Study: Pollinator decline poses huge human health risks

A honeybee gathers pollen on a wildflower in Austria.

A honeybee gathers pollen on a wildflower in Austria.

New study links decline of bees with malnutrition, especially in developing countries

Staff Report

FRISCO — Declines of crucial crop pollinators like bees is likely to put huge numbers of people in developing countries at risk for malnutrition, according to a new study that bolsters links between ecosystem stability and human health.

The research by scientists at the University of Vermont and Harvard University tested the claim that pollinators are crucial for human nutritional health by connecting what people actually eat in four developing countries to the pollination requirements of the crops that provide their food and nutrients. Continue reading

Study: Ecosystem alterations leading to widespread human health impacts

Research consortium proposes systematic assessment approach


In Belize, agricultural runoff is changing lowland wetlands to favor a proliferation of mosquitoes that are efficient malaria vectors. bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The accelerating pace of human-caused changes to natural systems may threaten the Earth’s ability to sustain a growing population at a fundamental level, a team of researchers said in a new paper published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper describes a new branch of environmental health that focuses on the public health risks of human-caused changes to Earth’s natural systems. Researchers contributing to the paper work with the Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages consortium.

The approach differs from the classic discipline of environmental health, which focuses on micro-level impacts — for example, how changes in the home environment can affect the health of an individual or a family, said Dr. Samuel Myers, a research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health. Continue reading

Health: Building a better pizza

A made-from-scratch Napoli-style pizza, with anchovies and black olives.

A made-from-scratch Napoli-style pizza, with anchovies and black olives.

Scottish researchers go back to pizza’s roots to find a healthy recipe

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — It turns out the secret to a better pizza might not be a double-stuffed cheese crust — all it takes is a little bit of seaweed and some whole grain flour, according to nutritionists with the School of Medicine at the University of Glasgow.

“Traditional pizza should be a low-fat meal containing at least one portion of vegetables, so mainly made from ingredients associated with better cardiovascular health,” said Professor Mike Lean.

“However, to enhance shelf-life, commercial pizza recipes today include much more fat and salt than desirable. Until now, nobody has stopped to notice that many essential vitamins and minerals are very low or even completely absent. From a nutrition and health perspective, they are hazardous junk,” Lean said. “Pizzas are widely consumed and regarded as meals in themselves, and yet their impact on human nutrition does not seem to have been studied,” he added.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Historically, pizzas were made from a few humble ingredients: Bread, tomatoes and a little cheese, combined to form a traditional, healthy meal. Continue reading

Health: Bite-size fruit a better bet for school meals


Kids at school are more likely to eat fruit if it’s pre-sliced, a new study shows.

Study shows dramatic increase in consumption when fruit is sliced

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Most parents know that kids coming home from school are more likely to eat fruit that’s been cut into bite-sized pieces. That same technique might encourage youngsters to eat more healthy foods as part of their school lunch, according to new research from Cornell University who tested the idea in eigh elementary schools.

Previous studies and surveys have shown that kids love to eat fruit in ready-to-eat bite-sized pieces, yet in most school settings, the fruit is served whole, which could be the reason children are taking fruits but not eating them.

Most people believe that children avoid fruit because of the taste and allure of alternative packaged snacks. A study by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab researchers Brian Wansink, David Just, Andrew Hanks, and Laura Smith decided to get to the bottom of why children were avoiding their fruit. Continue reading

Health: Tackling the obesity epidemic

Good, but not so healthy.

Mix of policy options needed to discourage junk food consumption and encourage healthy lifestyles

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With obesity rates still on the rise in North America, governments are under pressure to take stronger regulatory steps to curb rising health-care costs for maladies such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

A recently published series of papers from the University of Alberta examines some of the options available for policy makers seeking to promote healthier eating, including zoning restrictions on fast food restaurants, mandatory menu labels, higher taxes on junk food or even incentive-based approaches for pursuing a healthier lifestyle.

“Since eating and physical activity behavior are complex and influenced by many factors, a single policy measure on its own is not going to be the magic bullet,” said Nola Ries, of the university’s Faculty of Law’s Health Law and Science Policy Group. “Measures at multiple levels — directed at the food and beverage industry, at individuals, at those who educate and those who restrict — must work together to be effective.” Continue reading

Health: Pizza-as-vegetable battle heats up again

Colorado Congressman Polis seeks to restore common sense to school nutrition policy

Pizza may be good, but it’s not a vegetable, according to Congressman Jared Polis. IMAGE VIA WIKIPEDIA AND THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado Congressman Jared Polis squarely aimed his political guns at agribusinesses this week, unveiling a bill that would roll back last year’s “absurd decision” by Congress to define pizza as a vegetable in school meals.

At issue are U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines issued last year that would have prevented pizza from being counted as a vegetable in school meals. But after intense lobbying by the frozen food industry, Congress backed down and decided that the smear of tomato paste on a slice of pizza qualifies as a “vegetable.” Continue reading

Health: Polis seeks to end the school-lunch pizza loophole


Bill to be introduced next week

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — There’s nothing wrong with a good slice of pizza every now and then, but nutrition advocates draw the line at defining the popular Italian food as a vegetable. But that’s exactly what Congress did last November, when they carved a set of far-reaching loopholes into a new set of nutritional standards for school lunches.

Of course nobody actually believes pizza should be classified as a vegetable, and there was a lot winking and nudging going on last year, as food industry lobbyists cozied up with their Congressional counterparts to pass the exemptions.

Deep-pocketed companies like ConAgra Foods, Inc, and Schwan Food Co,  as well as French fry makers McCain Foods Ltd and J.R. Simplot Co all cashed in their political chips to weaken government proposals for voluntary food marketing guidelines to children. Continue reading


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