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Giving kids diet foods and drinks may fuel obesity
Research published in a recent issue of Obesity reports that a young rat can be made to overeat when it’s given low-calorie foods and drinks on a daily basis. It may be a big leap to say the same thing happens in our kids, but lead author Dr David Pierce from the University of Alberta says: ‘Parents need to know that based on what we’ve learned, it is better for children to eat healthy, well-balanced diets with sufficient calories for their daily activities rather than low-calorie snacks or meals. Children who consume low-calorie versions of foods that are normally high in calories may develop distorted connections between taste and calorie content, leading them to overeat as they grow up.’

In the study, baby rats (4 weeks old) were conditioned over 16 days to associate certain sweet or salty flavours with low calorie foods. When they were subsequently given high calorie foods with the same flavors, they pigged out. Adolescent rats (8 weeks old) fed diet foods did not display the same tendency to overeat. The researchers believe the older rats did not overeat because they, unlike the younger rats, relied on a variety of taste-related cues to correctly assess the energy value of their food.
Obesity 15:1969–1979 (2007); Correspondence to


Heart smart eating starts young
When young children learn about heart healthy eating habits, it influences their heart disease risk later in life reports a new study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Results from the Turku Coronary Risk Factor Intervention Project found that reducing intake of saturated fat was a major factor.

Dr Harri Niinikoski, lead author and a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Turku in Finland, says: ‘The aim of the diet counselling in our study was not to reduce the total number of fat calories in the diet, but to shift the child’s intake from saturated toward unsaturated fats and have cholesterol intakes of less than 200 mg.’ Key dietary changes included replacing butter with soft margarine and liquid oils, making changes to the type of milk the children drank and encouraging them to eat vegetables, fruits, berries, and whole grain foods. The intervention group (540 children and their families) were given intensive diet counselling to help them keep total intake of fat at 30% to 35% of daily calories, the ratio of saturated fat to unsaturated fats at 1:2, and cholesterol intake to less than 200 milligrams daily really paid off and had a favourable effect on saturated fat intake and serum total and LDL cholesterol concentrations for children even during pre-puberty and puberty when eating away from home is a regular event.
Circulation 2007. 116: 1032-1040.

Blood pressure drugs blunt impact of diabetes

A fixed combination of two blood pressure lowering drugs a blood vessel relaxant called perindopril with 1.25 mg of a diuretic called indapamide reduced the risk of serious illness and death from cardiovascular disease, even in patients without high blood pressure according to findings from the ADVANCE (Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease) Study.

A total of 11,140 people with diabetes (half of whom had high blood pressure) from 215 medical centres in 20 countries took part in the four-year trial. Each was given either a placebo or the blood pressure medication. At the end of the trial, deaths from cardiovascular disease were 4.6% in the placebo group and 3.8% among those taking the pill, a relative reduction of 18%. Stephen MacMahon, a professor of cardiology at the University of Sydney’s George Institute, where the trial was coordinated said: ‘We gave blood pressure lowering therapy to patients with diabetes irrespective of whether their blood pressure was high in the beginning. Previously, virtually every study has been in patients with hypertension, but a high proportion of diabetics don’t have hypertension. This study suggests there’s a case for considering this treatment routinely for patients with type 2 diabetes.’
– Presented at ESC Congress 2007 in Vienna to coincide with a report published online in the Lancet

If you have diabetes, thiamin may improve your vascular health
People with diabetes have a lot less thiamin (vitamin B1) than healthy people according to a study by the University of Warwick and it’s not because they don’t eat enough foods that contain it. The shortfall occurs because when thiamin passes through their kidneys, it’s not reabsorbed back into their blood as it is in healthy people. The study published in Diabetologia compared 26 type 1 and 48 type 2 people with diabetes with 20 healthy people (the controls). Because a shortage of vitamin B1 is linked to an increase in an inflammation marker related to vascular complications, lead researcher Prof Paul Thornalley suggests that a vitamin B1 supplement could work alongside conventional glucose controls. Further trials are underway.
Diabetologica, August 2007


GI Group: What’s thiamin and where do you find it?
Thiamin (vitamin B1) is a water soluble vitamin essential for carbohydrate metabolism and the release of energy from food and for the proper functioning of the heart and nervous system. The best food sources are yeast extract spreads (like Vegemite or Marmite), wheatgerm, wheat bran, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals, liver, kidney, lean pork, peas, wholemeal flour, wholemeal and grainy breads and sesame seeds.

Gestational diabetes nearly doubles obesity risks
Treating diabetes during pregnancy can break the link between gestational diabetes and childhood obesity, according to Dr Teresa Hillier writing in the September issue of Diabetes Care. The Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research Northwest and Hawaii study showed that children of mothers with untreated gestational diabetes were 89 percent more likely to be overweight and 82 percent more likely to be obese by age 7 than children born to mothers with normal blood sugar. The good news is that the study also discovered that the children of women treated for gestational diabetes were no more likely to be overweight or obese than other children. The study included 9,439 women from about 10 ethnic groups. Researchers analysed the health records of mother-child pairs for children born between 1995 and 2000. The pregnant women were screened for gestational diabetes. The researchers then weighed the children when they were between age five and seven which is when a child’s weight is a strong predictor of adult obesity.
Diabetes Care 30:2287-2292, 2007