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Friday, 7 December, 2001, 01:35 GMT
Till receipts tell 'fatty' story
Nutritionists may be able to analyse fat intake through what supermarket receipts
Nutritionists may be able to analyse fat intake through what supermarket receipts
Shoppers' till receipts show people are still eating too much fat, a unique study has shown.

The results come as separate study shows "apple-shaped" people, who put weight on around their middle, do so because they produce too much of a particular enzyme which is linked to metabolism.

The supermarket research was carried out to see if till receipts could be used as a simple way of monitoring people's fat and energy intake.

Average daily household consumption of fat stood at 35.9% of calories - 2.9% above Department of Health recommended levels, according to the research by the Public Health Nutrition Unit (PHNU) and Nutrition Epidemiology Group (NEG) at Leeds University.


Over 90% of our food is bought from supermarkets so till receipts can tell us lots of information about the levels of fat and energy households may be consuming

Joan Ransley, Leeds University
In the future, looking at till receipts could allow detailed analysis of people's nutritional intake, including research into links between diet and disease.

Scanning techniques could also lead to the development of a "fat tally" of foods in a shopper's trolley, which could eventually be shown as a graph on the receipt - with the recommended levels also shown.

Joan Ransley, director of the PHNU, said: "Over 90% of our food is bought from supermarkets so till receipts can tell us lots of information about the levels of fat and energy households may be consuming.

"Our research indicates that supermarkets could play a role in helping us reduce the amount of fat in our diets."

Checks

The researchers looked at 28 days-worth of till receipts from 284 people in Leeds who said they spent at least 60% of their food bill in supermarkets.

Each person in a household also kept a four-day food diary.

All food eaten in the house was weighed, and meals eaten elsewhere were recorded and included in the analysis.

People often under-report what they eat in food-consumption studies, and the Medical Research Council, which backed the research, said till receipts could be a "novel, inexpensive and effective" way of checking household fat consumption.

'Apple-shape' explanation'

Scientists say their discovery of an enzyme linked to "apple-shaped" or visceral obesity, could one day lead to drugs to help people prone to put weight on on their belly.

Apple-shaped people are prone to problems such as diabetes and high-blood pressure.

Researchers from the UK and US tested genetically engineered mice and found that visceral obesity was the result of too much of enzyme called 11beta HSD-1.

They believe the enzyme could amplify the production of a key hormone which influences metabolism.

The mice put on extra fat around their middle, and developed many of the metabolic disorders linked to 'apple-shaped' obesity.

The study was published in the journal Science.

See also:

19 Nov 01 | Health
'Fat zapper' breaks down flab
31 Aug 98 | Health
Fat strikes back
22 Feb 00 | Scotland
Defusing Scotland's 'timebomb'
09 Oct 01 | Health
Takeaways 'loaded with fat'
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