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Diet Soda Linked to Expanding Waistlines

Drinking diet soda in an attempt to shed pounds may pack them on instead. Even worse, the artificial sweeteners they contain may promote the onset of type 2 diabetes. The discouraging news comes from researchers at the University of Texas in San Antonio.

Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor and chief of the Division of Clinical Epidemiology of the Texas University School of Medicine and lead author of the decade-long study, stated, “Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised.” She then added, “They may be free of calories but not of consequences.”

For their study, Hazuda’s team analyzed composite data from 474 participants. Participants reported their intake of diet soda at the beginning of the study, and were also measured for height, weight and waist circumference. The study subjects were then tracked in terms of their diet soda intake and body fat for an average of nine and one-half years.

Findings showed that although the waistlines of all participants expanded to some extent, those who were diet soda drinkers had a waistline increase that was 70 percent higher than those who did not partake of the low-calorie drinks.

Although the data did not indicate the reason why drinking diet soda promotes weight gain, previous research suggests that because the brain expects calories to be associated with the sweet-tasting drinks, when none are present, the body begins to store more calories as fat. Hazuda also noted that diet sodas and artificial sweeteners may promote a sweet tooth and distort appetite.

Artificial Cartilage Implants May Reduce Need for Knee Replacement Surgery

Every 45 seconds, a patient in the U.S. undergoes knee replacement surgery – and it’s only getting worse. By 2030, that number is expected to jump nearly 400 percent to
3.5 million surgeries a year. But soon, there may be another option.

For the first time in the U.S., doctors have implanted plastic cartilage into a patient in hopes of avoiding, or at least delaying, knee replacement.

Drake Ross had the procedure done at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center after his active lifestyle took a serious toll on his knees. Over time, Ross’s athleticactivities caused the cartilage between his thigh and shin bones, an area called the meniscus, to begin to tear.

Ross underwent three procedures to shave off the damaged part of his meniscus – which doesn’t repair itself – and found out this kind of injury only gets worse over time.

Dr. Christopher Kaeding, a professor of orthopedics and executive director of OSU Sports Medicine, is part of the team testing a new approach under a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) trial at the medical center, where he became the first surgeon in the U.S. to perform the implant surgery. The implant is a type of plastic cartilage that not only replaces most of the damaged meniscus, but may also conform to patients’ bodies.

“If this implant turns out to work as well as we think it will, it fills a gap in our treatment spectrum for patients who have injuries to their knee,” Kaeding said.

Seven sites around the country are participating in the trial, and doctors will follow those patients for several months to track their mobility and pain level with
the implant.

Spouse More Likely to Increase Exercise Levels
if Other Spouse Does

Past studies have suggested that married individuals are more likely to eat a healthy diet if their spouse does. Now, a new study claims the same can be said for exercise.

Led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD, the study reveals that if one spouse increases his or her physical activity, the other spouse is much more likely follow suit.

“When it comes to physical fitness, the best peer pressure to get moving could be coming from the person who sits across from you at the breakfast table,” says study co-author Laura Cobb, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins.

Cobb and colleagues analyzed the medical records of 3,261 spouse pairs who were a part of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC), which began in 1987.

From 1987-89, the spouse pairs had two medical visits that were conducted approximately six years apart. At each visit, the physical activity levels of each spouse were recorded, and the team compared these with the recommendations set in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

At the first visit, the team found that
33 percent of wives and 40 percent of husbands met physical activity recommendations.

On the second visit, however, the husband was 70 percent more likely to meet physical activity guidelines if his wife met the guidelines on the first visit, compared with husbands whose wives were less active. In addition, a wife was 40 percent more likely to meet physical activity recommendations on the second visit if her husband met recommendations on the first visit.

This research builds on the findings of a previous study reported by Medical News Today, which found individuals were more likely to make healthy lifestyle changes – such as quitting smoking – if their partner did.