Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Oh! Just before you go

Cary G Dean.

(Scroll down for complete stories)

1. Snacks Can Boost Your Mood

2. Obese Diners Have Different Habits at Buffets
3. Warning: Cook Frozen Chicken Entrees Properly
4. Parents in Denial over Children’s Weight
5. Metabolic Syndrome Increases Colorectal Cancer Risk

Snacks Can Boost Your Mood

A study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that snacks in the form of easily digested carbohydrates, like cookies or bagels, can elevate the level of serotonin in the brain, which is the same thing modern antidepressant medicines do.

In order to be most effective, however, the snacks should be part of a two-step eating plan, as suggested by clinical psychologist Thomas Crook:

Make sure to include protein (Crook recommends poultry, seafood, and lean meat) in breakfast, lunch, and supper.

This raises blood levels of tryptophan, which will be turned into serotonin in step two.

About three hours after each meal, and about one hour before the next one, eat a small carbohydrate snack like a couple of oat meal cookies, or part of a bagel, or a piece of whole wheat bread.

Don’t eat any protein between meals, and be sure to eat the snacks on an empty stomach.

This procedure causes tryptophan to enter your brain, where it is changed into serotonin.

The serotonin will elevate your mood in about thirty minutes.

The bonus of this plan is a good night’s sleep, because at the end of the day your body converts serotonin into melatonin, which is a natural sleep aid.

Easing depression and getting sound sleep all starts with a cookie or two eaten at the right time between proper protein meals, according to Crook, and the plan works for both men and women, though perhaps more effectively in women.

Obese Diners Have Different Habits at Buffets

When dining at Chinese Buffets, overweight individuals serve themselves and eat differently than normal weight individuals.

This may lead them to overeat, according to a recent study by Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab.

Compared to normal weight diners, overweight individuals sat 16 feet closer to the buffet, faced the food, used larger plates, ate with forks instead of chopsticks, and served themselves immediately instead of browsing the buffet.

"What's crazy is that these people are generally unaware of what they're doing – they're unaware of sitting closer, facing the food, chewing less, and so on," say Brian Wanink, lead author of this study and of the book

"Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think."

The study was published in the journal Obesity and includes observations of 213 diners at 11 all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant buffets across the country.

Study participants included a range of normal weight to obese diners, none of whom were Asian.

Major study findings include:

27% of normal-weight patrons faced the buffet compared to 42% of obese diners.

Overweight diners sat an average of 16 feet closer than normal-weight diners.

16% of obese diners sat at a booth rather than a table compared to 38% of normal weight diners.

71% of normal-weight diners browsed the buffet before serving themselves compared to 33% of obese diners.

24% of normal-weight people used chopsticks compared with 9% of overweight people.

"When food is more convenient people tend to eat more,"

Say coauthor Collin R. Payne, New Mexico State University.

"These seemingly subtle differences in behavior and environment may cause people to overeat without even realizing it."

Cook Frozen Chicken Entrees Properly

The U.S. government on Friday urged consumers to follow package cooking instructions after 32 people in 12 states got Salmonella poisoning after eating frozen stuffed chicken entrees that were raw but breaded.

Although many of the chicken dishes had instructions identifying the product as uncooked, people who got sick did not follow those instructions and reportedly used microwaves to prepare the entrees, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a statement.

In a public health alert, the agency said all poultry products should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) and the best way to do that was with a food thermometer.

It said frozen, raw stuffed chicken products labeled "chicken cordon bleu" or "chicken Kiev," as well as chicken breasts stuffed with cheese or vegetables, often appeared to be cooked because they were breaded or pre-browned.

But failure to cook these entrees properly could lead to serious illnesses, such as Salmonella infection, which could be life-threatening, especially in infants, the elderly and other people with weakened immune systems.

The food safety agency said the public health alert was triggered after an investigation and testing by Minnesota food safety officials linked the chicken products with 32 illnesses in Minnesota and 11 other states.

Common symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight to 72 hours, but people could also experience chills, headache, nausea and vomiting for up to seven days.

Parents in Denial over Children’s Weight

Results of a survey presented at the American College of Gastroenterology's 73rd Annual Scientific Meeting in Orlando revealed that many parents do not accurately perceive their children as overweight or at risk for adulthood obesity.

Obesity in the United States is often accompanied by an increased risk of gastrointestinal diseases and has emerged as a major health concern, particularly the issue of obesity among children and adolescents.

Researcher Rona L. Levy, Ph.D. and her colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Minnesota measured parental perceptions of their children's current weight and perceived risk for developing obesity as an adult.

Forty-six parents of children ages 5 to 9 with a body mass index (BMI) in the 70th percentile or higher were recruited for the study.

Child height and weight were measured during a routine pediatric clinic visit.

Parents were mailed a series of questionnaires, which included questions on their perception of their child's current weight, and whether they perceived that their child was at risk for developing obesity as an adult.

Dr. Levy and her research team found that even though all of the children had elevated BMI, less than 13 percent of the parents of overweight kids reported their child as currently overweight.

Fewer than one-third perceived that their child's risk for adult obesity was above average or very high.

"Clearly there is a significant misperception by parents of their child's weight and risk for obesity,' said Dr. Levy. "If we are going to address the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, parents' description and awareness of their children's overweight will have to be much more accurate," said Dr. Levy.

Metabolic Syndrome Increases Colorectal Cancer Risk

In a large U.S. population-based study presented at the 73rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, metabolic syndrome patients had a 75 percent higher risk of colorectal cancer compared to those without metabolic syndrome.

Dr. Donald Garrow and Dr. Mark Delegge of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston analyzed data of patients who reported a history of metabolic syndrome and colorectal cancer from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a comprehensive nationally representative study conducted each year by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Metabolic syndrome was defined as having a combination of two common chronic medical conditions:

Hypertension and diabetes.

The risk of colorectal cancer among patients with metabolic syndrome was determined by multivariate logistic regression analysis, controlling for age, race, gender, obesity, smoking and alcohol use.

"Since individuals with the metabolic syndrome have a significantly higher lifetime risk of colorectal cancer, they should closely adhere to published guidelines for colorectal cancer screening," said Dr. Garrow.

Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors linked to overweight and obesity that increase your chance for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other serious health problems.

Having just one of these conditions — increased blood pressure, elevated insulin levels, excess body fat around the waist — contributes to your risk of serious disease.

Losing weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising routinely can help to reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome.

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