According to a New Zealand study, first-born children may be more likely than second-borns to be overweight in later life.
A small study of middle-aged men living in New Zealand found children born first into their family were about 14 lbs heavier and had a bigger BMI than second-borns.
They also had more insulin resistance, which can lead to health problems.
Birth order may affect the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, say researchers.
Larger studies are needed to fully evaluate this link, they add.
First-born children may be more likely than second-borns to be overweight in later life
There is some evidence to suggest birth order may influence the body’s fat make-up and metabolism, from infancy to the teenage years.
However, the potential impact in mid-life is unknown.
Prof. Wayne Cutfield and colleagues at the University of Auckland studied 50 overweight but otherwise healthy men between the ages of 40 and 50.
“First-born men were heavier and had lower insulin sensitivity than second-borns,” they report in the journal, Scientific Reports.
“Thus, first-born adults may be at a greater risk of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.”
Prof. Wayne Cutfield said the risk of developing obesity or diabetes occurs when enough risk factors come together.
“Being first born is one such risk factor, it does not mean first-borns will become overweight or diabetic, being first-born simply increases the risk.”
The researchers say the study needs to be repeated in pairs of siblings and with more subjects.
A new diet, inspired by Ramadan, suggests that eating carbohydrates in the evening increases feeling of fullness.
A study has found tucking into a bowl of pasta at night can actually reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
A team from the Hebrew University carried out the research after studying the diets of Muslims during Ramadan, when people fast during the day and eat carb-heavy evening meals.
Complex carbohydrates are a good source of energy and include wholegrain pastas, breads and rice as well as beans.
They found the diet increased satiety – the feeling of being full – and influenced the production of hormones associated with heart attack risk factors.
This made it a promising eating regime for overweight people trying to slim down.
Professor Zecharia Madar, chief scientist at Israel’s Ministry of Education, explained: “The idea came about from studies on Muslims during Ramadan, when they fast during the day and eat high-carbohydrate meals in the evening, that showed the secretion curve of leptin was changed.”
He led a team that assigned 78 police officers to either the Ramadan diet (carbohydrates at dinner) or a control weight loss diet (carbohydrates throughout the day).
After six months researchers examined the experimental diet’s effect on the secretion of three hormones: leptin, the satiety hormone; ghrelin, the hunger hormone; and adiponectin, the link between obesity, insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome.
The researchers found that the experimental diet led to positive changes in the hormonal profiles of the Ramadan dieters.
The diet led to lower hunger scores, as well as better weight, abdominal circumference and body fat outcomes compared to the control group.
The experimental dieters also recorded improvements in their blood sugar, blood lipids and inflammatory levels.
The findings suggest there is an advantage in concentrating carbohydrate intake in the evening, especially for people at risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease due to obesity.
“The findings lay the basis for a more appropriate dietary alternative for those people who have difficulty persisting in diets over time,” said Prof. Zecharia Madar.
“The next step is to understand the mechanisms that led to the results obtained.”
The study was published in the Obesity and Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases journals.
US scientists believe they have identified a sixth taste for lipids – a previously unknown sense for fat.
For many years it was assumed that the human tongue could only detect four tastes – sweet, sour, salt and bitter.
In 1985 a fifth was discovered known as umani or savoury.
The researchers’ findings indicate that certain people consume more fatty foods because they are less sensitive to the fat taste.
And they believe their study could eventually be used to help combat diabetes and the growing problem of obesity.
There had been speculation in the past over the role of the CD36 receptor protein following studies involving mice.
The research team from Washington University in St. Louis has discovered that the sensitivity of the receptor differs wildly from person to person.
Their research found that people with just half as much CD36 were eight times less sensitive to the presence of fat in foods.
The findings could go some way towards explaining why some people are more disposed to eating large amounts of fatty food than others.
The researchers also believe that raising a person’s sensitivity to fat could lead them to want to consume less of it.
Tests on animals showed that a high-fat diet causes the body to produce less CD36, effectively dulling the senses to its presence.
Professor Nada Abumrad, who led the study, believes mutations in CD36 could be associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
She told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper: “The ultimate goal is to understand how our perception of fat in food might influence what foods we eat and the qualities of fat that we consume.”