November 3rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the use of food stamps for soda purchases is still under U.S. Department of Agriculture review.
Some critics, however, believe regulations are no substitute for education.
“In search for yet another ‘quick fix’ to obesity, legislators and politicians nationwide have been trying to regulate what we eat and drink, and this latest proposal is no different,” says Pat Baird, author of The Pyramid Cookbook: Pleasures of the Food Guide Pyramid (right). “As a registered dietitian who advises clients on a daily basis, I know that telling people they can’t have something does not teach them how to make healthier choices. Education is key to cracking obesity. People need information to help them make healthy lifestyle changes.”
Read More:Can Regulations Help Fight Obesity?
October 27th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
As many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue, according to a new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
One in 10 U.S. adults currently has diabetes. The prevalence is expected to rise sharply over the next 40 years because:
- An aging population is more likely to develop the disease.
- Ethnic populations at high risk for type 2 diabetes are expected to grow.
- Better treatment allows diabetics to live longer.
Read More:U.S. Diabetes Cases Expected to Double or Triple by 2050
October 16th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
As with humans, dogs and cats can develop diabetes—a condition in which the body’s blood glucose levels are not properly regulated.
Here’s the basic biology: The pancreas secretes insulin, which helps regulate blood-sugar levels. When there’s a surplus or shortage of insulin, variations in glucose levels can lead to a host of damaging conditions.
Ask your veterinarian to run a blood workup if your dog or cat exhibits any of the following signs:
- Increased panting
- Increased water consumption
- Increased urination
Read More:8 Signs Your Pet May Have Diabetes
October 13th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
As I reported Friday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (right) wants to prevent food-stamp recipients in the Big Apple from using them to buy soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.
New York Times reporter Anemona Hartocollis has since put Bloomberg in an awkward position by revealing that his company, Bloomberg, L.P., offers free Coke, Pepsi, Fanta orange soda, ginger ale and Mountain Dew to its employees.
Critics are debating whether Bloomberg’s food-stamp proposal makes him a hypocrite or hero. In the meantime, New York City obesity stats remain alarming:
Read More:NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Hero or Hypocrite?
October 8th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
As the New York Times reported on Wednesday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to bar residents who receive food stamps from using them to purchase soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.
His goal: to help combat the obesity epidemic—a move supported by the state and city health commissioners.
Read More:NYC Mayor Seeks to Ban Use of Food Stamps for Soda Purchases
September 26th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Fast-food chains love to argue that their menus don’t make us fat, but a Journal of Nutrition study reveals high consumption over a long period leads to weight gain, as well as increased cardiovascular and diabetes risks.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina studied 3,643 young adults over a 13-year period (from ages 7 to 20) to identify how they ate when away from home.
Those who ate the most fast food weighed more, had larger waists and triglyceride levels, and showed signs of metabolic syndrome—a precursor to diabetes, heart disease and possibly cancer.
Read More:Researchers Prove Fast Food/Obesity Connection
July 22nd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Research shows that eating a healthy breakfast reduces our risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes, while also facilitating weight loss. We also know that kids who skip their morning meal lack energy, are more irritable, become fatigued and depressed, and fail to perform well in school.
Put the emphasis on protein if you want to maintain muscle mass, curb hunger, reduce abdominal fat, and slow age-related bone and muscle loss, advises Marie Spano, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist who currently serves as vice president of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Higher-protein diets “are associated with greater bone mass and fewer fractures when calcium intake is adequate,” she told attendees this week at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting. “In addition, replacing carbohydrates with protein can prevent obesity and obesity-relted conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.”
As we grow older, the consequences of protein deficiency become more apparent. We all know seniors who have developed conditions like osteoarthritis and sarcopenia (degenerative loss of muscle mass). Eating a protein-rich diet will create a healthier population of older (and more agile) adults, which simultaneously lowers healthcare costs.
Try these five high-protein, egg-based recipes for breakfast, lunch or dinner:
- Asparagus, Red Pepper and Potato Frittata (made with egg whites)
- Southwestern Scramble
- Sesame-Ginger Frittata with Broccoli and Shrimp (made with egg whites)
- Egg and Vegetable Salad Sandwich
- Tomato-Feta Frittata
Read More:Make Your Organic Breakfast a High-Priority, High-Protein Meal
May 19th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that eating processed red meat—bacon, sausage or processed deli meats—was associated with a 42% higher risk of heart disease and 19% higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
The researchers did not find a higher risk of heart disease or diabetes among individuals who ate unprocessed red meat: beef, pork, or lamb.
“Although most dietary guidelines recommend reducing meat consumption, prior individual studies have shown mixed results for relationships between meat consumption and cardiovascular diseases and diabetes,” says Epidemiology Fellow Renata Micha, whose research was published Monday in the online edition of Circulation. “Most prior studies also did not separately consider the health effects of eating unprocessed red versus processed meats.”
The researchers defined unprocessed red meat as any unprocessed beef, lamb or pork; poultry was excluded. Processed meat was defined as any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives. Examples include bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs or processed deli/luncheon meats. Vegetable or seafood protein sources were not evaluated.
The results showed that, on average, each 50-g (1.8-oz.) daily serving of processed meat (about 1–2 slices of deli meats or 1 hot dog) was associated with a 42% higher risk of developing heart disease and a 19% higher risk of developing diabetes.
“When we looked at average nutrients in unprocessed red and processed meats eaten in the United States, we found that they contained similar average amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol,” Micha says. “In contrast, processed meats contained, on average, 4 times more sodium and 50% more nitrate preservatives. This suggests that differences in salt and preservatives, rather than fats, might explain the higher risk of heart disease and diabetes seen with processed meats, but not with unprocessed red meats.”
Dietary sodium (salt) is known to increase blood pressure—a strong risk factor for heart disease. In animal experiments, nitrate preservatives can promote atherosclerosis and reduce glucose tolerance, effects that could increase heart disease and diabetes risks.
Looking Toward the Future
Given the differences in health risks seen with eating processed versus unprocessed red meats, the findings suggest these types of meats should be studied separately in future research for health effects, including cancer, the authors say. For example, higher intake of total meat and processed meat has been associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer, but unprocessed red meat has not been separately evaluated. They also say more research is needed on which factors (especially salt and other preservatives) in meats are most important for health effects.
Current efforts to update the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are often a reference for other countries around the world, make these findings particularly timely, the researchers say. They recommend that dietary and policy efforts should especially focus on reducing intake of processed meat.
“To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should consider which types of meats they are eating,” Micha says. “Processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats may be the most important to avoid. Based on our findings, eating one serving per week or less would be associated with relatively small risk.”
Read More:Processed Meats Linked to Higher Heart Disease, Diabetes Risks
March 31st, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Numerous public health groups are praising the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry for unanimously approving a bipartisan bill that establishes federal nutrition standards for foods sold on school campuses.
“Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes, and an additional 57 million—or 1 in 5 Americans—have pre-diabetes,” says Christine T. Tobin, RN, MBA, president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association. “If current trends continue, one in three children will face a future with diabetes. Sensible nutrition policies like this one, which will provide our students with healthy food choices in their schools, will help us reverse these trends. Starting with strong nutrition standards in our nation’s schools will put us on the path to stop diabetes.”
“Obesity, which results from poor diet and physical inactivity, is a significant and growing American problem that begins in childhood,” says Molly Daniels, interim president of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.
“American Cancer Society research clearly shows that obesity correlates with and causes cancer,” she adds. “Adoption of national school nutrition standards will be an important tool for obesity prevention for children.”
“Each school day, parents entrust schools to care for their children all across our nation,” says National PTA President Charles J. Saylors. “Ensuring that salty, fatty junk foods and sugary drinks are no longer an option in our schools truly honors that trust and opens students up to healthier options.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
Read More:Public Health Groups Applaud School Nutrition Guidelines
March 10th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
As noted yesterday in When Costs Rise, Sales of Unhealthful Foods Drop, so-called sin taxes on unhealthful foods may help stem America’s obesity and diabetes epidemics.
Facing critical budget deficits, some city and state legislators are embracing the idea. Earlier this month, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter proposed a tax on soda purchases, while Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter last month signed a bill to tax candy and soda.
“State-level taxes exist on soda sold in grocery stores and vending machines in 34 and 39 states, respectively, and the mean taxes, currently applied for revenue generation, range from 3% to 4%,” write San Francisco Department of Public Health officials Mitchell H. Katz, MD, and Rajiv Bhatia, MD, in an editorial published in Monday’s edition of Archives of Internal Medicine.
But there’s not much evidence to support a link between such modest surcharges and changes in consumer behavior, they note.
“More substantial surcharges may decrease the consumption of sweetened beverages and, equally important, increase the consumption of more healthful alternatives,” write Drs. Katz and Bhatia.
The revenues cities and states collect “could be used to increase awareness about the harm of sugar-sweetened beverages and fund structural interventions, such as creating water stations in schools,” they add. “Copying a successful tactic of anti-tobacco crusaders, the funds also could be used to counter the lavish advertising of soda and junk food or for ‘marketing’ ordinary tap water.
“In the end,” they conclude, “putting our money where our mouth is means aligning our economic incentives so that we always serve up the healthful choice.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Suicide by Sugar: A Startling Look at Our #1 National Addiction
Read More:Should Food Prices Reflect Health Priorities?