The top 10 APAC food science and research stories of 2018 under the microscope

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

See the Top 10 most-read stories relating to food science and research this year. ©Getty Images
See the Top 10 most-read stories relating to food science and research this year. ©Getty Images

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In our year-end round up of the most-read stories relating to food science and research this year, we recap studies and discoveries from India, China, Korea and more.

'Junk food'​ consumption in India a growing concern in rural areas, research reveals

Schoolchildren in rural India need nutrition interventions​ to help them curb excessive junk food consumption, say researchers.

The increase in junk food intake in India has led to an increase in the percentage of overweight and obese schoolchildren in India, from 9.7% to 13.9% between 2001 and 2010.

However, data on junk food consumption in rural areas has been scant. As such, researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences performed a study to assess junk food intake among schoolchildren in Himachal Pradesh.


Expert analysis: Meat and seafood consumption​ in Asia will rise 78% by 2050

Asia’s appetite for meat and seafood protein will rise by an astounding 78% by 2050​, driven by growing wealth and urbanisation in the region.

According to by Asia Research and Engagement’s (ARE) report ‘Charting Asia’s Protein Journey’​, meat and seafood consumption in Asia will rise 33% by 2030, and 78% from 2017 to 2050.

“This will take place on the back of higher urbanisation rates, [economic growth, rising incomes] and growing wealth in emerging Asian countries,” ​said the report authors.

“Asia’s rapidly growing middle class is fuelling an increase in protein consumption,” ​added Robert Appleby, Founder and Partner, ADM Capital.


Enabling food safety research:​ New Singapore centre seeks food industry applicants

The Waters-sponsored International Food and Water Research Centre (IFWRC)​ has opened its doors to applicants from food companies and other scientists with food and water safety-related projects.

Successful applicants will be provided with a fully-stocked prep lab, an analytical lab and office space complete with conference room facilities in order to comfortably complete their projects.

“Innovative research is essential to the future safety and sustainability of our food and water supplies,”​ said the IFWRC on its website.

“[We] believe in providing access to the most advanced specialty instrumentation, scientific minds, and funding options, in order to support meaningful projects and enable valuable research to be undertaken quickly and effectively.”


Australians not eating right types or​ quantities of protein: CSIRO research

New research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) shows that Australians are not eating the right types, or the right quantities of protein for healthy weight loss​.

The analysis from the CSIRO Healthy Diet Score survey, Australia’s largest nutrition study of almost 200,000 adults, showed people with low-quality diets obtained eight times more of their protein from junk foods than people with high-quality diets — and were more than three times as likely to be obese.

“Everyone’s protein needs are different, and not all foods that contain protein are good for you,”​ said Professor Manny Noakes, Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO.


New Chinese study highlights inadequacies of current​ International Diabetes Federation metabolic syndrome criteria

Criteria set by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) may not be sensitive enough​ in identifying metabolic syndrome as opposed to the consensus definition, says a new study.

In this China study, metabolic syndrome was defined as ‘a cluster of the most dangerous risk factors for heart attack including diabetes, [high blood glucose], abdominal obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure’.

“[Of over 7,000 adults that participated], the prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 16.9% and 23.8% according to the International Diabetes Federation criteria and the consensus definition, respectively,”​ said the authors.

“The International Diabetes Federation criteria failed to identify 28.8% of the participants identified by the consensus definition.”


Cancer link to red meat​ consumption may not exist for Asians: Study

Researchers in Korea have discovered that the link between meat consumption and colorectal cancer may not apply to Asians​.

The Korean researchers carried out a thorough review of over 500 studies that had previously been conducted on meat consumption and cancer.

“[We found] that approximately 76% [of the studies] were conducted in Western countries, whereas only 15% of studies were conducted in Asia. Furthermore, most studies conducted in Asia showed that processed meat consumption is not related to the onset of cancer.”

“[As such], the correlation between intake of processed meat products and colorectal cancer incidence in Asians is not clearly supported,” ​they concluded.


Limonene studies: 'Paucity of data' around safe levels in food​ products

More detailed investigation is needed into the effects of flavour Limonene​ on modern food processing techniques, the degradation products generated, and the toxicity from such products, say researchers in India.

Limonene — a monocyclic terpene found in over 300 plants in different parts of the world — is a common flavour additive in food, beverages and fragrances, thanks to its lemon-like scent.

Because of its widespread usage, researchers at India's National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management sought to better understand its possible toxicological effects and the associated risk.


Better research methods​ necessary to determine Thai population's sugar intake and sources

Study methods must improve significantly​ in order to provide a clearer picture of the sugar intake among different demographics in Thailand, say researchers.

A review conducted by researchers at Thailand's Mahidol University and Singapore's International Life Sciences Institute Southeast Asia Region found insufficient evidence on the intake levels and sources of added sugar in Thailand.

They gathered information from sources they deemed the most reliable, including food balance sheets, surveys on household expenditure and food consumption, government reports, and both published and unpublished studies.


Indonesian study reveals low consumption of​ ultraprocessed foods in Jakarta

A food consumption pattern study in Jakarta revealed low consumptions of ultraprocessed foods in the city​.

The findings could reinforce previous data suggesting that developing countries consume less ultraprocessed foods as compared to developed ones.

The study was conducted based on the Jakarta Individual Food Consumption Survey 2014. Researchers aimed to analyse processed and ultraprocessed food consumption in Jakarta, classify the foods consumed, and calculate their contribution to overall energy and nutrient intake.


UAE’s food shelf life extension​ plans move further forward with new research

The UAE’s quest to extend food shelf life has recently received a boost with the Dubai Central Laboratory moving its plans forward with the approval of a new study​.

The Environment Laboratories Section of the Dubai Central Laboratory adopted a mechanism to design models for the study on the testing of the validity period of different food products.

Amin Ahmed Amin, Director of the Dubai Central Laboratory Department, said that the study on the validity period of various food products was targeted at maintaining or extending the shelf life of food products in the market, in response to “the desire of customers”​. 

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