The importance of eating together as a family

17 10 2007

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association has found that eating together as a family during adolescence is associated with lasting positive effects on dietary quality in young adulthood.

The study, conducted in 1,500 students, consisted in a survey to determine the long-term effects of family meals on diet quality, social eating, meal structure and meal frequency.

The researchers found that eating family meals together during adolescence resulted in adults who ate more fruit, dark-green and orange vegetables and key nutrients, and drank less soft drinks. An elevated frequency of family meals as adolescents predicted eating dinner more frequently as adults, placing a higher priority on structured meals and a higher priority on social eating.

This study proves once again the importance of food and nutrition education and the role that professionals in this field, like dietitians, can play encouraging families to share meals as often as practically possible.

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OpenCourseWare

14 10 2007

In my last post I talked about the initiative of the University of California Berkeley and their uploaded classes to YouTube. Today I’ll talk about an older initiative called OpenCourseware.

It was started by the MIT as a way to provide a new model for the dissemination of knowledge. This initiative was then followed by other universities, starting a new movement to spread scientific knowledge without the need to go to classes.

All this open educational resources finally formed the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which aims to extend the reach of this materials.

Following an OpenCourseWare doesn’t get you any diploma, you just do it because you have an interest in some field and this is a perfect way to get good information about it.

So, where to get any of this courses? Have a look at the list of participant universities, browse through the materials offered by any university… and start learning!

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Berkeley at home

13 10 2007

Great idea from the guys of the University of California Berkeley, uploading some of their classes to YouTube. They have opened a new channel on this video service where you can find classes in diferents disciplines like chemistry, physics or biology.

Check out, for instance, this first class on Integrative Biology:

Enjoy it!

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New antiobesity gene discovered

12 10 2007

A new research has revealed an antiobesity gene that keeps worms and mice trim, according to a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism. If the gene works similarly in humans, the findings could lead to a new weapon against obesity.

The research has shown how animals without a working copy of the gene, known as Adipose (Adp), become obese and resistant to insulin, while those with increased Adp activity in fat tissue become slimmer. During the study, researchers used a treatment that increased Adp in the animals’ fat tissue, leding them to lose weight.

While fat storage is an important mechanism for getting through lean times, too much fat in times of plenty has deleterious consequences. In a modern world where many people have essentially unlimited access to food, it’s a wonder that even more people aren’t overweight. If this gene plays a similar role in humans it might mean that those with a high food intake but still lean, Adp would work well, while in those who are fat would’t be working properly.

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Taking some action

9 10 2007

I already wrote about climate change in a post about Al Gore’s movie, but the subject is interesting enough to do it again. I watched today a video and although it doesn’t explain anything new, there’s a good argument in it.

I don’t know if humans are the real cause of climate change, but it is quite clear that we treat our planet like a junkyard. So I think that we all should take some action and at least spread the word to provoke some thinking about it. Enjoy it.

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Perceiving Food As Healthy Often Encourages Overeating

4 10 2007

A recent study from the Journal of Consumer Research reveals that people usually over-generalize “healthy” claims. This research has shown that consumers choose beverages, side dishes, and desserts containing up to 131% more calories when the main dish is positioned as “healthy”.

People tend to have a black and white view, classifying food simply as good or not good. If we see a fast-food restaurant advertising low-calorie products, we think, ‘It’s OK: I can eat something there and then have a high-calorie dessert,’ when, in fact, many of this products contain more calories than a Big Mac.

The study show us how the result of this calorie underestimation translates in consumers choosing beverages, side dishes, and desserts containing up to 131% more calories when the main course was positioned as “healthy” compared to when it was not. Even though, in the study, the “healthy” main course already contained 50% more calories than the “unhealthy” one.

The authors stated that “These studies help explain why the success of fast-food restaurants serving lower-calorie foods has not led to the expected reduction in total calorie intake and in obesity rates”.

Researchers believe that agencies should encourage people to examine whether the restaurant’s health claims actually apply to the particular food they ordered, eliminating then the “health halo” effects.

People need to learn to think about food not just qualitatively (as in “good food — bad food”) but also quantitatively (as in “how many calories are in this meal?”). But to achieve that, there’s need of more nutritional education, which should be provided by the professionals in this field –dietitians–.

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Risk Of Prostate Cancer Lowered By Eating Certain Vegetables

30 09 2007

The risk of prostate cancer may be reduced by consuming more than one serving per week of broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

This research conducted among over 29,000 men has found that men who ate broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and turnips were 40 percent less likely to be diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer compared to men whose diet included very little of these vegetables.

The study found that men who consumed cauliflower more than once a week were 52 percent less likely to be diagnosed with extraprostatic prostate cancer compared to those who ate cauliflower less than once a month. Men who consumed broccoli more than once a week were 45 percent less likely to be diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli or cabbage, contain numerous powerful anticarcinogens called glucosinolates. The results found in this and previous studies have suggested that a healthy diet should regularly contain servings of this group of vegetables.

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