Improve Nutrition and End Childhood Obesity
Research to help people eat healthy
Cocoa and its Bioactive Component Epicatechin Extend Lifespan in Aging Mice Fed a Standard Diet
Dr. Hongwei Si
The number of the Americans aged 65 or older is quickly growing, which will place unprecedented burdens on health care costs. Therefore, developing strategies to promote health and functional independence are very important in helping older Americans stay healthy, live longer, and incur fewer health-related costs. Among these, a search for novel, cost-effective, and health improving agents for prevention of multiple organs' dysfunction and prolonging healthy lifespan are of major importance in efforts to promote the health of elderly American. Our recent study observed that dietary intake of epicatechin, a major bioactive compounds of cocoa, significantly increased survival rate to 69.7% from 39.4% in control group in aged C57B6 mice fed a standard diet. This epicatechin supplement also
improved aging-related inflammation and multiple organs function. These findings suggest that epicatechin may be a novel anti-aging compound, particularly a breakthrough of anti-aging natural compounds research because most potential natural agents including resveratrol, green tea extract and curcumin have failed in extending lifespan in mice from the National Institute on Aging Interventions Testing Program (1). However, our current studies used only one dosage (0.25% drinking) of epicatechin and further pathological, biochemical and molecular analysis from collected animal tissues were not done because of lack of funding support. A comprehensive aging study with different dosages of epicatechin and whole cocoa extracts to select the optimum dosage and define the physiological and transcriptional mechanisms is extremely needed to confirm whether and how dietary epicatechin and cocoa extracts extend lifespan in aged mice fed a standard diet. This project will explore whether and how epicatechin and cocoa extracts act in vivo as an anti-aging agent. The results from these studies are expected to establish the fundamental mechanism by which epicatechin and cocoa extracts extend healthy lifespan, which could potentially lead to the development of strategies using this cost-effective, naturally available compound to promote health and extend lifespan in humans. In addition, completion of this project will strengthen the capacities in molecular nutrition and chronic diseases research as well as minority graduate students training at Tennessee State University.
Soybean Dietary Fiber: A Functional Ingredient for Prevention of Childhood Obesity
Dr. Ying Wu
Eating patterns and nutritional status are closely related to health. In the recent decades, the growing prevalence of overweight and obesity at early stage of childhood is a serious concern (Hill and Trowbridge, 1998). Obesity is the third most dominant risk factor for noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease in high-income countries (Lopez, Mathers, Ezzati, Jamison, & Murray, 2006). According to the data published by National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (Ogden et al., 2012), in the year 2009-2010, the obesity rate was 16.9 percent among children and adolescents in the United States. Due to the steep increase of overweight and obesity rate and its related health risks, childhood obesity has become one of the most pressing public health concerns in the country (Koplan et al., 2005). Diet is one of the important factors considered as causes of childhood obesity (Ebbeling et al., 2002). Important epidemiological evidence support the concept that diets rich in fiber are associated with lower body weight or weight gain (Lairon, 2007). High fiber diets are important in the prevention and management of obesity and chronic diseases, including type2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer (Kendall et al., 2010). Dietary guidance universally recommends diets higher in fiber for improved health benefits (Slavin, 2005). Current recommendations from the United States National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, suggest that adults should consume 20-35 grams of dietary fiber per day, but the average American's daily intake of dietary fiber is only 12-18 grams. Similarly, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) also recommends a minimum of 20-35 g/day for a healthy adult. The recommended amount for children is the age plus 5 g/day (e.g., a 4 year old should consume 9 g/day). There are emerging needs for food products with higher dietary content which are readily available to consumers especially at younger ages. However, incorporation of fiber ingredients to food products is challenging due to the adverse effect on texture and sensory quality of the products. In this project, fractions of dietary fiber obtained from soybeans will be added into bread at various concentrations. In vitro and in vivo studies will be carried out to evaluate physiological effects of different fractions vs. concentration. Starch digestion rate and glucose releasing rate will be compared among treatments. Sensory evaluation on breads will be conducted for consumer acceptance. This project will provide healthier bread choices with higher dietary fiber content for consumers to prevent obesity at younger ages.