August 29, 2013
Report Highlights Importance Of Increasing
Fruit And Vegetable Access In North Carolina
North Carolina - As North Carolina farms begin their peak produce season, consumers have greater access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables through the growing number of farmers markets and other produce marketing efforts across the state. As a result, North Carolinians have an opportunity to reverse a pattern described in a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said North Carolinians are still not eating enough fruits or vegetables.
“A diet high in fruits and vegetables is important for managing weight and preventing many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, all of which currently add to health care costs in North Carolina,” said Dr. Carolyn Dunn, professor of nutrition and N.C. Cooperative Extension specialist at N.C. State University.
This is an important issue for North Carolina because the cost of health care for diet-related disease in the state is skyrocketing. The cost of excess weight alone is more than $17.6 billion annually for the state, according to a 2012 report by Be Active North Carolina.
The CDC’s 2013 State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables reported that four out of 10 North Carolina high school students (44.5 percent) and adults (40.8 percent) eat fruit less than one time per day, both worse than the national rates of 36 percent and 37.7 percent respectively. About four out of 10 N.C. high school students (39.6 percent) and two out of 10 N.C. adults (21.9 percent) eat vegetables less than one time per day, with adults doing better and high school students doing worse than the national rates of 37.7 percent and 22.6 percent respectively.
The median fruit intake by N.C. adults as well as adolescents was once daily. For adolescents this is the same as the national average, but for adults this is slightly below the national average of 1.1. The median vegetable intake by N.C. adults is the same as the national average (1.6 times per day), and intake for high school students is 1.1 times per day (slightly below the national average of 1.3).
“There are many exciting projects across the state that focus on getting children and teens to eat more fruits and vegetables,” says Dr. Nancy Creamer, co-director of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.
FoodCorps, a partnership of CEFS and 4-H, is an example of these efforts. FoodCorps, based on the model of AmeriCorps, places service members in school gardens working on nutrition education, garden engagement and farm-to-cafeteria access. This year, the six service members in North Carolina have engaged more than 7,000 children this academic year alone. Data show that people who raise their own produce are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.
In Goldsboro, Students Working for an Agriculture Revolutionary Movement, or SWARM, is the Wayne Food Initiative's emerging leaders program for youth ages 16-19 and is coordinated through partnership with CEFS. Students from multiple Goldsboro high schools participate in SWARM. The HBO series Weight of the Nation recently chronicled a SWARM teen successfully advocated to bring a salad bar to her Goldsboro high school.
The 10% Campaign is a CEFS effort aimed at encouraging consumers, business and food service groups to spend 10 percent of their food dollars on locally sourced foods. The 10% Campaign website includes information on where to find local food across the state, including farmers markets, grocery co-ops, restaurants, community-supported agriculture programs and produce box subscriptions.
Since 2010, the 10% Campaign has recorded nearly $40 million dollars in local food purchases by more than 6,500 individuals and more than 850 businesses. Consumers can sign up through the website and report their local food purchases to help increase these numbers.
The State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables summarizes North Carolina’s data from multiple sources for fruit and vegetable consumption, as well as environmental supports that can make it easier for North Carolina residents to make the healthy choice to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Area Of Brain Where ‘Normal’
Memory Loss Occurs Is Found
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Scientists have found a compelling clue in the quest to learn what causes age-related memory problems, and to one day be able to tell if those misplaced car keys are just a senior moment or an early warning of something worse.
Wednesday's report offers evidence that age-related memory loss really is a distinct condition from pre-Alzheimer's - and offers a hint that what we now consider the normal forgetfulness of old age might eventually be treatable.
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center examined brains, young and old ones, donated from people who died without signs of neurologic disease. They discovered that a certain gene in a specific part of the hippocampus, the brain's memory center, quits working properly in older people. It produces less of a key protein.
That section of the brain, called the dentate gyrus, has long been suspected of being especially vulnerable to aging. Importantly, it's a different neural neighborhood than where Alzheimer's begins to form.
But it's circumstantial evidence that having less of that protein, named RbAp48, affects memory loss in older adults. So the researchers took a closer look at mice, which become forgetful as they age in much the same way that people do.
Sure enough, cutting levels of the protein made healthy young rodents lose their way in mazes and perform worse on other memory tasks just like old mice naturally do.
More intriguing, the memory loss was reversible: Boosting the protein made forgetful old mice as sharp as the youngsters again, the researchers reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
"It's the best evidence so far" that age-related memory loss isn't the same as early Alzheimer's, said Nobel laureate Dr. Eric Kandel, who led the Columbia University team.
And since some people make it to 100 without showing much of a cognitive slowdown, the work begs another question: "Is that normal aging, or is it a deterioration that we're allowing to occur?" Kandel said.
"As we want to live longer and stay engaged in a cognitively complex world, I think even mild age-related memory decline is meaningful," added Columbia neurologist Dr. Scott Small, a senior author of the study. "It opens up a whole avenue of investigation to now try to identify interventions."
This is early-stage research that will require years of additional work to confirm, cautioned Dr. Molly Wagster of the National Institute on Aging, who wasn't involved with the report.
But Wagster said the findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting "that we're not all on the road to Alzheimer's disease" after we pass a certain age.
For example, other researchers have found that connections between neurons in other parts of the brain weaken with normal aging, making it harder but not impossible to retrieve memories. In contrast, Alzheimer's kills neurons.
How does Wednesday's research fit? Many pathways make up a smoothly functioning memory, and that protein plays a role in turning a short-term memory - like where you left those car keys - into a longer-term one, Kandel explained.
Some good news: Scientists already know that exercise makes the dentate gyrus - that age-targeted spot in the hippocampus - function better, Small said. He's also studying if nutrition might make a difference