Diabetes. Cancer. Heart disease. Stroke. Extra pounds raise the risk of nearly every health threat facing Americans. Yet, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published—and publicized—a study suggesting that overweight people live longer.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” says Michael Thun, vice president emeritus for surveillance and epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society. “It perpetuates a myth.” Here’s how.
At first glance, the new JAMA study seems impressive. Read More
“We’ve known for a long time that if you reduce the calorie intake of rats or mice, they live much longer,” says Mark Mattson, chief of the laboratory of neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in Baltimore.
What happens in species closer to humans is more complicated. Rhesus monkeys fed 30 percent fewer calories lived longer in a study at the University of Wisconsin, but not in a study at the NIA.
Why the different results? One possibility: The Wisconsin monkeys were fed fewer calories than monkeys fed as much high-sugar, high-fat food as they wanted. In contrast, the NIA monkeys were fed fewer calories than monkeys fed as much (low-sugar, low-fat) food as they needed to maintain their weight. Read More
What’s the best diet for weight loss? So far, no one has found a magic bullet.
“We had three decades of low-fat, and we had a decade of ‘Oh, wait, no, maybe low- carb,’ and then at the end of that we said ‘Oh, never mind, neither of them works,’” says Christopher Gardner, director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.
But several glimpses of new evidence are giving researchers renewed hope. They’re looking not just at how many calories people eat and burn, but at their genes, the microbes in their gut, how much they sleep, and more.
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