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U.S. obesity epidemic not budging

NEW YORK — America’s weight problem isn’t getting any better, according to new government research. Overall, obesity figures stayed about the same: About 40 percent of adults are obese and 18.5 percent of children. Those numbers are a slight increase from the last report but the difference is so small that it could have occurred by chance. Worrisome to experts is the rate for children and teenagers, which had hovered around 17 percent for a decade. The 2-to-5 age group had the biggest rise. The years ahead will show if that’s a statistical blip or marks the start of a real trend, said the report’s lead author, Dr. Craig Hales of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bad news is that the numbers didn’t go down, experts say. In recent years, state and national health officials have focused on obesity in kids, who were the target of the…

Office workers consume a shocking number of extra calories in snacks every year

Glazed donuts, pretzels, salted peanuts. What is it about a 9-5 desk job that makes you want to eat all the darn time? You barely finish breakfast before your stomach is rumbling for a mid-morning snack or lunch. And let’s not even talk about those late afternoon hunger pangs. Whether it’s boredom or temptation that has you giving in to the slice of cake, the calories consumed present a huge cause for concern. According to a recent survey by Dutch food brand Kallø, all of those extra calories add up to a shocking 100,000 extra calories every year for the average woman. Your eyes probably just popped a little bit, and you might have even put down that potato chip — and that’s a good thing. All those extra calories are, of course, seriously adding to your waistline. 100,000 calories is the equivalent to eating 193 double cheeseburgers or 502 bars of chocolate. If you go…

Report shows restaurants that use most antibiotics in meats

Consumers Union has released its third annual “Chain Reaction” report on the prevalence of antibiotics in meat products in America’s most popular chain restaurants. Sadly, the results show most of the restaurants have failed to improve, even in the face of drug-resistant superbugs. The rankings are based on each companies’ own policies for the use of antibiotic in meat and poultry products that they buy. Pumping chickens, cows and pigs full of antibiotics intended for humans is slowly destroying our ability to treat common infections. The U.N. has called it a growing concern and potential global health crisis. More than 23,000 people die annually in the U.S. from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, according the the CDC. To combat this problem, doctors and hospitals use antibiotics more judiciously than in the past, yet 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. aren’t intended for human use anyway, but rather in animal agriculture. “The nation’s fast food restaurant chains are…

National Pancake Day: Building Better Pancakes Through Chemistry

Batter up! Have you ever noticed how many cultures around the world have a version of pancakes? That many people can’t be wrong. Pancakes and their international cousins are delicious. But everyone seems to have a different recipe and different tricks to improve the height or flavor of their stack. So what really works? Sept. 25 is National Pancake Day. Check out this video from Reactions to learn to use chemistry to your advantage when flipping Saturday morning flapjacks: Better Pancakes Through Chemistry https://youtu.be/pMhrV9sRjqI And try this pumpkin pancake stack, perfect for fall.  For pancake mixes that fit your diet, visit everybodycravespantry.com.

Positive running behavior is socially contagious

The key to becoming a better running might just be your friend squad. A study published in Nature Communications found evidence to suggest that friends who push themselves to run father and faster influenced other friends to do the same — just by being running buddies. Essentially, positive exercise behavior is contagious. The researchers looked at the habits of 1.1 million runners around the world over a period of five years. Knowing that its possible runners could be pairing up because of their comparable running habits, researchers wanted to rule out coincidence. Since bad weather can deter runners, they compared friend pairs in different regions of the world to see if weather made a difference. The found that friends of runners who typically run an extra 10 minutes, influenced friends to run an extra 3 minutes — even when the weather was bad. Also, the study found, when one friend goes…

Blowing out birthday candles boosts bacteria to disgusting levels

Birthday cake lovers, beware. If you’ve ever taken part of the classic birthday ritual — you know: dimmed lights, loud singing of “Happy Birthday” followed by candle blowing — you’ve participated in a very disgusting tradition. Researchers at Clemson University recently conducted a study to find out whether significant bacteria is transferred to the cake when someone blows out their candles. Mimicking a traditional child’s birthday party, participants ate several slices of pizza before volunteering to blow out candles on top of an ordinary birthday cake. A control group cake had no party-goers blow on it. Then the two were compared. Researchers found that the cake where the candles had been blown out had more than 1,400% more bacteria than the cake that was left alone. Interestingly, people blew greatly varied number of bacteria — some didn’t transfer any, and some, for whatever reason, transferred a lot. (Maybe a germaphobic researcher out…

Guts bring glory: microbiomes of elite athletes may mean an edge

Elite athletes often work their entires lives to excel in their sport, but new research shows they may also get a slight edge from their digestive tracts. Scientists have tapped into the microbiome of elite runners and rowers to identify certain bacteria that may be responsible for a boost in their athletic performance. “When we first started thinking about this, I was asked whether we could use genomics to predict the next Michael Jordan,” says Jonathan Scheiman, Ph.D., fellow in the laboratory of George Church, Ph.D. at Harvard Medical School. “But my response was that a better question is: Can you extract Jordan’s biology and give it to others to help make the next Michael Jordan?” To identify which bacteria support athletic performance, researchers collected daily samples of 20 athletes training for world-reknown Boston marathon in 2015. The microbiomes were then examined for changes between performance and recovery. In studying the…

New study shows walnuts can curb hunger

If you’re thinking about dropping a few pounds, it turns out walnuts might be an effective food in helping you control your cravings. A recent study showed that eating walnuts curbed participant’s appetites when they were shown “highly desirable” foods. The study, published in Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, separated participants, all adults with BMIs considered obese, into two groups. One group was given smoothies containing 14 walnut halves, while the other half was given  smoothies with a placebo — one that replicated the taste, texture and calorie content of real walnuts. After drinking their assigned smoothies for five days, the participants were then asked to look at photos of high-fat foods like onion rings, low-fat foods like fresh fruits, and non-food related images like flowers for MRI testing. The participants were then set back on their normal diets for a month, before returning to the study and repeating the five-day walnut smoothie…

Expensive wines taste better, but only because they trick your brain

Despite taste testings that show the best wines in the world can fall at any price point, your brain is predisposed to prefer expensive bottles. You can thank the “marketing placebo effect” for this. The placebo effect states that we tend to experience what we expect — and a higher price creates an increased expectation for better tasting wine. We tell ourselves that more expensive wines taste better — but then they actually do. A recent study published online in Scientific Reports confirmed that the same wine tastes better to consumers when it boasts a higher price tag. The small European study used just 30 participants with an average age of 30, but the experiment was in-depth. Participants were placed in MRI scanners to monitor brain activity, while they were given sips of wine, as well as the wine’s price tag. Participants were then asked to rank each wine. The catch? Participants were given the exact same red…

Americans are salty with their snacking habits

America has become a country of snackers. Between working long hours and eating on the run, it’s no wonder Americans spend more on snack foods than they do on actual meals. According to new Nielsen data, snacking is popular in every corner of the country, but gender, generation, income and geography can shape some of your preferences. Salty snacks still reign supreme, with chips, popcorn and meat snacks generating more than $27 billion for retailers. Candy comes in a close second with $20 billion in sales, followed by cheese snacks generating more than $17 billion in sales. Cookies sales top $7 billion. Crackers ($6.65 billion), ice cream ($6.63 billion) and nuts ($6.17 billion) also rank among America’s favorites. In a recent Harris Poll EquiTrend study, released by Nielsen, U.S. consumers identified the snacks they use to commonly curb cravings out of 275 common snacking brands. While candy and chocolate ranked high regardless of region, some snacks did better in…