Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chew On This: FDA Approves First Weight Loss Drug In 13 Years

Arena Pharmaceuticals was given the A-OK to start manufacturing the weight loss drug, Belviq or generically known as Lorcaserin that is taken two times per day.  The drug works by influencing serotonin levels (for additional information on serotonin and appetite, please see the Science Daily article here).  Serotonin has been a hot research topic when it comes to combating obesity. 

According to a recent article in NPR, Janet Woodcock, FDA's drug center director was quoted: "Obesity threatens the overall well-being of patients and is a major public health concern...the approval of this drug, used responsibly in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, provides a treatment option for Americans who are obese or are overweight and have at least one weight-related comorbid condition."

This drug will be available for Americans who meet the following criteria: BMI of 27 with a weight related comorbid condition (Diabetes, Hypertension, etc.) or a BMI of 30.

Studies have shown a decrease in body weight over the past year of 5%.  To further illustrate this, a 160 lb. woman who is 5 feet tall would be considered obese.  With a 5% weight reduction she would lose around 8 lbs and weigh 152 lbs.  

The drug was previously rejected in 2010 as Lorcaserin has a similar affect as Phen-Phen did in the 90's.

It's not on the shelves of your local pharmacy just yet.  Arena still has 6 more studies to evaluate the drug's safety.  

As dietitians and consumers we have to evaluate the effectiveness of the drug, complications, and those just looking for a quick fix.  Obesity is caused by many factors, what do you think about this new drug and other weight loss drugs in the past?  

Gina Lesako RD, LDN, registered dietitian, writer/blogger.  Follow Gina on Twitter @glesako;
blog: Dietitians Eat Chocolate Tooor on the web:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Parents' Stress Impacts Healthy Eating

Fewer jobs in this tight economy have caused many families to work harder and sacrifice more to stay employed and make ends meet.  A recent study by Temple University looks at the family unit—dads included. 

Katherine Bauer was the lead author in the study and she is currently an assistant professor of public health and researcher at Temple's Center for Obesity Research and Education.  This study is one of the first to assess work/family conflict for both parents.  It primarily focuses on families of adolescents.

Mothers who are employed full-time had fewer family meals, increases in fast food, and encouraged healthy eating less.  Mothers were also spending more time on meal preparation than fathers.  This also contributes to the family unit having fewer meals together when both parents are facing stress from work. 

Science Daily reported “Bauer noted that over time these differences can add up to have a big impact on parents' and children's health. She's careful to note, however, that the burden of this problem not fall solely on mothers, and instead be approached holistically by the whole family, the community and society.”

The study encouraged spouses/partners and teenagers to help with grocery shopping, meal preparation, and planning healthy meals.
"We need to teach kids how to cook," said Bauer. "We know if kids have cooking skills and good eating habits, not only will they be healthier, but as adults they'll put those skills to use to feed their own children more healthfully."

Please read the full-article here

Temple University (2012, June 22). Parents' work-life stress hinders healthy eating.ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 27, 2012, from­/releases/2012/06/120622162818.htm

Gina Lesako RD, LDN, registered dietitian, writer/blogger.  Follow Gina on Twitter @glesako; 
blog: Dietitians Eat Chocolate Tooor on the web:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chew On This: Help For Binge-Eating Disorders

There are upwards of 15 million Americans who suffer from binge eating disorders that researches have claimed mimics substance dependence.

Boston University School of Medicine researchers have found experimental models that block a cellular protein, the Sigma-1 receptor, reduced binge eating and encouraged those with binge eating disorders to eat more slowly.

Please read the full article here.

Gina R. Lesako RD, LDN
SCAN Volunteer blogger
Gina can also be found on the web at

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ya Gotta Tabata (And Other Workouts)

Try a one-minute hard, one-minute easy #training workout. //
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT or known as High Intensity Training--HIT) is a popular component of several workout regimens.  It can been seen in programs such as Shaun T's Insanity, Fartlek or "speed play" in runners, The Tabata Method, and CrossFit.  As a disclaimer, these are programs and systems for clients that have already built a substantial fitness base and not necessarily the weekend warrior this article is to improve your knowledge of these programs out there and are not meant as a recommendation for clients.  

The benefits of HIIT training are improvements in physique, athletic ability, and aerobic conditioning (increased fat burning and utilization).  For persons with Diabetes and those without the condition, there are improvements in glucose metabolism.  

For active persons with Diabetes, they may want to monitor their carbohydrate consumption and blood glucose levels to avoid a hypoglycemic episode.

Crossfit is a combination of sprints, weight lifting, gymnastics, and calisthenics.   Please note that they do have a segment on nutrition and advocate a Paleolithic Diet (40% carbohydrate, 30% protein and fat) that you may want to be aware of if you are counseling clients in CrossFit. 

The Tabata Method has roots in HIIT.  The program came from Izumi Tabata and uses short bursts of all out intensity of 20 seconds (roughly 170% of VO2max) then 10 seconds of rest.  This is repeated for a total of 4 minutes or 8 cycles.  This shorter/higher intensity program done four times per week gave a group of athletes the same benefit as another group that trained five times per week at a steady state of 70% VO2max).  The Tabata group also had gained anaerobic capacity benefits.

Fartleks are not something that can send a classroom of 10 year-olds giggling but is a training method that continuously blends continuous training with intervals and intensity.  The exercise places stress on the aerobic and anaerobic systems.  Most sessions are typically 45 minutes and can work with cycling and other sports.