In This Issue

Fat infiltration of muscle may be a heritable diabetes risk factor

Current research indicates that fat accumulation in skeletal muscle could be a major contributor to insulin resistance and diabetes. In particular, the greater propensity toward fat infiltration in muscle observed in individuals of African origin may explain the heightened prevalence of diabetes in this population. In this issue, Iva Miljkovic-Gacic and colleagues present the first comprehensive genetic and epidemiologic analysis of fat tissue infiltration in skeletal muscle. Looking at the skeletal muscle density of Afro-Caribbean families with quantitative computed tomography, they found that ectopic lipid deposition is a heritable trait associated with diabetes, independent of central and overall obesity. These findings lend support for additional research identifying the genetic factors responsible for this relationship. See page 1854

inline image

Adding MSG may pack on pounds

Animal studies have suggested a link between the popular food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG) and overweight. Now an analysis conducted by Ka He and colleagues has revealed a correlation in humans. The lack of such research in humans is presumably due to problems quantifying this common additive in commercially processed foods. This study group consisted of rural Chinese adults who primarily prepared their own food without the use of processed ingredients. Because MSG is a popular flavor enhancer in Chinese cuisine, the majority of the study participants added MSG while preparing their meals, making intake calculations for the group more reliable. Independent of confounders such as physical activity and total food intake, MSG was positively associated with overweight in this population, suggesting that MSG may increase one's risk for obesity. See page 1875

inline image

Don't quit your day job: shift work associated with weight gain

A 14-year study of Japanese workers at a steel company has shown that working on alternating shifts is an independent risk factor for weight gain. Compared with those who worked a regular day, workers on an alternating-shift schedule were more likely to have an increased BMI by the end of the study. Because of their irregular schedule, shift workers tended to eat an additional meal, which could lead to weight gain. Future studies incorporating additional information regarding such lifestyle patterns could thus prove useful. Health screening and support for interventional lifestyle changes could decrease the health impact of this schedule for shift workers. See page 1887

inline image

Not so sweet: artificial sweeteners could heighten obesity risk

Many people use artificial sweeteners to cut calories. New research finds a greater prevalence of overweight among those who consume artificially sweetened drinks. Looking at the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages in relation to overweight prevalence and BMI change after a 7- to 8-year follow-up of 3,682 adults revealed a significant positive dose-response relationship. Those who consumed more than 21 artificially sweetened beverages a week had an almost twofold risk of overweight and obesity. These results challenge the efficacy of using these sugar substitutes to control weight gain. See page 1894

inline image