New WHO guideline seeks to halve sugar intake

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) current guideline for sugars (proposed in 2002), state that they “should make up less than 10% of total energy intake per day”. A new 2014 guideline proposes, “a reduction to below 5% of total energy intake per day would have additional benefits”. They add that, “5% of total energy intake per day is equivalent to around 25 grams (around 6 teaspoons) of sugar per day for an adult of normal Body Mass Index (BMI)”. The proposed limits apply to “all monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) that are added to food by the manufacturer, the cook or the consumer, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates”.

WHO are opening a public consultation on this new draft guidance, and request comments from interested parties, to be submitted by 31st March 2014.

Omega-3 oil for a good night’s sleep

A new Oxford study due to be published in the Journal of Sleep Research has found that “higher levels of omega-3 DHA, the group of long-chain fatty acids found in algae and seafood, are associated with better sleep”.  Study participants were 362 children, selected because they were struggling readers at school, were given 600mg supplements from algal sources for 16 weeks. Another group of children were given a placebo. The children given omega-3 oil had nearly one hour more sleep and woke fewer times in the night when compared to the placebo group. Oxford University state “this is the first study to investigate possible links between sleep and fatty acid status in healthy children”, although previous research has linked both sleep problems and poor omega-3 status with behaviour and learning difficulties in infants, children and adults.

Are patients becoming totally resistant to antibiotics?

Hospitals are reporting an alarming increase in gut bacteria that can destroy antibiotics. In 2006 only 5 cases were reported but this number has jumped to more than 600 in 2013, an increase of over 12,000%. Health officials are advising that hospitals urgently need to implement plans and procedures to stop the resistance spreading. The antibiotics in point, carbapenems, are referred to as ‘last resort’ antibiotics and used to treat difficult infections when other antibiotics would or have already failed. Public Health England (PHE) has launched a new toolkit for hospitals to assist them in detecting, managing and controlling any cases. England’s chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said that “resistance to antibiotics is one of the greatest threats to modern health.” Routine operations could become deadly if we lose the ability to fight infection.

Obese, sleep-deprived teens at increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke

A study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that obese and overweight teens who don't get enough sleep are significantly more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The obese or overweight are a subsection of the population already considered at risk of cardiometabolic disease and this study shows the risk increases if sleep deprived as well.  The study looked at 37 obese adolescents between the ages of 11 and 17 years of age, and at metabolic syndrome characteristics, i.e. fasting cholesterol and blood sugar, waist circumference, body mass index [BMI], and blood pressure. Lead researcher, Dr. IglayReger said, “The strong association between sleep duration and cardiometabolic risk score independent of the effects of body composition and physical activity suggest a potential influence of sleep duration on cardiometabolic health in obese adolescents.”

Vitamin D makes you twice as likely to survive breast cancer

Results of a study have shown that breast cancer patients with higher levels of Vitamin D are twice as likely to survive as women with low levels. Over 4,000 breast cancer patients were studied by researchers at the University of California for 25-hydroxy vitamin D obtained at the time of patient diagnosis and their follow-up appointments for an average of nine years.  Professor Cedric F Garland explains "Vitamin D metabolites increase communication between cells by switching on a protein that blocks aggressive cell division. As long as vitamin D receptors are present tumour growth is prevented and kept from expanding its blood supply." Co-author Heather Hofflich believes "the study has implications for including vitamin D as an adjuvant to conventional breast cancer therapy." 

Does ‘BPA Free’ mean BPA safe?

A new US ‘exposé’ entitled "The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics" by Mother Jones magazine has revealed that plastics labelled as free from bisphenol-A (BPA) may actually be less safe than their BPA counterparts. The article reports that various plastic BPA-free cups purchased from Target, Walmart, and Babies R Us have tested “positive for estrogenic activity”. National Institutes of Health-funded research on BPA-free plastics reported that “‘almost all’ commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens—even when they weren't exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun's ultraviolet rays… some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA”.

Plastics and chemical interests are using campaign tactics similar to those used by tobacco makers in the 1990’s. If the marketing MO appears uncannily similar, it’s because many of the scientists and consultants on the tobacco industry's payroll moved seamlessly into defending BPA once deceptive marketing of cigarettes was dropped!  The Weinberg Group, which ran Big Tobacco's White Coat Project, has had a large hand in seeing that industry-funded papers be published claiming BPA is safe, when any government-funded research carried out has shown an entirely different story.

Democracy Now interviews Mariah Blake of Mother Jones magazine.


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