may get nearly 10% of total calorie intake from alcohol but many regard it as ’empty’ calories. But having a large glass of wine at 178 calories is the same as eating two chocolate digestive biscuits. And to exercise if off you will need to go for a brisk 30 minute walk. Added to which there is no nutritional value in alcohol.
 Kate Mendoza, head of health information at WCRF, said: “Recent reports have shown that people are unaware of calories in drinks and don’t include them when calculating their daily consumption.”
She said that cutting down on drinking has a big effect of maintaining a healthy weight as well as reducing the risk of cancer.
Alcohol has been linked with breast, bowel, mouth and liver cancer.
If you don’t want to abstain entirely, there are ways that can help you cut down, including opting for smaller glass sizes, diluting alcohol with soda water or a low-calorie soft drink, alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and keeping a few nights each week booze-free.
Find out your calorie intake through alcohol: the WCRF has produced an Alcohol Calorie Calculator for different drinks that shows approximately how much exercise you would need to do to burn off the alcohol calories you consume.

Banned slim pill gets UK go-ahead


London: Acomplia, a weightloss pill banned in the US over concerns that it may increase the risk of suicide has been given approval for patients in the UK.

The once-a-day pill which is also available in Germany and France can now be prescribed by the public health authority, the National Health Service, to patients who have failed to loose weight on other pills such as Xenical and Reductil.

It has failed to get US authorisation because it it thought to increase suicidal thoughts in people already suffering from depression.

The European Medicines Agency has already issued a warning highlighting the fact that it may ber unsafe for anyone suffering from depression or taking anti-depressant drugs.

It has demonstrated success is helping two out of five patients shed 10 per cent of their weight.

Exercise does not suppress appetite in obese women


New York: Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that exercise does not suppress appetite in obese women, as it does in lean women.

Katarina Borer, PhD, a University of Michigan researcher and lead author of the study said that this lack of appetite suppression may promote greater food intake after exercise in obese women.

“This information will help therapists and physicians understand the limitations of exercise in appetite control for weight loss in obese people,” she added.

Borer and her co-workers sought to better understand how changes in body fat level influence appetite and a hormone called leptin, which in animals curbs appetite when body fat increases.

When leptin levels rise, it supposedly shuts off appetite and motivates physical activity to burn calories. However, as obese people become fatter, their leptin levels rise, but they become resistant to the actions of this hormone.

“The hormone doesn’t do the job it’s supposed to do in lean people,” Borer said.

In research funded by the National Institutes of Health, Borer’s group studied 20 postmenopausal women: 10 lean and 10 obese women. The women ate three weight-maintenance meals a day while participating in three experiments on three separate days. During one experiment they did not exercise.

In the other two experiments the women exercised on a treadmill in the morning and the afternoon. They burned 500 calories each time, for a total of 1,000 calories a day.

These two experiments differed by exercise intensity. One involved walking at high intensity, or 80 percent of maximal effort, for 7.5 minutes, with 10-minute rest periods between 10 walking sessions. The other experiment was half as intense (40 percent of peak effort) and involved walking for 15 minutes and resting for 5 minutes.

Every hour and before each meal, subjects recorded their appetite level on a 10-point scale ranging from not at all hungry to extremely hungry. Blood samples were collected every 15 to 60 minutes for hormone measurements.

Obese women claimed they were less hungry than lean women before meals and reported no appetite suppression during exercise, Borer said.

As expected, obese women had much higher leptin levels than in lean women, study data showed.

But during intense exercise, obese women did not have reduced production of leptin, as lean women did. Only moderate-intensity exercise lowered leptin in obese women.

“Obesity interferes with leptin’s detection of exercise energy expenditure and with appetite suppression,” Borer said.

“Obese women perhaps need to consciously watch their calories because some of the hormonal satiety [fullness] signals don’t seem to work as well.”

Shop until you drop…a dress size!


Cancel the gym membership, scrap the diet and forget about plastic surgery. Scientists have today announced what all women want to hear – that shopping is good for your health.

Chevrolet, a carmaker synonymous with value for money, studied the neurological and physiological reactions of female shoppers as they hunted for bargains and compared these to other experiences to chart the effect of retail therapy on the body and mind.

On spotting a ‘value for money’ item the average shopper experienced a surge in positive emotions, reflected by changes in the way their brain was working, together with an increase in heart rate and sweating, reflecting both their physical and mental excitement.

Neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis at Mind Laboratories who studied the shoppers explained: “When we’re excited, neurons in the brain go into overdrive and powerful chemicals – related to amphetamines – are released into the blood that produce the feeling of a giddy high. The “buzz” people receive from value for money purchases also creates a physiological reaction that is very similar to that experienced with physical exercise: heart rates increase and blood pressures raise, which all lead to the body functioning more efficiently and healthily.”

Over nine in ten women (93 per cent)** said they got more of a thrill from a thrifty shop, preferring bagging a bargain to kissing their partner (91 per cent), getting a promotion (85 per cent) or eating chocolate (73 per cent).

Additionally, over half of women (57 per cent) said they actually felt physically healthier after a successful shop – and a further 44 per cent thought that an hour on the high street burnt off just as many calories as an hour in the gym.

Les Turton of Chevrolet comments: “People have always said retail therapy is a natural anti-depressant, but now it’s actually official. Not only does spotting a value for money purchase leave you with a smile on your face, but it physically improves your health too, which means the more you shop the more weight you could potentially drop.”

* Neuropsychological research was conducted on 8 participants over a period of one day in February 2008.

Whilst shopping, participants were linked to concealed EEG monitors (Electroencephalography), fitted with scalp sensors in a neurocap. EDR (Electrodermal Response) monitors also measured the electrical resistance of the skin through finger sensors fitted to the non-dominant hand, and heart rate monitors were worn continuously. Participants also wore glasses kitted with a video camera so that responses could be correlated to experiences during their shopping trip.

** Chevrolet used the independent online research company MyVoice who surveyed 1,000 women, from across the country aged 18 and over, on 31st February 2008.

National Bike Week – 14-22 June

London: Bike Week, the UK’s biggest mass participation cycling event, is this year challenging families to get out of their cars, step away from the TV and get on their bikes. The call to action is ‘Free the Family’ and rediscover how much fun you can have together on a bike.

From Bristol to Belfast and Edinburgh to Eastbourne, thousands of free cycling events will provide the opportunity for everyone from total novices to passionate cyclists to get on their bikes. This yearÂ’s focus on the family means there will be childrenÂ’s rides, free bike safety checks and advice on getting started.

Andre Curtis, Manager at Bike Week said; “Plenty of parents have forgotten how much fun cycling was as a child. This year’s Bike Week will help to revive those memories and encourage families to spend quality family time together, have fun and get fit at the same time. We hope that taking part in a Bike Week event will act as a catalyst for people to cycle more regularly and enjoy the long term benefits of a healthier lifestyle.”

Why not join the 500,000 people who came along last year? To find out what is taking place in your local area, visit enter your postcode. If youÂ’d like to take part but donÂ’t have a bike – this shouldnÂ’t stop you – you can simply search for your nearest bike rental outlet on the website. All participants get the chance to win a Center Parcs family holiday – giving another reason to get on your bike!

For further information, or if youÂ’d like to organise your own event, log on to or phone 0845 612 0661 (within UK)

Five reasons to get on your bike:

1. Cyclists live on average at least two years longer than non-cyclists and their fitness levels are equivalent to being ten years younger – so forget nip and tuck, think pedal and push!

2. Cycling is the ultimate family activity; itÂ’s healthy, fun and encourages children to be independent.

3.Twenty minutes of gentle cycling burns up to 100 calories, so if you cycle to work, youÂ’ll be able to have that afternoon treat without feeling an inch of guilt!

4. Studies show that car drivers are exposed to five times as much polluted air than cyclists, making cycling good for the environment, as well as your health

5. In a rush? Cycling is often much quicker than public transport or taking the car – even better, you wonÂ’t spend a penny on public transport, road tax, parking, MOT or fuel.

Bike Week will run from 14-22 June 2008
Bike Week is one of the UKÂ’s biggest annual promotions of cycling and provides a national umbrella for locally organised events and activities up and down the country.

Bike Week began as a grass-roots organisation in 1923 and receives funding from the Department for Transport, Cycling England, Transport for London, Northern Ireland Executive, The Welsh Assembly Government and The Scottish Government. Bike Week also receives funding from the cycle industry via Bike Hub.

The partners that run Bike Week are drawn from the whole cycling community including the cycle industry, Cycling England and Cycling Scotland, Sustrans, CTC and Cycle Campaign Network. More information can be found at

Anti-obesity drugs fail to deliver long-term weightloss


London: Patients taking anti-obesity drugs will only see “modest” weight loss and many will remain significantly obese or overweight, according to a study published on today.

In a new study from Canada, which looked at the long-term effectiveness of anti-obesity medications, it was found that three drugs recommended for long-term use – orlistat, sibutramine and rimonabant, reduced weight by less than 5kg (11 pounds). This equated to a loss of less than 5% of total body weight.

Whereas guidelines from the UK’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommend stopping the use of anti-obesity drugs if 5% of total body weight is not lost after three months.

While making changes to lifestyle and diet are recommended as the initial treatment for obesity, the use of anti-obesity drugs is common. ItÂ’s estimated that in 2005 global sales of anti-obesity drugs reached $1.2billion. Current UK guidelines recommend using drug therapy in addition to making lifestyle changes if a patient has a body mass index of greater than 30.

The Canadian researchers reviewed the evidence from thirty placebo-controlled trials where adults took anti-obesity drugs for a year or longer. The mean weight of the volunteers in all of the trials was 100kg (15.7 stone). The mean body mass index levels were 35 – 36.

Professor Raj Padwal and colleagues found orlistat reduced weight by 2.9kg, sibutramine by 4.2kg and rimonabant by 4.7kg. They also found that patients taking the weight loss pills were significantly more likely to achieve 5 – 10% weight loss, compared to those who took the placebo.

The health benefits associated with taking the drugs varied. For example, orlistat reduced the incidence of diabetes in one trial and all three drugs lowered patientsÂ’ levels of certain types of cholesterol. Adverse effects were recorded with all three drugs, in particular, rimonabant increased the risk of mood disorders such as depression or anxiety. The authors noted that no trials examined rates of death and disease as a result of taking anti-obesity pills. They recommend that trials looking at this should be carried out in the future.

The authors also noted that there were high drop-out levels in all the trials. On average 30 – 40% of patients failed to complete the trial. They say this suggests that a failure to properly adhere to the treatment could be a major factor limiting the effectiveness of anti-obesity drug therapy.

In an accompanying editorial, Professor Gareth Williams warns of the potential damage to society if anti-obesity drugs are licensed to be sold without prescription. This already happens in the United States, and as Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) has applied to sell orlistat over the counter throughout Europe, it could happen here.

He warns: “Selling anti-obesity drugs over the counter will perpetuate the myth that obesity can be fixed simply by popping a pill and could further undermine the efforts to promote healthy living, which is the only long term escape from obesity.”

Free gym and treadclimber trial

London: Nautilus are offering free trials to all those who visit the website giving the opportunity to try before you buy.

Nautilus have teamed up with a number of health clubs around the country to offer the free trial which lasts a whole day, meaning you can experience all the facilities the health club has to offer, and get the most out of your free day trial.

Nautilus has not only developed the TreadClimber, they have also developed the Selectech dumbbells which are used by celebrities including (?) and numerous top quality treadmills, cross trainers and other fantastic fitness equipment.

The Nautilus TreadClimber is a truly outstanding piece of equipment; it burns calories twice as fast as a treadmill working at the same speed and has minimum impact and stress on the bodyÂ’s joints.

Combining the actions of a treadmill and a stair climber, the TreadClimber is able to produce an extremely intense workout with a smooth, low-impact motion that adapts to your natural stride instead of forcing your feet into an awkward pattern. Expert Dr Beim has worked with the TreadClimber and has discovered that it is so effective at burning calories and working the core muscles that anyone can get an incredible workout in just 30 minutes simply by walking.

All you have to do to take up this fantastic offer is go to and search for a health club near you, using the club finder facility on the website, and then click on the link to fill out your details. Your FREE DAY voucher will then be posted out to you in the post.

Rooibos antioxidant tea – a healthy way to cut calories

London: The British are renowned worldwide for their love of tea, which has established a place in the country’s culture and heritage. However consumers are increasingly looking for a wider range of tastes and flavours, particularly healthy options to enhance hectic 24-hour lifestyles.

Consumers nowadays want more from the perfect cuppa. They want it to be reviving and thirst quenching but also stuffed full of healthy benefits. South Africans claim their national drink, Rooibos Tea, ticks all the right boxes. Naturally caffeine-free and low in harmful tannins, redbush tea, as it is also known, is incredibly hydrating and itÂ’s high level of antioxidants, nine trace minerals and low levels of oxalic acid make it a fantastic choice of drink to complement a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Consultant Nutritionist Jane Griffin comments: “Rooibos tea offers another way to keep you well hydrated with the added bonus that it can be also help increase your intake of a range of antioxidants and trace minerals. It is naturally caffeine free too so if variety is the spice of life then Rooibos tea certainly deserves a place in the UK tea drinker’s repertoire.”

The leaf can only be grown in the remote Cederberg mountain region of the country, known for its wild craggy peaks, clean air and pure mountain streams. South Africans have been enjoying the drink for centuries and us Brits will be happy to know many of the traditional ways in which the leaf is harvested and dried have remained the same for hundreds of years. The tea is considered so soothing it is even given to babies with feeding problems and is known locally in South Africa as the South African lullaby due to itÂ’s beneficial properties when fighting colic.

Countless tea companies, including Dragonfly Teas, Eleven OÂ’Clock, Redbush, Tick Tock, Tetley and Twinings stock Rooibos tea in the British market which means we can enjoy all the health benefits of this amazing South Africa cuppa in our own front room.

For more information:

Dieters cut calories rather than exercise

London: Dieters prefer to count calories rather than take the healthier exercise option, says a new poll from pharma giant, GlaxoSmithKline Nutritional Healthcare.

Twice as many dieters count calories to lose weight rather than exercise, a poll has found. And this diet loss method if more poplar with women than men.Calorie counting is most popular with women – half opt to count their food intake, compared with a third of men.

Surprisingly 59% of the 2,000 people surveyed by GlaxoSmithKline Nutritional Healthcare realised exercise makes the greater contribution to personal health.

More choice in low-calorie foods means people are giving up exercise in favour of consuming less, nutritionists say.

John Brewer, GSK Sports Scientist, said: “The trend of people swapping the gym for a low calorie meal is very worrying.

“Consuming fewer calories is no substitute for exercise. We cannot afford to become a nation of calorie-counting couch potatoes – the benefits of leading active lives are enormous.”

Graham Neale of GSK Nutritional Healthcare said diet food manufacturers had a responsibility to consumers.

He said: “With food and drink manufacturers broadening their ‘diet’ ranges, we need a concerted effort to encourage consumers to focus as much on ‘energy out’ as ‘energy in’.”

Exercise more beneficial to older adults than cutting calories

New York: Older adults who want to loose weight get more benefit from exercise that a calorie restricted diet alone, according to new research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

A study of 34 adults in their 50s and 60s, found that both dieters and exercisers lost weight. But those who also exercised kept their muscle mass, strength and fitness levels.

The exercise taken by older adults fights the natural muscle decline that comes with ageing.

The researchers concluded that it was more beneficial to exercise than diet, provided extra calories are not consumed.

The study findings are based on a one-year follow-up of healthy older adults who were required to take either exercise or cut calories to lose weight.

The dieters had weekly meetings with a dietitian to discuss ways to alter their eating habits, while the exercise group met with a trainer each week.

The average weight loss in each group was nearly identical — about 17 pounds over one year. But while dieters lost muscle mass, strength and endurance, exercisers preserved theirs.

Human body becomes more gas-guzzling with age

Manchester: Scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University have concluded that active pensioners may not be getting enough calories to cope with increased “fuel loss” as they age.

The exercise scientists compared the walking abilities of a group of septuagenarians (average age 74) with those of people in their late 20s and found the former using more than 30% more energy to walk 100 yards at a set speed.

The increased ‘cost’ in calorific consumption is due to muscles overworking to support unstable joints and tendons and is, the researchers found, irreversible.

They also said tendons in the elderly were like an “old elastic band” – overstretching and not springing back into shape – and this too was causing over-usage of muscles.

Professor Marco Narici, Coordinator of the European-funded Better Ageing research project, said: “The elderly participants had too many muscles switched on at the same time and were seeping energy like a old car whose engine is out of tune.”

“They were quite inefficient and this is due in the main to muscles overcompensating for weak joints.”

He said the result was that the elderly tended to take smaller, more frequent steps, and tend to drag their feet; a walking pattern makes them more vulnerable to trips and falls.

The scientists, from MMUÂ’s Institute for Biophysical and Clinical Research into Human Movement, also examined whether a 12-month programme of exercise could offset the effects of walking efficiency loss. But they found that after the training programme, the older volunteers were just as uneconomical.

Added Professor Narici: “Exercise can help build muscle mass and strength but the fitter people still consumed the same amount of energy. This, we believe, is because the main key is the way the muscles are controlled by the nervous system and not the size or bulk of the muscles per se.”

They found no difference between the walking efficiency loss between men and women.

The findings have been published in Acta Physiologica and the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

The authors are Professor Marco Narici, Dr Omar Mian and Professor Alberto Minetti at the Institute for Biophysical and Clinical Research into Human Movement, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Calorie restriction does extend life, US scientists confirm

Louisiana: The first calorie-controlled diet to extend life in humans has confirmed that it reduces signs of ageing.

Researchers at Louisiana State University found that six months on a low calorie diet was enough to significantly cut the chances of developing diseases of ageing such as cancer. The findings are published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A group of 48 overweight men and women aged between 25 and 50 were monitored in the experiement over a six month period.

A quarter of them were put on a diet of 25 per cent fewer calories than they would be expected to eat for their age and weight.

Another quarter had their calorie intake reduced by 12.5 per cent and were also put on a strict exercise regime.

A third group stuck to a very strict diet of 890 calories a day – which compares with guidelines for people with low activity levels of 1,640 calories for women and 2,550 for men. The remainder were placed on a regime designed to maintain their weight.

The volunteers on the fewest calories lost 14 per cent of their body weight on average over the six months, while the other calorie-restricted dieters both lost 10 per cent.

All of those who cut down on their calories showed a fall in average core body temperature and reduced fasting insulin levels, both linked to living longer.

The rate at which their DNA decayed – a natural process – also slowed, reducing their chances of developing mutations and degenerative diseases related to ageing such as cancer.

Earlier this year scientists at Washington University also discovered that people on calorie-controlled diets had more elastic than others of the same age and gender.

After an average of six years on the regime, the experiment established that their hearts were able to relax between beats in a manner associated with much younger people.

Dr Luigi Fontana, who led the Washington study, said the latest research was the first to show a significant decline in DNA damage from calorie restriction.

He said: ‘The value of these studies is that they suggest possible mechanisms of ageing in humans and points of intervention to modify the effects of ageing.’

Dr Fontana’s colleague, John Holloszy, who originally found caloric restriction increased lifespan in mice and rats by 30 per cent, said the research was a turning point.

He said: ‘It’s becoming clear from studies that calorie restriction does change some of the markers we associate with ageing.’

Doctors Fontana and Holloszy will soon begin a study into the effects of a calorie-restricted diet over two years.

‘We know people on calorie restriction will lose weight,’ Dr Fontana said. ‘But this study isn’t a weightloss study. We’re hoping to learn more about whether calorie restriction can alter the ageing process.’

In long-term studies on monkeys carried out by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, those on calorie- controlled diets suffered fewer ailments such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

One of the underfed monkeys reached 38 years, the human equivalent of 114 years.

Experts believe cutting calories works by causing biochemical changes in the body, reducing free radicals, the toxic particles created by the breakdown of food which are more difficult to eradicate in an ageing body.