12 January - 20 June 2016

Other headlines

  • Introduction of levy on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in Jamie Oliver’s restaurants found to reduce sales of SSB
  • Low fat avocados launched
  • Worldwide trends in obesity study indicates more needs to be done
  • Can taking multivitamins during pregnancy reduce the risk of ASD in children?
  • Low blood calcium levels may increase risk of sudden cardiac arrest
  • Irish Government confirms sugar sweetened beverage tax
  • Enhancing the nutritional value of corn
  • Intervention strategies that could be used to reduce energy drink consumption in teenagers

Introduction of levy on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in Jamie Oliver’s restaurants found to reduce sales of SSB
A study published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has analysed sales of sugary non-alcoholic beverages in Jamie Oliver’s restaurant following the introduction of a £0.10 per-beverage levy on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).  The initiative was also supported with beverage menu redesign, new products and establishment of a children’s health fund from levy proceeds.  Twelve weeks after the levy was introduced the scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the University of Cambridge report that the sale of sugary drinks per customer had declined by 11%, and after six months they had gone down by 9.3%. They also found that at six months after change sales of fruit juices increased by 22%.

RSSL's Product and Ingredient Innovation Team, has considerable experience in re-formulating products to provide more healthy options including low salt, low sugar versions and using pre- and probiotics. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Low fat avocados launched
The Spanish company, Isla Bonita, has launched a reduced-fat avocado which has up to 30% less fat than normal avocados.  The variety, type of soil, and the climate conditions have led to the fruit providing the same nutritional benefits but less fat than normal avocados. The company report that the fruit also ripens faster than normal avocados, and oxidises slower.  A typical avocado contains between 20-30g of fat with a large avocado containing about 300 calories.  The new variety will be launched at a trade show in Madrid, Spain later in the month. (BBC)

RSSL's Lipids Laboratory, has expertise in all aspects of fat analysis and fatty acid profiling. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Worldwide trends in obesity study indicates more needs to be done
A study published in The Lancet has indicated that whilst childhood and teen obesity rates have levelled in the United States, north-western Europe and other rich countries, rates remain unacceptably high.  Findings also suggest that there has been a rise in BMI in east and south Asia for both boys and girls, and south-east Asia for boys. The team, from Imperial College London, estimated worldwide trends in mean body-mass index (BMI) by pooling 2416 population-based studies with measurements of height and weight on 128·9 million participants aged 5 years and older, including 31·5 million aged 5–19 years. Ezzati et al state that “In 2016, 75 million girls and 117 million boys worldwide were moderately or severely underweight. In the same year, 50 million girls and 74 million boys worldwide were obese.”  They continue by stating “Our finding that the number of children and adolescents aged 5–19 years in the world who are moderately or severely underweight remains larger than those who are obese shows the continued need for policies that enhance food security in low-income countries and households, especially in south Asia.”  Ezzati et al note that if current trends continue, in 2022 there will be more obese children and teenagers worldwide than underweight ones and suggest there is a need for better nutrition at home and at school and more physical exercise. They note that while four decades ago, South Africa, Egypt and Mexico had low levels of obesity, they now have among the high rates of obesity in girls of between 20-25%.

Can taking multivitamins during pregnancy reduce the risk of ASD in children?
Researchers are suggesting taking multivitamins during early pregnancy may reduce risk of autism spectrum disorder in children. However further investigations need to be carried out.   The team reporting in the British Medical Journal, analysed data from 273,107 mother-child pairs living in Stockholm, Sweden. The women reported their use of vitamin supplements at their first antenatal visit and cases of child ASD were identified from national registers.  After taking confounding factors into consideration, the team report that multivitamin use, with or without additional iron and/or folic acid, was associated with a lower likelihood of child ASD with intellectual disability relative to mothers who did not use folic acid, iron, and multivitamins. The study did have a number of limitations including the doses of supplement and timing.  However the authors state that these findings “raise questions that warrant investigation" and call for verification in randomised studies "before recommending a change to current practice."

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Low blood calcium levels may increase risk of sudden cardiac arrest
Scientists are reporting in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, that sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) may be linked to blood calcium levels.  The team found that risk of SCA increased by 2.3 fold for participants who had the lowest blood calcium levels (under 8.95 mg per decilitre) compared with those who had the highest blood calcium levels (9.55 mg per decilitre).  Chugh et al. came to these findings after they measured blood calcium levels in 267 people who had experienced SCA and compared these levels with 445 healthy controls.  The team report that those who experienced SCA were more likely to have diabetes, chronic kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than the controls.  They also report a higher percentage of African American participants in the SCA group.  The authors note that their findings should be interpreted with caution and that further research is necessary. 

Irish Government confirms sugar sweetened beverage tax
The Irish Government has confirmed in its 2018 Budget, the introduction of a sugar tax on sugar sweetened beverages.  The tax will come into effect in April 2018, and will be similar to that of the UK.  An information note on sugar sweetened beverages published for the Budget states “The tax will apply to non-alcoholic, water-based and juice-based drinks which have added sugar content of 5 grams per 100 millilitres and above. These products are deemed to have low or no nutritional value and no satiety and the Department of Health advocate limiting consumption to a maximum of once or twice per week. Pure fruit juices that do not contain added sugar are not subject to the tax due to nutrition value, vitamins and fibre they provide. However, if sugar is added to these drinks the entire sugar content becomes liable to the tax. Dairy products are outside the scope of the tax on the grounds that dairy offers both nutritional value, such as calcium and protein, and also provides satiation preventing excessive consumption.  Where products produced by small producers are exempted from particular EU food labelling obligations the SSD Tax will not apply. The tax will become liable at the first supply in the State.” The tax uses the same two-tier divisions as the UK levy.  For sugar-sweetened beverages with a content of 5 grams of sugar or above per 100ml, a tax of 20c per litre will apply and for drinks with 8 grams sugar of above the rate will be 30c per litre.

RSSL's Product and Ingredient Innovation Team, has considerable experience in re-formulating products to provide more healthy options including low salt, low sugar versions and using pre- and probiotics. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Enhancing the nutritional value of corn
Rutgers scientists have enhanced the nutritional value of corn by inserting bacterial genes which produce the key amino acid, methionine. The National Centre for Biotechnology information reports that methionine, found in meat, is one of the nine essential amino acids that humans get from food. It is needed for growth and tissue repair and improves the tone and flexibility of skin and hair, and strengthens nails.  Methionine contains sulphur which protect cells from pollutants, slows cell aging and is essential for absorbing selenium and zinc. The scientists reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that the corn would benefit people in developing countries, where it is a staple. (Phys.org)

Intervention strategies that could be used to reduce energy drink consumption in teenagers
Scientists have identified intervention strategies, suggested by young people themselves, which may be used to help young people reduce consumption of energy drinks.  The findings, published in Nutrition Education and Behavior, report that consumption can cause a number of health effects including headaches, sleep difficulties and anxiety.  They state that data from US and Australia indicates that caffeine overdoses and adverse reactions to energy drinks are prevalent and increasing in adolescents. The researchers interviewed 41 participants aged 12 to 25 years who were familiar with energy drinks, with some previously consuming them in large quantities.  Whilst some participants knew that the drinks contained caffeine and sugar, they did not know what other ingredients the drinks contained.  There was confusion as to whether coffee, sports drinks, nutritional supplements, and soft drinks fall into the category of energy drinks.  Factors that lead to consumption included peer pressure, adverting and promotion.  Reasons for consumption included increased energy, but also they liked the taste.  Based on discussions with the teenagers, the authors suggest five strategies to reduce consumption 1) restrictions on sale and availability, (2) changing packaging, (3) increasing the price, (4) reducing visibility in retail outlets, and (5) conducting research and education.

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