Entries in Yale University (4)


Food Industry Should Be Regulated, Says Editorial

Jupiterimages/Pixland/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- At a time when New York City's mayor is under fire from the soda industry for pushing for a seemingly modest reduction in drink size, one Yale nutrition expert is pushing across the board regulation of the food industry.

The food industry must be regulated "to protect the publicgood," Kelly Brownell, of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, wrote in an editorial published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Medicine.

As American obesity rates reach all-time highs, and the food industry has been irresponsible in its marketing to children and promotion of unhealthy foods, something must be done, Brownell wrote.

"The obesity crisis is made worse by the way industry formulates and markets its products and so must be regulated to prevent excesses and to protect the public good," he wrote in the editorial.

And left to regulate itself, the food industry could continue to sell foods "irrespective of their impact on consumers, Brownell argued.

The nation is at a crossroads where it will decide whether to work with the food industry to address key issues such as obesity and diabetes, Brownell explained to

"The industry, fearful of being regulated by government, is in full scale pursuit of the public's trust, arguing it can police itself and act in the interest of public health," Brownell said. "Many industries have done this in the past and have failed, notably the tobacco industry. The question is whether food companies are any different."

Most experts agreed that the food industry should be, at least somewhat, regulated, as the U.S. overweight or obesity rate has climbed to more than 70 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made headlines in May after proposing a ban on large sugary drinks. The plan would make it illegal for restaurants, vendors and any other establishment that serves food to sell sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces.

If passed, the ban could take effect as soon as March.

In response to the proposed ban, the American Beverage Association has created an initiative called New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, which is meant to focus on New Yorkers' "freedom of choice."

Keith Ayoob, nutrition expert and associate professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said some regulations could be helpful to the population. He called Brownell's editorial "fierce," but said he has a difficult time with the position.

"Consumers have a lot more power than many realize," Ayoob said. "We in academics get annoyed when consumers don't make choices we want them to make, but forcing them to make better choices by regulation is a slippery slope."

That's because obesity is a complex problem, Ayoob said. It involves food choices, but also lifestyle choices. It has been shown to not only be associated with the food we put in our mouths, but family dynamics, trauma, education, the areas in which we live, race and ethnicity, just to name a few.

"There's no one culprit and there is no single solution, but saying that we're all victims of the system isn't going to work either," Ayoob said.

Brownell said the best ways to regulate the food industry and combat obesity is to "create strict nutrition criteria for foods marketed to children and teens, the use of taxes and subsidies to reverse the high costs of healthy foods and the low costs of unhealthy ones, and making schools a safe nutrition environment."

While some aspects of the food industry are already regulated, including the accuracy of nutrition and ingredient labels, and the types of nutritional claims that are allowed to be made, Brownell wrote that he hopes to see things go further.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Center, agreed that at least some regulation is warranted "to level the playing field."

"Certainly food marketing to children should be regulated," Katz said. "The industry has abundantly demonstrated its irresponsibility in this space."

Nevertheless, regulation is not the entire solution, he said.

People must acknowledge "that some foods will be more about fun than health, that people will always eat, that eating will always involve options," Katz said. "So much of the real-world experience comes down to shaping the priorities of the consumer through culture and education."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'You Are What You Think You Eat,' Yale Study Says

Digital Vision/Thinkstoc(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- State of mind may have influence over what makes a person feel satisfied after a meal and the likelihood they might still feel hungry and consume more food, according to a Yale University study.

Researchers in the study focused on the hunger hormone called ghrelin, which stimulates one's appetite.  Not surprisingly, ghrelin levels typically increase before meals and decrease after meals.  The higher the levels of the hormone, the more likely a person will overeat.

After giving all study participants a 380 calorie shake telling them it was either a 620 calories "indulgent" shake or a 140 "sensible" shake, researchers found that those who drank what they thought was high-fat, high-calorie had a "dramatically steeper" decline in gherkin after consumption.  Conversely, those who thought they had the low-fat, low-calorie shake experienced a flat response.

"This study shows that mindset can effect feelings of physical satiety," said lead author Alia J. Crum of the Yale University department of psychology.  "The brain was tricked into either feeling full or feeling unsatisfied.  That feeling depended on what people believed they were were consuming, rather than what they were actually consuming."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


For Those Addicted, Food is Like a Drug

Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Researchers led by Yale University doctoral student Ashley Gearhardt discovered that women who exhibit more signs of food addiction, when shown a picture of a milkshake and then given a taste of it, had more activity in areas of the brain associated with "craving" than women who showed fewer signs of food addiction. The women who showed more signs of food addiction had less activity in the part of the brain that decreases the desire to eat.

In order to measure food addiction, the researchers used a scale similar to the one used to measure drug addiction. Food addicts exhibit many of the symptoms as those addicted to drugs and alcohol, including an obsession or preoccupation with food, binge eating and a lack of control over eating.

The study's authors hope future studies can determine how the brain responds to food ads and whether certain foods are addictive. With that knowledge, they believe, advertising can be used to send healthier messages about food.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Yale Law Students to Start Using Therapy Dog to Reduce Stress

Apple Tree House/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- At the Yale Law Library circulation desk, students have been signing up this week to check out Monty, a "certified library therapy dog," for 30-minute sessions of unconditional, stress-busting puppy love.

"The interest in available slots has been high," said Jan Conroy, a spokeswoman for Yale Law School, on Wednesday, the third day of sign-ups.

Beginning Monday, students at the nation's top-ranked law school, a Gothic complex that takes up one city block within Yale University's New Haven, Connecticut campus, will be able to spend time -- and maybe lower their blood pressure -- with the 21-pound brown border terrier mix.  In a March 10 memo, law librarian Blair Kauffman expressed hope that the free, three-day pilot pet therapy program would be "a positive addition to current services offered by the library."

"It is well-documented that visits from therapy dogs have resulted in increased happiness, calmness and overall emotional well-being," Kauffman wrote in the memo, which directed students to the website of Therapy Dogs International, a non-profit organization offering pet therapy in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and disaster recovery sites.

Kauffman told students he welcomed their feedback "to help us decide if this will be a permanent on-going program available during stressful periods of the semester, for example during examinations."

Therapy dogs have been introduced to help students at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Oberlin College in Ohio and UC San Diego in California survive the pressures of midterms and finals.

The idea of offering sessions with a professionally trained therapy dog came up last September in internal law school discussions with Monty's owner, librarian Julian Aiken.  Somehow, word of those discussions got out and landed in the legal blog, Above the Law, which posted a humorous law library catalog listing for Monty, whose full name is General Montgomery.  It said Monty circulates for 30-minute periods.

Despite the gag listing, administrative interest in the program was real.

For now, everyone is waiting to see how next week's experiment with Monty works out.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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