Healthy Living Headlines is a feature where I report on new research of interest.
Obesity may cause you to crave sweets
Are people overweight because they eat too many doughnuts, or does being overweight actually cause the cravings for Krispy Kreme?
New research suggests that the brain’s reward system operates differently in obese people than in thinner people, which may play a role in cravings for sweets, according to new findings published in the journal Diabetes.
“We believe we may have identified a new abnormality in the relationship between reward response to food and dopamine in the brains of individuals with obesity,” said the study’s first author, M. Yanina Pepino, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. “As we age, we have fewer dopamine receptors in a brain structure, called the striatum, that is critical to the reward system. Both younger age and fewer dopamine receptors are associated with a higher preference for sweets in those of normal weight. However, in people with obesity, that was not the case in our study.”
“There is a relationship between insulin resistance and the brain’s reward system, so that might have something to do with what we saw in obese subjects,”said co-investigator Tamara Hershey, Ph.D. “What’s clear is that extra body fat can exert effects not only in how we metabolize food but how our brains perceive rewards when we eat that food, particularly when it’s something sweet.”
Working overtime linked to alarming increases in cancer, heart disease in women
Women who put in long hours for the bulk of their careers may pay a steep price: life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.
Work weeks that averaged 60 hours or more over three decades appear to triple the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart trouble and arthritis for women, according to new research from The Ohio State University.
The risk begins to climb when women put in more than 40 hours and takes a decidedly bad turn above 50 hours, researchers found.
Exercise may prevent dementia — if you start in your 40s
Regular exercise in middle age is the best lifestyle change a person can make to prevent cognitive decline in their later years, a 20-year study from the University of Melbourne finds.
Regular exercise of any type, from walking the dog to mountain climbing, emerged as the number one protective factor against memory loss. But the key is to start as soon as possible.
“We expected it was the healthy habits later in life that would make a difference, but we were surprised to find that the effect of exercise was cumulative,” said researcher Cassandra Szoeke. “So every one of those 20 years mattered.”
“If you don’t start at 40, you could miss one or two decades of improvement to your cognition because every bit helps. That said, even once you’re 50 you can make up for lost time. There is no doubt that intervention is better late than never, but the results of our work indicate that an intervention after 65 will have missed at least 20 years of risk.” (Futurity)