Category Archives: Human Nutrition

“Strengthening the contribution of aquaculture to food and nutrition security: The potential of a vitamin A-rich, small fish in Bangladesh” (Fiedler et al 2016)

Citation: Fiedler, J., Lividini, K., Drummond, E., and Thilsted, S. (2016). “Strengthening the contribution of aquaculture to food and nutrition security: The potential of a vitamin A-rich, small fish in Bangladesh” Aquaculture, 452, pp. 291-303. DOI: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2015.11.004

Summary By: Alexandra Pounds

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

  • Big Picture: The Mola Production Programme is the most cost-efficient way to address vitamin A deficiencies in Bangladesh.
  • Many small-scale farmers in Bangladesh culture fish, for both commercial and sustenance. Polyculture of rice and fish is an important part of food security in Bangladesh. Many Bangladeshis have small ponds available for aquaculture.
  • It is estimated that 60% of Bangladeshis are vit A deficient, despite the oil and wheat flour fortification programmes.
  • Mola carplet contains more vit A than other commonly eaten fish species in Bangladesh. Producing more mola carplet could help solve the vit a deficiency. The Mola Production Programme is currently behind these efforts. The aim of this paper was to do a cost-benefit analysis of increasing mola carplet production in Bangladesh to help solve the chronic vit A deficiency.
  • Methods:
    • Used national health statistics to establish the usual vit A intake, prevalence of deficiency, and years lost to deficiency-caused disability.
    • They then added how much vit A the Mola Production Programme would provide over the next 11 years to estimate future levels of vit A intake, prevelance of deficiency, and years lost to deficiency-caused disability. They assumed that the Mola Production Programme would have a 30% adoption rate
    • The change in these numbers was compared to the total cost of the Mola Production Programme.
    • They used two different scenarios for comparison.
  • Results:
    • Over 11 years the program would cost $23 million and
      • raise vit A levels by 7 micrograms
      • lower prevelance of deficiency by 1.1%
      • This equates to 3000 lives saved, and prevent 100,000 years lost to deficiency-caused disability.
  • Implications:
    • If continued for 20 years, the Mola Production Programme would have lower costs and greater health benefits than the Vitamin A wheat flour fortification programme.
    • Other nutritional components can be improved through the programme indirectly, via increased income with mola production.

“Red Meat Consumption during Adolescence among Premenopausal Women and Risk of Breast Cancer” Linos et al 2008

Citation: Linos, E., Willett, W., Cho, E., Colditz, G, and Frazier, L. (2008). “Red Meat Consumption during Adolescence among Premenopausal Women and Risk of Breast Cancer” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 17(8), pp 2146-2151. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-0037

Summary by: Alexandra Pounds

Image Credit: Max Pixel

  • Big Picture: Teens who eat a lot of well-done or fried red meats, especially processed meats or meats with additional hormones, may be at a greater risk of breast cancer.
  • Over 39,000 premenopausal women reported how frequently they ate 142 different types of food from 1998 to 2005.
  • 455 of these women got breast cancer.
  • Researchers defined “red meat” as pork, beef, lamb, and processed meats (like hotdogs, meatloaf, and cured meats).
  • Researchers found that:
    • red meat consumption during adolescence was correlated with breast cancer. For every 100g of red meat (about one burger patty) consumed each day, the risk of breast cancer increased by 20%.
    • red meat consumption during adulthood was NOT correlated with breast cancer.
    • processed meats were associated with a higher risk of breast cancer compared to other meats.
    • The processing of the meat, rather than the meat itself, may have played a role in breast cancer risk.
  • Limitations of the study:
    • Researchers also found that women who ate more red meat were also more likely to be smokers, have a higher BMI/caloric intake, and gained more weight during adulthood. These factors may have played a role in contributing to breast cancer risk.
    • Red meat was not differentiated by how it was cooked. The researchers didn’t know how the women’s meat was cooked. Another study showed that well-done and fried meats quadrupled the risk of breast cancer. In this study, it may have been that those who developed breast cancer and eating more meat were eating more well-done or fried meats.
    • The study required that some adult women recall the foods they ate when they were a teenager. They may have not remembered accurately.
    • The women in the study were teens during the 1960’s and 1970’s, before hormone use in livestock was limited. The women eating more red meat may have developed breast cancer because of the hormones in the red meat rather than because of the red meat itself.