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Seaweed could be the source of fat-busting success

Fat-busting seaweed could be the future of slimming, new research suggests.

Scientists have identified a natural seaweed fibre that prevents the body absorbing fat.

Tests show that alginate can suppress the digestion of fat in the gut.

"We have already added alginate to bread and initial taste tests have been extremely encouraging.

"Now the next step is to carry out clinical trials to find out how effective they are when eaten as part of a normal diet."

– Professor Jeff Pearson, from the University of Newcastle's Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

The researchers found that alginates containing more of a sugar molecule called guluronate were best at blocking fat digestion.

They compiled a list of the most promising seaweeds, including a brown sea kelp known as "tangle" or "cuvie", bladderwrack, and bull kelp.

The findings, published in the journal Food Chemistry, showed that a four-fold increase in one type of tangle alginate boosted anti-fat absorption activity by 75%.

Dietary fibre avoided the side effects of conventional anti-obesity drugs that inhibit enzyme activity, said the researchers.

"The inclusion of an alginate into foods.. has the potential to reduce the intake of dietary triacylglycerol (fat) and could greatly help in weight management."

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How does your town weigh up in obesity statistics?

County Durham has the highest percentage at 72.5%, Newcastle has the lowest at 60.3%.

The regional average is 68% compared to a national average is 63.8%

  • County Durham 72.5%
  • Northumberland 71.9%
  • Redcar and Cleveland 70.9%
  • North Tyneside 70.1%
  • Sunderland 68.9%
  • Hartlepool 68.5%
  • Middlesbrough 68.4%
  • South Tyneside 68.2%
  • Stockton-on-Tees 63.6%
  • Darlington 62.9%
  • Gateshead 61.9%
  • Newcastle upon Tyne 60.3%

PHE North East Centre Director Dr Roberta Marshall said: "Public Health England is committed to helping tackle the levels of people who are overweight and obese in the North East by supporting our local authorities to develop a broad programme of action to reduce levels of excess weight."

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Body image campaigner: Obesity data 'scaremongering'

Obesity data from Public Health England is "scaremongering" and is complicit with a wider attempt to belittle fat people, a body image campaigner told Daybreak.

Fatima Parker from the International Size Acceptance Society said the weight loss industry had a lot to gain from data that painted obesity as a national problem.

"By belittling fat people....by stigmatising us, they will scare you, who are thin. Be careful! You will be treated that way."

Chunky challenge for region's health

Over two thirds of adults in the North East are obese or overweight, the highest proportion in the country.

That is according to figures released this morning by Public Health England.

It shows that the plumpest part of the region in County Durham, where 72.5% of adults fall into this category.

It is estimated that health problems associated with being overweight or obese cost the NHS over £5 billion each year.

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Would a longer walk to school benefit children?: Your views

We asked you to get in contact with ITV News with your views on a story we featured about proposed plans for children to walk further to school.

The idea is in relation to the growing number of obese children and would stop parents from parking or dropping children off close to the school gates.

This is what you thought:

"The idea of children being dropped 300 to 400 metres away could seem to be a good idea - although as a parent I feel it would have to be supervised by a teacher.

"Also, I think rather than something like this that has risks, couldn't we try cutting five minutes from other lessons and adding an activity of some sort into the school day?"

– Charlotte Gibson from Chopwell

"Parents need to be re-educated to not do everything by car.

"Children can easily walk a mile to school and the more that walk, the safer the streets will be to walk in."

– Rob Kerss from Wallsend

"I agree, but I think more needs to be done. Children should be taught about food nutrition and the effects of lack of exercise etc.

"If they had a good understanding of food nutrition, and the added benefit of exercise at an early age, they would be making the right choices on their own."

– Stephen McGee

What do you think? Email us at pamandian@itv.com and let us know.

Obesity linked to DNA

Children who grow up to be obese have different DNA to those who do not.

Researchers at Newcastle and Bristol Universities followed 178 babies from birth to the age of nine.

They found of the 24 genes known to affect body weight, nine of them could be directly linked to the a child's weight at the age of nine.

The findings have been published today in the journal PLoS ONE.

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