Nutrition News: BMI Risk, Water and Weight, Allergy-Causing Additive

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Can water help you lose weight?

One way to lower your BMI may be to drink more water. A new study, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, has found a link between hydration and weight. Examining data from approximately 9,500 U.S. adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers at the University of Michigan found that 33 percent of participants were not properly hydrated, and that those who were not tended to have a higher body mass index than those who were.

Time notes that the best way to tell if you are adequately hydrated is to gauge the color of your urine: If it’s dark, you need to drink more water or eat more hydrating foods — like fresh fruits and vegetables. If it’s light, you should be A-OK. More research is needed to understand the link between hydration and weight. “But,” study author Dr. Tammy Chang told Time, “staying hydrated is good for you no matter what.”

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The high stakes of body weight

In what may be the best argument yet for battling the bulge, a new study has found that being even a little overweight can boost your risk of dying early (i.e., before age 70), regardless of cause. Researchers have long suggested that obesity may raise the risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease, but this new study, published in The Lancet, establishes that “even slight increase in BMI can cause harm,” lead author Dr. Emanuele Di Angelantonio, of the University of Cambridge, told Time.

The study, which examined data from almost 4 million people across 32 countries, found those with a BMI in the “overweight” range were 11 percent more likely to die early than those whose BMI was in the “recommended” range. Those whose weight was on the lower end of the “obesity” range were 45 percent more likely to die young, while those in the highest “obesity” range were almost three times as likely to die young as those in the “recommended” range. Maybe skip dessert tonight.

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Allergy alert, department of additives

Could an FDA-approved additive you may not even be aware is in the food you eat cause allergies? Researchers at Michigan State University have found that tert-Butylhydroquinone (aka tBHQ), a food additive used to prevent spoilage and extend the shelf life of everything from cooking oils to crackers to meat products like chicken nuggets, may be a contributing factor in the increase in the incidence of food allergies in recent decades, UPI reports. The additive, which the FDA allows to be used in foods in concentrations of 0.02 percent without being listed as an ingredient on the label, was shown in experiments to affect the immune systems and trigger allergies in lab mice. Further research is now underway.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.