1705Healthy School Meals and Educational Outcomes by Michèle Belot and Jonathan JamesHealthy School Meals and Educational OutcomesChild nutrition, Child health, School meals, Education, Natural
Experiment, Placebo effect01/10/2009
This paper provides field evidence on the effects of diet on educational outcomes, exploiting a campaign lead in the UK in 2004, which introduced drastic changes in the meals offered in the schools of one Borough – Greenwich - shifting from low-budget processed meals towards healthier options. We evaluate the effect of the campaign on educational outcomes in primary schools using a difference in differences approach; comparing educational outcomes in primary schools (key stage 2 outcomes more specifically) before and after the reform, using the neighbouring Local Education Authorities as a control group. We find evidence that educational outcomes did improve significantly in English and Science. We also find that the campaign lead to a 15% fall in authorised absences – which are most likely linked to illness and health.
by Michèle Belot, Nuffield College, University of Oxford and Jonathan James, Department of Economics, University of Essex
From the paper:
This paper exploits a unique “natural experiment” in the UK – the “Feed Me Better” campaign lead in 2004-2005 by the British Chef Jamie Oliver aimed at improving the nutritional standards at school. Because the campaign was literally designed and implemented as a large-scale experiment, it offers a unique opportunity to assess the causal effects of diet on educational outcomes. Drastic changes to school menus were introduced in the 80 schools of one borough – Greenwich – the idea being that these schools would then serve as examples for the rest of the country.
Belot James 2009 - Feed Me Better - Impact on Educational Outcomes - schoolmeals.pdfDownload this handout here
1575Martins 2009 - EPA but not DHA appears to be responsible for the efficacy of omega-3 LC-PUFA supplementation in depression: evidence from a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trialsEPA but not DHA appears to be responsible for the efficacy of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in depression: evidence from a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials EPA & depression; depressionMartins JG01/10/2009J Am Coll Nutr. 28(5)525-42.
Epidemiologic and case-control data suggest that increased dietary intake of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega3 LC-PUFAs) may be of benefit in depression. However, the results of randomized controlled trials are mixed and controversy exists as to whether either eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or both are responsible for the reported benefits.
The aim of the current study was to provide an updated meta-analysis of all double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized controlled trials examining the effect of omega3 LC-PUFA supplementation in which depressive symptoms were a reported outcome. The study also aimed to specifically test the differential effectiveness of EPA versus DHA through meta-regression and subgroup analyses.
Studies were selected using the PubMed database on the basis of the following criteria: (1) randomized design; (2) placebo controlled; (3) use of an omega3 LC-PUFA preparation containing DHA, EPA, or both where the relative amounts of each fatty acid could be quantified; and (4) reporting sufficient statistics on scores of a recognizable measure of depressive symptoms.
Two hundred forty-one studies were identified, of which 28 met the above inclusion criteria and were therefore included in the subsequent meta-analysis. Using a random effects model, overall standardized mean depression scores were reduced in response to omega3 LC-PUFA supplementation as compared with placebo (standardized mean difference = -0.291, 95% CI = -0.463 to -0.120, z = -3.327, p = 0.001). However, significant heterogeneity and evidence of publication bias were present. Meta-regression studies showed a significant effect of higher levels of baseline depression and lower supplement DHAEPA ratio on therapeutic efficacy. Subgroup analyses showed significant effects for: (1) diagnostic category (bipolar disorder and major depression showing significant improvement with omega3 LC-PUFA supplementation versus mild-to-moderate depression, chronic fatigue and non-clinical populations not showing significant improvement); (2) therapeutic as opposed to preventive intervention; (3) adjunctive treatment as opposed to monotherapy; and (4) supplement type. Symptoms of depression were not significantly reduced in 3 studies using pure DHA (standardized mean difference 0.001, 95% CI -0.330 to 0.332, z = 0.004, p = 0.997) or in 4 studies using supplements containing greater than 50% DHA (standardized mean difference = 0.141, 95% CI = -0.195 to 0.477, z = 0.821, p = 0.417). In contrast, symptoms of depression were significantly reduced in 13 studies using supplements containing greater than 50% EPA (standardized mean difference = -0.446, 95% CI = -0.753 to -0.138, z = -2.843, p = 0.005) and in 8 studies using pure ethyl-EPA (standardized mean difference = -0.396, 95% CI = -0.650 to -0.141, z = -3.051, p = 0.002). However, further meta-regression studies showed significant inverse associations between efficacy and study methodological quality, study sample size, and duration, thus limiting the confidence of these findings.
The current meta-analysis provides evidence that EPA may be more efficacious than DHA in treating depression. However, owing to the identified limitations of the included studies, larger, well-designed, randomized controlled trials of sufficient duration are needed to confirm these findings.
omega-3, fatty acids, EPA, DHA, depression, treatment, human clinical trials, RCT, meta-analysis, reviewhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20439549View this and related abstracts via PubMed here
1440Reichelt & Knivsberg 2009 - The possibility and probability of a gut-to-brain connection in autism.The possibility and probability of a gut-to-brain connection in autism.The possibility and probability of a gut-to-brain connection in autism.Reichelt KL, Knivsberg AM.01/10/2009Ann Clin Psychiatry. 21(4)205-11.
BACKGROUND: We have shown that urine peptide increase is found in autism, and that some of these peptides have a dietary origin. To be explanatory for the disease process, a dietary effect on the brain must be shown to be possible and probable.
METHODS: Diagnosis was based on DSM-III and DSM-IV criteria. We ran first morning urine samples equivalent to 250 nm creatinine on high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) reversed phase C18 columns using trifluoroacetic acid acetonitrile gradients. The elution patterns were registered using 215 nm absorption for largely peptide bonds, 280 nm for aromatic groups, and 325 nm for indolyl components. We referred to a series of published ability tests, including Raven's Progressive Matrices and the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Ability, which were administered before and after dietary intervention. The literature was also reviewed to find evidence of a gut-to-brain connection.
RESULTS: In autistic syndromes, we can show marked increases in UV 215-absorbing material eluting after hippuric acid that are mostly peptides. We also show highly significant decreases after introducing a gluten- and casein-free diet with a duration of more than 1 year. We refer to previously published studies showing improvement in children on this diet who were followed for 4 years and a pairwise matched, randomly assigned study with highly significant changes. The literature shows abundant data pointing to the importance of a gut-to-brain connection.
CONCLUSIONS: An effect of diet on excreted compounds and behavior has been found. A gut-to-brain axis is both possible and probable.
diet, autism, gut, brain, opioid peptides, gluten, casein, GFCF diet, reviewhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19917211View this and related abstracts via PubMed here
2050Sánchez-Villegas et al 2009 - Association of the Mediterranean dietary pattern with the incidence of depression: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra/University of Navarra follow-up (SUN) cohortAssociation of the Mediterranean dietary pattern with the incidence of depression: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra/University of Navarra follow-up (SUN) cohortMediterranean diet and depressionSánchez-Villegas A, Delgado-Rodríguez M, Alonso A, Schlatter J, Lahortiga F, Serra Majem L, Martínez-González MA01/10/2009Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009 Oct;66(10):1090-8.
CONTEXT: Adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern (MDP) is thought to reduce inflammatory, vascular, and metabolic processes that may be involved in the risk of clinical depression.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between adherence to the MDP and the incidence of clinical depression.
DESIGN: Prospective study that uses a validated 136-item food frequency questionnaire to assess adherence to the MDP. The MDP score positively weighted the consumption of vegetables, fruit and nuts, cereal, legumes, and fish; the monounsaturated- to saturated-fatty-acids ratio; and moderate alcohol consumption, whereas meat or meat products and whole-fat dairy were negatively weighted.
SETTING: A dynamic cohort of university graduates (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra/University of Navarra Follow-up SUN Project).
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 10 094 initially healthy Spanish participants from the SUN Project participated in the study. Recruitment began on December 21, 1999, and is ongoing.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Participants were classified as having incident depression if they were free of depression and antidepressant medication at baseline and reported a physician-made diagnosis of clinical depression and/or antidepressant medication use during follow-up.
RESULTS: After a median follow-up of 4.4 years, 480 new cases of depression were identified. The multiple adjusted hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) of depression for the 4 upper successive categories of adherence to the MDP (taking the category of lowest adherence as reference) were 0.74 (0.57-0.98), 0.66 (0.50-0.86), 0.49 (0.36-0.67), and 0.58 (0.44-0.77) (P for trend
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest a potential protective role of the MDP with regard to the prevention of depressive disorders; additional longitudinal studies and trials are needed to confirm these findings.
Depression, diet, human study, prospective studyhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19805699View this and related abstracts on PubMed here - full free text available online
138730 Sep 2009 - The Telegraph - EU rules on health foods could fool consumersomega-3 EFSA regulation on nutrition health claims30/09/2009By Kate Devlin, Medical Correspondent
Consumers will be fooled into thinking food and supplements containing Omega 3 are healthier than they really are under new European rules, a group of leading scientists warns.
The proposals, designed to regulate what health claims can be made for foods and supplements, could actually harm public health, they said.
The new rules will set out which products can call themselves “high” in or a “source of” Omega 3. But the scientists warn that this will allow manufacturers to use plant oils containing a particular form of Omega 3, for which there are fewer proven health benefits, instead of more expensive fish oils which contain the most beneficial, longer-chain omega-3, called EPA and DHA.
The new rules would also allow claims that a food is “high in polyunsaturates”, without any recognition that these can include also include high levels of Omega 6 oils, which can limit the benefits of Omega 3.
A petition, signed by 20 scientists from seven countries, including Britain, calls on the European Commission to halt the progress of the regulations and set up a scientific committee to recommend new proposals.
The scientists warn that the new rules could allow manufacturers to deceive consumers.
“They would be able to pour in cheap plant oils, but imply that they deliver the same health benefits as fish oils,” said John Stein, Professor of Neurophysiology at Oxford University. “This exploits consumers’ faith in omega-3s”.
“This is a public health issue,” said Prof Jack Winkler, director of the Nutrition Policy Unit at London Metropolitan University, who has co-ordinated the petition. “We know that Britons do not eat enough fish to get high enough levels of Omega 3 EPA and DHA, so the only way is through fortified food. We are in favour of regulation, we just want it to be based on the proven health benefits.”
He added: “This is a classic piece of euro-madness. It will legalise the deception of consumers”.
The most important omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), present in oily fish like salmon, sardines, trout, herring, have been shown to protect against heart attacks and are also believed to be crucial for the development of the brain.
The body does not produce its own essential fatty acids and they must be obtained from the diet.
The experts warn that some fats which could be included in foods “high in polyunsaturates” could actually be bad for health.
“(These regulations) would allow companies to fill products with cheap vegetable oils, such as sunflower and corn, that are high in omega-6s”, said Dr Alex Richardson, also of Oxford and Director of Food and Behaviour Research. “We already eat a disproportionate amount of omega-6s. This regulation would make that imbalance worse. It would actually harm public health.”
A standing committee of the European Commission will vote on whether to approve the draft proposals on Thursday. These will then be considered by the European Parliament for three months until January next year, when all existing claims about omega-3s will become illegal and only those covered by the regulations will be allowed.
Last month doctors said that there was “compelling” evidence that the Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA could help protect against heart attacks and warned that they should be taken by everyone.
A spokesman for the Food Standards Agency, which will have a representative on the European Commission committee, said: "Oily fish is the only significant dietary source of long chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA and consumers are recommended to eat two portions of fish per week of which one should be oily.
"Plant derived short chain fatty acids (ALA) offer no significant cardiovascular benefit to consumers.
"We want any claims agreed at EU level to be supportive of Government dietary advice, and not mislead consumers into believing they can achieve their recommended dietary intakes from foods other than oily fish."
Leading scientists are urgently calling on the EU to amend their proposed nutrition regulations because there are different kinds of 'Omega-3' fats - and they do NOT all have the same effects on health.
This article conveys that basic fact, but unfortunately the original version does not mention the key terms 'EPA and 'DHA'. These are the only forms of omega-3 for which there is good evidence of health benefits. To clarify the all-important distinction between EPA/DHA and ALA, words in bold type have therefore been inserted into the article below.
Consumers deserve to know the difference between EPA/DHA (the main omega-3 found in fish oils) and ALA (cheaper, plant-derived omega-3 that do not have the same health benefits). Until they do, the kind of deception and exploitation already practised by many food and supplement companies will continue - and the EU's proposals will legalise this.
For the latest evidence on the non-equivalence of plant-based omega-3 (ALA) and the long-chain omega-3 found in fish and seafood (EPA and DHA) see:
137825 September 2009 - FAB CONFERENCE - OXFORD - Nutrition for Behaviour, Learning and Mood25/09/200925/09/2009
An exceptional opportunity to hear from a panel of top UK experts, researchers and practitioners about how nutrition affects behaviour, learning and mood.
Who should attend:
Educational Professionals | Health Professionals | Local Authority Staff | Social Workers | Professionals working in the Criminal Justice System | Policy Makers | Caterers | Food Manufacturers | Food Marketing Representatives | Voluntary Organisations | Parents | Carers | Media
Topics to be addressed:
How does what we eat affect the way we feel, think and behave?
What's happened to our diet since Victorian times? And what are the well-documented consequences for our brains and bodies?
Depression, dyslexia, ADHD and related conditions - what's the evidence that nutrition can make a difference?
Media reporting of medical research - public service or public menace? Debunking myths - and how to spot pseudoscience and quackery
Can improving nutrition really reduce anti-social behaviour or boost children's learning? What do the properly controlled trials show?
How can you encourage healthy food choices - for your children and yourself? Dealing with food culture, 'fussy eating' and food cravings
Food and Behaviour: An Overview by Dr Alex Richardson, (Founder/Trustee of FAB Research; Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford; Author of 'They Are What You Feed Them')
'Back to the future' - lessons from the Victorian diet by Dr Paul Clayton, (Chair of Forum on Food & Health; Author of 'Health Defence' and 'Pharmageddon')
Implications of modern-day diets for human brains (what's gone wrong, and how we can put it right) by Prof Michael Crawford, (Director, Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London Metropolitan University)
Attention, perception and action in dyslexia and related conditions: genes, brains and the nutritional environment by Prof John Stein, (Professor of Neurophysiology, University of Oxford; Chair of Dyslexia Research Trust)
Nutrition - is it all 'Bad Science'? by Dr Ben Goldacre, (Writer, broadcaster and medical doctor)
Dietary factors in depression and other mental health conditions: a review of the evidence by Prof Malcolm Peet, (Senior NHS Consultant Psychiatrist, Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust)
Omega-3 for child behaviour and learning - randomised controlled trials by Dr Paul Montgomery, (Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention, University of Oxford; Co-Director of FAB Research) with Dr Alex Richardson
Causes of Crime? The Role of Nutrition in Antisocial Behaviour by Bernard Gesch, (Senior Research Scientist at Oxford University and Director of the research charity Natural Justice which investigates causes of criminal antisocial behaviour)
The Psychology of Food Choices: Putting theory into practice by David Rex, (Child Health Dietitian, NHS Highland; & Healthy Eating in Schools Coordinator. Provides Scotland's only specialist NHS dietetic clinic dealing with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and children with additional support needs)
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FAB RESEARCH - GALA DINNER
A unique chance to hear Dr Ben Goldacre, the 'Bad Science' Guardian columnist, and Dr Paul Clayton, nutrition scientist and author, speaking after dinner.
Food and Behaviour Research is hosting a Gala Dinner in the Banqueting Hall at Magdalen College on the evening of 24th September, to which all are welcome. Delegates attending the conference on the next day, Fri, 25th Sept, and their families and guests are warmly invited to attend at a reduced rate. The dinner will provide a superb opportunity to meet world-class researchers in the truly magnificent setting of the 15th century Banqueting Hall and a unique chance to hear Dr Ben Goldacre and Dr Paul Clayton speaking after the dinner.
Gala Dinner Tickets for conference delegates and their guests:
Individual ticket - £105 (save £20) 2 people - £205 (save £45) 3 people - £305 (save £70) 4 people - £405 (save £95)
Further details of the Gala Dinner and where you may also book and pay for tickets can be found here FAB Research - GALA DINNER - 24 September 2009. A booking form is also included with the conference flyer and booking form downloadable below, should you wish to attend the dinner.
9am - 4.30pmOxfordMagdalen College, University of OxfordFiona O'Feeadmin@fabresearch.org01463 667318FAB Oxford National Flyer V20.07.pdfFAB Oxford Flyer FAB Oxford Booking Form only.docFAB Oxford Booking Form onlyFAB_folder2 (2).jpgOxford uni
136924 September 2009 - GALA DINNER - Magdalen College, OxfordHosted by Dr Alex Richardson and the Board of FAB Research24/09/200924/09/2009
Dr Alex Richardson and the Board of Food and Behaviour Research extend a warm invitation to you to attend a Gala Dinner in the magnificent 15th Century Magdalen College Banqueting Hall, on Thursday 24th September, at 7 for 7.30pm.
The dinner will be co-hosted by Professor John Stein, Chair of the Dyslexia Research Trust, and the after-dinner speakers are Dr Ben Goldacre, Guardian columnist and author of 'Bad Science' (Harper Collins 2008), and Dr Paul Clayton, author of 'Health Defence' (ALS Ltd 2004) and 'Pharmageddon' (to be published 2009).
Individual tickets for the evening are £125, (group bookings of 4 or more £112.50 each), to include a drinks reception and three courses with wines, and may be purchased by debit/credit card using the form below. Please complete and proceed to the payment page. Alternatively, you may download a booking form from the link below, and send a cheque payment made payable to FAB Research.
If you are a delegate attending either the FAND 2009 Research Workshop on Thursday 24th September, or the FAB Research Conference on 'Learning, Behaviour and Mood' on the following day, Friday 25th September, please select the appropriate discounted rate on the booking form below. If you wish to pay by cheque, please use the Gala Dinner booking form included with your Workshop or Conference booking form.
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Individual booking - £125 2 people - £250 3 people - £375 Group bookings (4 or more) - £112.50 each
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Dress code: Smart
7 for 7.30 pm to midnightOxfordMagdalen College, University of OxfordFiona O'Feeadmin@fabresearch.org01463 667318FAB Gala Dinner Flyer and Booking Form 1.pdfDownload Gala Dinner Invitation and Booking Form hereFAB Gala Dinner Booking Form Only.docDownload Gala Dinner Booking Form only heremagdalen dining room - resized.jpgGala Dinner - 1 person125Gala Dinner - 2 people250Gala Dinner - 3 people375Gala Dinner - group of 4 (save £50)450FAB Associate Members/FAND delegates (24.09.09) and/or National Conference delegates (25.09.09) - 1 person (save £20)105FAB Associate Members/FAND delegates (24.09.09) and/or National Conference delegates (25.09.09) - 2 people (save £45)205FAB Associate Members/FAND delegates (24.09.09) and/or National Conference delegates (25.09.09) - 3 people (save £70)305FAB Associate Members/FAND delegates (24.09.09) and/or National Conference delegates (25.09.09) - 4 people (save £95)405
1795Magnus et al 2009 - The cost-effectiveness of removing television advertising of high-fat and/or high-sugar food and beverages to Australian childrenThe cost-effectiveness of removing television advertising of high-fat and/or high-sugar food and beverages to Australian childrenThe cost-effectiveness of removing television advertising of high-fat and/or high-sugar food and beverages to Australian childrenMagnus A, Haby MM, Carter R, Swinburn B.04/08/2009Int J Obes (Lond).33(10):1094-102. Epub 2009 Aug 4.
OBJECTIVE: To model the health benefits and cost-effectiveness of banning television (TV) advertisements in Australia for energy-dense, nutrient-poor food and beverages during children's peak viewing times.
METHODS: Benefits were modelled as changes in body mass index (BMI) and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) saved. Intervention costs (AUD$) were compared with future health-care cost offsets from reduced prevalence of obesity-related health conditions. Changes in BMI were assumed to be maintained through to adulthood. The comparator was current practice, the reference year was 2001, and the discount rate for costs and benefits was 3%. The impact of the withdrawal of non-core food and beverage advertisements on children's actual food consumption was drawn from the best available evidence (a randomized controlled trial of advertisement exposure and food consumption). Supporting evidence was found in ecological relationships between TV advertising and childhood obesity, and from the effects of marketing bans on other products. A Working Group of stakeholders provided input into decisions surrounding the modelling assumptions and second-stage filters of 'strength of evidence', 'equity', 'acceptability to stakeholders', 'feasibility of implementation', 'sustainability' and 'side-effects'.
RESULTS:The intervention had a gross incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of AUD$ 3.70 (95% uncertainty interval (UI) $2.40, $7.70) per DALY. Total DALYs saved were 37 000 (95% UI 16,000, 59,000). When the present value of potential savings in future health-care costs was considered (AUD$ 300m (95% UI $130m, $480m), the intervention was 'dominant', because it resulted in both a health gain and a cost offset compared with current practice.
CONCLUSIONS: Although recognizing the limitations of the available evidence, restricting TV food advertising to children would be one of the most cost-effective population-based interventions available to governments today. Despite its economic credentials from a public health perspective, the initiative is strongly opposed by food and advertising industries and is under review by the current Australian government.
food advertising, health, obesity, cost-benefit, human study, reviewhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19652656View this and related abstracts via PubMed here
1718Bull 2009 - Survey of complementary and alternative therapies used by children with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia).Survey of complementary and alternative therapies used by children with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia).Survey of complementary and alternative therapies used by children with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia).
Bull L.01/07/2009Int J Lang Commun Disord. 44(2):224-35.
BACKGROUND:Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty affecting up to 10% of British children that is associated with a wide range of cognitive, emotional and physical symptoms. In the absence of effective conventional treatment, it is likely that parents will seek complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to try and help their children. However, little is known about the level of CAM use or the type of CAM used by dyslexic children.
AIMS:This study assessed: (1) the lifetime use of CAM by dyslexic children, (2) the role of socio-demographic factors in CAM use by dyslexic children, (3) parental attitudes towards CAM use in the treatment of dyslexia, and (4) how parents' understanding of dyslexia affects CAM use.
METHODS & PROCEDURES:A semi-structured questionnaire-based survey of parents of 148 dyslexic school children was undertaken. The children had been recruited to a university research programme investigating the effectiveness of a complementary therapy for the treatment of learning difficulties.
OUTCOMES & RESULTS:Lifetime use of CAM was 55.4% (82 children). The most popular CAM approaches were nutritional supplements/special diets (63 children) followed by homeopathy (29 children) and osteopathy/chiropractic manipulation (29 children). Socio-demographic factors did not predict CAM use. In total, parents of 101 dyslexic children reported that an interest in CAM for the treatment of dyslexia was based on their preference for CAM for their families more generally. Parents who thought that dyslexia was a 'medical/health' disorder were more likely to have used CAM with their children (p<0.01) than other parents in this survey.
CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS:Educational and health professionals should be aware that many dyslexic children use CAM. Parents of dyslexic children should be provided with evidence-based advice to help them make informed therapeutic choices.
dyslexia, CAM, nutrition, diet, dietary supplements, alternative therapies, treatment, survey, human studyhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18608596View this and related abstracts via PubMed here
1796Harris et al 2009 - Priming effects of television food advertising on eating behaviorPriming effects of television food advertising on eating behaviorPriming effects of television food advertising on eating behaviorHarris JL, Bargh JA, Brownell KD.01/07/2009Health Psychol.28(4):404-13.
OBJECTIVE: Health advocates have focused on the prevalence of advertising for calorie-dense low-nutrient foods as a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic. This research tests the hypothesis that exposure to food advertising during TV viewing may also contribute to obesity by triggering automatic snacking of available food.
DESIGN:In Experiments 1a and 1b, elementary-school-age children watched a cartoon that contained either food advertising or advertising for other products and received a snack while watching. In Experiment 2, adults watched a TV program that included food advertising that promoted snacking and/or fun product benefits, food advertising that promoted nutrition benefits, or no food advertising. The adults then tasted and evaluated a range of healthy to unhealthy snack foods in an apparently separate experiment.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Amount of snack foods consumed during and after advertising exposure.
RESULTS: Children consumed 45% more when exposed to food advertising. Adults consumed more of both healthy and unhealthy snack foods following exposure to snack food advertising compared to the other conditions. In both experiments, food advertising increased consumption of products not in the presented advertisements, and these effects were not related to reported hunger or other conscious influences.
CONCLUSION: These experiments demonstrate the power of food advertising to prime automatic eating behaviors and thus influence far more than brand preference alone.
food advertising, taste and preferences, snacking, obesity, human studyhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19594263View this and related abstracts via PubMed here. Free full text of this article is available online
13799 June 2009 - BBC News - Oily fish 'can halt eye disease'macular degeneration; eye disease; RNIBPeople with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) should eat oily fish at least twice a week to keep their eye disease at bay, say scientists.09/06/2009
Omega-3 fatty acids found in abundance in fish like mackerel and salmon appear to slow or even halt the progress of both early and late stage disease.
The researchers base their findings on almost 3,000 people taking part in a trial of vitamins and supplements.
The findings are published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
An estimated 500,000 people in the UK suffer from AMD, which destroys central vision.
Experts have already suggested omega-3 may cut the risk of getting AMD by a third, and now this latest work suggests these fats also benefit patients who already have the disease.
Progression to both dry and wet forms of advanced AMD disease was 25% less likely among those eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
People with advanced AMD who also consumed a low-GI diet, eating of foods that release their sugar more slowly, and who took supplemental antioxidant vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and zinc appeared to reduce their risk of disease progression by even more - by up to 50%.
Substituting five slices of wholegrain bread for white bread every day out of a total intake of 250g of carbohydrate might cut out almost 8% of advanced age related macular degeneration over five years, say the authors.
Surprisingly, however, the supplements were counterproductive for those with early AMD, negating the benefits of omega-3 fats, and even appeared to increase the risk of disease progression.
Those who took all the antioxidant vitamins plus zinc, and who a high daily intake of beta carotene - found in yellow and green vegetables - were 50% more likely to progress to advanced disease.
The researchers at Tufts University, Boston, believe omega-3 fatty acids offer protection against AMD by altering fat levels in the blood after a meal that can be damaging to the body.
But they say it is not clear whether patients should also consider taking supplements as well as omega-3 because of their mixed findings.
They suggest that eating two to three servings of fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, shellfish, and herring every week, would achieve the recommended daily intake (650mg) of omega-3, substantially cutting the risk of both early and late stage AMD.
The UK's Food Standards Agency says people should eat at least two portions of fish a week including one of oily fish.
But they caution that too much oily fish is bad because it can contain low levels of pollutants that can build up in the body.
Most people can safely eat up to four portions a week, but girls and women who might have a baby and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should limit their intake to two portions a week.
A spokeswoman from RNIB said good nutrition was very important for both general and eye health.
"These findings appear to be consistent with previous research that has shown that eating omega-3 poly-unsaturated fats as part of a balanced diet may help prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration, the main cause of severe sight loss in the UK.
"RNIB hopes that this will further highlight why looking after your eyes should be a key motivation in maintaining a healthy lifestyle," she said.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8088860.stmRead the BBC News item here9932754.jpgOily fish
12312 June 2009 - FAB CONFERENCE - CARDIFF - Feeding a Better Future: Mothers' and Children's Diets02/06/200902/06/2009
About the conference:
An exceptional opportunity to hear from a panel of top UK experts, researchers and practitioners about how nutrition affects behaviour, learning and mood - specifically in mothers' and children.
There is endless media coverage about the food we consume. So why do we still eat such poor diets? And what part do they play in children's worsening behaviour and the rising numbers of special needs pupils?
What can we expect if pregnant mothers and their babies don't get a well-balanced diet? And is current dietary advice appropriate? Find out which nutrients in mothers' diets are most strongly linked with behaviour and intelligence in their children.
How do children develop their eating patterns, and what lifelong effects do these have? How can you deal with 'fussy eating' and encourage healthy food choices?
School meals from a new perspective - hear inspiring examples from around the world. And learn how to make informed food choices for your children and families.
Hear the latest evidence on the links between diet, brains and behaviour - and what practical steps can be taken to encourage healthy eating at home and at school.
Speakers and Programme:
Food and Behaviour: An Overview by Dr Alex Richardson, (Founder and Director, FAB Research; Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford; Author of 'They Are What You Feed Them')
Recent dietary changes and their consequences for human brain development by Professor Michael Crawford, (Founder and Director of The Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London Metropolitan University)
Key findings about food and behaviour from the 'Children of the 90s' Study - a world-famous long-term follow-up study of over 14,000 pregnant mothers and their children by Dr Pauline Emmett, (Independent Sr Research Fellow, Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, Bristol)
The Gwent behaviour study - latest results and their implications by Professor Amanda Kirby, (Medical Director, The Dyscovery Centre, University of Wales, Newport)
Improving children's diets - The school food revolution by Professor Kevin Morgan, (School of City & Regional Planning, Cardiff University)
The role of diet in ADHD, autism and related conditions' and 'Encouraging healthy eating at home and in schools: practical tips and guidance by David Rex, Child Health Dietitian NHS Highland, & Healthy Eating in Schools Co-ordinator
9am to 4.30pmCardiffThe Barcelo Angel Hotel, Castle Street, CF10 1SZFiona O'Feeadmin@fabresearch.org01463 667318FAB Cardiff flyer 3.pdfDownload flyer and booking form hereFAB Cardiff booking form only (4).docDownload booking form only hereimages.jpgFULL RATE (Commercial organisations; Central govt)125REDUCED RATE (Local authorities, Health, Education, Social Work, Charitable and Voluntary Organisations)99FAB Associate Members80SUPPORTED RATE (Students, parents and carers)60Press place50
137111 May 2009 - Psychiatry weekly - Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Mood Disorders: Integrative Treatment StrategiesOmega-3 Fatty Acids and Mood Disorders: Integrative Treatment Strategies11/05/2009Marlene Freeman MD
In this brief, open-access article in Psychiatry Weekly, Marlene Freeman MD discusses the use of 'complementary' treatments such as omega-3 fatty acids in the management of mood disorders
Dr. Marlene Freeman is interested in mood disorders in women, with particular regard to the heightened safety concerns of psychiatric treatment during the perinatal period. She has carried out several studies of her own into fatty acid treatments in psychiatric disorders, and she was the lead author of the American Psychiatric Association's review: 'Omega-3 fatty acids: evidence basis for treatment and future research in psychiatry'.
http://www.psychiatryweekly.com/aspx/article/articledetail.aspx?articleid=940View this article in full via Psychiatry Weekly here
12286 May 2009 - FAB CONFERENCE - EDINBURGH - Eating for Health, Mental Performance and Wellbeingconference Edinburgh06/05/200906/05/2009
Food and Behaviour Research presents:
Eating for Health, Mental Performance and Wellbeing - a one-day professional conference aimed at professionals working in Education and Health ; Local Authority Staff; Professionals working in Criminal Justice; Policy Makers; School, College and University Caterers; Voluntary Organisations; Social Enterprise; Parents; Carers and those working with children and young people; the Media.
What influence does the food we eat have on our brains?
How does the modern diet impact on our mental performance and wellbeing?
Children's behaviour, learning and mental health problems are rising as fast as rates of obesity and diabetes, while many people are feeling tired, agitated and depressed - so what's going on?
Can better informed food choices and dietary intervention reduce these symptoms and really make a difference?
Hear the latest evidence on the links between diet, brains and behaviour - and what practical steps can be taken to encourage healthy eating
Speakers and Programme:
Food and Behaviour - An Overview by Dr Alex Richardson, Director of FAB Research; Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford, Author of 'They Are What You Feed Them'
Food and Mood: Dietary Factors in Depression and An Early Intervention Programme for Mental Health Problems by Professor Malcolm Peet, Consultant Psychiatrist; NHS consultant
The potential for intervention using fatty acid supplements in autism by Dr Gordon Bell, Project Leader of Nutrition Group, University of Stirling
Chronic Fatigue and Depression - lessons from a practice by Dr Tom Gilhooly, Glasgow-based GP and Medical Advisor
Omega-3 for behaviour, learning and mood. Latest evidence and implications for practice by Dr Alex Richardson, Director of FAB Research; Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford, Author of 'They Are What You Feed Them'
Encouraging healthy eating in schools - practical tips by David Rex, Child Health Dietitian NHS Highland & Healthy Eating in Schools Co-ordinator
Food for Tot (a project aimed at helping families to develop the skills and knowledge they need to make informed dietary choices for their families) by Barbara Jessop, Development Worker, Greengables Nursery School, Edinburgh
9.30am to 4.30pmEdinburghThe Carlton Hotel, North Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1SDFiona O'Feeadmin@fabresearch.org01463 667318FAB Edinburgh Flyer and Booking form.pdfDownload flyer hereFAB Edinburgh Booking form web.docDownload booking form hereedinburgh.jpg
136704 May 2009 - Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting - Lack of Food Variety Puts Kids with Autism at Risk for Poor NutritionLack of Food Variety Puts Kids with Autism at Risk for Poor Nutrition, Two Studies at PAS Suggest Food Variety and Cognition-Related Fatty Acid are Important to Well Being of Affected Children04/05/2009Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
The strong preference kids with autism have for certain foods places them at risk for nutritional deficiencies because their diets lack sufficient variety, according to research from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center at this year's Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Baltimore.
Presenting their findings May 4, the researchers said screening children for the amount of variety of food in their diets may be a good clinical marker to predict which children might be at risk for nutrition problems. Kids with low food variety scores who are at risk could then be referred to dieticians or therapists to help them expand food choices and improve nutrition, said Michelle Zimmer, MD, lead investigator and a pediatrician in the division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's.
The study is one of two presented by Dr. Zimmer and colleagues this year at PAS that deal with autism, the second one showing that the red blood cells of children with autism have low levels of a fatty acid linked to cognitive function. This finding, the researchers report, warrants further research into how the low fatty acid levels may trigger biochemical changes in the brain linked to autism.
The team found that levels of docosahexanoic acid and total omega-3 fatty acids were significantly lower in the red blood cells of autistic children than in normally developing children. Omega-3 fatty acids are nutritionally important substances considered vital to the normal development of children.
Evidence of abnormal fatty acid metabolism in children with autism runs counter to at least one previous study that suggested no difference between normally developing and autistic children. The different results between studies may be explained by the current research focusing on an older group of children, Dr. Zimmer said.
"The fatty acid docosahexanoic is linked to other mental health issues, and this raises questions about whether there are functional issues in neural cells involving a deficiency of essential fatty acids," said Dr. Zimmer. "The main point of the study is we cannot rule that fatty acids are part of the story of what is going on with kids who have autism."
Dr. Zimmer said its possible older children with autism have had more time to use up their bodies' stores of omega-3 fatty acids and are unable to replenish those stores. The 21 children with autism in this study were between the ages of 3 and 18 years, as were the 20 age-matched normally developing children and 10 if their siblings who served as control subjects.
The research team is conducting a larger study with more children to verify its PAS findings. Dr. Zimmer said another study is also under design to give essential omega-3 fatty acids, such as docosahexanonic acid, to children with autism to see what impact it has on brain chemistry and/or the disorder.
Increasing foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in the diets of autistic children has been suggested by some researchers as potentially beneficial, Dr. Zimmer said. Although doing so would not have a negative impact on the children, until studies are conducted it isn't known what affect, if any, it might have, she added. Also, given the findings of the previous study on the lack of food variety among kids with autism, augmenting their diets could be challenging.
Most of the 19 autistic children in the food study had much lower food variety scores in their diets than typically developing children. A majority of the children with autism also suffered from nutritional deficiencies. The researchers concluded children with autism and low food variety scores are at risk for mild and serious nutritional deficiencies.
Researchers participating in studies were from the division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and Division of Neurology at Cincinnati Children's. Researchers from the department of Pathology at the University of Cincinnati participated in the study on food variety.
The PAS meeting is the largest international meeting focused on research in child health. It is sponsored by the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics, the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, and the Ambulatory Pediatric Association.
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is one of America's top three children's hospitals for general pediatrics and is highly ranked for its expertise in digestive diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer, neonatal care, heart care and neurosurgery, according to the annual ranking of best children's hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. One of the three largest children's hospitals in the U.S., Cincinnati Children's is affiliated with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health. For its achievements in transforming healthcare, Cincinnati Children's is one of six U.S. hospitals since 2002 to be awarded the American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize ® for leadership and innovation in quality, safety and commitment to patient care. The hospital is a national and international referral center for complex cases, so that children with the most difficult-to-treat diseases and conditions receive the most advanced care leading to better outcomes.
Nick Miller - firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/about/news/release/2009/Lack-of-Food-Variety-Puts-Kids-with-Autism-at-Risk-for-Poor-Nutrition-05-04-2009.htmView the original press release from Cincinatti Children's Hospital medical center here
135801 May 2009 - Medical News from AAN - Diet Linked to Alzheimer's RiskMedical News from AAN: American Academy of Neurology Meeting01/05/2009By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today; reviewed by Dori F. Zaleznik, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston.
SEATTLE, May 1 -- A diet that's high in vegetables, nuts, and fish but low in fatty dairy products may help protect against Alzheimer's disease, researchers said here.
Patients in the highest tertiles of such a diet had a 42% reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's, Yian Gu, Ph.D., of Columbia University, and colleagues said at the American Academy of Neurology Meeting.
"There was a significant relationship for the seven nutrients that are most consistently associated with Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Gu said.
Dr. Gu and her colleagues used the Reduced-Rank Regression model to analyze dietary patterns that might explain the variation of nutrients that is believed to be related to disease risk.
They evaluated the diet via those seven Alzheimer's disease-related nutrients: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin B12, and folate.
The researchers prospectively assessed 2,136 healthy elderly patients in New York who provided dietary information. Participants were evaluated with the same standardized neurological and neuropsychological measures every one-and-a-half years. A total of 251 patients developed Alzheimer's disease over the four-year follow-up period.
In a multivariate analysis, the researchers found that a diet high in omega-3, omega-6, folate, and vitamin E, and low in saturated fat and B12, was strongly associated with lower risk of Alzheimer's disease. Compared with the lowest scores for dietary pattern, the middle and highest tertiles had significantly reduced risks of developing Alzheimer's (HR 0.77, 95% CI 0.56 to 1.05 and HR 0.58, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.84, respectively, P<0.01).
Dr. Gu said the B12 finding was "surprising" since deficiency of the nutrient is associated with dementia. However, a major dietary source of B12 is meat, which is also a large source of saturated fat, she said.
The protective diet was characterized by higher intakes of cruciferous vegetables, green-leafy vegetables, fish, nuts, and tomatoes, and by a lower intake of high-fat dairy products.
Dr. Gu said that further study of Alzheimer's disease-related nutrients can better identify dietary patterns that relate to disease risk.
The researchers reported no disclosures.
Primary source: American Academy of Neurology Source reference: Gu Y, et al "A dietary pattern protective against Alzheimer's disease" AAN 2009; Abstract P09.115.
Explain that in a prospective study, diets rich in omega-3, omega-6, folate, and vitamin E, and low in saturated fat and B12, were strongly associated with lower risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented as a poster at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AAN/14012View this article via the MedPage today website here
1798Page & Brewster 2009 Depiction of food as having drug-like properties in televised food advertisements directed at children: portrayals as pleasure enhancing and addictiveDepiction of food as having drug-like properties in televised food advertisements directed at children: portrayals as pleasure enhancing and addictiveDepiction of food as having drug-like properties in televised food advertisements directed at children: portrayals as pleasure enhancing and addictivePage RM, Brewster A.01/05/2009J Pediatr Health Care.23(3):150-7. Epub 2008 Mar 26.
INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this study was to examine food commercials airing during children's TV programming for portrayals of behaviors associated with substance use, violence, disrespect, and stealing. It was hypothesized that these behaviors would be present and would be more frequent in commercials advertising specific products (e.g., ready-to-eat cereals) than for those advertising restaurants (e.g., fast food).
METHOD:A content analysis of 147 food commercials televised during children's TV programming on U.S. broadcast networks examined commercials for behaviors associated with substance use behavior, physical violence, and other problematic behaviors for children.
RESULTS:Commercials contained depictions of exaggerated pleasure sensation and dependency/addiction, portrayals of physical violence, trickery, thievery/stealing, fighting and taking extreme measures to obtain a food, and treating adults with disrespect. More portrayals appeared in commercials for high-sugar cereals than in those for fast-food restaurants.
DISCUSSION: Findings raise concern about the presence of this content in televised food advertisements targeting children and serve to alert pediatric health professionals and other child health advocates to take a closer look at this issue.
food advertising, antisocial behaviour, brandinghttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19401247View this and related abstracts via PubMed here
186524 April 2009 - Scientific American - What If Vitamin D Deficiency is a Cause of Autism?Autism and Vitamin Dby Gabrielle Glaser24/04/2009
A few researchers are turning their attention to the sunshine vitamin as a culprit, prompted by the experience of immigrants that have moved from their equatorial country to two northern latitude locations
As evidence of widespread vitamin D deficiency grows, some scientists are wondering whether the sunshine vitamin—once only considered important in bone health—may actually play a role in one of neurology's most vexing conditions: autism.
The idea, although not yet tested or widely held, comes out of preliminary studies in Sweden and Minnesota. Last summer, Swedish researchers published a study in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology that found the prevalence of autism and related disorders was three to four times higher among Somali immigrants than non-Somalis in Stockholm. The study reviewed the records of 2,437 children, born between 1988 and 1998 in Stockholm, in response to parents and teachers who had raised concerns about whether children with a Somali background were overrepresented in the total group of children with autism.
In Sweden, the 15,000-strong Somali community calls autism "the Swedish disease," says Elisabeth Fernell, a researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and a co-author of the study.
In Minnesota, where there are an estimated 60,000 Somali immigrants, the situation was quite similar: There, health officials noted reports of autism among Somali refugees, who began arriving in 1993, comparable to those found in Sweden. Within several years of arrival, dozens of the Somali families whose children were born in the U.S. found themselves grappling with autism, says Huda Farah, a Somali-born molecular biologist who works on refugee resettlement issues with Minnesota health officials. The number of Somali children in the city's autism programs jumped from zero in 1999 to 43 in 2007, says Ann Fox, director of special education programs for Minneapolis schools. The number of Somali-speaking children in the Minneapolis school district increased from 1,773 to 2,029 during the same period.
Few, if any, Somalis had ever seen anything like it. "It has shocked the community," Farah says. "We never saw such a disease in Somalia. We do not even have a word for it."
What seemed to link the two regions was the fact that Somalis were getting less sun than in their native country—and therefore less vitamin D. The vitamin is made by the skin during sun exposure, or ingested in a small number of foods. At northern latitudes in the summertime, light-skinned people produce about 1,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D per minute, but those with darker skin synthesize it more slowly, says Adit Ginde, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. Ginde recommends between 1,000 to 2,000 IUs per day, calling current recommendations of 200 IUs per day outmoded.
It’s hard to definitively assess the extent to which Somali immigrant families in Sweden and Minnesota are experiencing increased rates of autism. Somalia doesn't have great records of the condition, says Rebecca Berkowitz, who works for a United Nations–affiliated NGO called Global Education Motivators. "Children in Somalia may not even be getting diagnosed with autism due to the overall lack of awareness of the disorder," Berkowitz says, in a nod to the fact that there is no Somalian word for it. And Swedish scientists have reported autism rates overall have risen since they began studying the epidemiology of the disorder in the mid-1980s—just as U.S. Centers for Disease Control officials have noted an increase.
Still, proponents of the vitamin D–autism link say there is biological plausibility to their theory. They cite a 2007 review by Allan Kalueff, a researcher now at Tulane University, in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. That review—based on more than 20 studies of animals and humans—concluded that vitamin D during gestation and early infancy was essential for "normal brain functioning."
At the same time, the theory needs a lot of data to back it before others will give it much credence, given how many other potential reasons there are for a climb in autism rates. Even Kalueff says he isn’t sure how vitamin D could be related to autism, even if it is an important player in the brain: "Discussions around autism specifically may be a right step or a wrong step, but they should not distract us from a much bigger picture."
Catherine Lord, the director of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor's Autism and Communication Disorders Center, says she finds the Swedish study intriguing. "But it is going to be really important to replicate these findings," says Lord, who has studied the disorder for 40 years and has been instrumental in developing autism diagnostic instruments used in practice and research worldwide. “We are talking about a small group of children with a lot of social factors, including that these kids are very conspicuously different from your average Swedish child, and being assessed by people who are from very different culture." There is also the issue of consanguinity, she says, as many Somalis marry cousins. "This doesn't mean the study is wrong," she says. "But we need methodical testing."
So Fernell and her colleagues are now measuring vitamin D blood levels in mothers and children with autism of both Somali and Swedish origin and comparing them with a control group of mothers and healthy children. She will not say how many subjects the study includes, describe any preliminary results nor say when it will be complete. Farah says Minneapolis researchers are now preparing to study the vitamin D levels of pregnant Somalis, other ethnic groups and Minnesotans of European stock. (That data is particularly hard to come by because Vitamin D levels are not typically screened in pregnancy in the U.S., says Stacy Brooks, a spokeswoman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.)
The other potential reasons for a climb in autism rates: There is increased attention to the condition in the U.S., and Somalis are more likely to see a doctor after moving here. Also, genes, studies have found, may play a role; a number of papers, including a 1989 study of five Nordic countries and a 1995 British study, found that the concordance rate among identical twins was as high as 90 percent. (Then there is the much-ballyhooed but ultimately disproved link to vaccines.)
Somali refugees, in particular, faced multiple stressors as they adjusted to their new lives in Sweden and Minnesota: They had fled civil war, lost a supportive tribal culture, and replaced a diet of fruit, fresh meat and grains with processed food. Perhaps, most importantly, they had traded family compounds and regular exposure to the equatorial sun for cloistered high-rise apartments.
But some of those potential cultural reasons could also point to vitamin D. Surrounded by strangers, the predominantly Muslim women covered themselves almost continuously when outdoors, says Gregory A. Plotnikoff, medical director of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing in Minneapolis. Plotnikoff, an internist, speaks Somali and has many Somali patients. That meant less exposure to the sun for pregnant women, who would have worn less modest dress in private areas of their own family compounds.
And there is other evidence for a vitamin D link: Last November, Cornell University researchers published a study in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine showing that children in rainy (and therefore more overcast) counties of Oregon, Washington and California were two times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than their counterparts in drier parts of the state. "Our research is sufficiently suggestive of an environmental trigger for autism associated with precipitation, of which vitamin D deficiency is one possibility," says study co-author Michael Waldman, a professor of management and economics at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management. "Further research focused on vitamin D deficiency is clearly warranted." His research on environmental links to autism are ongoing; he plans to publish in the coming months but will not disclose any of his studies until they are accepted by a journal.
Gene Stubbs, an associate professor emeritus of psychiatry and pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University, says the preliminary research is already intriguing. "We don't have proof, but I am certainly leaning in the direction that this hypothesis could be correct for a proportion of kids," says Stubbs, who has been studying autism for 30 years. He is launching a pilot study of 150 pregnant women who have at least one child diagnosed with the disorder. The women will receive 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 during gestation and 7,000 IUs during lactation. "If we find that we are able to reduce the recurrence rate of autism within families substantially enough, others will want to study this in larger groups with larger controls."
Deficiencies of Vitamin D have become widespread in many countries because so many people get relatively little exposure to bright sunshine. This may reflect location and climate (e.g. those living in the UK, northern US, Canada and Scandinavia are at risk), indoor lifestyles, and/or habits of dress. Skin colour is also a key factor, because people with darker skin need more sunshine exposure to make the same amount of Vitamin D as those with lighter skin.
Vitamin D deficiency has many negative effects on health - including poor calcium absorption (hence weak bones) and immune system dysfunction. It can be particularly damaging during pregnancy, as there is mounting evidence that Vitamin D deficiency in utero leads to structural brain changes that raise the risk of not only autism, but also ADHD and schizophrenia. Improving Vitamin D status in mothers-to-be could therefore have huge public health benefits, and the existing evidence strongly supports large research trials to investigate this.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=vitamin-d-and-autismView this article via Scientific American here
2051Sánchez-Villegas et al 2009 - Association between folate, vitamin B(6) and vitamin B(12) intake and depression in the SUN cohort studyAssociation between folate, vitamin B(6) and vitamin B(12) intake and depression in the SUN cohort study.Association between folate, vitamin B(6) and vitamin B(12) intake and depression in the SUN cohort study.
Sánchez-Villegas A, Doreste J, Schlatter J, Pla J, Bes-Rastrollo M, Martínez-González MA22/04/2009J Hum Nutr Diet. 2009 Apr;22(2):122-33. Epub 2009 Jan 16.
An association between low blood levels of folate, vitamins B(6) and B(12) and a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms has been reported in several epidemiological studies. The present study aimed to assess the association between folate, vitamins B(6) and B(12) intake and depresion prevalence in the SUN cohort study.
The study comprised a cross-sectional analysis of 9670 participants. A validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire was used to ascertain vitamin intake. The association between the baseline intake of folate, vitamins B(6) and B(12) categorised in quintiles and the prevalence of depression was assessed. The analyses were repeated after stratifying by smoking habits, alcohol intake, physical activity and personality traits.
Among women, odds ratios (OR)
95% confidence interval (CI)
for the third to fifth quintile for vitamin B(12) intake were 0.58 (0.41-0.84), 0.56 (0.38-0.82) and 0.68 (0.45-1.04), respectively. Among those men with a low level of anxiety and current smokers, a significant positive association between low folate intake and the prevalence of depression was found. The OR (95% CI) for the first quintile of intake was 2.85 (1.49-5.45) and 2.18 (1.08-4.38), respectively, compared to the upper quintiles of intake (Q2-Q5) considered as a group.
Low folate intake was associated with depression among currently smoking men and men with low anxiety levels. Low intake of vitamin B(12) was associated with depression among women. No significant associations were found for vitamin B(6) intake.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19175490View this and related abstracts on PubMed here - free full text available online
123525 March 2009 - How metals in food impact children's behaviour25/03/2009Lorraine Heller - Decision News Media
The contamination of food with certain metals needs to be urgently addressed in light of growing evidence linking trace elements to negative human behaviour, according to a lead researcher in the field.
Metals and other elements can be present in food either naturally, as a result of human activities (such as farming, industry or car exhausts), from contamination during manufacture/processing and storage, or by direct addition.
It has long been known that excessive amounts of any metal could be potentially dangerous, but there is now also strong evidence that some trace elements can contribute to aggressive or anti-social behaviour, said Neil Ward, professor of chemistry at the UK's University of Surrey.
"Many of the mechanisms are as yet unknown and more case studies are required, but it is clear that elimination produces positive improvements," said Professor Ward at a Food and Behaviour conference held in Brighton, UK, last week.
Some metals and other elements (such as copper, manganese and zinc) can act as nutrients and are essential for health, while others (such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury) have no known beneficial health effects.
Those elements that have no nutritional benefits could not only be toxic to the system, but they could impede absorption of essential nutrients in the body, which is particularly problematic in children, explained Ward.
For example, lead has been linked to anti-social behaviour, partly because it contributes to nutrient depletion.
"Lead acts as an anti-nutrient, hindering the utilisation of magnesium, zinc and vitamin B1. High lead levels have been linked to a reduction in IQ, negative classroom behaviour ratings by teachers, juvenile delinquency and increased violent behaviour," he said, citing studies by Needleman et al., which appeared in the New England journal of Medicine, JAMA and Neurotoxic Teratology in 1990, 1996 and 2002 respectively.
Ward, who has studied the relation of trace elements to human disorders for over 25 years, said aluminium has also been linked to anti-social behaviour as it competes for the binding sites of biochemical receptors of other metal ions, such as iron and zinc. For the same reason, suboptimal dietary intake of zinc or iron could explain the uptake of aluminium, he said. References included studies by Moon and Marlow, Wenk and Stemmer, and Birchell and Chappell, which appeared in Biol Trace Elem Res (1986), Brain Res (1983) and the Lancet (1988) respectively.
Ward also highlighted findings from one of his own studies, conducted in 1995, which examined the heavy metal status of incarcerated young offenders compared to control individuals.
The double-blind case control study used scalp hair and blood serum tests to determine the levels of zinc, lead, cadmium and aluminium in the two groups. Levels of lead, cadmium and aluminium were found to be significantly higher in the young offenders group, whereas zinc levels were lower.
Zinc deficiency is also thought to occur as a result of ingestion of certain food colours, and has been linked to hyperactive behaviour or ADHD in children, said Ward.
"The mode of action is not known, but azo dyes have been linked to behavioural changes in children. These colours could be acting as chelating agents, which bind available blood zinc and create a deficiency. The elimination of azo dye beverages and sweets can have a dramatic effect on some HA or ADHD children," he said.
Food and Behaviour
Professor Ward was addressing an audience of medical professionals, teachers, healthcare and social workers, and food industry executives at a conference organised by the charity Food and Behaviour Research.
http://www.nutraingredients.com/Publications/Food-Beverage-Nutrition/FoodNavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/How-metals-in-food-impact-children-s-behaviour/?c=ntB9Yoe71WYVvwwSxljFlw%3D%3D&utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter%2BDailyRead this article online here
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