A sweet win for safefood Young Scientists

Students from Loreto College Foxrock win safefood Award

Monday, 19 January 2009. Rachel Clancy, Hannah O’Byrne and Sarah Deegan, 16 year old students from Loreto College Foxrock, Dublin, were named winners of this year’s prestigious safefood award at the recent BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2009 in the RDS, Dublin.

The Loreto students’ project investigated whether chemical compounds called anthocyanins, antioxidants found in dark pigmented fruits, red wine, and black soya beans, could help control type 2 diabetes. The students decided to focus on this research area, as each has a personal experience of diabetes, with family members or close relatives suffering from the disease.

Their project; “Does the ingestion of foods rich in anthocyanins alter the blood sugar levels of diabetic patients?” involved an experiment over three days with the help of five participants with type 2 diabetes. For the first day participants consumed food free of anthocyanins, before eating the same food containing anthocyanins for the next two days.

In advance of the project the students felt that anthocyanins would increase insulin production in the pancreas and, in turn, lower blood sugar levels. To their delight, the project yielded these results. It revealed that these anthocyanins, when ingested by the type 2 diabetic patients tested, caused lowered blood sugar which the students attributed to lower insulin production. 

Speaking at the awards, Dermot Moriarty, safefood, commented, “The students’ project was a deserving winner of this year’s safefood award. Their project on the blood sugar levels of diabetics was interesting, achieved strong results, albeit on a very small sample, and was close to each of their hearts. Type 2 diabetes is a common condition in Ireland with the number of people with the condition expected to increase because adverse lifestyle habits and obesity rates are rising. Being overweight or obese increases a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, so a healthy balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables (at least 5 a day) and regular physical activity is very important.”

He continued; “safefood is delighted to be associated with The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition as it enables students to bring science out of the classroom and into the wider world around us.”

The safefood award-winners Rachel Clancy, Hannah O’Byrne and Sarah Deegan said; “We chose to conduct an experiment concerning diabetes as each of us has relatives suffering from the chronic disease. Type 2 diabetes is becoming dangerously more prominent in young people throughout Ireland today, as this specific type of diabetes is directly linked to obesity and unhealthy diets. We hope that our project will assist in this topical area of medical research.”

Diet is an important consideration when managing type 2 diabetes, along with an overall medical strategy which should be discussed with a doctor. safefood recommends that people who have type 2 diabetes discuss any dietary changes with a medical professional.

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For further information please contact

Cliodhna Lamont / Susie Cunningham, WHPR
01 669 0030 and 087 925 0874 (Cliodhna) / 087 850 5055 (Susie)
cliodhna.lamont@ogilvy.com / susie.cunningham@ogilvy.com 
or Dermot Moriarty, safefood Tel: 01 4480600