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Period: December 1, 2012 to December 15, 2012
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Research, Studies, Advice  

Taxes And/Or Subsidies On Foods Could Encourage Healthier Eating, Modeling Studies Suggest

A systematic review of simulation (modeling) studies focusing on the impact of food pricing strategies on dietary patterns has found that taxes on unhealthy foods like carbonated drinks and saturated fat might get people to eat healthier foods. The review, by scientists in New Zealand, also found evidence that subsidizing purchases of fruits and vegetables could have a similar positive effect. Eleven of 14 studies that looked at the impact of taxes/subsidies on lower socio-economic groups suggested that food pricing strategies would be associated with “pro-health outcomes”. The researchers urged that further studies be conducted.

"Food Pricing Strategies, Population Diets, and Non-Communicable Disease: A Systematic Review of Simulation Studies", PlosOne, December 11, 2012

Digestion Of Infant Formula Releases Fatty Acids That Can Be Toxic To Premature Infants

An often deadly condition among premature infants has been linked by U.S. scientists to the digestion of infant formula, but not breast milk. Necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe and often fatal intestinal condition, develops when the “detergent” capacity of free fatty acids cause cellular death by damaging cell membranes. The researchers found that breast milk seems to have a built-in mechanism that prevents cell death, but formula quickly releases high levels of deadly free fatty acids during digestion. Breast milk, however, is digested in a slower, more controlled, process.

"Digested formula but not digested fresh human milk causes death of intestinal cells in vitro: implications for necrotizing enterocolitis", Pediatric Research, December 10, 2012

Overeating Among Adolescents Can Predict Onset Of Drug Use

A U.S. study involving 16,882 adolescent boys and girls found that overeating, including binge eating, predicts the onset of marijuana and other drug use. Researchers also found that binge eating – eating  much more than normal during a given period of time – predicts the onset of overweight/obesity and depression. Binge eating was more common among females than males, with 2.3 percent to 3.1 percent of females and 0.3 percent to 1 percent of males reporting binge eating between the ages of 16 and 24, according to the study results. Binge eating that involves a loss of control is “amenable to intervention,” researchers said, so physicians should be encouraged to screen adolescents for binge eating.

"Longitudinal Associations Between Binge Eating and Overeating and Adverse Outcomes Among Adolescents and Young Adults", Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, December 10, 2012

Diet Has Major Impact On How Our Genes Function

U.S. research finds that though aging causes major molecular changes to our genes, what we eat also has a big effect. Molecular changes to our genes – called epigenetic marks – can be reduced, for example, by consuming adequate levels of selenium and vitamin D. But high blood folate and obesity increase the genetic changes. The epigenetic changes do not alter DNA, but control whether genes are turned on or off. Some changes can determine whether cancer develops. The researchers examined the colon cells of volunteers attending a colonoscopy clinic. Men in the study tended to have more epigenetic changes than women, which may partly explain why men are at greater risk of colon cancer.

"Nutritional factors and gender influence age-related DNA methylation in the human rectal mucosa", Aging Cell, December 06, 2012

Weight Loss May Simply Be A Matter Of Cutting Fat From The Diet

A systematic review of the results of 33 randomized, controlled trials in North America, Europe and New Zealand discovered that eating less fat significantly reduces body weight, body mass index and waist circumference. The trials, involving 73,589 people of all ages and sexes, suggests that simply exchanging fatty foods for lower fat alternatives can help people lose as much as 3.5 pounds, while reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The British researchers recommended consuming low fat milk and yogurt, less butter and cheese, and removing fat from meat. “Most importantly,” they said, “have fruit instead of fatty snacks like biscuits, cake and crisps.”

"Effect of reducing total fat intake on body weight: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and cohort studies", BMJ, December 06, 2012

Low-Income People In Italy Can’t Afford The Mediterranean Diet

Researchers who studied the impact of the global economic crisis on income and dietary patterns in Italy have found that “progressive impoverishment” of people has made the acclaimed Mediterranean diet virtually unaffordable for low-income people, leading to less healthy eating habits and poor health. The authors analyzed data on more than 13,000 residents of  the Molise region of southern Italy. They found that low-income people were much less likely to follow the Mediterranean diet of fresh foods compared to more affluent people. The poorest people were more likely to get prepackaged or junk food. The result? Thirty-six percent were obese compared to 20 percent among the wealthiest.

"Low income is associated with poor adherence to a Mediterranean diet and a higher prevalence of obesity", BMJ Open, December 05, 2012

Scientists Figure Out Why Eating Bread Daily Contributes To Cardiovascular Health

A study by Spanish scientists finds that people who eat either white or whole wheat bread every day have a healthier lipid profile – lower levels of LDL cholesterol and higher levels of HDL cholesterol -- than people who eat it sporadically or not at all and thus have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, regular bread consumption is associated with a lower insulin concentration. The researchers identified the metabolic factors, including a metabolite involved in lipid digestion, that rise when people eat bread, especially whole wheat bread, every day.

"How Eating Bread Can Improve Cardiovascular Health", News release, unpublished study, Universidad de Barcelona, November 28, 2012

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