What Role Should Coca-Cola Play In Obesity Research?

The New York Times reports that Coca-Cola gives financial support to scientists and a new foundation to help promote the message that the obesity epidemic is fueled not by too many calories or too much sugar but by not enough physical activity. The Times piece is well worth a read but the issue it takes up is not new.  Last year I wrote a…

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Orexigen ‘Crying All The Way To The Bank’ After ‘Egregiously Unethical’ Actions

On Tuesday morning the members of the Data Monitoring Committee of Orexigen’s Light study began a planned meeting in a hotel in Chicago. They had no way of knowing that in a few hours their routine duties would be completely interrupted by the news that data from the trial– which they thought was known only to…

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Get Rid of Sugar, Not Salt, Say Authors

Too much negative attention has been focused on salt and not enough on sugar, write two authors in Open Heart. Reviewing the extensive literature on salt and sugar, they write that the adverse effects of salt are less than the adverse effects of sugar. The evidence supporting efforts to reduce salt in the diet is not convincing…

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No, The Mediterranean Diet Won’t Help You Live Forever

A new study published today provides fresh evidence for the healthful effects of the Mediterranean Diet. It even suggests that people who follow the Mediterranean Diet may live longer than people on most other diets. And this is just the latest piece of good news about this diet to appear in the last few years. But I want to warn…

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Popular Diets Achieve Only Modest Long-Term Weight Loss

Four of the most popular current weight loss diets produce at best only modest long-term benefits, a new study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes shows. The study also found few significant differences across the four diets, offering little hope that any one diet can produce a serious dent in the obesity epidemic. Mark Eisenberg and colleagues systematically searched…

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Another Diet Myth Exploded: Gradual Weight Loss No Better Than Rapid Weight Loss

Once again, a popular weight loss myth has been exploded. It has been widely believed that weight loss, which is nearly always difficult to maintain, is even less likely to stay lost if it is the product of a rapid weight loss. The belief is even enshrined in current guidelines. Now a study published in The Lancet…

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FDA Approves New Weight Loss Drug From Orexigen And Takeda

The FDA announced today that it had approved Contrave, the long-awaited and much-disputed weight loss drug.  The drug is a combination of two drugs already approved for other indications: naltrexone hydrochloride, which is used to combat alcohol and opioid dependence, and bupropion, which is used to treat depression and seasonal affective disorder and as an aid to smoking cessation…

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Portrait of the Global Obesity Pandemic

A new, comprehensive analysis, published in the Lancet, paints a frightening portrait of the global obesity pandemic.  Analyzing data from a wide variety of international sources, the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 finds that from 1980 through 2013, the worldwide prevalence of overweight and obesity rose by 27.5% for adults and by 47.1% for children. The result was an…

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Big Sugar Tips The Balance Of The Research Scale

It might seem obvious: people who drink sugar-sweetened beverages are more likely to gain weight or to be obese. Most research supports this intuitive finding. The big exception: when researchers receive support from the sugar and beverage industries they are much less likely to make the connection. Researchers in Germany and Spain conducted a systematic…

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After Long Wait, Updated US Cardiovascular Guidelines Now Emphasize Risk Instead Of Targets

Original illustration by Max Husten

Updated cardiovascular health guidelines were released today by  the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC). The guidelines are designed to provide primary care physicians with evidence-based expert guidance on cholesterol, obesity, risk assessment, and healthy lifestyle. The new guidelines reinforce many of the same messages from previous guidelines, but also…

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Prevalence Of Cardiovascular Disease Likely To Increase Despite Gains In Treatment

It is the best of times and the worst of times in the battle against cardiovascular disease. On the one hand, mortality rates from cardiovascular disease in the US have dropped by more than half in the last 30 years, likely due in large part to improvements in treatment for elevated blood pressure and cholesterol…

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Cardiology Goes Better With Coke

At the bottom of this post I’ve reprinted an email cardiologists are receiving from the American College of Cardiology. See the bottom of the message for the disclosure that Coca Cola is paying for this educational program. I don’t have much to say about this though I wonder what the faculty of this program will…

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Small Study Suggests Statins May Blunt Benefits Of Exercise

A small study is raising big questions about whether statins may blunt the beneficial effects of exercise. The study has been published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and was the subject of a New York Times blog today. … The authors concluded: “Given the strong independent cardio-protective effects of increasing cardiorespiratory fitness or lowering LDL, the benefits…

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WSJ Article Fails To Raise Key Questions About Cardiovascular Risk In Children

There’s probably no greater public health issue than the long-term  consequences of the childhood obesity epidemic. So the Wall Street Journal should be commended for digging into some of the important science behind this problem in a feature article in today’s paper. The author, Ron Winslow, is widely regarded as the best working journalist who…

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Cuban History Offers Important Lessons For Global Health Today

A large new study from Cuba shows the impressive benefits that can be achieved with weight loss and increased exercise. Much more ominously, the same study shows the dangers associated with weight gain and less exercise. In the study, published in BMJ, researchers took advantage of a “natural” experiment that occurred in Cuba as a result of a…

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The Mediterranean Diet: The New Gold Standard?

Earlier today I summarized the important new PREDIMED study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing the cardiovascular benefits of the Mediterranean diet. This study– a rare and much welcome instance of a large randomized controlled study of a diet powered to reach conclusions about important cardiovascular endpoints– has been widely praised and will undoubtedly have a…

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Should Body Weight Influence Choice of Antihypertensive Therapy?

The hypertension field has been troubled by repeated observations that normal weight patients have more cardiovascular (CV) events than obese patients. Now a new analysis of a large hypertension trial confirms this finding but also suggests that it may be explained by either an adverse effect of diuretics or a protective effect of calcium-channel blockers in non-obese…

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Scientific Statement Examines Role Of Social Media In Fighting Childhood Obesity

Social media may become an important weapon in the battle against childhood obesity, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published in Circulation. However, the statement acknowledges that the evidence so far from published social-media intervention studies has been “mixed” and that social media is also associated with troublesome drawbacks. The statement delivers an overview of…

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Walking With the American Heart Association: Valerie Bertinelli and Chester Cheetah

American Heart Association Heart Walk With Valerie Bertinelli

A few weeks ago Chester Cheetah, the official mascot for Frito Lay’s Cheetos, played an official part in  the American Heart Association’s Dallas Heart Walk. Yoni Freedhoff, on his Weighty Matters blog, pretty much says what needs to be said about this disgraceful association between Frito Lay and the AHA. This weekend I received a press kit…

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A Manhattan Project To End The Obesity Epidemic

NuSI slide

A newly launched nonprofit organization, the Nutrition Science Initiative, will try to find an answer to the question,  “What should we eat to be healthy?” NuSI is nothing if not ambitious: its goal is to seek “the end of fad diets and high obesity rates.” The founders of the organization, called NuSI (pronounced “new see”) for short, are Gary Taubes…

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Bariatric Surgery Turns Back the Clock on Diabetes

Two new randomized trials offer new evidence that bariatric surgery is highly effective in obese patients with diabetes. The results, according to Paul Zimmet and K. George M.M. Alberti, writing in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, “are likely to have a major effect on future diabetes treatment.” In the STAMPEDE trial, which…

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