Better To Get Nutrients from Food Rather than Supplements, Says Study
Insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables is a well-known dietary problem today; many try to make up for it by taking supplements. Dietary supplements are being consumed under the belief that they are an easy way to get the essential nutrients for our body. However, new research has suggested that vitamins and supplements may not be enough to keep you healthy.
 
This study has been conducted by a research team from Tufts School of Medicine (USA) and published in the scientific journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The study reports that sufficient intake of certain nutrients from food is linked to a lower risk of cancer and all-cause mortality. Conversely, nutrients from supplements are not associated with a reduced risk of death; in fact, some supplements may actually increase mortality risk. 
 
According to the research, the problematic supplements were specifically calcium and vitamin D. Doses of calcium that exceeded 1,000mg (milligrams) per day were tied to a high risk of death from cancer. Similarly, vitamin D supplements, taken by people who do not have vitamin D deficiency, were connected to an elevated likelihood of death from all causes, including cancer. 
 
“As potential benefits and harms of supplement use continue to be studied, some studies have found associations between excess nutrient intake and adverse outcomes, including increased risk of certain cancers,” said lead author Prof Fang Fang Zhang, from Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “It is important understand the role that the nutrient and its source might play in health outcomes, particularly if the effect might not be beneficial.”
 
The research was conducted using data from 27,000 US adults aged 20 years and older to explore two relationships—whether adequate or excess nutrient intake was linked to all-cause mortality; and whether results changed if the nutrients came from supplements instead of food. For each nutrient, scientists calculated the daily supplement dose by combining the frequency with the product information for each ingredient, the amount of the said ingredient per serving and its unit. The assessment was based on participants’ dietary intake of nutrients from food using 24-hour dietary recalls and mortality outcomes through the National Death Index through 31 December 2001. 
 
The phase of the study that examined the impact of nutrients on death risk revealed three associations, viz., sufficient intake of magnesium and vitamin K were linked to a lower risk of death; sufficient intake of vitamin K, vitamin A and zinc were tied to a lower cardiovascular disease risk of death; and excess calcium intake was connected to a higher likelihood of death by cancer. When nutrients from food were compared to nutrients from supplements, the results showed the first two associations were due to nutrients from food rather than nutrients from supplements. While no adverse effect of calcium intake from food was noted, excess calcium intake from supplements was linked to an increased risk of death from cancer. In addition, supplements had no effect on the risk of death in people with low nutrient intake from food. 
 
“Our results support the idea that, while supplement use contributes to an increased level of total nutrient intake, there are beneficial associations with nutrients from foods that aren’t seen with supplements,” Prof Zhang said. “This study also confirms the importance of identifying the nutrient source when evaluating mortality outcomes.” She further added that it is important to understand the effect that a nutrient and its source might play on health and mortality outcomes, especially when it is not beneficial. 
 
The research team has noted some limitations of the study, including the duration for which use of dietary supplement was studied. The team are also aware that, since the prevalence and dosage of dietary supplement was self-reported, there is certainly a possibility of recall bias. The authors believe that this study has only pointed out a possible cause and further research on this possible connection will be necessary.
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Protect Teens from Junk Food Marketing by Reinforcing Their Desire To Rebel, Says Study
In the fight against obesity, researchers have been trying, for decades, to find a way to convince teenagers to skip junk food and eat healthily, with little to no effect. Adolescents are exposed to extensive marketing for junk food -- one of the biggest obstacles that researchers have to overcome. Such marketing is, by design, meant to foster strong positive associations with junk food in kids’ minds driving them to overeat. A new study has revealed that a simple and brief intervention can provide lasting protection for adolescents against the harmful effects of food marketing.
 
The research was conducted by University of Chicago Booth School of Business and published in Nature Human Behaviour. The lead authors found that reframing how students view food-marketing campaigns can spur adolescents, particularly boys, to make healthier daily dietary choices for an extended period of time. This is essentially possible by tapping into teens’ natural desire to rebel against authority. 
 
“Food marketing is deliberately designed to create positive emotional associations with junk food, to connect it with feeling of happiness and fun,” said Dr Christopher J Bryan, one of the authors of the study. Biggest major finding of in the experiment is that the intervention helped in producing a long-lasting change in boys’ and girls’ immediate, gut-level, emotional reactions to junk food marketing messages. Additionally, teenage boys, a notoriously difficult group to convince when it comes to giving up junk food, started making healthier food and drink choices in their school cafeteria. 
 
“One of the most exciting things is that we got kids to have a more negative immediate guy reaction to junk food and junk food marketing and a more positive immediate gut reaction to healthy foods,” said Dr Bryan. The researchers had conducted a preliminary study among eighth standard students at a Texas middle school in 2016. Inside classrooms, one group of students was asked to read a fact-based, exposé-style article on big food companies. 
 
The article framed the corporations as manipulative marketers trying to hook consumers on addictive junk food for financial gain. The stories also described deceptive product labels and advertising practices that target vulnerable populations, including very young children and the poor. A different control group of students was given traditional material from existing health education programmes about the benefits of healthy eating.
The researchers found that the group that read the exposés chose fewer junk food snacks and selected water over sugary sodas the next day.
 
This recent study conducted a similar experiment with teenagers where they first read the marketing exposé material and then did an activity called ‘Make It True’. This activity was meant to reinforce the negative portrayal of food marketing, wherein students were given images of food advertisements on iPads with instructions to write or draw on the ads to transform them from false to true. The study also used a new sample of eighth standard students and found that the effects of the marketing exposé intervention endured for the remainder of the school year - a full three months. 
 
The effects were particularly impressive among boys, who reduced their daily purchases of unhealthy drinks and snacks in the school cafeteria by 31% in that period, compared with the control group. This relatively simple intervention could be an early sign of a public health game changer. “One of the most exciting things is that we got kids to have a more negative immediate gut reaction to junk food and junk food marketing and a more positive immediate gut reaction to health foods,” said Dr Bryan.
 
Teenagers are known have a natural impulse to ‘stick it to the man’ and their developmentally heightened sense of fairness may, finally, provide a way for the public health community to compete against dramatically better funded junk food marketers. This brief, inexpensive and easily scalable intervention appears to provide lasting protection against the enticing power of junk food marketing and to change eating habits for the better.
 
However, the study was less conclusive about the intervention’s effect on teen girls’ cafeteria purchases. Although, like boys, girls experienced a more negative immediate gut response to junk food after the exposé intervention, their daily cafeteria purchases were found to be similar regardless of whether they read the exposé or the traditional health education material.
 
The researchers are still unclear on whether the similar purchases meant that neither intervention improved girls’ dietary choices or that both were effective in girls, but for different reasons. They suspect that, while traditional health education is completely ineffective at changing boys’ behaviour, it might influence girls’ choices because it mentions calories, which might trigger social pressure to be thin. If that is the case, it suggests that the exposé might be a preferable option for girls as well, as it achieves similar results with less risk of body shaming.
 
“This study shows it’s possible to change behaviour during adolescence using a light touch intervention,” said Prof David S Yeager from the University of Texas, Austin. “Adolescence is a developmental stage when even the lengthiest health promotion approaches have had virtually no effect. Because so many social problems, from education to risky behaviour, have their roots in the teen years, this study paves the way for solutions to some of the thorniest challenges for promoting global public health.”
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Poor Diet, the Biggest Risk Factor in Deaths across the World
When considering risk factors responsible for most deaths around the world, you might think that smoking, or even high blood pressure, might top the list. But a major new study has revealed that unhealthy eating is responsible for one in five deaths equivalent to 11 million deaths globally.
 
Although there is a lot of focus these days on maintaining a healthy diet and lowering the intake of unhealthy foods, this study has found that quite the opposite is true in real terms. A low intake of healthy foods is, by far, the more important factor, than high intake of unhealthy foods when the general population is taken into consideration. This research titled, “Global Burden of Disease Study”, looked at dietary consumption between 1990 and 2017 in 195 countries, focusing on 15 types of foods or nutrients. 
 
In the report, published in The Lancet, the researchers show that due to its contribution to non-communicable diseases, poor diet accounted for approximately 11 million deaths globally, in 2017. The vast majority of those deaths, around 10 million, were from cardiovascular disease and the rest were mainly from cancer and type-2 diabetes. 
 
The data collected for this study, to rank countries from lowest to highest rates of diet-related deaths, puts Israel first, with 89 deaths per 100,000 people and Uzbekistan last, with 892 deaths per 100,000. The United States, with 171 deaths per 100,000, comes at the 43rd place and the United Kingdom at the 23rd place, with 127 deaths per 100,000. India is ranked at the 118th place and China at 140th. 
 
“This study affirms what many have thought for several years - that poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor in the world,” says Dr Christopher Murray, the author of the study and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington. “While sodium, sugar and fat have been the focus of policy debates over the past two decades, our assessment suggests the leading dietary risk factors are high intake of sodium, sugar or low intake of healthy foods, such as whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds and vegetables.” 
 
In their analysis of global diets, the researchers looked at 15 items - fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, fibre, calcium, milk, omega-3 fatty acids from seafood, polyunsaturated fats, trans-fats, red meat, processed meat, sugary drinks and sodium. They found that, in 2017, the global diet contained less than the ideal amounts of nearly all healthy food items. The biggest deficiency was in nuts and seeds, milk and whole grains. Consumption of nuts and seeds, for instance, was on average only three grams per day or around 12% of the optimal intake. Similarly, consumption of milk was only 16% of the optimal intake and whole grains intake was only 23%. Alongside these, daily intakes of unhealthy dietary items exceeded the optimal level globally. Sugary drink consumption for example, “was far higher than the optimal intake,” followed by the consumption of processed meat and sodium. 
 
An important finding of the study was that insufficient intake of healthy food could be just as, if not more, damaging than eating too many unhealthy foods. Researchers have noted that the diets that were related to the most deaths were, “high in sodium, low in whole grains, low in fruit, low in nuts and seeds, low in vegetables, and low in omega-3 fatty acids.” They have reported that each of these dietary factors accounted for more than 2% of global deaths.
 
Additionally, just three of these - whole grains, fruits and sodium - accounted for more than half of the diet-related deaths and two-thirds of the years lost to diet-related ill health and disability. Dr Murray says that these results contrast with the fact that, over the past 20 years, policy discussions have tended to focus more on restricting unhealthy foods. He and his colleagues suggest that campaigns should concentrate on re-balancing diets. They also urge that any changes in food production and distribution aimed to achieve this must consider the environmental impact on the climate, land, water and soil.
 
In a separate but linked editorial, Prof Nita G Forouhi and Prof Nigel Unwin, both of the medical research council epidemiology unit at the University of Cambridge in the UK, agree with the authors in that, in a global context and despite its limitations, the study offers evidence to shift the focus from restricting unhealthy food items to increasing healthy ones. They suggest that it confirms the need to emphasise foods rather than nutrients. However, they also highlight some of the challenges of shifting the global diet towards a more healthy one, such as the prohibitive costs of fruits and vegetables. For instance, in low-income countries, “Two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables per day per individual accounted for 52% of household income,” compared with just 2% in high-income nations. 
 
The authors of this study are hopeful that the findings would urge people to try to eat better and policymakers to create and promote policies that aim to increase consumption of healthy foods. The study has further highlighted a need for comprehensive food system interventions to promote the production, distribution and consumption of healthy foods across nations. 
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COMMENTS

Ajeya S

3 months ago

Also please write about the conspiracy of food and beverage companies, they lobby with policy makers and also medical establishment. Yes, Mr . B.M Hegde writes about it but please keep coming up with more and more data which can actually unmask these profit oriented business houses and policy makers.

Even in my Village (In tumkur district near to Bangalore) almost every grocery shop has huge amount of processed food, snacks and drinks. How it reached to nook and corner of this country ?
Kids in my village ask their parents for Lays, kurkure etc and eating RAGI has decreased in younger generation.

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