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If you have not made your mind up  to come to conference this year we have  new editions to the programme.

An expert  on the mysteries of  our Mitochrondia  and the links with fibromyalgia, Dr. Sarah Myhill, a very busy lady, is making a one day flying visit to conference. She has agreed to take several sessions, including questions, while sharing her extensive   knowledge on this illusive topic.

If you want to know what your Mitochrondia  really looks like just add the word into the  Internet Google search  and it should appear in glorious technicolour. Where it lives  in the body  I have no  idea but I am sure we will learn that at conference. Always a bit of a mystery this…..

On a more informal basis Maxine, a group leader and one of our  regular delegates,  who has struggled to work full time, while living with fibromyalgia, has agreed to host an informal  chat to  share her experiences with folks  in a similar situation or those considering going back to work.

We have already mentioned the Benefits & Debt Clinic from 3pm on our first day only.

Moe help is at hand. We now have a HealthWatch visitor  who will  also be available on Friday afternoon 24th. In the past year we have heard several stories relating to the help HealthWatch has given to local FM groups.  With HealthWatch behind you, it does add quite a  bit of “clout” to your story. This is a great opportunity to talk and find out how the local HealthWatch can help you or  your group and where to find them.  We are also hoping to have a person from the Citizens Advice Bureau to answer some of  those awkward questions  on the Friday afternoon.

If you want more information about the Fibromyalgia Conference, read the earlier article with all the details of the speakers. Log on to

See you at conference. The weeks are flying by and Simon  <> is very busy with the late  bookings.  You can ring the HOTLINE  to reserve a double room and get a booking form. Tel 0844 887 2512.  Remember April 24/27 2015 Chichester Park Hotel.  See you at conference.  Jeanne




If you have not booked for our 6th  international Fibromyalgia Conference on April 24/27 2015, at Chichester Park Hotel,  it is not too late but  do not waste time. We have a lot of interest. The hotline to book  0844 887 2512.

Once again the cost is as low as we can make it to enable folks to enjoy the education, research news, make new friends, as well as entertainment, fun and laughter. You will have a chance to talk to the speakers personally 1-2-1 – almost a private consultation as part of the conference weekend and you will be among folk who understand your aches and pains. It has been said, “Conference is a great educational and life changing experience”. We aim to please.

If finding the fee is a stumbling block, you could make payment by using your credit card. Why not add it to your Tesco shopping credit card  as a “lend” and pay off a little each month. Paypal will accept  credit cards with an additional 4% charge. If you need help with the process please ask.

When folks talk about fibromyalgia there are several symptoms most of us suffer and  live with. This includes pain 24/7, chronic fatigue, sleeplessness, cognitive behaviour, IBS, morning stiffness,  depression and many more. This conference our experts will be highlighting some of these symptoms. With a wide and varied programme around the main FM symptoms, we are aiming to help with interesting speakers from the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK.

Iris Weverman, a registered physiotherapist from Canada who specialises in FM, will talk  about chronic fatigue, stiffness and exercise  for fibromyalgia. In her second talk she will discuss trigger points versus tender points … not to be missed.

Dr. Nick Read,  a gastroenterologist psychoanalytical psychotherapist, human nutritionist, interested in FM, will talk about his active involvement in the IBS Network , and integrated medicine.  As a nutritionist we are hoping he will give us a recommended diet for those with IBS.

Andrew Pothecary, a specialist pharmacist in Rheumatology & Biologics at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, will be  lecturing at The Clinical Pharmacy Congress on the Future of Clinical Pharmacy in London on the Friday. As an old friend, he has agreed to stop over and talk to us on Saturday. We hope to learn more about the medications that our GPs prescribe for fibromites  pains.

Afifah Hamilton, MNIMH Cert Phyt ITEC, GAP practitioner and nutritionist, is an alternative medical practitioner who uses herbal remedies for wellbeing. Afifah is medically trained and a specialist in physical, psychological and conventional treatments with herbal options. She will be discussing sleeplessness  among other symptoms. If you are prone to too  many drugs, you should not miss this presentation.

An American lady with fibromyalgia and a great reputation, will be with us to talk about her commitment for FM. We hope she will include news of research, life with FM in the States and living with fibromyalgia. Jan Chambers is President of the USA National  Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, founder of the Centre of Understanding, Research and Education of Fibromyalgia (CURE FM) and co-founder of the NFA Leaders Coalition, Executive Committee. Married for 35 years and the mother of 5 children, Jan has had a roller coaster ride with fibromyalgia since 2005. Her background really makes interesting reading and will save a lot of questions if you are coming to conference. This is a lady who commands my highest respect and I am honoured she has agreed to visit us. Try “I’ve got my life back, and I love every minute of it” she said.

Another interesting speaker with big claims is Philip Rafferty. Born in the UK he lives  in Australia and travels the world. A specialist in fibromyalgia, chronic pain and CFS he is a kinesiology ‘wizard’. He claims the corrections he teaches fibromites keeps them out of fight/flight/ freeze/survival. What he does he says is different to anything else. He  claims he achieves instant dramatic pain reduction. This I  must see!

We are again pleased to welcome Wes and John with the Benefits & Debt Clinic which will be operating Friday afternoon from 3.15pm. Look at their website – for debt and benefits – you might find it interesting.

As usual there will also be other attractions. On Friday evening we have the film premier of the documentary movie made at FM Conference 2014. Called ‘Focus on Fibromyalgia’ it includes consultants’ comments as well as the views of those who live with this condition. Be sure to see the film as it is a movie you should not miss. Lasting 65 minutes, it is full of information and you will need to go back and back again to the film to see what you missed. Copies of the film will be available to purchase with a donation from sales  to fibro research.


Jen Lee is back with us again for some light relief and with more Belly Dancing steps to learn. We hope to have all doctors on stage Sunday afternoon for discussions and questions. Do not forget the fun auction of wine and other gifts donated by delegates on Monday morning.

Simon Stuart, a leading member of the FibCon team, who works in the medical profession with the elderly, will be giving a talk about Alzheimers – a hot topic at present. You will also meet Nicki Southwell this time. A name some will know, Nicki has been working with Simon and I for several months as Assistant Co-ordinator. We were sorry to lose Teresa White towards the end of last year, due to her health problems. We understand she is on the mend but taking things slowly. We have a great team of helpers this year who will be wearing their pink badges and should be able to help delegates and answer questions.

To join us for some worthwhile education, fun, laughter,  email Simon Stuart at to check availability and book or ring the HOT LINE 0844 887 2512  to book or email to reserve a room and get a booking form.

This conference will be an action packed weekend as usual – Friday to Monday –from April 24th  to 27th  2015 at Chichester Park Hotel, plus evening entertainment, all included for £220 per person sharing double room – just £55 a day all found. This covers the cost of  food, accommodation,  the conference and entertainment. There are no single bookings now only a waiting list. The food is good and the staff are very helpful. The hotel has an indoor pool, jacuzzi, spa and some  exercise equipment for use of our visitors.

STOP PRESS –  We have been offered  a trial run of the new and exciting ActiPatch. We have a patch for each delegate to try.  If it works for you Boots sell the patches which  I believe is  a forerunner of a Electromagnetic Pulse Therapy device which provide 90 hours of 8 hour treatments (720 hours). We only have patches.

ActiPatch is said to be a highly effective therapy by chronic pain individuals and trials have increased purchases. This reflects the result of the reported benefits of clinically significant and sustained decreases in chronic pain, large improvements in quality of life, and decreases in the reliance of analgesic pain medications including opioid based drugs. We have had news from an American FM group where members used the patch and are excited about it. There is only have a limited number of patches for FM delegates only.

Finally it is worth mentioning the weekend conferences are sponsored by Folly Pogs Fibromyalgia Research. Every booking makes a contribution to fibromyalgia research and the raffle and other paid items contribute to FM research. No one gets paid except the bills. We survive under The Old Pal Act 1845. We beg and borrow to make ends meet.

There is always someone to  talk to at conference if you come alone. You will soon make new friends and meet others at our Friday ‘onesie’ meeting for those who are alone.

We hope it will be another smash hit conference with entertainment, fun and laughter with educational and helpful tips. For more information about this and the last conference  –  see Hope to see you at conference. Jeanne

car anf flag 4



 From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 18-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)


Newswise — Washington, D.C.—According to a new poll, Americans across racial and ethnic groups describe losing eyesight as potentially having the greatest impact on their day-to-day life — more so than other conditions, including loss of memory, hearing and speech. A higher percentage of African-Americans (57%) cite this concern compared to non-Hispanic whites (49%), Asians (43%) and Hispanics (38%).

Blindness ranked among the top four “worst things that could happen to you” for all respondents, alongside cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV/AIDS. More African-Americans cited blindness as their top fear.

The poll generated another key finding: A large majority of respondents strongly consider research to improve the prevention and treatment of vision disorders a priority (83% of African-Americans and non-Hispanic whites, 80% of Asians and 79% of Hispanics).

When told that the federal government spends on average $2.10 per person each year on such research, half of African-Americans (51%) and Hispanics (50%) say this is not enough followed by non-Hispanic whites (47%) and Asian-Americans (35%).

About half of all groups believe that non-governmental sectors — industry, patient groups and philanthropies — should also increase funding for eye and vision research (57% of Hispanics, 51% of African-Americans, 49% of Asians and 47% of non-Hispanic whites).

These and other findings are from a national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America and the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR). The poll, which was carried out by Zogby Analytics, was funded by a grant from Research to Prevent Blindness and released at a National Press Club event in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18.

Leaders from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) played a role in both the development of the poll and the release event, which featured a panel discussion with Neil Bressler, MD (Wilmer Eye Institute), Paul Sieving, MD, PhD (National Eye Institute), James Tsai, MD (New York Eye and Ear Infirmary) and Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD (Ohio State University College of Optometry). The panel discussion was moderated by Michelle Miller of CBS News.

The Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include nearly 12,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders.



From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 17-Sep-2014
Source: Scripps Research Institute Citations Journal of the American Chemical Society

ESISTANT BACERIA PIC.1.boger_takanori

Professor Dale Boger (right) and Assistant Professor Akinori Okano led the research.


Newswise — LA JOLLA, CA—September 17, 2014—Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have devised a new antibiotic based on vancomycin that is powerfully effective against vancomycin-resistant strains of MRSA and other disease-causing bacteria.

The new vancomycin analog appears to have not one but two distinct mechanisms of anti-microbial action, against which bacteria probably cannot evolve resistance quickly.

“This is the prototype of analogues that once introduced will still be in clinical use a generation or maybe even two generations from now,” said Dale L. Boger, the Richard and Alice Cramer Professor of Chemistry at TSRI.

The report by Boger and members of his laboratory was published recently online ahead of print by the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Increasing Reports of Resistance

Vancomycin entered clinical use in 1958, five years after its isolation from microbes in a soil sample gathered by an American missionary in Borneo. For nearly six decades it has been useful against a wide range of bacteria, and it remains a standard weapon against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a major cause of hospital-acquired infections. A compound closely related to vancomycin also has been widely used to protect livestock.

Since the late 1980s, there have been increasing reports of vancomycin resistance in classes of bacteria that usually succumb to the antibiotic, including MRSA. Although vancomycin remains useful, scientists have been looking for new drugs to replace it in cases—often life-threatening—where it no longer can help patients.

The Boger laboratory has focused on inventing improved versions of vancomycin rather than entirely new compounds. “Vancomycin has lasted in clinical use for more than 50 years, in part because it isn’t very vulnerable to antibiotic resistance,” Boger said. “Our thought has been that if we find a vancomycin analog that addresses this current source of resistance we’ll get another 50 years of use out of it.”

Vancomycin works by binding to the building blocks of bacterial cell walls, in a way that prevents their proper assembly and leaves bacteria too leaky to live and replicate. The resistance comes from a single amino-acid alteration that some bacteria make to those building blocks, so that the antibiotic molecule can no longer get a firm grip. That drops vancomycin’s potency by a factor of about 1,000.

‘Incredibly Potent’

In 2012, Boger and his team reported making a vancomycin analog—informally termed vancomycin amidine—with a subtly altered binding pocket that fastens about equally well to the original and resistant sites on bacterial cell wall subunits. To get the precise structural modification they needed, they had to come up with a method for the “total synthesis” of this vancomycin-based compound—a controlled, step-by-step construction using organic chemistry reactions in the lab, rather than a natural enzyme-mediated production within cells.

“Years of work in this lab culminated in a total synthesis strategy that not only allowed us access to this target compound, but also gave us the ability to perform almost any other chemical modification of vancomycin that we wished,” said Akinori Okano, first author of the new report, who is an assistant professor of chemistry at TSRI.

Vancomycin amidine turned out to have acceptable level of activity against vancomycin-resistant and -sensitive bacteria, yet there was room for improvement. Thus in the new study, Okano, Boger and their colleagues used their vancomycin synthesis methods to add an additional feature to the molecule—a peripheral chlorobiphenyl (CBP), long known as a general booster of vancomycin’s potency.

“To our delight, the combination of these modifications led to an incredibly potent molecule, well beyond anything we had expected,” said Okano.

In lab dish tests, the new vancomycin analog proved highly effective against the usual vancomycin-sensitive bacteria as well as vancomycin-resistant MRSA and enterococcal bacteria.

The tests also suggested that the CBP modification, whose boost to potency has been thought to come from some broad enhancement of vancomycin’s activity, might in fact work via its own distinct attack on bacterial cell wall synthesis.

“This is probably the clearest depiction to date of the fact that for the CBP derivatives there must be a second mechanism of action, independent of vancomycin’s main mechanism of action,” Boger said. “[Such analogs] are likely to display especially durable antibiotic activity—that is, they won’t be prone to rapidly acquired clinical resistance.”

Boger and his colleagues now will try to optimize the synthesis process for the new analog, to provide quantities suitable for preclinical testing in animals.

Other co-authors of the paper, “Total Synthesis of [Ψ[C(=NH)NH]Tpg4] Vancomycin and its (4-Chlorobiphenyl) methyl Derivative: Impact of Peripheral Modifications on Vancomycin Analogs Redesigned for Dual D-Ala-D-Ala and D-Ala-D-Lac Binding,” were Atsushi Nakayama and Alex Schammel of the Boger Laboratory.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant CA041101).

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world’s largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs about 3,000 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including three Nobel laureates—work toward their next discoveries. The institute’s graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation.



From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 16-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Kansas State University

Brown recluse spiderBrown recluse spider PIC. -1

I always keep a clean jam jar and a sheet of paper ready to collect invading spider and let them out at the window.


Newswise — MANHATTAN, Kansas — This is the time of year when the Kansas State University entomology department receives a lot of calls. The question most asked: Why am I getting so many spiders in my house?

“Insects move inside the house seeking warmer temperatures,” said Jeff Whitworth, assistant professor of entomology. “Just like humans, insects prefer a climate around 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Spiders are seeking those warmers environments as well as searching for food.”

Tennessee medical officials have reported an increase in brown recluse bites this year. However, Whitworth says there is no indication there are more spiders this year compared to previous years. The brown recluse, most common in the central and southeast regions, is the most feared spider in the Midwest because of its hemotoxic venom. But Whitworth says the brown recluse isn’t as scary as you think.

“The nice thing about the brown recluse spider, as its name implies, is it is reclusive,” he said. “We have reared spiders now for approximately two to three years and we have found the brown recluse to be non-aggressive.”

Whitworth; Holly Schwarting, research associate in entomology; and J.R. Ewing, master’s student in entomology, are researching the most reliable method of managing brown recluse spiders. Pest control operators are divided on whether sticky traps, pesticide or a combination of the two are a better way to kill spiders in your home.

Whichever form of removal you choose to use, Whitworth says to wait until March. Brown recluse spiders become inactive from mid-October until March.

Back tomorrw. Jeanne














Programmable Lights Prevent Glare, Improve Vision in Snow and Rain

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton September 9th 2014   National Science Foundation Source Carnegie Mellon University


PITTSBURGH—A smart headlight developed at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute enables drivers to take full advantage of their high beams without fear of blinding oncoming drivers or suffering from the glare that can occur when driving in snow or rain at night.

The programmable headlight senses and tracks virtually any number of oncoming drivers, blacking out only the small parts of the headlight beam that would otherwise shine into their eyes. During snow or rain showers, the headlight improves driver vision by tracking individual flakes and drops in the immediate vicinity of the car and blocking the narrow slivers of headlight beam that would otherwise illuminate the precipitation and reflect back into the driver’s eyes.
Head lihts PICThe programmable headlight senses and tracks virtually any number of oncoming drivers, blacking out only the small parts of the headlight beam that would otherwise shine into their eyes.

“Even after 130 years of headlight development, more than half of vehicle crashes and deaths occur at night, despite the fact there is much less traffic then,” said Srinivasa Narasimhan, associate professor of robotics.

“With our programmable system, however, we can actually make headlights that are even brighter than today’s without causing distractions for other drivers on the road.”

Robert Tamburo, the project’s lead engineer, will present findings from tests of the system in the lab and on the streets of Pittsburgh on Sept. 10 at the European Conference on Computer Vision in Zurich, Switzerland. More information, including a video, is available on the project website.

The system devised by Narasimhan, Tamburo and the rest of the research team uses a DLP (Digital Light Processing) projector instead of a standard headlight or cluster of LEDs. This enables the researchers to divide the light into a million tiny beams, each of which can be independently controlled by an onboard computer.
PIC 2 hedlight.

The research team assembled their experimental system from off-the-shelf parts and mounted the system atop the hood of a pickup truck, serving as the equivalent of a third headlight during street tests.


A camera senses oncoming cars, falling precipitation and other objects of interest, such as road signs. The one million light beams can then be adjusted accordingly, some dimmed to spare the eyes of oncoming drivers, while others might be brightened to highlight street signs or the traffic lane. The changes in overall illumination are minor, however, and generally not noticeable by the driver.

System latency —  the time between detection by the camera and a corresponding adjustment in the illumination — is between 1 and 2.5 milliseconds, Tamburo said. This near-instantaneous reaction means that in most cases the system does not have to employ sophisticated algorithms to predict where an oncoming driver or a flake of snow will be by the time the headlight system responds.

“Our system can keep high beams from blinding oncoming drivers when operating at normal highway speeds,” Narasimhan said. Rain and snow present a more difficult problem, he noted; the system reduces glare at low speeds, but becomes less effective as speed increases.

In addition to preventing glare, the projector can be used to highlight the traffic lane — a helpful driving aid when roads have unmarked lanes or edges, or when snow obscures lane markings. When tied to a navigation system, the programmable headlights also can project arrows or other directional signals to visually guide drivers.

“We can do all this and more with the same headlight,” Narasimhan said. That is in contrast to new headlight systems that some automakers are installing. These include multi-LED systems that reduce glare to oncoming drivers by darkening some LEDs as well as swiveling headlights that help drivers see down curved roads.

“Most of these are one-off systems, however, with different headlights required for different specialized tasks,” he added.

The research team assembled their experimental system from off-the-shelf parts and mounted the system atop the hood of a pickup truck, serving as the equivalent of a third headlight during street tests. The team plans to install a smaller version next year in the headlight slot of a truck.

Though currently larger than standard headlights, Narasimhan said the smart headlights could be accommodated by trucks and buses, whose headlights are especially prone to causing glare because they are positioned high off the ground. Eventually, miniaturization should make the smart headlights compatible with smaller vehicles.

The research team includes Takeo Kanade, professor of computer science and robotics; Anthony Rowe, assistant research professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE); Abhishek Chugh, a master’s degree student in computer science; Subhagato Dutta and Vinay Palakkode, both master’s degree students in ECE; and Eriko Nurvitadhi and Mei Chen of Intel Research.

The research was supported by Ford Motor Co., the Intel Science and Technology Center for Embedded Computing, the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation. It is part of the Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation Center, a U.S. Department of Transportation University Transportation Center at Carnegie Mellon.

The Robotics Institute is part of Carnegie Mellon’s top-ranked School of Computer Science, which is celebrating its 25th year. Follow the school on Twitter @SCSatCMU.


New research from Concordia and the University of Montreal confirms home life affects workplace mental health

From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 16-Sep-2014
Source Universite de Montreal Citations Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology


Newswise — Impossible deadlines, demanding bosses, abusive colleagues, unpaid overtime: all factors that can lead to a burnout. But when it comes to mental health in the workplace, the influence of home life must also be considered to get the full picture.

That is about to change thanks to new research from Concordia University and the University of Montreal, which proves that having an understanding partner is just as important as having a supportive boss.

The study, published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, surveys 1,954 employees from 63 different organizations and shows that a multitude of issues contribute to mental health problems in the workforce.

The research team polled participants to measure factors like parental status, household income, social network, gender, age, physical health and levels of self-esteem. They studied these elements alongside stressors typically seen in the workplace, such as emotional exhaustion, poor use of skills, high psychological demands, job insecurity and lack of authority.

Turns out mental health in the workplace doesn’t exist in a vacuum: it’s deeply affected by the rest of a person’s day-to-day life. And vice versa.

The study shows that fewer mental health problems are experienced by those living with a partner, in households with young children, higher household incomes, less work-family conflicts, and greater access to the support of a social network outside the workplace.

Of course, factors within the workplace are still important. Fewer mental health problems were reported when employees are supported at work, when expectations of job recognition are met, and when people feel secure in their jobs. A higher level of skill use is also associated with lower levels of depression, pointing to the importance of designing tasks that motivate and challenge workers.

“This is a call to action,” says senior author Steve Harvey, professor of management and dean of Concordia’s John Molson School of Business.

“Researchers need to expand their perspective, so that they get a full picture of the complexity of factors that determine individuals’ mental health.”

For lead author Alain Marchand, professor at the University of Montreal’s School of Industrial Relations, it is all about adopting a holistic view.

“To maintain a truly healthy workforce, we need to look outside the office or home in simple terms to combat mental health issues in the workplace.”



Awareness of 2,000-calorie context could encourage healthier food choices

From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 9-Sep-2014
Source Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health                                                   Citations Health Promotion Practice


Newswise — Many people are unaware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s mandated nutrition labels are based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, but a simple weekly text message reminder can greatly improve that awareness, according to a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

While not an outright recommendation, the 2,000-calorie benchmark is what the FDA considers a reasonable daily calorie intake for many adults. More importantly, nutrition labels on food products sold in the U.S. are based on it. The key to translating nutrition labels and using them to make healthy food choices, researchers say, may be an understanding of this basic fact.

The study, published online in Health Promotion Practice, surveyed 246 participants dining in the Johns Hopkins Hospital cafeteria to assess their initial knowledge of the 2,000-calorie value. The cafeteria included calorie labels for food choices but no information on the daily context. Participants were then randomly assigned to receive either a weekly text message reminder, a weekly email reminder, or no weekly reminder about the 2,000-calorie value. Participants received the reminder messages each Monday for four weeks; after the four weeks, their knowledge of the 2,000-calorie value was assessed with a follow-up survey.

Prior to receiving the weekly reminders, 58 percent of participants could not correctly identify the 2,000-calorie value, even those with college or graduate degrees. After the study period, those receiving the weekly text messages were twice as likely to correctly identify the 2,000-calorie value as compared to those who received no weekly reminder.

“While daily energy needs vary, the 2,000-calorie value provides a general frame of reference that can make menu and product nutrition labels more meaningful,” says study leader Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“When people know their calorie ‘budget’ for the day, they have context for making healthier meal and snack choices.”

The FDA has proposed new menu-labeling regulations, which will soon require chain restaurants with 20 or more outlets to list calories on menus, menu boards, and drive-through displays. Cheskin says that those calorie counts are not helpful tools for making good food choices if people do not understand roughly how many calories they should consume each day.

“Given the low level of calorie literacy, simply posting calorie counts on menu boards is not sufficient,” Cheskin says.

The weekly text and email reminders were based on The Monday Campaigns’ model for health communications, which leverages the idea that Monday provides a weekly opportunity to start fresh and commit to new healthy habits, such as exercise regimens, healthy eating plans or smoking cessation. The Monday Campaigns is a nonprofit organization that started in 2003 with research support from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“There are many simple ways to convey calorie information to consumers, including point of sale communication, text messages, emails and even smart phone apps,” Cheskin notes.

“Ideally, these could work together, with calories posted on menus, restaurant signage and food labels along with personal reminders delivered through the latest technology. Our data indicate that weekly text messages are one element in this mix that can be effective.”

“Consumer Understanding of Calorie Labeling: A Healthy Monday E-Mail and Text Message Intervention” was written by Michelle L. Abel, MSPH; Katherine Lee, MA; Ralph Loglisci, BS; Allison Righter, MSPH; Thomas J. Hipper, MSPH, MA; and Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD.

This research was supported by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and The Monday Campaigns.






From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Embargoed: 16-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: JAMA – Journal of the American Medical AssociatioN



Newswise — The prevalence of abdominal obesity and average waist circumference increased among U.S. adults from 1999 to 2012, according to a study in the September 17 issue of JAMA.

Waist circumference is a simple measure of total and intra-abdominal body fat. Although the prevalence of abdominal obesity has increased in the United States through 2008, its trend in recent years has not been known, according to background information in the article.

Earl S. Ford, M.D., M.P.H., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues used data from seven 2-year cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) starting with 1999-2000 and concluding with 2011-2012 to determine trends in average waist circumference and prevalence of abdominal obesity among adults in the United States. Abdominal obesity was defined as a waist circumference greater than 40.2 inches (102 cm) in men and greater than 34.6 inches (88 cm) in women.

Data from 32,816 men and nonpregnant women ages 20 years or older were analyzed. The overall age-adjusted average waist circumference increased progressively and significantly, from 37.6 inches in 1999-2000 to 38.8 inches in 2011-2012. Significant increases occurred in men (0.8 inch), women (1.5 inch), non-Hispanic whites (1.2 inch), non­Hispanic blacks (1.6 inch), and Mexican Americans (1.8 inch).

The overall age-adjusted prevalence of abdominal obesity increased significantly from 46.4 percent in 1999-2000 to 54.2 percent in 2011-2012. Significant increases were present in men (37.1 percent to 43.5 percent), women (55.4 percent to 64.7 percent), non-Hispanic whites (45.8 percent to 53.8 percent), non-Hispanic blacks (52.4 percent to 60.9 percent), and Mexican Americans (48.1 percent to 57.4 percent).

The authors write that previous analyses of data from NHANES show that the prevalence of obesity calculated from body mass index (BMI) did not change significantly from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012.

“In contrast, our analyses using data from the same surveys indicate that the prevalence of abdominal obesity is still increasing. The reasons for increases in waist circumference in excess of what would be expected from changes in BMI remain speculative, but several factors, including sleep deprivation, endocrine disruptors, and certain medications, have been proposed as potential explanations.”

“Our results support the routine measurement of waist circumference in clinical care consistent with current recommendations as a key step in initiating the prevention, control, and management of obesity among patients.”



From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 17-Sep-2014 Source Newsroom: Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)             By Linda Milo Ohr

Newswise — CHICAGO—Fats are often considered the enemy of good nutrition, but when included in a healthy diet they can boast several potential health benefits. In the September issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Contributing Editor Linda Milo Ohr writes about how fatty acids and nutritional oils may benefit cognition, weight management, heart health, eye and brain development, and even mood.

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with brain development, cognition, eye health, dementia and depression. They are also widely well-known for their heart health benefits.
    2. Pinolenic Acid: Pinolenic acid is based on pine nut oil derived from a specific Korean pine tree, and is especially rich in long-chain fatty acids. Clinical trials have shown that it can help suppress appetite and promote a feeling of fullness.
    3. Conjugated Linoleic Acid: Conjugated linoleic acid has been shown to affect weight management by helping reduce body fat and increase lean body mass.
    4. Flaxseed Oil: Flaxseed oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids which can contribute to heart health and help reduce inflammation.
    5. Hemp Oil: Hemp seed oil contains a balanced ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 linolenic essential fatty acids, and also contains vitamin E.
    6. Fish Oil: Fish oil is known for its effect on cardiovascular, neurological, and cognitive health.
    7. Canola Oil: A study showed that a canola oil-enriched, low-glycemic-diet improved blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics, especially those with raised systolic blood pressure (Jenkins, 2014).
    8. Soybean Oil: High oleic soybean oil has reduced saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat, and delivers three times the amount of monounsaturated fats compared to commodity soybean oil.
    9. Coconut Oil: Although not as much research has been done compared to olive or fish oil, it is thought to aid in areas such as energy, skin health, and dental health.

Research has shown that fatty acids and nutritional oils may benefit cognition, weight management, heart health, eye and brain development, and even mood. As a result, they have jumped into the limelight for these potential benefits, making the inclusion of fats in the diet more appealing. Here is a look at some of these functional fats.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are associated with brain development, cognition, eye health, dementia, and depression. They are widely known for their heart health benefits. Researchers de Oliveira Otto et al. (2013) showed that EPA and DHA from seafood were inversely associated with cardiovascular disease incidence, suggesting that increased consumption may help prevent risk development in a multiethnic population.

North America has the largest number of dairy launches using omega-3 claims, with nearly 35% of the global total, according to Innova Market Insights, Duiven, the Netherlands ( (Innova, 2014). In the United States there is rising interest in omega-3-fortified milk, with Innova’s data indicating that nearly 8% of milk launches in the U.S. in the 12 months ending October 2013 featured omega-3 claims.

In addition to dairy, there is plenty of room for innovation using omega-3s in products for consumers of all ages. This is in part thanks to the advancements in omega-3 ingredient developments. At the 2014 IFT Food Expo, BASF Nutrition & Health, Florham Park, N.J. (, showcased a graham cracker and a chocolate almond butter spread that were both formulated with omega-3 fatty acids.

“These were among our most popular prototypes and, in fact, one attendee called them ‘IFT gold,’” says Elsie Jamin-Maguire, Business Manager, Foods & Beverages, at BASF Nutrition & Health.

BASF Nutrition & Health offers Omevital ™ 1812 TG Gold (fish oil, minimum 30% omega-3); Omevital 1050 TG Gold (fish oil concentrate, minimum 61% omega-3 as TG, DHA rich); Dry n-3 ® 12 Food (microencapsulated fish oil rich in omega-3); and Dry n-3 DHA 11 (microencapsulated fish oil rich in DHA). Omevital TG Gold oils are specially deodorized for food and beverage applications. The Dry n-3 microencapsulated EPA- and DHA-rich ingredients are produced in Denmark using a microencapsulation technology, which results in an ingredient with excellent flowability and high stability.

DSM, Parsippany, N.J. (, in 2013 launched life’sOMEGA ™ 60, a high-potency vegetarian DHA and EPA omega-3 oil developed from a sustainable algal source. The ingredient is said to provide all the benefits of life’sDHA ™ with additional EPA, resulting in an ingredient that is a higher-potency, more sustainable alternative to fish and krill oils. DSM’s portfolio also includes life’sDHA and MEG-3 ® fish oil. MEG-3 is sourced from wild-caught, sustainable fisheries that adhere to the strict regulations of government agencies in the Peruvian upwelling region.

In June 2014, Enzymotec Ltd., Migdal HaEmeq, Israel (, launched Omega PC ™ fish oil–based omega-3 ingredient, a wild, cold fish extract containing omega-3 fatty acids bound to phospholipids and triglycerides. The omega-3 fatty acids bound to phospholipids have been shown to be absorbed better than triglyceride-bound omega-3 fatty acids. The better absorption leads to better efficacy and to higher accumulation of omega-3 fatty acids in target organs.

About IFT
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Food Technologists. Since its founding in 1939, IFT has been committed to advancing the science of food, both today and tomorrow. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professions from academia, government and industry.



From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 16-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Kansas State University

PIC Backyard chickens

Cleaning water dishes is important after chickens being raised in the backyard complete any course of medication. That is because medication residues can remain in the eggs the chickens produce for varying lengths of time, according to Ronette Gehring, a Kansas State University pharmacologist.


Newswise — MANHATTAN, Kansas — Whether raising chickens in your backyard as pets or as a source of fresh eggs, a Kansas State University pharmacologist says what you do not know about your chickens could hurt you or others.

Ronette Gehring, associate professor of veterinary pharmacology at the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine and regional director of the Midwest branch of the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank, or FARAD, says that owners need to be aware of potential drug residues in eggs from backyard chickens that might be or have been on medication.

“These animals get sick from time to time,” Gehring said. “They may get injured and need antibiotic treatment or pain medications. Foot infections are quite common, while sometimes the animals may need treatment for external or internal parasites.”

The danger is that residues from the medications remain in eggs for various lengths of time.

“Owners must be aware that any drug they administer will result in residues in the eggs,” Gehring said.

“It is important that if owners buy medications over the counter to treat their flock, they closely follow the directions on the label. This includes only using the drug if it is specifically labeled for chickens laying eggs and only for the diseases listed on the label, at the exact dose, dosing interval and duration of treatment given in the instructions.”

The Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank keeps information about medications and the withdrawal time for different animals. Gerhing said backyard chicken owners need to be very attentive when giving the animals any medications.

“If all these instructions are followed closely, there will be a withdrawal time given on the label, which is the time for which the eggs must not be consumed after the last dose,” she said.

“Any deviation from the label instructions is considered extra-label and is illegal unless it is prescribed by a veterinarian within a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship. There are very few drugs specifically labeled for backyard chickens. Most are formulated for large commercial operations, so many treatments for backyard flocks will be extra-label, requiring a prescription from a veterinarian.”

The Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank only gives extra-label drug use advice to veterinarians. Exclusively for food animal species, the databank is a congressionally mandated risk-management program supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and maintained by a consortium of universities, including Kansas State University; University of California, Davis; University of Florida; and North Carolina State University.

“Another problem owners need to be aware of is exposure of their chickens to chemicals and toxins in the home environment,” Gehring said.

“For example, an owner may have wasps in the backyard and spray them with pesticides. The chickens might eat the wasps, which can cause residues in the eggs. Other environmental, accidental exposures can occur, such as herbicides sprayed for weed control. If an owner suspects an environmental exposure, then they can call FARAD themselves, but it is important to know which chemicals the chickens may have been exposed to.”

Owners are encouraged to visit with their veterinarians. More information is available at the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank website at

See you tomorrow. Jeanne



A new study reveals that certain gut bacteria may induce metabolic changes following exposure to artificial sweeteners

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 17-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Weizmann Institute of Science Citations Nature, Sept. 17, 2014

Newswise — Artificial sweeteners – promoted as aids to weight loss and diabetes prevention – could actually hasten the development of glucose intolerance and metabolic disease, and they do so in a surprising way: by changing the composition and function of the gut microbiota – the substantial population of bacteria residing in our intestines.

These findings, the results of experiments in mice and humans, were published September 17 in Nature. Dr. Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Department of Immunology, who led this research together with Prof. Eran Segal of the Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, says that the widespread use of artificial sweeteners in drinks and food, among other things, may be contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemic that is sweeping much of the world.

For years, researchers have been puzzling over the fact that non-caloric artificial sweeteners do not seem to assist in weight loss, with some studies suggesting that they may even have an opposite effect.

Graduate student Jotham Suez in Dr. Elinav’s lab, who led the study, collaborated with lab member Gili Zilberman-Shapira and graduate students Tal Korem and David Zeevi in Prof. Segal’s lab to discover that artificial sweeteners, even though they do not contain sugar, nonetheless have a direct effect on the body’s ability to utilize glucose.

Glucose intolerance – generally thought to occur when the body cannot cope with large amounts of sugar in the diet – is the first step on the path to metabolic syndrome and adult-onset diabetes.

The scientists gave mice water laced with the three most commonly used artificial sweeteners, in amounts equivalent to those permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These mice developed glucose intolerance, as compared to mice that drank water, or even sugar water.

Repeating the experiment with different types of mice and different doses of the artificial sweeteners produced the same results – these substances were somehow inducing glucose intolerance.

Next, the researchers investigated a hypothesis that the gut microbiota are involved in this phenomenon. They thought the bacteria might do this by reacting to new substances like artificial sweeteners, which the body itself may not recognize as “food.” Indeed, artificial sweeteners are not absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, but in passing through they encounter trillions of the bacteria in the gut microbiota.

The researchers treated mice with antibiotics to eradicate many of their gut bacteria; this resulted in a full reversal of the artificial sweeteners’ effects on glucose metabolism. Next, they transferred the microbiota from mice that consumed artificial sweeteners to “germ-free,” or sterile, mice – resulting in a complete transmission of the glucose intolerance into the recipient mice.

This, in itself, was conclusive proof that changes to the gut bacteria are directly responsible for the harmful effects to their host’s metabolism. The group even found that incubating the microbiota outside the body, together with artificial sweeteners, was sufficient to induce glucose intolerance in the sterile mice.

A detailed characterization of the microbiota in these mice revealed profound changes to their bacterial populations, including new microbial functions that are known to infer a propensity to obesity, diabetes, and complications of these problems in both mice and humans.

Does the human microbiome function in the same way? Dr. Elinav and Prof. Segal had a means to test this as well. As a first step, they looked at data collected from their Personalized Nutrition Project (, the largest human trial to date to look at the connection between nutrition and microbiota.

Here, they uncovered a significant association between self-reported consumption of artificial sweeteners, personal configurations of gut bacteria, and the propensity for glucose intolerance. They next conducted a controlled experiment, asking a group of volunteers who did not generally eat or drink artificially sweetened foods to consume them for a week, and then undergo tests of their glucose levels and gut microbiota compositions.

The findings showed that many – but not all – of the volunteers had begun to develop glucose intolerance after just one week of artificial sweetener consumption. The composition of their gut microbiota explained the difference: the researchers discovered two different populations of human gut bacteria – one that induced glucose intolerance when exposed to the sweeteners, and one that had no effect either way.

Dr. Elinav believes that certain bacteria in the guts of those who developed glucose intolerance reacted to the chemical sweeteners by secreting substances that then provoked an inflammatory response similar to sugar overdose, promoting changes in the body’s ability to utilize sugar.

Prof. Segal states, “The results of our experiments highlight the importance of personalized medicine and nutrition to our overall health. We believe that an integrated analysis of individualized ‘big data’ from our genome, microbiome, and dietary habits could transform our ability to understand how foods and nutritional supplements affect a person’s health and risk of disease.”

According to Dr. Elinav, “Our relationship with our own individual mix of gut bacteria is a huge factor in determining how the food we eat affects us. Especially intriguing is the link between use of artificial sweeteners – through the bacteria in our guts – to a tendency to develop the very disorders they were designed to prevent; this calls for reassessment of today’s massive, unsupervised consumption of these substances.”

Also participating in this research were Christoph A. Thaiss, Ori Maza, and Dr. Hagit Shapiro of Dr. Elinav’s group; Dr. Adina Weinberger of Prof. Segal’s group; Dr. Ilana Kolodkin-Gal of the Department of Molecular Genetics; Prof. Alon Harmelin and Dr. Yael Kuperman of the Department of Veterinary Resources; Dr. Shlomit Gilad of the Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine; Prof. Zamir Halperin and Dr. Niv Zmora of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Tel Aviv University; and Dr. David Israeli of Kfar Shaul Hospital Jerusalem Center for Mental Health.

Dr. Eran Elinav’s research is supported by the Abisch Frenkel Foundation for the Promotion of Life Sciences; the Benoziyo Endowment Fund for the Advancement of Science; the Gurwin Family Fund for Scientific Research; the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; the Adelis Foundation; Yael and Rami Ungar, Israel; the Crown Endowment Fund for Immunological Research; John L. and Vera Schwartz, Pacific Palisades, CA; the Rising Tide Foundation; Alan Markovitz, Canada; Cynthia Adelson, Canada; the estate of Jack Gitlitz; the estate of Lydia Hershkovich; the European Research Council; the CNRS – Centre National de la Recherché Scientifique; the estate of Samuel and Alwyn J. Weber; and Mr. and Mrs. Donald L. Schwarz, Sherman Oaks, CA. Dr. Elinav is the incumbent of the Rina Gudinski Career Development Chair.

Prof. Eran Segal’s research is supported by the Kahn Family Research Center for Systems Biology of the Human Cell; the Carolito Stiftung; the Cecil and Hilda Lewis Charitable Trust; the European Research Council; and Mr. and Mrs. Donald L. Schwarz, Sherman Oaks, CA.

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world’s top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. The Institute’s 2,700-strong scientific community engages in research addressing crucial problems in medicine and health, energy, technology, agriculture, and the environment. Outstanding young scientists from around the world pursue advanced degrees at the Weizmann Institute’s Feinberg Graduate School. The discoveries and theories of Weizmann Institute scientists have had a major impact on the wider scientific community, as well as on the quality of life of millions of people worldwide.


From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 17-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)

Newswise — CHICAGO—Fats are often considered the enemy of good nutrition, but when included in a healthy diet they can boast several potential health benefits. In the September issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Contributing Editor Linda Milo Ohr writes about how fatty acids and nutritional oils may benefit cognition, weight management, heart health, eye and brain development, and even mood.

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with brain development, cognition, eye health, dementia and depression. They are also widely well-known for their heart health benefits.
    2. Pinolenic Acid: Pinolenic acid is based on pine nut oil derived from a specific Korean pine tree, and is especially rich in long-chain fatty acids. Clinical trials have shown that it can help suppress appetite and promote a feeling of fullness.
    3. Conjugated Linoleic Acid: Conjugated linoleic acid has been shown to affect weight management by helping reduce body fat and increase lean body mass.
    4. Flaxseed Oil: Flaxseed oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids which can contribute to heart health and help reduce inflammation.
    5. Hemp Oil: Hemp seed oil contains a balanced ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 linolenic essential fatty acids, and also contains vitamin E.
    6. Fish Oil: Fish oil is known for its effect on cardiovascular, neurological, and cognitive health.
    7. Canola Oil: A study showed that a canola oil-enriched, low-glycemic-diet improved blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics, especially those with raised systolic blood pressure (Jenkins, 2014).
    8. Soybean Oil: High oleic soybean oil has reduced saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat, and delivers three times the amount of monounsaturated fats compared to commodity soybean oil.
    9. Coconut Oil: Although not as much research has been done compared to olive or fish oil, it is thought to aid in areas such as energy, skin health, and dental health.

About IFT
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Food Technologists. Since its founding in 1939, IFT has been committed to advancing the science of food, both today and tomorrow. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professions from academia, government and industry.



From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 17-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)


Newswise — CHICAGO— With convenience and value being key drivers when it comes to grocery shopping, successful retailers will be those who adapt to changes in consumer product preferences, technology and lifestyle needs. In the September issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Executive Editor Mary Ellen Kuhn writes about the changing landscape of today’s supermarket. The following seven trends are identified in the article.

  1. Price-Driven Consumers: Middle- and low-income shoppers account for 70 percent of U.S. grocery sales, and even consumers without major financial constraints tend to be frugal and open to shopping in a variety of different channels in order to economize (Jeffries, 2013).
    2. Healthy Living and Fresh Food: 92 percent of U.S. adults believe that eating at home is healthier than eating out (FMI, 2014).
    3. Smaller Grocery Stores: Smaller grocery stores are on track for rapid growth (Jeffries, 2013). Stores are able to refine their offerings based on neighborhood purchasing patterns.
    4. Fresh Prepared Foods: More than half of the households in the U.S. are composed of only one or two people (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012), and consumers often look to stores as their “sous chef.” Consumers often just want to put the finishing touches on an item and avoid the slicing, dicing, and marinating that often come with food preparation (FMI, 2014).
    5. Meal Solutions: Many retailers are putting their own spin on high-quality fare that reflects trendy culinary influences like chef-prepared entrees and salads, ethnic fare, brunch stations, and gelato bars in stores. In addition, supermarkets are bundling together meal components that are tasty and easy to prepare.
    6. Mobile Commerce: According to Catalina Marketing, there are currently more than 1,000 grocery shopping apps for the iPhone. Digitizing supermarket ads and coupons for smartphones, computers, and tablets is important to drive sales and form deeper connections with shoppers.
    7. Online Options: In the future more people are expected to purchase pantry stables online rather than in grocery stores. Although the market for online ordering is growing, experts agree that because grocery shopping is such a sensory experience it will probably never be a totally online process (Tom Johnson, PwC, 2014). Grocery shopping is more likely to become a hybrid online and in-store process with consumers both placing orders online, but also stopping in the store for items.



Experts Applaud Food & Beverage Industry Actions to Improve the Food Environment

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 17-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Obesity Society


Newswise — SILVER SPRING, MD: On the heels of new research showing that 16 major food and beverage companies have collectively cut 6.4 trillion calories from U.S. food products, The Obesity Society (TOS) issues an official position statement pointing to the pervasive availability of foods high in calories per unit of weight, or energy density, as a contributing factor for weight gain and obesity. The Society goes further to urge food companies to test and market foods that will help individuals reduce the energy density in their diets and better manage body weight.

“With more than one-third of American children affected by obesity or overweight, it Is no secret that our food environment is a contributing factor to obesity, especially among children,” said Barbara Rolls, PhD, FTOS, TOS past-president and professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University.

“This obesogenic environment is characterized by large portions of tasty, inexpensive, energy-dense foods that are easily accessible in convenience stores, vending machines and restaurants – all areas where food and beverage companies have an overwhelming impact on the nutritional and energy content of foods.”

Examples of foods high in energy density that can lead to consumption of excess calories include those high in sugar, like ice cream, and those high in fat, including deep-fried foods, such as French fries, and cheese. Foods low in energy density and recommended for a healthy diet are those that have a high amount of nutrients per serving, including fruits and vegetables, non-fat milk, whole grains, and fish and other lean proteins.

As detailed in the position statement, a diet reduced in energy density can accommodate a wide range of eating patterns, and can support a lifestyle that includes a healthy, well-balanced diet for weight management. A key component to reduced energy density is the amount of water in our food, which contributes to the weight and volume without adding energy, or calories, and can make us feel more satiated.

“A growing body of evidence indicates that increasing the water content in foods can reduce energy intake and improve diet quality,” continued Dr. Rolls.

“For example, I will feel more full after eating 100 calories of strawberries, which are high in water content, than after eating 100 calories of pretzels. This is because the fruit provides about 13 times more food by weight than the pretzels.”

A successful effort to improve the food environment by food and beverage companies is detailed in the research conducted by TOS members Shu Wen Ng, PhD, and Barry Popkin, PhD, published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study unveils a new, unprecedented system for tracking trends in consumer-packaged goods, which allowed researchers to evaluate consumer trends more closely than ever before. Results show that the 6.4 trillion caloric reduction by the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) member companies translates to a 78-calorie per person, per day decline, with largest calorie cuts to foods coming from products high in energy density, including: sweets and snack foods; fats, oils and dressings, and; carbonated soft drinks. In a second study published in the same issue, researchers tie the effort back to a decline in the calorie content of purchases by American families, and call for more research to continue to track its success.

“We applaud the efforts of the member companies for their work to cut calories from foods high in energy density, and we encourage others in the industry to sign onto this important initiative,” said TOS President Steven Smith, MD.

“Food and beverage companies can take these efforts a step further with a closer look at the energy density of their products. There is a growing consumer demand for healthier food offerings; responding to this demand is a win-win for both corporations and public health.”

In January 2014, Dr. Smith commended the industry for following through on its pledge following its initial announcement.

“Efforts to reduce obesity cannot succeed without the engagement of the many industries that have the power to positively impact the health of billions of people,” he said.

According to the authors, the pledge is just the first step to evaluate the impact of the industry on obesity, and more needs to be done to continue to have a positive impact on the epidemic.

About The Obesity Society
The Obesity Society (TOS) is the leading professional society dedicated to better understanding, preventing and treating obesity. Through research, education and advocacy, TOS is committed to improving the lives of those affected by the disease.









Flu Vaccine from Physician Offers Important Health Check Up, Says Loyola Infectious Disease Specialist

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 12-Sep-2014
Source: Loyola University Health System

flu jabs PIC.

Getting your annual flu shot from your physician affords an opportunity for an overall health checkup, says Jorge Parada, MD, medical director of infectious disease at Loyola University Health System.

(A health check-up would be nice. In our surgery for flu jabs  we queue up like children waiting for dinner. The nurses do about three couples in every ten minutes. It is like a conveyor belt but it works. J.)

Newswise — Everyone knows that the best way to avoid the flu is by getting an annual flu shot. But a trip to your physician every autumn for the vaccination can help you avoid much more than the dreaded flu bug.

“At the doctor’s office, the focus is on you and what is going on with your health. This is your time to talk about concerns to improve your well-being beyond the flu season,” says Jorge Parada, MD, MPH, the medical director of the Infection Prevention and Control Program at Loyola University Health System.

A retail store that offers the flu shot cannot give you expert medical advice from your physician that knows you and your medical history.

“You trust your store employee to help you locate items you want to buy, not to diagnose what is causing a persistent symptom, schedule other annual health maintenance exams such as mammograms or offer expert medical advice,” he said.

When is the best time of year to get the flu shot? The official flu season is October 1 – March 31, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“Getting the flu shot in October gives you the best chance of avoiding the flu this year,” says Parada.

“If you get your flu shot in the beginning of September, you may start running out of infection immunity by February or March, when the virus is still around.”

The flu season traditionally peaks in late December to early February, he notes. Loyola is planning to distribute more than 30,000 flu vaccinations this season.

“Remember that it takes up to two weeks after the flu shot for the full effect to kick in,” says Parada. “And if you were exposed to the flu around the time you get your flu shot, you may still experience the flu but do not blame the flu shot.”

Just like with other infectious diseases such as polio, mumps, chicken pox and whooping cough, the participation of everyone in receiving vaccinations is critical to stopping the virus.

“When people are universally vaccinated, those infections are largely eliminated,” says Parada. “It may not sound sexy but it is everyone’s civic responsibility to protect themselves and their community.”

Millions of dollars are lost each year during the flu season due to missed days of work, expense of medications and the like. And many lose their lives due to the flu.

“The most vulnerable members of our society, the very young and the elderly or chronically ill, and pregnant women, are hit the hardest by the flu,” says Parada.

For 2014, the flu vaccination composition is the same as in 2013. The 2014-2015 trivalent influenza vaccine is made from the following three viruses:
• an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
• an A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus;
• a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.

It is recommended that quadrivalent vaccines containing two influenza B viruses contain the above three viruses and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

There are hundreds of varieties of the flu. “The flu virus is mutating all the time but health professionals track what happens in other countries that experience the flu season earlier and identify the primary strains,” says Parada.

Loyola University Health System is recognized internationally as a leader in infection control and prevention. Loyola is one of a few select hospitals who invest in universal screening of all inpatients for MRSA. Loyola was one of the first institutions to require all staff to have mandatory flu shots as a condition of employment. Loyola was the only academic hospital to participate in a national C. difficile study and performs the most accurate testing for bacteria. Loyola also actively screens emergency department patients for HIV/AIDS as part of an ongoing research study.


Enzymes that help produce caffeine evolved independently in coffee, tea and chocolate, say scientists who have newly sequenced the coffee plant genome

From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Release: September 4, 2014                           By Cory Nealon   University of Buffalo News Centre

Coffee Beans PIC.

  • An international research team has sequenced the genome of the coffee plant Coffea canephora.
  • By comparing genes in the coffee, tea and chocolate plants, the scientists show that enzymes involved in making caffeine likely evolved independently in these three organisms.
  • More than 8.7 million tons of coffee was produced in 2013; it is the principal agricultural product of many tropical nations.
  • The study was led by the French Institute of Research for Development, the French National Sequencing Center (CEA-Genoscope) and the University at Buffalo. The findings appear in the journal Science.


BUFFALO, N.Y. — The newly sequenced genome of the coffee plant reveals secrets about the evolution of man’s best chemical friend: caffeine.

The scientists who completed the project say the sequences and positions of genes in the coffee plant show that they evolved independently from genes with similar functions in tea and chocolate, which also make caffeine.

In other words, coffee did not inherit caffeine-linked genes from a common ancestor, but instead developed the genes on its own.

Why coffee?

With more than 2.25 billion cups consumed daily worldwide, coffee is the principal agricultural product of many tropical countries. According to estimates by the International Coffee Organization, more than 8.7 million tons of coffee were produced in 2013, revenue from exports amounted to $15.4 billion in 2009-2010, and the sector employed nearly 26 million people in 52 countries during 2010.

“Coffee is as important to everyday early risers as it is to the global economy. Accordingly, a genome sequence could be a significant step toward improving coffee,” said Philippe Lashermes, a researcher at the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD).

“By looking at the coffee genome and genes specific to coffee, we were able to draw some conclusions about what makes coffee special.”

Lashermes, along with Patrick Wincker and France Denoeud, genome scientists at the French National Sequencing Center (CEA-Genoscope), and Victor Albert, professor of biological sciences at the University at Buffalo, are the principal authors of the study.

Scientists from other organizations, particularly the Agricultural Research Center for International Development in France, also contributed, along with researchers from public and private organizations in the U.S., France, Italy, Canada, Germany, China, Spain, Indonesia, Brazil, Australia and India.

The team created a high-quality draft of the genome of Coffea canephora, which accounts for about 30 percent of the world’s coffee production, according to the Manhattan-based National Coffee Association.

Next, the scientists looked at how coffee’s genetic make-up is distinct from other species.

Compared to several other plant species, including the grape and tomato, coffee harbors larger families of genes that relate to the production of alkaloid and flavonoid compounds, which contribute to qualities such as coffee aroma and the bitterness of beans.

Coffee also has an expanded collection of N-methyltransferases, enzymes that are involved in making caffeine.

Upon taking a closer look, the researchers found that coffee’s caffeine enzymes are more closely related to other genes within the coffee plant than to caffeine enzymes in tea and chocolate.

This finding suggests that caffeine production developed independently in coffee. If this trait had been inherited from a common ancestor, the enzymes would have been more similar between species.

“The coffee genome helps us understand what is exciting about coffee — other than that it wakes me up in the morning,” Albert said.

“By looking at which families of genes expanded in the plant, and the relationship between the genome structure of coffee and other species, we were able to learn about coffee’s independent pathway in evolution, including — excitingly — the story of caffeine.”

Why caffeine is so important in nature is another question. Scientists theorize that the chemical may help plants repel insects or stunt competitors’ growth. One recent paper showed that pollinators — like humans — may develop caffeine habits. Insects that visited caffeine-producing plants often returned to get another taste.

The new Science study does not offer new ideas about the evolutionary role of caffeine, but it does reinforce the idea that the compound is a valuable asset. It also provides the opportunity to better understand the evolution of coffee’s genome structure.

“It turns out that, over evolutionary time, the coffee genome was not triplicated as in its relatives: the tomato and chile pepper,” Wincker said.

“Instead it maintained a structure similar to the grape’s. As such, evolutionary diversification of the coffee genome was likely more driven by duplications in particular gene families as opposed to en masse, when all genes in the genome duplicate.”

This stands in contrast to what has been suggested for several other large plant families, where other investigators have noted correlations between high species diversity in a group and the presence of whole genome doublings or triplings.

“Coffee lies in the plant family Rubiaceae, which has about 13,000 species and is the world’s fourth largest; thus, with no genome duplication at its root, it appears to break the mold of a genome duplication link to high biodiversity,” Denoeud said.

The research was funded by the French National Research Agency; Australian Research Council; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; CNR-ENEA Agrifood Project of Italy; Funding Authority for Studies and Projects (FINEP Qualicafe) of Brazil; National Institutes of Science and Technology (INCT Cafe) of Brazil; the U.S. National Science Foundation; the College of Arts and Sciences, University at Buffalo; and in-kind support by scientists at Nestle’s research and development center in Tours, France.

“The coffee genome helps us understand what is exciting about coffee — other than that it wakes me up in the morning,” said Victor Albert, professor of biological sciences University at Buffalo.



Study shows a seasonal effect on the pace of motor development in babies born in Israel during their first year

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 11-Sep-2014   Source : University of Haifax


Newswise — The season of a baby’s birth influences its motor development during its first year of life, a new study by University of Haifa researcher’s shows. Babies born in the winter (between December and May) start crawling earlier compared to babies born in the summer (June-November).

The research was conducted by Dr. Osnat Atun-Einy of the University’s Department of Physical Therapy and Dr. Dina Cohen, Moran Samuel and Prof. Anat Scher of the Department of Counseling and Human Development. 47 healthy babies with typical development patterns where divided them into two groups.

The first group comprised “summer-fall” babies, 16 babies born from June to November, and the second, “winter-spring” babies, 31 babies born from December to May. The study consisted of motor observations in the babies’ homes when there were seven months old, and a follow-up session when they began to crawl. Parents were asked to record the stages in their babies’ development before and between the observations.

The study used the Alberta Infant Motor Scale (AIMS), an observational assessment with high reliability, to track the babies’ development. The scale relates to four positions: Prone (on the stomach), supine (on the back), sitting, and standing.

The average age at which the babies started crawling was 31 weeks. But while the babies born in the winter (who started to crawl in the summer) started to crawl at an average 30 weeks, those born in the summer (who started to crawl in the winter) began crawling at an average of 35 weeks, with no differences noted between the boys or the girls or in the initial style of crawling (belly crawling or using hands and knees).

The overall AIMS score was higher for those babies born in the winter, and the score for movement in the prone position, the scale most meaningful in connection with crawling was, significantly higher for the babies in the winter group.

By contrast, there was no significant difference in the scores for the supine position, sitting, or standing between the two groups. According to the researchers, the findings strengthen the assumption that there is a window of opportunity for starting to crawl and stress the effect of the season on the start of crawling.

“The difference in crawling onset of four weeks constitutes 14 percent of a seven-month-old’s life and is significant,” the researchers note. “Documenting the trend by comparing the results of a standard evaluation scale strengthens the findings and points to a significant seasonal effect in the Israeli context.

”The geographic location and the local climate where the study is conducted is important to understand the findings, they add. A seasonal effect is found in places where the differences in the home environment between summer and winter are significant.

Studies done in Denver, Colorado and in Osaka, Japan found a seasonal effect that corresponds with the findings of the Haifa study, but a study conducted in Alberta, Canada, where winters are long and cold on the one hand, but the home environment (because of winter heating) is very similar all year round, the seasonal effect was not observed.

“Although the winter in Israel is comparatively mild compared to other places in the world, it turns out that it nonetheless influences the motor development of babies because of the differences between summer and winter in Israel,” the researchers say.

“The season influences the babies’ experiences in a number of ways, including layers of clothing that are worn; the opportunities babies are given to spend on the floor on their stomachs, and the hours of activity and daylight. Awareness of the seasonal effect is important so that parents will give their babies proper movement and development opportunities in the winter as well,” the researchers say.

Back tomorrow Jeanne