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New Health Research, and What It Means For Women
\"HealthBy Christina Elston

A Study Worth Its Weight

Does anyone still need evidence that there\'s no magic cure for being overweight? A Canadian study reported last fall on www.bmj.com (the online version of the British Medical Journal) found that taking anti-obesity drugs reduced a patient\'s weight by fewer than 11 pounds on average.
 
The study reviewed 30 placebo-controlled trials in which patients took one of three drugs - orlistat (brand names alli and Xenical), sibutramine (Meridia) or rimonabant (Acomplia) - for a year or longer. And while the pills did provide a bit of weight loss, and a few had other health benefits, such as reduced incidence of diabetes and lower cholesterol, the drugs also had adverse effects. In particular, rimonabant increased risk of depression and anxiety disorders. Is 11 pounds worth it?

Sleeping the Pounds Away

New moms have two tough jobs: taking off the "baby weight" and getting a good night\'s sleep. But a new study from Kaiser Permanente and Harvard Medical School found that one could help with the other. When researchers compared moms of 6-month-olds who slept five hours per night or less with those who slept seven hours or more, they found that the sleep deprived were three times more likely to still have 11 pounds or more of extra weight when their babies turned a year old. Research has shown that lack of sleep could cause hormonal changes that stimulate the appetite. This leads experts to conclude that getting enough sleep could be as important as exercise and healthy diet for moms who want to lose weight. Nighty night.

In Step with the Pedometer

Those nifty little devices you wear on your hip to keep track of your daily step total could motivate you to walk a bit more, according to a Stanford University study reported in the Nov. 21, 2007, issue of JAMA. Researchers looked at 26 separate studies on the topic, including more than 2,700 participants, 85 percent of them women. They found that using a pedometer and having a step goal helped increase walking by about a mile a day, and even decreased body mass index and systolic blood pressure. So step up!

Depression and the Bones



Premenopausal women who are depressed have less bone mass than their non-depressed peers, putting them at risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures later in life. Researchers from the National Institutes of Mental Health, reporting in the Nov. 26, 2007, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, found depression to be as great a risk factor for osteoporosis as well-known contributors like smoking, low calcium intake and lack of exercise. The study looked at 89 depressed and 44 non-depressed women, ages 21 to 45. It found 17 percent of the depressed women had thinner bone in the hip and 20 percent had low bone mass in the lower back, compared with just 2 percent and 9 percent of non-depressed women. This could be because depression inflates the body\'s levels of inflammation-promoting proteins that are known to promote bone loss. If you\'re being treated for depression, ask your doctor about a bone scan.

Christina Elston is a health writer for Dominion Parenting Media and Parenthood.com.

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