Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Don't Lose Your Head & Stackelberg

I was spooked when I first learnt about acrylamide.  I've blogged about it before a couple of times.  Despite industry assurances, this really is something that you don't want to consume in the doses afforded by modern baked goods and snacks.  One reason for this is that it can, in sufficient doses, affect foetal head development.  And we are not talking implausible doses.  We are talking doses present in a standard Western diet.  From today's Telegraph, "Chips in pregnancy can cause underweight babies",
  • Consuming a vast quantity of chips, crisps and biscuits during pregnancy can lead to babies having a lower than average birth weight, the study found.

    Mothers-to-be who have a high intake of acrylamide - which is found in commonly consumed foods and coffee - are also more likely to have a baby which has a smaller head circumference.

    The size of a child's head has been associated with delayed neurodevelopment while lower birth weights have been associated with adverse health effects in early life and as children grow up.

    Babies born to mothers with a high dietary intake of acrylamide were found to be up to 132 grams lighter than babies born to mothers who had a low intake, researchers said.

Although a food frequency questionnaire has several flaws, these findings were backed up by analysis of the cord blood and the impact with regard to reduced birth weight may be on par with smoking.

Food manufacturers are interested in profits and will 'satisfy' regulation - but as with dopers and testers, the Stackelberg version of game theory shows us that the manufacturers will be one step ahead of what is harmless to our health,
  • "[Stackelberg] requires one entity to establish its defences first whilst the other conducts surveillance to identify weak spots. The notion of a sequential move, with the opposite entity responding to measures established by the first"

Ironically, regulation can help identify areas of legislation to exploit for weakness.  We are edge dwellers.

We've seen quite recently that products like popcorn can cause illness far beyond metabolic syndrome and this is yet another example of modern foods, disarmed of suspicion by their familiarity, posing very real dangers to health.

There is a growing call to advise pregnant women on diet  - but I think we know the answer - just eat real food!  Buy raw ingredients.  (And don't forget exercise).

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