Nutrition News Bites – November 8th

by Lindsey Toth

Researchers: 42% of U.S. population will be obese
Harvard University researchers calculated the likelihood of becoming obese and found that American adults have a 2% risk for obesity in any given year — and that risk increases by 0.5% annually for every obese friend a person has. The researchers projected that obesity rates in the U.S. will reach 42%.

Michigan prohibits alcohol-caffeine drinks
Michigan appears to be the first state to ban drinks that combine alcohol and caffeine, following incidents in other states in which students were hospitalized after consuming such beverages. The FDA is investigating the safety of the drinks.

Movers and shakers embrace vegan diets
A growing number of corporate CEOs, politicians and high-powered celebrities have cut animal products out of their diets, a move that may be as much a status symbol as an ethical choice, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Bill Clinton, Russell Simmons and Alec Baldwin are now among the 1% of Americans who follow a vegan diet, and high-profile casino mogul Steve Wynn, who gave up animal products in June, has tweaked menus at several of his eateries to include vegan options.

Gluten-free diet benefits only celiac disease patients
Medical experts say eating nothing but gluten-free food is very difficult for celiac disease patients and yet has become a trendy mainstream diet. Celebrities claim there are health benefits to going gluten-free, but gastroenterologist Dr. Jeanette Keith says there are no studies showing people who do not have celiac disease should “absolutely eliminate gluten.”

Obesity is contagious among friends 

A new study suggests that the more obese friends you have, the more likely you are to become obese.  This latest research confirms a 2007 study by Harvard researchers and others that showed that one person’s obesity can significantly increase the chance that his or her friends, siblings and spouse also will become heavy, suggesting that weight gain does spread through social networks. 

Dietary Guidelines may tell adults to cut down on salt
A federal advisory committee wants the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, to be released in December, to recommend that adults reduce daily sodium intake from 2,300 milligrams to 1,500 mg. Average consumption is about double that recommendation, and reducing it is part of an effort to lower blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disease. 

Study: Infants’ peanut allergies may be tied to moms’ consumption
A study of 503 infants found that 140 tested positive for a strong sensitivity to peanuts, and a mother’s peanut consumption during pregnancy was a strong predictor of peanut sensitivity. “While our study does not definitively indicate that pregnant women should not eat peanut products during pregnancy, it highlights the need for further research,” the lead researcher said.

Diet high in monounsaturated fats improves cholesterol levels
Participants who were assigned to a low-cholesterol diet high in monounsaturated fats had a 12.5% increase in their HDL, or “good,” cholesterol levels and a 35% drop in their LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels compared with the low-MUFA group, a small study showed. 

Test results back safety of Gulf seafood for public consumption
FDA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials examined 1,735 tissue samples of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico and found that less than 1% of these samples tested positive for dispersants used to clean up the BP oil spill. “The overwhelming majority of the seafood tested shows no detectable residue, and not one of the samples shows a residue level that would be harmful for humans. There is no question Gulf seafood coming to market is safe from oil or dispersant residue,” said the FDA’s commissioner, Margaret A. Hamburg. 

Researchers say alcohol is the most dangerous substance
British researchers evaluated commonly abused substances and found that alcohol was the most dangerous, with a score of 72 on preset criteria, followed by heroin and crack cocaine. The researchers said the findings support previous reports that “aggressively targeting alcohol … is a valid and necessary public health strategy.” 

Study looks at reasons for raw-milk boom
Researchers at Ohio State University are conducting a study to determine why some people prefer raw milk and others do not. “We truly do not know very much about how people make the choice to drink raw or pasteurized milk,” said Lydia Medeiros, a professor who said she wants to find out why interest in raw milk is increasing. “There’s just nothing in the literature.”

Lindsey Toth is currently finishing up her time in the joint Dietetic Internship/MS Nutrition and MS Nutrition Communications program. Boston’s beautiful scenery has turned Lindsey into an avid runner, and she just recently finished her first half marathon in September.  When Lindsey isn’t yogging, she is content sitting down with a close group of friends, baking some delicious treats, and watching a classic Disney movie.

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