UCL Research Domains


Media Digest: May to July 2018

16 July 2018

A roundup of current news articles and stories related to our core research themes in May, June and July 2018.

newspaper digest


'The Mediterranean diet is gone': region's children are fattest in Europe [THE GUARDIAN, 24 May 2018]

The diet Greece, Spain and Italy are famous for - rich in fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil – is supposedly the healthiest in the world, but obesity is rocketing.

Why the calorie is broken [MOSAIC SCIENCE, 4 June 2018]

Calories consumed minus calories burned: it’s the simple formula for weight loss or gain. But dieters often find that it doesn’t work.

Seriously, Juice Is Not Healthy [NEW YORK TIMES, 7 July 2018]

One 12-ounce glass of orange juice contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, which is roughly what’s in a can of Coke.

As rich children slim down, poor ones are getting fatter [THE ECONOMIST, 31 May 2018]

The gap in childhood obesity rates is growing.

The Eatwell Guide [BBC RADIO 4, 2 July 2018]

Sheila Dillon questions whether the government's Eatwell Plate that's issued to the medical profession and used as public guidance for a balanced diet could actually be harming us.

Your brain absolutely cannot resist doughnuts – here’s why [NEW SCIENTIST, 14 June 2018]

A study of how our brains respond to food has found that treats that are high in both carbs and fats trigger a super-charged amount of activity in our brain’s reward centre.

Fat–Carb Combo Is a Potent One-Two Punch [SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, 19 June 2018]

Foods high in both carbs and fats tickle the brain’s reward circuits more so than snacks that showcase just one or the other. Karen Hopkin reports.



How a better understanding of the seven ages of appetite could help us stay health [THE CONVERSATION, 2 May 2018]

What we eat, how much and how often changes over our lives.

We uncovered the genetic basis of risk taking – and found it’s linked to obesity and mental illness [THE CONVERSATION, 4 May 2018]

A new study, published in Communications Biology, has uncovered 26 genetic variants specifically linked to risk taking.

Postbiotics and smart toilets: new era of harnessing our microbial chemicals to keep us slim and healthy [THE CONVERSATION, 28 May 2018]

New research, published in Nature Genetics, sheds new light on the interplay between what we eat, the way it is processed by our gut microbes and how we accumulate fat in our bodies, particularly around our waistline.

Dirt and Development: The Second Genome [BBC WORLD SERVICE, 9 July 2018]

James Gallagher explores the latest research into how our second genome, the vast and diverse array of microbes that live on and in our bodies, is driving our metabolism and our health and how we can change it for the better.

Koala genome reveals secrets to surviving a deadly diet [NATURE, 2 July 2018]

Genes involved in taste, smell and metabolism help marsupials to subsist on poisonous foliage.

Association of circulating metabolites with healthy diet and risk of cardiovascular disease: analysis of two cohort studies [NATURE, 5 June 2018]

Diet may modify metabolomic profiles towards higher or lower cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. 

Older Moms More Likely to Pass Along Mitochondrial DNA with Mutations, Study Finds [MITOCHONDRIAL DISEASE NEWS, 29 June 2018]

A mathematical model that can predict the nature of the mitochondrial DNA a child will inherit from its mother was part of a study that also found that maternal age counts in mitochondrial health, too.


Maternal exercise intervention in obese pregnancy improves the cardiovascular health of the adult male offspring [MOLECULAR METABOLISM, 18 June 2018]

We investigated if a treadmill exercise intervention in the mother could improve offspring cardiac health and explored potential underlying mechanisms.



Another problem with China's coal: Mercury in rice [THE CONVERSATION, 3 May 2018]

Mercury enters rice through local industrial activities and through burning coal.

Plastic: How it changed the world [BBC WORLD SERVICE, 2 May 2018] 

Rajan Datar is joined by nanoscientist Professor Ajay Mishra, chemist Professor Andrea Sella and journalist Susan Freinkel to explore the story of plastic.

Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth [THE GUARDIAN, 31 May 2018]

Biggest analysis to date reveals huge footprint of livestock - it provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of farmland

FDA tries to take the reins on regulating cultured meat [SCIENCE MAG, 13 July 2018]

There may be a turf war on between two U.S. federal agencies over who will regulate the emerging industry of cultured meat.

The real palm oil problem: it’s not just in your food [NEW SCIENTIST, 2 May 2018]

Soaring demand for palm oil is being driven by its use as biofuel, which is increasing carbon emissions as well as destroying forests and biodiversity.

2017 was a really bad year for tropical forests [SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, 28 June 2018]

Forest cover losses were the second worst on record, after only 2016, with implications for climate mitigation.

What happens when you give up plastic, and is it a lifestyle option for the lucky few? [THE GUARDIAN, 2 July 2018]

Reducing plastics when shopping for food, toiletries and travel products should be easy – so why is it so difficult?

Rising Temperatures Could Cut Corn Production [SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, 12 June 2018]

Unrestrained warming could reduce yields of the staple crop, as well as many vegetables and legumes.

Identifying a common backbone of interactions underlying food webs from different ecosystems [NATURE, 4 July 2018]

Although the structure of empirical food webs can differ between ecosystems, there is growing evidence of multiple ways in which they also exhibit common topological properties. 

GM golden rice gets approval from food regulators in the US [NEW SCIENTIST, 30 May 2018]

Golden rice, which has been genetically modified to prevent blindness in undernourished children, was judged safe to eat last week by the US Food and Drug Administration.



Why do humans have such large brains? Our study suggests ecology was the driving force [THE CONVERSATION, 23 May 2018]

Most animals have brains in proportion to their body size – species with larger bodies often have larger brains. But the human brain is almost six times bigger than expected for our bodies.

Mitochondria’s Bacterial Origins Upended [THE SCIENTIST, April 25 2018]

Contrary to some hypotheses, the organelles did not descend from any known lineage of Alphaproteobacteria, researchers find.