Health and Fitness

Longer Breastfeeding Best For HIV-Infected Mothers

A new study from Zambia suggests that halting breastfeeding early causes more harm than good for children not infected with HIV who are born to HIV-positive mothers. Stopping breastfeeding before 18 months was associated with significant increases in mortality among these children, according to the study's findings, described in the Feb. 1, 2010 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, and available online now. The researchers' initial hypothesis, which proved to be incorrect, suggested that by 4 months of age, children would have passed the critical developmental point when breastfeeding is essential to their survival. However, stopping breastfeeding at 4 months, compared to usual breastfeeding as the child reaches 6 months to 24 months or older, did not decrease mortality or play a significant role in protecting the child from HIV transmission. These findings were consistent with those for mothers not infected with HIV; longer breastfeeding is necessary to protect children against potentially fatal infectious diseases, especially those prevalent in low-resource settings.

SciDev.net Feature Addresses Nutrition, Food Security

SciDev.net includes a special feature on the challenges associated with meeting the nutritional and food needs of people around the world. Links to articles and commentary on the subject appear below: The challenge of improving nutrition: facts and figures (Shetty, 1/20). Can GM crops feed the hungry? (Campbell, 1/20). Nutritional security is in the balance (Babu, 1/20). Urgent action needed to tackle malnutrition (Lewis, 1/20). The 'hidden hunger' caused by climate change (Ziska, 1/20). Using genetics to tackle malnutrition (Kaput, 1/20). Food safety is critical to nutrition security (Schlundt, 1/20). Nutrition key to cutting infection rates (Thorne-Lynman/Fawzi, 1/20). This information was reprinted from globalhealth.kff.org with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at globalhealth.kff.org. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Nutrition Information Leads To Lower-Calorie Fast Food Meals For Children

Parents presented with nutrition information may select lower-calorie foods for their children from fast food menus, according to the study, "Nutrition Menu Labeling May Lead to Lower-Energy Restaurant Meal Choices for Children, " published in the February issue of Pediatrics (appearing online Jan. 25). At a pediatric practice in Seattle, Wash., 99 parents of 3- to 6-year-olds who sometimes go to fast food restaurants with their children were surveyed about their fast food dining habits. They were then presented with picture menus featuring McDonald's restaurant menu items and asked which they would select for themselves and for their children. Half of the parents were given the calories (or energy) for each menu item, along with prices based on actual local pricing. Choices included most of the items sold at McDonald's, including a variety of sandwiches, salads, dressings, side items, beverages, desserts and children's meals. Parents who were given the calorie information chose 102 fewer calories on average for their children compared with the group who did not have this information.

Canada's Food Safety System Fails International Comparisons

Canada's food safety system is reactive, lags behind other countries, and investment is needed to ensure it can adequately protect Canadians, states an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). Foodborne illness surveillance is needed to ensure safety from gastrointestinal infections caused by bacteria such as toxigenic E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria. As there is no national foodborne illness surveillance program in Canada, the estimated 11 million cases of foodborne illness every year are based on surveys of self-reported gastrointestinal illness. More accurate data are needed to execute meaningful intervention. European Union countries, the US and Australia have surveillance systems that allow them to collect information on food vehicles and organisms that cause foodborne illness, something Canada cannot currently do. Canada's multi-government system with national, provincial and local governments that share responsibility for health, as well as monitor the safety and quality of food are key reasons that we have a fragmented system with poor focus.

70 Of Inuit Preschoolers Live In Food Insecure Homes, Canada

Seventy percent of Inuit preschoolers in Nunavut, Canada's largest territory, live in households where there isn't enough food, a situation with implications for children's academic and psychosocial development, found an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). The study, conducted by researchers at McGill University and the Government of Nunavut, looked at 388 Inuit children aged 3-5 years in 16 communities from 2007-2008. The majority of children (68%) lived with their biological or adoptive parents. Twenty-nine percent were obese and 39% were overweight. There was a high prevalence of public housing, income support and crowded homes. The researchers conducted bilingual, face-to-face interviews which included demographic questionnaires and the USDA 18-item Household Food Security Survey module. Questions included "In the last 12 months, did your children ever not eat for a whole day because there wasn't enough money for food?" and "in the last 12 months, were the children ever hungry but you just couldn't afford more food?

Rush University Medical Center Leads Nationwide Clinical Trial Of Nutritional Drink For Alzheimer's

Rush University Medical Center is leading a nationwide clinical trial of a nutritional drink to determine whether it can improve cognitive performance in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's. The study follows recently released results from an earlier trial conducted in Europe showing that the drink, called Souvenaid, improved verbal recall in people with mild disease who were followed for three months. "Our primary goal is to see whether Souvenaid can slow the worsening of memory difficulties in persons with mild to moderate Alzheimer's who are already taking approved treatments for the disease, " said Dr. Raj Shah, medical director of the Rush Memory Clinic and one of the study's lead investigators. Results of the first European study were released recently following publication in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia. In that study, 225 patients with mild Alzheimer's were divided into two groups. Some drank Souvenaid and the others sipped a non-medical drink every day for 12 weeks.

Journal Of Public Health Publishes EUFIC Study On European Consumers' Use And Understanding Of Nutrition Information On Food Labels

Results from a European study on consumer use of nutrition information on food labels and their understanding of front-of-pack nutrition information, are now available ahead of print on the website of the Journal of Public Health. The study, conducted by the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) and Professor Klaus Grunert of Aarhus University in Denmark, in six European countries, reveals that the understanding of nutrition information seems to be more widespread than actual use and that there are considerable differences between consumers in different countries in both understanding and use of nutrition labelling. The recently published results are based on a survey of consumers in the UK, Sweden, France, Germany, Poland and Hungary who were observed at major retailers in the respective countries when shopping in the six product categories selected for the study; breakfast cereals, soft drinks, confectionery, ready meals, salty snacks and yoghurts, Field researchers recorded whether shoppers looked at the front or elsewhere on pack or did not look at all at the information on the pack before putting it in the basket.

Eating Your Greens Could Save Your Life

The age old reminder to always eat your greens isn't just for kids anymore. Not only are the vitamins and minerals good for you, but eating greens could also save your life, according to a recent study invoving scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). LLNL researchers Graham Bench and Ken Turteltaub found that giving someone a small dose of chlorophyll (Chla) or chlorophyllin (CHL) - found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and kale - could reverse the effects of aflatoxin poisoning. Aflatoxin is a potent, naturally occurring carcinogenic mycotoxin that is associated with the growth of two types of mold: Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Food and food crops most prone to aflatoxin contamination include corn and corn products, cottonseed, peanuts and peanut products, tree nuts and milk. Bench and Turteltaub, working with colleagues from Oregon State University and an industry partner, Cephalon Inc., found that greens have chemopreventive potential.

Athletic Injuries More Frequent In Females

Female athletes experience dramatically higher rates of specific musculoskeletal injuries and medical conditions compared to male athletes, according to exercise physiologist Vicki Harber in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta. According to her paper, depending on the sport, there can be a two- to sixfold difference in these types of injuries between male and female athletes. That's because many training programs developed for female athletes are built on research using young adult males and don't take the intrinsic biological differences between the sexes into account. Harber has authored a comprehensive guide for coaches, parents and administrators, entitled The Female Athlete Perspective, and published by Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L), which addresses these and other medical issues known to influence women's participation in sport. The paper is based on a thorough review of the current literature on the subject, Harber's extensive knowledge as a researcher in female athlete health and her work in the development of female athletes.

Green Tea Could Modify The Effect Of Cigarette Smoking On Lung Cancer Risk

Drinking green tea could modulate the effect of smoking on lung cancer. Results of this hospital-based, randomized study conducted in Taiwan were presented at the AACR-IASLC Joint Conference on Molecular Origins of Lung Cancer, held here from Jan. 11-14, 2010. "Lung cancer is the leading cause of all cancer deaths in Taiwan, " said I-Hsin Lin, M.S., a student at Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan. "Tea, particularly green tea, has received a great deal of attention because tea polyphenols are strong antioxidants, and tea preparations have shown inhibitory activity against tumorigenesis." However, previous studies of green tea have been inhibited by the flaws of the epidemiologic model with its inherent biases. Lin and colleagues enrolled 170 patients with lung cancer and 340 healthy patients as controls. The researchers administered questionnaires to obtain demographic characteristics, cigarette smoking habits, green tea consumption, dietary intake of fruits and vegetables, cooking practices and family history of lung cancer.

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