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The quality and quantity of food consumed contribute to the high rates of overweight and obesity.  This study investigates the effect of reducing the proportion of higher energy (kcal) foods, in worksite cafeterias in England, Scotland and Wales, to explore the effectiveness of targeting the food environment as a potential intervention to reduce energy intake 

Quick takes:

  • A decrease in the proportion of higher energy food availability in cafeterias lead to a reduction in total energy consumed from purchased foods
  • A decrease in portion sizes on offer lead to a further reduction in total energy consumed from worksite cafeterias, in addition to that decrease from availability control
  • Creating healthier environments both in and out of home setting maybe effective as part of a broader strategy to reduce energy from food consumed out of the home. This can contribute to national and international efforts to tackle overweight and obesity
  • Making healthier changes to the food environment supports sustained behaviour change, a major obstacle to BMI reduction

To read the article:

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003743

 

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Globally 1.3 billion tons of edible food is wasted every single year. 20% of the total food produced in the European Union is wasted or lost along the supply chain.

  • Food waste is a huge environmental problem, with 8% of GHGs produced as a result of this food rotting in landfill.
  • In the EU 33 million people cannot afford a quality meal every second day.

Preventing food waste improves the resilience of the food supply chain, helps our planet, and contributes to food security. That is where Food Banks come in. Food businesses donate their surplus food to Food Banks, which, in turn, will get that perfectly good food to charities helping deprived people who can enjoy it. The world’s first Food Bank was created in 1967 in Phoenix, USA. Following this example, the first European Food Bank was established in 1984 Paris, France and the second one in 1986 Brussels, Belgium. In 1986, France and Belgium joined forces to create the European Food Banks Federation (FEBA). Over the past 35 years FEBA has been fostering the development and creation of Food Banks in countries across Europe.

In March FEBA launched the COVID-19 Social Emergency Fund to ensure the daily activity of members and have released 4 reports to highlight challenges, urgent needs, adaptation to change, and concrete responses. Members have worked to get surplus food from food business operators and ensure its safe delivery to charities helping +34.7% people in need compared to 2019.  

Today, FEBA network brings together 430 Food Banks and branches in 29 European countries. Every day they recover safe and edible surplus food from the agri-food supply chain such as agriculture, food and drink manufacturers, distribution and food services. The food recovered is stored, sorted and re-packaged in the warehouses. Then, the food is redistributed to charitable organisations, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, social restaurants, and shelters. And from there, the food ends up on the plate of the people who need it most.

European Food Banks are supported by an army of volunteers. Their acts of kindness and commitment make a real difference.

Food donation is a beneficial solution to prevent food waste and reduce food insecurity: it is a business friendly, environmentally sensitive, and socially responsible alternative.

To learn more visit Reducing food insecurity and food waste – the European Food Banks Federation and watch the video About the European Food Banks Federation.

 

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In the lead up to the World Food Forum (WFF) global event in October, the WFF launched today its Champions Programme, an initiative that mobilizes young, influential change-makers to raise global awareness about issues and events related to agri-food systems transformation. Harnessing the power of social media and digital communications, the WFF Champions Programme is a vehicle to engage and empower youth worldwide to find new, actionable, innovative, and inclusive solutions to current and future agri-food challenges.

The WFF Champions Programme identifies young leaders and influencers from regions and countries around the world who have a passion for creating a better food future and who will leverage their respective platforms and influence to bring positive change. 

To read more, visit World Food Forum ‘Champions Programme’ mobilizes young, influential change-makers to raise awareness of global agri-food systems

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This systematic review was conducted by the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to evaluate the strengths of evidence on diet and health, and inform the dietary guidelines for Americans on possible associations with all-cause mortality

Quick takes:

  • Current focus shifted from interest in single nutrient consumption to dietary patterns for overall health
  • Dietary patterns reflect quantities, proportions, variety and combinations of foods as well as the frequency of habitual consumption
  • Nutrient dense dietary patterns, high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, unsaturated vegetable oils, lean meat, poultry and fish was associated with low cause mortality in adults and older adults
  • Dietary patterns low in high-fat dairy, red and processed meat, refined carbs and sweets and moderate in alcohol consumption were considered healthy
  • Following a healthy dietary pattern at any life stage supports health in subsequent stages

 To read the article:

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2783625

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Child obesity is a global public health priority.  This study suggests a low-intensive multicomponent child centred intervention for the prevention of obesity in children aged 2 -4 years to be cost effective

Quick takes:

  • Child obesity has both mental and physical consequences and affects children’s wellbeing both in the short and long term
  • Child obesity most frequently extends to adulthood and is associated with various comorbidities; therefore, prevention is deemed vital
  • There’s a need from caregivers to receive structures and easy to understand information from health care professionals to be able to support children
  • The efficacy of prevention efforts offered by Child Health Services against child obesity is of concern
  • Continuous training to healthcare professionals in the application of structured person-centred and family counselling management plan to prevent and support overweight children and their families is still lacking
  • A low-intensive multicomponent prevention program implemented in Sweden is suggested to be cost effective with the potential to decrease zBMI in overweight children, however with no statistical significance
  • Methods to communicate and engage with children and their families in weight related topics is an area requiring future research

 To read the article:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/osp4.547

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Dietary phytochemicals have been shown to have a protective effect against chronic diseases, however the association with the metabolic syndrome (MetS) has not yet been investigated.

This recent study investigates the Dietary Phytochemical Index (DPI), based on daily dietary energy (kcal) derived from phytochemical rich foods, in association with the odds ratio of MetS and its components.

 Quick takes:

  • The prevalence of MetS is affected by various factors including race, age, gender, lifestyle, diet, genetics, and history of diabetes, hypertension and CVD
  • Previous studies focused on nutrients, foods, and food groups; however, new approaches in nutritional studies take dietary patterns into consideration
  • Phytochemicals are natural bioactive compounds that have been shown to have health boosting effects due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and their protective effects against the development of insulin resistance, abnormal glucose and lipid levels, and abdominal obesity
  • Results from this study show a lower risk of MetS associated with higher DPI scores in a large sample of Iranian women
  • High DPI scores were also associated with lower odds ratio of individual components of MetS
  • Consumption of foods high in DPI could reduce the odds of MetS and its components, especially in women

To read the full article:

https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-021-11590-2

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Nutritional intake and bone health

Food intake, nutrient sufficiency and dietary patterns play a major role in maintaining bone health.  While the avoidance of a specific food group is likely to have harmful effects, the diversity of food intake is emphasized for bone health and mineral homeostasis

Quick takes:

  • Bone fractures are quite common amongst those older than 50 years of age, affecting 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men
  • Fractures lead to increased risk of morbidity and mortality, in addition to an impaired quality of life
  • 60-80% of variations in peak bone mass are due to genetic factors while the rest is related to environmental factors and dietary patterns
  • Recommendations for a decreased risk of fragility fracture include an optimal intake of protein and calcium and sufficient vitamin D, coupled with weight bearing physical exercise
  • Observational studies show that a high consumption of dairy, and fermented products in specific, is associated with lower fracture risk
  • Diversity in nutrient intake and following a dietary pattern like that of the Mediterranean diet is associated with lower fracture risk, which could be attributed to a diversified gut microbiota composition and enhanced function

 To read the article:

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(21)00119-4/fulltext

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  • A high-fat diet disrupts the biology of the gut's inner lining and its microbial communities -- and promotes the production of a metabolite that may contribute to heart disease, according to a study published Aug. 13 in the journal Science.
  • The discoveries in animal models support a key role for the intestines and microbiota in the development of cardiovascular disease, said Mariana Byndloss, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The intestines, she noted, have been relatively understudied by scientists seeking to understand the impact of obesity. "Before COVID, obesity and metabolic syndrome were considered the pandemic of the 21st century. Right now, roughly 40% of the U.S. population is obese, and that percentage is predicted to climb," Byndloss said. "Our research has revealed a previously unexplored mechanism for how diet and obesity can increase risk of cardiovascular disease -- by affecting the relationship between our intestines and the microbes that live in our gut."

"It was known that exposure to a high-fat diet causes dysbiosis -- an imbalance in the microbiota favoring harmful microbes, but we didn't know why or how this was happening," Byndloss said. "We show one way that diet directly affects the host and promotes the growth of bad microbes."

To read the article: Study reveals missing link between high-fat diet, microbiota and heart disease

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Course overview

The course focuses on the relationship between food, brain and mind:

  • How does the brain work?
  • How do emotions and thoughts affect our food choices?
  • How do diets and nutritional deficiencies affect our brain?
  • Reward systems and their relationship with food
  • The link between the microbiome and brain

Timeline

The course will have multiple runs in 2021 and 2022.  

The link to the course: Food for Thought: The Relationship Between Food, Gut and Brain

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A randomised controlled trial was conducted for 3 months on Indian adolescents and young adults to test the effect of almond consumption on metabolic risk factors

Quick takes:

  • India is currently ranked in 4th place world-wide in terms of impaired glucose tolerance in adults
  • The Indian population has higher total body and visceral fat at similar BMIs, in comparison to the Caucasian populations, that which could lead to the early onset of metabolic syndrome and diabetes
  • The prevalence of impaired glucose is found to be higher in adolescents with abdominal adiposity
  • Daily consumption of 56g of almonds lead to a significant decrease in GbA1C, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, and the potential to reduce insulin resistance at the pre-diabetes stage
  • The consumption of almonds could be considered as a preventative strategy against diabetes
  • The introduction of healthy snacks could favourably affect glycaemic and lipid markers and decrease the risk of NCDs in the young Indian population

 To read the article: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2021.668622/full

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  • The swift and necessary public health response to the covid-19 pandemic has had detrimental consequences for the prevention and management of childhood obesity, a concern critically in need of public health action. Although children are not as severely affected by covid-19 as adults—experiencing fewer or no symptoms—the public health response to mitigate its spread has exacerbated several risk factors for childhood obesity.
  • Extended lockdowns and social distancing measures have increased children’s exposure to obesogenic environments and disrupted their participation in health promoting behaviours.
  • Childhood obesity affects an estimated 50 million girls and 74 million boys worldwide. These children are at greater risk of developing related functional, metabolic, and psychological conditions; experiencing pervasive weight bias and stigma; and having greater healthcare costs.
  • Childhood obesity is strongly correlated with risk of adult obesity and poor health, with considerable social and economic consequences.
  • Despite efforts, no country is on track to meet the targets set out by the World Health Organization’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO).

To read the article, Reducing risk of childhood obesity in the wake of covid-19

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Adolescence overweight and obesity (AOO) remains to be a global health concern associated with a higher risk of non-communicable diseases.  The challenging double burden of nutrition reflects the coexistence of obesity and malnutrition in many countries, including those in east and south Asia.  This study investigates the determinants and prevalence of adolescent obesity in Indonesia, aiming to offer solutions with global implications.

 Quick takes:

  • According to the Indonesian National Health Survey (INHS), the prevalence of AOO has been on the rise for the past 5 years
  • Potential risk factors included being male, sedentary, lower education, married, having depression symptoms, and the consumption of high fat diet. Further contributing factors included higher socioeconomic status and living in urban locations
  • An association between depression in adolescents and obesity was observed, especially in females
  • Higher consumption of fruit and vegetables or fewer consumption of sweets did not appear to have a protective effect against AOO
  • Preventative and health support programs for young children and adolescents remain to be lacking, reflecting a need for closer attention
  • Population-based interventions, including environmental and lifestyle changes, are urgently needed to combat obesity on a national level
  • Personalised interventions and lifestyle changes are of critical importance to mitigate for potential contributors to AOO

To read the article: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0379572121992750

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9390426074?profile=RESIZE_710xKEY FINDINGS

1 Despite vital emergency measures in place, more people are food insecure now than before the pandemic.
• Pre-pandemic, we saw a rising trend in levels of household food insecurity.But Covid-19 has left more people than before struggling to afford or access a nutritious diet. Emergency interventions appear to have prevented the situation from worsening in recent months but turning off the tap of support risks seeing elevated levels of hunger and deprivation becoming the new normal.
• Despite community and voluntary sector groups heroically stepping in to help millions of vulnerable people, our evidence shows too many food insecure households have struggled to access support. Reliance on overstretched food banks and food aid charities is not a sustainable safety net for individuals and families who can't afford a decent diet. 


2 Households with children have been hit hard, with many children still falling through the cracks in support.
• Households with children have consistently found it harder to put food on the table, particularly lone parents, large families, and low-income families. Recently, slight improvements in levels of moderate/severe food insecurity among households with children suggest targeted policy interventions have mitigated a significant deterioration. But children reporting experiences of mild to severe food insecurity had not improved this January (2021) compared to six months ago.
• Free School Meal vouchers have represented a vital lifeline for eligible children and their families during Covid, but a series of issues with provision during school closure left many eligible children unable to rely on a regular, quality meal. Many children not currently eligible for Free School Meals face the daily stress of not knowing where their next meal comes from. An increased number of children reported they or their families visited a food bank
this Christmas compared to during the summer holidays.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
3 Existing support schemes have made a difference, but gaps have meant many people still struggle to eat adequately.

• Covid-19 has deepened the financial hardship faced by lowincome households and has also created a newly vulnerable group who were financially stable pre-Covid. Households are balancing on a financial tightrope, increasing debt and using up savings to survive. With household budgets on a shoestring, the end of the Furlough Scheme and the proposed cut to the £20 uplift to Universal Credit can only increase the challenges faced by individuals and families already struggling to pay their food bills.


4 Covid-19 has dramatically widened inequalities in food security and nutrition.
• Exposure to food insecurity is not equal across all households. Throughout the crisis, BAME communities have consistently encountered disproportionately higher levels of food insecurity compared with white ethnic groups. Comparing our data to before the pandemic, inequality in food insecurity has widened between those from BAME backgrounds and white ethnic groups.
• Adults with disabilities have also consistently been more acutely affected by food insecurity during the pandemic compared with those without disabilities. Our most recent data show people with severe disabilities have five times greater levels of food insecurity than those without.
• Despite undertaking essential work like stocking our grocery shelves, food sector workers have reported much higher levels of food insecurity than the general population.

Read full report.

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Efforts to fight a global surge in acute food insecurity are being stymied in several countries by fighting and blockades that cut off life-saving aid to families on the brink of famine, warn the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) in a new report issued on 30/7/21. Bureaucratic obstacles as well as a lack of funding also hamper the two UN agencies' efforts to provide emergency food assistance and enable farmers to plant at scale and at the right time. This is of grave concern as conflict, the economic repercussions of COVID-19 and the climate crisis are expected to drive higher levels of acute food insecurity in 23 hunger hotspots over the next four months, according to the report, as acute food insecurity continues to increase in scale and severity.

Humanitarian access isn't some abstract concept - it means authorities approving paperwork in time so that food can be moved swiftly, it means checkpoints allow trucks to pass and reach their destination, it means humanitarian responders are not targeted, so they are able to carry out their life- and livelihood-saving work," noted Beasley.

  • Communities cut off from aid - The report highlights that conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks - often related to the economic fallout of COVID-19 - will likely remain primary drivers of acute food insecurity for the August-November 2021 period
  • Scale and severity of acute food insecurity deepens - Ethiopia and Madagascar are the world's newest "highest alert" hunger hotspots according to the report.

To read the article: Famine relief blocked by bullets, red tape and lack of funding, warn FAO and WFP as acute food insecurity reaches new highs

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Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) remains to be a main cause for child mortality in Africa.  A recent 3-arm pilot study performed on 58 children from Uganda investigated the effect of SAM on the gut microbiota, the gut barrier integrity, mucosal immunity, and risk of gram-negative bacteraemia.  Gastrointestinal functions in terms of gut permeability, inflammation, and satiety were compared amongst those consuming legumes (cowpeas in particular) versus those consuming conventional feeds.

Quick takes:

  • SAM is associated with significant relative gut microbiota immaturity
  • Legumes, specifically cowpeas have a high content of resistant starch, in addition to their ability to improve the protein digestibility corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of traditional sorghum foods consumed in Africa
  • Feeding with standard feeds or legume-based feeds resulted in similar weight gain in children suffering from SAM
  • The consumption of fermentable carbohydrate source (cowpeas) has a protective effect on the microbiota functionality, as reflected in the maintenance of butyrate levels even with the administration of antibiotics
  • The consumption of cowpeas allows for the preservation of gut microbial fermentation, which is positively related to gut health and integrity

 

To read the article:

https://www.cell.com/cell-reports-medicine/fulltext/S2666-3791(21)00108-7?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS2666379121001087%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

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The research commissioned by EIT Food, the world's largest food innovation ecosystem, supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), surveyed over 2,000 18-24 year olds from across the UK, France, Germany, Poland and Spain. The findings point to a generation that is very interested, knowledgeable and entrepreneurial when it comes to their eating habits, and especially how they link to their wellbeing and mental health.

  • Young people aged 18 – 24 turn to social media platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram, for advice on healthy eating to compensate for a lack of information from educators, industry and policy makers
  • Health-savvy young people want greater transparency from brands on how food is processed, as well as healthier options for ordering in from home delivery platforms, such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats
  • Gen Z want a narrative on healthy eating that prioritises their mental health instead of counting calories – with 82% of young women wanting advice on the link between food and mental health
  • EIT Food is launching a new initiative that will see 10 ‘FutureFoodMakers’ call for radical change in the food sector to promote access to healthy food.

To read the article Gen Z demand radical change from the food sector to tackle access to healthy and affordable food

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Inflammation is chronically and acutely affected by diet.  Chronic effects include those linked to the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), haemostatic function, lipoprotein remodelling, and endotoxemia.  These are mainly thought to be associated with postprandial spikes in insulin and triglycerides (TG) that are linked with the consumption of dietary CHO and fat.  Acute inflammatory responses are a physiological defence mechanism however a continuous activated response may result in a persistent low-grade inflammation and an increased risk of CVD.

Quick takes:

  • Current dietary approaches aimed to lower CVD risk are not aimed at reducing inflammation
  • The postprandial effect of diet can last up to 18 hours therefore the reduction of an individual’s postprandial inflammatory response could provide a dietary preventative mechanism against CVD
  • IL-6 is the only inflammatory marker consistently changing postprandially
  • Glycoprotein acetylation (GlycA) is an emerging inflammatory biomarker, with low intra-individual variability. High levels are linked with fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, CVD and mortality
  • GlycA concentrations show a composite measure of systematic inflammation, unlike traditional markers like CRP and IL-6
  • This study shows an independent and cumulative association between postprandial glycemia and lipemia with GlycA
  • Lipemia and adiposity play a key role in food-induced inflammation
  • Potential dietary strategies to control fasting and postprandial TG include consumption of low GI foods, fibre, high intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, low alcohol consumption, and consumption of polyphenols / antioxidant rich foods.  Exercise and consuming larger meals earlier in the day are also recommended as lifestyle modification strategies
  • The large interindividual variability in postprandial inflammation highlights the potential for personalised strategies to target obesity and post prandial metabolic responses associated with low-grade inflammation

To read the article:

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ajcn/nqab132/6293856

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This randomized controlled trial was conducted in 2019 to investigate the effects of longer seated lunch time (20 minutes) on food consumption, waste, and dietary intake for elementary and middle school age children.  Each meal component was analysed separately and the behaviour of children during meals was observed.

Quick takes:

  • Less fruit and vegetables were consumed during a shorter mealtime (10 min) in comparison to 20 minutes of seated mealtime
  • There was no difference in the consumption or waste of entrees and beverage consumption between the 10 min mealtime and the 20min mealtime
  • In general, children consumed more and wasted less during the longer (20 min) mealtime
  • Findings from this study support policies that require longer seated lunch time for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). These policies are regarded as favourable in terms of reducing food waste and supporting the provision of an adequate dietary intake for children
  • Significantly fewer social interactions were observed during the shorter mealtime in comparison to a 20-minute mealtime which allowed for more time for peer interaction and socialisation amongst children
  • Further research is needed to ascertain the relationship between longer mealtimes and the consumption of fruit and vegetables; and to examine the effects of a seated lunchtime constraints on different age groups and children of different ethnicities

To read the article: 

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2781214

 

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Diet is known to influence heart health. Experts recommend a diet low in sodium and saturated fat to reduce the risk of heart disease. A heart-healthy diet also includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Research shows that the Mediterranean diet—full of fruits, vegetables, fish, cereals, and legumes, with little meat and dairy—may reduce the risk of heart disease.

  • A team led by Dr. James M. Shikany of the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined whether dietary patterns are associated with the risk of sudden cardiac death
  • The researchers analyzed the diets of more than 21,000 participants using a food questionnaire at the start of the study
  • Participants were asked how often and in what quantities they ate 110 foods in the past year
  • Based on the questionnaire responses, researchers calculated a Mediterranean diet score.
  • They also identified five dietary patterns

To read the article Diet may affect risk of sudden cardiac death

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A project developing healthier foods based on the slower release of energy is set to expand its range of products. By using different types of starch, the project hopes to introduce consumer-focused starchy products that can contribute to consumer’s health and reduce the risk of developing diet-related disease.

Highly digestible food products, especially starchy foods, are of concern as they may be digested so rapidly that their metabolic effect is comparable to that of free sugars, resulting in blood glucose peaks and the rapid release of insulin, which is linked to increased risk of type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

To read the article, click here Slower energy release points the way to healthier foods

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