Reading List: Food Label Makeover, Healthy Role Models and Cancer in Your Kitchen?

by in Food News, December 11, 2009

In this week’s nutrition news: Restricting sugar leads to overeating, a call for food label makeovers and did you know that there’s less monitoring of school lunch meats than what goes into fast food?

Food Label Makeover
Food labels have been on packaged foods for close to 20 years, but they still baffle many folks. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says it’s time to redo those labels (and I agree!). They want to see larger print for calories and serving sizes, allergen information highlighted in red and caffeine content clearly displayed. What info would you like to see on a new food label?

Model Behavior for Your Kids
Modeling good behavior is a role parents shouldn’t take lightly. Kids pick up on the slightest things parents do and say. My friend’s four-year old daughter learned to spell their very difficult last name after hearing her mother place numerous phone orders. So when stats indicate that 50% of adults don’t get enough exercise, it makes me think this may be a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic. Let’s not forget modeling healthy eating. I’ve seen many parents give an “ick” face when they encounter a veggie they dislike. Kids pick up on these signs and follow in the steps of their parents.

Cancer in the Kitchen?
Some everyday chemicals in your home may be linked to cancer. More than 80,000 new chemicals have been developed over the past 50 years and many haven’t been tested to see if they’re safe for kids. One common mistake that folks make is placing plastics in the microwave or dishwasher. Many plastics contain the chemical BPA that leaches out into food when heated. If you find plastics with the number 3, 6 and 7 stamped on them, toss them unless they are marked “BPA-free.” Studies have shown that increasing ingestion of BPA from those plastics may be the cause of early puberty among girls, which has also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer..

Restricting Sugar May Lead To Overeating
Lately, the new fad is to avoid foods such as sugar, gluten or chocolate without a specific medical reason — e.g. Celiacs or diabetes. A new study found that the more you avoid a food, the more your body craves it. This can ultimately lead to overeating. Researchers’ experiment examined two groups of rats. The first received ordinary food for five days and then sweetened food for the next two days. The second group was only given the regular food. The first group returned to their usual diet after the seven days were up and ate much less of it, but once the sweetened version was reintroduced, they ate much more. The scientists concluded that the rats exhibited withdrawal symptoms when they didn’t get their sweet fix. The take0home message: If you find a diet that tells you to completely avoid stuff you love, you may want to think twice.

Fast Food Standards Top Those of School Lunch
Although the USDA claims that school lunch meats exceed government standards, it seems that places such as McDonald’s and Costco do more rigorous testing of their meat for dangerous bacteria. USA Today did some investigating and found that meat from these establishments is tested up to ten times more often than the government checks what’s served in school cafeterias. I’m so glad I pack my kids lunch every day!

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