SIRC – Media Watch 13-08-99
Tea & Biscuits – snacking for health
Research published in the Lancet this week has identified chocolate as containing one of the largest sources of catechins. Recent research has suggested that catechins, a group of compounds in the flavonoid family, may reduce susceptibility to cancer and heart disease, reduce platelet aggregation and inhibit LDL-cholesterol oxidation. Dr Ilja Arts et al discovered that dark chocolate contained 53.5mg of catechins per 100g – almost four times the amount present in tea, which was previously regarded as the largest source of the chemical. This would seem to offer great news for the fans of elevenses "drinking a cup of tea and eating a chocolate cookie might be not only enjoyable but healthy as well." Before you put the tea bag in the cup, however, I feel it my duty to impart to you the findings of a study conducted at the Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. Their research, involving 11,000 volunteers, found a link between high tea consumption and an increase in the susceptibility to heart disease. Strangely enough the reverse trend was identified for coffee. Maybe we should then err towards a coffee and chocolate breakfast, or maybe we should attempt a regular ingestion of chocolate, coffee and tea. Confused? I can't think why!
The real thing – cutting the mustard
Fuelled more by US trade sanctions than dioxin-related health concerns, the Coca-Cola Company is experiencing severe localised inflation in the French town of Dijon. A bottle of Coke in one of the town's creperies will now set you back the princely sum of £50.
Despite the lifting of the EU ban on British beef, fears surrounding BSE continue to make the headlines. Germany has refused to allow the sale of British beef after their Health Minister Andrea Fischer, a member of the Green Party, pointed out that BSE had not been totally eradicated from British herds. Although this stance will bring the German Government into a direct confrontation with the European Commission it seems likely that bureaucracy will stall an inevitable reversal of policy until the end of the year. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities this week banned French wine on the premise that producers from four provinces continued to use albemims, a blood by-product, in wine filtration even though the European Union barred this practice in 1997. Last year alone China imported around ten million bottles of French wine. The economic nightmare continues.
Which magazine sent thirty under-cover researchers into a number of Britain's health food shops to assess their recommended remedies for anxiety and indigestion. With more than 2,000 health shops currently in the UK, Which? found that: "generally, the staff in the health food shops we visited failed to ask the basic questions about existing medical conditions." We at SIRC would like to thank Which? for highlighting the fact that bad advice is bad for our health.
Research conducted by scientists at Oxford University seems set to challenge conventional nutritional wisdom that pregnant women's diet significantly effects the health of their child. The study found no significant differences in the birth weights of children – born in industrial countries – despite large variances in the mothers' diets and vitamin supplement intake. Dr Sarah Schenker from the British Nutrition Foundation however suggested that a balanced diet was essential to the health of the mother to be and thus the maintenance of a 'healthy, balanced diet' should still be seen as a priority.