Fall 2016

Health News From Tufts

Cavities and Secondhand Smoke, Vitamin D for Joints, Hazards of Restaurant Meals

Cavities and Secondhand Smoke

Health News Cavities and Secondhand Smoke

Illustration: Betsy Hayes

After reviewing fifteen studies on cavities and secondhand smoke in young children, researchers found weak to moderate evidence of a link between the two in primary teeth, and weak evidence in secondary teeth. Assessing this work in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), David Leader, D85, MPH13, an associate clinical professor of diagnosis and health promotion, concluded that secondhand smoke may be “associated with a higher risk” of cavities, although “more research is required to establish causality.” He said, “If down the road we find that secondhand smoke is a risk for tooth decay, then we can counsel parents that this is another problem that smoking is causing.” (From Tufts Dental Medicine)


Vitamin D for Joints

X-ray image of a knee

Photo: Science Source

Suffer from a vitamin D deficiency? You could be at double the risk for progressive osteoarthritis, the cartilage-eroding joint disease that leads to achy knees and mobility problems and that gets worse over time. That’s according to a study by Fang Fang Zhang, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Friedman School, and her colleagues.

The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that the doubling of risk showed up only in subjects who were clinically deficient in vitamin D, so Zhang emphasized that the results don’t mean everyone should start taking supplements. “When we see a positive association like this, people tend to get all excited,” she said. “But only people with vitamin D deficiency would benefit—not everyone.” (From Tufts Nutrition)


Hazards of Restaurant meals

Illustration of a person ready to eat

Illustration: Erin Farley

Something like two-thirds of American adults are overweight, and the way they eat when they step out for a meal may be partly to blame—even if they steer clear of greasy fast food from big chain restaurants. According to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, most American restaurant meals contain excess calories, enough to make you fat if eating out is a regular thing. And that’s without extras like drinks, appetizers, and desserts. The research examined meals at one hundred twenty-three restaurants in Boston, San Francisco, and Little Rock, Arkansas, between 2011 and 2014. Serving sizes exceeded those recommended for a single meal pretty much all the time. The worst culprits were American, Chinese, and Italian restaurants, which had mean counts of almost fifteen hundred calories for the main course.

Study author William Masters, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, pointed out that the findings don’t carry equal implications for everyone. “Women typically have a lower caloric requirement than men,” he noted—a mere two thousand calories per day as opposed to twenty-five hundred. “Women, while dining out, typically have to be more vigilant.” He suggested that a good option would be for restaurants to offer partial portions at partial prices. That way, he said, customers who are watching their weight would “be able to eat out more often without weight gain.” (From Tufts Medicine)