Obesity News: Exercise May Improve Kidney Function In Obesity

Aerobic exercise may reduce the risk of diabetes-related kidney disease in some people, says a recent study published in the American Journal of Physiology—Renal Physiology. Kidney or renal disease is a common complication associated with type 2 diabetes, especially in people who are obese and do not exercise regularly. Early markers of diabetes-related kidney disease include high levels of protein in the urine and a reduced ability of the kidneys to filter out waste from the bloodstream. Chronic kidney disease can also lead to an imbalance of minerals in the body, particularly in the bones. Altered bone mineral content may contribute to disorders, such as the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis.

Researchers studied two groups of rats - both composed of a combination of lean and obese animals - to explore the effect of exercise on kidney disease risk factors. The “exercise” group was put on a treadmill for 45 to 60 minutes each day, five days a week. The “sedentary” group was trained for 15 minutes twice a week to mimic a human sedentary lifestyle. The most significant finding the researchers saw was an improvement in blood vessel health and overall kidney function. All of the obese rats, regardless of group, had hardening or scarring of the renal arteries, increased protein in the urine, and fat deposits within the filtering structures of the kidneys.

However, the obese rats in the exercise group showed a reduction in these factors when compared to the sedentary obese rats. The exercised obese rats also had changes in bone composition - higher levels of calcium and copper, but lower concentrations of iron - when compared to the lean rats. These changes were not enough, however, to affect the risk of developing osteoporosis. “We conclude that the introduction of an exercise program based in aerobic interval training is a good strategy to present alterations in kidney structure and urinary parameters caused by obesity and the development of diabetic kidney disease in obese Zucker rats,” the researchers wrote.

The Eat-As-Much-As-You-Want Gene

A new approach in the near future may allow you to eat as much as you want without gaining weight. When a single gene known as RCAN1 was removed in mice and they were fed, they failed to gain weight, even after gorging on high-fat foods for prolonged periods. The international team, led by Associate Professor Beverly Rothermel at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Professor Damien Keating at Flinders University, are hopeful a similar approach that inhibits this gene will also be effective with humans to combat obesity and serious diseases like diabetes.

The study used a large genetic screen in rodents to identify novel genetic candidates that may cause obesity, potentially paving the way for new drug therapies. "We know a lot of people struggle to lose weight or even control their weight for a number of different reasons," says Professor Keating, from the Molecular and Cellular Physiology Laboratory at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders. "The findings in this study could mean developing a pill which would target the function of RCAN1 and may result in weight loss," he says.

Obesity is a major global health epidemic, resulting in increased risk of serious diseases like type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, but avenues for effective therapeutic treatments are lacking. There are two types of fat in the human body - brown fat burns energy, while white fat stores energy. Keating says blocking RCAN1 helps to transform unhealthy white fat into healthy brown fat, presenting a potential treatment method in the fight against obesity. "We have already developed a series of drugs that target the protein that this gene makes, and we are now in the process of testing them to see if they inhibit RCAN1 and whether they might represent potential new anti-obesity drugs," he says. "In light of our results, the drugs we are developing to target RCAN1 would burn more calories while people are resting. "It means the body would store less fat without the need for a person to reduce food consumption or exercise more."

Two-thirds of Australian adults and a quarter of children are either overweight or obese, and the statistics are just as concerning in Britain and the U.S. "Co-investigators in the research, Dr. David Rotter and Heshan Peiris, looked at a variety of different diets with various timespans from eight weeks up to six months, and in every case we saw health improvements in the absence of the RCAN1 gene," Keating said.

The researchers say these findings open up a potentially simple treatment but further studies are required to determine if they translate the same results to humans. "Our research is focused on understanding how cells send signals to each other and how this impacts health and the spread of disease." "We really want to pursue this, it's exciting and we have research funding from the Australian government through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to continue to explore viable options. "These results show we can potentially make a real difference in the fight against obesity."

Childhood Obesity

Providing simplified health information designed for parents with low health literacy helps all families in childhood obesity treatment programs regardless of their ability to understand health information, according to a study at the University of Virginia School Of Medicine. After receiving the same streamlined health information and instruction during a childhood obesity treatment program in the Dan River region of Virginia and North Carolina, families with low and high healthy literacy rates saw similar improvements in body mass index - a common measure of obesity - for the entire family.

Designing childhood obesity programs for families with limited health literacy is critical to their success, according to the researchers who led the study. Approximately one in three U.S. parents or caregivers have low health literacy, meaning they have limited ability to understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions for themselves and their children. “Parents with lower health literacy also have children with poorer health outcomes,” says Jamie Zoellner, Ph.D., the study’s co-principal investigator and a researcher in UVA’s Department of Public Health Sciences. “However, few childhood obesity treatment programs incorporate design features and treatment strategies that meet the health literacy needs of parents.”

The three-month program in the Dan River area focused on behavioral strategies aimed at improving healthy eating and physical activity. Instruction included six small-group family classes, six telephone support calls, 24 exercise sessions and six newsletters for children, along with parent and child workbooks. The researchers designed the materials and teaching sessions with the assumption that all participants may have difficulty reading, comprehending and acting on health information. “Regardless of health literacy status, everyone can benefit from simplified health information, reduced literacy demands of program components, reinforcement of key messages and practice activities that promote skill development and self-management,” Zoellner said.

All written materials were at a fifth-grade reading level, and instructors used verbal teach-back methods – which ask participants to restate in their own words or demonstrate what they were taught – to ensure they understood the information they were receiving. This approach led to similar positive outcomes for families with low and high health literacy levels. Along with improvements in body mass index, children and adults also reduced their consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. Children of all health literacy levels also saw improvements in quality of life, while adults saw improvements in physical activity levels as well as fruit and vegetable consumption.

The only exception was in the amount of screen time for children. While children from low health literacy families reported having more screen time both before and after the program, the gap in screen time between low health literacy and high health literacy families narrowed after families participated in the program. A six-month version of the childhood obesity treatment program, called iChoose, is now being tested in the Dan River region.

90 Percent Of American Men Overfat

If your waist measures more than half your height, you may be part of the global overfat pandemic. An article, published in Frontiers in Public Health, suggests it to be even more prevalent in developed countries where up to 90 percent of adult males and 50 percent children may suffer from this condition. In the top overfat countries, 80 percent of women fall into this category. The problem is particularly pervasive in the English-speaking countries of the United States and New Zealand, but also in Iceland and even Greece where people are generally thought to be healthy. This trend may be bad news for developing countries as well, since they have followed the trend of developed nations in the growing overfat pandemic.

The term overfat refers to the presence of excess body fat that can impair health, and may include even normal-weight, non-obese individuals. Excess body fat, especially abdominal fat, is associated with increased risk of chronic diseases, increased morbidity and mortality, and reduced quality of life. Researchers Philip Maffetone, Ivan Rivera-Dominguez and Paul B. Laursen reported in the journal Frontiers in Public Health that up to 76 percent of the world's population may be overfat. Now these same researchers have focused their efforts on data from 30 of the top developed countries, with even more alarming findings.

In addition, a recent rise in the incidence of abdominal adiposity, the unhealthiest form of excess body fat, has been observed in both adults and children, indicating a direct link to insulin-resistance, the body's natural propensity to convert and store carbohydrate foods as fat. The relationship between the overfat condition and poor health is a spectrum or progression in which the vicious cycle of excess body fat, insulin resistance and chronic inflammation lie at one end, causing abnormal blood fats - cholesterol and triglycerides - and glucose, and elevated blood pressure, which then produce a variety of common diseases at the other end.

Being overfat is linked to hypertension, dyslipidemia, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis and gout, pulmonary diseases, sleep apnea and others. Many physically active people, including professional athletes in various sports and active U.S. military personnel, also may fall into the overfat category. Traditional means of assessment, such as stepping on a scale or calculating Body Mass Index (BMI), are ineffective at determining whether someone is overfat. Instead, researchers recommend taking a measure of the waistline at the level of the belly button and comparing it to height: The waist measure should be less than half a person's height.


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