Have you ever eaten a single potato chip or French fry that sent you spiraling into nearly uncontrollable gluttony? Scientists are now saying that these sober binges are actually quite similar to pot smokers’ notorious bouts of the munchies: fatty foods cause your body to release marijuana-like chemicals called endocannabinoids, and this likely compels you to continue stuffing your face.
The tiny device, called abiliti and made by Intrapace, attaches to the vagus nerve, which sends status updates about the body’s organs to the brain. The pacemaker then hacks the nervous system’s normal communication, according to the company’s website:
The abiliti system is designed to support these good habits by making the patient feel full sooner when eating. The abiliti system may also help in keeping them satisfied longer and helping them to eat less frequently.
Intrapace reports that the 65 study participants in the initial trials have lost on average 22 percent of their body weight; the biggest loser dropped 38 percent. (These results haven’t been published or peer-reviewed.)
What monkey mothers eat has a large impact on how skittish their offspring act in stressful situations like stranger danger–or the presence of a Mr. Potato Head in their cage.
According to researchers, even normal monkeys find the toy’s large eyes to be “mildly stressful.” But baby monkeys from mothers who were fed a high-fat diet (over 35 percent of calories from fat, modeled after a typical American diet) had a much stronger reaction to an encounter with the spud man, and also spazzed in the presence of an unknown human.
The study, presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual conference, found that in stressful situations, the female offspring were more anxious and the males more aggressive, explains LiveScience:
Butter Franklin was one of several fat sculptures, an annual presence at the fair. After the 2007 farm show, USDA biochemist Michael J. Haas suggested that fair organizers should convert the rancid sculpture into biofuel, The New York Times reports.
BlackGold Biofuels took on the task, which involved replacing glycerin in the butter with a methanol molecule to form biodiesel. Franklin proved that 800 pounds of butter saved is 75 gallons of biodiesel fuel and lower-grade bunker fuel earned.
The company’s real mission is to convert agricultural waste, not edible butter, into fuel, since butter is fairly costly to produce. As BlackGold executive Emily Landsburg told the The New York Times, dismantling the founding father was “not a typical day at the office.” The butter-to-biofuel pathway probably won’t catch on, Landsburg said, because “the number of rancid butter sculptures in the U.S. is probably not significant.”
Discoblog: All Aboard the Beef Train–Amtrak Debuts a Train Running on Beef Biofuel
Discoblog: Dr. 90210 Powers SUV with Liposuctioned Fat
Discoblog: Finally! A Self-Sustaining, Sewage-Processing, Poop-Powered Rocket
Discoblog: This Poop Mobile Could Get All Its Energy From 70 Homes’ Worth of Methane
Image: flickr / pwbaker
Fat is normally not a word associated with anorexics, but researchers at the Children’s Hospital Boston suggest that people who suffer from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa have some fat stashed away in a surprising place. They may not have a thick layer of fleshy insulation like people with regular amounts of fat, but anorexics do store fat in their bone marrow–with detrimental results. The findings will be published in the February issue of Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
In the study, researchers took MRI scans of the knees of 40 girls, half of whom were anorexic and the other half healthy. The average age of these girls was 16. Radiologists who studied the MRIs found that girls with anorexia had very high fat content in their knees and less than half as much healthy red marrow.
The elite online dating club BeautifulPeople.com (yes, this is a real Web site), trimmed 5,000 members from its service because they appear to have indulged in too much Christmas ham.
Feast your eyes on this excerpt from the company’s statement, via CNN:
“As a business, we mourn the loss of any member, but the fact remains that our members demand the high standard of beauty be upheld,” said Robert Hintze, founder of BeautifulPeople.com. “Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which BeautifulPeople.com was founded.”
Publicity stunt? Probably. Shocking? Hardly. When vain folks sign up for a service so they can be rated by a group of narcissistic pretty people this is bound to happen.
If you’re one of the expelled 5,000, don’t let this get you down. The company says you’re welcome to reapply—after the love handles are gone, of course.
Discoblog: New Theory: Plastic Can Make You Fat?
Discoblog: Fighting Child Obesity, One Bake Sale at a Time
Discoblog: Researchers Discover How Ice Cream Controls Your Brain
• Gardak! To learn about children and language, Dad speaks to son only in Klingon for first three years of the child’s life.
• In Soviet Russia, blog writes you! Maksim Suraev, a Russian cosmonaut, joins the blogosphere with a healthy dose of cold war humor about life on the International Space Station.
• Wisconsin looks to become the first state to recognize an official state microbe. Of course the bacterium, Lactococcus lactis, ferments the state’s $18 billion per year cheese industry.
• An Italian art collector found a mummified tooth, thumb, and finger of Galileo Galilei that have been missing since 1905, according to Florence’s History of Science museum.
Why do some people never get fat, while most of Americans do? Sure, one can blame eating too much popcorn and junk food and not getting enough exercise for the extra weight—but our eating habits may not be the only factor that determines our chubby destiny, argues University of California, Irvine’s Bruce Blumberg. There’s growing evidence that our exposure to plastic compounds —specifically obesogens—can disrupt the body’s metabolism, enough to make us gain weight.
Planet Green reports:
No one’s blaming these compounds for the country’s entire obesity epidemic—fast food and lack of exercise are not off the hook—but emerging research points to them as one cause of the unexplained tendency for some individuals to gain weight no matter what (or how little) they eat or how much they exercise. Obesogens seem to have the ability to disrupt the fundamental rule of weight management and body chemistry: weight gain occurs when calorie consumption exceeds the amount of energy burned.
It’s all about the timing and the amount of exposure to the plastic. Preventing adult weight loss might be too late, if it’s really childhood exposure to plastics that leads to a lifetime of weight problems.
Newsweek reported recently that:
In 2006 scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that the prevalence of obesity in infants under 6 months had risen 73 percent since 1980. “This epidemic of obese 6-month-olds,” as endocrinologist Robert Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco, calls it, poses a problem for conventional explanations of the fattening of America. “Since they’re eating only formula or breast milk, and never exactly got a lot of exercise, the obvious explanations for obesity don’t work for babies,” he points out. “You have to look beyond the obvious.”
While plastics appear to be linked to obesity, scientists aren’t exactly sure how yet. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to exercise and eat right, minimize your exposure to plastics, and yes, hope that you have the skinny gene.
DISCOVER: The Dirty Truth About Plastic
Image: flickr/ Phoney Nickle
Remember the guy from Super Size Me who ate about 23,000 Bic Macs and never got fat? Ever wonder how he did it? Turns out he may have been born without the “fat enzyme.”
The enzyme MGAT2 is found in the intestines and determines the fate of our food by regulating how it is metabolized: It either makes fat go straight to your waistline, or converts it into energy. Scientists in California have discovered that when mice are missing the gene for MGAT2, they can eat whatever they want and never have to worry about getting fat.
The University of California at San Francisco knocked out the gene in experimental mice to see how their bodies grew after feeding them different diets. When the normal and experimental mice were fed a diet low in fat, both sets of mice grew the same way. But when the mice were eating a 60 percent fat diet (i.e., a typical American diet), the experimental mice weighed 40 percent less and had 50 percent less fat than the normal mice.
A Beverly Hills liposurgeon has been accused of using his patients’ liposuctioned fat to fuel his and his girlfriend’s SUVs. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this story is that no one came up with the lipo-fat-as-fuel idea before.
Give Dr. Alan Bittner this: He was never secretive about what happened to the leftover liposuction fat from his practice, Beverly Hills Liposculpture. According to Forbes.com, he even ran a Web site dedicated to human fat fuel. On the now defunct lipodiesel.com, Bittner wrote, “The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel—and I have more fat than I can use… Not only do they get to lose their love handles or chubby belly but they get to take part in saving the Earth.”
Experts say animal fat is just as good as vegetable fat and a gallon of either will get you about the same mileage as a gallon of regular diesel. The only caveat is that animal fat requires an additional processing step to remove free fatty acids. Due to a recent surge in soybean oil prices, biodiesel manufacturers say that over half of this year’s biodiesel came from animal sources, such as pig lard. Other new sources of biofuel include turkey feathers (see the DISCOVER story Anything Into Oil), coffee grounds, pond scum, and rainforest fungus.