Thursday, June 30, 2011

Free of calories but not of consequences

New research has concluded that soft diet drinks may not help you in your fight against weight gain.

The study by the American Diabetes Association found that diet drinks were associated with wider not trimmer waists in humans. A related study discovered  that the artificial sweetener Aspartame (added to diet drinks) raised blood sugar in mice prone to diabetes.

"Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of  diet drinks and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised," said study researcher Helen P. Hazuda Ph.D. "They may be free of calories but not of consequences," she added.

The researchers collected height, weight, waist circumference and diet drinks intake data from 474 elderly adults. They were followed up an average of 9.5 years later.  They found that the low calorie drinkers had waist circumferences 70 percent greater than non-diet drinkers. Also that people who drank diet drinks frequently, at least two diet drinks a day, had waist circumferences that were 500 percent greater than people who didn't drink any diet drinks.

Artificial sugar didn't produce any better results in the related second study in mice. Researchers for this study found that diabetes-prone mice that were fed a diet that included aspartame for three months, had higher blood glucose levels than mice not given aspartame.

The story does not does not end there.  Early earlier this month research by the University of Bangor in Ireland found that sugary drinks can lead to a "dulled sensitivity to sweet tastes." resulting in a greater craving the sweet products.  "As the sweet 'treat' becomes less rewarding, so people tend to look for more sweet food to drink, and a vicious circle of eating sweet and calorie-laden food is established", said Dr. Hans-Peter Kubis, one of the study's authors.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Photoshop comedy fiascos

Below are three Photoshop comedy fiascos.

Unrealistic: Ralph Lauren was forced to apologise after editing a picture of model Filippa Hamilton to the extent that her head was bigger than her waist. Photo

Armless: Ann Taylor is among the brands accused of Photoshop fails in the past, after it appeared to have airbrushed out a model's arm. Photo

Ridiculous: Victoria's Secret was also the subject of ridicule after it allegedly slimmed a model's legs to ridiculous proportions. Photo


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vanity sizes

One benefit of the current recession is the number of the sales and the large discounts that are available on the High Street.

On Saturday, I went shopping and didn’t really have time to wait in the long changing room queue.  In the past, I could have selected size 14 clothes and purchased them (without trying them on); confident that they would fit.  Now size 14 in certain outlets is too big and the number of shops in which this is the case is growing.

This issue is not new. It began several years ago and became known as 'vanity sizing'.  It is basically a way of tricking women into buying what they believed to be smaller clothes, while in reality they were purchasing larger clothes.

Why is vanity sizing on the increase? Most women like to buy clothes and they are likely to mention or even boast about the size.  Resizing to smaller sizes benefits the fashion houses and outlets. By giving women a false 'feel good' emotional high,  fashion businesses are trying to ensure that they happily repeat the purchase experience.

Marks & Spencer's have commented that they are not sweetening the sizes or softening the blow; they have simply tweaked sizes so that they reflect the average body.

There was a time when tightening clothes encouraged me and many others to reduce our calorie intake, thus ensuring that we didn't unknowingly gain too much weight. Those days are sadly over.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weight & Sexuality Interview

This (and next) month’s mybodybeautiful article details a recent interview. The interviewee is a divorced mother of two in her early 40’s.


“Looking back, I think it [weight gain] was something to do with the denial of who I am; denial of my true sexuality. I’ve recently accepted the fact that I am gay. 

My weight gain was also a way of protecting myself.  There was a lot of angst inside about who I was. After I got married, it got really bad. My weight increased and sports mainly went out the window. My X had introduced me to golf, so I played that, but is a gentle sport.  My weight went up and up. We never had a full length mirror in the house; I couldn’t really see what was happening.  My clothes had elasticised waist and were loose; I use to wear tracksuits and things like that.  So, I didn’t really notice how much weight I’d gained until it was too late".  Read article


Friday, June 17, 2011

Rise in bulimia among boys

New studies document a concerning rise in the rate of bulimia in boys and that the illness is now more common among preteen (some as young as 10)  boys than girls.

NHS figures show that there are 5,000 cases of  boys under sixteen suffering from eating disorders, however the real figure is thought to be significantly higher as many cases go unreported.

Avoiding weight related bullying and wanting to wear the latest fashion, such as "skinny jeans", have been cited the main reasons.

A Taiwan study of 16,000 children that was published the Journal of Clinical Nursing (UK), found that sixteen per cent of boys aged 10 to 12 admitted inducing vomiting to lose weight after being bullied, compared with just ten per cent of girls.  Dr Yiing Mei Liou, who led the research, said sufferers were likely to be "sedentary" children e.g.  who spend large amounts playing games on their computers.

Another US study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that four per cent of schoolchildren admitted having used laxatives in the past month.

Statistics show that Bulimia is more common than anorexia. However,  it is harder to identify  because sufferers' weight tens to be more stable.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Let themselves go

A survey marking the start of Diabetes Week, (12th - 18th June),  found that more than 40 per cent of the over- 40's questioned, felt they had let themselves go (41 is the most common age). 

40 something is the decade in which people begin to eat too much, put on weight and cut down on the amount of daily exercise they do. 

Over one third said that if they could go back in time, they wouldn’t allow themselves to become overweight.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Killing Us Softly

Jo Swinson MP & Jean Kilbourne

Yesterday, I attended a lecture by US film-maker and author Jean Kilbourne in Westminster. The session was hosted by The Campaign for Body Confidence and the All-Party Group on Body Image. Jo Swinson MP (Campaign for Body Confidence) and Suzie Suzie Orbach (Fat is a Feminist Issue & Bodies) presided over the meeting.

During the two hour session, we watched Jean Kilbourne's latest 45 minute film “Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising’s Image of Women” . This was followed by an animated discussion and Q & A about advertising’s distorted portrayal of femininity. Topics included, but was not limited to:

 i) unattainable media images

ii) the objectification of women (and men)

iii) the sexualisation of children

The film was excellent and it was great to be part of a group of like minded individuals who had come together for a common cause; which was to encourage the media to act more responsibly when depicting female imagery.


Sunday, June 05, 2011

Let Children Be Children

The Bailey Review, into the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood was made public this week. The review, titled 'Let Children Be Children' , was carried out by Reg Bailey head of a Christian charity. It is fully supported by David Cameron.

The review argues that is should be possible for parents to buy computers, devices or internet services with adult content already blocked, rather than parents having to implement the controls themselves.   It also calls for age-ratings on music videos and greater controls on advertising in order to keep sexualised ads away from schools and playgrounds.  Slogans and images it argues, “must be age-appropriate and without ­undesirable associations”.

Going further, Bailey is also demanding that high street stores sign up to the new voluntary code of practice which ­prevents the sale of clothes with sexually suggestive slogans to pre-teens .  The new code, drawn up by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), has the backing of the government and is also expected to have the backing of major retailers.

Sarah Cordey spokesperson for the BRC said  "There have been a few isolated incidents of items on sale that has created this myth that there's a lot of provocative clothing out there....No retailer wants to put stuff in their shops that upsets customers and that people don't want to buy - that's not good business. Responsible retailers carefully assess which products are right to have on their shelves and are anxious to keep consumers happy".

As a parent, I can honestly say that the proliferation of age inappropriate sexual imagery, in the market place/media space frequented by children, is making it difficult for me to stop by children being exposed to it.  Any improvement would be welcome.