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Economics & Business - Balanced advisories

dinner plateTo fully enable at-risk people to make healthy decisions about eating fish, government-issued advisory messages need to balance information about mercury-related health risks with details about health benefits, according to a new study by economists and health policymakers.

The researchers, led by University of Maine economist Mario Teisl, examined the effects of a statewide advisory issued by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention about benefits and risks of fish consumption to at-risk women who are pregnant or nursing, or who may become pregnant, as well as children under age 8.

As a result of the Maine CDC advisory, some women reduced their fish consumption for a short time, often for only the duration of their pregnancy. But most importantly, women who read the advisory changed their eating habits, consuming more fish low in mercury, such as light tuna, while decreasing their intake of highly contaminated fish, such as white tuna.

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