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In Brief

Separate challenges to the European Union?s Food Supplements Directive have been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) by UK courts.

A High Court judge ruled there was ?an arguable case? that the directive was unlawful and would unfairly affect millions of people, threatening both health and trade.

?We are delighted with this decision as it means there is every chance now that this draconian and destructive regulation will be overturned when the case goes before the ECJ at some point next year,? said Ralph Pike, the director of the National Association of Health Stores, which along with the Heath Food Manufacturers? Association is mounting one of the actions.

The other challenge is supported by the pan-European trade body, the Alliance for Natural Health. It is estimated 5,000 products and 300 nutrient sources will be banned when the directive becomes law in August 2005.

British low-carb dieters are opting for regimes that are naturally low in carbohydrates, rather than buying foods that are specifically promoted as such, according to market researcher Mintel. While it predicts many new low-carb foods will be introduced into key European markets this year, it expects market growth to be modest.

The European Union has backed a six-year nutrigenomics study to the tune of $22 million. The study has 22 partners from 10 EU member states and will explore the interaction of food and genes. The mapping of the human genome means interaction can be scrutinised more methodically than ever before. The project, called NuGO, has a long-term goal of providing scientifically sound information on those foods that can be shown to maintain or improve health and prevent diseases associated with ageing, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

University of Arkansas researchers have found that a high-carbohydrate diet can result in the loss of body weight and body fat in older men and women. Participants were randomly assigned different diets. The control diet (41 per cent fat, 14 per cent protein, 45 per cent carbohydrate and 7g of fibre per 1,000kcal) included foods such as sausage, scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, French fries, whole milk, and some fruits and vegetables. The high complex-carbohydrate diet (18 per cent fat, 19 per cent protein, 63 per cent carbohydrates and 26g of fibre per 1,000kcal) included high-fibre cereal, vegetarian chilli, whole-wheat spaghetti, skimmed milk, and fruits and vegetables. Third was a high-complex carbohydrate diet plus endurance exercise four days a week, 45 minutes per day at 80 per cent peak oxygen consumption.

The high-carbohydrate diet participants with and without exercise lost more body weight and a higher percentage of body fat than the controls.

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