Nutrition Researcher: Frank Hu

One of the world's most respected nutrition and disease prevention researchers is Frank Hu, MD, Ph.D., who is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Hu has been instrumental in many of the studies that Dr. Fuhrman cites. Anyone who wants to know more about nutrition research would be smart to follow his work. Here are some of the studies Dr. Hu has been involved with.

2002 Diabetes in Men Study
This study, released in 2002, tracked 42,000 men for twelve years. At the beginning of the study, none had diabetes. 1,321 cases of type 2 diabetes were diagnosed during the study. All participants were asked repeatedly about their diets, and those who ate what the researchers called the "western diet" (high in red meat, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, and refined grains) and were obese and inactive were at a mich higher risk to get type 2 diabetes.

A Harvard School of Public Health press release describes the study. "The implications of the study are straightforward," says Dr. Hu in the release. "To substantially decrease the chances of getting type 2 diabetes and developing potentially serious complications like blindness, kidney failure and heart disease, men should change their eating pattern and increase their intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fish. They should also get plenty of exercise and avoid weight gain."

2004 Study of Weight and Exercise in Women
More than 115,000 women were studied between 1976 and 2000. The findings were clear: being overweight and not exercising both significantly affected mortality. "There is no question that one should be as active as possible no matter what your weight is, but it is equally important to maintain a healthy weight and prevent weight gain through diet and lifestyle," Dr. Hu says in a press release describing the study.

2004 Study of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
This study attempted to assess some of the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages on health. More than 91,000 participants filled out questionnaires between 1991 and 1999, and the results were remarkable: those who had more than one sugared soft-drink per day had an 80 percent increased risk of diabetes compared to those who had one per month.

"This is the first study to show a strong positive association between sugar-sweetened beverages, including regular sodas and fruit punches, and diabetes risk," said Frank Hu in a press release describing the study. "Our study suggests that limiting consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, especially soft drinks, is an important public health strategy to curb the epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes."

2000 Studies of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
Two studies taken together showed coronary heart disease was dramatically reduced among women who stopped smoking and ate a healthier diet. The studies tracked 86,000 women over a 14-year period.

Here's how Dr. Hu summarized his findings: "Taken together, these studies give strong support to the theories that much of heart disease can be prevented through changes in diet and lifestyle. This newest study shows that a person's risk can drop very quickly by improving their diets and by quitting smoking."

You can read more about Dr. Hu's research at the Harvard School of Public Health website.

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Andrew Spark - March 22, 2006 2:14 AM

In my view the healthcare system would be so much more efficient if there was free market competition between healthcare providers.

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