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[check mark] Eat Fish, See Better?


[check mark] New Seafood Guidelines


[check mark] Early Growth Can Help Predict Childhood Obesity


Consumers Need Better Guidance to Make Seafood Choices

The fragmented information that consumers receive about the nutritional value and health risks associated with fish and shellfish can result in confusion or misperceptions about this food source, says a new report by the Institute of Medicine. The report reviews the scientific evidence on seafood's benefits and risks and offers examples of how such information might be presented in a more coherent way to the public.


Much of the evidence on seafood's health benefits and risks is preliminary or insufficient, the committee found, but they also confirm that eating fish and shellfish may reduce people's overall risk of developing heart disease. It is not certain whether this is because substituting the lean protein of seafood for fatty cuts of meat reduces consumers' intake of saturated fat and cholesterol or because of the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in relatively high amounts in many fish species.


Seafood is the major source of human exposure to methylmercury, a contaminant that accumulates in the muscle of animals over time. Because evidence suggests that methylmercury can disrupt neurodevelopment in the fetus, the report supports current recommendations that women who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant avoid consumption of lean, predatory fish such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish, and limit their consumption of albacore, or "white," tuna. Other potential risks associated with seafood are exposure to persistent organic pollutants such as dioxin and Polychlorinated biphenyls, although there is no clear evidence on the adverse effects associated with these compounds.


Most people can gain nutritional benefits from seafood while minimizing their risk of exposure to contaminants by selecting fish and shellfish in amounts that fall within current dietary guidelines, the report says. Because seafood supplies and cultivation practices change constantly, it would be difficult for federal agencies to develop a list of "good fish" and "bad fish" that would not become obsolete in a short time. However, the benefits and risks for broad categories of seafood are relatively consistent:


* Lean fish are good sources of protein, are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and provide moderate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.


* Fatty fish such as salmon are good sources of protein and provide the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain higher levels of saturated fat and cholesterol and can accumulate higher amounts of pollutants, such as dioxin and Polychlorinated biphenyl, depending upon the source. Their methylmercury burden is lower than that of many lean fish.


* Shellfish and crustaceans are good sources of protein and are low in saturated fat, although some contain moderate amounts of cholesterol.


* For all seafood categories, levels of contaminants, such as dioxin and Polychlorinated biphenyls, in commercially obtained fish generally do not pose health risks when consumed in amounts recommended by federal agencies.



To obtain a copy of the full report, visit the Web site:


Source: Food and Drug Administration


American Diabetes Association Urges Medical Nutrition Therapy for Multilevel Diabetes Interventions

A focus on overweight and obesity and the inclusion of 3 levels of intervention are the biggest changes in the American Diabetes Association's (ADA's) Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Diabetes-2006 from previous updates, says Judith Wylie-Rosett, EdD, RD, cochair of the position statement's writing panel.


The goal of ADA in issuing the evidence-based position statement is to bring awareness of beneficial nutritional interventions to people with diabetes and their healthcare providers. However, the recommendations also emphasize the diabetes-preventative aspects of nutrition, such as the association between drinking sugared beverages and the obesity epidemic, the connection between obesity and the risk of diabetes, and the importance of consuming recommended levels of fiber for all Americans.


The 2006 medical nutrition therapy recommendations "accentuate the impact of food intake in the diabetic population; the need to monitor blood glucose after meals and monitor blood pressure and cholesterol; and how diet affects these values," Wylie-Rosett notes. "They are very similar to the 2005 US Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines for Americans in general, as well as American Heart Association recommendations."


The 2006 ADA update recommends:


* Lifestyle changes, including nutritional education and behavior modification, reduced energy and fat intake, and regular physical activity for overweight and obese individuals;


* Daily fiber intake of 14 g/1,000 kcal (as recommended by the USDA);


* Saturated fat intake of less than 7% of total calories, minimal trans-fat intake, and cholesterol intake of less than 200 mg/d for individuals with diabetes, plus carbohydrate monitoring to regulate blood glucose;


* Normal dietary protein intake (15%-20% of energy) and avoidance of high-protein weight-loss diets and micronutrient supplementation, except for specific deficiencies;


* Limited daily alcohol intake: 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men; and


* Specific nutritional interventions for individuals with diabetes who are experiencing microvascular complications, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, hypoglycemia, and acute illness.



Because patients look to clinicians for guidance on how to integrate nutrition into their overall diabetes management, Wylie-Rosett suggests addressing nutrition issues at each patient visit, helping patients find nutrition information, and following ADA recommendations to refer diabetic patients to registered dietitians.


Source: American Diabetes Association. Nutrition recommendations and interventions for diabetes-2006 [Position Statement]. Diabetes Care. 2006;29:2140-2157.


New Nationwide Study Will Evaluate the Effect of Antioxidants and Fish Oil on Progression of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The National Institutes of Health announces a nationwide study to determine whether a modified combination of vitamins, minerals, and fish oil can further slow the progression of vision loss from age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in the United States for people older than 60 years. This new study, called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), will build upon the results from the earlier Age-Related Eye Disease Study. The original study results were released 5 years ago. The study found that high-dose antioxidant vitamins and minerals (vitamins C and E, beta carotene, zinc, and copper), taken by mouth, reduced the risk of progression to advanced age-related macular degeneration by 25% and the risk of moderate vision loss by 19%. Nearly 100 clinical centers are now seeking 4,000 study participants aged 50 to 85 years who have age-related macular degeneration. For a list of study centers, eligibility requirements, and other information, go to, or call 1-877-AREDS-80 (1-877-273-3780).


Identifying Risk for Obesity in Early Childhood

A new research study of children's growth can help parents and pediatricians determine the risk that a child will be overweight at age 12 by examining the child's earlier growth. The study demonstrates that children who are overweight at any stage of their growth before age 12 are more likely to be overweight by the time they are 12, and the more times a child is measured as overweight during these growth years, the greater the chance that, by age 12, the child will be overweight.


According to Centers for Disease Control growth standards developed before the obesity epidemic, children are considered to be overweight if their body mass index is over the 85th percentile or falls in the top 15% of children of the same height and sex. The Institute of Medicine considers these children obese if their body mass index is over the 95tth percentile or the top 5%. The rate of obesity among adults and children in the United States has nearly tripled over the time that the children in the study were growing up.


The study examined more than 1,000 children from 10 US locations who were born in 1991, and measured the heights and weights of participating children in the study at 7 time points-3 in the preschool age: at 2, 3, and 4 years; years; 3 times in the school age period: at 7, 9, and 11 years; and finally, at age 12 years.


The researchers found that during the preschool and elementary school period, the more times a child was overweight, the greater the likelihood of that child being overweight at age 12. The group determined that 60% of children who were overweight at any time during the preschool period and 80% of children who were overweight at any time during the elementary period were overweight at age 12, suggesting that any time a child reaches the 85th percentile for body mass index may be an appropriate time for intervention.


The researchers concluded that based upon the reported growth data, healthcare providers can confidently encourage parents of overweight young children that they should address the child's eating and activity patterns immediately rather than delaying in the hope that the overweight and the patterns that support the continued addition of weight will resolve themselves in due course.


Source: Pediatrics