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Can oral care for babies prevent future cavities?

Published August 15, 2011
New parents have one more reason to pay attention to the oral health of their toothless babies. A recent University of Illinois study confirms the presence of bacteria associated with early childhood caries (ECC) in infant saliva.

ECC is a virulent form of caries, more commonly known as tooth decay or a cavity. Cavities are the most prevalent infectious disease in U.S. children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"By the time a child reaches kindergarten, 40 percent have dental cavities," said Kelly Swanson, lead researcher and U of I professor of animal science. "In addition, populations who are of low socioeconomic status, who consume a diet high in sugar, and whose mothers have low education levels are 32 times more likely to have this disease."

Swanson's novel study focused on infants before teeth erupted, compared to most studies focused on children already in preschool or kindergarten — after many children already have dental cavities.

"We now recognize that the 'window of infectivity,' which was thought to occur between 19 and 33 months of age years ago, really occurs at a much younger age," he said. "Minimizing snacks and drinks with fermentable sugars and wiping the gums of babies without teeth, as suggested by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, are important practices for new parents to follow to help prevent future cavities."

In addition, his team used high-throughput molecular techniques to characterize the entire community of oral microbiota, rather than focusing on identification of a few individual bacteria.

"Improved DNA technologies allow us to examine the whole population of bacteria, which gives us a more holistic perspective," Swanson said. "Like many other diseases, dental cavities are a result of many bacteria in a community, not just one pathogen."

Through 454 pyrosequencing, researchers learned that the oral bacterial community in infants without teeth was much more diverse than expected and identified hundreds of species. This demonstration that many members of the bacterial community that cause biofilm formation or are associated with ECC are already present in infant saliva justifies more research on the evolution of the infant oral bacterial community, Swanson said.

Could manipulating the bacterial community in infants before tooth eruption help prevent this disease in the future?

"The soft tissues in the mouth appear to serve as reservoirs for potential pathogens prior to tooth eruption," he said. "We want to characterize the microbial evolution that occurs in the oral cavity between birth and tooth eruption, as teeth erupt, and as dietary changes occur such as breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, liquid to solid food, and changes in nutrient profile."

Swanson said educating parents-to-be on oral hygiene and dietary habits is the most important strategy for prevention of dental cavities.

"Comparative analysis of salivary bacterial microbiome diversity in edentulous infants and their mothers or primary care givers using pyrosequencing" was published on August 10 in PLoS ONE. Researchers include Kelly Swanson, Kimberly Cephas, Juhee Kim, Rose Ann Mathai and Kathleen Barry of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Scot Dowd of the Research and Testing Laboratory and Medical Biofilm Research Institute in Lubbock, Texas; and Brandon Meline of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. This study was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture-Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (project ILLU-538-396).

Digital photo available for three months at http://images.itcs.uiuc.edu/media/infantsaliva

No room to increase corn consumption

Published August 15, 2011
The USDA projects that 13.245 billion bushels of U.S. corn will be consumed during the marketing year that ends on Aug. 31, 2011. That forecast is 60 million bushels below the July forecast but is 179 million bushels above the record consumption in the previous year, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

"Corn exports during the year just ending are projected at a six-year low of 1.825 billion bushels. Domestic feed and residual use of corn is projected at only 5 billion bushels, the smallest use in 15 years," he said.

Declining feed use of corn since 2005-06 reflects the increasing consumption of distiller's grains and other co-products of ethanol production, he noted.

"Domestic processing use of corn during the current marketing year is expected to reach a record 6.42 billion bushels, 459 million more than consumed last year. The increase reflects an expected increase of 429 million bushels in the amount of corn used for ethanol and by-product production," he said.

Based on the current USDA projection of the magnitude of old-crop corn supplies on Sept. 1, 2011, and the projected size of the 2011 crop, corn consumption may have to be reduced by a small amount during the 2011-12 marketing year, he said.

Stocks of 940 million bushels, imports of 20 million bushels, and production of 12.914 billion bushels provide for a 2011-12 marketing year supply of 13.874 billion bushels. The projected supply is 311 million bushels less than the supply for the current marketing year, he said.

"Assuming that marketing year-ending stocks cannot be reduced below 5 percent of consumption, projected supplies would limit 2011-12 marketing year consumption to 13.213 billion bushels, leaving year-ending stocks at 661 million bushels," he said.

The actual supply of corn that will be available for use during the year ahead may differ from the current projection. The size of old-crop stocks on Sept. 1 will not be known until the USDA releases the quarterly Grain Stocks report on Sept. 30. The size of the 2011 corn crop will not be known until the USDA releases the final estimate in January 2012, he said.

New forecasts, however, will be available in September, October, and November. Historically, the October forecast has been reasonably close to the final production estimate, he said.

"Assuming that available supplies will limit corn consumption during the year ahead, two important issues emerge. The first is: How will available supplies be allocated among the major consumption sectors? The second is: What price of corn will be needed to limit consumption to the level of available supplies?" he said.

The USDA's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report released on Aug. 11 projected a further decline in exports and domestic feed and residual use of corn during the year ahead. Domestic processing use is projected to increase as ethanol production continues to expand modestly, he added.

According to Good, U.S. exports during the 2011-12 marketing year are projected at an eight-year low of 1.75 billion bushels. The projection reflects expectations that wheat will substitute for some corn feeding around the world, he said.

"Wheat feeding outside the United States is expected to increase by about 340 million bushels, or 8.2 percent," he said.

Sales of U.S. corn for export during the 2011-12 marketing year have been relatively large, Good said.

"As of Aug. 4, the USDA reported that 327 million bushels of corn had been sold for export. Sales were 68 percent larger than those of a year earlier and represent nearly 19 percent of the projected exports for the year," he said.

Good said that all the major importers have purchased larger quantities of U.S. corn than at this time last year. With the large carryover sales from the current year, the 2011-12 marketing year will start with very large corn export sales on the books.

Domestic feed and residual use of corn during the 2011-12 marketing year is projected at 4.9 billion bushels, 2 percent below the projection for the current year. If supplies were available, feed consumption of corn would likely be larger than the USDA projection, he noted.

"The 2011 calf crop is expected to be only 1 percent smaller than the 2010 crop, dairy cattle numbers exceed those of a year ago, and pork production has stabilized. Placements of broiler chicks are down about 5 percent from those of a year earlier," he said.

Only a small increase in distiller's grain production is expected, less sorghum will be fed, and wheat feeding may decline next summer. The USDA expects high corn prices to limit corn feeding, he added.

According to Good, the use of corn for ethanol and co-product production is expected to increase by a very modest 80 million bushels (1.6 percent) during the year ahead. Ethanol production (consumption) will be influenced by total fuel consumption, gasoline prices, and perhaps the fate of the blender's tax credit.

Corn consumption during the year ahead could be rationed by weaker demand and/or higher corn prices. Ongoing economic and financial weakness speaks to some demand weakness, but the majority of any needed rationing will likely have to come from a continuation of high corn prices, he said.

"What remains to be seen is how much rationing, if any, will be needed. Based on the way the growing season is ending, the size of the 2011 crop could be smaller than the August projection, requiring even more rationing than currently anticipated," he said.

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Acquire the lay of your land

Published August 15, 2011
Small-acreage landowners will learn everything from stewardship practices to income opportunities during the Illinois Living on the Land 10-week course held Sept. 28 through Nov. 30 on Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m.

"The purpose of the course is to help people sustainably manage smaller acreage properties from about 1 acre to 50 acres," said University of Illinois Extension local foods and small farms educator Ellen Philips. "Participants will gain a better understanding of how to manage their property from current landowners, local industry experts, agency professionals, and U of I Extension educators teaching the course."

The session topics include inventorying of resources, managing soil, living with streams and ponds, managing well and septic systems, managing pastures and lawns, controlling weeds, beginning a business using small acreages, and much more.

"This class is really helpful, especially if you are not from a farming background. It teaches you all kinds of things you should think about from where to put a well to what kinds of crops to grow based on your property's soil type. They have a little of everything," said Cindy Gustafson, a former Illinois Living on the Land participant.

The course will feature a farm tour and a "What We Wish We Knew" small acreage owner's panel. Participants will also develop a plan for their property using key information from the course. In addition, they will receive feedback, helpful resources and ongoing support.

"Before this course, we owned property, but we were just leasing out the tillable acreage. Today we sustainably farm over four acres, sell produce at farmers markets, and run a hunting club as well," Gustafson said.

Four of the classes will be held at U of I Extension offices, including the Will Unit in Joliet, the Boone Unit in Belvidere, the Stephenson Unit in Freeport and the Sangamon Unit in Springfield. The remaining five classes will be taught through online webinars. The tour will be determined by each county.

A $200 registration fee is due by Sept. 26 for all 10 sessions, and additional family members may register for $100. This fee includes one handbook per family. You may also register for individual sessions featuring topics of interest for $30 per session. To register or get a brochure, go to web.extension.illinois.edu/state/calendar_event.cfm?ID=55266.

Participants will need a computer, Internet connection (or PowerPoint or PowerPoint Viewer) and a speaker phone to access the webinar classes.

For a complete listing of session topics, registration questions and additional information about the course or the equipment requirements, call the office where you wish to attend. For Boone County, call 815-544-3710, for Will County, call 815-727-9296, for Sangamon County, call 217-782-4617, and for Stephenson County, call 815-235-4125.

CHS Foundation supports U of I students at Ag Media Summit

Published August 15, 2011
The CHS Foundation granted $1,000 to the University of Illinois Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow through a mini-grants program to send Claire Benjamin and Renee Deuth to the Agricultural Media Summit (AMS) in New Orleans, La.

While there, Benjamin and Deuth attended industry workshops, networked with industry professionals, and connected with other agricultural communications students from across the country. After returning from the summit, Benjamin said she obtained knowledge and advice that will advance her writing and her career.

"I gained so much from this experience. The writing and Adobe workshops provided me with skills that will serve me well in the years ahead," she said.

Deuth said it would not have been possible to attend without the assistance from the CHS Foundation.

"We really appreciate the opportunity to attend AMS and the financial support that helped get us there," Deuth said.

Benjamin and Deuth attended AMS July 23 through 26. During this time, they attended a session on teamwork and "never giving up" from Nick Lowery, former NFL football player and keynote speaker. They also attended workshops on writing, photography, graphic design, and other communications essentials.

"We are proud to support the efforts of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and thank you for the opportunity to continue investing in the future of agriculture, rural America, and cooperative business through education and leadership development," said William J. Nelson, president of CHS Foundation.

Prepared by Whitney Lynch, 217-333-9355, lynch21@illinois.edu

Channel Pet's Need to Chew and Scratch

Published August 15, 2011
An archive of Pet Columns from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine is available online at http://vetmed.illinois.edu/petcolumns/. Requests for reprints of this article may be directed to Chris Beuoy, beuoy@illinois.edu.

Shredded tissues. Destroyed shoes. A gnawed coffee table. These are just a few of the things I have come home to after leaving my puppy unattended. Similarly many cat owners discover that their couch or curtains have been shredded by sharp claws. A hassle for you and a potential danger for your pet, chewing and scratching are behaviors that should be addressed.

Dr. Kelly Ballantyne, a veterinarian at the University of Illinois Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine, says that chewing for dogs and scratching for cats are behaviors that we should expect from our four-legged friends.

"These behaviors should not be discouraged but directed to appropriate objects," she says. Starting when your pet is young, you need to supervise your pet so that you can direct him to chew or scratch the appropriate items. For puppies and adult dogs, you can do this by providing them with chewable toys. If you are not able to supervise your dog, Dr. Ballantyne recommends confining him to a crate or pen with chew toys to prevent the destruction of household items. The chew toys should be durable, to prevent your dog from biting pieces off that could be swallowed, leading to potential intestinal issues. Strong, rubber toys with depressions or cavities in which you can place food or treats can also help to encourage your dog to chew on those items specifically.

For kittens and cats, you should provide scratching posts in multiple locations to encourage scratching of those items rather than your furniture. Any given cat may differ on its scratching preferences, so Dr. Ballantyne advises that you try various set-ups to determine what your cat prefers. You can place a post vertically or horizontally and in several locations of the house. The key is that the material of the post be shreddable, because cats use their scratching as a means of visual communication.

"Cardboard scratching posts are inexpensive and typically well-liked," Dr. Ballantyne recommends. "You can also attach toys to the post, or place catnip around the post, to encourage investigation and scratching."

Many pet owners have trouble directing these behaviors to the appropriate outlets. Until your pet can be trusted on its own, confinement to a crate or small "pet-proofed" room can save you a lot in the way of destroyed objects. Dr. Ballantyne says that such confinement can prevent reinforcement of the inappropriate behavior, and will likely allow your pet more freedom as an adult.

When pets continue to chew or scratch inappropriate objects, you should consider what you are providing them with as an outlet and how you are presenting it. For example, if you give an old shoe to a dog to chew on, he will learn that chewing on shoes is okay and may also chew on your brand new pair. Only items that are specifically for chewing should be provided.

If your cat continues to scratch a piece of furniture despite access to scratching posts, you can also place the post directly in front of the location where the cat has been scratching. Then the cat will be more likely to scratch the post than the piece of furniture. If your cat seems to have an affinity for a particular material, you can cover a scratching post with a similar material to encourage the scratching in a more appropriate location.

You may also need to take a look at your pet's personality overall. Some pets may be overly destructive for other reasons. If the destruction takes place primarily when you are away from the home, your pet may have separation anxiety. Puppies and kittens (as well as high-energy adult animals) can also be more likely to chew or scratch destructively if they don't have appropriate outlets for their energy. Increasing the amount of exercise and mental stimulation your pet gets daily may also help in preventing such destructive behaviors.

In the long run, the effort to train your pet and to provide him with appropriate chewing, scratching, and energy outlets could save you a lot of heartache and money related to destroyed household items and emergency veterinary bills.

For further information on appropriate chewing and scratching, please contact your local veterinarian.

An archive of Pet Columns from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine is available online at http://vetmed.illinois.edu/petcolumns/. Requests for reprints of this article may be directed to Chris Beuoy, beuoy@illinois.edu.

Veterinary Extension/Office of Public Engagement
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
217/333-2907

UI students receive BP grant to study biomass

Published August 11, 2011
URBANA - Five undergraduate students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign received a $5,000 grant from British Petroleum to research the engineering properties of biomass. The students wrote the grant to develop a virtual database that will tell end users the properties of different types of energy crops, such as sorghum, Miscanthus, switchgrass, willow and energy cane, and their value for energy production.

Su Jung Lee, Rachel Gross and Colleen Moloney, all agricultural and biological engineering students, began the project while working in the lab of Luis Rodriguez, a professor in the U of I's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Ian Moses, a junior in mechanical engineering with an avid interest in alternative fuels, joined the group, as did Kevin Today, a computer science major.

"I knew I wanted to learn more about alternative fuels," said Moses, "so I decided to contact a professor working in that area to see if I could work with him. One of the professors I contacted was Dr. Rodriguez, and he eventually offered me a job.

"Dr. Rodriguez found the opportunity for this grant," Moses continued, "and it had the kind of scope that we could deal with as undergraduates. Our different majors play a role in the work that we do. As a mechanical engineering major, I've designed some of the equipment that we'll use for our testing, and Kevin has been very helpful with the computer programming we've had to do. But for the most part, the work is fairly interchangeable — you get assigned a certain task and you do it. In the next year, we hope to compile as many different engineering properties applicable to the process of energy production as we can."

Some of the properties the students hope to evaluate in their research include moisture (if biomass takes moisture from the air, and if so, to what extent), the breaking point of each crop (if the material is hard and brittle or elastic and flexible), the compressibility of each crop, and the angle of repose (the angle at which the material falls naturally, which determines how much can be stored in a given area).

Rodriguez works closely with the students, and he said they anticipate that these properties will change, depending on the form the biomass is in. "For example, how much moisture will biomass hold if you chop it into smaller and smaller pieces that have more surface area? Given a relative humidity, it might actually mean more moisture in the biomass. If that's the case, some of the other engineering properties might change as well."

The students hope the data they collect will provide researchers with the ability to design harvesting, chopping, and densification equipment by determining how much force is involved in each operation and what materials should be utilized. Transportation technology will be impacted by their study, and the data should also provide information that will aid in the design of facilities to store the biomass by determining how large facilities need to be and what types of air handling systems will be required.

"As all the different parts of the system are clarified, we can determine the best use for biomass," Rodriguez said. "Should we focus on biomass to bioethanol, to bio-oil, or to biopower? Surely each potential biomass crop will be best suited to different processes and end uses as a result."

"Research in the area of engineering properties of biomass is just beginning," Rodriguez said. "The biomass we hope to use in ethanol or other alternative fuels is probably not going to be harvested with conventional technology. We don't have all that much experience in harvesting biomass, transporting it, or storing it for long periods of time. Understanding the engineering properties of the biomass will allow us to determine how efficiently we can process it," he concluded.

Soybeans enter into podfilling

Published August 11, 2011
Soybeans are entering the critical pod-filling phase in most parts of Illinois. Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist, said although soybean crop condition ratings are not very high, there have been few serious problems in the soybean crop so far.

Flowering in the 2011 crop started at about the normal time, and crop progress has been close to normal up to now, he said. High temperatures in July and limited rainfall in some areas have produced afternoon stress symptoms, leading to concerns about the ability of the crop to set pods.

"The normal to above-normal height of the crop indicates that the soil moisture supply has been less limiting than we might have expected in the drier areas," Nafziger said. "The crop canopy appears healthy, and in general the crop looks fairly good in many fields."

However, it takes more than a good canopy to produce good soybean yields. Wet weather and high temperatures in July can result in "overgrowth" in which plants and leaves get large, but pod numbers suffer. Nafziger attributes this in part to high levels of internal shading that can reduce the sugar supply to individual nodes and the pods at those nodes.

Most May-planted soybeans are at or near stage R4, which is full podding. They may still have some small pods at the tip of the stem that may or may not develop, but pod numbers may be considered as close to final. He said an exception to this might occur in fields where it's been dry. Rainfall within the next week might still stimulate a flush of pods that could increase this number.

"Though final seed size will vary with conditions, seed number per unit of ground area is closely related to yield potential as seedfilling is getting underway," Nafziger said. "Anyone who has tried to count seeds per plant in soybean knows that pod and seed numbers vary widely among plants. But it is usually possible to get an estimate, or at least to know if pod and seed numbers are high or low."

Research specialist Val Clingerman made some estimates in the planting date study at Urbana on August 9 and found good pod numbers — in the range of 40 per plant — in the April-planted soybeans, and about half that number in June-planted beans. The late-planted crop still has some flowers and is probably not yet done setting pods. In both cases, there were about 120,000 plants per acre.

Complete the yield estimate by assuming 2.5 seeds per pod, so about 100 seeds per plant, or about 12 million seeds per acre, he explained. Dividing by 168,000 seeds per bushel (2,800 per lb) gives about 71 bushels per acre.

"While it may well take a rain event or two to keep plants functioning well enough to fill that many seeds, this may not be an unreasonable estimate of yield in these plots," he said. "It's too early to complete the estimate for the late-planted crop, since pod numbers are not yet final."

For more information, read The Bulletin online at bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/.

Buy right; don't let the bed bugs bite

Published August 11, 2011
As students head back to campus, more furniture is finding its way to the street corners in hopes of attracting a new owner. Students should think twice before picking up those old couches, said Ben Hottel, a master's degree student in entomology at the University of Illinois.

"It's really easy for people to spread an infestation of bed bugs, especially when buying used furniture," said Hottel, creator of the new Bed Bug IPM website, bedbugs.illinois.edu. "You can do inspections, but they're not 100 percent effective. It may be tempting to do a little garbage-picking as you head back to college, but unless you are confident in your source, the benefit may not outweigh the cost."

Hottel's website was developed to help University of Illinois students, faculty and staff learn more about this increasingly prevalent pest and how they can prevent an infestation of bed bugs.

"In the past decade, bed bug reports have been on the rise with stories of infestations in retail chains, hotels and campus residence halls," he said. "Although bed bugs have not been a problem on the University of Illinois campus due to an aggressive, campus-wide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, this could change at any time because bed bugs are easily transferrable."

Bed bugs are ectoparasites, meaning they have completely adapted to living with humans and they use humans to disperse themselves, Hottel said. They hitchhike on luggage, purses, clothes and even human bodies.

Many factors are to blame for increased bed bug infestations: increased international travel, removal of certain pesticides from the market, use of bait traps instead of sprayed pesticides in homes and more.

Although the Internet has helpful information on bed bugs, it can often be difficult to sift through, he said. The Bed Bug IPM website focuses specifically on U of I residence halls and apartments. However, the information applies to anyone in apartments or other schools in this area.

"The website concisely packages and gears important information about bed bugs to college students," Hottel said. "We want to help students discover what they can do about bed bugs while gaining a greater understanding of safe behaviors. We'd like people to know what to look for, and who to call for help if needed."

The Bed Bug IPM website was funded by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Student Sustainability Committee and a USDA-NIFA grant. Hottel's project was supervised by Sue Ratcliffe, Director of the North Central Integrated Pest Management Center. For more information, photos and recommendations, go to bedbugs.illinois.edu.

Dates set for 2012 University of Illinois Corn & Soybean Classics

Published August 10, 2011
It's time to save the date for the 2012 University of Illinois Corn & Soybean Classics.

"This series of meetings marks the fifteenth year of the Classics and will continue the program's tradition of providing our clientele with the most current and timely information related to crop production, marketing and pest management," said Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist.

The dates and meeting locations for the 2012 Corn & Soybean Classics are: January 10: Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn

January 11: Springfield Crowne Plaza

January 12: Champaign I Hotel and Conference Center

January 16: Bloomington DoubleTree Hotel

January 17: Malta Kishwaukee College

January 18: Moline i Wireless Center

January 19: Quincy Holiday Inn

For more information, read The Bulletin online at http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/.

Protein preserves muscle and physical function in dieting postmenopausal women

Published August 10, 2011
Dieting postmenopausal women who want to avoid losing muscle as they lose fat should pay attention to a new University of Illinois study. Adding protein throughout the day not only holds hunger pangs at bay so that dieters lose more weight, it keeps body composition--the amount of fat relative to muscle--in better proportion.

"A higher-protein weight-loss diet is more protective of muscle," said Ellen Evans, a former U of I associate professor of kinesiology and community health and member of the university's Division of Nutritional Sciences.

Scientists in Evans's Illinois lab wanted to study the way body composition relates to physical function because older women who diet risk losing muscle as well as fat.

"That loss can affect their strength, balance, and how well they perform everyday tasks, such as climbing stairs and getting up out of a chair," said Mina Mojtahedi, a researcher in Evans's laboratory.

The study shows that higher protein intake during weight loss can offset negative effects on muscle mass by maintaining more muscle relative to the amount of weight lost. Women who ate more protein lost 3.9 percent more weight and had a relative gain of 5.8 percent more thigh muscle volume than woman who did not, she said.

"When a woman has less weight to carry, even if she's lost a bit of lean mass in her legs, the effect is that she has better physical function," she said.

It's likely that such women will be better able to maintain their mobility and independence as they age, she added.

In the six-month double-blind study, 31 healthy, postmenopausal obese women were divided into two groups. Each group followed a 1,400-calorie weight-loss diet based on USDA's My Pyramid, but one group received a powdered whey protein supplement in the morning and again in the afternoon or evening; the other received a placebo that contained carbohydrates.

"We believe it's important to eat protein in the morning and through the day so those amino acids are always available. Unfortunately, American women tend not to eat much protein, especially when they're trying to cut calories. But it's easy to add protein powder into a smoothie or eat a high-protein snack and incorporate a healthier diet into a busy lifestyle," she said.

Both groups were encouraged to engage in light exercise (walking and stretching) and given diet education, including examples of healthy daily menus and a scale to measure portion size.

Before and after the study, participants were assessed for strength, balance, and the ability to perform such physical tasks as walking 50 feet, standing up five times from a chair, and lifting a book 12 inches above shoulder height.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used at the beginning and end of the study to measure muscle volume of the right thigh, the amount of fat around the thigh, and the amount of fat within the thigh muscle.

In both groups, strength decreased as weight decreased. However, the study suggests that an increase in the amount of muscle relative to fat had beneficial effects on balance and performance, Evans noted.

And, even though weight loss in these older women had a negative effect on strength, their reduced weight helped with other aspects of physical function, she said.

"We hypothesize that more vigorous exercise--in particular, resistance training--would preserve even more muscle," she said.

This research, reported in Mojtahedi's doctoral dissertation, is available pre-publication online in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences at www.biomedgerontology.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/glr120?ijkey=Jredo9Z8z7jnc60&keytype=ref.

Other investigators include Matthew P. Thorpe of the U of I Division of Nutritional Sciences, Donald K. Layman of the U of I Division of Nutritional Sciences and Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Abby L. Richey of the U of I Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, Curtis L. Johnson and John G. Georgiadis of the U of I Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, and Dimitrios C. Karampinos of the University of California-San Francisco. Funding was provided by the National Dairy Council and the Carraway Foundation.

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