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Smaller the cereal flakes, people tend to eat more

Researchers have shown that when cereal flakes are reduced by crushing, people pour a smaller volume of cereal into their bowls, but still take a greater amount by weight and calories.

Barbara Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences and Helen A Guthrie Chair in Nutrition, said that people have a really hard time judging appropriate portions. According to Rolls, national dietary guidelines define recommended amounts of most food groups in terms of measures of volume such as cups.

The researchers tested the influence of food volume on calorie intake by systematically reducing the flake size of a breakfast cereal with a rolling pin so that the cereal was more compact and the same weight filled a smaller volume. In a crossover design, the team recruited 41 adults to eat cereal for breakfast once a week for four weeks.

The cereal was either standard wheat flakes or the same cereal crushed to reduce the volume to 80 per cent, 60 per cent or 40 per cent of the standard. The researchers provided a constant weight of cereal in an opaque container and participants poured the amount they wanted into a bowl, added fat-free milk and non-calorie sweetener as desired and consumed as much as they wanted.

The research showed that as flake size was reduced, subjects poured a smaller volume of cereal, but still took a significantly greater amount by weight and energy content.

Despite these differences, subjects estimated that they had taken a similar number of calories of all versions of the cereal. They ate most of the cereal they took, so as flake size was reduced, breakfast energy intake increased.

Good self-management among diabetics cuts risk of mortality

Researchers have showed that patients with good diabetes self-management that is patients with a high self-management index, had a significantly lower mortality risk than patients with a low self-management index.

Scientists of the Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management (IGM) and of the Institute of Epidemiology II (EPI II) at Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen (HMGU), together with colleagues of the German Diabetes Centre (DDZ) in Dusseldorf, investigated the association between self-management behavior and mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes.

340 study participants with type 2 diabetes were interviewed with regard to their patient behavior – e.g. regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, diet plan or physical exercise. Based on this data a self-management index was defined. The team led by Professor Rolf Holle and Michael Laxy correlated the index with the mortality of the participants, who were monitored over a period of 12 years.

Holle, group leader of the research group Economic Evaluation at the IGM, said that the results show that in addition to physician delivered treatment according to medical guidelines, the patient’s behaviour is also of importance for the course of  disease and for success of the treatment process.

He said patient-centered services, such as diabetes education, self-management training and information services make valuable contribution to patient care and should continue to be expanded.

New evidence proves autism begins during pregnancy

A new study has revealed that autism begins during pregnancy.
The Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Allen Institute for Brain Science, who analysed 25 genes in post-mortem brain tissue of kids with and without autism, found that there were focal patches of disrupted development of these cortical layers in the majority of children with autism.
Eric Courchesne, professor of neurosciences and director of the Autism Centre of Excellence at UC San Diego, said that building a baby’s brain during pregnancy involves creating a cortex that contains six layers and these included genes that serve as biomarkers for brain cell types in different layers of the cortex, genes implicated in autism and several control genes.

The study found that in the brains of children with autism, key genetic markers were absent in brain cells in multiple layers. Courchesne said that this defect indicates that the crucial early developmental step of creating six distinct layers with specific types of brain cells had been disrupted.

The brain regions most affected by focal patches of absent gene markers were the frontal and the temporal cortex, possibly illuminating why different functional systems are impacted across individuals with the disorder.

According to the scientists, such patchy defects, as opposed to uniform cortical pathology, may help explain why many toddlers with autism show clinical improvement with early treatment and over time.

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