Today’s Headlines: Fat Shaming, Anxiety Pills and Fructose

Fat shaming leads to weight gain. Trashing someone for being overweight doesn’t work according to a new study out this week. Almost 3,000 adults were asked if they had experienced discrimination because of their weight. “About 5 percent said they had experienced such fat shaming. Over a four-year period, those who reported weight discrimination gained about 2 pounds (0.95 kilograms) on average, while those who did not report weight discrimination lost about 1.5 pounds (0.71 kg).” The authors say discrimination likely leads to comfort eating and decreased confidence exercising in public, resulting in weight gain. The researchers say their “study clearly shows that weight discrimination is part of the obesity problem and not the solution.” (Fox)

Drugs used for sleep and anxiety linked to dementia. Benzodiazepines like Xanax or Valium are drugs often used both as sleep aids and to calm the anxious. But a new study has now found that “past benzodiazepine use for three months or more was linked to an increased risk (up to 51%) of dementia.” To ensure the sleep issues and anxiety warranting drug use weren’t just early symptoms, researchers looked for prolonged use at least five years before the onset. The time interval used in the study is longer than is typically recommended for use of these medications. Per the authors, “it seems crucial to encourage physicians to carefully balance the benefits and risks when starting or continuing a treatment [with these medications].” (TIME)

Counteracting fructose may require miles of walking. High fructose corn syrup can be found in a wide variety of foods in the American diet. Several studies have found the sugar has unhealthy effects on the body, but a new study has found that exercise may help to counter those effects. In looking at how a diet high in fructose affected a group of college students, researchers found that “Two weeks of extra fructose left them with clear signs of incipient insulin resistance, which is typically the first step toward Type 2 diabetes. But walking at least 12,000 steps a day effectively wiped out all of the disagreeable changes wrought by the extra fructose. When the young people moved more, their cholesterol and blood sugar levels remained normal, even though they were consuming plenty of fructose every day.” Unfortunately, 12,000 steps (five to six miles) is a lot for most Americans, who average a little over 5,000. (NYT)