About the Chancellor's Challenge Blogs

A major initiative of the LSU AgCenter is to help the people of Louisiana live healthier lifestyles. The Chancellor's Challenge blog provides educational information on how to lose weight and keep it off and lower the numbers related to such health issues as cholesterol, body mass index and blood pressure. The current blog began in November 2008 and is a weekly blog prepared by LSU AgCenter faculty and staff. They share their expertise--many of them are registered dietitians--and their personal experiences in trying to eat better and be more physically fit.

The initial blog was written by LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson as a personal commitment to serve as an example that people can change. He shares the struggles he goes through in trying to eat healthier and incorporate more exercise into his busy lifestyle. Most of his blogs were followed by advice from LSU AgCenter nutrition experts. And all of his blogs contain links to more information. His blogs started Oct. 1, 2007 and ended Oct. 31, 2008.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Go for the Goal (Gold)

 [ Post a comment ]

(Editor’s Note: Today’s blog is written by Sylvia Atkins, administrative assistant in the Experimental Statistics Department. She has lost 90 pounds, and she attributes walking to helping her keep off the weight and stay on track.)

Competitive sports were introduced to me early in life as I watched my older brother play football, basketball, and track & field. I am also, as my close friend reminds me, very stubborn when I set my mind to something such as weight loss. To accomplish this I knew I had to do two things, eat less and move more.

To face this new goal, I made a game of it. Some days I’m a winner; other days, not so much. But the schedule has 365 games each year.

I tackled eating healthier first, and several weeks later tackled the activity. To be successful, I learned the most important component in keeping the weight off was to add some sort of activity. My choice is walking. Couch potato, not a walking Forest Gump, would have been a better description of me. Now I look forward to my walks. I try to walk no less than four days a week. I walk around the campus after work.

As I walk, I have become a GPS, “Can you tell me how to get to Nelson Memorial?” Or, “We’re trying to find the new Tiger Park?” I don’t think my directions helped the folks looking for the interstate, however. I also have a little extra money in my pocket; apparently no one else wants to stop to pick up pennies. The scenery changes constantly. I enjoy smelling the different flowers blooming.

Although I walk each day by myself, I am far from alone. I have a hidden team playing right along with me. They are my family and co-workers providing support, my boss checking the radar on suspect rainy/thunderstorm days, and all of my fellow employees that honk and send a friendly wave as I walk past. Each and every team member at one time or another has helped me as I go for the gold, I mean goal.

So if you know someone trying to get into a healthier groove, please cheer them to the finish line. That support makes all the difference.

Sylvia Atkins


Monday, May 8, 2009

New role for our body’s ‘brown’ fat

 [ Post a comment ]

(Editor’s Note: Today’s blog is written by LSU AgCenter nutritionist Heli Roy.)

There are two types of fat cells in the body, white and brown. White fat cells make up the fat stores in our body we recognize. The white fat cells are metabolically inactive; their purpose is to store fat for use in times of need. There is no limit to the amount of fat the conventional white fat cells can hold.

By contrast, the role of brown fat cells is to burn energy and generate heat. They contain small lipid droplets tucked between tiny energy factories called mitochondria. In mice and hibernating animals such as bears, brown fat cells are found throughout the body and are present during the entire life cycle. In humans, they are principally found in newborns, helping their tiny bodies generate heat. It was long thought that brown fat cells disappear by adulthood. However, their precursor cells still remain in the body lodged in white-fat depots and can be activated. New research has shown that adults do indeed have brown fat and that it can be activated.

New research by nuclear medicine specialists using scans observed that some people had deposits of tissue that looked like fat but didn't act like it; this fat-like tissue was located above the collarbones and in the upper chest and consumed lots of energy.

Because brown fat cells burn fat for energy, the scientists theorized that finding ways to encourage the development of brown fat might be good for treating obesity. Brown fat is activated for example by cold climate. The amount of brown fat actually changes from season to season. We have higher concentrations of it during the cold season, but it mostly disappears during the summer.

The scientific community is excited about these new findings. They have long theorized about the presence of brown fat in adults, but until now it was never proven. Because we do have brown fat and the amount we have depends on external factors, it can potentially be stimulated by targeted drugs. This can help in the development of safe drugs that stimulate the amount of brown fat we have and help us burn energy.

Studies have shown that our weight is determined by caloric balance more than the type of diet we consume. It is important to increase physical activity if we are consuming excess calories and tend to put on weight. It is also important to cut back food portion size. Many studies show physical activity can decrease diabetes risk. Even if we do get medication that can help us control our weight, it is still very important for other health reasons to control our caloric intake and exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day.

Heli Roy

6/25/2009 12:10:32 AM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture