Mass Media Campaign Can Reduce Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thomas Farley, MD, MPH Health Commissioner Department of Public Health City of Philadelphia

Dr. Thomas Farley

Thomas Farley, MD, MPH
Health Commissioner
Department of Public Health
City of Philadelphia

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Messages in the mass media have been used in anti-smoking campaigns, but have not be used much for other health-related behaviors.  Sugar-sweetened beverages are major contributors to the obesity epidemic in the United States, so they are an important public health target.

In this study we evaluated a brief counter-advertising campaign in a rural area of Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky designed to reduce consumption of these beverages.  After the campaign, adults in the area were more wary of sugary drinks, and sales of sugary drinks fell by about 4% relative to changes in a matched comparison area.

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Spermidine in Foods Such As Aged Cheese Prevents Liver Damage and Extends Life — in Mice

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Leyuan Liu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Center for Translational Cancer Research Institute of Biosciences and Technology Texas A&M University Houston, Texas 77030

Dr. Liu

Leyuan Liu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Center for Translational Cancer Research
Institute of Biosciences and Technology
Texas A&M University
Houston, Texas 77030

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Our research team has been working on the question why people develop cancers and how we can prevent or cure them. In contrast to public views, we concluded from our studies that cancers, similar to our age-related diseases, originate from inefficiencies of our body to clean up cellular wastes accumulated during our lifespan. The most important pathway to clean up those wastes is called autophagy, or cellular self-eating behavior. We study how autophagy is regulated, how autophagy causes cancers, and whether we can control autophagy to prevent or cure cancers.

Previously we found autophagy is regulated by a protein called MAP1S and mice without MAP1S are more likely to develop liver cancer. We have been seeking ways to improve MAP1S-mediated autophagy to prevent liver cancer. Our current study show that spermidine, a natural component existing in many foods, can increase the stability of MAP1S proteins and activate MAP1S-mediated autophagy. Concurrent with the benefits of expand mouse lifespans ours also reported, spermidine can suppress the development of liver fibrosis and liver cancer specifically through MAP1S if we add spermidine into the daily drinking water of mice.

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Fresh Fruit Consumption May Lower Risk of Diabetes and Vascular Complications

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Huaidong Du

Senior Research Fellow
China Kadoorie Biobank
Medical Research Council Population Health Research Unit
Clinical Trial Service Unit & Epidemiological Studies Unit
Nuffield Department of Population Health
Oxford UK

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This research article describes findings from the China Kadoorie Biobank study which is a large population based prospective cohort study including about 0.5 million adults recruited from 10 areas in China.

The main reason for us to perform this study is because previous evidence on potential benefit of fruit consumption in diabetes prevention and management is very limited. The sugar content of fruit has led to concerns in many parts of the world (e.g. China and several other Asian countries) about its potential harm for people with (high risk of) diabetes. This has consequently Chinese people diagnosed with diabetes tend to restrict their fruit intake. With the rapid increase of diabetes incidence in China and many other Asian countries, it is critically important to investigate the associations of fruit consumption with the incidence diabetes and, among those with diabetes already, diabetic macro- and microvascular complications.

Through analysing data collected during 7 years of follow-up, the study found that people who eat fresh fruit more frequently are at lower risk of developing diabetes and diabetes related vascular complications. Compared with non-consumers, those who ate fresh fruit daily had a 12% lower risk of developing diabetes. Among participants with diabetes at the start of the study, higher fresh fruit consumption also showed health benefits, with a 100g portion of fruit per day associated with 17% lower overall mortality, 13% lower risk of developing diabetes-related complications affecting large blood vessels (e.g. ischaemic heart disease and stroke) and 28% lower risk of developing complications affecting small blood vessels (e.g. kidney and eye diseases).

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Fewer Heart Attacks and Strokes After Trans-Fat Restriction Laws in New York

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Eric J. Brandt, MD Yale University Cardiovascular Disease Fellow

Dr. Eric Brandt

Eric J. Brandt, MD
Yale University
Cardiovascular Disease Fellow

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: From previous studies we know that industrial trans fatty acid (trans fat) consumption is linked to elevated risk for cardiovascular disease. Even small amounts of consumption can be deleterious to cardiovascular health. In New York state, there were 11 counties that restricted the use of trans fatty acids in eateries. We compared hospitalization for heart attacks and stroke from 2002 through 2013 in counties that did and did not have restrictions.

Our study found that when comparing populations within New York state that restricted the use of trans fat, compared to those that did not, there was an associated additional decline beyond temporal trends for heart attacks and stroke events combined by 6.2%.

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Probiotics May Influence Schizophrenia Symptoms Through Yeast in Microbiome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Emily G. Severance PhD
Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology
Department of Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD 21287

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Previously, we found that people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had an increased susceptibility to Candida albicans yeast infections, which was sex specific and associated with memory deficits. Also in an earlier placebo-controlled probiotic study, we found that although probiotics improved the overall bowel function of people with schizophrenia, there was no effect by this treatment on psychiatric symptoms.  Given that C. albicans infections can upset the dynamics of the human microbiome, we decided to re-evaluate the potential benefit of probiotics in the context of a patient’s C. albicans yeast status.  Not only was bowel function again enhanced following intake of probiotics, but yeast antibody levels were decreased by this treatment.

Furthermore, psychiatric symptoms were actually improved over time for men receiving probiotics who did not have elevated C. albicans antibodies. Men who were positive for C. albicans exposure, however, consistently presented with worse psychiatric symptoms irrespective of probiotic or placebo treatment.

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Brief Nutritional Telephone Calls Help Keep Pounds Off

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Corrine I. Voils, PhD Research Career Scientist, William S Middleton Veterans Memorial Hospital Professor of Surgery, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Corrine Voils

Corrine I. Voils, PhD
Research Career Scientist, William S Middleton Veterans Memorial Hospital
Professor of Surgery, University of Wisconsin-Madison

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Keeping weight off is hard due to physical and behavioral factors. When people lose weight, their metabolism slows down a bit, making it difficult to keep off the weight. It is also difficult to keep off the weight because people don’t continually engage in behavioral skills such weighing yourself regularly. Our study focused on the behavioral component of weight loss maintenance.

After losing an average of 16 pounds initially, the maintenance group regained less than 2 pounds (net weight loss around 14 pounds), whereas the usual care group regained more than 5 pounds (net weight loss less than 11 pounds).

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Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Improves Luteal Function in Obese Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Alex J. Polotsky, MD Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology University of Colorado Denver Practice homepage

Dr. Polotsky

Alex J. Polotsky, MD
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Colorado Denver
Practice homepage

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: It has been well established that profound dietary changes occurred over the past 100 years. The type and amount of fat consumed has changed quite a bit over the course of 20th century. Intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), previously consumed in large quantities by humans from vegetable and fish sources, has dropped significantly. The typical Western diet (sometimes also called the typical American diet) provides an omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of as high as 25:1, which is quite different from what it used to up until about the 19th century (believed to be about 1:1 ratio).

In animal studies, diets enriched with omega-3 PUFA enhance early embryonic development and boost progesterone secretion. Obesity is well known to be associated with decreased progesterone production in women (even if a obese woman ovulates). The reasons for this are not clear. Obesity is also a state of low-grade chronic inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are well known to have anti-inflammatory properties.

We sought to test whether dietary supplementation with omega-3 PUFA favorably affects reproductive hormones in women and whether this effect includes normalization of progesterone production in obesity.

All women in the study tolerated supplementation well, and had significantly decreased their omega-6 to omega-3 ratios (they were normalized much closer to a 1:1 ratio). Omega-3 supplementation resulted in a trend for increased progesterone in obese women, thus enhancing ovulatory function. A 16 to 22 percent increase was observed. Additionally, the supplementation resulted in reduced systemic inflammation.

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How Does Fruit Juice Affect Weight Gain in Children?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Brandon Auerbach, MD, MPH Acting Instructor Division of General Internal Medicine University of Washington

Dr. Auerbach

Brandon Auerbach, MD, MPH
Acting Instructor
Division of General Internal Medicine
University of Washington

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The question of whether 100% fruit juice causes poor health outcomes in children, such as weight gain, has been a subject of controversy. On one hand, 100% fruit juice contains vitamins and nutrients that many children lack, is often cheaper than whole fruit, and may help kids with limited access to healthy food meet their daily fruit requirements.

On the other hand, leading nutrition experts have expressed concern that fruit juice contains amounts of sugar equal to or greater than those of sugary drinks like regular soda. Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics warn that 100% juice can be a significant source of calories and contribute to obesity if consumed excessively.

Our main finding was that consuming 1 serving/day of 100% fruit juice was not associated with weight gain in children. Children ages 1 to 6 years gained a small amount of weight, but not enough to negatively impact health. Children ages 7 and older gained no weight. We did not study amounts of 100% fruit juice higher than 1 serving/day.

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Neither Vitamin E or Selenium Found To Prevent Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Richard J. Kryscio, Ph.D. Statistics and Chair, Biostatistics and Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Sanders-Brown Center on Aging University of Kentucky

Dr. Richard Kryscio

Richard J. Kryscio, Ph.D.
Statistics and Chair, Biostatistics and Sanders-Brown Center on Aging
Sanders-Brown Center on Aging
University of Kentucky 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: At the time the trial was initiated (2002), there was ample evidence that oxidative stress is an important mechanism in brain aging. Research showed that protein oxidation is linked to the brain’s response to the abnormal proteins seen in Alzheimer disease (amyloid beta plaques in particular) leading to inflammation, DNA repair problems, reduced energy production, and other cellular changes that are identified mechanisms in the Alzheimer brain.

Both vitamin E and selenium are antioxidants. Antioxidants, either through food or supplements, are believed to reduce oxidative stress throughout the body. In the brain, they may reduce the formation of amyloid beta plaques, reduce brain inflammation, and improve other brain processes. Studies in humans support these hypotheses. The Rotterdam study in the Netherlands, as an example, showed that initial blood levels of vitamin E could predict dementia risk. Those people with higher vitamin E levels were 25% less likely to develop dementia. Also, selenium deficiency results in cognitive difficulties and several population-based studies have shown an association between selenium level and cognitive decline (lower selenium levels are linked to thinking changes in the elderly).
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Sustained Consumer Response Two Years After Implementing A Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax in Mexico

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Shu Wen Ng, Ph.D., FTOS Research Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition Gillings School of Global Public Health Fellow, Carolina Population Center Duke-UNC Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Shu Wen Ng

Shu Wen Ng, Ph.D., FTOS
Research Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition
Gillings School of Global Public Health
Fellow, Carolina Population Center
Duke-UNC Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Mexican government enacted a 1 peso per liter tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) after studies showed that more than 70 percent of the country’s population was overweight or obese, and that in excess of 70 percent of the added sugar calories in the Mexican diet were coming from SSBs. We were interested in learning how purchases of SSBs and other beverages changed in the 2 years after the tax was implemented in Mexico. The Health Affairs study titled “In Mexico, Evidence Of Sustained Consumer Response Two Years After Implementing A Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax” found that in the two-year period spanning 2014 to 2015, the tax resulted in a 5.5 percent reduction in the first year and continued to decline, averaging 9.7 percent the second year, with lower socioeconomic households, for whom health care costs are most burdensome, lowered their purchases of sweetened beverages the most. Meanwhile, purchases of untaxed beverages such as bottled water increased 2.1 percent.

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For Access To Nutritious Food, It Comes Down To Price

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lillian MacNell PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Public Health
Campbell University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: There’s been a lot of research done on how to define and measure food deserts (areas with limited access to supermarkets), and some other studies on the dietary and related health effects of living in a food desert. But there’s been a lot less attention paid to how the people who live in those food deserts deal with this—how do they feel it affects them? How and where do they shop for food? In this study, we wanted to get a better understanding of the daily reality of living in a food desert and the strategies that people use to respond to low access to food. We interviewed 42 low-income mothers and grandmothers of young children in one urban food desert about this, and we also profiled the available food stores in the neighborhood to get a sense of what’s available for these families.

One thing we found is that most of the food stores in the neighborhood were small corner and convenience stores; these rarely offered fresh fruits and vegetables, and only a few carried canned produce or other nutritious options like low-fat milk and wheat bread. When we did see those items in the neighborhood, they cost about 25% more than they did at the nearest supermarkets. So in terms of the environment, these women were working with fewer options at a higher price, unless they traveled outside of their neighborhoods to reach large supermarkets.

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Better-Beverage Campaign Reduced Sugary Drink Consumption

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Marlene B. Schwartz PhD Director, Rudd Center for Obesity & Food Policy (Principal Investigator) Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies University of Connecticut Hartford, CT 06103

Dr. Schwartz

Marlene B. Schwartz PhD
Director, Rudd Center for Obesity & Food Policy (Principal Investigator)
Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies
University of Connecticut
Hartford, CT 06103

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 

Response: The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of a community-wide campaign to reduce consumption of sugary beverages in Howard County, Maryland. We measured the retail sales of sugary drinks in supermarkets in the target community and a set of matched control supermarkets in another state. The campaign included multiple components over three years, including television advertising, digital marketing, direct mail, outdoor advertising, social media and earned media, creating 17 million impressions. The community partners successfully advocated for public policies to encourage healthy beverage consumption in schools, child care, health care and government settings.

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