Seven scientists win the 2017 Gairdner Awards

Seven researchers have each been awarded a 2017 Gairdner Award for seminal work in areas including child nutrition and treatment for cardiovascular disease.

Cesar Victora, an epidemiologist at the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, has won the 2017 John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award for his work on maternal and child health in developing countries.

When Victora graduated from medical school in 1976, he went to work in community health in a slum in Porto Allegre, Brazil. He saw a lot of malnutrition, diarrhoea, and other infectious diseases, and the same children kept coming back. “I was treating disease episodes, but these kids remained vulnerable, and many ended up dying”, he tells The LancetRead more in The Lancet.

Dietary fibre acts on brain to suppress appetite

Mouse study suggests that brain activity, not gut hormones, accounts for fibre’s weight-control action.

People have long been told that a diet high in fibre can help to fight obesity, but how it does so has been unclear. A study of mouse metabolism now suggests that a product of fibre fermentation may be directly affecting the hypothalamus, a region of the brain involved in regulating appetite. Read more in Nature.

Storm brewing over WHO sugar proposal

Industry backlash expected over suggested cut in intake.

Scientists are gearing up for a battle with the food industry after the World Health Organization (WHO) moved to halve its recommendation on sugar intake.

Nutrition researchers fear a backlash similar to that seen in 2003, when the WHO released its current guidelines stating that no more than 10% of an adult’s daily calories should come from ‘free’ sugars. That covers those added to food, as well as natural sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juice. In 2003, the US Sugar Association, a powerful food-industry lobby group based in Washington DC, pressed the US government to withdraw funding for the WHO if the organization did not modify its recommendations. The WHO did not back down, and has now mooted cutting the level to 5%. Read more in Nature.

‘Safe’ levels of sugar harmful to mice

Diet comparable to that of many Americans left animals struggling to reproduce and to compete for territory.

Too much sugar is bad for you, but how much, exactly, is too much? A study in mice has found that the animals’ health and ability to compete can be harmed by a diet that has sugar levels equivalent to what many people in the United States currently consume. Read more in Nature.

Canada used hungry indigenous children to study malnutrition

Ire follows article detailing tests on unwitting aboriginal citizens in the 1940s and 1950s.

Canadian government scientists used malnourished native populations as unwitting subjects in experiments conducted in the 1940s and 1950s to test nutritional interventions. The tests, many of which involved children at state-funded residential schools, had been largely forgotten until they were described earlier this month in the journal Social History by Ian Mosby, who studies the history of food and nutrition at the University of Guelph in Canada. Read more in Nature.