New York, Jan 1 (AP/UNB) — If you're planning to try to lose weight in 2019, you're sure to find a fierce debate online and among friends and family about how best to do it. It seems like everyone has an opinion, and new fads emerge every year.
Two major studies last year provided more fuel for a particularly polarizing topic — the role carbs play in making us fat. The studies gave scientists some clues, but, like other nutrition studies, they can't say which diet — if any — is best for everyone.
That's not going to satisfy people who want black-and-white answers, but nutrition research is extremely difficult and even the most respected studies come with big caveats. People are so different that it's all but impossible to conduct studies that show what really works over long periods of time.
Before embarking on a weight loss plan for the new year, here's a look at some of what was learned last year.
Fewer carbs, fewer pounds?
It's no longer called the Atkins Diet, but the low-carb school of dieting has been enjoying a comeback. The idea is that the refined carbohydrates in foods like white bread are quickly converted into sugar in our bodies, leading to energy swings and hunger.
By cutting carbs, the claim is that weight loss will be easier because your body will instead burn fat for fuel while feeling less hungry. A recent study seems to offer more support for low-carb proponents. But, like many studies, it tried to understand just one sliver of how the body works.
The study , led by an author of books promoting low-carb diets, looked at whether varying carb levels might affect how the body uses energy. Among 164 participants, it found those on low-carb diets burned more calories in a resting state than those on high-carb diets.
The study did not say people lost more weight on a low-carb diet — and didn't try to measure that. Meals and snacks were tightly controlled and continually adjusted so everyone's weights stayed stable.
David Ludwig, the paper's lead author and a researcher at Boston Children's Hospital, said it suggests limiting carbs could make it easier for people to keep weight off once they've lost it. He said the approach might work best for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Ludwig noted the study wasn't intended to test long-term health effects or real-world scenarios where people make their own food. The findings also need to be replicated to be validated, he said.
Caroline Apovian of Boston University's School of Medicine said the findings are interesting fodder for the scientific community, but that they shouldn't be taken as advice for the average person looking to lose weight.
Do I avoid fat to be skinny?
For years people were advised to curb fats , which are found in foods including meat, nuts, eggs, butter and oil. Cutting fat was seen as a way to control weight, since a gram of fat has twice as many calories than the same amount of carbs or protein.
Many say the advice had the opposite effect by inadvertently giving us license to gobble up fat-free cookies, cakes and other foods that were instead full of the refined carbs and sugars now blamed for our wider waistlines.
Nutrition experts gradually moved away from blanket recommendations to limit fats for weight loss. Fats are necessary for absorbing important nutrients and can help us feel full. That doesn't mean you have to subsist on steak drizzled in butter to be healthy.
Bruce Y. Lee, a professor of international health at Johns Hopkins, said the lessons learned from the anti-fat fad should be applied to the anti-carb fad: don't oversimplify advice.
"There's a constant look for an easy way out," Lee said.
So which is better?
Another big study this past year found low-carb diets and low-fat diets were about equally as effective for weight loss. Results varied by individual, but after a year, people in both groups shed an average of 12 to 13 pounds.
The author noted the findings don't contradict Ludwig's low-carb study. Instead, they suggest there may be some flexibility in the ways we can lose weight. Participants in both groups were encouraged to focus on minimally processed foods like produce and meat prepared at home. Everyone was advised to limit added sugar and refined flour.
"If you got that foundation right, for many, that would be an enormous change," said Chris Gardner of Stanford University and one of the study's authors.
Limiting processed foods could improve most diets by cutting down overall calories, while still leaving wiggle room for people's preferences. That's important, because for a diet to be effective, a person has to be able to stick to it. A breakfast of fruit and oatmeal may be filling for one person, but leave another hungry soon after.
Gardner notes the study had its limitations, too. Participants' diets weren't controlled. People were instead instructed on how to achieve eating a low-carb or low-fat in regular meetings with dietitians, which may have provided a support network most dieters don't have.
So, what works?
In the short term you can probably lose weight by eating only raw foods, or going vegan, or cutting out gluten, or following another diet plan that catches your eye. But what will work for you over the long term is a different question.
Zhaoping Li, director of clinical nutrition division at the University of California, Los Angeles, says there is no a single set of guidelines that help everyone lose weight and keep it off. It's why diets often fail — they don't factor into account the many factors that drive us to eat what we do.
To help people lose weight, Li examines her patients' eating and physical activity routines to identify improvements people will be able to live with.
"What sticks is what matters," Li said.
Saddle Brook, Dec 25 (AP/UNB) — The New Jersey Department of Health says more than 3,000 patients at a surgery center may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Officials say patients who had procedures done at the HealthPlus Surgery Center in Saddle Brook between January 2018 and Sept. 7, 2018 may have been exposed.
Surgery center administrator Betty McCabe says the exposure was due to "deficiencies in infection control" involving the cleaning of instruments and injection of medications. McCabe says 3,778 patients are being urged to get their blood tested.
The health department says the risk of infection is low, and no illnesses have been reported. The department called it "an abundance of caution" to suggest that people be tested.
McCabe says the center is offering to pay medical costs associated with testing.
Canberra, Dec 19 (Xinhua/UNB) -A "revolutionary" cancer drug that supercharges immune cells to hunt and kill cancer cells has been approved for human use in Australia.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) on Wednesday announced that CAR-T therapy has been approved for use in pediatric and young adult patients with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and adults with diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL).
CAR-T therapy trains immune cells to fight and kill cancer cells by first extracting them from a patient's body to genetically re-engineer them before infusing them back into the body.
Prior to the TGA approving the treatment, patients with aggressive blood cancers who had exhausted all other treatments had been traveling overseas to be treated.
Daniel Clarke, 45, traveled with his family to the United States so he could receive CAR-T treatment for his DLBCL. Within one month his cancer had vanished.
"I felt like someone had just handed my life back to me," he told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.
"It has all happened so quickly. Late September we (went to Boston) not knowing what to expect, hoping for the best, fearing the worst. Then come November I was in complete remission."
Global pharmaceutical giant Novartis owns the therapy and has already increased production to keep up with global demand.
"We are focused on ramping up capacity at our U.S. and Switzerland facilities and we recently announced a collaboration agreement for additional manufacturing capacity with Fraunhofer (Germany) and CellforCure (France)," spokesperson Lauren Carey said.
"These additional manufacturing facilities are intended to support production on a global scale."
However, CAR-T therapy is not classified as a "drug", so it cannot be subsidized by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Patients who undergo the treatment in Australia face an out-of-pocket cost of up to 598,000 Australian dollars.
Greg Hunt, Australia's Minister for Health, has flagged his intention to have the treatment subsidized as soon as possible.
New York, Dec 15 (AP/UNB) — Johnson & Johnson on Friday forcefully denied a media report that it knew for decades about the existence of trace amounts of asbestos in its baby powder.
The report by the Reuters news service sent the company's shares into a tailspin, suffering their worst one-day sell-off in 16 years.
Reuters cited documents released as part of a lawsuit by plaintiffs claiming that the product can be linked to ovarian cancer. The New Brunswick, New Jersey company has battled in court against such claims and on Friday called the Reuters report "one-sided, false and inflammatory."
Johnson & Johnson's stock fell $14.84, or 10 percent, to close Friday at $133, its most severe single-day decline since 2002.
In the report, Reuters noted documents show consulting labs as early as 1957 and 1958 found asbestos in J&J talc. Further reports by the company and outside labs showed similar findings through the early 2000s, according to the Reuters story.
In its statement Friday, Johnson & Johnson said "thousands of independent tests by regulators and the world's leading labs prove our baby powder has never contained asbestos."
Washington, Dec 14 (AP/UNB) — Melania Trump spread her anti-bullying message on an annual Christmas season visit to a Washington children's hospital on Thursday, reading a story about a Christmas ornament named Oliver who is bullied by other ornaments in a family's collection.
"Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year," the first lady said after she finished reading "Oliver the Ornament" at Children's National Health System. The author, Todd Zimmerman, sat a few feet away.
Mrs. Trump launched an initiative earlier this year to teach kindness to children, naming it Be Best.
Zimmerman thanked the first lady "from the bottom of my heart" for inviting him to be part of the visit, an annual tradition that dates to first lady Bess Truman, who served in the role from the mid-1940s to 1953.
"It is such an honor and I'm humbled by your kindness," Zimmerman added. "I also want to thank you for everything you do to promote kindness through your Be Best foundation and all of your daily activities. It's that same type of kindness that we're trying to promote with 'Oliver the Ornament' and it's that same message that I hope all of you receive this Christmas season and throughout the entire year."
Mrs. Trump is using the initiative to encourage children and young people to be kind online.
The first lady recently told ABC News during an interview in which she promoted Be Best that she could be "the most bullied person" in the world, judging by "what people are saying about me." Critics have pointed out that her husband, President Donald Trump, routinely mocks people on Twitter.
Before taking a seat in front of a towering Christmas tree in the hospital's atrium, Mrs. Trump toured part of the neonatal intensive care unit and met with three families and children who had been treated there after they were born prematurely at 24 weeks.
The two boys and one girl, ages 16 months to 6 years old, each weighed about 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) at birth.
Mrs. Trump sat with the families while the children played and listened as Nikki Watkinson told the story of her son Grayson's early delivery in her husband's truck during a snowstorm.
"You will have an incredible story to tell him," the first lady replied.