ISLAMABAD  – Nearly two-thirds of children are dehydrated because they hardly drink anything during breakfast, a new study says.

An analysis of more than 450 children between nine and 11 years showed 60 percent were classed as ‘not sufficiently hydrated’ - a stage just below ‘clinical dehydration’.

A team from the University of Sheffield Medical School, Britain, studied what the children were eating and drinking before leaving for school. They also measured urine osmolality - the concentration of the children’s urine, a key indicator of hydration levels.

Gerard Friedlander, professor at the Descartes University Medical School, Paris, who supervised the research, said, “We are concerned by the findings of the study, which suggest that children are not consuming enough fluid at the beginning of the day to be able to maintain adequate hydration through the morning. “Children are more vulnerable to dehydration than adults due to their high surface-to-body weight ratio. They also don’t always pay attention to the feeling of thirst, so may not naturally ask for a drink,” said Friedlander, a newspaper reports.

“Today we want to raise awareness of the importance of hydration in children and strongly encourage parents to make sure their child drinks enough at breakfast time so that they maintain good hydration, in case they don’t drink again until lunchtime,” concluded Friedlander. He has also overseen similar studies in France and Italy. He said the UK findings closely reflected recent research carried out in France and the US, which showed 62.2 percent and 64 percent, respectively, of children, arrived at school insufficiently hydrated. The UK study showed a higher figure for boys at 68.4 percent, compared with girls at 53.5 percent.

Pleasure eating may fuel obesity

When pleasure motivates eating, rather than hunger, it activates chemical signals, which can cause overeating and fuel obesity, says a new study.

“Hedonic hunger refers to the desire to eat for pleasure, and to enjoy the taste, rather than to restore the body’s energy needs,” said Palmiero Monteleone, University of Naples SUN, Italy, who led the study.

“For example, desiring and eating a piece of cake even after a satiating meal is consumption driven by pleasure and not by energy deprivation,” said Monteleone, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reported.

“The physiological process underlying hedonic eating is not fully understood, but it is likely that endogenous substances (hormone or neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body), regulating reward mechanisms like the hormone ghrelin and chemical compounds such as 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are involved,” said Monteleone.

Researchers assessed satiated healthy adults, aged 21 years, feeding them each their personal food and later, a less-palatable food of equal caloric and nutrient value, said a university statement.

They periodically measured 2-AG and ghrelin levels. The plasma levels (concentration in blood) of ghrelin and 2-AG increased during hedonic eating, with the favourite foods, but not with non-hedonic eating.

This increase suggests an activation of the chemical reward system, which overrides the body’s signal that enough has been eaten to restore energy. “Hedonic hunger may powerfully stimulate overeating in an environment where highly palatable foods are omnipresent, and contribute to the surge in obesity,” concluded Monteleone.

Black pepper helps keep fat under check

Researchers have offered a long-sought explanation for the beneficial fat-fighting effects of black pepper.

The research pinpoints piperine - the pungent-tasting substance that gives black pepper its characteristic taste, concluding that it also can block the formation of new fat cells.

Soo-Jong Um, Ji-Cheon Jeong and colleagues describe previous studies indicating that piperine reduces fat levels in the bloodstream and has other beneficial health effects. Black pepper and the black pepper plant, they noted, have been used for centuries in traditional Eastern medicine to treat gastrointestinal distress, pain, inflammation and other disorders.

Despite that long medicinal history, scientists know little about how piperine works on the innermost molecular level. The scientists set out to get that information about piperine’s anti-fat effects.

Their laboratory studies and computer models found that piperine interferes with the activity of genes that control the formation of new fat cells. In doing so, it may also set off a metabolic chain reaction that helps keep fat in check in other ways.

The group suggests that the finding may lead to wider use of piperine or black-pepper extracts in fighting obesity and related diseases.

The study has been published in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.