Posts tagged with "Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health"

What’s your poison? It could be coconut oil.

August 23, 2018

We are what we eat—which is why the conflicting news we receive on a regular basis about nutrition is making it increasingly difficult to decide which foodstuffs are beneficial and which are just plain bad.

 Now, coconuts—and specifically, coconut oil—which once were recommended as a “superfood’ and a remedy for everything from gum disease to Alzheimer’s, are being reviled. Both the American Heart Association and a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health are saying that the oil is high-fat and high-risk.

Indeed, Karin Michels, the director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg in Germany and a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has caused a bit of a stir online. In a lecture posted on YouTube that has gotten nearly one million hits, Michels calls coconut oil “pure poison” and identifies it as “one of the worst foods you can eat,” Business Insider reported on August 20.

Her 50-minute German-language lecture, entitled Coconut Oil and other Nutritional Errors, has become a viral hit .

There’s no study showing significant health benefits to coconut-oil consumption. And, according to Michels, coconut oil is more dangerous than lard because it almost exclusively contains saturated fatty acids—ones that can clog the coronary arteries, Business Insider reported.

Based on the fact that they contain a lot of unsaturated fatty acids, experts recommend olive or rapeseed oil as an alternative, and while it can’t be used for cooking, flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is just as good for the body.

While Michels doesn’t describe other superfoods like acai, chia seeds, or matcha as harmful, at most she considers them ineffective because, in most cases, the nutrients they’re touted for are available just as readily in other foods that are more easily accessible such as carrots, cherries, and apricots.

“We are well and sufficiently supplied,” she said.

According to Statista, Americans consumers 443 tons of coconut oil during 2017. The global production volume of coconut oil was 376 million tons.

Research contact: k.michels@ucla.edu

Most of us believe we could be target of discrimination

Hate doesn’t discriminate, most Americans say. In fact, majorities of many ethnic, identity and racial groups nationwide believe that discrimination exists against their own faction, across many areas of people’s daily lives, according to a poll released on October 24 by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Among those who were asked to respond to the recent survey, entitled, “You, me, and Them: Experiencing Discrimination in America,” were adults who identified as white, black, Latinos, Asian-American, Native American or LGBTQ. The researchers asked a wide range of questions about how and where subjects perceive discrimination—from the workplace to the doctor’s office.

The national statistically representative survey of 3,453 adults, conducted this year from January 26 through April 9.

Interestingly enough, 55% of white American respondents told pollsters that they believe they experience discrimination—higher than the 50% or more of black American respondents who say they have personally felt the effects of racial discrimination.

Specifically, among the 802 African-American respondents, 50% or more say they have experienced discrimination when interacting with police (50%), when applying to jobs (56%), and when it comes to being paid equally or considered for promotion (57%).

What’s more, a majority of African-Americans have personally experienced racial slurs (51%) and 40% say people have acted afraid of them because of their race. Nearly one-third (31%) say they have avoided calling the police, and 22% say they have avoided medical care, even when in need, both for fear of discrimination.

The perceptions of discrimination are not primarily based in actions by institutions, as some might expect. “Most African-Americans believe that discrimination is due to the attitudes of individuals that they interact with,” said Robert Blendon, the poll’s director and professor of policy and political analysis at the Harvard Chan School. “A smaller share believes it’s actually government or institutional policies.”

“If someone is avoiding seeking medical care out of fear of discrimination, they’re at risk of going undiagnosed for serious conditions,” commented Dr. Richard Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We know that repeated stress from discrimination and racism can actually make some of those conditions more likely in the first place and shorten lives.”

Where people live can make a big difference, too. The researchers found that 64% of blacks live in non-majority-black areas. For these respondents, perceptions of local discrimination, opportunity, police, and government and community environment were generally better when compared with majority-black areas, sometimes by wide margins.

Research contact: help.npr.org