A new study suggests that your mop may reveal whether you prefer a vegetarian burger or a cheeseburger.
Researchers at the University of Utah collected discarded hair from barber shops and hair salons in 65 cities in the United States. Scientists have discovered from the chemical traces in the cuttings that the American diet is dominated by animal protein (such as meat and dairy products).
Researchers say that this type of hair analysis may be a useful tool for assessing community dietary structure and health risks.
The lead author of the study, James Ehleringer, a distinguished professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Utah, said: “The point here is that we can use this method to identify the regions, countries, and time patterns of eating habits. .”
We eat a lot of meat
How do you accurately determine the diet from the hair strands? Elleringer said that the changes in carbon isotopes found in hair reflect the changes in carbon isotopes found in different foods that are consumed directly or indirectly through animal feed, usually corn in the United States.
The study, published in the journal PNAS on Monday, found that animal-derived proteins (such as meat and dairy products) account for an average of 57% of the American diet.
This study quoted existing research as saying that, contrary to plant-based diets, protein-rich diets are associated with higher risks of health problems such as heart disease.
“Since the fast food industry has been established as an important source of animal-derived protein fed to corn, it is reasonable to assume that a large part of the animal-derived protein fed to corn comes from meals outside the home, the study said.
Research points out that recent surveys show that at least a quarter of children and adults in the United States eat fast food every day.
The analysis also shows that people eat a higher proportion of animal protein in postal codes, but their socioeconomic status is lower. Based on the cost of living and income information, protein accounts for 75% of the diet.
For Salt Lake City, the researchers have particularly detailed data on 29 postal codes, and the study used driver license data to calculate BMI trends for specific postal codes. The authors found that isotope ratios that reflect a higher proportion of protein in the diet are associated with obesity rates.
There is even a correlation between the cost of a haircut and the carbon isotopes in the hair-areas where the proportion of protein in people’s diets on corn is higher, the cost of haircuts is lower.
“We did not expect that it is possible to estimate the average cost a person pays after learning about the hairstyle [carbon isotope] Value”, the author wrote.
Barbers and salon owners support their scientific careers, Elleringer said.
“Then they will let us into the trash can, pull out one or two hairs, and then classify them into identifiable clusters that represent individuals.”
This new study is based on the hair of 684 people. Elleringer said that the sample size is enough to show that there is a pattern, so more in-depth research is necessary.
He said these findings were “enhanced because the same patterns observed in many U.S. states are also reflected in the metropolitan areas of the Salt Lake Valley region.”
He said in a press statement: “This measure will not be biased by personal or false memories reflected in the dietary survey.”
“As a long-term comprehensive measurement of an individual’s diet, this measurement can be used to understand the dietary choices between different age groups and different socioeconomic groups.”