Author Interviews, BMJ, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, Nutrition / 25.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Qi Sun Sc.D, M.D., M.M.S. Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Heath Boston What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Interpretation of existing human study data regarding saturated fat intake in relation to heart disease risk is quite confusing and distorted in certain publications. It is a fact that, depending on data analysis strategies, the effects of saturated fats may depend on which macronutrients they replace. For example, substituting saturated fats for refined carbohydrates will not lead to an elevated risk of heart disease because both nutrients are harmful whereas replacing saturated fats with good polyunsaturated fats results in risk reduction. In our current analysis, we clearly demonstrated that when total saturated fatty acids were replaced by polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, whole grain carbohydrates, and plant-based proteins, the diabetes risk would decrease. Furthermore, we showed that major individual saturated fatty acids were all associated with an elevated heart disease risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Kidney Disease, Nutrition / 20.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Teodor G. Paunescu PhD Assistant Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Boston What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Patients with kidney disease frequently report food aversion and poor dietary intake leading to malnutrition, a complication associated with high morbidity and mortality. However, there are no effective treatments currently available to address this complication, and the mechanisms underlying anorexia and food aversion in these patients remain unclear. Because of the critical role of olfaction in flavor appreciation and dietary intake, we decided to quantify olfactory (smelling) deficits in advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients. We found that patients with kidney disease have significant olfactory deficits that need objective assessments for accurate characterization. Our results also indicate that olfactory deficits likely attribute to nutritional impairment in patients with kidney disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Sugar / 18.11.2016 Interview with: Tracy Stickler, Editor in Chief Healthline Ms. Stickler discusses a Healthline survey of over 3000 Americans, regarding “their knowledge of sugar and how it affects the body to gauge their relationship about their own sugar consumption and the effects it has on them”. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our company surveyed over 3,000 Americans from across the country about their sugar consumption habits and awareness about added sugar in food. What we learned is that while many people are aware of the threat overconsumption of sugar is to their health, they aren’t doing much about it. Why not? They don’t know how and quite often they don’t know how much sugar is contained in certain foods they eat. We have an awareness issue. Two out of 3 respondents answered incorrectly to our questions related to which food item contained more sugar. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Pediatrics, Salt-Sodium / 08.11.2016 Interview with: Zerleen S. Quader, MPH CDC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Sodium reduction is considered a key public health strategy to reduce cardiovascular disease nationwide, and this study is the latest in ongoing CDC efforts to monitor U.S. sodium intake. Eating habits and taste for salt are established early in life by what children eat. Eating too much sodium can set them up for high blood pressure now and health problems later. Previous evidence suggests that one in nine children already has blood pressure above the normal range, and strong evidence has shown that reducing sodium intake reduces blood pressure – and lowering blood pressure lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease among adults. With voluntary efforts already underway by some manufacturers to lower the sodium and added sugar content in some of their products, these findings help provide a baseline to monitor changes in the food industry, as well as sodium intake among U.S. youth. We examined data from the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to determine sodium intake by major food category, place and eating occasion. We found that average sodium intake among participants was 3,256 mg, and that doesn’t include salt added at the table. On the day of assessment, nearly 90 percent exceeded the upper level of sodium recommended for a healthy diet. • There were some variations based on age and gender. For example: o Average intake was highest among high school-aged children o Girls had significantly lower daily intake than boys (for example, 2,919 mg versus 3,584 mg) • In addition, we found that ten types of food make up nearly half of youth sodium intake nationwide, including pizza, bread, lunch meats and snack foods. We also analyzed where the foods were obtained and found that approximately 58 percent of sodium comes from store foods, 16 percent from fast food and pizza restaurants and 10 percent from school cafeteria foods. And when we looked at occasion, we discovered that 39 percent of sodium intake was consumed at dinner, 31 percent at lunch, 16 percent from snacks and 14 percent from breakfast. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Nutrition, PLoS, University of Michigan / 06.11.2016 Interview with> Katarina Borer, Ph.D. Professor Po-Ju Lin,PhD School of Kinesiology The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI What is the background for this study? Response: This study was part of the doctoral dissertation of Po-Ju Lin, who is now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Rochester. With this study, we wanted to answer three questions: (1) Is daily carbohydrate load responsible for evening glucose intolerance and post-meal insulin resistance. (Evening glucose intolerance represents well-documented higher glucose and insulin responses in the evening than in the morning when the same quantity of glucose is eaten or infused intravenously) To answer this question we offered two daily meals containing about 800 Kcal and either 30% or 60% of carbohydrates. (2) Will exercise before the meals improve glucose tolerance (glucose clearance from the blood and insulin response) after eating? (Exercise is a well-known means of increasing glucose uptake by the muscle and of increasing muscle sensitivity to insulin action for a number of hours after exercise). To answer this question we had the subjects exercise for two hours walking on a treadmill at 45% of their maximal aerobic effort one hour before each meal. (3) Is the upper-intestinal hormone GIP involved in any effects associated with variation in dietary carbohydrate? (GIP or glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide, stimulates insulin secretion in advance of absorbed glucose). (more…)
ALS, Antioxidants, Author Interviews, Columbia, Inflammation, JAMA, Nutrition / 26.10.2016 Interview with: Dr. Jeri Nieves PhD Director of bone density testing New York's Helen Hayes Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating severe neurodegenerative disorder that causes progressive muscle atrophy, paralyses, and eventual respiratory failure. Our objective was to evaluate the associations between nutrition and severity of ALS around the time of diagnosis. This was a cross-sectional analysis of data from a multicenter cohort of 302 patients with ALS. We assessed nutrient intake using a modified Block Food Frequency Questionnaire. The outcomes were respiratory function (measured using percentage forced vital capacity; FVC%) and functional performance measured by ALS Functional Rating Scale–Revised (ALSFRS-R), both considered important indicators of the severity of ALS. Results of the regression analysis were that higher intakes of antioxidants and carotenes from vegetable intake were associated with higher ALSFRS-R scores or better %FVC. We used a novel analysis to evaluate the diet as a whole and found that higher intakes of antioxidants, fiber from grains, vegetables, fruit, eggs, fish, and poultry were all associated with higher function in patients with ALS. However, milk and lunch meats were associated with lower measures of function. These consistent results from two different statistical analyses indicate that diet may help minimize the severity of ALS. Perhaps these findings point to the role of oxidative stress in ALS severity. In summary, increased consumption of antioxidant nutrients, foods high in carotenoids and fiber, vegetables and fruits, poultry and fish are associated with better function around the time of ALS diagnosis. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Lipids, Nutrition, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Weight Research / 26.10.2016 Interview with: Artemis P. Simopoulos, M.D. FACN President, The Center for Genetics Nutrition and Health Washington, DC 20016 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: I have written extensively on the evolutionary aspects of diet, the diet of Crete prior to 1960 in which I pointed to the misinterpretation of the data of the Seven Countries Study by Keys et al. A major characteristic of these diets is a balanced omega-6/omega-3 ratio. The recommendation to substitute saturated fats with omega-6 rich oils (sunflower, corn, soybean) increases inflammation and coronary heart disease. It has been shown in a number of studies that a high omega-6/omega-3 (20/1 instead of a balanced ratio) leads to an increase in white adipose tissue and prevents the formation of brown adipose tissue leading to obesity. The changes in the diet-high in omega-6 oils depletion of omega-3 and high fructose along with highly refined carbohydrates in processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle lead to obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer. The scientific evidence from the FAT-1 mouse and recent cohort studies clearly show that the current dietary guidelines as the previous ones are not based on science that takes into consideration genetics, metabolism, the concept that a calorie is not a calorie. It is important to consider that nutrients influence the expression of genes, the omega-6 fatty acids are the most pro-inflammatory nutrients, and inflammation is at the base of all chronic non-communicable diseases. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Heart Disease, Mediterranean Diet, Nutrition / 30.09.2016 Interview with: Dr Nita Forouhi, MRCP, PhD, FFPHM Programme Leader MRC Epidemiology Unit University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine Institute of Metabolic Science Cambridge Biomedical Campus What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The benefits of the Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular health are well documented in countries of the Mediterranean region and some other countries, but there is little such evidence in the UK general population. Our work fills this research gap. In our study we followed up 23,902 initially healthy Britons living in Norfolk (Eastern England) for an average of 12 to 17 years, and determined the occurrence of new cases of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and deaths due to CVD during that time period. Our results showed that those adults who adhered to a Mediterranean diet had 6% to 16% lower risk of developing CVD, compared to those who had dietary habits further away from the Mediterranean-type diet pattern. This was the case even when we accounted for several important risk factors and correlates of CVD, including as age, sex, body mass index, lifestyle habits such as smoking, alcohol intake and physical activity, and socio-economic factors. We also modelled what would happen in the study population if all the participants increased their adherence to the Mediterranean-type diet. From this we estimated that nearly 4% of all new cardiovascular disease cases, or 12.5% of cardiovascular deaths in the population could potentially be avoided. This is novel information about the potential health benefit of a Mediterranean-type diet in a UK context. However, we should remember that our study was an observational study, not a clinical trial with a dietary intervention, and thus we cannot imply a cause and effect relationship between increasing adherence to the Mediterranean diet and reduction in cardiovascular disease. We defined the Mediterranean diet using a 15 point score based on guideline recommendations from a Mediterranean dietary pyramid published by the Mediterranean Diet Foundation. The recommendations had not previously been specifically tested for their associations with health, so our findings, for the first time, show the utility of the Mediterranean dietary pyramid. (more…)
Allergies, Author Interviews, JAMA, Pediatrics / 21.09.2016 Interview with: Dr Robert Boyle Senior lecturer in paediatric allergy honorary consultant, Paediatric allergist Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?   Editors' note: Please discuss food introduction with your child's pediatrician before embarking on any new foods. Response: Food allergy is a common problem which may be getting more common. We have known for over 100 years that feeding egg to animals such as guinea pigs can prevent egg allergy. However randomised trials of allergenic food introduction for preventing food allergy in human infants have not been done until the past 5 years, and have so far yielded mixed results. One trial for peanut allergy was positive, with less peanut allergy in infants who were fed the food from early in life compared with infants who avoided it for 5 years. Other trials have yielded null findings, but may have been too small to yield a conclusive result. We used a technique called meta-analysis to combine the results of all previous trials of timing of allergenic food introduction and risk of food allergy. We also evaluated other allergic and autoimmune diseases. Our analysis yielded conclusive results for both egg and peanut – that early introduction of these foods into an infant’s diet might reduce their risk of egg and peanut allergy by around 40-70%. We were surprised to see null findings in our meta-analysis of timing of gluten or wheat introduction and risk of coeliac disease (gluten intolerance) which is a different type of allergy to egg and peanut allergy. This suggests that early introduction of allergenic foods does not reduce risk of all types of food allergy. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Nutrition, Social Issues / 21.09.2016 Interview with: Lisa Harnack, DrPH, RD | Professor and Director Nutrition Coordinating Center Division of Epidemiology and Community Health School of Public Health, University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN 55454-1087 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is interest in considering ways to reshape SNAP so that it better meets meet its objective to help families buy the food they need for good health. Prohibiting the purchase of foods such as soft drinks with SNAP benefits is one of the proposed program changes. Offering an incentive for the purchase of fruits and vegetables is another program change that is being discussed. Little is known about the effects of prohibitions and restrictions on food purchasing and consumption. Consequently, we carried out an experimental trial to evaluate effects. In our study we found that a food benefit program that includes both prohibitions on the purchase of less nutritious foods and incentives for purchasing nutritious foods may lead to a number of favorable changes in diet. To elaborate, we found those enrolled in a food benefit program that prohibited the purchase of sugar sweetened beverages, sweet bakes goods, and candies with food program benefits and provided a 30% financial incentive for fruit and vegetable purchases had a number of favorable dietary changes that were significantly different from changes among those enrolled in a food benefit program that had neither prohibitions or incentives. These favorable changes included reduced consumption of calories, sugar sweetened beverages, sweet baked goods, and candies; and increased consumption of fruit. The overall nutritional quality of the diet also improved. Fewer nutritional improvements were observed among those enrolled in food benefit programs that included prohibitions or incentives only. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mayo Clinic, Nutrition, Pediatrics, Weight Research / 17.09.2016 Interview with: David R. Jacobs, Jr., PhD Mayo Professor of Public Health Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health University of Minnesota Minneapolis MN 55454-1075 What is the background for this study? Response: Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults) is on ongoing longitudinal study which began by screening middle and secondary school students in the Minneapolis and St Paul Metropolitan are. Students were the 11-18 years old (average age 15), then followed up at average ages 20 and 25. We had devised an eating pattern in about 2006, which a) predicts a lot of things in several different studies (including total mortality in the Iowa Women's Health Study) and b) looks a great deal like the recently released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). We call our diet pattern A Priori Diet Quality Score (APDQS) and think of it as close to or in the style of a Mediterranean/prudent/healthy diet. We hypothesized that this pattern would be associated with lower weight (in general with better long term health, but the focus in Project EAT was weight and BMI), probably least so at age 15. The minimal hypothesized effect in adolescence relates to the very large energy expenditure in adolescent growth years; we thought that diet composition would be less important for body weight at that time than energy intake (and APDQS is about diet composition). (more…)
Author Interviews, Nutrition, Pediatrics, Social Issues, Weight Research / 31.08.2016 Interview with: Kai Ling Kong, PhD, MS Assistant Professor Division of Behavioral Medicine Department of Pediatrics School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences State University of New York at Buffalo What is the background for this study? Response: Infant temperament, or individual behavior styles, can be reliably measured and is related to weight status. However, we know very little about the association of infants’ temperament and their motivation to eat versus engage in other activities (relative food reinforcement). Examining such associations is an important step given the need to use behavioral strategies in obesity prevention in early life. The purpose of our study was to determine if infant temperament, specifically the factors that have been linked with obesity risk, are associated with infant relative food reinforcement. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Nutrition / 28.08.2016 Interview with: William B. Grant, Ph.D. Director, Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center San Francisco, CA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The present study is the culmination of 20 years of investigating dietary links to Alzheimer's disease (AD). I am a physicist by training and spent my salaried career as an atmospheric scientist. In the 1990s while studying the effect of acid rain and ozone on eastern hardwood forests, I became familiar with the geographical ecological study approach. In this approach, populations are defined geographically, such as by state or country, and health outcomes are compared statistically with risk-modifying factors. Ecological studies are an efficient way to analyze the results of unplanned experiments. In 1996, I read that Japanese-American men living in Hawaii had two and a half times the prevalence of  Alzheimer's disease as native Japanese. I knew that AD patients often had higher concentrations of aluminum in their brains than other people, and that acid rain increased the concentration of aluminum in trees. It quickly occurred to me that the American diet must be the cause of the increased AD rate, and that by using the ecological approach, I could prove it. My first study, published in 1997, compared AD prevalence rates for 11 countries with macro-dietary factors of national diets. Total fat was found to have the highest correlation with AD, followed by total energy (calories), with fish reducing risk slightly, while countries such as China, Japan, and India, with large amounts of rice in the diet, had very low  Alzheimer's disease rates. This study was the first major study linking diet to risk of AD and led to observational studies that confirmed the findings five years later. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Diabetologia, Nutrition, Weight Research / 25.08.2016 Interview with: Jaime Uribarri, MD Professor, Nephrology Icahn School of Medicine Mt. Sinai Medical Center What is the background for this study? Response: We have been doing research in the area of dietary advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) for many years. AGEs are chemical compounds that form normally in the body in small amounts and also in food when cooking under high heat and dry conditions; a percent of AGEs in food is absorbed and part of it is retained in the body leading to increased smoldering inflammation and oxidative stress that eventually produce most of modern chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, etc. We have previously demonstrated that a diet low in AGEs, which essentially means changing the cooking methods to include less application of heat, plenty of water,etc, decreases inflammation of oxidative stress in people with diabetes, chronic kidney disease and in healthy subjects. In the current study we applied the same low dietary AGE intervention to a group of obese patients with the so-called Metabolic syndrome, a risk factor for Diabetes Mellitus. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Lipids, Nutrition, Omega-3 Fatty Acids / 18.08.2016 Interview with: David Iggman, MD, PhD Unit for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences Uppsala University, Uppsala Center for Clinical Research Dalarna Falun, Sweden What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is some controversy regarding which dietary fats are preferable and in what amounts, not least regarding the polyunsaturated fats. It is also challenging to adequately assess peoples intakes of dietary fats. The main findings of this study was that among fatty acids in the body (reflecting the intake during the last year or so), linoleic acid (omega-6) was associated with lower mortality in 71-year-old men with 15 years follow-up. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Gout, Johns Hopkins, Nutrition, Rheumatology / 16.08.2016 Interview with: Stephen P. Juraschek, MD, PhD Fellow, Division of General Internal Medicine Johns Hopkins Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Diet has long been viewed as an important way to lower uric acid levels to prevent gout attacks; however, there is little evidence about whether a particular dietary pattern might be effective for lowering uric acid. For the first time we show that the DASH diet, an effective diet for lowering blood pressure, it lowers uric acid levels substantially in people with abnormally high uric acid levels. (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor University Medical Center Dallas, Nutrition, Weight Research / 16.08.2016 Interview with: Meredith E. David Marketing Department Hankamer School of Business Baylor University Waco, TX 76798 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In the midst of the ongoing “obesity epidemic” in the United States and many other developed nations, programs and advice abound for encouraging individuals to manage their health and well-being through changes in food consumption. One common approach resurfaces time and time again: suggesting to the would-be dieter what foods they should avoid eating (e.g., “The following 10 foods should never be eaten . . . ,”) and/or what foods they should eat (e.g., “10 foods everyone should include in a healthy diet,”). Our research investigates the commonly heralded advice given to consumers to either focus on avoiding unhealthy foods, such as cake, or approaching and consuming healthy foods, such as kale. We demonstrate important differences in the implementation of and outcomes of these approach versus avoidance strategies for meeting one’s health-related goals. Individuals who have high self-control are generally better at reaching their goals. We investigate how individuals with varying levels of general self-control differ in the way that they apply approach and avoidance dieting strategies. Our findings, as detailed below, reveal a novel explanation of the better outcomes observed by individuals who are generally more successful in their goal pursuit. The key findings are as follows: (more…)
Author Interviews, Nutrition, Pediatrics / 04.08.2016 Interview with: Lauren McGale Research Assistant & PhD Student University of Liverpool What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Food marketing has been highlighted as a key factor which contributes to childhood obesity, and food–packaging as a marketing tool is currently under-researched. Placing licensed-characters, which are those borrowed from movies and TV shows, have previously been shown to affect children’s food choices and taste preferences in favour of the product they appear on, and their use in TV advertising is regulated here in the UK. However, this is the first study to examine the influence of brand equity characters in this context, which are characters created solely to represent a particular product/brand (for example, Tony the Tiger for Kellogg’s Frosties), and these characters are currently exempt from UK TV advertising regulations. As these brand equity characters typically promote foods which are high in fat, salt and sugar, it is crucial that we understand their impact on children’s food choices and preferences. Our findings were consistent with the existing literature on various types of promotional characters, demonstrating that children displayed a preference for the taste of foods presented with the brand equity character on the packaging, compared to identical foods without the character, and were also more likely to choose these foods as snacks. This was true even when the characters were placed on foods they were not usually associated with. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nutrition, Weight Research / 03.08.2016 Interview with: Yanni Papanikolaou PhD Candidate, Masters in Public Health Nutrition Nutritional Strategies Inc. Paris, ON, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005–2010, which consisted of information from more than 14,000 U.S. adults 19 years old and older. We looked at dietary eating patterns and compared those individuals that consumed grain and grain-based foods (both in whole and enriched forms) and compared to those who omit main grain foods from their diet. We examined nutrient intakes, diet quality and various health measures, including body weight and waist circumference, within each grain group and compared to adults not eating grain foods. We found that people consuming certain grain foods had better overall diet quality, lower average body weight and a smaller waist circumference. Specifically, adults consuming pasta, cooked cereals and rice weighed 7.2 pounds less and had waist circumferences that were 1.2 inches smaller compared to adults who didn’t eat grains. Although the public is quick to demonize enriched grains, our findings show that enriched grains provide vital nutrients many Americans fall short on, such as fiber, folate, calcium, iron, and magnesium.  Eliminating grain-based foods can have negative effects on diet quality and intake of essential nutrients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA, Nutrition, Protein, Vegetarians / 02.08.2016 Interview with: Mingyang Song Sc.D, research fellow Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit and Division of Gastroenterology MGH and Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous studies have been focused on the amount of protein intake, while little is known regarding the health effect of different food sources for protein intake. In this study, we found that high animal protein intake was associated with higher mortality, whereas high plant-based protein was associated with lower mortality. Replacement of animal protein with plant protein was associated with lower mortality. Overall, the findings support the importance of food sources for protein intake for long-term health outcomes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, Kidney Stones, Nutrition, Protein, Red Meat / 01.08.2016 Interview with: Pietro Manuel Ferraro, MD MSc PhD Assistant Professor Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli Catholic University of the Sacred Heart Senior Collaborator in the Nurses' Health Study Brigham and Women's Hospital Channing Division of Network Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In our study, we looked at the association between dietary intake of different sources of protein (vegetable, dairy and non-dairy animal), potassium (a marker of fruits and vegetables) and their interaction and the risk of forming kidney stones. We looked at their interaction because some protein is a source of acid, whereas fruits and vegetables are a source of alkali, thus their relationship could potentially impact acid-base status and in turn the risk of stones by modifying the metabolism of calcium and other elements such as urine citrate and uric acid. We found that the risk of forming stones depends not only on the amount of protein but also on the source, with no risk associated with intake of vegetable and dairy protein, and a modestly higher risk for excessive non-dairy animal protein; on the other hand, intake of potassium was associated with a markedly lower risk. Interestingly, the interaction between intake of protein and potassium, the so called net acid load, was also associated with higher risk of forming kidney stones, suggesting that the effect of acid intake is modulated by that of alkali and vice versa. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Imperial College, Nutrition / 26.07.2016 Interview with: Prof. Majid Ezzati, PhD Faculty of Medicine, School of Public Health Chair in Global Environmental Health Imperial College, London Adjunct Professor of Global Health and Department of Global Health and Population Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Human height is strongly influenced by the environment that we grow up in, from pregnancy through to late adolescence. If we have good nutrition, few illnesses and good healthcare, we are more likely to grow taller. In turn, height has a strong effect on our health in adulthood. Taller people on average live longer, have lower risk of heart disease (although they do have slightly elevated risks of some cancers). We have collated the largest-ever database of height. We analysed 1472 studies with measured height on 18.6 million individuals. We made estimates of height for 18-year-old men and women from 1914 and 2014. Height has increased in every country in the world, but this has been very uneven. The tallest men in the world are now the Dutch, and the tallest women are the Latvians. The countries that have seen the most growth are South Korea for women and Iran for men. We have seen large increases in height in East Asia, and stagnation in much of the West over the last few decades. In parts of Africa height has actually decreased by 5-10 cm over this period. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Nutrition, Pediatrics / 21.07.2016 Interview with: Sharon Carstairs PhD Student Public Health Research University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen What is the background for this study? Response: The introduction of solid foods is a key period when the milk diet is no longer able to meet all dietary needs, additionally it is a key time for food learning and development of eating preferences in a child’s life. It is vital that children are provided with nutritionally balanced foods as well as a variety of foods to meet dietary requirements and are exposed to different tastes and textures. Some parents provide home-cooked meals however, there is a large market of commercially available infant/toddler meals which can provide parents with a convenient alternative to home-cooking. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, Nutrition, Red Meat / 17.07.2016 Interview with: Woon-Puay KOH | Professor Office of Clinical Sciences| Duke-NUS Medical School Singapore 169857 What is the background for this study? Response: There is a growing burden of chronic kidney disease worldwide, and many progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant. Hence, urgent efforts are needed in risk factor prevention, especially in the general population. Current guidelines recommend restricting dietary protein intake to help manage patients with advanced chronic kidney disease, and slow progression to ESRD. However, there is limited evidence that overall dietary protein restriction or limiting specific food sources of protein intake may slow kidney function decline in the general population. Hence, we embarked on our study to see what dietary advice may be helpful to the general population in order to reduce the risk of ESRD. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Diabetes, Nutrition, PLoS, Weight Research / 15.07.2016 Interview with: Dr. Qi Sun Sc.D, M.D., M.M.S. Dr. Geng Zong, Ph.D., a research fellow Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Heath Boston What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is growing trend of eating meal prepared out of home in many countries. For example, energy intake from out-of-home meals has increased from less than 10% in mid 60s to over 30% in 2005-2008 among Americans, and average time spent on cooking has decreased by one third. In the meantime, the prevalence of diabetes and obesity of this country keep on growing. In the current study, we followed nearly 100 thousands middle-aged men and women for 26 years. In 1986, we asked people how often their lunch and dinner were prepared at home per week, which will be 14 meals in maximum, and updated this information during follow-up. We found men and women with 11-14 meals prepared at home per week had 14% lower risk of diabetes compared to those had 6 or less meals prepared at home. If we look at lunch and dinner separately, people with 5 or more lunch prepared at home per week had 9% lower risk of diabetes, and those with 5 or more dinner prepared at home had 15% lower risk of diabetes compared to the group who had 2 or less than lunch or dinner at home per week. We further investigated whether people with more meals prepared at home had lower risk of obesity or weight gain in our study. In the first eight years of follow-up, participants with 11-14 meals prepared at home had 14% lower risk of developing obesity compared to people had 0-6 meals prepared at home. For men, these people had 1.2kg less weight gain, and for women they had 0.3 kg less weight gain. Furthermore, we found potential impact of having meals at home and risk of diabetes became weaker. This suggest that weight gain could be one gearwheel that links eating meals prepared at home and diabetes risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Nutrition / 12.07.2016 Interview with: Hsin-Jen Chen, PhD MS Assistant Professor Institute of Public Health National Yang-Ming University Taipei City What is the background for this study? Response: The number of eating occasions may affect health. Laboratory experiments have been showing that splitting daily food consumption into more eating occasions could improve metabolic profiles, such as healthier blood glucose and lipids levels. However, such kinds of experiments usually design a highly controlled diet for the participants in the lab. It is questionable whether such metabolic benefits remain in our daily life (namely, no controlled diets) where we can eat at anytime when we want to eat. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nutrition / 09.07.2016 Interview with: Ruopeng An, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Kinesiology and Community Health College of Applied Health Sciences University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Sandwiches are a staple of the American diet. About one half of the U.S. adult population consumed one or more sandwiches on a daily basis. Sandwich consumption may profoundly influence people’s diet quality and calorie intake. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Omega-3 Fatty Acids / 06.07.2016 Interview with: Dr. Marcus E. Kleber Fifth Department of Medicine (Nephrology, Hypertensiology, Endocrinology, Diabetology, Rheumatology), Medical Faculty of Mannheim University of Heidelberg Mannheim, Germany What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Many epidemiological studies found inverse associations between the concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, and cardiovascular disease and mortality. On the other hand, most clinical trials that investigated the effect of omega-3 supplementation on cardiovascular risk failed to show a benefit. Therefore, the role of omega-3 fatty acids is still debated controversially. One problem with clinical trials is that they usually do not screen their participants for their initial omega-3 status. In our study we measured the omega-3 status of our participants using a very reliable and validated method and found an inverse association of EPA and DHA with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Mineral Metabolism, Nutrition, UT Southwestern / 04.07.2016 Interview with: Dr. Wanpen Vongpatanasin MD The Norman and Audrey Kaplan Chair in Hypertension UT Southwestern Medical Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, known as the DASH diet, is known to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients. More recently, the DASH diet was shown to reduce oxidative stress in people with and without high blood pressure . However, the main nutritional ingredient responsible for these beneficial effects of the DASH diet remain unknown. Because the DASH diet is rich in potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), and alkali, we performed a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study to compare effects of KMg Citrate (KMgCit), K Chloride (KCl), and K Citrate (KCit) to allow dissociation of the three in hypertensive and prehypertensive individuals. This study was conducted in collaboration with Drs. Charles Pak and Orson Moe at UT Southwestern, the two leading experts in the field of Mineral Metabolism. We found that oxidative stress was markedly reduced by KMgCit powder compared to placebo, K Chloride, and K Citrate. On the hand, KMgCit has no significant effects on blood pressure . Editor's note:  DO NOT Take Potassium supplements unless under the direction of your health care provider. (more…)
Author Interviews, Microbiome, Multiple Sclerosis, Nutrition, Science / 02.07.2016 Interview with: Ashutosh K Mangalam PhD Assistant Professor Department of Pathology University of Iowa Iowa City, IA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Every human carries trillions of bacteria in their gut (gut microbiome) and recent advances in research indicate that these tiny passengers play an important role in our overall health maintenance. Having evolved over the time span of millions of years with the gut microbiome, they keep us healthy in multiple ways such as fermentation and absorption of undigested carbohydrates, synthesis of some vitamins, metabolism of bile acids etc. However, new research suggests that gut microbiome, also regulating our body’s defense system. It is hypothesized that a diverse gut microbiome is good for our health and perturbations in this might predispose us to disease development. Therefore, we asked whether multiple sclerosis (MS) patients have a gut microbiome which is distinct from healthy individuals. We collected fecal samples from MS patients and healthy controls and performed microbiome analysis. I have recently moved to UI but the entire study was completed at Mayo Clinic Rochester. This study involved a big team comprised of neurologist, gastroenterologist, bioinformatician, system biologist and study coordinators. We found that  multiple sclerosis patients indeed have a gut microbiome which is different from what is observed in healthy people. We identified certain bacteria which are increased or decreased in the gut of patients with multiple sclerosis compared to healthy controls. (more…)