Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Big surprise! Diet choices 'written in genes'

Our food likes and dislikes may have more to do with genes than choice, UK researchers believe. Experts from Kings College London compared the eating habits of thousands of pairs of twins. Identical twins were far more likely to share the same dietary patterns - like a penchant for coffee and garlic - suggesting tastes may be inherited.

Identical twins have exactly the same genetic make-up as each other, so scientists, by comparing them to non-identical twins, can work out the likelihood that their characteristics are due to "nature" or "nurture". The Kings College researchers looked at a total of more than 3,000 female twins aged between 18 and 79, working out their broad preferences using five different dietary "groups". These included diets heavy in fruit and vegetables, alcohol, fried meat and potatoes, and low-fat products or low in meat, fish and poultry.

Their results, published in the journal Twin Research and Human Genetics, suggested that between 41% and 48% of a person's leaning towards one of the food groups was influenced by genetics. The strongest link between individual liking and genes involved a taste for garlic and coffee.

Professor Tim Spector, who led the research, said: "For so long we have assumed that our upbringing and social environment determine what we like to eat. "This has blown that theory out of the water - more often than not, our genetic make-up influences our dietary patterns."

The researchers suggested that healthy eating campaigns, such as the government's "five-a-day" fruit and vegetable initiative, might have to be re-thought in light of the findings, as people genetically "programmed" to eat less fruit and vegetables would be more resistant to health messages than thought.

Professor Jane Wardle, from University College, said that the findings, and other similar research, pointed to genetics playing a "moderate" part in the development of preferred foods. She said that it was possible that genes involved with taste, or the "reward" chemicals released by the body in response to certain foods, might play a role. "People have always made the assumption that food choices are all due to environmental factors during life, but it now seems this isn't the case. "It also suggests that what parents do to influence eating habits in childhood are not necessarily as important as we thought - and that a lot of effort may need to be made with young people as they become independent in adolescence to steer them onto the right course."


Diabetes treatment from pig cells?

Promising but early days yet. Rejection problems might not be so bad as pig valves (politely called "tissue valves") are routinely used to replace faulty human heart valves -- which also makes the bans on this work extremely stupid

A RADICAL pig cell treatment being tested by an Australian drug company has raised hopes of a cure for diabetes. A Russian woman injected with pig cells four weeks ago has not needed the regular insulin injections she had relied on to keep her type 1 diabetes in check. A second patient, a Russian medical student, has seen his insulin injections cut by 40 per cent in the four months since receiving the pig cell transplant. Melbourne scientists have been conducting the trial in Moscow's Sklifasovsky Hospital because animal-to-human transplants have been banned in Australia until 2009.

Living Cell Technologies medical director Prof Bob Elliott said the early trial results were stunning. "These early-stage results have exceeded our expectations," Prof Elliott said. "Both patients are doing very well, and we hope to continue to see such positive results as the trial progresses."

The middle-aged woman and young student are the first of six Russians to be implanted with DiabeCell, made from neonatal pig islet cells collected from the pancreas of disease-free pigs bred on a remote New Zealand island. Cells are then put in coated capsules and injected into the abdominal cavity of the type 1 diabetes patients. The pig cells are intended to produce insulin, mimicking a healthy body's natural production of the hormone that controls blood glucose levels.

Pig cell treatments have been tested before, but Prof Elliott's 12-month trial is the first to use the cells without the need for drugs to stop the human body rejecting them. About 520,000 Australians have been diagnosed with diabetes, but just as many don't realise they have the disease. Type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas does not produce insulin, accounts for 10 to 15 per cent of all cases. It is usually diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood. Current treatment centres on daily insulin injections and regular tests to check blood glucose levels.



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].


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