In the news
Why expensive wine appears to taste better. Previous work from INSEAD Associate Professor of Marketing Hilke Plassmann's research group did show that a higher price, for instance for chocolate or wine, increased the expectation that the product will also taste better and in turn affects taste processing regions in the brain. "However, it has so far been unclear how the price information ultimately causes more expensive wine to also be perceived as having a better taste in the brain," says Prof. Bernd Weber, Acting Director of the Center for Economics and Neuroscience (CENs) at the University of Bonn. The phenomenon that identical products are perceived differently due to differences in price is called the "marketing placebo effect". As with placebo medications, it has an effect solely due to ascribed properties: "Quality has its price!"
"Ultimately, the reward and motivation system plays a trick on us," explains INSEAD post-doctoral fellow Liane Schmidt. When prices are higher, it leads us to believe that a taste is present that is not only driven by the wine itself, because the products were objectively identical in all of the tastings. "The exciting question is now whether it is possible to train the reward system to make it less receptive to such placebo marketing effects," says Prof. Weber. This may be possible by training one's own physical perception - such as taste - to a greater extent.
Consumers misled by gluten-free foods. Gluten-free products cannot be considered as sufficient substitutes for their gluten-containing counterparts, prompting scientists to call for the reformulation of gluten free items with healthier raw materials to ensure healthy childhood nutrition. A study shows that gluten-free items have a significantly higher energy content and a different nutritional composition to their gluten-containing counterparts. Many of the gluten-containing products -- especially breads, pastas, pizzas and flours -- also contained up to three times more protein than their gluten free substitutes. Experts are warning that not only are gluten-free products different in their nutritional composition, but consumers may not be aware of these unhealthy variances due to poor nutritional labelling. ESPGHAN
Illegal levels of arsenic found in baby foods. In January 2016, the EU imposed a maximum limit of inorganic arsenic on manufacturers in a bid to mitigate associated health risks. Researchers at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's have found that little has changed since this law was passed and that 50 per cent of baby rice food products still contain an illegal level of inorganic arsenic.
Professor Meharg, lead author of the study and Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at Queen's, said: "This research has shown direct evidence that babies are exposed to illegal levels of arsenic despite the EU regulation to specifically address this health challenge. Babies are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of arsenic that can prevent the healthy development of a baby's growth, IQ and immune system to name but a few."
Professor Meharg explained: "Products such as rice-cakes and rice cereals are common in babies' diets. This study found that almost three-quarters of baby crackers, specifically marketed for children exceeded the maximum amount of arsenic."
"Manufacturers should be held accountable for selling products that are not meeting the required EU standard. Companies should publish the levels of arsenic in their products to prevent those with illegal amounts from being sold. This will enable consumers to make an informed decision, aware of any risks associated before consuming products containing arsenic."
TV ads may influence kids' drinking - Research adds to evidence linking alcohol advertising to underage drinking. And it suggests that TV ads really do influence the amount of alcohol kids drink. The current study is not the first to show that under-21 audiences are seeing plenty of alcohol ads, despite the industry's own regulations. Experts recommend that children and teenagers spend a limited amount of time each day in front of a "screen" -- whether a TV, computer, or phone. The point, in part, is to free more time for healthier activities, such as exercising and reading.
Naimi, T. S., Ross, C. S., Siegel, M. B., DeJong, W., & Jernigan, D. H. Amount of televised alcohol advertising exposure and the quantity of alcohol consumed by youth. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Many top selling sunscreens don't offer adequate protection - About
40 percent of the top selling sunscreens don't meet the American Academy of Dermatology's
guidelines for sunscreens. This was largely due to a lack of water or sweat resistance.
The study also found consumers spend up to 3,000 percent more for products that provide
the same sunscreen protection as lower-cost sunscreens. Northwestern Medicine. JAMA
Almost all food and beverage products marketed by
music stars are unhealthy - Recording artists are frequently the face of
commercial products -- and children and adolescents are frequently their target audience.
Now, a new study by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center finds that the vast majority
of the food and beverage products marketed by some of the most popular music stars are
unhealthy. And this type of advertising is contributing to the alarming rise in childhood
and teen obesity. Soda and other sugary drinks, fast food and sweets are among the most
common food and beverage products endorsed by famous music personalities. Equally
alarming, none of the music stars identified in the study endorsed fruits, vegetables, or
whole grains. Only one endorsed a natural food deemed healthy--pistachios. "Because
of our nation's childhood and teenage obesity public health crises, it is important to
raise awareness about how companies are using celebrities popular with these audiences to
market their unhealthy products," said Dr. Bragg, who is also a faculty member at the
NYU College of Global Public Health. "Research has already shown that food
advertising leads to overeating, and the food industry spends $1.8 billion per year
marketing to youth alone." Pediatrics
- Did You Know? Quality Street Tins Are Shrinking
Is your favorite grocery store making you
fat? "Grocers can benefit from encouraging healthy shopping practices because they can sell more perishable items like fruits and vegetables rather than tossing them in the dumpster after a few days," says lead researcher Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University and author of the new book, Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, "The benefit to shoppers is obvious; healthier groceries result in healthier eating!"
Energy drinks, sleep problems -
Many energy drinks have high caffeine content; when consumed in excess, caffeine can accelerate the heart rate, increase anxiety, and contribute to insomnia. Energy drinks contain very large amounts of caffeine, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require caffeine quantities to be displayed on beverage labels," says Levant. "Because of this, some people may drink more caffeine through energy drinks than they might have intended to throughout a day, and drinking large amounts can cause problems--especially with sleep."
Dr. Ronald F. Levant, a professor of psychology at The University of Akron. Health Psychology
Five days of eating fatty foods can alter how your body's muscle processes food
- After just five days of eating a high-fat diet, the way in which the body's muscle processes nutrients changes, which could lead to long-term problems such as weight gain, obesity, and other health issues.
"Most people think they can indulge in high-fat foods for a few days and get away with it," said Matt Hulver, an associate professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "But all it takes is five days for your body's muscle to start to protest."
Hulver and his colleagues found that muscles' ability to oxidize glucose after a meal is disrupted after five days of eating a high-fat diet, which could lead to the body's inability to respond to insulin, a risk factor for the development of diabetes and other diseases.
If you've got a smart watch, hackers could get your data
- They're the latest rage in jewelry and gadgetry, but like all computer devices, smart watches are vulnerable to hackers.
Using a homegrown app on a Samsung Gear Live smart watch, the researchers were able to guess what a user was typing through data "leaks" produced by the motion sensors on smart watches. The project, called Motion Leaks through Smartwatch Sensors, or MoLe, has privacy implications, as an app that is camouflaged as a pedometer, for example, could gather data from emails, search queries and other confidential documents.
"Sensor data from wearable devices will clearly be a double-edged sword," said Romit Roy Choudhury, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois. "While the device's contact to the human body will offer invaluable insights into human health and context, it will also make way for deeper violation into human privacy. The core challenge is in characterizing what can or cannot be inferred from sensor data and the MoLe project is one example along this direction."
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Trans fats linked to greater risk of death and heart disease
- "For years everyone has been advised to cut out fats. Trans fats have no health benefits and pose a significant risk for heart disease, but the case for saturated fat is less clear," said Russell de Souza, an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics with the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. "That said, we aren't advocating an increase of the allowance for saturated fats in dietary guidelines, as we don't see evidence that higher limits would be specifically beneficial to health."
Saturated fats come mainly from animal products, such as butter, cows' milk, meat, salmon and egg yolks, and some plant products such as chocolate and palm oils.
Trans unsaturated fats (trans fats) are mainly produced industrially from plant oils (a process known as hydrogenation) for use in
margarine, snack foods and packaged baked goods.
Labels on the front of food packaging enables healthier choices
- "Front of package food labelling is an important tool in helping consumers to make healthier choices and to encourage the industry to provide healthier foods," said Professor Monique Raats from the University of Surrey.
British Journal of Nutrition
Consumption rises with automated bill payment
- The adage "out of sight, out of mind" applies to electricity use. A study found that residential customers using automatic bill payments consumed 4 to 6 percent more power than those who did not. Commercial electricity customers used 8 percent more. And low-income residents who enrolled in budget billing to spread the cost of seasonal peak demand across the year used 7 percent more electricity.
Duke University, Sanford School of Public Policy. Review of Economics and Statistics
Mobile phone bans lead to rise in student test scores
- Banning cellphones in schools reaps the same benefits as extending the school year by five days. "New technologies are typically thought of as improving productivity, however this is not always the case," said Richard Murphy, an assistant professor of economics. "When technology is multipurpose, such as cellphones, it can be both distracting and disruptive."
University of Texas at Austin.
Monsanto - The worldwide March Against Monsanto campaign has received massive international support.
Spanning 6 continents, 48 countries, and 421 cities, March Against Monsanto has generated mass awareness and interest as world regulatory organizations openly declare Monsanto's glyphosate-containing Roundup
herbicide to be a serious threat to health. The leading authority on human wellness protocols,
The World Health Organization, has already determined Monsanto's Roundup to be a
'probable carcinogen' within the food supply. March Against Monsanto
Many probiotics contaminated with traces of gluten - More than half of popular probiotics contain traces of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, and patients with celiac disease need to eliminate it from their diet or face pain, bowel symptoms, and an increased risk of cancer. "We have been following reports in the scientific literature and news media on inaccurate labeling of nutritional supplements, and it appears that labels claiming a product is gluten-free are not to be trusted, at least when it comes to probiotics," said Dr. Peter Green, professor of medicine and director of the Celiac Disease Center, "This is a potential hazard for our patients, and we are concerned." Columbia University Medical Center
Quality of foods advertised to kids
- Children are exposed to a considerable amount of televised food advertising: more than six ads accounting for about 2:21 minutes per hour during typical programming. Concerns about the role of televised food advertising as a contributor to childhood obesity led to the food industry adopting of a program of self-regulation.
A new study evaluated the effectiveness of industry self-regulation and found that this program has achieved little improvement in the nutritional quality of foods advertised to children. The study found that
four of every five foods advertised to children (80.5%) are classified in the poorest nutritional
category, according to US Department of Health and Human Services guidelines.
Dale Kunkel, PhD, Department of Communication, University of Arizona, Tucson. American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Non-stop shopping - customers who adopted mobile technology for their grocery shopping shopped more often and place larger orders.
Northwestern University. Journal of Retailing
Shopping vouchers could help 1 in 5 pregnant women
quit smoking - Financial incentives could help one in five women quit smoking during pregnancy.
Professor Theresa Marteau from the Behaviour and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge, said: "We all know of the dangers of smoking, particularly during pregnancy, but quitting can be extremely difficult. Offering financial incentives clearly works for some women - with very few 'gaming' the system and a significant number stopping smoking at least for the duration of their pregnancy."
University of Cambridge and King's College London. Addiction
Passive exposure to bleach at home linked to higher infection rate
- Passive exposure to bleach in the home is linked to higher rates of childhood respiratory and other infections. Findings back other studies indicating a link between cleaning products and respiratory symptoms and inflammation.
The researchers add: "The high frequency of use of disinfecting cleaning products, caused by the erroneous belief, reinforced by advertising, that our homes should be free of microbes, makes the modest effects reported in our study of public health concern."
By way of an explanation for the associations they found, they suggest that the irritant properties of volatile or airborne compounds generated during the cleaning process may damage the lining of lung cells, sparking inflammation and making it easier for infections to take hold. Bleach may also potentially suppress the immune system, they say.
Occupational & Environmental Medicine
Sharing by apps - privacy alert
- Many smartphone users know that free apps sometimes share private information with third parties, but few, if any, are aware of how frequently this occurs.
An experiment shows that when people learn exactly how many times these apps share that information they rapidly act to limit further sharing.
Some were alarming. One notable example: "Your location has been shared 5,398 times with Facebook, Groupon, GO Launcher EX and seven other apps in the last 14 days."
One participant said, "It felt like I'm being followed by my own phone. It was scary. That number is too high."
"The vast majority of people have no clue about what's going on," said Norman Sadeh, a professor in the School of Computer Science's Institute for Software Research. Most smartphone users, in fact, have no way of obtaining this data about app behavior. But the study shows that when they do, they tend to act rapidly to change their privacy settings. The study examined the efficacy of both app permission managers and privacy nudges in helping people understand and manage privacy settings.
Carnegie Mellon University
Cell phone, mobile phones, 'bill shock' warnings
- Policies that push cellphone carriers to alert customers when they're about to exceed their plan limit are supposed to make things better for consumers. But just the opposite may be happening.
It shows that such warnings can be more costly, because cellphone companies adjust their plans and fees accordingly to maintain profits. While some consumers do benefit, others either decrease or stop usage, end up with more expensive plans or continue to underestimate their usage and choose the wrong plan.
University of Toronto's and Boston College. American Economic Review
Fast food commercials to kids 'deceptive'
- Fast food ads aimed at kids fail to de-emphasize toy premiums, making them deceptive by industry self-regulation standards. They also fail to emphasize healthy menu items.
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Northeastern University School of Law.
Energy drinks raise resting blood pressure
- Healthy young adults who don't consume caffeine regularly experienced greater rise in resting blood pressure after consumption of a commercially available energy drink -- compared to a placebo drink -- thus raising the concern that
energy drinks may increase the risk of cardiac events. "We know that energy drink consumption is widespread and rising among young people. Concerns about the health safety of energy drinks have been raised. We and others have previously shown that energy drinks increase blood pressure," says lead author Anna Svatikova, M.D., Ph.D., cardiovascular diseases fellow at the Mayo Clinic. "Now we are seeing that for those not used to caffeine, the concern may be even greater. Consumers should use caution when using energy drinks because they may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, even among young people."
Supermarket promotions boost sales of less healthy foods more than healthier foods
- Supermarket price promotions are more likely to lead to an increase in sales of less healthy foods than healthier choices in supermarkets.
Price promotions are commonly used in stores to boost sales through price reductions and stimulate impulsive purchases by increasing items' prominence through tags and positioning. However, there is growing concern that such promotional activities by the food industry may contribute to poor dietary choices and might lure consumers away from healthier, higher priced options.
University of Cambridge. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Toxic Fructose -
"This is the most robust study showing there is a difference between high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar at human-relevant doses," says biology professor Wayne Potts.
Potts says the debate over the relative dangers of fructose and sucrose is important "because when the
diabetes-obesity-metabolic syndrome epidemics started in the mid-1970s, they corresponded with both a general increase in consumption of added sugar and the switchover from sucrose being the main added sugar in the American diet to high-fructose corn syrup making up half our sugar intake."
University of Utah. The Journal of Nutrition.
Don't be tempted to buy your teen a
cheap (old) car, parents warned -
Half of US teen driver fatalities are in vehicles 11+ years old, and often lacking key standard safety features. Parents, who are usually the ones stumping up for a car, could be putting their children's lives at risk by focusing on cost.
"Newer vehicles generally are also more likely to have better crash test ratings and important safety features such as ESC and side airbags," researchers say, adding: "Parents may benefit from consumer information about vehicle choices that are both safe and economical."
Injuries from indoor tanning include burns, passing out, eye injuries -
Skin burns, passing out and eye injuries were among the primary injuries incurred at indoor tanning sites and treated in emergency departments (EDs) at U.S. hospitals. Indoor tanning exposes users to intense UV radiation, a known carcinogen. But less is known about the more immediate adverse effects of indoor tanning.
Researchers analyzed nonfatal indoor tanning-related injury data from the 2003 to 2012 from a nationally representative sample of hospital EDs. The authors identified 405 nonfatal indoor tanning-related injuries.
JAMA Internal Medicine
Top-selling eye vitamins found not to match scientific evidence -
With billions of dollars spent each year on nutritional supplements, researchers have analyzed popular eye vitamins to determine whether their formulations and claims are consistent with scientific findings. They determined that some of the top-selling products do not contain identical ingredient dosages to eye vitamin formulas proven effective in clinical trials. In addition, the study found that claims made on the products' promotional materials lack scientific evidence.
American Academy of Ophthalmology. Ophthalmology.
Unlike humans, monkeys aren't fooled by expensive brands -
A group of researchers tested whether monkeys show a common human bias: the tendency to confuse the price of a good with its quality. Previous
studies have shown that humans think wine labeled with an expensive price tag tastes better than the same wine labeled with a cheaper price tag. In other
studies, people thought a pain killer worked better when they paid a higher price for it.
"For humans, higher price tags often signal that other people like a particular good," said Laurie Santos, a psychologist at Yale University. "Our richer
social experiences with markets might be the very thing that leads us-- and not monkeys-- astray in this case."
Trans fat consumption is linked to diminished memory -
"Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory, in young and middle-aged men, during their working and career-building years," said Beatrice A. Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., lead author and professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego. "From a health standpoint, trans fat consumption has been linked to
higher body weight, more aggression and heart disease. As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people."
"Foods have different effects on oxidative stress and cell energy," Golomb said. Oxidative stress is associated with the development of diseases such as
heart disease and cancer. Industrial trans fats are artificially produced to turn liquid oils into solids at room temperature and extend food shelf life. They can be found in
margarines, fast foods, baked goods, snack foods, frozen pizza, coffee creamers and some refrigerated
doughs. American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.
The Trojan Horse burger: Do companies that 'do good' sell unhealthy
When consumers see a company performing good deeds, they often assume that the company's products are healthy. According to a new study
this may be far from true, and the company's socially responsible behavior may be creating a "health halo" over
unhealthy foods. The study concludes with a warning: "If consumers seeking a healthy diet inaccurately estimate nutritional content of products marketed
by firms with strong reputations for corporate social responsibility, it can lead to serious health consequences for both individuals and society."
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.
Organic food -
A growing number of consumers are willing to pay a premium for fruits, vegetables and other foods labelled 'organic,' but whether they're getting what the label claims is another matter. Now scientists studying conventional and organic tomatoes are devising a new way to make sure farms are labeling their produce appropriately.
Food Marketing Creates a False Sense of Health -
Health-related buzzwords, such as “antioxidant,” “gluten-free” and “whole grain,” lull consumers into thinking packaged food products labeled with those words are healthier than they actually are.
That “false sense of health,” as well as a failure to understand the information presented in nutrition facts panels on packaged food, may be contributing to the obesity epidemic, said Temple Northup, an assistant professor at the Jack J. Valenti School of
Communication at UH.
“Food marketers are exploiting consumer desires to be healthy by marketing products as nutritious when, in fact, they’re not,” said Northup, principal investigator of the study, “Truth, Lies, and Packaging: How Food Marketing Creates a False Sense of Health.”
The study also looks at the “priming” psychology behind the words to explain why certain words prompt consumers to assign a health benefit to a food product with unhealthy ingredients.
University of Houston.
Can Mobile Phones Cause Allergic
Studies have identified mobile phones and related devices as sources of metal sensitization and potential causes of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). Despite efforts to control allergen release in phones, many phones on the market release levels of metals, such as nickel and chromium, which are sufficient to induce
ACD. Jacob Thyssen, MD, PhD, Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte (Hellerup, Denmark), Loma Linda University School of Medicine (Loma Linda, CA), and University of Arizona College of Medicine (Phoenix, AZ).
Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology.
Vitamin E -
A study ties increasing consumption of supposedly healthy, vitamin E-rich oils - canola, soybean and corn - to the rising incidence of lung inflammation and, possibly, asthma. The good news: vitamin E in olive and sunflower oils improves lungs. The study shows drastically different health effects of vitamin E depending on its form: gamma-tocopherol in soybean, canola and corn oil and alpha-tocopherol in olive and sunflower oils.
Joan Cook-Mills, an associate professor of medicine in allergy/immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Michelle Marchese; Rajesh Kumar, M.D.; Kiang Liu; Laura Colangelo and Pedro Avila, M.D.
Ginseng can help treat and prevent ... -
Ginseng can help treat and prevent influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Ginseng has been reported to have
anticancer, anti-inflammatory and immune modifying abilities. Sang-Moo Kang reports the beneficial effects of ginseng, a well-known herbal medicine, on human health. Georgia State University, Institute for Biomedical Sciences.
Nutrients. International Journal of Molecular Medicine. Always consult your Doctor before taking any supplements, etc.
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