Category Archives: Overweight

Belly Fat: What’s up with coconut oil?

Coconut oil as been found to reduce abdominal fat and waist circumference. 

A study showed that two groups were given either 30 grams (2 TB) of coconut oil or soybean oil each day over a 4 month period.  The coconut oil group had a decrease in waist circumference,  increase in HDL (good cholesterol), and decrease in LDL/HDL ratio when compared to the soybean oil group. (too much LDL can cause heart disease).  Both groups did loose total weight but the soybean oil group actually had a slight increase in abdominal weight1.  Another study compared two groups eating long chain fats to medium chain fats.  The group that ate the medium chain fats had lower: BMI, waist and hip circumference, subcutaneous and visceral fat, and total body fat.  Blood triglycerides were also lower.2  Another study using virgin coconut oil showed decreased waist circumference only.3

Why does coconut oil decrease abdominal fat?  It has to do with the medium chain fats that make up coconut oil. These fats are transported directly and quickly from the blood to the liver then to your cell’s mitochondria (the cell’s energy producing powerhouse).  Your cells such as those in your muscles are able to burn energy from the medium chain fats very efficiently.   Medium chain fats actually help increase your energy expenditure and the burning of fat or in other words your metabolism is increased.4,5

Subcutaneous fat is just below your skin while visceral fat is located in the abdominal region and between organs.    Too much visceral fat can be a problem leading to increase risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer.6 

A little side note:  Coconut oil is a fat and albeit a healthy one, it still is high in calories.  Its best to not add coconut oil to your diet but replace some of your daily fats with it.

Questions to ask your self:  Have you had your waist circumference measured measured lately?  How can you incorporate coconut oil healthily into your daily eating habits?

  

1.  Assuncao ML, et. al.  Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obestiy. Lipids. 2009 Jul;44(7):593-601.
2. Xue C, et al.  Consumption of medicum and long chain triacylglycerols decreases body fat and blood triglyceride in Chinese hypertriglyceridemic subjects.  Eur J Clin Nutr.  2009.  Jul; 63(7): 879-86.
3. Kai ML, et al.  An open label pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of virgin coconut oil in reducing viseral adiposity.  ISRN Pharmacol. 2011.
4.  Papamandjaris AA, et al.  Medium chain fatty acid metabolism and energy expenditure: obesity treatment implications.  Life Sci. 1998. 62(14):1203-15.
5. St-Onge MP and Jones PJ.  Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium chain triglyceride consumption relative to long chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue.  Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord.  2003. Dec;27(12):1565-71.
6.  Klein, Samuel, The case for visceral fat: argument for the defense. J Clin Invest. 2004. 113:11

Vitamin D and its orgins in adiposity

There has been so much interest in Vitamin D and the research is ongoing.

Here is a what they have found: “Lower vitamin D status was associated with lower fat mass in the offspring at birth but with greater fat mass at ages 4 and 6 y.”  Interesting!

Maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy is associated with adiposity in the offspring: findings from the Southampton Women’s Survey.

Could Low Vitamin D Be a Piece of the Childhood Obesity Puzzle?

Staying fit as a parent, help your child maintain a healthy weight

What!!  Yes, its true.  You have a big responsibly to stay fit as a parent.  Why?  Because parental obesity before pregnancy and up through your child’s adolescence years is a very strong prediction factor to your child being overweight.  Its as simple as that-stay fit.  But harder to make the changes so start now!!  Don’t be discouraged either ~ Can your genes be changed after you are born?–click here.

Source: Jääskeläinen A, et al,  Intergenerational transmission of overweight among Finnish adolescents and their parents: a 16-year follow-up study., Int J Obes (Lond). 2011 Oct;35(10):1289-94.

Maternal weight gain and risk for obesity in offspring

Yes, you can influence your child’s weight during pregnancy.  A study done in Finland showed that a maternal weight gain of more than 7 kg (or 15.4 pounds) in the first 20 weeks of gestation predicts overweight/obesity (using BMI) and abdominal obesity in adolescence.  However, an even stronger predictor of adolescent overweight/obesity and abdominal obesity was maternal obesity before pregnancy.

If you fall in this category, and you want your children to be as healthy as possible, not all hope is lost.  Please see the post on how lifestyle behaviors can change those children that have predetermined obesity risks.

Source: Laitinen J, et al, Maternal weight gain during the first half of pregnancy and offspring obesity at 16 years: a prospective cohort study, 2012 May;119(6):716-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03319.x.

Can eating 5 meals a day reduce your child’s risk for obesity?

The answer is “Yes!” based on a 2013 Northern Finland Birth Cohort study of adolescents aged 16 years.  The data collection on the population began prenatally up until the age of 16 years.

Previously, the results of a study on the same Finnish population showed that environmental factors such as physical activity could modify the effect of common obesity-susceptibility gene variants.  This means that those children who carried the genes associated with the risk for obesity could stop their predisposition to obesity by modifying their lifestyle behaviors. The researchers also showed in a previous study that eating 5 meals a day reduced abdominal obesity in children.

Specifically, for this current study,  two meal patterns where looked at:  those that ate 5 meals per day and those that ate 4 meals or less per day on the relation between obesity-related genotypes and body mass index (BMI) among the 16 year olds.   A genetic risk score (a multiple-locus indicator based on eight obesity-susceptibility loci) and a separate analysis of the effects of two well-established obesity loci, FTO and MC4R, on BMI were analyzed.

Results showed:

  1. A 5 meal a day pattern (including breakfast) decreased the predisposition to increasing BMI
  2. Those that skipped breakfast had a greater increase in BMI

I loved reading up on this study because it shows that even though you may be born with a set of genetic predispositions to obesity you still have the power to be at a healthy weight.  And it starts in childhood.  What power parents have to influence their kids and impact their health!!  Interested in the effect of maternal weigth gain and obesity risk? Click here

Source: PLOS One, September 2013 | Volume 8 | Issue 9 | e73802: Jaaskelainen A, Schwab U, Kolehmainen M, Kaakinen M, Savolainen MJ, et al. (2013) Meal Frequencies Modify the Effect of Common Genetic Variants on Body Mass Index in Adolescents of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986. PLoS ONE 8(9): e73802. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073802