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23 April 2011

In white adults, being overweight or obese (and possibly underweight) is associated with increased all-cause mortality. All-cause mortality is generally lowest with a BMI of 20.0 to 24.9.

A high body-mass index (BMI) is associated with increased mortality from cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, but the precise relationship between BMI and all-cause mortality remains uncertain.

A large analysis reported in the December 2, 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine confirms the relationship between being overweight or obese and a greater risk of dying from all causes.

An international team of researchers pooled data from 19 prospective studies totalling 1,462,958 white male and female participants between the ages of 19 and 84.  Body mass index (BMI), calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters, was determined for all subjects. The participants were followed for periods that ranged from 7 to 28 years, during which 160,087 deaths occurred.

Upon enrollment, the average BMI was 26.2.  Compared with women whose body mass index was between 22.5 and 24.9, having a BMI of 25 to 29.9 correlated with a 13 percent greater risk of death over the follow-up period.  This risk rose with increasing body mass index categories, with women whose BMI was 40 to 49.9 having 2.5 times the risk of death from all causes than those with a BMI of 22.5 to 24.9.  Risks among men were similar. Although a small risk of death was also observed for those whose BMI was below 20, the authors suggest that the finding was in part caused by pre-existing disease.

To learn more or to calculate your BMI, please visit the following link:

de Gonzalez AB, Phil D, et al. 2010. N Engl J Med 363:2211-9.

23 April 2011

It’s well known that breastfeeding and other nutritional factors are associated with increased IQ in childhood.  There appears to be little known about the effects of the diet in early childhood on general intelligence later in life.  A new UK prospective study found that toddlers who eat junk food are less likely to be academic high-flyers when they grow older.

A large UK study of 3966 children, based on the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, uses data on children’s diet reported by parents in food-frequency questionnaires at 3, 4, 7 and 8.5 years of age.  Dietary patterns were identified using Principal-components Analysis (PCA), the most popular data-driven method of obtaining dietary patterns.  The PCA scores were computed at each age.  IQ was assessed using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children at 8.5 years.

After statistic adjustment, the ‘processed’ (food with high fat and sugar content, processed or convenience food) pattern of diet at 3 years of age was negatively associated with IQ assessed at 8.5 years of age – a 1 SD increase in dietary pattern score was associated with a 1.67 point decrease in IQ.  The ‘health-conscious’ (salad, fruit, rice, pasta, fish,) pattern at 8.5 years was positively associated with IQ – a 1 SD increase in pattern score led to a 1.20 point increase in IQ.

Conclusion: There is evidence that a poor diet associated with high fat, sugar and processed food content in early childhood may be associated with small reductions in IQ in later childhood, while a healthy diet, associated with high intakes of nutrient rich foods may be associated with small increases in IQ.

This latest study suggests that any cognitive/behavioural effects relating to eating habits early in childhood may well persist into later childhood, despite later changes (including improvements) to dietary intake.

Brain grows fastest during the first three years of life, with studies showing head growth in this time was associated with cognitive outcome.  Diet that was largely processed could lack vital vitamins and elements for cerebral development at a key stage in early childhood. “A junk food diet is not conducive to good brain development,” as pointed out by study co-author Pauline Emmett, of the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol, UK

Northstone K et al. 2011. J Epidemiol Community Health. doi:10.1136/jech.2010.111955

23 April 2011

New research suggests that obese individuals who use a multivitamin/mineral supplement may experience both a decrease in body weight and improved serum lipid profiles.

Obese individuals are more likely to have lower blood concentrations of most vitamins and minerals.  In a new research published in the International Journal of Obesity, scientists evaluated the effects of multivitamin/mineral supplementation on body fat, energy expenditure, and lipid profiles in obese Chinese women.

Ninety-six obese Chinese women between the ages of 18 and 55 participated in a 26-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention study.  Subjects were divided into three groups, receiving either a multivitamin/mineral supplement (MMS), 162mg of calcium, or placebo daily.  Body weight, BMI, waist circumference, fat mass, lean tissue, resting energy expenditure, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose and serum insulin, total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides were measured at the beginning and end of the study period.

After 26 weeks, the multivitamin/mineral group had significantly lower body weight, BMI, fat mass, total and LDL cholesterol, significantly higher resting energy expenditure and HDL cholesterol than individuals in the placebo group.  They were also more likely to have a reduced waist circumference.  The calcium group also had significantly higher HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol levels compared with the placebo group.

The results suggest that multivitamin/mineral supplementation could reduce body weight and fatness and improve serum lipid profiles in obese women, possibly through increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation.

Li Y et al. Effects of multivitamin and mineral supplementation on adiposity, energy expenditure and lipid profiles in obese Chinese women. 2010. Int J Obes (Lond) 34(6):1070-7.

23 April 2011

Results from a large study show that regular use of a multivitamin supplement in the months before and during pregnancy may reduce the risk of preeclampsia by as much as 71%.

Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy associated with high blood pressure and excessive swelling of arms and legs. If untreated, the condition can progress to Eclampsia, a condition characterized by seizures, coma, and possible death of the mother or child.  In a recent study, lean women who used multivitamins before and during their pregnancies had their risk of preeclampsia reduced by 45-71 percent.

Research included 1,835 pregnant women enrolled in the Pregnancy Exposures and Preeclampsia Prevention Study. All women were at less than 16 weeks’ gestation and were asked whether they regularly used multivitamins or prenatal vitamins in the past six months.  Women that reported use of a multivitamin or prenatal during the previous six months had a 45 percent lower risk of preeclampsia than non-users.

The reduction in risk was more significant among lean women. When lean women were analyzed separately, those who used multivitamins had a 71 percent lower risk of preeclampsia than nonusers.

These results suggest that regular use of a multivitamin supplement in the months before and during pregnancy may help prevent preeclampsia, particularly among lean women.

Bodnar LM, et al. Periconceptional multivitamin use reduces the risk of preeclampsia. 2006. Am J Epidemiol 164(5):470-7.

23 April 2011

Soy has been a major plant source of dietary protein for people in Asia for centuries, and evidence suggests that soy consumption may protect against cancer in humans, including prostate cancer.  Recent study confirms that soy and isoflavone consumption is inversely associated with prostate cancer risk in men.

Each year in Australia, close to 3,300 men die of prostate cancer, and around 20,000 new cases are diagnosed.  A lower incidence of prostate cancer occurs in men from certain Asian countries, such as
China and Japan, compared to the incidence in the United States and Europe.  The lower incidence may be due in part to a higher intake of isoflavone-rich soyfoods in Asian cultures.  A recent meta-analysis was conducted to provide a quantitative evaluation on the association between soy consumption and prostate cancer risk in men.

This meta-analysis systematically reviewed 14 studies on soy consumption and 9 on isoflavones in association with prostate cancer risk. The researchers extracted the most adjusted relative risks (RRs) and odds ratios (ORs) of the highest and the lowest reported categories of intake from each study and conducted the analysis using a random-effects statistic model.

The results of this analysis showed that consumption of soy foods was associated with a 26% reduction in prostate cancer risk in men.  When separately analysed, consumption of nonfermented soy foods was associated with a 30% reduction in prostate cancer risk.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that consumption of soy foods is associated with a reduction in prostate cancer risk in men.  This protection may be associated with the type and quantity of soy foods consumed.

Lin Yan and Edward L Spitznagel; Soy consumption and prostate cancer risk in men: a revisit of a meta-analysis; Am J Clin Nutr 2009; 89:1155–63.

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