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Increased Nearsightedness Linked to Higher Education Levels and More Years Spent in School

First population-based study to show that environmental factors may outweigh genetics in nearsightedness (myopia) development; researchers suggest students should spend time outdoors.

German researchers have found strong evidence that attaining a higher level of education and spending more years in school are two factors associated with a greater prevalence and severity of nearsightedness, or myopia. Published online this month in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the research is the first population-based study to demonstrate that environmental factors may outweigh genetics in the development of myopia.

While common, nearsightedness has become even more prevalent around the world in recent years and presents a growing global health and economic concern. Severe nearsightedness is a major cause of visual impairment and is associated with greater risk of retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration, premature cataracts and glaucoma. In the United States, nearsightedness now affects roughly 42 percent of the population. Developed Asian countries report increasing myopia rates of up to 80 percent, the rapid growth rate of which suggests that environmental factors play a significant role. Environmental factors that have been linked to myopia include near work (such as reading or using a computer), outdoor activity, living in urban versus rural areas and education.

To further analyze the association between myopia development and education, researchers at the University Medical Center in Mainz, Germany examined nearsightedness in 4,658 Germans ages 35 to 74, excluding anyone with cataracts or who had undergone refractive surgery. Results of their work, known as the Gutenberg Health Study, show that myopia appeared to become more prevalent as education level increased:

  • 24 percent with no high school education or other training were nearsighted.
  • 35 percent of high school graduates and vocational school graduates were nearsighted.
  • 53 percent of university graduates were nearsighted.
  • In addition to education levels completed, the researchers also found that people who spent more years in school proved to be more myopic, with nearsightedness worsening for each year of school. Furthermore, the researchers looked at the effect of 45 genetic markers, but found it a much weaker factor in the degree of nearsightedness compared to education level.

The antidote to the rise in myopia could be as simple as going outside more often. In the last several years, studies of children and young adults in Denmark and Asia show that more time outdoors and exposure to daylight is associated with less nearsightedness.

“Since students appear to be at a higher risk of nearsightedness, it makes sense to encourage them to spend more time outdoors as a precaution,” said Alireza Mirshahi, M.D., lead author of the study.

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Breakfast Muffin with Crunchy Topping

Ingredients

2 cups plus 3 tbsp unbleached flour
1½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup plus 3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3-1/3 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups blueberries
3 tbsp quick-cooking oats
1½ tbsp margarine

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat tins for 18 muffins with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups unbleached flour, whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Pour buttermilk mixture into the well of the dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Fold in blueberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins.
  4. To make the topping, in a small bowl, combine the oats, 3 tbsp flour, 3 tbsp brown sugar and margarine and stir to blend. Sprinkle an equal amount of topping over each muffin.
  5. Bake muffin until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre of a middle muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 18 muffins.

Source: Cooking for Healthy Living

What’s for Breakfast?

Western Breakfast at Home

The Menu

  • Ham and Vegetables Sandwich
  • Tomato and Apple Juice
  • Salad
  • Yogurt with Kiwi
  • Coffee

Today’s Comic

Wings on Sticks

Ingredients

3½ lb large whole chicken wings (12 to 16)
12 to 16 twelve-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, tender white core from the bottom third only, coarsely chopped (about 3 tbsp)
2 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 green onion, white parts coarsely chopped, green parts thinly sliced (3 to 4 tbsp)
2 Thai bird chilies or 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced (including seeds)
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Vegetable oil for the grill
1/2 cup Thai sweet chili sauce

Method

  1. Pat the chicken wings dry with paper towels. Thread each wing on a bamboo skewer, starting at the meaty end and ending at the wingtip so that the wing is stretched out as much as possible without ripping the skin. Arrange the wings in a large, shallow dish.
  2. In a blender, purée the coconut milk, lemongrass, garlic, green onion whites, chilies, cilantro, fish sauce, ginger, lime juice, and sugar until smooth. Pour the marinade over the wings, turning to coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
  3. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill fire for direct grilling over medium heat (350°F). When ready to cook, clean the grate with a wire brush and, using tongs, wipe the grate with a paper towel or cloth dipped in oil.
  4. Shake off any excess marinade from the wings and wrap the ends of each skewer with a small piece of aluminum foil to protect them from burning. Grill the wings (covered if using a gas grill), flipping halfway through cooking, until golden-brown on the outside and an instant-read thermometer inserted in a thick part of a wing reads 165°F, 16 to 24 minutes total.
  5. Brush the wings on both sides with the sweet chili sauce and grill until the glaze sizzles, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the wings to a platter, sprinkle with the green onion greens, and serve.

Makes 12 to 16 chicken wings.

Source: Fine Cooking