Study Explores Whether Diet Programs Work
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine emphasizes that the mix of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in four diets to which people were assigned didn't make a difference in whether they lost weight, Katherine Hobson reports. The findings point to behavioral factors rather than macronutrient metabolism as the main influences on weight loss. In other words, any type of diet, when taught for the purpose of weight loss with enthusiasm and persistence, can be effective. The bad news: Those pesky "behavioral factors," i.e., our penchant for eating too much and exercising too little, seem to win out over the enthusiastic and persistent teaching. After two years, the average participant in the study had lost less than 9 pounds, and the trend was toward weight slowly creeping up again.
A Quarter of Americans Suffer Food-Borne Illness Each Year
As many as 25 percent of Americans get a food-borne illness every year, and cases are not always tied to high-profile epidemics such as the recent salmonella and peanut product outbreak, the San Jose Mercury News reports. There are about 250 known types of food-related illnesses in all. Norwalk-like viruses are the most common; they comprise about two thirds of reported food poisoning cases. Campylobacter bacteria are the next most common culprit, accounting for 14 percent of food poisoning cases; salmonella falls next in line at 10 percent of cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 10 years ago that there are about 76 million food poisoning illnesses annually, which cause 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths each year, according to the Mercury News. Updated CDC numbers are not available, but the Associated Press estimates the current figure to be 87 million annual cases, resulting in 371,000 hospitalizations and 5,700 deaths.
This primer on common sources of food poisoning gives the lowdown on how to banish bad bugs from your kitchen. The recent salmonella outbreak may be the scariest one yet because it involves peanut butter and peanut paste that manufacturers bought by the tanker-load and mixed into hundreds of products on supermarket shelves. Here's how to reduce your risk of becoming ill.
A Breakthrough Weapon to Fight Flu and Bird Flu?
U.S. News's Nancy Shute recently talked about the latest influenza news with Wayne Marasco, an associate professor of medicine in the department of cancer immunology and AIDS at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Marasco is one of the developers of a new approach, which uses monoclonal antibodies, that's being studied to treat and protect against influenza. If the research pans out, the approach could be used as a treatment for bird flu and seasonal flu and also as the basis for a vaccine against many different flu strains, including the H5N1 strain that has caused so much worry about a possible pandemic. Read Marasco's explanation of how this approach would work if it were approved as a flu treatment.
—January W. Payne
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