Assessment of the Effectiveness of a Computerised Decision-Support Tool for Health Professionals for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity. Results from a Randomised Controlled Trial.
Plain language summary
Obesity is related to the increased risk for chronic diseases and to nutrient insufficiencies, a paradox that has been characterised as the “double burden of malnutrition”. The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a computerised decision-support tool as a means of childhood obesity management. The effectiveness of the decision-support tool was assessed through a pilot randomised controlled intervention trial. The study recruited a total sample of 80 children (obese or overweight) with an age range between 6 and 12 years. The participants were allocated to two study groups – intervention group and control group. Results indicate that a computerised decision-support tool, designed to assist paediatric healthcare professionals in providing personalised nutrition and lifestyle optimisation recommendations to overweight or obese children and their parents, can result in favourable changes to certain dietary intake and anthropometric indices in the children that received the intervention. Authors conclude that the computerised decision-support tool resulted in improvement of the children’s dietary intake and body mass index. Hence, the tool can support clinicians to improve the effectiveness of care.
We examined the effectiveness of a computerised decision-support tool (DST), designed for paediatric healthcare professionals, as a means to tackle childhood obesity. A randomised controlled trial was conducted with 65 families of 6⁻12-year old overweight or obese children. Paediatricians, paediatric endocrinologists and a dietitian in two children's hospitals implemented the intervention. The intervention group (IG) received personalised meal plans and lifestyle optimisation recommendations via the DST, while families in the control group (CG) received general recommendations. After three months of intervention, the IG had a significant change in dietary fibre and sucrose intake by 4.1 and -4.6 g/day, respectively. In addition, the IG significantly reduced consumption of sweets (i.e., chocolates and cakes) and salty snacks (i.e., potato chips) by -0.1 and -0.3 portions/day, respectively. Furthermore, the CG had a significant increase of body weight and waist circumference by 1.4 kg and 2.1 cm, respectively, while Body Mass Index (BMI) decreased only in the IG by -0.4 kg/m². However, the aforementioned findings did not differ significantly between study groups. In conclusion, these findings indicate the dynamics of the DST in supporting paediatric healthcare professionals to improve the effectiveness of care in modifying obesity-related behaviours. Further research is needed to confirm these findings.
Impact of a mindfulness stress management program on stress, anxiety, depression and quality of life in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial.
Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands). 2015;(1):57-66
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder with a significant psychological burden throughout the life course of affected women. Thus, use of mindful awareness may be beneficial as an adjunct to conventional medical management of women with PCOS. A randomized, controlled trial was conducted at the Evgenideion Hospital of the Athens University Medical School to explore the impact of an 8-week mindfulness stress management program on measures of depression, anxiety and stress as well as on the quality of life in reproductive age women with PCOS. The study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee. Twenty-three and 15 women with PCOS were randomly allocated to the intervention or control group, respectively. All participants were administered DASS21, PSS-14, PCOSQ, Daily Life and General Life Satisfaction Questionnaires and provided three-timed daily samples of salivary cortisol, before and after the intervention. Intervention group participants were provided with the Credibility/Expectancy Questionnaire at the day of enrolment, to check for possible placebo effect on the outcome. Post-intervention, between-group results revealed statistically significant reductions in stress, depressive and anxiety symptoms, as well as in salivary cortisol concentrations, along with an increase in Life Satisfaction and Quality of Life scores in the intervention group only. There was no significant "placebo" effect on the outcome measures. Mindfulness techniques seem promising in ameliorating stress, anxiety, depression and the quality of life in women with PCOS and could be used as an adjunct method to the conventional management of these women.
A proteomic study of plasma protein changes under extreme physical stress.
Journal of proteomics. 2014;:1-14
UNLABELLED The Spartathlon race (brisk walking a distance of 246km in less than 36h) was employed as a model of severe physical stress to investigate proteomic alterations in the plasma of athletes at the start (Athens) and finish (Sparta) of the race, as well as 48h after the race (Post). The athletes' plasma was analyzed by 2D gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and the differentially expressed proteins were identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS). The ProteoSeek™ Albumin/IgG removal kit and the ProteoMiner™ enrichment kit were utilized to detect medium- and low-abundance proteins, whose expression may be masked due to high-abundance proteins. Our results were confirmed by Western blot and biochemical analyses. Overall fifty-two proteins were differentially expressed between the starting point, the finishing line and two days after the end of the race. Of these, thirty proteins were involved in inflammation, while the rest concerned anti-oxidation, anti-coagulation and iron and vitamin D transport. These results indicate that prolonged physical stress affects circulating stress-related proteins, which might be employed as biomarkers of stress-related diseases. BIOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE The current study employed the Spartathlon, as a model of prolonged endurance exercise, to identify and isolate putative biomarkers of inflammation under extreme physical stress conditions. These protein quantitative variations may pave the way to exploration and understanding of stress-related physiological processes, the stress response itself and diseases whose onset appears to be linked to stress.
Stress management and dietary counseling in hypertensive patients: a pilot study of additional effect.
Primary health care research & development. 2014;(1):38-45
BACKGROUND In Western societies, cardiovascular (CV) disease is the primary cause of mortality, and high blood pressure (BP) is the main reversible factor leading to CV disease. Dietary habits and psychosocial stress contribute to the establishment of hypertension, while its role in the control of high BP is currently examined. In this study, we examined the effect and feasibility of a combined intervention of dietary education and stress management on the control of hypertension. METHODOLOGY A randomized, controlled pilot study was designed to evaluate the effect of combined education on stress management techniques and dietary habits (Mediterranean diet principle) on office BP after eight weeks. RESULTS Of the 45 randomized subjects, 36 were included in the final analysis (control group = 20 (age: 67 ± 12 years, 31.8%, males) and intervention group = 16 (age: 62 ± 12 years, 47%, males)). CV disease risk factors (except smoking), BP, dietary habits, perceived stress and physical activity (all assessed with validated questionnaires) were similar between the two groups at baseline. After eight weeks, office BP (systolic and diastolic) and perceived stress were significantly reduced, whereas the adherence in Mediterranean diet principle was significantly increased, but only in the intervention group. CONCLUSIONS A combined intervention of stress management techniques and Mediterranean diet education seems to be beneficial for BP reduction. Such interventions could possibly serve as a complementary treatment along with drug therapy or in the early treatment of high normal BP. A call to action for designing epidemiological studies and evaluating the efficacy of such non-pharmacological treatment strategies is therefore warranted.
Stress management can facilitate weight loss in Greek overweight and obese women: a pilot study.
Journal of human nutrition and dietetics : the official journal of the British Dietetic Association. 2013;:132-9
BACKGROUND Stress and negative emotions have been shown to be critical factors in inducing overeating as a form of maladaptive coping in obese people. METHODS The present study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of an 8-week stress management programme that includes progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and diaphragmatic breathing on weight loss and eating behaviour in a sample of overweight and obese women who started a weight-loss programme. A total of 34 women with a mean (SD) body mass index of 38.17 (7.19) kg m(-) ² and mean (SD) age 47.35 (11.64) years were recruited from the outpatients Obesity Clinic of a public hospital in Athens. Participants were randomly assigned into a Stress Management (SM) and a control group. Anthropometric measurements were taken before and after the intervention, and the participants completed the following questionnaires: Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (DEBQ), Eating Attitudes Test (Eat-26), Health Locus of Control (HLC) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) before and after the intervention. RESULTS The findings indicated a significant improvement in weight loss in the SM group [4.44 (0.83) kg] after intervention compared to the control group [1.38 (0.78) kg] (P < 0.05). A higher restrained eating behaviour was observed in the SM group after intervention compared to the control group, although there was no significant difference in perceived stress levels. CONCLUSIONS The intervention group showed greater weight reduction, possibly because of the stress management programme, and a greater dietary restraint was demonstrated by them compared to the control group. It is likely that stress management could facilitate weight loss in obese women; however, more studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis.
Effects of dehydroepiandrosterone and alprazolam on hypothalamic-pituitary responses to exercise.
The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 2005;(8):4777-83
CONTEXT The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) is restrained by activation of gamma-amino-butyric acid receptors. Alprazolam (APZ) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) are purported to be gamma-amino-butyric acid agonists and antagonists, respectively. OBJECTIVE Our objective was to examine the effects of APZ and DHEA alone and in combination on HPA axis activity. DESIGN This was a double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled study. SETTING The study setting was the general community. PARTICIPANTS Subjects consisted of 15 men (age, 20-45 yr) with a body mass index of 20-25 kg/m2. INTERVENTIONS DHEA (100 mg/d) or placebo was given for 4 wk, followed by a 2-wk washout; participants ingested 0.5 mg APZ or placebo 10 and 2 h before high-intensity exercise. OUTCOME MEASURES We measured basal and exercise-induced ACTH, arginine vasopressin (AVP), cortisol, DHEA, and GH responses. It was hypothesized that DHEA would enhance and APZ would blunt exercise-induced ACTH and cortisol release. RESULTS DHEA significantly increased the AVP response to exercise (P < 0.01). APZ treatment significantly increased basal GH and blunted plasma cortisol, ACTH, AVP, and DHEA responses to exercise (P < 0.05). DHEA and APZ in combination significantly increased the GH response to exercise (P < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS DHEA may alter a subset of receptors involved in AVP release. Together DHEA and APZ may up-regulate GH during exercise by blunting a suppressive (HPA axis) and potentiating an excitatory (glutamate receptor) system.
Stress dose of hydrocortisone is not beneficial in patients with classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia undergoing short-term, high-intensity exercise.
The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 2004;(8):3679-84
Classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is associated with impaired function of the adrenal cortex and medulla leading to decreased production of cortisol and epinephrine. As a result, the normal exercise-induced rise in blood glucose is markedly blunted in such individuals. We examined whether an extra dose of hydrocortisone, similar to that given during other forms of physical stress such as intercurrent illness, would normalize blood glucose levels during exercise in patients with CAH. We studied hormonal, metabolic, and cardiorespiratory parameters in response to a standardized high-intensity exercise protocol in nine adolescent patients with classic CAH. Patients were assigned to receive either an additional morning dose of hydrocortisone or placebo, in addition to their usual glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid replacement in a randomized, double-blind, crossover design 1 h before exercising. Although plasma cortisol levels approximately doubled after administration of the additional hydrocortisone dose compared with the usual single dose, fasting and exercise-induced blood glucose levels did not differ. In addition, no differences were observed in the serum concentrations of the glucose-modulating hormones epinephrine, insulin, glucagon, and GH and of the metabolic parameters lactate and free fatty acids. Although maximal heart rate was slightly higher after stress dosing (193 +/- 3 vs. 191 +/- 3 beats/min, mean +/- sem, P < 0.05), this did not affect exercise performance or perceived exertion. We conclude that patients with classic CAH do not benefit from additional hydrocortisone during short-term, high-intensity exercise. Although this has not been tested with long-term exercise, a high degree of caution should be used when considering the frequent use of additional hydrocortisone administration with exercise, given the adverse side effects of glucocorticoid excess.
[Primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical dysplasia (PPNAD) within the scope of Carney complex as the etiology of Cushing syndrome].
Medizinische Klinik (Munich, Germany : 1983). 2000;(4):224-30
BACKGROUND Primary pigmented adrenocortical dysplasia (PPNAD) represents a rare disorder of the adrenal glands and frequently occurs in patients with the so-called Carney complex. Carney complex is an autosomal dominant neoplasia syndrome including skin and mucosal lentigines, myxomas, and PPNAD. CASE REPORT A 37-year-old woman suffered from several episodes of weight gain/depression and weight loss/mania indicating cyclic hypercortisolism. Finally, she developed a full-blown Cushing's syndrome (CS) treated by bilateral adrenalectomy. She had PPNAD in the setting of Carney complex. CONCLUSION PPNAD may lead to different clinical manifestations: 1. subclinical hypercortisolism, 2. intermittent hypercortisolemia, and 3. full-blown CS. It can be diagnosed with the 6-day Liddle test that typically shows a paradoxical stimulation of cortisol secretion after dexamethasone administration. The treatment of choice for PPNAD is bilateral adrenalectomy in order to prevent devastating long-term effects of hypercortisolism.
Endocrine response to high-intensity exercise: dose-dependent effects of dexamethasone.
The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 2000;(3):1066-73
We recently reported that in 30-50% of healthy men and women the release of ACTH and cortisol stimulated by exercise is not suppressed by prior administration of a 4-mg dose of dexamethasone (DEX). We now explore other potential differences between these subjects and those whose exercise response was suppressed by examining the effect of a smaller, 1-mg, dose of DEX on exercise-stimulated ACTH and cortisol. Men (n = 15) and women (n = 9) were studied during three high intensity exercise tests: one after taking placebo, one after taking 1 mg DEX, and one after taking 4 mg DEX. Before participation, subjects underwent a test for classification as either a high (HR; n = 10) or low (LR; n = 14) reactor and a maximal exercise test to assess maximal aerobic capacity. Distinct dose-related reductions in plasma concentrations of ACTH, cortisol, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) were noted for HR under the treatment conditions, whereas both doses of DEX blocked ACTH, cortisol, and DHEA release in LR. Furthermore, basal plasma cortisol, DHEA, and DHEA sulfate were significantly higher in HR compared to LR. Thus, there are inherent basal and stress-reactive differences in HR and LR, and these differences may be useful in constructing a model for the mechanisms and physiological regulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation. The question of whether these differences in reactivity of the ACTH-cortisol axis between the HR and LR groups have implications for individual short term function or long term health remains to be answered.
Differential hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis reactivity to psychological and physical stress.
The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 1999;(6):1944-8
Healthy men exhibit a differential hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) response to exercise stress and fall into two groups: high responders (HR) and low responders (LR). The present study examined whether HR to physical stress also exhibit higher HPA reactivity to psychological stress than LR. We examined 14 HR and 13 LR classified based on their ACTH responses to high intensity exercise after pretreatment with dexamethasone. Both groups were of similar age, height, weight, and fitness level. Trait anxiety scores on the Spielberger Trait Anxiety Scale were not different. Subjects underwent a psychological stress test consisting of an interview and mental arithmetic. This test raised heart rate, blood pressure, and plasma ACTH and cortisol levels in both HR and LR. HR tended to have higher heart rates and blood pressures in anticipation of the psychological stress test than LR. ACTH responses of HR were higher, although not significantly, throughout the psychological stress test than LR. HR had a significantly (P < 0.05) greater net integrated cortisol response to the psychological stress than LR. This suggests that the adrenal cortexes of the HR are hypertropic and/or hypersensitive to ACTH. We conclude that men who are highly responsive to exercise stress are also highly responsive to psychological stress.