Today’s Headlines: Food Textures, Diabetes Complications and Marijuana

Chew on this: How does food texture impact its perceived calorie content?: A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that a food’s texture significantly impacts how many calories consumers think it has. In part of the study, researchers asked participants to rate a series of television ads. They provided them with a cup of bite-sized brownie bits that were either soft or hard and asked half the group about the calorie content of the brownies. “When the participants were not made to focus on the calorie content, they consumed a higher volume of brownies when they were soft (vs. hard). In contrast, when made to focus on the calorie content, the participants consumed a higher volume of brownies when they were hard (vs. soft).” Researchers concluded that people incorrectly perceive foods with a hard or rough texture to contain fewer calories than softer foods. (EurekAlert!)

Type 2 diabetes complications show sharp decline, report finds: “Federal researchers reported the first sweeping national picture of progress in combating some of the most devastating complications of the Type 2 diabetes epidemic on Wednesday, finding that rates of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and amputations declined sharply over the past two decades.” The largest declines came in heart attacks and deaths due to high blood sugar, which dropped by more than 60% over a 20-year period. These improvements come as the number of Americans with diabetes more than tripled during the study period. “Researchers said the declines were the fruit of years of efforts to improve the health of patients with Type 2 diabetes,” and credited better patient education and improved control of risk factors. (The New York Times

Casual marijuana use linked with brain abnormalities, study finds: “For the first time, researchers at Northwestern University have analyzed the relationship between casual use of marijuana and brain changes – and found that young adults who used cannabis just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in two important brain structures.” The researchers used MRIs to look at the subjects’ brains, especially the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala, which are responsible for processing emotions, making decisions and motivation. “They looked at these brain structures in three different ways, measuring their density, volume and shape,” and found that all three areas were abnormal in marijuana users. The more the subject smoked, the more significant the brain abnormalities were. (Fox News)