In the news – health and nutrition research

In this week’s article we provide a roundup of some of the most recent health and nutrition related articles to be in the news, five items comprising:

  • Screen-time linked to greater diabetes risk among children
  • Vitamin D deficiency may indicate cardiovascular disease in overweight and obese children
  • Doctor’s Diary: Can Omega-3 oils help fight depression?
  • Mixed carotenoid supplements may help obese children
  • High fibre diet ‘could prevent type 1 diabetes’


Screen-time linked to greater diabetes risk among children

Spending over three hours watching TV or playing computer games every day increases risk of type 2 diabetes in childhood, study says.

The study found that children who were glued to their screens for three or more hours a day scored higher on measures of body fat and had higher levels of resistance to the hormone insulin than their peers who spent an hour or less watching TV, videos or playing computer games.

But the authors cautioned that the research does not show that increased screen-time itself results in raised levels of risk factors for the disease.

Among the questions asked, data was collected on the length of time the children spent watching TV, video games or playing computer games. A host of physical measurements were also taken including measures of the children’s body fat and resistance to insulin – a hormone that controls blood glucose levels. In addition, levels of physical activity were monitored for 2,031 of the children.

The results revealed that while 37% of children reported that they spent an hour or less watching TV or playing computer games a day, 18% reported spending three or more hours in front of a screen.

You can read the full article via this link.

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Vitamin D deficiency may indicate cardiovascular disease in overweight and obese children

In overweight and obese children and adolescents, vitamin D deficiency is associated with early markers of cardiovascular disease, a new study reports.

“Pediatric obesity affects 17 percent of infants, children, and adolescents ages 2 to 19 in the United States, and obesity is a risk factor for vitamin D deficiency. These findings suggest that vitamin D deficiency may have negative effects on specific lipid markers with an increase in cardiovascular risk among children and adolescents,” said lead author Marisa Censani, M.D., pediatric endocrinologist and director of the Pediatric Obesity Program in the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, N.Y.

Censani and her colleagues reviewed the medical records, including vitamin D levels, of children and adolescents between 6 and 17 years of age who were evaluated at the pediatric endocrinology outpatient clinics at Weill Cornell Medicine over a two-year period.

Vitamin D deficiency was found to be significantly associated with an increase in atherogenic lipids and markers of early cardiovascular disease. Total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, non-HDL cholesterol, as well as total cholesterol/HDL and triglyceride/HDL ratios, were all higher in vitamin D-deficient patients compared to patients without vitamin D deficiency.

You can read the full article via this link.

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Doctor’s Diary: Can Omega-3 oils help fight depression?

In medicine, as in life, there is much to be gained from questioning the obvious with some imaginative lateral thinking. Thus, it is scarcely surprising that those with the misfortune to be afflicted with the muscular pains and swollen joints of rheumatoid arthritis should not infrequently become depressed, the severity of their symptoms compounded by gloomy thoughts, fatigue, insomnia and so on.

The cause of their low mood seems obvious enough, warranting treatment with antidepressants such as Prozac. But perhaps, speculated Professor Carmine Pariante of the Institute of Psychiatry, their depression is not primarily due to the stresses of coping with chronic ill health, but rather the inflammatory process responsible for the illness itself.

This might be difficult to prove, but is suggested by the observation that drugs such as Interferon that stimulate the inflammatory process frequently have the side effect of causing profound depression.

Interferon is the mainstay of the treatment of hepatitis C, and in a trial of 150 patients, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, he reports that a two-week course of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids – a major constituent of fish oil – did indeed dramatically reduce the likelihood of their subsequently developing depressive symptoms, by two thirds. “This nutritional intervention,” he writes, “restores the natural anti-inflammatory capabilities of the body that protects against depression.”

You can read the full article via this link.

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Mixed carotenoid supplements may help obese children

Dietary supplements containing a mixture of carotenoids and vitamin E may reduce BMI scores, waist to height ratio, and fat levels in obese children, suggests data from a new pilot study.

Supplementation with a mixed carotenoid supplement for six months produced statistically significant reductions in BMI of 0.19kg/m2, a 3% reduction in waist circumference, and a 0.03 reduction in the waist to height ratio, compared to placebo.

In addition, subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) decreased by 4% in the carotenoid group, but increased by 4.2% in the placebo group, according to findings in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

“The 96% increase in beta-carotene as compared with the 18% decrease in retinol in the current study is remarkable because beta-carotene is considered a major provitamin A carotenoid,” wrote the researchers, led by J. Atilio Canas, MD, from the Wolfson Children’s Hospital/Baptist Health in Jacksonville, FL.

“The unique inverse relationship between measures of abdominal adiposity and beta-carotene and the enhancement of beta-carotene along with the attenuation of SAT accrual are important findings and may indicate a putative role for beta-carotene in the regulation of adipose tissue biology in children obesity.”

You can read the full article via this link.

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High fibre diet ‘could prevent type 1 diabetes’

Scientists have raised hope for the prevention of early-onset diabetes in children after a fibre-rich diet was found to protect animals from the disease.

More than 20 million people worldwide are affected by type 1 diabetes, which takes hold when the immune system turns on the body and destroys pancreatic cells that make the hormone insulin.

It is unclear what causes the immune system to malfunction, but patients are usually diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before the age of 14 and must have daily shots of insulin to control their blood sugar levels.

Working with Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, researchers at Monash University in Melbourne created a diet rich in fibre that is broken down in the lower intestine into molecules known as short-chain fatty acids.

The team, led by immunologist Charles Mackay, believe that short-chain fatty acids called butyrate and acetate dampen down the immune system, and have the potential to treat a range of disorders from asthma to irritable bowel syndrome.

For the latest study, the scientists monitored the health of mice that were bred to develop the rodent equivalent of type 1 diabetes. On a normal diet, more than 70% of the animals had developed the condition after 30 weeks. But another group that received the high fibre diet was nearly entirely protected from the condition.

You can read the full article via this link.

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If you have any questions regarding the topics that have been raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Clare) by phone or email at any time.

clare@cytoplan.co.uk, 01684 310099

The Cytoplan editorial team: Clare Daley and Joseph Forsyth.


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