Sunday, September 16, 2007

Salt fraudulently linked to higher blood pressure in kids

The journal abstract is here. The finding is that a tiny and clinically insignificant increase in blood pressure was found to be associated with how much salt kids say they sprinkle on their food. I have made some comments in the body of the article below but let me make the usual comments here about this epidemiological crap. It seems likely that the "disobedience" to health directives by working class people is all that is shown here. Working class people are less likely to be scared off salt and it is also known that they tend to have poorer health due to various factors such as lack of exercise -- not excluding genetic factors. So working class kids both say they use more salt and have higher blood pressure. Class is the probable causative factor behind the results, not salt. And research showing that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER is not mentioned, of course. What a crock!

Children and adolescents consuming higher levels of salt in their diets have higher blood pressure, confirms a UK study published today. The new study, based on data collected in the 1997 National Diet and Nutrition Survey for young people in Great Britain (NDNS), will add further urgency to food industry efforts to reduce the salt content of their products.

"Currently, salt intake in young people is unnecessarily high due, in most countries, to hidden salt added to food by the food industry," wrote the authors in The Journal of Human Hypertension

The researchers examined the salt intake and blood pressure of 1,658 children aged between 4 and 18, with salt intake assessed by a seven-day dietary record. The average salt intake, which did not include salt added in cooking or at the table [So they have no idea what the total salt intake was!], was 4.7g/day at the age of 4 years. With increasing age, there was an increase in salt intake, and by the age of 18 years, salt intake was 6.8g/day. The findings revealed that for each extra 1g of salt eaten by the participants, there was a related 0.4mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure.

"This is an important finding which confirms that eating more salt increases blood pressure in childhood and also adds extra weight to the current public health campaign to reduce salt in the UK diet," said Professor Malcolm Law, professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine. "The differences in systolic blood pressure between children with higher and lower salt diets may appear small, but making reductions of this order in childhood is likely to translate into lower levels of blood pressure in adult life, with reduced risk of developing heart disease and stroke and potentially huge gains in public health being possible."

Although increased blood pressure is uncommon in children, blood pressure follows a tracking pattern, which means that individuals who have a higher blood pressure in early life are more likely to develop high blood pressure when they grow older. High blood pressure (hypertension) - a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease - has been repeatedly linked to an increased salt intake, spurring global campaigns to reduce the sodium levels in processed foods.

In the UK, Ireland and the USA, over 80 per cent of salt intake comes from processed food [Which is what the study did NOT examine!], with 20 per cent of salt intake coming from meat and meat products, and about 35 per cent from cereal and cereal products.

The new findings, which are consistent with the findings from a recent meta-analysis of controlled salt reduction trials in children and adolescents, suggest that anything that lowers blood pressure in children is likely to reduce the number of people developing high blood pressure in later life. "The message for parents is to check labels, especially on foods such as breakfast cereals and snack products, which they may not expect to contain high levels of salt, and choose the lower salt options. 1.5g of salt may not sound much, but parents need to know that it is half a six year-old's maximum recommended upper limit of salt for a whole day (3g) and 30 per cent of a ten year-old's (5g)," said Jo Butten, nutritionist for Consensus Action on Salt and Health.

According to the researchers, the strengths of their study are that the data were from a large nationally representative sample of British young people, and that salt intake was estimated from a 7-day dietary record, which could characterize individuals' usual intake more accurately than a dietary record taken over 1-2 days. [Big deal!]

Limitations include that the NDNS is a cross-sectional study, and no cause-effect relationship can be drawn from such a study. In addition, the salt intake estimated from the NDNS underestimated the actual amount of salt consumed by children as it did not include salt added in cooking or at the table.


Salt is a crime?

A McDonald's employee spent a night in jail and is facing criminal charges because a police officer's burger was too salty, so salty that he says it made him sick. Kendra Bull was arrested Friday, charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct and freed on $1,000 bail.

Bull, 20, said she accidentally spilled salt on hamburger meat and told her supervisor and a co-worker, who ''tried to thump the salt off.'' On her break, she ate a burger made with the salty meat. ''It didn't make me sick,'' Bull told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

But then Police Officer Wendell Adams got a burger made with the oversalted meat, and he returned a short time later and told the manager it made him sick. Bull admitted spilling salt on the meat, and Adams took her outside and questioned her, she said.

''If it was too salty, why did (Adams) not take one bite and throw it away?'' said Bull, who has worked at the restaurant for five months. She said she didn't know a police officer got one of the salty burgers because she couldn't see the drive-through window from her work area.

Police said samples of the burger were sent to the state crime lab for tests. City public information officer George Louth said Bull was charged because she served the burger ''without regards to the well-being of anyone who might consume it.''


Honey reduces anxiety and improves memory?

The anti-oxidant religion, again. It's a great theory but it's a pity that antioxidants shorten your life, though

HONEY could help counter the effects of ageing and decrease anxiety, according to a new study. The study in New Zealand, revealed today in the New Scientist journal, found honey improved memory and reduced anxiety.

Lynne Chepulis and Nicola Starkey at the University of Waikato in Hamilton conducted their tests on rats. They raised them on diets of 10 per cent honey, eight per cent sucrose or no sugar at all for a year. The rats were two months old at the start of the trial, and were assessed every three months using tests designed to measure anxiety and spatial memory.

The honey-fed rats spent almost twice as much time in the open sections of an assessment maze then sucrose-fed rats, suggesting they were less anxious. They were also more likely to enter novel sections of a Y-shaped maze, suggesting they knew where they had been previously and had better spatial memory.

Starkey said: "Diets sweetened with honey may be beneficial in decreasing anxiety and improving memory during ageing.'' She believes this could be due to the antioxidant properties of honey, which have previously been demonstrated in humans. The study was funded by Fonterra, a dairy company interested in sweetening yoghurt with honey.



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.


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