Fatty acid composition in blood reflects quality of dietary carbohydrates in children

Recently published research in the University of Eastern Finland found that fatty acid composition in blood is not only a biomarker for the quality of dietary fat but also reflects the quality of dietary carbohydrates. For example the proportion of oleic acid was higher among children who consumed a lot of candy and little high-fibre grain products. Earlier studies on the topic have mainly concentrated on the association of the quality of dietary fat with fatty acid composition in blood. In the present study, the association of the quality of dietary carbohydrates with plasma fatty acid composition was investigated for the first time in children.A higher consumption of candy and a lower consumption of high-fibre grain products were associated with a higher proportion of oleic acid in blood. One explanation for this finding may be that children who consumed more candy and less high-fibre grain products also consumed more foods rich in saturated fat. Saturated fat, that is known to be harmful to health, has previously been shown to correlate positively with oleic acid intake in Western diet not favoring olive oil.A higher consumption of candy was associated with a higher estimated delta-9 desaturase that indicates the activity of delta-9-desaturase in liver. A higher intake of carbohydrates has previously been shown to be associated with a higher activity of delta-9-desaturase in adults but the studies on this topic are lacking in children. The delta-9-desaturase is an enzyme that catalyzes the reactions of producing monounsaturated fatty acids from saturated fatty acids. Thus, it prevents the accumulation of saturated fatty acids in the liver but at the same time it promotes the excretion of fatty acids to the blood stream. The increase in delta-9-desaturase activity may be related to an increased production of saturated fatty acids from sugar in the liver that is harmful for lipid metabolism.A higher consumption of vegetable oil-based margarine containing at least 60 percent fat was associated with higher proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid and alfa-linolenic fatty acid in blood that is in line with the results of the previous studies in adults and children. …

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Higher intake of fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of bladder cancer in women

Aug. 23, 2013 — University of Hawaii Cancer Center Researcher Song-Yi Park, PhD, along with her colleagues, recently discovered that a greater consumption of fruits and vegetables may lower the risk of invasive bladder cancer in women.Share This:The investigation was conducted as part of the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) Study, established in 1993 to assess the relationships among dietary, lifestyle, genetic factors, and cancer risk. Park and her fellow researcher’s analyzed data collected from 185,885 older adults over a period of 12.5 years, of which 581 invasive bladder cancer cases were diagnosed (152 women and 429 men).After adjusting for variables related to cancer risk (age, etc.) the researchers found that women who consumed the most fruits and vegetables had the lowest bladder cancer risk. For instance, women consuming the most yellow-orange vegetables were 52% less likely to have bladder cancer than women consuming the least yellow-orange vegetables. The data also suggested that women with the highest intake of vitamins A, C, and E had the lowest risk of bladder cancer. No associations between fruit and vegetable intake and invasive bladder cancer were found in men.”Our study supports the fruit and vegetable recommendation for cancer prevention, said Park. “However, further investigation is needed to understand and explain why the reduced cancer risk with higher consumption of fruits and vegetables was confined to only women.”Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by University of Hawaii Cancer Center, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above. Journal Reference:S.-Y. …

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Drinking alcohol during pregnancy affects learning and memory function in offspring?

July 19, 2013 — Maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy has detrimental effects on fetal central nervous system development.Share This:Maternal alcohol consumption prior to and during pregnancy significantly affects cognitive functions in offspring, which may be related to changes in cyclin-dependent kinase 5 because it is associated with modulation of synaptic plasticity and impaired learning and memory.Prof. Ruiling Zhang and team from Xinxiang Medical University explored the correlation between cyclin-dependent kinase 5 expression in the hippocampus and neurological impairments following prenatal ethanol exposure, and found that prenatal ethanol exposure could affect cyclin-dependent kinase 5 and its activator p35 in the hippocampus of offspring rats.These findings, which reported in the Neural Regeneration Research, propose new insights into the mechanisms underlying the role of ethanol exposure in central nervous system injuries, and provide a new strategy for treating the consequences of prenatal ethanol exposure.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Neural Regeneration Research, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above. Journal Reference:shuang Li, Yan Zhang, Feng Zhu, Bin Zhang, Jianying Lin, Chunyang Xu, Wancai Yang, Wei Hao, Ruiling Zhang. A new treatment for cognitive disorders related to in utero exposure to alcohol. Neural Regeneration Research, Vol. 8, No. 18, 2013 DOI: 10.3969/j.issn.1673-5374.2013.18.008 Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats: APA MLA Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

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The dark side of artificial sweeteners: Expert reviews negative imact

July 10, 2013 — More and more Americans are consuming artificial sweeteners as an alternative to sugar, but whether this translates into better health has been heavily debated. An opinion article published by Cell Press on July 10th in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism reviews surprising evidence on the negative impact of artificial sweeteners on health, raising red flags about all sweeteners — even those that don’t have any calories.”It is not uncommon for people to be given messages that artificially-sweetened products are healthy, will help them lose weight or will help prevent weight gain,” says author Susan E. Swithers of Purdue University. “The data to support those claims are not very strong, and although it seems like common sense that diet sodas would not be as problematic as regular sodas, common sense is not always right.”Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome — a group of risk factors that raises the risk for heart disease and stroke. As a result, many Americans have turned to artificial sweeteners, which are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar but contain few, if any, calories. However, studies in humans have shown that consumption of artificially sweetened beverages is also associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome as well as cardiovascular disease. As few as one of these drinks per day is enough to significantly increase the risk for health problems.Moreover, people who regularly consume artificial sweeteners show altered activation patterns in the brain’s pleasure centers in response to sweet taste, suggesting that these products may not satisfy the desire for sweets. Similarly, studies in mice and rats have shown that consumption of noncaloric sweeteners dampens physiological responses to sweet taste, causing the animals to overindulge in calorie-rich, sweet-tasting food and pack on extra pounds.Taken together, the findings suggest that artificial sweeteners increase the risk for health problems to an extent similar to that of sugar and may also exacerbate the negative effects of sugar. “These studies suggest that telling people to drink diet sodas could backfire as a public health message,” Swithers says. “So the current public health message to limit the intake of sugars needs to be expanded to limit intake of all sweeteners, not just sugars.”

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Obese male mice father offspring with higher levels of body fat

June 16, 2013 — Male mice who were fed a high-fat diet and became obese were more likely to father offspring who also had higher levels of body fat, a new Ohio University study finds.The effect was observed primarily in male offspring, despite their consumption of a low-fat diet, scientists reported today at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society in San Francisco, Calif.”We’ve identified a number of traits that may affect metabolism and behavior of offspring dependent on the pre-conception diet of the father,” said Felicia Nowak, an associate professor of biomedical sciences in Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine who is lead author on the study.The researchers point to epigenetics — the way genes are expressed, as opposed to mutations in DNA that are “hard-wired into the genes” — as a possible cause of these inherited traits. Because gene expression is impacted by environmental and lifestyle factors, this finding suggests that individuals with obese fathers may be able to proactively address health concerns.The effect of parents’ diet and weight on children has been well-established in humans, Nowak explained, but scientists have been studying the issue in mice to learn more about the biological mechanisms behind the phenomenon. The Ohio University team studied the impact of the high-fat diet only with male mice parents, as most of the previous research had focused on female mice parents.To conduct the study, the researchers fed male mice a high-fat diet for 13 weeks before mating. (The female mates were fed a matched low-fat diet.) Male and female offspring were fed a standard low-fat diet and studied at 20 days, six weeks and at six and 12 months.Compared with offspring from control mice (who were fed the low-fat diet), the male offspring of paternal mice with diet-induced obesity had higher body weight at six weeks of age. They also were more obese at the six- and 12-month study markers. In addition, the male offspring of obese fathers had different patterns of body fat composition — a marker for health and propensity for disease — than the control mice.The researchers were surprised, however, to find that the offspring of the obese paternal mice also were more physically active. At six weeks, the male offspring voluntarily ran more, and their female siblings demonstrated the same behavior at six and 12 months, the scientists report. Nowak’s team is studying possible causes for this behavior, which might offset the increased body fat and reduce the offspring’s risk of metabolic disease such as diabetes and heart disease.In the next phase of the research, the team will seek to identify the genes responsible for the physiological and behavioral changes. This, in turn, may inform clinicians about possible epigenetic factors in human obesity.”Early detection and prediction of risk for obesity, diabetes and related diseases will enable individuals and health care workers to delay or prevent the related disabilities and increase life expectancy,” Nowak said. The study was funded by the Ohio University Research Council and the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

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NYC-style cap on soda size would target the overweight, not the poor

June 12, 2013 — Legislation to restrict consumption of large sugar-sweetened beverages in food service establishments would affect 7.5% of Americans on a given day, and a greater percentage among those who are overweight, including 13.6% of overweight teenagers, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Challenging criticism that the restriction is discriminatory against the poor, the study finds low-income individuals would not be disproportionately affected.The proposed restrictions were approved by the New York City Board of Health. They are currently under appeal after being struck down by the New York State Supreme Court in March. Oral arguments began yesterday.The new study looks at national data, but the researchers say the results are a strong validation of the obesity-prevention measure no matter where in the country it is implemented. “Our findings are clear: a law like this would address one of the fundamental causes of obesity — the growing portion size of sweetened drinks,” says lead author Y. Claire Wang, MD, ScD and assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The study appears online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.Dr. Wang and co-author Seanna M. Vine, MPH, analyzed 19,147 dietary records from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys in the years 2007-2010 for the demographics related to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, including sodas and other non-alcoholic drinks containing caloric sweeteners.While 60.5% of Americans consumed sugary drinks on a daily basis, only 7.5% purchased them from a food establishment in portions larger than 16 ounces on a given day. The proportion was marginally higher in some groups: 8.6% of those who were overweight (compared to 6.4% of those who aren’t overweight), 13.6% of overweight teenagers, and 12.6% of overweight young adults aged 20 to 44. …

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Controlling magnetic clouds in graphene

June 12, 2013 — Wonder material graphene can be made magnetic and its magnetism switched on and off at the press of a button, opening a new avenue towards electronics with very low energy consumption.In a report published in Nature Communications, a University of Manchester team led by Dr Irina Grigorieva shows how to create elementary magnetic moments in graphene and then switch them on and off.This is the first time magnetism itself has been toggled, rather than the magnetization direction being reversed.Modern society is unimaginable without the use of magnetic materials. They have become an integral part of electronic gadgets where devices including hard disks, memory chips and sensors employ miniature magnetic components. Each micro-magnet allows a bit of information (‘0’ or ‘1’) to be stored as two magnetization directions (‘north’ and ‘south’). This area of electronics is called spintronics.Despite huge advances, a big disappointment of spintronics has so far been its inability to deliver active devices, in which switching between the north and south directions is done in a manner similar to that used in modern transistors. This situation may dramatically change due to the latest discovery.Graphene is a chicken wire made of carbon atoms. It is possible to remove some of these atoms which results in microscopic holes called vacancies. The Manchester scientists have shown that electrons condense around these holes into small electronic clouds, and each of them behaves like a microscopic magnet carrying one unit of magnetism, spin.Dr Grigorieva and her team have shown that the magnetic clouds can be controllably dissipated and then condensed back.She explains: “This breakthrough allows us to work towards transistor-like devices in which information is written down by switching graphene between its magnetic and non-magnetic states. These states can be read out either in the conventional manner by pushing an electric current through or, even better, by using a spin flow. Such transistors have been a holy grail of spintronics.”Dr Rahul Nair, who led the experimental effort, comments “Previously, one could only change a direction in which a magnet is magnetized from north to south. Now we can switch on and off the magnetism entirely.”Graphene already attracts interest in terms of spintronics applications, and I hope that the latest discovery will make it a frontrunner.”Nobel Laureate and co-author of the paper Professor Andre Geim added: “I wonder how many more surprises graphene keeps in store. …

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More TV time equals higher consumption of sweetened beverages among children

June 3, 2013 — More time in front of the TV set and higher exposure to TV adverts may lead to increased consumption of sweetened beverages among children. This is the conclusion of a new study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.The parents of more than 1,700 two- to four-year-olds in Sweden responded to questions about their children’s TV and screen habits and consumption of sweetened drinks.About one parent in seven indicated that they tried to reduce their children’s exposure to TV adverts; the same parents stated that their children were less prone to drink soft drinks and other sweetened beverages. Children of parents who were less strict about TV adverts were twice as likely to consume sweetened beverages every week.The study was conducted in 2007-2010 as part of the EU research project IDEFICS — Identification and Prevention of Dietary and Lifestyle -Induced Health Effects in Children and Infants. It reveals a very clear link between children’s TV habits and their consumption of sweetened drinks.’The children who watched more TV were more likely to drink these beverages. In fact, each additional hour in front of the TV increased the likelihood of regular consumption by 50 per cent. A similar link was found for total screen time,’ says Stina Olafsdottir, PhD student at the Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science and one of the researchers behind the study.The study also found that children with higher exposure to food adverts on TV were more likely to consume sweetened beverages on a regular basis in a follow-up study conducted two years after the initial study. However, exposure to TV adverts could not explain the link between TV habit and beverage consumption entirely. It is therefore likely that the TV programmes watched also matter or that children simply enjoy drinking these types of beverages while watching TV.The IDEFICS study is funded under the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme. Eight countries are participating: Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Sweden. The study presented here is based entirely on Swedish data. …

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Simplified solutions to deforestation ineffective in long run

May 29, 2013 — Deforestation is the second largest source of CO2 emissions after consumption of fossil fuels. So-called PES programmes, where landowners are paid to replant or protect forests, have been promoted as a way to reduce deforestation. However, the effectiveness of the programmes has been questioned, and new research from the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, points to potential negative long-term effects and a need for broader guidelines and policies.

PES programmes have been promoted as a cost-effective tool to combat climate change. However, the rather limited documentation on the effectiveness of the programmes is discouraging.

‘Human behaviour is not always predictable, and short-term positive effects may turn to negative effects in the long term,’ says Anna Nordén, economics researcher at the School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg.

In her recently presented doctoral thesis titled Essays on Behavioral Economics and Policies for Provision of Ecosystem Services, Nordén explores the weaknesses of PES programmes and the importance of complementing them with additional measures.

The established climate targets make the measurability of PES programmes appealing — it is tempting to point to results by quantifying forests that would probably have been cut down in the absence of PES programmes. Paying landowners for abstaining from deforestation is considered the most effective programme design. However, this strategy implies that those who are already maintaining their forests are not rewarded. Nordén conducted experiments to identify the consequences of such programmes, and found that those who are already displaying the desired behaviour tend to eventually lose their willingness to protect their forests.

‘The net effect of these programmes may be negligible, meaning that the money spent may not do much to reduce emissions and combat climate change,’ says Nordén, who calls for better awareness of the effects of different reward systems.

Nordén also studied what motivates landowners to participate in PES programmes and how they react to the size and type of the payments they receive. In a study in Costa Rica, landowners were offered either cash or education.

‘Both payment types stimulated participation, but when we looked at long-term participation — more than five years — cash had a greater effect. And the more cash the landowners were offered, the more motivated they were to participate in the programme. They did not respond the same to more education.’

Yet cash payments can also have negative effects on the climate. Nordén gives an example:

‘When a poor landowner is paid in cash, he may become able to pay somebody to cut down his forest.’

Nordén is critical to the narrow focus of climate negotiations on PES programmes.

‘It seems naive to believe that just one policy will reduce deforestation. My research points to the importance of complementing the programmes with other tools and measures, and of paying better attention to long-term effects.’

The thesis was presented on 24 May 2013 Thesis title: Essays on Behavioral Economics and Policies for Provision of Ecosystem Services

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