Posts Tagged "study"


Anorexia may not only be psychiatric, it could be genetic: study – National

by BBG Hub

Anorexia nervosa — an eating disorder characterized by a fear of gaining weight and other life-threatening symptoms — has previously been understood as a psychiatric illness, but that may not be the whole story.

A new study published in Nature Genetics found that problems with metabolism may also be to blame.

Researchers at King’s College London and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill worked together to compare the DNA of nearly 17,000 people with anorexia. They found multiple genes which linked those with anorexia to DNA involved with burning fat and being physically active.

READ MORE: Men suffer from eating disorders, too — so why do we ignore them?

More research is needed, but if this is the case, then Dr. Cynthia Bulik believes both the diagnosis and treatment of anorexia nervosa will need an upgrade. She’s one of the lead researchers on this study and the founding director of the University of Northern Carolina Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders.

Bulik uses the example of hyperactivity — a common side effect of anorexia — to illustrate her point.

“We’ve been psychologizing that symptom forever, saying that [anorexia patients] have a drive for thinness or they’re trying to work off the calories,” she said. “And while that might be true, [this data shows us] that they might be genetically prone to high physical activity, as well.”

READ MORE: Coping with ‘beach body’ season when you have an eating disorder

If this is true and researchers are able to pin down biological causes of anorexia, it may be possible to include medication in the treatment plan.

“We’re going to have to get more samples first to get even more confident in these findings… but then, what we hope is that we can engage our psychologist, neuroscientist and pharmacogenetic friends to start figuring out how we can target those pathways and potentially develop medication,” said Bulik.

Currently, there is no medication proven to work in the treatment of anorexia nervosa. “Right now, it’s all re-nourishment and psychotherapy,” she said. “Our patients deserve the next generation of treatments.”

WATCH BELOW: Signs of an eating disorder (that are not obvious)

Researchers also found eight genes which linked anorexia to anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) — which came as no surprise.

“[The study found that] there’s a high positive genetic correlation between anorexia and other psychiatric disorders, and that’s no surprise because… that’s what we see in the clinic,” said Bulik.

“We see anorexia and OCD go hand-in-hand so often… this is genetic confirmation that what we see in treatment is actually based in biology.”

The difference between a psychiatric and physical illness

For many years, anorexia nervosa was understood to be “some sort of choice” or a “socio-cultural phenomenon,” said Bulik. “Actually, being codified as an illness (even a psychiatric one) is really important.”

READ MORE: Women with celiac disease more likely to develop eating disorder: study

However, the data from this study suggest that the long-time classification of anorexia as a psychiatric disorder still misses a key part of the illness: the biology.

“It’s sort of a false distinction that there’s one set of disorders that happen above the neck and another set that happen below the neck,” she said. “We actually need to stop thinking about things this way because… they’re so interconnected, we can’t pull them apart.”

Dr. Michele Laliberte is cautiously optimistic about this data. She’s the clinical lead of the St. Joseph’s Hospital eating disorders program.

WATCH BELOW: New Canada Food Guide a living document to healthy eating

“Maybe this can help us explain why for some patients, it’s very difficult to help some people weight restore or why it seems like some people go right back to a lower weight,” she said, but she emphasized that more research is needed.

“Metabolic reasons are not going to be the whole explanation for everyone,” she said.

“A person who has anorexia who has just weight-restored are also experiencing a tremendous amount of anxiety at that time and they make actual behavioural changes to their eating which leads them to lose weight… the idea that that’s all explained at the metabolic level doesn’t make sense, either.”

The signs and symptoms of anorexia

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), between 0.5 and four per cent of people in Canada have anorexia nervosa; 90 per cent are women.

It most often affects young people, typically beginning during teenage or young adult years, and it runs in families.

READ MORE: Experts say sharing weight-loss resolutions online can be harmful to those with eating disorders

People who diet and people with body-focused careers (like models, dancers and athletes) are also at a higher risk for developing anorexia.

The most common sign of the disorder is dangerously low body weight, but additional symptoms are often present and are different from person to person.

“[There’s often] an intriguing lack of recognition of the seriousness of their low body weight,” said Bulik.

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People with anorexia may also feel overweight regardless of their actual weight.

An extremely low body weight can cause heart and kidney problems, low blood iron, bone loss, digestive problems and more.

Treatment for anorexia nervosa typically involves some kind of counselling (most commonly, cognitive behavioural therapy). The CMHA also recommends support groups as a good way to share experiences and recovery strategies with other anorexia patients.

Patients are also often referred to nutritional therapy, where they work with a dietitian or a nutritionist to learn healthy eating habits.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Walking fast can add up to 15 years to your life: study – National

by BBG Hub

If you’re a fast walker, you could be adding years to your life, a new study suggests.

According to a study published last month in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, people who walk fast can add, on average, up to 15 to 20 years to their lives.

The large U.K.-based study collected data from almost 475,000 people with an average age of 52.

READ MORE: Long walks are a good form of exercise — but it’s not always enough

“Studies published so far have mainly shown the impact of body weight and physical fitness on mortality in terms of relative risk,” co-author Francesco Zaccardi, a clinical epidemiologist at the Leicester Diabetes Center, said in a statement.

“However, it is not always easy to interpret a ‘relative risk.’ Reporting in terms of life expectancy, conversely, is easier to interpret and gives a better idea of the separate and joint importance of body mass index and physical fitness.”

Lead author and professor Tom Yates with the University of Leicester added that the research indicated measuring exercise may be more beneficial to the body than body mass index (BMI) alone.

“In other words, the findings suggest that perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than BMI and that encouraging the population to engage in brisk walking may add years to their lives,” Yates said.

The study found participants who reported taking brisk walks had a long life expectancy regardless of BMI. For women, this was a life expectancy of 86.7 to 87.8 years and for men, 85.2 to 86.8 years.

“Conversely, subjects reporting slow walking pace had shorter life expectancies,” the authors added, noting the life expectancy was 72.4 years for women and 64.8 years for men. This meant, on average, women who took brisk walks could live up to 15 years longer while men could live an additional 20 years.

Taking brisk walks

“Fast walking would be relative to the individual’s fitness level,” said Alistair Hopper, personal trainer at Flex Fitness, which is based in Winnipeg.

“You can keep track of your heart rate to know if you are walking fast for your fitness level,” he continued. “By keeping your heart rate between 60 [and] 90 per cent of your max heart rate then you are walking brisk enough to get improved health benefits.”

READ MORE: Researcher says 10,000 steps a day isn’t optimal for everyone

Hopper recommended starting with a 10-minute brisk walk and adding five minutes more each week.

“As long as you have been consistent and you don’t have any nagging injuries,” he added.

Gareth Nock, national team training coach with GoodLife Fitness, told Global News that walking, in general, is a great exercise to add to your regular routine.

“When done correctly and consistently, walking is a simple, free and enjoyable form of exercise. It promotes overall health and well-being by improving cardiovascular fitness, strengthening the muscles of the whole body and also helps us maintain energy balance,” he said.

Pace comes down to the individual.

“When setting your pace, it’s important to take into account any injuries or limitations to find a speed that works for your level of fitness. You can build your pace gradually to challenge your body and improve your stamina,” Nock said.

And if you want to talk your walk even further, try adding body weight exercises like squats, lunges, pushups and planks, he added.

“I also suggest building in movements that help increase the mobility of the hips, spine and shoulders,” Nock said. “Yoga and Pilates are both great options.”

Proper walking tips

Below, Nock suggests some reminders for brisk walkers.

Wear the right shoes: Look for sneakers or walking shoes that are flexible and have a good level of support.

Watch your posture: “Stand tall with your eyes up and your shoulders back,” he said. “Many people tend to let their heads fall forward so focus on rolling your shoulders back and down and looking ahead. Focus on drawing your navel towards your spine (abdominals braced) to support your lower back and overall posture.”

Swing your arms: “Arms should swing naturally and loosely from the shoulders,” he continued. Move the opposite arm to the leg that is stepping forward and keep your wrists straight, your hands unclenched and your elbows close to your sides.

READ MORE: Some health benefits of walkable neighbourhoods may be offset by higher air pollution

Take faster — not longer — steps to increase speed: Lengthening your stride can put a strain on your feet and legs. “Walk lightly and allow your heel to touch the ground first,” Nock said.

Add interval training to improve your cardiovascular stamina: “For example, speed up for a minute or two every five minutes. Or alternate one fast mile with two slower miles,” he added.

Try hills to build strength and burn calories: If you’re going uphill, lean forward slightly to take the pressure off your leg muscles. “Walking downhill can be harder on your knees and may leave you with sore muscles,” Nock explained. “Slow down, keep your knees bent to absorb impact and take shorter steps.”

Use poles to work your upper body: If you need to, invest in walking poles. “When you step forward with the left foot, the right arm comes forward to plant the pole on the ground, about even with the heel of the left foot. This works the muscles of your upper body and reduces stress on your knees,” Nock said.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Period pain can make women lose nearly 9 days of productivity a year: study – National

by BBG Hub

For any woman who has felt less productive during her period, new research suggests you’re not alone.

According to a recent Dutch study published in the BMJ on Thursday, period pain is linked to losing almost nine days of productivity at school and work per year.

The study, which surveyed 32,748 women between the ages of 15 and 45, measured absenteeism (how much time was taken away from work or school) and presenteeism (how much productivity was lost in those two places).

“Menstruation-related symptoms cause a great deal of lost productivity, and presenteeism is a bigger contributor to this than absenteeism,” the study’s authors wrote.

“There is an urgent need for more focus on the impact of these symptoms, especially in women aged under 21 years, for discussions of treatment options with women of all ages and, ideally, more flexibility for women who work or go to school.”

READ MORE: ‘My mood plummets’ — when PMS symptoms could be something more

The research suggested 13.8 per cent of all women reported absenteeism during their periods and 3.4 per cent reported taking time off from school or work almost every time they were on their period. This was about 1.3 days a year on average.

Authors also noted that 80.7 per cent of all women reported presenteeism and, overall, lost 23.2 days of productivity in the year. As an average, this was about nine days per year.

“Women under 21 years were more likely to report absenteeism due to menstruation-related symptoms,” the authors continued. “When women called in sick due to their periods, only 20.1 per cent told their employer or school that their absence was due to menstrual complaints.”

Experiencing period pain

Previously speaking with Global News, Dr. Catherine Allaire, medical director of B.C. Women’s Hospital Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis, said discomfort during your period is normal — however, not everyone experiences pain.

She added that pain of any kind can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or naproxen. Allaire also said period pain should not interfere with your daily life and that if it does, women should seek medical help.

READ MORE: All about your period — what’s normal and when you should see a doctor

“If you’re planning your life around your period — it’s interfering with your activities and things like Advil are not sufficient to manage your cramps — then that would be something that should be alerting you to seek attention from a physician,” Allaire said.

But excessive period pain can be a sign of endometriosis.

“It’s time to stop normalizing women’s pain,” she said.

“I’ve heard this story too much: that it’s normal, it’s to be expected that you will have this pain as a woman. And the type and severity of pain that women have suffered with in silence and not sought help for is quite staggering, at times, when I listen to the stories.”

Types of pain

According to the Cleveland Clinic, dysmenorrhea is the medical term for period cramps, which are caused by contractions. The site notes there are two types of dysmenorrhea.

Primary dysmenorrhea involves cramps that are regular and not caused by other diseases.

“Pain usually begins one or two days before or when menstrual bleeding starts and is felt in the lower abdomen, back or thighs,” the clinic noted.

“Pain can range from mild to severe, can typically last 12 to 72 hours and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, fatigue and even diarrhea. Common menstrual cramps usually become less painful as a woman ages and may stop entirely if the woman has a baby.”

READ MORE: 5 reasons why you keep missing your period (other than pregnancy)

The second type of dysmenorrhea is secondary dysmenorrhea, and it is caused by a disorder in a woman’s reproductive organs such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids or an infection.

“Pain from secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps. The pain is not typically accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fatigue or diarrhea,” the clinic noted.

Besides medicine, Everyday Health reported that some other ways to treat period pain include changing your diet (low-fat diets have been linked to fighting inflammation in the body), drinking herbal tea and using a heating pad to ease cramps.

—With files from Leslie Young

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada has a discrimination problem when it comes to hiring — here’s why – National

by BBG Hub

A new study has found that visible minorities in Canada are slightly more likely than those in the United States to face discrimination during hiring.

Researchers analyzed data from 97 previously conducted field experiments in Canada, the United States, Sweden, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Norway and Germany.

In every country, researchers found significant discrimination against “non-white natives” throughout the hiring process. However, discrimination levels were highest in France and Sweden.

READ MORE: Some Canadians still believe harmful stereotypes about Muslims and Jews: study

To be included in the study, countries needed to have at least three completed and in-depth field experiments around discriminatory hiring practices.

From those studies, researchers collected data from more than 200,000 fictitious job applications. They categorized fake candidates by race to determine if visible minorities received as many call-backs as their white counterparts. (A “call-back” is an invitation to attend an interview after submitting an application.)

The results are interesting, but according to lead researcher Lincoln Quillian, they should be taken with a grain of salt.

READ MORE: The lack of diversity in Canada media is ‘hard to ignore’ — and the numbers prove it

He works as a professor of sociology at Northwestern University, and he holds an appointment in the school’s Institute for Policy Research.

“I don’t think it’s the case that the countries that aren’t in our analysis have lower discrimination… in fact, if anything, it may be the opposite,” said Quillian.

The nine nations studied were the only ones with enough data to support systematic comparisons across countries.

According to Quillian, it’s quite possible that the nine countries included have substantial data about discriminatory hiring practices because they’re proactive about improving them.

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This would mean that it’s possible that France and Sweden are still much better at non-discriminatory hiring than other countries not included in this report, despite topping the list.

“I would have loved [to study] Japan, a country that by many anecdotal accounts, has pretty high hiring discrimination against people — especially [those] from other Asian countries,” he said.

Japan didn’t have the requisite three field experiments necessary to be included in Quillian’s meta-analysis.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: ‘Shadeism’ is the dark side of discrimination we ignore

“That may be, in part, because it’s not really defined as a big social problem in some of these places [where] there is discrimination,” he said. “It may just kind of accepted, so they’re not trying to document it [or] worry about it.”

Similarly, Quillian has received feedback that some people were shocked to find Canada (tied for third with the U.K.) with higher rates of discriminatory hiring practices than the United States (ranked seventh).

However, he emphasizes that the difference — not only between Canada and the U.S. but also between the U.K., Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Germany — is very small.

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“Canada looks pretty similar to the U.S., in terms of its level of hiring discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities,” he said.

“Maybe a little bit higher, but the difference higher is within the margin of error that exists… so that could be a result of chance differences. We don’t have a huge base of studies for Canada.”

Understanding the numbers

Relative to the United States, the study found that visible minorities in Canada were 11 per cent more likely to face discrimination in hiring.

However, Dr. Eddy Ng believes these numbers need to be put into perspective. He’s a professor at Dalhousie University and the F.C. Manning Chair in economics and business.

He says some visible minority groups will do better than others — it all depends on the region and the occupation.

READ MORE: 6 job interview questions potential employers are not allowed to ask — and how to handle them

“I think discrimination happens at a higher level because of a tendency to associate certain cultural and ethnic groups with certain professions,” he said.

For example, the study found that Black Canadians experienced roughly 0.3 per cent less discrimination than Asian Canadians. Ng believes this is because Black Canadians are more often wrongly associated with low-level jobs, such as janitorial work.

“They experience a lower discrimination [and] a higher call-back rate because there’s a tendency to hire somebody from a lower socioeconomic background,” he said, of low-level job applicants.

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Alternatively, Asian Canadians tend to “go for” professional managerial jobs, which leads to greater discrimination among the population.

According to Statistics Canada, Asia is Canada’s largest source of immigrants. (Between 2006 and 2011, 56.9 per cent of immigrants who arrived in Canada were from Asia.)

It’s Ng’s view, the large number of Asian-Canadian immigrants, who in turn apply to managerial roles and experience discrimination, could negatively impact Canada’s ranking in the study overall.

Companies need incentives

It costs money to become a more diverse workplace, and Ng says most companies won’t willingly partake unless they foresee a monetary return on their investment.

“Most employers put in place diversity and inclusion practices because it’s good for business,” said Ng. “Right now, it’s pride month, you’ve probably seen employers changing the corporate colours of their logos to include the pride flag because they want to attract those clients.”

Another example is when banks in areas with large Indigenous populations will seek to hire Indigenous people, in an effort to reflect the customer base they’re trying to attract.

READ MORE: Retiring justice says Canada’s courts need more diversity: ‘Not everything is working perfectly’

“Unfortunately, not all ethnic groups are equally attractive to business,” said Ng.

He’s conducted several studies on the topic, all of which have found that what’s best for the business outweighs moral values when it comes to decision-making by CEOs.

“Employers have actually leaped past public policy… but most practices are very selective,” he said. “They only do it if it benefits the business.”

Canada still has work to do

Ng believes that Canada’s federal diversity plan — known as the Employment Equity Act (EEA) — is outdated and limited in scope, which could explain why Canada was one of the countries with the highest levels of discriminatory hiring practices.

The purpose of the EEA is to ensure no one is denied employment for reasons unrelated to ability. Specifically, it aims to make the workplace more equitable for women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.

“It’s very limiting because it only pertains to employment, and it only covers the federal government [or] public service,” Ng said.

READ MORE: Reality check: Does name-blind hiring help improve diversity?

The EEA is federal legislation, and as such, it only applies to industries which are federally regulated under the Canadian constitution. This means it can only enforce diversity and inclusion practices on three main industries: financial services, telecommunications and transportation.

“It really covers a small portion of the Canadian workforce,” said Ng. This is unfortunate because in the industries where diversity policy is enforced, it works.

Ng also takes issue with the EEA because it only applies to the workplace, where as in the U.S., affirmative action also extends to education.

“This is a failing in Canadian public policy,” he said.

READ MORE: People of colour have always loved the outdoors, and Canadian companies are noticing

An easy fix, says Ng, would be for the federal government to review the Employment Equity Act every five years — as was mandated when the EEA was created in 1986.

However, it’s only been reviewed once since — by Prime Minister Jean Chretien in 1995.

“It was scheduled to be reviewed again by Harper’s government, but he prorogued Parliament and the parliamentary committee [created] to review the Act was dissolved,” said Ng.

Were the EEA to be updated, Ng would recommend that it expands to include maternity and paternity leave, as well as senior citizens.

“We need to modernize,” said Ng.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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You can drink up to 25 cups of coffee a day without harming your heart: study – National

by BBG Hub

Coffee lovers rejoice.

You can drink up to 25 cups of java without upping your chances of a heart attack or stroke, according to a new study.

Researchers out of the U.K. studied more than 8,000 people and their coffee-drinking habits and found that drinking up to 25 cups a day was no worse for the arteries than drinking less than a cup a day.

READ MORE: Caffeine withdrawal — What happens when you don’t get your coffee fix

The study says that despite previous beliefs that drinking coffee increases arterial stiffness (which can lead to a heart attack or stroke), having over 20 cups of daily joe was not associated with stiffer arteries.

The research was partially funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and is being presented at the British Cardiovascular Society conference in Manchester, the Guardian reports.

To determine how coffee affects the heart, researchers divided participants into three groups: those who drink less than one cup a day, those who drink between one and three cups a day and those who drink more than three.

(People who drink over 25 cups were excluded.)

WATCH: Scientists warn world’s coffee species at risk of extinction

The participants underwent MRI heart scans and infrared pulse wave tests.

“The associations between drinking coffee and artery stiffness measures were corrected for contributing factors like age, gender, ethnicity, smoking status, height, weight, how much alcohol someone drank, what they ate and high blood pressure,” the BHF wrote.

According to the study’s findings, moderate and heavy coffee drinkers were “most likely to be male, smoke and consume alcohol regularly.”

READ MORE: Does your morning coffee need a boost? ‘Superfoods’ could be the answer

In a statement, Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the BHF, said this research will hopefully lead to more discoveries about coffee and its effects.

“There are several conflicting studies saying different things about coffee, and it can be difficult to filter what we should believe and what we shouldn’t,” Avkiran said.

“This research will hopefully put some of the media reports in perspective as it rules out one of the potential detrimental effects of coffee on our arteries.”

While the report says large amounts of coffee are fine for the heart, a researcher from the study told CNN that their findings do not mean it’s a good idea to drink 25 cups a day.

WATCH: Never get between a Canadian and their coffee

“We’re not telling people to drink 25 cups a day, per se,” Kenneth Fung, who led the data analysis, told the outlet.

“If anything, if you drink within recommended guidelines, then we don’t expect to see an increase in arterial stiffness compared with those who drink one cup or less a day.”

Other reports have also said caffeine isn’t harmful.

Coffee may be good for health

A 2017 study conducted by researchers from the universities of Southampton and Edinburgh found that drinking three or four cups of coffee per day was more likely to benefit your health than harm it. In fact, they suggest drinking this amount decreased your risk of death by 17 per cent.

And while there have been countless studies about the benefits and risks of drinking coffee, researchers note that for some, more can be even better.

READ MORE: 8 unhealthy ways to start your morning

According to a 2014 study, coffee may also help to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers out of Harvard found that people who “increased the amount of coffee they drank each day by more than one cup over a four-year period had an 11 per cent lower risk for Type 2 diabetes than those who made no changes to their coffee consumption.”

How much is too much caffeine?

Health Canada recommends adults should limit their caffeine intake to no more than 400 milligrams per day, registered dietitian Andy De Santis previously told Global News. That’s about three cups of coffee, eight ounces each — or three short cups of coffee from Starbucks. Tim Hortons’ smallest size is 10 ounces.

READ MORE: Health Canada warns about dangers of mixing caffeine and alcohol

De Santis adds there is no evidence that suggests caffeine intake at this level will cause any harm to a healthy adult.

“In some people who are sensitive to it, caffeine may lead to anxiety, insomnia and stomach issues. These people need to be mindful of their caffeinated coffee intake,” he said.

Coffee contains caffeine — a well-known stimulant and performance enhancer — and a variety of other potentially healthful compounds, he adds, which may partially explain why people who drink coffee tend to live longer.

WATCH: Are you drinking too much coffee?

It’s important to note that pregnant women and people who are negatively affected by caffeine should limit their intake.

Nanci Guest, a registered dietitian, PhD candidate and caffeine and genetics researcher at the University of Toronto, previously told Global News that if your body doesn’t handle coffee well, you shouldn’t feel pressured to drink it.

She adds that people who have trouble sleeping or insomnia should not be consuming this much coffee during the day, especially later into the evening. She says people who have jitters may also have negative reactions to upping their caffeine dose.

[email protected]

—With files from Arti Patel 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Fat-shaming celebrities makes women more critical of their own bodies: study – National

by BBG Hub

According to a new study at McGill University, psychologists have determined that instances of celebrity fat-shaming are “associated with an increase in women’s implicit negative weight-related attitudes.”

In essence, seeing female celebrities shamed for their weight in popular media reinforces a long-held belief that “thin” is good and “fat” is bad.

Researchers compared 20 instances of celebrity fat-shaming with women’s implicit attitudes about weight before and afterwards.

READ MORE: How to respond to body-shaming relatives

To do that, researchers obtained data from Project Implicit’s online Weight Implicit Association Test between the years of 2004 and 2015.

The team selected 20 celebrity fat-shaming events widely reported by popular media, and then analyzed the implicit anti-fat attitudes reported by women two weeks before and two weeks after each event.

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Such instances include Tyra Banks being shamed for her body while wearing a bathing suit on vacation in 2007, and Kourtney Kardashian being fat-shamed by husband Scott Disick for not losing her pregnancy weight quickly enough in 2014.

According to researchers, the fat-shaming events led to a spike in women’s implicit anti-fat attitudes.

The study also found a rise in negative implicit weight bias in women more generally, year over year.

READ MORE: ‘It was a trifecta of hate’: Body image activist recalls moment she was accosted by a man over her weight, race

Jennifer Bartz, one of the authors of the study, said they analyzed implicit bias because it can influence behaviour in a way unbeknownst to us.

“The thing about explicit attitudes… is that they’re vulnerable to self-censorship; they’re vulnerable to defensive processes,” said Bartz. “If we want to present ourselves in a particular light, we can kind of modulate those attitudes.”

But this isn’t the case for implicit attitudes, which inform “your evaluation of [an] object in terms of whether that object is basically good or bad,” Bartz said.

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So even if it seems like there’s a push for body positivity in popular media, it’s more likely that those ideals only exist on an explicit level, while implicit negative biases about weight remain.

According to Amanda Ravary, lead author of the study, social media may be helping to inflame this discrepancy.

“Now, [media] is at your fingertips all the time,” said Ravary. “We [can speculate that] the general increase [in negative implicit weight bias] is a result of these cumulative effects of increased media exposure.”

READ MORE: Mom’s bikini selfie with daughter goes viral for all the right reasons

For Christine Logel, a social psychologist and professor at Renison University College, cases of celebrity fat-shaming are unique because celebrities often have bodies that are emblematic of the social ideal.

“We’re already bombarded by messages indicating that there’s a very narrow range of body types that will be embraced and accepted,” said Logel.

“We [also] pay attention not only to what people say directly to us about our bodies but what people are saying to each other and to other people. So when we see people who are already so close to this very narrow ideal… being exposed to criticism and shaming, we think, ‘what does that leave us?’”

WATCH BELOW: ‘It was a trifecta of hate’: Body image activist recalls moment she was accosted for her weight, race

It’s still considered socially acceptable to comment on someone’s weight because it’s assumed to be within that person’s control — but that’s not the case.

“It’s not people’s fault if they fall somewhere on the weight spectrum that right now… the [wider] culture thinks isn’t acceptable,” said Logel.

Logel also believes the prevalence of social media is partly responsible for exacerbating the impacts of fat-shaming on individual body image.

“On social media, you can see that hundreds or thousands of people have weighed in… this can really feel like it’s widespread,” said Logel.

“That means that, no matter what we do, we’re going to be criticized. One way or another, we’re going to face that kind of shaming.”

READ MORE: Here’s why fat-shaming only makes things worse, according to scientists

Catherine Sabiston, a professor at the University of Toronto, agrees — social media can make it much more difficult to maintain a positive attitude towards one’s own body.

“[There’s] this contradiction between what we are trying to do as a society in terms of embracing bodies at every size and these accounts,” said Sabiston.

There are differences between what the captions say and what the images show, and this can produce mixed messages about body ideals, according to Sabiston. 

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Social media “perpetuates this idealized body that individuals want to achieve,” said Sabiston.

“We obviously will never be able to reduce the imagery and what is presented… in social media, but we can limit the way that we interact with it,” Sabiston said.

“…On an individual level, it’s really about addressing it on [your] own accord. That means being protective of yourself in this social media landscape.”

Here are some ways to cultivate a positive attitude about weight and body image.

Avoid ‘upward social comparison’

It’s an individual’s responsibility to avoid comparing themselves to others on social media.

“As you’re looking at imagery, it’s about being positive about yourself and telling yourself… ‘this isn’t real,’ or ‘that’s great, but it’s not me,’” said Sabiston.

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“It’s about being aware of one’s surroundings and celebrating other people’s successes, but knowing it’s not for everyone.”

In Sabiston’s view, the less you engage in upward social comparison, the less harmful social media will be.

Practice self-compassion

“Self-compassion is a true kindness and mindfulness of oneself,” said Sabiston. “[It’s] being aware of yourself and of your emotions, but not being negative or down on yourself.”

This could manifest in many different ways: talking about yourself using positive language, giving yourself a hug or creating time in your day when you can practice mindfulness.

WATCH BELOW: How dieting can potentially lead to eating disorders

It’s also about realizing a common humanity, Sabiston told Global News.

“You’re not so different from everybody else. For every emotion you feel, many others feel the same way,” said Sabiston. This understanding which can ultimately contribute to a more positive body image.

Focus on performance, not appearance

For Sabiston, it’s crucial that individuals struggling with body image focus on what their body can do — instead of how it looks. 

“We need to remove the emphasis of appearance on every level. The emphasis… on the way we feel about ourselves and the way we engage with social media… cannot be about appearance,” said Sabiston.

“It has to be about things that are in our control… and that’s the real challenge. We tend to put the emphasis on appearance rather than function. It’s about how the body functions and what you can contribute without this emphasis on appearance.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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UBC study reveals cheat day in popular diet may cause some harm

by BBG Hub

A UBC Okanagan study into a popular diet has revealed that a cheat day could be bad for your health.

The researchers said that people on the so-called keto diet should think twice before taking a ‘cheat day.’

According to the researchers, a ‘cheat day’ is a common theme in many diets and the popular ketogenic diet, or keto as it’s better known, is no exception.

WATCH BELOW (Aired June 27, 2018): Does the “Keto” diet pose dangers to your health?

But according to new research from UBC Okanagan researchers, just one 75-gram dose of glucose — the equivalent a large bottle of soda or a plate of fries — while on a high fat, low carbohydrate diet can lead to damaged blood vessels.

“The ketogenic—or keto—diet has become very common for weight loss or to manage diseases like type 2 diabetes,” said Jonathan Little, associate professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBCO and study senior author.

“It consists of eating foods rich in fats, moderate in protein, but very low in carbohydrates and it causes the body to go into a state called ketosis.”

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Little said the diet can be effective because once the body is in ketosis and starved for its preferred fuel, glucose, it begins to aggressively burn its fat stores.

This leads to weight loss and can reverse the symptoms of diseases like Type 2 diabetes.

“We were interested in finding out what happens to the body’s physiology once a dose of glucose is reintroduced,” said Cody Durrer, a UBC Okanagan doctoral student and study first author.

“Since impaired glucose tolerance and spikes in blood sugar levels are known to be associated with an increased risk in cardiovascular disease, it made sense to look at what was happening in the blood vessels after a sugar hit.”

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The researchers used nine healthy young males for their study.  The young men consumed a 75-gram glucose drink before and after a seven-day high fat, low carbohydrate diet. The diet consisted of 70 per cent fat, 10 per cent carbohydrates and 20 per cent protein, similar to that of a modern ketogenic diet.

“We were originally looking for things like an inflammatory response or reduced tolerance to blood glucose,” Durrer said. “What we found instead were biomarkers in the blood suggesting that vessel walls were being damaged by the sudden spike in glucose.”

Super Awesome Science Show Recap: What going keto can do for you

The researchers acknowledge that with only nine individuals in the study, more work is needed to verify their findings. But they added the results should give those on a keto diet something to think about when considering a cheat day.

“My concern is that many of the people going on a keto diet—whether it’s to lose weight, to treat Type 2 diabetes, or some other health reason—may be undoing some of the positive impacts on their blood vessels if they suddenly blast them with glucose,” Durrer said.

“Especially if these people are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease in the first place. Our data suggests a ketogenic diet is not something you do for six days a week and take Saturday off.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Infection during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of autism, but not by much: study – National

by BBG Hub

Babies born to mothers who had an infection during pregnancy are at an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder and depression, a new study has found.

The study found a 79 per cent increased risk of autism and a 24 per cent increased risk of depression in children exposed to infection while in utero, as well as an increased risk of suicide.

READ MORE: Yet another study finds no link between MMR vaccine and autism

Researchers analyzed patient data from pregnant women hospitalized between 1973 and 2014 in Sweden.

From a database of nearly 1.8 million children, researchers used hospital codes to determine which babies were exposed to infection. They then tracked those children and their mental health through the years, with some of the oldest babies now entering their forties.

Researchers divided infections into three categories: the first was any infection at all, the second was “severe maternal infections” and the third was “mild maternal infections” (namely, urinary tract infections).

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“We thought of (severe) infections as things that would cause a whole bunch of inflammation in the mother,” researcher Benjamin J. S. al-Haddad told Global News.

“Things like sepsis (when there’s bacteria in the blood), severe pneumonia (where moms need special help breathing because they have such a severe respiratory infection), meningitis or encephalitis (infections around the brain), pyelonephritis (where the kidneys have bacteria and puss), as well as influenza and chorioamnionitis (where the different parts of the placenta become infected over the course of giving birth).”

Researchers hypothesized that something as mild as a UTI would not be linked to such a high increased risk — but they were wrong.

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“From our results, it looks like we see similarly increased risk whether the mother had a UTI or something more severe,” al-Haddad said. “It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of infection it is.”

No link was discovered between exposure to infection in utero and other mental conditions, such as bipolar disorder or psychosis.

Researchers worried about other conditions present in mom (such as asthma or diabetes) that could taint the results.

WATCH BELOW: The importance of including autism training for public workers

However, even when they controlled for such conditions, the link between infection and an increased risk for autism and depression remained.

“The things that we controlled for included maternal age, maternal asthma, maternal diabetes, premature rupture of membranes (which is when the sac holding the liquid that the fetus is in breaks before mom goes into labour), maternal tobacco status (whether mom smoked or not), and then we also did special controls for siblings,” al-Haddad said.

The results of the study suggest that infection can “impart subtle brain injuries contributing to the development of autism and depression,” said researchers.

READ MORE: One third of pregnant women don’t think cannabis will harm their babies, study says

While these results sound scary, al-Haddad stressed that the increased risk is in addition to the preexisting baseline risk.

“In the United States, the risk of autism is one out of every 59 kids. Our results suggest that on top of that baseline, there would be a 79 per cent increased risk. We don’t know what that number would be, but the extra risk conferred on top of a baseline low risk, in terms of the population, is not high,” said al-Haddad. (Autism Speaks Canada reports that one in every 66 children have autism in Canada.)

“This is just one of a myriad of causes that we think increases risk. This is another piece of trying to understand what the causes of autism are and how we can prevent those causes.”

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What does “increased risk” really mean?

It’s important for parents to understand that the reported 79 per cent increase in risk sounds like a big number, but it’s actually quite a small increase on the pre-existing risk.

“It’s still (less than) 1 per cent in terms of the absolute increase (in risk) a particular child has. Basically, that means almost 98 per cent of kids whose mothers have an infection during pregnancy that would cause hospitalization are not born with autism or another neuro-developmental condition,” Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou. She works as a child neurologist and senior clinician scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute.

“So it’s a small absolute risk, but it’s a big risk biologically in the sense that we are learning that there is a mechanism to do with infection that likely interacts with our genes that may increase the chance of developing autism.”

READ MORE: New Canadian pregnancy guideline shows exercise cuts odds of major complications by 40%

On its own, exposure to infection during pregnancy is not enough to cause autism, but it can be a contributing factor.

“It’s one of the ways that our environment (in this case, infection) may interact with our genes to somewhat increase our risk,” Anagnostou added.

This study is helpful because it explains one of the many different changes that can happen in the brain and the body that can contribute to autism.

Some findings should be interpreted with caution, says one doctor

“It’s not the first time we’re learning this,” Anagnostou said. “We have lots of evidence from animal-model and previous human studies that significant infection during pregnancy increases risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.”

However, there are a few findings that should be interpreted with caution, Anagnostou told Global News.

READ MORE: Vancouver Canucks taking steps to help fans with autism enjoy the games

“(Researchers) tried to look at the severity of infection and whether the severity of the infection would change the impact, and… they said that severe infections were not different than a regular urinary infection, but we have to be careful because these people were admitted to hospital.”

For Anagnostou, those admitted to hospital didn’t have a “regular” urinary infection. Only a more severe infection would warrant a hospital stay. In a similar vein, the kids who later developed autism were also hospitalized.

“Both the people who had infection and the kids who had autism were hospitalized, so they are not representative of the larger population,” she noted.

Other factors which can increase your risk of autism

The most robust explanation for autism comes from our genetics, Anagnostou said.

“But our genes and our environment interact… and there’s a series of these environmental exposures that have small but consistent effects.”

One is infection during pregnancy, and some infections are worse than others.

“That’s why we want all moms to be vaccinated. For example, rubella during pregnancy (is linked with) a very high risk of autism.”

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“Other factors could be maternal diabetes, use of certain medications during pregnancy, an increased paternal age… all of these things are robust. We know they’re important to biology, but the actual increase is very small for each one of them… so no parent should be feeling guilt because they happen to develop an infection during pregnancy,” said Anagnostou.

“We have zero evidence that vaccines increase the risk for autism.”

Autism is a difference that comes with both “difficulties and advantages”

According to Anagnostou, autism is a developmental difference that causes the brain and the body to grow and connect in different ways than someone who doesn’t have autism.

“Sometimes, that’s associated with things that cause distress and dysfunction, and we want to treat those things,” said Anagnostou. “But sometimes, it actually comes with unique gifts and unique perspectives.”

Anagnostou said people with autism are more likely to think out of the box and they’re more likely to contribute to innovation.

READ MORE: New autism supports coming to Ontario schools due to therapy funding changes

“Speaking generally, they’re good employees, they have very low absenteeism (rates), they tend not to lie,” Anagnostou explained. “It’s a difference that comes with both difficulties and advantages.

“It’s important that we don’t lose perspective of the things that need to be treated, because a lot of these children need our support, but it’s also important to not lose perspective of all the unique qualities people with autism bring to society.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Parents, vaping near children is just as dangerous as smoking: study – National

by BBG Hub

A new study has found that an overwhelming number of parents believe e-cigarettes are safe to use around children, despite growing concerns about the toxic chemicals they contain.

“They’ve been marketed as a safer alternative to smoking,” said Jeremy Drehmer, co-author of the study. “To their credit, they are safer when compared to cigarettes. But pretty much if you compare anything to cigarettes, the other thing is going to be safer.”

READ MORE: Most smokers don’t know sugar is added to cigarettes, study finds

Researchers interviewed more than 900 parents who identified as current or former smokers.

The main finding was that “parents who were dual users of cigarettes and e-cigarettes were more likely to have strictly enforced smoke-free policies than vape-free policies for the home, suggesting that some may believe exposure to vaping inside the home is safe for children.”

In Drehmer’s view, the results of the study show that many parents believe these devices contain harmless water vapour, which isn’t the case.

WATCH: Butting out your smoking habit

Vaping devices are relatively new. There are several different products on the market, and each contains a different set of chemicals, which is the first cause for concern.

“We’re really in an unknown kind of abyss,” Drehmer said. “Studies have found that [e-cigarettes] have volatile organic compounds in them that are cancer-causing,” but we don’t necessarily know how much of these compounds exists in each product.

E-cigarettes also use aerosol — defined as particles dispersed in air or gas — which contains very small, ultra-fine particles.

READ MORE: Health Canada failing to address dangers of growing vaping ‘epidemic’: Cancer society

“Much like tobacco smoke, these can get in and embed into the lungs, causing inflammation and all sorts of health problems,” said Drehmer.

Another reason e-cigarettes are dangerous is due to a chemical used to produce flavour called diacetyl.

“Diacetyl has been used in things like microwave popcorn, and it’s been linked with something called popcorn lung disease.”

WATCH: Vaping study shows its effective

Second-hand smoke can cause several health problems for children, said Drehmer. Developmental delays and an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are the two biggest concerns.

“Children who grow up in homes where people are smoking around them are much more likely to take up smoking themselves,” Drehmer said.

This could be through modelling — which is when a child mimics a parent’s behaviour — or by way of exposure to nicotine, which could make children predisposed to a nicotine addiction.

READ MORE: Health Canada advocates push for e-cigarette crackdown amid surge in teen vaping

Finally, the vapour from an e-cigarette — and all of its harmful chemicals — will remain on surfaces long after the vaping has stopped.

“The nicotine will coat all the surfaces in the home and car, much like cigarettes will,” said Drehmer. “Children can come by and still be exposed.”

Nicotine is a neurotoxic chemical, and it can be highly dangerous for the developing brains of children.

WATCH: The growing addiction and attraction to vaping among teens

“I think the thing is when people hear the word vapour, they’re thinking safe, and vapour doesn’t necessarily mean safe,” said Drehmer.

Instead, the exact same rules should be applied to vaping that are applied to smoking, he says.

“Avoid smoking in the home or car, even when kids are not present. Rather than vaping indoors, parents should consider using FDA-approved cessation medications instead, such as nicotine patch and gum, that do not expose children to toxic e-cigarette aerosol.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Pizza and chocolate can be just as addicting as drugs and alcohol, study suggests – National

by BBG Hub

Have you ever opened a bag of chips, only to polish it off moments later?

There could be a scientific reason for that.

According to a new study, pizza, chocolate, chips, cookies and ice cream are the foods most often associated with “addictive-like eating.”

READ MORE: More than half of food produce in Canada is wasted: ‘It would horrify our grandparents’

The goal of the study was to better understand which foods, and properties of those foods, were associated with addictive overeating.

It’s no coincidence that your favourite junk foods (as opposed to fresh produce and other natural foods) top the list.

“The level of processing” is the largest predictor for how addicting a food will be, nutrition expert and study co-author Nicole Avena told Global News.

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Researchers suggest that food with added amounts of fat and refined carbohydrates (such as sugar and white flour) may have qualities similar to those of drugs, like nicotine or alcohol.

These ingredients “have been shown in other studies to activate reward-related regions of the brain,” Avena said.

“The foods we often tend to overeat and feel compelled to eat might have those effects on our behaviour because of something about them is causing addiction-like changes in our behaviours.”

READ MORE: Eight unhealthy foods that aren’t bad for you

During the study, participants were asked to analyze 35 foods and choose which they most associated with addictive-like eating behaviours.

Researchers then used the hierarchy to investigate which food attributes — for example, fat grams — were related to addictive-like eating behaviour.

Other foods near the top of the list were french fries, cheeseburgers, pop, cake, cheese and bacon. Of 35 foods, the ones least associated with addictive-like eating behaviours were brown rice, apple, beans, carrots and cucumber.

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One limitation of the study is that it only included 35 foods, Avena said.

“Larger studies are being planned that include more foods, so we can get a better sense of the different types of foods that people tend to eat, and how they might be associated with addictive eating,” she said.

In addition, Avena admits that it can be difficult to define a “processed food.”

READ MORE: National ad blitz promotes benefits of Canadian beef

“We defined ‘processed’ as marked by the addition of fat and/or refined carbohydrate,” Avena said. In the study, “non-processed” foods were considered to be things like bananas, broccoli and apples.

“For the average person out there shopping and trying to decide which foods are more processed than others, those that are shelf stable are likely to be more processed and contain additives and preservatives,” Avena explained. “Fresh foods, like fruits, vegetables, plain nuts, and meats, are better options as foods that are minimally processed.”

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Another trick for knowing if a product is processed is the ingredients list. “When there are many [ingredients] listed, this is usually a sign that the product is highly processed,” Avena said.

But how do you know if you’re addicted to a food? “Negative consequences” are the biggest indicator of food addiction, according to Avena.

“If you are overeating and it causes you to develop diabetes or be unhappy and you still can’t stop, then there may be an addictive process involved,” she said. “Also, needing to eat more and more to feel satisfied.”

READ MORE: Don’t follow J. Lo’s ‘unhealthy’ 10-day no carb and sugar challenge

To be addicted to food is to have difficulty “reducing intake or saying no to eating something,” said Avena.

It’s a chronic issue, not something that happens once and a while. Eating a slice of pie on Thanksgiving (even though you’re full) is not an indication of food addiction.

It becomes an addiction when it negatively impacts your health and well-being.

WATCH BELOW: Why do you feel so bad when you overeat?

In her book Why Diets Fail, Avena provides advice for fighting overeating caused by food addiction. In her view, distraction is key when a craving presents itself.

“When people indulge a little, it can lead to them to eating more than they intend. A hedonic craving (or a craving for something when we aren’t physically in need of calories) will pass in time, so the key is to distract yourself or remove yourself from the cues that are causing the craving,” she told Global News.

Social cues that can prompt a hedonic cravings — such as ads or logos — are pretty much everywhere we go.

“We can’t avoid them, but we can be aware of the powerful effect they have on us.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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