Although barley has traditionally been one of the most important food grains, the intake in Japan has been decreasing during the last forty years. Barley provides many essential nutrients (carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals) and functional components (dietary fiber and polyphenol). Studies on the health benefits of barley have been rapidly increasing in terms of the cholesterol-lowering effect, serum glucose and insulin normalization, decreased body fat accumulation, and blood pressure reduction. It has been scientifically proven that the soluble dietary fiber in barley, β-glucan, might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is inferred that two principal mechanisms may contribute to the cholesterol-lowering effects of barley and β-glucan: 1) reduction of cholesterol and bile acid absorption from the small intestine, 2) inhibition of cholesterol synthesis in the liver. Barley and β-glucan have therefore been approved as a potential health benefit against the risk of CVD in the United States and Sweden. Recent clinical studies have suggested that the consumption of barley and its products might reduce many risk factors associated with the metabolic syndrome, namely diabetes, hypertension and dislipidemia. This review presents information that will hopefully increase the awareness of professionals and consumers for the health benefits of barley.
We compiled 4-day dietary records with digital photographic images of meals to investigate the variation of frequently consumed foods which could enable the development of a dish-based database for dietary assessment in epidemiological studies. We also evaluated the validity of using a digital photographic image as a tool to assess the dietary intake of a food group. Participants in the study were 144 men and women living in urban areas of Japan who were asked to take pictures with a digital camera of all foods and beverages they consumed during 4 consecutive days. Simultaneous dietary records were used as the reference. The dietary intake was independently calculated from the two methods. We found that the variation in intake was high for such seasoning as salt which indicated that the degree of measurement error may be high when a representative portion size for such seasoning was used in a dish-based database. The estimated intake level by two methods was similar for green-yellow vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, eggs, milk and other dairy products, whereas the over/under-estimation for other food groups was too great to be used for accurate assessment. In contrast, the validity for ranking individuals by the estimated multiple-day intake was relatively high, with the exception of beverages, seasonings and spices.
The dietary habits of children attending a soccer school and their parents were investigated. This investigation targeted 1,205 parents of children registered in the U-6 (kindergarten level), U-8 (elementary school grades 1 and 2), and U-10 (elementary school grades 3 and 4) classes of a soccer school belonging to a Japan League team. Of the 548 parents who responded to the questionnaire, the answers of 446 parents were selected as suitable for analysis (37% valid response rate). All of these parents were mothers. The investigation covered the quality of life, dietary behavior (actions related to cooking and eating), behavior related to health, daily activity, food skills and the food environment. The responses indicated that the parents and children had effective support, the food environment was good in those homes of children attending the soccer school, while there were few problems with dietary behavior, and the health-related quality of life was good. Further analysis of the parents' and children's dietary habits was conducted according to the judgment on any problems with the content of meals and the parents' food skills. In the group with low skills, according to the parents' judgment about problems with the content of meals, the quality of life was not considered high, and the support and surrounding food environment were both worse than those of the group with high skills. There was a high percentage of persons who thought that it was necessary to conduct food and nutrition education in cooperation with other organizations. There is a possibility that local sports clubs (soccer clubs) can play a role as well as schools in food and nutrition education for children. It will be necessary to obtain an outline of the dietary habits of such children beforehand.
The awareness, knowledge and attitude to a healthy lifestyle, and the physical conditions associated with breakfast intake and food groups intake frequencies were examined in June 2006. The subjects for the analysis were 1,358 first-year junior high school students comprising 714 males and 644 females attending 9 different schools. The survey on eating habits revealed a significant number of students regularly not eating breakfast, while 88.3% ate breakfast every day. The intake frequency of cereals, milk and dairy products, meat, fish and shellfish was relatively high, although the intake of vegetables, soybeans and pulses, seaweed and potatoes was low. The group of students who ate breakfast had a higher food groups intake frequencies, practiced a healthier lifestyle, had higher individual scores for awareness, knowledge and attitudes to a healthy lifestyle, and had fewer complaints than the other students. The results of this study suggest that dietary education in the classroom is the foundation for school health education to encourage the best attitude to health. As well improving dietary habits and providing the guide to a healthy life, dietary education is important for promoting the awareness of a healthy lifestyle and providing health knowledge to junior high school students.
A randomized control trial in the United Kingdom demonstrated in 1991 that a periconceptional intake of folate supplements prevented a 72% recurrence of neural tube defects. A questionnaire was sent to 400 Japanese dieticians in 2007 to assess their awareness of the role played by folic acid in fetal development and their involvement in advising improvements to the life style of pregnant women and young women of reproductive age. The 50.6% proportion of the dieticians that were aware of the preventive effect of folic acid was not significantly different from the figure of 53.6% from a study 5 years ago. Those who recommended stopping smoking, abstaining from alcohol, taking a folate supplement and having a well-balanced diet were 78.1%, 76.9%, 20.0%, and 87.5%, respectively, and 91.9% agreed to giving information to young women of child-bearing age. Since the awareness among dieticians of folic acid has not increased during the past 5 years, they need to make a concerted effort to learn the important role of folic acid.
The blood levels of water-soluble vitamins were examined to identify a possible difference between male (n=23) and female (n=32) Japanese college students with free intake of food. The following values (mean±SD) were obtained. Whole blood vitamin B1: male, 100±27 pmol/ ml; female, 102±23 pmol/ ml. Whole blood vitamin B2: male, 137±45 pmol/ ml; female, 137±39 pmol/ ml. Whole blood NAD: male, 30±5 nmol/ ml; female, 32±5 nmol/ ml. Serum vitamin C: male, 42±16 nmol/ ml; female, 52±14 nmol/ ml. Serum folates: male, 15.0±5.8 pmol/ ml; female, 17.7±5.9 pmol/ ml. Serum vitamin B12: male, 0.31±0.08 pmol/ ml; female, 0.38±0.11 pmol/ ml. Serum biotin: male, 9.4±1.8 pmol/ ml; female, 7.4±1.9 pmol/ ml. The only significant difference between sexes was thus found for the vitamin B12 and vitamin C contents.