Nutrition and Lifestyle

Marketers have latched onto the Millennial generation (those aged 18-34) as though they were the source of all goodness. Well, we'd like to advise that the Baby Boomers (aged 52-70) are still around, are as numerous as Millennials, and have pockets too. Of course, there are differences in the choices members of these demographic cohorts make, and what characteristics, especially related to food, are important to them — as described by a recent online survey of about 1000 Americans between 18 and 80 years old by the International Food Information Council (IFIC).

As one might expect, the Boomers are more likely to be interested in certain possible...

Cranberries (or their juice), those staples of Thanksgiving feasts, have been garnering attention for years as possible treatments for urinary tract infections (UTIs). There have been studies supporting such uses, and we have written that perhaps this "old wives' tale" merits more respect. But a new, randomized, controlled study of the efficacy of cranberry in treating UTIs in elderly women has kind of pulled the rug out from under this particular idea.

Cranberries contain compounds known as proanthocyanidins, which have been shown to inhibit the ability of E. coli bacteria to attach to cells in the...

By James Brown, Aston University

Our ability to live a long life is influenced by a combination of our genes and our environment. In studies that involve identical twins, scientists have estimated that no more than 30% of this influence comes from our genes, meaning that the largest group of factors that control how long a person lives is their environment.

Of the many possible environmental factors, few have been as thoroughly studied or debated as our diet. Calorie restriction, for example, is one area that is being investigated. So far, studies...

Kid loving her veggies

It might be the one problem that all parents have in common, but whose solution is maddeningly hard to implement: Getting children to move beyond their howls of protest to adopt a behavior that's both good for them and their overall development. 

These traditional battleground behaviors include (but surely are not limited to) doing household chores, reading for "enjoyment" and the ol' favorite that has stood the test of time ... eating fruits and vegetables. 

Flummoxed parents have lost countless hours of sleep searching for solutions. And while some will stand firm, say all the right things to their kids and strive to be principled and convincing, there's another group which believes providing incentives -- critics would call it bribery -- is an effective way to go....

A recent article, published in the journal Toxicological and Environmental Chemistry reported that when people eat the non-nutritive sweetener sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in Splenda®) some of it is absorbed into the blood and then excreted by the kidneys in urine. Such a report is ripe for the scare-mongers, especially since the report found that the level of sucralose in the blood is higher in children than in adults. But is this something to be worried about? Unlikely.

Sucralose is a derivative of the common sugar sucrose which has been modified by replacement of 3 hydroxyl (OH) groups with of 3 chlorine atoms (the green balls in the illustration above). It has been described as anywhere from 300 to 1,000 times sweeter than sucrose (the range likely reflects...

Gluten Free

Makers of gluten-free food are well aware of two main consumer groups that buy their products: (1) Those who have to for medical reasons, and (2) those who want to because they think they're making a healthy choice by doing so. 

While there is limited sales-growth potential for the Group 1, the economic upside for Group 2 is limitless. That's largely because if consumers' misconceptions are not corrected, more and more of them without gluten sensitivities will continue to believe that avoiding gluten is somehow better, and smarter and healthier.

That misguided reasoning, however, ignores scientific evidence as well as common sense, while it, ironically, promotes consumption of less healthy, reconfigured and processed foods.

"The things that make...

For many of us, there's often a tug of war when making some food choices. Should we go for the yummy snack that's high in sugar/fat/calories, or opt for the healthier version? Nutrition labels are supposed to help with that — help us choose health over taste. But judging by Americans' expanding waistlines, maybe we need more help.  Researchers from Bonn University in Germany and Ohio State University collaborated to investigate the possibility of aids to change food choices and published their results in the journal Judgment and Decision Making.

According to these authors, previous research has identified traffic light (TL) labeling as an effective means of conveying the healthfulness of food products to...

 

One reason that some give for accruing too much body fat is "I have a slow metabolism," a variant on the "blame the genes" approach. And that does make some sense — that is, a slow basal metabolic rate (BMR) means a person with this characteristic is more efficient at using fuels to energize necessary bodily processes. By that I mean things like breathing, having the heart pump blood, keeping body temperature constant. For a sedentary person, BMR can be a significant part of the total daily energy expenditure. But how much can a low BMR be blamed for the weight people gain as they get older?

Two researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, investigated that question in a group of about 760...

For years - no, make that decades - we've been warned about the dangers of dietary fat. It has too many calories, it leads to high cholesterol and heart disease, too much can cause obesity, and on and on. But lately we've been told that the sugar industry ("Big Sugar"?) had a hand (or perhaps an underhand) in demonizing fat so that sugar might be used to add flavor to otherwise not-so-yummy low or no fat products. There's been a fair amount of research lately that focuses on the possibly deleterious effects ot too much dietary sugar, leading to various movements to tax or otherwise inhibit sugary beverages in particular.

Apparently such occurrences are having impacts on consumers' dietary choices, perhaps not for the better.

What could be better for a dieter than non-fat...

Combination vitamin/mineral supplements (VM) have been popular dietary adjuncts for many years, but as research has progressed, various health benefits have been touted for some individual nutrients — some of which haven't been traditionally included in the typical combo products. Researchers, led by Dr. Elizabeth D. Kantor from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, found that while overall vitamin/mineral supplement use remained pretty stable (about half of participants said they used them) between 1999 and 2012, use of some individual supplements actually increased substantially, while that of combination products fell.

These researchers analyzed data from 7 repeated cycles of...