7 Most Effective Exercises

Does Your Workout Really Work?
Done right, these seven exercises give you results that you can see and feel. You can you do them at a gym or at home. Watch the form shown by the trainer in the pictures. Good technique is a must. If you’re not active now, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor first, especially if you have been diagnosed with health concerns. For example, if you have advanced osteoporosis some of these exercises may be too aggressive.
1. Walking
Why it’s a winner: You can walk anywhere, anytime. Use a treadmill or hit the streets.

How to: If you’re just starting to walk for fitness, begin with five to 10 minutes at a time. Add a few minutes to each walk until you get to at least 30 minutes per walk. Then, quicken your pace or add hills.
2. Interval Training
Why it’s a winner: Interval training boosts your fitness levels and burns more calories to help you lose weight. The basic idea is to vary the intensity within your workout, instead of going at a steady pace.

How to: Whether you walk, run, dance, or do another cardio exercise, push up the pace for a minute or two. Then back off for 2 to 4 minutes. How long your interval should last depends on the length of your workout and how much recovery time you need. A trainer can fine-tune the pacing. Repeat the intervals throughout your workout.
3. Squats
Why it’s a winner: Squats work several muscle groups — your quadriceps (“quads”), hamstrings, and gluteals (“glutes”) — at the same time.

How to: Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Bend your knees and lower your rear as if you were sitting down in a chair. Your weight should be evenly distributed on 3 points of your feet — heel, outaside ball, inside ball — that form a triangle. Your knees won’t stay in line with your ankles that way, but there will be less strain on other parts of your body. Add dumbbells once you can do 12 reps with good form.

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Bedroom Light at Night Might Boost Women’s Weight

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Women, beware: Sleeping with a light on or the TV going in your bedroom could make you put on weight.

That’s the finding of new research published in JAMA Internal Medicine. While the study doesn’t prove that sleeping with a light on causes weight gain, it suggests the two may be linked, the researchers said.

“Turning off the light while sleeping may be a useful tool for reducing a possibility of weight gain and becoming overweight or obese,” said lead author Dr. Yong-Moon Mark Park. He is a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Park said that exposure to artificial light at night may suppress the sleep hormone melatonin and disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle.

“It also may disturb day-to-day variations of stress hormones and affect other metabolic processes in ways that contribute to weight gain,” Park added.

Keeping a light on might also result in poorer sleep. Shorter sleep could prompt you to exercise less and eat more, he noted.

For the study, Park’s team relied on self-reported data from nearly 44,000 women, aged 35 to 74. They weren’t shift workers, daytime sleepers or pregnant when the study began.

Women who slept with a light on were 17% more likely to gain 11 pounds or more over five years, the study found. And the level of artificial light seemed to matter, Park said.

“For example, using a small nightlight was not associated with weight gain, whereas women who slept with a light or television on were,” he explained.

The findings didn’t change when researchers accounted for women’s diet and physical activity, which suggests that light during sleep may be important in weight gain and obesity.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., reviewed the findings. He said the link between exposure to artificial light at night and obesity may not indicate that one causes the other.

“As with any study of association, two findings are true — true, but not directly related,” he said.

The key takeaway relates to poor sleep, Katz suggested.

“Sleep deficiency and impairment is a known obesity risk factor, for reasons ranging from mood and reduced restraint, to changes in hormonal balance,” he said.

It’s also possible that reliance on artificial light at night and obesity are both linked to other factors, such as “loneliness, anxiety or some form of social insecurity,” Katz said.

The report was published online June 10.

Americans Sit Way Too Much, But Exercise May Help

April 23, 2019 — Tethered to our televisions and computers, Americans are sitting even more than in years past, according to a new study.

And while prolonged sitting has long been linked with a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and death, another new study found that exercise may blunt some of the risks.

While researchers say it’s no surprise that we’re all sitting more, they don’t all agree about how much exercise can help.

Sitting Study Details

In the U.S., total sitting time from 2007 to 2016 rose by about an hour a day, to 8.2 hours for teens and 6.4 hours for adults, says Yin Cao, ScD, assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She is the senior author of the study that tracked Americans’ sitting habits. (Data on children’s total sitting time was not collected.)

Cao’s team used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001 through 2016 to track the sitting behaviors of nearly 52,000 children, teens, and adults.

The survey had separate questions on time spent sitting to watch TV or videos and time spent sitting for computer use outside of school or work needs.

By age group, the percentage of people who watched at least 2 hours a day of TV or videos in 2015-2016 included:

  • 62% of children
  • 59% of teens, and
  • 65% of adults (84% of those 65 and above).

Those times are averages. Overall, across all the age groups, up to 38% watched 3 hours a day or more, and up to 23% watched for 4 hours or more daily.

While these daily TV and video viewing times remained fairly stable over the 15-year period, leisure time computer use rose, driving the overall increase in sedentary behavior, Cao says.

Time spent on computers — meaning traditional desktop computers or laptops — outside of school or work increased in all age groups over the 15-year period. Comparing 2015-2016 to 2001:

56% of children spent an hour or more on computers, up from 43%.
57% of teens did, up from 53%.
50% of adults did, up from 29%.
And these numbers don’t capture all sedentary behavior. “A missing component is how much time is spent sitting and using handheld devices,” Cao says. That data is not collected in the NHANES survey.

“The findings on computer use are not surprising as we know technology changes,” she says. “We were surprised that time on TV and video [viewing] was stable, as we thought it would be decreased with the increase in computer time.”

Some groups are more likely to sit too much, Cao found, including non-Hispanic black people, overweight people, and boys.

Exercise Study Details

In the other study, researchers looked at the sitting and exercise habits of nearly 150,000 Australians ages 45 and older, from 2006-2009, to see if higher levels of exercise could eliminate the health risks of sitting.

As exercise levels rose, risks declined, says lead author Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, a professor of physical activity, lifestyle, and population health at the University of Sydney. He calls 150 minutes of activity a week ”the magic threshold” when risks start to decline.

The participants reported how many hours a day they spent sitting, standing, and sleeping, as well as how much time they took part in moderate to vigorous physical activity.

The researchers tracked deaths from any cause until June 2017, nearly 9 years after the original survey, and death from heart disease through December 2015, a follow-up of more than 7 years. During that period, more than 8,600 of the 150,000 study participants died (more than 1,600 from heart-related causes).

Sitting more than 6 hours daily was linked with a higher risk of death and was strongest in people who did not meet the recommendation of at least 150 minutes of activity a week, Stamatakis says.

Among people who reported no physical activity, those who sat more than 8 hours a day were 1.5 times more likely to die during the follow-up than those who sat less than 4 hours a day.

While risks began to decline with 150 minutes of activity a week, people taking part in the study needed to get more than 300 minutes a week to eliminate the risk, Stamatakis says.

Replacing sitting time with standing ”doesn’t seem to do much,” he says, but replacing sitting with physical activity was consistently linked with less risk.

“Moderate to vigorous activity includes walking, sports, and exercise such as running or playing tennis, hiking, strenuous work in the garden, or vigorous housework,” Stamatakis says.

U.S. guidelines say adults should get at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity activity; 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity; or an equal combination of both.

Few Americans get the recommended amount of activity, with 65% reporting doing less than the minimum.

‘Just the Tip of the Iceberg’

Not everyone agrees that exercise can combat the effects of hours of sitting.

In its 2016 scientific statement, the American Heart Association says that being sedentary could make you more likely to have heart disease and stroke, and that moderate to vigorous physical activity does not cancel out the impact of being sedentary.

Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Health in New York City, calls the exercise study results promising, but she says more research is needed.

Both studies show the unhealthy downside of technology, she says, and Stamatakis agrees.

“The health risks of excessive screen media use go well beyond the increase in sedentary behavior they impose; sitting is just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. He cites social isolation, screen addiction, and other mental health issues. Figuring out how to moderate screen media use is an ongoing challenge for health professionals, he says.

The Best Butt Exercises for Knee Pain—No Squats or Lunges Included

Let me tell you a secret: Squats and lunges are not the magic ingredients for getting a better butt. Yes, they’re both *great* lower-body exercises that recruit tons of muscles, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of boosting your glutes. That’s great news if you have knee pain, because you can do all these booty-blasting moves without worrying about bugging your knees. (Must-read: 4 Reasons Why You Have Pain Behind Your Knee)

Just follow along with celeb trainer Jeanette Jenkins of the Hollywood Trainer Club for the ultimate butt workout that you can do if you have knee pain—or just want to build muscle in that booty. (Want to spread the burn beyond the booty? Try Jeanette’s total-body toning dumbbell workout too.)

How it works: Do each move for the number of reps indicated and then repeat the circuit two to three times. Watch the video for full move demos and form tips from Jeanette.

Butt Burner Toe Tap

A. Stand with feet together and sit back into a quarter squat.
B. Shift weight into left foot and tap the right foot backward, then back to center, then out to the side, then back to center, while keeping left leg bent and pumping arms as if running.

Do 16 to 20 reps per side.

Side Toe Tap

A. Stand with feet together and sit back into a quarter squat.
B. Staying in squat position, shift weight into left foot and tap the right foot out to the side, opening arms up to the side.
C. Tap the right foot back to center, lowering arms. Continue quickly tapping in and out.

Do 20 to 25 reps per side.

Single-Leg Deadlift

A. Stand with feet together, dumbbells in hands by sides. Shift weight into right foot, balancing on left toe.
B. Hinge forward at the hip, lifting straight left leg backward and reaching dumbbells toward right foot.
C. Keeping core tight, engage right glute to raise torso and return to starting position.
D. For a challenge, after doing 16 reps, hold the extended position (left foot lifted and torso parallel to the ground) and add a dumbbell row, drawing dumbbells up next to ribs, elbows in tight. Do 8 reps.

Do 16 reps per side.

Arabesque Pulse

A. Stand on the right leg, with left toes extended slightly backward to balance. Extend right arm straight overhead and left arm out to the side at shoulder height.
B. Maintaining the upper body position, lift back left leg and pulse up and down without touching toes to the floor.

Do 20 to 25 reps per side.

Kneeling Back Kick

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift right knee off the floor and kick diagonally backward and up, pressing heel toward the top back corner of the room.
C. Return knee to starting position without touching it to the ground and repeat.

Do 25 reps per side.

Kneeling Combo

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift right knee off the floor and kick diagonally backward and up, pressing heel toward the top back corner of the room.
C. Return knee to starting position without touching it to the ground, then lift knee out to the side, maintaining 90-degree bend.
D. Return knee to starting position without touching it to the ground.

Do 16 reps per side.

Kneeling Roundhouse

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift right knee out to the side, then extend leg to kick, leg parallel to the ground with knee pointing forward.
C. Reverse motion to return to starting position and repeat.

Do 16 reps per side.

Straight-Leg Pulse

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift and straighten right leg backward, knee pointing down. Pulse right leg up and down.

Do 16 reps per side.

Kneeling Bird-Dog Balance

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift and straighten right leg backward, knee pointing down. Extend left arm forward.

Hold for 15 seconds per side.

Leg Lift Hold

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift and straighten right leg backward, knee pointing down. Lift right leg as high as possible, and bend elbows to lower chest to the floor.

Hold for 15 seconds per side.

Shoulder Bridge

A. Lie faceup on the ground with feet planted and knees pointing up.
B. Engage core and tuck pelvis, then push into feet to press hips off the ground.
C. Pulse hips up and down, squeezing glutes at the top.

Do 20 reps.

Single-Leg Shoulder Bridge

A. Lie faceup on the ground with feet planted and knees pointing up.
B. Engage core and tuck pelvis, then push into feet to press hips off the ground. Lift the right leg straight into the air over hips.
C. Maintaining this position, pulse hips up and down.

Do 15 to 20 reps per side.

Getting Fit in 40s, 50s Still Can Add to Life Span

By E.J. Mundell

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) — It’s truly never too late to begin exercising, new research shows.

Even for people who were “couch potatoes” in their youth, embarking on a regimen of regular exercise in middle-age can still greatly cut the odds for death from any cause, a major new study finds.

The study tracked the health — and lifetime exercise patterns — of more than 315,000 people who were members of AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons).

The investigators found that folks who’d exercised all their lives had a 36 percent lower risk of dying during the study period, compared to people who’d never exercised.

But, perhaps surprisingly, people who’d been inactive in youth but decided to get more physical in their 40s and 50s saw almost the same decline — 35 percent — in their odds for an early death.

This suggests “that midlife is not too late to start physical activity,” according to the research team led by Pedro Saint-Maurice of the U.S. National Cancer Institute. “Inactive adults may be encouraged to be more active, whereas young adults who are already active may strive to maintain their activity level as they get older,” the study authors wrote.

What’s more, a mid-life start to physical activity seemed to cut the odds of death from the two major killers — heart disease and cancer. The study found that for people who began exercising in their 40s and 50s, rates of death from heart disease fell by 43 percent compared to people who’d never exercised, and the cancer death rate fell by 16 percent.

Those declines were similar to those seen in people who’d exercised all their adult lives, the researchers noted.

“This study, once again, portrays the importance of physical activity in relationship to one’s long-term mortality,” said cardiologist Dr. Evelina Grayver, who wasn’t involved in the new research.

“Whether or not you start exercising when you are younger or older, the benefits will always be there,” said Grayver, who directs the coronary care unit at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

She did offer up one caveat, however: “This does not mean that starting exercising at a later age, and getting the same mortality benefit, means that one should not exercise in your younger years.”

Grayver said that she still believes that it is “overall continuous cumulative effects of continuous physical activity” that subsequently decreases the odds for an early death.

Indeed, the study authors seemed to agree, stressing that in the study, “participants who maintained the highest amount of [exercise] in each age period were at lower risk” for death from any cause.

The researchers also noted that while other research linking exercise to longevity has looked at physical activity at just one point in the life span, theirs is the first to examine the role of “participation in physical activity throughout the different stages of adulthood.”

Dr. Sunny Intwala directs sports cardiology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He noted that current federal government health guidelines “recommend that Americans should move more, sit less and squeeze in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly.”

Trouble is, just one in five American adults meets those guidelines, Intwala said. But the new research “demonstrates the crucial relationship between physical activity in the prevention of heart disease and death at any age,” he added.

And you don’t have to start running marathons at 55 to reap the benefit of exercise, Intwala said.

“As I tell my patients that are not keeping up with their New Year’s resolutions to exercise, doing something is better than doing nothing, and doing more is even better than doing something,” he said.

The study findings were published online March 8 in JAMA Network Open.

Exercise boosts well-being by improving gut health

Both bacterial diversity in the gut and regular exercise are important when it comes to health. But how are the two related? A new study uncovers the effect that exercise has on our health by adjusting the balance of the gut microbiome.
women at the gym
New research finds out how exercise could support bacterial diversity in the gut.

Though this may seem strange, human bodies are actually made, according to recent estimates, of about as many bacteria and other microorganisms as regular human cells.

In the colon alone — the tract that contains the largest number of bacterial cells — there are approximately 38 trillion bacteria.

These bacteria have important effects on the state of our health, and loss of bacterial diversity in the gut is linked to a heightened risk of disease.

Now, a new study suggests that the level of a person’s physical activity may affect the bacterial diversity in their gut, and thus influence their health.

In a paper that appears in the journal Experimental Physiology, the authors, from Indiana University Bloomington and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, also explain the biological mechanism that makes this possible.

The link between exercise and the gut

The researchers knew that cardiorespiratory fitness — the efficiency with which the circulatory and respiratory systems deliver oxygen during exercise — was associated with greater bacterial diversity, but it was unclear whether this was due to physical activity or an individual’s percentage of body fat.

In order to find out, the team worked with a cohort of 37 participants who had been successfully treated for nonmetastatic breast cancer.

The decision to work with this cohort resulted from the fact that cancer treatment typically has a negative impact on metabolic health, including cardiorespiratory fitness.

The participants agreed to perform graded exercises so that the researchers could assess their peak cardiorespiratory fitness, as well as total energy expenditure. The investigators also collected fecal samples from the volunteers and used them to analyze the participants’ gut microbiota.

Following all the assessments and analyses, the researchers established that participants with higher cardiorespiratory fitness also had more diverse bacterial populations in the gut, compared with peers who had low cardiorespiratory fitness.

Moreover, the team confirmed that cardiorespiratory fitness was linked with about a quarter of the variance in bacterial species diversity and that this effect was independent of that produced by an individual’s body fat percentage.

The data thus indicate that exercising with an intensity that is adequately high and can boost cardiorespiratory effectiveness will improve overall health by supporting a better-balanced gut.

New line of research

Still, the researchers warn that their findings are only correlative, and further research should aim to test the potential causational relationships.

Furthermore, the cohort was very restricted — a small group of women treated for breast cancer — so the team advises caution in applying the findings to other populations.

However, going forward, the investigators aim to address these shortcomings and find out how best to apply their findings to improve the health of at-risk individuals.

“Our group is actively pursuing an interventional study to determine how variation in exercise intensity can influence gut microbiota diversity under controlled-feeding conditions,” says the study’s lead author, Stephen Carter, Ph.D.

The Low-Impact Cardio Workout You Need for Lazy Days

Let’s be real for a hot second: Some days, when you start getting ready for the gym, your body (and mind) just isn’t in the mood. It’s those days — when burpees feel 10,000 times harder than they did yesterday — that you need a more chill workout. There’s nothing wrong with doing something low impact. In fact, experts say that it’s crucial to break up those balls-to-the-walls days with more low-key routines to give your body time to recover while still being active. (That said, you can still get your brain in the game. Here’s how.)

That’s where this workout from Ellen Barrett comes in. It’s a cardio-based, fat-burning walking workout, so you can do it pretty much anywhere. And it’s only 20 minutes, so you can even squeeze it in on that lunch break.

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People who understand the benefits of exercise may spend more time being active

(Reuters Health) – The more people understand about the benefits of exercise, the more time they’re likely to spend being physically active, an Australian study suggests.

Researchers at Central Queensland University surveyed 615 people to explore their knowledge of the benefits of physical activity and the risks of inactivity. The survey also included questions to measure time spent in walking activity, moderate intensity activity (e.g., gentle swimming) and vigorous intensity activity (e.g., cycling).

Writing in PLoS One, senior author Stephanie Schoeppe and colleagues say regular physical activity “reduces the risk of all-cause mortality by 30 percent, reduces the risk of developing major chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease by 35 percent, type 2 diabetes by 42 percent, (and) colon cancer by 30 percent.”

Furthermore, they write, “Regular physical activity also “increases life expectancy . . . (and) improves general physical health and well-being.”

And indeed, nearly all of those surveyed agreed physical activity is good for health.

On average, however, participants could identify only 14 out of 22 diseases associated with physical inactivity.

And the majority were unable to accurately estimate the increased risk of disease resulting from inactivity.

More than half did not know how much physical activity is recommended for health benefits. (Similar to U.S. guidelines, guidelines in Australia advise adults ages 18 to 64 to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity per week.)

Participants were significantly more active when they correctly identified more diseases associated with physical inactivity, the researchers found.

Given the knowledge gaps revealed by their survey, they say, health promotion initiatives should aim to raise awareness of the types of diseases associated with inactivity.

One limitation the authors flagged was that about three quarters of the survey’s respondents were women, so it is unclear whether the results will be applicable to men. Further, the study participants were not representative of the Australian population as a whole.

“A large proportion of Australian adults are insufficiently active,” Schoeppe noted in an email to Reuters Health.

“For those people,” she said, “the messages, ‘any physical activity is better than none’ and ‘doing more physical activity improves health’ are useful.”

Ada Tang, a physical therapist and associate professor at McMaster University, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health by email that even if people appreciate the potential risks associated with being physically inactive, they wouldn’t necessarily feel any immediate urgency to act on it.

“The risk of developing heart disease might seem too far in the distant future to drive a person to change their behavior,” she said.

Tang believes initiatives must go beyond improved public relations efforts.

“It is important for us to find ways for people to participate in physical activity more often and more easily,” she said.

“When physical activity becomes more of a habit, it’s not seen as something that is an added burden to their very busy lives.”

Self-weighing, self-awareness may prevent holiday weight gain

(Reuters Health) – – A brief program that encouraged people to track their weight and to be mindful of the excess energy in every holiday cookie or cup of nog seems to have helped participants get through the holiday season without gaining weight.

The trial in the UK recruited participants in November and December of 2016 and 2017, and followed up with them about 45 days later. Those assigned to the weight-gain prevention program ended up losing 0.13 kg (about one third of a pound), on average, while the control group gained 0.37 kg (nearly a pound), the study team reported December 10 online in The BMJ.

“On Christmas Day alone, someone might consume 6,000 calories, or three times the recommended daily allowance,” said a coauthor of the study, Amanda Farley of the University of Birmingham.

“We were unsure how well the public would respond to the idea of controlling their food and drink over Christmas,” Farley told Reuters Health by email. “But we found that participants were very motivated.”

Past research has found that holiday periods are often when people put on extra pounds, but they don’t tend to lose that weight after the holidays are over. Since even a holiday weight gain of just a pound or two each year will add up over a decade, the study team wanted to explore tactics to help prevent putting on weight in the first place.

They recruited 272 adults who were told only that they would participate in a study of winter weight gain. About half were randomly assigned to receive a general brochure on healthy living.

The other half got advice to weigh themselves frequently, ideally every day, record their weight, and “reflect on weight trajectory.” They also got 10 tips for weight management, as well as a graphical list of holiday foods showing the amount of exercise that would be required to offset the calorie content of each – for instance, expending the calories in a mince pie requires 21 minutes of running, and a small glass of mulled wine requires 32 minutes of walking.

The 10 tips for weight management included sticking to a regular meal routine, choosing reduced fat options, walking 10,000 steps daily, opting for healthy snacks, reading food labels, thinking twice about large portions and seconds, breaking up sitting time, reducing alcoholic and sweet drinks, slowing down while eating and aiming to include five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

About 80 percent of the participants were women, roughly one third in the normal weight range, more than one third overweight, and the rest obese.

The researchers’ goal was for participants to gain no more than half a kilo, or about one pound, over the holiday period.

Instead, the research team found that the intervention group, on average, lost a little weight while the control group gained a bit. The difference in weight gain between the groups was 0.49 kg, a little over one pound, a statistically meaningful amount, the study team concludes.

Based on questionnaire responses at the follow-up, people in the intervention group also scored higher for practicing “cognitive restraint.” However, there were no significant differences between the groups in changes in body fat percentage, emotional eating or uncontrolled eating.

“Many people gain weight over Christmas, but that is not inevitable,” Farley said. “It is possible to demonstrate some restraint of eating and drinking and build in simple ways to be active while still enjoying the festive season.”

Few randomized controlled trials have studied effective programs to combat the year-end bloat, noted Dale Schoeller of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Although this study showed a change, it’s hard to say which aspect was effective, Schoeller said.

“It would be interesting to take this program apart and try to understand what changes led to the prevention of weight gain,” he said in a phone interview. “Did restraint with food or alcohol, or compensating with exercise, make the difference, or was it a combination?”

In this study, the majority of participants were white women in their 40s. Future studies should include different communities and could tailor the tips to appeal to different audiences and countries, said Rolando Giovanni Diaz Zavala of the University of Sonora in Hermosillo, Mexico, who also wasn’t involved in the research.

“Once people are overweight, there are metabolic and neuroendocrine changes (possibly irreversible) that fight to regain weight lost,” he said in an email. “Preventing weight gain seems to be the smartest strategy.”

Fighting obesity: Could it be as plain as dirt?

It costs the global economy an estimated US$2 trillion annually and has been dubbed a modern day health epidemic, but new research from the University of South Australia has unearthed a possible cure for obesity — and it is as plain as dirt!

Investigating how clay materials can improve drug delivery, UniSA researcher and PhD candidate, Tahnee Dening serendipitously discovered that the clay materials she was using had a unique ability to “soak up” fat droplets in the gut.

Dening says this accidental discovery could potentially be a cure for obesity.

“It’s quite amazing really,” Dening says. “I was investigating the capacity of specifically clay materials to improve the oral delivery and absorption of antipsychotic drugs, when I noticed that the clay particles weren’t behaving as I’d expected.

“Instead of breaking down to release drugs, the clay materials were attracting fat droplets and literally soaking them up.

“Not only were the clay materials trapping the fats within their particle structure, but they were also preventing them from being absorbed by the body, ensuring that fat simply passed through the digestive system.

“It’s this unique behaviour that immediately signalled we could be onto something significant — potentially a cure for obesity.”

Being overweight can cause serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, obesity is increasing with almost two in three adults, and one in four children, now overweight or obese. And if its prevalence continues, we can expect nearly half the world’s population to be overweight or obese by 2030.

With few effective drugs existing to counteract obesity, many companies are investing huge amounts to discover and develop alternative treatments for obesity.

Dening’s research investigated the effects of montmorillonite — a natural clay material, purified from dirt and laponite — a synthetic clay — in rats fed a high-fat diet, comparing against placebo and a leading weight loss drug — orlistat. Monitoring over a two-week period, she found that while both the engineered clay formulations and orlistat delivered weight loss effects, the clay material outperformed the drug.

Dening says the findings offer new insights for obesity and weight-management, particularly when used in combination with the commercial drug, where there is potential for synergy.

“Our processed clay has an unusually high surface area which means it has a huge capacity to interact with and soak up digested fats and oils present in the foods we eat,” Dening says.

“Orlistat on the other hand, is an enzyme inhibitor that blocks up to 30 per cent of dietary fat digestion and absorption, which leads to weight loss, but has unpleasant side effects such as stomach aches, bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea, which limits its use in weight loss as people choose to stop using it.

“What we’re researching now is a synergistic approach with both the clay material and orlistat: the orlistat blocks the enzyme that digests fat molecules, and the clay particles trap these fats so they’re excreted out of the body without causing gastrointestinal disturbances.

“We’re essentially attacking fat digestion and absorption in two different ways and we hope this will lead to greater weight loss with fewer side effects.”

UniSA Professor Clive Prestidge, and Dening’s research supervisor, says the research has already captured the attention of potential investors.

“This is a significant discovery that provides new and exciting avenues for weight loss research which naturally attracts potential commercial partners,” Prof Prestidge says.

“With a finding like this, people will naturally be keen to find out when they can try it. Given that the material is generally considered safe and is widely used in food and nutraceutical products, it is feasible that human clinical trials could start reasonably soon.