The threat of the delta variant looms large in the unvaccinated South

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Yahoo News 27 June, 2021 - 05:00am 43 views

Does eating chocolate in the morning help you lose weight?

A study has found that eating chocolate in the morning can actually help people burn fat and lower blood sugar levels. journalstar.comEating chocolate for breakfast can help you burn fat

She recalled emotional weeks in January when cases of Covid-19 peaked in Alabama, threatening to overwhelm her hospital in Birmingham. In the months since, the situation in her city — and across the United States — has improved significantly, but Lee can’t help but feel a new looming sense of dread.

"I think it's hard for some people to understand that this has not gone away," said Lee, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "And it's easy to forget that we're seeing the spread of these variants, and the delta variant in particular."

In Alabama, vaccination efforts have hit a wall just as the delta variant of the coronavirus, a more contagious variant first detected in India, is gaining a foothold and spreading rapidly in the country.

The variant is well on its way to becoming the dominant strain in the U.S., with cases doubling every two weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of June 19, the variant was responsible for 20 percent of new cases. Just four days earlier, the CDC had declared the delta variant a “variant of concern,” citing growing evidence that it is more transmissible and causes more severe disease.

That could be worrisome for many states, particularly in rural parts of the Southeast, where areas with low vaccine uptake remain vulnerable to delta and potential future variants like it. The country’s patchwork recovery, with uneven vaccination rates between states and sometimes even bigger discrepancies at the local level, could mean the U.S. is on the cusp of a new wave of infections — one punctuated by local surges that disproportionately affect rural communities and pockets of the country where vaccinations have lagged.

"A variant like delta that has more transmissibility will lead to more hospitalizations and more deaths among a population that has low vaccination coverage," said Dr. Henry Walke, director of the CDC's division of preparedness and emerging infections.

“In the state of Alabama, vaccine uptake has slowed to a crawl,” she said. “When we see lower vaccine uptake in places that rolled back restrictions and variants like delta spreading, that’s exactly what we infectious disease doctors worry about.”

Just under 32 percent of people in Alabama are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, compared to Vermont, one of the best-performing states, where 64 percent of its population is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

The situation is similar nextdoor in Mississippi, where the number of fully vaccinated individuals sits below 29 percent, leaving the vast majority of residents vulnerable to infection.

Many Mississippians who remain unvaccinated are from poor, rural areas of the state and may not be able to afford transportation to towns with adequate supplies of vaccines.

And resources in many rural areas are already strained, making it challenging for these communities to deal with Covid-19 outbreaks and hampering outreach efforts to combat vaccine hesitancy.

“This past decade we’ve seen a large number of rural hospitals and associated doctor’s offices close,” said Timothy Callaghan, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University School of Public Health who studies rural health issues. “There are just fewer physicians and medical providers in general in these rural areas, so they may not have the infrastructure in place to convince people to get vaccinated.”

Dr. DeGail Hadley, a family physician in rural Cleveland, Mississippi, also worries his neighbors are at "the point where they think they can't get the virus." He is now working with local parishes to encourage vaccination. "It takes a grassroots effort to get out to the community and talk with people," he said.

Low vaccination rates in rural Tennessee are driving new Covid-19 cases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, said Dr. Todd Rice, director of the center's medical intensive care unit.

"Patients we're seeing now are transferred to us from a rural area," he said, such as Macon, Trousdale and Smith counties in Tennessee. Vaccination rates in those counties hover around 20 percent, while nearly 45 percent of those living in Nashville's Davidson County are fully vaccinated.

"They're scared. They're sick. They don't feel well. They have Covid," Rice said of his patients. "When they come in, they all say, 'I should have gotten vaccinated.'"

As Tennessee shows, a state’s overall vaccination numbers can offer an incomplete picture, especially in places where there are stark differences in vaccine uptake from county to county. What that means is that while parts of the country — and even parts of certain states — with high vaccination rates will likely be able to stave off another big uptick in cases, other communities may become hotbeds of infection.

“It’ll play out as sporadic tragedies that are preventable,” said Jeremy Kamil, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport. “It’s unlikely that we’ll see a replay of January 2021 in August 2021, but we’ve already had 600,000 deaths in this country. How much more do we want?”

Walke, of the CDC, said he’s particularly concerned about the potential for surges in the fall and winter, especially in areas with lower vaccine uptake.

"I'm worried about what's going to happen in September as we move indoors and as schools open up again," Walke said. "The way to protect those kids is to vaccinate everyone else."

In the United Kingdom, children are driving the surge in delta cases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a White House Covid-19 briefing Tuesday. The delta variant accounts for more than 95 percent of cases in the U.K., he said.

Vaccine clinical trials for young children are ongoing in the U.S., but currently only people 12 and up are eligible to receive the shots. Though healthy kids are at much lower risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19, they can spread the virus.

“With children, the concern is transmission to others,” said Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, an infectious disease specialist at Ochsner Health in New Orleans. “This is now a preventable disease in those that can get vaccinated, so it’s important to continue to study the vaccine in children.”

In Shreveport, Kamil and his colleagues regularly sequence the genomes of virus samples from across Louisiana, and around the country, to monitor how the coronavirus is mutating and to track where and how the different variants are spreading.

So far, 10 cases of the delta variant have been identified in Louisiana, but with less than 34 percent of people in the state fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and just 29.5 percent of people in Shreveport, Kamil knows that number could multiply quickly.

“All it takes is a small minority of people who aren’t vaccinated or have low enough immunity to allow the virus to spread and keep the pandemic smoldering,” he said.

Kamil knows because he’s seen it before, with a different variant known as alpha that was first identified in the United Kingdom. The alpha variant, which was previously called B.1.1.7, became the dominant strain in the U.S. in April, overtaking all others that had been circulating in the country.

Kamil and his colleagues at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport sequenced their first sample of the alpha variant in early April. Now, he estimates that more than 90 percent of the samples they sequence are alpha cases.

There are several ways through which scientists can evaluate whether a newly identified variant is more contagious, whether it causes more severe disease and what kind of response it has to existing vaccines. The first part involves mining epidemiological data, which can reveal insights about the specific variant involved, the community where it was spreading, any symptoms the patient developed and whether the person was vaccinated or not.

But researchers can also drill down into the virus’ sequenced genome to identify specific mutations that are acquired as the pathogen replicates and evolves. These random mutations are often inconsequential, but occasionally some will make the virus better able to hijack human cells, thus making it more contagious, or change what the virus can do after it invades the body, potentially enabling it to cause more severe illness.

"Every mutation buys the virus a lottery ticket. Sometimes that lottery ticket comes up with a mutation which enables it to transmit to more people," said Bill Hanage, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In early June, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the delta variant was thought to be 40 percent more transmissible than the alpha variant, though studies were ongoing at the time. Subsequent research from Public Health England suggested the delta variant is 60 percent more transmissible in households, compared to the alpha variant.

“As variants emerge, we are noticing that there is a difference in transmissibility as well as the potential for more dangerous outcomes,” said Dr. Alejandro Perez-Trepichio, an internist and chief medical officer for the Millennium Physician Group, which represents 550 doctors across 19 counties in Florida. “In the case of the delta variant, its transmission rate has been quoted as 40 to 60 percent higher than the previous U.K. variant, and that was in turn higher than the original one. So we’re seeing this multiplying effect.”

Based on data from the U.K., there are indications that the vaccines may be slightly less effective against the delta variant, compared to alpha and others that were previously identified. This is especially true for people who have received only one shot of a two-dose regimen.

But as was the case with the alpha variant, the available vaccines appear to offer good protection against delta in people who are fully vaccinated. An analysis released June 14 by Public Health England found that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were 96 percent effective against hospitalization from the delta variant and two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were 92 percent effective.

“It certainly raises the stakes for vaccination,” Kamil said of the results.

And if breakthrough infections — meaning infections in fully vaccinated people — do occur, they appear to be mild. "You've taken something that would have been serious and turned it into something which is manageable," Hanage said.

As the delta variant continues to take hold in the U.S., epidemiologists are paying close attention to what's happening in Southeastern states like Alabama, Florida and Mississippi — particularly in those areas with low vaccination rates.

"It was about this time last year that the South started demonstrating to us that yes, this can transmit in the summer," Hanage said. "It'll be very interesting and quite valuable to see what happens."

State leaders in climate change and water resources warn that California's drought is already causing dire conditions for people, plants, animals and land.

"It's going to be hyper-regionalized, where there are certain pockets of the country [where] we can have very dense outbreaks," Gottlieb said.

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Weight loss: Eating chocolate for breakfast can help to burn fat - new research

Express 27 June, 2021 - 08:39pm

While a healthy and balanced diet is recommended in order to lead a healthy lifestyle, according to scientists, eating chocolate in the morning could help slimmers to lose weight. 

However, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, US, looked at the benefits of incorporating chocolate into diets.

Putting it to the test, data was recorded from 19 postmenopausal women.

The trial lasted for two weeks and aside from the chocolate, the participants were allowed to eat any foods they wanted.

Each woman participating in the test consumed 100g of milk chocolate either within one hour of waking up, or within one hour of going to bed.

This is the equivalent of two standard-sized Mars bars, although the researchers used standard milk chocolate containing 18.1g of cocoa.

Experts compared weight gain in women who had eaten the chocolate and those who hadn’t eaten any chocolate.

The study, published in the FASEB Journal, showed that eating chocolate in the morning or the evening had no link to weight gain.

However, researchers said that consuming chocolate can influence hunger and appetite, as well as sleep.

When wanting to shift the pounds, it is recommended to eat food high in protein to satisfy cravings as well as reduce hunger.

The good news is, eating chocolate in the morning could help with fat burn and could also reduce glucose levels in the blood, according to the research.

This was possibly due to the beneficial chemicals called flavanols found naturally in cocoa that increase fat oxidation.

Frank A.J.L Scheer, a neuroscientist with the vision of sleep and circadian disorders said: “Having chocolate in the morning or in the evening/night results in differential effects on hunger and appetite, substrate oxidation, fasting glucose, microbiota (composition and function), and sleep and temperature rhythms.

“Our findings highlight that not only ‘what’ but also ‘when’ we eat can impact physiological mechanisms involved in the regulation of body weight.”

Incorporating sweet treats into your diet can help satisfy the sweet tooth, although some experts recommend keeping it to a small amount.

The study was conducted by experts at the hospital, working in collaboration with investigators at the University of Murcia in Spain.

Study author Marta Garaulet at the University of Murcia said: “Our volunteers did not gain weight despite increasing caloric intake.

“Our results show that chocolate reduced ab libitum energy intake, consistent with the observed reduction in hunger, appetite and the desire for sweets shown in previous studies.”

When looking to lose weight, the NHS recommends eating fewer foods high in calories, such as chocolate.

The website states: “Making small changes to your diet is the healthiest and most achievable way to lose weight.

“Your first step is to eat fewer foods high in calories, fat, salt and sugars and swap them for something healthier, including more fruit and vegetables.

“Remember, small changes can add up to make a big overall difference to your diet.”

Eating chocolate for breakfast could actually help you lose weight, new research claims

Manchester Evening News 27 June, 2021 - 08:39pm

Eating milk chocolate could actually be beneficial in helping the body burn fat new research has shown.

Starting the day with chocolate has always been somewhat of a culinary taboo.

However it could actually have 'unexpected benefits' and stimulate fat burning by reducing glucose levels in the blood, scientists in America claim.

A total of 19 post-menopausal women were given 100 grams of milk chocolate within one hour of waking up and one hour before they went to sleep for two weeks as part of the trial, the Mirror reports.

And researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, found that the chocolate intake made no difference in the participants' weight and actually aided weight loss.

It said that eating chocolate in the morning can actually help reduce glucose levels and burn fat.

"Our findings highly suggest that not only 'what' but also 'when' we eat can impact physiological mechanisms involved in the regulation of body weight."

The researchers added: "Results show that females were less hungry when eating chocolate and had less desire for sweets than with no chocolate, especially when taking chocolate during the evening/night.

"Moreover, daily cortisol levels were lower when eating chocolate in the morning than at evening/night."

However, chocolate should still be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

The new study, published in The FASEB Journal, follows other recent research into the potential benefits of eating cocoa, the primary ingredient in chocolate.

Eating chocolate for breakfast can help you lose weight, scientists find

Daily Star 27 June, 2021 - 08:39pm

If you have a sweet tooth there's good news - chocolate could have "unexpected benefits" by helping your body burn fat.

But only if it's eaten first thing in the morning, reports The Mirror.

Scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, US, gave milk chocolate to 19 women within one hour of waking up and one hour before they went to sleep for two weeks.

Results found that the chocolate intake made no difference in the participants' weight and actually aided weight loss.

It said that eating chocolate in the morning can actually help burn fat and reduce glucose levels in the blood.

This may possibly be due to flavanols, beneficial chemicals found naturally in cocoa that increase fat oxidation.

Whereas eating chocolate at night helped to regulate sleeping patterns and alter metabolism.

Over the course of the trial, participants were allowed to eat "any other foods" including sweet treats, aside from their milk chocolate diet.

Frank AJL Scheer, a neuroscientist with the division of sleep and circadian disorders, said: "Having chocolate in the morning or the evening/night results in differential effects on hunger and appetite, substrate oxidation, fasting glucose, microbiota (composition and function), and sleep and temperature rhythms.

"Our findings highly that not only 'what' but also 'when' we eat can impact physiological mechanisms involved in the regulation of body weight."

The researchers added: "Results show that females were less hungry when eating chocolate and had less desire for sweets than with no chocolate, especially when taking chocolate during the evening/night.

"Moreover, daily cortisol levels were lower when eating chocolate in the morning than at evening/night."

However, chocolate should still be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

The new study, published in The FASEB Journal, follows other recent research into the potential benefits of eating cocoa, the primary ingredient in chocolate.

Eating chocolate for breakfast can help you lose weight, scientists say

The Mirror 27 June, 2021 - 08:36pm

Milk chocolate might not be the first food you think of when you decide to go on a diet with its reputation of being high in sugar, fat and caloric content.

But starting your day with chocolate could actually have 'unexpected benefits' by helping your body burn fat, scientists have discovered.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, US, gave 100 grams of milk chocolate to 19 post-menopausal women within one hour of waking up and one hour before they went to sleep for two weeks.

Results found that the chocolate intake made no difference in the participants' weight and actually aided weight loss.

It said that eating chocolate in the morning can actually help burn fat and reduce glucose levels in the blood.

This may possibly be due to flavanols, beneficial chemicals found naturally in cocoa that increases fat oxidation.

Whereas eating chocolate at night helped to regulate sleeping patterns and alter metabolism.

Over the course of the trial, participants were allowed to eat "any other foods" including sweet treats, aside from their milk chocolate diet.

Frank A.J. L. Scheer, a neuroscientist with the division of sleep and circadian disorders, said: "Having chocolate in the morning or the evening/night results in differential effects on hunger and appetite, substrate oxidation, fasting glucose, microbiota (composition and function), and sleep and temperature rhythms.

"Our findings highly that not only 'what' but also 'when' we eat can impact physiological mechanisms involved in the regulation of body weight."

The researchers added: "Results show that females were less hungry when eating chocolate and had less desire for sweets than with no chocolate, especially when taking chocolate during the evening/night.

"Moreover, daily cortisol levels were lower when eating chocolate in the morning than at evening/night."

However, chocolate should still be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

The new study, published in The FASEB Journal, follows other recent research into the potential benefits of eating cocoa, the primary ingredient in chocolate.

Have you got a story to share? We want to hear all about it. Email us at yourmirror@mirror.co.uk

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Eating chocolate for breakfast could help you lose weight, scientists say

Daily Star 27 June, 2021 - 08:31pm

Starting your day with a balanced breakfast is important for ensuring you get all the nutrients.

But did you know having chocolate in the morning could help you burn fat and supercharge your weight loss?

Milk chocolate is known for high sugar and high levels of fat so it's not always the first thing you go to when you're on a diet.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, US, discovered the benefits of including chocolate into your nutrition.

The team recorded data from 19 post-menopausal women.

Each woman consumed 100g of milk chocolate either within one hour of waking up or one hour before going to bed.

The experts then compared weight gain in women who had the chocolate and those who didn't.

Published in the FASEB Journal, the study could be great news for women who want to lose weight but love chocolate.

The researchers found eating chocolate in the morning or at night didn't make a difference on weight.

They also stated that consuming chocolate can influence hunger and appetite, as well as sleep.

But eating chocolate in the morning could help with fat burn and reduce glucose levels in the blood, the scientists said.

At night it could alter their metabolism and lead to more regular sleep patterns.

Frank A.J. L. Scheer, neuroscientist with the division of sleep and circadian disorders, said: "Having chocolate in the morning or in the evening/night results in differential effects on hunger and appetite, substrate oxidation, fasting glucose, microbiota (composition and function), and sleep and temperature rhythms.

"Our findings highly that not only 'what' but also 'when' we eat can impact physiological mechanisms involved in the regulation of body weight."

The trial last for 14 days and the researchers said that aside from chocolate, the women were allowed to eat any other foods.

During the two weeks they could only have milk chocolate, although they were allowed other sweets and treats.

The researchers added: "Results show that when eating chocolate, females were less hungry and had less desire for sweets than with no chocolate, especially when taking chocolate during the evening/night.

"Moreover, daily cortisol levels were lower when eating chocolate in the morning than at evening/night."

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