Elsevier journal raises awareness of role of obesity on the occasion of World Diabetes Day

Study points to relationships between TV viewing, snacking and weight gain.

Amsterdam, 15 November 2004 – Obesity and type 2 diabetes currently threaten the health, well-being and economic welfare of virtually every country in the world. In fact, over 1.7 billion of the world’s population currently are at risk for developing a weight-related disease such as type 2 diabetes. As part of this year’s World Diabetes Day activities on November 14 sponsored by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), organizers are urging people to “Fight Obesity Prevent Diabetes” to raise the visibility of this insidious disease and slow the rapid rise in its worldwide prevalence.

Studies have shown that by making behavioral changes in their eating habits and levels of physical activity, individuals can lose weight and, in many cases, delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. In one related study published in Elsevier’s Eating Behaviors, a journal focusing on prevention and treatment of obesity and promotion of healthy eating patterns, a team of researchers from the School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, in the United States, looked at two types of eating behaviours - meals and snacking - and the impact TV had on each.

After surveying 74 overweight women who had sought treatment for obesity and assessing the women’s daily food intake and TV viewing habits, the researchers were able to point to specific behaviors leading to higher caloric and fat intake which could, in fact, be a target for weight loss or weight gain prevention interventions. The team specifically identified snacking in front of the TV as a detrimental behaviour, positively associated with both total caloric intake and fat intake.

"The importance of this study is that it highlights the significance of specific environmental factors contributing to the worldwide epidemic of obesity and diabetes,” said Dr. Peter M. Miller, Editor-in-Chief, Eating Behaviors. “Research of this nature may one day lead to behavioral prescriptions designed to break the cycle between unhealthy eating patterns, weight gain, and the development of chronic disease."

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