|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
You can look great in a swimsuit and still be a heart attack waiting to happen. And you can also be overweight and otherwise healthy.
A new study suggests that a surprising number of overweight people — about half — have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while an equally startling number of trim people suffer from some of the ills associated with obesity.
The first national estimate of its kind bolsters the argument that you can be hefty but still healthy, or at least healthier than has been believed.
The results also show that stereotypes about body size can be misleading, and that even "less voluptuous" people can have risk factors commonly associated with obesity, said study author MaryFran Sowers, a University of Michigan obesity researcher.
"We're really talking about taking a look with a very different lens" at weight and health risks, Sowers said.
A regimen of supplements and lifestyle coaching is just as effective as statin medication for reducing levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol, and more effective in helping people lose weight, new research shows.
People with high cholesterol who took red yeast rice and fish oil daily and received counseling on diet, exercise and relaxation techniques showed the same 40 percent drop in LDL cholesterol seen among people taking 40 milligrams of simvastatin daily, Dr. David J. Becker of the University of Pennsylvania Health System's Chestnut Hill Hospital and colleagues found. And they pared off an average of 10 pounds over 12 weeks, compared to less than a pound for patients taking the statin.
With a grant from the state of Pennsylvania, Becker and his team randomly assigned 74 patients to receive 40 milligrams of simvastatin (Zocor) daily along with printed information on lifestyle changes, or to three capsules of fish oil twice daily and 600 milligrams of red yeast rice daily along with the 12-week lifestyle program.
LDL cholesterol levels fell by 42.4 percent in the red yeast rice group and by 39.6 percent in the simvastatin group, not a statistically significant difference. Triglyceride levels didn't change in the statin group, but fell 29 percent in the red yeast rice group, probably because they were taking fish oil, according to Becker and his team.
People in the red yeast rice group lost an average of 4.7 kilograms (just over 10 pounds), compared to 0.3 kilograms (less than a pound) in the statin group.
Red yeast rice comes from fermenting red yeast with rice. Known as hong ku, the substance has been used as a medicine and food garnish in parts of Asia for centuries, Becker said. It contains a substance called monacolin-K that is nearly identical to the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin (Mevacor), as well as several other monacolins that may also have cholesterol-lowering properties.
People in the red yeast rice arm of the study were taking the equivalent of 10 to 15 mg of lovastatin, Becker said. "This lovastatin dosage is quite small, yet the effects we saw with the red yeast rice were akin to those one would generally see with a much higher dose of lovastatin."