Show me sugars
Consumers who make a practice of reading nutrition information on packaged foods may be happy to hear that the percent daily value for added sugars soon may be listed on labels.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a rule that would require manufacturers of packaged foods to include on the Nutrition Facts label a declaration of the percent daily value (% Daily Value) for added sugars, just as percent daily values are noted for nutrients such as sodium and certain fats.
The percent daily value tells consumers how much a nutrient in one serving of food contributes to a daily diet, thereby helping consumers make informed choices.
The FDA proposal calls for the percent daily value for added sugar to be based on the recommendation that the daily intake of calories from added sugar not exceed 10 percent of total daily calories.
Explaining the reason for the proposed change, the FDA noted that:
• Scientific evidence has shown it is difficult to meet nutritional needs while staying within calorie requirements if one exceeds 10 percent of total calories from added sugar.
• The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recommended that Americans limit added sugars intake to less than 10 percent of total calories.
• Newly reviewed studies suggest lower amounts of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages are strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
In addition, the FDA has proposed a change to the footnote that currently appears on the Nutrition Facts label to help consumers understand the percent daily value concept.
The public is invited to comment on the proposed changes during a 75-day period that opened on July 27.
For more information, visit fda.gov.
Why is it that mosquitoes seem to flock to some people and leave others alone?
Scientists at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine believe the answer has something to do with genetic control of people’s body odor.
For their study, researchers conducted a series of trials involving 18 identical and 19 non-identical female twins. Mosquitoes were released into a tube that split into two parts, enabling them to fly toward the odor of the study participant’s hand to which they were most attracted.
Compared to the non-identical twin pairs, the identical twin pairs were more similar in their attractiveness to mosquitoes.
The study built on previous studies that showed insects’ attraction to certain people was related to body odor and that those who are less attractive to mosquitoes produce natural repellents.
According to study author Dr. James Logan, an understanding of the genetic basis for mosquitoes’ attraction to certain people could lead to improved mosquito control and the development of new ways to repel them.
“In the future, we may even be able to take a pill which will enhance the production of natural repellents by the body and ultimately replace skin lotions,” Logan said.
In the meantime, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing insect repellent – the best protection against mosquito bites and considered safe even for children and pregnant women.
According to the CDC, higher percentages of active ingredients provide longer lasting protection from bites. Recommended products include those containing:
• DEET (Cutter, OFF!, Skintastic)
• picardin (Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, Autan outside the U.S.)
• oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Repel, Off! Botanicals)
• IR3535 (Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition, SkinSmart)
Advice for new moms
For a National Institutes of Health-funded study, researchers surveyed more than 1,000 new mothers nationwide and found that many of them did not get advice from their doctors about some very important aspects of infant care – even though physician groups have issued recommendations and guidelines that can prevent diseases and save babies’ lives.
Overall, the study showed, women who were African American, Hispanic and/or first-time mothers were more likely than white mothers or mothers of two or more children to get advice about things like infant sleep position, breastfeeding, immunizations and pacifier use.
About 20 percent of mothers surveyed said they received no advice from their doctors about current breastfeeding recommendations or about placing infants to sleep on their backs, which has been proven to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
More than half of survey respondents said they did not receive any advice about where their babies should sleep, despite the fact that sharing a room with parents but not sharing a bed is recommended for safe infant sleep.
When doctors did dispense advice, it was in most cases consistent with information issued by healthcare practitioner groups. However, as much as 15 percent of advice regarding nursing and pacifier use and more than 25 percent of advice on sleep position or sleep location was inconsistent with physician group recommendations.
Speculating about the reasons some doctors fail to advise mothers on certain aspects of infant care, researchers said it could be because they are not aware of current recommendations, disagree with a recommendation, or believe a recommendation is controversial and may lead to a lengthy discussion for which they do not have the time.
Study author Staci R. Eisenberg, M.D., a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, said the study findings really made her think about how doctors communicate to new parents.
“We may need to be clearer and more specific in telling new mothers about safe sleep recommendations,” Eisenberg said. “From a public health perspective, there is a real opportunity to engage families and the media to promote infant health.”
The study was published in Pediatrics.
Doctors in the dark
The majority of adults living with chronic pain have used alternative therapies for relief, but many of them have not discussed those treatments with their primary care doctors, a recent study found.
Researchers surveyed more than 6,000 patients who had at least three outpatient visits for chronic pain in an 18-month period and found that nearly six in 10 (58 percent) received chiropractic care, acupuncture or both. Thirty-five percent of those who had acupuncture only and 42 percent of those who had chiropractic care only kept the information from their primary care providers.
Nearly all patients said they would have been willing to share the fact that they had used an alternative therapy if their provider had asked.
Charles Elder, M.D., lead author of the study and an investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, concluded that doctors need to ask their patients about alternative and complementary pain management approaches they may be using.
“If we know what’s working and what’s not working, we can do a better job advising patients, and we may be able to recommend an approach they haven’t tried,” Elder said.
The study was published in the American Journal of Managed Care.
The U.S. government has made available to the public a nifty tool designed to help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Body Weight Planner is an online tool created to accurately forecast how a person’s body weight changes in response to changes in diet and exercise habits. The NIH originally intended it as a research tool, but due to popular demand has added it to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s SuperTracker, an online tool that millions of Americans use to build a healthy diet, manage weight and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
“The (Body Weight) Planner is a natural fit within the SuperTracker as it lets people accurately determine how many calories and how much exercise is needed to meet their personal weight management goals,” explained Kevin Hall, NIH spokesperson and one of the Body Weight Planner creators.
To use the Planner, users enter specific information, including current weight, age, activity level, target weight, date on which they hope to reach the target weight, and more. In response, the Planner calculates the number of calories and the level of activity required for the person to achieve the target weight and/or maintain his or her current weight.
According to the NIH, the Planner’s calculations reflect the discovery that the long-accepted belief that cutting 3,500 calories will shed a pound of weight does not account for slowed metabolism as people change their diet and physical activity level.
“The NIH Body Weight Planner helps consumers make a plan to reach their goals on their timeline, and SuperTracker helps them achieve it,” USDA spokesperson Angie Tagtow said.
To get started with the SuperTracker, visit supertracker.usda.gov. The Body Weight Planner can be found on the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website, niddk.nih.gov.
On the calendar
Cholesterol and glucose wellness screenings are performed from 8-9:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 21 at the WingHaven Medical Building, 5551 WIngHaven Blvd. in O’Fallon. The screening includes a lipid panel measuring total cholesterol and HDL levels, LDL (bad cholesterol), triglycerides and blood sugar; blood pressure and body composition measurement; plus a one-one-one consultation with a healthcare professional. A 10-12-hour fast and appointment are required. The fee is $20. To schedule, call (314) 542-4848.