Nutrition News Bites- March 14th, 2011

by Rachel Perez

Friedman News

Q and A with Anthony Monaco, incoming Tufts President

Tufts Now interviews the 13th president of Tufts University regarding his aspirations, his science, and his family.  Anthony Monaco attended Princeton University, and later obtained an M.D. and Ph.D. specializing in genetics of neurological disorders from Harvard Medical School.  Monaco will succeed President Lawrence S. Bacow on August 1, 2011.


UN report says ecofarming can feed the world

Last Tuesday the United Nations released a report on small-scale sustainable farming titled Agro-ecology and the Right to Food. The report states, “Agroecology seeks to improve the sustainability of agroecosystems by mimicking nature instead of industry.”  Critics point to increased labor as a barrier, though proponents argue that agroecology creates more jobs over the long term.


For body composition, “applevspearshape may not effect risk for heart disease.

A study in Lancet observed that distribution of body fat had no impact on risk for heart disease.  In a prospective observational trial, researchers followed 220,000 adults over a decade, tracking weight, hip and waist measurements, blood pressure, and cholesterol.  They observed that people with “apple shape” central adiposity, or fat deposits around the waist, did not have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease than people with general obesity.   “This study suggests that measuring your waist is no better than calculating your BMI,” said Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation charity, which part-funded the study.

Food Policy

Proposal for the first national aquaculture policy

The Atlantic reports on the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) proposed national aquaculture policy.  The proposal recommends increasing scientific knowledge of aquaculture, supporting innovation and investments of coastal ecosystems, and advancing public understanding of sustainable aquaculture.   Meeting customer demand for sustainable seafood may be difficult, since  84% of current U.S. seafood is imported, with half of that coming from farmed sources.


Federal government encourages emerging trend of young farmers

A increasing number of young people are choosing farming as a career, and in 2010 the federal government spent $18 million for farming education.  Challenges for young farmers include access to land and money to buy equipment.  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hopes some will eventually run larger farms, filling a need as older farmers retire.  As of 2007, the average age of farmers was 60 years old, and more than half of America’s farmland is owned by farmers older than 55 years.

Daily dose of coffee may lower stroke risk in women, study says

A 10-year observational study in 34,670 Swedish women noted that women who drank at least a cup of coffee every day had a 22 to 25 percent lower risk of stroke, compared to those who drank less coffee or none at all.  The epidemiological study cannot prove that coffee lowers stroke risk, however possible biological mechanisms include reduced inflammation, improved insulin sensitivity, or antioxidants.  This study adds to a body of conflicting research.


Chefs Bourdain and Ripert visit Boston forGood vs. Evilbanter

A little over a week ago distinguished chefs Anthony Bourdain, host of Travel Channel’s “No Reservations’’ and author of Kitchen Confidential, and Eric Ripert, chef of New York’s Le Bernardin visited Symphony Hall for a conversational evening called “Good vs. Evil.’’  The discussion touched on topics of sustainable seafood, the “farm to table” movement, and molecular gastronomy; click here for highlights of the evening.


Use strategic skepticism to evaluate the merit of food studies

Marion Nestle comments on difficulties of nutrition science research, using the diet soda and stroke risk study as an illustration.  When approaching To gauge the merit of a single-food or single-nutrient study, Nestle suggests three key questions: Is the result biologically plausible? Did study control for other dietary, behavioral, or lifestyle factors that could have influenced dietary or lifestyle factors? Who sponsored the study?

Rachel Perez is a second year Nutrition Communications student.  Feel free to email her at rachel.perez@tufts.edu with feedback or any nutrition nibbles you might find!

The Friedman Sprout is a monthly student run newspaper that aims to serve the student population at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, prospective students, and alumni. Our mission is to report on newsworthy information that affects the Friedman community including nutrition research, food policy, internship and volunteer opportunities, as well as school events. Our editorial slant is that of sustainability in food and nutrition.

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