- Experts believe that America’s response to soaring food and fuel costs will eventually be to eat less. Robert Roy Britt of LiveScience explains:
Roughly 19 percent of U.S. energy consumption goes toward producing and supplying food, David Pimentel and his colleagues at Cornell University write in the current issue of the journal Human Ecology. Considering that the average American consumes an estimated 3,747 calories a day, — at least 1,200 more than health experts advise — the researchers suggest everyone cut back.
Animal products and junk food, in particular, use more energy and other resources for their production than staples such as potatoes, rice, fruits and vegetables.
Producing all the stuff that goes into a single hamburger, for example, requires some 1,300 gallons of water, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A study in 2006 by University of Chicago researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin found that a vegetarian diet is the most energy-efficient, followed by one that includes poultry. Diets with red meat or fish are the least efficient.
"By just reducing junk food intake and converting to diets lower in meat, the average American could have a massive impact on fuel consumption as well as improving his or her health," Pimentel and his team write in a statement released today.
- Researchers at the University of Colorado Hospital have determined that Colorado seniors are low on Vitamin D. The Rocky Mountain News reports:
Researchers at the University of Colorado Hospital recruited 80 seniors, age 65 to 89, and found that three-quarters of them had insufficient levels of Vitamin D.
That's probably because they thought the old levels were sufficient, said Sunny Linnebur, associate professor at the CU-Denver School of Pharmacy.
"It was a surprise because in Denver we have so much sun," she said. "And these were ambulatory elderly, people who can walk around and go outside. We were expecting more of them to have normal levels of Vitamin D."
Sara Jane Barru of Denver said she had assumed she was taking plenty of Vitamin D, but when a test found her levels were low she eagerly jumped into the study.
She said she started taking a lot more Vitamin D while in the study "and I'm continuing to keep it up there.
- Concern continues to mount over the usage of nanotechnology in healthcare products. ENN is on it:
More risk assessment studies are needed to understand what exactly defines toxicity due to nanoparticles, and what kind of regulations the sector needs, said Hermann Stamm, head of nanotechnology and molecular imaging at the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection in the European Commission's Joint Research Council.
Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum in Barcelona this week (20 July), Stamm said concern over possible health risks due to nano-sized particles arises from several studies that found a link between ultra-fine particles from exhaust engines and air pollution to lung cancers and heart disease.
Nanotechnology — the use of particles as small as one-billionth of a metre — holds tremendous potential for the health sector, particularly in drug delivery.
Developing countries are keen to use nanotechnology in healthcare and agriculture. India, for example, in 2007 launched a US$225 million programme for nanoscience and technology.
- Good news for Canada. The amount of trans-fat used in Canadian food appears to be declining. Via EmaxHealth:
In June 2007, the Government of Canada called on industry to voluntarily reduce the levels of trans fat in the Canadian food supply to the levels recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force, and announced that the Government would monitor the progress.
The Trans Fat Task Force recommended a trans fat limit of 2% of the total fat content for all vegetable oils and soft, spreadable margarines, and a limit of 5% of the total fat content for all other foods, including ingredients sold to restaurants.
"I am very pleased to see that industry is continuing to make progress to reduce the levels of trans fat," said Parliamentary Secretary Fletcher. "This second set of data, which focused on popular fast food chains and family restaurants in Canada, further illustrates the commitment of industry to achieve the limits recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force. The fact that we're seeing reductions in the levels of trans fat in so many areas is great news for all Canadians."
- Lance Armstrong and four former U.S. surgeon generals have joined forces to promote cancer-prevention. Will Dunham of Reuters is on it:
Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France, said the United States needs to make more progress against the various types of cancer.
"As a survivor, I think I can say this -- we have taken our eye off the ball," Armstrong told a news conference along with former surgeons general Richard Carmona, David Satcher, Joycelyn Elders and Antonia Novello.
Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in the United States, and is expected to kill about 566,000 this year. Only heart disease kills more.
At Armstrong's request, the four doctors developed a national "call to action" against cancer that emphasizes prevention efforts such as not smoking, eating more fruit and vegetables, getting less fat in the diet, getting more exercise, using sunscreen and avoiding indoor tanning beds.
- A fad detox diet left a mother brain-damaged. So she sued and won. Luke Salkeld of The Daily Mail reports:
Dawn Page, 52, has been awarded £810,000 in damages from her nutritionist, although the practitioner denies fault.
Mother of two Mrs Page, who weighed 12st, became ill within days of taking up the Amazing Hydration Diet.
She had been told by the nutritionist to drink four extra pints of water a day and drastically reduce her salt intake.
The first stage of the regime left her suffering from severe vomiting and stomach cramps, but she was told these were just part of the detoxification process.
She was told by her dietician to increase the amount of water to six pints and consume still less salt.
Days later she suffered a massive epileptic fit and brain damage caused by severe sodium deficiency.
- The push to stop more fast-food restaurants from opening in the poorest areas of Los Angeles is picking up steam. Via Reuters:
A Los Angeles city council planning committee unanimously approved a 1-year ban, which could be extended for a further year, on new fast food outlets in a 32-square-mile (82-sq-km) area of Los Angeles.
The measure, the latest in efforts by U.S. cities to promote healthier eating, will go to the full council for a vote next month.
If passed, it would affect about half a million Angelenos living in an area that supporters say already has about 400 fast-food eateries and few grocery stores.
The proposed moratorium follows a report last year which found that about 30 percent of children living in the South Los Angeles, West Adams, Baldwin Hills and Leimert Park areas are obese compared to about 21 percent in the rest of the city.
- The European Union wants more testing done on cloned meat before it can be considered safe. More from Darren Ennis of Reuters:
"For cattle and pigs, food safety concerns are considered unlikely. But we must acknowledge that the evidence base is still small. We would like to have a broader data base and we need further clarification."
In its initial response to the issue of cloning -- which many consumer and religious groups strongly oppose -- EFSA said in January that cloned animals could be safe to eat.
It also said it saw "no environmental impact" from animal cloning, which takes cells from an adult and fuses them with others before implanting them in a surrogate mother.
But when asked if cloned products such as meat and dairy would be safe for people to buy in European supermarkets, Dr. Dan Collins of EFSA said: "There are possible concerns ... there is an impact of animal health and welfare on food safety. We need more data."