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Food & Nutrition

Rates of food sensitivity vary by country

Allergies • • Food & NutritionMar 12 10

People in Portland are more likely than those in Iceland to be sensitive to certain foods, but reactions to fish, eggs and cow’s milk appear rare in both places, new research suggests.

The study, of more than 4,500 adults from 13 Western countries, found that nations varied in the rate of people who were sensitive to at least one food—ranging from about 25 percent of those in Portland, Oregon, to just under 8 percent of those in Reykjavik, Iceland.

However, countries tended to be similar in the specific culprit foods.

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N.Y. health dept. slams sugary drinks

Food & Nutrition • • ObesityMar 10 10

New York’s commissioner of health criticized the beverage industry for “ceaseless marketing” in its campaign against a proposed tax on sugary drinks.

Speaking at a symposium on obesity in Albany, N.Y., Richard F. Daines said the tax, included in the executive budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, is a battle to reduce obesity. He detailed the efforts of the beverage industry to market cheap soda, especially in low-income and minority communities; manipulate pricing to promote greater consumption; rally opposition to government efforts to reduce consumption of sugary beverages and blame the rise in childhood obesity on parents, while denying any link between obesity and non-diet soda consumption.

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Unhealthy foods become less popular with increasing costs

Food & NutritionMar 09 10

Adults tend to eat less pizza and drink less soda as the price of these items increases, and their body weight and overall calorie intake also appear to decrease, according to a report in the March 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

“To compensate for food environments where healthful foods (i.e., fresh fruits and vegetables) tend to cost more, public health professionals and politicians have suggested that foods high in calories, saturated fat or added sugar be subject to added taxes and/or that healthier foods be subsidized,” the authors write as background information in the article. “Such manipulation of food prices has been a mainstay of global agricultural and food policy, used as a means to increase availability of animal foods and basic commodities, but it has not been readily used as a mechanism to promote public health and chronic disease prevention efforts.”

Kiyah J. Duffey, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues assessed the dietary habits of 5,115 young adults (age 18 to 30) beginning in 1985 to 1986 and continuing through 2005 to 2006. Food price data were compiled for the same timeframe. Participants’ height, weight and blood levels of glucose and insulin were also collected and a measure of insulin sensitivity was calculated.

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U.S. fish oil makers sued over supplements

Food & NutritionMar 03 10

A group including a California nonprofit organization is suing fish oil manufacturers and pharmacies that sell the popular supplements over their purported toxicity.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in San Francisco Supreme Court, claims that the makers and sellers of certain supplements found to contain high levels of PCB compounds - man-made industrial chemicals - have failed to alert consumers as required under California’s right-to-know law.

The Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation, one of three named plaintiffs, tested 10 fish oil supplements out of more than 100 on the market. The other plaintiffs in the case are New Jersey residents.

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China sets up national food safety commission

Food & Nutrition • • Public HealthFeb 10 10

China has set up a national food safety commission, headed by a powerful vice premier, who at the watchdog’s first meeting set his sights on the persistent problem of dangerously tainted milk, state media said on Wednesday.

Li Keqiang, tipped to take Premier Wen Jiabao’s place in three years, ordered inspectors to trace and destroy all milk products tainted with melamine, an industrial compound that killed at least six children in 2008, the People’s Daily said.

A number of cases of milk contaminated with melamine have surfaced in the past few months, some apparently old batches of tainted powder slated for destruction but hoarded away instead by dairy firms and later repackaged.

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Men who eat soy may have lower lung cancer risk

Cancer • • Lung Cancer • • Food & NutritionFeb 08 10

Men who don’t smoke and eat a lot of soy may have a lower risk of lung cancer, according to a new study.

Soy contains isoflavones, which act similarly to the hormone estrogen, and may have anti-cancer qualities in hormone-related cancers of the breast and prostate, the researchers note in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Cells in the lung have properties that suggest they may also respond to isoflavones.

Dr. Taichi Shimazu, of the National Cancer Center in Tokyo, and colleagues studied more than 36,000 Japanese men and more than 40,000 Japanese women, 45 to 74 years old and free of cancer at the start of the study.

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China investigates as melamine-tainted milk reappears

Food & Nutrition • • Public HealthFeb 02 10

China has launched nationwide checks for melamine-tainted milk products after the industrial compound, which killed at least six children in 2008, reappeared on shop shelves, an official newspaper said on Tuesday.

Leftovers of milk powder laced with melamine, which can give a fake positive on protein tests, have been reused as raw materials for dairy products despite an earlier crackdown, the People’s Daily said, citing a conference held by the State Food and Drug Administration.

Batches of dairy products made by three Chinese companies were forced off market shelves in the southwestern province of Guizhou last month after testing positive for melamine.

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Some 390 tons of US ground beef recalled

Food & Nutrition • • Public HealthJan 18 10

Some 390 tons of ground beef produced by a California meat packer, some of it nearly two years ago, is being recalled for fear of potentially deadly E. coli bacterium tainting, U.S. officials said on Monday.

California, and shipped mainly to California outlets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food safety arm said.

An initial problem, in ground beef shipped by the plant from Jan. 5 to Jan. 15, was discovered during a regular safety check, the Food Safety and Inspection Service said.

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Does junk food at non-food stores in US add pounds?

Dieting • • Food & NutritionJan 11 10

A new study shows that candy, soda and other junk foods are commonly sold at stores not traditionally associated with food—in a trend that researchers say may be contributing to the U.S. obesity problem.

The study, of more than 1,000 non-food retail stores across the U.S., found that 41 percent sold candy, soft drinks, chips and other sweet and salty snacks. The foods were most commonly placed at check-out counters, where they were “within arm’s reach” of impulsive buyers, the researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health.

Nearly all drug stores and gas stations in the study sold snack foods—as did a majority of general merchandise stores, hardware and garden stores and automobile repair shops.

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Shanghai dairy shut after melamine scare: report

Food & Nutrition • • Public HealthJan 06 10

A Shanghai dairy has been closed and three of its executives arrested for selling milk powder tainted with melamine, the industrial chemical responsible for the death of six children in 2008, Xinhua news agency reported.

Xinhua said powder and flavouring products sold by the Shanghai Panda Dairy Company were found to contain illegally high traces of the toxic chemical, which is rich in nitrogen and enables producers to foil mandatory protein content tests.

The company’s warehouses were sealed off and authorities were currently overseeing the recall of the company’s products from seven other regions, Xinhua reported on Thursday.

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Omega-3s help stave off age-related vision loss

Eye / Vision Problems • • Food & NutritionDec 24 09

Want to keep your eyesight sharp as you age? Eating lots of fish packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids could help, new research suggests.

Among 1,837 people who had early signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), those with the highest consumption of omega-3 fatty acids were 30 percent less likely to progress to the advanced form of the disease over a 12-year period than those with the lowest omega-3 intake, researchers found.

Dr. John Paul SanGiovanni of the National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and his colleagues report their findings in the December issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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High-dose vitamin C may boost women’s cataract risk

Eye / Vision Problems • • Food & NutritionDec 17 09

Women who take high-dose vitamin C supplements may be increasing their risk of age-related cataracts, hint findings of a Swedish study.

Among nearly 24,600 adult women followed for more than 8 years, those who reported regular or occasional vitamin C supplementation of about 1000 milligrams per serving were about 25 percent more likely than those who did not take supplements to have age-related cataracts removed.

Women who took extra vitamin C for 10 years or longer; or in combination with being 65 years and older, or taking hormone replacement or corticosteroid medications had even greater risk, researchers found.

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Tainted food surprisingly deadly in adults - WHO

Food & Nutrition • • Public HealthNov 11 09

Millions of adults die every year from bugs and toxins in what they eat, according to new World Health Organisation data that shows food-borne diseases are far more deadly than the U.N. agency previously estimated.

The research faults unsafe food for 1.2 million deaths per year in people over the age of five in Southeast Asia and Africa—three times more adult deaths than the Geneva-based WHO had thought occurred in the whole world.

“It is a picture that we have never had before,” WHO Food Safety Director Jorgen Schlundt said in an interview. “We now have documentation of a significant burden outside the less than five group, that is major new information.”

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The wonders of wine

Dieting • • Food & NutritionSep 17 09

A conversation over a glass of wine turned into EUREKA-backed research effort to create new, healthy wine-flavoured products. The German and Spanish partners of project E! 4008 PROVINO say they have invented a way of making powder from by-products of red wine production which could be used in everything from yoghurt and chocolates to creams and face masks.

Two years ago, a group of friends were enjoying a glass of wine in the Mosel region in south-west Germany when their conversation turned to the health benefits which studies attribute to the drink. During the fermentation process of making wine, by-products are left over which are often just discarded as waste and the friends reasoned that since these by-products contain the goodness of wine in an even more concentrated form, and without the alcohol, shouldn’t it be more often used and consumed by humans?

One of the friends was Bernd Diehl, the 48-year-old co-owner of a German chemical analysis company called Spectral Service. He proposed his company develop a method to turn the by-products into a powder preserving as many of the natural, healthy properties of wine as possible - the proteins, B vitamins, minerals and polyphenols, which are thought to prevent heart or circulation diseases, inflammation and thrombosis.

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A drink or two hours before driving ups crash risk

Dieting • • Food & NutritionSep 11 09

Watch out for that glass of wine at meals or those two beers you had when celebrating your friend’s birthday. Research now suggests that having as little as a drink or two within six hours before getting behind the wheel of a car increases the risk of being involved in an accident.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Italy’s minister of agriculture, Luca Zaia, said that “two glasses of wine cannot be the cause of a traffic crash,” Dr. Stefano Di Bartolomeo told Reuters Health via E-mail. “Our findings show just the opposite—the increase in risk is significant already after 1-2 glasses.”

Di Bartolomeo, from the Università degli Studi di Udine, and fellow researchers in Italy looked at the effects of alcohol use and meal consumption in 326 drivers admitted to the emergency room for treatment after a crash. All had also been driving during the six to 18 hours before the crash.

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