Food and Health Survey Results Indicate a Change

’77’ seems to be a key number in weight management, according to the 2010 Food and Health Survey.  77% of Americans are currently attempting to lose or maintain their post weight loss bodies.  However, another 77% report not meeting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guideline.

The Food and Health Survey’s goal is to assess the current population’s vision on eating and physical activity habits.  The organization responsible for producing the survey is the Nutrition and Food Safety at the International Food Information Council Foundation. The foundation’s senior vice president ,Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, states that Americans continue to hear about the importance of overall health, but from a large variety of sources.  She states that there are organizations all over, from the White House’s Let’s Move campaign to similar smaller programs, which are all concentrating on reducing the obesity epidemic. But in order to do that, you have to take baby steps.

Edge is referring to proper calculations of ‘calories in’ versus ‘calories out’.  The same survey indicated that 58% of the population does not concern themselves with the balance of calories, therefore eliminating a key weight loss or weight management tool.  Another issue is the public’s estimation of those calories.  Unless you are relying on a very up to date program, it’s possible to get incorrect numbers.  In addition, portion size, and keeping track of snacks throughout the day need to be taken into account. Everything adds up.

Here are some more survey stats:

  • 53% of the population is more concerned with sodium intake in their diets
  • 72% are consuming more fiber
  • 73% are consuming more grains
  • 64% were concerned about money issues with foods while in 2010 it increased to 73%.
  • When purchasing 86% of individuals buy because of taste, with price in second, health factor at 58% and convenience at 55%.
  • Overall, 73% of Americans are pleased with the types of foods they have offered at their local supermarkets.

For more information about the foundation or the survey, visit www.foodinsight.org.

Celiac Disease & Why the Gluten-Free Diet is No Joke

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of speaking with Shelley Case, RD, a dietitian from Canada who is an expert in Celiac disease and Gluten-free eating. I became interested in this subject due to the popularity of Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s book, The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide, and the way it had taken over the public by storm. In the hospital where I work, I noticed an increasing amount of people interested in Gluten-free options, and not because they had Celiac disease or a wheat intolerance.

I began to wonder why so many people were opting out of eating Gluten. I came to the conclusion that many people equated Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s physique with her Gluten-free diet. What people need to realize is that she suffers from a specific disease in which she cannot digest Gluten. The Gluten-free diet is not recommended for individuals that do not have Celiac disease or a similar intolerance to Gluten. Gluten-free eating can lead to nutritional deficencies, weight gain, more expensive groceries, and disordered eating habits.

source: WatchingTheView.com

Celiac disease is a serious disease that has many different consequences and varied symptoms that are hard to diagnose and treat. The majority of individuals have iron-deficiency anemia (approximately 66%), which is a non-GI symptom for a GI-specific disease. Sufferers of Celiac disease face certain issues that disappear once Gluten is removed from the diet. However, without the removal of Gluten, Celiac disease can cause many problems. Gluten is seen by the body as a foreign substance that the body attacks via antibodies. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease and the antibodies attack the body, specifically the villi on the surface of the small intestine. This leads to problems with nutrient absorption and can also lead to intestinal lymphoma.

There is also non-Celiac Gluten intolerance and wheat intolerance – two disorders that are not Celiac disease and do not have the same long-term consequences. Individuals may feel better once they removed Gluten or wheat products from their diet. However, anyone who believes they may have Celiac disease should speak with their doctor about being tested for this disease before starting a Gluten-free diet. This is because once the Gluten is removed from the diet, the body stops making antibodies. The antibodies are used to determine through a blood test or gastric biopsy whether the individual has Celiac disease.

The bottom line is that Celiac disease is a major disorder that specifically responds to the Gluten-free diet. Those without this disease should not attempt to eat a Gluten-free diet, no matter which celebrities are endorsing it. It is also wise to do more research into a diet book and understand its message before diving headfirst into its recommendations; Hasselbeck’s book is for fellow sufferers of Celiac disease – not for every woman in America who wants to look like her.

Are you #RD to Chat?

By Carlene Helble

The ultimate Twitter chat is ready to launch this November and it’s something you won’t want to miss! Registered Dietitian Janet Helm (@JanetHelm on Twitter) created #RDChat to help dietitians, students, and others interested in nutrition and health connect on fresh, hot button topics.

#RDChat will occur as a moderated conversation on Twitter the first Wednesday of the month from 8-9 pm ET in an hour long session. Things like headlines from newspapers, as well as new studies, and controversial topics will be covered with the help of special guests.

New to Twitter chats? Janet provided these step by step instructions to get you ready to go!:

  • The chat happens live on Twitter and you can jump in at any time during the hour.  Simply log on to your Twitter account and you can use any of these options to help you manage the conversations.
    • One option,  go to http://www.search.twitter.com and type in #RDchat.  Only the  tweets that include that hashtag (#) will appear.  You may have to refresh the page to get new results.
    • If you use Tweetdeck, start a column for #RDchat.  Only tweets that are tagged with #RDchat will appear in that column for you to respond to.
    • There are several other programs you can use that are specifically designed for chats on Twitter:   http://www.tweetchat.com http://www.tweetgrid.com http://twubs.com All you have to do is log on to one of those programs.  When prompted, type in #RDchat and you’ll only see tweets that include that hashtag.  It allows you to see the fast-paced conversation happening in real time.  You use just like Twitter;  reply, comment, retweet, etc.  All of your tweets will automatically be tagged with #RDchat.

See you for a #healthy #nutritious and interesting @Twitter chat in November!

Washington Post Deconstructs Problems with Obesity in America

In today’s Washington Post – Health and Science section the topic of discussion is obesity in America. Our own Rebecca Scritchfield was called to contribute about various restaurant meals and how, as the journalist labeled it, “Chains offer doses of Gluttony.”

The Health and Science section has a few articles discussing such topics as:

    Michelle Obama’s healthy food initiative, How to “lose the fat, but keep the flavor” – which oils or spices you can use to flavor your foods while also keeping your food low in fat,
    How insurance company’s are slow to cover treatment programs for weight loss, and which restaurants menu items are the most gluttonus.
    How restaurants are serving up portions that lack balance, exceed portion sizes, and contribute calories for several people on a single plate.

Rebecca is mentioned on page E4, where she contributes by explaining why these various menu items are so bad. Many of the meals mentioned are either close to 2,000 calories or more, which is generally considered to be an entire days worth of food. And people still wonder why America is so over weight?

Another tricky tactic these restaurants are using is claiming that a particular meal is four servings, however the person ordering the meal generally sees it as a meal for one person. Rebecca states in the article that “people envision what they’re served as their portion” no matter the size.

There is a lot of great and interesting information throughout the entire section regarding health and obesity. So go out and pick up a paper today before it disappears!

Supplement Scandals

By Carlene Helble-Elite Nutrition Intern

More supplement issues in the news? I can’t say I’m surprised. With a lack of the tight restrictions that prescription drugs have, supplements can do things like:

  • make broad health claims as long as they don’t say they are a ‘cure’
  • avoid sending clinical trials to the FDA to prove the safety of a product

This week, a supplement scandal emerged involving an ethical question. Can pharmaceutical executives have personal side ventures in which they sell compound X as a supplement? What about while the pharmaceutical company is still running clinical trials on the same compound as a prescription cancer treatment?

British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline found itself in the news this past Thursday after telling two employees to ‘distance themselves’ from their side company Healthy Lifespan Institute (HLI).  Glaxo discovered through a business and technology website that HLI was selling supplements containing the compound resveratrol, found in red wine. In 2008 Glaxo spent over $700 million to buy the biotech company that developed the resveratrol formula, with the hope that it would be used in the future as a prescription drug.  They are now testing it for use as cancer and type 2 diabetes treatments ( a potential financial jackpot for the company).

Later news updates divulged that the two employees resigned from HLI and that the side venture no longer sells the supplement after censure demands from Glaxo. But that wasn’t what caught my attention. A scary piece of information also emerged; Glaxo clinical trials with the resveratrol resulted in kidney failure in some patients. While it seems that the supplement was not ‘identical to the drug compound’ and in a less concentrated form, it’s worrisome to think that the same compound appears in an unregulated supplement!