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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Skipping Meals, Joining Gangs: How Teens Cope Without Enough Food At Home


Many kids rely on school for food their families can't afford. Two reports suggest one group is falling through the cracks: teens. Dogged by hunger, teens may try a wide range of strategies to get by.  

 


When Lanarion Norwood Jr. was 9 years old, he opened his family's refrigerator to find it almost empty. His grandmother, unemployed because of disability, had run out of food for the month. So Norwood did what many young children adamantly resist: He went to bed early. Sleeping, he reasoned, would help him suppress hunger, and he knew the next day he could eat at his Atlanta school.

That memory is one of Norwood's earliest recollections of being hungry, but not his last. As a teenager, his food concerns grew with his appetite. "I would plan out my meal[s]," Norwood says, now a freshman at Morehouse College in Atlanta. "I knew I could eat breakfast and lunch at school and I could eat again later at [an afterschool mentoring program]."

Number Of Hungry U.S. Kids Drops To Lowest Level Since Before Great Recession

  
Lots of kids like Norwood rely on schools for food their families can't afford. Federal programs like the National School Lunch Program offer free or discounted meals to children from low-income families. But two reports out this month from the Urban Institute and Feeding America suggest one group is falling through the cracks: teenagers. Roughly 7 million children in the U.S. aged 10-17 struggle with hunger, according to one report, which examines teenage access to food. Dogged by hunger, teenagers may try a wide range of solutions, from asking friends for meals to bartering sex for food.

 

To learn about teen hunger, the researchers partnered with food banks and, with funding from Conagra, conducted 20 focus groups across the country with adolescents from low-income families. The researchers found two challenges to feeding teens in need: First, some of the charitable programs that target young children — like backpack programs that allow kids to take food home over the weekend — aren't always offered to teenagers. And second, even when programs are available, teenagers feel more self-conscious about accepting free food or may not realize that they are eligible for the assistance.
 

  

Lead researcher Susan Popkin of the Urban Institute explains why the challenges facing teenagers are unique: "It's easier to get to little kids. They're all in school. They're certainly more cooperative. Teens are often seen as the problem. Not as part of the solution."

 

Teens, Popkin explains, are more aware of the stigma associated with a free lunch than younger children. They're also at an age where fitting in is paramount. So many teens will forego official programs and try to get meals from other places – by going to a friend's house with a well-stocked pantry, for example.

Norwood says pride is a major hurdle. "Why should I have to go through a program just to eat when I'm almost grown?" he says, describing the attitude of some of his peers.

Even adolescents who do opt to take advantage of school programs may not get a good meal, according to Popkin, because they often receive the same portion sizes as elementary school children. What's more, teens often squirrel the meal away for younger siblings.  

"They feel the pressure that their parents are under," she says. "They're old enough to be aware of it and they want to help. They go hungry along with their parents."

Teenagers cope with hunger in other ways too, the researchers found. Teenagers try to get jobs, but often struggle against the competition of adults with more experience and more flexible hours. The jobs they can get — like cutting hair or mowing grass — often don't pay well enough to bridge the gap in the family's food budget.

Sometimes teenagers turn to less benign methods to get money or food. Teenagers in the focus groups cited petty theft and even gang membership as methods adolescents used to put money and food on the table.

Most surprising to Popkin was that some teenagers, girls in particular, date older men with more disposable money in order to get food. Thirteen of the 20 focus groups talked about trading sex for a meal.

The SNAP Gap: Benefits Aren't Enough To Keep Many Recipients Fed  
  


What can be done to improve the plight of food-insecure teenagers? Popkin says simply extending elementary meal programs to teenagers could be a start, as well as increasing portions with age.

Emily Engelhard, managing director of research and evaluation for Feeding America, says teens came up with other ideas as well, like tying free food to another less stigmatized activity – like movie night or a basketball game. She says an important takeaway from the research is "just how incredible and resilient these teens are."

Better and more accessible grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods would also help, says Norwood. He says many people in Atlanta have to take a bus or train to reach a grocery store with fresh produce and can't afford the time or fare, to say nothing of lugging the groceries home.

He sums up the importance of teen hunger simply: "It is real. It is serious. And it should be addressed. It affects the mind, it affects the body, and it affects the soul. Without that, what do you have?"
 
By:Natalie Jacewicz

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

'five-second rule': Eating food off the floor isn't safe






Rutgers researchers have disproven the widely accepted notion that it's OK to scoop up food and eat it within a "safe" five-second window. Donald Schaffner, professor and extension specialist in food science, found that moisture, type of surface and contact time all contribute to cross-contamination. In some instances, the transfer begins in less than one second. Their findings appear online in the American Society for Microbiology's journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology.


"The popular notion of the 'five-second rule' is that food dropped on the floor, but picked up quickly, is safe to eat because bacteria need time to transfer," Schaffner said, adding that while the pop culture "rule" has been featured by at least two TV programs, research in peer-reviewed journals is limited.

"We decided to look into this because the practice is so widespread. The topic might appear 'light' but we wanted our results backed by solid science," said Schaffner, who conducted research with Robyn Miranda, a graduate student in his laboratory at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

The researchers tested four surfaces -- stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet -- and four different foods (watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy). They also looked at four different contact times -- less than one second, five, 30 and 300 seconds. They used two media -- tryptic soy broth or peptone buffer -- to grow Enterobacter aerogenes, a nonpathogenic "cousin" of Salmonella naturally occurring in the human digestive system.

Transfer scenarios were evaluated for each surface type, food type, contact time and bacterial prep; surfaces were inoculated with bacteria and allowed to completely dry before food samples were dropped and left to remain for specified periods. All totaled 128 scenarios were replicated 20 times each, yielding 2,560 measurements. Post-transfer surface and food samples were analyzed for contamination.

Not surprisingly, watermelon had the most contamination, gummy candy the least. "Transfer of bacteria from surfaces to food appears to be affected most by moisture," Schaffner said. "Bacteria don't have legs, they move with the moisture, and the wetter the food, the higher the risk of transfer. Also, longer food contact times usually result in the transfer of more bacteria from each surface to food."

Perhaps unexpectedly, carpet has very low transfer rates compared with those of tile and stainless steel, whereas transfer from wood is more variable. "The topography of the surface and food seem to play an important role in bacterial transfer," Schaffner said.


So while the researchers demonstrate that the five-second rule is "real" in the sense that longer contact time results in more bacterial transfer, it also shows other factors, including the nature of the food and the surface it falls on, are of equal or greater importance.

"The five-second rule is a significant oversimplification of what actually happens when bacteria transfer from a surface to food," Schaffner said. "Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously."

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Rutgers University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

11 Foods That Kill Your Sex Drive

Food and sex have had a complicated relationship over the years, almost as complicated as your own love life. Taking someone out to dinner is a fail-safe date, and making dinner at your own place is that much more impressive. There are even foods meant to boost your libido, like shellfish and avocados.

But, as with every relationship, food and sex have their disagreements, too.

Yep, there are foods that do a pretty good job of turning you and your partner off, rather than on. And if that's not really the mood you're looking to set for your big date Saturday night, then you'll want to avoid eating these 11 foods that will kill your sex drive.


CHEESE




While cheese platters might be a classy way to impress your date, they're also a one-way ticket to abstinence-ville. Population: You. The multitudes of hormones in dairy products, like cheese, might mess with your hormone levels, including estrogen and testosterone.

And when your hormones are askew, it's likely that your sex drive won't be at its strongest.



MINT



Skip the pre-kiss gum, guys; the menthol in mint lowers testosterone, which in turn depletes your sex drive. Try a fruitier flavor to keep your breath and your libido fresh.







CORNFLAKES



Good advice for that early breakfast date? (Hey, there are weirder things.) If you and your date are meeting in the morning (or maybe you're still together from the night before...) skip this bland breakfast cereal. Otherwise, you'll have a much less enjoyable, uh, morning grind.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who invented corn flakes, believed that sweet or spicy foods inflamed the passions, and sought to depress the libido with a bland, sugarless cereal. The reasoning behind his diabolical experiment is unknown. However, it's unlikely that Kellogg created a cereal so bland that it makes sex unappealing; more likely, it's the carbs and grains in this cereal that kill your drive.



COFFEE



Planning on, uh, pulling an all-nighter? Not with coffee, you're not. If coffee makes you jittery, then you should not be drinking it before having sex. Your increased anxiety from the caffeine intake will lower your sex drive, as people with caffeine sensitivity have most likely experiences.



CHOCOLATE


This one might seem surprising, considering that chocolate has been well-known as an aphrodisiac for years. While this may hold true for women, men are singing a different tune when it comes to chocolate and sex; chocolate actually lowers testosterone levels, lowering male sex drive dramatically.

Sorry dudes, leave the boxes of chocolate to the ladies.



MICROWAVABLE POPCORN


Having your date over to Netflix and chill? Skip the microwavable popcorn. Definitely for the sake of your sex drive, but also for some more serious health reasons. Chemicals like perfluorooctanoic acid found in the bag’s lining can not only kill your libido, but over the long term even cause prostate problems in men.

Switch to stove top corn, fellas. Still romantic and delicious, minus the unpronounceable chemical that's slowly killing your prostate.


SOY



This one isn't all bad — for women, at least. Soy has high levels of estrogen, which means that ingesting soy products prior to sex will boost a woman's libido significantly.

However, for men, the opposite can be said. Eating soy boosts a man's estrogen levels, doing a pretty good job of ending his sex drive pretty much on the spot.



FRIED FOOD


We'd like to think that Mickey D's is not your go-to dinner date spot. If, for whatever reason, it is, you're essentially sabotaging your love life. Fried foods and foods that are high in fat (which, yes, means fast food in most cases) leave you feeling tired and sluggish. Shockingly, that's not very sexy.

Even worse, hydrogenated fats and oils suppress male testosterone levels. That double whammy is not worth that double cheeseburger.


ALCOHOL



While bars may be a prime place for meeting people, they're also a prime place for embarrassing sexual encounters. Of the limp kind. Sure, that last tequila shot gave you the confidence to ask someone to come home with you, but it will also reduce testosterone levels and limit sexual function in both men and women.

LICORICE 


Skip this snack at your next movie date. Due to a natural ingredient in the candy called glycyrrhizin, eating a high amount of licorice can suppress your libido and lower testosterone levels. Granted, you would have to eat a lot of licorice for this to be a serious issue — but do you really want to risk it?

DIET SODA




At this point, we all know that drinking diet soda is almost worse than drinking regular sodas. Staying fit and trim is usually good for your sex drive, but eating and drinking products with artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, directly affect your serotonin levels, a vital hormone for the libido in both men or women.



Source:TESSA NEWELL

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Higher potato consumption associated with increased risk of high blood pressure





Mashed potatoes. Four or more servings a week of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes was associated with an increased risk of hypertension compared with less than one serving a month in women, but not in men.
Higher intakes of boiled, baked, or mashed potatoes, and French fries is associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) in adult women and men, according to a study published by The BMJ today.

The US-based researchers suggest that replacing one serving a day of boiled, baked, or mashed potatoes with one serving of a non-starchy vegetable is associated with a lower risk of developing hypertension.

But a linked editorial argues that studying overall dietary patterns and risk of disease is more useful than a focus on individual foods or nutrients.

Potatoes are one of the world's most commonly consumed foods -- and have recently been included as vegetables in US government healthy meals programs, due to their high potassium content. But the association of potato intake with hypertension has not been studied.


So researchers based at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School set out to determine whether higher long term intake of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes, French fries, and potato chips (crisps) was associated with incident hypertension.

They followed over 187,000 men and women from three large US studies for more than 20 years. Dietary intake, including frequency of potato consumption, was assessed using a questionnaire. Hypertension was reported by participants based on diagnosis by a health professional.

After taking account of several other risk factors for hypertension, the researchers found that four or more servings a week of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes was associated with an increased risk of hypertension compared with less than one serving a month in women, but not in men.

Higher consumption of French fries was also associated with an increased risk of hypertension in both women and men. However, consumption of potato chips (crisps) was associated with no increased risk.

After further analyses, the researchers suggest that replacing one serving a day of boiled, baked, or mashed potatoes with one serving of a non-starchy vegetable is associated with a decreased risk of hypertension.


The authors point out that potatoes have a high glycaemic index compared with other vegetables, so can trigger a sharp rise in blood sugar levels, and this could be one explanation for the findings.

They also acknowledge some study limitations and say that, as with any observational study, no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.

Nevertheless, they say their findings "have potentially important public health ramifications, as they do not support a potential benefit from the inclusion of potatoes as vegetables in government food programs but instead support a harmful effect that is consistent with adverse effects of high carbohydrate intakes seen in controlled feeding studies."

In a linked editorial, researchers at the University of New South Wales argue that, although diet has an important part to play in prevention and early management of hypertension, dietary behaviour and patterns of consumption are complex and difficult to measure.

"We will continue to rely on prospective cohort studies, but those that examine associations between various dietary patterns and risk of disease provide more useful insights for both policy makers and practitioners than does a focus on individual foods or nutrients," they conclude.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by BMJ. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

How A Scientist Sounded The Alarm On Sugar Back In The 1950s—But Was Ignored


By Rachel Lapidos for Well+Good


Imagine if people thought you were crazy for saying sugar is bad for you.
British scientist John Yudkin knew the feeling: He died a pariah in the 1970s because he held the unpopular idea that sugar was the number-one health threat, The Guardian reports. Yudkin’s findings from more than a decade of research—published in 1972’s Pure, White, and Deadly: How Sugar is Killing Us and What We Can Do to Stop It—had unfortunate timing, according to the Guardian. At the time, the idea that saturated fat was the number-one health threat was so widespread that Yudkin’s findings were ridiculed and his reputation was ruined.
Today, however, he’s being celebrated by a new breed of “sugar is the devil“ nutritional experts. His ahead-of-his-time claims (last year the US issued guidelines on curbing sugar for the first time) are being championed by people like journalist Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, and science writer Gary Taubes, who wrote Why We Get Fat, according to the Guardian.

How did Yudkin get overlooked to begin with? He began floating a theory that sugar was a public health hazard in the late 1950s, around the same time that President Dwight Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in office. His doctor treated him with a low-cholesterol regimen (which US health authorities have since backed off from)—an approach that Yudkin was very publicly critical of, the Guardian reports. A bit of a scientific pissing match resulted, and Yudkin lost.

“They took him down so severely—so severely—that nobody wanted to attempt it on their own,” Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specializes in the treatment of childhood obesity, told the Guardian.
But posthumously, Yudkin’s findings are back in the scientific mainstream—guiding a new generation of scientists (not to mention documentarians and dessert lovers!). Sweet irony. But a bitter pill for those of us who were careful about cholesterol and saturated fat—ignoring sugar grams—for years.
Are You Addicted To Sugar Without Knowing It?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Meat consumption raises mortality rates, analysis of more than 1. 5 million people finds

A review of large-scale studies involving more than 1.5 million people found all-cause mortality is higher for those who eat meat, particularly red or processed meat, on a daily basis. Conducted by physicians from Mayo Clinic in Arizona, "Is Meat Killing Us?" was published today in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.


The authors analyzed six studies that evaluated the effects of meat and vegetarian diets on mortality with a goal of giving primary care physicians evidence-based guidance about whether they should discourage patients from eating meat. Their recommendation: physicians should advise patients to limit animal products when possible and consume more plants than meat.

"This data reinforces what we have known for so long -- your diet has great potential to harm or heal," said Brookshield Laurent, DO, assistant professor of family medicine and clinical sciences at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. "This clinical-based evidence can assist physicians in counseling patients about the important role diet plays, leading to improved preventive care, a key consideration in the osteopathic philosophy of medicine."


While findings for U.S. and European populations differed somewhat, the data found the steepest rise in mortality at the smallest increases of intake of total red meat. That 2014 study followed more than one million people over 5.5 to 28 years and considered the association of processed meat (such as bacon, sausage, salami, hot dogs and ham), as well as unprocessed red meat (including uncured, unsalted beef, pork, lamb or game).


A 2014 meta-analysis examined associations with mortality from cardiovascular disease and ischemic heart disease. In that study of more than 1.5 million people, researchers found only processed meat significantly increase the risk for all-cause mortality.

Combined, the findings of these studies are statistically significant in their similarity, the reviewers noted. Further, a 2003 review of more than 500,000 participants found a decreased risk of 25 percent to nearly 50 percent of all-cause mortality for very low meat intake compared with higher meat intake.

They also found a 3.6-year increase in life expectancy for those on a vegetarian diet for more than 17 years, as compared to short-term vegetarians.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Osteopathic Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Italian court rules food theft 'not a crime' if hungry




The court found that the homeless man was acting "in a state of need" so his actions could not be considered offences
Stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime, Italy's highest court of appeal has ruled.
Judges overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov after he stole cheese and sausages worth $4.50 from a supermarket.
Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food "in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment", the court of cassation decided.
Therefore it was not a crime, it said.
A fellow customer informed the store's security in 2011, when Mr Ostriakov attempted to leave a Genoa supermarket with two pieces of cheese and a packet of sausages in his pocket but paid only for breadsticks.
In 2015, Mr Ostriakov was convicted of theft and sentenced to six months in jail and a $100 fine.
'Right and pertinent' ruling, say papers
For the judges, the "right to survival prevails over property", said an op-ed in La Stampa newspaper (in Italian).
In times of economic hardship, the court of cassation's judgement "reminds everyone that in a civilised country not even the worst of men should starve".
An opinion piece in Corriere Della Sera says statistics suggest 615 people are added to the ranks of the poor in Italy every day - it was "unthinkable that the law should not take note of reality".


It criticised the fact that a case concerning the taking of goods worth under $5 went through three rounds in the courts before being thrown out.
The "historic" ruling is "right and pertinent", said Italiaglobale.it - and derives from a concept that "informed the Western world for centuries - it is called humanity".
However, his case was sent to appeal on the grounds that the conviction should be reduced to attempted theft and the sentence cut, as Mr Ostriakov had not left the shop premises when he was caught.
Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation, which reviews only the application of the law and not the facts of the case, on Monday made a final and definitive ruling overturning the conviction entirely.
Stealing small quantities of food to satisfy a vital need for food did not constitute a crime, the court wrote.

"The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the seizure of merchandise took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of an immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of necessity," wrote the court. 

*Source BBC*