Health Club in Cheyenne, WY

Posted in Healthy lifestyle
Health Club Summary:

A health club is a fitness center designed to improve fitness levels, typically through physical exercise. Health clubs have evolved from the traditional gym to include more than just free weights in order to offer more services to their clientele. While most
health clubs require an annual membership fee, some additional services may cost extra, either in an additional monthly rate or often at time of service. Additional options and resources might include swimming pools, ball courts, boxing, yoga, massage, and various group classes.

Health clubs may have a few or many offered services. These include weights and workout machines that involve isometric, isotonic, and isokinetic muscle training, various group exercise classes such as aerobics, pilates, or dance, and personal trainers. Additional services may also be available.

Conditions Treated:

A health club can help reduce and prevent obesity and help people with weight loss. Services provided by a fitness facility may increase strength, endurance, and muscle mass. By working out with weight bearing equipment, individuals may also increase bone mass, which may help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Health Club Specialties:

Health clubs may focus on one type of activity, such as free weights or a specific type of exercise. For example, it is not rare to find a yoga studio that focuses on the health aspects and instruction of various types of yoga.

Health Club Services:

Most health clubs offer the services of a personal trainer at an additional cost. A personal trainer can help give individualized attention, motivation, and advice on each individual’s specific needs to reach the desired goals. Other services may include swimming pools, sports facilities, snack bars or cafeterias, sauna, wellness areas, massage, nutritionists, and spa type services, all of which may involve an extra cost to the client.

Health Club Details:

Most of the employees will have some type of education, training, or certification for their specific job title. A personal trainer may have taken a training program of a college degree program prior to passing the certification examination. Dietitians or nutritionists typically have a bachelor degree, with some states requiring licensing as well. Other employee duties may have education and training requirements as well.

Health Club Associations:

Associations are voluntary and usually require an annual membership fee. Assocations such as
IHRSA – International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association and MIHCA – National Independent Health Club Association.

Health Club FAQs:

What are the benefits of joining a health club?
Clients get access to exercise classes and equipment, as well as personal attention and instruction. In addition, clients may get motivation and companionship by working out at a health club.

Aren’t health clubs expensive?
They can be. However, there are more affordable options among various clubs. To reduce your costs, explore the different clubs, initiation fees, and annual cost. Avoid extras you do not need and take advantage of offered promotions.

What sort of classes are available at a health club?
It depends on the gym. Some common classes are pilates, yoga, spin, cycling, thai bo kick boxing, aerobics, senior classes, boot camp classes, cycling, everlast shadow box, mind/body classes, senior classes, strength training, and water classes like swimming and water polo.

What types of health clubs are in the directory?
Use’s local directory to find a gym, fitness studio, exercise center, fitness center, yoga studio, kick boxing, aquatic exercise, swimming, sauna, pool, weights, free weights, health club, hot tub, work out, or fitness trainer in your city.

How do I find a Health Club in my city and state?
The directory will help you locate a Health Club in your state. Select Health Club from the Professionals menu and select the state and city in which you are looking to locate a Health Club.

Health Club Related Terms:

Gym, fitness club, health center, fitness studio, exercise center, exercise, fitness center, yoga, kick boxing, aquatic exercise, swimming, sauna, pool, weights, free weights, health club, hot tub, work out, trainer, fitness trainer

“HEALTHY LIFESTYLE CAMPAIGN – BEYOND THE YEAR 2002” Health Education Division Ministry of Health Malaysia.

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Presentation on theme: ““HEALTHY LIFESTYLE CAMPAIGN – BEYOND THE YEAR 2002” Health Education Division Ministry of Health Malaysia.”— Presentation transcript:


“HEALTHY LIFESTYLE CAMPAIGN – BEYOND THE YEAR 2002” Health Education Division Ministry of Health Malaysia


Presentation Scope 1. Introduction 2. Challenges and obstacles faced in promoting a healthy lifestyle among Malaysians. 3. Directions for the future healthy lifestyle campaign.


INTRODUCTION Concept of a healthy lifestyle “ The lifestyle of a particular person or group of people is the living conditions, behaviour, and habits that are typical of them or are chosen by them” (Collins Cobuild Learner’s Dictionary, 1996)


Behaviour refers to the way a person does things Habit refers to something that is often or regularly carried out by a person Concept of a healthy lifestyle


Putting all these terms together in the context of a “healthy lifestyle” they refer to: How people live or the manner in which they conduct their lives which can influence their health status and well-being. Health habits and behaviours that characterize the daily, normal lives of people – imposed on persons through social norms, peer pressure or regulations or adopted voluntarily Concept of a healthy lifestyle


Healthy lifestyle is the regular pattern of human behaviours and habits which can influence a person’s health such as: eatingsmokingexercise coping with stress Concept of a healthy lifestyle


Modern, sophisticated and affluent societies have developed unhealthy lifestyle perhaps due to several factors: Urbanization Economic progress Easy availability of fast food Use of unhealthy substances (cigarettes) Influence of advertising and peer groups Concept of a healthy lifestyle


Healthy Lifestyle Campaign of the Ministry of Health Malaysia –Began in 1991 and launched on 25 May, 1991. –2 phases Phase 1: 1991 – 1996 Phase 2: 1997 – 2002 Each phase covers 6 annual themes. Healthy Lifestyle Campaign


Phase 1: 1991 – 1996 YEAR THEME (DISEASE) 1991 Cardiovascular Disease 1992AIDS/STD 1993 Food Safety 1994 Child Health 1995Cancer 1996 Diabetes mellitus Rationale for these themes is that these diseases are strongly associated with the lifestyle and practices of the community.


Phase 2: 1997 – 2002 Phase 2: 1997 – 2002 YEARTHEME 1997 Promotion of Healthy Eating 1998 Promotion of Exercise and Physical Activity 1999 Promotion of Safety and Injury Prevention 2000 Promotion of Mental Health 2001 Promotion of Healthy Family 2002 Promotion of Healthy Environment Focused on specific health behaviour and their long term effects.




CHALLENGES AND OBSTACLES Too many themes to be developed, implemented and sustained. Too many complex health behaviours are targeted. Frequency of campaign, that is once a year, makes it difficult for planning, implementation and evaluation.


Annual thematic campaign has tremendously increased the workload of our health staff. Lack of back-up programme support to enable the target audience to put into practice the health messages that were disseminated in the campaign. CHALLENGES AND OBSTACLES


Problems in carrying out echo-training in a timely and effective manner Inadequate air time for broadcasting our campaign (over TV and radio). Campaign activities overlap with those of other ministries and departments. CHALLENGES AND OBSTACLES


Sometimes we encounter difficulties when working with NGOs such as setting common goals, priorities and strategies. Encounter problems in evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign with regard to behaviour change of the public. CHALLENGES AND OBSTACLES




FUTURE DIRECTION 2nd Phase of the HLSC will end in the year 2002 Based on the experiences obtained from the earlier phases of this campaign, as well as the realities encountered in operationalizing this campaign at all levels, consideration should be given to several key factors which can influence the outcome and impact of the campaign


Should have an overall theme and also specific themes for the campaign. Should have an overall theme and also specific themes for the campaign. –Proposed 4 basic themes healthy eating promotion of exercise and physical activities no smoking coping with stress THEMES OF CAMPAIGN


These 4 themes represent the basic and central health behaviours which can contribute to a healthy lifestyle and well-being of individuals, families, communities and the whole nation. They can effectively address the behavioural risk factors of the chronic, degenerative diseases like; coronary heart disease diabetes mellitus hypertension certain types of cancer Reasons for choosing the themes


These 4 areas are within the purview of the Ministry of Health – will not overlap with campaign of other Ministries We can consolidate and reinforce the earlier phases of healthy lifestyle campaign. These 4 themes are targeted in most of the healthy lifestyle campaigns in other developed countries like Singapore, UK, USA, Finland and Australia. Reasons for choosing the themes


Focusing on just 4 central themes makes the campaign more manageable and easier to implement without draining or stretching resources These 4 themes have been covered in the earlier HLSC (2 phases) and therefore less preparatory work is needed. health staff are mostly familiar with these themes. Reasons for choosing the themes


2. FREQUENCY OF CAMPAIGN The new HLSC will be implemented yearly for as long as it is needed. –To be implemented every year in order to create and maintain public awareness, sustain interest, promote behavioural changes and to maintain these changes. 3. USE OF SUB-THEMES –For each of the 4 major themes, 2 specific sub- themes will be identified, with each sub-theme selected as the area of emphasis for a particular year. –This will make the annual campaign more focused and manageable. Reasons for choosing the themes


PROPOSED ANNUAL THEME FOR THE CAMPAIGN YEARTHEME SPECIFIC SUB- THEME 2003 Promotion of Healthy Eating. 1. Reduce Your Intake of salt, sugar and fats. salt, sugar and fats. 2004 Promotion of Healthy Eating. 2. Eat more fruits and vegetables. vegetables. 2005 Promotion of Exercise & Physical Activity. 1. Exercise at the workplace. 2006 Promotion of Exercise & Physical Activity. 2. Exercise with your family.


PROPOSED ANNUAL THEME FOR THE CAMPAIGN YEARTHEME SPECIFIC SUB- THEME 2007 Promotion of No Smoking. 1. Choose Not To Smoke. 2008 Promotion of No Smoking. 2. Say Yes To Clean Air, Say No To Passive Say No To Passive Smoking. Smoking. 2009 Coping With Stress. 1. Learn To Relax. 2010 Coping With Stress. 2. Share Your Problems With Others.


Campaign Launching: –To be launched at the beginning of the year in a simultaneous fashion at all levels for a coordinated and greater impact –Can be held in the form of a National Healthy Lifestyle Week or Month. –Appropriate and beneficial activities to be carried out – not just another ceremonial event or formality 4. HOW THE CAMPAIGN CAN BE OPERATIONALIZED


–Various appropriate health promotional activities can be held at different public places and settings on a big scale –Activities to be integrated with our health services and programmes such as Well Adult Clinics, Programmes for Teenagers and Elderly, Smoking Cessation Clinic, Screening Programmes, Health Promoting Schools, Healthy Workplace Programme, Healthy Cities – to create a supportive environment to make the healthier choice the better choice –Activities not merely information giving but also seek to develop relevant health skills Campaign Activities


Role of NGOs –Role of NGOs and relevant professional bodies very important in this campaign –Regular meetings to be held with them to plan, develop, implement and evaluate activities at all levels. –Need to develop smart partnership for mutual benefit –NGOs can help in organizing activities for target groups with financial and material support from the health department


–Prime movers and implementors of the campaign –To be role models who themselves practise a healthy lifestyle –Appropriate that educational and promotional activities be planned and conducted for the health staff focussing on the 4 areas of the campaign Role of Health Staff


–After launching of the Healthy Lifestyle Week/Month, the campaign activities will be continued and sustained through out the year through: The mass media Local health staff at all health facilities, hospitals, schools and in the community Sustaining the campaign


The campaign will also be reinforced and expanded through the celebration of health days and special events throughout the year such as: World Health Day No Tobacco Day World Diabetes Day Hypertension Week World Heart Day World Mental Health Day World AIDS Day The campaign will also be…


The celebration of the days/weeks not only serves to support the theme for that year but also sustains the themes of the previous years By having the integrated approach the campaign will be strengthened and implemented more effectively year long without creating additional workload for the staff as these health events are regularly observed in all states by the health staff The celebration of the days/weeks


Health Promotion Community Resorce Centres will be created in all states to cater for the development of knowledge and personal skills of health staff, resource personnel and even the target groups These Centres can also plan and conduct studies and projects regularly to identify effective strategies for health behavioural change and to pilot these strategies in the community. Health Promotion Resource Centres


ICT will also be utilized to enable accurate, appropriate and up-to-date information about the campaign to be disseminated in a timely, equitable and interactive manner In the near future MCPHIE application will be utilized to support this campaign. USE OF ICT


An evidence-based approach will be adopted in this campaign Studies will be carried out to obtain baseline data as well as to measure campaign outcomes on a regular basis. Intervention studies can be carried out at the state and district level to identify effective strategies and methods to be used in this campaign for effecting desired behavioural changes. Research

Lentis/Pedestrians and Walkability in Cities and Suburbs

Posted in Healthy lifestyle

Walkability is a measure of how accessible an area is to walkers. A walkable area may have easy access to public transportation, pedestrian only areas, or a conveniently navigable grid plan. Walkability of an area is influenced by many factors including city infrastructure design and the general appeal of the environment. Walkability influences home prices and residents quality of life. It provides environmental benefits, health benefits, and creates a more sustainable community.

The General Theory of Walkability[edit]

In his The General Theory of Walkability, urban designer and city planner Jeff Speck claims that walkable cities can create a more resilient economy, a healthier community, and a cleaner environment. [1] He defines a walkable city as one where “the car is an optional instrument of freedom rather than a prosthetic device.” Speck states that people will choose to walk over drive if they are given a walk that is as good as or better than a drive. A better walk is achieved through four components, the Four Pillars of Walkability.

Safe Bike Lanes Increase Walkability

4 Pillars of Walkability[edit]

  1. Reason to Walk: Required services (grocery stores, gyms, commercial, etc.) should be within a walkable vicinity of people’s home. Public transportation should be provided if these services are too far to walk.
  2. Safe Walk: People should feel safe while walking. Along with lower crimes rates, city infrastructure contributes to increased safety; narrower roads, crosswalks, and bike lanes increase the safety of one’s walk.
  3. Comfortable Walk: People will choose to walk if it is comfortable. Sidewalk width, heights of buildings, and crowdedness all affect how comfortable people feel walking.
  4. Interesting Walk: Humans are social beings. Interaction with other humans, animals, and plants increase the enjoyment of the walk.

City Design and Development[edit]

Development of the Suburb[edit]

Pre-Industrial Revolution cities were compact. These cities contained all the services that residents needed, including residential and commercial, within a walkable distance. The migration of people to cities during the industrial revolution led to crowded and unhealthy cities. [2]Euclidean zoning laws were created to separate the residential from industrial sections to improve health and life spans. The development of the car and a rising middle class further encouraged this separation. Urban Sprawl increased rapidly post World War 2, partly due to Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway Program. [3]

Mixed Use vs Single Use[edit]

Cities are designed based on two models: Euclidean Zoning model, or the single use city, and the compact model, or the multiuse city. Although both models provide the same services, the organization is different. The multiuse city intersperses the different services throughout the city in smaller chunks. The single use city has separated sectioned parts for each service. Each model has its own benefits. The single use city usually provides for quieter, cleaner, and spacious housing. School systems are better and communities are safer. [4] A city based on the multiuse model has all services in close proximity, is environmentally more sustainable, and can be more economically viable. [1]
The walkability of the multiuse city is inherently superior to the single use city. The single use city requires road infrastructure to connect the sectioned parts. The need for cars results in the need for larger parking lots, wider roads, and car-related infrastructure. Single use cities develop with the use of cars, discouraging walkability in the city. [1]

Measuring Walkability[edit]

The growth of technology has allowed walkability to be measured in many different ways. Walkonomics is a web and mobile application that uses crowdsourcing and open data to rate streets on their walkability on 5 star scale. Walkonomics has data on many streets in the world. [5]RateMyStreet is another web application that uses crowdsourcing to rate walkability. The application is founded on Google Maps and allows users to rate streets based on 8 specific categories.

There are limits to measuring walkability because of its subjectivity. Firstly, personal preference in crowdedness, distance, greenery, and other factors affect the walkability of any area. Secondly, walkability measurements are made considering the average user. Service requirements (groceries, gym, etc.) vary from person to person – a walk score may be suffer because a gym is not nearby, but a gym is not relevant to someone who prefers to run outdoors. [6]


Walkscore is a web and mobile application that uses specific rubrics to rate cities on based upon walkability. Its goal is to inform users about walkable communities, improve users’ commutes, and recommend nearby locations to the user. Walkscore uses patented algorithms to provide ratings for four categories: walking, public transit, crime, and biking. Using these four ratings, it generates a final walk score on a scale of 0 – 100. New York leads all United States cities with a walk score of 88. [7]

Time Transit Maps[edit]

Time Transit Maps are methods to measure walkability, specifically the availability of public transportation. These maps display destinations that can be reached from a certain point in a given amount of time using only public transportation. Mapnificent is a web application that uses Google Maps to display time transit maps in many cities throughout the world.

Visual Preference Surveys[edit]

A Visual Preference Survey is a means of measuring the aesthetic beauty of an area by asking participants to rate how pleasing it is to the eye when viewing an image on a scale of negative ten to positive ten, with zero being neutral. Visual appeal is important to both the comfort and interest level of pedestrians. Distinguishing characteristics such as unique architecture and environmental characteristics such as the type of greenery present and accessibility of sidewalks greatly change a viewer’s perception of an area. Although this method uses arbitrary ratings based on viewer perception, it is a good indicator of the overall quality of an area.[8]


Better health from increased physical activity is one of the main benefits of walkability. A ten year study by the University of Melbourne found that an increase in access to destinations like parks, public transportation, and shops lead to more people choosing to walk instead of drive.[9] Another study conducted in Salt Lake County, Utah, found that an individual’s risk for diabetes can be reduced by almost 10% by approximately doubling the proportion of people who walk to work,[10] suggesting that improved infrastructure geared towards getting people to walk could have a significant effect on health issues. Advocates of walkability also consistently mention improved social interactions as an important factor. By decreasing the prevalence of cars in favor of walkers, more quality connections can be made and a larger sense of community felt. A study found that social capital, as well as physical and mental health, are all affected by the design of communities, with increased walkability cited as an important aspect of the design.[11] The environmental benefits of less personal car use and more walking and use of public transportation is also an often cited strength of walkability, with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) estimating that U.S. puiblic transportation saves 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.[12]


One of the drawbacks to walkability is that it is generally accompanied by highly compact urban neighborhoods. While suburbs and less dense areas can be walkable, it usually is not to the same effect. While many proponents for walkability argue that high-density, walkable cities are peoples’ preference, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows from 2010-2013 a rate of growth almost 2.5 times greater in suburban areas compared to core municipalities.[13] This trend suggests that the current state of walkability in urban centers is not favorable enough compared to suburbs. Increased congestion on roads is also a downside as walkability inherently hurts the driver. Data collected from over 300 American cities shows about 90% of commuters drive, and thus a more walkable area will addto congestion by slowing down most commuters.[14] The cost to the public needed to update and build new infrastructure is also seen as a detriment to creating more walkable areas.[15]


A pedestrian dominated area in Sydney, Australia


Pedestrians gain the most from walkability as it represents a power shift from the driver to the walker. More Walkable communities means more crosswalks and pedestrian enhancing features.

Urban Planning and Design Movements[edit]

Groups in support of movements like smart growth and new urbanism, such as Smart Growth America and the Congress for the New Urbanism, are also in favor of increased walkability. Advocates for smart growth and new urbanism, as well as other similar planning theories, aim to achieve compact and connected city and town centers that are easy to get around, affordable, and safe,[16][17] which greatly coincides with walkability. Walkable and Livable Communities Institute (WALC) is another one of many groups that, like Smart Growth America and the Congress for the New Urbanism, aims to provide improved walkability in communities.[18]

Health Organizations[edit]

Health organizations such as American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have come out in support of walkability due to the health benefits associated with areas that promote walking and physical activity over the more sedentary lifestyle brought about by driving. Gillian Booth, M.D. offers for an article on the American Diabetes Association’s website: “This is one piece of a puzzle that we can potentially do something about. As a society, we have engineered physical activity out of our lives. Every opportunity to walk, to get outside, to go to the corner store or walk our children to school can have a big impact on our risk for diabetes and becoming overweight.” [19]

Environmental Organizations[edit]

Groups like the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the [Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)] would favor a transition away from the high amounts of pollution due to car use towards walking and shared public transportation. The EPA even offers a checklist as a way of “keeping score” of how walkable communities are.[20]

Architectural and Civil Engineering Firms[edit]

Firms charged with building infrastructure and organizations such as American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Planning Association (APA) also back a shift towards walkability because in many cases new developments and substantial improvements to infrastructure must be made.



Drivers, like pedestrians, are the most impacted group; however, increased walkability yields the opposite effect. Favorable walking conditions would impact congestion and increase the time it would take to get around by car.


While not directly at odds with walkability, families tend to clash with one of the main features of walkable communities: compactness. Walkable areas tend to be very compact to improve accessibility, leading to more urban layouts with multi-family residential housing in place of single-family homes.

Car Manufacturers and Dealerships[edit]

Higher incentives for walking and taking public transportation will be to the detriment of car manufactures, such as Ford and Chevy, and dealerships that rely on selling cars. Although the car would likely not be eliminated as a form of transportation, especially outside of cities, these groups would lose business.

One Stop Shopping Stores[edit]

Superstores such as Walmart and Costco are valuable because they offer many different amenities in one location. This is good for drivers because it is convenient and reduces travel time. In a walkable area, it becomes unnecessary and runs counter to many of walkability’s benefits as people would have increased access to many different shops.

Case Studies[edit]

Vancouver, Canada[edit]

Tall, thin buildings overlooking a Vancouver marina.

The city of Vancouver, located in the Canadian province of British Columbia, exemplifies sustainability and walkability in urban areas. Vancouver is striving to become the world’s greenest city by 2020, as highlighted by their Greenest City 2020 Action Plan. Their goals include residents making the majority of trips by foot, bicycle, or public transportation and ensuring every resident lives within a five-minute walk of a park, greenway, or other green space. A lower carbon footprint is critical to achieving a greater level of sustainability.[21] To do so, Vancouver is focused on high density, vertical building to preserve green space and reduce sprawl. Large buildings can reduce pedestrian comfort levels and block scenic views. To combat this, Vancouver planners have allowed for smaller buildings to line the street with taller buildings setback behind them. This improves the visual appeal and comfort level of walking by providing more air space and greater line of sight while also increasing social interaction by connecting entrances of tall buildings to smaller businesses, cafes, and restaurants.[22]

Davis, California[edit]

Davis, a suburban area in northern California and home to UC Davis, is a sustainable community that emphasizes the ability to walk and bike without being dependent on a personal vehicle. Davis features bike paths that are separate from the stream of vehicle traffic in order to improve safety and prevent unnecessary conflicts. Cooperative housing is common in Davis in order to increase affordability and provide healthy, walkable communities. Houses in these communities often face a collective green area to promote walking and immersion with nature as well as community involvement.[8]

A portrayal of the 1945 painting “V-J Day in Times Square” along the High Line

The High Line, Manhattan[edit]

The Manhattan High Line in New York City was first opened as a train track as part of the West Side Improvement Project in 1934. The last train ran on the High Line in 1980 and the track remained unused while lobbyists argued whether it should be preserved or demolished. In June of 2009, the High Line reopened to the public as a pedestrian path.[23] The re-purposed area provides an interesting walkway that maintains parts of the old track, incorporates green spaces, and showcases public art which is common on the sides of buildings along the High Line. The area is also safe: the path is elevated over the city like the old rail road used to be which isolates pedestrians from other modes of transportation.


The development practices of Vancouver exemplify sustainable, vertical building in mixed-use areas that prove dense urban centers do not have to feel crowded. The design of bike paths and cooperative housing in Davis, CA show that suburbs do not have to be car dependent or separate from social interaction. The revitalization of the High Line in Manhattan has provided the area with a safe place to walk and interesting social interaction separate from the busy streets below. These areas incorporate the Four Pillars of Walkability in that they are safe, comfortable, interesting, and provide a reason for walking. Walkability is crucial in developing sustainable and healthy urban and suburban areas. It is necessary in creating denser urban centers to reduce personal vehicle dependence and conserve green space outside of cities while promoting stronger communities and increased social interaction. Single-use zoning has propagated suburban and urban sprawl causing increased car usage as opposed to public transportation, biking, and walking. Mixed-use areas that encourage interaction between different people and activities can increase quality of life and make vertical development possible. While walkability is largely beneficial, there are still valid concerns that must be alleviated by improved planning and further research.


  1. abc Speck, J. (2014, May 27). The General Theory of Walkability. TEDx.
  2. The Effects of the Industrial Revolution. (2014). ModernWorldHistoryTextbook.
  3. Schwager, D. (1997). Consequences of the Development of the Interstate Highway System for Transit. Research Result Digest.
  4. Hoyt, A. How Urban Sprawl Works.
  5. Walkonomics – How walkable is your street? (2014, January 1).
  6. Vanderbilt, T. (2012, April 12). What’s Your Walk Score? Slate.
  7. Walk Score Methodology.
  8. ab Beatley, T. (October, 2014). Creative Housing. Intro to Community and Environmental Planning. Lecture conducted from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.
  9. Giles-Corti, B., Bull, F., Knuiman, M., McCormack, G., Van Niel, K., Timperio, A.,Christian, H., Foster, S., Divitini, M., Middleton, N., & Boruff, B. (2013). The influence of urban design on neighbourhood walking following residential relocation: Longitudinal results from the RESIDE study. Social Science & Medicine, 77, 20–30. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.10.016
  10. Smith, K. R., Brown, B. B., Yamada, I., Kowaleski-Jones, L., Zick, C. D., & Fan, J. X. (2008). Walkability and body mass index: Density, design, and new diversity measures. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 35(3), 237–244. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2008.05.028
  11. Leyden, K. M. (2003). Social capital and the built environment: The importance of walkable neighborhoods. American Journal of Public Health, 93(9), 1546–1551. doi:10.2105/AJPH.93.9.1546
  12. American Public Transportation Association. (n.d.).
  13. Cox, W. (2014). From anecdotes to data:Core & suburban growth trends 2010-2013. Newgeography. Retrieved from
  14. The Thoreau Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  15. O’Toole, R. (2000). The vanishing automobile and other urban myths: How smart growth will harm american cities. Retrieved from
  16. Smart Growth America. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  17. Congress for the New Urbanism. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  18. Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  19. American Diabetes Association. (2014). Retrieved from
  20. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  21. City of Vancouver. (2014). Greenest city 2020 goals and targets. Retrieved from
  22. Beatley, T. (October, 2014). Land Use. Intro to Community and Environmental Planning. Lecture conducted from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.
  23. Friends of the High Line. (2014). About the high line. Retrieved from

What Is Community Health and Why Is It Important?

Posted in Healthy lifestyle

illustrated hands holding a community 

The community you live in is part of who you are. Even if you don’t see your neighbors every day, you recognize that the decisions you make impact those around you. You’re all in it together, and you wouldn’t have it any other way!

Improving your community and helping others is often at the top of your mind. So when the phrase “community health” crossed your radar, you had to know more. What is community health? And how does it affect the lives of those in your area?

Community health is the intersection of healthcare, economics and social interaction. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the role this type of healthcare plays in their everyday lives. Join us as we explore the impact of community health on your neighborhood—and what you can do to improve it.

What is community health?

Community health is a medical specialty that focuses on the physical and mental well-being of the people in a specific geographic region. This important subsection of public health includes initiatives to help community members maintain and improve their health, prevent the spread of infectious diseases and prepare for natural disasters.

“Working at the community level promotes healthy living, helps prevent chronic diseases and brings the greatest health benefits to the greatest number of people in need,” reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1

Strong community health requires residents to look beyond themselves and take “collective responsibility,” says Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics. “It’s not just about the healthcare system, but focuses on the importance of leading a generally healthy lifestyle in order to protect the community as a whole.”

Community health is inextricably tied to individual wellness. “Good community health equates to healthy people, as a community is the ecosystem or environment in which people live,” says Thomas G. Bognanno, president and CEO of Community Health Charities. “It’s difficult to be healthy personally if your community is unhealthy.”

The far-reaching impact of community health

Community health flips the script on the old adage, “You take care of you; I’ll take care of me.” Instead, public health experts agree that the health of a community can have far-reaching—and sometimes surprising—impacts on individual health and beyond.

“Community health impacts everything—educational achievement, safety and crime, people’s ability to work and be financially healthy, life expectancy, happiness and more,” Bognanno says. “Health impacts every other facet of life, from a child’s ability to learn to an adult’s ability to work, so health is critical for education and financial well-being.”

The effect of health on quality of life can also impact the desire to participate in civic duties like voting, social functions and leisure activities, according to Healthy People 2020, an initiative of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.2

Communities that are attentive to public health can even reduce inequality among their residents. “[Community health] also helps to reduce health gaps caused by differences in race and ethnicity, location, social status, income and other factors that can affect health,” reports the CDC.1

The consequences of neglecting community health

A lack of focus on community health can lead to a range of complex problems that aren’t easy to correct. For example, crime and safety issues that result from neglected community health can quickly becoming a self-perpetuating cycle. “Repeated exposure to crime and violence may be linked to an increase in negative health outcomes. Children exposed to violence may show increased signs of aggression starting in upper-elementary school,” reports Healthy People 2020.2

Chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, can also increase if a community’s overall well-being is suffering. “An unhealthy community tends to be obese and struggle more from chronic diseases and other health challenges,” Bognanno says.

Chronic diseases like these not only reduce life expectancy, they have a dramatic effect on the economy. The CDC reports that 90 percent of the nation’s annual healthcare expenses are for people with chronic health conditions.3

Curbing the spread of infectious disease is also a priority of community health programs. Without them, communities may find themselves battling outbreaks of illnesses that put vulnerable populations like the elderly at higher risk.

“If a community has to recover from an emergency event, such as a natural disaster, reducing the spread of disease becomes a crucial part of the recovery process,” Backe says.

Factors that improve community health

Improving community health is a huge undertaking that involves cooperation between public health workers, local government, volunteers and average citizens alike—and the end products of their work can take a lot of forms. “Communities benefit from walking trails and bike paths, from access to healthy food and playgrounds, from accessible healthcare services, schools and places of employment, as well as affordable housing,” Bognanno says.

Education also plays a large role in maintaining community health. Health fairs and advertising campaigns that expose the dangers of risk factors like tobacco exposure, poor nutrition and physical inactivity can raise awareness about the importance of choosing a healthy lifestyle. The CDC has also focused on promoting nutrition guidelines in schools and increasing the amount of physical education children receive.4

Individuals can step up to the plate for their community’s health by volunteering at health fairs or blood drives, petitioning local officials to develop more green space and walking trails and maintaining their own health. “The collective responsibilities that individuals have for their communal health can lead to positive interactions within the community as a whole,” Backe says.

Take a stand for community health

What is community health? Now you know that it’s a vital component of public health—and it’s something every individual can play a part in improving. To learn more about how public health workers are improving the health of people across the nation, take a look at these “6 Invaluable Ways Community Health Workers Improve Our Lives.”

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Chronic Disease: A Significant Public Health Threat, [information accessed January 29, 2019]
2 Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being, [information accessed January 29, 2019]
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Health and Economic Costs of Chronic Diseases, [information accessed January 29, 2019]
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Partnerships to Improve Community Health, [information accessed January 29, 2019]

Lesson plan “Our Health”

Posted in Healthy lifestyle

Class: 7.

Theme of the lesson: Unit Revision.

A book “Eyes Open 3” Ben Goldstein, Ceri Jones.

Learning objectives(s) that this lesson is contributing to:

– use speaking and listening skills to solve problems creatively and cooperatively in groups;

– understand most specific information and detail of supported, extended talk on a range general and curricular topics;

– ask simple questions to get information about a growing range of general topics;

– recognize the difference between fact and opinion in short, simple texts on a wide range of general and curricular topics;

– write with some support about personal feelings and opinions on a limited range of familiar general and curricular topics;

– communicate meaning clearly at sentence and discourse level during pair, group and whole class exchanges.

Lesson objectives

  • All learners will be able to: To listen and read for gist, to read for specific information, to read for comprehension, to give health advice, to write a text message giving advice.
  • Most learners will be able to: To listen and read for gist, to read for specific information, to read for comprehension, to give health advice, to write a text message giving advice.
  • Some learners will be able to: To listen and read for gist, to read for specific information, to read for comprehension, to give health advice, to write a text message giving advice.

Value links: respect, valueology.

Cross curricular links: parts of the body.

ICT skills: projector or smart board for power point.


Org moment

Greeting students. Introducing learning and lesson objectives.

Today we will tell about such a wonderful thing as health and body care.

Today we will work in pairs, for determining who will be your partner you should do this task: to match the word and its definition. Find your pair. (Half of students get cards with names of ilnesses, other their definitions)

Asthma – an illness which makes it difficult to breathe.
Cold – a common illness which makes you sneeze and makes your nose produce liquid.
Cut – to injure yourself on a sharp object which makes you bleed.
Sunstroke – an illness caused by spending too much time in the sun.

Warming-up “Black box”

Attention! A Black Box. Try a guess what is there in this box? You may ask only suggestive questions which I can answer only “Yes” or “No”. A have only one prompt: this thing is connected with our topic. (a thermometer)

Mixed chains

Now let’s acquaint with people’s wisdom. Where can we usually find? Of course in the proverbs. You should match the first parts of them with their second ones.


Laughter is


not live to eat.


Time is


spoil our own.


Health and cheerfulness


the best medicine.


Health is not valued till


in these three good health abound.


Hygiene is


sickness comes. 


Eat to live,


mutually beget each other.


Prevention is


you eat. 


We drink one another’s health and


better than cure.


You are what


a great healer.


Eat well, drink in moderation, and sleep sound,


two thirds of health.

1.C 2.I 3.F 4.E 5.J 6.A 7.H 8.B 9.G 10.D


I – interactive
N – noting
S – system
E – effective
R – reading
T – thinking

1. And know we know more information about this problem. You will get a new topic. We will read it and you should make some marks about this topic:

+ – I know it
– – I don’t know it
! – it is interesting for me

After that we will discuss and apply your new knowledge and your life experience on practice. (“Eyes Open 2” Ben Goldstein, Ceri Jones p. 66, Ex. 2, text “Foodborne illness”)

2. Discussion on the text

Case technology

And some real situations. There are some healthy problems (pulling out the cards randomly), you have describe your algorithm of actions for solving these problems (work in pairs):

  1. a cold.
  2. to get sunburnt/ sunstroke.
  3. to get black eyes.
  4. to stung by a bee.

The cardsThe cards


For summarizing all information let’s fill in the fishbone about our topic:



As a conclusion you should formulate “A Codex of a modern healthy man”, using such grammar construction as modal verbs: should (not), must (not), Conditional I. (work in pairs)

Reflection “Educational Target”

At the end of the lesson I want you to assess the result of your work. You should shoot at this “Educational Target”.

, – “” . –


A healthy approach to dietary fats: understanding the science and taking action to reduce consumer confusion | Nutrition Journal

Posted in Healthy lifestyle

History of dietary fat recommendations

Reducing dietary saturated fat has been a cornerstone of recommendations for reducing CVD risk for decades, largely based on the classic diet-heart hypothesis which proposes that dietary saturated fat and cholesterol play a primary role in the development of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease (CHD). This hypothesis was informed by two key observations: 1) controlled feeding trials demonstrated that dietary saturated fatty acids and cholesterol raised serum total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels, and 2) increased serum total cholesterol and LDL-C predicted risk of CHD [10]. Since the origin of the diet-heart hypothesis, a large body of research has identified multiple pathways that mediate the development of CHD. Thus, interventions that affect single surrogate biomarkers must be interpreted with caution [11]. Though apolipoprotein B-carrying LDL-C particles are established causal determinants of CVD risk, there are many other CVD risk factors that substantially affect disease development including other blood lipids and lipoproteins, hypertension, smoking, diabetes, overweight and obesity. Dietary fats have complex and sometimes divergent effects on these different contributors to CVD risk. Though views of the original diet-heart hypothesis continue to evolve, they have had long-lasting effects on nutrition policy and consumer perceptions of fat. Decades of recommendations to consume low-fat diets and the proliferation of low-fat products have greatly influenced consumer perceptions of fat.

Current recommendations for dietary fat intake

Total fat

The percentage of energy consumed as fat can vary widely, and the diet can still meet energy and nutrient needs. Current recommendations from various organizations regarding fat intake in adults are summarized in Table 1 [12,13,14,15,16,17]. Dietary guidelines from the World Health Organization and the Dietary Reference Intakes recommend a total fat intake between 20 and 35% of total calories [12, 13]. The minimum of 20% is to ensure adequate consumption of total energy, essential fatty acids, and fat-soluble vitamins [12] and prevent atherogenic dyslipidemia (low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), high triglyceride-rich lipoproteins) which occurs with low-fat, high carbohydrate diets and increases risk of coronary heart disease [13]. The maximum of 35% was based on limiting saturated fat and also the observation that individuals on higher fat diets consume more calories, resulting in weight gain [13]. No Tolerable Upper Intake Level was set for total fat because there is no intake level for which there is an adverse event [13]. Of note, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee placed emphasis on the types and quality of foods consumed and did not set an upper limit for total fat based on the lack of supporting evidence [14]. This was reflected in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020, which emphasizes types of fat within the context of a healthy dietary pattern [18].

Table 1 Current Dietary Fat Intake Recommendations for Adults

Saturated fat

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020, and many other organizations consistently recommend a limitation on intake of saturated fat, typically to <10% of energy [12,13,14,15]. In contrast, Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation recently removed any specific limitation on saturated fat, stating instead that their dietary guidelines do “not include a threshold or limit for saturated fat and instead focus on a healthy balanced dietary pattern” [19]. The role of saturated fat for CHD, and the corresponding controversy, is discussed further below.

Trans fat

The Institute of Medicine determined that there is no safe level of consumption of industrial trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fats adversely affect a diverse range of CVD risk factors: they raise LDL-C, raise triglycerides, lower HDL-C, increase inflammation, promote endothelial dysfunction, and may promote hepatic fat synthesis, resulting in far greater risk of developing CHD than any other macronutrient. Based on these effects, the recommendation is to limit their intake as much as possible [10]. Denmark was one of the first countries to ban the sale of products containing trans fats in 2003 and since that time the European Union has taken a stance to reduce trans-fats in the food supply [20] and, at the same time, the US Food and Drug Administration ruled in 2015 that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe and should be removed from the food supply [21].

Monounsaturated fat

Like saturated fats, cis-monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) are readily synthesized by the liver in response to carbohydrate consumption [13]. They are not required in the diet; thus no Adequate Intake or Recommended Dietary Allowance has been set [13]. In addition, there is little evidence to set a Tolerable Upper Intake Level [13]. The major MUFA in Western diets is oleic acid which is abundant in both animal and plant sources [12]. Most dietary guidelines for MUFA consumption are based on subtraction of recommended intakes of saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat from total fat rather than evidence for specific optimal intakes of MUFA per se.

Polyunsaturated fat

Cis-polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) include essential fatty acids and have beneficial roles in human health. However, formal clinical deficiency of n-6 and n-3 fatty acids is rare in healthy individuals in the United States and most other countries. More than a decade ago, the IOM set definitions of Adequate Intakes for linoleic and α-linolenic acid based on median US population intakes, with up to 10 % of the recommended total n-3 PUFA intake being eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and/or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) [13]. These US Dietary Reference Intakes, based on evidence published prior to 2000, have not been updated. More recently, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization set new target Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges for adults for linoleic acid (2.5–9% of energy), total n-3 PUFA (0.5–2% of energy), and EPA + DHA (250 to 2000 mg/d) [12].

Trends in consumption of dietary fats

Since 1971, the average fat intake in the United States has decreased from 36.6 to 33.6% [5]. The median intake of saturated fat currently is 9.7–11.1% depending on sex and race or ethnic subgroup, and approximately 42–65% of the adult population consumes greater than the recommended level of 10% of calories from saturated fat [22]. Since 1980, when the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans were issued, the intake of saturated fat has steadily decreased as a percent of calories. The decrease in total and saturated fat intake (as a %) since the 1980’s has largely reflected a corresponding increase in energy from dietary carbohydrate.

These dietary trends are not unique to the U.S. Data from the Australian Health Survey 2011–2013 show dietary trends mirroring those observed in the U.S. [23]. Additionally, a report by the USDA Economic Research Service compared food availability and dietary preferences and behavior between the U.S. and the European Union and concluded that the diets are more similar, than not and both the U.S and EU have reduced fat consumption over time [24].

Role of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat in coronary heart disease

Saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are synthesized in the body for energetic, physiological, and structural functions, and they are present in many foods. For example, palmitic acid, the major saturated fatty acid in the diet, is synthesized in the liver from starch and sugar via de novo lipogenesis, and it is the predominant fatty acid present in dairy and meats [25]. Due to the positive linear relationship between total saturated fat intake and LDL-C concentrations, the recommendation is to limit saturated fat to <10% of calories [12,13,14,15]. However, the role of saturated fat in heart disease is complex because of the heterogeneous biological effects of the different saturated fatty acids and the diversity of food sources [26]. Moreover, conclusions are complicated by dietary substitutions underscoring the importance of considering the replacement nutrient.

Ecological and migration studies including the seminal Seven Countries Study by Ancel Keys have found strong positive correlations between saturated fat intake and CHD rates [10]. However, these studies are confounded by other environmental factors associated with different countries such as culture, geography, and economic development. Prospective cohort studies provide better evidence for dietary habits and CHD because adjustments are made for individual-level differences in major risk factors, lifestyle habits, and other confounding factors. While, these types of studies have consistently found that higher trans fat intake is associated with elevated risk of coronary heart disease [10], the effects of dietary saturated fat on coronary heart disease risk are less consistent [27]. A 2010 meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies by Siri-Tarino et al. found no relationship between total saturated fat and risk of coronary heart disease [28]. Similarly, a 2014 meta-analysis by Chowdhury et al. found no significant relationship between total saturated fat or total polyunsaturated fat consumption and risk of CHD [29]. These studies assessed the association of variations in saturated fat intake in the population, rather than modeling the specific substitution of saturated fat with other macronutrients. Studies specifically modeling the comparison of saturated fat to total carbohydrate have shown saturated fat to have similar associations with cardiovascular risk compared to total carbohydrate [30, 31]. Based on all the evidence, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded that replacing saturated fat with total carbohydrates does not reduce risk of CVD [32]. Recently, an AHA Presidential Advisory reviewed the scientific evidence and concluded that lowering intake of saturated fat and replacing it with unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats will lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease [33].

An alternative method for evaluating health effects of macronutrients is to consider the specific replacement nutrient. Such models do not compare differences in diet as actually consumed in the population, but provide estimates about potential health effects of specific inter-replacements of different macronutrients. In such models, the observed effects can be due to reduced intake of one nutrient, increased intake of the other, or both. Such models also raise complexities in understanding the biological effects of individual fatty acids within the context of food matrices and dietary patterns, which each provide a milieu of nutrients, bioactive compounds, and other constituents that may modulate the effects of the fatty acids.

In cohort studies modeling specific replacement nutrients, there is consistent evidence that polyunsaturated fatty acids are the most beneficial replacement nutrient for CVD risk reduction as compared to either saturated fat or total carbohydrate. Jakobsen et al. pooled 11 cohort studies with over 344,000 participants and found that isocalorically replacing saturated fat with PUFA was associated with reduced risk of coronary events (per 5% energy, hazard ratio: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.77, 0.97) and coronary death (hazard ratio: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.61, 0.89) [34]. In a recent analysis, Li, et al. found that replacing saturated fat with high quality carbohydrates such as whole grains was associated with lower risk of CHD, but replacing saturated fat by total carbohydrates or refined starch/added sugars was not associated with CHD risk [31]. In contrast, other analyses, including a large pooling project that included the prior cohorts, suggest that total saturated fat is superior to total carbohydrate for CHD risk, and that refined starch/added sugars are more harmful than saturated fat. In the pooling project, isocalorically replacing saturated fat intake with either total carbohydrate or total MUFA did not result in reduced risk of coronary events; in fact, consuming total carbohydrate in place of saturated fat was associated with significantly higher risk (hazard ratio: 1.07; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.14) [34]. A recent publication of women from the Nurses’ Health Study and men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study found that replacing carbohydrates with saturated fat was not associated with CHD mortality, while replacing carbohydrates with unsaturated fats significantly reduced CHD death [35]. Furthermore, substituting unsaturated fats for saturated fats (5% energy) reduced total mortality and mortality from CHD, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases (Fig. 1). A new study [36] reported that substituting plant protein for long chain SFA decreased risk of CHD. Another observational study found that replacing saturated fat with low glycemic index carbohydrates was associated with a nonsignificant trend toward lower risk of myocardial infarction, while replacement of saturated fat with high glycemic index carbohydrates was associated with significantly higher risk (hazard ratio: 1.33; 95% CI: 1.08, 1.64) [37]. The effects of replacing saturated fat with different types of carbohydrates require further investigation.

Fig. 1

Effects of isocaloric substitution of specific fatty acids for saturated fatty acids in the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professional Follow-up Study on a.) total mortality, b.) cardiovascular disease mortality, c.) cancer mortality, d.) neurodegenerative disease mortality. Results were from the multi-variate model using the fixed-effects model. UFA indicates unsaturated fatty acid and error bard, 95% confidence intervals. Reproduced with permission from Wang, et al. 2016 [35]

The similar associations of total carbohydrate vs. saturated fat with CHD (or in the largest studies, actually beneficial associations of saturated fat compared with total carbohydrate) might suggest that guidelines could include a limit on the sum of total carbohydrate plus saturated fat. The new research suggests that rather than focusing on total carbohydrate, the guidance should be on specific foods: limiting foods rich in refined starch and sugars, while eating more of other carbohydrate-containing foods such as fruits, legumes, and fiber-rich whole grains. Likewise, the new research suggests that rather than focusing on total saturated fat, the guidance also could be on specific foods, as saturated fat from different major food sources is associated with higher risk, no risk, or even lower risk of CHD, depending on the food source [38, 39]. For example, studies utilizing objective circulating biomarkers of fat intake identify protective associations of odd-chain saturated fats, largely consumed from dairy saturated fat, and risk of CHD [29]. These findings suggest that the specific matrix of different foods – including other fatty acids, nutrients, and bioactives – may biologically modify the effect of saturated fat on CHD. As is evident, this approach could be adopted for any single nutrient in the diet for providing food-based dietary guidance that also considers specific nutrient recommendations. Provocative new evidence suggests that we are at the beginning of a new era for making food-based dietary recommendations that requires more research and debate to reach scientific consensus.

When all these lines of evidence are considered, the role of saturated fat in CHD is controversial, including among the writing group of the present manuscript. Some scientists believe that reduction in saturated fat must continue to be prioritized, based on its LDL-raising effects and causality for CVD, on the benefits of replacing saturated fat with PUFA, and on concerns that in the absence of recommendations to limit saturated fat, ingredients high in saturated fat (e.g., palm oil) could be added to foods. Other scientists believe that heterogeneous effects of saturated fat on blood lipids and lipoproteins, of different individual saturated fatty acids, and of saturated fat from different food sources raises questions on the biologic and practical relevance of any focus on saturated fat, and that food-based recommendations are both more biologically sound and more practical.

Epidemiological evidence on the association of total dietary MUFA from all sources with CHD has been mixed [13, 34, 40]. A recent study, however, with Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professional Follow-up Study data estimated that replacing 5% of energy from saturated fat with MUFA was associated with a 15% lower risk of CHD [31]. In addition, another recent study has shown that replacement of saturated fat with MUFA (principally from plant sources) decreases CHD risk [36]. This observation likely reflects an increase in consumption of plant-based MUFA sources such as olive oil and a decreased consumption of animal-based MUFA sources from red meat over time, and thus the association for MUFA was less confounded by saturated fat. However, this finding needs to be confirmed in future studies.

Many lines of evidence support CHD benefits PUFA consumption, whether as a replacement for saturated fat or carbohydrate. A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies found that increased consumption of linoleic acid was associated with a 15% lower risk of CHD events (relative risk: 0.85; 95% CI: 0.78–0.92) and a 21% lower risk of CHD death (relative risk: 0.79; 95% CI: 0.71–0.89) [41]. The relationship was dose-responsive (Fig. 2) and independent of other traditional CHD risk factors and dietary factors such as fiber and α-linolenic acid [41]. Notably, benefits were similar irrespective of whether linoleic acid replaced saturated fat or total carbohydrate (which is often mostly refined).

Fig. 2

Dose–response analysis for the curvilinear association between dietary intake of linoleic acid and coronary heart disease deaths. P = 0.72 for nonlinearity relationship, indicating a linear relationship. %E indicates percent of energy. Reproduced with permission from Farvid et al. 2014 [41]

Evidence from clinical trials also supports the health benefits of increasing PUFA for reducing CHD risk. Mozaffarian et al. evaluated the effect of increased PUFA consumption, as a replacement for saturated fat, on CHD in a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials [30]. Eight trials met inclusion criteria and encompassed 13,614 participants and 1042 coronary events (myocardial infarction or cardiac death) [30]. Average weighted PUFA consumption was 14.9% of energy in intervention groups and 5.0% in control groups. Increased PUFA consumption resulted in a 19% decrease in CHD risk (relative risk: 0.81; 95% CI: 0.70–0.95) [30]. Each 5% increase in energy from PUFA corresponded to a 10% decrease in CHD risk. Pooling across different types of evidence, consistent beneficial effects are seen when PUFA is increased, but not when SFA is replaced with carbohydrate or MUFA (Fig. 3) [30, 34, 42]. These studies provide compelling evidence that consumption of PUFA reduces CVD risk.

Fig. 3

Effects on CHD risk of consuming PUFA, carbohydrate, or MUFA in place of saturated fat. Predicted effects are based on changes in the total cholesterol (TC):HDL-C ratio in short-term trials (e.g., each 5% energy of PUFA replacing saturated fat lowers TC:HDL-C ratio by 0.16) coupled with observed associations between the TC:HDL-C ratio and CHD outcomes in middle-aged adults (each 1 unit lower TC:HDL-C is associated with 44% lower risk of CHD) [42]. Evidence for effects of dietary changes on actual CHD events comes from the present meta-analysis of eight randomized controlled trials for PUFA replacing saturated fat and from the Women’s Health Initiative trial for carbohydrate replacing saturated fat (n = 48,835, ~3% energy reduction in saturated fat over 8 years) [81]. Evidence for observed relationships of usual dietary habits with CHD events comes from a pooled analysis of 11 prospective cohort studies [34]. Reproduced with permission from Mozaffarian et al. 2010 [30]

A growing body of literature suggests that both n-6 and n-3 fatty acids confer benefits for a wide range of conditions, in particular CVD, and also possibly diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases [30, 41, 43,44,45,46]. The results of recent randomized controlled trials of n-3 PUFA supplements on cardiovascular outcomes have been disappointing; theorized reasons include the possibility that n-3 PUFA have little additional effect on top of modern drug therapies for CVD, as well as the study designs employed [47, 48]. However, these relatively short-term trials in high-risk populations may not be generalizable to the observed beneficial associations in generally healthy populations consuming dietary sources of n-3 PUFA such as fish [49]. Further research is needed to better determine how different approaches to food processing, technology, stability/oxidation, and breeding/engineering of plants or animals may alter the overall health effects of PUFA and MUFAs.

Clinical interventions – Dietary patterns

Recent clinical evidence also supports the hypothesis that including plant and seafood sources of PUFA and MUFA in the diet improves cardiometabolic risk factors. Mediterranean diets generally derive a relatively high proportion of calories from fat (typically 35–40% of kcal or more) with much of the fat calories coming from plant and vegetable oils sources of MUFA [50]. Mediterranean-type diets commonly emphasize consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, nuts, and olive oil [15]. In the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED) trial, 7447 persons were counseled to consume a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil (50 g/day), a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts (30 g/day; 15 g of walnuts and 7.5 g of almonds and 7.5 g of hazelnuts), or a control diet reduced in dietary fat [50]. After a mean follow-up of 4.8 years, consumption of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil or nuts resulted in a 30% reduction in risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, or death (hazard ratio: 0.70; 95% CI: 0.54, 0.92 and hazard ratio: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.54, 0.96) [50].

Several secondary analyses of the PREDIMED trial have demonstrated other potential health benefits of consuming a Mediterranean diet. A Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts resulted in significant reductions in diastolic blood pressure, 24-h ambulatory blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, and total cholesterol [51, 52]. There were also reductions in biomarkers of vascular wall inflammation, which may partially explain the cardioprotective effects seen in the main study [53]. Participants who consumed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts also had a 52% reduction in diabetes incidence compared to the control group (hazard ratio: 0.47; 95% CI: 0.25, 0.97 and hazard ratio: 0.48; 95% CI: 0.24, 0.96) [54]. This suggests that changes in dietary patterns can have multifactorial health benefits beyond CVD.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) dietary pattern is also beneficial for reducing CVD risk. The original DASH diet emphasized vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts while limiting sweets and red meats, and was generally higher in carbohydrates and lower in total fats. At the end of the eight-week dietary intervention, systolic and diastolic blood pressure were significantly reduced by 5.5 and 3.0 mmHg compared to the control diet [55]. Consumption of the DASH diet also resulted in lower total cholesterol, LDL-C, and HDL-C levels with no changes in triglycerides or total cholesterol:HDL-C ratio [56]. As a follow up to the DASH trial, the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial to Prevent Heart Disease (OmniHeart) was conducted to compare high-carbohydrate, high-protein, or high-MUFA versions of the original DASH diet. Participants with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension were fed for 6-week periods in a 3-period randomized crossover trial. While all diets improved blood pressure and LDL compared to baseline, the diets that replaced saturated fat with protein or especially vegetable unsaturated fats (principally olive oil) resulted in greater improvements in CVD risk factors compared to the carbohydrate-rich diet [57].

These studies demonstrate consistent themes of dietary patterns that effectively reduce CVD risk. Accordingly, the 2015 Scientific Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded, “A healthy diet can be achieved in multiple ways and preferably with a wide variety of foods and beverages.” [14]. They also identified common features of beneficial dietary patterns across diverse health outcomes including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer. The committee recommended healthy dietary pattern options that: 1) emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts, 2) include moderate amounts of low-fat dairy products and alcohol (among adults, if consumed), 3) are lower in red and processed meats, 4) limit refined grains and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages [14].

Clinical interventions – Specific foods and oils

Several studies have examined the potential benefits of incorporating specific foods and oils on cardiometabolic risk factors. As described above, PREDIMED demonstrated reductions in CVD events with either mixed nuts or extra-virgin olive oil. A systematic review and meta-analysis examined the relationship between nut consumption and blood lipid levels. A total of 61 trials (42 randomized, 18 non-randomized) totaling 2582 unique participants provided nuts to participants for durations ranging from 3 to 26 weeks [58]. Compared with controls, each daily serving of nuts lowered LDL-cholesterol (−4.8 mg/dL; 95% CI: -5.5, −4.2) [58]. These results complement previous findings from a pooled analysis of intervention trials examining the relationship between nut consumption and blood lipid levels [59]. Twenty-five trials comprising 583 participants were included. Interventions were at least 3 weeks in duration and nut consumption was the only dietary intervention [59]. Nut consumption (average 67 g/day) significantly reduced total cholesterol, LDL-C, and total cholesterol to HDL-C ratio [59]. Both studies are in agreement with the large body of epidemiological evidence showing an association between increased nut consumption and decreased risk of CHD [60, 61].

Olive oil is the main fat source in the Mediterranean diet, and it is believed to confer some of the cardioprotective benefits of the diet. Olive oil is high in MUFAs and contains phenolic compounds, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties [62]. Short-term clinical trials in healthy men have observed small increases in HDL-C, decreases in triglycerides, and reductions in systolic blood pressure with olive oil supplementation [62, 63]. Oxidative stress markers decreased with increasing polyphenol content of the olive oil [62]. These studies complement a previous observational study, which found an inverse association between olive oil consumption and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure [64]. In addition, the results are consistent with a study conducted with Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study II data that showed that substituting olive oil for stick margarine, butter, or mayonnaise was associated with a modestly lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women [65].

The Canola Oil Multi-center Intervention Trial (COMIT) sought to determine the effects of different oil blends with varying levels of n-9 MUFA, n-6 PUFA, and n-3 PUFA on biomarkers of coronary heart disease risk [66]. Participants were fed a controlled weight maintenance diet supplemented with one of 5 liquid vegetable oil treatments in a randomized crossover design. Treatments included: 1) conventional canola oil (Canola; n-9 rich), 2) high-oleic acid canola oil with docosahexaenoic acid (CanolaDHA; n-9 and n-3 rich), 3) a blend of corn and safflower oil (25:75) (CornSaff; n-6 rich), 4) a blend of flax and safflower oils (60:40) (FlaxSaff; n-6 and short-chain n-3 rich), or 5) high-oleic acid canola oil (CanolaOleic; highest in n-9). All treatments lowered total cholesterol and LDL-C [66]. The CanolaDHA blend significantly increased HDL-C, lowered triglycerides. The CanolaDHA blend had the greatest systolic and diastolic pressure-lowering effect. All treatments lowered the Framingham 10-year coronary heart disease risk score; the CanolaDHA treatment decreased it the most [66].

Foods high in plant sources of MUFA also have beneficial effects. A randomized crossover trial of the health benefits of daily avocado consumption was conducted with overweight or obese participants fed three cholesterol-lowering diets: 1) lower fat diet (24% fat), 2) moderate-fat diet (34% fat), and 3) moderate-fat diet supplemented with one avocado per day [67]; the latter two diets were matched for macronutrients. All three diets decreased LDL-C and total cholesterol compared to baseline [67]. The moderate-fat diet supplemented with avocado resulted in significantly greater reductions in LDL-C and total cholesterol than either the lower-fat or moderate-fat diet [67]. Additionally, the avocado-containing diet significantly reduced LDL particle number, small dense LDL, and the ratio of LDL-C/HDL-C [67]. These studies provide evidence of the lipid-lowering potential of plant foods that are rich in PUFA and MUFA. The results of this study also suggest additional benefits of nutrients/bioactives in avocados beyond their healthy fat composition.

Interestingly, there have also been some studies suggesting possible cardioprotective benefits of certain foods high in saturated fats such as dark chocolate and specific dairy products. Meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of chocolate or cocoa products have found inverse associations between cocoa consumption and total cholesterol, LDL-C, blood pressure, and serum insulin [68,69,70]. These effects have been attributed to the flavanols found in dark chocolate and cocoa products. Dairy products encompass a widely varied group of foods including butter, milk, cheese, and yogurt. Epidemiological studies have generally found no association or modest inverse associations between dairy product intake and risk of CVD [38, 71]. Clinical studies have been mixed depending on the dairy product and the comparator investigated. Butter and whole milk increase total cholesterol and LDL-C [72]. Cheese consumption seems to modestly lower LDL-C when compared to butter [72]. Yogurt consumption may produce favorable changes in LDL-C, HDL-C, and triglycerides, but the effects seem to be highly dependent on the strain of bacteria used for fermentation [72]. Prospective cohort studies indicate a consistent inverse association between yogurt consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes, although the association between other dairy products and diabetes risk has been inconsistent [73]. A recent compilation [74] of meta-analyses designed to evaluate associations between individual foods (and relevant to this paper, foods with different fat types) and coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes is shown in Fig. 4. As is evident, nuts and seeds consistently show benefits, fish benefits CHD death and stroke but not diabetes, and dairy products, including total dairy, milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt demonstrate inconsistent associations. For processed red meats, there is clear evidence of increased associations with cardiometabolic diseases, whereas for unprocessed red meats, there is evidence for increased stroke and diabetes risk [74]. As noted in the paper, there is considerable controversy about cheese, low-fat milk and butter, as well as unprocessed red meat and their relationship to cardiometabolic health. Furthermore, for whole milk, there is insufficient evidence for meaningful conclusions.

Fig. 4

Meta-analyses of foods and coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus. BMI indicates body mass index; CHD, coronary heart disease; CI, confidence interval; CVD, cardiovascular disease; PC, prospective cohort; RCT, randomized clinical trial; and RR, relative risk. Adapted with permission from Circulation [74]

Public confusion about nutrition research and resultant dietary fat recommendations

As a case-study, the science on dietary fat and cardiovascular disease is complicated, therefore research communications and dietary recommendations should be made that accurately interpret the complexity of the evidence. When asked about information provided by governments, experts, food companies, and the media regarding the role of fats in a healthful diet, 64% of consumers were confused and felt that the information provided was contradictory [9]. The term fat is particularly confusing because 90% of survey respondents associate something negative with fat [9]. Most people, especially women, associate fat intake with obesity while older men are more likely to associate it with heart health [75]. In a recent poll of Americans, nearly 70% believed they should limit their fat intake to control their weight and reduce their risk of heart disease [76]. Survey results suggest that most consumers believe that their fat intake should be as low as possible and that fat is not needed for a healthy diet [9, 76]. Despite consumer perceptions, research supports the use of higher-fat diets such as Mediterranean-style diets for weight loss and reducing CVD risk [17, 50]. Indeed, excess consumption of calories has greater effects on weight and energy balance than the amount and type of fat consumed [17].

While the public is very aware of total dietary fat, they do not have a good understanding of the importance of fat quality or of the different sources of dietary fat. Pizza, grain-based desserts, and chicken and chicken mixed dishes are among the tops sources of various fats in the diet of the U.S. population as seen in Table 2 [77]. This reflects high levels of consumption of these items by consumers. When asked about whole food sources of fat, 3 out of 4 consumers identified olive oil and fish oil as being healthful [18]. However, only 1 in 2 consumers identified avocados and nuts as healthy source of fat [76]. When consumers were asked the same question using the terms monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids, only 16% believed they were healthful, illustrating how the chemistry terms for categorizing fats do not resonate with consumers [18].

Table 2 Top food sources of different types of fatty acids in the diets of the U.S. population and recognized food sources

For prevention of chronic diseases, nutrient-based recommendations are more difficult to translate to the public. Few individuals can accurately estimate their daily calorie consumption, much less their intake of total fat or specific fatty acids [78, 79]. Interestingly, while 67% of consumers are trying to limit their fat intake, few are aware of how much fat they should actually be eating [76]. Only 22% of consumers correctly identified the recommended range of calories from fat [9]. Sixty percent of consumers believed that fat intake should be less than 14% of daily calories [9]. These results illustrate how single-nutrient-based targets can quickly become confusing to the average consumer. Based on the new science for benefits of fats, in particular healthful plant and seafood sources, and the harms of refined starches and added sugars, many scientists have called for the abandonment of the 35% limit on total fat which has been eliminated in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines (14) [80]. Consistent with this, the large Women’s Health Initiative trial demonstrated no benefits of lowering total fat from 36 to 29% of energy on risk for CVD, diabetes, or cancers; while the OmniHeart and PREDIMED trials demonstrated significant CVD and other benefits from increasing healthful fats to greater than 35% of energy [50, 57, 81,82,83,84]. Based on the scientific evidence, consumers should focus on overall dietary patterns and consume healthful foods rich in healthy fats including nuts, vegetable oils, other plant sources of fats, and substitute these for unhealthful foods such as processed meats and foods high in sodium, added sugars, or refined carbohydrates. This may result in a total fat intake that exceeds 35% of calories [80], but the majority of the fats in such a dietary pattern would be healthy fats. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee strongly supported this shift toward focusing on foods and healthier dietary patterns, rather than individual nutrients or limits on total dietary fat [14, 85].

How should scientists communicate about fat in order to clear up the confusion? Simple, easily understood messages focused on overall dietary patterns and foods rather than single nutrients are important. As dietary guidance is shifting away from total fat reduction and instead emphasizing types of foods and overall dietary patterns, we should stop using low-fat terminology and instead talk about healthy foods. “How to” messages should inform the public of specific foods that are sources of “healthy fats”. Focusing on total diet quality and food patterns provides easily actionable messages for consumers rather than talking about percentages of specific fats.

Consumer confusion about nutrition messages can also result from conflicting headlines in the media, for example related to insufficient subject expertise by journalists; limited communication skills, availability, or willingness to be interviewed of nutrition scientists; or a need for eye-catching headlines in the fast-paced world of modern media. While it is crucial to present new studies in the context of the existing body of evidence, limited media space and consumer attention work against this. Indeed, new studies rarely negate previous findings or alter fundamental paradigms, but rather add new information to what was known before [86]. It is the responsibility of both scientists and the media to ensure that new results are accurately reported in appropriate context.

When communicating science, the following tips should be top of mind:

  • Condense complex information into convincing and motivating messages, but keep them evidence-based.

  • Use language at the 6th–8th grade reading level that is clear and easy to understand.

  • The best messages are actionable, easy to implement, and easy to visualize.

  • Remember to put research findings in context within the prevailing body of evidence and avoid sensational headlines [86].

  • Work with reporters to make sure your comments and quotes are correct.

  • Have a few (e.g. three) key messages that consumers can remember and reinforce with a strong bottom line.

  • Specify practical dietary substitutions with a “compared to what” approach rather than general “eat more/less” [86].

In order to help the population achieve a healthy diet, communication will be needed on multiple levels including individual advice, media communication, and the development of programs and services at institutions such as schools, workplaces, and healthcare systems.

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Introduction to Nutrigenomics[edit]

Nutrigenomics is the use of genomic analysis to investigate diet-gene interactions that impact human health and disease. This page provides an overview of eight articles and six websites that relate to the field of nutrigenomics.

The first article summarized is “Nutrigenomics: a case for the common soil between cardiovascular disease and cancer.” In this article, the authors discuss the food-gene interactions that show differences in risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular disease (CVD), dependent on diet. The second article, “Nutrients and nipple aspirate fluid composition: the breast microenvironment regulates protein expression and cancer aetiology,” focuses on how differences in diet composition can influence women’s chances of developing breast cancer. This article reviews existing research to draw their conclusions. The third article, “Complexity of type 2 diabetes mellitus data sets emerging from nutrigenomic research: A case for dimensionality reduction?,” looks at the complexity of nutrigenomic research of complex traits and the need to be able to find useful patterns among large datasets. The authors propose reducing the dimensionality of the datasets in order to find these patterns, which could then be used to create greater understanding of the disease state. The fourth article, “Nutrigenomics and metabolomics will change clinical nutrition and public health practice: insights from studies on dietary requirements for choline,” looks into several aspects of nutrigenomic and metabolomic profiling, and how they could change clinical practice in nutrition. The author also discusses the importance of the roles of the nutrition clinician in the future of nutrigenomics and metabolomics. The fifth article, “From nutrigenomics to personalized diet,” the author states the importance and advantages to determining individual diets in order to prevent disease or improve health, while discussing the intricate relationship formed between genetics and personal nutrition. The main focus of the sixth article, “Summary of the Effect of Synthetic Dietary Triglycerides,” was to research the idea that taking certain triglycerides may increase the chance of human disease and other health concerns. “An Introduction to Nutrigenomics Developments and Trends,” the seventh article, offers a broad overview of how and why the field of nutrigenomics came to exist, as well as the legal, ethical, and industrial implications future advances in the field will involve. Last of all, “Genetic Variation and Dietary Response: Nutrigenetics/Nutrigenomics” presents many examples regarding heritability and genetic variation with respect to diet and metabolism, as well as the enormous implications nutrigenomics has on prevention and management of chronic diseases. Each of these articles provides a glimpse into the current research applications of nutrigenomics.

To provide a more general overview of the science of nutrigenomics three websites were also reviewed. The first website summarized is The European Nutrigenomics Organisation (NuGo). This website provides general information about nutrigenomics, as well as providing information regarding research and links to related websites. Their main objective is to link genomics, nutrition and health research. The second website is for the NCMHD Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics. Their main objective is to either reduce or eliminate the heath disparities between populations that occur as a result of gene X environment interactions. Apart from the main objective, this website is similar to the first in that it also provides information for those who want to learn more about nutrigenomics, and offers research and outside links for users to look at as well. The third website that we have presented is for The Centre for Human Nutrigenomics. Their main goal is to establish international collaborative connections to further research in the nutrigenomic field. This site provides a wealth of information regarding the research that they are involved in, and what they hope to accomplish with this research. They also provide information to the public regarding what institutions and other parties are involved in the Centre for Human Nutrigenomics. The International Society of Nutrigenetics / Nutrigenomoics (the fourth website) serves to increase the public understanding of the role of genetic variation and dietary response and the role of nutrients in gene expression. The organization encourages scientists working in various biomedical fields to join their cause in increasing awareness. The fifth website is for the Pennsylvania State University Center for Nutrigenomics. Its goal is to understand nutrition “from the table to the gene and back again.” It offers various services to help nutrigenomic research. The final website is based on a radio station talk of the future of nutrigenmomics. The main focus of this website was to sit and talk with several scientists (as they are a radio station) about the dietary substances humans eat and how they may trigger future diseases and other environmental disorders. While the NuGo and NCMHD sites cater to the general public as well as students and scientists, the Centre for Human Nutrigenomics’ website is geared toward those who are interested in learning more about what the center is working on, or looking into getting involved with the organization. The ISNN, on the other hand, has an aim to educate the public and recruit interested scientists into their organization. The PSU Center for Nutrigenomics and the radio station websites further explain the current situation of nutrigenomic research and what scientists are doing to increase awareness of the field.

The purpose of this Wikibook page is to educate people about what nutrigenomics is, and what is being done to advance the field in hopes to improve the world of human health. It is the hope of the authors that visitors of this page become familiar with the term, as well as with some of the published and progressing research within this field.

Nutrigenomics:a case for the common soil between cardiovascular disease and cancer[edit]

Licia Iacoviello, Iolanda Santimone, Maria Carmela Latella, Giovanni de Gaetano, and Maria Benedetta Donati
Laboratory of Genetic and Environmental Epidemiology, Research Laboratories, “John Paul II” Centre for High Technology Research and Education in Biomedical Sciences, Catholic University, Largo Gemelli, 1, 86100 Campobasso, Italy

Putting the Pieces Together

Main Focus[edit]

This article discusses the link between genetics, diet and disease. There are food gene interactions that show a correlation with an increase/decrease in the risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular disease (CVD). This article suggests using nutrigenomics to tailor ones diet to their genotype in hopes of reducing certain disease and cancer risks and in attempts to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

New Terms[edit]

An individual’s genetic identity based on the specific set of alleles from maternal and paternal chromosomes
One of two forms of a gene. One of the alleles is inherited from the mother, the other from the father.
Wild type
most commonly found alleles, considered “normal” as opposed to mutant or variant.
Differences between otherwise identical DNA
Common genetic variant consisting of a single nucleotide pair difference between the DNA of the subject or patient and a reference individual. Ex: APOA1- 75G>A or Glu298Asp. There are two different was used to show the difference in alleles. The first says that at position 75 of the APOA1 gene there is an A nucleotide substitution in the DNA sequence for a G. The second shows that different proteins are coded for.
two copies of the same allele for a given gene are called the ex: G/G
two different alleles for the same gene. Ex: G/g
The whole range of biochemical processes that occur within us. Metabolism consists both of anabolism and catabolism. It is commonly used to refer to breakdown of food and its transformation into energy.
protein component that combines with a lipid to form a lipoprotein.
Fatty Acids
Molecules that are long chains of lipid-carboxylic acid
Fatty acids containing more than one carbon-carbon double bond
Fatty acids containing one carbon-carbon double bond
most common type of steroid in the body, it is a precursor of many molecules and is also necessary to the normal permeability and function of cell membranes, the membranes that surround cells.
high density lipoproteins, “good” cholesterol because high levels are associated with less coronary disease.
Low density lipoproteins, “bad” cholesterol high levels are associated with risk of heart disease.
very low density lipoproteins
  • Definitions provided by:, Medterms online dictionary, Britannica Encyclopedia


“The border between health and disease is often set by a complex equilibrium between two elements, genetics on one hand, lifestyle on the other.” Nutrigenomics is the study of the human response to food and its impact on gene expression, biochemistry, metabolism and promotion of health. This article presents several studies, which show the varying metabolic reactions in individuals of a certain genotype when fed a specific diet. Specifically, this article shows a correlation between the consumption of certain fatty acids and reduced risk of CVD and hormone-dependent cancers for individuals of a certain genotype.

Four different genetic/food combinations were shown to have an effect on CVD. Two variant forms of apolipoprotein, A1 and A5, were studied for a relationship with dietary fatty acids. Apolipoprotein A1 (APOA1) is highly polymorphic; an SNP in its promoter region was shown to have a direct correlation between intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and levels of HDL-cholesterol in women. In the study of APOA1, a relationship between total fat intake and an individual’s BMI was affected by a SNP -1131T>C. A relationship between risk of obesity was also derived by testing the fat in take of individuals who were either homozygous for the -1131T allele versus those who possessed a -1131C allele. Another area of interest for this research related to the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) family. Individuals who have the Asp298 genotype of endothelium NOS showed an inverse association for the risk of CVD mortality and consumption of fish (a major source of n-3 fatty acids). The final correlation was found between a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of leukotrienes (5-LOX) and the intake of long chain omega 3 fatty acids. Carries of the variant form of 5-LOX reduce production of inflammatory leuktrienes while on diets high in omega 3 fatty acids. This reduction helps negative, pro-atherosclerosis effects of leukotrienes.

Cancer was also a subject of this research. It was determined that the dietary intake of marine fatty acids from fish has been associated with protection against both prostate cancer and breast cancer. In prostate cancer the “association is modified by genetic variation in cyclooxyegenase -2 (COX-2), a key enzyme in eicosanoid synthesis.” COX-2 is over expressed in prostate cancer tissue. Among homozygotes or heterozygotes for the variant alleles +6365 T/C SNP, a high intake of salmon-type fish (a good source of omega 3 fatty acids) showed a significant decrease in the risk of prostate cancer. In Singapore an experiment was done in post-menopausal women. Women possessing the genotype for low activity Glutathione S-transferase exhibited stronger inverse associations between marine n-3 fatty acids and breast cancer than those with high activity genotypes.

In conclusion, this article gives a sampling of how beneficial nutrigenomics could be to the medical field. It demonstrates several genetic variants that could be tested for to help doctors tailor patients’ diets in order to reduce their risk for CVD as well as certain cancer types.

Nutrients and nipple aspirate fluid composition: the breast microenvironment regulates protein expression and cancer aetiology[edit]

Ferdinando Mannello, Gaetana A. Tonti, and Franco Canestrari
Dipartimento di Scienze Biomolecolari, Sezione di Biochimica Clinica, Universit‡ Studi “Carlo Bo” di Urbino, Via O. Ubaldini 7, 61029 Urbino (PU), Italy

Main Focus[edit]

The main focus of this article is to use existing research to draw conclusions about how differences in diet can influence women’s chances of developing breast cancer. It brings together an abundance of information from studies that examine the microenvironment of the breast tissue, analyzing the components therein that seem to have a positive or negative correlation to breast carcinoma.

New Terms[edit]

Also, Etiology. The study of causation; the cause behind a disease or disorder
A chemical found in an organism, but which is not normally produced or expected to be present in it; also, substances that are found in higher concentrations than usual
The study of factors affecting the health and illness of populations
Term used to describe substances that originate from within an organism, tissue, or cell; made by the organism
Term used to describe any material that is present and active in an individual organism or living cell that originated outside of that organism
Refers to the first menstrual bleeding in females, marking the onset of puberty and fertility
Refers to a type of exocrine gland. Cells which are classified as apocrine bud their secretions off through the plasma membrane producing membrane-bound vesicles in the lumen
Organic pigments that are naturally occurring in chromoplasts of most photosynthetic organisms. In humans, carotenoids such as beta-carotene are a precursor to vitamin A, a pigment essential for good vision; carotenoids can also act as antioxidants
  • Definitions provided by


Nipple aspirate fluid (NAF) is present within the ductal-lobular units of the breast, and reflects the microenvironment of the breast tissue. Most breast cancer originates with these ductal and lobular cells, which are in contact with the NAF. NAF is itself directly representative of not only blood composition, but of the diet. The secretory characteristic of the breast tissue causes it to retain many of the chemicals within NAF, possibly for long periods of time, before it is absorbed or metabolized by epithelial cells. This activity allows many exogenous (ingested) substances to reach breast epithelium in addition to normal, endogenous compounds; these substances could alter the expression of genes in the tissue, or have carcinogenic effects. Occurrence of breast cancer may also be determined by the balance between secretion, reabsorption and turnover of NAF substances; these factors are also influenced by diet composition, and components that lead to high turnover rates or stagnation of fluid can cause carcinogenesis in breast tissue.

The article takes a focus on the effects of lipids, antioxidants and fiber as NAF components that play a role in promoting or preventing carcinogenesis. High fat intake has been connected with increased breast secretory function, increased adipose tissue, variations in estrogen levels, and regulation at the genetic and protein levels. All of these factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, antioxidantsóto some degree carotenoids and tocopherolsóhave shown to have anticarcinogenic effects. Carotenoids are involved in gene expression regulation, and are associated with decreased breast cancer risk. High content of fruits and vegetables in the diet is also linked to a lower risk of breast cancer, which is believed to be a result of high level of antioxidants present in these foods. Likewise, fiber intake has been connected to lowering chances of breast cancer, primarily by limiting ductal cell proliferation and NAF turnover, and possibly by inhibiting intestinal reabsorption of estrogens. The latter function would also serve to counteract one of the effects of fats.

The goal of this article was to present these findings within the context of continuing nutrigenomic research on the factors that lead to breast cancer susceptibility. The interplay between environment, genotype and phenotype is thought to be a significant determinant of cancer risk and tumor behavior, and the field of nutrigenomics offers many answers regarding this connection between diet and an individual’s genetic predispositions.

Complexity of type 2 diabetes mellitus data sets emerging from nutrigenomic research: A case for dimensionality reduction?[edit]

Jim Kaputaand Kevin Dawsona
Center of Excellence in Nutritional Genomics, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95616, United States; Laboratory of Nutrigenomic Medicine, Department of Surgery, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, United States; NuGO (European Nutrigenomics Organisation), The Netherlands

Main Focus[edit]

This article discusses the underlying complexity of nutrigenomics and the importance of finding useful patterns in the large datasets of complex traits, such as Type 2 Diabetes, by reducing the dimensionality of the datasets.

New Terms[edit]

A disorder of lipoprotein metabolism, including lipoprotein overproduction or deficiency.
relating to, being, or involving changes in gene function that do not involve changes in DNA sequence
suppression of the effect of a gene by a nonallelic gene
a branch of biotechnology concerned with applying the techniques of genetics and molecular biology to the genetic mapping and DNA sequencing of sets of genes or the complete genomes of selected organisms, with organizing the results in databases, and with applications of the data (as in medicine or biology)
A condition in which the level of insulin in the blood is higher than normal. Caused by over production of insulin by the body. Related to insulin resistance.
The global analysis of metabolites, small molecules generated in the process of metabolism.
excessive or abnormal thirst
excessive secretion of urine
a branch of biotechnology concerned with applying the techniques of molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics to analyzing the structure, function, and interactions of the proteins produced by the genes of a particular cell, tissue, or organism, with organizing the information in databases, and with applications of the data
The study of the transcriptome, the complete set of RNA transcripts produced by the genome at any one time.
  • Definitions provided by: Merriam-Webster,,


Studying complex phenotypes with nutrigenomics concepts and approaches offers a set of challenges due to the high-dimensional datasets of variables influencing health and disease processes. This article focuses on the concepts which underlie the complexities of nutrigenomics, and takes a look at emerging approaches for analyzing high-dimensional datasets for patterns among symptoms that can explain complex biological processes. Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM) is used as the example to show the complexity of traits and the various combinations of factors, including diet, which can affect (and/or cause) the disease state.

The first underlying complexity discussed is clinical complexity. T2DM may have many overlapping molecular and genetic causes which will vary between patients. These differences make it complex to diagnose and optimize treatments including diet, physical activity levels, and medication. Genetic complexity of T2DM confounds simple approaches for identifying gene-nutrient interactions. Various regions of chromosomes have been found to contribute to the trait by quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis. Seven QTLs have been found to have LOD greater than 3.6, while 17 other have been found to be suggestive with LOD scores between 2.0 and 3.6. Due to the complexity of the clinical makeup and genetic makeup of the T2DM trait, each individual will be affected differently by their diets. Which of the aforementioned QTLs is affected by diet is unknown, but it has been found that the expression of genetic information varies based on nutrient intakes. There are other nutrient and non-nutrient factors that may affect T2DM expression as well. These complexities make it difficult to group individuals based on the underlying causes of their conditions; therefore they are grouped by phenotypes.

Other interactions discussed include epistatic interactions, epigenetic interactions, and gene X environment interactions. Epistatic interactions are inherited gene variants that have differing effects based on the population in which the variant is present. Small differences among these populations in the allele frequencies will lead to differences in the responses to environment, including the responses to diet. Epigenetic interactions are changes which occur without affecting the sequence of the nuclear DNA. A good example of these interactions is DNA methylation, which has been found to be affected by being deficient of certain proteins and vitamins. Chromatin remodeling, affected by changes in calorie intake, is another example. Both DNA methlylation and chromatin remodeling suppress gene expression by changing the accessibility of genes. Long-term exposure to diets which influence these and similar pathways may lead to permanent changes in the genomes of individuals. Genotype X environment interactions are the relationships between the affects of nutrients on the expression of genetic information and the affects of the genetic makeup on how nutrients are metabolized. Although similar to the aforementioned interactions, this interaction specifically deals with gene-diet-phenotype association.

Describing the large datasets of biological responses is usually done with linear relationships, but with complex traits such as T2DM a custom algorithm must be created. This algorithm must be able to determine relationships based on the smallest variance, and be able to discovery patterns among the aforementioned interactions that can lead us to greater understanding of disease state.

Nutrigenomics and metabolomics will change clinical nutrition and public health practice: insights from studies on dietary requirements for choline[edit]

Steven H Zeisel
Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health and School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.

Main Focus[edit]

This article looks into several aspects of nutrigenomic and metabolomic profiling, and how they could change clinical practice in nutrition. Nutrient-gene interactions such as direct interactions, epigenetic interactions, and genetic variations are supported with concrete examples from current research. The article also discusses the importance of the roles of the nutrition clinician in the future of nutrigenomics and metabolomics.

New Terms[edit]

changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence
the study of the bidirectional interactions between genes and diet
the integrated study of the many small molecules produced by metabolism
a protein phosphatase that activates the transcription factor NFATc (Nuclear Factor of Activated T cell)
an organic compound, classified as a water-soluble essential nutrient and usually grouped within the Vitamin B complex
a set of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on a single chromatid that are statistically associated
developing or originating within the organisms or arising from causes within the organism
  • Definitions provided by,, and the present article


“Nutrigenomics and metabolomics are rapidly developing new bodies of knowledge that will change future research and practice in human nutrition.” The author emphasizes on how nutrigenomic and metabolomic profiling will help identify individual variations in dietary requirements and also the capacity to respond to food-based interventions. It also states how the two can enhance nutrition epidemiology and nutrition intervention research. Supported with concrete examples from current research, the article provides a vision of what the future of the field of nutrition could be.

The author focuses on two major nutrient-gene interactions– epigenetics and the genetic variation. Recently understood, epigenetic mechanisms like methylation, acetylation, and biotinylation are part of the major focus on how they influence gene transcription and genomic stability. DNA is tightly wrapped around histones, preventing access to the promoter sequences. Methylation is an uncoiling mechanism for the histones which in turn form channels through which transcription factors can pass and activate gene promoters. A study on pregnant pseudoagouti mice showed that changing the availability of methyl donors in the diet influenced methylation and subsequently altered gene expression. In a similar study, providing more or less of the methyl donor choline affected the rate at which brain progenitor cells proliferated in the fetus. It also affected the rate of apoptosis in those cells. Epigenetic events play a large role in adults as well, indicating that they are not restricted to fetal life.

Individual variations in the codon sequences for human genes influence nutrient requirements. In folate mechanism, a single nucleotide polymorphism in the gene for the enzyme 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) results in reduced enzymatic activity, leading to elevated plasma homocysteine concentration in the homozygous individual. High amounts of folate are needed in order to modulate this mechanism. Humans with a very common SNP that when given a low-choline diet were more likely to develop signs of choline deficiency. More frequent occurrences of children with neural tube defects were observed in mothers with this SNP than mothers given a high choline diet.

The article concludes by stating the capacity nutrigenomics and metabolomics bring to the clinical nutrition field. The clinical nutrition specialist will be able to perform nutrigenomic and metabolomic profiling and convert it to recommendations.

Course Relevance[edit]

The author shows the effects nutrient-gene interactions that lead to various metabolic pathways to behave a certain way– their effects on gene and phenotypic expressions, causing changes in the organism’s biological processes.

Relevance to Articles[edit]

The present article is very similar to the other articles in its aim to promote further research and education on the role of genetic variation and dietary response and the role of nutrients in gene expression.

From nutrigenomics to personalized diet[edit]

Andrea Palou
Chair of the International Conference “From Nutrigenomics to Personalized Nutrition”, Laboratório de Biologia Molecular, Nutrició i Biotecnologia, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Our Genetic Code Reads Our Individual Diet

Main Focus[edit]

The importance and advantages to determining individual diets in order to prevent disease or improve health, while discussing the intricate relationship formed between genetics and personal nutrition.

New Terms[edit]

an observable physical or biochemical characteristic of an organism, as determined by both genetic makeup and environmental influences.
the total genetic content contained in a haploid set of chromosomes in eukaryotes, in a single chromosome in bacteria, or in the DNA or RNA of viruses.
the ability of an organism to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting physiological processes.
a branch of biotechnology concerned with applying the techniques of genetics and molecular biology to the genetic mapping and DNA sequencing of sets of genes or the complete genomes of selected organisms, with organizing the results in databases, and with applications of the data (as in medicine or biology)
Metabolic Systmes
relating to metabolism, the entire range of biochemical processes that occur within a living organism.
a species that consumes both plants and animals as their primary food source.
working in synergy; working together with other cooperative agents to produce a common final result.
not working in synergy; not working together to gain a common final result.
production of fat, either fatty degeneration or fatty infiltration.
of, relating to, or composed of animal fat; fatty.
Epidemiological Studies
studies concerned with factors determining and influencing the frequency and distribution of disease, injury, and other health related events and their causes in a defined human population.
Cardiovascular disease
the class of diseases that involve the heart, blood vessels, arteries and/or veins.
a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to a reduced life expectancy.
Type II diabetes
adult-onset, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the way the body metabolizes glucose.
porous bones; a condition characterized by the loss of the normal density of the bone, resulting in fragile bone.
In vitro
the technique of performing a given procedure in a controlled environment outside of a living organism.
  • Definitions provided by: Merriam-Webster,


In this article the NuGo held the conference From Nutrigenomics to Personalized Diet. Described is the recent inquisition of the relationship formed between genetics and nutrition as being correlated to personal nutrition. Personalized diets are a new topic that has risen from the ongoing studies of the human genome in relation to dietary intake. By analyzing and obtaining specific information about individuals’ genomes, it is now possible to create a personalized diet that is specific to the metabolic system of each individual.
It is becoming more popular to research the effects of nutrition at a molecular and submolecular level, rather than accepting food as a source of nutrients for the body. “Nutrigenomics will contribute in designing optimized dietary intervention strategies to restore and improve metabolic homeostasis, improve health and wellbeing and prevent diet-related disease.” As diets are suggested to those whose health is at risk, not only can we look at the lifestyle and habits of that individual, now through post-genomic technologies, we can assess the way in which food interacts with the bodies genes, proteins and metabolism.
As the food we eat is now being looked at a more of a chemical fuel for the body, we begin to look at the many biological systems that use this fuel. The many systems that comprise the body are far from simple; not only are their systems that use the energy provided via food, there are systems that tell the body when it needs food. The fact that our species is better adapted to avoid weight loss than to fight weight gain due to a history of limited food sources provides reason to believe that the human weight control system is not overly efficient. As obesity becomes increasingly popular, it is important to look at the internal signals that control feeding behavior.
As this new science of food gains popularity, European legislation is continuing its force on nutritional and health claims made on foods by including not only food composition and properties being labeled but as well as food quality. For example, with accurate scientific support, disease prevention is also being included on food packaging.
Epidemiological studies are also being done to show correlation between maternal food intake and the susceptibility of disease for the fetus. This correlation gives rise to early gene and diet interactions that can be studied further through Nutrigenomics.
As the knowledge of Nutrigenomics increases, credible diet advice becomes more individualized. Although there will need to be a firm management of individuals information, the importance and availability of a more informed consumer will become more prevalent in an attempt to decrease risk of health related diseases.

Course Relevance[edit]

This article relates to the Biochemistry-Metabolism course via metabolism. The way the body metabolizes and uses energy from a variety of sources has now been found to depend on genetics, so much that it is even possible to create a personalized diet. Presently, laboratories have techniques to analyze one’s genetic code, in order to see specifications to change an individual’s diet; by gaining new knowledge about the way one metabolizes different nutritional sources, it is then possible to prescribe diets that make simple changes in nutritional consumption.

Relevance to Articles[edit]

This article relates to the other articles posted on this site because of its central focus on nutrigenomics. This article discusses the importance of genetics when prescribing a diet to increase health of an individual, and also to decrease disease risk factors.

Effect of Synthetic Dietary Triglycerides: A Novel Research Paradigm for Nutrigenomics[edit]

Sanderson, Linda M., Philip J. de Groot, Guido J.E.J.Hooiveld, Arjen Koppen, Eric Kalkoven, Michael Muller, and Sander Kersten. Effect of Synthetic Dietary Triglycerides:A novel Research Paradigm for Nutrigenomics. Plos One. PubMed Central. 2008. Texas Tech University, USA.

nuclear receptor action with the example of PPAR alpha

Main Focus[edit]

The main focus of this article was to research the idea that taking certain triglycerides may increase the chance of human disease and other health concerns. The researchers took synthetic triglycerides and mice that were fasted for several hours to measure the glyceride uptake on the mice tissues.

New Terms[edit]

signaling molecules made up of essential fatty acids, which have a complex role in immunity and inflammation. They are also important messengers for the central nervous system.
Eicosapentaenoic Acid
is a precursor molecule to prostaglandin-3, this molecule inhibits platelets from aggregating. You take this up by eating Omega-3’s in fish oils.
Docosahexaenoic Acid
this molecule is metabolized to form docosanoids, these are essential hormones for brain phospholipids, sperm and in the retina. It is believed that low amounts of this acid results in lower levels of serotonin in the brain and could contribute to ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.
Retinoid X Receptor
when this receptor is activated by its ligand, this receptor will promote transcription of the target gene downstream of it into an mRNA and eventually this gene turns on to synthesis a protein
Peroxisome-Proliferator Activated Receptors (PPARs)
group of nuclear receptor proteins that are used as transcription factors which regulate the expression of genes. These receptors are especially important for cellular differentiation regulation, development, and metabolism of the organism
Synthetic Triglycerides
is a glyceride where there is a glycerol attached with three fatty acids on each of it’s –OH group. For this topic the triglycerides have been made at a lab not natural.
  • Definition and image from Wikipedia


For this experiment, the scientists were measuring the effect of dietary fats namely synthetic triglycerides on certain key transcription factors including in it would be PPARs. They wanted to see what the triglycerides eventually do on human health and disease. They used the triglycerides composed of one single fatty acid along with gene expression profiling to see what happens with mice that are wild type and PPAR alpha -/- when they eat the individual dietary fatty acids. The experiment went as followed, the mice were fasted for about 4 hours for a control than were given a dose of synthetic triglycerides with one single fatty acid. The scientists collected the mice tissue for six hours afterwards. It was six hours because the plasma triglyceride levels peaked at 2 hours and returned back to normal levels at around six hours indicating that the fat load cleared from the blood and were brought into the tissues. The results were no major difference between wild type mice and PPARs -/- mice and their TG levels in the tissues of intestinal and plasma but the liver TG levels were higher in the PPARs -/- mice than the wild type mice. However, the WT mice had similar TG levels with other various fatty acids. This data indicates that there is not a major difference between metabolic processing of the dietary fats between wild type and PPARs -/- mice. But was concluded that the dietary unsaturated fatty acids influence gene expression in the mouse liver.
This article was related to this course of Biochemistry: metabolism because these triglycerides are important for the process of using transcription factors to synthesize proteins which is very important for metabolism in organisms.

An Introduction to Nutrigenomics Developments and Trends[edit]

Sian B. Astley
Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich, NR4 7UA UK

Genetics, Diet, Disease Risk

Main Focus[edit]

This article offers a broad overview of how and why the field of nutrigenomics came to exist, as well as the legal, ethical, and industrial implications future advances in the field will involve.

New Terms[edit]

The study of genes and their function. Genomics aims to understand the structure of the genome, including the mapping genes and sequencing the DNA
The relationship between genotype and the risk of developing diet-related diseases, such as cancer, diabetes type II and cardio-vascular diseases.
Systems Biology
The study of biological systems taking into account the interactions of the key elements such as DNA, RNA, proteins, and cells with respect to one another. The integration of this information may be by computer.
The study of the transcriptome, the complete set of RNA transcripts produced by the genome at any one time.
The study of proteins and their structure and function.
  • Definitions taken from:,, and the article itself


The genetic variation present within all of us gives rise to differential response to ingested dietary components. For this reason, recommended dietary practices for an individual, subpopulation, or population may not be beneficial, or may even be detrimental, to another individual, subpopulation, or population. One example offered within this article is the correlation between serum cholesterol, saturated fat intake, and Cardiovascular Disease incidence (CVD). While a 10% drop in cholesterol levels can halve the risk of CVD in one 40 year old male, the same reduction may have more, or less of an effect on reducing the risk of CVD in another.

The tremendous recent advances in fields such as genomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics have allowed researchers to acquire a much more integrated view on how our bodies respond to the different types of foods we eat. The sheer complexity and intricacy of our metabolic processes, coupled with variable genetic factors and protein interactions necessitates an integrated and multidisciplinary approach in studying it. Conversely, nutrigenetics examines the interactions between single foods and single genes, such as folate and the MTHFR gene. The protein product of the gene, 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, plays a key role in metabolism, catalyzing the synthesis of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, which in turn plays a role in homocysteine methylation. A common polymorphism found in this gene gives rise to 2 protein products; the reference protein (C), and T, the thermolabile version which also exhibits reduced activity. CC, as well as CT phenotypes metabolize folate normally, while individuals possessing the TT phenotype accumulate homocysteine provided their dietary intake of folate is low. This induces a low concentration of methionine in the body, which in turn increases the risk for cognitive decline as well as vascular disease. By supplementing Folate through diet or medication, homocysteine levels drop, and methionine concentration rises to normal.

It is important to realize that these seemingly detrimental phenotypes must persist due to some evolutionary advantage, though this seems counterintuitive. In advancing our knowledge of nutrigenomics, we must also take into account ethical and legal considerations as well, such as ensuring no discrimination occurs against known carriers of disease causing alleles and so forth. Lastly, the article puts forth the idea that we should be careful to not invest unrealistic expectations in advances in nutrigenomics. Dietary recommendations provided by the public health professionals should not be ignored, and nutrigenomics should not be perceived as some sort of alternative to healthy lifestyle choices.

Course Relevance[edit]

This article explains just how variable all of our metabolic processes can be, in terms of metabolic pathway variability arising from our inherent genetic variability.

Relevance to Articles[edit]

This article continues to enhance our understanding of just how individual and populational genetic variability can impact our metabolic processes upon which we rely for day to day life.

Genetic Variation and Dietary Response: Nutrigenetics/Nutrigenomics[edit]

Artemis P. Simopoulos
The Center for Genetics, Nutrition, and Health, Washington D.C., USA

Main Focus[edit]

This article presents many examples regarding heritability and genetic variation with respect to diet and metabolism, as well as the enormous implications nutrigenomics has on prevention and management of chronic disease. Economic consequences are also considered, as well as the development of novel foods.

New Terms[edit]

The proportion of total variance for a given trait that can be explained by genes.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA)
A fatty acid containing more than one double bond (C=C).
Apolipoprotein E (Apo E)
A type of lipoprotein (a protein connected to a fat). Apolipoprotein E is abbreviated ApoE and the gene that encodes it is known as APOE. APOE is located on chromosome 19 in band 19q13.2.
A serum globulin formed by the liver that is cleaved by renin to produce angiotensin I—called also hypertensinogen.
Atrial Natriuretic Peptide (ANP)
A peptide hormone secreted by the cardiac atria that in pharmacological doses promotes salt and water excretion and lowers blood pressure —called also atrial natriuretic factor
A protein that binds to spectrin and actin and appears to play a role in the assembly and maintenance of the spectrin-actin network.
  • Definitions taken from:,,,


More and more, nutrigenomic studies have given us insight into just how relevant the nature part is in the context of the nature v. nurture argument. However, nutrition is a very significant environmental factor, and the field of nutrigenomics is a potent tool in helping us understand the extent of the impact that our genetic variability has on our nutrient intake. While patterns of heritability have been documented with respect to chronic disease, the fact that families share environment and genetic makeup makes elucidating contributing risk factors rather difficult. One study in the U.S, for example, found that about half of the variance in plasma cholesterol concentration is genetically determined. It is important to note that calculations pertaining to heritability are only accurate for that specific population within that specific environment, as the frequencies of disease contributing alleles will differ in another population of another environment.

This article offers many examples of just how much of an impact genetic variability has on intake of many dietary components, and how this may contribute towards the disease state. Essential hypertension has associated risk factors, such as obesity, sodium intake, inactivity, and so forth. However, it is also documented that blood pressure is also determined by the combined effects of many genes. Thus, even within a family, any hypertension present maybe from different causes. Furthermore, only half of all hypertensive patients are actually salt sensitive, mainly those exhibiting low plasma renin. Hence, the general advice of lowering sodium intake is not even appropriate for half of hypertensive patients. Another example is given which discusses the effect of Apolipoprotein E variants on serum cholesterol levels; individuals carrying the ApoE 4/4 allele respond to a low fat/high cholesterol diet by increasing serum cholesterol levels. However, individuals with the ApoE 2/2 and 3/2 variants show no increase. A recent study has suggested that people with the ApoE4 allele respond to low fat/high cholesterol diets by increasing LDL levels to a greater proportion than individuals carrying other ApoE variants.

Gene-nutrient interactions are also discussed within this article, utilizing Folate metabolism in association with the MTHFR gene as an example. A point mutation in this gene gives rise to a thermolabile form (T) of enzyme with is critical in Folate and homocysteine metabolism. Individuals homozygous for the T variant show accumulation of homocysteine (homocysteinemia) when dietary folate intake is low. The ensuing low levels of methionine in the body predispose individuals towards premature cognitive decline and vascular disease. In the broader context, this is an example of how recommended dietary practices may not be appropriate for all individuals, in this instances, daily folate allowance. For this reason, recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for folate has been replaced with dietary reference values.

The author posits that advances in genetic technology in the next 5-10 years will facilitate the discovery of many disease-susceptibility genes, and how they may interact. Personalized medicine is also a possibility by means of haplotype markers; certain medications would be able to be prescribed at a certain dose, to certain people, who contain a certain haplotype. Novel foods, or foods enriched with certain nutrients and non-nutrients, are already available. These foods aim to prevent or treat disease, an example of which are foods enriched with omega-3-fatty acids. In the future, it is likely that a shift will occur within nutrigenomics towards disease prevention, rather treatment. Heightened knowledge concerning genetic susceptibility as well as dietary response within individuals and populations can aid us in not only identifying at risk people, but also in proceeding with a strategy that would maximize the therapeutic benefits for the patient.

Course Relevance[edit]

This article explains just how variable metabolism of nutrients can have a contributing, or protective effect with respect to the development of the disease state.

Relevance to Articles[edit]

This article continues to present specific examples of enhanced or decreased susceptibility to disease as a result of metabolic differences arising from genetic variability.

The European Nutrigenomics Organisation[edit]


Main Focus[edit]

NuGO is an organization that brings genomics, nutrition and health research together. This website provides information for health professionals, dietitians, and everyday people who are interested in nutrigenomics. It offers basic definitions as well as current research, links to other websites with similar content and eLearning opportunities.

New Terms[edit]

newer term that describes the study of all the genes in a person, as well as interactions of those genes with each other and with that person’s environment
the study of the transcriptome, the complete set of RNA transcripts produced by the genome at any one time.
The study of the proteome, the complete set of proteins produced by a species, using the technologies of large-scale protein separation and identification.
The global analysis of metabolites, small molecules generated in the process of metabolism.
a tool for analyzing gene expression that consists of a small membrane or glass slide containing samples of many genes arranged in a regular pattern.
substance, such as a vitamin or mineral, that is essential in minute amounts for the proper growth and metabolism of a living organism.
  • Definitions provided by: CDC, NuGO, Medterm online dictionary and NCBI


NuGO is a “European-funded network of Excellence, the full title of which is The European Nutrigenomics Organisation: linking genomics, nutrition and health research.” Their website offers one a place to go and learn about the subject of nutrigenomics and the latest research being done. For someone who is new to the topic the site offers a “What is?” section, complete with the basics of nutrigenomics as well as a full glossary of terms that would help a beginner dissect many journal articles and news items relating to the field.

Along with the broad definition of nutrigenomics, there is also an area based on how dieticians are utilizing nutrigenomics. One can find information on how different countries in Europe have used nutrigenomics, as well as current genetic services offered and, for professionals, a link to continuing education. Along with this link for continuing education, NuGO includes other areas for professionals, including a health professional section, bioethical guidelines and job postings.

NuGO’s website also offers microarry information related to mice and humans. One can find a presentation on microarry design, probe sequences used as well as the physical array design. For those interested in more information outside of NuGO there are links for conferences and news articles posted by the press, as well as a “NuGO NutriAlert” section and a “links” section which provides a list of online addresses in relating fields.

NuGO is a good website if you are looking for a basic definition of nutrigenomics, but it also offers upper level areas, so it caters to a wide variety. It is also a good source to look up current events happening in the field of nutrigenomics.

NCMHD Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics[edit]

Main Focus[edit]

To reduce and eliminate health disparities between populations as a result of gene X environment interactions, focusing mainly on those that involve dietary, economic, and cultural factors. Genomics, proteomic and bioinformatics are used in the research.

New Terms[edit]

Agonist – Induced Activation
For nuclear receptors, a small molecule -binds to an inactive nuclear receptor causing conformational changes that result in protein-DNA interaction, recruitment of cofactors, transcription factors ultimately leading to gene transcription. After dissociation of the agonist, the nuclear receptor may return to its inactive state.
Array Analysis
A solid support on which a collection of gene – specific nucleic acids are placed at defined locations, either by spotting or direct chemical synthesis. In array analysis, a nucleic acid sample is labeled and then hybridized with the gene – specific targets on the array. Based on the amount of probe hybridized to each target spot, information is gained about the specific identify and quantity of the nucleic acid in the sample. The advantage of arrays is that they allow target sequences to be interrogated by the thousands instead of individually.
A chemical found in bile that is the normal degradation products of hemoglobin and other heme-containing proteins.
Cellular context
The perturbation state of the cell, which changes as a function of genetic and environmental alterations. Genetic interaction, and thus genetic buffering, is always measured with respect to cellular context.
Ectopic gene expression
Expression of a gene in a cell where it is typically not expressed.
Genetic interaction module
A set of genes sharing the same genetic buffering specificity. Gene interaction modules are experimentally defined using knockout strains in a co-isogenic genetic background, are dynamic with respect to the perturbations and gene deletions tested, and are also dependent upon the method used for classifying genes according to their shared buffering specificity (e.g., hierarchical clustering) .
Metabolic fingerprinting or profiling
Classifying a sample by the types and amounts of metabolites relative to a reference sample(s).
The physiology of abnormal states; specifically: the functional changes that accompany a particular syndrome or disease
  • Definitions provided by:


This website provides a very succinct description of their center in which they state three “specific objectives.” These objectives are: developing better research approaches, educating students, health care professionals and biomedical researchers and establishing community outreach. All of these objectives are directed towards increasing research and awareness of gene x environment interactions.

A very large information section, which includes “Concepts in Nutrigenomics,” describes fourteen different fields and topics which have significance in Nutrigenomics. The topics discussed are Aging, Bioinformatics & Biocomputation, Diet and Gene Expression, “Environment, Health, and Disease”, Genetics & Genomics, Health Disparities, Lactose Intolerance, Macronutrients, Maternal Nutrition & Development, Metabolomics, Micronutrients, Model Systems, Personal Nutrition & The Pyramid, and Public & International Health. Each section has a summary of the topic as well as related articles. As well as providing rich information for scientist links “For Kids” and “For Students” are provided. The titles of their ongoing and publicized research are provided as well as descriptions on the core research topics within the center. A mailing list is made available to update subscribers with information related to nutrigenomics from various journals and news outlets.

As mentioned before, education and outreach is one of the specific objectives of the center. As such there is a section dedicated to this objective in which various resources are provided to improve the education of the nutrigenomics field, such as a book, an online course and workshops. The community outreach provides information on past meetings, institutions and collaborative projects. As well as links to many other centers that have been key to the community awareness of the impact of nutrients on gene interactions.

NCMHD stands for the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. And is a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This center at the University of California, Davis campus is one of 88 centers across the nation.

The Centre for Human Nutrigenomics[edit]

Main Focus[edit]

“The Centre for Human NutriGenomics aims at establishing an international centre of expertise combining excellent pre-competitive research and high quality (post)graduate training on the interface of genomics, nutrition and human health.” This organization is dedicated to advancing the field of nutrigenomics for the purpose of improving human health. They are involved in establishing international connections for collaboration in nutrigenomic research. On their site they provide information about research projects, and also a list of links for further research.

New Terms[edit]

A term that refers to biomolecules, which are any organic molecules produced by a living organism, including large polymeric molecules such as proteins, polysaccharides and nucleic acids, as well as small molecules such as primary and secondary metabolites and natural products


From the homepage, a link is provided for the organization’s Mission Statement. This page offers an overview of The Centre for Human NutriGenomics, as well as their purpose and what they are presently working on. They state the importance of genomic research for studying nutrigenomics and the impact it can have on the face of human health. They also acknowledge the ethical dilemmas that may go along with this type of research, asserting their view of the importance of communication with society regarding these concerns. The Centre presents its Scientific Objectives, as well as its Further Objectives.

Also on the Mission Statement page, the organizational structure of the Centre is detailed, providing the names of all collaborating partners. The names of those involved with the Steering and Program Committees are provided, as well as information on how to contact those committees. Information regarding the Advisory Board is forthcoming.

The subtitle for The Centre for Human NutriGenomics’ website is “Biomolecular Research for Healthy and Safe Foods.” The Research link is where one can view all of the research projects with which the Centre is involved. The projects are listed under the subheadings of the organization’s Scientific Objectives: (1)Study functionality and safety of food ingredients relevant for human health, (2)Clarify molecular mechanisms underlying health effects of food, (3)Study the impact of genotype in the relation of nutrition and human health, and (4)Develop and apply markers of exposure, bioavailability, function and risk. This serves not only to organize the extensive list of research projects, but also to give the person reviewing them a sense of realism about the Centre for Human NutriGenomics; one can clearly see that the Centre is actively pursuing those goals that are put forth in their Mission Statement.

This website is a good resource for those who want to see what is going on in the world of nutrigenomics. Here one can find out a little about who is involved in research, and a lot about what research is being done. It is also a good connection for getting involved in nutrigenomic research or organizations. The homepage of the Centre for Human NutriGenomics provides a list of links to collaborating partners, where people can learn more.

International Society of Nutrigenetics / Nutrigenomics[edit]

Integration of nutrient-gene interactions

Main Focus[edit]

To increase understanding of the role of genetic variation and dietary response and the role of nutrients in gene expression through research and education of professionals and the general public.

New Terms[edit]

The relationship between genotype and the risk of developing diet-related diseases, such as cancer, diabetes type II and cardio-vascular diseases
Genetic variation
Variations of genomes between members of species, or between groups of species thriving in different parts of the world as a result of genetic mutation
  • Definitions from,


Upon arrival at the homepage, one can see the Mission Statement of the International Society of Nutrigenetics / Nutrigenomics (ISNN). The organization was established in order to increase the public awareness of the role of nutrient-gene interactions in gene expression.

Some of the goals of the ISNN include defining the relationship between genes and nutrients, establishing centers and networks that promote the development of programs and awareness of the role of genetic variation and dietary response and the role of nutrients in gene expression. The society also sponsors meetings and serves to link with other organizations, national or international, in order to promote its aims. Scientists working in nutrition, genetics, cellular and molecular biology, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, clinical medicine, and public health are welcome to join the ISNN. The ISNN believes that improved communication between the different branches will stimulate new research and increase knowledge of nutrient-gene interactions and genetic variation and dietary response.

The ISNN is hosting the 3rd Congress of the International Society of Nutrigenetics/Nutrigenomics in Bethesda, Maryland in October 21-22, 2009. One can see the organization’s effort to bring together affiliated scientists and handle scientific and educational aspects. There is a link to an application for those who are interested in joining the society. Links to related organizations and topics are listed as well in the links section of the site.

The website is good for researchers, educators, and clinicians who are interested in becoming a member of the ISNN. Complimentary subscriptions to the Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics are included as part of the membership. It is an easy way to get connected with other scientists interested in the field of nutrition and receive updates on the progress of the society’s aims to promote research and increase awareness on the role of nutrient-gene interactions in gene expression.

Course Relevance[edit]

The organization includes scientists working in biochemistry who are interested in pursuing the same goals that the ISNN is hoping to accomplish.

Relevance to Articles[edit]

The website and other articles state the importance of nutrient-gene interactions in the future of nutrigenomics and metabolomics.

PSU Center for Nutrigenomics[edit]

From Table to Gene and Back Again

From Table to Gene and Back Again

Main Focus[edit]

The Center of Excellence in Nutrigenomics (CEN) is the on campus center for molecular nutritional studies, with the goal of understanding nutrition “from the table to the gene and back again”. The CEN provides services that can be advantageous during nutritional research.

New Terms[edit]

Dietary Bioactives
food that has an effect on living tissue.
the complete set of hereditary factors contained in the haploid set of chromosomes.
Polymerase Chain Reaction enables researchers to produce millions of copies of a specific DNA sequence.
is a multiplex technology used in molecular biology and medicine; there are many different kinds of biological assays.
SNP Analysis
is a type of DNA microarray which is used to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms.
Transcription Factor Profiling
proteins that bind to specific DNA sequences, thereby controlling the transfer of genetic information from DNA to RNA are analyzed.
  • Definitions provided by: Medterm online dictionary, Wikipedia.


The Pennsylvania State University Center for Nutrigenomics offers services to help support nutrigenomic research. The CEN staff can assist you in both basic and advanced nutrition studies such as cell culture, gene expression, microarray and polymorphism analysis. They offer a variety of molecular techniques that can enhance your clinical nutritional traits. The services they provide include real time PCR, microarray, SNP analysis and Transcription Factor Profiling. More information on the services provided was unavailable because the links for each service could not be found.
The CEN provides services in hopes of creating interdisciplinary publications and enhancing the probability of future extramural applications, aiding by providing detailed methodology and interpretation of the data. The goal of the research and services provided by CEN is to help train graduate students and post-docs.
There is a fee for the services provided by the CEN; however, a cost is determined after a proposal has been submitted. Once payment has been received, research will begin, and soon after a report will be generated including details and results. The link to view a price list was unavailable.
The Latest News posted on the PSU website describes the Center being a major player in the development of Summer Symposia Series in Molecular Biology. The intent of the program under development is to explore three major topics as they pertain to obesity, Life cycle, Genotype and Environment. Speakers are currently being chosen to discuss and exploration the many different causations and treatments of obesity.

Course Relevance[edit]

This website describes and offers laboratory techniques that help to analyze one’s genome in hopes of discovering a personalized diet to increase health and decrease disease risk factors.

Relevance to Websites[edit]

This website offers laboratory techniques to help people look at their own genetics and relate that information to their nutrition and health. The PSU site, like others on this page, offers information to help start researching health in conjunction with genetics and nutrition.

Nutrigenomics recording by National Public Radio[edit]

Fruits and vegetables often believed to help lower disease risk

Main Focus[edit]

The main focus of this website was to sit and talk with several scientists (as they are a radio station) about the dietary substances humans eat and how they may trigger future diseases and other environmental disorders. The focus of the website was a further continuation of the previous websites mentioned

New Terms[edit]

A single gene defect, which affects the person’s way to eat anything with phenylalanine in a negative way.
Agrarian society
society that is based on agriculture as a prime mean for support and sustenance.
process of which sequences of DNA that move to different positions within a genome of a cell.
drug for multiple sclerosis, combines histamine with caffeine and not accepted by the mainstream medical society.


In this radio station they brought in three specialists in the area of Molecular Biology who were speaking especially on the topic of nutrigenomics and what they know about it. The three scientists are Raymond Rodriguez, Jim Kaput, and Marion Nestile. The idea of this website was that one day in the future taking cells from a person, mapping the person’s genetic profile, and then figure what kinds of foods would be best for that person. Unfortunately for now, it’s only a hope not a fact but for the genetic defect like PKU, professionals test babies for the defect than if positive make sure the person doesn’t eat anything with phenylalanine. Right now humans use nutrigenomics every time they take vitamins; they are making an educated guess because there is no proof that these vitamin amounts would benefit the specific person. The basis of nutritional genomics is to try to get the best match between common foods and how well people can utilize the food. It is believed that nutritional genomics is a sort of subculture of pharmacogenomics. However there is still that 5 to 10 percent of the population who are more genetically susceptible to certain diseases will still get those certain diseases even with a healthier diet fit for them. The food our society eats is more reassembled than grown which often seems like better nutrition but how they are combined is slightly inappropriate for each genotype. There is still doubt that there will be any magic bullet pill where a person takes three pills and will not get Type 2 diabetes because certain diseases are more complex with multiple gene defects.

Relevance to the Metabolism Course[edit]

This website summery with the radio station was related to the topic of Biochemistry: Metabolism because of the future of swabbing for DNA and to analyze it. This would make the person’s life and health better just by having a better diet.

  1. The challenges for molecular nutrition research 3: comparative nutrigenomics research as a basis for entering the systems level

Main Focus[edit]

Identify the main focus of the resource. Possible answers include specific organisms, database design, intergration of information, but there are many more possibilities as well.

New Terms[edit]

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Enter your article summary here. Please note that the punctuation is critical at the start (and sometimes at the end) of each entry. It should be 300-500 words. What are the main points of the article? What questions were they trying to answer? Did they find a clear answer? If so, what was it? If not, what did they find or what ideas are in tension in their findings?

Relevance to a Traditional Metabolism Course[edit]

Enter a 100-150 word description of how the material in this article connects to a traditional metabolism course. Does the article relate to particular pathways (e.g., glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, steroid synthesis, etc.) or to regulatory mechanisms, energetics, location, integration of pathways? Does it talk about new analytical approaches or ideas? Does the article show connections to the human genome project (or other genome projects)?

  1. Nutrigenomics and metabolomics will change clinical nutrition and public health practice: insights from studies on dietary requirements for choline

Main Focus[edit]

Identify the main focus of the resource. Possible answers include specific organisms, database design, intergration of information, but there are many more possibilities as well.

New Terms[edit]

New Term 1
Definition. (source: http://)
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Enter your article summary here. Please note that the punctuation is critical at the start (and sometimes at the end) of each entry. It should be 300-500 words. What are the main points of the article? What questions were they trying to answer? Did they find a clear answer? If so, what was it? If not, what did they find or what ideas are in tension in their findings?

Relevance to a Traditional Metabolism Course[edit]

Enter a 100-150 word description of how the material in this article connects to a traditional metabolism course. Does the article relate to particular pathways (e.g., glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, steroid synthesis, etc.) or to regulatory mechanisms, energetics, location, integration of pathways? Does it talk about new analytical approaches or ideas? Does the article show connections to the human genome project (or other genome projects)?

  1. Nutrigenomics: The Genome–Food Interface

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Identify the main focus of the resource. Possible answers include specific organisms, database design, intergration of information, but there are many more possibilities as well.

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Enter your article summary here. Please note that the punctuation is critical at the start (and sometimes at the end) of each entry. It should be 300-500 words. What are the main points of the article? What questions were they trying to answer? Did they find a clear answer? If so, what was it? If not, what did they find or what ideas are in tension in their findings?

Relevance to a Traditional Metabolism Course[edit]

Enter a 100-150 word description of how the material in this article connects to a traditional metabolism course. Does the article relate to particular pathways (e.g., glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, steroid synthesis, etc.) or to regulatory mechanisms, energetics, location, integration of pathways? Does it talk about new analytical approaches or ideas? Does the article show connections to the human genome project (or other genome projects)?

  1. Effect of Synthetic Dietary Triglycerides: A Novel Research Paradigm for Nutrigenomics

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Identify the main focus of the resource. Possible answers include specific organisms, database design, intergration of information, but there are many more possibilities as well.

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Enter your article summary here. Please note that the punctuation is critical at the start (and sometimes at the end) of each entry. It should be 300-500 words. What are the main points of the article? What questions were they trying to answer? Did they find a clear answer? If so, what was it? If not, what did they find or what ideas are in tension in their findings?

Relevance to a Traditional Metabolism Course[edit]

Enter a 100-150 word description of how the material in this article connects to a traditional metabolism course. Does the article relate to particular pathways (e.g., glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, steroid synthesis, etc.) or to regulatory mechanisms, energetics, location, integration of pathways? Does it talk about new analytical approaches or ideas? Does the article show connections to the human genome project (or other genome projects)?

  1. An introduction to nutrigenomics developments and trends

Main Focus[edit]

Identify the main focus of the resource. Possible answers include specific organisms, database design, intergration of information, but there are many more possibilities as well.

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Relevance to a Traditional Metabolism Course[edit]

Enter a 100-150 word description of how the material in this article connects to a traditional metabolism course. Does the article relate to particular pathways (e.g., glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, steroid synthesis, etc.) or to regulatory mechanisms, energetics, location, integration of pathways? Does it talk about new analytical approaches or ideas? Does the article show connections to the human genome project (or other genome projects)?

  1. From nutrigenomics to personalised nutrition

Main Focus[edit]

Identify the main focus of the resource. Possible answers include specific organisms, database design, intergration of information, but there are many more possibilities as well.

New Terms[edit]

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Enter your article summary here. Please note that the punctuation is critical at the start (and sometimes at the end) of each entry. It should be 300-500 words. What are the main points of the article? What questions were they trying to answer? Did they find a clear answer? If so, what was it? If not, what did they find or what ideas are in tension in their findings?

Relevance to a Traditional Metabolism Course[edit]

Enter a 100-150 word description of how the material in this article connects to a traditional metabolism course. Does the article relate to particular pathways (e.g., glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, steroid synthesis, etc.) or to regulatory mechanisms, energetics, location, integration of pathways? Does it talk about new analytical approaches or ideas? Does the article show connections to the human genome project (or other genome projects)?
  1. Nutrigenomics recording by National Public Radio
  2. Pennsylvania State University Center of Nutrigenomics
  3. International Society of Nutrigenetics/Nutrigenomics (ISNN)

It’s Never Too Late: Five Healthy Steps at Any Age

Posted in Healthy lifestyle

Have you ever decided to make a healthy lifestyle change but quickly given up, telling yourself that it’s too late to learn new habits? It’s time to take charge and not let your age stop you, because there’s surprisingly not that much difference between an 18-year-old brain and a 100-year-old brain, says Argye Hillis, M.D., director of the cerebrovascular division at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Take that as inspiration that you’re never too old to adopt new healthful habits. The rewards: In the Johns Hopkins-led Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, which tracked more than 6,000 people ages 44 to 84 for over seven years, those who made good-for-you changes like quitting smoking, following a Mediterranean-style diet, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight decreased their risk of death in the time period by 80 percent. The following changes not only keep you healthy, they can help slow down the aging process, inside and out.

Be active more often.

Exercise lowers your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers, and that powerful effect leads to something experts call “compression of morbidity.” It essentially means you stay healthy longer in your late years, as compared with someone who spends the final five or 10 years of life battling chronic illness.

“Exercise is also one of the best things you can do to help prevent dementia and other cognitive changes,” says Hillis. Once you’re cleared by your doctor, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

Improve your diet.

There are all sorts of plans out there to help you lose weight, but it’s not only about dropping pounds. Hillis recommends a Mediterranean-style diet for anyone hoping to avoid dementia as well as minimize other health risks. It’s high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and fish, and low in meat, sugar and processed foods—all to help your cells function better.

Get quality sleep.

Lack of sleep impacts your memory, emotions, weight and even your appearance. The older you get, the harder it can be to fall and stay asleep, but you still need the same amount of hours.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, most sleep problems are a result of snoring, medication side effects and underlying medical conditions, such as acid reflux, depression and prostate problems. Addressing those issues with your doctor is a good start. You can also enjoy more satisfying sleep by creating a calming space, dedicating enough time for sleep and practicing relaxation techniques.

Stop smoking.

In as little as 24 hours of stopping smoking, there is a decrease in risk of a heart attack. As for longer-term benefits, Johns Hopkins researchers, in conjunction with scientists from other centers, have found that quitting decreased middle-aged smokers’ risk of dying early by almost half.

Exercise can help you combat smoking cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Schedule fitness for the time of day you’re most likely to want a cigarette and soon you may be craving a walk or bike ride instead of a smoke. Still struggling on your own? Ask your doctor about smoking-cessation programs and aids.

Challenge your brain.

Whether it’s learning a language or driving a new route to work, your brain loves tackling fresh tasks. Make it a goal to keep learning as you age.


Whole grains: Grains such as whole wheat, brown rice and barley still have their fiber-rich outer shell, called the bran, and inner germ. It provides vitamins, minerals and good fats. Choosing whole grain side dishes, cereals, breads and more may lower the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer and improve digestion, too.

Mediterranean diet: Traditional cuisine of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, shown to reduce the risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and dementia. On the menu: Plenty of fruits, vegetables and beans, along with olive oil, nuts, whole grains, seafood; moderate amounts of low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese and poultry; small amounts of red meat and sweets; and wine, in moderation, with meals.

Dementia (di-men-sha): A loss of brain function that can be caused by a variety of disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms include forgetfulness, impaired thinking and judgment, personality changes, agitation and loss of emotional control. Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and inadequate blood flow to the brain can all cause dementia. Most types of dementia are irreversible.

Living in a Connected World/The Online Real-Life Divide

Posted in Healthy lifestyle


he introduction of technology as we know it has brought about a new understanding of how we comprehend both ourselves and our interaction with others. This struggle with identity displays itself through the use of social media platforms and the choices made in regards to how one presents themselves to their “followers” or “friends” as well as the information they choose to share. Every social media account is a construction of identity that brands an individual and how they present themselves under a specific presentation. This display of the self through public and private personas can often lead to a blurring of the line between private life and public account, and as a result the individual’s identity is altered through their online, marketed self, leading to questions of identity, self-presentation, authentic representation, and community pressures. As well as this, with modern technology the line between what constitutes ‘the online’ and consequently what constitutes real-life is ever changing and evolving as our understanding of the use of technology changes.

This chapter will highlight the history behind today’s technological wave and consider the various platforms through which identity is divided. It notes the pros and cons of anonymity online, singular and fragmented identities, theories associated with the digital divide, as well as covers the effects that this divide has on society and the self.

History of Digital Media Development[edit]

The conceptual work of digital media can be traced back to the scientist and engineer Vavennar Bush and his work “As We May Think”, published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1945. In this essay and “Memex Revisited” (1967) Bush envisioned a device which allows us to compress and store knowledge, which memorizes everything, and builds as well as combines trails [1] with exceeding speed and flexibility, the so called Memex. [2] “If we wish it, a whole private library could be reduced to the volume of a nutshell” [3], writes Bush about the notion of his Memex. Moreover, he assigns the computer to aid humans by storing and providing data, to engage with us and even to be our gaming opponent in chess. Bush predicted different technology invented after his publications such as personal computers, speed recognition, the World Wide Web and online encyclopaedias such as Wikipedia. The Memex would mimic a human’s mind and its associative process, hence it would be a Technology as an Extension of Self.

First Analog Computers[edit]

In the early 19th century Charles Babbage, an English mechanical engineer conceptualized the first Machine-readable codes and information. He invented the first mechanical computer, The Difference Engine, which he designed to detect and solve the problem of error in calculations. Ada Lovelace, a mathematician, wrote the first instructions for Babbage’s analytical machines for calculating numbers, which are considered to be the first computer program. [4]

Digital Computers[edit]

A Two women operating the ENIAC's main control panel while the machine was still located at the Moore School.

Two women operating the main control panel of the ENIAC.

Digital Media itself emerged with the rise of the Digital Computers. Whereas analog computers consist of physical and mechanical parts only, digital computers use a binary code and Boolean algebra. It is a system consisting of ones and zeros, the “digits” of digital media, that combined can make hundreds of characters to store and process information. The first digital computers were the ABC invented by John Vincent Atanasoff and the ENIAC by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly between 1942 and 1946. [5]

Digital Revolution[edit]

“But aren’t we living in a world where knowing how to get information is more important than memorizing it? Aren’t we moving away from an industrial economy into an information one?”[6]

Michael Mandiberg, an American programmer and educator, writes about the shift between media creators and consumers and the collective transformation from an industrial economy to an information-based economy, known as the Information Age. [7]

Since the invention of the first digital computers continuing to the present day the Digital Revolution keeps exponentially expanding and improving modern digital media. Personal Computers, smartphones, and the latest innovations surpass each other in computing power and storage capacity and make it possible for billions of people to access, modify, store and share digital media. Combined with the Internet and the World Wide Web, digital media has enabled a shift from a one-to-many to a many-to-many communications capability [8]as well as networked media.
The rise of Digital Media demands a new way of communication, called transliteracy, media literacy, or digital literacy. [9] Other than in the traditional literacy these skills do not only include reading and writing but the abilities to evaluate sources, navigate the internet and create digital content
. [10] This change within the 21st century towards a Digital Age is frequently compared to the impact of the printing press[11]and the fear of a paperless society accompanied by the many challenges of copyright laws, censorship, the digital divide[12] and the idea of a digital dark age.[13]


More than 20 years ago Bill Gates
, co-founder of Microsoft, predicted the technological changes and the advances affecting our lives such as the beginnings of the internet and the interconnectivity of personal computing in his book “The Road ahead”. [14], which we are still undergoing today.
With the rise of the Information Age and the growing importance of Digital Communications Media and Multimedia Platforms the human behavioural norms and social values may have changed.
The next step could be directed to create a fully ‘always-on’
world as Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, plans on expanding the boundaries of the internet and to put every person online. In essence, to provide everyone in the globe an affordable, basic access to the internet service. Zuckerberg expects to do so through the use of wireless drones, satellites and lasers. [15]

The Evolution of Digital Culture[edit]

Jill Walker Rettburg, in her article “Written, Visual and Quantitative Self-Representations” [16] suggests that “there are three distinct modes of self-presentation in digital media: written, visual and quantitative.” She goes on to suggest that each of these modes has a specific and different pre-digital history. Diaries, memoirs, books and autobiographies are the antecedents of today’s blog posts and written social media status updates; selfies, for example, have taken over from visual artists’ self-portraits. Quantitative modes – those which feature personal statistical data previously found in lists, graphs, and maps – have been replaced with spreadsheets and GPS activity trackers. Despite the variety of digital and pre-digital methods of self-presentation, Walker Rettburg emphasises the concept that “technology is a means to see part of ourselves,” whichever form that might take.

“The assumption is that we’re addicted to the technology. The technology doesn’t matter. It’s all about the people and information. Humans are both curious and social critters. We want to understand and interact. Technology introduces new possibilities for doing so, and that’s where the passion comes in. We’re passionate about technology because we’re passionate about people and information, and they go hand in hand.” [17]

Following Mandiberg’s assumption and the notion of technology as an extension of ourselves together with the rapid development of our digital media, it changed our culture, our everyday behaviour and our social engagement on every level possible.
How the different mediums work and which effects the connected world has on ourselves, our identity, self-representation and our perception of each other is discussed in the sections below.

Social Media[edit]

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth

The concept of the social networking site (SNS) has become popular in the culture of the mid to late 2000s and as such is often linked with the creation of platforms such as Myspace and Facebook, however its origins date back several years prior, to the late 1990s.[19] The understood concept of a social media platform that introduced both a sense of community through friends as well as a sense of individualism through profiling was Six Degrees. Six Degrees was a website marketed as a tool for connection with friends that launched in 1997 and lasted until 2001, when it was shut down.[20] The basic layout of the site consisted of a personal profile for each user, an ability to add friends and, after 1998, the ability to search through lists of friends. Six Degrees, although the first to combine the personal features with a community aspect, crashed in late 2000 due to what the founder believed as being “simply ahead of its time”.[21]

Following the creation and failure of Six Degrees, the launches of Friendster and began a competition involving online community growth. Both websites introduced an emphasis on the individual profile and gained popularity through their specialization in online dating. The issues in fidelity led to the decline of both websites, specifically Friendster as it gained the reputation for “Fakesters”, those who created false profiles using the images of others in order to draw people in. Friendster’s system experienced several difficulties as the website saw more traffic than expected and was one of the first social networking sites to see one million users.[22]

The website often credited with the introduction and popularity of social media platforms is Myspace. This website launched in 2003 and, after the announcement that Friendster would begin asking a fee of its users, gained a large amount of attention from previous users of other SNS platforms. Myspace gained popularity for being a community that accepted the outcasts of other platforms, noteably indi-rock bands who had been previously removed from other social networking sites. While Myspace was not designed with the intent, their acceptance of these rock bands led them to gain a connection with music that brought them a new demographic of users – teenagers.[23] The Myspace battle for users began to decline as the website became associated with false personas and sexual predators. As the concerns of identity rose in 2005, in came a new platform that gained the attention of the population: Facebook.


Facebook rival Myspace is about being someone fake on the internet…[it’s] very healthy that the real people have won out over the fake people

Facebook was created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg as a Harvard based networking site that was expanded to include other university students across the United States and later, in 2005, high school students, professional workers, and other individuals. The website encouraged community growth and offered a privacy option to all members that protected a portion of an individual’s profile from outside attention. An aspect of individuality was created through profile creation as Facebook targeted not only basic biological facts about its users, but offered the ability to personalize one’s profile to include likes and dislikes such as movies, shows, books, and music.[25] Facebook’s defining trait came from its emphasis of the “true self”, encouraging users to portray their personalities through their online posts with no disguising usernames or alternate identities that had been created on previous SNS platforms. Facebook, unlike its competitor Myspace, encouraged a single identity that synced with the legal information of an individual one was given at birth. This emphasis on the individual, true self came about as a response to the 9/11 attack that took place in New York on September 11, 2001.[26] The unity of oneself contrasted the previously understood “escapism” of taking on a different persona online.[27] The previously therapeutic location to present another side of oneself became a place in which professional and private self became blurred. Facebook identities displayed an understanding of an individual as their “best, fastest, smartest”[28] self and began the societal drive to self-realization as a deeply embedded concern.

Facebook, although a social media platform for building community, has often been linked to personal archives and noted as a modernized version of scrapbooking.[29] Although the main purpose behind the website is a social aspect, it has been suggested that Facebook posts often have an archival aspect to them as they mark an event or moment of one’s life that can later be reflected upon and celebrated. Both platforms also depict an image of one’s life that has been carefully selected to portray a version of the self to others. With the development of Facebook, the SNS platform offered multiple variations to display one’s individuality through the selection of “bumper stickers” that would decorate one’s page with bands chosen by the individual. These “bumper stickers” often coincided with the “likes” and “fan pages” individuals prominently displayed on their profile. The combination emphasized select traits carefully chosen to portray a slightly augmented version of the self.


Instagram launched in 2010 as a free photo-based application that offered individuals the opportunity to edit and share photographs taken from their mobile devices. [30] The mobile app offers a live connection with followers as photographs can be taken and instantly uploaded with the option of editing through a filter before posting. This instant picture upload is then able to be liked and commented on by followers, similar to Facebook but with a higher emphasis on the visual aspect of one’s life as well as quick and easy access.[31] The company was bought out by Facebook in 2012 and as such now offers a link to Facebook profiles when joining the Instagram community. Instagram posts are therefore able to be posted directly to Facebook, connecting the communities of both applications and steadying the single identity enforced by Facebook accounts.

Instagram offers a similar “scrapbook” layout in marking moments of one’s life through pictures displayed for followers or personal satisfaction. All pictures have the option of being geo-tagged, marking the location the image was taken as a way of noting the event that took place. Instagram offers an altered reality through the filter option available to all photos before being published. Individuals are able to not only select what pictures they wish to post, but they are able to alter them to depict a mood or change the quality of the picture. In relation, personal pictures (aka “selfies”) of the user are occasionally posted with the comment “#nofilter” to display the beauty of the object in the posted image and emphasize the lack of editing done. This displays how society has grown to associate pictures with editing as the natural assumption has become alteration and clarification is now only needed for unedited material.[32]


Snapchat, launched in 2011, is a visual-based application that originally allowed users to send pictures and videos that “disappeared” in seconds. The origin of this app was to emphasize the true self in the moment and allow life to be shared with friends.[33] Through the development of the app, pictures are now able to be saved to one’s “memory” as well as posted on one’s “story” that is visible to all snapchat contacts. Development has also introduced photographic and video filters that offer a voice alteration and the option of sharing pictures for up to ten seconds at a time. Snapchat now offers an option to follow the stories of news, celebrities, and current events, alongside its original concept of a friend-based platform.[34]

Snapchat’s focus on the instant appeals to a youthful demographic as it offers the ability to maintain relationships over long distances through pictures and videos that share a moment over distance and time. Snapchat also offers an escape from the concerns of identity management that other forms of social media contain.[35] Snapchat is similar to face-to-face interaction in its lack of permanence. Similar to a conversation, messages and images disappear and, aside from a brief moment of presentation, the message will likely be forgotten. With written forms of communication through social media one offers up a message that is meant to permanently be on display and will therefore present a part of their identity through their comment or reaction. Snapchat’s creation appeared during a time of high anxiety regarding pictures and data of oneself on the internet. The ability to quickly send and receive pictures that “disappeared” offered an answer to the concerns of the public.[36] This answer provided people a safe location to send quick shots of their lives without the fear that it would be held against them for a longer period of time.

Gaming and Virtual Reality[edit]

This “escape from reality” that virtual reality in gaming has had such a large impact on society. It can effect how people feel about themselves, with research showing that a taller avatars can make a player feel more confident out with play as well as a smaller avatar doing the opposite. [37] As entire culture though, the Japanese culture has seen an actual affect on their country, in a vice documentary [38] “The Japanese Love Industry”, the lead of the video explores and discusses the severe decrease in population due to things as the gaming culture with government surveys showing that “more than 60% of men aged 18-34” are single, talking how it is because of the generation’s obsession with virtual reality and gaming. Saying they “prefer cyber girlfriends over real girlfriends”. This kind of behaviour, combined with a lack of interest from the female side has had a direct effect on Japanese culture. It is an example of a society that would rather live inside, or through their screens rather than engage in the world around them.

Avatar Creation[edit]

Online gaming communities present an escape from the real world into a simulated and controlled environment. With the introduction of gaming avatars, researchers began to look into the blurred line between real and fantasized environments and personas in regards to the link to identity creation and presentation. A lead researcher in the area of multi-user domains (MUD’s) is Sherry Turkle whose research in 1995 considered the self as “not singular and unitary, but multiple and fragmented”.[39] This discovery of a fragmented self led to the conclusion that MUD’s were a source through which one could display multiple personae and highlight the various aspects of oneself. The ability to create an avatar to exact details provided users an opportunity to create what they envision as their “true self” by displaying the characteristics that they often chose to hide. Avatars “give expressive freedom over an otherwise anonymous and static online presence”[40] and provide a unique sense of self to the individual playing the game. Avatar appearance has been linked to self-perception for the owners of these games and characters. It has been found that those who choose more attractive and taller avatars are often linked to more confident actions and far more likely to approach others of the opposite gender.[41] The use of physically ideal avatars leads to an alteration and experimentation in identity which “is often understood through acts that dislocate embodied identity from the self online and how such a dislocation enables one to enact multiple, contradictory identities”[42]

Turkle’s research has been highly contested as others have argued for the extension of the singular self through an idealised visual version in avatar creation.[43] Turkle’s argument offers the avatar as an alternate self through which one can express characteristic through physical features in a fantastical manner (such as skin colour, size, shape, human, animal, alien, etc), however her approach has been commented as being an “over-fragmented depiction of the avatar-self relationship”[44] and researchers have suggested that gamers often have one or two avatars whose physical creation is meant to represent the idealised version of themselves and in turn provides users with confidence when interacting online. The avatar, although based on the self, acts as a tool to create distance between the user and those they associate with in online gaming communities. It should be noted that the connection of the self with one’s avatar is often a link that is manifested in the real world through an aspect known as cosplay. Cosplay allows individuals to dress like characters from games, movies, comics, and other fantasy universes in an attempt to connect with the character and other like-minded individuals in similar communities. Cosplay is common at conventions and can be viewed as the real-life complement to avatars. While online avatars hide one’s true identity and allow for the emphasis of certain aspects of one’s personality, the same can be said for cosplay within a physical world environment.

Second Life[edit]

Human female avatar, Second Life

Second Life is a virtual reality game created in 2003 that offered a world in which there was no goal to be achieved, merely a reality for the player to self-create. Players in Second Life are represented through avatars that are created upon registration of the game. These avatars, known in the game as residents, are capable of being whatever form the user chooses (human, animal, abstract figure) and can appear as the user’s physical appearance or another figure entirely.[45] Avatars act as the player’s extension providing a self that is aware and controlled by the member. These avatars are capable of interaction with each other, places, and objects; similar to real life experience. Second Life offers an extension of reality through the ability to explore the world, meet others, join groups and communities, set up shops, and buy and sell virtual property.

Second Life provides the user an opportunity to live their life in a different manner, beginning with the creation of their “other self” or avatar. The naming of your other self creates a distance through the anonymity of a username capable of being whatever the user imagines.[46] The next step is the visual creation of the avatar through which “users can attempt to replicate their real world bodies digitally, or they can create extravagant, idealised bodies, or go further still and inhabit animal or robot bodies”[47] changing size, shape, skin colour, and more. The draw of virtual realities such as Second Life is the opportunity to experience things you otherwise would never achieve. Second Life offers flight, teleportation, travel, and adventure in a safe space where one can never truly be harmed. Living vicariously through the avatar presents gamers a chance to experience a different life in which they are not judged based on their physical appearance, but rather through their avatar’s interactions within the Second Life community. Second Life provides an escape from reality, just as social media platforms used to prior to the invention of Facebook when one operated solely under a username, often with little association to one’s true self. Second Life separates itself as a platform through the participation involved in the game’s creation. Almost every element depicted on the game (architectural, natural, etc) was created by a Second Life user, making the world completely user-dependent.[48]

Media Portrayals Through Black Mirror[edit]

Fifteen Million Merits[edit]

The Channel 4 turned Netflix Original show Black Mirror is a fantastic resource when discussing both the ideas of Avatar Creation and Virtual Reality, in particular reference to the episode mentioned above “Fifteen Million Merits”, which gives a reasonable depiction of a futuristic virtual reality where members of society carry out a meaningless task, aimlessly cycling on a bike that physically goes no where in order to earn money. Living through a virtual avatar, people can purchase items of clothing, possessions, subscriptions to different television programmes, etc. Literally carry out something meaningless to create virtual money to spend on a virtual existence. In the show there is one character who is heavily involved and invested into this process of buying and creating a better avatar. The avatar can travel and explore different experiences, interact and be part of something different but their real life selves are actually stuck within a small four walled room and on a bigger trapped being a slave to the system. This character and lifestyle, is a scary, yet realistic view of where our society could go if the obsession and dedication that people have for their avatars on games. This obsession lends itself to the extension of self, and also living through online brings us nicely on to the idea of virtual reality, and how some prefer the online life than reality and the damages this can cause.


This episode of Black Mirror [49] is another fantastic episode that takes modern day culture discussed here, the ideas of Virtual Reality in combination with gaming. The push in current culture is to create more and more realistic games. From the mundanity of “Sims” [50] where gamers can create debatably realistic characters and do everyday mundane things, (therefore real in their actions) to one of the newest installments of “Call of Duty: Advanced Warefare”[51], which features an almost identical reconstruction of the actor Kevin Spacey [52]. This constant and current push for the most realistic gaming experience links very well to the upcoming market of Virtual Reality, (real in it’s visual experience) and that growing industry is what is featured in this episode of “Black Mirror”. The main character signs up to try out a new gaming experience, in the final most extreme stage of testing he enters a horror genre of game. Where the game uses his own memories and mind to create personally scary situations. This incredibly realistic scenario is enjoyable until the game turns on the main character and experiences his darker, deeper fears and spirals out of control. This escalation really explores the dangerous path this realistic gaming experience society is venturing down. Like most Black Mirror episodes it takes a current piece of culture that is damaging or has a strong possibility to be damaging and pushes it to the extremes to show a scarily realistic digital future.

Chat Rooms[edit]

Chat Rooms[edit]


Cyber-bullying is defined as harassment or abuse using electronic mediums of communication. It can involve all the typical forms of bullying except physical harm. It should be noted however, that encouragement to inflict self-harm is common within the context of cyberbullying. The effects of cyberbullying are not just visible online. Their real-world effects can be sever and according to the Cyberbullying Research Center self-harm, substance abuse, school problems and delinquency are related to instances of cyberbullying. In a meta-analysis on the subject, Kowalski et al. noted that among victims of cyberbullying, stress and suicidal ideation (the thought and intention of committing suicide) were the most common effects of cyberbullying.[53]

Real-life influence of cyber-bullying then, is incontrovertible. In the age of social media and always-on culture, the online world is at the forefront of so many adolescent minds that real-life effects will naturally happen. Emotional investment in one’s online presence, and the varying ideals of self-presentation that different social media platforms dictate in our culture mean that the effects of hurtful language and actions online feels the same as in the real-world.

In the 2015 film Cyberbully the main character is coerced using threats of the release of private photographs, files, and evidence of her own cyberbullying tendencies. Such is the prevalence of online abuse that it now forms a narrative in media that engages with it and shows through different lenses, the effects of it. Similarly in the 2010 film Chatroom characters engage with each other and through herd mentality encourage each other to cyberbully.

The nature of cyberbullying lends itself to a detachment by its perpetrators from the consequences of such behaviour. Because of a currently-still-perceived divide between real-life and the online, a measure of detachment and inability or refusal to think about potential effects of online behaviour exists[54]

Public and Private Forums[edit]

Public Forums[edit]

A Public Forum can be defined as a space, both physical and non-physical, where a group can gather and freely discuss their views on any topic. Within reason. As long as they abide by the guide lines set by the First Amendment – free speech[55].

By traditional standards a sidewalk, a park, and a street can all be defined as Public Forums. They are considered as spaces open to public discourse, and can also be referred to as ‘open forums’. As to can all Public Forums. Forum (legal)

The term ‘Open Forum’ harkens back to Ancient Rome where the Forum was at the centre of every Civitas – settlement. The Forum in these settlements would have been the beating heart and were most often used for markets. However most major events, speeches, and discussions would also take place within them.Forum (Roman)

As human civilization has evolved so has our means to share information. Now the most common forms of the Public Forum used are non-physical online platforms. Arguably the most popular platform, boasting over 1.8 billion active monthly users, is Facebook[56]; Tumblr is also an exceedingly popular platform, and provides its users far greater freedom of expression than Facebook. Reddit is another big platform that has been described as the front page of the internet w: Reddit ; where its registered users can submit content, such as text posts or direct links.

It is upon these three platforms that this piece shall focus on as full the number of online Public Platforms is too great to discuss them all.

The three social platforms already mentioned (Facebook, tumblr, and Reddit) work in a similar manner. In the case of both Facebook and tumblr you follow/befriend those you wish to and then you are able to open, or join, a discussion with them and their peers. Reddit provides numerous forums that cover an immeasurable number of topics; ranging from basic tech support, to cooking recipes. They are all Public Forums as most of the information and discourse is readily available to any user.

Tumblr [[1]] is a blogging website where users create their own urls and build their own blogs. The users have the freedom to choose whether they upload their own content or to “reblog” content posted by another user that they follow. Because of this users of tumblr have a great deal of freedom to express themselves, and an expansive platform for discussion.

Facebook [[2]] is one of the most widely used social media platforms in the world and therefor acts as one of the largest Public Forums there is. Though users can only see the content shared, posted and liked by their ‘friends’ they can communicate with all users via pages, groups and events. As such it is a platform that is frequently used to organise political marches, and to its page/group system enable likeminded individuals to easily meet; and to share ideas.

Reddit [[3]] is described as an American social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website. As mentioned its forums cover a massive amount of information and has a discussion open for anyone that wishes to join.

Private Forums[edit]

By nature Private Forums are very similar to Public Forums, however where they differ is in the control of discussion content. Whereas Public Forums function along the lines of free speech, each Private Forum is controlled by its administrators. The nature of both forums is the sharing and discourse of information, but as mentioned, Private Forums are controlled by individuals rather than laws.

Private Forums will generally require potential users to be invited by an existing member of the community, and will sometimes require membership fees be paid. The Forums will be created with a particular topic in mind, and membership – it can be assumed – is requested due out of a desire to actively participate and benefit the discussion.

The Private Forum will be owned by its administrator(s) as it enables them to control privacy settings, along with content.

Deep Web[edit]

When discussing the differences between Public and Private Forums an interesting topic is the Deep Net, or Deep Web, which exists as a grey zone between the two. The Dark Net is quite literally the murky depths of the internet and is referred to as the ‘deep web’ because of how much is hidden within it.

Though its contents are open to anyone that wishes to search them, and it does provide the user with unparalleled levels of freedom, one does first require a deep web browser to access it[57]. The browser takes the first steps away from the concept of a Public Forum as it makes you anonymous, allowing you to search in safety – allegedly users cannot be guaranteed their safety according to a recent Wikileaks publication [58].
From the users’ new position of anonymity they then possess the freedom to explore. Content on the Deep Web ranges from sites that provide any illegal substance you can think of; to weapons; and the deeper you go the darker it gets with a massive availability of illegal pornography.The Guardian reported that is thought only 0.03%[59] of the web’s content comes up in regular searches, and the rest lies in the dark web’s depths.

It is in this anonymity and the way each site is controlled by it administrator(s) that it resembles more a Private Forum. However as it is so huge it cannot simply be referred to as one or the other.

Online Dating[edit]


Like many aspects of the digital world, Online Dating has its roots in different mediums of the past[60]. The personal advertisement is the predecessor of today’s online dating. The first personal ad appeared in a British agricultural journal in 1685[61]. In the early 1900s personal ads became popular once again in the United States: especially in its sparsely populated western region. During World War I there was an emphasis on marriage by the age of 21 so personal ads were popular among young soldiers[62]. In 1959 the first computerized match making system was developed by a Stanford University student. It used an IBM 650 to determine similarities between 98 subject from answers on a 30 question survey. Operation Match took off in 1965 by a group of Harvard Students. They used a IBM 1401 , a mass marketing computer. For $3.00 the 1401 would analyze a questionnaire filled out by students and give them 5 matches. In 1995 the public gained access to the World Wide Web, allowing people to be connected online. Email became popular in 1998, becoming a part of day-to-day life and allowing people faster communication across long distances. In 2000 eHarmony, a compatibility website with the goal of establishing long-term relationships, was established by Dr. Neil Clark Warren. The use of Skype video call in 2003 allowed long distance relationships to flourish. With the dawn of the smartphone in 2007 online dating was taken “on the go.” Location based applications became popular in 2012 and play a huge part of online match making.[63] In today’s world countless dating websites and apps are easily accessible to the masses.


Online Dating has become extremely popular. The term “online dating” is searched over 135,000 times a month[64]. In 2013 there were an estimated 2,500 online dating websites in the United States, 1,000 opening every year, and about 8,000 worldwide[65]. Websites like provide information about their community. About 1 in 3 relationships and 1 in 5 marriages start online. 31% of US singles met their last first date on a dating website[66]. These numbers show that online dating is becoming more common and leading to “successful relationships.” In 2012 the Harris interactive conducted a survey and said that on average 438 eHarmony members get married every day.[67]


Catfishing is a slag term for creating fake profiles on social media to create false identities. [68] The Term became popular after the 2010 film Catfish (film) that follows a man as he find out the person he has established a friendship/relationship is not who they seem. The documentary highlights a story about how seafood suppliers faced problems with shipping cod. They meat supposedly would mushy because the fish had been sluggish. The suppliers decided to put a catfish into the tank, a natural predator, to keep them active. The correlation between the fish story and the online is, “the catfish in real life are supposed to keep you on your toes, keep you guessing, keep you thinking, they keep you fresh.” [69] Although the term “catfishing” did not become popular until the early 2010s, the practice of adapting online personas that are not your true identity is common place. The act happens mostly on social media platforms and on dating sites. Catfish normally reach out and initiate conversation, establish a some form of relationship, but will do anything to maintain their fake identity. [70]

Psychological Breakdown of Catfishing[edit]

The psychological impact of catfishing is extremely complex. It is not just about why people catfish, but also how does it impact the victim. People catfish for several different reasons. Every person is different and catfishing may fulfill different needs. Some reasons are, loneliness, revenge, greed, and people just seeking a thrill. [71] People who are lonely may take on fake personas because they have no one. They may feel isolated from their communities and do not see a different outlet for developing relationships. Someone who feels they are inadequate may pretend to be a fitness model, or maybe someone is struggling with their sexuality or gender may turn to catfishing as a way to cope. [72] Revenge is also a common. It is an unfortunate reality, but people will seek revenge on their significant others, relatives, or exs. Greed is incredibly damaging. People who use this to motivate their catfishing go in with the intention of being harmful. Sensation Seekers are often not malicious, but they get a thrill from taking on a new personality. These people use it to feel a certain emotion or sensation.[73]

It is often believed that people who catfish do not have the intention of hurting others for the most part, of course there are exceptions. Secrecy is often found in most long-term relationships. It is not necessarily a bad thing. Catfish relationships, are not dissimilar from face to face relationships. People develop an intimacy and feelings for one another. The problem is, the secrecy is what the catfish needs. In these relationships the relationship flourishes with the secret intact. When the secret is revealed it the relationship dies. The trust that may have been established is gone.[74]

Tinder and Online Dating Websites[edit]


Tinder is technically a social media app most commonly used as a dating app by logging onto the users Facebook, that started up September of 2012. On Tinder you swipe right to ‘match’ with someone- where they have swiped right on you and you both now have the option to talk to each other. The people you see on Tinder are sorted by how far away they are, meaning that Tinder lets the people in your area or neighbouring cities see you depending on how far away you are

Online Dating websites however are different in that the websites can range from different themes that are specific to the individuals likes or views. For example by religion like Christian Mingle or by hobby such as Equestrian Cupid.

Realism and Deception[edit]

Online deception across the internet is defined as a users modification of his / hers self description between real life and the dating profiles they have created (Toma et al 2008) Several different factors affected the realism of their profiles and lead to deception online. These include factors of gender and the individuals personality under the presence of anonymity.

Evolutionary psychologists have looked into the deception of realism between males and females, the modification of traits in online dating can mainly be explained through socially desirable responding. Enhancing the individuals “reproductive viability” [75] Meaning that each gender placed focus on certain elements. It was found that men were more prone to exaggerating their economic stability and physical strength, woman were more likely to emphasise upon their physical attraction. These discontinuities in reality had been pinned down to the social constructions and expectations of each gender Each genders main misrepresentations also followed a pattern; where women are more prone to being discreet about their weight while men are more prone to misrepresent their age and personal interests.

Deception over the internet is a phenomenon caused by a lacking process to verify information five by misleading profiles, that negatively affects the reputation of online dating websites, adding an element of mistrust through enabling misleading profiles the ability to pop up. [76][77] Sztompka backs this up, continuing to link an individuals intent to claim falscitalities as a result of a “lack of method for verification” [78] which is especially vital when information given about an individual is communicated textually. This deception can easily lead to frustration and mistrust that could potentially lead to an individuals emotional and psychological damage.

A study by Mills [79] states that individual identity is broken down into 3 elements; physical appearance, attributed data and biographical data (ie education) Age, gender and appearance were the most commonly mislead factors within this. [80]

Anonymity Diminishing Accountability[edit]

In short, individuals online who intend to deceive other do so through creating an online indignity different to the one in real life. However, it can be those who don’t intend to deceive that are allured by the possibilities of personal gain that a lack of accountability through anonymity gives.

This can be evidenced through Toma et al’s study that 80% of online daters felt that people misrepresent their physical appearance in their online dating profiles.[81] To extend physical boundaries, the individual user tended to expand on their self presentation. This correlates with the anonymous nature of the internet .

A study by Suler concluded that internet induced anonymity is a key influencer on the difference between the real world and online world, assuring that this was also a key factor in causing the online disinhibition effect where there was a clear disassociation between online and offline identities. [82]

Realism, Anonymity and Technology[edit]

The free-form ‘descriptive’ set up of online dating websites and apps where users can create themselves in a more favourable light, even when what they have been writing is exaggerated or emphasised. When a certain image of an individual is then altered elements of their personality and herby identity are fictitious. The ability to edit your profile also encouraged other users to modify and shape their information. Reasoning behind this may be down to appeal to certain individuals (changing their values to align to someone on the website ) and change aspects that received negative feedback. Overall, the motives behind online daters point to the goal of wanting to be seen as more “attractive” and “likeable” in order to achieve their end goal. [83]

Tinder has this to a certain extent, however the app lets you link up to Instagram which can be a good way of backing up what the users may say about themselves on the app.

Though the different textual and intertextual communication online vs real life we can view that anonymity is a key enabler for individuals to deceive others. Deception is made easy because its difficult to link online dating users online identity to their real identity without obtaining personal information.

The technical nature of computer mediated communication (CMC) creates a different situation in which we can express ourselves in, dissolving geographical boundaries and the affect of real time communication creating a platform by which users have time to to reply to messages (as an example) allows the user to overthink their messages and present their idea of a best possible reply. This nature of CMC specific to online dating allows the users to present the best picture of themselves, which is inconstant to real time conversations where there is less time to reply. On top of this, information online about our individuality is given textually compared to intertextual communications face to face communication is where there are an infinite amount of facial features and body language to communicate what a person is ‘saying’ without actually speaking. Individuals can also subjectively interpret the reactions they get online towards another user, which can shape an individuals behaviour and by extension their identity.

This ‘intermediary platform’, of which Tinder and Dating Websites are on, can provide individuals with a sense of safety and anonymity compared to the vulnerability that many feel they face through face to face interaction. Some feel that the social expectations of them are more pronounced in the ‘real world’ which can suppress on individual thoughts or views. In this perspective, online dating may ‘free’ an individual more online more online rather than surpassing their actual thoughts.

Communication intermediates influence have online identities are generated and presented under the influence of the ability in not having to disclose a lot of personal information, given that online environments do not have mechanisms to immediately authenticate its users.

On the other hand however, anonymity provides its users with the ability to truly express themselves or even ‘liberate’ themselves where their true selves are revealed without prejudice and judgement.

Anonymity and Accountability[edit]

When the purpose of the account on social media is to keep in touch with friends and family members, like Facebook is, profile attributes are as close to the truth as possible since the individuals affiliates act as an authentication mechanism (ref B) This can be related to Tinder in that the way in which you make an account is through your Facebook account and you can see your ‘common connections’ with the person you are matching with. On top of this, since your Tinder searches people relatively close to you there is always the potential that you can see people that you know in the surrounding area, and those people cans see you. The constant threat of having someone you know see your Tinder profile destroys the idea of anonymity on this particular dating app, and therefore is more likely to be realistic in relation to the profiles on it due to this.

While the presence of perceived anonymity has a tendency to combine with the received lack of accountability and attachment to the real world, this lets the user become their own authoritative figure in which they put online.

Warranting Theory[edit]

Adapted by Walther and Parks [84] from a study by Stone [85] it suggests that in the presence of anonymity, a person may misrepresent information about his or herself. It was an observed phenomenon where some people met in person after having met online and were dissatisfied with the partner. The potential for autonomy resulted in the potential for discrepancy in online dating profiles. ‘Warrants’ and describes by Walther and Parks were perceived reliable cues that observers use to cause how ones true identity matches their online profile.

Digital Divide[edit]

The term “digital divide”, also called “digital gap”, refers to the demographical, social, economic and regional inequality regarding the access, distribution and use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and its impacts. This is with regards to people who have, and those who do not have, the necessary skills, abilities or knowledge to use ICT. It exists between rural and urban areas, between economic classes, between socioeconomic factors such as race, income, and education, between people who can afford an internet access and those who cannot, between the quality of connection as well as the local adaption and availability (i.e. via wideband) [86] and on a global scale between industrial and developing countries. [87]

A map of the global digital divide.

Map of the Global Digital Divide.

Dimensions of the Divide[edit]

The digital divide shapes the global and local flow of information. Even if access to online information is available, a free information flow is often restricted or blocked through network censorship. At national level some governments constantly restrict the access to certain webpages and filter any expression that may threaten their national security. Often this is the case in some Middle Eastern countries and especially in China and North Korea. At organisational or family level, firewalls or access limiting software can be installed to prevent employees or children from accessing undesirable or harmful online contents. [88]
Elad Segev argues that there are more subtle reasons for the digital divide in the online community i.e. that it is a result of the commercialisation of the internet and the operation of hugely dominant information agents and search engines such as Google. Furthermore, that the divide emerges as a result of information-skilled users tearing it wider apart.[89]

Knowledge Divide[edit]

Knowledge has become a valuable resource in the Information Age, increasingly determining who has access to power and profit. Apart from the demographical, social, economic and regional gaps of the digital divide, knowledge continues to expand and has a growing impact of inequalities in science and technology capacities which create an impenetrable barrier for those, who wish to mobilise knowledge, and those who which to obtain it. The spread of information on a global scale through the internet and the uneven assimilation of global access to the internet expands gaps in knowledge between individuals and nations has been called the Knowledge Divide . [90]

Technological Determinism[edit]

Technological determinism is the theory that the technology that people create and see themselves surround by determines the culture in which they find themselves. Therefore a dramatic change towards a societies technology should in turn result in a dramatic change in that societies culture. For example the emergence of phones changed the way people communicated, and in turn changed the way they acted and thus changed their culture. This theory is heavily discussed by Marshall McLuhan in his book McLuhan, Marshall. (1964) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man [91] where he describes the theory in detail and furthermore applies it to the real world . He does this so well that other theorists have since taken and adapted his ideas towards Technological Determinism itself, for example Transforming McLuhan by Paul Grosswiler is one of the examples of the many books devoted purely to McLuhan’s ideas over the theory.[92]

Cultural Determinism[edit]

Cultural determinism is he stance that common patterns of behavior, attitudes, and values which persist for generations are the result of cultural factors rather than biological or other factors[93]. This presents the argument of nurture vs. nature. In this case how one is reared determines who they are as a person. In order to understand cultural determinism, it is important to understand what culture is. Culture is defined as “the beliefs, way of life, art, and customs that are shared and accepted by people in a particular society.[94]” The concept of cultural determinism emphasizes that your culture determines the type of person you are. This theory possesses some weak points. For instance, if one were to grow up in a neighborhood with crime and deviance, is it guaranteed that the person will participate in criminal activity and deviant behavior? In the digital age one looks to cultural determinism and how people easily interact with technology and how ingrained it is in our world.

Identity and Persona in relation to our online real life divide[edit]

Online and Offline our personalities can differ very much.

Online, people generally tend to undertake a process known as portraying an ‘impersonation management’[95]. This is a term described in detail in Psychology of C G Jung by Jolande Jacobi (1999) that means we present ourselves in what we believe is the best light in each scenario. For example, on Instagram or Twitter (and other Social Media platforms alike) someone will normally try to only post up their most flattering photos that paint them in the best light (both figuratively and literally), in an attempt to manage the presentation of themselves.

This concept can be argued further when using Erving Goffmans idea of ‘masks’[96], as discussed in his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959) where Goffman argues that our personalities are fluid and thus change depended on the scenario we may find ourselves in. In terms of our Online/Real-life Divide this in turn means we are likely to change the way we behave on- and off-line; but also that we are also likely to change the way we behave on different online platforms themselves. For example one is very likely to present themselves in a different mask on Wiki*edia as opposed to Facebook, because the purpose of each environment differs greatly, and thus how one can present themselves in the best light also differs greatly. This results in a change of ones ‘mask’, or persona, as a result of the process of ‘impersonation management’. This idea is illustrated well by Stephen Fry here: [97]

Psychosocial Approaches[edit]

Psychosocial study is a relatively new field which explores the ways in which psychological and social experiences are intertwined and interdependent. Psychosocial approaches are interdisciplinary, reflecting the belief that psychological and social experiences cannot be independent of each other but are rather part of one whole experience based on a sociological, historical and cultural context. As such, psychosocial approaches draw on existing fields of study including sociology, psychology, philosophy, post-colonial studies and post-structural theories. [98] A psychosocial approach to the online/real-life divide would suggest that life can no longer be neatly compartmentalised into an online life and a real life, but that the prevalence of our interaction with digitisation affects our real life and vice versa.



The emergence of new technologies and social networks has created almost a new aspect of how we can have and form an identity, and how others play a part in the formation of this representation. The “user profile” that has become so popular on the almost all large social media platforms [including Wiki]. This “profile” function allows users to create an individual page centred around them, whether it be voicing their thoughts and research on a topic like on Wiki or whether it be creating a photograph wall of yourself and photos you have taken seen on Instagram. So the issue of representation seems undoubtedly complex and it is apparent that there is a lot more at play than people simply building up an online reflection of the self, allowing for a lot more fabrication.

The Proteus Effect- Nick Yee[edit]

Yee and Co’s [99]studies around the Proteus effect shines light on the notion of an online self by examining avatars in Collaborative Virtual Environment (CVEs) and studies people’s online behaviour when given an avatar with certain traits seen as more desirable on the platform.

Yee notes that “Instead of focusing on the structural affordances of the computer-mediated environment, studies in TSI have shown how strategic changes in an avatar’s appearance or behaviour can affect how other users interact with that avatar”. From this we know that there is a strong relationship between an offline self and their online counterpart – being an avatar or a personal profile page – and this relationship dictates how exactly people proceed to present themselves online. It continues saying it seems that people want to see the best qualities and be most desirable version of themselves online [from their behavioural tenancies when their avatar is more “desirable”] this seems extremely telling on the issue of representation. It can thus be noted that people don’t want a full realistic version of them shown but there is a strong selection process in which people pick and choose factors they want other to see. This can be said to constitute a strong real life online divide as how people wish to be represented on any platform involving exhibiting a form of themselves is noticeably different to real life interactions where it can be argued to be a simple case of what you see is what you get.
The study goes on to discuss Multiuser Domains (MUDs) and the findings here help to shine light on the key issue within this sub-topic, being misrepresentation. It states that on certain platforms there is an aspect of gender bending, so people are creating profile and personas yet gendering them differently than their own and acting in ways they possibly think is more suited to that gender role. The behaviours and character traits that are used are noted to not fit the individual’s own and so we see here that people use the divide from real life to misrepresent themselves and escape on identity into another, escapism being a whole other topic in itself. However this shows us that the divide that exists can offer opportunities to escape one notion of self that exists offline and in a positive way misrepresent a version of ourselves which can be noted as a clear effect of living in this connected world.

Although these MUDs and CVEs differs from platforms in which user profiles are a more “direct” representation of you [featuring photos, your thoughts in posts, etc] this study can still be seen as useful to learn about this whole notion of an offline online representation as it quite concisely examines how we present ourselves behaviourally when there is a keyboard and screen to hide behind.


The way we choose to tell the story of ourselves online is a complex way in which we can examine how we see our lives and the effects the connected world has had on us. I believe storytelling on social media platforms goes above simply writing long posts about what happened to you recently and is more interactive and importantly encouraged by these large platforms. When we travel somewhere Facebook encourages us to post this journey with geo-location, when we attend an event we are encouraged to tweet using a hashtag for the event and when we watch a television show we are now encouraged to watch along – giving every thought and opinion on some app or social platform.
These alone do not tell much of a story but it is on these user profile timelines as seen on Twitter, Facebook and the Snapchat story that when viewed for their collective value begin to build up a narrative around the individual or organisation and so creates a more rounded identity.

Aisling G M Kelliher (2007) [100] describes the online storytelling that has become prevalent in recent years as “transforming our fragmentary narratives into shareable narratives [which] helps us to understand and communicate who we are as individual and social beings”. This seems to eloquently summarise this idea of taking the offline experiences we have on a daily basis and turning this into content we can like, share and comment on.
It can be argued both that this feature of creating narratives of our offline world on social media platforms in bridging the offline/online gap that exists or that it distances us further from reaching that point as the selection process of what we deem glamorous enough to share on social media can be seen to giving a false account of the “real” that we are striving to understand in this study.

Privacy and Security[edit]


As discussed earlier, in this day and age the technology needed to establish your identity and create your own image is not just available, but it is a necessary part of everyday life with the internet being an integral part of most work and social lives. Social media and dating websites are the two most widely used ways to share private information. Through messages and status updates etc. there is a lot of content shared (supposedly to a selective audience) that people don’t want to be public. This ranges from people hobbies and interests to nude photos and all other types of content: there is a lot of information out there which is shared with the intention of being private, only available to certain individuals. Unfortunately, the expectation that privacy is an option will often leave people disappointed.

Is Snapchat Secure?[edit]

Although privacy is intended by most social media and dating apps, they all tend to have their loopholes and issues that lead to what is meant to be private becoming public. Snapchat is arguably the riskiest social media platform to use in terms of privacy because of the false sense of security they very deliberately provide. This makes is a great example of the limits of to which private information is secure compared to what people believe.
One of the key concepts of the app is that the content you share or send is deleted. They claim very openly that they do not store the data that you post, it is automatically deleted. This feature has dictated the way people use the app, posting content pretty much care free because it will disappear after ten seconds. But the assumption that the information will be gone forever is a decidedly wrong one. There are main reasons that Snapchat is not as secure as people believe.
The first is the one that most are aware of. Even though the image sent is gone (and supposedly deleted forever) that does not stop the receiver from very easily screenshotting the image on their phone; even though Snapchat doesn’t necessarily store it, somebody else can. The saving grace of this loophole is that it is a well-known problem with maintaining privacy; by in large, everybody knows how to do it. On top of this, Snapchat do not deny that screenshotting is a thing. Since the knowledge is public it is not as harmful; people can send Snapchats based on their trust relative to who they are sending the image to.
The second security threat to Snapchat is one that people are not aware of. It demonstrates the dishonesty which comes from social media platform and other apps concerning security and privacy of information. Snapchat clearly states that they do not store any data, it is deleted after it disappears from your phone screen. This is even a core marketable feature of the app. However, this has been proven to be untrue repeatedly. Data shared is not gone forever as promised. This is a little known, though publicly reported fact. The FBI has access to information shared on snapchat and has the right to request it to work on cases. What this means is that Snapchat does indeed store the data users share on its servers.

What Does The Lack Of Security Mean?[edit]

dangerous way in which this fact can be exposed is with hacks. Snapchat’s server has been hacked in the past and supposedly private and deleted content has been shared publicly online. The most famous instance of this was the occurrence of “The Snappening”, the name of which was a reply to “The Fappening”. These were both instances of thousands of naked photos of celebrities (which were obviously intended to be private) being hacked, stolen from the servers (which Snapchat claimed did not hold such data) and posted publicly online.
This all means that Snapchat is an unsafe way to share information privately as people you know can use it in ways you don’t intend and strangers can acquire it without the user’s knowledge. Other social media platforms are very similar in how information that is meant to be private can lack the security people expect. In modern times the personal image of oneself can be created online and offline. It is now clear that doing so online through Social Media etc. offers at most the same amount of privacy as living in reality, where it is also difficult to guarantee security of information.

Production and Consumption[edit]

Social Media Careers[edit]

For students studying a degree like Film and Media it can be very difficult to find work once the degree is done. The field of study is known partially for having few clear job prospects or career paths at the end. The vast number of students in that industry cannot all fit into internships or job placements; there are not enough to go around. Fortunately, there are many new opportunities arising which do not include any physical employment; rather they are done over the internet. There are job opportunities as well as entire careers which centre around social media and producing content entirely online. An example of this is working as a social media manager for a company or even a celebrity. Companies and celebrities use social media to control their image online, which is very important. Thus, there are many opportunities to post content on behalf of a corporation as a Social Media Manager. This is just one of the career paths that can be found online because of new technology. This demonstrates the extent to which online image is important and how one’s career can be defined by online work.

Creative Practices[edit]

The internet can be described as a marketplace- in the way that a market place is a structure where buys and sellers exchange goods, services and information. The internet can be used for all of these things, however the ‘buyer’ and ‘seller’ can exchange these things with their own information rather than legal tender such as money- creating User generated content. Users are just applying the concept of a marketplace to a more social atmosphere. This user generated content is what fills most of the internet and can come in many forms, for example Facebook as a media platform to communicate and share pictures of yourself and follow your interests, and Wikipedia as a way in which to contribute to an online forum and expand your own knowledge and those that engage with the page.

The news has also moved online. The most popular social media apps are ones that circulate or produce news, such as Facebook where many trustworthy news sites post their articles as links online to enable them to be read more widely.


Artificial Intelligence is defined in Russell & Norvig’s seminal textbook Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach as a subject that “encompasses a huge variety of subfields, ranging from the general…to the specific.”[101] For the purposes of this book, Artificial Intelligence will be defined as a machine that can process and comprehend information, and respond to it, in a way that human beings associate with other human beings. This is a colloquial definition of the subject. For other definitions that encompass the ‘general’ and ‘specific’ that Russell & Norvig reference, their textbook covers all.

Implications of Data Collection[edit]

Automated programs are already widely used for data collection ranging from large companies like Google[102] and Facebook, who even collect data from Internet users who are not signed-up users of its website,[103] to government sponsored data collection[104] like the NSA-run surveillance program PRISM.

These programs store and search for data based on specific parameters set by the company, that then evolve based on what information is eventually seen to be useful or noteworthy. For companies, this tends to be whatever information can generate the most revenue. However, James Canton opines that there can be no ‘Big Data’ collection without the use of Artificial Intelligence. The sheer volume and processing of the information generated daily needs it. He says “In a world where there is big data everywhere, the extraction of meaning, the monetization of data for a purpose will be driven by AI.”[105] However, this is at odds with other theories of Artificial Intelligence development. In the film Ex Machina directed by Alex Garland Artificial Intelligence is only created because of humanity’s ability to collect huge amounts of data. In the film, it is theorised that Big Data is less a measure of what people think, but how they think. The scientific advisor for the film, Murray Shanahan, supported such a statement in interview. [106]

When Data Collection has so many real-world consequences then the question of where the divide between online and real-life begins is raised. For the individual, data collection is unseen and silent. It’s effects feel vague and slow to alter our lives, despite the fact they have altered them significantly already. When Artificial Intelligence is added into this mix it becomes a different argument entirely. If Artificial Intelligence is developed, will it be given the same rights as humans? If it is given the same human rights then is it considered a single entity? And if a single entity has the ability to collect huge volumes of data, what is stopping every single entity to collect data too?

Chat Bots and the Future of Online Conversing[edit]

Chat Bots are defined as computer programs that attempt to simulate human conversation through spoken language or through written language. Their purpose is to engage in convincing conversation with the human user on the other end. The first notable chatbot was developed in 1966, and was called ELIZA. development of chatbots has continued until the present day. Originally, the Turing Test was first seen as a measure of a machines intelligence, and consequently of its Artificial Intelligence. Numerous chatbots can now pass the Turing Test, and under specific conditions, the test was passed in 2014[107]

The implications of convincing chatbots are wide-ranging. The nature of communication has changed in the digital age so as to be unrecognisable to pre-digital times. Our smartphones can now automatically respond to received messages with a preassigned response. Additionally, predictive texting algorithms are heavily linked to the development of chatbots. Research was done on the effects of predictive text on spelling and grammar comprehension in children, and found negligible results.[108] However, there has been no research done into the effects that predictive text has on our choice of language. The question must be asked that if predictive text gives us suggestions of which words to use, can it influence our decisions? To what extent does the predictive text algorithm affect and choose our language for us?

The 2013 film Her explores the concept of detached communication further. The character played by Scarlett Johansson is an evolved version of a chatbot, being a disembodied Artificial intelligence program. Communication with her is problematic because she does not have a body and this is explored in the film through her attempted use of an ‘avatar’ who is a real person. Additionally, the main character in Her works as a letter writer, composing love letters between couples and often writing both person’s responses. These people are sending each other messages and communicating without choosing their own language, or being a part of that communication. Again, this strikes one as disembodied forms of communication and speaks to the significant difference between embodied and disembodied Artificial Intelligence.

A.I in Fiction[edit]

The best science fiction has always been seen to be a precursor and accurate prediction of changes that take place in the world. From dystopian in Nineteen Eighty-Four to utopian in Looking Backward:2000-1887, sci-fi literature and film has always ended up blurring the line between what is real, and what is not real. Through it’s very existence and predictive nature it ends up assertively comparing what is real, with what is not-yet-real.

In his landmark book On The Internet, the philosopher Hubert Dreyfus states that “since robots can’t be programmed to behave like people, people will have to learn to behave like robots.”[109] This is a typical pessimistic view of the development of Artificial Intelligence. However, this is not to say that it is wrong. An argument like this is inextricably linked to the Online/Real-Life Divide.

A.I’s Creation to Serve Society[edit]

At it’s essence artificial intelligence is created to serve it’s master. This instant relationship between the creator having power over something that is trying at it’s core to be as close to humans as possible. That fine line between creating a machine that functions and looks like a human but does not ‘think’ and ‘feel’ is the fine that most scifi fiction revolves around. Often the narrative puts the creations in a position of assistance, where humans rely on them in order to function, they are a new piece of technology designed for enhancing or making easier human existence. For example in the Channel 4, TV show “Humans” [110], the “Artificial Intelligence” in the show have human physical features, but their soul purpose is to service humans. From being a nanny and house maid for families to some of the bots being sold to have sex as prostitutes. As an audience, seeing a human face being forced (or not being giving a choice because of programming), to do something they don’t want, especially sexual evokes strong conflicting emotions. Yes, the A.I is created for the purpose of serving society but giving it a human face and voice questions ideas of slavery and brings morals and ethics to mind. A.I creation is a form of technological slavery in an attempt to make human existence easier and usually in fiction it has dangerous repercussions for the creators.

There is however a film that shows how A.I can be used in a positive way. The film “Robot and Frank” [111] portrays a wonderful story of a positive use of A.I technology in assisting an elderly man who lives alone, to live alone. The character of the robot does not have a human face, and perhaps this is the difference, the definitions between robot and human are defined clearly between physicality. However throughout the movie there is use of a human voice and suggested attempts at humour, it builds a level of companionship with Frank the other main character, the character is at it’s element taken as a human relationship but the difference between the two is distinguished throughout due to the different physical appearances.

These two different pieces of fiction really show the different directions of A.I in terms of fiction writing, focusing on the difference and importance of physical appearance and the boundaries that people expect for the future or A.I. There are a never ending list of sci-fi A.I featuring, movies but I think that these show that with a face the audience become to morally confused between the possibilities of human and machine but even without a face an audience gets emotionally attached to the character of the robot.

Where A.I controls society[edit]

The dystopian vision of a society controlled by Artificial Intelligence is born from the theory of technological determinism, a phrase that was first coined by the social scientist Thorstein Veblen to describe a society that causally changes because of developments in technology. This is opposed to cultural determinism which posits that culture is what causally alters developing technologies. This is often the mid/or end point of a scifi feature film, where the technology develops a mind of it’s own and turns against the creator etc. a fantastic example of this is “Eagle Eye” [112]. The film essentially features a ‘super computer’ a common trope again within A.I, it has access to everything, the internet, personal records control over electrical equipment, it is a learning machine with all of the knowledge in the world. In order to save the planet, it’s primary objective, it decides the only way to achieve this is to wipe out the entire race. So unfolds the fight between man and machine, creator and creation. In a fiction sense control is always in extremes where the A.I takes control of itself and uses it’s power to destroy humanity. A common story line even in films such as Wall-e or Meet the Robinsons, humanities fears of the machine rising against us.

Black Mirror – Back to Before[edit]

This episode of Black Mirror is a fantastic look into the line between humanity and A.I creations, and how it can be blurred. Again it is another example of an A.I that uses a human face, but this time it is a specific person who is re-created using artificial intelligence, data trails left on social media, and private usage, the voice re-constructed from phone calls and personality aspects built on a combination of these things as well as from learning memories and experiences after its ‘activation’. It is interesting as it combines many elements of A.I study, it looks at the idea that A.I is created for a particular purpose, in the sense that the main character purchases the A.I creation in order to be re-united with her dead husband, and it really pushes how far humans are willing to accept the use of A.I. This A.I takes information from the chosen persons internet use to compile a character, which is an interesting method that could definitely tie into the theories around the difference between the online self and real self. It is almost as if in this episode these identities are taken to extremes, an example of how the two differ. The main character is driven crazy by the ‘half’ version of her husband and so attempts to use the overriding power she has as the owner, the creator to order him to kill himself. She uses her status as a human creator to try and destroy her creation, the most interesting element is the fact that then, the creation uses it’s knowledge and it’s human face, a human face that she adores to portray human emotion, to portray fear in order to “stay alive”, a term used loosely. But the machine uses it’s knowledge and appearance to further it’s existence therefore outsmarting the human, not for malicious intent just to continue it’s “life”, which again pushes merges the lines between human and A.I.

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6 Active Lifestyle Tips

Posted in Healthy lifestyle

Living an active life is important to staying healthy. Staying active helps to reduce your risk of conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Exercise has also been linked to improved mental health and cognitive function.

You don’t have to be a distance runner to improve your health. The most important thing is that you’re staying active. It helps to:

  • give your heart a workout
  • stay strong
  • maintain a healthy weight

The trick to staying active is to find something you enjoy doing. For some, that means having a friend to exercise with. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going to the gym, walking around the block, dancing along to an aerobics DVD in private, or going out for a quiet bike ride — just get moving.

It can be hard to find your workout style. It can help to mix it up every once in a while. You may find that you like trying something new. Here are some simple strategies you can use to get active and stay active.

Get started: 5 yoga poses perfect for beginners »

If you haven’t been active in several years, start out slow. Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program, as there may be precautions you should take.

In general, you’ll want to start out with sessions of only five or 10 minutes. You can gradually increase the length of your sessions over time.

Your goal for physical activity should be 30 minutes each day. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, three 10-minute sessions are just as good as one longer session. For example, in one day you could do:

  • 10 minutes of dancing before work
  • a 10-minute walk around the parking lot at lunch
  • a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood as soon as you get home

Of course, more exercise is fine! However, take precautions to avoid injuries, such as muscle strain. It’s better to work out a little less one day if it will help you do it again the next.

You don’t just need aerobic exercise. Resistance training or weight lifting is also important. This type of exercise helps strengthen your muscles and bones and improve your balance and coordination. This reduces your risk for osteoporosis. It also helps prevent injuries or falls.

Not sure how to get started? Hire a trainer for a one-time session. If you jot down the routine, you can refer to it later.

Keep reading: The importance of strength training for women »

Many gyms and community centers offer free classes with a monthly membership. Take advantage of those opportunities. You may get to experience some of the newest and hottest fitness trends. You never know what you might fall in love with next. Not up for the gym? Look at your local sports stores for outdoor group activities.

You can get a great workout at home for just pennies. Fitness DVDs are a great way to exercise, and many local libraries have copies you can borrow. Checking out different DVDs can be a great way to find new types of exercise you like.

Another option is to tune in to a fitness show broadcast on TV. Exercise classes of all different types are available on the internet for people of all different levels of fitness.

Other home-friendly workouts that require little or no special equipment include:

  • walking or jogging
  • jumping rope
  • dancing
  • squats
  • weight training with found objects (bags of beans, a heavy book, a water bottle)
  • jumping jacks
  • pushups

Check out the best free workout videos under 20 minutes »

Stretching after a workout should always be part of your routine. Stretching improves flexibility and range of motion. It may also cut your risk of injury or muscle cramps. Finally, stretching improves circulation throughout the body.

If you need guidance on the best ways to stretch, ask a trainer for a quick tutorial.

Read more: The 5-minute daily stretching routine »

Staying active is one of the most important ingredients of a healthy life. This becomes particularly important as you age. You can be creative about fitting in your 30 minutes of activity a day. You can dance while you listen to the news, walk to the grocery store, or take a short walk after dinner. That’s all it takes!

If you’re unable to walk, you can still exercise. Try a chair exercise video, have someone help you with water aerobics in a pool, or play catch with someone from your chair. Throw in some strength training exercises to strengthen your bones and improve your balance, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy lifestyle.

Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regime to make sure that it’s appropriate for your current physical condition.