Three works authored by researchers from the Instituto de Saúde Pública da Universidade do Porto (ISPUP) were awarded within the “1st Annual Student Research Conference Global Health Challenges: Diseases of Modern Life”, organized by the European University Alliance for Global Health (EUGLOH), between September 28 and 30, in an online format.
Vanda Craveiro and Elisabete Ramos received the first prize for best oral communication for the work The association of insulin and HOMA-IR with body fat distribution, in the category Noncommunicable and pandemic diseases.
The study, which will later be published in an article, sought to understand whether the distribution of body fat has an influence on insulin levels and insulin resistance in a sample of more than 1,000 young adults in the EPITeen cohort – a longitudinal study that has followed, since 2003, a group of individuals who were born in 1990 and who, at the time, attended public and private schools in the city of Porto.
“From the analyzes carried out, we found that the fat accumulated in the trunk contributes more to the increase in insulin and insulin resistance, than fat mass located in the legs. This happens not only in overweight individuals, but also in those who have a normal weight for age and sex”, says Vanda Craveiro, first author of the study.
The exposure of the Portuguese to methylmercury
Another work awarded was that of researcher Catarina Carvalho entitled Methylmercury exposure in different scenarios of fish intake in the Portuguese population. The study, supervised by Duarte Torres, received the second prize for best oral communication, in the category Environmental challenges: water and food contamination, climate change.
Using a sample from The National Food, Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (IAN-AF), the researchers evaluated the exposure of the Portuguese population to methylmercury – a contaminant that is formed by the action of microorganisms, in the aquatic environment, from inorganic mercury, and that is present in fish, namely in predatory fish, such as tuna, swordfish and dogfish.
As Catarina Carvalho, the first author of the communication, explains, “in addition to assessing the exposure of the Portuguese to methylmercury, we have also created hypothetical scenarios of fish consumption in the population.We intend to create recommendations for fish consumption not only for the general population, but also for specific groups, where the toxic effects resulting from exposure to this contaminant are more serious. Our recommendations address both the risks of methylmercury and the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids”.
The work, which is yet to be published in an article, concluded that about 14% of the general population has an excessive consumption of methylmercury and that this consumption is more problematic among children.
The consumption of ultra-processed foods in Portugal
At the EUGLOH conference, Vânia Magalhães was also awarded the second prize for best oral communication, in the category Environmental challenges: water and food contamination, climate change.
Entitled Ultra-processed foods consumption and its associated factors, in Portugal, the study, supervised by Carla Lopes, “intended to describe the consumption of ultra-processed foods in Portugal and the socioeconomic factors associated with that consumption”, mentions the first author of the work, Vânia Magalhães.
What are ultra-processed foods? They are formulations of ingredients, many for exclusive industrial use, which result from a series of industrial processes. Internationally, this type of food has been associated with worse health outcomes, namely obesity and other cardiometabolic diseases, cancer and mortality.
The award-winning communication used a sample of about 5,000 IAN-AF participants, aged between 3 and 84 years. The study concluded that, in Portugal, the average daily consumption of ultra-processed foods is 313g, which corresponds to about 13% of the total amount of food consumed. The findings, which will also be published in an article, highlight the age group of adolescents as the one with the highest consumption, exceeding 500g per day.
For more information about this European University Alliance for Global Health (EUGLOH) conference, in which ISPUP was awarded, click the link.