Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog] Seven Nation Army (update on the link between heart disease and food)

Excerpts from the 11 May 2014 item at The Paleo Pocket

Investigative author Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, has been investigating dietary fat and disease for nearly a decade. She has traced the history of the academic dietary establishment’s idea that you should reduce fat in your food – the idea that has lead to a replacement of fat with carbohydrates, turning us from fat burners to sugar burners. Her story has been published in many places, among them theWall Street Journal, where it quickly went to the top of the Popular Now list:

The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

1961 was the year of the first recommendation from the nutrition committee on the American Heart Association that people should eat less fat, in particular saturated fat, in order to reduce heart disease. This came from a Dr. Ancel Keyes, who built his career on this theory. He was a highly persuasive man who obtained a seat on the committee. America was struggling with rising heart disease at the time and people wanted answers.

Where was his proof? He had done a “Seven Countries” study that was considered the most thorough study on the link between heart disease and food. For this study he picked countries that were likely to support his theory, such as Yugoslavia, Finland and Italy. He ignored France, Switzerland, West Germany and Sweden, countries with high-fat diets and low rates of heart disease.

And so today people suffer from the effects of replacing fat with carbohydrates turning to blood sugar. Nina Teicholz:

One consequence is that in cutting back on fats, we are now eating a lot more carbohydrates—at least 25% more since the early 1970s. Consumption of saturated fat, meanwhile, has dropped by 11%, according to the best available government data. Translation: Instead of meat, eggs and cheese, we’re eating more pasta, grains, fruit and starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Even seemingly healthy low-fat foods, such as yogurt, are stealth carb-delivery systems, since removing the fat often requires the addition of fillers to make up for lost texture—and these are usually carbohydrate-based.

The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin—a hormone that is fantastically efficient at storing fat. Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news. Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease.

The real surprise is that, according to the best science to date, people put themselves at higher risk for these conditions no matter what kind of carbohydrates they eat. Yes, even unrefined carbs. Too much whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and bacon, followed by fish. The reality is that fat doesn’t make you fat or diabetic. Scientific investigations going back to the 1950s suggest that actually, carbs do.

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May 12, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News item] Fortified foods make up for some missing nutrients: study (but unprocessed is still best)

From the 6 February 2014 Reuter article

 

(Reuters Health) – Fortification of foods with additional nutrients does have an impact on kids’ intake of vitamins and minerals, but many children and teens are still not getting adequate nutrition, according to a new U.S. study.

Based on a large national dietary survey, the researchers found that without fortification, the diets of a large number of children and teens would be nutritionally inadequate. With fortification the picture is better, but not perfect.

(Reuters Health) – Fortification of foods with additional nutrients does have an impact on kids’ intake of vitamins and minerals, but many children and teens are still not getting adequate nutrition, according to a new U.S. study.

Based on a large national dietary survey, the researchers found that without fortification, the diets of a large number of children and teens would be nutritionally inadequate. With fortification the picture is better, but not perfect.

Katz said the paper demonstrates that in a culture that eats very poorly, we need fortification to have adequate nutrient intake.

“But what this paper does not address at all is: what would happen if we actually ate well,” he added.

Katz said it’s a mistake to think that preventing nutrient deficiencies with fortified “junk” foods is in any way the same as eating truly good foods.

“Eating a variety of wholesome foods would provide those same nutrients, along with many others, and without the sugar, salt, refined starch, unhealthy oils, excess calories and so on,” Katz said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1iq2L5M Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Online January 27, 2014.

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe (Photo credit: epSos.de) http://www.flickr.com/photos/36495803@N05/8077920518

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

 

 

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February 8, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

Poor breakfast in youth linked to metabolic syndrome in adulthood — ScienceDaily

English: american breakfast

English: american breakfast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Poor breakfast in youth linked to metabolic syndrome in adulthood — ScienceDaily.

 

From the 29 January 2014 article

 

Summary — It is often said that breakfast is important for our health, and a new study supports this claim. The study revealed that adolescents who ate poor breakfasts displayed a higher incidence of metabolic syndrome 27 years later, compared with those who ate more substantial breakfasts.

The study revealed that adolescents who ate poor breakfasts displayed a higher incidence of metabolic syndrome 27 years later, compared with those who ate more substantial breakfasts.

Metabolic syndrome is a collective term for factors that are linked to an increased risk of suffering from cardiovascular disorders. Metabolic syndrome encompasses abdominal obesity, high levels of harmful triglycerides, low levels of protective HDL (High Density Lipoprotein), high blood pressure and high fasting blood glucose levels.

The study asked all students completing year 9 of their schooling in Luleå in 1981 (Northern Swedish Cohort) to answer questions about what they ate for breakfast. 27 years later, the respondents underwent a health check where the presence of metabolic syndrome and its various subcomponents was investigated.

The study shows that the young people who neglected to eat breakfast or ate a poor breakfast had a 68 per cent higher incidence of metabolic syndrome as adults…

 

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February 2, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

Scientists find genetic mechanism linking aging to specific diets

Scientists find genetic mechanism linking aging to specific diets.

From the 27 January 2014 ScienceDaily article

“These studies have revealed that single gene mutations can alter the ability of an organism to utilize a specific diet. In humans, small differences in a person’s genetic makeup that change how well these genes function, could explain why certain diets work for some but not others,” said Curran, corresponding author of the study and assistant professor with joint appointments in the USC Davis School of Gerontology, the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Curran and Pang studied Caenorhabditis elegans, a one-milimeter-long worm that scientists have used as a model organism since the ’70s. Decades of tests have shown that genes in C. elegans are likely to be mirrored in humans while its short lifespan allows scientists to do aging studies on it.

In this study, Curran and Pang identified a gene called alh-6, which delayed the effects of aging depending on what type of diet the worm was fed by protecting it against diet-induced mitochondrial defects.

“This gene is remarkably well-conserved from single celled yeast all the way up to mammals, which suggests that what we have learned in the worm could translate to a better understanding of the factors that alter diet success in humans,” Curran said.

Future work will focus on identifying what contributes to dietary success or failure, and whether these factors explain why specific diets don’t work for everyone. This could be the start of personalized dieting based on an individual’s genetic makeup, according to Curran.

“We hope to uncover ways to enhance the use of any dietary program and perhaps even figure out ways of overriding the system(s) that prevent the use of one diet in certain individuals,” he said.

January 30, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Real Food – Good, Better, Best Principle

From the 18 January 2014 HealthyLiving Inspiration blogScreen Shot 2014-01-19 at 6.51.08 AM

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                                 http://www.weedemandreap.com/2013/08/the-real-food-good-better-best-principle.html

 

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January 19, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Addressing the Intersection: Preventing Violence and Promoting Healthy Eating and Active Living

From the PDF file of the Prevention Institute **

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“Lasting changes will come from deep work by individuals to create systemic change.”

Reducing violence in neighborhoods enhances the community environ- ment and allows people to thrive. The prevention of violence facilitates community cohesion and participation, fosters neighborhood improve- ments, expands employment and educational opportunities, and improves overall health and well-being.

Violence influences where people live, work, and shop; whether parents let kids play outside and walk to school; and whether there is a grocery store or places for employment in the community. Violence jeopardizes health and safety directly— causing injuries, death, and emotional trauma. Witnessing or directly experiencing violence, as well as the fear of violence, are damaging, with consequences that also contribute to unhealthy behavior and a diminished community environment. Vio- lence and fear undermine attempts to improve healthy eating and active living, there- by exacerbating existing illnesses and increasing the risk for onset of disease, includ- ing chronic disease. They affect young people, low-income communities, and com- munities of color disproportionately. Violence and food- and activity-related chron- ic diseases are most pervasive in disenfranchised communities, where they occur more frequently and with greater severity, making them fundamental equity issues.

Chronic disease is a major health challenge—it contributes to premature death, lowers quality of life, and accounts for the dramatic rise in recent healthcare spend- ing. One striking example is the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the United States. Researchers predict that by 2034, the number of people suffering from dia- betes will likely double to 44.1 million, and related health care costs will triple to $336 billion.1 Improving healthy eating and active living environments and behaviors is the crucial link to preventing many forms of chronic disease. Health leaders have been making great strides in mounting a strong, effective response to chronic disease and in improving community environments to support healthy eating and activity. However, chronic disease prevention strategies—designing neighborhoods that encourage walking and bicycling to public transit, parks, and healthy food retail, or attracting grocery stores in communities that lack access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables—are less effective when fear and violence pervade the environment. As more communities grapple with chronic disease, health practitioners and advocates are becoming increasingly aware of the need to address violence as a critical part of their efforts, and they are seeking further guidance on effective strategies.

The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance and deepen the understanding of the inter-relationship between violence and healthy eating and activity. It presents first-hand evidence based on a set of interviews Prevention Institute facilitated with community representatives—advocates and practitioners working in healthy eating and active living. Direct quotes from these interviewees appear in italics throughout this paper. In addition to the interviews, the Institute conducted a scan of peer- reviewed literature and professional reports that confirm the intersection between vio- lence and healthy eating and active living.3-12 …

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**Prevention Institute was founded in 1997 to serve as a focal point for primary prevention practice—promoting policies, organizational practices, and collaborative efforts that improve health and quality of life. As a national non-profit organization, the Institute is committed to preventing illness and injury, to fostering health and social equity, and to building momentum for community prevention as an integral component of a quality health system.
Publications are online and free.

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January 18, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Right amount of fat and protein, key to babies

A new research projects studies the nutrition of babies and infants as a means to improve dietary recommendations to young mothers

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From the 10 December post at yours.com – European Research Media Center

The early childhood diet and that of the mother during pregnancy determines the health of a child later life. This is the claim that the EU-funded research project Early Nutrition is trying to substantiate by the time it is due to be completed in 2017. Hans van Goudoever, professor of paediatrics and chair of the department of paediatrics at VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, talks to youris.com about his hopes to drastically improve the health of future generations by giving nutritional advice to pregnant women and young mothers.

Has the project produced any surprising results so far?
We have found a relation between nutrition in the first stages of life and a staggering amount of afflictions including obesity, heart diseases, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, as well as connections to IQ.  And we are now close to practical application. For instance, we found that young infants with a low-protein diet are far less likely to suffer from obesity in later life. So we have developed bottle feeding with less protein and we are tested it on piglets. The results are excellent and tests on humans are about to start.

Why do we need to study early nutrition?
Epidemiological studies, which go back as far as 25 years, have shown that birth and infant weight have an effect on the occurrence of cardiac problems later in life. But that is just a description of a relation, not a scientific proof.  These days we want hard evidence.  One group of children will get nutrition type A, another group will get type B. Then, we’ll keep following them in order to prove there is a specific effect. That’s what the project is all about.

At what stage is it possible to influence child nutrition most?
Nutrition during pregnancy and the first months of life is key. Later on, there is still an influence but it gets smaller with time. After birth, the choice between breast feeding and bottle feeding is very easy, from a nutrition perspective. Breast feeding is at least ten miles ahead.  I know there are many reasons why sometimes breastfeeding is impossible; the mother may not have the opportunity, or she is taking medicines. But if at all possible every effort should be taken to choose breast feeding. It is logical after all. Bottle feeding is made from cow milk, and cows are different from people.

What advice could you give to mothers of very young children?
Above all, avoid excess proteins and fat. Special care should be taken to make sure babies have a diet wherein the protein and fat content is just right. Not too little, but certainly not too much.

If you have a normal diet, you do not need anything else. Just forget about extra vitamins and minerals, as long as your diet is balanced. That is not easy these days. The groups where we see the most problems include, quite often, the people from the lower social classes, who are rather difficult to reach with information or nutrition campaigns. What I do hope is that we can ultimately get the message across to the hard-to-reach public.

 

 

Read more: http://www.youris.com/Bioeconomy/Food/Hans_Van_Goudoever_-_Right_Amount_Of_Fat_And_Protein_Key_To_Babies.kl#ixzz2nAe3HEhk

 

December 11, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Nuts and death – journal animated video explanation

From the 22 November post at HealthNewsReview.blog

You probably saw, read, or heard about news of an observational study in the New England Journal of Medicine pointing to a statistical association between nut consumption and lower death rate.  Larry Husten did a good job explaining the study on Forbes.com.

The NEJM itself posted a YouTube video that had journal editor Jeffrey Drazen’s voice over an animated explanation.  I hadn’t seen such NEJM videos before.  Take a look. Drazen ends:  “I would be nuts to think that eating nuts alone would add years to my life.”

I wish I had that kind of budget. Frankly, I wish I had any budget.

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Comments

Ellen Goldbaum posted on November 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

Thank you for posting this wonderful video! It was everything a press release should be but so much more enjoyable! To your point about budgets, even those of us who work for large institutions are wondering, how did NEJM make that video, how much personpower and money does it take? curious.

Reply

Brad F posted on November 22, 2013 at 8:26 pm

they ript off Blank on Blank
http://blankonblank.org/pbs/

 

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] A healthy diet costs $2,000 a year more than an unhealthy one for average family of four: Harvard study

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

Fresh vegetables are important components of a healthy diet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 12 June 2013 article at The National Post  by Jason Rehel

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December 7, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[Report] Fast Food Facts 2013 Measuring Progress in the Nutritional Quality and Marketing of Fast Food to Children and Teens

Thinking my reaction to advertising was formed during weekly grocery trips when I was in grade school (back in the 60’s)
When we checked out the groceries I remember the candy, gum, and other goodies in the check out area.
While I did look at the items longingly, I knew not to ask for any of them. So, this carried over to advertising on television, especially Saturday morning cartoons.
McDonald’s? Thinking maybe, and just maybe we went there once during my grade school years.

 

From the November 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Report

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The nutritional quality of fast-food meals, and how those meals are marketed to children and teens, has improved, but more work is needed.

The Issue:
Fast Food FACTS 2013, issued by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, examines the nutritional quality of fast food, and how restaurants market their foods and beverages to children and teens. The report examines 18 of the top restaurant chains in the United states, and updates a similar report released in 2010.

 Key Findings

  • A total of $4.6 billion was spent on all advertising by fast food restaurants in 2012. This was an 8 percent increase over 2009. McDonald’s spent 2.7 times as much to advertise its products as all fruit, vegetable, bottled water, and milk advertisers combined.
  • Less than 1 percent of all kids’ meal combinations met recommended nutrition standards.
  • On average, U.S. preschoolers viewed 2.8 fast food ads on TV every day in 2012; children aged 6-11 years viewed 3.2 ads per day; and teens viewed 4.8 ads per day.
  • Fast food restaurants continued to target black and Hispanic youth, populations at high risk for obesity and related diseases.
Conclusion:
Researchers conclude that while improvements have been made, there is more work to be done to improve the overall nutritional quality of fast food. Additionally, the researchers call for fast food restaurants to stop targeting children and teens with marketing that encourages frequent visits to these restaurants.

About the Study:
The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity used the same methods as it did for the original Fast Food FACTS in 2010. Nutritional data were collected in February 2013, and most marketing data examine practices through 2012. The report was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

November 8, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Bread for the World Report] The Push Up Decade: CAADP at 10

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Excerpts from the report

The 2007-2008 food price crisis was a wake-up call for the international community, reigniting the discussion about the need to refocus attention on agricultural development. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, member governments of the African Union (AU) had already been grappling with the issue for several years. In 2001, AU members agreed to establish a process to help spur economic growth and political transformation on the continent. The majority of poor people in Africa— approximately 75 percent—live in rural areas and depend on
agriculture for their livelihood.1 Yet between 1995 and 2003, most African countries spent very little public money on agriculture—well below 1 percent of their Gross Domestic Products (GDP).2

Realizing this contradiction, the AU’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) launched the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). African heads of state met in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2003, and agreed in the Maputo Declaration both to begin devoting 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture by 2008, and to set a goal of achieving an average annual growth rate of 6 percent in the agricultural sector by 2015.3 Nonetheless, donor funding for agriculture was very limited until 2009.

CAADP, an ambitious and comprehensive vision for agricultural reform in Africa, is an example of how initiatives with effective local ownership are making strides toward the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

A good example of what is possible is Tanzania, whose economy has been growing steadily over the past 10 years. On average, the economy expanded by 6.9 percent a year. Five sectors were the source of almost 60 percent of Tanzania’s economic growth between 2008 and 2012:

  • CommunicationGDPalmostdoubledinlessthanfour years, growing on average more than 20 percent a year.
  • Banking and financial services, which has expandedby 11 percent a year since 2008.
  • Retail trade, which increased by almost 40 percentbetween 2008 and 2012.
  • Construction,withaverageannualgrowthof9percentover the same period.
  • Manufacturing, which grew by 8.4 percent annuallyduring the past four years.Agriculture also contributed to Tanzania’s economic growth, but this was a given because it makes up a significant share of GDP, about 25 percent. In fact, during the period 2008-2012, agriculture’s growth rate was consistently below the overall economic growth rate.

Nutrition: Investing in nutrition is extremely cost-effective yet critically underfunded. In fact, of the “10 best buys in development” identified by a group of top economists, five are nutrition interventions.15 But although relatively simple, very affordable interventions to treat malnutrition are available, nutrition remains the “forgotten MDG.” Both overseas development assistance for nutrition, and national budget allocations have been very low.

Since 2009, the United States has worked through its global food security initiative, Feed the Future, to emphasize the urgent need to improve nutrition in the “1,000 Days” window between pregnancy and age 2.16 Because malnutrition in this critical age group causes irreversible physical and cognitive damage, countries with a high proportion of malnourished babies and toddlers pay the price in diminished productivity and economic growth. On the other hand, research shows that $1 invested in nutrition generates as much as $138 in better health and increased productivity.17 In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 41 percent of all children younger than 5 are malnourished.18 It is the only world region where the number of child deaths is increasing, and the only one expected to see further increases in food insecurity and absolute poverty.19

In spite of the currently tight budget climate, the United States and other development partners should not back off. Rather, they should press forward to support and help strengthen county-led initiatives such as CAADP. As the African Union prepares for the January 2014 African Union summit, which marks the start of “the Year of Agriculture in Africa,” there is real opportunity for this renewed commitment to have an impact on hunger. On July 1, 2013, African heads of state and government of AU Member States, together with representatives of international organizations, civil society organizations, the private sector, cooperatives, farmers, youths, academia, and other partners unanimously adopted a Declaration to End Hunger in Africa by 2025. This High Level Meeting, Renewed Partnership for a Unified Approach to End Hunger in Africa by 2025 within the CAADP Framework, took place at the initiative of the African Union, FAO, and the Lula Institute along with a broad range of non-state actors.22 With this renewed commitment to end hunger, African countries still have a chance to fulfill their Maputo commitments since that deadline coincides with the MDG deadline, two years away in 2015.

November 3, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] Pizza perfect! A nutritional overhaul of ‘junk food’ and ready-meals is possible

A "mozzarella" pizza.

A “mozzarella” pizza. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the press release of the University of Glasgow at the 1 November 2013 EurkAlert

 

Pizza is widely regarded as a fully-paid up member of the junk food gang – maybe even the leader – at least the versions found on supermarket shelves or delivered to your door by scooter.

Historically, a few humble ingredients: bread, tomatoes and a little cheese, combined to form a traditional, healthy meal, but many of today’s pizzas have recruited two dangerous new members to their posse – salt and saturated fat.

However, pizzas and many other nutritionally-dubious foods can be made nutritionally ideal: A crowning example of ‘health by stealth’ according to scientists, who say it is possible to reformulate such foods to achieve public health goals, without upsetting their taste so they remain commercially successful for producers.

Professor Mike Lean, a physician and nutritionist in the School of Medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: “Traditional pizza should be a low-fat meal containing at least one portion of vegetables, so mainly made from ingredients associated with better cardiovascular health.

“However, to enhance shelf-life, commercial pizza recipes today include much more fat and salt than desirable. Until now, nobody has stopped to notice that many essential vitamins and minerals are very low or even completely absent. From a nutrition and health perspective, they are hazardous junk.

“Pizzas are widely consumed and regarded as meals in themselves, and yet their impact on human nutrition does not seem to have been studied.”

The team of scientists, which also included Dr Emilie Combet, Amandine Jarlot and Kofi Aidoo of Glasgow Caledonian University, set out to ascertain the nutritional content and quality of contemporary pizzas and to demonstrate that pizza can be reformulated to make it the basis of a fully nutritionally-balanced meal.

A range of new pizza recipes was then developed, each containing 30% of all the nutrients required in a day: in other words, an ideal meal.

A total of 25 Margarita pizzas were analysed. They varied widely in calorie content, ranging from 200 to 562kcal. Few approached the 600kcal energy requirement that would make it a proper meal, so people may tend to eat something extra.

Perhaps surprisingly only six of 25 pizzas tested contained too much total fat (>35% total energy), with eight having too much saturated fat while only two boasting a desirable level (<11% total energy). Most of the fat in the pizzas came from the cheese.

The amount of sodium in most of the 25 pizzas was substantially over the recommended limit, with nine containing more than 1g per 600kcal serving.

Several pizzas had sodium levels well within the recommended limit but were not advertised as low-salt or low-sodium, indicating that recipes can be modified and remain commercially successful.

To constitute a healthy nutritionally-balanced meal, at least 45% of the energy intake should come from carbohydrates. Only five failed to meet this requirement, due to combined high fat and protein contents.

Vitamin and mineral content information was mostly absent from the packaging, with only five providing this information in detail, and three having basic information. None met the recommended value for iron, vitamin C and vitamin A. One met just the iron requirement and two the vitamin C requirement. Vitamin A requirement was met in four pizzas, and only one met calcium requirements.

Prof Lean said: “Some were really bad. While none of the pizzas tested satisfied all the nutritional requirements, many of the requirements were met in some pizzas, which told us it should be possible to modify the recipes to make them more nutritionally-balanced without impacting on flavour – health by stealth, if you like.”

To demonstrate how to do it, the researchers joined forces with an industrial food producer to modify a modern pizza recipe: reducing salt, adding whole-wheat flour, adding a small amount of Scottish seaweed to provide flavour, vitamin B12 and fibre, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and iodine, adding red peppers provided extra vitamin C.

The proportions of bread base to Mozzarella cheese was adjusted to correct the carbohydrate/fat/protein ratios and minimize saturated fat content. After cooking, it was finally analysed in the laboratory.

The team put the end result to a taste test with members of the public and both children and adults gave it the thumbs-up for taste and attractiveness.

The world’s first nutritionally-balanced pizzas were subsequently marketed by food company Eat Balanced.com, and three flavours are available from various UK supermarkets.

Prof Lean said: “There really is no reason why pizzas and other ready meals should not be nutritionally-balanced. We have shown it can be done with no detriment for taste.

“Promoting ‘healthy eating’ and nutritional education have had little impact on eating habits or health so far, and taking so-called ‘nutritional supplements’ makes things worse.

“We can’t all make entirely home-made meals, so it’s about time that manufacturers took steps to make their products better suited to human biology, and we have shown then how to do it. Rather than sneaking in additives like salt, they could be boasting about healthier ingredients that will benefit consumers.”

The study ‘Development of a nutritionally-balanced pizza, as a functional meal designed to meet published dietary guidelines’, is published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

 

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For more information contact Stuart Forsyth in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 4831 or email stuart.forsyth@glasgow.ac.uk

Notes to Editors

The study was supported by a ‘First Step Award’ (funding from the University of Glasgow and the Scottish Government) between the University of Glasgow and the industrial partner Eat Balanced Ltd. The authors wish to thank Fiona Alexander, UKAS research technician at Glasgow Caledonian University, and the input of Cosmo Tamburro at Cosmo Products Ltd. Posteriori to this project, ML has acted as scientific advisor for Eat Balanced Ltd and received a consultancy fee from the company.

 

 

 

November 1, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Progress: Diet And Lifestyle Advice For Diabetes ‘No Different’ Than General Public

From the 14 October post at Science Blogging – Science 2.0

A new paper suggests that lifestyle advice for people with diabetes should be no different from that for the general public – but diabetes may benefit more from that same advice.

In the study, the researchers investigated whether the associations between lifestyle factors and mortality risk differ between individuals with and without diabetes.

Within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), a cohort was formed of 6,384 persons with diabetes and 258,911 EPIC participants without known diabetes. Computer modelling was used to explore the relationship (in both those with and without diabetes) of mortality with the following risk factors: body-mass index, waist/height ratio, 26 food groups, alcohol consumption, leisure-time physical activity, smoking.

The researchers found that overall mortality was 62% higher in people with diabetes compared with those without. Intake of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, pasta, poultry and vegetable oil was related to a lower mortality risk, and intake of butter and margarine was related to an increased mortality risk.

While the strength of the association was different in those with diabetes versus those without, the associations were in the same direction in each case (see table 2 full paper). No differences between people with and without diabetes were detected for the other lifestyle factors including adiposity, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and smoking.

The authors say: “It appears that the intake of some food groups is more beneficial (fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, pasta, poultry, vegetable oil) or more detrimental (soft drinks, butter, margarine, cake, cookies) with respect to mortality risk in people with diabetes. This may indicate that individuals with diabetes may benefit more from a healthy diet than people without diabetes. However, since the directions of association were generally the same, recommendations for a healthy diet should be similar for people with or without diabetes.”

 

 

October 15, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reposting] ‘Safe’ Levels of Environmental Pollution May Have Long-Term Health Consequences

Environmental pollution

Environmental pollution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 29th August 2013 article at Science Daily

 

If you’re eating better and exercising regularly, but still aren’t seeing improvements in your health, there might be a reason: pollution. According to a new research report published in the September issue of The FASEB Journal, what you are eating and doing may not be the problem, but what’s in what you are eating could be the culprit.

“This study adds evidences for rethinking the way of addressing risk assessment especially when considering that the human population is widely exposed to low levels of thousands of chemicals, and that the health impact of realistic mixtures of pollutants will have to be tested as well,” said Brigitte Le Magueresse-Battistoni, a researcher involved in the work from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM). “Indeed, one pollutant could have a different effect when in mixture with other pollutants. Thus, our study may have strong implications in terms of recommendations for food security. Our data also bring new light to the understanding of the impact of environmental food contaminants in the development of metabolic diseases.”

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

August 29, 2013 Posted by | environmental health | , , , | Leave a comment

Dietary Supplement Quality – Resources

Dietary supplements, such as the vitamin B sup...

Dietary supplements, such as the vitamin B supplement show above, are typically sold in pill form. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning I read a post about the health benefits of green tea.  It included a resource new to me – ConsumerLab.com. Their stated mission is to “identify the best quality health and nutritional products through independent testing”. To be honest, I was a bit wary. Testimonials always raise a red flag with me, I am not sure who the folks are and who initiated the testimonial. The section “Where to buy products” also concerned me, I was wondering if this was paid advertising…not that this alone would discredit the company. (Click here for tips on how to evaluate a Web site).

The Alliance for Natural Health has a decent review on Consumer Lab, outlining how Consumer Lab conducts business.
Consumer Lab  asks companies to pay for the tests. If the company does not wish to pay, Consumer Lab often conducts the test (through outsourcing to unidentified companies)  anyway without billing the company. And then publishes the results. Interesting… The

Dr. Sanford Levy, board certified in Integrative Holistic Medicine, has written a short informative article on the quality of Dietary Supplements. 

His professional judgements include the following

  • FDA (Food and Drug Adminstration) – Their final rules on dietary supplements tend to be reactive rather than proactive.
  • Consumerlab- He is rather neutral on how they operate, as opposed to The Alliance (above). He does note there is a $33 subscription fee to access the information at the site
  • Companies which certify manufacturers of supplements.
    (Beware though that even if a company is certified …this information is not necessarily included on the product label.)

    • uspcertificed.com -addresses bioavailability as well as chemical composition
    • Natural Products Association – addresses only chemical composition, not bioavailability
    • Emerson Ecologics- serves health care professionals as a distributor for multiple manufacturers. Emerson initiated a quality program in 2010, ranking manufacturers based on a number of criteria. Manufacturers who choose not to distribute through Emerson Ecologics will not be listed in any of the categories.

More detailed information on supplements by him at http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~shlevy/dietsuppqualitysafetyefficacy.htm
   His outline on supplement regulation is at
http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~shlevy/Regulation%20of%20Dietary%20Supplements.htm

He covers other topics at http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~shlevy/

August 26, 2013 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Nutrition, Tutorials/Finding aids | , , , , | Leave a comment

Diets Lacking Omega-3s Lead to Anxiety, Hyperactivity in Teens: Generational Omega-3 Deficiencies Have Worsening Effects Over Time

From the 29 July 2013 Science Daily article

Diets lacking omega-3 fatty acids — found in foods like wild fish, some eggs, and grass-fed livestock — can have worsened effects over consecutive generations, especially affecting teens, according to a University of Pittsburgh study.

“We found that this dietary deficiency can compromise the behavioral health of adolescents, not only because their diet is deficient but because their parents’ diet was deficient as well. This is of particular concern because adolescence is a very vulnerable time for developing psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and addiction.”Diets lacking omega-3 fatty acids — found in foods like wild fish, eggs, and grass-fed livestock — can have worsened effects over consecutive generations, especially affecting teens, according to a University of Pittsburgh study.

“Our study shows that, while the omega-3 deficiency influences the behavior of both adults and adolescents, the nature of this influence is different between the age groups,” said Moghaddam. “We observed changes in areas of the brain responsible for decision making and habit formation.”

The team is now exploring epigenetics as a potential cause. This is a process in which environmental events influence genetic information. Likewise, the team is exploring markers of inflammation in the brain since omega-3 deficiencies causes an increase of omega-6 fats, which are proinflammatory molecules in the brain and other tissues.

“It’s remarkable that a relatively common dietary change can have generational effects,” said Moghaddam. “It indicates that our diet does not merely affect us in the short-term but also can affect our offspring.”

 

July 30, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disease and death in America: A poor bill of health | The Economist

Originally posted on THE POLICY THINKSHOP "Think Together":

Health insurance coverage to help you fix decades of high cholesterol will probably not save your life.  This is the problem that America faces as it is found to be sick because of health behaviors it does not want to change.  We have the freedom to act very unhealthy and to get sick.  How much will increasing insurance coverage really improve our health?

“THE Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, faces an immediate problem. The deadline for its insurance expansion is January 1st, but each week brings some new obstacle. Even if Obamacare overcomes these, a long-term challenge will remain: the law may not improve Americans’ health. And that health is dismal, as illuminated in vivid new detail on July 10th.

Christopher Murray and his colleagues at the University of Washington have new research on which ailments plague Americans, and why. Dr Murray is due to present his findings at the…

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July 17, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

Health Literacy Resources: Professional Healthcare Organizations and Associations

Janice Flahiff:

Great links to resources as
–High Value Care resources intended to help patients understand the benefits, harms and costs of tests and treatments for common clinical issues.
–Case Management Society of America’s has a consumer page that describes Case Management as a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual’s health needs
–Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a resource for food, nutrition, and health information. Consumers can find tip sheets, videos, brochures, and health & nutrition guides for women, men, and children.

 

Originally posted on Camille Davidson:

Health Care Workers

Consumer health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

According to the National Adult Assessment of Literacy (2003), 14% of American cannot comprehend basic health information. The study indicates that health illiteracy is especially prevalent among:

  1.  Adults who did not complete high school, with 49% having below basic health literacy
  2.  Hispanic adults, who have lower health literacy than any other ethnic/racial group, with 41% having below basic health literacy

Low consumer health literacy costs between $106 to $236 billion a year in the form of longer hospital stays; emergency room visits, increased doctor visits, and increased medication, according to a recent report from the University of Connecticut.  Consumers with low literacy levels often fail to engage in early detection and preventive health care.  They also have significant difficulties navigating the health…

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July 17, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, health care, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , | Leave a comment

Paleo diet for nutrition and long term health?

Janice Flahiff:

“the main reason is that early humans did not suffer from those chronic diseases is that they did not live long enough (life expectancy ~30-40 years). They were also physically active and had lower energy intakes than most people do today.”
Good observation

Originally posted on Heather Ohly:

The Paleo diet has become extremely popular in recent years. The official website describes it as follows:

“The Paleo diet is based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, the time period from about 2.6 million years ago to the beginning of the agricultural revolution, about 10,000 years ago. These foods include fresh meats (preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and game meat, if you can get it), fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed). Dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars and processed foods were not part of our ancestral menu.”

As a nutritionist committed to evidence-based practice, I am concerned that this diet is being misrepresented in two ways:

  • The rationale for why to follow it
  • The benefits to long term health

I…

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July 14, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

High school years hard on adolescent health, with spikes in drinking, smoking and drug use: Canada study

Originally posted on National Post | Life:

High school may improve young people’s minds, but it does the opposite for their bodies.

A new study out of the University of Waterloo shows Canadian students in Grade 12 are in worse health than their younger high school peers.

[np_storybar title="Alcohol ads targeting underage girls need to be reined in: Canadian Medical Association" link="http://life.nationalpost.com/2013/06/10/alcohol-ads-targeting-underage-girls-need-to-be-reined-in-canadian-medical-association/"]
A medical journal is raising concerns about alcohol advertising, saying young girls are being influenced by the ads.

The editorial in this week’s issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal says health warnings should be embedded in alcohol ads, so that young girls understand the risks of drinking.

The author, Dr. Ken Flegel, says parents should also model responsible alcohol consumption for their children.

The editorial says studies from the United States show that alcohol advertising aimed at young women is being viewed more commonly by young girls.

The studies also show that increased exposure…

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July 14, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eat to Dream: Study Shows Dietary Nutrients Associated With Certain Sleep Patterns

From the 6 February 2013 article at Science Daily

You are what you eat,” the saying goes, but is what you eat playing a role in how much you sleep? Sleep, like nutrition and physical activity, is a critical determinant of health and well-being. With the increasing prevalence of obesity and its consequences, sleep researchers have begun to explore the factors that predispose individuals to weight gain and ultimately obesity. Now, a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows for the first time that certain nutrients may play an underlying role in short and long sleep duration and that people who report eating a large variety of foods — an indicator of an overall healthy diet — had the healthiest sleep patterns.

..

The authors found that total caloric intake varied across groups. Short sleepers consumed the most calories, followed by normal sleepers, followed by very short sleepers, followed by long sleepers. Food variety was highest in normal sleepers, and lowest in very short sleepers. Differences across groups were found for many types of nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

In a statistical analysis, the research team found that there were a number of dietary differences, but these were largely driven by a few key nutrients. They found that very short sleep was associated with less intake of tap water, lycopene (found in red- and orange-colored foods), and total carbohydrates, short sleep was associated with less vitamin C, tap water, selenium (found in nuts, meat and shellfish), and more lutein/zeaxanthin (found in green, leafy vegetables), and long sleep was associated with less intake of theobromine (found in chocolate and tea), dodecanoic acid (a saturated fat) choline (found in eggs and fatty meats), total carbohydrates, and more alcohol.

“Overall, people who sleep 7 — 8 hours each night differ in terms of their diet, compared to people who sleep less or more. We also found that short and long sleep are associated with lower food variety,” said Dr. Grandner. “What we still don’t know is if people altered their diets, would they be able to change their overall sleep pattern? This will be an important area to explore going forward as we know that short sleep duration is associated with weight gain and obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Likewise, we know that people who sleep too long also experience negative health consequences. If we can pinpoint the ideal mix of nutrients and calories to promote healthy sleep, the healthcare community has the potential to make a major dent in obesity and other cardiometabolic risk factors.”

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

February 8, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , , | 1 Comment

How Marketing Has an Impact on Children’s Health

Janice Flahiff:

Related article

Best and Worst of Food Marketing to Our Children (Food, Facts, and Fads)

 

FTC Updates Report on Food Marketing to Children

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released a report entitled, “A Review of Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents,” which shows that food and beverage companies spent less in marketing targeted to children in 2009 than they did in 2006, and the food and beverages marketed to youth had very small improvements in nutritional quality during that period. Food companies spent $1.8 billion to advertise to children age 2 to 17 in 2009, down from $2.1 billion in 2006.

The report was an update to the FTC’s 2008 report, “Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents: A Review of Industry Expenditures, Activities, and Self-Regulation,” which documented the amount food companies spent on marketing targeted to youth in 2006.

The reduction can be attributed to a decline in advertising on traditional media such as TV, radio, and print; however, food companies increased their youth-targeted spending on other forms of marketing, including websites, internet advertising, viral/word-of-mouth marketing, product placements, movie and video ads, cross-promotion licenses, celebrity endorsements, events, and philanthropy. In addition, spending on food marketing to tweens and teens increased from 2006 to 2009.

“While there’s been progress in advertising to children age 2 to 11 on traditional media, children continue to see too many ads for products of questionable nutritional quality,” said Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA, Rudd Center Director of Marketing Initiatives. “Companies have also shifted much of their spending toward a somewhat older child audience, including 12- to 14-year-olds, and into newer forms of marketing.”

“Industry has faced public and legal pressure as well as pressure from health experts to improve their practices,” said Kelly Brownell, PhD, Rudd Center Director. “The voluntary changes they made are only modest and they have stepped up marketing in some arenas. The pressure on industry to do more must continue.”

The FTC’s report was conducted as part of a Congressional inquiry into rising childhood obesity rates and aims to help public health experts, parents, and lawmakers understand the extent of food marketing to children.

 

Food Marketing to Youth: The Best and the Worst of 2012

Only $11.4 million was spent on marketing fruits and vegetables to youth in 2006, representing less than 1 percent of the $2 billion spent on all food marketing to youth, according to the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance and Federal Trade Commission. Food and beverage companies use traditional forms of marketing, such as television advertising and promotions on product packages, but companies are increasingly using more unique and invasive techniques. The Rudd Center compiled a collection of thebest and worst examples of food marketing practices in 2012, including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the Summer Olympic Games (worst) and Disney restricting junk food advertising to children (best).

 

Originally posted on Million Ideas:

Lots of us hate to admit it, but marketing has a huge impact on what we buy, eat, and how we live our lives. While marketing and advertising affects all of us, children are especially impressionable. A good advertiser knows what will stick with kids, and they use every trick in the book. The junk food industry is no exception, and marketers understand that getting their message to children leads to big business. To show just how much of an impact marketing has on our children’s health, we reached out to teach.com and USC Rossier Online and borrowed their infographic, “Targeting Children With Treats.”

A huge thanks to Teach.com and USC Rossier Online for sharing the infographic!

View original

December 22, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

USDA Supertracker -Our Third Week of Tracking Nutrition & Physical Activity

My husband and I are on the third week of using the USDA online tool Supertracker to monitor our daily nutrition intake and physical activity.

We have begun to change our eating habits. For example, I am eating more fruit and drinking more milk to get calcium and potassium.
Unsalted unbuttered air popped popcorn has been re-discovered as a whole grain. Meat consumption has decreased. Cocoa powder is not as tasty as the chocolate in store bought chocolate milk. But another source of high fructose corn syrup no longer is in our fridge.

It is a good thing I am using this as a lifestyle tool, not with a goal to lose weight. My weight has stayed the same despite sticking to overall calories and having a great physical activity report. So, although I would like to lose 10 pounds, I will have to look at other factors, as sleep quality.

As noted in a previous post, I am going to be looking into vegan nutrient sources to replace some of my dairy and meat.

Some thoughts on the pros and cons of Supertracker.

Pros

  • One place to go for tracking both nutrition and physical activity
  • Easy to use.  food and activity selections are made by entering a word or phrase and then selecting from the resultant options
  • Throughout the day one can monitor levels of consumed fats, oils, calories, nutrients as well as see how one’s food choices stack against daily food targets.
  • Entered foods can be modified (as portion size) or deleted. This is a great decision making tool, including snack options later in the day.
  • One can opt for calorie allotment based on previous week’s physical activity

Cons

  • Does not include all foods (especially convenience/packaged foods)
  • When entering homemade,  you are probably best off entering ingredients individually.  USDA food options having several ingredients tend to be convenience/packaged which are are high in sodium.
  • Physical activity tracker seems to be a work in progress. For example, the range of weight lifting activities seems to be sparse.
  • Physical activity options are “canned”. They do not allow for individual heart rates.
  • Long range reports can be done for data on individual nutrient levels. However overall long range reports for nutrition are only averages.
  • It does take time to enter one’s data!

November 14, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

Deficiency Symptoms and Signs – A Referenced Resource for Professionals and the Public

This morning I came across this nutrition deficiency guide while doing a (somewhat) focused Web search on a Quora question about nutritional deficiencies.
The table (rather longish) lists signs/symptoms along with possible nutritional deficiencies and other possible causes.

According to the terms and use, I am not allowed to copy/paste the table, or provide a direct link to this very informative table.
(This is a commercial site, but ad free).

Here’s how to get to the table

This site has, well, to me, an overabundance of unbiased, reliable nutrition from a medical doctor.

Dr. Stewart is medical practitioner in 1976 from Guy’s Hospital London and became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians in 1979.  He was a founding member of the British Society for Nutritional Medicine.

 

October 31, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Attractive names sustain increased vegetable intake in schools

 

From the 17 September 2012 article at EurekAlert

Attractive, catchy names can compel youngsters to eat more vegetables

IMAGE: He is a professor of marketing, Cornell University.

Click here for more information.

The age-old parental struggle of convincing youngsters to eat their fruits and vegetables has some new allies: Power Punch Broccoli, X-Ray Vision Carrots — and a host of catchy names for entrees in school cafeterias. Cornell University researchers studied how a simple change, such as using attractive names, would influence elementary-aged children’s consumption of vegetables.

IMAGE: He is a professor of behavioral economics, Cornell University.

Click here for more information.

In the first study, plain old carrots were transformed into “X-ray Vision Carrots.” 147 students ranging from 8-11 years old from 5 ethnically and economically diverse schools participated in tasting the cool new foods. Lunchroom menus were the same except that carrots were added on three consecutive days. They found, for example, that by naming plain old carrots “X-ray vision carrots,” fully 66 percent of the carrots were eaten, far greater than the 32 percent eaten when labeled “Food of the Day” — and the 35 percent eaten when unnamed.

 

September 17, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

Better Nutrition Provided By ‘Microgreens’ Compared To Their Mature Counterparts

 

Abstract Image

[From the abstract]

From the 31 August 2012 article at Medical News Today

The first scientific analysis of nutrient levels in edible microgreens has found that many of those trendy seedlings of green vegetables and herbs have more vitaminsand healthful nutrients than their fully grown counterparts. A report on the research appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry…

..

They found that microgreens generally have higher concentrations of healthful vitamins and carotenoids than their mature counterparts. But they also found wide variations in nutrient levels among the plants tested in the study. Red cabbage microgreens, for instance, had the highest concentration of vitamin C, for instance, while green daikon radish microgreens had the most vitamin E. Concentrations of vitamins and carotenoids in popcorn shoots and golden pea tendrils were low compared to other microgreens, but were still as high as some common mature vegetables.

One other notable finding: Exposing microgreens to light tended to change the nutritional content, which is an ongoing research effort led by Dr. Lester and Dr. Wang, and results will be published soo

 

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Burdens Of Place’ Plague Urban Poor; Often Lead To Weight Gain, Obesity

 

From the 12 August Medical News Today article

Most of America’s urban cores were designed for walking but offer little in the way of supermarkets, healthy restaurants and other amenities for residents to walk to, according to a study led by a Michigan State University scholar.

The study is one of the first to show that poor residents living in declining urban neighborhoods want healthy food choices – evidenced by their willingness to travel long distances to find them. Past research has generally assumed that poor people will shop at whatever store is closest.

But compared with suburban residents, the urban poor are more overweight and must travel farther to find healthy food and access personal services, said Igor Vojnovic, associate professor of geography and lead author on the study…

..Other findings included:

  • Fast food restaurants were more plentiful in poor neighborhoods. In addition, residents there reported that 55 percent of all dining-out experiences were at fast food eateries, compared with only 13 percent for those in the suburbs.
  • Poor urban residents had to go nearly twice as far as suburbanites to shop at supermarkets.
  • The urban poor made about five trips per month to convenience stores (which aren’t known for stocking healthy foods) compared with only one trip per month for suburbanites…

..

During the past 30 years, urban planners and business investors have largely ignored poor communities, instead focusing policy, research and investment efforts on wealthier neighborhoods, Vojnovic said. As a result, little is known about resident behaviors in declining communities, even as the number of poor people increases in the United States, he said.

The current study shows that the fundamental principles in city planning and design that have been developed around wealthy communities do not necessarily hold in poor neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, some have advocated an “obesity tax” on unhealthy foods to help pay for the health-care system overhaul or as a policy to curtail obesity. But Vojnovic said such a tax would disproportionately burden the urban poor and noted that this population has little power to influence the location decisions of healthy food suppliers.

Vojnovic said a better option might be for states to give subsidies to major supermarket chains, restaurants serving healthy food and other needed establishments that locate in poor neighborhoods. 

 

August 13, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Junk Food Not Cheaper Than Healthy Food

Fr0m the 18 May 2012 MedPage Today article

It doesn’t cost any more to eat healthy food than it does to eat junk food, a government study found, casting doubt on the popular belief that many people can’t afford healthful foods.

The study, released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service, found that foods like beans, carrots, milk, and yogurt are actually less expensive than ice cream sandwiches, cinnamon buns, and soda.

One reason that many people assume junk food is more affordable is because many studies that compare the cost of unhealthy foods with healthy ones use cost-per-calorie as a measurement.

By this metric, vegetables and fruit are relatively more expensive ways to consume “food energy” (i.e., calories) because they don’t contain many calories, whereas less healthy foods (also called “moderation foods”), which tend to be high in saturated fat and sugar, are a cheaper way to consume a lot of calories….

May 21, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

Bytesize Science – Educational Videos from the American Chemical Society

Bytesize Science videos include a few that are health related as

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

Robert J. Davis, Ph.D.: Top 10 Food Label Tricks to Avoid in 2012

 

How to understand and use the US Nutritional F...

Image via Wikipedia

Robert J. Davis, Ph.D.: Top 10 Food Label Tricks to Avoid in 2012

This slideshow presents the truth about many claims that seem healthy on the surface as

  • No trans fat – anything including at least .5 grams of fat per serving can legally be rounded down to zero
  • High fiber – many fibers have no health benefit, you’re almost always better off with natural fibers in fruit, vegetables, whole grains

Click here to see the entire slideshow

 

January 7, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Tax Dollars at Work – SuperTracker Looks Up Nutrition Info, Tracks/Compares Food to Your Targets, Tracks Physical Activities, and More

This is the icon for MyPlate which replaced MyPyramid in June 2011. The new MyPlate icon is composed of a plate divided into 4 sections: fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. A dairy section is off the plate to the side. The MyPlate graphic is positioned on a placemat with the website ChooseMyPlate.gov written underneath.

Food-A-Pedia >
Look up nutrition info for over 8,000 foods and compare foods side-by-side.

Type in your food here

Select food category  All Foods  My Favorite Foods  Beverages  Breads, Cereals & Bakery Items  Pasta & Rice  Fruits  Vegetables  Dairy  Meat, Poultry, Fish & Eggs  Meals & Entrees (Mixed Dishes)  Snacks  Fast Foods  Sweets & Desserts

Bag of groceries

Food Tracker >
Track the foods you eat and compare to your nutrition targets.

Type in your food here

Select Food Category  All Foods  My Favorite Foods  Beverages  Breads, Cereals & Bakery Items  Pasta & Rice  Fruits  Vegetables  Dairy  Meat, Poultry, Fish & Eggs  Meals & Entrees (Mixed Dishes)  Snacks  Fast Foods  Sweets & Desserts

Plate of healthy foods

Physical Activity Tracker >
Enter your activities and track progress as you move.

Type in your activity here

Select food category  All Activities  My Favorite Activities  Walking & Running  Conditioning  Sports  Home  Occupation  Other

Sneakers

My Weight Manager >
Get weight management guidance; enter your weight and track progress over time.

Weight scale

My Top 5 Goals >
Choose up to 5 personal goals; sign up for tips and support from your virtual coach.

To-do list

My Reports >
Use reports to see how you are meeting goals and view your trends over time.

Report papers and pie charts

From the 22 December USDA news Release

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2011 – Just in time to help Americans keep their New Year’s resolutions by making healthy food and physical activity choices, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today releasedUSDA’s new nutrition SuperTracker. The SuperTracker is a comprehensive, state-of-the-art resource available at ChooseMyPlate.gov designed to assist individuals as they make changes in their life to reduce their risk of chronic disease and maintain a healthy weight. Release of this new web tool comes as USDA highlights the second in a series of themed consumer messages supporting the MyPlate icon – Enjoy Your Food, But Eat Less – that USDA is promoting the next three months in conjunction with more than 5,000 organizations participating in the MyPlate Nutrition Communicators Network.

“Overcoming the health and nutrition challenges we face as a nation is critical and the SuperTrackerprovides consumers with an assortment of tools to do just that,” said Vilsack. “This easy-to-use website will help Americans at all stages of life improve their overall health and well-being as they input dietary and physical activity choices into the tool. During the holiday season we are surrounded by good food and this is a perfect time to Enjoy Your Food, But Eat Less.”

The SuperTracker is a visually appealing, comprehensive, state-of-the-art resource available atChooseMyPlate.gov. It is designed to assist individuals as they make changes in their life to reduce their risk of chronic disease and maintain a healthy weight. Consumers can access this free, on-line tool at anytime and can choose a variety of features to support nutrition and physical activity goals.SuperTracker offers consumers the ability to:

  • Personalize recommendations for what and how much to eat and amount of physical activity.
  • Track foods and physical activity from an expanded database of foods and physical activities.
  • Customize features such as goal setting, virtual coaching, weight tracking and journaling.
  • Measure progress with comprehensive reports ranging from a simple meal summary to in-depth analysis of food groups and nutrient intake over time.
  • Operationalize the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines.
  • Support family and friends by adding their individual profiles.

December 26, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics Advocates For Expanded Nutritional Coverage Under Medicare

From the 21 December Medical News Today article

he Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has prepared a request to submit to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand coverage of medical nutritiontherapy (MNT) for specific diseases, including hypertensionobesity, and cancer, as part of the CMS National Coverage Determination (NCD) Process. Most chronic health conditions can be controlled or treated with medical nutrition therapy, yet Medicare will only reimburse nutrition therapy services provided by a registered dietitian for individuals with diabetes and renal disease. “That’s just not enough if we want to improve the health of the nation and rein in escalating healthcare costs,” says Marsha Schofield, MS, RD, LD, the Academy’s Director of Nutrition Services Coverage.

Under the NCD Process, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services can expand Medicare coverage for services that are reasonable and necessary for the prevention of an illness. Ms. Schofield explains, “There are an escalating number of baby boomers turning 65 and entering the Medicare system. The majority of Medicare spending is on individuals with chronic conditions, and almost 70% of Medicare beneficiaries suffer from cardiovascular disease. Chronic conditions can be controlled or treated with medical nutrition therapy, so it just makes sense to try to expand the Medicare beneficiary’s access to these important services.”

The Academy’s NCD request is published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics …

…The article is “The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics National Coverage Determination Formal Request,” by Prashanthi Rao Raman, Esq, MPH, and Erica Gradwell, MS, RD, in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 112, Issue 1 (January 2012) published by Elsevier.

[If you cannot access the article for free, please click here for suggestions on how to get the article for free or at low cost]

Read the entire news article here

December 21, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advocates for expanded nutritional coverage under Medicare

Evidence on cost savings and health benefits of nutritional intervention published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

From the 11 December 2011 Eureka news alert

Philadelphia, PA — The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has prepared a request to submit to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand coverage of medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for specific diseases, including hypertension, obesity, and cancer, as part of the CMS National Coverage Determination (NCD) Process. Most chronic health conditions can be controlled or treated with medical nutrition therapy, yet Medicare will only reimburse nutrition therapy services provided by a registered dietitian for individuals with diabetes and renal disease. “That’s just not enough if we want to improve the health of the nation and rein in escalating healthcare costs,” says Marsha Schofield, MS, RD, LD, the Academy’s Director of Nutrition Services Coverage.

Read the entire news article

The article is “The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics National Coverage Determination Formal Request [Full Text of the article],” by Prashanthi Rao Raman, Esq, MPH, and Erica Gradwell, MS, RD, in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 112, Issue 1 (January 2012) published by Elsevier.

In an accompanying podcast Ms. Schofield, Ms. Blankenship, and Ms. Gradwell discuss the NCD process undertaken by the Academy and share insights about its potential impact on healthcare and the role of the registered dietitian. The podcast is available at External link http://andjrnl.org/content/podcast.

December 19, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Visualizing the World’s Food Consumption – A Map

Visualizing the World’s Food Consumption – A Map

Includes graph on calories consumed by 20 highest and 20 lowest countries (compared to RDA).

Another graph portrays 20 highest consuming countries and 20 lowest consuming countries (by average percentage of income spent on food)

 

 

December 16, 2011 Posted by | health AND statistics, Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

Environment And Diet Leave Their Prints On The Heart

From the 30 November 2011 Medical News Today article 

A University of Cambridge study, which set out to investigate DNA methylation in the human heart and the ‘missing link’ between our lifestyle and our health, has now mapped the link in detail across the entire human genome.

The new data collected greatly benefits a field that is still in its scientific infancy and is a significant leap ahead of where the researchers were, even 18 months ago.

Researcher Roger Foo explains: “By going wider and scanning the genome in greater detail this time – we now have a clear picture of the ‘fingerprint’ of the missing link, where and how epigenetics in heart failuremay be changed and the parts of the genome where diet or environment or other external factors may affect outcomes.” …

DNA methylation leaves indicators, or “marks”, on the genome and there is evidence that these “marks” are strongly influenced by external factors such as the environment and diet. The researchers have found that this process is different in diseased and normal hearts. Linking all these things together suggest this may be the “missing link” between environmental factors and heart failure.

The findings deepen our understanding of the genetic changes that can lead to heart diseaseand how these can be influenced by our diet and our environment. The findings can potentially open new ways of identifying, managing and treating heart disease.

The DNA that makes up our genes is made up of four “bases” or nucleotides – cytosine, guanine, adenine and thymie, often abbreviated to C, G, A and T. DNA methylation is the addition of a methyl group (CH3) to cytosine.

When added to cytosine, the methyl group looks different and is recognised differently by proteins, altering how the gene is expressed i.e. turned on or off.

DNA methylation is a crucial part of normal development, allowing different cells to become different tissues despite having the same genes. As well as happening during development, DNA methylation continues throughout our lives in a response to environmental and dietary changes which can lead to disease.

As a result of the study, Foo likens DNA methylation to a fifth nucleotide: “We often think of DNA as being composed of four nucleotides. Now, we are beginning to think there is a fifth – the methylated C.”

Foo also alludes to what the future holds for the study: “…and more recent basic studies now show us that our genome has even got 6th, 7th and 8th nucleotides… in the form of further modifications of cytosines. These are hydroxy-methyl-Cytosine, formylCytosine and carboxylCytosine = hmC, fC and caC! These make up an amazing shift in the paradigm…”

As in most studies, as one question is resolved, another series of mysteries form in its place. The study shows that we are still on the frontier of Epigenetics and only just beginning to understand the link between the life we lead and the body we have. 

DNA Methylation in E. coli

DNA methylation in E.coli

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soda’s Evil Twin – The Dangers of Fruit Drinks (Infographic) [With Added Item on Environmental Degradation by Soda Manufacturer Processes]

From Jen Rs Web page  (Twitter: jenicarhee)


Related articles

  • [Environmenal effects of soda drink manufacturing overseas]

From the January 2012 newsletter item by the Mt. St. Agnes Theological Center for Women
Green Notes

Bad news for soft drink lovers…You might believe that your daily cola fix only poses a threat to your diet but, depending on your brand of choice, you could be terribly wrong.  As major soft drink manufactures move their bottling plants over seas and into the developing world, many are engaging in irresponsible behaviors that harm the local environment and communities dependent on it.

Coca-Cola stands out as the worst offender, particularly in India.  In the last decade, tens of thousands of farmers and their families have lost their livelihoods as Coca-Cola’s activities have dried out their wells and poisoned any alternate local water sources.  The company has peddled potentially toxic product containing elevated levels of dangerous pesticides in drinks sold in India. The dangerous pesticides include DDT, Lindane, and Malathion.  PepsiCo’s activities in India have been only marginally better.  India’s parliament has banned Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products from all of its cafeterias and, as of 2007, ten thousand of its schools and colleges have followed suit.

In support of India’s efforts to force responsible practices from the Coca-Cola and PepsiCo corporations, our Center will no longer purchase or serve soft drinks from these companies.  We hope you will do the same.  For more information regarding the on-going protest movement against Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, check outwww.cokejustice.org  andwww.indiaresource.org/news/2010/1044.html, or refer to Paul Hawken’s book, Blessed Unrest, which our Center will be discussing this April.

November 16, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition, Public Health, statistics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crowdsourcing Nutrition in a Snap: Counting Calories in Photos, PlateMate Proves the Wisdom of the (Well-Managed) Crowd

Computations and algorithms cannot yet evaluate a meal, but it turns out that they can build an effective workforce. The PlateMate project proves that a well-managed crowd can play the role of a nutritional expert. (Credit: Image courtesy of Eric Hysen)
From the 5 November 2011 Science Daily article
Americans spend upwards of $40 billion a year on dieting advice and self-help books, but the first step in any healthy eating strategy is basic awareness — what’s on the plate.

If keeping a food diary seems like too much effort, despair not: computer scientists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have devised a tool that lets you snap a photo of your meal and let the crowd do the rest.

PlateMate’s calorie estimates have proved, in tests, to be just as accurate as those of trained nutritionists, and more accurate than the user’s own logs. The research was presented at the 24th ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, a leading conference on human-computer interaction.

“We can take things that used to require experts and do them with crowds,” says Jon Noronha ’11, who co-developed PlateMate as an undergraduate at Harvard and now works at Microsoft. “Estimating the nutritional value of a meal is a fairly complex task, from a computational standpoint, but with a structured workflow and some cultural awareness, we’ve expanded what crowdsourcing can achieve.”…

PlateMate works in coordination with Amazon Mechanical Turk, a system originally intended to help improve product listings on Amazon.com. Turkers, as the crowd workers call themselves, receive a few cents for each puzzle-like task they complete.

PlateMate divides nutrition analysis into several iterative tasks, asking groups of Turkers to distinguish between foods in the photo, identify what they are, and estimate quantities. The nutrition totals for the meal are then automatically calculated.

Read the article

November 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

The entire approach to food based on nutrients is wrong

From an August 2011 article by   in KevinMD.com

The science of nutrition is changing and not in the way you might expect. After years of “reductionist” thinking — where food has been viewed as the sum of its parts – a call to treat food as food has been sounded. No more poring over nutrition labels to calculate grams of fat or chasing down the latest go-to chemical – be it vitamin E, fish oil or omega-3. Instead we are being asked to call a potato a potato and a piece of steak, well, a piece of steak…

Read the article

 

August 28, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy Habits Can Add 15 Years to Your Life

From the 3 August 2011 Medical News Today article

Women with a healthy lifestyle such as a Mediterranean diet, regular exercise, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight, are more likely to live 15 years longer than their less healthy counterparts, while for men, the effect of such healthy habits appears to be less, nearly 8.5 years, according to a study from Maastricht University in the Netherlands that was published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition…

Read the entire article here

  • Four ways to add 15 years to your life (psychologytoday.com)
  • Longevity More Linked To Genes Than Lifestyle, Research RevealsIndividuals who live past 95 years of age have similar lifestyles to the rest of the population regarding smoking, drinking, diet and exercise, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University revealed in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. As far as longevity is concerned, it really does seem that nature matters more than nurture, the authors explained. Dr. Nir Barzilai and team interviewed 477 people aged at least 95 years, they were all Ashkenazi Jews and lived independently. 75% of them were female…

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

Healthy Restaurant Eating: Is The Tide Turning In Fast Foods?

From the 6 August Medical News Today article

Eating out, and the amount we spend on it, especially on fast foods, has been rising steadily for decades, and parallels the increase in daily calorie intake that is contributing to the growing obesity crisis. But is that about to change? Official figures, which take years to emerge, don’t appear to show it, but some more recent findings suggest the tide could be starting to turn, although for surprising reasons…

More Tips for Healthy Eating Out

Here are some more tips, based on information from the University of Wisconsin, on how to be kind to your waistline and your health when eating out, without spoiling the fun and enjoyment of good food.

  1. Do your research first: find out who is offering healthy, low fat meals.
  2. Eat something, like a piece of fruit, or drink a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon, about half an hour before, so you are not starving when you order, which can affect your choices.
  3. If you can’t control your portions, avoid restaurants that offer buffet or “all you can eat” menus.
  4. Eat half the entrée and ask them to wrap the rest for you to take home.
  5. Order one meal with two plates, one for you, one for your dining partner.
  6. Have an appetizer as a main course.
  7. Don’t eat everything: skip the bits you like less.
  8. Prefer spinach, watercress, dark green leaf salads (they are more nutritious) to those where the only leaf is pale iceberg lettuce.
  9. Avoid thick sauces made with butter or cream: ask the waiter if you are not sure. Go for stock-based sauce, or cooked in own juices instead.
  10. Instead of french fries, have baked potato, a side salad, or some steamed vegetables.
  11. Skip the mayonnaise and rich sauces in sandwiches and ask for extra tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mustard instead.
  12. Eat less at another meal in the day – but don’t skip meals, as this can lead to binge eating.
  13. Watch the alcohol and sweetened drinks: they are also rich in calories.
  14. Look for low fat, grilled, flame-cooked, broiled and steamed main dishes instead of battered, tempura, breaded, fried foods.
  15. Choose hard rolls, plain bread sticks, french bread or wholemeal buns and avoid dishes made with pastries, croissants and biscuits.
  16. Choose soups that are broth-based rather than cream or milk-based.
  17. Have extra vegetable toppings on your pizza instead of meat and extra cheese.

Read the entire article

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

How Healthy People Eat Cheap

How Healthy People Eat Cheap

From a March 2009 posting at Experience Li!fe

http://www.experiencelifemag.com/issues/march-2009/healthy-eating/how-healthy-people-eat-cheap.php

Eating well doesn’t have to break your budget. Our experts offer 15 tips on cutting your tab at the grocery store, without scrimping on the good stuff.

By Alyssa Ford / March 2009

Spendy vs. Savvy 

If there was one sound that rose above all others at the grocery checkout line last year, it was this: Ouch! When your grocery budget is under assault, it’s easy to succumb to panic (“Nine dollars a pound for organic chicken?!”) and become tempted to fill your cart with less healthy, but ostensibly cheaper, fare. Trouble is, downgrading the quality of your food is never a bargain. First, your health is just too valuable, and courting an avoidable health condition or lowered immunity by eating poorly is just way too expensive. Second, even in the toughest economic times, you don’t have to scrimp on the good stuff. You just have to know how to shop smarter.

In this, the second in our series on “How Healthy People Eat,” we’ve assembled another team of health-conscious experts to dish on their personal shopping habits:

Here, they share their top tips for creating wholesome, delicious meals on the cheap.

1. Make a strategic shopping list. Buying food on a whim, shopping haphazardly and going shopping when hungry all tend to drive your expenditures steeply upward. By planning your meals before shopping, you can save a bundle. Swensson and her boyfriend eat a nutrient-rich, whole-foods diet for no more than $55 a week. Swensson searches online circulars to find deals near her Brooklyn home, combines that information with what she knows about the food she already has on hand, then searches online for recipes that make the most of both. Then she creates a detailed shopping list from which she never strays.

2. Know the cost of your staples. Even though Farino lives in one of the most expensive food markets in the country, she’s able to eat well by keeping track of what things cost. “I know the price of Wildwood organic tofu at four different stores to the penny,” she says. By knowing what things cost, she can quickly identify a deal.

3. When you spot a sale, strike. Occasionally, olive oil, tamari and frozen peas will go on sale at Farino’s co-op, and she’ll stock up for several weeks. Plus, she doesn’t hesitate to buy in bulk when the opportunity arises. “I drink unsweetened almond milk, so when my favorite brand went on sale, I bought a whole case,” she says. The trick here is to buy only what you actually will use. (You may be able to get a truckload of olive oil for a song, but it won’t keep forever.)…

Read article

August 1, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Home is where the healthy meal is

New study finds home setting nurtures better food choices

Can a cozy dining table and nice music prompt people to reach for the greens and go light on dessert?

From the 28 July 2011 Eureka news alert

So suggests a new study probing why people tend to eat more-nutritious meals at home than away from home. The findings, based on data from 160 women who reported their emotional states before and after meals, add to mounting evidence that psychological factors may help override humans’ wired-in preference for high-fat, sugary foods.

“Over the course of evolution in a world of food scarcity, humans and animals alike have been biologically programmed to elicit more powerful food reward responses to high-caloric foods” than to less-fattening fare, the study notes. Given those hard-wired urges, it may not be enough to understand that broccoli is better for the waistline than French fries. Home is known to be where people feel most content, and the positive emotions often associated with home-cooked meals may be part of the recipe for a healthy diet, the researchers indicate.

The findings, published in the July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that people who are in a good mood at home tend to prepare healthier meals – and feel more emotionally rewarded after eating them. That cycle of positive reinforcement was more pronounced at home than elsewhere.

The report, by Prof. Ji Lu of Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Catherine Huet, and Prof.. Laurette Dubé of McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, concludes that “the home is a privileged environment that nurtures healthy eating and in which healthier food choices trigger and are triggered by more positive emotions.”

July 29, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

Front-of-Package Nutrition Labeling — An Abuse of Trust by the Food Industry?



Sample Front-of-Package Label Adhering to the Nutrition Keys System Developed by the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the Food Marketing Institute.

Sample Front-of-Package Label from the Traffic-Light System Used in Britain.

From http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2009/10/26/smart-choices-food-labeling-program-suspended/

Excerpts from the New England Journal of Medicine 23 June 2011 Perspective

On January 24, 2011, two major food-industry trade associations, the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute, announced a new and voluntary nutrition-labeling system that major food and beverage companies would use on the front of packages to “help busy consumers make informed choices.” …
…This program, called Nutrition Keys, follows on the heels of an industry free-for-all in which different companies used different, and in many cases self-serving, symbols to communicate how healthful their products were. An example is the Smart Choices program, whereby industry established nutrition criteria that would qualify products for a special Smart Choices label. This enterprise was met with disbelief when products such as Froot Loops and Cocoa Krispies qualified as Smart Choices,…
…At first glance, the industry action might seem positive — a single standardized system with objective nutrition information might guide better food choices. The industry plans to list the amount and percentage of the recommended daily value (%DV), when available, for calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugars….
…There are, however, major flaws in this approach. First, the timing of this action by the food industry is suspicious at best, and the move is being made in a political context where the industry is pitted against both government and the public health community. …
…Most troubling is the fact that the industry announced its own approach even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA have already commissioned an objective body, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), to convene an expert committee and issue recommendations for front-of-package labeling. The IOM committee is scheduled to release its final report this fall….

Related IOM Links

Includes History of nutrition labeling, Overview of Health and Diet in America, Scientific basis of front-of-package nutritionrating systems, and appendixes

  • Consumer labelling: Food fights (economist.com)
  • Small step forward in global food labelling (Canadian Medical Association News, June 2011)
    “Global standards for “mandatory nutrition labelling” on the back of food packaging appear to be in the offing but standards for the front of packages appear to be a distant dream.The guidelines will be crafted this summer by the Codex Food Labelling Committee, which is part of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, created in 1963 by United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization to develop food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to protect consumer health and ensure fair trade practices with regard to food…….Proponents hope the back-of-package labels — which would articulate general information about such things as fat, protein, fibre, calorie content — will serve as an impetus to all nations to adopt official labelling requirements,  if only because they would soon become a requisite element of international trade…….Although several countries are experimenting with forms of front-of-packaging labelling, such as the United Kingdom, which  introduced a voluntary colour-coded traffic light system in 2007, (www.cmaj.ca/cgi/doi/10.1503/cmaj.081755), no nation has mandatory regulations.”…
  • U.S. Seeks New Limits on Food Ads for Children (nytimes.com)
  • Sunday Comic Strip: Isn’t Food One of the Ingredients? (fooducate.com)

June 26, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dawn of Agriculture Took Toll On Health

 

Amanda Mummert led the first comprehensive, global review of the literature regarding stature and health during the agriculture transition. (Credit: Image courtesy of Emory University)

From the 18 June 2011 Science Daily article

 

ScienceDaily (June 18, 2011) — When populations around the globe started turning to agriculture around 10,000 years ago, regardless of their locations and type of crops, a similar trend occurred: The height and health of the people declined….

…”Many people have this image of the rise of agriculture and the dawn of modern civilization, and they just assume that a more stable food source makes you healthier,” Mummert says. “But early agriculturalists experienced nutritional deficiencies and had a harder time adapting to stress, probably because they became dependent on particular food crops, rather than having a more significantly diverse diet.”

She adds that growth in population density spurred by agriculture settlements led to an increase in infectious diseases, likely exacerbated by problems of sanitation and the proximity to domesticated animals and other novel disease vectors.

Eventually, the trend toward shorter stature reversed, and average heights for most populations began increasing. The trend is especially notable in the developed world during the past 75 years, following the industrialization of food systems.

“Culturally, we’re agricultural chauvinists. We tend to think that producing food is always beneficial, but the picture is much more complex than that,” says Emory anthropologist George Armelagos, co-author of the review. “Humans paid a heavy biological cost for agriculture, especially when it came to the variety of nutrients. Even now, about 60 percent of our calories come from corn, rice and wheat.”…

An abstract of the article may be found here.

Click here for suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost.

June 20, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Why Do Hopeful Consumers Make Healthier Choices Than Happy Ones?

Happy people are more likely to eat candy bars, whereas hopeful people choose fruit, according to a new study. That’s because when people feel hope, they’re thinking about the future. (Credit: © Andrea Berger / Fotolia)

From the 20 April 2011 Science News Today article

ScienceDaily (Apr. 20, 2011) — Happy people are more likely to eat candy bars, whereas hopeful people choose fruit, according to a new study in theJournal of Consumer Research. That’s because when people feel hope, they’re thinking about the future.

Most of us are aware that we often fall victim to emotional eating, but how is it that we might choose unhealthy or healthy snacks when we’re feeling good?” write authors Karen Page Winterich (Pennsylvania State University) and Kelly L. Haws (Texas A&M University).

Because previous research has explored how feeling sad leads to eating bad, the authors focused on the complicated relationship between positive emotions and food consumption. “We demonstrate the importance of the time frame on which the positive emotion focuses and find that positive emotions focusing on the future decrease unhealthy food consumption in the present,” the authors write….

Journal Reference:

  1. Karen Page Winterich and Kelly L. Haws. Helpful Hopefulness: The Effect off Future Positive Emotions on ConsumptionJournal of Consumer Research, October 2011 (published online March 18, 2011) DOI:10.1086/659873

[For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here]

April 20, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Expert: Pairing some foods packs big benefits

Sass recommends eating whole grains with onions or garlic to fight inflammation.

Sass recommends eating whole grains with onions or garlic to fight inflammation.  (CBS)

From the 12 April 2011 CBS Early Show Web site item 

Pairing up certain foods is natural, such as peanut butter and jelly. But, according to registered dietician Cynthia Sass, combining some foods can actually make them much more beneficial to your health than eating them separately.
Sass, author of “Cinch: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches” discussed some of those great food combos she says pack powerful benefits.

The article describes the benefits of and gives examples of the following pairings

  • Salsa and guacamole
  • Beans and Red Peppers
  • Broccoli and tomatoes
  • Apples and cranberries
  • Green Tea and Black Pepper
  • Whole Grains with Garlic or Onions

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

The School Food Revolution: The Healthy Changes In School Cafeterias You Haven’t Seen On TV

School Nutrition Association

From the School Nutrition Association Press Release

The School Food Revolution: The Healthy Changes in School Cafeterias You Haven’t Seen on TV

National Harbor, MD (April 13, 2011) – Despite limited resources and rising food costs, school nutrition programs across the country have made tremendous progress in offering healthier meals in school cafeterias.  But don’t expect to see these successes on television – good news about school meals just doesn’t bring in the ratings.

School Nutrition Association’s 2010 Back to School Trends Report found that schools are serving more whole grains and fresh produce, while working to reduce added sodium and sugar in foods served on the lunch line.  Many school districts are bringing in more locally-grown produceencouraging extra helpings of fruits and vegetables or offering salad bars.  To get kids excited about these healthy choices, schools are experimenting with kids cooking competitionspartnerships with local chefs and nutrition education programs.

Many schools are cooking up more menu items from scratch, and schools with limited ability to scratch cook, due to staffing, equipment or cost challenges, are using higher quality pre-prepared foods.  Food companies have been using leaner meats, more whole grains and less salt and sugar to make the pre-prepared foods served in schools healthier than ever.  These days, baked sweet potato “fries” or wedges are common choices, while school pizza is often served on whole grain crust with low-fat cheese and low-sodium sauce.  Meanwhile, local dairies have been working with school nutrition programs to reduce the fat and sugar in flavored milk choices, which leading health and nutrition organizations support keeping in schools.

These changes are being achieved through the perseverance of school nutrition professionals who must contend with paltry budgets, burdensome regulations, strict food safety standards or insufficient equipment and support.  Often, critics of school nutrition programs and advocates for healthier food choices fail to acknowledge these cost constraints and the complexity of the rules governing the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

Over the next several weeks, School Nutrition Association will issue a series of articles highlighting the School Food Revolution occurring nationwide and the ways schools have raised the bar for school meals.
SNA, (http://www.schoolnutrition.org ) the School Nutrition Association, is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 53,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. Founded in 1946, the Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals.


 

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

The Health Halo Effect: Don’t Judge A Food By Its Organic Label

Official seal of the National Organic Program

Image via Wikipedia

From the April 11 2011 Medical News Today article

Jenny Wan-chen Lee, a graduate student in Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, has been fascinated with a phenomenon known as “the halo effect” for some time. Psychologists have long recognized that how we perceive a particular trait of a person can be influenced by how we perceive other traits of the same individual. In other words, the fact that a person has a positive attribute can radiate a “halo”, resulting in the perception that other characteristics associated with that person are also positive. An example of this would be judging an attractive person as intelligent, just because he or she is good-looking.

A growing literature suggests that the halo effect may also apply to foods, and ultimately influence what and how much we eat. For instance, research has shown that people tend to consume more calories at fast-food restaurants claiming to serve “healthier” foods, compared to the amount they eat at a typical burger-and-fry joint. The reasoning is that when people perceive a food to be more nutritious, they tend to let their guard down when it comes to being careful about counting calories – ultimately leading them to overeat or feel entitled to indulge. This health halo effect also seems to apply to certain foods considered by many to be especially healthy, such as organic products. Specifically, some people mistakenly assume that these foods are more nutritious just because they carry an “organic” label – an area of longstanding active debate among food and nutrition scientists. …

…As part of the scientific program of the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting, results from this [halo effect ]study were presented on April 10 at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting.

April 11, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype & Dietary Supplement Web Sites

Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype

Antioxidant pills

From the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source Web page – Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype
This summary includes the following

Excerpt (Bottom Line)

The Bottom Line on Antioxidants and Disease Prevention

Free radicals contribute to chronic diseases from cancer to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease to vision loss. This doesn’t automatically mean that substances with antioxidant properties will fix the problem, especially not when they are taken out of their natural context. The studies so far are inconclusive, but generally don’t provide strong evidence that antioxidant supplements have a substantial impact on disease. But keep in mind that most of the trials conducted up to now have had fundamental limitations due to their relatively short duration and having been conducted in persons with existing disease. That a benefit of beta-carotene on cognitive function was seen in the Physicians’ Health Follow-up Study only after 18 years of follow-up is sobering, since no other trial has continued for so long. At the same time, abundant evidence suggests that eating whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—all rich in networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules—provides protection against many of these scourges of aging.

Information about ingredients in more than three thousand selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to determine what ingredients are in specific brands and to compare ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the health benefits claimed by manufacturers. These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Check out the Help section for tips on how to browse and search this site.

Prescription and over-the-counter medication information contains answers to many general questions including topics as what a drug is used for, precautions, side effects, dietary instructions, and overdoses. From the American Society of Health System Pharmacists

Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

Somewhat lengthy drug and over-the-counter medicationinformation with these sections: description, before using, proper use, precautions and side effects. From Micromedex, a trusted source of healthcare information for health professionals. 

Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

    March 29, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

    Protein Food Dietary Information from the USDA

    The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has good dietary information summaries  on protein foods.

    Links on the page guide readers to information on vegetarian choices, what counts as an ounce, tips for making wise choices, and the roles of various nutrients in this group (as Vitamin E as an antioxidant)

     

    From the USDA Web site Protein Foods

    What foods are in the protein foods group?
    Divider

    All foods made from meat, poultry, fish, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the protein foods group. Dry beans and peas are part of this group as well as the vegetable group. For more information on dry beans and peas click here.

    Most meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat. Fish, nuts, and seeds contain healthy oils, so choose these foods frequently instead of meat or poultry. (See Why is it important to include fish, nuts, and seeds?)

    Some commonly eaten choices in the protein foods group, with selection tips, are: [listing at the Web site]

     

     

    The Meats Food Gallery
    link at this Web site has pictures  (marked in inches) of  serving portions along with their related meat/bean daily equivalents.
    For example

     

    Salmon steak — 8 ounces cooked weight
    spacer

    Meat and Beans Group: counts as 8 ounce equivalents meat and beans

    spacer

    Picture of Salmon

    previous Previous

     

     

     

    The USDA also has similar information on other Food Groups.

     

     

     

    March 17, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

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