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[check mark] How Much Do Americans Trust Food Information?


[check mark] Zinc May Help for Cold Relief


[check mark] Gum Can Help Control Appetite


Whom Do US Consumers Trust for Food Information?

American consumers have greater faith in advocates and activists and retail grocers than in either the government or food companies when it comes to providing information about food choices, according to a new survey. In a national poll, about 64% of people said that advocates and activist groups have consumers' best interests in mind when it comes to providing information about food choices. Those feelings were even more pronounced among respondents who may be roughly equated with "thought leaders." Nearly 3 (74%) of 4 respondents felt that advocates and activists have consumers' best interests in mind. Retail grocers also ranked highly (62%), and food manufacturers ranked third (53%). With consumers rating the US government at 47%, it ranked fourth, ahead only of fast-food companies (26%). (These results were from polls commissioned by Morgan&Myers, a communication firm specializing in food and agriculture, and the Worldcom Public Relations Group. The survey was conducted in mid-November by Gfk Roper Public Affairs and Media)


Confidence that the US government has adequate regulations to ensure the safety of food ranked only fifth out of 6 categories asked about in the poll. Only half (50%) of the consumers were confident about the adequacy of food safety regulations, ranking well below automobiles (83%), consumer electronics (80%), and clothing (77%) and slightly below pharmaceuticals (51%). The only category that food safety ranked above was toys (37%).


Ground beef and toys were subjects of highly publicized recalls in the past year. Only 46% of Americans polled felt that the government had adequate food safety regulations for meat (ie, beef, pork, and poultry), and 48% for seafood. Breads, cereals, and grain products rated highest (65%), followed by fruits and vegetables (58%) and dairy products (57%).


Findings cited are from a national random digit dial telephone survey of 1,009 adults (older than 18 years) in the contiguous United States. All interviews were conducted from November 16 to 18, 2007. Findings for the total sample were projectable to the American adult population within a +/-3 margin of error.


Source: GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media survey commissioned by Morgan&Myers


US Department of Agriculture Announces New MyPyramid for Pregnant and Nursing Moms

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched a new MyPyramid Web site designed specifically for pregnant and breast-feeding mothers. The new interactive guidance, found at, provides unique, individualized nutrition guidance to meet the needs of expectant and new moms. According to the USDA, for this time of life, proper nutrition for mom and baby is critical, and the tool should be helpful not only to moms but also to obstetricians and other healthcare providers. Obtaining a personalized "MyPyramid Plan for Moms" requires only a few steps. A pregnant woman enters her age, height, prepregnancy weight, physical activity level, and due date. A breast-feeding woman enters similar information and the baby's birth date. Breast-feeding women will also select if they are feeding their baby breast milk only or supplementing with formula. Following these entries, a personalized MyPyramid Plan for Moms will be provided on their computer screen, which can be downloaded as a full-color printout. Since the original 2005 release of, which contained the MyPyramid Plan and MyPyramid Tracker, USDA has launched MyPyramid for Kids and the Spanish-language MiPiramide.


Source: USDA


Obesity Associated With Lower Prostate-Specific Antigen Levels in Men With Prostate Cancer

A higher body mass index (BMI) is associated with higher plasma volume, which may be related to lower prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels among obese men.


Recent evidence suggests that prostate cancer screening may be adversely affected by increased BMI. The ability to accurately detect prostate cancer can be compromised by any factor that decreases PSA concentration in the circulation, according to background information in the article. Several studies have found that obese men have lower PSA concentrations than nonobese men do. However, men with higher BMIs also have larger plasma volumes, which could decrease serum concentrations of soluble tumor markers-a phenomenon known as hemodilution.


The study focused on determining the association between hemodilution and PSA concentration in obese men with prostate cancer. It consisted of men who underwent radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer from 1988 to 2006 and who were included in the databases of the Shared Equal Access Regional Cancer Hospital (n = 1,373), Duke Prostate Center (n = 1,974), and Johns Hopkins Hospital (n = 10,287).


The researchers found that higher BMI was significantly associated with greater plasma volume in all study populations. Men with a BMI of 35 kg/m2 or greater had 21% to 23% larger plasma volumes relative to normal-weight men. After adjusting for multiple clinicopathologic variables, higher BMI was associated with lower preoperative PSA concentrations in the groups. Men with a BMI of 35 kg/m2 or greater had 11% to 21% lower PSA concentrations relative to normal-weight men. The association needs to be confirmed prospectively in screened populations that include men without prostate cancer.


Source: JAMA. 2007;298(19):2275-2280.


Chewing Gum May Help Reduce Cravings and Control Appetite

Chewing gum before an afternoon snack helped reduce hunger, diminish cravings, and promote fullness among individuals who limit their overall calorie intake. Calorie intake from snacks was significantly reduced by 25 calories. It remains to be determined if these findings can be replicated and if gum does have a role in weight management, but preliminary results are interesting. The study was funded by the Wrigley Science Institute, a part of Wrigley Gum.


In the 60-person study, participants aged 18 to 54 years were asked to consume a sweet and salty afternoon snack after chewing a sweetened gum or not chewing gum. Hunger, appetite, and cravings were rated immediately after lunch and then hourly. Chewing gum significantly reduced calorie intake by 25 calories and specifically reduced sweet snack intake by 39 calories; salty snacks were decreased by 11 calories. Hunger and desire to eat were significantly suppressed by chewing gum at 1-, 2-, and 3-hour intervals after lunch. Participants reported that chewing gum improved their mood by reducing anxiety and stress and increasing contentment and relaxation.


In a similar study among individuals not actively trying to manage their weight, chewing gum reduced snack intake by an average of 36 calories. Data combined from both studies found that chewing gum reduced intake of the sweet snack in particular by an average of 47 calories.


Source: 2007 Annual Scientific Meeting of The Obesity Society


Zinc May Reduce Pneumonia Risk in Nursing Home Elderly

When elderly nursing home residents contract pneumonia, it is a blow to their already frail constitutions. A new study suggests that maintaining normal serum zinc concentration in the blood may help reduce the risk of developing pneumonia among them.


Based on the data, it seems that daily zinc intake can help nursing home residents who are susceptible to pneumonia, especially those with low serum zinc concentrations in their blood. The study participants with normal serum zinc concentrations in their blood had a reduced risk of developing pneumonia of about 50%. In addition, deaths from all causes were 39% lower in this group. Whether the low zinc was the cause or the effect of the links to pneumonia could not be determined, however. The researchers analyzed blood samples from a previous study that investigated the role of vitamin E in preventing respiratory infections in nursing home residents 65 years and older. The study enrolled 617 men and women from 33 nursing homes in the Boston area. All of the participants received daily supplements containing 50% of the recommended dietary allowance of several vitamins and minerals, including zinc, for 1 year. Foods that provide zinc include oysters, red meat, poultry, whole grains, beans, and dairy products.


In the zinc study, the authors compared blood samples collected at the beginning and at the conclusion of the 1-year study. The participants whose serum zinc concentrations remained low throughout that 12-month period had more difficulty battling pneumonia. Residents who maintained normal serum zinc concentration in the blood throughout the 12-month study period were healthier even if they did develop pneumonia; they were more likely to spend fewer days on antibiotics and recover more quickly.


Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition