Don’t like the food? Try paying more

Restaurateurs take note — by cutting your prices, you may be cutting how much people will like your food.Researchers in nutrition, economics and consumer behavior often assume that taste is a given — a person naturally either likes or dislikes a food. But a new study suggests taste perception, as well as feelings of overeating and guilt, can be manipulated by price alone.”We were fascinated to find that pricing has little impact on how much one eats, but a huge impact on how you interpret the experience,” said Brian Wansink, Ph.D., a professor at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University who oversaw the research. “Simply cutting the price of food at a restaurant dramatically affects how customers evaluate and appreciate the food.”The researchers teamed up with a high-quality Italian buffet in upstate New York to study how pricing affects customers’ perceptions. They presented 139 diners with a menu that offered an all-you-can-eat buffet priced at either $4 or $8. Customers were then asked to evaluate the food and the restaurant and rate their first, middle and last taste of the food on a nine-point scale.Those who paid $8 for the buffet reported enjoying their food on average 11 percent more than those who paid $4, though the two groups ate the same amount of food overall. People who paid the lower price also more often reported feeling like they had overeaten, felt more guilt about the meal, and reported liking the food less and less throughout the course of the meal.”We were surprised by the striking pattern we saw,” said Ozge Sigirci, a researcher at Cornell University Food and Brand Lab who conducted the study. “If the food is there, you are going to eat it, but the pricing very much affects how you are going to feel about your meal and how you will evaluate the restaurant.”Public health researchers and health advocates have focused on how all-you-can-eat buffets influence people’s eating habits. On the theory that such restaurants foster overeating and contribute to obesity, some advocates have proposed imposing special taxes on buffet consumers or restaurant owners.The study did not directly address the public health implications of all-you-can-eat buffets, but the researchers said the results could offer lessons about how to optimize a restaurant experience. “If you’re a consumer and want to eat at a buffet, the best thing to do is eat at the most expensive buffet you can afford. You won’t eat more, but you’ll have a better experience overall,” said Wansink.The study fits within a constellation of other work by Wansink and others offering insights about how health behaviors can be manipulated by small changes, such as putting the most healthful foods first in a display or using a smaller dinner plate.”This is an example of how a really small change can transform how a person interacts with food in a way that doesn’t entail dieting,” said Wansink, who is author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, an upcoming book about how design choices influence eating behavior.Ozge Sigirci presented the findings during the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting on Tuesday, April 29.

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Take the bat, leave the candy: The food environment of youth baseball

‘Take me out to the ballgame’ doesn’t exactly conjure up images of apple slices and kale chips. The more likely culprits include French fries, soda and the occasional box of Crackerjacks.Unfortunately for children who play youth baseball, eating unhealthy food during practices and games may be contributing to weight problems, according to researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The study, published in the current online edition of Childhood Obesity, found that high-calorie snacks and sugar-sweetened drinks dominate the youth baseball scene.“Though youth sports are an excellent way to promote physical activity, social interaction and positive health behaviors, the food environments are often characterized by less healthy food options with high calorie contents and lower nutrient density,” said Joseph Skelton, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest Baptist and senior author of the study.In this observational study, the research team conducted an environmental scan of foods consumed by players and family members during 12 games at a youth baseball field in northwest North Carolina. The players were boys 8 to 11 years old on six teams.The researchers found that most snacks were high-calorie food items, including French fries, candy and cookies and most beverages were sugar-sweetened. Nearly 90 percent of food and beverage items purchased were from the concession stand.“Team sports like baseball are still very important for children’s activity and development,” said Megan Irby, M.S, co-author and research program manager of Brenner FIT, a multidisciplinary pediatric obesity program at Wake Forest Baptist.“But as seen in this study, games and practices can be upwards of two to three nights a week, and many children participate on multiple sports teams each year. Parents should plan ahead for these busy times and even advocate in their local sports leagues for policies that address snacks and drinks.”This research was the first step in exploring the question of whether children and families attending youth sporting events may be increasing their risk for being overweight or obese as a result of chronic unhealthy food behaviors associated with sports participation, Skelton said. Contrary to the intent of youth sports, these findings indicate that children may be leaving the ball field having consumed more calories than they expended.“Despite the benefits of participating in sports, the increased exposure to unhealthy foods and disruption of meal times may increase children’s risk for poor nutritional habits that can contribute to weight management issues,” Skelton said.A limitation of the study was the ability to accurately document all foods consumed at the ballpark without being intrusive.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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‘Best practices’ nutrition measurement for researchers

At first glance, measuring what the common fruit fly eats might seem like a trivial matter, but it is absolutely critical when it comes to conducting studies of aging, health, metabolism and disease. How researchers measure consumption can make all the difference in the accuracy of a study’s conclusions.Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have developed what amounts to a best practices guide to the most accurate way of measuring fruit fly food consumption that could lead to more informed research and better decisions about directions in further studies.”While our study isn’t the final technical reference on measuring fly food consumption, it will help guide researchers to think more carefully about nutrition and nutrient intake in their own studies,” said TSRI Assistant Professor William Ja, who led the study, which was published online ahead of print on March 30, 2014 by the journal Nature Methods.Researchers, Ja said, generally haven’t given sufficient thought to feeding and nutrient intake when it comes to measuring fruit fly behavior, metabolism and health.”If you’re making a huge effort to change an animal’s diet and trying to draw conclusions about what nutrition and nutrients do to animal health and lifespan,” he said, “then one of the most fundamental parameters is accurately measuring food intake.”TSRI Research Associate Sonali Deshpande, a first author of the study with graduate student Ariadna Amador and former TSRI Research Associate Gil Carvalho, underlined the importance of using the best measurement methods. “Drug studies, in particular, where compounds are added to fly food, are difficult to interpret without proper measurement of food and drug intake,” she said.In the study, the team determined that radioisotope labeling food is the most sensitive and consistently accurate feeding method now available — levels of accumulated isotope are later measured in the animals. This method’s main limitation appears to be underestimation of consumption due to excretion.For the most accurate measurement, the study suggested pairing radioisotope labeling with a more low-tech approach, such as the capillary feeder (CAFE). The CAFE assay, introduced by Ja in 2007, is similar to a water dispenser used for pet hamsters, but on a smaller scale.”In a significant number of studies, we found that researchers appeared indifferent to the impact feeding might have on the experiment,” Ja said. “This doesn’t seem like good science to me. Can you imagine doing a mouse experiment, saying that you watched mice for four hours and saw no difference in feeding, then make conclusions about total caloric intake over days or longer?”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Scripps Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Transformation and flocculation of riverine organic matter in estuaries

Microbes and the salt in sea water significantly shape organic matter transported by rivers to their estuaries, clarifies researcher Eero Asmala in his doctoral thesis at the Finnish Environment Institute. In his study, Asmala investigated changes in riverine dissolved organic matter in the Baltic Sea’s estuaries.”The study found significant flocculation of organic matter even at very low salinities at the mouth of the river. This is likely to affect the bottom sediment and biota, as a considerable proportion of the riverine organic load ends up in a relatively narrow zone along the coast,” Eero Asmala says.Flocculation was found to be selective. It changes the composition of organic matter en route from land to sea, removing humic compounds and reducing average molecular size, among other things.The material in the doctoral research study consisted of field and laboratory data. The changes in riverine organic matter in estuaries were investigated by means of various chemical and biological analyses. The results of the study refine the picture of the estuarine carbon and nutrient cycle as well as strengthen the link between land-use and the status of Finland’s coastal waters.A million tonnes of different compoundsThe cycle of organic matter in estuaries is not understood well, even though the nonpoint source pollution carried from the riverine catchment is one of the main causes of eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. Finnish rivers discharge approximately one million tonnes of organic carbon into the Baltic annually. The majority of this carbon is in a dissolved form distinguishing it from the particulate form, in other words, the individual molecules are less than a micrometre in size.”Dissolved organic matter (DOM) consists of thousands of different compounds whose properties vary widely. Some DOM is more and some is less readily available for the microbial food web such as bacteria and algae. In addition to carbon, DOM also contains other elements such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which are active in marine eutrophication,” Asmala explains.Variation between rivers and seasons, impact of land-use In his study, Asmala found considerable variation in the properties of riverine organic matter between rivers and seasons. …

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Dropped your toast? Five-second food rule exists, new research suggests

Food picked up just a few seconds after being dropped is less likely to contain bacteria than if it is left for longer periods of time, according to the findings of research carried out at Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences.The findings suggest there may be some scientific basis to the ‘5 second rule’ — the urban myth about it being fine to eat food that has only had contact with the floor for five seconds or less. Although people have long followed the 5 second rule, until now it was unclear whether it actually helped.The study, undertaken by final year Biology students and led by Anthony Hilton, Professor of Microbiology at Aston University, monitored the transfer of the common bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus from a variety of indoor floor types (carpet, laminate and tiled surfaces) to toast, pasta, biscuit and a sticky sweet when contact was made from 3 to 30 seconds.The results showed that:Time is a significant factor in the transfer of bacteria from a floor surface to a piece of food; and The type of flooring the food has been dropped on has an effect, with bacteria least likely to transfer from carpeted surfaces and most likely to transfer from laminate or tiled surfaces to moist foods making contact for more than 5 seconds. Professor Hilton said: “Consuming food dropped on the floor still carries an infection risk as it very much depends on which bacteria are present on the floor at the time; however the findings of this study will bring some light relief to those who have been employing the five-second rule for years, despite a general consensus that it is purely a myth. We have found evidence that transfer from indoor flooring surfaces is incredibly poor with carpet actually posing the lowest risk of bacterial transfer onto dropped food.The Aston team also carried out a survey of the number of people who employ the five-second rule. The survey showed that:87% of people surveyed said they would eat food dropped on the floor, or already have done so 55% of those that would, or have, eaten food dropped in the floor are women 81% of the women who would eat food from the floor would follow the 5 second rule Professor Hilton added: “Our study showed surprisingly that a large majority of people are happy to consume dropped food, with women the most likely to do so. But they are also more likely to follow the 5 second rule, which our research has shown to be much more than an old wives tail.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Aston University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Livestock can produce food that is better for people, planet

With one in seven humans undernourished, and with the challenges of population growth and climate change, the need for efficient food production has never been greater. Eight strategies to cut the environmental and economic costs of keeping livestock, such as cows, goats and sheep, while boosting the quantity and quality of the food produced have been outlined by an international team of scientists.The strategies to make ruminant — cud-chewing — livestock a more sustainable part of the food supply, led by academics at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences, are outlined in a Comment piece in Nature this week.The eight strategies include:Feed animals less human food. Livestock consume an estimated one-third or more of the world’s cereal grain, which some advocate would be better used to feed people directly. Some of this could indeed be avoided by capitalising on ruminants’ ability to digest food that humans cannot eat, such as hay, silage and high-fibre crop residues. Raise regionally appropriate animals. Working to boost yields from local breeds makes more sense in the long term than importing poorly adapted breeds that are successful elsewhere. European and North American Holstein dairy cows can produce 30 litres of milk a day. Thousands of these animals have been exported to Asia and Africa in an attempt to alleviate malnutrition. But exposed to hot climates, tropical diseases and sub-optimal housing, the cows produce much less milk, and the costs of feed and husbandry far exceed those of native breeds. Farmers, therefore, should be encouraged to keep and improve livestock adapted to local conditions. …

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First animals oxygenated the ocean

The evolution of the first animals may have oxygenated the earth’s oceans — contrary to the traditional view that a rise in oxygen triggered their development.New research led by the University of Exeter contests the long held belief that oxygenation of the atmosphere and oceans was a pre-requisite for the evolution of complex life forms.The study, published today in the leading journal Nature Geoscience, builds on the recent work of scientists in Denmark who found that sponges — the first animals to evolve — require only small amounts of oxygen.Professor Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter, who led the new study, said: “There had been enough oxygen in ocean surface waters for over 1.5 billion years before the first animals evolved, but the dark depths of the ocean remained devoid of oxygen. We argue that the evolution of the first animals could have played a key role in the widespread oxygenation of the deep oceans. This in turn may have facilitated the evolution of more complex, mobile animals.”The researchers considered mechanisms by which the deep ocean could have been oxygenated during the Neoproterozoic Era (from 1,000 to 542 million years ago) without requiring an increase in atmospheric oxygen.Crucial to determining oxygen levels in the deep ocean is the balance of oxygen supply and demand. Demand for oxygen is created by the sinking of dead organic material into the deep ocean. The new study argues that the first animals reduced this supply of organic matter — both directly and indirectly.Sponges feed by pumping water through their bodies, filtering out tiny particles of organic matter from the water, and thus helping oxygenate the shelf seas that they live in. This naturally selects for larger phytoplankton — the tiny plants of the ocean — which sink faster, also reducing oxygen demand in the water.By oxygenating more of the bottom waters of shelf seas, the first filter-feeding animals inadvertently increased the removal of the essential nutrient phosphorus in the ocean. This in turn reduced the productivity of the whole ocean ecosystem, suppressing oxygen demand and thus oxygenating the deep ocean.A more oxygen-rich ocean created ideal conditions for more mobile animals to evolve, because they have a higher requirement for oxygen. These included the first predatory animals with guts that started to eat one another, marking the beginning of a modern marine biosphere, with the type of food webs we are familiar with today.Professor Lenton added: “The effects we predict suggest that the first animals, far from being a passive response to rising atmospheric oxygen, were the active agents that oxygenated the ocean around 600 million years ago. They created a world in which more complex animals could evolve, including our very distant ancestors.”Professor Simon Poulton of the University of Leeds, who is a co-author of the study, added: ″This study provides a plausible mechanism for ocean oxygenation without the requirement for a rise in atmospheric oxygen. It therefore questions whether the long-standing belief that there was a major rise in atmospheric oxygen at this time is correct. …

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Sauces and marinades address consumers’ desire for ethnic flavors

Sauces and marinades are an easy way for consumers cooking at home to infuse distinctive flavors into all kinds of different foods. In the February issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Contributing Writer David Despain writes about new consumer trends and the growing interest in international/ethnic flavor preferences regarding sauces and marinades.A new Mintel report titled “Cooking Sauces, Marinades, and Dressings — U.S.” says the market reached a total of $7.4 billion in 2013 and is expected to reach $9.1 billion by 2018. Consumers poled in the report showed an interest in international/ethic, exotic, spicy/hot, and authentic regional flavors. Also trending in marinades and sauces is the need for transparency, consumers want to know how authentic their products are and what ingredients are in them. Clean label texturizers are on the rise to provide sauces with a rich appearance, smooth texture, and creamy mouthfeel without compromising shelf-life stability.Mark MacKenzie, Managing Director with Passage Foods, North America says the key drivers of new regionally inspired products, like Vietnamese, Malay, Indonesia (instead of just Asian) are due to younger generations more adventurous food tastes. These consumers, mainly ages 22 to 34, are eating out at ethnic restaurants, watching food and travel shows on TV, and are interested in diversifying the way they cook and eat. Home cooks looking to expand their weeknight dishes to include flavors inspired by restaurant dishes and global food trends can now find slow-cooker sauces, classic American sauces infused with ethnic flavors, and ready-to-use simmer sauces in stores.Read the full Food Technology article at http://www.ift.org/food-technology/past-issues/2014/february/features/sauces-marinades.aspxStory Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Fruit-loving lemurs score higher on spatial memory tests

Food-finding tests in five lemur species show that fruit-eaters may have better spatial memory than lemurs with a more varied diet.The results support the idea that relying on foods that are seasonally available and far-flung gives a competitive edge to individuals with certain cognitive abilities — such as remembering where the goodies are.In a study appearing in the journal Animal Cognition, researchers Alexandra Rosati at Yale University and Kerri Rodriguez and Brian Hare of Duke compared spatial memory skills across five species of lemurs living in captivity at the Duke Lemur Center — fruit-eating red-ruffed and black-and-white ruffed lemurs, leaf-eating Coquerel’s sifakas, and ring-tailed and mongoose lemurs that eat a mix of fruit, leaves, seeds, flowers, nectar and insects.A total of 64 animals took part in the studies, which measured their ability to remember the locations of food treats in mazes and boxes. The results are consistent with these species’ foraging behavior in the wild, the researchers say, with fruit-eaters doing well and omnivores lagging behind.In the first experiment, the lemurs learned the location of food hidden in one of two arms of a T-shaped maze. A week later, the fruit-eating ruffed lemurs were the only species able to retain and recall the right spot.A second experiment tested whether the lemurs were recalling the exact spot or just remembering the turns they took along the way. First the lemurs learned how to find a piece of food hidden in one wing of a symmetrical cross-shaped maze. Ten minutes later, the lemurs were moved to a new starting position in the maze and released to find their way again.The ruffed lemurs were most likely to set off again to the right spot in the cross-maze, even though they had to take new turns to get there. “Before they might have turned right, but now they had to turn left to get to the same spot,” Rosati said.The results suggest that ruffed lemurs primarily rely on a memory of the place, rather than a memory of what turns they took. The other species showed a mix of both strategies.Finally, to better reflect the situations lemurs face when foraging in the wild, a third experiment tested the lemurs’ ability to remember multiple locations. In the initial session, a lemur was allowed to explore a room containing eight open boxes, each marked with a distinct visual cue. Half the boxes were baited with food and half were empty. After the lemur learned which boxes contained food and which didn’t, all eight boxes were baited with food and covered with lids to keep it from view. …

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Smellizing — Imagining a Product’s Smell — Increases Consumer Desire

Seeing is believing, but smellizing — a new term for prompting consumers to imagine the smell of a product — could be the next step toward more effective advertising. Researchers came to this conclusion through four studies of products most of us would like to smellize: cookies and cake.Professor of Marketing Maureen Morrin of Temple University’s Fox School of Business co-authored Smellizing Cookies and Salivating: A Focus on Olfactory Imagery to examine the impact imagining what a food smells like would have on consumer behavior.”Before we started this project, we looked for print ads that asked consumers to imagine the smell of the product, and we found none,” Morrin said. “We think it’s because advertisers don’t think it’ll actually do anything.”But researchers found that smellizing — imagining a smell — increased consumers’ desire to consume and purchase advertised food products.Consumers’ response to advertised food products was measured over several studies that looked at the effect of smellizing on salivation, desire and actual food consumption. The researchers found that imagining what a tasty food smells like increases these types of responses only when the consumer also sees a picture of the advertised product.Participants who looked at print advertisements were prompted by questions such as: Fancy a freshly baked cookie?; Feel like a chocolate cake?; and Feel like a freshly baked cookie? Look for these in a store near you.Morrin found that these types of headlines had a positive impact on desire to consume the product, if they were accompanied by a call to also imagine the smell of the food. This positive impact was strongest when the image of the product could be seen at the same time study participants imagined the smell.According to the study, olfactory imagery processing is different from that of the other senses, especially vision.”It has been shown, for example, that although individuals can discriminate among thousands of different odors and are reasonably good at detecting odors they have smelled before, they are quite poor at identifying the odors they smell,” the study said. “That is, individuals often have difficulty stating just what it is they happen to be smelling at any particular moment, unless they can see the odor referent.”This may be why a picture is so important in activating the effects of smellizing.When asked (versus not being asked) to imagine a scent with a visual, participants’ salivation increased by .36 to .39 grams in two of the studies. In another study, when asked to imagine a scent with a visual, participants consumed 5.3 more grams of the advertised cookies. These effects depended on seeing the advertised food while imaging its smell.The researchers also found that actually smelling the advertised products was even more effective on the various measures of consumer response than merely imagining the smells. But it’s not always feasible to present consumers with product odors in advertisements.According to Morrin, advertisers are not adequately tapping into the power of the sense of smell when developing promotional messages to encourage consumers to buy their products.Morrin’s study, co-authored with Aradhna Krishna of the University of Michigan and Eda Sayin of Ko University in Turkey, appears in the Journal of Consumer Research (PDF).Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Temple University. …

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Buying livestock products: What’s on the consumer’s mind?

A look around the local grocery store might show images of consumers reading meat labels or checking the expiration date on a gallon of milk. Each consumer has a set of values when making food purchases, and the level of importance placed on each value by consumers allow for food producers and distributors to better meet the needs of their end user.A recent nationwide online survey of U.S. consumers by Kansas State University found that freshness and safety were the most important values consumers placed on buying popular livestock products — milk, ground beef, beef steak and chicken breast. The findings for livestock-specific products were consistent with prior research examining consumers’ general food values.Ted Schroeder, professor and livestock economist for K-State Research and Extension, worked with other faculty and graduate students in the Department of Agricultural Economics on this research. Schroeder said as consumers make decisions to purchase food products, they might think about taste, underlying production practices, concerns they have about production, safeness, freshness, quality and price, to name a few.”It’s about a host of things that might go through consumers’ minds as they purchase a product,” he said. “As you compile those into a list, how do they rank? And, do they rank the same for different products?”Details of the studyThe prior research by Lusk and Briggeman in 2009 found that safety, nutrition, taste, price and natural were the top five values consumers desired out of the 11 total values assessed for general food products. Schroeder and his graduate students wanted to see if similar results could be found when consumers considered buying specific livestock products.”We wanted some diversity among those (livestock) products,” said Garrett Lister, a K-State graduate student who worked on the study. “We also wanted them to be specific, which is why we kept them in the livestock sector.”The popular products they chose to examine included milk, ground beef, beef steak and chicken breast. The 11 food values they chose to examine included freshness, health, hormone-free/antibiotic-free, animal welfare, taste, price, safety, convenience, nutrition, origin and environmental impact. …

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Child Obesity: Using Attention modification program to decrease overeating in obese children

Among the multiple factors that can cause obesity is an abnormal neurocognitive or behavioral response to food cues. The brain becomes wired to seek — and expect — greater rewards from food, which leads to unhealthful overeating.Attention modification programs, which train a person to ignore or disregard specific, problematic cues or triggers, have been used effectively to treat cases of anxiety and substance abuse. In a novel study published this week in the journal Appetite, Kerri Boutelle, PhD, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues report using a single session of attention modification to decrease overeating in obese children.”Attentional bias is a long-studied psychological phenomenon,” said Boutelle. “Attentional bias to food means that food grabs a person’s attention. If two people were in a room with potato chips on the table, the person with attentional bias would be paying attention to, maybe looking at, the chips and the person without the bias would not really notice or pay attention to them.”We believe that there is a group of people who are inherently sensitive to food cues and, over time, eating in response to paying attention to food makes them pay even more attention. It’s based on Pavlovian conditioning.”Obesity in the United States is a well-documented problem, with more than a third of American adults considered to be obese. Child obesity is equally alarming, with an estimated one-third of American children (4 to 5 million individuals) overweight or obese. These children are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, orthopedic and endocrine conditions and more likely to die earlier.Boutelle and colleagues investigated whether attention modification training might be another way to treat problematic eating and obesity in children. In a novel pilot study, they recruited 24 overweight and obese children between the ages of 8 and 12 and split them into two groups.One group underwent an attention modification program (AMP) in which they watched pairs of words quickly flash upon a computer screen. One was a food word, such as “cake;” the other was a non-food word, such as “desk.” After the words had flashed and disappeared, a letter appeared on-screen in the place of either the food word or the non-food word. …

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Valentine’s Day! Chocolate 101

Here’s a brief look at where chocolate comes from, nutritional information, how it’s made, and the ingredients that make chocolate — whether milk, dark or white — a memorable treat.Cocoa Seeds, Not BeansCocoa comes from the cocoa plant grown in the remote areas of West Africa, Asia and South America. While often called cocoa beans, cocoa plants actually are large, brightly colored pods filled with many seeds.Cocoa to ChocolateCocoa seeds are removed from the pod, dried and roasted, giving them a distinct dark color and unique flavor. After roasting, cocoa seeds are ground into a paste called chocolate liquor. The liquor separates into dry cocoa and cocoa butter, or fat.Chocolate IngredientsCocoa is heated and combined with other ingredients, such as sugar and milk, to create chocolate bars and candy. Dark chocolate is at least 35 percent cocoa liquor; and milk chocolate, 10 percent. White chocolate has cocoa butter, but no chocolate liquor. Chocolate contains protein, magnesium, and flavanols (antioxidants). Dark chocolate has caffeine; white chocolate does not. Dairy-based chocolate provides calcium.Chocolate SafetyThe roasting process kills bacteria on the cocoa seeds. Because of the high fat, low moisture content, chocolate generally does not spoil. …

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‘Smelling’ with our eyes: Descriptions affect odor perception

According to Simona Manescu and Johannes Frasnelli of the University of Montreal’s Department of Psychology, an odour is judged differently depending on whether it is accompanied by a positive or negative description when it is smelled. When associated with a pleasant label, we enjoy the odour more than when it is presented with a negative label. To put it another way, we also smell with our eyes!This was demonstrated by researchers in a study recently published in the journal Chemical Senses.For their study, they recruited 50 participants who were asked to smell the odours of four odorants (essential oil of pine, geraniol, cumin, as well as parmesan cheese). Each odour (administered through a mask) was randomly presented with a positive or negative label displayed on a computer screen. In this way, pine oil was presented either with the label “Pine Needles” or the label “Old Solvent”; geraniol was presented with the label “Fresh Flowers” or “Cheap Perfume”; cumin was presented with the label “Indian Food” or “Dirty Clothes; and finally, parmesan cheese was presented with the label of either the cheese or dried vomit.The result was that all participants rated the four odours more positively when they were presented with positive labels than when presented with negative labels. Specifically, participants described the odours as pleasant and edible (even those associated with non-food items) when associated with positive labels. Conversely, the same odours were considered unpleasant and inedible when associated with negative labels — even the food odours. “It shows that odour perception is not objective: it is affected by the cognitive interpretation that occurs when one looks at a label,” says Manescu. “Moreover, this is the first time we have been able to influence the edibility perception of an odour, even though the positive and negative labels accompanying the odours showed non-food words,” adds Frasnelli.This finding indicates that the perceived edibility of an odour can be manipulated by a description, and that olfactory perception may be driven by a top-down (or directive) cognitive process.Reaction times also affected by odoursVarious studies have shown that odours affect the reaction times of individuals. Thus, unpleasant odours cause rapid reactions (recoil, for example), while pleasant odours cause slower reactions. …

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Study shows yogurt consumption reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes

New research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) shows that higher consumption of yoghurt, compared with no consumption, can reduce the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes by 28%. Scientists at the University of Cambridge found that in fact higher consumption of low-fat fermented dairy products, which include all yoghurt varieties and some low-fat cheeses, also reduced the relative risk of diabetes by 24% overall.Lead scientist Dr Nita Forouhi, from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, commented “this research highlights that specific foods may have an important role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes and are relevant for public health messages.”Dairy products are an important source of high quality protein, vitamins and minerals. However, they are also a source of saturated fat, which dietary guidelines currently advise people not to consume in high quantities, instead recommending they replace these with lower fat options.Previous studies on links between dairy product consumption (high fat or low fat) and diabetes had inconclusive findings. Thus, the nature of the association between dairy product intake and type 2 diabetes remains unclear, prompting the authors to carry out this new investigation, using much more detailed assessment of dairy product consumption than was done in past research.The research was based on the large EPIC-Norfolk study which includes more than 25,000 men and women living in Norfolk, UK. It compared a detailed daily record of all the food and drink consumed over a week at the time of study entry among 753 people who developed new-onset type 2 diabetes over 11 years of follow-up with 3,502 randomly selected study participants. This allowed the researchers to examine the risk of diabetes in relation to the consumption of total dairy products and also types of individual dairy products.The consumption of total dairy, total high-fat dairy or total low-fat dairy was not associated with new-onset diabetes once important factors like healthier lifestyles, education, obesity levels, other eating habits and total calorie intake were taken into account. Total milk and cheese intakes were also not associated with diabetes risk. In contrast, those with the highest consumption of low-fat fermented dairy products (such as yoghurt, fromage frais and low-fat cottage cheese) were 24% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes over the 11 years, compared with non-consumers.When examined separately from the other low-fat fermented dairy products, yoghurt, which makes up more than 85% of these products, was associated with a 28% reduced risk of developing diabetes. This risk reduction was observed among individuals who consumed an average of four and a half standard 125g pots of yoghurt per week. The same applies to other low-fat fermented dairy products such as low-fat unripened cheeses including fromage frais and low-fat cottage cheese. …

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How to tell when bubbly goes bad before popping the cork

In the rare case that New Year’s revelers have a bottle of leftover bubbly, they have no way to tell if it’ll stay good until they pop the cork and taste it at the next celebration. But now scientists are reporting a precise new way for wineries — and their customers — to predict how long their sparkling wines will last. The study appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.Montserrat Riu-Aumatell and colleagues explain that the shelf life of various sparkling wines, from champagne to prosecco, depends on environmental factors such as temperature. Currently, wineries detect the so-called browning of bubbly by measuring its “absorbance,” or its absorption of light at a particular wavelength. It’s a fast and easy technique but not very sensitive. Researchers exploring the chemistry of sparkling wine are turning to the food industry for alternatives. Food manufacturers can measure a compound called 5-HMF, which builds up in food as it goes bad, to tell when to toss a product out. Riu-Aumatell’s team decided to see if they could use the compound, which is also found in bubbly, to predict the shelf life of sparkling wines.They tested levels of this browning compound in several bottles stored over two years at different temperatures: room, cellar (61 degrees Fahrenheit) and refrigerator (39 degrees Fahrenheit). Their study found that 5-HMF is a good indicator of freshness, and also that refrigerating sparkling wines almost completely prevented browning. To make their results more practical for wineries, the researchers came up with a mathematical model that predicts how long products will stay drinkable at varying storage temperatures.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. …

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Infants know plants provide food, but need to see they’re safe to eat

Infants as young as six months old tend to expect that plants are food sources, but only after an adult shows them that the food is safe to eat, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.The findings show that, after watching an adult put part of a plant and part of a human-made object in her mouth, infants at 6- and 18-months of age preferentially identify the plant as the food source.”Plants are often peripheral to modern life, but they were central to fundamental problems of determining what is food and what is fatal across evolutionary time,” says psychological scientist and study author Annie Wertz of Yale University. “Humans relied on gathered plant resources for food, but many plants are toxic and potentially deadly.”So how do babies learn what’s good to eat and what’s not?”Young children’s decisions about what to eat are, famously, not determined by simply copying adult behavior,” Wertz and co-author Karen Wynn note.Wertz and Wynn hypothesized that, instead of imitating an adult’s behavior outright, children tend to go for specific types of entities — in this case, plants — but only when an adult does so first. They tested their hypothesis in four experiments.Full-term 18-month-olds were presented with a realistic-looking artificial plant and an obviously human-made artifact, each of which had dried fruits attached. The infants watched an experimenter take one fruit off each object — the plant and the artifact — and place it in her mouth as if eating it.The fruits were then taken off the plant and the artifact and the infants were asked, “Which one can you eat?”The infants showed a clear preference for the fruits that came from the plant, despite the fact that they saw the same social information — the experimenter “eating” the fruit — applied to both objects.The experiments further showed that the eating action was crucial to this plant-based bias: When the experimenter placed the fruits behind the ear, or merely looked at the plant and artifact instead of performing an action, infants chose randomly.Younger infants, who have little to no experience with solid food, also showed evidence of a plant-based bias: Six-month-old infants looked longer at in-mouth actions when they were performed with fruits from the artifact, suggesting that this violated their expectations for edibility.”Together, these experiments show that infants use social information from adults to rapidly and selectively identify plants as food sources,” says Wertz. “More broadly, this suggests that humans, unlike some other non-human primates, don’t simply consider anything that goes into the mouth to be food. Instead, they also take the type of object into consideration.”Wertz notes that this social learning mechanism works in concert with other mechanisms, including sensitive periods for learning about food and aversions to certain tastes such as bitterness, which can signal something is poisonous.”Human food learning is complex, and we’re only just starting to scratch the surface of these important questions,” she says.On a practical level, Wertz believes that parents of young children may be able to put these findings to use:”Knowing that infants may be biased to learn that fruits plucked from leafy green plants are edible suggests strategies for getting young children interested in eating novel fruits and vegetables, such as taking them to a ‘pick-your-own’ fruits and vegetables farm.”

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CONTENT REMOVED

Have you ever felt jittery and stressed, all because you drink too much caffeine?Ever noticed how many calories are in coffee? Maybe you’ve tried to cut down but it’s too hard.Caffeine is one of the most researched substances in the world. It has benefits, and it can be harmful.It’s all about moderation, but the more we consume the more our body builds a tolerance. If we’re not careful we can overload our adrenal glands and become stuck in a cycle of fatigue.Here are 6 steps to help you reset your system.1. Substitute With Green TeaStart substituting one of your daily coffees with a cup of green tea.Continue substituting little by little.If you drink 4 coffees a day, begin by drinking 3 coffees and one …

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