Nutrient shortfalls are a serious and persistent health disparity: Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved

Northridge, CA (September 2, 2015) – A study published Monday in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved (JHCPU) concludes that ethnicity is associated with nutrient shortfalls of important nutrients. This study compared usual intake for essential nutrients between Non-Hispanic Black and Non-Hispanic White Americans using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2007-2010. This new analysis is consistent with previous research and confirms a continuing diet-related health disparity in the American population.

Nutrient shortfalls are an important nutrition issue that can impact health. Studies published previously have shown that most Americans do not achieve nutrient intake recommendations to support overall health and wellbeing. This study examined percentage of Non-Hispanic Blacks and Whites that did not meet the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for a range of nutrients that are important in health promotion. The results revealed that a greater percentage of Non-Hispanic Blacks were below the EAR for calcium, magnesium, vitamins A and D relative to Non-Hispanic Whites across all ages.

“Nutrient shortfalls have been an issue addressed through dietary guidance for decades to encourage Americans to meet recommended levels,” said study co-author Dr. Victor Fulgoni. “However, this analysis shows that little change is happening in nutrient intake and specifically, Non-Hispanic Blacks are at particular risk with significant nutrient shortfalls.”

NHANES 2007-2010 was used for estimating the mean and distributions of usual intakes from foods and dietary supplements. In participants ?4 years of age, a greater percentage of Non-Hispanic Blacks compared to Non-Hispanic Whites were below the EAR for the following nutrients:

Percent of Blacks below EAR:

    Calcium: 53.7%

Magnesium: 63.0%

Vitamin A: 45.9%

Vitamin D: 82.4%

Percent of Whites below EAR:

    Calcium: 29.4%

Magnesium: 41.9%

Vitamin A: 28.4%

Vitamin D: 63.5%

“We have supported many studies on nutrient shortfalls in the U.S. population because we continue to see how important nutrient adequacy is in supporting health and wellness. It is important to improve consumption of nutrient-rich foods as the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recommended in its report1; however, dietary supplements can also play a role in meeting nutrient needs especially for magnesium and Vitamin D,” said study co-author Dr. James Brooks, Vice President, Science, Technology and Quality at Pharmavite.

Looking ahead, future dietary recommendations that include specific strategies to increase consumption of vitamins and minerals in the U.S. Non-Hispanic Black population may be one way to address this on-going diet-related health disparity. Also, diet and nutrient community-based interventions targeting Non-Hispanic Black populations may offer a potential strategy to educate and improve food and nutrient intake. Additionally, educational programs for health professionals on the role of dietary supplements in achieving nutrient adequacy can help facilitate discussions between providers and consumers and correct this disparity.


Access the full study entitled “Comparison of Inadequate Nutrient Intakes in Non-Hispanic Black vs. Non-Hispanic White Participants: An Analysis of NHANES 2007-2010 in US Children and Adults,” at the link provided. Study authors include James R. Brooks, Pharmavite; Carroll Reider, Pharmavite; Victor L. Fulgoni, III, Nutrition Impact, LLC; and Yanni Papanikolaou, Nutritional Strategies, Inc. Pharmavite LLC funded this study.


Posted in Health Care: Disparities, Homelessness, Hunger, Nutrition: Malnutrition, Poverty | Leave a comment

‘Guilting’ Teens Into Exercise Won’t Increase Activity: University of Georgia

Newswise — Athens, Ga. – Just like attempts at influencing hairstyles or clothing can backfire, adults who try to guilt middle-schoolers into exercising won’t get them to be any more active, according to a new study by University of Georgia researchers.

The study, which appears in the September issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found students who don’t feel in control of their exercise choices or who feel pressured by adults to be more active typically aren’t. Middle-schoolers who feel they can make their own decisions about exercising are more likely to see themselves as a person who exercises, which in turn makes them more likely to exercise.

This age is a critical juncture in a child’s life, as kids typically decrease their activity levels by 50 percent between fifth and sixth grades, said Rod Dishman, the study’s lead author and a professor of kinesiology in the UGA College of Education.

“Our results confirm that the beliefs these kids hold are related to physical activity levels,” Dishman said. “But can we put these children in situations where they come to value and enjoy the act of being physically active?”

Dishman and colleagues at the University of South Carolina are now looking at ways to help kids identify with exercise at a younger age, so that by the time they reach middle school they are more likely to identify as someone who exercises. This might mean teaching more structured games in elementary school, integrating physical activities into classroom lessons or expanding community recreational leagues to give kids more opportunities to improve on a particular sport.

“Just like there are kids who are drawn to music and art, there are kids who are drawn to physical activity,” he said. “But what you want is to draw those kids who otherwise might not be drawn to an activity.”

What parents and teachers don’t want to create, Dishman cautioned, is a sense of guilt for not exercising. The research overwhelmingly found that students who felt obligated to be more active were less likely to embrace activity overall.

“The best thing is to do it because it’s fun,” Dishman said. “It’s the kids who say they are intrinsically motivated who are more active than the kids who aren’t.”

The study, on “Motivation and Behavioral Regulation of Physical Activity in Middle School Students,” is available at

Posted in Human Behavior: Control, Human Behavior: Habits, Human Behavior: Independence, Human Behavior: Motivation, Pediatric Health: Teenagers | Leave a comment

Lowering Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake by Children Linked to More Favorable HDL-C Changes

Newswise — BOSTON (September 2, 2015, 2 PM) In the first study to investigate blood lipid levels in association with consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in a racially and ethnically diverse sample of Boston area schoolchildren, researchers found there was an inverse association between SSB intake changes and HDL-cholesterol increases (HDL-C is the “good cholesterol”). The study’s results also showed that a higher intake of SSBs was associated with a higher triglyceride concentration.

Notably, the researchers found that reducing SSB intake by at least one serving a week was associated with a greater increase in HDL-C over a 12-month period. The findings reinforce the importance of minimizing consumption of SSBs among children and adolescents. The paper, published in The Journal of Nutrition on September 2, notes that additional longitudinal research is needed in large, multi-ethnic samples of children to better understand the health implications of reducing SSBs.

“A clustering of risk factors including high triglycerides, low HDL-C, insulin resistance, and obesity, especially if begun in childhood, puts one at higher risk for future cardiovascular disease. In this study, we sought to better understand the relationship between lipid levels and SSB consumption in a population of schoolchildren in which health disparities were likely, and where future interventions could help improve diet quality and disease risk,” said Maria Van Rompay, PhD, the first author on the study, and a research associate and instructor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

While previous research has linked the intake of SSBs to greater cardiometabolic risk in adults, there is sparse longitudinal evidence in children. To add to the understanding of the phenomenon in children, the researchers examined the characteristics associated with consumption of SSBs in the multi-ethnic sample of children and adolescents, as well as mean SSB intake and changes in SSB intake with regard to key risk factors – plasma HDL-C and triglycerides – over a 12-month-period.

The impact of SSBs on obesity and other risk factors in children, including dyslipidemia (for example, a high level of triglycerides and low HDL-C in the blood) has been the subject of previous observational and descriptive studies. In addition, SSBs have been the main source of added sugars in children’s diets in the U.S., accounting for as much as 10% of total energy intake (118 kcal for 6 to 11 year olds, 225 kcal for 12 to 19 year olds) in 2010.

In the new study, children ages 8 to 15 years were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind vitamin D supplementation trial, the Daily D Health Study, led by senior author Jennifer Sacheck, PhD, associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Baseline SSB intake was self-reported using the Block Food Frequency Questionnaire for Children, and fasting blood lipid concentrations were taken in 613 children and adolescents. Longitudinal measures were collected over 12 months in 380 of these youth. Sixty-eight percent of the children were from low socioeconomic status (SES) households; almost half were overweight or obese; 59% were from non-white/Caucasian racial/ethnic groups. Findings included:

• At baseline, approximately 85% of children/adolescents reported consuming SSBs during the past week. 18% of the sample consumed 7 or more servings per week, or approximately one serving or more daily.
• Greater SSB consumption was associated with older age, late puberty/post-puberty status and lower SES. SSB intake did not differ across racial and ethnic groups.
• Several characteristics did differ by race and ethnicity: puberty status, SES, body mass index (BMI) and sedentary time, along with HDL-C and triglyceride concentrations.
• Among 613 children/adolescents at baseline, higher triglycerides were linked with higher SSB intake, after accounting for demographic and behavioral factors, BMI, total calories and measures of diet quality.
• Over the 12-month period, the mean SSB intake was not associated with lipid changes; however, the increase in HDL-C was greatest among children who decreased their intake by one or more 12-oz. servings of SSBs per week compared to those whose intake stayed the same or increased.
• Greater SSB intake was associated with lower SES, higher total calorie consumption, lower fruit/vegetable intake, and a more sedentary lifestyle.

The researchers note that absence of an association between mean SSB intake and lipid changes over 12 months may be due to measurement error, e.g., possible misclassification of SSB intake or an under-reporting of SSBs especially from children who were overweight or obese.

Senior author Jennifer Sacheck commented, “Importantly, not only are most SSBs high in sugar and devoid of nutritional value, but they are displacing other foods and beverages that offer high nutritional quality, which are critical for children’s growth and development, further exacerbating the potential harmful health effects of SSBs.”

Additional authors on this study are Nicola M. McKeown, PhD, Scientist II in the Nutritional Epidemiology Program at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and an associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; Elizabeth Goodman, MD, professor of pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School and Associate Chief for Community-based Research, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children; Misha Eliasziw, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine; Virginia R. Chomitz, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine; Catherine M. Gordon, MD, MSc, Professor and Vice-Chair for Clinical Research in the Department of Pediatrics at Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Director of Adolescent Medicine at Hasbro Children’s Hospital; Christina D. Economos, PhD, Director of ChildObesity180 and an Associate Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University; and Jennifer M. Sacheck, PhD, Associate Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Van Rompay and the Daily D Health Study were supported by an award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, Award Number R01HL106160. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Van Rompay MI, McKeown NM, Goodman E, Eliasziw M, Chomitz VR, Gordon CM, Economos CD, and Sacheck JM. Sugar-sweetened beverage intake is positively associated with baseline triglyceride concentrations, and changes in intake are inversely associated with HDL cholesterol increases over 12 months in a multi-ethnic sample of children. J Nutr 2015 Sep 2 (Epub ahead of print; doi: 10.3945/jn.115.212662).

About the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the only independent school of nutrition in the United States. The school’s eight degree programs – which focus on questions relating to nutrition and chronic diseases, molecular nutrition, agriculture and sustainability, food security, humanitarian assistance, public health nutrition, and food policy and economics – are renowned for the application of scientific research to national and international policy.

Posted in Cholesterol, Nutrition: Food: Soft Drinks, Nutrition: Food: Sugar, Parenting | Leave a comment

AMD sufferers sometimes drive with central vision loss

Newswise — Boston, MA, Sep. 2, 2015, Vision researchers in Boston have published the second paper of a study designed to determine if a driver who suffers from loss of central vision is able to detect pedestrians in a timely manner when driving. Central visual field loss, a scotoma or blind area in central vision, is found most commonly in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Patients with AMD may drive provided their visual acuity at least meets the requirements for a restricted license. However, the size and location of the blind area are usually not considered when making licensing decisions. The purpose of the study was to evaluate how much these blind areas delayed responses to pedestrian hazards in the safe environment of a driving simulator.

“Driving with Central Visual Field Loss II: How Scotomas Affect Hazard Detection in a Driving Simulator” has just been published in the Sep. 2, 2015 PLOS ONE.

This study was conducted with participants with AMD who drove in a state-of-the-art driving simulator at the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear. The research was led by Alex Bowers, Ph.D., Eli Peli, O.D. M.Sc., and P. Matthew Bronstad, Ph.D..

The study’s first phase, documented in JAMA Ophthalmology, Mar. 2013 showed that patients with blind areas to the side of where they typically look tend to miss pedestrians coming from that side. The results of the current study showed that a blind area located above or below the center of interest will still likely block or delay a driver’s ability to detect pedestrians entering the field of vision from the side of the road. These late reactions usually occurred because the pedestrians were entirely or partially obscured by the blind area after the drivers noticed the pedestrian using their peripheral vision, and then tried to look at them directly, causing the blind area to obscure the pedestrian.

Taken together, the results of the two papers suggest that that any binocular central field loss might delay a driver’s ability to detect moving hazards in time for the driver to take safe, corrective action.

“If you are a low-vision patient, you should understand how the condition affects and perhaps limits your ability to drive safely,” said Dr. Bronstad. “These data should prove useful to clinicians in advising patients about whether they should continue driving, and may even become a consideration for state agencies responsible for licensing drivers.”

About Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Schepens Eye Research Institute
Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck. Now united with Schepens Eye Research Institute, Mass. Eye and Ear is the world’s largest vision and hearing research center, developing new treatments and cures through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships. Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals Survey” has consistently ranked the Mass. Eye and Ear Departments of Otolaryngology and Ophthalmology as top in the nation. For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit

About Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology
The Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ophthalmology ( is one of the leading and largest academic departments of ophthalmology in the nation. More than 350 full-time faculty and trainees work at nine HMS affiliate institutions, including Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Joslin Diabetes Center/Beetham Eye Institute, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, VA Maine Healthcare System, and Cambridge Health Alliance. Formally established in 1871, the department has been built upon a strong and rich foundation in medical education, research, and clinical care. Through the years, faculty and alumni have profoundly influenced ophthalmic science, medicine, and literature-helping to transform the field of ophthalmology from a branch of surgery into an independent medical specialty at the forefront of science.

Posted in Elder Care, Eye Disease: Macular Degeneration, Eye isease: Central Vision Loss | Leave a comment

Fast food needs regulation: WHO

Fast food might be convenient, but it’s weighing eaters down in the long run, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers found that simply living near a fast food restaurant is linked to a 5.2 percent greater risk of obesity. Fast food has become so common-place that most children in North America are able to recognize McDonald’s before they even learn to speak, according to Partners for Your Health. In addition, 42 million children under age 5 were overweight or obese in 2013. WHO released a cross-national study in 2014 revealing the influence of market deregulation on fast food consumption and body mass index.

After conducting multivariate panel data analyses of 25 high income countries between the years 1999 and 2008, the WHO found that high-income countries with market-liberal welfare regimes had higher rates of obesity and easier access to fast food. The biggest increases in the average number of annual fast food transactions per capita were observed in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand – countries with less restrictive agricultural regulations. These results further enhance previous studies showing the connection between reduced rates of obesity and better protection of agricultural producers, more frequent price controls, and stricter government regulations.

According to Francesco Branca, director of the WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, the study supports the implementation of policies that increase regulation of fast food companies.


Posted in Legislation, Nutrition: Junk Food | Leave a comment

Antipsychotics inappropriately prescribed to people with intellectual disabilities: University College London

Large numbers of people with intellectual disabilities in the UK are being inappropriately prescribed antipsychotic drugs, finds a new UCL study.

Intellectual disability is a lifelong condition that begins before the age of 18 and is characterised by limitations in intellectual functioning (generally indicated by an IQ under 70) and difficulties with one or more life skills. Around 1% of the population has an intellectual disability.

The new study, published in The BMJ, looked at anonymised GP records of 33,016 UK adults with intellectual disabilities between 1999 and 2013. It found that over one-quarter had been prescribed antipsychotic drugs, of whom 71% had no record of severe mental illness.

Antipsychotic drugs are designed to treat severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. There is very little evidence that they help to address behavioural problems not due to mental illness in people with intellectual disability. Despite this, the study found that antipsychotics were often prescribed to people with behaviour problems who had no history of severe mental illness. Behaviour problems that might be seen in people with intellectual disability include aggression, self-injury, destruction to property and other behaviours outside social norms.

People with intellectual disability who also had autism or dementia were also more likely to receive an antipsychotic drug, as were older people.

“The number of people with intellectual disabilities who have been prescribed antipsychotics is greatly disproportionate to the number diagnosed with severe mental illness for which they are indicated.” explains study author Dr Rory Sheehan (UCL Psychiatry). “People who show problem behaviours, along with older people with intellectual disability or those with co-existing autism or dementia, are significantly more likely to be given an antipsychotic drug, despite this being against clinical guidelines and risking possible harm.”

However, the study also found that the rate of prescribing of antipsychotic drugs to people with intellectual disability had fallen gradually but consistently over the past 15 years, indicating that alternative therapies are being utilised and GPs are changing their practice.

Other classes of drugs used to treat mental illness were also prescribed to people with intellectual disability in large numbers. Drugs used to treat anxiety were the most frequently prescribed, followed by the antidepressants (used to treat depression). Like the antipsychotic group, both of these types of drug were given at substantially higher rates than mental disorders were recorded. This suggests that these drugs might also be prescribed inappropriately in some cases. The researchers paid particular attention to investigating the use of antipsychotics due to their risk of serious side-effects.

Side-effects of antipsychotic drugs include sedation, weight gain, metabolic changes that can ultimately lead to diabetes, and movement problems such as restlessness, stiffness and shakiness.

“Side-effects can be managed, but the risks and benefits must be carefully considered before prescribing antipsychotics to people without severe mental illness,” says Dr Sheehan. “Research evidence does not support using antipsychotics to manage behaviour problems in people with intellectual disabilities. Many people with intellectual disability and behaviour disturbance have complex needs and other interventions, such as looking at the support people receive and their communication needs, should be prioritised. Antipsychotics, or indeed any medications, should not be prescribed lightly and are no substitute for comprehensive care.”


Posted in Antipsychotics, Health Care: Medical Errors, IQ | Leave a comment

Albuminuria in diabetic nephropathy cut by finerenone

Adding the mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist finerenone to standard renin-angiotensin system (RAS) blockade decreased albuminuria and improved the urinary albumin/creatinine ratio in an industry-sponsored phase IIB clinical trial of diabetic nephropathy, according to a report published online Sept. 1 in JAMA.

Finerenone, a novel nonsteroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist (MRA), had greater receptor selectivity than spironolactone and better receptor affinity than eplerenone in vitro. It also reduced proteinuria and end-organ damage to a greater degree in animal studies, and was less likely to induce hyperkalemia than either of those related drugs in preliminary human studies. “Thus, finerenone may be able to address the unmet medical need of safely managing albuminuria without adversely affecting serum potassium in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus who have a clinical diagnosis of diabetic kidney disease,” said Dr. George L. Bakris of the ASH Comprehensive Hypertension Center, University of Chicago, and his associates.

To investigate this possibility, they performed the Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonist Tolerability Study–Diabetic Nephropathy (ARTS-DN), an international randomized, double-blind trial comparing seven oral doses of finerenone against matching placebo in 823 patients who had type 2 diabetes and persistent albuminuria and who were already taking an RAS blocker (an ACE inhibitor or ARB). These study participants (mean age 64 years) were treated for 90 days at 148 medical centers in 23 countries.


Posted in Diabetes: Nephropathy | Leave a comment

Each extra BMI point brings on Alzheimer’s 6.7 months early

The devastating cost of carrying excess pounds in middle age has been highlighted in a new study which shows every extra point of BMI speeds up the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by nearly seven months.

Although previous studies have suggested that a healthy diet and exercise can ward off dementia, it is the first time that the impact of poor lifestyle has been quantified so starkly.

The obesity epidemic has risen alongside the increase in dementia, and scientists have long suspected a link.

Now US researchers from the government-affiliated National Institute on Ageing have found that even having a BMI (Body Mass Index) just one point over a safe level, speeds up the onset of dementia for people aged 50 or over. For people who are seriously obese, they could develop neurodegenerative disease years a decade before they would have if they were a healthy weight.

“We think these findings are important because they add to a substantial amount of knowledge about how obesity affects Alzheimer’s disease,” said lead author Dr Madhav Thambisetty

“But more importantly, it indicates if we can maintain a healthy body mass index even as early as midlife, it might have longlasting protective effects towards delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease decades later.”


Posted in Alzheimer's, BMI, Exercise: Benefits | Leave a comment

Why Obesity Is Everyone’s Business

Why should employers care about obesity…as long as revenues are “fat” and costs are “lean?”

Many myths still exist about the growing global obesity epidemic and, like doughnuts, have major holes.

These myths, in turn, may be keeping employers from addressing what is becoming a major problem for businesses.

Here are 7 of these myths:

Myth 1: Obesity does not exist in your workplace or population.

With obesity so prevalent worldwide, few businesses are “exempt.” The obesity epidemic now involves nearly every country, income level, race, ethnicity and age group. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide, in 2014, almost 40% of adults (aged 18 years and over) were overweight, and 13% were obese with obesity rates more than doubling since 1980. Obesity rates among children have been increasing and become a major concern for parents around the world. As businesses continue to expand globally, even if your particular office has somehow managed to “avoid” the epidemic, chances are that your suppliers, subsidiaries, or other offices are affected. Of course, hiring only slim individuals is neither viable nor wise. Even when not considering the legal ramifications of weight discrimination, such a practice could hurt your business by causing you to miss many talented and well-qualified individuals. Plus, a thin hire can gain weight. Which brings us to the next myth…

Myth 2: Obesity is simply the result of and a sign of an individual employee’s choices.


Posted in Obesity | Leave a comment

Underlying Cause of Unhealthy Brain Aging That Leads to Alzheimer’s

Newswise — LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 2, 2015) — Doctors commonly recommend patients increase their intake of calcium as a means of combating osteoporosis for aging bones.

But calcium also plays an essential role in the neurological functioning of the brain, where it must be tightly regulated and not rise to excessive levels. A signaling molecule, calcium enables learning, cognition and the retention of memories. Calcium also facilitates communication among nerve cells and transports molecules to the many branches of the nerve cell.

Building on scientific evidence implicating disturbed calcium regulation in brain aging accumulated through the past 30 years, a research team in the University of Kentucky Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences led by principal investigator Philip Landfield has found a connection between unhealthy brain aging and a protein responsible for regulating calcium at the molecular level, called FKBP1b. The team’s groundbreaking research, which was published July 29 in the Journal of Neuroscience, identifies a molecular mechanism occurring within the cell that appears to cause unhealthy brain aging. The research suggests the absence or addition of the FKBP1b protein is a strong determinant of functioning in the hippocampus region, a part of the brain responsible for cognition and memory retention.

Unhealthy brain aging is defined as a reduction in brain function resulting in memory impairment. Excess calcium in brain cells appears responsible for important aspects of unhealthy brain aging, and may also increase susceptibility to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s and vascular dementia. Until now, the precise molecular cause of the disturbed calcium regulation in brain aging has remained unknown to scientists.

After learning about the FKBP1b protein’s recently uncovered role in the heart, the UK researchers wondered whether FKBP1b in the hippocampus region declines with brain aging. They then found evidence of reduced FKBP1b gene expression with aging in the hippocampus. This discovery prompted the researchers at the University of Kentucky to test whether boosting FKBP1b in the hippocampus region could reverse or prevent brain aging linked to memory loss.

“It is well-recognized that normal aging is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, but nobody knows why,” Landfield, a professor in the department, said. “It’s possible this (decreased FKBP1b) is the missing link.”

The team used an advanced gene therapy approach to inject harmless virus particles, which created additional copies of the FKBP1b protein, into the hippocampus of aging rats. The memory abilities of three groups of rats were tested two months after the injections. One group of young rats received a control injection, one group of aged rats received a control injection and one aged group received an injection of the FKBP1b-producing virus particles. The aged group with raised levels of FKBP1b showed restored calcium regulation and dramatically improved cognitive function, allowing them to perform the memory task as well as or better than the young rats. In addition, the researchers have repeated and extended the results in a subsequent study being prepared for publication.

The research provides evidence the manifestations of brain aging can be reversed, and cognition and memory function restored, by altering levels of FKBP1b. This finding is also significant for Alzheimer’s patients as the researchers found a decline in the FKBP1b protein in the hippocampus of people who had early-stage Alzheimer’s. The research has implications for preventing brain aging associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s, and opens the door for pharmaceutical development aimed at sustaining levels of FKBP1b and keeping calcium in check.

“We showed FKBP1b is a master regulator of calcium in brain cells, and when we restore it, it restores the regulation of calcium and dramatically improves learning in the aged animals,” Landfield said. “In all my years of doing research, I’ve never seen a compound this effective; it’s rare that tests of a hypothesis satisfy each of the criteria that have to be met.”

The UK team is the only known group studying FKBP1b in brain aging. As a next step, the researchers are interested in investigating why FKBP1b declines with age. Landfield said there is promise to regulate the protein through Vitamin D, which is known to restore calcium deficiencies in other cells.

The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging and was published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Posted in Alzheimer's | Leave a comment

6 bad habits that are ruining your career

We all have our own list of little bad habits — some longer than others. Maybe you talk with your mouth full or cut people off when they’re speaking. (I’m guilty of the latter myself.) But while these habits seem benign enough on the surface, they can sometimes interfere with your career and potentially affect your upward mobility — and subsequently, your finances.

How can you identify which of your naughty little habits to consider correcting? Here’s a look at six examples that can potentially impede your work and make it harder for you to get ahead.

1. Being a Negative Nancy — Or Ned

There’s nothing more annoying than being around someone who complains and whines about everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s about family, work, or life, they always take a glass half-empty approach and find something wrong with everything.
Recommended: Best 10 cities for recent college graduates

If this description fits you, you might argue that this is who you are or that you’ve always been this way. But what you may not realize is that being negative about life can impact how you feel about your work. (See also: 6 Ways to Banish Negative Thoughts)

No matter where you work or what you do, nothing is ever going to go perfectly. Your employer will get on your nerves, some of your coworkers might be slackers, and you might not be completely satisfied with your job description or salary.



Posted in Human Behavior: Negativity, Workplace Issues | Leave a comment

Suicide-by-firearm rates shift in 2 states after changes in state gun laws: Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

A new study examining changes in gun policy in two states finds that handgun purchaser licensing requirements influence suicide rates. Researchers estimate that Connecticut’s 1995 law requiring individuals to obtain a permit or license to purchase a handgun after passing a background check was associated with a 15.4 percent reduction in firearm suicide rates, while Missouri’s repeal of its handgun purchaser licensing law in 2007 was associated with a 16.1 percent increase in firearm suicide rates.

The study, from researchers with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, appears in a special issue of Preventive Medicine that focuses on gun violence prevention research.

“Although these laws were not designed to reduce suicides, many of the risk factors that disqualify someone from legal gun ownership – domestic violence, history of committing violent crimes, substance abuse, severe mental illness and adolescence – are also risk factors for suicide,” says lead study author Cassandra Crifasi, PhD, MPH, an assistant scientist with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Crifasi cautions the findings do not indicate a clear causal relationship.

“When we examined whether there were changes in suicides committed by other means following the changes in the laws, there was some evidence that Connecticut experienced lower than expected rates of suicides by means other than firearms,” she says. “This suggests that factors other than handgun purchaser licensing may have contributed to the decline in suicides.”

There was no significant change in suicide by other means following Missouri’s repeal of the law.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 34 in the United States, and half of all suicides are committed with a firearm. In 2013, more than 21,000 individuals in the U.S. committed suicide using a firearm, compared to approximately 11,000 homicides committed with guns.

Prior research had shown that states with handgun purchaser licensing laws tended to have lower suicide rates than states without such laws after controlling for differences across state populations. This new study is the first to examine whether changes in the policy led to changes in the risk of suicide over time.

“Contrary to popular belief, suicidal thoughts are often transient, which is why delaying access to a firearm during a period of crisis could prevent suicide,” says study author Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. “Just as research indicates that handgun purchaser licensing laws are effective in reducing firearm homicides, they could reduce suicides by firearms as well.”

Previous research from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research found that Connecticut’s handgun purchaser licensing legislation led to a 40 percent drop in gun homicides in the state, and Missouri’s 2007 repeal of its handgun license law was associated with a twenty-five percent increase in its firearm homicide rates. The laws had no effects on homicides committed by means other than firearms.

Handgun licensing laws require buyers to obtain a permit to purchase that is contingent upon passing a background check, including private sales. They also typically require an in-person application at a law enforcement agency and, in some cases, applicants must successfully complete a safety training course and experience waits while their application is under review.

Public opinion survey data published in Preventive Medicine earlier this year from Johns Hopkins researchers show that the majority of Americans (72 percent) and gun owners (59 percent) support requiring people to obtain a license from a local law enforcement agency before buying a handgun to verify their identity and ensure they are not legally prohibited from having a gun.


“Effects of Changes in Permit-to-Purchase Handgun Laws in Connecticut and Missouri on Suicide Rates” was written by Cassandra K. Crifasi, PhD, MPH, John Speed Meyers, MPA, Jon Vernick, JD, MPH and Daniel W. Webster, ScD, MPH.

The research was supported by The Joyce Foundation.


Posted in Guns, Mental Health: Suicide | Leave a comment

Bees are self-medicating in the wild, Dartmouth-led study finds

HANOVER, N.H. – Bumblebees infected with a common intestinal parasite are drawn to flowers whose nectar and pollen have a medicinal effect, a Dartmouth-led study shows. The findings suggest that plant chemistry could help combat the decline of bee species.

The researchers previously found in lab studies that nectar containing nicotine and other natural chemicals in plants significantly reduced the number of parasites in sickened bees, but the new study shows parasitized bees already are taking advantage of natural chemicals in the wild.

The study is to appear in the journal Ecology but may be reported now by the media. A PDF of the preprint is available on request. The study was conducted by researchers at Dartmouth College and the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Colony collapse disorder among bees has drawn much attention in recent years, but parasites are a common natural cause of disease in bumblebees and honeybees, both of which play a vital role in agriculture and plant pollination. The intestinal parasite the researchers looked at can strongly affect their survival, reproduction and foraging behavior.

The researchers studied the effects of a group of plant secondary metabolites found naturally in floral nectar — iridoid glycosides — on bumblebee foraging and plant reproduction. Iridoid glycosides can deter deer and other herbivores, but the researchers’ earlier studies showed the compounds have a medicinal effect on parasitized bees by reducing their parasite load.

In the new study, the researchers looked at concentrations of two iridoid glycoside compounds, aucubin and catalpol, in nectar and pollen in four populations of turtlehead, a bee-pollinated wetland plant found throughout eastern North America. They then manipulated concentrations of the chemicals in those flowers to study their effects on bee foraging.

The results showed that relative to healthy bees, those infected with the intestinal parasite greatly preferred visiting flowers with the highest iridoid glycoside concentrations. Bees attacked by a second antagonist, a parasitoid fly, did not respond in this way to nectar chemistry. The researchers also found that flowers with the highest concentrations of nectar iridoid glycosides donated significantly more pollen to other flowers following bee visits, showing that nectar chemistry can affect plant reproductive success.

“Secondary metabolites are commonly present in floral nectar and pollen, yet their functions are not well understood,” says lead author Leif Richardson, a former Dartmouth graduate student now at the University of Vermont. “In this study, we show that these compounds could influence plant reproduction via complex suites of interactions involving not only pollinators but also their natural enemies.”

Adds senior author Rebecca Irwin, a former Dartmouth faculty member now at North Carolina State University: “We show that bees might be able to self-medicate, altering their foraging behavior when parasitized so as to maximize their consumption of beneficial plant secondary metabolite compounds.”


Posted in Insects: Bees | Leave a comment

Following fertility treatment, couples need better antenatal care: study

Couples who have successfully conceived following fertility treatment need additional antenatal care and support, new research has found. Two per cent of all births in the UK are a result of fertility treatments such as IVF. An increasing body of evidence suggests the needs of these parents are often not adequately addressed, leaving them feeling abandoned in some cases.

In the first study of its kind, Dr Lydia French and colleagues from the University of Bristol interviewed women and their partners to find out about their experiences of antenatal care following successful fertility treatment.

Research, published today [1 September] in the British Journal of General Practice, indicates that early pregnancy is a particularly anxious time for these couples because of the possibility of pregnancy loss, and because they struggle to adjust and plan for parenthood.

Couples reported gaps in their care, in terms of the time gap between being discharged from secondary care and being seen in primary care, and in terms of the difference between the intense monitoring they had received in the fertility clinic and the regular, but less frequent care they received from their practice midwife.

Women also reported that they experienced difficulties in articulating their feelings of low mood to both peers and practitioners, and felt unable to complain because they thought they should be ‘grateful’ for being pregnant.

Dr Lydia French, from the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol, led the research. She said: “These are important messages for general practice and the antenatal care of women who have conceived after infertility treatment.

“The combination of early pregnancy, few pregnancy symptoms, anxiety over possible loss of the pregnancy, and women’s lack of trust in their body to maintain the pregnancy, in some cases, had led to couples presenting at early pregnancy clinics, accident and emergency centres, or paying for private scans.

“It was also evident that both men and women found it difficult to prepare for childbirth and parenthood because they feared losing the pregnancy. This, combined with feeling different to the normal birth population, made some couples reluctant to join antenatal classes.”

The study concluded that the needs of couples who conceive through fertility treatment are not addressed at a policy level.

It highlighted the need for GPs and midwives to be aware of couples’ previous infertility history and suggests they should receive their first standard antenatal appointment soon after being discharged from the fertility clinic.

This research also recommends that healthcare practitioners should encourage couples who have conceived through fertility treatment to attend antenatal classes, and to talk about their experiences in order to let go of their previous infertility status and focus on becoming parents.

Findings regarding couples’ tendency to silence negative or ambivalent feelings in pregnancy should also be a concern for health practitioners.

The research was funded by the South West GP Trust.


‘Antenatal needs of couples following fertility treatment: a qualitative study in primary care’ by Lydia RM French, Debbie J Sharp and Katrina M Turner in British Journal of General Practice.


Posted in Pregnancy: Fertility, Pregnancy: In Vitro Fertilization, Pregnancy: Infertility | Leave a comment

NIH study finds calorie restriction lowers some risk factors for age-related diseases

A National Institutes of Health-supported study providessome of the first clues about the impact of sustained calorie restriction in adults. Results from a two-year clinical trial show calorie restriction in normal-weight and moderately overweight people failed to have some metabolic effects found in laboratory animal studies. However, researchers found calorie restriction modified risk factors for age-related diseases and influenced indicators associated with longer life span, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin resistance. The study was reported in the September, 2015 issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

Calorie restriction is a reduction in calorie intake without deprivation of essential nutrients. It has been shown to increase longevity and delay the progression of a number of age-related diseases in multiple animal studies. Called Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE), the randomized trial was funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, both part of NIH. It was conducted at Washington University in St. Louis, Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, and Tufts University in Boston. The study coordinating center was at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

“The study found that this calorie restriction intervention did not produce significant effects on the pre-specified primary metabolic endpoints, but it did modify several risk factors for age-related diseases. It is encouraging to find positive effects when we test interventions that might affect diseases and declines associated with advancing age,” notes NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “However, we need to learn much more about the health consequences of this type of intervention in healthy people before considering dietary recommendations. In the meantime, we do know that exercise and maintaining a healthy weight and diet can contribute to healthy aging.”

In laboratory animals, calorie restriction’s favorable effects on life span have generally been found when it is begun in youth or early middle age. An equivalent trial in people would take decades. However, shorter trials can determine feasibility, safety and effects on quality of life, disease risk factors, predictors of life span and effects on mechanisms influenced by calorie restriction in laboratory animal studies. CALERIE was a two-year randomized controlled trial in 218 young and middle-aged healthy normal-weight and moderately overweight men and women to measure these outcomes in a CR group, compared with a control group who maintained their regular diets.

The calorie restriction participants were given weight targets of 15.5 percent weight loss in the first year, followed by weight stability over the second year. This target was the weight loss expected to be achieved by reducing calorie intake by 25 percent below one’s regular intake at the start of the study. The calorie restriction group lost an average of 10 percent of their body weight in the first year, and maintained this weight over the second year. Though weight loss fell short of the target, it is the largest sustained weight loss reported in any dietary trial in non-obese people. The participants achieved substantially less calorie restriction (12 percent) than the trial’s 25-percent goal, but maintained calorie restriction over the entire two-year period. The control group’s weight and calorie intake were stable over the period.

The study was designed to test the effects of calorie restriction on resting metabolic rate (after adjusting for weight loss) and body temperature, which are diminished in many laboratory animal studies and have been proposed to contribute to its effects on longevity. The study found a temporary effect on resting metabolic rate, which was not significant at the end of the study, and no effect on body temperature.

Although the expected metabolic effects were not found, calorie restriction significantly lowered several predictors of cardiovascular disease compared to the control group, decreasing average blood pressure by 4 percent and total cholesterol by 6 percent. Levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol were increased. Calorie restriction caused a 47-percent reduction in levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory factor linked to cardiovascular disease. It also markedly decreased insulin resistance, which is an indicator of diabetes risk. T3, a marker of thyroid hormone activity, decreased in the calorie restriction group by more than 20 percent, while remaining within the normal range. This is of interest since some studies suggest that lower thyroid activity may be associated with longer life span.

The study also assessed calorie restriction’s effects on mood (particularly hunger-related symptoms) and found no adverse effects. No increased risk of serious adverse clinical events was reported. However, a few participants developed transient anemia and greater-than-expected decreases in bone density given their degree of weight loss, reinforcing the importance of clinical monitoring during calorie restriction.

“The CALERIE results are quite intriguing. They show that this degree of sustained calorie restriction can influence disease risk factors and possible predictors of longevity in healthy, non-obese people. It will be important to learn how calorie restriction at this level affects these factors despite the lack of the predicted metabolic effects,” said Evan Hadley, M.D, director of NIA’s Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology and an author of the paper. “Since this group already had low risk factor levels at the start of the study, it’s important to find out whether these further reductions would yield additional long-term benefits. It also would be useful to discover if calorie restriction over longer periods has additional effects on predictors of health in old age, and compare its effects with exercise-induced weight loss.”

About the National Institute on Aging: The NIA leads the federal government effort conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The Institute’s broad scientific program seeks to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. For more information on research, aging, and health, go to

About the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases: The NIDDK, a component of the NIH, conducts and supports research on diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. Spanning the full spectrum of medicine and afflicting people of all ages and ethnic groups, these diseases encompass some of the most common, severe and disabling conditions affecting Americans. For more information about the NIDDK and its programs, see

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®


Ravussin, E., et al., A 2-Year Randomized Controlled Trial of Human Caloric Restriction: Feasibility and Effects on Predictors of Health Span and Longevity External Web Site Policy. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci (2015) 70 (9): 1097-1104. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glv057.

Posted in Nutrition: Calorie Restriction | Leave a comment

Daily Marijuana Use Among U.S. College Students Highest Since 1980

Newswise — ANN ARBOR—Daily marijuana use among the nation’s college students is on the rise, surpassing daily cigarette smoking for the first time in 2014.

A series of national surveys of U.S. college students, as part of the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, shows that marijuana use has been growing slowly on the nation’s campuses since 2006.

Daily or near-daily marijuana use was reported by 5.9 percent of college students in 2014—the highest rate since 1980, the first year that complete college data were available in the study. This rate of use is up from 3.5 percent in 2007. In other words, one in every 17 college students is smoking marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis, defined as use on 20 or more occasions in the prior 30 days.

Other measures of marijuana use have also shown an increase: The percent using marijuana once or more in the prior 30 days rose from 17 percent in 2006 to 21 percent in 2014. Use in the prior 12 months rose from 30 percent in 2006 to 34 percent in 2014. Both of these measures leveled in 2014.

“It’s clear that for the past seven or eight years there has been an increase in marijuana use among the nation’s college students,” said Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the study. “And this largely parallels an increase we have been seeing among high school seniors.”

Much of this increase may be due to the fact that marijuana use at any level has come to be seen as dangerous by fewer adolescents and young adults. For example, while 55 percent of all 19-to-22-year-old high school graduates saw regular marijuana use as dangerous in 2006, only 35 percent saw it as dangerous by 2014.

The study also found that the proportion of college students using any illicit drug, including marijuana, in the prior 12 months rose from 34 percent in 2006 to 41 percent in 2013 before falling off some to 39 percent in 2014. That seven-year increase was driven primarily by the increase in marijuana use, though marijuana was not the only drug on the rise.

The proportion of college students using any illicit drug other than marijuana in the prior 12 months increased from 15 percent in 2008—the recent low point—to 21 percent in 2014, including a continuing increase in 2014. The increase appears attributable mostly to college students’ increased use of amphetamines (without a doctor’s orders) and use of ecstasy.

These and other results about drug use come from Monitoring the Future, an annual survey that has been reporting on U.S. college students’ substance use of all kinds for 35 years. The study began in 1980 and is conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one of the National Institutes of Health.

College students’ nonmedical use of amphetamines in the prior 12 months nearly doubled between 2008 (when 5.7 percent said they used) and 2012 (when 11.1 percent used), before leveling at 10.1 percent in 2014.

“It seems likely that this increase in amphetamine use on the college campus resulted from more students using these drugs to try to improve their studies and test performance,” Johnston said.

Their age-peer high school graduates not in college had higher-reported amphetamine use for many years (1983–2008), but after 2010, college students have had the higher rate of use.

“Fortunately, their use of these drugs appears to have leveled among college students, at least,” he said.

Ecstasy (MDMA, sometimes called Molly), had somewhat of a comeback in use among college students from 2007 through 2012, with past 12-month use more than doubling from 2.2 percent in 2007 to 5.8 percent in 2012, before leveling. Previously, ecstasy had fallen from favor among college students. By 2004, it had fallen to quite low levels and then remained at low levels through 2007.

Past-year use of cocaine showed a statistically significant increase from 2.7 percent in 2013 to 4.4 percent in 2014.

“We are being cautious in interpreting this one-year increase, which we do not see among high school students; but we do see some increase in cocaine use in other young adult age bands, so there may in fact be an increase in cocaine use beginning to occur,” Johnston said. “There is some more welcome news for parents as they send their children off to college this fall. Perhaps the most important is that five out of every 10 college students have not used any illicit drug in the past year, and more than three quarters have not used any in the prior month.”

In addition, the use of synthetic marijuana (also called K-2 or spice) has been dropping sharply since its use was first measured in 2011. At that time, 7.4 percent of college students indicated having used synthetic marijuana in the prior 12 months; by 2014 the rate had fallen to just 0.9 percent, including a significant decline in use in 2014. One reason for the decline in synthetic drug use is that an increasing number of young people see it as dangerous.

Likewise, college students’ use of salvia—a hallucinogenic plant which became popular in recent years—fell from an annual prevalence of 5.8 percent in 2009 to just 1.1 percent in 2014.

The nonmedical use of narcotic drugs—which has accounted for an increasing number of deaths in recent years according to official statistics—actually has been declining among college students, falling from 8.8 percent reporting past-year use in 2006 down to 4.8 percent by 2014. This is a particularly welcome improvement from a public health point of view, note the investigators.

There is no evidence of a shift over from narcotic drugs to heroin use in this population. Use of heroin has been very low among college students over the past five years or so—lower than it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The non-medical use of tranquilizers by college students has fallen by nearly half since 2003, when 6.9 percent reported past-year use, to 2014, when 3.5 percent did.

The use of LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs, once popular in this age group, remains at low levels of use on campus, with past-year usage rates at 2.2 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively. And use of the so-called club drugs (Ketamine, GHB, Rohypnol) remains very low. Further, the use of so-called bath salts (synthetic stimulants often sold over the counter) never caught on among college students, who have a negligible rate of use.

In sum, quite a number of drugs have been fading in popularity on U.S. college campuses in recent years, and a similar pattern is found among youth who do not attend college. Two of the newer drugs, synthetic marijuana and salvia, have shown steep declines in use. Other drugs are showing more gradual declines, including narcotic drugs other than heroin, sedatives and tranquilizers—all used nonmedically—as well as inhalants and hallucinogens.

On the other hand, past-year and past-month marijuana use increased from 2006 through 2013 before leveling; and daily marijuana use continues to grow, reaching the highest level seen in the past 35 years in 2014 (5.9 percent). Amphetamine use grew fairly sharply on campus between 2008 and 2012, and it then stabilized at high levels not seen since the mid-1980s.

Ecstasy use has made somewhat of a rebound since the recent low observed among college students in 2007. Cocaine use among college students is well below the 1980s and 1990s rates, but the significant increase in 2014 among college students suggests a need to watch this drug carefully in the future.

Use of a number of licit drugs is also covered in the MTF surveys, including alcoholic beverages and various tobacco products.

While 63 percent of college students in 2014 said that they have had an alcoholic beverage at least once in the prior 30 days, that figure is down a bit from 67 percent in 2000 and down considerably from 82 percent in 1981. The proportion of the nation’s college students saying they have been drunk in the past 30 days was 43 percent in 2014, down some from 48 percent in 2006.

Occasions of heavy or binge drinking—here defined as having five or more drinks in a row on at least one occasion in the prior two weeks—have consistently had a higher prevalence among college students than among their fellow high school classmates who are not in college.

Still, between 1980 and 2014, college students’ rates of such drinking declined 9 percentage points from 44 percent to 35 percent, while their noncollege peers declined 12 percentage points from 41 percent to 29 percent, and high school seniors’ rates declined 22 percentage points from 41 percent to 19 percent.

Of particular concern is the extent of extreme binge drinking in college, first defined as having 10 or more drinks in a row at least once in the prior two weeks, and then defined as having 15 or more drinks in a row in that same time interval. Based on the combined years 2005–2014, the estimates for these two behaviors among college students are 13 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

“Despite the modest improvements in drinking alcohol at college, there are still a sizable number of students who consume alcohol at particularly dangerous levels,” Johnston said.

Cigarette smoking continued to decline among the nation’s college students in 2014, when 13 percent said they had smoked one or more cigarettes in the prior 30 days, down from 14 percent in 2013 and from the recent high of 31 percent in 1999—a decline of more than half. As for daily smoking, only 5 percent indicated smoking at that level, compared with 19 percent in 1999—a drop of nearly three fourths in the number of college students smoking daily.

“These declines in smoking at college are largely the result of fewer of these students smoking when they were still in high school,” Johnston said. “Nevertheless, it is particularly good news that their smoking rates have fallen so substantially.”

Unfortunately, the appreciable declines in cigarette smoking have been accompanied by some increases in the use of other forms of tobacco or nicotine. Smoking tobacco using a hookah (a type of water pipe) in the prior 12 months rose substantially among college students, from 26 percent in 2013 to 33 percent in 2014.

In 2014, the use of e-cigarettes in the past 30 days stood at 9.7 percent, while use of flavored little cigars stood at 9.8 percent, of regular little cigars at 8.6 percent and of large cigars at 8.4 percent. The study will continue tracking the extent to which these alternate forms of tobacco use are changing in popularity, not only among college students, but also among their age peers not in college and among secondary school students.

# # # # #

The Monitoring the Future study is now in its 41st year and has surveyed nationally representative samples of full-time college students one to four years beyond high school each year for 35 years, starting in 1980. The annual samples of college students have ranged between 1,000 and 1,500 per year.

MTF is an investigator-initiated research undertaking, conceived and conducted by a group of research professors at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research (listed as authors below) and funded under a series of peer-reviewed, competitive research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

MTF also conducts an annual national survey of high school seniors, from which a random, nationally representative sub-sample is drawn for follow-up by mail in future years. Follow-up respondents one to four years past high school and who report being enrolled in college full-time comprise the college student sample. They are not drawn from particular colleges or universities, which helps to make the sample more representative of the wide range of two- and four-year institutions of higher education.

The findings presented here are drawn from Chapters 8 and 9 in the newly published monograph cited below:

Johnston, L.D., O’Malley, P.M, Bachman, J.G., Schulenberg, J.E. & Miech, R. A. (2015). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use. 1975-2014: Volume 2, College students and adults ages 19-55. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research. The University of Michigan, 416 pp. Available at

Posted in Cannabis | Leave a comment

Women in poor areas twice as likely to develop clinical anxiety as men

Women living in poor areas in the UK are almost twice as likely to develop clinical anxiety as women in richer areas. However, whether men lived in poorer or richer areas made no difference to their levels of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). These are amongst the main findings of a major survey on how socio-economic factors affect mental health in the UK.

Generalised anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental health conditions in modern society, but little objective work has taken place to show the factors in society which can lead to the development of anxiety. Now, a new study of over 20,000 men and women in Norfolk, UK, has shown some of the factors which may contribute to this problem. Amongst the main findings are:

* Women living in more deprived areas in the UK were almost twice as likely to develop GAD as those living in areas that were not deprived, but this link between poverty and GAD does not exist in men.

* Men who perceive themselves to be in poor health are over 5 times more likely to develop anxiety than men who perceive their health to be good. However, women who believe they are in poor health are only 3 times more likely to develop GAD.

* In general anxiety decreased significantly with age, in both men and women.

According to lead researcher, Olivia Remes (Cambridge): “Women living in poor neighbourhoods were at an almost two times higher risk of developing GAD than those living in less deprived neighbourhoods. This link between deprivation and mental illness, however, does not appear to exist in men. This is intriguing, and further research is needed to shed light on this”.

She continued: “Our study also showed that people with poor self-perceived health were at a high risk for developing GAD. Men who perceived their health to be poor were over five times more likely to develop GAD than those who did not, and this effect persisted even when serious medical conditions were accounted for. Similar, but less pronounced findings were observed in women. It is unclear yet why the link between self-perceived health and GAD should exist. Poor self-perceived health can be a warning signal for future mental illness, however, additional research is needed to shed light on the exact mechanisms driving this association. We have found these associations, now we need to see if we can find out what causes them”.

The study was part of the much larger EPIC study*, which is a huge European study looking at the relationship between chronic diseases and the way people live their lives. The Cambridge group followed up the health of 11,422 women and 8,878 men resident in Norfolk, UK. Using detailed health and lifestyle questionnaires, they were able to unpick some of the factors which contributed to poor health over the 15-year period of the study.

Commenting for the ECNP Communications Committee, Dr Iria Grande said : “Although it is common knowledge that gender differences exist, science has had difficulties in showing evidence in this field. This work has shed some light on how women and men deal differently with environmental factors, and the effect this has on mental health. According to this research, feeling unhealthy seems to lead to clinical anxiety more in men than women whereas living in poor areas seems to lead to clinical anxiety only in women.”


Posted in Human Behavior: Gender Differences, Poverty | Leave a comment

Breakfast skippers may need encouragement to consume fruit and whole grains

Within-person comparison of eating behaviors, time of eating, and dietary intake on days with and without breakfast: NHANES 2005–2010 1,2,3

Am J Clin Nutr September 2015
vol. 102 no. 3 661-670

Ashima K Kant4,* and Barry I Graubard5

Author Affiliations

4 Department of Family, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences, Queens College of the City University of New York, Flushing, NY; and
5 Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, Biostatistics Branch, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD

Author Notes

↵1 Supported in part by the intramural research program of the Department of Health and Human Services, National Cancer Institute, NIH (to BIG).

↵2 The funding agency had no role in the design, conduct, and interpretation of findings of this study.

↵3 Supplemental Table 1 is available from the “Supplemental data” link in the online posting of the article and from the same link in the online table of contents at

↵*To whom correspondence should be addressed: E-mail:


Background: Breakfast omission is known to be associated with lower 24-h energy intake. However, little is known about downstream eating behaviors subsequent to skipping breakfast in free-living individuals.

Objective: We replicated the traditional crossover design of nutrition studies in a naturalistic setting to compare within-person differences in self-reported eating behaviors, energy intake, and other dietary characteristics of individuals on a day that included breakfast with a day that omitted breakfast.

Design: We used cross-sectional dietary data for 2132 adult respondents who reported breakfast in only one of 2 dietary recalls in the NHANES 2005–2010. Dietary outcomes examined included meal- and snack-eating behaviors, clock time of eating episodes, and intakes of energy, macronutrients, and food groups. Regression methods accounted for replicate diet measurements, covariates, and survey-design characteristics.

Results: The breakfast meal provided a mean of 508 kcal in men and 374 kcal in women, but differences in 24-h energy intakes between the breakfast and no-breakfast day were 247 and 187 kcal, respectively. Energy intakes at the lunch meal were higher on the no-breakfast day (202 kcal in men and 121 kcal in women), and the reported time of lunch was ∼35 min earlier. The energy contribution of dinner or its reported time did not differ. A higher number of energy-adjusted servings of fruit and whole grains were reported on the breakfast day, but the energy and macronutrient density of reported foods were not different.

Conclusions: In free-living American adults, the eating time for lunch was earlier, and the lunch meal provided more energy on the no-breakfast day than on the breakfast day. Although the quality of dietary selections reflected in the energy and macronutrient density of a day’s intake did not differ between the breakfast and the no-breakfast day, breakfast skippers may need encouragement to consume fruit and whole grains at other eating episodes.


Posted in Nutrition: Breakfast | Leave a comment

Whole-grain oat appears to be the most effective whole grain for lowering cholesterol

Whole-grain and blood lipid changes in apparently healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies 1,2,3

First published August 12, 2015, doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.115.109165
Am J Clin Nutr September 2015
vol. 102 no. 3 556-572

Pernille LB Hollænder4, Alastair B Ross5, and Mette Kristensen4,*

Author Affiliations

4 Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark; and
5 Food Science, Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden

Author Notes

↵1 MK was supported by the 3G Center (GUT, GRAIN & GNS)—a program supported by the Danish Council for Strategic Research.

↵2 The protocol, which was designed according to the Cochrane Collaboration guidelines (, was published in the Prospero database prior to the start of the study (reg. no: CRD42014007628;

↵3 Supplemental Figures 1 and 2 are available from the “Supplemental data” link in the online posting of the article and from the same link in the online table of contents at

↵* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:


Background: Whole grains are recognized for their potential role in preventing cardiovascular diseases; however, results from randomized controlled studies on blood lipids are inconsistent, potentially because of compositional differences between individual grain types for some nutrients, including dietary fiber.

Objective: Using a meta-analytic approach, we assessed the effect of whole-grain compared with non–whole-grain foods on changes in total cholesterol (TC), LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Design: We conducted a systematic literature search in selected databases. Studies were included if they were randomized controlled comparisons between whole-grain foods and a non–whole-grain control in adults. A total of 6069 articles were screened for eligibility, and data were extracted from 24 studies. Weighted mean differences were calculated, and meta-regression analyses were performed for whole-grain dose, study duration, and baseline TC concentration.

Results: Overall, whole-grain intake lowered LDL cholesterol (weighted difference: −0.09 mmol/L; 95% CI: −0.15, −0.03 mmol/L; P < 0.01) and TC (weighted difference: −0.12 mmol/L; 95% CI: −0.19, −0.05 mmol/L; P < 0.001) compared with the control. Whole-grain oat had the greatest effect on TC (weighted difference: −0.17 mmol/L; 95% CI: −0.10, −0.25 mmol/L; P < 0.001). No effect of whole-grain foods on HDL cholesterol was seen, whereas whole-grain foods tended to lower triglycerides compared with the control (weighted difference: −0.04 mmol/L; 95% CI: −0.08, 0.01; P = 0.10). No association was found between whole-grain dose or baseline TC concentration and any of the outcomes, whereas study duration was positively associated with changes in TC and LDL cholesterol.

Conclusions: Consumption of whole-grain diets lowers LDL cholesterol and TC, but not HDL cholesterol or triglycerides, compared with consumption of non–whole-grain control diets. Whole-grain oat appears to be the most effective whole grain for lowering cholesterol.


Posted in Cholesterol, Nutrition: Food: Grain Products | Leave a comment

Peloton Riding the Boutique Fitness Craze

Imagine participating in a top-notch boutique fitness class from the comfort of your home. That’s the experience Peloton aims to deliver to its customers.

Peloton, which refers to the main group of riders in a road bicycle race, was founded in 2012. It operates a cycling studio in Manhattan and sells its top-of-the-line bikes at several retail locations around the U.S. as well as online. Its most recent retail store opened on Long Island on August 17.

“From a design standpoint, it’s not your grandparents’ at-home fitness equipment,” Peloton’s Chief Revenue Officer Tim Shannehan told “We deliver an experience that allows people to get a boutique fitness workout from the convenience of their home.”

The bike comes equipped with a monitor that is four times the size of an iPad screen. Peloton bike owners can live stream any of the classes conducted at the Manhattan studio. They can also choose from thousands of previously filmed classes to stream on-demand.

The price of the bike is $1,995, plus $39 per month for unlimited streaming.

John Foley, CEO and founder of Peloton, told he and his wife had always been fans of boutique fitness, but found it difficult to fit classes into their schedules after having kids.


Posted in Commercial Fitness Industry, Fitness: Cycling | Leave a comment