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Skipping breakfast may increase heart disease risk and make losing weight more difficult, US study

breakfastMissing breakfast may increase the risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease, according to a new study published on 22 July 2013 in the American Heart Association Journal ‘Circulation’. Another study, funded by cereal manufacturer Kellogg’s found that US adolescents who ate breakfast had more success with losing weight and maintaining this weight loss for up to two years.

Breakfast lowers risk of heart disease in men

A large 16-year study has found that men who reported that they skipped breakfast a 27 per cent higher risk of heart attack or fatal coronary heart disease than those who reported that they ate breakfast. Even after accounting for modest differences in diet, physical activity, smoking and other lifestyle factors, the association between skipping breakfast (or eating very late at night) and coronary heart disease persisted.

Researchers analysed food frequency questionnaire data and tracked health outcomes for the 16 years between 1992 and 2008 on 26,902 male health professionals aged 45-82.

Other findings included:

  • The men who reported not eating breakfast were younger than those who did, and were more likely to smokers, employed full time, unmarried, less physically active and to drink more alcohol
  • Men who reported eating late at night (eating after going to bed) had a 55 per cent higher coronary heart disease risk than those who didn’t. But researchers said they were less convinced this was a major public health concern because few men in the study reported this behaviour.
  • During the study, 1,572 of the men had first-time cardiac events.

Coca-Cola may face court in US over ‘Vitaminwater’

Global beverage giant may face court in the US over claims that it “fraudulently” markets is ‘Vitaminwater’ product as a “healthful alternative” to soft drink, after a Federal Magistrate recommended to a Federal District court that the suit proceed as a class action.

The suit, first filed by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and private law firms in January 2009, targets the marketing and labelling of Coca-Cola’s ‘vitaminwater’, which the Plaintiffs said is “misleading” and “fraudulent”. The latest ruling, by US Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy, recommends that the Plaintiffs be able to litigate for declaratory and injunctive relief, but not for damages.

“This decision puts this case on a glide path toward a jury trial where Coca-Cola will have to defend under penalty of perjury the deceptive claims it has made and continues to make in connection with Vitaminwater,” said Steve Gardner, CSPI Litigation Director.

“That will put the Company in the awkward position of squaring its marketing of Vitaminwater as a healthy, disease-fighting drink with its later assertion that ‘no reasonable consumer’ would ever believe such marketing,” Mr Gardner said.

Australian food industry experts dismiss ‘plain packaging’ for high calorie foods

A panel of leading Australian food industry experts has ruled out plain packaging of high calorie foods as a possible way to fight obesity.

Plain paper packaging was one of the key topics debated at the 46th Annual Australian Institute of Food Science Technology (AIFST) Convention held in Brisbane recently.

While the panel agreed that plain packaging was “inappropriate and likely to be ineffective”, speakers on the panel did suggest a range of other ideas to tackle the complex issue of obesity.

Maximise nutrient quality

The panel said all sectors of the food industry needed to move towards increasing the nutrient content of foods.

“Traditional hunter-gatherer diets were driven by cravings and needs,” said Vic Cherikoff, of Australian Innovative Ingredients and winner of the 2013 AIFST Food Industry Innovation Award. “We may be in an age of supermarket foraging but we still have biological needs for certain macro and micronutrients, including antioxidants,” he said.

“When we are eating high calorie, low nutrient foods, there may be a risk that we are overeating in an attempt to meet our nutritional needs. We need to look at maximising nutrient content of foods – both processed and those at farm gate – to meet our needs and reduce the risk of overeating,” Mr Cherikoff said.

FSANZ calls for submissions on GMO soybean application

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has invited submissions on an application to change the Food Standards Code to allow food derived from a genetically modified soybean.

The application, submitted by Bayer CropScience and Syngenta Seeds, sought permission to allow food derived from a soybean genetically modified to be tolerant to two herbicides, glufosinate-ammonium and mesotrione.

“The FSANZ safety assessment found no public health or safety concerns and food from this soybean line is as safe for human consumption as food derived from conventional soybean,” said Steve McCutcheon, FSANZ Chief Executive Officer. “FSANZ welcomes comments from government agencies, public health professionals, industry and the community,” he said.

The closing date for submissions is 23 August 2013. Full details of the application and how to make a submission can be found on the FSANZ website.

Gut bacteria through diet affects brain function

Regular consumption through yoghurt of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, alters brain function, according to an early proof-of-concept study from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

The study, conducted by scientists at UCLA and published in the June online edition of the journal Gastroenterology, found that changing the bacterial environment, or microbiota, in the gut changed the areas of the brain that were active, both while in a resting state and in response to an emotion-recognition task.

Scientists have known that the brain sends signals to the gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal problems. The UCLA researchers said this study showed that the signals also travel in the opposite direction, from gut to brain.

“Time and time again we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut,” said Dr Kirsten Tillisch, an Associate Professor of Medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “Our study shos that the gut-brain connection is a two-way street,” she said.

“Our findings indicate that some of the contents of yoghurt may actually change the way our brain responds to the environment. When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘gut feelings’ take on new meaning,” Dr Tillisch said.


For these stories and more, visit the Australia Food News Website.

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