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November 17, 2008

Fast Food Ingredient

Research looking at what fast food is made of- found that corn was the main ingredient.

In a study that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences November 2008 Issue, the researches sampled foods from McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s.

They sampled hamburgers, fries and chicken sandwiches within the different geographically distributed fast food restaurants in the U.S.

Using carbon isotopes that researchers were able to trace what the animals consumed based on the conspicuous carbon-13 signature of corn.

The statistically significant results showed conclusively that the beef and chicken meat used to make the sandwiches was from animals whose food source was mainly corn. The animals are feed the corn to maximize their calorie intake and also to maximize their tissue growth in attempt to keep up with the ever increasing demands of the fast food industry.

The results for the French fries also showed that Wendy’s used corn oil for deep-frying while burger king and McDonalds which favored other vegetable oils.

In the US it is not required for food suppliers to trace their sources for ingredients or materials used in their food production.

I think people should have a right to know what their food is being made of - especially when it comes to fast food or restaurant food- which we have a no control over. Some places are now offering some nutritional information - but sometimes it is very hard to get. I think it will take a long time for these regulations to get into place -- but some cities such as New York are attempting to make it manadatory for large restaurant chains to have their nutritional information on the menus. This would be a huge step forward. A great documentary to check out if you are interested in food policy and the agriculture system I would recommend "King Corn.' Its worth the rental.

November 6, 2008

Food Storage

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Today I read a unique article about a women who stores food in her basement to live healthier and curb rising food costs. She brings in potatoes, onions, squash, and canned items for storage through the winter. She states many of the items will last til the spring. She has been doing this so she can eat locally grown food year round.

The basement is not your average- as it is has a dirt floor and is kept at 55 degrees- It is called a 'root cellar'. Apparently many homes used to have these to preserve food, but now our basements have televisions and pool tables.

The article appeared in the New York Times on November 5, 2008. Here are some great quotes from the article.

"While horticulture may be a science, home food storage definitely can carry the stench of an imperfect art."

"Anna Barnes, who runs a small media company and coordinates the Prairieland Community Supported Agriculture in Champaign, Ill., says squash hung in a pair of knotted pantyhose stay unspoiled longer than others. Here, the cold is optional, too. It’s the bruising that comes from a squash sitting on a hard countertop, she said, that speeds senescence. (“You wouldn’t want to do it in the guest closet,? Ms. Barnes said. Or, presumably, wear the pantyhose again.)"

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/06/garden/06root.html?_r=1&ref=fitnessandnutrition&oref=slogin

October 28, 2008

Smart Choices Labeling on Food Products

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Some of the nation’s largest food and beverage companies have agreed to accept common nutritional standards and to use the same logo on their packages to denote the products that qualify. The “Smart Choices Program,? as it is called, is expected to be in stores in the middle of next summer.

Products that fit with the program’s nutritional guidelines will have the Smart Choices logo, which is a check mark on the front of the package with the amount of calories per serving and the number of servings in the package.

Coca-Cola, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Unilever and Wal-Mart are some of the companies who are participating in this program.

Some food companies have already created logos to help consumers pick more nutritious products, but they were too weak.

The nutrition standards for the Smart Choices Program are based on the federal government’s dietary guidelines.

I think this a really good step forward to help people make difficult choices at the grocery store. Having a quick symbol and universal standard will allow people to make their choices easier and healthier. I know I have been at the grocery store and looked at two items and say to myself do I get this one which is reduced fat or do I get this one which is whole grain. Hopefully this labeling will allow people to make healthier choices when it comes to nutrition.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/business/28food.html?ref=fitnessandnutrition

October 23, 2008

Speed of eating maybe 'key to obesity'

_45127331_eating_cred226.jpg Wolfing down meals may be enough to nearly double a person's risk of being overweight, Japanese research suggests. Compared with those who did not eat quickly, fast-eating men were 84% more likely to be overweight, and women were just over twice as likely. "The old wives' tale about chewing everything 20 times might be true - if you did take a bit more time eating, it could have an impact, researcher Ian McDonald said. Source:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7681458.stm

October 16, 2008

Obese People Enjoy Food Less

Obese people enjoy food less than lean people, according to a brain imaging study from the Oregon Research Institute.

It might be expected that obese people would enjoy food more; however this study shows that is where the problem is. Obese people eat more high-calorie food to make up for the lack of enjoyment.

"We originally thought obese people would experience more reward from food. But we see obese people only anticipate more reward; they get less reward. It is an ironic process," Stice tells WebMD.

The research involved showing women a picture of a chocolate milkshake and a picture of a glass of water. They found the heavier the woman, the more active the pleasure center in her brain. Then the women actually tasted a chocolate milkshake or a neutral solution. Heavier women had less activity in their brains' pleasure centers.

"The more you do things that are rewarding, the less reward you see," Stice says. "The more you eat an unhealthy diet, the more you see this blunted pleasure response to high-energy foods."

"People with the most blunted reward circuits are at the most risk of overeating, and the more they engage in eating, the more you see downregulation of their reward circuitry," Stice says. "They eat more to get the same reward."

Stice is now looking at whether obese people who switch to a healthy diet can reset their pleasure circuitry. He finds that when obese people stop eating energy-dense foods, their craving for such foods goes down, not up.

"If we can get obese people to improve the quality of their diets and stay the course for long time, eventually they do much better in craving and their pleasure circuits should go back to their old balance," he says.

These findings are found in the Oct. 17 issue of the journal Science.

This article is rather interesting in that we generally think of obesity as a metabolic, genetic, behavioral problem, but looking at obesity in terms of the brain may bring us closer to understanding this epidemic.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20081016/obese-enjoy-food-less-and-less?page=2

October 1, 2008

Should snacks be taxed?

Yesterday, lawmakers in France proposed raising the tax on chocolate, chips and other snacks from 5.5% to almost 20% whle reducing taxes on fruits and veggies from 5.5% to 2% in an effort to reduce childhood obesity.

Would a higher tax on unhealthy foods make you eat better?

I think this is a very interesting concept. It makes me wonder why there isn't a tax already. There is a cigarette tax. Why not a high tax for potatp chips or McDonalds. While most people would have major issues on raising taxes for goodies, I think majority of us wouldn't mind a break for fresh produce. This certainly would decreases barriers related to access. All in all I would say It would be easier to eat healthier if there was a higher price for chips and candy. But then again I love fruits and veggies and have a tendency to be tight with my money.

Source: USA Today
http://blogs.usatoday.com/betterlife/2008/09/should-snacks-b.html