In this section, we feature scientific publications of new research from Europe and the rest of the world, that may be of interest to EUFIC readers. EUFIC was not involved in this research, unless stated otherwise.
Red and processed meats and the risks of cancer – what’s new from the International Agency for Research on Cancer?
A meeting of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, was held in October 2015 in Lyon, France. A Working Group of 22 scientists from 10 countries had a task to investigate the potential carcinogenic effects of eating red and processed meats. In an article published in the Lancet, the IARC assessment classified processed meat as carcinogenic and red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans. This classification indicates hazard (whether an agent is capable of causing cancer), but does not measure the risk (likelihood that cancer will occur). Although the link between the consumption of red and processed meats and cancer is not new, the IARC publication has again stirred a discussion about recommendations for meat consumption.
Researchers from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands found that thinking in black and white terms when it comes to food (e.g. thinking of foods as either “good or bad”) can partly explain why the tendency to consciously control food intake is associated with more weight regain. People who follow a rigid “all or nothing” diet approach may be more likely fail to stick with their diet and tend to regain weight in the long-term.
A team of researchers from Canada conducted a large study on the health effects of both saturated and trans fatty acid consumption. They combined data from 70 previously conducted observational studies and looked at the associated roles of these fatty acids in increasing the risk of death, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Overall findings suggested that eating higher amounts of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk in comparison to lower amounts for these health outcomes. The consumption of higher amounts of trans fat was associated with an increased risk. The authors are cautious drawing conclusions and point to methodological limitations of the included studies and to the fact that these observational studies cannot provide evidence for a cause and effect relationship. Moreover, they warn that one must carefully consider the effects of alternative foods before amending dietary guidelines for saturated and trans fatty acids.
A combination of lower calorie intake and exercise may have additional benefits to reduce diabetes risk
American researchers from Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, have concluded that, in sedentary, overweight women and men, the combination of calorie restriction (eating fewer calories than normally consumed) and exercise has additive effects on the regulation of blood sugar levels after a meal. The effect is greater than obtained by either calorie restriction or exercise alone, with the same percentage of weight loss. Moreover, the time required to reach the intended weight loss was significantly shorter when combining the two interventions.
On 4 June 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released its scientific opinion on acrylamide in food. The conclusion was that based on evidence from animal studies, dietary exposure to acrylamide potentially increases the risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups. Acrylamide forms particularly in plant-based, carbohydrate-rich foods during high temperature cooking (usually above 120 °C) as a consequence of the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction is a reaction between a reducing sugar and an amino acid that results in the “browning” and characteristic flavours of certain foods, cooked at high temperatures. Besides these sensory changes, the Maillard reaction can also result in the formation of undesirable substances such as acrylamide.
23rd June 2015
Although insects are not traditionally eaten in Western countries, other regions around the world have long considered them acceptable on the menu. A recent paper published in the journal Food Quality and Preference provides new insight into the way cultural background and individual experience may influence acceptance or rejection of edible insects.
By comparing opinions of consumers based in the UK with those in Ireland, researchers have found that while people in both countries prefer services to be driven by their governments, only those in the UK expect a free service, at point of delivery. But, paying for advice may increase the motivation to stick to the service longer. The research is published as an open-access paper in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Researchers from the EPIC study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) found that an increase in physical activity (PA) reduced the risk of mortality, particularly when comparing inactive people with those that were moderately inactive. The researchers concluded that these findings provide evidence that even a small increase in the amount of PA by the most inactive members of society should be encouraged. It has the potential to greatly improve public health-related outcomes.
A cutting-edge research project comprising research institutes and communication experts across Europe has set out to study the role of health-related claims and symbols in consumer behaviour.