Focus on the Food – Not Calories – to Lower Cancer, Chronic Disease Risk

Heart disease, cancer and diabetes together cause about 1.3 million deaths each year in the US. A key lifestyle strategy for preventing and/or managing these diseases is getting to and staying a healthy weight. But losing weight – and keeping it off – is hard, and though many people are able to improve their weight, many more struggle to be successful.

Last month an editorial in Open Heart made a strong case that it’s time to stop counting calories and instead, focus on WHAT you eat.

A healthy diet, with plenty of vegetables and healthy fats, has both quick results for better health and long-term benefits for weight, argue the authors. They cite studies looking at how shifting to a healthy diet can lead to immediate positive effect on cardiovascular disease and diabetes. One of their examples is from the PREDIMED study where participants who ate a Mediterranean, plant-based diet with nuts and olive oil, but not calorie restriction, showed lower rates of type 2 diabetes and improved metabolic health.

We also know – from AICR’s evidence-based recommendations – that eating a diet built on plant foods like vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, can reduce risk for many cancers, including colorectal and endometrial.

NAPC Infographic_Sept18UpdateBut survey after survey finds that the vast majority of adults and kids in our country are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Continue reading

Drinking Water Before Meals May Help You Lose Weight

Does the old weight loss advice to drink water before a meal really help? A new study says it just might. Finding simple, low-cost and effective strategies for weight loss could mean lower cancer risk for thousands of Americans every year because too much body fat is a cause of ten cancers, including colorectal and post-menopausal breast.

The 12 week study, published in Obesity, randomized 84 obese adults into two groups: one group was told to drink 2 cups of water 30 minutes before meals and the other to imagine their stomachs were full 30 minutes before their meals. All participants were given a half hour session on weight management strategies and all received a follow-up phone call later to gauge how closely they were following their plan – either water drinking or stomach imagining. The researchers also sent them text messages reminders and participants completed questionnaires about compliance throughout the study.

Both groups lost weight, but the water drinking group lost, on average, about 3 pounds more than those who imagined full stomachs. About one-third of the water drinkers did so 3 times per day. Even more impressive is that they lost an average of 8 pounds more than those who reported drinking water 0-1 times per day before meals. Continue reading

Study: use your bathroom scale and simple goals to lose weight

For those working to lose weight, hopping on that bathroom scale daily, having goals and charting your progress may be simple but effective ways to bump up weight loss, suggests a new study published today.

The study, published in the Journal of Obesity, adds to a body of research finding that dieters who track their weight have better success at both weight loss and maintenance.  And for lower cancer risk, weight is important. Being overweight and obese is a cause of ten cancers, including postmenopausal breast, colorectal and liver. AICR’s top Recommendation for Cancer Prevention is for people to stay a healthy weight.

This study was held over two years and it started with approximately 150 participants all learning the same evidence-based strategies for weight loss. Everyone was encouraged to make small healthy changes but they weren’t given a specific diet or exercise plan.

The men and women were then divided into two groups. One group was given a scale and asked to weigh themselves daily, preferably in the morning, and then enter their weight on a (password-protected) website. They were directed to aim for 10% weight loss that first year then maintain it the second year. The website gave each person a chart that tracked their progress along with visualization of goal weights. The chart showed trends, having a line appear 1% below the person’s current weight for a new target weight. (After maintaining that target weight for 8 days, the green line lowered another 1% on the chart.)

 example of weigh-loss visal, with goals and trends

example of weight-loss visual, with goals and trends

The second group was told they would receive the weight-loss intervention after a year. Continue reading