For anyone who wants to get slim or maintain a healthy body weight, reading food labels is widely considered a vital dietary strategy. Supermarkets have thousands of them, those black-and-white Nutrition Facts labels telling shoppers how many calories each portion of a product contains. Many recipes in magazines and diet books also indicate the calories you’ll take in with every serving. But now science is showing that not all calories are created equal and those numbers aren’t always, well, black and white.
Set the mood before consuming food. That’s the apparent take-home message of a recent study reported in the August issue of Psychological Reports (111 , 228–32) showing that environmental cues such as lighting and music strongly bias eating behaviors.
The simple act of walking offers myriad health benefits—reductions in stress, blood pressure and mortality, to name a few. Despite these benefits and the accessibility of walking, the majority of U.S. citizens do not walk continuously for more than 10 minutes in an average week.
Barbara Brehm-Curtis is a professor of exercise and sport studies at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she teaches courses in stress management, nutrition and health. Aside from writing about health- and fitness-related topics for more than 25 years, she has worked as a fitness instructor, personal trainer, lifestyle coach and fitness program director. She has received the San Diego County Medical Society Media Award and was a Maggie Award finalist for regular columns in Fitness Management, where she served as a contributing editor.
Hall, K.D., et al. 2012. Energy balance and its components: Implications for body weight regulation. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95 (4), 989–94. Energy balance represents the complex interplay between the fuel we consume and the energy we exert, which makes this balance integral to the process of losing weight.
It may sound counterintuitive, yet new research from the University of Missouri, Columbia, suggests that eating fewer, larger meals may prove healthier for obese women than eating smaller meals more often. More specifically, consuming three substantial meals per day instead of six small meals may decrease obese women’s risk of developing heart disease.
When viewing food logos, obese children show less activity in regions of the brain associated with self-control than do their healthy-weight counterparts, reports The Journal of Pediatrics.
Researchers from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and the University of Kansas Medical Center tested youth aged 10–14, using both self-reported measures of self-control and functional magnetic resonance imaging, which tracks blood flow as a measure of brain activity.