Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] Obesity: Not just what you eat

Obesity: Not just what you eat.

Tel Aviv University research shows fat mass in cells expands with disuse

Over 35 percent of American adults and 17 percent of American children are considered obese, according to the latest survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Associated with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even certain types of cancer, obesity places a major burden on the health care system and economy. It’s usually treated through a combination of diet, nutrition, exercise, and other techniques.

To understand how obesity develops, Prof. Amit Gefen, Dr. Natan Shaked and Ms. Naama Shoham of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, together with Prof. Dafna Benayahu of TAU’s Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, used state-of-the-art technology to analyze the accumulation of fat in the body at the cellular level. According to their findings, nutrition is not the only factor driving obesity. The mechanics of “cellular expansion” plays a primary role in fat production, they discovered.

By exposing the mechanics of fat production at a cellular level, the researchers offer insight into the development of obesity. And with a better understanding of the process, the team is now creating a platform to develop new therapies and technologies to prevent or even reverse fat gain. The research was published this week in the Biophysical Journal.

Getting to the bottom of obesity

“Two years ago, Dafna and I were awarded a grant from the Israel Science Foundation to investigate how mechanical forces increase the fat content within fat cells. We wanted to find out why a sedentary lifestyle results in obesity, other than making time to eat more hamburgers,” said Prof. Gefen. “We found that fat cells exposed to sustained, chronic pressure — such as what happens to the buttocks when you’re sitting down — experienced accelerated growth of lipid droplets, which are molecules that carry fats.

“Contrary to muscle and bone tissue, which get mechanically weaker with disuse, fat depots in fat cells expanded when they experienced sustained loading by as much as 50%. This was a substantial discovery.”

The researchers discovered that, once it accumulated lipid droplets, the structure of a cell and its mechanics changed dramatically. Using a cutting-edge atomic force microscope and other microscopy technologies, they were able to observe the material composition of the transforming fat cell, which became stiffer as it expanded. This stiffness alters the environment of surrounding cells by physically deforming them, pushing them to change their own shape and composition.

“When they gain mass and change their composition, expanding cells deform neighboring cells, forcing them to differentiate and expand,” said Prof. Gefen. “This proves that you’re not just what you eat. You’re also what you feel — and what you’re feeling is the pressure of increased weight and the sustained loading in the tissues of the buttocks of the couch potato.”

The more you know …

“If we understand the etiology of getting fatter, of how cells in fat tissues synthesize nutritional components under a given mechanical loading environment, then we can think about different practical solutions to obesity,” Prof. Gefen says. “If you can learn to control the mechanical environment of cells, you can then determine how to modulate the fat cells to produce less fat.”

The team hopes that its observations can serve as a point of departure for further research into the changing cellular environment and different stimulations that lead to increased fat production.

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March 28, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Surprising Discovery: Skin Communicates With Liver

From the 6 December 2013 ScienceDaily article

 Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have discovered that the skin is capable of communicating with the liver. The discovery has surprised the scientists, and they say that it may help our understanding of how skin diseases can affect the rest of the body.

Professor Susanne Mandrup and her research group in collaboration with Nils Færgeman’s research group at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Denmark was actually studying something completely different when they made the groundbreaking discovery: That the skin, which is the body’s largest organ, can “talk” to the liver.

“We have showed that the skin affects the metabolism in the liver, and that is quite a surprise,” say Susanne Mandrup and Ditte Neess, a former student in the Mandrup research group and now laboratory manager in Professor Nils Færgeman’s group.

The phenomenon was observed in the researcher’s laboratory mice. The Mandrup and Færgeman groups work with so-called knock-out mice, in which a specific fat binding protein called acyl CoA binding protein has been removed (knocked out). Some knock-out mice produced by the researchers had a strange greasy fur, and they had difficulties being weaned from their mother. In the weaning period they gained less weight and showed a failure to thrive. Analyses also showed that the mice accumulated fat in the liver at weaning.

“We believe that the leaking of water from the skin makes the mice feel cold, and that this leads to breaking down of fat in their adipose (fat) tissue. The broken down fat is then moved to the liver. The mice move energy from the tissues to the liver,” Susanne Mandrup and Ditte Neess explain.

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December 8, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Why is your waist circumference an important indicator of your health?

From the 30 September 2013 post at Nutrition and Beyone – It’s all about a healthy lifestyle!

How can one simple measurement reveal so much about your health? Let’s start by examining what is behind the waist circumference. This measurement is an easy and non-invasive tool that can estimate visceral fat, aka abdominal fat.

Excessive fat accumulated in the abdomen is characterized as visceral obesity. So, what is visceral obesity? Why is it not desired? Well, starting with the term “obesity”, it is a form of malnutrition which is characterized by an excess of body fat and “visceral” refers to the abdominal area. Increased abdominal fat is associated with increased risk for insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus type 2, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancers, sleep apnea, and the metabolic syndrome. As we can see, abdominal obesity is associated with higher risks of non-communicable diseases and other conditions. So, since abdominal obesity poses a significant number of risks on your health, why not act upon it? Why not be in charge and try to reduce your waist circumference?

Further, the waist circumference has not only been shown to be strongly correlated with risk of diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases, but it has also been integrated in the diagnostic criteria of the metabolic syndrome. Here is a quick definition of the metabolic syndrome; it’s a cluster of risk factors that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), for a person to have the metabolic syndrome, they must have central obesity, which is defined as a waist circumference equal or higher than 94 cm for males and 80 cm for females, coupled with any two of the following four factors: raised triglycerides, reduced HDL-cholesterol, raised blood pressure, and/or raised fasting plasma glucose.

You can measure your waist circumference after you exhale by using a measuring tape and by placing it horizontally above your hip bone.

waist circumference

In order to decrease your waist circumference to below the values mentioned above, it is recommended to lose weight, to improve the quality and watch the quantity of food you consume, and to be more physically active.

In other words, it is best to adopt a healthy lifestyle!

It is important to note that a precise measurement of visceral fat is challenging in clinical practice and that the waist circumference, which has different ethnicity specific values, is not the only measurement that should be taken into consideration. Other measurements and factors combined with the waist circumference are needed to have a complete description of your cardiometabolic risk.

Joana Abou-Rizk

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

October 11, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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