Study: Eating More Rice Is Associated with Lower Obesity Rates

Jackie Dunham wrote . . . . . . . . .

As worldwide obesity rates soar, researchers in Japan say they have discovered a potential way to prevent the condition – by eating more rice.

For the study, academics at the Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts in Kyoto examined how rice consumption compared to obesity rates in 136 countries with populations of more than one million. The researchers analyzed all types of rice products, including white rice, brown rice, and rice flour, using data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

The team accounted for other lifestyle and socioeconomic risk factors in the studied countries, including education, total energy consumption, gross domestic product per capita, smoking rates, and health expenditure.

They found that obesity rates were lower in countries with higher rice consumption, even after they accounted for those other risk factors.

“The observed associations suggest that the obesity rate is low in countries that eat rice as a staple food. Therefore, a Japanese food or an Asian-food-style diet based on rice may help prevent obesity,” lead author, professor Tomoko Imai from Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts, said in a press release.

What’s more, the study suggests that even a moderate increase in average rice consumption could protect against obesity. For example, if each person ate an extra quarter of a cup, or 50 grams, of rice per day, worldwide obesity rates could be lowered by one per cent.

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 650 million adults aged 18 years or older who are classified as obese. If the average rice consumption increased by 50 grams per person a day, that number would drop to 643.5 million adults, the researchers said.

The top five countries with the highest rice consumption were Bangladesh followed by Lao, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Canada ranked 77th on the list for rice consumption while the U.S. came in at 87th, the U.K. ranked 89th, and France was in the 99th spot.

“Given the rising levels of obesity worldwide, eating more rice should be recommended to protect against obesity even in western countries,” Imai said.

The authors suggest that rice may be healthy because it has less fat, it’s rich in resistant starch, which is digested in the large intestine and has several health benefits, and people have low blood glucose levels– which suppresses insulin secretion– after they have eaten it.

“Eating rice seems to protect against weight gain. It’s possible that the fibre, nutrients, and plant compounds found in whole grains may increase feelings of fullness and prevent overeating,” Imai said.

But before people start piling up their plates with rice, Imai warns that overeating rice has been associated with the development of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a group of medical conditions that can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

“Therefore, an appropriate amount of rice intake may prevent obesity,” she said.

Although the research only discovered a link between high rice consumption and lower obesity rates and not a cause-and-effect relationship, the academics said their findings show a need for further studies on the topic.

The results of the study were presented to the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow, U.K.

Source: CTV

Chinese-style Lettuce Wrap of Pork, Ginger and Mushrooms


4 small perfect leaves iceberg lettuce
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon ginger julienne
1 garlic clove, finely diced
2/3 cup ground fatty pork
4 Chinese dried mushrooms, soaked until softened, drained and finely sliced
2 tablespoons roughly chopped salted radish
2 tablespoons roughly chopped pickled mustard greens
2 tablespoons finely sliced Chinese sausage
2 tablespoons Shao Hsing wine
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup carrot julienne
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1 tablespoon roughly sliced green shallots
1/4 cup finely sliced Chinese white cabbage
1 large red chili, finely sliced 1/4 cup green shallot julienne handful of coriander sprigs


  1. Soak lettuce leaves in cold water for 1 hour, drain them well and set aside, covered, in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat peanut oil in a hot wok, stir-fry ginger, garlic and pork for 1 minute. Add mushrooms, radish, mustard greens and sausage, and continue stir-frying briefly.
  3. Pour in wine, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil, and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until pork is cooked.
  4. Toss in carrot, bean sprouts, shallots and cabbage, stir to combine, then remove from the heat.
  5. Serve pork mixture in a bowl set on a large platter, garnished with chili, shallot julienne and coriander, and accompanied with the lettuce-leaf cups.
  6. To eat, simply spoon pork mixture into lettuce cups, roll up to enclose the pork and eat with your fingers.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Kylie Kwong

In Pictures: Character Food of Miyajima Rilakkuma Cafe in Hiroshima, Japan

Rilakkuma (リラックマ) Character

Vital Signs of Sleep Apnea Patients Can Now be Monitored Using Radar

A radar system developed at the University of Waterloo can wirelessly monitor the vital signs of patients, eliminating the need to hook them up to any machines.

Housed in a device smaller than a cellphone, the new technology records heart and breathing rates using sensitive radar waves that are analyzed by sophisticated algorithms embedded in an onboard digital signal processing unit.

Researchers developed the system to monitor sleep apnea patients by detecting subtle chest movements instead of connecting them to equipment in labs via numerous cumbersome wires.

“We take the whole complex process and make it completely wireless,” said George Shaker, an engineering professor at Waterloo. “And instead of a clinic, it could be done in the comfort of your own bed and run daily for continuous monitoring.”

In the study, the radar unit was mounted to the ceiling over the bed of more than 50 volunteers as they slept normally in a model long-term care apartment.

The system, which collects and analyzes data from radar waves that are reflected back to the unit from the bodies of patients, achieved results over 90 per cent as accurate as standard hard-wired equipment.

“This is the first time radar has been used for heart sensing with this degree of accuracy and in such an uncontrolled environment,” said Mostafa Alizadeh, a research associate who led the study. “Our subjects slept unobstructed, in any position, for up to eight hours.”

Researchers are also exploring use of the technology to monitor activity levels and falls by residents of long-term care homes, and in hospitals for routine monitoring of heart and breathing rates of all kinds of patients.

Advantages of the system for apnea monitoring include complete privacy since no cameras are used, much improved comfort and potential use in homes rather than special sleep clinics.

“With traditional systems involving wires and appointments booked weeks in advance, you can’t sleep as you normally do in your own bed at home, making the common sleep study an unpleasant experience,” said Shaker, a cross-appointed professor of electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical and mechatronics engineering.

In addition to sleep apnea, which involves breathing that repeatedly stops and starts, the system can monitor conditions such as periodic limb movement disorder, restless leg syndrome and seizures.

Alizadeh and Shaker collaborated with Waterloo professors Plinio Pelegrini Morita and Safeddin Safavi-Naeini, and Joao Carlos Martins de Almeida, a professor at the University of Campinas in Brazil.

Source: University of Waterloo

The Often-Overlooked Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Stroke

Getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult for many, but restful slumber can be especially hard for stroke survivors. And although various studies have examined the association, doctors continue to overlook the interplay between sleep disorders and stroke, finds a new report on the issue.

More than 50 percent of stroke survivors are estimated to have some type of sleep problem, yet few get formally tested, in part because of “the lack of awareness” among stroke providers, according to the review published Thursday in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

In addition to increasing stroke risk, sleep disturbances may worsen after a stroke, the report said. So, remedies to reduce sleep impairments could help prevent a first or subsequent stroke.

Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing is repeatedly stopped and restarted because of changes in airflow. The report said more than 70% of stroke survivors have a specific condition known as obstructive sleep apnea, in which the tongue or other obstruction blocks airway in the throat.

This can cause a person to snore or to stop breathing entirely for several seconds before gasping for air, disrupting sleep in the process. One study cited in the new report found people with obstructive sleep apnea had a nearly twofold increase in stroke or death.

People with severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea may find their sleep interrupted more than 30 times per hour, said Dr. Sandeep Khot, the report’s senior author and an associate professor of neurology at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.

“You end up with what we call fragmented sleep. Your sleep is fitful because you never really get into slow-wave sleep or REM sleep, the deeper types of sleep that are associated with feeling refreshed the next day. This may affect your recovery from stroke, along with the physiologic changes that happen with your body, especially blood pressure changes,” Khot said.

It can particularly lead to high blood pressure, or hypertension. That may be a reason why some doctors miss the connection between sleep disorders and stroke, said epidemiologist Donna Arnett, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.

High blood pressure is the strongest risk factor for stroke, but another big contributor is obesity, and both are strongly associated with sleep apnea, she said.

“Most clinicians caring for stroke patients have probably thought that it’s the hypertension and the obesity that are the causal factors for stroke and they may have missed the association with sleep apnea,” said Arnett, who was not involved in the review.

Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, has been deemed “the gold standard of treatment” for obstructive sleep apnea. But many people consider CPAP treatment, which involves wearing a mask during sleep, challenging and don’t always use it.

While there are other treatments available for sleep apnea, Khot said CPAP is the primary one for stroke survivors. “We really have to have an open mind on who may and may not tolerate the treatment.”

Khot said a large study, called Sleep SMART, is currently recruiting patients and will examine the impact of CPAP treatment for people who have either had a stroke or a high-risk TIA, a transient ischemic attack often called a mini-stroke. The study will look at the treatment’s ability to prevent a second stroke, as well as recovery from the first one.

For now, he’d like to see more health care providers who work with stroke survivors start incorporating questions about sleep patterns into visits.

“We think of the traditional risk factors for having another stroke or vascular event — hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, smoking. But most of us don’t ask about sleep apnea,” Khot said. “Just simple questions about sleep. And if you have someone who has had a stroke, consider a low threshold for sending them to a sleep center for testing.”

Source: HealthDay

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