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3 July 13

**Iron supplementation in pregnancy and birth outcomes
**Saturated fat and Alzheimer’s disease risk
**Perceptions of allergen precautionary labelling
**Fish oils may reduced breast cancer risk
**Coffee and appetite
**New craze claims that adding butter to coffee can increase energy levels and promote weight loss
**Using the eyes to measure pleasure response to a food
**Size, colour, weight and shape of cutlery influences taste
**Consuming fish in moderation may prevent atrial fibrillation
**Deputy PM may be at odds with the Environment Secretary over GM food

**Iron supplementation in pregnancy and birth outcomes
A study published in the British Medical Journal  has reviewed findings from randomised controlled trials and observational cohort studies which investigate the use of antenatal iron supplements during pregnancy, with pregnancy and birth outcomes.  The scientists identified 48 randomised controlled trials, of which 27 involved women in high income countries and 21 in low/middle income.   Iron intake ranged from 10 mg to 240 mg daily.  Six observational studies found that anaemia during the first or second trimester of pregnancy was associated with a 29% higher risk of low birth weight baby but no significant association when considering only studies from high-income countries.  Seven studies found that anaemia during the first or second trimester was associated with a 21% higher likelihood of premature birth. The association between third trimester anaemia and premature birth was non-significant however, the results for these third trimester studies varied considerably. NHS choices note that UK pregnant women should be able to get all the iron they need from their diet and state that current UK guidance recommends that iron supplements are considered if pregnancy blood tests show that the mother is anaemic. Iron supplements are not offered routinely to all pregnant women due to the potential for side effects.  The second study published in PLOS Medicine, found  that giving pregnant women daily iron  supplementation does not provide any benefits in birth weight or improved infant growth compared to twice weekly supplementation.  Twice weekly supplementation was found to improve adherence rates in pregnant women and was also linked to improve cognitive development in infants aged 6 months.  Biggs et al came to these conclusions after they carried out a cluster randomised controlled trial, in which pregnant women in a semi-rural region of Vietnam were randomised to receive daily iron-folic acid supplementation, twice weekly iron-folic acid supplementation or twice weekly iron-folic acid supplementation plus micronutrients. 

RSSL' s Metals Laboratory is equipped with AAS and ICP-MS to analyse for a wide range of concentrations of iron (UKAS accredited) including haem iron and other metals in foods, drinks and dietary supplements. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Saturated fat and Alzheimer’s disease risk
Research led by Angela Hanson from the University of Washington USA, and published in the journal JAMA Neurology has discovered that saturated fat in food influences lipidations states and levels of protein that is linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.  Hanson et al report that lipidation states, or modifications of certain proteins in the brain, that are related to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, appear to differ depending on genotype and diet.  Sporadic Alzheimer disease is caused in part by the accumulation of β-amyloid peptides in the brain. These peptides can be bound to lipids or lipid carrier proteins, such as apolipoprotein E (ApoE), or be free in solution (lipid-depleted (LD) β-amyloid). Levels of lipid depleted β-amyloid are higher in the plasma of adults with AD, but less is known about these peptides in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The study recruited 20 adults with an average age of 69 years, who had normal cognition, and 27 adults with an average age of 67 years old, with amnestic mild cognitive impairment.  The participants randomly received either a diet high in saturated fat (45% from fat, with over 25% from saturated fat) and with a high glycemic index or a diet low in saturated fat content (25% energy from fat with less than 7% saturated fat) and a low glycemic index for four weeks.  Hanson et al measured levels of LD β- amyloid 42 and β-amyloid 40 and ApoE in cerebrospinal fluid.  They found that at baseline, levels of LD β-amyloid were higher for adults with mild cognitive impairment compared with adults with normal cognition.  At the end of the intervention periods, those on the diet low in saturated fat tended to have decreased LD β- amyloid levels, whereas those on the high saturated fat diet had increased levels.

RSSL's Lipids Laboratory, part of the Investigative Analysis Team can determine the fatty acid profile of all dietary fats and oils. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Perceptions of allergen precautionary labelling
A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia by Allen et al.  has examined the behaviour and perception of parents of food-allergic children with and without a history of anaphylaxis in relation to precautionary labelling on packaged foods and to understand consumers' perception of the “may be present” statement advocated by VITAL (voluntary incidental trace allergen labelling). The study involved 497 food-allergic children, of which 293 had an existing medically diagnosed food allergy. The most common food allergies were to peanut (152 children; 52%), egg (142; 48%), tree nuts (112; 38%) and milk (81; 28%).  Results from the questionnaire showed that parents of 54 children with a history of anaphylaxis (48%) "felt that the ingredient list information on food labels was easy to understand or use" but only six (5.4%) reported that they could "completely trust" the labels. Between 78% and 84% of parents of children with a history of anaphylaxis and 82-86% of parent of children with mild to moderate allergy considered warning labels "not useful".  These parents also reported that "they did not know whether the food was safe to eat irrespective of the wording of the labels."  The statement "made in the same factory" was disregarded by 65% of the participants, while the statement "may be present" was ignored by 22%.

RSSL carries out allergen testing using immunological, DNA and distillation techniques, depending on the allergen to be detected. Detection limits are in the range 1- 100 mg allergen/kg of sample for almond, Brazil nut, macadamia nut, peanut, walnut, hazelnut, cashew nut, pistachio nut, pecan nut, pine nut and chestnut.  Celery, celeriac, black mustard, lupin  and kiwi allergens can be detected by DNA methods, as can crustacean, fish and mollusc allergens.  The laboratory also uses a range of UKAS accredited immunological procedures for the detection of allergens including gluten, peanut, hazelnut, almonds, soya, egg, milk, sesame and histamine.  Distillation and titration methods are used for the determination of sulphur dioxide and sulphites.  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com.

**Fish oils may reduced breast cancer risk
A study published in the British Medical Journal by researchers from Zhejiang University and the APCNS Center of Nutrition and Food Safety in China has carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis on women’s consumption of fish and risk of breast cancer.  The scientists identified 21 studies that met their inclusion criteria.  The studies included 883,585 people and 20,905 cases of breast cancer, and were all of moderate to high quality.  The researchers' analyses found no link between overall intake of fish, linolenic acid or total n-3 PUFA intake and risk of breast cancer.  However, when they looked at intake of n-3 PUFAs specifically from oily fish, they found that women with the highest intake of marine n-3 PUFAs had a 14% reduction in their risk of developing breast cancer compared with the lowest intake.  The results were similar regardless of whether they measured intake based on the women's reports of what they consumed or on the more objective measurements of fatty acids in their bloodstream. For every extra 100mg of marine n-3 PUFAs consumed per day, there was a 5% relative reduction in breast cancer risk.   The researchers found that the effect of marine n-3 PUFAs was greater in studies that had not taken into account women's body mass index (BMI) and total energy intake in their diet. In the studies that had taken into account BMI or total energy intake, the relationship became non-significant. (NHS Choices)

**Coffee and appetite
Researchers from Griffith University’s Centre for Health Practice Innovation have investigated whether coffee can affect appetite.  Previous research has found coffee to be protective against the risk of diabetes, stroke, some forms of cancer, mental illness and overall mortality.  The scientists have explored whether coffee affects food preference, and what implications this may have on weight control. Schubert et al. have carrying out four trials, where participants were provided with two coffee beverages, one with a breakfast meal and another two hours later.  To examine appetite responses the scientists measured perceptions of hunger, fullness and liking and wanting of particular foods, periodically over 4-5 hours (breakfast to lunch).  Schubert et al states: “So far, we’re seeing a decrease in hunger and increase in fullness in the caffeinated coffee condition, a trend we’re not observing with decaffeinated coffee or caffeine alone for some individuals. This may be important for weight control, as any decrease in appetite could help reduce food intake.  If you experience a decrease in energy intake, while maintaining or increasing energy expended through exercise and movement, you could use this strategy to assist with maintaining a healthy body weight.”  (News Medical)

**New craze claims that adding butter to coffee can increase energy levels and promote weight loss
The Daily Mail has written an article about a new craze, which claims that adding around 80 grams of butter to coffee, can increase energy levels and promote weight loss.  The Bulletproof coffee developed by Dave Asprey claims that the drink is full of healthy fats which keep energy levels up for 6 hrs and improve cognitive function and shrink your waistline.  However experts have spoken out by saying that the drink contains between 100 and 200 calories a cup, can actually increase weight gain and that any extra energy experienced by consumers is merely a placebo effect.  Asprey reports that he discovered the “power of butter-blended drinks on the top of Mt Kailash in Tibet, at 18,000 feet elevation.”  He reports that he created the energy effect by combining unsalted  grass-fed butter with his trademark upgraded coffee.  He claims the butter contain healthy milk fats with no denatured casein proteins found in cream, and the coffee also contain MCT, a blend of coconut and palm oil, which Asprey states digests faster than other fats and therefore increases energy and promotes weight loss. 

**Using the eyes to measure pleasure response to a food
Scientists, reporting in the journal Obesity, have found that the brain's pleasure response to tasting food can be measured through the eyes using a common, low-cost ophthalmological tool.  They indicate that if this method is validated then this tool could be used in research and clinical applications in food addiction and obesity prevention.  Nasser et al. tested the use of electroretinography (ERG) to indicate increases in the neurotransmitter dopamine, associated with a variety of pleasure-related effects, in the retina.  In the eye's retina, dopamine is released when the optical nerve activates in response to light exposure.  The scientists report that electrical signals in the retina spiked high in response to a flash of light when a food stimulus (a small piece of chocolate brownie) was placed in participants' mouths.  They tested this against a control substance, water, and found that these responses in the presence of food and drug stimuli were each significantly greater than the control.  Nasser et al report that the low cost of ERG makes it an appealing method, compared to PET scanning which costs around £2000 per session and take an hour to generate.  ERG is around $150 per session and generates 200 scans in around 2 minutes.

**Size, colour, weight and shape of cutlery influences taste
Scientists from the University of Oxford are reporting in the journal Flavour that cutlery can influence our perception of how a food tastes.    Size, weight, shape and colour can all influence taste, indicating that the brain makes judgements on food even before it goes in the mouth.  The researchers carried out three experiments, involving over 100 students, to examine the influence of weight, colour and shape of cutlery on taste.  Findings include that cheese tastes saltier when eaten from a knife rather than a fork, whilst white spoons make white yoghurt taste better than white yogurt served on black spoons.  They also found that the size of cutlery influences taste, with foods tasting sweeter on small spoons.  Prof Charles Spence and Dr Vanessa Harrar state: “How we experience food is a multisensory experience involving taste, feel of the food in our mouths, aroma, and the feasting of our eyes.  Even before we put food into our mouths our brains have made a judgment about it, which affects our overall experience.”  

**Consuming fish in moderation may prevent atrial fibrillation
According to an observational study presented at the EHRA EUROPACE congress held 23 to 26 June in Athens, Greece, eating fish in moderation can prevent atrial fibrillation (AF).  Using a U shaped   association, the scientists found that low and high intakes of marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) were associated with a highest risk of AF compared to those with median intakes.  The lowest risk of AF was found in those who consumed around 0.63 g marine n-3 PUFA per day, which corresponds to around two servings of fatty (oily) fish per week.  Rix et al came to these findings after studying data from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort 9, carried out between 1993 and 1997 involving 57,053 Danish participants aged between 50 to 64 years.  Rix states: “Since AF is present in over six million people in Europe and associated with considerable morbidity, mortality and economic costs, preventing AF by achievable dietary changes would be of major public interest.  The biological mechanisms behind the higher risk of AF observed for high intakes of n-3 PUFA compared to moderate intakes were more difficult to explain. We can only speculate that the balance between AF inhibiting and AF promoting effects can change according to co morbidities and intakes of marine n-3PUFA. This is the first time that such an association has been shown and it needs to be explored in further studies. However, it may help explain some of the contradictory results obtained in earlier studies." (Science Daily)

RSSL's Lipids Laboratory, part of the Investigative Analysis Team has expertise in all aspects of fat analysis and fatty acid profiling, including the determination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Deputy PM may be at odds with the Environment Secretary over GM food
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has indicated in an interview with LBC 97.3 Radio that he had not "knowingly" fed his children GM meals and thinks we should be "cautious" about allowing genetically-modified food. Mr. Clegg added that he thinks “what you have got to do on this very vexed issue is just always be led by the science. Be cautious, take cautious steps, don't obviously take risks, particularly where people have concerns about contamination between GM crops and non-GM crops. It is like a lot of these dilemmas, it is about getting the right balance. “. Mr. Clegg’s view appears to be at odds with comments made only a few days ago by the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson. Mr. Patterson said GM food was safe and affordable and he is currently attempting to convince the EU to approve a long list of GM crops and allow more than one type of GM maize to be grown in the UK. By contrast, Mr. Clegg, when asked if he would feed his children a GM tomato, Mr. Patterson replied “Yes of course – because they are bound to have eaten it already”. He added in a speech last week to a food industry audience in Harpenden that he wanted people in supermarkets to be able to choose between “buy local organic potatoes or those produced from a blight-resistant GM variety grown in the UK”.  The Prime Minister has said that there is a role for GM food and a spokesman added that "The PM’s view is that all food on shelves has to be safe. The scientific evidence must be examined properly” (The Telegraph)

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