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Health Lines

HealthLines

Biggest Loser Study Shows Diet Plus Exercise Pays Off

According to a study of people on the Biggest Loser television show, healthy eating plus regular exercise is better than just dieting. Results indicate that diet combined with exercise reduces body fat and preserves muscle, which helps maintain strength and mobility. The study also suggests that, compared to the aggressive diet and exercise plan depicted on the show, a relatively modest 20 minutes of daily vigorous coupled with a 20 percent caloric restriction can maintain the substantial weight loss achieved by the show's participants. Dr. Kevin Hall from NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases conducted the study.

Brain on Freestyle Rap

When rap artists are improvising, the part of the brain responsible for thought and action becomes more active (yellow); when they perform memorized lyrics, less action is observed (blue).
Photo: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Get Moving, Live Longer

How do you spend your leisure time? New research shows that adults who do some type of physical activity in their leisure time can add as many as 4.5 years to their life. Researchers looked at data on 650,000 people, most of them aged 40 or older. Even a little physical activity added years to the lives of people whether they were normal weight, overweight, or obese. For example, people who did the equivalent of 75 minutes of brisk walking a week added 1.8 years to their life. The equivalent of 150 minutes of brisk walking added 3.4 years. Researchers with NIH's National Cancer Institute conducted the study.

This is Your Brain on Freestyle Rap

Some rap artists recently helped scientists see what happens in the brain during the creative process. The rappers performed while inside a machine used to image the brain. First the rappers performed lyrics they'd memorized. Then they were asked to "freestyle," which means they improvised lyrics with the music. The scientists noticed that during freestyle rapping, the part of the brain responsible for thought and action becomes more active, while the part responsible for self-monitoring becomes less active. These shifts in the brain may help people freely express their thoughts. Researchers with NIH's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) did the study. The rappers who helped them are from the Baltimore and Washington, DC, area.

Women and Migraines

Women who get migraines are more likely to develop brain lesions than women who don't have those horrible headaches. But the lesions do not affect memory or thinking over time. The lesions are small changes in the brain that show up as bright spots during a type of imaging known as MRI. "The fact that there's no evidence of cognitive loss among these women is good news," says Linda Porter, Ph.D. Porter is an advisor with NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which funded the nine-year study. More research is needed to figure out what causes the lesions.

Alcohol and Pregnancy: The Long-Term Consequences

Now, there's more evidence of the dangers of heavy drinking while pregnant. New research shows that children whose mothers drank while pregnant had different brain development patterns than children whose mothers didn't drink. The study is the first to follow children over several years using brain imaging technology (MRI) to look at how heavy alcohol exposure before birth interferes with brain growth in childhood and adolescence. "It underscores that heavy drinking during pregnancy often has lasting consequences for the child's growth and development, and reminds us that women who are, who may be, or who are trying to become pregnant should not drink," says Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., of NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Winter 2013 Issue: Volume 7 Number 4 Page 28