In an effort to help New Yorkers clean up their diets, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a ban on large-sized sugary drinks. Will NYC lead the trend for other cites fighting the battle of the bulge?
The Fizzy Facts
If it were to take effect, this law would ban the sale of sugary beverages larger than 16 fluid ounces (2 cups). Fast food chains, restaurants, delis, food carts and sports arenas would have to comply. Vending machines and large bottles sold at supermarkets would not be affected.
A standard vending machine bottle of soda (20 fluid ounces) may contain anywhere from 16 to 22 teaspoons of sugar – that’s 240 to 330 empty calories! Energy drinks and sweetened teas (also part of the ban) contain high doses of added sweeteners as well.
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- Is this sweet stuff toxic?
First fat was the enemy, then it was salt and now sugar. A recent episode of 60 Minutes titled “Is Sugar Toxic” had folks buzzing over Twitter and whispering at the water cooler. But is sugar really the enemy or is this yet another nutrient that’s being needlessly blackballed?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviewed Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, who claims that sugar is to blame for diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. Much of the fat that’s been removed from low-fat foods gets replaced with sugar and Dr. Lustig hypothesizes that the way people eat sugar today is putting their health at risk. Sources of sugar include honey and table sugar along with foods that have hidden sources of sugar like yogurt, sauces, bread and peanut butter. As a result, Dr. Lustig recommends eliminating all sugar from our diet.
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- Can chocolate make you thin? If a health study sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Reports on health studies appear on the news regularly. You might read one study that touts the benefits of a food – like chocolate, for example—while a different study doesn’t find the same benefits. These differing reports can get confusing . . . who you should believe?
Scientific studies are done in order to test a hypothesis—an assumption that needs to be investigated further. There are different types of studies—some look at past data collected while others compare data from subjects over months or even years. Other studies divide the group of subjects into 2 groups, giving only 1 of the groups the “treatment” (or food) while the other group is given a “control” oftentimes called a placebo.
The results are then compiled, statistical analysis is performed and conclusions are drawn.
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- Is there pink slime in this beef?
A microbiologist who worked for the USDA let the cat out of the bag about something the food industry has been doing for years. What’s your take on the food issue everyone’s talking about: pink slime?
What is Pink Slime?
Tiny traces of meat left on beef carcasses are heated, picked, then bathed in ammonia to kill off any bacteria. These meat scraps dubbed “lean finely textured beef” (aka pink slime) are then mixed with ground beef prior to packaging to bulk up portions. Until recently, pink slimed beef was gobbled down by anyone who consumed ground beef from a fast food joint, grocery store or school cafeteria.
The meat industry defends that pink slime is in fact meat. The government says these ammonia-sprayed foods are safe to eat, but that doesn’t make the chemical-treated meat any more appetizing to many consumers.
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- There's lots of sodium to be found at the deli counter.
Nine out of 10 American adults eat too much sodium. Chances are you’re probably in that 90%. The CDC recently released a report pinpointing the top sodium culprits so you can keep a mindful eye on them.
A February 2012 report released by the CDC, found 10 foods that are responsible for more than 40% of the sodium in our diets. Too much sodium has been linked to high blood pressure, which may put you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. The report estimates the average adult eats about 3,300 milligrams of sodium each day—that’s almost 1½ times the recommended daily amount. The report found that 65% of sodium comes from food sold at the market while 25% comes from meals eaten in restaurants.
Find out more about the risks of high blood pressure.
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Another day, another wacky food holiday. This time, it’s National Peanut Month. So in case you need more reasons to love this nut (which is technically a legume), we’ve got plenty of reasons you should celebrate, all month long.
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The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is in favor of the recently-announced school lunch guidelines.
What do the lunch lady and First Lady have in common? They’re both making school lunches healthier. Find out why the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (and registered dietitians everywhere) are in favor of new changes in the school cafeteria.
Less than a month ago, Michelle Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced new guidelines for school lunches across the country. Changes to school lunch offerings have been a long time coming. In recent years, nutrition professionals have been making positive strides to improve lunch options, but it’s been hard to make changes stick. These new initiatives shine a light on the importance of making healthy meals that kids actually want to eat.
Kids can now look forward to properly portioned plates featuring more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Trans fats will take a hike and the high amounts of sodium packed into meals will be reduced.
A popular debate over chocolate milk has also been settled. According to the new guidelines, cafeterias will now serve low-fat plain and nonfat chocolate milk to help balance out the extra sugary calories in the chocolate version.
Since school may be the only consistent source of food for low-income families, some institutions are moving to providing 3 meals a day to students in need. In December 2010, President Obama signed a bill to help make this possible.
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- Mars is paying more attention to smaller portions.
King Size Snickers are on their way out: Mars Inc., the company that makes chocolate candy bars like Twix and Milky Way, plans to halt production of any chocolate product with more than 250 calories per serving by the end of 2013.
Spokeswoman Marlene Machut said the plan to stop shipping any chocolate product that exceeded 250 calories per portion by the end of 2013 was part of Mars’ “broad-based commitment to health and nutrition.”
As part of a “broader push for responsible snacking,” the company has also vowed to reduce sodium by 25 percent in all its products by 2015.
Tell us: What do you think of the new calorie restrictions?
- Keeping track of the good stuff you put on your plate just got easier.
Keeping healthy eating goals on track just got easier thanks to the USDA’s free online food-and-exercise log, SuperTracker. This new tool uses the government My Plate recommendations to dole out eating advice, as well as quality nutrition information.
The SuperTracker’s main features include: a food tracker, a physical activity tracker, a weight manager and a Food-A-Pedia containing around 9,000 food items that have been analyzed for nutritional content by the USDA.
“If it says ‘burrito with whole-wheat tortilla,’ we did the calculation to know the exact amount of whole grains that contains,” says Dr. Robert Post, Deputy Director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. “That is very different than most databases that rely on the nutritional facts on product packages.”
Customize advice based on age, weight and gender, plus set goals, journal, track weight and even receive virtual coaching with recommendations on what to eat and how much to exercise. Get detailed reports of nutrient intake over time or simply find out how many calories are in your upcoming meal. Mobile apps are being developed, Post says. Until then, share progress on Facebook and Twitter.
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- Giants versus Patriots . . . or pizza versus lobster rolls?
As if the big game wasn’t enough excitement, we’re placing the teams’ hometowns head-to-head in a culinary battle. Put the football aside for one moment and decide – who’s got the better food?
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