Global Nutrition
4.9K views | +0 today
Follow
 
Rescooped by Alexander J. Stein from Ag Biotech News
onto Global Nutrition
Scoop.it!

Organic Shmorganic - Slate (2014)

When my son was a baby, organic was a synonym for edible. If the apples I found at the grocery store weren’t certified, I wasn’t buying them. I knew that conventional produce could harbor traces of pesticides, and I’d read that pesticides could affect brain development. Sure, the details of this association were hazy—I didn’t know how many pesticides my son might ingest from Shoprite strawberries, nor did I know whether that amount would do him any harm. But in a way, it didn’t matter: Shelling out a bit more cash to minimize the risks, whatever they were, seemed worth it to me.

 

Fast-forward two years and my son is eating Shoprite strawberries for breakfast... I can’t help but wonder whether giving my son organic food really makes a difference to his health, considering that he’s been known to lick the bottom of his shoes, kiss my poop-sniffing dog, and eat crackers—someone else’s—off of the preschool floor. Instead of continuing to wonder, I decided to dig into the literature and talk to toxicologists, horticulturists, risk experts, and nutritionists... 

 

This column is about whether it’s worth buying organic produce for your kids specifically because you think the pesticides on conventional produce could harm them... I’m also not going to spend much space addressing the recent debate over whether organic produce has higher concentrations of beneficial nutrients than conventionally-farmed produce does... it seems fairly clear that organic fruits and veggies don’t hold a major nutritional edge over conventional ones... It’s also difficult to broadly compare the nutrients found in organically versus conventionally grown foods because geography and individual farm practices can impact growth drastically.

 

So let’s focus on that other major claim about organic food—that is it’s healthier, particularly for kids, because it contains fewer pesticides. First, let’s start with the fact that organic does not mean pesticide-free... organic farmers can and often do use pesticides. The difference is that... organic farmers are (mostly) limited to “natural” ones.. (I say “mostly” because several synthetic chemicals are approved for use in organic farming, too.) 

 

The assumption, of course, is that these natural pesticides are safer than the synthetic ones. Many of them are, but there are some notable exceptions. Rotenone, a pesticide allowed in organic farming, is far more toxic by weight than many synthetic pesticides. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency sets exposure limits for the amount of a chemical that individuals (including kids) can be exposed to per day without any adverse effects. For Rotenone, the EPA has determined that people should be exposed to no more than 0.004 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day... 

 

EPA’s recommended exposure limit for Glyphosate, another widely used synthetic pesticide—you might know it as Round-Up—is 0.1 milligrams per kilogram per day, which means it’s 25 times less toxic by weight than Rotenone. The synthetic pesticide Captan is 32.5 times less toxic than Rotenone, and another one, Pyrimethanil, is 42.5 times less toxic than Rotenone. Rotenone is also not the only natural pesticide that out-ranks synthetic pesticides in terms of toxicity. The pyrethrins, a class of pesticides derived from chrysanthemums that are approved for use in organic farming, are more toxic... too...

 

Many organic farmers use pesticides as a last resort... (Conventional growers don’t use pesticides unless they have to, either, though; spraying is expensive.) The problem is that farmers often “have to use a lot of the natural pesticides because they break down faster,” explains Linda Chalker-Scott, a professor of horticulture... “One of the benefits of some of the more traditional synthetic pesticides is that they have been manufactured to be more effective at lower doses.” ... 

 

Since organic farmers may have to spray crops more frequently with natural pesticides, it’s not crazy to think that organic produce could sometimes have just as much, if not more, pesticide on it—natural pesticide, yes, but remember that natural isn’t intrinsically safe... 

 

Ah, but what about all those studies that suggest that organic fruits and veggies harbor fewer pesticide residues than conventionally farmed produce does? Those studies only tested for synthetic pesticides. In the few studies that have also looked for natural pesticides... scientists have found that between 15 and 43 percent of organic produce samples harbor measurable traces of either natural or synthetic pesticides or both...  

 

So now the question is: Are these pesticides harmful to your kids? As any toxicologist will tell you, it’s the dose that makes the poison. In other words, just because both conventional and organic produce are sometimes laced with pesticides doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re doing anyone any harm... 

 

For Captan, the synthetic pesticide most commonly found on conventionally grown strawberries, Americans are exposed to 8,180 times less of the chemical per day than the EPA’s limit. Overall, Winter and his colleagues reported that the EPA’s exposure limits were more than 1000 times higher than the daily exposure estimates for 90 percent of the fruit and vegetable comparisons they made... 

 

And if you ever did ingest a pesticide at or above the EPA’s limit, you wouldn’t suddenly keel over and die. The agency sets pesticide limits at least 100 times lower than the lowest dose that caused any sign of harm, however minimal, to animals when they were fed that amount every day for most of their lives... And by the way, in none of these studies were the fruits and vegetables rinsed with tap water before they were tested... 

 

There’s another important thing to keep in mind about fruits and veggies: They are chock full of many naturally-occurring toxic compounds—things like flavonoids, hydrogen peroxide, and formaldehyde... Americans consume about 1,500 milligrams of natural toxins from plants a day, which is approximately 16,000 times more than the 0.09 milligrams of synthetic pesticides we get from food every day. These natural toxins are for real, too... the natural chemicals that are known to cause cancer in animals and are found in a single cup of coffee are about equal in weight to a year’s worth of our exposure to synthetic pesticide residues that are known to cause cancer.

 

In a 1996 report, the National Research Council, a non-profit institution that provides expert advice to the government, noted that “natural components of the diet may prove to be of greater concern than synthetic components with respect to cancer risk,” in part because “synthetic chemicals are highly regulated while natural chemicals are not.”

 

If you ask Ames or the National Research Council what all this means... that plants are exceptionally good for us in spite of the fact that they contain high levels of natural toxins—and that we certainly shouldn’t be worried about the minuscule differences in pesticide levels between organic and conventional foods. Indeed, if the research literature is clear about anything regarding fruits and vegetables, it’s that eating more of them—conventional or organic—does good things for the body... 

 

“The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.” What’s more, irrational fears over conventionally farmed produce can introduce dangerous trade-offs... “If you don’t feed your kid the ‘right strawberry,’ what do you feed him?” I’ve walked into markets with a hungry kid and been so afraid to buy the conventional apple that I’ve gotten him a snack pack of Annie’s Crackers instead... These aren’t smart moves. It is far, far better for your kids’ long-term health to get them in the habit of eating whole fruits and vegetables, regardless of what type of farm they came from, than to give them pretty much anything else to eat, no matter how organic or all-natural it may be.

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/the_kids/2014/01/organic_vs_conventional_produce_for_kids_you_don_t_need_to_fear_pesticides.single.html

 

Alexander J. Stein's insight:

Well worth reading the entire piece. 

more...
Alexander J. Stein's curator insight, January 29, 2014 2:22 PM

Well worth reading the entire piece. 

Dorothy R. Cook 's curator insight, January 23, 11:00 AM

Lord God we thank you for clensing and purifying the foods we all eat world wide as not all can afford the extra cost and who is to say because it cost more in this day and time it has less harm when eaten.ord God for you are not about the doar whether iingle or fold you are not a man that you would do some stange things for a dollar be they just or not but you are God that loves all not just some and you re not moved by what a person has or don't h e for the earth is yours and the fullness thereof and all that dwells within. We have nothing we own It all belongs to you Lord God thank you thank you thank you. In Jesus name Amen. 

Global Nutrition
Scoops on nutrition, food safety, public health and related topics (not necessarily endorsements). CLICK on the titles to get to the full, original, and possibly hyperlinked versions! | UPDATE: Scoop.it's new business model doesn't allow more postings. Check instead: http://twitter.com/AJStein_de
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Founders of Global Burden of Disease study receive award for research excellence - EurekAlert

Founders of Global Burden of Disease study receive award for research excellence - EurekAlert | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

The co-founders of the groundbreaking Global Burden of Disease study (GBD), Professors Christopher Murray and Alan Lopez, have been selected for an international award honoring the "world's top scientists who have made outstanding achievements in global health research."

Since its launch over a quarter of a century ago, the GBD collaboration has generated nearly 20,000 peer-reviewed publications and has received more than 700,000 citations in scientific studies and reports.

The John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award annually honors individuals in science whose pioneering work has shown "a significant impact on health outcomes in the developing world." Established 10 years ago by the Gairdner Foundation, the award is one of the world's most esteemed prizes for health research...  

"Each year the Gairdner Foundation recognizes the best and brightest researchers from around the world... This year's cohort of laureates, including Dr. Murray and Dr. Lopez for their work on conceptualizing the Global Burden of Disease, are a fitting addition to the Gairdner's track record of exemplary awardees."

Murray serves as the Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle; Lopez is a Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne.

Murray and Lopez began their collaboration on GBD in the early 1990s with a study calculating estimates for eight regions, 107 diseases, and 10 risk factors. Under their leadership, the GBD enterprise currently includes a network of 3,191 collaborators in 140 countries and three territories contributing to what has been recognized as the world's largest publishing collaboration in science.

The latest edition of the study, now published annually in the international medical journal The Lancet, covers 333 diseases and injuries and 84 risk factors in 195 countries and territories, by age and sex, from 1990 to the present. The study allows for comparisons over time, across age groups, and among populations. It is coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation...  

"It is... an acknowledgement of the scientific discipline of health data and its impact on improving people's lives and livelihoods"... "To improve health outcomes for their populations, countries need to be held accountable for the relevance and effectiveness of their health policies and programs... they need to be able to comprehensively and comparably track the importance - and emergence - of major health problems. The Global Burden of Disease study provides this essential health intelligence about what the main health problems are in their country and how they are changing"...  

The study has led to policy changes and improvements in health systems in numerous countries, including China, the United Kingdom, India, Rwanda, Colombia, and the Philippines. The US National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation use GBD results to guide their priority-setting and spending decisions.


https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/ifhm-fog032218.php


More at the IHME: http://www.healthdata.org/gbd/faq


More at the WHO: http://www.who.int/topics/global_burden_of_disease/


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Usual nutrient intake adequacy among young, rural Zambian children - Brit J Nutr (2018) 

Inadequate nutrient intakes put children at risk for impaired growth and development. We described diet, usual intakes... and prevalence of nutrient intake adequacies among... Zambian children... 


Dietary intake data were collected by... 24-h recall... over the 6-month trial. Observed nutrient intakes were derived from reported food quantities, standard recipes and food composition tables.... 


Prevalence of inadequacy was estimated by comparing the usual nutrient intake distribution to the nutrient requirement distribution... 


Macronutrient intakes fell within recommended ranges... Estimated prevalences of inadequate intakes of Fe, folate, vitamin B12 and Ca were 25, 57, 76 and >99 %, respectively. Estimated prevalences of inadequacy for other micronutrients were low. 


Commonly consumed foods included maize, vegetable oil, tomatoes, rape leaves and small fish, whereas meat, eggs or dairy were rarely eaten... 


The heavily plant-based diet... provides inadequate Ca, folate, vitamin B12 and Fe to meet recommended nutrient intakes... 


Because nutrient-rich vegetables, beans and fish are widely available but underutilised, dietary diversification programmes, including nutrition education and programmes to improve household access to nutrient-rich foods, should be evaluated for impact and feasibility... 


Fe- and Znbiofortified beans, which have been shown to improve Fe status... are now available in Zambia, and expanded access could provide needed Fe in children’s diets... 


The heavily plant-based diet of... Zambian children places them at risk for anaemia, impaired cognitive development and reduced bone growth due to deficiencies of Fe, folate, vitamin B12 and Ca. Foods providing these nutrients, such as small, whole fish, beans and leafy vegetables, are consumed infrequently and in small quantities. 


Further research into strategies to improve the year-round availability, affordability and provision of micronutrient-rich foods to children in this population is urgently needed to safeguard their health, growth and development.


https://doi.org/10.1017/S000711451700335X


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

An investigation into the nutritional composition and cost of gluten‐free versus regular food products in the UK - J Hum Nutr Diet (2018) 

An investigation into the nutritional composition and cost of gluten‐free versus regular food products in the UK - J Hum Nutr Diet (2018)  | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

The gluten-free (GF) food market has expanded considerably, although there is limited comparative evidence for the nutritional quality and cost of GF food products. The present study aims to compare the nutrient composition and cost of GF and gluten-containing (regular) foods across 10 food categories in the UK.

Nutritional information and the cost of GF foods available in the UK (n = 679) and comparable regular foods (n = 1045) were systematically collected from manufacturer and supermarket websites. Foods were classified using UK front-of-pack labelling for content of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt and nutrient content, and cost per 100 g were identified and compared... 


More GF foods were classified as containing high and medium fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt than regular foods, although this was not universally consistent. More GF bread and flour products contained high fat and sugar... High salt content was found more frequently in GF than regular products... GF products were 159% more expensive... GF items were also more likely to be lower in fibre and protein content... 


Differences exist in the nutritional composition of GF and regular food. GF food is unlikely to offer healthier alternatives to regular foods, except for those who require a GF diet for medically diagnosed conditions, and it is associated with higher costs.


http://doi.org/10.1111/jhn.12502

 

Alexander J. Stein's insight:
"except for those who require a GF diet for medically diagnosed conditions"
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Hidden hunger in South Asia: a review of recent trends and persistent challenges - Public Health Nutr (2017)

‘Hidden hunger’ is a term used to describe human deficiencies of key vitamins and minerals, also known as micronutrients. While global in scale, the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies is particularly high in South Asia despite recent successes in economic growth, agricultural output and health care. The present paper reviews the most recent evidence on patterns and trends of hidden hunger across the region, with a focus on the most significant deficiencies – iodine, Fe, vitamin A and Zn – and interprets these in terms of health and economic consequences. 


The challenge for South Asian policy makers is to invest in actions that can cost-effectively resolve chronic nutrient gaps facing millions of households. Appropriate solutions are available today, so governments should build on evidence-based successes that combine targeted health system delivery of quality services with carefully designed multisector actions that help promote healthier diets, reduce poverty and ensure social protection simultaneously. 


The most recent data available confirm that progress towards controlling iodine deficiency disorders is promising, with adequate iodine status in most countries. On the other hand, reductions in Zn deficiency, anaemia and VAD in South Asia remain slow, and deficiencies are at levels that require immediate policy attention... Data on Fe deficiency specifically are necessary, but significant gaps remain in our understanding of the location, prevalence, impact and causes of all micronutrient deficiencies in South Asia. 


Given the need for a large increase in public investments across the region to address the scale and complexity of these problems, high-quality disaggregated data on status and trends are needed, as is empirically based evidence of successful policies and programmes that can achieve cost-effective change at scale. Many more targeted interventions of information, services and resources are needed to meet the needs of the hard-to-reach and most high-risk populations, but these must be combined with nutrition-sensitive actions and food system approaches... 


http://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980017003202


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Effect of agronomically biofortified zinc flour on zinc and selenium status in resource poor settings; a randomised control trial - Proc Nutri Soc (2017) 

Effect of agronomically biofortified zinc flour on zinc and selenium status in resource poor settings; a randomised control trial - Proc Nutri Soc (2017)  | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

Zinc deficiency affects around 17 % people globally and over 40 % of the Pakistani population. Strategies, including dietary supplementation and fortification at the food processing stage have been applied to address this issue, however there are limitations of accessibility and affordability for low-income and vulnerable people. 


An alternative approach is to intervene at agricultural production stage through biofortification to achieve greater concentrations of bioavailable vitamins or elements in the edible portion of crops. Biofortification can be realized through crop breeding and/or application of element-enriched fertilisers, known as “agronomic biofortification”, which is particularly important in Pakistan where soil zinc content is low. 


The aim of this randomised control parallel-group pilot trial was to examine the impact of consuming flour made from selectively bred and agronomically biofortified wheat grain (zincol/NR-421, HarvestPlus) on zinc and selenium status using plasma zinc and selenium concentrations as biomarkers of status... 


Plasma zinc levels increased... in the intervention group in contrast to the control group... Intervention with zincol-NR/421 resulted in a significantly higher mean change in plasma zinc, which was significantly associated with BMI and plasma HCT [haematocrit] only in the intervention group... 


Similarly, mean plasma selenium concentrations showed a higher increase in the intervention arm compared to the control arm at the end of the intervention. Change in plasma selenium (ΔSe) in the two groups was not significantly different. However, ΔSe was significantly associated with height, BMI and plasma HCT only in the intervention group. ΔZn was significantly associated with post-intervention total caloric intake, proteins, carbohydrate, and dietary fibre intake only in the intervention group. 


In conclusion, crop breeding coupled with agronomic biofortification of wheat with zinc may be an effective way to address zinc deficiency in resource poor settings with beneficial effects on plasma Selenium.


https://doi.org/10.1017/S0029665117003457


more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Alexander J. Stein from Ag Biotech News
Scoop.it!

“Golden” potato delivers bounty of vitamins A and E - Ohio (2017) 

“Golden” potato delivers bounty of vitamins A and E - Ohio (2017)  | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

An experimental “golden” potato could hold the power to prevent disease and death in developing countries where residents rely heavily upon the starchy food for sustenance... 


A serving of the yellow-orange... potato has the potential to provide as much as 42 percent of a child’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A and 34 percent of a child’s recommended intake of vitamin E... Women of reproductive age could get 15 percent of their recommended vitamin A and 17 percent of recommended vitamin E from that same 5.3 ounce (150 gram) serving... 


Potato is the fourth most widely consumed plant food by humans after rice, wheat and corn... It is a staple food in some Asian, African and South American countries where there is a high incidence of vitamin A and vitamin E deficiencies.

“More than 800,000 people depend on the potato as their main source of energy and many of these individuals are not consuming adequate amounts of these vital nutrients... These golden tubers have far more vitamin A and vitamin E than white potatoes, and that could make a significant difference in certain populations where deficiencies – and related diseases – are common”... 


Vitamin A is essential for vision, immunity, organ development, growth and reproductive health. And Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Vitamin E protects against oxidative stress and inflammation, conditions associated with damage to nerves, muscles, vision and the immune system... 

Researchers created a simulated digestive system including a virtual mouth, stomach and small intestine to determine how much provitamin A and vitamin E could potentially be absorbed by someone who eats a golden potato. Provitamin A carotenoids are converted by enzymes into vitamin A that the body can use. Carotenoids are fat-soluble pigments that provide yellow, red and orange colors to fruits and vegetables. They are essential nutrients for animals and humans.

“We ground up boiled golden potato and mimicked the conditions of these digestive organs to determine how much of these fat-soluble nutrients became biologically available”... The main goal of the work was to examine provitamin A availability... 


The golden potato, which is not commercially available, was metabolically engineered in Italy... The additional carotenoids in the tuber make it a more nutritionally dense food with the potential of improving the health of those who rely heavily upon potatoes for nourishment.

While plant scientists have had some success cross-breeding other plants for nutritional gain, the improved nutritional quality of the golden potato is only possible using metabolic engineering – the manipulation of plant genes in the lab... 

While some object to this kind of work, the research team stresses that this potato could eventually help prevent childhood blindness and illnesses and even death of infants, children and mothers in developing nations.

“We have to keep an open mind, remembering that nutritional requirements differ in different countries and that our final goal is to provide safe, nutritious food to billions of people worldwide”... 


Failla said “hidden hunger” – deficiencies in micronutrients – has been a problem for decades in many developing countries because staple food crops were bred for high yield and pest resistance rather than nutritional quality. “This golden potato would be a way to provide a much more nutritious food that people are eating many times a week, or even several times a day”... 


https://news.osu.edu/news/2017/11/08/research-golden-potato/


Underlying paper: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187102


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

The potential contribution of yellow cassava to dietary nutrient adequacy of primary-school children in Eastern Kenya; the use of linear programming - Public Health Nutr (2017) 

Introduction of biofortified cassava as school lunch can increase vitamin A intake, but may increase risk of other deficiencies due to poor nutrient profile of cassava. We assessed the potential effect of introducing a yellow cassava-based school lunch combined with additional food-based recommendations (FBR) on vitamin A and overall nutrient adequacy... 


Three scenarios were modelled, namely daily diet including: (i) no school lunch; (ii) standard 5d school lunch with maize/beans; and (iii) 5d school lunch with yellow cassava. Each scenario and scenario 3 with additional FBR were assessed on overall nutrient adequacy using recommended nutrient intakes (RNI)... 

Best food pattern of yellow cassava-based lunch scenario achieved 100 % RNI for six nutrients compared with no lunch (three nutrients) or standard lunch (five nutrients) scenario. FBR with yellow cassava and including small dried fish improved nutrient adequacy, but could not ensure adequate intake of fat (52 % of average requirement), riboflavin (50 % RNI), folate (59 % RNI) and vitamin A (49 % RNI).

Introduction of yellow cassava-based school lunch complemented with FBR potentially improved vitamin A adequacy, but alternative interventions are needed to ensure dietary adequacy...


http://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980017002506


Alexander J. Stein's insight:
I'm not entirely sure the scenarios used in this analysis reflect how biofortification should be implemented. The idea of biofortification is to enrich an already commonly eaten staple crop with key micronutrients that are missing in the local diet and then to encourage people to replace the currently consumed nutrient-poor version with the biofortified version (which facitilates adoption compared to require a shift to a different crop/diet). In such a situation the consumers will always be better off than before (assuming the switch to the biofortified crops is cost-neutral for the beneficiaries, e.g. because it is funded in the context of a humanitarian project), because they will have the same "basket" of nutrients from their normal diet plus the nutrients that were added through biofortification. 

However, here the authors assume that the beneficiaries commonly eat an already nutrient-richer (maize-beans) diet and that this is replaced by a diet based on cassava, a different biofortified crop. But, as I understand biofortification, that is wrong: In this case the maize and/or the beans should be replaced by biofortified varieties (there are e.g. high-iron beans and provitamin-A maize varieties available). The biofortified cassava should be introduced in places where people commonly eat more nutrient-poor white cassava. 

Moreover, biofortification is not meant to be a silver bullet that addresses all nutritional problems but "merely" to help reduce the deficiency in the targeted micronutrient, i.e. biofortification is a success if after the introduction of the biofortified crop the prevalence of the corresponding micronutrient deficiency is going down. Of course additional measures are required, but usually the targeted vitamin or mineral deficiency imposes a particular heavy burden of disease and it therefore makes sense to alleviate this burden first. 

Also more conventional approaches, like salt iodisation or the distribution of iron pills to pregnant women do not ensure adequate intake of all nutrients but "only" help close the intake gap of the most problematic micronutrient. 
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Carotenoid retention in biofortified maize using different post-harvest storage and packaging methods - Taleon &al (2017) - Food Chem

Carotenoid retention in biofortified maize using different post-harvest storage and packaging methods - Taleon &al (2017) - Food Chem | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

Orange maize is being promoted as a source of provitamin A carotenoids (pVAC)... Carotenoid retention in orange maize grains stored in metal silos, multilayer polyethylene and common woven bags, and maize meal packaged in single and multilayer polyethylene bags was evaluated. 


Significant differences in total pVAC retention were found between grain storage methods (48-57%) after 6 months of storage. Total pVAC retention in hammer meal (73-74%) was higher than in breakfast meal (64-69%) after 4 months of storage; however, no differences in pVAC retention were found between meal types when stored in single and multilayer polyethylene bags. 


In general, β-cryptoxanthin had higher retention than β-carotene. Potential contribution of stored orange maize to the estimated average requirement of children and women was 27% and 24%, respectively. 


Orange maize meal can provide significant amounts of provitamin A to diets of Zambians even after 4 months of storage.


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030881461730554X


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Socio‐economic determinants of vitamin A intake in children under 5 years of age: evidence from Pakistan - Changezi & Lindberg (2017) - J Hum Nutr Diet

Socio‐economic determinants of vitamin A intake in children under 5 years of age: evidence from Pakistan - Changezi & Lindberg (2017) - J Hum Nutr Diet | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

Vitamin A deficiency, which is a leading health issue worldwide, is estimated to affect approximately 190 million children globally. The most affected areas are Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.

The present study examined the use of vitamin A supplementation and the association between socio-demographic factors and vitamin A supplementation in children... 


The coverage of vitamin A supplementation was 69%, with regional variations of between 8% and 79%... The adjusted results showed that socio-demographic factors such as a maternal age greater than 24 years, living in rural areas and regional variations were positively associated with vitamin A supplementation...  

National and community-level efforts to support younger mothers in urban areas in the regions with the lowest coverage are needed to increase the acceptance of vitamin A supplementation, aiming to improve the nutritional status of children and decrease inequity in health.


http://doi.org/10.1111/jhn.12450


Alexander J. Stein's insight:
... better still if the vitamin A or beta-carotene is already provided in sufficient quantities in the normal food people eat... (e.g. because it is fortified or biofortified...) 
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Vaccines save 20 million lives, $350 billion in poor countries since 2001 - UNC (2017) 

Vaccination efforts made in the world’s poorest countries since 2001 will have prevented 20 million deaths and saved $350 billion in health-care costs by 2020... In addition, the researchers put the broader economic and social value of saving these lives and preventing disabilities at $820 billion.
 
Researchers... studied the economic impact of Gavi, the global vaccine alliance launched in 2000 to provide vaccines to children in the world’s poorest countries. Gavi support has contributed to the immunization of 580 million children, and it has operated primarily in the 73 countries covered by the team’s analysis... 

  
“Vaccination is generally regarded to be one of the most cost–effective interventions in public health... Decision-makers need to appreciate the full potential economic benefits that are likely to result from the introduction and sustained use of any vaccine or vaccination program.”
 
Researchers looked at both short- and long-term costs that could be saved preventing illness. The costs... include averted treatment, transportation costs, productivity losses of caregivers and productivity losses due to disability and death. They used the value-of-a-life-year method to estimate the broader economic and social value of living longer, in better health, as a result of immunization.
 
“Our examination of the broader economic and social value of vaccines illustrates the substantial gains associated with vaccination... Unlike previous estimates that only examine the averted costs of treatment, our estimates of the broader economic and social value of vaccines reflect the intrinsic value that people place on living longer and healthier lives.”
 
Each of the Gavi-supported countries in the study will have avoided an average of $5 million in treatment costs per year just as a result of these 10 vaccines. The vaccines will have prevented an estimated 20 million deaths, 500 million cases of illness, 9 million cases of long-term disability and 960 million years of disability by 2020. The value of preserved productivity, quality of life and other broad economic and social benefits for all 73 study countries is estimated to reach $820 billion by 2020... 


The team used health-impact models to estimate the numbers of cases of illness, deaths and disability-adjusted life-years averted by achieving forecasted coverages for vaccination against hepatitis B, human papillomavirus, Japanese encephalitis, measles, rotavirus, rubella, yellow fever and three strains of bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis. The researchers found that vaccinating against hepatitis B, measles, and haemophilus influenzae type b and streptococcus pneumoniae – two bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis – provided the greatest economic benefits.


http://uncnews.unc.edu/2017/09/01/vaccines-save-20-million-lives-350-billion-poor-countries-since-2001/


Underlying article: http://doi.org/10.2471/BLT.16.178475


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Food Insecurity and Health Outcomes - Gundersen & Seligman (2017) - Econ Voice

Food Insecurity and Health Outcomes - Gundersen & Seligman (2017) - Econ Voice | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

Food insecurity is increasingly recognized as a major health crisis in the U.S. More than 42 million persons were food insecure in 2015, far higher than the levels preceding the 2007 Great Recession. 


Decades of research demonstrate that food insecurity diminishes individuals’ overall well-being. The recognition of food insecurity as a health crisis, however, stems from a more recent appreciation of the multiple negative health outcomes and, thus, higher health care costs, attributable to food insecurity. 


An extensive literature from multiple fields, including agricultural economics, economics, medicine, and nutrition, has emerged in recognition of food insecurity as a health crisis. Among other findings, food insecurity among children is associated with increased risks of some birth defects, anemia, lower nutrient intakes, cognitive problems, and aggression and anxiety. Food insecurity is also associated with higher risks of being hospitalized, poorer general health, worse oral health and with having asthma, behavioral problems, depression, and suicidal ideation. 


For adults, studies have shown that food insecurity is associated with decreased nutrient intakes; increased rates of mental health problems (including depression), diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia; being in poor or fair health; and poor sleep outcomes. 


Food insecurity and poor health are likely linked bi-directionally; that is, it is true both that living in a food insecure household predisposes an individual to poor health, and that poor health predisposes one to living in a food insecure household. After describing how food insecurity is measured, we turn to the multiple causes of food insecurity and potential pathways through which food insecurity leads to these negative health outcomes... 


https://doi.org/10.1515/ev-2017-0004


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Tackling iron and zinc deficiencies with ‘better’ bread - ACS (2017) 

Tackling iron and zinc deficiencies with ‘better’ bread - ACS (2017)  | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

The health effects of zinc and iron deficiencies can be devastating, particularly in developing countries. One strategy for addressing this problem involves fertilizing crops with the micronutrients. But no one has yet figured out whether these added nutrients end up in food products made with the fortified crops. Now researchers report... that this type of biofortification can boost micronutrients in bread, but other factors are also important.

Anemia affects more than 30 percent of the world’s population, and many cases are due to iron deficiency... Many of the same people are also affected by zinc deficiencies. These conditions can lead to impaired growth, neurological problems and even early death. To combat deficiencies in iron and zinc, the nutrients can be applied to crops, so they will ultimately end up in food products. But few studies have investigated whether the... practice of foliar fertilization – applying micronutrients to leaves – has the desired result... 

Fertilizing an old variety of wheat crop increased its flour’s concentration of zinc by more than 78 percent. Iron levels remained about the same regardless of whether varieties were biofortified; however, the old variety in the study had higher concentrations... than the modern variety... Milling grains, regardless of whether they came from biofortified crops, into whole wheat flour versus white flour resulted in higher levels of iron, zinc and other health-promoting compounds, including antioxidants... The process of bread-making slightly changed iron and zinc concentrations, but greatly boosted their bioavailability by 77 and 70 percent... 


Biofortification, milling technique and baking should all factor into strategies for enhancing bread with iron and zinc for fighting deficiencies.


https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2017/june/tackling-iron-and-zinc-deficiencies-with-better-bread.html


Underlying study: http://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.7b01176


Alexander J. Stein's insight:
Older crop varieties may have higher iron levels, because for a long time the primary breeding objective had been to increase yields (and avert imminent famines), not to increase their mineral content. However, this is changing now – not least because the threat of famines diminished while the consequences of micronutrient deficiencies became better understood – and efforts are under way to breed key staple crops for higher levels of essential vitamins and minerals. This study seems to suggest that to address iron deficiency, the best approach is indeed to breed iron-rich varieties, while for zinc deficiency also the application of mineral fertiliser can be a good option. 
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Long term gluten consumption in adults without celiac disease and risk of coronary heart disease: prospective cohort study - Lebwohl &al (2017) - BMJ 

To examine the association of long term intake of gluten with the development of incident coronary heart disease...  

Participants: 64 714 women... and 45 303 men... without a history of coronary heart disease who completed a 131 item semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire in 1986 that was updated every four years through 2010...  

During 26 years of follow-up encompassing 2 273 931 person years, 2431 women and 4098 men developed coronary heart disease. Compared with participants in the lowest fifth of gluten intake, who had a coronary heart disease incidence rate of 352 per 100 000 person years, those in the highest fifth had a rate of 277 events... leading to an unadjusted rate difference of 75 fewer cases... Estimated gluten consumption was associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease... 


Long term dietary intake of gluten was not associated with risk of coronary heart disease. However, the avoidance of gluten may result in reduced consumption of beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk. The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without celiac disease should not be encouraged.


https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j1892


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

The role of agriculture and biofortification in the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition - UNSCN (2018) 

The role of agriculture and biofortification in the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition - UNSCN (2018)  | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

Biofortification... adds to the supply of minerals and vitamins provided by agriculture by increasing the density of bioavailable nutrients in staple foods. To fully understand and appreciate the role of agriculture in the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, and the potential impact and comparative advantages of biofortification, this article examines the trends and economic factors that are driving diets in developing countries, in particular, the intakes of food groups that provide dietary quality - legumes, vegetables, fruits and animal-source foods, which are dense in bioavailable minerals and vitamins. 


The advantages and drawbacks with respect to the more established interventions in addressing mineral and vitamin deficiencies are discussed briefly, followed by a more detailed discussion of biofortification. It is suggested that, to reach its full potential, biofortification must be integrated as a core activity within a range of global actions such as creating policies, partnerships, and funding biofortification-focused crop breeding programmes... 


Biofortification involves breeding staple food crops to increase their micronutrient content, targeting staple foods widely consumed by low-income families globally. Biofortification contributes to solving the underlying problem of mineral and vitamin deficiencies by increasing the amount of iron, zinc and provitamin A produced by food systems. The fundamental concepts and comparative advantages that justify biofortification are that biofortification: 


• Saves on recurrent costs through plant breeding, in which plants relocate more trace minerals to the edible portions of seeds and synthesize higher levels of vitamins in these seeds; this is achieved by crossing mineral and vitamin dense varieties with high-yielding varieties. 


• Taps into the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of plant breeding as well as of seeds to replicate themselves, where the results of research undertaken in a central location can be replicated in other countries. 


• Minimizes the need for behaviour change by: (i) piggybacking on an existing system of agricultural research institutes that produces a stream of increasingly productive and climate-adapted crop varieties that are adopted by farmers and eventually account for a high percentage of total food supplies; and (ii) focusing on food staples that the poor already eat in large quantities. 


• Provides extra iron, zinc and provitamin A to farmers and consumers at no extra cost by growing and eating biofortified varieties of everyday foods in a one-for-one substitution for non-biofortified varieties. 


• Initiates the delivery of these micronutrients in the relatively hard-to-reach rural areas where a majority of the poor reside. 


The primary drawbacks to biofortification, which diminish over time, are as follows: 


• The impacts of agricultural research through plant breeding take a long time to develop; plant breeding can involve ten years or more of research before a variety with full target levels of micronutrients can be developed and first releases are approved; moreover, new crop varieties are adopted gradually over time. 


• Therefore, the density and number of minerals and vitamins in seeds cannot be as quickly manipulated as can levels of minerals and vitamins supplied by supplementation and fortification of foods. Single target levels need to be reached in released varieties, whose densities will increase over time. Multiple nutrients can be added through plant breeding...


Nevertheless, the plant breeding and nutrition research under HarvestPlus, the global leader in biofortification science and policy, began 14 years ago. More than 100 biofortified varieties across 12 crops have been released in 30 countries. Biofortified varieties are under testing for release in an additional 25 countries. Crops are granted release because they meet stringent agronomic standards of high yields and disease and pest resistance set forth by national governments. 


In the future, analogous to universal fortification, it is hoped that mineral and vitamin density can be included as standards for varietal release as well, but no country has yet taken this important step. The efficacy and evidence of acceptability of iron and provitamin A is positive and extensive for iron and vitamin A. Improved function outcomes have been shown as well – better cognitive function and work performance for iron, better eyesight adaptation to darkness for provitamin A, and reduced morbidity for zinc... 


https://www.unscn.org/en/resource-center/Unscn-news?idnews=1682


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Has iodized salt reduced iodine-deficiency disorders among school-aged children in north-west Iran? A 9-year prospective study - Public Health Nutr (2017) 

Low iodine intakes are associated with goitre and other iodine-deficiency disorders (IDD) that have affected billions of people worldwide. We aimed to assess total goitre rate (TGR) and urinary iodine concentration (UIC) in schoolchildren between 2007 and 2015, percentage of iodized salt consumption by households, and salt iodine content at production, distribution and household levels... 

Regular surveys from 2002 to 2015 showed that 98 % or more of households consumed iodized salt. Iodine level ≥20 ppm was observed in 87·5, 83 and 73 % of salt at production, distribution and household level, respectively... 

The universal salt iodization programme is improving the iodine status of schoolchildren... Reduction of TGR to less than 5 % in schoolchildren indicates successful elimination of IDD as a major public health problem. 


https://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980017002609

 

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Refined assessment and perspectives on the cumulative risk resulting from the dietary exposure to pesticide residues in the Danish population - Food Chem Toxicol (2017) 

Refined assessment and perspectives on the cumulative risk resulting from the dietary exposure to pesticide residues in the Danish population - Food Chem Toxicol (2017)  | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

Few studies are available on realistic cumulative risk assessments for dietary pesticide exposure. Despite available studies showing low risk, public concern remains... The present article proposes... to estimate average pesticide residue levels in 47 commodities on the Danish market. 


The chronic consumer exposure was estimated in six Danish diets. The Hazard Index (HI) method was used to assess consumer risk. Despite the conservative (cautious) risk assessment approach, low HI values where obtained. The HI was 16% for adults and 44% for children, combining the risk of all pesticides in the diet. 


Conclusion: the present study adds support to the evidence showing that adverse health effects of chronic pesticide residue exposure in the Danish population are very unlikely. The HI for pesticides for a Danish adult was on level with that of alcohol for a person consuming the equivalent of 1 glass of wine every seventh year. 


https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2017.11.020


Alexander J. Stein's insight:
So if I avoid exposure to pesticides, I can have two guilt-free glasses of wine every seven years? 
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Biofortification of crops with nutrients: factors affecting utilization and storage - Curr Opinion Biotechnol (2017) 

Biofortification of crops with nutrients: factors affecting utilization and storage - Curr Opinion Biotechnol (2017)  | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

Biofortification is an effective and economic method to improve the micronutrient content of crops, particularly staples that sustain human populations in developing countries. Whereas conventional fortification requires artificial additives, biofortification involves the synthesis or accumulation of nutrients by plants at source. Little is known about the relative merits of biofortification and artificial fortification in terms of nutrient bioaccessibility and bioavailability, and much depends on the biochemical nature of the nutrient, which can promote or delay uptake, and determine how efficiently different nutrients are transported through the blood, stored, and utilized. 


Data from the first plants biofortified with minerals and vitamins provide evidence that the way in which nutrients are presented can affect how they are processed and utilized in the human body. The latest studies on the effects of the food matrix, processing and storage on nutrient transfer from biofortified crops are reviewed, as well as current knowledge about nutrient absorption and utilization... 


Biofortification of staple crops was envisaged as a sustainable strategy to deliver nutritious food to populations that are unsuitable for other intervention measures, but the bioavailability of nutrients in biofortified crops must be confirmed before they can be widely deployed. The bioavailability of nutrients is partly dependent on the intrinsic qualities of each nutrient molecule and partly dependent on their presentation in the context of the food matrix. 


The major difference between biofortification and standard fortification is that the latter involves additives that are mixed with the food, whereas biofortification embeds the nutrients inside plant cells. The bioencapsulation of nutrients in this manner can prevent them from leaching during cooking and processing, as shown by the direct comparison of b-carotene levels after cooking fortified and transgenic biofortified rice, but can also enhance the binding of nutrients to plant proteins and fibers, as shown for iron and other minerals. 


The full value of biofortified crops can therefore be realized only by combining the adoption of biofortified varieties with the most appropriate food preparation and cooking methods to maximize the bioavailability of different nutrients. Moreover, cooking and storage losses could be reduced by growing crops in which the nutrients are more stable (e.g., transgenic folate-biofortified rice). 


Biofortified crops can help to alleviate micronutrient deficiency in at-risk populations in a sustainable manner. Some biofortified crops (e.g., rice, maize, cassava and pumpkin) achieve better results than others (e.g., sorghum), but rural populations are accustomed to eating staple crops commonly harvested in their area, so biofortification strategies must be tailored for different communities to achieve the greatest improvements in nutritional health.


http://doi.org/10.1016/j.copbio.2016.12.002

 

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

After cooking, biofortified corn and eggs retain vital nutrient needed to prevent blindness - ACS (2017) 

After cooking, biofortified corn and eggs retain vital nutrient needed to prevent blindness - ACS (2017)  | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

Fortified and biofortified foods are at the forefront of efforts to combat vitamin A deficiency worldwide. But little is known about what influence processing may have on the retention of vitamin A precursors in these foods. Now... scientists report that a high percentage of these healthful substances... can survive cooking, depending on the preparation method.

Vitamin A deficiency is a common problem in Africa and Southeast Asia, causing an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 children to become permanently blind each year. Vitamin supplementation has helped. But scientists are also investigating ways to produce hybrid crops, such as corn, that contain more carotenoids, which are vitamin A-precursors that the body uses to manufacture the vitamin itself. Eggs are another source of these carotenoids, and researchers are attempting to boost the amount of these compounds in yolks...  

In a series of experiments, the researchers cooked corn flour and eggs biofortified with carotenoids in various ways. Then, the foods were evaluated using high-performance liquid chromatography. Boiled porridge retained the highest percentage of these compounds, while deep-fried cornmeal puffs retained the least. Microwaving, pan-frying and hard-boiling eggs preserved carotenoids, but scrambling caused some destruction. Overall, the researchers conclude that these substances can be well-preserved when using most types of household cooking methods.


https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/presspacs/2017/acs-presspac-november-15-2017/after-cooking-biofortified-corn-and-eggs-retain-vital-nutrient-needed-to-prevent-blindness.html


Underlying study: http://doi.org/10.1021/acsomega.7b01202


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Consumption of Iron-Biofortified Beans Positively Affects Cognitive Performance in 18- to 27-Year-Old Rwandan Female College Students in an 18-Week Randomized Controlled Efficacy Trial - J Nutr (20...

Iron deficiency in adulthood may affect cognitive performance... Women of reproductive age (WRA) are among those who are most vulnerable to iron deficiency... Our aim was to determine the efficacy of iron-biofortified beans in improving cognition in WRA compared with control beans.

A double-blind, randomized intervention study was conducted in 150 women aged 18-27 y with low iron status... Groups did not differ on any variables at baseline... 


Cognitive performance is sensitive to iron status, and consumption of iron-biofortified beans for 18 wk improved cognitive performance, especially the efficiency of search and the speed of retrieval on memory tasks, in young adult women.


http://doi.org/10.3945/jn.117.255356


more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Alexander J. Stein from Ag Biotech News
Scoop.it!

Genetically Boosting the Nutritional Value of Corn Could Benefit Millions - Rutgers (2017) 

Genetically Boosting the Nutritional Value of Corn Could Benefit Millions - Rutgers (2017)  | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

Rutgers scientists have found an efficient way to enhance the nutritional value of corn – the world’s largest commodity crop – by inserting a bacterial gene that causes it to produce a key nutrient called methionine... The... discovery could benefit millions of people in developing countries, such as in South America and Africa, who depend on corn as a staple. It could also significantly reduce worldwide animal feed costs.

“We improved the nutritional value of corn, the largest commodity crop grown on Earth... Most corn is used for animal feed, but it lacks methionine – a key amino acid – and we found an effective way to add it”...   

Methionine, found in meat, is one of the nine essential amino acids that humans get from food... It is needed for growth and tissue repair, improves the tone and flexibility of skin and hair, and strengthens nails. The sulfur in methionine protects cells from pollutants, slows cell aging and is essential for absorbing selenium and zinc.

Every year, synthetic methionine worth several billion dollars is added to field corn seed, which lacks the substance... “It is a costly, energy-consuming process... Methionine is added because animals won’t grow without it. In many developing countries where corn is a staple, methionine is also important for people, especially children. It’s vital nutrition, like a vitamin.”

Chicken feed is usually prepared as a corn-soybean mixture, and methionine is the sole essential sulfur-containing amino acid that’s missing...  

The Rutgers scientists inserted an E. coli bacterial gene into the corn plant’s genome and grew several generations of corn. The E. coli enzyme... spurred methionine production in just the plant’s leaves instead of the entire plant... As a result, methionine in corn kernels increased by 57 percent...  

Then the scientists conducted a chicken feeding trial... and showed that the genetically engineered corn was nutritious for them... “To our surprise, one important outcome was that corn plant growth was not affected”... 

In the developed world, including the U.S., meat proteins generally have lots of methionine... But in the developing world, subsistence farmers grow corn for their family’s consumption. “Our study shows that they wouldn’t have to purchase methionine supplements or expensive foods that have higher methionine”... 


https://news.rutgers.edu/genetically-boosting-nutritional-value-corn-could-benefit-millions/


Underlying article: http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1714805114


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Homeopathy is 'risky nonsense' according to 29 science bodies - Independent (2017) 

Homeopathy is 'risky nonsense' according to 29 science bodies - Independent (2017)  | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

A scientific organisation... has called for tougher regulations of alternative medicine, branding homeopathy “nonsense” and warning the “promotion and use of homeopathic products risks significant harms”.

The statement was made by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), an umbrella organisation representing 29 national academies in Europe, including the Royal Society in the UK... 

The council did not mince its words in its condemnation of homeopathy, which works on the principles that “like cures like” and that water can have memory.

In a 12-page statement, the group summarised extensive scientific research and concluded that homeopathy is scientifically implausible and produces nothing more than a placebo effect in patients...  

The EASAC said homeopathic remedies can be dangerous because they may delay patients from receiving conventional medical treatment.

The body recommended that EU states set up regulations to quash what it claims are misleading advertisements by homeopaths, remove homeopathic treatments from public health provision, and require that homeopathic product labels clearly identify ingredients and their amounts. 


The treatment has grown in popularity in the western world, with the homeopathy industry valued at around €1 billion in the EU in 2015 with an annual growth rate of around 6 per cent.

It is based on ideas developed in the 1790s... NHS England says there is “no good quality evidence” that homeopathy is effective. NHS England’s chief executive, called... homeopathy “at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds”... 

A House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on homeopathy found that homeopathic remedies perform no better than placebos, and that the principles on which homeopathy is based are “scientifically implausible”.

The EASAC made a wider point about alternative medicine in general, calling for “parity of assessment” with conventional medicine.

Last year, the US Federal Trade Commission announced it would start enforcing tough standards on homeopathic product labels, including making sure that the labels clearly state that there is no scientific evidence that the products work.


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/homeopathy-nonsense-risk-harm-29-european-academies-science-advisory-council-remedies-a7963786.html


Following below, the statement: http://www.easac.eu/home/press-releases/detail-view/article/homeopathy.html


Across Europe, many people use homeopathic products, which claim to treat a wide array of illnesses. Though these products may be popular in some countries, scientists question whether they are helpful or harmful. In a new statement, a Working Group of the European Academies' Science Advisory Council - a group composed of leading scientists from across Europe - says that there is no robust, reproducible evidence that homeopathic products are effective for any known diseases, even if there is sometimes a placebo effect. 


Moreover, homeopathy can actually be harmful: by delaying or deterring a patient from seeking appropriate, evidence-based, medical attention and by undermining patient and public confidence in scientific evidence... From analysis of the appropriately controlled, verifiable evidence base, any claimed efficacy of homeopathic products in clinical use can be explained by the placebo effect or attributed to poor study design, random variation, regression towards the mean, or publication bias. 


While the placebo effect can be of value to the patient, there are no known diseases for which there is robust, reproducible evidence that homeopathy is effective. The scientific claims made for homeopathy are implausible and inconsistent with established concepts from chemistry and physics. We recognize the fundamental importance of allowing and supporting consumer choice. But patient choice must be appropriately informed and this raises issues for achieving a standardised, knowledge-based, regulatory framework and sound advertising practices that can apply equitably to all medicinal products, whatever their origins and whatever their mechanisms...  


Alexander J. Stein's insight:
"The treatment has grown in popularity in the western world, with the homeopathy industry valued at around €1 billion in the EU in 2015 with an annual growth rate of around 6 per cent." >> In other cases (some of) those who promote homeopathy use the argument of market power and profits to criticise actually effective technologies... 
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Tackling vitamin A deficiency with biofortified sweetpotato in sub-Saharan Africa - Low &al (2017) - Global Food Pol

Tackling vitamin A deficiency with biofortified sweetpotato in sub-Saharan Africa - Low &al (2017) - Global Food Pol | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

Orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) is a rich plant-based source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. In sub-Saharan Africa, sweetpotato is known as a food security crop but most varieties grown are high dry matter white-fleshed types, lacking beta-carotene. 


In 1995, researchers recognized the potential of OFSP varieties to address widespread vitamin A deficiency in SSA using an integrated agriculture-nutrition approach. With their partners, they confronted conventional wisdom concerning food-based approaches and institutional barriers, to build the evidence base and breed 42 OFSP varieties adapted to farmer needs and consumer preferences. Subsequently, a multi-partner, multi-donor initiative, launched in 2009, has already reached 2.8 million households. 


This review summarizes that effort describing how the changing policy environment influenced the process.


https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211912417300044

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Mycotoxin Contamination of Maize in China - Sun &al (2017) - Comp Rev Food Sci Safety

Mycotoxin Contamination of Maize in China - Sun &al (2017) - Comp Rev Food Sci Safety | Global Nutrition | Scoop.it

China is a major cereal-producing country and almost one third of the annual cereal yield is maize. The maize plant and kernel are prone to infection by fungal attack and are most likely to be contaminated with mycotoxins under suitable temperature and humidity conditions, during both the growing and storage period. 


A number of investigations conducted in China have demonstrated that maize had been infected by fungi and contaminated with mycotoxins to varying degrees. Although most of the maize produced in China is used as feed and raw materials for the chemistry industry, a small amount of maize is consumed directly by humans and the hazards of mycotoxin to humans cannot be ignored. The state of mycotoxin contamination of maize in China is analyzed in this review. 


Due to unfavorable weather and poor storage conditions, the high incidences of mycotoxin contamination of maize are of great concern to the Chinese. It is imperative for the national and local governments to increase investments on building large-scale modern warehouses and instructing farmers to grow, harvest, and store maize safely. Meanwhile, due to accumulative toxic effects of mycotoxins, quality control should be enforced to guarantee that animal products are safe for human consumption. 


http://doi.org/10.1111/1541-4337.12286


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Non-Enzymatic β-Carotene Degradation in (Provitamin A-Biofortified) Crop Plants - Schaub &al (2017) - J Ag Food Chem

Provitamin A biofortification, the provision of provitamin A carotenoids through agriculture, is regarded as an effective and sustainable intervention to defeat vitamin A deficiency representing a global health problem. 


This food-based intervention has been questioned in conjunction with negative outcomes for smokers and asbestos-exposed populations... in which very high doses of β-carotene were supplemented. The current notion that β-carotene cleavage products (apocarotenoids) represented the harmful agents is the basis of the here-presented research. 


We have quantitatively analyzed numerous plant food items and can conclude that neither the amounts of apocarotenoids nor of β-carotene provided by plant tissues, be they conventional or provitamin A-biofortified, pose an increased risk. 


We have also investigated β-carotene degradation pathways over time. This reveals a substantial non-enzymatic proportion of carotene decay and corroborates the quantitative relevance of highly oxidized β-carotene polymers that form in all plant tissues investigated.


http://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.7b01693


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Alexander J. Stein
Scoop.it!

Safe levels for nitrites and nitrates added to food - EFSA (2017) 

Existing safe levels for nitrites and nitrates intentionally added to meat and other foods are sufficiently protective for consumers... exposure to nitrites and nitrates as food additives is within safe levels... except for a slight exceedance in children whose diet is high in foods containing these additives. However, if all dietary sources of nitrites and nitrates are considered, the safe levels may be exceeded for all age groups. 

Sodium and potassium salts of nitrite and nitrate (E 249-252) are authorised as food additives in the EU. They are used in meat, fish and cheese products to hinder microbial growth, in particular to protect against botulism, as well as to keep meat red and enhance its flavour... 


If all sources of dietary nitrate are considered (food additive, natural presence in foods and environmental contaminants), the safe level may be exceeded for individuals of all age groups with medium to high exposure... Nitrite is... linked to the formation of a group of compounds known as nitrosamines, some of which cause cancer.... 


Nitrite unintentionally present in meat products from other sources such as environmental contamination can also contribute to the formation of nitrosamines... these levels of nitrosamines might give rise to potential health concerns but that more research was needed to address uncertainties and knowledge gaps in this complex area... 


https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/170615-0


more...
No comment yet.