Thursday, June 18, 2009

Eat-your-greens fight a lost cause

George Bush Senior became a hero to little boys everywhere when he banned broccoli from all his dinners and said: "I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli"

CHILDREN really do hate their vegies and parents are apparently hopeless at doing anything about it. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's snapshot of Australian children released today shows the level of disdain children have for their greens. The report, A Picture of Australian Children 2009, citing a 2007 nutrition survey, says: "Only a very small proportion of children met the recommendations for daily serves of vegetables (excluding potatoes) - 3 per cent of 4- to 8-year-olds and 2 per cent of 9- to 13-year-olds. "Even with the inclusion of potatoes, the proportions remained low (22 per cent and 14per cent respectively).

National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines recommend one serve of fruit and two serves of vegetables a day for children aged four to seven, one serve of fruit and three serves of vegetables for those eight to 11, and three serves of fruit and four serves of vegetables for ages 12 to 18. A serve is about half a cup.

The report's author, Deanna Eldridge from the AIHW's Children Youth and Families unit, said vegetable consumption was a key concern related to children's health and wellbeing. "This is a crucial figure to highlight, because this is occurring at a time when young bodies are growing and developing," she said.

Accredited practising dietician Kate Di Prima said that however hard parents might find it to get children to eat vegetables, they must persist. "Parents find it very difficult to encourage children to eat green vegetables and fruit," Ms Di Prima said. "They are happy to eat dairy foods and soft pastas and rice, but when it comes to chewing something with more than a bland taste, parents battle."

The prime concern about low levels of vegetable consumption was the lack of fibre in children's diets and the health consequences that flowed on, such as constipation, she said. Ms Di Prima said she advised parents to start small and build up. "Put a bit of carrot and a bit of broccoli on the plate," she said. "Or grate some zucchini and put it in with the pasta. This will put some balance in their diet. It's better than nothing." Don't cave in if a child is not co-operating, she said. Let them go to bed without eating anything rather than take the easy option and fill them up with some milk or yoghurt.

Parramatta mother Alexis Henderson said she improvised to make sure her five-year-old son, Brooklyn, ate enough vegetables. "You can mash them up, hide them, you can cook a cake with pumpkin in it, or make corn muffins," Ms Henderson said. She said Brooklyn did pretty well at home, but getting him to eat vegetables at school lunch was tricky. "It's hard when most other kids are bringing chips and Nutella sandwiches and all sorts of unhealthy things."


Discovery could ease cancer pain

A breakthrough could lead to drugs to alleviate the pain experienced by cancer patients. The biology of cancer pain is different to other types of pain, often rendering analgesic drugs ineffective. Work by a German team, published in Nature Medicine, shows that blocking a specific type of hormone-like molecule produced by tumours could help. The team showed that the molecules make nerve endings grow in nearby tissue, causing an acute sensation of pain.

Pain is one of the most debilitating symptoms associated with the many forms of the disease. It can become excruciating as cancer advances, but tackling it has proved difficult for doctors.

The molecules highlighted by the latest study, by a team at Heidelberg University, were known to play a role in the development of blood cells in the bone marrow. But this is the first time they have also been shown to have a role in causing pain. The researchers hope their work could lead to new drugs to block this action.

Dr Mark Matfield is scientific adviser to the Association for International Cancer Research, which partly funded the work. He said: "Identifying one of the ways in which cancer causes pain - in fact, perhaps the main mechanism - is a crucial step towards drugs that could bring relief to cancer sufferers across the world."

Dr Joanna Owens, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said: "It's important that we continue to improve pain relief for people with cancer, and this study reveals an intriguing new avenue to explore. "What's particularly encouraging is that this research could one day lead to drugs that can block pain locally at the tumour site - which could ultimately lead to more effective pain relief with fewer side effects."


1 comment:

John A said...

"The team showed that the molecules make nerve endings grow in nearby tissue..."

So they hope to block this in the cancerous are. Good. But I hope some group is thinking about using them to grow nerves that have been damaged/destroyed.