Girls who feel unpopular more likely to get fat

By Anne Harding
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Adolescent girls who rank themselves at the bottom of the social totem pole are more likely to gain weight over time than their peers with a more positive view of their social standing, new research shows.
Based on these findings, programs aiming to prevent overweight and obesity in teen girls should focus on helping them feel better about themselves, as well as improving their eating and exercise habits, study co-author Adina R. Lemeshow told Reuters Health.
In the study, conducted while Lemeshow was a graduate student at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, the researchers followed 4,446 girls aged 12 to 18 for 2 years. All were asked to rank their social standing on a 10-point "ladder," with the bottom being "people who no one respects and no one wants to hang around with" and "people in your school with the most respect and the highest standing" at the top.
The average self-ranking was 7.7, while just 4 percent of the girls ranked themselves at 4 or below. After adjusting for several factors that could influence both social status and weight gain, such as body mass index (BMI) at the study's outset, household income, and self-esteem, the researchers found that the girls who considered themselves to have the lowest social status were 69 percent more likely to have a 2-point increase in BMI over the following 2 years.
This is equivalent to gaining about 11 pounds more than expected, Lemeshow, who now works for the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, said in an interview.
"For girls, it could be useful to have programs that focus on personal skills or how to face social problems and challenges" when seeking to prevent obesity, she said.
In an editorial accompanying the study, Drs. Clea McNeely and Robert Crosnoe of Johns Hopkins University point out that low social, political and economic status are known to be fundamental causes of disease.
The current study findings suggest that self-perceived, subjective social status can also lead to illness, they note. But interventions designed to address obesity in the context of social status must be designed carefully, they add.
"Grouping together multiple at-risk youth to deliver some behavioral intervention can make things worse by creating a new peer culture organized around the very behaviors that the intervention was trying to change."
McNeely and Crosnoe call for a better understanding of how teens influence one another's health behavior to ensure that such interventions are effective.
SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, January 2008.

Promising Diabetes Study

Sirtris Reports Promising Diabetes Study

By KEITH J. WINSTEINJanuary 8, 2008

Sirtris Pharmaceuticals Inc. said its formulation of resveratrol, a substance found in red wine, helped diabetics lower their blood sugar in an early-stage clinical trial.
Sirtris, Cambridge, Mass., is working on commercializing resveratrol and related drugs to fight a number of diseases. Advocates suspect resveratrol may also increase life span, though that hasn't yet been shown.

Sirtris released results yesterday from an early-stage study involving 98 diabetics at an investor conference sponsored by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in San Francisco. It is the first study to show beneficial effects in humans from resveratrol. Previous studies had focused on mice and rats.
"We chose diabetes because it's a big market, but the biology says the drug could work on any number of diseases," said David Sinclair, a professor at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Sirtris. The company has said 2012 is the earliest it could get to the market with a diabetes drug, which would happen only if further phases of clinical testing in much larger groups of patients are successful.

In the so-called Phase-1b study, Sirtris gave daily doses of resveratrol to 67 diabetics who weren't on other treatment. It gave placebos to 31 others. The study took place in India.
After 28 days, those taking resveratrol had improved their scores on an oral glucose-tolerance test, which measures the body's ability to break down and use sugar, a fundamental problem for diabetics. Those taking the placebo didn't show an improvement.

Resveratrol also seemed to lower base-line levels of glucose in the blood, though that result wasn't statistically significant. None of the patients reported a significant side effect, the company said.

Write to Keith J. Winstein at

Can sleep trouble cause diabetes?

Can sleep trouble cause diabetes?
U. OF C. STUDY Volunteers who were roused needed more insulin
January 1, 2008

BY JIM RITTER Health Reporter/

Researchers have identified a possible new risk factor for diabetes: not getting a good night's sleep.

In a small study, University of Chicago researchers tested the theory on nine healthy young adults in a sleep lab.
For three nights, researchers prevented volunteers from getting the deepest and most restorative type of sleep.
Afterward, volunteers' bodies did not use insulin as well as before: they needed more insulin to dispose of the same amount of a sugar solution.
This reduced insulin sensitivity was comparable to the effect of gaining 20 or 30 pounds.
Earlier studies found that not getting enough sleep can increase the risk of obesity and diabetes.
The U. of C. study is the first to suggest that not getting the right kind of sleep also could increase diabetes risk.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers monitored volunteers' brain waves. As soon as volunteers started to enter deep "slow-wave" sleep, researchers sounded acoustic tones. If that didn't rouse volunteers, researchers spoke their names over the intercom or gently nudged them. Sleep was disrupted 250 to 300 times a night.
Volunteers typically had vague memories of hearing noises only three or four times. But they woke up feeling tired and cranky.
Volunteers were aged 20 to 31. But they slept like they were 40 years older. People in their 20s typically get 80 to 100 minutes of slow-wave sleep, while those over age 60 get less than 20 minutes.
If you're spending an adequate amount of time sleeping, but still wake up tired, you might not be getting enough slow-wave sleep. This often happens to people with obstructive sleep apnea.
Obesity and aging are two big risk factors for diabetes. Obesity and aging also reduce sleep quality, further increasing the risk of diabetes, researchers said.