GCC Distinguished Lecture Series welcomes Dr. Josh Tewksbury April 21st

The Global Change Center’s Distinguished Lecture Series is pleased to welcome

Thursday, April 21, 2016 | 4:45-6:00 p.m. | The Lyric Theatre
Dr. Josh Tewksbury is an ecologist, conservation biologist, and planetary health scientist with experience both in academia and in civil society.  He is currently the Director of the Colorado Global Hub, at Future Earth; Research Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder; and Senior Scholar, School of Global Environmental Sustainability, Colorado State University.
Josh was ...

Special IGC/EEB seminar featuring conservation biologist Dr. Reed Noss

The Interfaces of Global Change GSO is pleased to welcome Dr. Reed Noss for a special EEB Seminar:

“Forgotten Grasslands of the South: Ecological History and Future.”

Thursday, October 6, 2016 | 3:30-4:45 p.m. | 4069 Derring Hall | Virginia Tech

An ecologist and conservation biologist, Dr. Reed Noss, is a Pegasus Professor and Provost’s Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Central Florida and President of the Florida Institute of Conservation Science.
He currently conducts research on vulnerability of species and ecosystems to sea-level rise; ...

Miscommunicating The Science of Weight Management

Somewhere we’ve gone wrong in communicating the strong and indisputable scientific evidence that exercise plays an important role in weight management. As a consequence many people with obesity are confused and frustrated with the less than expected weight loss achieved when they begin to exercise. The media-hype has contributed to this confusion. Sensational headlines can relay an inaccurate message that exercise is not helpful (or healthful). To make matters worse some scientists even disagree on the role of exercise. In their controversial editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (Br J Sports Med 2015;49:15 968-969), the authors conclude that “It is time to wind back the harms caused by the junk food industry’s public relations machinery. Let us bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity. You cannot outrun a bad diet”. The editorial and sensational media coverage has set back progress in the practice of weight management.

Make no mistake, there is no myth involving the important role of exercise in weight management. The partial truth is that on average exercise alone does not promote much weight loss. This is sometimes surprising even to scientists. Expending a large number of calories during exercise can be difficult for individuals with obesity and low fitness levels. Some compensate for exercise by becoming more sedentary and/or eating more during the remainder of the day following exercise. The bottom line is that a reduction in calories consumed is needed for most individuals to lose a meaningful amount of weight. Suffice it to mention that any diet that reduces calories, is adequate in nutrients, doesn’t require a dramatic exclusion of fat, protein or carbohydrate, and can be adhered to will probably work just fine.

So, why is exercise important in weight management? The most important reason for anyone to exercise is to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and to improve mental and physical health. Obesity is associated with an increased the risk for chronic diseases, reduced quality of life, and reduced life expectancy.   Exercise has a favorable impact on all of these and more. In addition, exercise reduces the risk of weight gain and avoiding further weight gain and mitigating comorbidities such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease should be the first goal of any sound weight management program. Importantly, exercise also reduces the risk of gaining weight after weight loss.

Weight loss is a short-term strategy that involves expending more calories than consumed. A goal of 5-10% weight loss within 6-12 months is achievable for most and is a level associated with improvements in many of the health problems associated with obesity. More ambitious goals are possible but also more challenging to achieve. Engaging the help and advice of healthcare professionals should contribute to individual success.

Weight management is a lifestyle, one that involves an ongoing use of behavioral change strategies (e.g., daily weighing) that are helpful in maintaining weight.  Those who are most successful at maintaining weight loss over time rely on a number of behavioral strategies such as reported by participants in the National Weight Control Registry (www. nwcr.ws/research), the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance. The registry is composed of individuals who have lost 30 to 300 pounds and maintained their weight loss for 1 to 66 years. Among a multitude of positive health behaviors common to these individuals, most exercise daily for an average of an hour per day and consume a low fat, low calorie diet. Over half of these individuals lost weight with the help of some type of program. Many commercial weight loss programs such as Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers have been shown to be helpful. The most prudent approach to weight loss and weight management, particularly for those with health problems accompanying excess weight, should involve consultation with a qualified healthcare provider with training and experience in weight management.

More effective communication on the science of exercise and weight management is needed. Several elements should be considered. Scientists need to be precise and objective when discussing their work. The differences between weight loss and weight management is more than semantic in nature. Healthcare professionals need to be clear with short-term goals for weight loss and longer-term goals for weight maintenance. The goals should be reasonable and easily distinguished. The importance of healthy eating and exercise as part of a lifestyle approach should be emphasized. Of course, the media also has a responsibility in maintaining the delicate balance between writing eye catching sciences stories and accurately delineating what is known and not known. Finally, the consumer needs to be critical of all sources of information particularly when the sources is other than healthcare providers with the qualifications, training and experience in weight management.

Jon Doubek co-chair elect of the GLEON Student Association

Congratulations to Jonathan Doubek, who was recently selected to serve as the co-chair elect of the GLEON Student Association (GSA). Jon is currently a graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences and a fellow in the Interfaces of Global Change IGEP at Virginia Tech. His advisor is long-term GLEON-ite Cayelan Carey. Jon has been involved in GLEON 15 (Argentina), GLEON 16 (Canada) and GLEON 17 (South Korea) meetings, is actively involved in research projects within the zooplankton ...

Research team including Jacob Barney receives $5 million USDA grant to combat invasive plant

Jacob Barney, Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology & Weed Science at Virginia Tech, is part of a research team that recently received a USDA grant to study the invasive weed, Johnsongrass.
From UGA Today
“A team of researchers led by faculty at the University of Georgia have received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to find new ways of combating Johnsongrass, one of the most widespread and troublesome agricultural weeds in the world.
Native to the ...

Reflecting on climate change after a diagnosis of cancer

From the New York Times:
by Piers J. Sellers
“I’M a climate scientist who has just been told I have Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
This diagnosis puts me in an interesting position. I’ve spent much of my professional life thinking about the science of climate change, which is best viewed through a multidecadal lens. At some level I was sure that, even at my present age of 60, I would live to see the most critical part of the problem, and ...

Global Change Center seed grants awarded for 2015-16

Each year, the Global Change Center (GCC) at Virginia Tech accepts proposals from GCC faculty to support interdisciplinary research that will lead to collaborative proposals submitted to extramural funding sources. We seek projects that link multiple faculty programs and take advantage of unique combinations of expertise at VT, have societal implications and/or a policy component, deal with emerging global change issues that have regional significance, and have high potential to eventually leverage external resources.
This year’s faculty grants were award in December. Click ...

Castello, et al.: Hydro dams threaten a third of the world’s freshwater fish

A new paper, published today in Science by Dr. Leandro Castello and his colleagues, was featured in the Guardian.
From the Guardian:
Plans to build huge dams in the Amazon, Mekong and Congo could devastate freshwater biodiversity in these tropical river basins, say ecologists
One third of the world’s freshwater fish are at risk if dozens of large hydroelectric dams are built in the Amazon, Congo and Mekong basins, aquatic ecologists have warned.
Very few dams have so far been ...