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November 20, 2015

Americans Who Practice Yoga Report Better Wellness, Health Behaviors

Americans Who Practice Yoga Report Better Wellness, Health Behaviors

People who practiced yoga or took natural products (dietary supplements other than vitamins and minerals) were more likely to do so for wellness reasons than to treat a specific health condition, according to analysis of data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Yoga users reported the most positive health benefits, compared to users of natural products and spinal manipulation. The analysis by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health was published in a National Health Statistics Report by the National Center for Health Statistics.

“Though yoga seems to play the biggest role, people who use a variety of complementary health approaches reported better well-being,” said Dr. Josephine Briggs, director of NCCIH. “This may suggest that people perceive more wellness benefit when they are actively involved in their health, for example by practicing yoga. More research is needed to better understand the ways yoga and other approaches impact overall health.”

The NHIS is an annual study in which thousands of Americans are interviewed about their health- and illness-related experiences. The 2012 NHIS asked participants about their use of complementary health approaches and whether they used them to treat a specific health condition or for any of five wellness-related reasons. Participants were also asked whether this use led to any of nine desirable health-related outcomes. The survey results are based on data from 34,525 adults ages 18 and older.

Brain Stimulation Limits Calories Consumed in Adults with Obesity

An NIH study found that non-invasive brain stimulation decreased calorie consumption and increased weight loss in adults who are obese. The findings suggest a possible intervention for obesity, when combined with healthy eating and exercise. Results were published in Obesity concurrent with a presentation at the 2015 Obesity Society meeting.

Led by scientists at the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch, part of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the team studied a total of 9 men and women with obesity who resided in the branch’s metabolic ward on two separate visits, each for 8 days. On each visit, the participants ate a weight-maintaining diet for 5 days. Then for 3 days, they unknowingly received either active or sham (fake) transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS. Participants then ate and drank as much as they wanted from computerized vending machines. Applied to the scalp, the active tDCS targeted the brain region controlling behavior and reward.

The 4 people who got the sham stimulation during both visits consumed the same number of calories from the vending machines on each visit and did not lose weight. But the 5 people who got inactive stimulation on the first visit and active tDCS at the brain target on the second visit, consumed an average of 700 fewer calories and lost an average of 0.8 pounds on the second visit.

Next, researchers will compare a group getting only active tDCS with a separate group getting only sham stimulation. More study is needed to confirm the safety and effectiveness of tDCS for weight loss.

In-House Test Kits Motivate Parents to Reduce Allergens in Their Homes

In-home test kits, coupled with patient education, help parents reduce allergen levels in their homes, according to scientists from NIH. The researchers found that parents may become more motivated to participate in allergen-reduction interventions when they can actually see results for themselves.

The scientists specifically looked at dust mites, microscopic relatives of the spider, that live in dust on mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, carpets, curtains and other soft furnishings. Dust mites contain allergens known to trigger symptoms in people who are allergic to them, and especially those with asthma.

“This is the first study to demonstrate that the use of an in-home test kit can lead to a reduction in dust mite allergen levels in the home,” said Dr. Darryl Zeldin, scientific director at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and a study author. “It’s important to know what motivates people to adapt certain behaviors or attitudes, so we can develop more effective asthma prevention strategies.”

“Parents of asthmatic children have an extra-long list of things to do to keep their kids healthy,” said Dr. Paivi Salo, an NIEHS researcher involved in the study. “We wanted to see if having an easy-to-use kit, where parents could actually monitor allergen levels, would help parents start and maintain allergen-reduction strategies, and our results suggest that it actually did.” The results were published in the Journal of Asthma.

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