Thursday, February 28, 2013

Eating Walnuts Cut Diabetes Risk in Women

Eating two or more servings of walnuts a week is associated with a 21% and 15% lower risk of incident type 2 diabetes before and after adjusting for body mass index (BMI) respectively, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Walnuts contain the highest antioxidant levels of any nut and are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and have been shown to improve various cardiometabolic risk factors. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health investigated the association between walnut intake and incident type 2 diabetes in two large cohort studies: the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and NHS II. They followed 58,063 women aged 52 to 77 years in NHS (1998-2008) and 79,893 women aged 35 to 52 years in NHS II (1999-2009) without diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline.

Consumption of walnuts and other nuts was assessed every four years using validated food frequency questionnaires. Self-reported type 2 diabetes was confirmed by a validated supplemental questionnaire. They documented a total of 5,930 incident type 2 diabetes cases during a 10-year follow-up.

They found two or more servings (1 serving = 28 grams) of walnuts per week to be associated with a 21% and 15% lower risk of incident type 2 diabetes before and after adjusting for body mass index (BMI), respectively.
A 2009 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found dietary fat can be manipulated with whole foods like walnuts, producing reductions in fasting insulin levels.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Coffee-powered car sets land speed record

No wonder it gets you going in the morning.

A car that runs on coffee has set a Guinness land speed record for, well, cars that run on coffee.

The Bean Machine hit a verified top speed of 65.5 mph on an airport in the U.K.

But don’t think they filled it up at the local Starbucks. Instead of the brewed beverage, the vehicle is fueled by pellets made from the chaff that comes off of coffee beans during the roasting process, which is then heated and broken down into carbon monoxide and hydrogen, the latter of which is cooled, filtered and combusted in an internal combustion engine.

The process is called gasification and works with just about any carbon-based substance. Coal-powered vehicles were common during World War II and the Bean Machine can also run on wood pellets.

The creator of the vehicle, Martin Bacon, tells that the vehicle can travel about 55 miles on a 22-pound bag of pellets, which in wood form costs about $2.50. Charcoal powers the heater that enables the process.

So, not exactly zero emissions, then, but at least Bacon doesn’t have to pay for his coffee pellets. The car is sponsored by a food retailer called The Co-operative, which commissioned the vehicle, Bacon’s third coffee-powered car, to celebrate 10 years of selling Fairtrade coffees.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mediterranean Diet Slashes Heart Disease Risk

Consuming a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts may reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by 30% and reduce the risk of stroke by 49% when compared to a reference diet consisting of advice on a low-fat diet, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

As one of the world's largest and longest dietary intervention studies, PREDIMED is a multicenter, randomized, primary prevention trial of cardiovascular disease funded by the Spanish Ministry of Health. The study was led by researchers at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona and Clinical Universidad de Navaraa in Pamplona, Spain.

"These results support the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for CV risk reduction [and] are particularly relevant given the challenges of achieving and maintaining weight loss," the researchers said.

The trial included 7,447 individuals aged 55 to 80 years, none of whom had established cardiovascular disease but who were at high cardiovascular risk. Participants were randomized to one of two Mediterranean diet groups (one supplemented with olive oil, the other with nuts) or to a control diet wherein subjects were advised to try to reduce dietary fat.

Patients in the Mediterranean-diet groups were invited to regular dietary training sessions; by contrast, those in the control group were, for the first three years, sent leaflets explaining a low-fat diet. After a protocol amendment at the 3-year mark, patients following low-fat diets also were invited to regular group sessions and offered personalized advice at the same level of intensity as the Mediterranean groups.

The study was stopped when an interim analysis at 4.8 years revealed a clear signal of benefit among subjects eating the Mediterranean diets. In the olive-oil and mixed-nut Mediterranean diet groups, the primary end point (MI, stroke or CV death) was reduced by 30% and 28% respectively, as compared with the control group.

Study dropouts, meanwhile, were twice as common in the control diet group as in the Mediterranean diet group (11.3% vs 4.9%). "Favorable trends" were seen for both stroke and MI rates among subjects eating the Mediterranean diet, but numbers were too low to be relevant statistically. A total of 288 subjects experienced an event in the study: 96 events in the olive-oil group, 83 in the nut group, and 109 in the control group.
Subjects randomized to the Mediterranean diets were not told to reduce calories, a major barrier to success in many dietary interventions, particularly the long-supported "low-fat" approach.

Monday, February 25, 2013

'People shouldn't admit taking drugs before kids'

People who take drugs should never admit it in the presence of their children, or they might be tempted to experiment with narcotics themselves, warn researchers.

Although previous studies may have suggested that parents should be open about their addiction to prevent their children from taking drugs themselves, the latest study shows the reverse is the case.

Jennifer Kam from the University of Illinois, US, based her findings that involved more than 500 high school kids. They were asked about chat with parents about alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana, the journal Human Communication Research reports.

The report said that even when parents spoke about negative experiences, it increased the chances of their children also using drugs, according to the Telegraph.

However, children whose parents did not talk about drug use but delivered a strong anti-drug message were more likely to exhibit anti-drug attitudes themselves.

Kam adds: "Parents may want to reconsider whether they should talk to their children about times when they used substances in the past."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Americans Are Eating Fewer Calories, So Why Are We Still Obese?

The good news: we’re eating fewer calories. The bad news: that’s not translating into lower obesity rates.

Two federal studies on the amount of calories Americans eat show that we are eating less than we did about a decade ago, and that we’re also limiting the amount of fast food we consume.

Between 2007 to 2010, about 11.3% of daily calories came from from fast food, down from 12.8% reported between 2003 to 2006, according to data collected by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fast food consumption decreased with age, with adults aged 60 and older eating the least of this type of food. For younger adults, non-Hispanic black adults reporting eating the most fast food, with more than one-fifth of their daily calories coming from fast food chains.

Not surprisingly, those who took in the most calories from fast food favorites also weighed the most. “The good news from this study is that as we get older, perhaps we do get wiser and eat less fast food,” Samantha Heller, a clinical nutritionist at the NYU Center for Musculoskeletal Care in New York City told HealthDay. ”However, a take-home message is that the study suggests that the more fast food you eat, the fatter you get.”

The second study, also conducted by the CDC, looked at American kids aged 2 to 19 and found that boys were eating fewer calories, dropping from an average of 2,258 calories a day in 1999-2000 to approximately 2,100 calories in 2009-2010. The trend also applied to girls, who ate 76 fewer calories on average in the same time period. Most of this decline came in the form of carbohydrates; children continued to eat about the same amount of fats while increasing the protein they consumed.

“The children had a decrease in carbohydrates, and one of the carbohydrates is added sugars,” says CDC researcher Cynthia L. Ogden, who oversaw the research. ”There is evidence showing that added sugars have decreased in general,  and that these things are related to obesity. I think it will be interesting to continue to watch these trends and see what happens nationally.” Ogden says a major source of added sugar in diets comes from sugar-sweetened beverages, and as research shows limiting this sweet drinks can curb weight gain, parents may be curbing the amount of sweetened sodas children drink.

But if Americans are eating less fast food overall, why are obesity rates still so high? As encouraging as the calorie data are, the decreases aren’t significant enough to make a dent in upward trend of obesity. “To reverse the current prevalence of obesity, these numbers have to be a lot bigger,” Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University told the New York Times. “But they are trending in the right direction, and that’s good news.”

It may depend on how you look at the data. According to Ogden, while obesity rates may be high, the latest statistics show they may be stable, and not continuing to climb upward. “The rate of obesity has been flat recently in both children and in adults and some studies have come out recently that have found a decrease in obesity or childhood obesity in some cities. Still, a third of U.S. adults are obese and 17% of children are obese, but given this relatively stability, I think that these two studies show very interesting results,” says Ogden.

“I think [these findings] are a great start. I am happy to see there is a slight decrease. It still shows that for as much effort that has been put into messaging and positive nutrition promotion, we still have a lot of work to do. There are a lot of people who still need to be touched,” says Laura Jeffers, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Refining that message may require delving deeper in what Americans are eating, and addressing the balance between the amount of calories that we eat and the amount we burn off daily through physical activity. Jeffers speculates that even though fast food consumption is down, Americans may be eating unhealthy calories elsewhere. “I think that overall, people are not consuming the majority of their meals at fast food. Even-though maybe fast food has decreased, the majority of calorie consumption is not from the fast food restaurants. Looking at portion sizes and what people are getting in the home and the nutrition and health from those foods, should be another focus as to why the obesity rate is continuing to climb,” she says.

And while eating less is a good way to start addressing the obesity epidemic, it may be that slimming the national waistline means we also have to boost the amount of exercise we get every day.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

United Nations Launches International Year of Quinoa

The United Nations will host an official launch ceremony for the International Year of Quinoa today at the UN General Assembly in New York. At the ceremony, José Graziano da Silva, director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, will appoint the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales, and the First Lady of Peru, Nadine Heredia, as FAO Special Ambassadors for the International Year.

According to a statement from the United Nations Regional Information Center, the International Year was declared “in recognition of the Andean peoples who have preserved quinoa as a food for present and future generations through their traditional knowledge and practices of living in harmony with nature.” Objectives for the year include raising awareness in how quinoa can provide nutrition, increase food security and help combat poverty through its production.

Quinoa is largely produced in the Andes of Peru and Bolivia and in coastal regions of Chile.

“Quinoa offers a powerful tool in the [global] fight against malnutrition and in generating income for the Andean population,” noted First Lady Heredia at a quinoa forum and expo hosted yesterday at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas in New York by Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Tourism, Commission of Foreign Trade and Commerce and the Peruvian Embassy. Peru currently produces about 45,000 tons of quinoa per year.

Indicating quinoa’s high amounts of amino acids, vitamins, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids, in addition to its gluten-free status, Heredia noted that the grain is a “food for the future” that adapts to many cuisines and grows in various climates. “As quinoa is introduced to more countries around the world we can achieve a healthier future for people, decreasing childhood obesity and malnutrition.”

Upcoming activities to observe the year reportedly include a a global forum on quinoa to be held in Ecuador, and a multi-language quinoa cookbook.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Specialty Coffee Sales Perking Up

In the U.S., specialty coffees rose from about 37 percent of coffee cups sold in 2011 to 46 percent in 2012, according to the National Coffee Association. Many Americans cut back on their gourmet coffee fix during the economic downturn, but others aren't willing to give up the small luxury, according to a recent survey by BIGinsight for Stores magazine.

Proof that there's continuing demand for better coffee, fast-food operator Burger King last week announced it had overhauled its coffee offerings, with the new brews blended by Seattle's Best Coffee. In general, customers in the U.S. know more about coffee than they did 20 years ago, says Bill Swoope Jr., co-founder of Coffee Tree Roasters shops and Iron Star Roasting Co., both based in West Mifflin, PA. "They're the most educated in coffee than they've ever been in their lives,"

Thursday, February 21, 2013

High Glycemic Foods, Dairy Linked To Acne

A new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics points to increasing evidence of a connection between diet and acne, particularly from high glycemic index/glycemic load diet and frequent dairy consumption, and that medical nutrition therapy (MNT) can play an important role in acne treatment.

It is estimated that more than 17 million Americans suffer from acne, mostly during their adolescent and young adult years. Since the late 1800s, research has linked diet to acne, identifying chocolate, sugar, and fat as particular culprits; however, beginning in the 1960s, studies disassociated diet from the development of acne.

“This change occurred largely because of the results of two important research studies that are repeatedly cited in the literature and popular culture as evidence to refute the association between diet and acne," said Jennifer Burris, MS, RD, of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University. “More recently, dermatologists and registered dietitians have revisited the diet-acne relationship and become increasingly interested in the role of medical nutritional therapy in acne treatment."

The researchers conducted a literature review to evaluate evidence for the diet-acne connection during three distinctive time periods—early history, the rise of the diet-acne myth, and recent research. Culling information from studies between 1960 and 2012 that investigated diet and acne, they compiled data for a number of study characteristics, including reference, design, participants, intervention method, primary outcome, results and conclusions, covariate considerations and limitations.

They concluded a high glycemic index/glycemic load diet and frequent dairy consumption are the leading factors in establishing the link between diet and acne. They also noted that although research results from studies conducted over the last 10 years do not demonstrate that diet causes acne, it may influence or aggravate it.

The researchers recommend dermatologists and registered dietitians work collaboratively to design and conduct quality research.

“This research is necessary to fully elucidate preliminary results, determine the proposed underlying mechanisms linking diet and acne, and develop potential dietary interventions for acne treatment," Burris said. “The medical community should not dismiss the possibility of diet therapy as an adjunct treatment for acne. At this time, the best approach is to address each acne patient individually, carefully considering the possibility of dietary counseling."


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Beef Numbers Lowest Since 1962, Prices On The Rise

On the heels of record-setting drought that decimated feed supplies and forced producers to cull animals, a new USDA report reveals the U.S. beef cattle herd has hit the lowest point since 1962—a factor that will hit consumers in the pocketbooks.

According to the report, total U.S. cattle numbers have dropped to their lowest level since 1952. In fact, beef cow numbers dropped by 3% last year and are down 11%, or 3.6 million head, since 2007.

"The 2012 drought was the primary driver of the decrease last year as it destroyed pastures and forage supplies and catapulted corn, sorghum and soybean meal prices," Hurt said. "The impacts were largest for producers in the Southern Plains where beef cow numbers dropped by 9% last year, and in the Central Plains where numbers were down 6%," said Purdue Extension Agricultural Economist Chris Hurt.

Since 2007, the beef industry has struggled to compete with other sectors for expensive feed and limited land resources that are being converted to corn and soybean acreage. While the Central and Southern Plains states have struggled the most, the eastern Corn Belt certainly hasn't been immune to the herd reduction.

Indiana's beef herd has dropped by 18% since 2007. In 2012, the state lost 2% of the herd, or about 4,000 beef cows. Ohio lost 3%, or 10,000, of the state's beef cows in 2012, but has lost only about 2% of the herd overall since 2007. Hurt said more rain and crop production will help stop the decline.

"Larger crop and forage production would increase availability and lower prices of these critical feedstuffs," he said. "Given the small size of the calf crop, this would bolster calf prices. A second condition beef producers would like to see before expanding is some assurance that feed prices will have an overall moderation in coming years—not just a 1-year decrease."
Low per-capita beef supplies combined with an improving U.S. economy indicate cattle prices could be strong in coming years, giving producers hope and thoughts of expansion. According to the USDA report, the number of replacement heifers is up 2%.

"If weather helps restore feed and forage supplies this summer, a more aggressive expansion of beef heifers should be anticipated beginning in Fall 2013 and continuing into 2014," he said. "Cheaper feed and increased heifer retention will set the stage for very strong calf prices and new record high prices for finished cattle in 2014. If crop and forage production return to near normal, the cattle industry is poised for multiple years of favorable returns and expansion."

While drought conditions have improved in the eastern Corn Belt, much of the western Corn Belt is still suffering severe, extreme and exceptional drought. Beef producers in those areas are unlikely to expand operations until weather improves.

Beef producers aren't the only livestock sector waiting for improved feed supplies to expand.

"Unfortunately for the beef industry, both poultry and pork producers are waiting at the start line, as well," he said. "Those industries can expand production much more quickly and will extract market share from beef during the period from late-2013 to 2016."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A New Look for Low-Sodium

Picture this: You sit a table, craving a snack, and I offer you a jar of low-sodium, salt-free pickles. Most likely, you (politely) pass on the watered-down imitation. But next, I offer you a jar of cumin-scented, cider-spiked, pickled carrots and, this time, it doesn't take long before your fingers dive in for a taste.

Now what if I told you that those two jars contained the exact same ingredients? The only difference being that one label focused on the loss of salt and the other highlighted the addition of exciting flavors. One became dulled by the absence of sodium, the other brightened by unusual spices. One portrayed as health food, the other promising culinary creativity. See where I'm going with this?

The problem with low-sodium diets is not the food itself, but how we talk about it. On average, people eat 50 percent more than the daily recommended intake; there are over 70 million people diagnosed with hypertension, and more with kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and other general health needs who could greatly benefit from kicking back on salt; and billions of dollars to be saved in health-care costs. So what's stopping people? The messaging.

For a long time, low-sodium foods focused on what one lost. It focused on restrictions. And those whose health could greatly benefit from the diet were rightly uninspired to give it a try. Especially since most low-sodium dishes simply removed the salty ingredients -- the flavoring agents -- without adding anything back.

But then something happened. Taking a page from successful vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free playbooks, people remembered that when you lose one ingredient, you can replace it with something else. Something similar, something satisfying, and something creative. Which leads to finding freedom in your ingredient-free food and becoming an innovator instead of a limited eater.

People remembered that salt is just a single "spice" on the rack -- that, actually, there are a lot of other ways to flavor foods. And when you remove the salt, it makes room for exciting new flavor combinations and creative versions of classic recipes, like using quinoa for meatballs or matzo crackers for pie crust, and serving up cumin-scented, cider-pickled carrots instead of just salt-less snacks.

Today, low-sodium messaging is starting to shift. By focusing on the gains instead of the losses, low-sodium food is transforming from a culinary punishment to an active player in the growing culinary lexicon. It is changing from something you eat alone to something you share with others. And most importantly, it is becoming indicative of food that people, especially those with health-related needs, will be inspired and excited to try.

So to celebrate Heart Health Month and these great strides in low-sodium cooking,

Monday, February 18, 2013

Alcohol Blamed for 1 in Every 30 Cancer Deaths

For anyone who still thinks that drinking does not contribute to cancer, a new report finds that alcohol is to blame for one in every 30 cancer deaths each year in the United States.

The connection is even more pronounced with breast cancer, with 15 percent of those deaths related to alcohol consumption, the researchers added.

And don't think that drinking in moderation will help, because 30 percent of all alcohol-related cancer deaths are linked to drinking 1.5 drinks or less a day, the report found.

Alcohol is a cancer-causing agent that's in "plain sight," but people just don't see it, said study author Dr. David Nelson, director of the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

"As expected, people who are higher alcohol users were at higher risk, but there was really no safe level of alcohol use," he stressed.

Moderate drinking has been associated with heart benefits, Nelson noted. "But, in the broader context of all the issues and all the problems that alcohol is related to, alcohol causes 10 times as many deaths as it prevents," he said.

The best thing people who believe they are at risk for cancer can do is reduce their alcohol consumption, Nelson said. "From a cancer prevention perspective, the less you drink, the lower your risk of an alcohol-related cancer and, obviously, if one doesn't drink at all then that's the lowest risk," he said.

The report was published online Feb. 14 in the American Journal of Public Health.

To determine the risks related to drinking and cancer, Nelson's team compiled data from a variety of sources, including the 2009 Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System, the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the 2009-2010 National Alcohol Survey.

Along with breast cancer in women, cancers of the mouth, throat and esophagus were also common causes of alcohol-related cancer deaths in men, accounting for about 6,000 deaths each year.

Each alcohol-related cancer death accounted for an average of 18 years of potential life lost, the researchers added.

Previous studies have shown drinking is a risk factor for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and, in women, breast cancer, the researchers noted.

According to the American Cancer Society, it's not entirely clear how alcohol might raise cancer risk. Alcohol might act as a chemical irritant to sensitive cells, impeding their DNA repair, or damage cells in other ways. It might also act as a "solvent" for other carcinogens, such as those found in tobacco smoke, helping those chemicals enter into cells more easily. Or alcohol might affect levels of key hormones such as estrogen, upping odds for breast cancer.

One expert says the findings in this study are consistent with what has been shown before.

"Nobody is recommending that if you do not drink to start drinking for any reason," said Susan Gapstur, vice president of epidemiology at the cancer society. "If you do drink, limit your consumption."

Gapstur did point out that smoking is a much more powerful factor in cancer deaths than alcohol. Although some 20,000 cancer deaths can be attributed to alcohol each year, more than 100,000 cancer deaths are caused by smoking, she said.

To strike a balance between the cancer risk of drinking and its possible benefit in preventing heart disease, Gapstur suggested talking with your doctor about the risks and benefits of drinking.

More information

For more on alcohol and cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hot Beverages Turn to Natural in 2013

The coffee and hot beverage market in 2013 including tea, cocoa and related extracts, will see bolder niche market flavors to attract a savvy consumer base with its eyes on clean label products, according to 2013 trend forecasts from Teawolf, Pinebrook, NJ CEO Greg Robertson.

“We’ll definitely see bolder niche beverage brands driving innovation in ingredients and flavors. They make the beverage aisle exciting for consumers with an increasing number of interesting options," said Robertson.

Robertson said Chai is gaining more traction in both coffee and tea, and “interesting and novel botanical pairings, such as hibiscus black tea and lemongrass tea." The company sees great potential in green coffee as well, a rapidly growing segment.

He predicts an increased focus on natural, “with built-in crossover appeal so they can easily make the transition to mass market, mainstream consume shelves."

The natural market is in part, fueled by easier access to information. Says Robertson, “In a time when any consumer can Google an ingredient from their smart phone to learn what it is, clean labels are paramount."

In general, Robertson says consumers are abandoning carbonated drinks. “There’s been a resurgence in the popularity of coffee and tea – most likely because they are familiar, comforting beverage flavors that have a 'healthy halo’."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

UK: Horse drug may have entered human food chain

Three horse carcasses that tested positive for the equine drug bute may have entered the human food chain in France, the British government said Thursday.

Environment Minister David Heath told the House of Commons that eight horses from British abattoirs had tested positive for bute, and “three may have entered the food chain in France. The remaining five have not gone into the food chain.”

Heath said frozen lasagna sold under the Findus label in Britain had tested negative for bute. The product was removed from store shelves last week after tests found some of the meals contained more than 60 percent horsemeat.

Horsemeat itself is not dangerous to eat. But bute, or phenylbutazone, a painkiller and anti-inflammatory used on horses, is considered harmful to human health if ingested.

Authorities across Europe are testing for the drug after horsemeat was found in food products labeled as beef.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Consumer group asks FDA to limit sweeteners in soft drinks

A consumer group is taking aim at high-fructose corn syrup in soft drinks, arguing that it and other sweeteners are responsible for high obesity rates and health problems because Americans drink too much soda.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a petition Wednesday with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration urging the agency to require beverage makers to reduce the amount of high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners.

"In the past 10 years or so, researchers have done a variety of experiments and studies that connect soft drinks to obesity" and other health problems, said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the consumer group. "The science is now very strong."

Jacobson said current levels of high-fructose corn syrup are unsafe for daily consumption, which is why his group is calling for the FDA to study the matter.

A spokeswoman for the FDA said it had received the petition and would directly reply to the petitioner, but did not give a time frame.

The petition follows recent actions by health advocates to curb the consumption of sugary drinks.

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, for instance, is moving forward with a measure that would ban the sale of large soft drinks in his city. Other municipalities across the country have voted on ballot measures that would impose taxes on the sale of sugary drinks.

In California, voters in El Monte last fall turned down a measure that would have taxed soft drinks — a measure that was vehemently opposed by beverage makers such as PepsiCo Inc. and Coca-Cola Co.

The two soft drink companies Wednesday referred inquiries to the American Beverage Assn., a trade group.

"Everyone has a role to play in reducing obesity levels — a fact completely ignored in this petition," the American Beverage Assn. said in a statement. "This is why the beverage industry has worked to increase options and information for consumers."

Jacobson said beverage makers are offering more healthful options to consumers, who have been drinking less soda in recent years.

"Things are moving in the right direction," he said. "Consumers are drinking less soft drinks, and I think a big reason is the obesity epidemic."

The filing isn't the first by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The group has filed similar petitions in the past urging the FDA to regulate the use of salt and hydrogenated vegetable oils.

The petition was signed by dozens of health advocacy groups, scientists and public health departments from cities including Los Angeles and Boston.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Resistant Starch Can Replace Flour in Foods

HI-MAIZE resistant starch may be used to increase the dietary fiber content of certain foods with minimal impact on sensory characteristics, according to a recent study published in the journal Food Science & Nutrition.

Researchers at the Texas Woman’s University conducted the study that showed muffins, focaccia bread and chicken curry can be made with HI-MAIZE® resistant starch, replacing a portion of the all-purpose flour normally contained in such foods without significantly altering consumer’s acceptability.

The randomized, double-blinded study investigated the sensory characteristics of certain foods containing HI-MAIZE resistant starch on a group of healthy men and women between ages 18 and 60 years. Two formulations of blueberry muffins, herbed focaccia bread and spicy chicken curry were created. The control formulation contained all-purpose flour, while the test formulation replaced a portion or all of the all-purpose flour with HI-MAIZE resistant starch.

The HI-MAIZE enriched muffins, focaccia bread, and chicken curry contained 3.2 g of resistant starch/113 g medium-sized muffin, 13.1 g of resistant starch/100 g of bread, and 8.8 g of resistant starch/one serving or 255 g of chicken curry. The sensory characteristics of the three types of food products, with and without resistant starch, were evaluated using a 9-point hedonic scale.

Participants rated the HI-MAIZE-fortified muffin higher than the control, particularly with regard to moisture content and mouthfeel. It also appeared to be fluffier than the control muffin, and the overall likeability increased by 12%, (but was not statistically significant). The participants found a denser, darker and firmer crust in the focaccia bread and found the resistant starch containing focaccia bread to be more likeable than the control bread (a result that was statistically significant). They liked the chicken curry equally as well as the control. The researchers concluded the addition of HI-MAIZE resistant starch may not significantly alter consumer’s acceptability in most food products.

“This study is particularly timely because HI-MAIZE resistant starch delivers benefits that consumers really want and need," said Rhonda Witwer, senior business development manager at Ingredion. “Published clinical studies have shown that HI-MAIZE boosts satiety and helps people to eat less, reduces the glycemic response of foods, helps balance energy levels, and improves insulin sensitivity. Because HI-MAIZE resistant starch invisibly replaces flour in foods, manufacturers can improve the nutritional profile of their foods, while maintaining the great taste and textures that their customers know and love."

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Couple Addicted to Coffee Enemas, Up to Four Times a Day

This is so unbelievable:

Mike and Trina swear by their coffee. He enjoys a fine espresso grind, which is "on the cold side"; she prefers a "saturated blend" that is "warm and thicker."

The St. Petersburg, Fla., couple refuses to drink the caffeinated beverage, which they say is bad for their health. Instead, they use it as an enema. They each have at least 100 coffee enemas a month, 6,000 in all since their addiction began two years ago.

"I started the whole debacle," Trina, who did not want to reveal her last name, told "Then it took on a life of its own. I twice tried to stop and felt worse, so I do this every day and as much as I can. But it's very time-consuming."

"I love the way it makes me feel," said Trina. "It gives me a sense of euphoria."

The couple admits they perform their caffeinated enema at least four times a day. Once, Trina said she did "nine or 10" in a 24-hour period.

Her husband Mike, 45, said he initially thought, "Oh my god, how disgusting," but then he tried it, "and now I am addicted."

TLC has outdone itself in the fourth season of "My Strange Addiction," which always carries the warning "do not attempt" this at home. The couple heats up the coffee on the stove and injects the liquid into their colons to clean out their lower intestines.

In its premiere of the first of eight new episodes on Feb. 13 at 10 p.m. ET, the show will also highlight Lisa, a middle-aged woman from Detroit who eats cat fur, grooming her pet with her own tongue. In subsequent episodes, a woman is addicted to bee stings and another one inhales more than 30 jars of vapor rub every week. In the season finale, a woman is addicted to drinking blood.

As for Mike and Trina, for the past two years they have been "unable to function" without their coffee enema, a ritual that takes five hours of planning and executing each day.

They fill a 32-ounce bucket with coffee and deliver it to their lower intestine via a Vaseline-coated hose. "That's the freaky part," Trina said. "So I try to relax."

While she administers her enema, Trina listens to music, catches up on TV shows and tweets. "I even play Sudoku," she said.

But these enemas can be tricky: "I make a quick transition from the floor to the toilet seat," said Mike. "It comes flying out like a torrent."

His mother Jan is concerned about their habit, which she says is "kind of gross." They are so addicted, they won't travel or leave the house for long periods of time. Fortunately, they each work from home.

The habit began after Trina had a series of issues with her health.

"I had a lot of stomach problems, digestive problems with my kidney and my liver," she said. "I started research and it led into coffee enemas and I really started to feel the benefit. I felt like I was living for the first time in years."

When she stopped the coffee enemas recently, Trina said she ended up the emergency room with kidney stones.

Neither Trina nor her husband had, up until then, visited a doctor in years. Caffeine can cause problems with dehydration and high blood pressure. Her family worries they will have a heart attack.

But will they quit? "Not a chance," said Mike.

"We can't live without them," echoed Trina.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Plasma Power Reduces Food Pathogens, Increase Shelf Life

Scientists at the University of Glasgow have harnessed plasma power to developed a new method to make packaged food safer for consumers and increase shelf life. The prototype system rapidly, safely and temporarily turns some of the oxygen inside the sealed packaging into ozone, which is a very effective germicide.

Scientists at the university’s School of Physics and Astronomy who developed the system said the product’s effectiveness as a germ-killer extends food’s shelf life by at least one extra day, which could go a significant way to cutting down on the 7 million tons of food discarded in the United Kingdom annually.

The efficacy of the prototype has been proven at leading UK test labs including Campden BRI in Gloucestershire. Tests have shown an increase in shelf life for products, including bread and muffins, and a significant reduction of many pathogens in poultry, including Campylobacter, E. coli and pseudomonas.

Plasma generated by a retractable device held briefly against the surface of plastic or glass packaging splits the bonds between oxygen molecules (O2) inside the packaging which then reform as ozone (or O3). The ozone naturally returns to its original state after just a couple of hours—more than enough time for any mould, fungi or bacteria on the packaging’s contents to be destroyed without adversely affecting its taste.

The product is being brought to market by a University spinout company called Anacail, which was founded in January 2011 and has recently raised £750,000 of seed funding from leading technology commercialization company, IP Group, and the Scottish Investment Bank, a division of Scottish Enterprise. Half of the funding is subject to satisfaction of certain technical and commercial milestones.

Commenting on the prototype, Anacail C

EO Executive Officer Dr. Ian Muirhead said: “We’re very excited about the applications of our product. It’s safe and easy to use, doesn’t require any change in current packaging of food products to be effective, and it doesn’t require any chemical additives—the sterilization effect comes directly from oxygen already in the package which is treated by our plasma head. Although ozone can be harmful to humans, it has a very limited lifespan before it returns to oxygen and it doesn’t leave behind any dangerous residues so it’s perfectly safe to use in food decontamination. It’s a very effective way to destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses."

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mediterranean Diet Benefits Diabetics

Diabetics who follow a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, low-fat dairy, whole grains and olive oil experience better outcomes with weight loss and lower blood sugar, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers at the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry assessed the effect of various diets on glycemic control, lipids, and weight loss. They reviewed results of 20 studies comparing the effect of low-carbohydrate, vegetarian, vegan, low-glycemic index (GI), high-fiber, Mediterranean, and high-protein diets with control diets, including low-fat, high-GI, American Diabetes Association,
European Association for the Study of Diabetes, and low-protein diets.

The low-carbohydrate, low-GI, Mediterranean, and high-protein diets all led to a greater improvement in glycemic control. The largest effect size seen in the Mediterranean diet. Low-carbohydrate and Mediterranean diets also led to greater weight loss—an average of 4 pounds. Low-carb, low-glycemic and Mediterranean diets all led to increases in HDL cholesterol.

A 2011 study published in the journal Age, found individuals who follow a Mediterranean diet live an average of 23 years longer than individuals who eat more meat and animal products

Sunday, February 10, 2013

French fry sales drop as more choose low-cal foods, study finds

Serving lower calorie and low-fat foods isn’t just good for the hearts and arteries of customers – it’s good for the bottom line, too, according to a new study published Thursday.

Restaurant chains such as McDonald’s and Taco Bell are making more money by offering apple slices, oatmeal, and food made without artery-clogging trans-fats, the report by the Hudson Institute found.

They analyzed sales figures at 21 big restaurant chains, from fast-food outlets like Taco Bell and Sonic to sit-down restaurants such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Some of them have started offering lower-calorie options.

“French fries are declining in both number of servings and share of total food servings among quick-service chains that have more than $3 billion in sales,” the report reads. “Among the same chains, lower-calorie beverages are also outperforming traditional beverages,” it adds.

“Consumers are hungry for restaurant meals that won’t expand their waist lines, and the chains that recognize this are doing better than those that don’t,” said Hank Cardello, a former food company executive who directs Hudson’s Obesity Solutions Initiative and who wrote the report. Cardello has worked for Coca-Cola, General Mills, Anheuser-Busch and Cadbury-Schweppes.

The food industry has been under heavy pressure to provide healthier foods to Americans. With two-thirds of Americans overweight or obese, and rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes soaring, policymakers and the public alike are looking for ways to help people keep the weight off.

And separate research published Thursday confirms that fatty, salty food can kill. A study presented at the American Stroke Association meeting found that people who ate Southern-style delicacies such as fried chicken regularly had a 40 percent higher chance of stroke than people who ate such goodies only occasionally.

The 2010 health reform law will require restaurants that have 20 or more branches to list calorie counts on their menus starting in 2014, although final rules have yet to be worked out.

Consumer groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest have stepped up pressure to get restaurants to change their menus voluntarily, while also pressing for stronger regulation. CSPI publishes an annual report on some of the most calorie-laden offerings.

Many restaurant companies had argued that when they tried to offer lower-calorie foods, customers just didn’t go for them. Some have lobbied hard against initiatives to force them to list calories on menus, or more radical moves like New York’s ban on supersize sodas.

But surveys show customers say they want healthier options.

Cardello, with funding by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, set out to see if customers were actually buying the low-fat, sugar-free options.

They found that between 2006 and 2011, most of the growth in business was fueled by the lower-calorie choices. In 17 of the 21 restaurant chains people spent more on the lower-calorie foods than on fatty fare.

The report documents that restaurants offering healthier foods reported a 5.5 percent increase in sales over that time – that’s sales in the same individual restaurants. Those that didn’t offer many low-calorie options had their same-store sales fall 5.5 percent.

Overall traffic grew 10.9 percent in the restaurants offering lighter fare and it fell 14.7 percent on those sticking to only fatty foods.

The study used calorie counts to determine which items were healthier. A sandwich or entrée was considered lower-calorie if it had no more than 500 calories. Beverages with 50 or fewer calories per eight ounces were considered lower-calorie.

“This report shows that companies can serve both their interest in healthy profits and their customers’ interest in healthier eating,” said Dr. James Marks, director of the health group at Robert Wood Johnson.

Spokespeople for several of the restaurant chains said they were examining the report.

The study on Southern food and stroke helps explain why Southerners and African-Americans have a higher risk of stroke, researchers said.

“We’ve got three major factors working together in the Southern-style diet to raise risks of cardiovascular disease: fatty foods are high in cholesterol, sugary drinks are linked to diabetes and salty foods lead to high blood pressure,” said Suzanne Judd, a biostatistician at the University of Alabama Birmingham who led the study.

Her team used data from surveys and medical visits from 20,000 adults in 48 states to demonstrate that those who ate Southern-style cooking six times a week had a 41 percent higher stroke risk compared to those who ate it about once a month. A diet rich in fried foods, biscuits, ham and bacon accounted for 63 percent of the higher risk of stroke that African-Americans have, Judd’s team told the meeting. The study followed the volunteers from 2003 to 2007.

But those who ate fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains five times a week or more had a 29 percent lower stroke risk than those who ate them three times a week or less.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Alzheimer's Cases May Triple By 2050

The rate of Alzheimer's in the U.S. could as much as triple by 2050, says a new study from research done at the Rush Institute for healthy Aging in Chicago. Currently about 5 million Americans suffer from the condition and that number is expected to rise to about 13.8 million.

For the study, researchers examined health records from 10,802 Chicago residents of 65 years or older between 1993 to 2011. The test subjects were reviewed every three years for possible dementia risk and that data was compiled into a national projection.

"We're going to need coordinated efforts for this upcoming epidemic," says lead author Jennifer Weuve. "People have trouble getting their heads around these numbers, but imagine if everyone in the state of Illinois (population 12.8 million) had Alzheimer's. I look around Chicago and can't imagine it."

Dallas Anderson, director of population studies and epidemiology of Alzheimer's disease at the National Institute on Aging, adds: "These numbers are more credible because they involve new Census data . If you know anyone who has Alzheimer's disease now, you know how dire this projection is for the nati


Friday, February 08, 2013

Southern Diet Sends Stroke Risk Soaring: Study

Chicken-fried steak. Deep-fried gizzards. Candy-sweet tea.

Consider these delicacies, and it's easy to see how the Deep South garnered its unfortunate distinction as the "Stroke Belt."

Now, researchers have drawn the strongest link yet between these kinds of foods and risk of stroke.

University of Alabama researchers found that people who regularly ate foods traditionally found in the southern diet had a whopping 41 percent increased risk of stroke -- and in African-Americans, it was 63 percent higher risk.

The researchers presented these results Thursday at the annual International Stroke Conference in Hawaii.

"Diet is an understudied risk factor for stroke," said lead study author Suzanne Judd, PhD, of the University of Alabama. "What was surprising about what we found was that when eating certain foods in the southern diet -- fried foods, organ meats, gizzards, sweet tea -- even when you account for other factors such as smoking, obesity, and physical activity, people still experienced a 30 percent increase in stroke risk."

The researchers looked at more than 20,000 black and white study participants who were over 45 years old as part of the study, termed the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke -- or REGARDS for short. They asked subjects to detail their weekly diet habits, focusing on 56 different types of food.

The subjects then underwent a complete medical evaluation, including a physical exam and blood tests. They were followed over a period of nearly five years at regular six-month intervals, during which researchers tallied the number of strokes these people experienced.

What they found was that foods common in the southern-style diet, such as deep fried foods, processed meats, and sugary beverages, significantly increased stroke risk.

"We've known that diets high in saturated fats and deep fried foods and low in fruits and vegetables are tied to greater health risks," said Keith Ayoob, director of the nutrition Clinic at Rose F. Kennedy Center, who was not involved with the study.

The good news, however, is that the Southern diet is not all bad -- and some staples of Deep South cuisine may even cut stroke risk.

"There are other foods in the Southern-style diet which are good," study author Judd said. "Collard greens, for example. Just having a little more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean protein sources -- chicken without the skin, fish that isn't fried -- gives you an across-the-board 20 percent reduction in stroke risk."

Ayoob said no matter the cuisine, the advice remains the same.

"What would I tell my patients? Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy, because those are things people are missing from their diets," he said. "People are not getting in trouble for what they're eating, they're getting in trouble for what they're not eating."

REGARDS is funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).


Thursday, February 07, 2013

Shoppers Care More About Local Food Than Organic

When it comes to food labels, "local" is a much more important consideration than "organic," according to A.T. Kearney's "Buying into the Local Food Movement" study. The study results show that consumers embrace local-food options because they believe it helps local economies (66 percent), delivers a broader and better assortment of products (60 percent) and provides healthier alternatives (45 percent). Almost 30 percent of grocery shoppers say they would consider purchasing food elsewhere if their preferred store does not carry local foods. Trust is a major issue with consumers when purchasing local food. When asked about the trustworthiness of different formats to deliver local food, farmers markets and farm stores rank first, followed by natural food markets, local food markets, national supermarkets and big box retailers. Online retailers were ranked last. To overcome the trust gap, national supermarkets and big-box retailers need to excel in assortment and presentation.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Vitamin C supplements tied to men's kidney stones

Men who take vitamin C supplements are at higher-than-average risk of developing kidney stones, a new study from Sweden suggests.

The findings don't prove the vitamin itself triggers stones to form. But researchers said that because there are no clear benefits tied to taking high-dose vitamin C, people who have had stones in the past might want to think before taking extra supplements.

"I don't think I would hold this up and say, ‘You shouldn't take vitamin C, and here's the evidence,'" said Dr. Brian Matlaga, a urologist who studies kidney stones at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.

But, "When you talk to patients, a lot of times you'll find patients are taking non-prescribed medications, like vitamin supplements… and there may not be great evidence that there's an actual health benefit associated with these," he told Reuters Health.

The new finding "suggests that stone formers who take regular vitamin C may actually place themselves at increased risk," said Matlaga, who wasn't involved in the study.

Researchers led by Laura Thomas of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm used data from a large study of middle-aged and elderly Swedish men who answered a series of questions on their diet and lifestyle, then were tracked for an average of 11 years.

The current analysis included 907 of those men who said they took regular vitamin C tablets and more than 22,000 who didn't use any nutritional supplements.

Of the vitamin C users, 3.4 percent developed kidney stones for the first time during the study, compared to 1.8 percent of non-supplement users. Men who took vitamin C supplements at least once a day had the highest risk of kidney stones, researchers reported Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

"It has long been suspected that high doses of vitamin C may increase the risk of kidney stones as some of the vitamin C absorbed by the body is excreted in urine as oxalate - one of the key components of kidney stones," Thomas told Reuters Health by email.

Stones are made up of tiny crystals, which can be formed by calcium combining with oxalate. They usually pass on their own, but can cause severe pain in the process. Larger stones occasionally require surgery.

Men are more likely to form stones than women.

The findings don't mean people shouldn't get plenty of vitamin C through fruits and vegetables, researchers said. The antioxidant is important for bone and muscle health - and severe deficiency can cause scurvy.

"Vitamin C is an important part of a healthy diet," Thomas said. "Any effect of vitamin C on kidney stone risk is likely to depend both on the dose and on the combination of nutrients with which it is ingested."

Swedish supplements, like those the study participants would have taken, typically contain about 1,000 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C per tablet, she noted. Most vitamin C supplements sold in the U.S. contain either 500 or 1,000 mg.

The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends 90 mg per day for men - the amount in a small glass of orange juice or a cup of broccoli - and 75 mg for most women.

Matlaga said more research is needed to determine for certain whether reasonable doses of vitamin C may increase the risk of kidney stones. For now, he said people who haven't had kidney stones before shouldn't worry about any related risks tied to the vitamin.


Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Vegetarians Have Lower Heart Disease Risk, Study Finds

Going meatless gives vegetarians a 32 percent lower heart disease risk than non-vegetarians, a British study found, offering further proof that eating meat can be hazardous to health.

The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involved 44,561 people enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford Study, which began in England and Scotland in 1993. Researchers sought to compare a range of diets and their impact on overall health, and 34 percent of all participants were vegetarians.

“It’s a very good study,” said Dr. William Abraham, who directs the division of cardiovascular medicine at Ohio State University, noting the large proportion of vegetarians. “It’s further evidence that vegetarian diets are associated with a lesser risk of developing ischemic heart disease or coronary artery disease.”

He and Dr. Peter McCullough, a cardiologist at St. John Providence Health System in Michigan, agreed it’s not about what’s in the vegetarian diet that makes it so heart healthy – it’s about what the vegetarian diet leaves out: saturated fat and sodium.

“Saturated fat is the single greatest dietary factor in the production of cholesterol,” McCollough said, adding that people assume dietary cholesterol increases cholesterol levels though it’s not true. “Sodium intake is the single greatest dietary determinant of blood pleasure.”

Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol are known risk factors for ischemic heart disease because they constrict the blood vessels and cut off blood supply to the heart.

Abraham said he occasionally prescribes a vegetarian diet to patients who have already had heart attacks – but this study might persuade him to prescribe them preventively to patients with heart disease risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

McCollough, on the other hand, has never prescribed a vegetarian diet and said limiting sodium and saturated fats can be done by picking the right meats, controlling portion sizes and avoiding what he calls the three s-es: sugars, starches and saturated fats. He said the healthiest protein to eat is fish and the least healthy is beef. Behind fish, beans and nuts are the best way to get protein, he said.

Vegetarianism isn’t always the answer because even vegetarians can eat too many sugars, one of the three-s categories, he said. For example, he added, vegetarians eat more cheese than non-vegetarians and, although it has some protein, about 60 percent of cheese is saturated fat.

Other studies have examined how daily servings of red meat can lead to early death and how processed meat can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 2 million heart attacks and stroke a year in the United States, and about 800,000 deaths from heart disease.


Monday, February 04, 2013

Study Calls For Tooth Decay Warnings on Sugary Drinks

A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests sugar-sweetened beverages, particularly soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks, should be required to have tooth decay warning labels.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide conducted a study to examine water fluoridation and the association of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and dental caries in Australian children. They examined data on more than 16,800 children enrolled in Australian school dental services in 2002-2005. Dental staff assessed dental caries, and parents completed a questionnaire about their child's residential history, sources of drinking water, tooth-brushing frequency, socioeconomic status and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.

They found 56% of Australian children aged 5 to 16 years consumed at least one sugar-sweetened drink per day, and 13% of children consumed three or more sugar-sweetened drinks on average per day. Boys consume more sweet drinks than girls, and children from the lowest income families consumed almost 60% more sugar-sweetened drinks.

Data revealed the number of decayed, missing and filled deciduous (or baby) teeth was 46% higher among children who consumed three or more sugar-sweetened drinks per day, compared with children who did not consume sugar-sweetened drinks.

"Consistent evidence has shown that the high acidity of many sweetened drinks, particularly soft drinks and sports drinks, can be a factor in dental erosion, as well as the sugar itself contributing to tooth decay," said lead study author Jason Armfield, Ph.D., from the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health at the university's school of dentistry. "If health authorities decide that warnings are needed for sweet drinks, the risk to dental health should be included. This action, in addition to increasing the access to fluoridated water, would benefit children's teeth greatly."

Results of a 2010 meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), showed that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is clearly and consistently associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Specifically, drinking two sugar-sweetened drinks per day increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26%, and increases the risk of metabolic syndrome by 20% compared with those who consumed less than one sugary drink per month. Drinking one 12-ounce serving per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 15%.

Consumer concerns about health, coupled with their requirements for appealing tastes, are driving demand for an array of sweeteners. Check out the "Sweeteners for the Future" digital issue on Food Product Design for more information.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Energy-Drink Paper Warns of Dangers to Teens

Teenagers long have been warned about the dangers of alcohol.

Now, anecdotal evidence and research is mounting that another beverage could harm adolescents: caffeine-laden energy drinks. A report published in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics in Review summarizes current research and concludes energy drinks can cause such medical problems in teens as high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and obesity, HealthDay News reported.

"I don't think there is any sensationalism going on here," review lead author Dr. Kwabena Blankson was quoted as declaring in the article. "These drinks can be dangerous for teens."

The authors of the report cautioned that alcohol when mixed with the energy drinks can exacerbate the harm that teens suffer.

The American Beverage Association (ABA) slammed the article, "Energy Drinks: What Teenagers (and Their Doctors) Should Know."

"This paper contains misinformation about energy drinks and does nothing to address the very serious problem of underage drinking and excessive alcohol consumption among young adults," ABA griped. "Moreover, ABA member companies manufacture non-alcoholic beverages — including energy drinks. Contrary to the misperception perpetuated by this paper, most mainstream energy drinks contain only about half the amount of caffeine of a similar size cup of coffeehouse coffee."

In a letter sent last year to Jon Leibowitz, the outgoing chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey warned about the potential dangers of energy drinks to children and teenagers. Those alleged harms are detailed in a lawsuit that was filed in October against Monster Beverage Corp. over the death of a 14-year-old girl who reportedly consumed two energy drinks within 24 hours.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

WHO Issues New Guidance on Dietary Salt, Potassium

As part of its ongoing effort to curb the rise in global obesity and other chronic diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidance on dietary salt and potassium that recommends adults should consume less than 2,000 mg of sodium, or 5 grams of salt, and at least 3,510 mg of potassium per day.

The guidelines are an important tool for public health experts and policymakers as they work in their specific country situations to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases. Public health measures to reduce sodium and increase potassium consumption and, thereby decrease the population’s risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, can include food and product labeling, consumer education, updating national dietary guidelines, and negotiating with food manufacturers to reduce the amount of salt in processed foods.

Sodium is found naturally in a variety of foods, including milk and cream (approximately 50 mg of sodium per 100 g) and eggs (approximately 80 mg/100 g). It is also found, in much higher amounts, in processed foods, such as bread (approximately 250 mg/100 g), processed meats like bacon (approximately 1,500 mg/100 g), snack foods such as pretzels, cheese puffs and popcorn (approximately 1,500 mg/100 g), as well as in condiments such as soy sauce (approximately 7,000 mg/100 g), and bouillon or stock cubes (approximately 20,000 mg/100 g).

Potassium-rich foods include beans and peas (approximately 1,300 mg of potassium per 100 g), nuts (approximately 600 mg/100 g), vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and parsley (approximately 550 mg/100 g) and fruits such as bananas, papayas and dates (approximately 300 mg/100 g). Processing reduces the amount of potassium in many food products.

“Elevated blood pressure is a major risk for heart disease and stroke—the No. 1 cause of death and disability globally," said Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development. “These guidelines also make recommendations for children over the age of 2. This is critical because children with elevated blood pressure often become adults with elevated blood pressure."

WHO also is updating guidelines on the intake of fats and sugars associated to reduced risk of obesity and non-communicable diseases.

Friday, February 01, 2013

How 'fiscal cliff' deal impacts small restaurateurs, franchisees

While the restaurant industry breathed a collective sigh of relief when the White House and Congress just narrowly avoided plunging the country over the "fiscal cliff" in December, not everyone is thrilled with all aspects of the deal.

“We’re pleased to see a deal reached on the fiscal cliff,” said Rob Green, president of the National Council of Chain Restaurants. “But we’re not out of the woods yet.”

While the Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 ensured that about 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses would not see their income taxes rise in 2013, some restaurateurs will not be so fortunate.