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NIHR Signal Omega-3 supplements do not prevent heart disease, stroke or death
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements from fish oils or plants have little or no effect on the risk of heart disease, stroke or overall death rates. This finding contradicts a widespread belief that omega-3 supplements are protective. Previous evidence in favour of omega-3 supplements is mainly derived from trials at high risk of bias. The better evidence identified in this review does not demonstrate any health benefit. The review provides robust evidence confirming current guidance that omega-3 supp...
NIHR Signal A football programme for overweight men achieves sustained weight loss
A 12-week weight management programme for men, centred on football, achieved 4.9kg weight loss at 12 months. Modest weight loss of 2.9kg was maintained at 3.5 years. Rates of overweight and obesity are higher for men than women in the UK, and there is little evidence that interventions are effective in the longer term. This NIHR-funded study followed 488 of 747 men (65%), average age 47 years, originally allocated to a programme of behavioural advice and football training with a professional co...
NIHR Signal Fish oil supplements are ineffective for treating dry eyes
Omega-3 fatty acids or ‘fish oil’ supplements are no more effective than inactive olive oil capsules for relieving dry eye disease. Some patients take fish oil supplements for this common problem, but this new evidence suggests that they consider alternatives. Dry eye disease is a common long-term inflammatory condition causing discomfort, and disturbances including blurred vision. Treatment of symptoms includes using artificial tears. Although guidelines recognise the lack of exist...
NIHR Signal Group-based diet and exercise programmes can lead to weight loss
The evidence is growing that group-based weight loss programmes can offer effective and acceptable options for overweight people, particularly men. On average, people in group dietary advice and exercise programmes lose 3.5kg more than non-participants by six months – a modest 4% weight loss overall but less than the 5% that is often regarded as clinically important. In this systematic review on the group weight loss approach, participants in the 47 trials were adults from the general pop...
NIHR Signal Low fat or low carbohydrate diets seem just as effective for weight loss
Overweight to obese adults who followed a low fat or low carbohydrate diet for 12 months both lost around 5 or 6kg in body weight. It made no difference whether they had a gene-type indicating that they break down fats or carbohydrates better. Obesity is a major public health concern and there are many weight-loss approaches and fad diets that people try. Dietary trials tend to observe only modest weight loss. Given wide population variation, some suggest that knowing the genetic or metabolic c...
NIHR Signal A school-based obesity prevention programme was ineffective
A school-based healthy lifestyle programme delivered to 6-7-year-old children and their parents made no difference to children’s weight, diet or activity levels. Around 1 in 4 remained overweight or obese. The NIHR-funded year-long programme was delivered in 54 primary schools in one region of England. Teachers were trained to provide an additional 30 minutes of physical activity a day and deliver cookery workshops with parents each term. It also included activities with a local football ...
NIHR Signal Enriched food and snacks can increase nutritional intake in older people in hospital
Enriching hospital food with energy or protein may improve nutrition in older people in hospital. Studies assessed in a systematic review showed consistent effects of enriched or fortified foods compared with usual nutrition. The extent of increased consumption varied depending on the amount and type of foods added. Malnutrition is common in older people in hospital, but patients may not enjoy consuming oral nutritional supplement drinks. This finding supports the Government’s strategy f...
NIHR Signal Hospital admission rates and costs increase in line with BMI
Each 2kg/m2 rise in body mass index (BMI) above the normal-weight threshold in women aged 55-79 leads to a 5% rise in annual hospital admissions and 7% rise in healthcare costs. In England, £662 million of the annual hospital admission costs in 2013 could be attributed to overweight or obesity in women of this age group. This large study, partly funded by the NIHR, looked at over one million women participating in the NHS breast cancer screening programme. Five-year data on hospital admis...
NIHR Signal Free entry for leisure centres may increase physical activity across all social groups
Removing access fees from gyms and leisure centres with a strong marketing campaign and five extra community health trainers gave 26,400 more physical activity “swim and gym” visits per quarter in a borough of 150,000 people. Re:fresh, a subsidised access scheme implemented in a socially disadvantaged local authority in England, Blackburn and Darwen, also found increases in monthly gym and swim activity from 3 to 15%, and overall levels of participation were more pronounced in disad...
NIHR Signal Type 2 diabetes can be reversed with a low-calorie diet
Nearly half of people given a formula replacement diet of 830 calories per day for three to five months, followed by food reintroduction, went into remission from type 2 diabetes. They were supported to achieve and maintain weight reduction by primary care nurses or dieticians. This trial involved 298 adults who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within six years. Those that stuck with the program were more likely to lose weight (average 10kg was lost) and to go into remission compared to ...
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