Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Are Food Allergies on the Rise? Part 1: GMOs

If you've worked with kids lately, or if you're a new parent yourself, then I'm sure you know all about this epidemic of food allergies.  According to a 2011 study, 8% of American children under 18 have at least one food allergy, and that is up from 4% in 2009 (1).  Peanut allergies in particular have been on the rise.  In one Midwestern county, the prevalence of peanut allergies in children tripled between 1999 and 2007 (2).  But you don't need numbers to realize it's a problem.  Just spend a day in a school cafeteria.  Or a summer camp.  Just enter an elementary school classroom at all and you'll hear about it; the concern is clearly growing.  Dairy may be the most common allergy, and it seems kids can have a reaction just looking at a peanut, but there are others to worry about as well, including wheat, eggs, soy, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.

But it wasn't always this way.  When I was a youngster, I don't recall ever hearing about another kid having a food allergy.  Maybe the most I ever heard was that a classmate was lactose intolerant.  But there was no mention of peanuts.  Nobody had a wheat allergy.  Nobody went into anaphylactic shock at the mercy of a pistachio.  So what gives?? Why are food allergies exploding?

Well, sadly I don't think we know the answer to that question.  Much has changed in the food and health world over the past few decades, so we have many likely culprits.  Over these next few posts, I'll be exploring the options, in a sort of thinking-out-loud fashion.  Excuse me if what follows turns into an incoherent mess.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Coca-Cola Polar Bears

Welp, looks like all those years of drinking Coke has finally caught up to the polar bears.

That is all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vegetarians Live Longer than Meat-Eaters

You may be shocked by the title of this post.  Have I changed my tune?  Am I finally giving up meat and going vegan??  Fear not, my friends, it's simply a catchy title I used to draw you in. But it is the topic of an article I read today entitled "Vegetarians have longer life expectancy than meat eaters, study finds".  The study they're referring to is one that followed 96,000 Canadian citizens, thousands of which were Seventh-day Adventists, who are vegetarians (supposedly).  The study isn't yet complete, but the preliminary results were reported at last weekend's Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition (FNCE) in Philadelphia.  Although I was in attendance at the conference, I did not see the presentation on this Seventh-day Adventist study.  I would have loved to be there, but instead I chose to see a lecture on food blogging, which, incidentally, I am doing right now.  Unfortunately I couldn't be everywhere at once... and I'm fresh out of time travel crystals.

So I was happy to come across this article today and find out what I missed.  Here's the lowdown... Seventh-day Adventist men lived on average 9.5 years longer than other men, and women lived on average 6.1 years longer than other women.  That's a pretty significant chunk of extra life.  But is it the vegetarian diet?  Or is is something else that keeps them truckin'?  Maybe we should learn a little more about these Adventists...