Public Health

Fortifying the U.S. food supply with folic acid was not associated with a decline in certain birth defects that researchers expected to see in California, a finding likely to contribute to an ongoing debate about the future of the fortification program.

The study of more than 1.3 million California births and pregnancies spanning two decades is published in Birth Defects Research Part A. The research examines neural tube defects, which affect a baby's brain and spine, and which were the intended target of fortification with folic acid, a B vitamin. However, neural tube defects were already becoming less common before fortification began, and their decline slowed substantially after fortification was introduced, the study found.

It used to be a truism that when people stopped smoking, they were likely to gain weight, but the reasons for it were cloudy. Did people replace the mechanism of smoking with candy and food, or did nicotine suppress body weight gain independent of food intake. In other words, was it speeding up metabolism

A new paper in Nicotine&Tobacco Research using rats says it is the latter. Caution is always warranted in these sorts of studies, since mainstream media tends to hype animal model findings without ever noting that rats are actually not little people.

In rats self-administering a maximally-reinforcing dose of nicotine, body weight gain during the 20-day study period was attenuated by ~40% despite no change in food intake.  

Slama et al. (2016) recently published a paper on issues relevant to setting regulations for endocrine disrupting substances in the European Union.1   The authors discuss options associated with these issues, briefly described as use of interim criteria, or use of the World Health Organization definition of endocrine disruption by itself or with additional categories of strength of evidence or chemical potency.

Diagnoses of celiac disease (CD), an autoimmune disease, are increasing, no real surprise after not one but two bestselling food books based on suspect studies claimed wheat is poison.

Want to see social inequality and how it impacts obesity? Look at takeout food in your neighborhood - and in the halls of Cambridge.

Yet the halls of Cambridgee are where a new paper claims takeout food is an indicator of social inequality. Obviously elites at Cambridge have a long and cherished history to gaze upon, including one in which a feudal system made sure poor people were never overweight. Today, there is more equality than ever, poor people can afford to be fat, but the Cambridge scholars believe that even cheap food is a way of promoting oppression.

The Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) at the University of Cambridge mapped takeout food to obesity and income. Prestige, the kind of paper British comic John Oliver just ridiculed is born:

Last week the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) released a consensus statement on criteria for identifying endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that could input to the European Commission’s mandate to develop and implement criteria for EDC identification as requ

A review of six studies that evaluated the effects of meat and vegetarian diets on mortality involving more than 1.5 million people concluded all-cause mortality is higher for those who eat meat, particularly red or processed meat, on a daily basis.

The work by physicians from Mayo Clinic in Arizona published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association helps to affirm claims by the United Nations International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) claim that meat is a carcinogen as dangerous as plutonium or cigarette smoking. Despite variability in the data, they still conclude that increased intake of red meat, especially processed red meat, is associated with increased all-cause mortality.  

Rice and rice products are typical first foods for infants in some countries and a new study found that infants who ate rice and rice products had higher urinary arsenic concentrations than those who did not consume any type of rice.

Seven top international tobacco control experts are prompting regulators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to have a broad "open-minded" perspective when it comes to regulating vaporized nicotine products, especially e-cigarettes. 

Writing in the journal Addiction, published online April 25, the researchers synthesize much of the evidence published to date on e-cigarettes, and suggest that use of these products can lead to reduced cigarette smoking overall with a potential reduction in deaths from cigarette smoking.

A 20 percent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks would result in widespread, long-lasting public health benefits and significant health cost savings, an estimated $400 million a year and reduce annual health expenditure by up to $29 million, according to a computer model.