04 December 2014 In Phenolic compounds

While many epidemiological studies have associated the consumption of polyphenols within fruits and vegetables with a decreased risk of developing several chronic diseases, intervention studies have generally not confirmed these beneficial effects. The reasons for this discrepancy are not fully understood but include potential differences in dosing, interaction with the food matrix, and differences in polyphenol bioavailability. In addition to endogenous factors such as microbiota and digestive enzymes, the food matrix can also considerably affect bioaccessibility, uptake, and further metabolism of polyphenols. While dietary fiber (such as hemicellulose), divalent minerals, and viscous and protein-rich meals are likely to cause detrimental effects on polyphenol bioaccessibility, digestible carbohydrates, dietary lipids (especially for hydrophobic polyphenols, e.g., curcumin), and additional antioxidants may enhance polyphenol availability. Following epithelial uptake, polyphenols such as flavonoids may reduce phase II metabolism and excretion, enhancing polyphenol bioavailability. Furthermore, polyphenols may act synergistically due to their influence on efflux transporters such as p-glycoprotein. In order to understand polyphenol bioactivity, increased knowledge of the factors affecting polyphenol bioavailability, including dietary factors, is paramount.

04 December 2014 In Social and Cultural Aspects

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the hypothesis that exposure to alcohol consumption in movies affects the likelihood that low-risk adolescents will start to drink alcohol.

METHODS: Longitudinal study of 2346 adolescent never drinkers who also reported at baseline intent to not to do so in the next 12 months (mean age 12.9 years, SD = 1.08). Recruitment was carried out in 2009 and 2010 in 112 state-funded schools in Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, and Scotland. Exposure to movie alcohol consumption was estimated from 250 top-grossing movies in each country in the years 2004 to 2009. Multilevel mixed-effects Poisson regressions assessed the relationship between baseline exposure to movie alcohol consumption and initiation of trying alcohol, and binge drinking (>/= 5 consecutive drinks) at follow-up.

RESULTS: Overall, 40% of the sample initiated alcohol use and 6% initiated binge drinking by follow-up. Estimated mean exposure to movie alcohol consumption was 3653 (SD = 2448) occurrences. After age, gender, family affluence, school performance, TV screen time, personality characteristics, and drinking behavior of peers, parents, and siblings were controlled for, exposure to each additional 1000 movie alcohol occurrences was significantly associated with increased relative risk for trying alcohol, incidence rate ratio = 1.05 (95% confidence interval, 1.02-1.08; P = .003), and for binge drinking, incidence rate ratio = 1.13 (95% confidence interval, 1.06-1.20; P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS: Seeing alcohol depictions in movies is an independent predictor of drinking initiation, particularly for more risky patterns of drinking. This result was shown in a heterogeneous sample of European youths who had a low affinity for drinking alcohol at the time of exposure.

04 December 2014 In Social and Cultural Aspects

OBJECTIVE: There have been conflicting findings in the literature concerning the risks to adolescents when parents provide them with alcohol. Studies have examined various ways in which parents directly affect adolescent alcohol consumption through provision (e.g., parental offers, parental allowance/supervision, parental presence while drinking, and parental supply). This review synthesizes findings on the direct ways parental provision can influence a child's alcohol consumption and related problems in an effort to provide parents with science-based guidance. We describe potential mechanisms of the relationship between these parental influences and adolescent problems, suggest future directions for research, and discuss implications for parents.

METHOD: Twenty-two studies (a mix of cross-sectional and longitudinal) that empirically examined the association between parental provision and adolescent drinking outcomes were reviewed.

RESULTS: Parental provision was generally associated with increased adolescent alcohol use and, in some instances, increased heavy episodic drinking as well as higher rates of alcohol-related problems. Data in support of the view that parental provision serves as a protective factor in the face of other risk factors were equivocal.

CONCLUSIONS: The nature and extent of the risks associated with parental provision, and the potential mechanisms underlying this association, are complex issues. Although more rigorous studies with longitudinal designs are needed, parents should be aware of potential risks associated with providing adolescents with alcohol and a place to drink. It is recommended that parents discourage drinking until adolescents reach legal age.

04 December 2014 In Social and Cultural Aspects

This commentary explores how household economic necessity and the public health aspirations set out in the WHO's global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol might be reconciled in the context of alcohol control in developing countries. The 'ambiguity' of alcohol's role in social and economic development is clear, but, as yet, little progress has been made on how best to integrate alcohol control within development policies in low- and middle-income countries. Without this holistic thinking, alcohol control efforts are likely to be thwarted by liquor's allure as an accessible micro-enterprise opportunity. Similarly, developmental efforts will be undermined by the severity of alcohol-related harms that now disproportionately affect middle-income countries. Drawing on the example of South Africa, this short commentary explores the complexities of controlling the supply of alcohol when its sale represents a major livelihood strategy amid conditions of high unemployment and constrained access to formal employment markets. The policy preference for closing illegal bars or shebeens in South Africa does not address the 'causes of the causes' of why people drink, and therefore why its sale continues to be an attractive livelihood choice. It also does little to provide alternative leisure or employment opportunities, which ultimately threatens the longer term sustainability of policy. We need to better appreciate why selling alcohol is a seductive business opportunity and the potential consequences of this for realising public health aspirations.

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