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Scientists advance weight loss therapies

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Until now, being overweight/obese is associated with the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, kidney and liver damage, and cancers.

Also, several studies have shown that losing weight can help prevent and reverse the development of chronic diseases.

Indeed, scientists have in recent studies validated that losing weight slashes the risk of developing several chronic health conditions and helps to prevent and reverse Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers have also provided an explanation on why late eaters who have their biggest meals after 6 pm are more likely to gain weight and how soups and shakes-based weight loss diet reverse type 2 diabetes by limiting people to just 810 calories daily.

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They also found that an electrical device that stimulates nerve endings behind the ears could be pioneering new weight-loss treatment, losing weight can help men increase the size of the male organs and that men with waists over 40 inches are 35% more likely to die of prostate cancer.

Scientists have also established that testosterone injections ‘can trigger drastic weight loss’ in obese men and eating lentils, beans, and nuts instead of ‘land-hungry meat, dairy’ could remove up to 16 years’ worth of CO2 emissions by 2050.

A major study of more than half a million overweight British adults found that going on a diet has a series of significant health benefits.

Researchers found that losing 13 per cent of your body weight cuts the chance of developing type 2 diabetes by 42 per cent.

It also reduces the chance of going on to develop high blood pressure or sleep apnoea, where your breathing stops and starts as you sleep, by one quarter.

People who lost weight also reduce their risk of getting hip and knee arthritis and high cholesterol by one fifth.

The huge benefits were seen even when people remained obese, with a body mass index (BMI) over 30, after losing weight.

The study, presented yesterday at the European and International Congress on Obesity, was based on General Practitioner (GP) surgery data for 550,000 United Kingdom (UK) adults with an average age of 51 gathered over eight years.

Experts said the findings were a ‘wake-up call’ that proves the benefits of even modest weight loss in preventing devastating diseases.

It follows an announcement from the British National Health Service (NHS) on Monday that thousands of type 2 diabetics will be offered a three-month 800 calorie soup and shake daily diet.

Meanwhile, according to a study, people who eat most of their calories after 6pm tend to have unhealthier diets and eat more overall.

Researchers said that late eaters were more likely to gain weight because they tend to let themselves get extremely hungry during the day. This makes them more prone to binge eating, making bad food choices, and eating junk food in the evening. Whereas those who consume their biggest meals earlier in the day are often too full to stuff their faces at night.

For the latest study, researchers from Ulster University in Northern Ireland looked at more than 1,100 adults as part of the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey.

The nationwide survey began in 2008 and collects detailed information on food consumption, nutrient intake, and nutritional status. The volunteers – aged 19 to 64 – were quizzed about their meal timings and food choices.

The researchers found those who ate 30 per cent or less of their food at night consumed less total calories overall than any group. Whereas those who ate half of their calories at night were more likely to gain weight and consume food with little nutrition.

A study has found eating dinner late at night can lead to high blood sugar levels and put people at an increased risk of being overweight.

Scientists found that eating shortly before going to bed makes the body less able to process all the nutrients and glucose.

As a result, people burn ten per cent less fat overnight if they eat at 10 pm, compared to having their evening meal at 6 pm.

Researchers studied 20 healthy volunteers, ten men, and ten women, to see how dinner time affected overnight digestion.

The volunteers all went to bed at 11 pm and their body’s metabolism was assessed throughout the night as they slept in a special laboratory-bedroom.

Activity trackers provided data on the individuals while blood sampling was done every hour throughout the night.

Body fat scans were also performed and the participants were only fed food with specific labels that allowed scientists to track the rate of fat burning.

All the data was crunched and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The study found that blood sugar levels were higher, and the amount of ingested fat burned was lower, if a person ate dinner just one hour before bed.

Meanwhile, losing weight can help men gain a centimeter as a leading expert’s new book aims to set the record straight about the male sex organ.

Nearly every man is born with one but it doesn’t come with a user manual. And there are so many myths out there about the male sex organ that useful knowledge often doesn’t get through.

All these myths burden men with frustrations — and over the 25 years I have worked in urology, sadly I have met too many men, young and old, whose quality of life was completely diminished because of their perceived ‘abnormalities’.

Most people have no idea there is a muscle around the penis because you can only see it under a microscope.

The dartos muscle helps with regulating the temperature of the testicles: when they get too cold, this muscle contracts the skin of the scrotum to help tuck the testicles back in —– it’s why the penis looks small when you swim in cold water.

A man with an active dartos muscle will appear to have a smaller penis — so when men compare, as many do, then all too quickly come to the conclusion ‘Oh no, mine is too small’, it could be they just have a more active dartos.

In medicine, the ‘stretched penile length’ or SPL is used to measure the length (where the penis is held and extended firmly).

The largest study on penis length, published in 2014 and based on data from 15,521 men from all over the world, showed that the average SPL is 13.2cm; the average penis is 9.16cm, the average erect penis 13.12cm.

Anything up to 1.5cm above or below these figures is normal. Men outside this range have unusual lengths but their penis is not abnormal.

The study also highlighted a few correlations between length and other physical characteristics.

The taller the man, the greater the chance of him having a long penis — although this is a ‘weak’ correlation, meaning there is a greater chance of this being true but it’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

There is no relation with the size of the feet, nose, or ears.

Another weak link is age. As men age, they lose muscle strength and elasticity, including of the dartos muscle, which draws the genitalia closer towards the body.

The longer gravity does its work, the less resistance the dartos muscle provides, and the lower the penis and scrotum hang.

Obesity is one of the major causes of penises looking smaller, as a result of the increased fat tissue at the base of the penis.

Losing 10kg (1st 8lb) or so will give the penis an extra centimetre in length.

This is not the only good reason to lose excess weight. Obesity is inversely proportional to penis health: in plain terms, the fatter you are, the more problems you’ll have with your penis, such as erectile dysfunction (obesity is linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, which in turn affect blood supply and the nerves, so sensory stimuli don’t get through).

Meanwhile, men with waists over 40 inches are 35 per cent more likely to die of prostate cancer, study finds as scientists warn belly fat is the most ‘dangerous’ kind.

Men who store fat around their midriff are in greater danger of dying from prostate cancer, research suggests.

A man with 40inch (103cm) waist or above has a 35 per cent higher risk of dying from the disease than one who wears a 35inch (90cm) or lower trouser size.

The Oxford University study, looking at more than 200,000 men, did not find an increased risk in people with higher overall body fat if it was spread around the body.

This suggests it is the specific location of the fat that makes males more prone to the killer disease.

Fat stored in the belly is considered the most dangerous type because it coats vital organs, such as the liver, pancreas and intestines.

This may interfere with their normal function and promote the growth of cancerous cells, the researchers said.

The latest research, presented at this year’s European and International Conference on Obesity (ECOICO), looked at 218,225 cancer-free men in the UK, whose medical data is stored in the UK Biobank.

Scientists monitored them for 10 years, looking at their body mass index (BMI), total body fat percentage, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio.

Men in the top 25 per cent for waist circumference, they found, were 35 per cent more likely to die of prostate cancer than men in the bottom 25 per cent.

The largest group included those whose waists measured more than 40 inches (100cm). The waist does not include the hip bones but is the soft section between the pelvis and the ribs, level with the belly button.

Men in the smallest group were those who had waists smaller than 35 inches (90cm).

Meanwhile those in the top quarter for waist-to-hip ratio, another measurement of how much fat is located around the belly area, were 34 per cent more likely to die than men in the bottom quarter.

The risk remained the same even when the medical history and lifestyle factors were factored in.

However, researchers did not discover any clear association between a man’s BMI or total fat percentage and prostate cancer. This meant that even a man who was fatter or heavier overall may not be at the same level of increased risk if most of that fat was stored in their legs and arms. It suggests those who specifically store most of their fat around their midriff were more prone to dying from the disease.

Dr. Aurora Perez-Cornago, a nutritional epidemiologist at Oxford who led the study, said: “We found a significant association between concentration of body fat around the belly and waist and the risk of prostate cancer death, but no clear association between total body fat and risk of prostate cancer death.

“However, a larger number of cases in this study together with studies in other populations are needed to confirm these findings.

“A high BMI increases the risk of other diseases, including other types of cancer, so people should consider the implications of excess body fat wherever it is found in the body.”

Previous studies have indicated that ‘visceral fat’, which is stored in the belly, is the most dangerous type.

Excess visceral fat appears to boost numbers of a protein called fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) which stimulates the growth of tumour cells. But research into visceral fat is still in its early stages.

Meanwhile, testosterone injections can trigger drastic long-term weight loss in obese men, a German study has found.

Men with an average weight of 18 stone (114kg) saw their weight drop by 4st and 3lbs (27kg) over a decade while having the jabs every three months as part of a study.

Their body mass index (BMI) went from the ‘severely obese’ category, of 36.8, to ‘overweight’, at 28.8, just four points off the healthy weight range.

In comparison, men who were not given the testerone therapy saw their weight increase by almost a stone each (6kg).

They were also more than four times more likely to die during the follow-up period, particularly of heart attacks and strokes, and almost all had type 2 diabetes.

The researchers said their findings should help push testosterone injections as an alternative to weight loss surgery.

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is prescribed to men with abnormally low testosterone which can impact their energy levels, mood, and sex drive.

It is not known whether the therapy would also benefit men with healthy levels of testosterone, or what effect it would have on women.

Women were not included in the study and it is also not clear how their bodies would respond, considering naturally high levels of testosterone in females are linked to weight gain, acne, excess hair growth, and fertility problems.

These are the symptoms of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), in which there is an increased production of testosterone, and birth disorders.

However, sometimes women are given testosterone medications to help treat menopause when testosterone and other hormones decline naturally.

The research, led by andrology consultant Dr. Farid Saad at the pharmaceutical company Bayer AG in Berlin, was presented at this year’s European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO).

Meanwhile, experts said switching from eating ‘land-hungry’ meat and dairy products to foodstuffs like beans, lentils and nuts could remove 16 years’ worth of CO2 emissions by 2050.

Researchers from the US calculated that broad uptake of such plant-based protein alternatives could free up land to support more ecosystems that absorb carbon.

At present, around 83 per cent of the world’s agricultural land is given over to the meat and dairy-based production — much of which only produce low yields.

Reducing this figure, the team said, is a better way to combat climate change than waiting for ‘unproven’ large-scale technologies like atmospheric CO2 extractors.

“The greatest potential for forest regrowth, and the climate benefits it entails, exists in high- and upper-middle-income countries,” said paper author and environmental scientist Matthew Hayek of New York University,

These, he added, are ‘places where scaling back on land-hungry meat and dairy would have relatively minor impacts on food security.’

In the study, Professor Hayek and colleagues mapped out the areas of the globe where land use for animal-sourced food production has squeezed out native vegetation, such as forests.

This allowed the team to determine where a shift in our diets to more plant-based foodstuffs could allow natural ecosystems to be restored — helping to offset global carbon dioxide emissions in the process.

The team concluded that — if the demand for land for meat production could be drastically lowered — vegetation regrowth in these locations could help to sequester around 9–16 year’s worth of fossil fuel emissions by the middle of the century.

This would effectively double the planet’s so-called ‘carbon budget’ — the amount of fossil fuel emissions we can afford to release before we reach the threshold temperature rise of 2.7°F (1.5°C) above pre-industrial levels.

Exceeding this limit is expected to result in a significant rise in the number of severe impacts from climate change — including droughts and sea-level rise.

“We can think of shifting our eating habits toward land-friendly diets as a supplement to shifting energy, rather than a substitute,” Hayek said.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Sustainability.


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