Inflammation in Pregnant Moms Linked to Child’s Brain Development

NIMH-funded researchers are connecting the dots between inflammation in a pregnant human mother and possible effects on her young child’s developing brain. So far, they have linked high levels of maternal inflammation during pregnancy to reduced brain circuit communications and altered long-distance brain wiring at birth, poorer cognitive function at one year – and to reduced impulse control and working memory at two years.

Inflammation and mental illness

Inflammation is part of the body’s normal defense against environmental insults, such as infections. In addition, the body can mount inflammatory responses to a host of factors, including obesity, diet, drugs (e.g., smoking), maternal depression, poverty, and stress.

Full story at NIMH

Biochemists develop substances fighting obesity

A team led by biochemistry professor Felix Hausch of the TU Darmstadt is working on substances that are to help fighting three widespread diseases: depression, chronic pain and obesity.

In Germany, around four million people suffer from depression. And according to a study by the Deutsche Schmerzgesellschaft, the German Pain Society, as many as eight to 16 million people are affected by chronic pain. Nor is the situation any better when it comes to our weight: around one in six of us here is obese. Biochemically, there is a link between these three common diseases. Our body produces a protein molecule called FKBP51 that plays an important role both in energy metabolism and in depression and chronic pain.

Felix Hausch, since October 2016 Professor for Structure-Based Drug Discovery at the TU Darmstadt, believes this protein is an interesting point of attack for future medicines. “If you block FKBP51, then the tendency towards depression, obesity and chronic pain should decrease.” As the starting point for the development of inhibitors, Professor Hausch’s team opted for the already approved pharmaceutical substance Tacrolimus, a substance obtainable from bacteria that is known to bind to FKBP51, but also to similar proteins. The researchers changed this substance chemically so that it inhibits FKBP51 even more efficiently, but also only blocks this protein and not any of its relatives.

Full story at Science Daily

Cannot sleep due to stress? Here is the cure

Everyone empirically knows that stressful events certainly affect sound sleep. Scientists in the Japanese sleep institute found that the active component rich in sugarcane and other natural products may ameliorate stress and help having sound sleep.

In today’s world ever-changing environment, demanding job works and socio-economic factors enforces sleep deprivation in human population. Sleep deprivation induces tremendous amount of stress, and stress itself is one of the major factors responsible for sleep loss or difficulty in falling into sleep. Currently available sleeping pills does not address stress component and often have severe side effects. Sleep loss is also associated with certain other diseases including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety, mania deficits etc.

Full story at Science Daily

Mindfulness-based therapy may reduce stress in overweight and obese individuals

In a randomized clinical trial of women who were overweight or obese, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) increased mindfulness and decreased stress compared with health education. In addition, fasting blood sugar levels decreased within the MBSR group, but not within the health education group.

In the study, 86 women were randomized to 8 weeks of MBSR or health education, and they were followed for 16 weeks. While MBSR significantly reduced stress and had beneficial effects on blood sugar levels, there were no significant changes in blood pressure, weight, or insulin resistance.

Full story of mindfulness-based therapy for stress at Science Daily

Correlates of overweight, obesity among adolescents with bipolar disorder in the national comorbidity survey

Bipolar disorder is one of the most disabling medical conditions among adolescents worldwide. Similarly, being overweight or obese is common in adolescents and is known to confer risk for cardiovascular disease and other poor health outcomes in adulthood. As a result, the intersection of bipolar disorder and overweight is a matter of clinical and public health concern. Previous studies have demonstrated that overweight and obesity are more prevalent among adults with bipolar disorder as compared to the general population, and that overweight and obesity are associated with proxies of increased bipolar disorder severity, such as suicide attempts and greater symptom burden. Thus far, little is known about overweight among adolescents with bipolar disorder.

A study published in the December 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry(JAACAP) is the first to examine this topic in a large, representative sample of the US adolescent population. The NCS-A is a face-to-face survey of mental disorders in a representative sample of adolescents 13-17 years old. Participants included 295 adolescents with bipolar disorder, 1,112 with major depressive disorder, and 8,716 with neither of these conditions. 37.9% of adolescents with bipolar disorder were also overweight, compared to 32.4% of adolescents with major depressive disorder, and 32% of adolescents with neither of these conditions — differences that were not statistically significant.

Full story of obesity and bipolar disorder among adolescents at Science Daily

Correlates of overweight, obesity among adolescents with bipolar disorder in the national comorbidity survey

Bipolar disorder is one of the most disabling medical conditions among adolescents worldwide. Similarly, being overweight or obese is common in adolescents and is known to confer risk for cardiovascular disease and other poor health outcomes in adulthood. As a result, the intersection of bipolar disorder and overweight is a matter of clinical and public health concern. Previous studies have demonstrated that overweight and obesity are more prevalent among adults with bipolar disorder as compared to the general population, and that overweight and obesity are associated with proxies of increased bipolar disorder severity, such as suicide attempts and greater symptom burden. Thus far, little is known about overweight among adolescents with bipolar disorder.

A study published in the December 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) is the first to examine this topic in a large, representative sample of the US adolescent population. The NCS-A is a face-to-face survey of mental disorders in a representative sample of adolescents 13-17 years old. Participants included 295 adolescents with bipolar disorder, 1,112 with major depressive disorder, and 8,716 with neither of these conditions. 37.9% of adolescents with bipolar disorder were also overweight, compared to 32.4% of adolescents with major depressive disorder, and 32% of adolescents with neither of these conditions — differences that were not statistically significant.

Full story of bipolar disorder and obesity at Science Daily

Childhood stress fuels weight gain in women

When it comes to weight gain for women, childhood stress appears to be a bigger culprit than stress during adulthood, finds a national study led by a Michigan State University sociologist.

Interestingly, though, neither childhood nor adult stress was associated with weight gain for men.

The federally funded study, which appears online in the journal Social Science & Medicine, is the first to examine such lifelong consequences of stress on weight change.

“These findings add to our understanding of how childhood stress is a more important driver of long-term weight gain than adult stress, and how such processes differ for men and women,” said Hui Liu, MSU associate professor of sociology and an expert in statistics, population-based health and family science.

Full story of childhood stress and weight gain at Science Daily

Stress and obesity: Your family can make your fat

Adolescent obesity is a national public health concern and, unchecked, places young people on a trajectory for a variety of health issues as they grow older. A new study from the University of Houston Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP) and Texas Obesity Research Center (TORC) suggests there is a relationship between long-term exposure to three specific types of family stressors and children becoming obese by the time they turn 18 years old.

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, Assistant Professor Daphne Hernandez examined three family stress points ­- family disruption, financial stress and maternal poor health — and applied those to data of more than 4,700 adolescents born between 1975 and 1990.

Full story of stress and obesity at Science Daily

Time-based training can reduce impulsivity

A study conducted by researchers at Kansas State University is the first to demonstrate increases in both self-control and timing precision as a result of a time-based intervention. This new research may be an important clue for developing behavioral approaches to treat disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance abuse and obesity.

The study, “Mechanisms of impulsive choice: II. Time-based interventions to improve self-control,” was published online in the Journal of Behavioral Processes and will be part of a special publication in March. To look at impulsivity, researchers studied rat behavior, as rat brains are fairly similar to humans, especially in terms of timing and decision-making systems.

Full story of time-based training at Science Daily

How troubled marriage, depression history promote obesity

The double-whammy of marital hostility and a history of depression can increase the risk for obesity in adults by altering how the body processes high-fat foods, according to new research.

In the study, men and women with a history of depression whose arguments with spouses were especially heated showed several potential metabolic problems after eating a high-fat meal. They burned fewer calories and had higher levels of insulin and spikes of triglycerides — a form of fat in the blood — after eating a heavy meal when compared to participants without these risk factors.

Full story of troubled marriages and obesity at Science Daily