Category Archives Scientific/Technical Items

A group of researchers has published a study in Pediatrics examining the "frequency with which kid influencers promote branded and unbranded food and drinks during their YouTube videos and assess the nutritional quality of food and drinks shown." Alruwaily et al., "Child Social Media Influencers and Unhealthy Food Product Placement," Pediatrics, November 2020. The researchers reviewed the 50 most-watched videos and 50 videos featuring food and beverages in the thumbnail image from each of the five most-watched YouTube personalities aged 3 to 14, ultimately identifying 179 videos including food. "The 179 videos that featured food and/or drinks were viewed >1 billion times and generated 2.6 million likes on YouTube," the report states. "Food and/or drink product placements in those kid influencer videos generated ∼16.5 million impressions for items that were mostly unhealthy branded products." "Our findings suggest the need for future experimental studies to examine the extent to which viewing these types of videos…

University of Cambridge researchers have published a study examining "whether consumers are misled about wholegrain (WG) content and product healthfulness based on common product labels." Wilde et al., "Consumer confusion about wholegrain content and healthfulness in product labels: a discrete choice experiment and comprehension assessment," Public Health Nutrition, August 10, 2020. The researchers showed online participants a pair of hypothetical products and asked them to determine which product is more healthful based on disclosed nutritional information, with some products containing "multigrain," "wheat," "made with whole grains" or similar labeling claims. "Although by design, the ‘no WG label’ option had more actual WG content, substantial fractions of respondents incorrectly identified the ‘WG label’ option as healthier or chose the ‘equally healthy’ option," the researchers stated. In addition, they found that "[r]espondents showed substantial difficulty in identifying the WG content of four actual products found in the marketplace," generally overestimating the amount of…

A Public Health Nutrition study has purportedly found that "toddler milks," or "sugar-sweetened milk-based drinks for toddlers," are a growing market but are advertised as providing unsubstantiated benefits. Choi et al., "US toddler milk sales and associations with marketing practices," Public Health Nutrition, February 4, 2020. The researchers reportedly found that 45% of preschoolers (24 to 47.9 months) and 31% of young toddlers (12 to 23.9 months) consume sugar-sweetened beverages each day. "[T]oddler milk packages contain numerous nutrition-related and child development claims, such as ‘DHA and iron to help support brain development’ and ‘probiotics to help support digestive health’, which have not been supported by scientific research," the researchers assert. "These claims may mislead caregivers to believe that toddler milk provides benefits for their child’s nutrition and development." The researchers called for countries "to enact Code provisions" that would limit or prohibit the promotion of breast milk substitutes, including toddler…

U.K. researchers have published a meta-analysis in The BMJ asserting that physical activity calorie equivalent (PACE) labeling on food packaging "may reduce the number calories selected from menus and decrease the number of calories/grams of food consumed by the public, compared with other types of food labelling/no labelling." Daley et al., "Effects of physical activity calorie equivalent food labelling to reduce food selection and consumption: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled studies," The BMJ, December 10, 2019. The researchers identified 15 studies on PACE labeling and reportedly found that the technique may have caused the study participants to choose meals that contained 65 fewer calories on average compared to participants not exposed to PACE labels. "Most people eat three meals per day (plus two snacks); based on our findings for the number of calories consumed after exposure to PACE labelling (−65 calories), PACE labelling could potentially reduce calorie intake…

U.K. researchers have published the findings of a comparison of calorie counts on menu items in restaurants that feature labeling of those counts and in restaurants without such labeling. Dolly R.Z. Theis & Jean Adams, "Differences in energy and nutritional content of menu items served by popular UK chain restaurants with versus without voluntary menu labelling: A cross-sectional study," PLOS One, October 16, 2019. The researchers compared offerings from "the 100 most popular UK restaurant chains by sales" and found that 42% of the restaurants offered nutritional information, and 13 of those voluntarily provided menu labeling. The researchers were reportedly able to establish that restaurants that provide calorie labeling on menus offered food with 45% less fat and 60% less salt, though they could not identify whether the labeling caused the companies to formulate products with lower fat and salt contents.

Researchers have published a review of studies evaluating the effects of "reducing red meat intake on clinically important outcomes" and purportedly showed that red meat may not have the carcinogenic effects that previous studies have found. Zeraatkar et al., "Effect of Lower Versus Higher Red Meat Intake on Cardiometabolic and Cancer Outcomes: A Systematic Review of Randomized Trials," Annals of Internal Med., October 1, 2019. The researchers only reviewed studies that met certain criteria, including randomized trials, and reportedly found evidence suggesting that "diets restricted in red meat may have little or no effect on major cardiometabolic outcomes and cancer mortality and incidence."

Researchers from McGill University examining the effects of plastic teabags have reportedly found that a teabag, when steeped at 95 degrees Celsius, can release "approximately 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into a single cup of the beverage." Hernandez et al., "Plastic Teabags Release Billions of Microparticles and Nanoparticles into Tea," Envtl. Sci. & Tech., September 25, 2019. Further, the researchers assert, an "initial acute invertebrate toxicity assessment shows that exposure to only the particles released from the teabags caused dose-dependent behavioral and developmental effects."

The World Hypertension League has issued a policy statement in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension arguing that salt sold for consumption "should be required to have a front of package health warning label." The article argues that high sodium consumption has been linked to many negative health risks and that reducing excess sodium is a target of the World Health Organization. "Some countries have banned restaurants from putting salt shakers on tables to reduce spontaneous addition of sodium to foods and increase awareness of the dangers of high‐sodium diets (eg, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico City)," the policy statement asserts. "To our knowledge, no country has required actual packages and containers of sodium chloride (salt) to have warning labels." The organization argues that warning labels would have "several potential benefits": (i) "it would increase awareness of the dangers of high‐sodium diets by people purchasing sodium and a reminder of the dangers by…

A group of researchers from universities in Belgium, India, Switzerland and the United States have published a study examining how the use of antibiotics in meat production in low- and middle-income countries has affected antibiotic resistance worldwide. Van Boeckel et al., "Global trends in antimicrobial resistance in animals in low- and middle-income countries," Science, September 20, 2019. The researchers reportedly found growing rates of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in several countries, including India, China, Pakistan, Egypt and Brazil. "Regions affected by the highest levels of AMR should take immediate actions to preserve the efficacy of antimicrobials that are essential in human medicine by restricting their use in animal production. . . . [T]here is a window of opportunity to limit the rise of resistance by encouraging a transition to sustainable animal farming practices," the researchers concluded. "High-income countries, where antimicrobials have been used on farms since the 1950s, should support this…

A study examining the health effects of soft drink consumption in 10 European countries reportedly found that both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages are associated with greater all-cause mortality. Mullee et al., "Association Between Soft Drink Consumption and Mortality in 10 European Countries," JAMA Internal Medicine, September 3, 2019. The researchers assessed dietary intake of 451,743 participants and apparently found a correlation between consuming two or more soft drinks per day and higher rates of mortality from circulatory, digestive and neurodegenerative diseases.

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