FOOD BITES: OCTOBER 2017

U.S. Obesity Rates Begin to Level

After years of increasing, adult obesity rates remained stable in 45 states from 2015 to 2016, according to a new report from the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit health advocacy organization, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic organization that funds health research.

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FOOD BITES: SEPTEMBER 2017

Tomatoes No Longer Considered ‘Poison Apples’

Originating in Mesoamerica, tomatoes were part of the Aztecs’ diet as early as 700 A.D., but they weren’t grown in Britain until the 1590s. First arriving in southern Europe in the early 16th century via Spanish conquistadors returning from Mesoamerica, the tomato was considered a “poison apple”

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FOOD BITES: DECEMBER 2017

Milk Proteins Make Edible  Wrapping

To create an all-around better packaging solution, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is developing environmentally friendly film made of the milk protein casein to wrap meats, cheese and other food items. “The protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food spoilage,”

….FULL ARTICLE

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FOOD BITES: DECEMBER 2016

Labels Confuse People with Food Allergies


Food allergies affect approximately 8 percent of children and up to 2 percent of adults. Almost 40 percent of children with a food allergy have experienced at least one life-threatening reaction. A recent study found consumers with food allergies often misunderstand food labels that say “may contain” or “manufactured on shared equipment.” While these consumers should avoid such products, up to 40 percent of them bought items with precautionary allergen labels. The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, surveyed 6,584 consumers in the United States and Canada on their purchasing habits of food products with various labels about possible allergen exposure due to food processing. Most participants were caregivers of a food-allergic child, while the rest had a food allergy themselves. “Our findings underscore the challenges people with food allergies face in deciding if a food product is safe to eat,” said senior author Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, pediatrician and researcher at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and associate professor of pediatrics and medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Currently, precautionary allergen labeling is voluntary and the statements used lack consistency, making it more confusing for consumers. They also do not reflect how much allergen is in the product, which is something consumers need to know to

assess food allergy risk.” Consumers had many misconceptions about labeling. One third falsely believed precautionary allergen statements are based on the amounts of allergen in the product. Almost half believed this type of food labeling is required by law (it is not). The laws in the United States and Canada require labeling if a major food allergen is an intended ingredient. In the United States, these include wheat, egg, milk, peanut, fish and crustaceans, soy and tree nuts. Canadian regulations also add sesame, mollusks and mustard. Neither country requires labeling about the unintended presence of allergens in foods as a result of processing on shared equipment, although many food manufacturers include a variety of precautionary statements. Fewer respondents (11 percent) bought food with “may contain” labeling, while many more (40 percent) bought a product with “manufactured in a facility that also processes” statement. “There is clearly a need for regulation and standardization of precautionary allergen labeling to help consumers make safe food choices,” said Gupta. The study was led by Food Allergy Research and Education.


Protein in Wheat Linked to Inflammation in Chronic Health Conditions

Scientists have discovered a protein in wheat that triggers inflammation in people with chronic health conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. This protein also contributes to the development of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Previous studies have focused on gluten and its impact on digestive health, but this new research, presented at United European Gastroenterology Week 2016, turns the spotlight on a different family of proteins found in wheat called amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs). The study shows consuming ATIs can lead to the development of inflammation in tissues beyond the gut, including the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen and brain. Evidence suggests ATIs can worsen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, asthma, lupus and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as inflammatory bowel disease. ATIs make up no more than 4 percent of wheat proteins, but they can trigger powerful immune reactions in the gut that can spread to other tissues in the body. ATIs may contribute to the development of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This condition is now an accepted medical diagnosis for people who do not have celiac disease but benefit from a gluten-free diet. Intestinal symptoms, such as abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements, are frequently reported, which can make it difficult to distinguish celiac disease from irritable bowel syndrome. Extra-intestinal symptoms such as headaches, joint pain and eczema often support this diagnosis. These symptoms typically appear after eating food containing gluten. They improve rapidly on a gluten-free diet, yet gluten does not appear to cause the condition. Clinical studies will shortly commence to explore the role ATIs play on chronic health conditions in more detail.

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

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