Reading List: ConAgra Cuts the Sodium, Alcohol Warnings & Men Aren't Washing Up

by in Food News, October 23, 2009

In this week’s nutrition news: Revamping school lunches menus, examining health claims of alcohol and Cocoa Puffs won’t have that “Smart Choice” label for long.

Sugary Cereals Get the “Smart Choice” Checkmark
How in the world could sugar-packed cereals like Cocoa Puffs and Froot Loops have a “Smart Choice” label? Several products that get almost 50% of their calories from sugar are sporting this healthy stamp. The FDA is stepping in and sending letters to food manufacturers to tell them using the label on certain products is misleading and should stop. The FDA is also developing stricter standards for the labels.

New Study: Men Aren’t Washing Their Hands
With everyone on high alert for swine flu, hand washing is in the spotlight as one easy and cost-effective way to help reduce spreading germs. This is especially important after using the bathroom as many bacteria and viruses are spread from our intestinal tract. But a recent British study monitored more than 250,000 people and found only 32% of men and 64% of women used soap after using the restroom. How can so many folks (specifically men) NOT wash their hands? I think my hand-shaking days are over!

Revisiting the School Lunch Menu
Many schools still have outdated menus that are anything but healthy. My younger clients tell me what’s served up in their cafeterias — hamburgers, fried mozzarella sticks and pizza are common choices. With approximately 60% of kids eating lunch at school, isn’t it time for a change? Some suggestions: increasing fruits, green leafy veggies and beans and decreasing starchy veggies such as potatoes. The problem is that upping the amount of fresh fruits and veggies can raise lunch costs by 4%, but it might also help decrease health care costs associated with obesity-related diseases later in life. Do you think it’s worth it?

Weighing In On Alcohol
Studies have suggested that red wine is good for your heart and that moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of heart disease in women. But don’t go running to your corner liquor store just yet. Experts with the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association say that the health risks from drinking alcohol far outweigh the benefits. Drinking alcohol (even a moderate amount) has been linked to various types of cancers such as mouth, esophagus, colon and breast. Susan Gapstur, vice president of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society, suggests that if you’re at high risk for cancer, you should really think about how much alcohol you drink.

ConAgra Cutting the Sodium
A few months ago, the CSPI released a report on the ridiculously high levels of sodium in restaurant foods. Since then, the sodium content in prepared and packaged foods has been under scrutiny. Last week, ConAgra, a leading food manufacturer in the U.S., promised to reduce sodium levels by 20% by 2015 — the means removing about 10 million pounds of salt from the American diet. This is a pretty big step since ConAgra products are in 97% of American households.

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