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Bad news for pears, but let the cows eat cake

Two sort-of nutrition related items that caught my eye today: Firstly, researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine contradict the notion that a “pear-shaped” body is healthier than an “apple-shaped” one; second, some cattle ranchers stung by the high cost of corn are feeding cattle stale cookies, cake and other sweet leftovers.

It’s long been thought that “apples” with fat mostly around their abdomen are at higher risk of heart disease and diabetes than “pears” who carry their weight on the butt and thighs. But a new study by Professor Ishwarlal Jialal and colleagues found that wasn’t so.

The researchers looked at 45 patients with early-stage metabolic syndrome, a collection of symptoms associated with development of diabetes, heart disease and other problems. They found high levels of proteins associated with metabolic syndrome both in the blood and in gluteal (i.e. butt) fat.

On the positive side, they found that these proteins might be used as markers to detect the early stages of disease. Weight loss would reduce the amounts of these proteins produced, and lower the risk of disease.

“Fat in the abdomen has long been considered the most detrimental to health, and gluteal fat was thought to protect against diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome,” Jialal said in a news release. “But our research helps to dispel the myth that gluteal fat is ‘innocent.’ It also suggests that abnormal protein levels may be an early indicator to identify those at risk for developing metabolic syndrome.”

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

While Americans should maybe eat fewer cookies, some cattle might be eating more. Wired magazine reports that high corn prices are forcing some ranchers to get creative and add leftover human sweets like candy and cookies to animal feed. Almost all complex sugars are broken down and absorbed from a cow’s first stomach (rumen).

“You can take any kind of food and make something out of it,” Jim Oltjen, an animal science professor at UC Davis, told Wired.

One Response to Bad news for pears, but let the cows eat cake

  1. Simo says:

    Great news for all us “apples” out there.

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