Saturday, March 10, 2007

Chocolate good for oldies

At last, the news that we were all hoping for - eating chocolate makes for a healthier old age, a slimmer waist and a positive outlook. Research, which was not funded by the chocolate industry, suggests that elderly men who ate chocolate were fitter, more optimistic and had enjoyed psychological wellbeing.

Since the 1960s a team from the Finnish universities of Oulu and Helsinki have been studying a group of Helsinki businessmen born between 1919 and 1934. The group were asked how they felt about life, including a question about what sort of sweets they preferred? Of the 1,367 who responded, just over 100 said that they didn't eat sweets. Of the rest 860 preferred chocolate and 399 some other sort of sweets. Their average age was 76, the team reports in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The chocolate-lovers tended to be leaner, with smaller waist sizes, and suffer less diabetes than those who ate other sweets. They were also slightly better educated. But the biggest difference was in psychological wellbeing and attitudes towards life. Chocolate eaters rated their own health significantly higher, felt happier, less lonely and were less likely to be depressed. They were also more likely still to be planning for the future.

Previous research has shown that eating chocolate releases endorphins, which produce a feeling of pleasure and reduce sensitivity to pain.


Australian scientists discover effective malaria treatment

Scientists from the Northern Territory Menzies School of Health Research say they have discovered an effective treatment for the strand of malaria found in the Asia-Pacific region. Senior researcher Ric Price says two treatments for the vivax strain of malaria have been successfully trialed in Papua New Guinea.

The treatment combines a Chinese herbal extract and a longer-acting anti-malarial drug used to combat the more deadly strain of the disease found in Africa.

Dr Price says the disease costs developing countries tens of billions of dollars a year. He says this treatment will help relieve that strain. "Forty per cent of the world's population is at risk of vivax malaria and there are nearly 250 million cases a year in the region," Dr Price said. "So not only does this treat the infection but it also protects you from reinfection, so that has special relevance for people in endemic environments."



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.