LAB REPORT

Colour-coded labels on foods; prostate and breast cancer linked

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 March, 2015, 6:10am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 March, 2015, 6:10am

Colour-coded food labels work best

Traffic light labels that indicate the overall "healthiness" of a food product are more effective in helping consumers resist high-calorie foods than the traditional information-based label, according to a new German study published in the journal Obesity. "Red" symbolises a high percentage of fat, sugar or salt; "green" a lower percentage, and "yellow" falls in the middle. Scientists at the University of Bonn observed 35 adult participants lying in a brain scanner as they made purchase decisions for 100 products from chocolate to yogurt to ready-to-serve meals. Participants were willing to pay significantly more money for the same product when the traffic light label was "green" - and less money for a "red" label - compared with an information-based label. "You can conclude that the traffic light label acts as a reinforcer: the health relevance of the ingredients is weighed more heavily into purchasing decisions compared to simple nutritional information," says one of the study's authors, Laura Enax.

Weight link between mum, child

Remember when a pregnant mum was told she's eating for two? Think again. Excessive pregnancy weight gain has been linked with greater overall and abdominal body fat in children - and about a 300 per cent increased risk of the child's obesity at age seven - in new research by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. The study was based on data from more than 720 African-American and Dominican mothers who were part of another Columbia study from 1998 to 2013. Findings are published online in the journal Maternal & Child Nutrition.

Prostate, breast cancer linked

Having a family history of prostate cancer among first-degree relatives may increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study that appears online in the journal Cancer. The study used data from more than 78,000 women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study in the US between 1993 and 1998, and had a follow-up in 2009. Results indicated that having a family history of prostate cancer in first-degree relatives (fathers, brothers and sons) was linked with a 14 per cent increase in breast cancer risk for women, after adjusting for various patient factors. A family history of both breast and prostate cancer was linked with a 78 per cent increase in breast cancer risk.