2014 Media Coverage

A recent sampling of popular media stories featuring our work is below. Click here for past coverage.

October 15, 2014
Reuters, Fox News online, Yahoo! News

Olive oil, nuts may help reverse heart disease risk factors

Alice Lichtenstein responds to results of a new clinical trial done in Spain studying cardiovascular disease risk and the Mediterranean diet. Lichtenstein “called the study findings interesting, but ‘depending on how they are superimposed on the U.S. diet, (they) may or may not be of benefit,’ she said.”
Dr. Alice Lichtenstein
, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory

October 10, 2014
WBEZ-FM podcast

Mythbusting the Fat

Alice Lichtenstein is the interviewee for a segment of a podcast of Chicago’s NPR affiliate called Chewing the Fat. The conversation focuses on recent studies that explore the role of fats in weight loss.  Dr. Lichtenstein’s interview begins at approx. 22 minutes.
Dr. Alice Lichtenstein
, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory

October 8, 2014
Outside Magazine

You Can Train Your Brain to Crave Healthy Food

A pilot study from the USDA HNRCA shows changes to the brain reward center and an increased sensitivity to healthier foods after six months on a weight loss program designed by Susan Roberts, Senior Scientist in the Energy Metabolism laboratory. Roberts notes, “If somebody is stressed, they might have a brownie. Then the next time they’re stressed they have another brownie, and sure enough, every time they’re stressed they think about brownies. Our brain is naturally designed to make associations between A and B.”
Dr. Sue Roberts, Energy Metabolism Laboratory

October 2, 2014
The Guardian

Quinoa, chia seeds and kale: superfoods or supermarketing?

This lengthy article about “superfoods” includes information from Jeffrey Blumberg, who says that the marketing can cause consumer confusion.  “Superfood can mean anything you want it to,” says Blumberg. “Every food is unique and goji berries and chia seeds are fine – but they are just another food choice. You don’t see apples, oranges and bananas being advertised as superfoods although they are as nutrient dense.”
Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, Antioxidants Research Laboratory

September 17, 2014
WebMD Health News

Could Artificial Sweeteners Raise Your Blood Sugar?

Martin Obin comments on the findings of a new pilot study published in Nature which reveals that artificial sweeteners may raise blood sugar levels by changing the makeup of the bacteria located in the intestines. “It’s small,” Obin said of the seven-person study, “but it’s very, very profound.”
Dr. Martin Obin, Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory

September 1, 2014
Tufts University

Training Your Brain to Prefer Healthy Foods

The findings of a new study led by Susan Roberts and Sai Das suggest it is possible to reverse the addictive power of unhealthy food while also increasing preference for healthy foods. The pilot study involved 13 men and women-eight of whom participated in a weight-loss program and five who did not. The researchers took MRIs of both groups and after six months, the brain scans showed changes in certain areas of the brain reward center in the weight loss program signifying that they had developed an increased sensitivity to healthy, lower-calorie foods and decreased sensitivity to unhealthy higher foods.
Dr. Sue Roberts and
Dr. Sai Das, Energy Metabolism Laboratory

September 2, 2014
The Today Show

Weight-loss program rewires brain to crave healthy food, scans show

In her daily health segment, reporter Nancy Snyderman discusses a new study from the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. Led by Susan Roberts, the findings suggest it is possible to reverse the addictive power of unhealthy food while also increasing preference for healthy foods. The pilot study involved 13 men and women-eight of whom participated in a weight-loss program and five who did not. The researchers took MRIs of both groups and after six months, the brain scans showed changes in certain areas of the brain reward center in the weight loss program signifying that they had developed an increased sensitivity to healthy, lower-calorie foods and decreased sensitivity to unhealthy higher foods.
Dr. Sue Roberts, Energy Metabolism Laborator

August 21, 2014
The Associated Press

Noodles: Friend or Foe? S. Koreans Defend Diet

A recent study by researchers at Baylor finding that instant noodles may have a significant role in heart disease risk in South Korea, where they are a dietary staple. Alice Lichtenstein, who was not involved in the study, cautions that while the research raises good questions, it doesn’t “prove that instant noodles are to blame rather than the overall diets of people who eat lots of them…‘What’s jumping out is the sodium (intake) is higher in those who are consuming ramen noodles…What we don’t know is whether it’s coming from the ramen noodles or what they are consuming with the ramen noodles.’”
Dr. Alice Lichtenstein
, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory

August 18, 2014
The Boston Globe

Innovative Museum of Science programs help workers get healthier

Employees at the Museum of Science participated in the iDiet program at work, which was developed by Susan Roberts for workplace weight loss. “How do we help people cut calories, feel full, and enjoy what they’re eating? By working with that biology rather than ignoring it,” Roberts said. “If you compare our research with other workplace programs, we’re achieving six times more weight loss in the randomized clinical trials.”
Dr. Sue Roberts, Energy Metabolism Laborator

July 29, 2014
Chicago Tribune, Health Blog

Interpreting the body’s food cravings

Susan Roberts says the reasons we crave certain foods are complex, “I wish it were so, that we only craved the things our body needs for nutrients. But when we crave chips — that is not because we need sodium and white carbs — it is because we have managed to set up a habit of eating them and the habit has — as habits do — turn into a craving.”
Dr. Susan Roberts, Energy Metabolism Laboratory

July 11, 2014
National Public Radio

Are Organic Vegetables More Nutritious After All?

In a story that aired nationally on NPR, Jeffrey Blumberg discusses methodological issues in studies which compare organic foods to non-organic foods. In a phone interview, he says the nutritional difference between organic and non-organic foods is not big enough but that the larger focus should be on how much people consume.
Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, Antioxidants Research Laborator

June 24, 2014
USA Today

Over-fortified cereals may pose risk to kids

Sue Roberts responds to a new report from the Environmental Working Group that says fortified foods, particularly cereal, is leading to the overconsumption of some vitamins and minerals by millions of children. Roberts said: “”But right now we don’t have a lot of evidence that it is creating massive health problems. Rather, I would say it is unnecessary, not health-promoting, and in some individual cases may be causing toxic problems.”
Dr. Sue Roberts, Energy Metabolism Laboratory

June 22, 2014
The Wall Street Journal

How to Keep Your Muscles Strong as You Age

This article discusses the importance of maintaining muscles strength during aging, and uses pictures of scans from Fielding’s laboratory at the Nutrition Research Center on Aging to illustrate the article.  Fielding is quoted saying, “even as we advance into very old age, physical activity can help preserve independence.”
Dr. Roger Fielding
, Nutrition, Exercise, Physiology & Sarcopenia Lab

June 18, 2014
Time Magazine

FDA Wants to Limit Your Salt Intake.  Is That a Good Thing?

The FDA announced that it wants to limit the amount of sodium in processed foods, citing studies that link high sodium intake with disease. Alice Lichtenstein supports the policy and says, “There still is no good data suggesting an adverse effect of reducing sodium intake.”
Dr. Alice Lichtenstein
, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory

June 4, 2014
Tufts University

Saturated Fat Intake May Influence a Person’s Expression of Genetic Obesity Risk

A study led by José Ordovas suggests that reduced saturated fat intake can reduce the risk of obesity among people who are at a genetic risk of obesity. The study of 2,800 white American men and women used 63 gene variants related to obesity to calculate genetic risk, then compared saturated fat intake. Those who had higher gene risk who also ate less saturated fat, were less likely to become obese than those who ate less saturated fat.
Dr. Jose Ordovas, Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory

May 30, 2014
CBS News online, Money Watch
Going gluten-free because everyone else is?
Sales of gluten-free products are increasing due to the popularity of gluten-free lifestyles. Recent market research suggests that as many as one in four consumers “believe everyone should quit eating gluten,” even though public understanding of gluten has been questioned. Sue Roberts weighs in on this issue.
Dr. Sue Roberts, Energy Metabolism Laboratory

May 27, 2014
American Heart Association, Nutrition Center
Eating Fish for Heart Health

The AHA recommends eating fish regularly, rather than relying on omega-3 supplements, in order to improve heart health. Alice Lichtenstein discusses the benefits of eating fish, and tips for easing into a “fish-friendly” diet.
Dr. Alice Lichtenstein, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory

The Boston Globe, Daily Dose
New study links exercise, mobility in elderly
May 27, 2014
Dr. Roger Fielding co-authored study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that older adults who walked and did “basic strengthening exercises on a daily basis” were less likely to become physically disabled compared to a control group.
Dr. Roger Fielding, Nutrition, Exercise, Physiology & Sarcopenia Lab

May 11, 2014
Psych Central
Lack of Long Chain Fatty Acids May Lead to Cognitive Decline in Two Years

Tammy Scott led a study, presented as an abstract at the recent Experimental Biology conference,  on the role of fatty acids in fighting against cognitive decline. The preliminary results are the focus of this article.
Neuroscience and Aging Lab

April 10
Ocular Surgery News, Healio
 Physicians balance benefits of diet, supplements for common ocular conditions
Dr. Allen Taylor, director of Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision at the HNRCA, discusses the latest nutritional recommendations for age-related macular degeneration: “Carbohydrate intake may also be important. Keeping dietary glycemia low seems to offer protection in all epidemiologic studies published to date. Animal work supports this finding. However, there are no double-blinded placebo-controlled studies to corroborate the findings, and it may be unethical to undertake them.
Dr Allen Taylor, Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research

March 28, 2014
The New York Times, The Opinion Pages
Eat More Butter and Fat?
Alice Lichtenstein responds to a contributing op-ed about a meta-analysis that suggests that “butter is back”, and that “here’s just no evidence to support the notion that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease.” She writes that, “More important, issues related to the healthiest types of dietary fat should not be conflated with equally important but very distinct issues related to the heavy reliance on processed foods, ubiquitous use of added sugars, infatuation with nonfat products or sustainability of our food supply.”
Dr. Alice Lichtenstein, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory

March 24, 2014
Counsel & Heal, Experts
FAT10 Gene tied to Body fat and Aging in Mice, Study Reports
Martin Obin, Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory

March 18, 2014
AARP online
12 Foods That Sabotage Sleep

In slide six of this slideshow about foods to avoid before sleeping, Helen Rasmussen warns about eating beans too close to bedtime because of how hard it is for the body to digest them.
Helen Rasmussen, Metabolic Research Unit

March 17, 2014
The Quaker Oats Company, PepsiCo
Press Release: New Reason to Eat Oats for Heart Health
Oliver Chen and Mohsen Meydani presented on the relationship between bioactive compounds (AVEs) found in oats and cardiovascular disease prevention at a session on oats at the American Chemical Society annual conference.
Dr. Mohsen Meydani, Vascular Biology Lab

March 17, 2014
The Boston Globe, Health Answers
Can you prevent muscle weakness associated with age?
Roger Fielding is the featured expert in a response to  a reader question about preventing age-related muscle weakness. He explains that “while come loss in muscle mass is inevitable, we do have some control over it,” and says that “muscles are very responsive to how much physical activity they’re forced to do.”
Dr. Roger Fielding, Nutrition, Exercise, Physiology & Sarcopenia Lab

March 13, 2014
The Today Show online
Do ‘study’ pills work? Popular supplements no better than coffee

Tammy Scott, a scientist in the Neuroscience and Aging Laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center explains there are currently not enough scientific studies to know whether supplements with ingredients such as B vitamins and caffeine, can effectively boost brain function. Scott said: “There’s no science out there that any supplement does any better than an espresso.” Article also appears on the websites of NBCNews.com and KCEN-TV (TX).
Neuroscience and Aging Lab

March 10, 2014
Huffington Post, The Blog

Food Label Makeover a Great Step Toward Healthier Eating
The CEO of the American Heart Association writes about the improvements being made to the Nutrition Facts food labels, currently being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration (announced by First Lady Michelle Obama). Alice Lichtenstein, referred to as “one of our nation’s foremost experts in this area”, lays out a quick but extensive view of the changes, and what they mean to consumers.
Dr. Alice Lichtenstein, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory

March 5, 2014
The Boston Globe
Winter weighs on us in more ways than one
Sue Roberts is quoted in an article appearing in the paper’s weekly food section about seasonal appetite changes. Roberts said: “It’s definitely true that people gain weight in the winter and it’s definitely true that people who are overweight to start with are more vulnerable to additional weight gain during the winter months.”
March 3, 2014
The Boston Globe, Health Answers

Dr. Sue Roberts, Energy Metabolism Laboratory

What is the Mediterranean diet?
In response to a reader’s question about what constitutes a Mediterranean diet, J. Ordovas explains that “a central component of traditional Mediterranean diets is extra-virgin olive oil, which is pressed from fresh olives and preserves beneficial chemicals in the fruit” as well as eating nuts, seasonal and local produce, whole grains, some dairy, and sparing use of meats. He also points out that “people in Mediterranean countries also have eating patterns that are different than those in America and other countries — meals are more likely to be social and celebratory gatherings, for instance.”
Dr. Jose Ordovas, Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory

March 1, 2014
MedPage Today
FDA Proposes New Nutrition Labeling on Food
First Lady Michelle Obama is set to announce the Food and Drug Administration’s proposal for changes to the nutrition labels for packaged foods. ALichtenstein comments on the importance of consumer testing, as well as the impact of proposed changes: “two-thirds of Americans weigh too much, and this excess weight increases their risk for cardiovascular disease and other chronic disorders… Hence, the most important change is to increase the prominence of calorie content and increase portion sizes to reflect current intakes.”
Dr. Alice Lichtenstein, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory

February/March 2014
AARP The Magazine (online)

Eat Red for Heart Health
This article on the heart health benefits of “red fruits” references an epidemiological study by USDA HNRCA and Boston University researchers that  associated  lycopene intake with reduced  (up to 26 percent) cardiovascular disease risk.
Nutritional Epidemiology Program

February 7, 2014
Jewish World Review
Beyond the antioxidant buzz: Plant foods boost our health in multiple ways
J. Blumberg discusses the potential problems with emphasizing high antioxidant levels as a selling-point for foods and vitamins: “Many of these compounds act to quench free radicals effectively only in vitro (test tube experiments), not in vivo (living organism experiments).” And “People may think that it’s no longer the vitamins, minerals or fiber, but only the phytochemicals that promote health. But the reason plant foods are good for you is because of everything they contain. There is synergy for all of these ingredients–synergies between ingredients within one food and between multiple foods; that’s why the Dietary Guidelines recommends we consume a diversity of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.”
Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, Antioxidants Research Laboratory

February 4, 2014
Medical News Today
Smart and personal: dietary advice
J. Ordovas comments on efforts to provide personalized nutrition, in response to efforts of the European program called “food4me”: Often the people that need the diet the most are the ones that do not follow it,” and “one of the goals of the personalised recommendations based on the genome is to provide that ‘teachable moment’ that makes people more aware of the problem and the solution, and this may motivate them to adhere to a good diet for which is evidence supporting the benefit.”
Dr. Jose Ordovas, Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory

January 31, 2014
Reuters Health (as published by NewsDaily)
Macular pigment density tied to cognitive function in healthy elders

Elizabeth Johnson investigated whether macular pigment optical density might be related to cognitive function.
Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, Carotenoids and Health Laboratory

January 29, 2014
Tufts University
Indoor Garden Installed at USDA Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University

The USDA HNRCA, with the guidance of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, is raising an indoor garden in the lobby of the USDA HNRCA building in Chinatown. The garden is part of the Horticultural Society’s Garden to Table initiative, which provides fresh foods and education to those “interested in growing their own vegetables.” The vegetables grown at the HNRCA are donated to St. Francis House, a day-shelter for the homeless located nearby the campus.
Dr. Simin Nikbin Meydani, Nutritional Immunology Laboratory

January 29, 2104
WBUR  CommonHealth Blog (Boston NPR affiliate)
 Study: In Mice, Antioxidants Spur Lung Cancer Growth
M. Meydani, director of the Vascular Biology Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA, comments on a study in which researchers fed mice diets supplemented with vitamin E and the drug  acetylcysteine, and found the combination of antioxidants accelerated lung cancer tumor growth. Meydani says, the research is too preliminary to be applicable to humans: “If we’re getting enough fruits and vegetables every day — five servings, for example — we’re getting enough of all these antioxidants, all these vitamins, that we need, basically.”
Dr. Mohsen Meydani,  Vascular Biology Lab

January 20, 2014
Vitamin B12 Deficiency: The Under-Reported Epidemic
Article includes a summary of a study led by researchers at Tufts, which estimates that over 65 percent of Americans may not meet suggested vitamin B12 levels.

January 2014
Jewish World Review
Procreating dad? Study suggests your baby is what you eat
A McGill University study of male mice and their offspring suggests that paternal vitamin B9 deficiency may “contribute to birth defects in offspring.” Jimmy Crott, who studies the impact of B vitamin deficiency on colorectal cancer risk, is quoted re the need to replicate the study with larger samples, saying, “There’s a lot to be done in this field, but this is an important contribution.”
Jimmy Crott, Vitamins and Carcinogenesis Lab

January 16, 2014
HealthDay News via Yahoo! Health
Do Diet Drinks Make You Eat More?
A. Lichtenstein discusses a study which suggests that people who drink diet soda may consume more daily calories from food compared to people who drink sweetened beverages: “Drawing conclusions from self-reported food and beverage intake data is challenging, particularly because we know normal-weight and overweight people report with different levels of accuracy.”
Dr. Alice Lichtenstein, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory

January 16, 2014
Kompas Health (Indonesia)

3 Dietary Patterns Improve Endurance Body
Article includes a study led by S. Meydani, which suggests that reducing daily caloric intake may reduce the risk of cold and flu.
Dr. Simin Nikbin Meydani, Nutritional Immunology Laboratory

January 9, 2014
Eating tree nuts tied to lowered obesity risk
J. Blumberg comments on a new study by researchers from Loma Linda University, which adds to evidence that nuts may be linked to lower risk of obesity: “It really is at a point now where I think there is a large body of evidence and is – I would even say – a consensus of nuts being a healthful food choice if consumed in reasonable amounts.”
Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, Antioxidants Research Laboratory

January 9, 2014
Men’s Health Italia
How to beat the flu (translation)
D. Wu is quoted explaining that “starving a cold” is harmful, saying: “Your body needs nutrients and food compounds to fortify your immune system against viruses and help speed your recovery,” and “There are also some foods that negatively impact your body’s resistance to sicknesses.”
Dr. Dayong Wu Nutritional Immunology Laborator

January 1, 2014
The Wall Street Journal
Fork Says One Bite (Wait for It), Now Two

This article explains how the vibrating HAPIfork, a “smart fork”, is designed to respond to eating speed and train eating habits. SRoberts is quoted re the limitations of focusing on eating speed for weight control and the device itself. “”Most Americans probably only eat a third to a half of their calories with a fork,” Roberts said.
Dr. Sue Roberts, Energy Metabolism Laboratory