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Tackling teen obesity a key to five meals a day

2017-04-21T11:13:31+00:00 October 8th, 2013|Food and Diet, Obesity|

"The cure for teen obesity? Eating five times a day," is the advice on the Mail Online website. It reports on a study that looked at how frequently a large number of teenagers ate their daily meals, and whether this might affect the impact of genetic risk factors for being obese. A number of genetic variants have been identified as being associated with an increased risk of an individual becoming obese. The researchers found that in adolescents who ate five meals a day (three standard meals plus two snacks), genetic risk factors seemed to have less of an effect on body mass index (BMI). However, the main limitation of this study is that meal frequency was assessed at the same time as BMI, so researchers can't say for certain whether meal frequency was affecting BMI or vice versa. They also didn't have information about what the participants ate, so couldn't see how the number of calories consumed compared between those eating five meals a day and those who did not. Although this study by itself is not conclusive, there is a growing interest in how our eating patterns, and not just what we eat, is linked to our risk of being overweight. It is hoped that a better understanding of these links will help people know how best to maintain a healthy weight. Where did the story come from? The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and other research centres in Finland, the UK and France. It was funded by the Academy of Finland and the Nordic Centre of Excellence on SYSDIET (systems biology in controlled dietary interventions and cohort studies). The study was published in the peer-reviewed open access journal PLoS One, which can be read online or downloaded for free. The Mail [...]

Can fish really extend your life?

2016-01-26T16:44:26+00:00 April 3rd, 2013|Food and Diet|

"Eating fish in old age 'can extend life'," The Daily Telegraph proclaims, among several mainstream papers covering the story. But before you head out to buy some MSC-certified sustainably sourced mackerel, it's worth having a look at whether this really is such good news for you. The headlines only really apply to over-65s, and no fish were involved in the research. The news is actually based on the results of a large long-term study looking at whether blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids are associated with cardiovascular disease and mortality among older adults. These omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish and seafood, as well as nuts and other dietary sources. This research found that higher levels of omega-3 in the blood were associated with a 27% reduction in risk of death from any cause, and a 35% reduction in risk of death from heart disease. People with the highest omega-3 levels lived 2.2 years longer on average than those with lower levels. While this study has several limitations, it is one of the few studies that have objectively measured blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids. This eliminates problems with previous research based on people merely recording what they ate. It is worth doing more research to find which omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent cardiovascular disease and if they can reduce the number of deaths from this disease. Where did the story come from? The study was carried out by researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Washington. It was funded by the US National Institutes of Health. It was published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Much of the news concentrated on the benefits of eating fish. Although omega-3 fatty acids [...]