Dear Friend, this month you can learn about what you can do to help your children avoid becoming overweight, four scientifically proven ways to reduce food cravings, and cutting-edge research on how gastric bypass surgery affects appetite on a cellular level.  You can also RSVP for our free healthy holiday cooking class or DIY with one of our holiday recipes below, the nutritious pumpkin whoopie pie.  It's all in this edition of Inside Pennington.

Yes, Food Cravings Can Be Reduced  

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:  A review of the current literature confirms that four interventions -- dietary, prescription medication, physical activity and bariatric surgery -- have been scientifically proven to reduce cravings.

WHY YOU NEED THIS INFO:  Food cravings -- the frequent, intense desire for certain foods -- can sabotage a person's efforts to maintain healthy eating habits and body weight, said Dr. Candice Myers.  Dr. Myers was the lead author of the review titled “Food Cravings and Body Weight: a Conditioning Response" that was published in the October 2018 issue of Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity. 

Dr. Myers and Drs. John Apolzan and Corby Martin all contributed to this review of current research on food-craving interventions.  

Dr. John Apolzan said the most important takeaway in the publication is that eating a certain food less frequently is a proven way to reduce the longing for it. "In other words," he added, "it's better to cut out something in your diet than to try to eat smaller portions of it."

Note: Different demographic and socioeconomic groups may have different responses to food cravings.  But little is known about these potential differences, and more investigation is needed.

For more information on food cravings research, click here or email a scientist at
Limit Children's Screen Time, Increase Activity to Prevent Excess Weight

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:  Limiting your children's screen time now and getting them to participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day can help them avoid becoming overweight.

WHY YOU NEED THIS INFO: Sedentary children are more likely to be inactive as adults, and greater health risks accompany inactivity. 

Only 35.3 percent of Louisiana high school students were physically active for 60 minutes at least five days a week, according to the 2018 U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.   

“This Report Card should generate a renewed sense of urgency to take the action needed for the sake of our children and their futures," said Dr. Peter KatzmarzykDr. Katzmarzyk, Pennington Biomedical's associate executive director for Population and Public Health Sciences, chaired the Report Card Research Advisory Committee.  

Dr. Katzmarzyk believes the solution starts with the family model.  Family members and peers are important role models for several health behaviors, including physical activity. 

The U.S. doesn't have official guidelines for screen time for children and youth 5 to 18 years of age, but Canada and Australia recommend 2 hours per day or less.  The Report Card revealed that 28.7 percent of Louisiana high school students watch TV 3 hours or more per day, the highest percentage among all U.S. states.

While the U.S. leads in infrastructure, which includes access to parks, developing countries are leading in physical activity, Dr. Katzmarzyk said.  Rather than focusing on building the infrastructure, the U.S. may need to think about making physical activity the easy choice.

For more on the report card, click here
Research on Colon Cells Will Help Advance Knifeless Bariatric Surgery

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:  A  new study shows gastric bypass surgery had a profound effect on the nutrient-sensing receptors in the colon, which modulate appetite.

WHY THIS MATTERS:   The results of the new study will help further the development of nonsurgical treatments for obesity, sometimes known as knifeless bariatric surgery.

The study, co-authored by Dr. Hans-Rudolf Berthoud, found that after gastric bypass surgery, most of the nutrient-sensing receptors became more responsive.   The receptors' increased responsiveness may make people feel more full.

Pennington Biomedical Partnered with the Cleveland Clinic to Present the 13th annual Diabetes, Obesity, and Cardiology Summit 

Pennington Biomedical partnered for the first time with the Cleveland Clinic on its 13th annual Diabetes, Obesity, and Cardiology Summit, which featured discussions on innovative solutions and new strategies for these health issues.

Drs. John Kirwan and Leanne Redman served as session speakers during the event.  Dr. Redman's presentation on fatness versus fitness included insights regarding obesity's inevitable long-term effect on metabolic health. She also presented information on using body mass index (BMI) combined with waist circumference as a superior metric for health risk assessment.  

The National Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute at Tradition also co-hosted the event.  The summit was held simultaneously at two locations, Cleveland and Biloxi, Mississippi. Pennington Biomedical served as a satellite location, with faculty and staff receiving a live feed and actively participating in the question-and-answer sessions.
Fortis College Students Research Pennington Biomedical

Education is central to the Pennington Biomedical mission.  Students enrolled in Fortis College's Medical Lab Technician program toured the center to learn more about clinical and basic science research in October.  From left:  Courtney Weber, Catherine Darby, JaQuincia Paul, Jamie Brown (bottom), Alyric Brown, Jaylon Edwards, Tiera Banks, Tajah Gibson, Renarta Dunn, Aneisha Mitt and Satasha Patterson.
Pats on the Back to...

Dr. Annadora Bruce-Keller.   She was awarded a  four-year, $1.47 million National Institutes of Health grant to evaluate the effects of fenugreek seeds on intestinal microorganisms and metabolite generation.   Dr. Bruce-Keller will be looking at whether fenugreek helps offset the imbalance in the gut's microorganisms resulting from Western-style diets.

Dr. Hu.   He was the lead author of "Gestational Diabetes and Offspring’s Growth from Birth to 6 Years Old," published in the International Journal of Obesity. 

Drs. Phil Brantley and Peter Katzmarzyk.  They were keynote speakers at the Louisiana Governor's Conference on Health & Safety.  Dr. Brantley presented data from his NIH-sponsored Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial, while Dr. Katzmarzyk discussed the health benefits of reducing sitting in the workplace.

Catherine Carmichael, MS, RD, CDE (at right) a project manager in the Dietary Assessment and Nutrition Counseling Department, and Dr. Catherine Champagne, who heads the department.  The abstract on their research on the health of Louisiana school food service personnel was accepted as a poster presentation at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,  Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C. 

Anik Boudreau and Drs. Allison Richard, Jennifer Rood, Michael Salbaum, and Jaqueline Stephens.  Their article "An Ethanolic Extract of Artemisia Scoparia (SCO) Inhibits Lipolysis In Vivo and Has Anti-Lipolytic Effects on Murine Adipocytes In Vitro" was published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Dr. Krisztian Stadler.  He co-authored "Cytokines Promote Lipolysis in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes Through Induction of NADPH Oxidase 3 Expression and Superoxide Production," published in the Journal of Lipid Research.

Drs. Emily Qualls-Creekmore and Heike Münzberg.  Their article "Modulation of Feeding and Associated Behaviors by Lateral Hypothalamic Circuits," was published in the journal Endocrinology.

Ashley Able and Drs. Allison Richard and Jacqueline Stephens.  Their article "Loss of DBC1 (CCAR2) Affects TNFα-Induced Lipolysis and Glut4 Gene Expression in Murine Adipocytes" was published in the Journal of Molecular Endocrinology.

Everyone who made the National Institutes of Health (NIH) All of Us Research Program visit a success.  In an effort to advance research focused on providing more personalized medicine, 46 people created an account at the Pennington Biomedical stop, the third-highest number in the tour's 18-month history.  To learn more about All of Us or to join, click here.

Hot Links

Science Daily carried an article on Dr. Elizabeth Floyd's work showing healthy women may not benefit as much from some dietary supplements as men.

Dr. Claude Bouchard talked to Reuters Health about why it's better for people who are overweight or have obesity to try to lose weight, even if the weight loss is only temporary.

Dr. Heike Münzberg was part of a research team that identified the brain's "sleep switch."
Pennington Biomedical Insiders Get the Best News from our Kitchen Every Month   

or DIY with the Pumpkin Pie Recipe below 
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies: A Sweet Twist on a Holiday Favorite

Here's a great choice for a nutritious holiday season dessert! Our festive pumpkin whoopie pies contain complex carbohydrates and heart-healthy fats from oats, pumpkin, and pecans.  The marshmallow-like filling can be made by whipping aquafaba, the liquid from canned beans.

This recipe makes about nine whoopie pies.

Cookie ingredients
1 ½ cups quick oats
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground ginger
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup honey
6 Tbsp salted butter, melted
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Marshmallow Filling
Liquid from one 15 oz can garbanzo beans
¼ cup honey
Pinch cream of tartar
½ tsp vanilla extract
cup chopped pecans
OPTIONAL: ¼ cup cream cheese

1. Use a blender or food processor to pulse the oats into oat flour. Mix with the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. 
2. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, honey, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract.
3. Add the oat flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir until mixed. 
4. Scoop out approximately a 2 tbsp mound of batter per cookie onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 18 cookies total. 
5. Bake at 350⁰ F for 10-12 minutes, until a toothpick goes into the center and comes out clean. 
6. Allow to completely cool.
7. Drain the can of beans, reserving the liquid. 
8. Combine the liquid, honey, cream of tartar and vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk on high speed with a stand or hand mixer for 12-15 minutes until thick and fluffy. 
9. Spread the filling on half of the pumpkin cookies and sprinkle with pecans, then top with another cookie, and eat immediately. If the whoopie pies will not be eaten immediately, spread a very thin layer of cream cheese on the surface of the cookies before adding the filling.  

Nutrition info
Per pie:
270 Calories
4 g Protein
13 g Fat; 6 g Sat. fat
37 g Carbohydrates
3 g Fiber

Questions about the recipe?  Email a dietitian at!  
Well, that's it for now from Inside Pennington Biomedical. Stay tuned for your next update that will include healthy news you can use as well as profiles of the people who are fulfilling our mission of finding the triggers of and new treatments for chronic diseases.

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