By: Tracey Rose
Spending time outdoors in sub-zero temperatures isn’t the ideal weight loss plan, but lowering the thermometer a few degrees and exposing the body to colder temperatures in moderation can aid in the fight against obesity. Extreme conditions aren’t needed to see results. New research suggests that while many people keep their indoor temperatures closer to 70 degrees in an effort to stay comfortable, lowering it to the mid 60s can make a difference.
The journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism published evidence from researchers in the Netherlands that shows how body temperature regulation aids weight loss. Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt and his team at the Maastricht University Medical Center studied 51 men over 10 days. They exposed the men to a 62 degree room and found that exposure to cooler temperature increased the production of brown fat to help them lose weight. Colder temperatures tend to cause the shivers, but the alternative is to use the body’s own brown fat as a source of fuel to keep it warm. When fueling the fire with brown fat, the shivers stop and the body learns to adapt.
A Japanese study went a step further and studied body fat levels over a period of six weeks. The thermostat was set at 62.6 for two hours each day. Then they lowered it to 59 degrees. They found that participants didn’t shiver as much as the study went on and their brown fat levels increased. They were also able to adjust easier to lower temperatures once they had been exposed for a while.
The body is capable of warming itself and adjusting to colder temperatures. As a survival technique, the body fights to maintain a higher temperature and adjust to the cold.
Increasing brown fat is a healthy way to burn off the dangerous white fat that is associated with obesity and a host of other health problems. Weight loss occurs as brown fat helps the body adjust to the cooler temperatures.
Does this mean exposure to extreme temperatures is necessary for weight loss? Not necessarily. Though the study of thermogenics shows that ice baths and drinking ice cold water do have an effect, the idea here is that weight loss is possible simply by lowering the thermostat. Winter months typically keep people indoors with the heat set at a comfortable level. Moving the thermostat down from 68 to 62 can make a difference, however. Doing so for even a few hours per day can help the body burn more fat.
Research continues on how cold affects the ability to lose weight and whether brown fat can be used to help reduce obesity. It is believed that increasing the internal temperature helps burn body fat at a faster rate.
Adjusting to a lower room temperature is by no means a replacement for daily exercise or a healthy eating plan. It isn’t a tool to make up for consuming too many calories. However, colder temperatures can aid weight loss when used in combination with proper diet and exercise. Think of it as another habit to support healthy living.
By Susan Davis, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans failed to move forward Tuesday with a piecemeal approach to fund popular parts of the federal government to lessen the impact of the first government shutdown in 17 years.
House and Senate Republicans had offered short-term funding plans to keep open national parks, the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and other government services in the nation's capital. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky. said the piecemeal approach would "continue to move the ball down the field" towards finding an agreement to resume full government funding.
But the GOP efforts failed to win the necessary support in the House to advance to the Senate. The votes fell well short of the two-thirds threshold needed to suspend House rules.
The Senate had already warned that the plan would meet fate there as every previous attempt by the House to amend the stopgap funding bill. In that chamber, Democrats maintain the only way to end the shutdown is for the House to allow a vote on a stopgap measure to fund the government through mid-November that does not include legislation affecting President Obama's health care law.
Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said she did not support funding the government in "bits and pieces."
"We're the entire United States of America. You keep the whole government going, that's what you're supposed to do," she said. "All they have to do in the House is let the House vote on the Senate (bill) and let the House work it's will."
The White House agreed. "These piecemeal efforts are not serious, and they are no way to run a government. If House Republicans are legitimately concerned about the impacts of a shutdown — which extend across government from our small businesses to women, children and seniors — they should do their job and pass a clean CR to reopen the government," said Amy Brundage, a White House spokeswoman.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Democrats were not against debating some of the proposals that Republicans offered in the weeks leading up to the shutdown on the Affordable Care Act. He cited as an example a proposal to repeal a 2.3% tax on medical devices enacted to help pay for the law. However, Durbin said Democrats would not negotiate on the stopgap spending bill, or on a pending vote to increase the debt ceiling, the nation's borrowing limit.
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"After the CR and the debt ceiling, I have been open to that," Durbin said, "Doing this with a gun to your head, as we've said over and over again, is not the appropriate way to bargain."
House Republicans huddled in private earlier Tuesday, and lawmakers showed no signs of losing cohesion on the first day of the shutdown. Republicans are bullish about the politics of a shutdown and they have reason to be, said David Wasserman, an analyst for the non-partisan Cook Political Report.
"Democrats have always believed a shutdown would finally make voters pay attention to how 'extreme' House Republicans are. So far there's not a ton of evidence that the game has changed," Wasserman said.
All you can eat ribs -- by the dumpster.
A Golden Corral franchise is being accused of improper food handling after photos and a video surfaced online that claim to show unsanitary conditions at the nationwide buffet chain.
Separately, a Reddit user named GCWhistleblower posted photos purporting to show a different Golden Corral kitchen overflowing with garbage and food.
Employee Brandon Huber posted a video on Youtube, taken while he worked at a location near Port Orange, Fla., which shows raw hamburger patties swarmed by flies near the restaurant's dumpster.
"I'm an employee here, been working here for a long time, and I don't feel that this is right," Huber says to the camera. "I mean look at it, what do you think?"
"Let me show you just how disgusting this is," Huber continues, as the camera pans to reveal stacks of food next to the dumpsters including raw baby back ribs, green bean casserole, pot roast, chicken, ham, and bacon.
A statement provided to the website Consumerist via Eric Holm at Metro Corral Partners, a franchisee who owns several Golden Corral locations in Florida and Georgia, including the Port Orange location, reads:
"A video was recently posted showing an incident of improper food handling at our Port Orange, Fla., location. None of these items were served to a single customer. All were destroyed within the hour at the direction of management. Brandon Huber, the employee who made the video, participated in the disposal of the food.
The following day, the father of the employee, allegedly posted an offer to sell the video for $5,000, which was not accepted.
The manager involved in the improper storage was terminated for failing to follow approved food handling procedures," Holm's statement said.
By KEITH BRADSHER
HONG KONG — A decade after severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, swept through Hong Kong and then around the world, the city is among the first to become worried about the emergence and spread of another, genetically related virus in the Middle East.
Medical researchers emphasize that they do not know if the new virus will develop the same ability as SARS to spread from person to person. The World Health Organization is taking a cautious stance.
The health organization announced Tuesday that the virus, known as a coronavirus, had killed 11 of the 17 people infected so far, including a man in Britain who fell ill after traveling to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The health organization asked member governments to report any new cases, but it stopped short of urging any special measures.
“W.H.O. does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event, nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied,” the agency said.
But Hong Kong is already taking preventive measures. Without a single confirmed human case of the new virus in East Asia so far, the government of the autonomous Chinese territory has already begun alerting and training employees at hospitals, clinics and the airport to identify possible cases. Wide-ranging medical research is already under way.
Senior government officials held an extensive exercise on Wednesday to simulate the oversight of the quarantine and treatment of patients and their associates if a single person infected with the new virus arrived at the Hong Kong airport and began spreading it. The Health Department announced that it would “stay vigilant and continue to work closely with the W.H.O. and other overseas health authorities to monitor the latest development of this novel infectious disease.”
No cases have been documented in the United States. In Europe, in addition to the death in Britain, a 73-year-old man died in Germany on Tuesday after being evacuated from the United Arab Emirates a week earlier.
The Hong Kong government’s measures reflect a continued preoccupation with public health — some say an obsession — that came about after nearly 1,800 people in Hong Kong became extremely ill with SARS in a few weeks during the spring of 2003, with 299 of them dying.
“At the moment, I think Hong Kong is likely to be the one with the strongest border control against this new virus for obvious historical reasons,” said Dr. Yuen Kwok-yung, chairman of the infectious diseases section of the microbiology department at Hong Kong University.
Some health experts in the West have been wary of drawing too much attention to the new virus, a coronavirus like SARS. They point out that as researchers have begun looking harder for coronaviruses after the SARS outbreak, they have found more of them.
Much of the research has been done in Hong Kong, which became a leading center for disease research as a British colony before the handover to China in 1997; the bacteria that causes bubonic plague was discovered in Hong Kong in 1894. The World Health Organization has long sent samples from all over Asia to Hong Kong University for testing, and Dr. Yuen and his colleagues at the university played a central role in identifying the SARS virus in 2003 and then tracing its genetic similarities to a virus that infects wild bats.
Hong Kong University researchers are now expressing growing concern about the new coronavirus that has emerged in the Middle East, known as novel coronavirus. Dr. Malik Peiris, a co-discoverer of SARS who is the director of the center for influenza research at Hong Kong University, warned in a speech on Tuesday that while SARS faded away after a year, with 8,445 cases and 790 deaths worldwide, two other coronaviruses had jumped from animals to people in the past two centuries and become endemic.
Both of those coronaviruses cause common colds. One of the concerns about the novel coronavirus is that it seems deadlier, having killed more than half of the people with confirmed cases. A study published this week in The Journal of Infectious Diseases by Dr. Yuen and 12 colleagues in Hong Kong and mainland China found that the new virus also infects a wider range of human tissue types than the SARS virus and kills them more quickly.
The new virus also infects cells from a variety of animals, including monkeys, rabbits and pigs, which could offer further opportunities for the new virus to develop greater transmissibility in people. The virus appears genetically close but not identical to viruses found in wild bats in Asia and in Europe.
One big question is whether far more people are being infected without detection, in which case the disease may kill a lower percentage of victims but also be more transmissible. Dr. Yuen said that when 2,400 people were screened recently in Saudi Arabia for antibodies to the virus, none had them.
That suggests that the virus is periodically infecting people from an unknown animal host, but it has not developed the ability to pass easily from person to person, he said. However, the man in Britain who fell ill with the virus after traveling to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan infected two members of his household in Britain before he died of the disease. And one of them, with a pre-existing health problem, has also died.
The H5N1 avian influenza virus has been periodically jumping from birds to people and causing sporadic deaths for 16 years without developing sustained transmissibility among people. On the other hand, the SARS virus appears to have developed transmissibility after only a few months of sporadic infections of people in southern China in late 2002.
For the new virus, “we may be at the 2002 situation at this time, and that would be very, very bad,” Dr. Yuen said. “But this also may be like H5N1.”
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