Sunday, December 05, 2010

It had to happen eventually: Roast dinners now under attack

This is all just theory by "campaigners". There is absolutely no evidence of harm coming from roast dinners. But there IS harm coming from low salt usage. Salt is an important preservative and one of the safest. Food can spoil without it

High levels of salt in Sunday roasts are putting Britons at risk of deadly heart disease and strokes, according to a study by health campaigners. A survey of 600 roast lunches in supermarkets and pub chains found that they can contain up to one and a half times the maximum recommended adult daily intake of salt.

"Sunday lunch is an iconic British meal but filling it with salt puts both adults and children at risk of developing high blood pressure," said Professor Graham MacGregor, a leading expert in cardiovascular medicine and chairman of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), which carried out the research. "I don't want supermarkets and restaurants to add the unnecessary amounts of salt still being hidden in our food."

He said eating one less gram of salt per day would save 6,000 lives a year.

The study found that a 'peppered beef brisket joint with mustard & pepper stuffing' from Asda's new 'Chosen By You' range contains 2.3g of salt per portion, one third of the recommended adult daily maximum of 6 grams and more than the 2.1g found in a McDonald's Big Mac.

A large half roast chicken meal from a J D Wetherspoon pub contains eight grams of salt. Even a children's roast chicken breast meal contains four grams close to the recommended daily maximum for a 7-10-year-old of five grams.

Pre-prepared vegetable dishes contained up to 1.6g of salt per portion (Tesco Finest root vegetable mash) and roast potatoes contained up to 1.3g of salt per portion (Tesco Finest goose fat roast potatoes).

A portion of Morrisons or Tesco English Mustard contains 0.5g of salt – as much as a packet of crisps.

If the saltiest ingredients found in the survey were used to make a Sunday lunch it would add up to 9.6g per person, 60 per cent higher than an adult's recommended daily maximum.

However, Peter Sherratt, of the Salt Association, which represents the salt industry, described CASH as "extremists", adding: "There is not enough evidence to prove a link between salt and high blood pressure. "Besides, one of the great enjoyments in life is food and the way it tastes and that sometimes means seasoning."

But Katharine Jenner, campaign manager for CASH said: "With all we know about the dangers of salt on our health, it is disappointing that a portion of vegetables or a small amount of mustard could still contain more salt than a packet of crisps."

Julian Hunt, director of communications at the Food and Drink Federation said: "This research does a huge disservice to a great British tradition. The Sunday roast is a time when families sit together to enjoy a hearty and healthy meal compiled from a wide range of fresh ingredients.

"British food manufacturers are leading the world when it comes to changing the recipes of their products to contain less salt. Those who want a lower salt option can find one simply by looking at the labels."

A spokeswoman for Asda said: "We all love a traditional Sunday roast, especially now the weather has got a bit nippy. We always clearly label all our food so customers can see at a glance what's in it. "We all need to watch the amount of salt we eat and we have worked hard to ensure that all our own-label food is not only delicious but adheres to the FSA targets on salt content, which we achieved two years ahead of the 2010 deadline.

"In 2008, we removed 280 tonnes of fat, 284 tonnes of saturated fat, 521 tonnes of sugar & another 83 tonnes of salt from our food."

A spokesman for JD Wetherspoon said: "We are working closely with food suppliers, development chefs and the Food Standards Agency to reduce the amount of salt in all of our meals."


Test for autism is most promising yet, claims study

This looks very interesting

A foolproof test for autism in adults and children is "a major step" closer after scientists claim to have developed a brain scan that can detect the condition with almost 100 per cent accuracy.

The diagnosis, which uses scans to measure deviations in brain circuitry, could some day replace the current questionnaire tests now used to identify those with the disorder. It could also lead to a better understanding of autism and to earlier and better management and treatments of affected individuals.

Researchers at Harvard University's McLean Hospital and the University of Utah claim they have developed the best biologically based test for autism to date. The test was able to detect the disorder in individuals with 94 per cent accuracy – even in those that have a milder form of the disorder.

"This is not yet ready for prime time use in the clinic yet, but the findings are the most promising thus far," said Professor Nicholas Lange, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School."

The researchers used the test on two groups of subjects. One group consisted of individuals who had previously been diagnosed with so-called "high-functioning" autism using the standard subjective scoring system. That system is based on assessing patients and questioning their parents about their abilities at a variety of areas including language, social functioning, and behaviour.

The second group studied was a control group consisting of normally developing individuals.

The subjects were put in an MRI scanner that was programmed to measure microscopic features of the brain's circuitry. By measuring six aspects of the brain's circuitry, the test was able to correctly distinguish those who had previously been diagnosed with autism with 94 per cent accuracy.

"It provides pictures and measurements of the microscopic fibre structures of the brain that enable language, social and emotional functioning, which can reveal deviations that are not found in those without autism," Prof Lange said. "There is less directional flow to and from brain regions where there should be more information exchange."

A repeat study using two different sets of subjects showed the same high level of performance.

Future studies will look at patients with high-severity autism, younger children, and patients with brain disorders such as developmental language disorders, ADHD and OCD, who do not have autism.

If the test demonstrates further success, it could someday replace the current subjective system of diagnosing autism, which is not biologically based. "It could also someday lead to pinpointing how autism develops," said Dr Janet Lainhart at the University of Utah.

"We can gain a better understanding of how this disorder arises and changes over the lifetime of an individual, and derive more effective treatments."


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