HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

September 2011

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UPDATES

Oceana Reports on Seafood Fraud

In “Water World” (July/August), actor Ted Danson explained how he become an activist for the world’s oceans. Oceana, the conservation group Danson founded, has released a report entitled Bait and Switch: How Seafood Fraud Hurts Our Oceans, Our Wallets and Our Health. “Consumers are frequently served a different species than the one they paid for,” say the report’s authors, who describe how overfishing has created shortages of such popular species as red snapper—
leading to the illicit substitution of cheaper, and sometimes polluted, fish. You can download Bait and Switch from www.oceana.org (click on the News & Media link).

 

Finding Healthy Restaurant
Offerings for Kids

In “Surviving the Restaurant Meal” (June), we learned that more establishments are making healthy menu options available, especially in light of a proposed federal law that would require large chain eateries to supply calorie counts to their patrons. In an effort to stay ahead of the curve, the National Restaurant Association has launched its Kids LiveWell initiative. Participating restaurants agree to offer a children’s menu that meets certain criteria, such as a complete meal (entree, side and beverage) of 600 calories or less. To learn more, visit www.HealthyDiningFinder.com and click on the Kids LiveWell tab.

 

Studying the
Genome-Diet-Disease Link

In “Gene-Based Cuisine” (April), we explored a relatively new field of scientific endeavor called nutrigenomics, the study of how nutrients and genes interact to influence disease risk. The potential power of this approach is reflected in plans by the National Cancer Institute’s Nutritional Science Research Group to promote “well-designed dietary intervention trials” into the relationship between genotype, the unique set of genes carried by each person, and cancer prevention. Among the issues the NSRG wants to study are bioactive nutrients from food or supplements and genes linked to specific stages in cancer development.

 

Chemicals May Affect Thyroid Function

In “Slow Motor” (March Malady Makeover), we saw how an underperforming thyroid—a small butterfly-shaped gland located in front of the larynx—can cause energy production to sputter, leading to symptoms that include fatigue, weight gain, depression and dry skin. Now a large study from
the University of Michigan School of Public Health has found a link between BPA and phthalates, chemicals found in everyday items, and reduced thyroid hormone levels. The researchers looked at data from 1,675 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Results of this study, which appeared in a recent edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, are consistent with those of previous smaller studies.

 

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Omega-3 for Mom,
Better Immunity for Baby

Pregnant women who add the omega-3 fatty acid DHA to their diets may enhance their children’s immune systems.

That’s the conclusion reached by researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, who published their results online in the journal Pediatrics. The team gave either a high-dosage DHA supplement or a placebo to a group of Mexican moms-to-be, all of whom were between the 18th and 22nd week
of pregnancy when they entered the study and continued taking the DHA until they gave birth.

When the children were one month, three months and six months old, the mothers were asked if the babies had suffered cold symptoms within the previous 15 days. At one month, the children in the DHA group had less phlegm, cough and wheezing than the placebo group. By three months, kids in the supplement group had spent 14% less time showing signs of upper respiratory illness, including fever, runny nose, breathing difficulties and rash.

The Emory group will study school performance of the toddlers, who are now four years old, citing interest in the “long-term implications” of maternal DHA supplementation.

 

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Healthy Food, Healthy Kids

Concerns about childhood obesity have led nutrition experts and educators alike to search for ways to make healthy eating attractive to American youngsters. This effort has led to projects such
as Veggie U, an Ohio-based not-for-profit dedicated, as its website tagline says, to “changing children’s eating habits one classroom at a time.” Nearly 100 schools have signed up
for Veggie U’s Earth to Table program, which “introduces children to sustainable agricultural practices” through a fourth-grade curriculum that includes an indoor garden plot.

Most Veggie U schools are in Ohio and neighboring states, but the group has extended its reach as far as New York, Oregon and California. To learn more, visit www.veggieu.org.


Obesity isn’t the only health hazard kids face. Mood disorders, stomach troubles, ear infections and behavioral problems sap many children’s ability to develop properly.

Nutritionist Kelly Dorfman believes dietary changes can make a world of difference for many of these children—because she has seen it happen time and again during her 29 years of practice. In What’s Eating Your Child? (Workman), Dorfman encourages parents to become “nutrition detectives” who can search for connections between what a child eats and the symptoms he or she experiences—and what crucial nutrients may be lacking. (Case studies provide examples of how Dorfman has worked through this process with her own patients.) The idea, she says, is to give readers the “courage, compassion and confidence to lead your child on a path of greater health and well-being.”

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