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Archive for February, 2012

STUDY: Switching to water, diet beverages can tip the scales

Monday, February 13th, 2012

CHAPEL HILL, NC (NEWS RELEASE) — Making a simple substitution of water or diet soft drinks for drinks with calories can help people lose 4 to 5 pounds, a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study shows.

The study, published online and scheduled to appear in the March 2012 print issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, compared weight loss for 318 overweight or obese people, who were divided into three groups: those who switched from calorie-laden beverages to diet soft drinks; those who switched to water; and those who were not counseled to change beverages but received general information about healthy choices that could lead to weight loss. All three groups attended monthly group sessions and had access to a group-specific website for 6 months.

“Substituting noncaloric beverages – whether it’s water, diet soft drinks or something else – can be a clear and simple change for people who want to lose or maintain weight,” said study author Deborah Tate, Ph.D., associate professor of nutrition and of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. “If this were done on a large scale, it could significantly reduce the increasing public health problem of obesity.”

Tate and colleagues undertook the study to provide scientific evidence of whether eliminating calories from beverages is an effective weight loss tool that health-care providers and nutritional counselors could recommend. The study, known as CHOICE, or Choosing Healthy Options Consciously Everyday, is believed to be the first randomized controlled trial using noncaloric beverage substitution alone as the primary weight loss strategy in overweight adults.

“It does help,” Tate said. “We learned that both water and diet sodas have some benefits, but they may be different. People who really like the sweet flavor or carbonation or caffeine of sodas may be more likely to stick with the change if they are drinking diet sodas as opposed to water only, but drinking water was associated with some other important health improvements like reduced blood sugar.”

All three groups experienced small reductions in weight and waist circumference during the 6-month study.

However, people who switched to calorie-free beverages were twice as likely to lose 5 percent or more of their body weight than those who were not counseled to change beverages. People in the group who drank mostly water had lower fasting glucose levels and better hydration levels than the control group.

Tate said that that percentage of weight loss and lower blood sugar levels were important because they are associated with clinical improvements in risk factors for obesity-related chronic diseases.

The study also noted that while participants’ weight loss was less than reductions observed in more intensive, clinic-based behavioral lifestyle modification programs, the UNC study required minimal self-monitoring and prompted people to change just one aspect of their diets (beverages) – an approach consistent with other findings recommending small but potentially more sustainable lifestyle changes that people can make to improve their health.

“Substituting specific foods or beverages that provide a substantial portion of daily calories may be a useful strategy for modest weight loss or weight gain prevention,” Tate said. “Beverages may be ideal targets, but keep in mind, the strategy will only work if the person doesn’t make up for the lost calories some other way.”

Other study coauthors were nutrition professors Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D., and June Stevens, Ph.D.; Gabrielle Turner-McGrievy, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Lyons, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellows at UNC at the time of the study who are now assistant professors at the University of South Carolina and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, respectively; Xiaoshan Wang, doctoral student in the biostatistics department; and Molly Diamond, Karen Erickson and Kristen Polzien, Ph.D., research staff at the UNC weight research program and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study was funded by Nestle Waters, U.S.A., but the company had no involvement in the study’s design, conduct or preparation and review of the published paper.

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Wilmington-shot ‘Journey 2’ beats ‘Star Wars’ at weekend box office

Monday, February 13th, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A new movie shot in part at Wilmington’s Screen Gems Studios had a good first weekend at the box office.

“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” finished third in weekend ticket sales with $27.6 million in the US behind “The Vow” ($41.7 million) and “Safe House” $39.3 million). The 3-D re-release of “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” finished fourth with $23 million.

Worldwide “Journey 2” took in $102.25 million in its opening weekend. The movie, starring Oscar-winner Michael Caine, Dwayne Johnson and Vanessa Hudgens, had a reported budget of $79 million.

“Journey 2,” a 3-D family adventure, shot at Screen Gems last year. It was the first movie shot at the studio’s so-called “Dream Stage,” which includes a million-gallon water tank.

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Greenpeace protesting at NC Progress Energy plant

Monday, February 13th, 2012

ARDEN, NC (AP) — Some Greenpeace protesters have climbed a smokestack that towers over a power plant near Asheville.

Progress Energy spokesman Scott Sutton says a handful of protesters scaled the column at the Asheville Power Plant in Arden on Monday morning.

Sutton says the utility’s highest priority is to safely remove the protesters and protect the 400-megawatt plant that serves Progress customers in western North Carolina.

Greenpeace spokeswoman Keiller MacDuff says activists have secured themselves to devices including the coal loader and conveyer belts. She says the group thinks plants like the one in Asheville that use coal damage the environment.

Sutton says the group has also hung banners around the facility. He says police are working to remove the protesters.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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NC Supreme Court weighs trials for hospital bills

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina’s Supreme Court will decide whether patients who object to hospital bills can get a court to decide whether they’re unreasonably expensive.

The court heard Monday from Robert Talford of Charlotte, who was charged more than $14,000 for a three-day stay for heart problems. He says the hospital should have to prove to a judge why it’s reasonable to charge him up to 24 times more than a local pharmacy for medications.

The state’s hospitals want the high court to rule they can collect overdue bills without a trial.

Lawyers for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority say of course a pill is cheaper at a street-corner drug store because the cost of that pill in the hospital also pays for nurses, doctors and maintaining a constantly clean and supervised room.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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‘Journey 2’ rakes in $27.6 million

Monday, February 13th, 2012

A movie that made history while being shot in Wilmington is having success at the box office.

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