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Cut Out Meat and Live Longer?

Vegetarian Diet Linked to Longer Life, Less CVD Mortality
Heartwire, Marlene Busko, Jun 12, 2013

LOMA LINDA, California — In a large observational study of generally middle-aged American Seventh-day Adventists, the vegetarians in the group--ranging from vegans to those who ate meat once a week--were 12% less likely to die within six years than their meat-eating peers [1]. Men who ate a vegetarian diet were significantly less likely to die from ischemic heart disease or CVD. Does this mean everyone should forgo eating meat? Not so fast, experts caution, pointing to study limitations. But it does add support for following a "heart-healthy" diet.

The Adventist Health Study 2 was published online June 3, 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

According to lead author Dr Michael J Orlich (Loma Linda University, CA), "This research gives more support to the idea that certain vegetarian dietary patterns may be associated with reduced mortality and increased longevity" and can be used to guide food choices.

However, in an accompanying editorial [2], Dr Robert B Baron (University of California, San Francisco) points out since it was an observational study, cause-and-effect conclusions cannot be drawn from it, and it was based on a one-time questionnaire. He urges clinicians counseling patients to be less focused on a vegetarian vs nonvegetarian diet and rather to look to the broader goal of improving the diet.

Asked to comment, Dr Robert H Eckel (University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora) concurs. "We need to put this study into perspective. Is a vegetarian diet heart healthy? Probably yes. Should people convert to a vegetarian diet based on this study? Absolutely not. I think they need to look at their overall diet and make sure it is consistent with what we know about diet and heart disease," he told heartwire .

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The Quality of Fast-Food Diets

Nutritional quality at fast-food restaurants still needs improvement

New 14-year study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports

San Diego, CA, May 7, 2013 – More than 25 percent of American adults chow down on fast food two or more times each week. Known for menu items containing high amounts of fat, sugar, and salt, fast-food restaurants have contributed to America's poor diets and increased risk of diet-related chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes. A new study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Healthy Eating Research program and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine presents results from a 14-year study indicating that fast food restaurant menus have only modestly increased nutritious offerings, and much improvement is still needed.

"Despite qualitative evidence that the fast-food industry is making improvements to the nutritional quality of at least some of their menu items, a quantitative evaluation of trends in the nutritional quality of fast food available in the marketplace was lacking," says lead investigator Mary Hearst, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Public Health at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. "This is the first study to quantitatively evaluate whether fast-food restaurant chains have improved the nutritional quality of their U.S. menu offerings over a period of time during which they have been encouraged to do so by governmental and nongovernmental agencies."

Hearst and the study team set out to examine trends at eight fast-food restaurants using data from 1997/1998 to 2009/2010 culled from the University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center Food and Nutrient Database, which houses menus from 22 fast-food restaurants. The investigators selected eight restaurants:

  • McDonald's
  • Burger King
  • Wendy's
  • Taco Bell
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
  • Arby's
  • Jack in the Box
  • Dairy Queen

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Study links diet with daytime sleepiness and alertness in healthy adults

Eating more fat may increase daytime sleepiness in healthy, non-obese adults, while eating more carbohydrates may increase alertness

May 7, 2013 —DARIEN, IL – A new study suggests that your level of sleepiness or alertness during the day may be related to the type of food that you eat.

Results show that higher fat consumption was associated with increased objective daytime sleepiness, while higher carbohydrate intake was associated with increased alertness. There was no relationship between protein consumption and sleepiness or alertness. These findings were independent of the subjects' gender, age, and body mass index as well as the total amount of sleep they were getting and their total caloric intake.

"Increased fat consumption has an acute adverse effect on alertness of otherwise healthy, non-obese adults," said principal investigator Alexandros Vgontzas, MD, professor of psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa.

The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep, and Vgontzas will present the findings Tuesday, June 4, in Baltimore, Md., at SLEEP 2013, the 27th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

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