Prosperity and affluence determine diet in the Western industrialized countries. People stressed from both, work and play, eat fast food on the go and never have the time for good healthy cooking. We Austrians are too thick and we are becoming thicker - increasing our risk for cardiac infarcts and apoplexy. With adults some of the most common risk factors, such as a high BMI, high Cholesterol, high blood pressure and problematic blood sugar, are combined together and known as the "Metabolic Syndrome".
We wanted to know if these risk factors were already measurably present in us young people. That we are becoming constantly thicker is easy to see, but what is happening inside of us? We also wanted to understand, what role trace elements had to play in relation to the metabolic condition. We thought that as the nutrient levels in our bodies decrease so, too, would the levels of trace elements. In particular we wanted to concentrate on one trace element copper. We wondered why the body needed copper? Where is it found? Is a copper imbalance also a cause of the Metabolic Syndrome? How much copper is too little? How
much is too much? How can a copper imbalance be treated? Particularly interesting about the topic of copper was that there has hardly any research been done so far on its nutritional role. Copper is expensive - as anyone who has recently built a house knows - however its physiological connection with lifestyle illnesses (like the Metabolic Syndrome) is relatively unknown.
We were highly motivated by the fact that of all the topics mentioned above only very little scientific work has been done focusing on young people. We were thus hoping that our research would contribute something to the medical field. Perhaps we would even convince some of our classmates to adopt healthier diets and possibly prevent some of the diseases of prosperity such as cardiovascular disease. We wanted to find out, how healthy we students really were, what it is exactly that our diet consists of, what our blood test (for cholesterol, blood sugars, etc) results would look like and particularly how healthy our trace element levels would be. To achieve these goals, we asked the hospital in Oberndorf for assistance. Thanks to the enthusiasm on the part of the hospital we were able to offer a health check to the all the students of our school, the HLFS Ursprung. Apart from many blood tests and body measurements, an ultrasound on the condition of liver was also to be performed. We were able to provide a check up on the general health for all 350
students at the HLFS Urpsrung. These health checks included blood work, an ultrasound, a questionnaire on diet and exercise, and various body measurements.
A team of doctors described the laboratory findings to all the students and explained the causes for abnormal results as well as the possible risks of such results.
The results of the investigations surprised and even shocked us, in particular because it turned out that in many of us, the first signs of the metabolic syndrome were already measurable, and thus the source for later heart problems was already apparent.
An immediate change in dietary habits and lifestyle could defuse these health time bombs. And so we decided to develop a heart healthy snack. Experimenting in the kitchen made for much fun and tastier results. ;-)