A moment on the lips…….

Did you know that the average woman consumes approximately 6 lb of lipstick in her lifetime?   With tempting lipstick names such as Truly Toffee, Raisin Hell, Triple Chocolate Parfait and Vaseline’s latest product ‘Sugar Coated’ lip balm, it’s hardly surprising.


sugar lips

One study analysed more than 1,700 lipstick names from 52 manufacturers.

The study found that:

  • 24% of the lipsticks reviewed were named after food.
  • 97% of women age 18 – 24 wear lip colour.
  • Lipsticks are the most shoplifted cosmetic! (Not recommended)
  • This is a multi million pound industry, just for women.

There is also some evidence that lipstick sales have an inverse relationship with national calamity and economic downturn. 

The study also reported that:

  • During the Great Depression when food and other necessities were scarce, women still found money to buy lipstick to boost their morale.
  • Following the September 11th tragedy sales of lipstick increased by 13% in quarter four.
  • During periods of economic downturn lipstick sales have been seen to rise by nearly 12%.


When manufacturers use names like Raspberry Soufflé or Triple Peach Pie to sell lipsticks they are trying to stimulate the palate in addition to the eye or ear, which is a phenomenon called synesthesia. I experienced this yesterday when I just had to buy the pink tin promising sugar coated lips! 

From a nutrition perspective I think a little bit of what you fancy does you good and no food should be forbidden, but I do like the idea of buying a Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie lipstick instead of an actual chocolate brownie.

Girls whatever your age, put your lippy on and a smile.


Merskin, D. (2007)  Truly Toffee and Raisin Hell: A Textural Analysis of Lipstick.







Busy month of CPD activity – November

The busy month started with a day at the Countess of Chester Hospital where I met the most amazing group of dietitians from different specialisms and finished with a day at the Association for Nutrition Regional Networking Meeting in Manchester, where I met some really lovely people all very enthusiastic about their dissertations and PHD’s.

CPD is defined by the Health Care Professions Council (2014) as:

  • “the way professionals continue to learn and develop throughout their careers so they keep their skills and knowledge up to date and are able to work safely, legally and effectively”

I also managed to deliver a presentation for my Personal Career Development Module, spent a day job shadowing at Public Health England and submitted my application to Chester University for a Postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics. Phew!!

December is a bit quieter, I’m attending the Edge Hill Scholarship Awards on Friday and then off to London again for the Nutrition Society Winter Meeting. Val

Val's November CPD Activity

Val’s November CPD Activity

3rd Year Edge Hill Nutrition Students at the Association for Nutrition Regional Meeting

3rd Year Edge Hill Nutrition Students at the Association for Nutrition Regional Meeting

Royal Liverpool Hospital Food and Nutrition event - Joyce and Margi

Royal Liverpool Hospital Food and Nutrition event – Joyce and Margi

‘Food Matters Live’ event – Brilliant!

This week I was lucky enough to spend 3 days in London at ‘Food Matters Live’ the new annual cross-sector forum bringing together professionals from nutrition, health, government, food manufacturing, retail and food service.

Great fun meeting up with Geraldine

Great fun meeting up with Geraldine

The event endorsed by the Association for Nutrition as a CPD activity was buzzing with over 200 exhibitors, all with interesting stories to tell or new products to try.  Some of the new products I sampled were:

  • Cricket fudge – Containing protein rich edible insects available from
  • Birch tree sap – This Eastern European sweet drink, is said to have an array of health benefits
  • Natural colouring for food – Great idea, nothing artificial just fruit & veg
  • Coconut water – All sorts of flavours and brands were on offer
  • Baobab and moringa – Drinks and energy bars made from these African ‘super-ingredients’ – tasty

With over eighty seminars and a busy schedule of conference sessions I was in my element. Janet Street Porter and Michael Mosley were good value and Jay Raynor was over the top as ever!

Food Matters Live 18-20.11.14

Food Matters Live 18-20.11.14

I attended seminars on allergy and intolerance, nano-technology, packaging, health and wellbeing and conference sessions on tackling childhood obesity and the future of nutrition in a resource constrained world and the role of media in marketing.

Getting to ask a panel of experts a question linked to my dissertation was my personal highlight.

My question:

Do you think people have a good level of knowledge of the link between diet and disease across the socioeconomic gradient

The panel said:

“they were not aware of any studies measuring this but there was evidence that people don’t make the link between diet and disease especially at the lower end of the socioeconomic gradient. In reality the panel thought people were concerned with meeting basic hunger needs rather than thinking about the consequences of what they are eating. As to whether people ever considered that the cheeseburger they were eating would cause heart disease or breast cancer for example – the panel thought not!’


The distinguished panel who answered my dissertation question:Dr Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet and Population Health in the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, The University of Oxford and Chair of The Department of Health Food Network Partington, Director General, British Soft Drinks Association (Host) Samira Ahmed, Broadcaster, Journalist and Writer Dr David Haslam, GP & Senior Partner & Chair of National Obesity Forum Dr Angela Donkin, Senior Advisor, UCL, Institute of Health Equity

The distinguished panel who answered my dissertation question:Dr Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet and Population Health in the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, The University of Oxford & Chair of The Department of Health Food Network
Gavin Partington, Director General, British Soft Drinks Association
(Host) Samira Ahmed, Broadcaster, Journalist and Writer
Dr David Haslam, GP & Senior Partner & Chair of National Obesity Forum
Dr Angela Donkin, Senior Advisor, UCL, Institute of Health Equity 

I had a really great time and as a nutrition student the breadth of topics discussed were amazing. I thought getting everyone together at one event was a brilliant idea! Chatting with like-minded people, listening to the conference speakers and finding out about new developments in the food, nutrition and health arena over the 3 day period gave me a broader view of this dynamic industry – definitely time well spent.

I was only able to attend because of my Edge Hill Scholarship Award so will be eternally grateful.


Meet Hayley a mother who followed her instinct…

As a nutrition student I love chatting to people about nutrition related health issues. This week I met Hayley Anderson who delivers ‘Walking Away From Diabetes’ sessions at the Skelmersdale Community Food Initiative. Hayley a former Community Nurse, who studied at Edge Hill University, shared with me the story of her son Evan and the concerns she had about his digestive health, from an early age.

Hayley & Evan

Hayley & Evan

Hayley told me that as a baby Evan had suffered from recurring bouts of reflux, projectile vomiting and problems swallowing and how initially this was put down to possetting or common digestive problems.

Having trained as a nurse Hayley was able to question what she was being told by health professionals, and press for an endoscopy to investigate further. The endoscopy revealed that Evan was suffering from a severe case of Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) an allergic / immune condition which causes inflammation or swelling of the oesophagus which is the tube that sends food from the mouth to the stomach.

A 2013 study by Redd & Schey reported that the prevalence of EoE is said to have increased significantly over the past few years, however, it is unclear whether the prevalence is actually increasing or if health professionals are just recognising it more often.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) outline that in EoE patients, large numbers of white blood cells called eosinophils are found in the tissue of the oesophagus, where there are normally none. EoE is said to occur at any age and most commonly occurs in Caucasian males.

Evan in hospital

Evan in hospital

The symptoms of EoE are said to vary with age:

  • Babies and toddlers may refuse food or not grow properly.
  • School-age children may suffer from recurring abdominal pain, vomiting or have trouble swallowing.
  • Teenagers and adults most often have difficulty swallowing. The oesophagus can narrow to the point that food gets stuck and is called food impaction which is a medical emergency.The 2013 study referred to earlier, provides details of treatments such as the six food elimination diet which is the treatment being tried by Hayley and Evan. The diet is based on removing those foods groups with the most allergenic potential, namely, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, and seafood. This diet is less restrictive than elemental / formula diets and does not require the in-depth allergy testing necessary in specific food elimination diets. Studies in adults have shown varied results, which are possibly associated with the degree of compliance to the diet itself. There is evidence from one study of 35 patients with EoE, which found that 74 % of the patients showed improvements both clinically and histologically.
Evan lost weight when he was first born

Evan lost weight when he was first born

I was in a similar position to Hayley before my son was diagnosed coeliac disease, and like Hayley I just knew that there was something wrong and wouldn’t give up. Evan is very lucky to have Hayley as his mum, our concern is that other children may not be so lucky and be suffering unnecessarily.

For me as a Nutrition and Health student this case highlights the importance of ongoing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and keeping up to date with new research findings.

Evan after his diagnosis

Evan now after his diagnosis of Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)

Both Hayley and I say to parents everywhere you know your babies better than anyone else, so follow your instincts.


More information on EoE can be found on the following websites:


Redd, M. & Schey, R. (2013) Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Current Treatment, Digestive Diseases and Sciences<spacer.gif>58.3<spacer.gif>

Free school meals!

From September 2014, all pupils in Reception class, Year 1 and Year 2 in state schools in England, will be eligible for free schools meals.SchoolFood-5957-low-res

This strikes a chord with me, as me and my sister (Pam) who also became eligible for school meals, not because the Government was taking a bold step to improve what children ate at school or to reduce childhood obesity like today, but because our Dad passed away suddenly reason: ‘myocardial infarction’.

I’m hoping today’s children have a very different experience than I did. My memories of school dinners are not good and include:

  • Soggy, foul smelling cabbage
  • Pasty semolina, made more palatable with a blob of jam
  • Frog spawn tapioca
  • Tinned tomatoes swimming in their own blood like juice
  • Lumpy s’mash scooped out with an ice cream scoop
  • Horrible cheese pie – Pam’s particular favourite!

How things change, now cabbage is one of my favourite veg, fresh tomatoes and smooth buttery mash are a treat, but I still can’t face a cheese pie!

From September things in England’s schools should be very different. Headteachers are going to be responsible for driving forward a massive culture change.  They are tasked with making dining halls more welcoming, with little queuing, and serving food that is both appetising and nutritious. The School Food Plan
has been designed to help head teachers achieve this vision.

The change is coming about because the country faces a serious health crisis caused by bad diet with almost 20% of children leaving school obese. Only 1% of packed lunches were found to meet nutritional standards and schools were losing money from having half empty dining halls.

The food to be offered at lunch time must now meet nutrient-based standards including:

  • limiting the amount of fat, saturated fat, sugar, salt and non-intrinsic sugar (added sugar).
  • minimum levels of nine nutrients; carbohydrates, protein, fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron, and zinc.

I really do hope its a great success to help children to achieve their full academic potential, avoid obesity, and reduce the risk of heart disease that I know can devastate a family.  My good luck goes to heads, teachers and the army of dinner ladies (and men) who are the ones that can really make this work.




A is for Aspartame; B is for Barge pole!

There is evidence that more and more consumers are losing confidence in artificial sweeteners with 38% of people in a recent poll saying they actively avoided food & drink with artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame.  This figure is a rise of 7% since 2012 when 31% said they avoided it.


These concerns were reported in ‘The Grocer’ the on-line fast moving consumer goods magazine, who also referred to further evidence that 40% of consumers would potentially buy more diet products if they contained only natural sweeteners.

Aspartame is the artificial sweetener also referred to as E951. It is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar, and has been used in soft drinks and other low-calorie or sugar-free foods worldwide for over 25 years.

The scepticism felt by consumers about artificial sweeteners, is backed up by a study in to the ‘Neurobehavioural effects of aspartame consumption’,  published April 2014. This particular research found that those consuming high-aspartame diets, exhibited more depression, more irritable mood, and performed worse on spatial tests. It didn’t however link aspartame consumption with impaired working memory.

There is a whole host of other research focusing on artificial sweeteners, some saying it’s harmless some saying the complete opposite. The Food Standards Agency however outlines that the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) set for aspartame is 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This is equivalent to 2800 milligrams for an average British adult and means that an adult would have to consume 14 cans of a sugar free drink every day before reaching the ADI. That is assuming the sweetener was used in the drink at the maximum permitted level.

Whatever the evidence or ADI, it appears that many consumers wouldn’t touch artificial sweeteners with a barge pole.


References & links:
The Grocer 23.8.14 Artificial sweeteners: consumer suspicion on the rise.

Lindseth, GN., Coolahan, S.E.,  Petros. T.V., & Lindseth. P.D. (2014) Neurobehavioral Effects of Aspartame Consumption, Research in nursing and health.

FutureLearn – Obesity: Causes and consequences

Although I’ve finished University for the summer I have just started a 4 week on-line course focusing on ‘Obesity: Causes and Consequences’.   I didn’t know what to expect but already I’m enthralled.

Look for this image on the FutureLearn website

Look for this image on the FutureLearn website








The course is free and is being run by the University of Reading. It is being hosted by FutureLearn and is very interactive with videos, links to journal articles, polls and case studies. Course participants are from a wide range of backgrounds and are encouraged to interact with each other and share their views by posting comments on-line.

The driver for this particular course is the global obesity epidemic and the concern that as the world gets fatter, many aspects of day to day life are being impacted. I found out about it via the Nutrition Society Website but you can go direct to FutureLearn and there are lots of other free courses on offer.

In the first session some really good journal articles have been recommended.  One explored negative stereotypes about obesity from a health professionals perspective and a British Medical Journal (2013) article highlighted some interesting data, including:

  • More than two thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese.
  • Prevalence of obesity in US adults is leveling out after 3 decades of big rises.
  • Although the rates have started to level the long term effects of obesity are a major cause for concern.
  • The study found that obesity rates were high (33%) in those who earned less than $25,000 (£16,000).
  • Obesity rates in adults who did not graduate from high school was found to be 35%.

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the course and over the next 4 weeks will let you know how I’m getting on.




McCarthy, M. (2013) US obesity rates are leveling out, but long term effects raise concern. British Medical Journal.347:f5213

Transition day

I am just finishing off my final assignment of the year, which is to develop a primary research proposal as part of the Understanding Research Module. The limit is 4,000 words and I’m up to 4,399 so the challenge is to cut it down but make sure the learning outcomes are met and the relevant points we have covered throughout the year are included. I’m planning to undertake primary research for my dissertation next year so this assignment is really going to give me a head start as it’s helping me to refine my ideas.

When I go back to University in September I’ll be in my final year and to prepare for this I attended a Transition Day for Health and Social Care students at Edge Hill.

I got a great deal out of the event and came away both excited and bit apprehensive about the challenges ahead. This is what we covered:

The day started with a warm welcome from our Programme lead (Hazel Flight) who stressed the importance of good time management, taking note of feedback, accessing support well in advance and turning up for lectures.

Dissertation preparation
Gill Brown & Lucy Gibson provided a good insight into preparing for our dissertation. Here are the key points:

  • It’s 8,000 words
  • Is an extended piece of research
  • It can either be a literature review or primary research
  • Start reading over the summer and come back in September with a firm idea for a research topic
  • Ask our dissertation supervisor for advice and guidance, making sure we have specific questions to ask to maximise the time available.

Ethics: Jeremy Brown talked about the importance of getting ethical approval before any research is undertaken and directed us to a few good websites including the British Education Research Association covering ethical guidelines for schools.

Level 6 writing: Iain Gannon delivered a presentation about level 6 writing and the importance of critical appraisal and good referencing.

After lunch Kevin O’hara, Nicci and Sue from West Lancs CVS talked passionately about the benefits of volunteering and the wide range of volunteering opportunities available. Sue provided information on Connect 4 Life an innovative community focused project, and the great work they do including developing personal profiles and circles of support. Nicci runs the Volunteer Centre recruiting organisations and volunteers and matching them up. She encouraged everyone to volunteer and talked enthusiastically about how it can help develop new skills and improve your CV. For more information on their work see:


Personal and Career Development Module

Peter Leadbetter and Hazel outlined the module and gave details of the 20 day placements we need to do next year.

The Student Experience
We gained a real insight into year 3 from students who are about to graduate. They stressed the importance of reading and we were advised to do a plan in September and stick to it.

It was a really worthwhile event will definitely stand me in good stead for the new academic year.


Nutrition across the lifespan

I’m in the middle of an assignment for my module ‘Nutrition across the Lifespan’ and am finding out some really interesting information that I wanted to share.

One area I am considering is what determines how healthy we are.

There is strong evidence that our health is shaped by events that happen throughout our life course, from the point of conception to the moment of death. Nutrition is a key factor and there is strong evidence that suboptimal nutrition leads to a range of non communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

The dietary choices made at each life stage can have a positive or negative impact on our health.

  • A poor maternal diet can have detrimental impact on the developing foetus,
  • Protective effects can be seen from breastfeeding
  • Positive energy balance can lead to obesity in children
  • Adolescents who make poor nutritional choices can harm natural growth and development.
  • Risk factors such as high cholesterol and blood pressure may be diagnosed, modified and treated in adulthood.
  • Low vitamin D intake can lead to poor absorption of calcium and weaker bones in older adults

Lifestyle choices we make also have an impact and there is evidence of the following:

  • Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index reduces your likelihood of diseases such as type 2 diabetes
  • Eating fruit and vegetables helps protect against illness and disease
  • The more affluent you are the more fruit and vegetables you eat
  • Smokers have a higher intake of meat and saturated fat and lower fibre diet
  • Older adults gravitate to softer foods high in sugar and fat due to oral sensitivities
  • Adults in the UK eat too much fat
  • A diet high in fat can clog up your arteries and cause heart disease (see image illustrating blocked arteries)
  • Resource deprived communities may have less access to healthier food choices
  • Habits formed in childhood are carried through to adult hood
  • Those who join a new social circle will adopt the habits of the new one
  • Body composition changes is older adults (65+) and energy requirements are lower 
  • Adopting a Mediterranean diet can help prevent obesity, at all ages
  • Image

I’m having a great time reading the many journal articles on the subject but reading is not enough I need to share my findings and encourage others to make changes. So next time you choose a packet of crisps or sugary drink, over a healthier alternative, think the health implications are long lasting and may catch up with you later in life. Switching to healthier meals and snacks, increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables,  or having a cool drink of water will improve your health status now and you’ll reap the benefits into old age.


Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention event

I had a break from studying earlier this week, when a friend invited me to a charity fundraising event at her daughters school.

🔹The Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Healthy Lifestyle Evening’, was fascinating and right up my street.

The lecture was delivered by Professor Tony Howell, Professor of Oncology at the University of Manchester and Dr Michelle Harvie, award-winning research dietician, both based at the Genesis Prevention Centre.

They explained how their primary research has helped to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, and heart disease, along with maintaining a healthy body weight and lifestyle, through the internationally best selling, clinically proven Genesis book, ‘The 2-Day Diet’. For more information about the book check out:http://<

🔹We discovered that this research was the basis for the Michael Mosley Horizon programme ‘Eat, fast and Live Longer’ that caused a stir last year, when it examined the powerful science behind the ancient idea of fasting.

🔹We were introduced to the work of the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention which is the only UK charity that is entirely dedicated to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer. It exists to fund preventative breast cancer research into various factors such as genetics, family history and health and lifestyle.

Here are some facts about breast cancer! More information is available via the following link:

🔹1 in 10 women in the UK will develop breast cancer at some time during their life.

🔹Breast cancer is the biggest cause of death for women between 35 and 55 years of age.

🔹50,000 women develop breast cancer every year in the UK – one of the highest rates in the world.

🔹Although breast cancer death rates in the UK are decreasing, the incidence of breast cancer is still increasing.

🔹Only 2% of UK cancer research funds are currently spent on prevention.

A question you may be asking is how does this impact younger women. To answer that question we need to consider the life course perspective on health, which is a concept based on the theory that events that happen in earlier life stages have a direct influence on later stages. So in plain English: having a poor diet, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight or obese at a young age can have health implications later on.

🔹The Professor outlined that being overweight can increase a women’s chance of developing breast cancer, but losing some or all of that weight will have a positive impact, and can reduce the chances of developing the disease. This is where the 2 day diet, comes in.

I really enjoyed the event and it was great to be able to ask the authors questions. It also stressed the importance of primary research to help test out and develop new theories.