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.

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!

Fruit Juice: Health or Hype?

Every time we turn on the TV, listen to the radio, drive down the road, we are bombarded with advertising from food marketers proclaiming that their product is the secret to weight loss, longevity, and pleasure. With over 200 food choices to make every day it is difficult to sort through claims produced by food manufacturers to make the best choice for your health. Today we’ll tackle the issue of fruit juices: health or hype

As part of its ongoing efforts to uncover over-hyped health claims in food advertising, the Federal Trade Commission has issued an administrative complaint charging the makers of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice with making false and unsubstantiated claims that their products will prevent or treat heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction. David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said:

Any consumer who sees POM Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled. When a company touts scientific research in its advertising, the research must squarely support the claims made. Contrary to POM Wonderful’s advertising, the available scientific information does not prove that POM Juice or POMx effectively treats or prevents these illnesses.

No one can argue that Pomegranates are a wonderful and healthy food, full of vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants, but a line must be draw as food marketers push their products to the extreme. According to Self Nutrition Data, pomegranates are a good source of dietary fiber (11 grams each), 5 grams of protein, folate (107 micrograms), calcium (28.2 mg), vitamin C (28.8 mg), and vitamin K (46.2 mcg). Since POM is made from 100% pomegranate juice, one would think it would have many of the same great nutrients.

Not so. A $3.99 16-oz bottle has 320 calories, 72 grams of sugar, no fiber, and no vitamin C, calcium, folate or vitamin K. Yes, the only ingredient many be pomegranates, but by stripping away the fiber and nutrients, you just have sugar-water. Nutritionally speaking, these aren’t much different from a soda. This isn’t unique to pomegranate juice. All fruit juice loses much of the original fruit’s nutritional value when the juice is extracted, but POM is going a bit overboard with their health claims. A glass of POM a day is not going to prevent heart disease if the rest of your diet is laden with trans and saturated fat. It is important to look at your diet in its entirety, rather than trying to gain benefits from a single serving of fruit juice.

So let’s get over this hype and get healthy! Swap out the juice and reach for a piece of fruit! Aim for 2-4 servings of fruit per day. If you enjoy fruit juice, try diluting it with sparkling water to make your own spritzer. Next time you are at a grocery store, take a closer look at the health claims the manufacturer proclaims. Turn the package over and take a look at the actual nutrition panel and judge the food for yourself. Knowledge is power, and make sure you are well-armed!

What are your thoughts on this Fruit Juice Debate? Do you have any other health claims that you are confused about?

Fake Dyes Added to Food Might Lead to Cancer

Still looking for that natural ingredient in the dye Red 40?  Yeah, I haven’t found it either.  But I have recently discovered that the Center for Science in the Public Interest has found links of specific dyes to harmful consequences.

Michael Jacobson, executive director at CSPI stated that the addition of these dyes does in no way alter the taste or flavor, but is simply for aesthetics.  So I’m thinking, that’s not that bad, right?  We all deserve something pretty to look at.  But wait, the addition of the dyes might not add flavor, but can create allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children, while causing cancer in all other ages.  Knowing this, I’ll pick something else in my life to be pretty!

The research states the dyes Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are currently contaminated with cancer causing agents.  But still in our food.  Also, Red 3 is classified as a carcinogen by the FDA, but still in our food.  Am I missing something here?  Shouldn’t we try to avoid cancer causing agents?  Statistics show that food manufacturers pump an estimated 15 million pounds of these cancer-colors into commercial products a year!

As far as a solution, the British government is in the works of banning all usage of the majority of dyes.  Also, the European Union is establishing warnings, like they have on cigarettes, of cancer risks and other issues.  The United States?  Not so much work as of yet, but I’m sure with the CSPI pumping out this type of information, it won’t be long until someone gets the ball moving and only the natural rainbow in our meals!

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!