Gower to study if breakfast choice helps or hinders fat burningYou might want to think twice before grabbing a pastry or doughnut for breakfast. A University of Alabama at Birmingham professor says research in animals suggests that eating a high-carbohydrate breakfast might turn off the body’s ability to burn fat throughout the day.
To find out if a high-carbohydrate breakfast has the same effect in humans, Barbara Gower, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences in the School of Health Professions, has received a $160,000 grant from the Egg Nutrition Center to study whether the kind of food eaten at breakfast can affect metabolic health.
“Morning appears to be the time of the day when your body is geared up to burn fat,” said Gower.
Studies with mice conducted by sub-investigator Molly Bray, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health, showed that fat intake at the time of waking takes advantage of the body’s natural inclination to burn fat at this time, and allows the animal to respond to different types of food later in the day.
Conversely, mice given a high-carbohydrate meal as the first meal of the day impaired the animals’ ability to burn fat later in the day; they also were fatter at the end of the study and their blood-lipid profile was worse. Gower said this study might translate to humans.
“Your first meal of the day appears to program your metabolism for the rest of the day,” said Gower. “If you eat a high-carbohydrate meal first thing in the morning, such as white bread or a doughnut, your body may shut off its fat-burning activity. That could lead to obesity and elevated triglycerides, which, in turn, could increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes.”
Gower wants to determine if eating a mixed macronutrient meal instead of a meal high in simple carbohydrates will make people healthier and lower their risk for diabetes or heart disease.
“The concept we’re examining is that you burn more fuel and burn it more efficiently if you eat the right fuel at the right time of the day,” said Gower. “Eating foods higher in fat and protein, such as eggs or meat in combination with other healthful foods low in refined carbohydrates, such as dairy products, whole-grain products, and whole fruit for breakfast, is what your metabolism is designed to burn.”
Gower is recruiting 30 adults, both men and women ages 55-75 for the study. Participants will be given all breakfast foods. They also will be given instructions for eating healthful, well-balanced lunches and dinners. If you are interested in participating in the clinical trial in the Birmingham area, contact 205-934-4386.
New tool to fight obesity approved - but more are needed
The newly approved anti-obesity drug lorcaserin is "a step in the right direction and we hope that in the future we see additional and different anti-obesity drugs approved,” says David B. Allison, Ph.D., distinguished professor and associate dean for science in the UABSchool of Public Health.
More than one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese, which can lead to many related conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lorcaserin is to be used in addition to a reduced-calorie diet and exercise program in adults with a body mass index of more than 30 (obese) or for those with a BMI of more than 27 (overweight) who also suffer from at least one weight-related condition, according to the FDA.
Allison says orlistat and phentermine were the only other FDA-approved weight-loss drugs available, prior to lorcaserin's approval, but both have drawbacks of their own. Orlistat is very safe, but with modest efficacy, says Allison, and phentermine has slightly better efficacy but is not approved for long term use.
“An additional drug in the arsenal is very important because not everybody responds to drugs in the same way, so having another drug gives more options to try,” Allison explains.
As for why there are currently so few approved anti-obesity drugs, Allison points to a concern he says is legitimate.
“There is a worry that many non-obese persons who want to lose a modest amount of weight for cosmetic or social reasons will get access to these drugs,” Allison says. “This is a legitimate concern, but we should not let the fact that some people will use or try to use a medication outside it's appropriate use prevent us from getting that drug to patients who legitimately need and can benefit from it.”
W. Timothy Garvey, M.D., chair of the UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences, says the approval of a new anti-obesity drug has been a long time coming, as clinicians have faced a void for therapeutic options to offer patients in addition to lifestyle modification and bariatric surgery.