June 30, 2005
Wonder what's next? Whole-grain white bread
By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
Wonder Bread, the nation's No. 1 bread brand, is going against the grain.
New federal dietary guidelines recommend that at least half of a consumer's bread and cereal intake be from whole-grain products.
Next month, it's coming out with a 100% whole-wheat loaf aimed at mothers who are worried about children's nutrition.
Made with an albino wheat variety that doesn't have the harsh taste of whole red-wheat flour, the bread has the same spongy texture, the same mushability and pretty much the same taste as Wonder Bread. But it's a shade or two browner because it's made from 100% whole wheat, and it has three times the fiber.
Whole-wheat and whole-grain flours contain all three parts of the wheat kernel: the bran, germ and starchy endosperm.
But traditional Wonder Bread, made with white flour from which the bran and germ are removed, isn't going away.
The 100% whole-grain alternative is meant to "deliver all the goodness and health benefits of whole grain without sacrificing the benefits of white bread," says Jacques Roizen, chief marketing officer for breadmaker Interstate Brands. "It still has the taste and texture of white bread but the benefits of whole grain.
To keep consumers from getting confused, Interstate Brands has bestowed the loaves the somewhat clunky name "White Bread Fans 100% Whole Grain." Roizen says it's meant for fans of white bread who want 100% whole grain.
Loaves are set to roll out of the ovens July 18 in six U.S. markets: San Francisco, Sacramento, Kansas City, Omaha, Memphis and Little Rock. The rest of the country will follow by the end of the year.
A year and a half in development, the new product comes as Americans are beginning to turn away from low-carb diets that turned bread into a forbidden food. At the same time, new federal dietary guidelines are recommending at least half of a consumer's bread and cereal intake be from whole-grain products.
It's a tough row to hoe when an estimated 40% of Americans eat no whole grains at all, according to the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter. Whole-grain products, with their high fiber, mineral and vitamin content, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, may help with weight maintenance and may lower the risk for other chronic diseases, according to the federal guidelines.
Brian Wansink, who directs Cornell University's food and brand lab, calls the idea of a whole-grain Wonder Bread that tastes like the original "stealth health." Says Wansink: "It's like whole-wheat Lucky Charms. It could succeed in bringing back the disenfranchised customer who left because they just saw white bread as sticky stuff that balls up in your stomach."
But to Marion Nestle, a nutritionist at New York University, the long list of dough conditioners necessary to give the new Wonder Bread its distinctive soft, mushy texture means it's hardly bread at all. "Bread is flour, water, yeast, salt. Period. This has something like 20 other ingredients. ... Why not buy your kids real bread?"
June 29, 2005
A Way of Life
It's what you do all day that makes you healthy!
Unhealthy people do this:
Sit at a desk all day.
Snack on junk food all day.
Always take the elevator or escalator.
Walk around with drink and food.
Feel physically tired at the end of the day and head for the sofa and the TV to relax.
Eat a large dinner late in the evening.
Overexert during infrequent exercise sessions.
Eat midnight snacks.
Stand impatiently at traffic lights and bus stops.
Drink soft drinks when thirsty.
Stand impatiently in store lines.
Not feel hungry until lunchtime.
Sit in one position for hours.
Eat fast food three or four times per week.
Healthy people do this:
Eat a healthy breakfast.
Get up every thirty minutes for two to three minutes of moderate activity.
Schedule midmorning and midafternoon healthy snacks each day.
Always take the stairs.
Eat at the dinner table only.
Feel mentally tired and go for a walk to unwind.
Eat a moderate dinner in the evening.
Exercise moderately most days of the wee.
Sleep soundly because regular exercise reduces stress.
Shift weight from side to side at traffic lights and bus stops.
Drink water when thirsty.
Perform toe raises or shuffle heels forward while waiting in store lines.
Feel hungry when they wake up.
Stretch at their desk often.
Eat fast food once every two weeks.
June 28, 2005
Children and Exercise
Children need an hour of exercise per day
Recommendation aims to end confusion over conflicting advice
ATLANTA - Children should get an hour of exercise over the course of each day, a panel of national obesity experts has concluded, seeking to end confusion on the matter.
"Physical activity is essential for health. This just puts a number on the amount of physical activity children should receive or shoot for," said Dr. William Dietz, director of nutrition and physical activity for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which funded the panel. The recommendation was made earlier this month.
The committee was created to cut through conflicting advice on children's exercise — 27 different groups have their own recommendations.
"People get confused about what they should do," Dietz said. Federal health officials hopes the different organizations will adopt the panel's advice so parents will get a unified message from the health community.
The panel reviewed more than 850 existing studies on child physical activity and found that most recommended 30 to 45 minutes of continuous activity.
But the panel decided that 60 minutes of exercise was more appropriate because children typically are active in "fits and spurts" rather than in a continuous manner, said Dr. William Strong, a co-chairman of the panel.
"What we're trying to say is that you accumulate this over the day — it doesn't have to be in one particular spurt of activity," said Strong, a retired professor of medicine at the Medical College of Georgia.
Children should be given the chance to take part in a variety of physical activity, from walking to jumping rope to competitive sports.
"The reality is children aren't going to be physically active unless it's fun," Dietz said.
It's an important issue because besides helping control weight, regular exercise reduces the risk for heart attack, colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, and may reduce their risk for stroke.
"The real issue is not that children are having immediate problems, but that if we don't do something about this now, 20 to 30 years from now we'll have a severe epidemic of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome," Strong said.
The CDC previously said that more than a third of high school students nationwide do not engage in vigorous physical activity, such as running or playing sports like basketball or soccer.
Daily participation in high school physical education classes dropped from 42 percent in 1991 to 32 percent in 2001, according to the latest data from the CDC.
Dietz said that in Atlanta, where the health agency is based, children have "substantial difficulties" in being active.
"Most children (in Atlanta) can't walk to school because of traffic and because of the way communities are designed," he said. "Part of the challenge in today's world is finding opportunities to make physical activity fun."
June 27, 2005
You Got the Beat?
Powered by music.
Rhythm does more than move us. For athletes, the right tunes can sharpen focus, boost performance and minimize pain.
By Jeannine Stein
It was the tae kwon do championship, and competitor Michael Tang needed something to help him concentrate, to calm his pumped pre-competition energy. He turned to the one thing he knew would work: music.
Strapping on his headphones and cueing up some techno-trance music, he closed his eyes and began to visualize himself going into the ring, winning the first round, then the second. "I used the music as the soundtrack of the day," Tang recalls of the 2001 match. "It put me into a more relaxed state of mind and helped me focus." He kept the music in his head throughout the event. The result? He won the U.S. national title.
Athletes work hard to reach a state of internal calm, harnessing their mind power to stay intense, but not frantic. Music helps them get into that zone, offering flow, control, focus. It helps them manage the pain of stressing their bodies to levels undreamed of by most three-times-a-week joggers. And it becomes a positive diversion.
"Although your brain is really high-tech, it can't think about two things at one time," says sports psychologist Michelle Cleere. "If you have a genre of music that really gets you pumped and keeps you focused, it will distract you from negative thoughts."
How music affects athletic performance begins with the eighth nerve from the ear, which has two direct tracks: one that involves hearing, and another that goes straight to the vestibular system, that part of the cerebellum that manages balance and some motor functions. The same kinds of messages from the cerebellum that enable us to concentrate also encourage maximum performance. So when the right kind of music hits that eighth nerve, all sorts of good messages get sent to the cerebellum.
Humans are hard-wired to process music, both on a motor level and an emotional one, says Mark Bodner, director of research for the MIND Institute, a nonprofit brain research and education facility in Costa Mesa. "Certain music has certain structures that resonate with certain networks we're born with," he says. When those networks overlap with others, it can affect complex motor sequences such as athletic activities.
Music can trigger various emotional responses too, which may explain why athletes seek out certain types of music. Although some of those responses are learned, many of them are inherent. "Even if you're listening to something passively, it will elicit a very specific response," Bodner says. "It truly is tapping into something very innate."
Although each physical part of the brain is connected to particular functions, the brain is also a masterpiece of interconnected systems, and brain waves circulate throughout. Delta waves, for example, are associated with deep sleep, and a drowsy feeling means that theta waves dominate. When adults are awake and alert, but anxious and perhaps too focused, fast beta waves are in action. But in the state of flow, of being in the zone, of being totally relaxed but highly focused, alpha waves organize the brain.
Visualization, deep breathing and listening to music are all techniques used to bolster alpha waves. Athletes in an alpha wave state are charged up, but not so much that performance is marred or that exhaustion hits long before crossing the finish line.
Music can be a continuous stimulus to get the alpha waves rolling, helping the athlete (and the weekend warrior) induce a state of higher concentration, minimizing pain and distraction. When the body is in peak condition and the mind is in a state of calm focus, records can be broken, holes shot under par and tennis serves aced.
Although most people who exercise to music might not give copious thought to their playlists, for pro and elite athletes, the undertaking is more serious. How much music they listen to, and when and where they listen to it, can have both good and bad consequences.
For Tang, choice of music is critical in maintaining a middle ground between being too calm and too tightly wound. "I don't listen to music just to listen to it," says the 31-year-old from Massachusetts. "I know consciously the feeling I'm trying to get, the state of mind I'm trying to achieve."
Research studies have found a definite link between music and improved athletic performance. One study, done two years ago at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, found that women who listened to music ran a minute or two longer than those who didn't. They also adjusted their strides to run more efficiently, and had lower perceived exertion.
"If you get an endorphin response from something like exercise, does music enhance that and allow you to go a little further?" asks René Murphy, the study's coauthor and associate professor in the school of recreation management and kinesiology at Acadia.
Another study, done at Southwestern University in Texas, found that men cycling at a high intensity were able to exercise longer while listening to fast-paced music, and even longer while listening to music they liked.
Some research suggests that music tempo is also a factor in the relationship between music and exercise. In one study, up-tempo music, more than slower music or no music at all, promoted positive moods during exercise. Another study of Russian weightlifters proposed that the speed of an exercise should be matched to the beat for maximum impact.
Music is a welcome distraction that keeps negative thoughts at bay, which is "one of the top challenges I run across with athletes," says psychologist Cleere.
The danger comes when the athlete becomes dependent upon music during training, then has to go without during a competition, especially long, grueling races such as marathons and triathlons.
Gale Bernhardt, the 2004 men's and women's Olympic triathlon coach, cautions athletes not to incorporate it into every workout so that it doesn't become an unbreakable habit. "I want them to be in tune with what their body is doing," she says. "In most elite racing situations you can't have music, and I want them to be able to work their way through what's going on, whether it's dealing with pain or those evil little thoughts in your head that tell you bad things are happening."
She suggests using a mantra, "A few lines or words that are motivating that can come into their head and make them think positive thoughts, something you can say with every foot strike or pedal stroke." At least half of athletes she deals with who use this method, she thinks, use song lyrics.
Bernhardt, also a triathlete, uses the method and prefers "songs with lyrics that are motivating, because it's easier for me to visualize things if the words are powerful."
Bob Seger's "Shakedown," for example, is a favorite; the lyrics "Shakedown, breakdown, takedown, everybody wants into the crowded line. Breakdown, takedown, you're busted" works especially well when she's on a competitor's tail.
Check triathlete Mark Fretta's iPod while he's training and he'll probably be listening to Van Halen, U2, LL Cool J or Method Man, tunes with a good beat that are up-tempo. One thing is for sure — he'll be listening to something, probably even in the pool.
"Music is like the legal drug I use in my training," says Fretta, a USA Triathlon National Team member from Colorado. "When I race, I have music going through my head. I've tried to have a playlist in my brain, but it doesn't work that way. It comes to me, I don't have to force it."
June 24, 2005
Our mission: Assuring the conditions so that people are able to be healthy.
On Wednesday, Richard Jackson, MD, MPH, California's State Public Health Officer spoke in Stanislaus County about the impact urban planning has on our community’s health. Eighty percent of Stanislaus County is classified as “urban��?. The population of our county now exceeds 500,000. Dr. Jackson asked the question: how are we managing our wealth? Supersizing was the answer. We supersize our homes. Families with one child have a 3000 sq ft home with little to no yard as opposed to 40 years ago when a household of 11 resided in a 900 sq ft home on the same size (or bigger!) lot. We supersize our cars which waste more fuel and make more noise. We supersize our highways and travel more miles/year and spend more time in the car than ever before. What is the quality of life for a person who commutes 2 hours to and from work each day? Is the drive stressful? Does he smoke to relieve that stress? Does he spend time with his family? Does he go to his children’s ball games or is he involved in cub scouts? Does he fit exercise into his day? Does he grab a meal-to-go on the way home? We supersize our food portions. Which fast food company can make the biggest burger and fill up the biggest cup of soda? If our pasta bowl was continuously refilled without us knowing, how would we know to stop eating? Even our plates are bigger than they were 30 years ago!
Children immerse themselves in their environment. They have ten times the number of neurons firing in their head as adults do. Every second they’re learning something new. What’s the attention span of a 2 year old? They learn the English language in a matter of 2 years. Today, kids suffer from what Dr. Jackson likes to call Nature-Deficit Disorder. They’re depressed, bored, and lack social contact. They spend more time indoors watching television, playing video games and playing on the computer than ever before. Physical Education classes are the first to be cut out of children’s school days when money gets tight. No wonder 75% of 5th, 7th, and 9th graders in California can not pass the state fitness test. Kids are inside, sitting at desks, in the control of their teacher. Ritalin consumption among kids is at its highest level and continues to rise. Did you know that exercise works just as effectively as Zoloft in treating depression?
What can we do? Our goal as public health professionals is to provide an environment where people have the ability to lead a healthy life. Consider this…what if we spent money to build bike paths and walking paths as opposed to 35,000 new homes as close together as possible? Why are we buying cheap land miles from our neighborhoods to build schools on and spending thousands of dollars per child to bus or drive them to school? How many children today are able to walk or bike to school? How many walking schoolbusses are there in Stanislaus County? What if schools invested in school gardens where kids can learn, have fun, co-operate with classmates, exercise and enjoy healthy food all at the same time? Who uses the dark, smelly, scary staircases at work which may or may not have access at every floor? What if we designed architecturally stylish, open staircases for workers to use to get from one floor to the next? What if we were satisfied with standard portions at restaurants? Would we still be served quality food, enjoy the company of those we are with, celebrate an occasion and not have to clean the dishes? Is the amount of food really the reason why we are at the restaurant? One idea that is in the works is taxing foods which contain high fructose corn syrup. The money will then be used to start working on some of the above thoughts to help make a healthier environment for our community. Of course our culture is in for a change as well. We need to have safe routes to school. Parents need the security of knowing their kids are safe at the playground down the road. We need to use the bike/walking paths and stairways. We need to frequent restaurants serving healthier options and not complain about portion sizes. This isn’t easy and it won’t happen overnight. However, every small step leads us closer to our goal.
June 20, 2005
Dairy Dreams of Weight Loss
Petitions Question Dairy Marketers' Weight-Loss Claims
By Betsy Spethmann
A watchdog group is asking the Food & Drug Administration to quell claims from dairy marketers that drinking milk helps dieters lose weight.
The group also petitioned the Federal Trade Commission in April, arguing that weight-loss claims from eight food companies and three marketing agencies constitute false advertising.
Neither government office has acted on past petitions from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and the FTC and FDA are unlikely to take action against dairy marketers in this case.
The group last week filed its petition with the FDA against marketing groups International Dairy Foods Association, Dairy Management, Inc., National Dairy Council; marketers The Dannon Co., General Mills (Yoplait), Kraft Foods, McNeil Nutritionals (Lactaid) and Lifeway Foods; and agencies Draft, Lowe & Partners and Weber Shandwick, who collaborate on the National Dairy Council's "24/24 Milk Your Diet. Lose Weight!" campaign. (That effort won a 2004 Gold Reggie for the Promotion Marketing Association.)
The group asked the FDA to recall or seize "misbranded food products" that carry a weight-loss claim. The Washington, DC-based group argues that the claims are based on limited research. The IDFA's Milk Processors Education Program (MilkPEP), which runs the "24 in 24" campaign, cites research from 23 studies on its Web site, 2424milk.com.
"The dairy/weight connection is well-supported in scientific literature. We stand behind our promotions and ad messages," said Stacey Stevens, director of nutrition affairs and communications for the National Dairy Council.
The FDA will review the petition, but won't comment on pending petitions that are before the agency for review, a spokeswoman said.
The non-profit group filed a separate petition with the FTC in April, asking the commission to block dairy marketers' weight-loss claims. The FTC is reviewing the petition, a spokesperson said. The FTC has not contacted the National Dairy Council about that petition, Stevens said.
For more information on this publication, or to subscribe to the print edition, visit http://www.promomagazine.com.
June 11, 2005
Exercise Can Lighten Your Day.
Exercise may make you a better worker.
Breaks for physical activity boost job performance, research finds.
By Jacqueline Stenson
Drowning at work? Maybe you should take a break and get moving. New research finds that busy professionals who exercise during the day feel more productive. They're also less likely to spout off at colleagues and slam down the phone after they've worked up a sweat.
British researchers studied about 200 workers at three sites: a university, a computer company and a life insurance firm. Workers were asked to complete questionnaires about their job performance and mood on days when they exercised at work and days when they didn't.
Participants were free to engage in the physical activity of their choice. Most of them spent 30 to 60 minutes at lunch doing everything from yoga and aerobics to strength training and playing pick-up games of basketball.
Six out of 10 workers said their time management skills, mental performance and ability to meet deadlines improved on days when they exercised. The amount of the overall performance boost was about 15 percent, according to the findings, which were presented this month at a meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.
"The people who exercised went home feeling more satisfied with their day," says study author Jim McKenna, a professor of physical activity and health at Leeds Metropolitan University in the U.K.
"We were surprised," he says. "We weren't expecting this amount of effect." All of the study participants were regular exercisers and they already felt they did a good job at work. But many still saw an improvement with exercise.
Any exercise helped
The type of exercise didn't seem to matter. "We could find no difference according to length of exercise or duration or intensity," McKenna says. "You still got the effect no matter what you did."
Participants also rated their moods in the morning and afternoon. And as expected, exercise improved mood, a finding supported by other research, says McKenna. "There's a very strong mood effect with exercise," he says, adding that physical activity can be both energizing and tranquilizing.
During focus group discussions, many of the participants said exercise seemed to help them deal better with the demands and pressures on the job. "After exercise, people adopted a more tolerant attitude to themselves and to their work," says McKenna. "They were more tolerant of their own shortcomings and to those of others." They didn't lose their temper as much, for example, or yell at coworkers or slam the phone, he notes.
Workers in the study also indicated they were less likely to suffer bouts of afternoon fatigue known as the "post-lunch dip" on days when they exercised. "It's the paradox of exercise," says McKenna, "to get energy you have to expend some."
Dr. I-Min Lee, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston who studies the effects of exercise, says other research supports the notion that exercise might help people do their jobs better, perhaps by improving mood or easing stress.
But in the current study, participants exercised on the days of their choosing. So it's possible that they were already in a better mood on those days, she notes. "Thus, one might wonder whether on the days I chose to exercise, I might be in a better state (e.g. fewer errands to run, less stressed, my car didn't act up, my children were not called to the principal's office, etc.)," she says.
"Did these findings reflect a positive effect of exercise, or did the fact that those exercising on a particular day do so because their life was progressing well?" she asks.
Public-health researchers agree, though, that fitting exercise in during one's workday is a worthy goal for maintaining good health. Short bouts of activity, like taking a brisk walk at lunch or even opting for the stairs instead of the elevator a few times a day, can add up.
Encouraging employee fitness
McKenna says his findings should give companies an additional incentive to offer workplace exercise programs, which may also help cut down on sick days and reduce health-care costs.
Chrys Shimizu, a senior staffing manager at Office Workouts, an Agoura, Calif., company that brings fitness to the workplace in ways as simple as dispatching a yoga teacher to an empty conference room to fully staffing corporate gyms, says employees appreciate the convenience of exercising at work and the fact that their companies offer the benefit.
"It certainly improves employee morale and decreases the turnaround," she says.
But smaller companies often can't afford or don't have room to have on-site exercise classes or facilities, Shimizu points out.
Of the 41.3 million Americans who belonged to a health club last year, 1.65 million, or 4 percent, belonged to a corporate fitness center, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, a Boston-based group that represents fitness clubs across the country.
But IHRSA is hoping more companies offer exercise on the job or provide a fitness benefit that helps workers cover the cost of an off-site gym membership.
A bill in Congress, called the Workforce Health Improvement Program Act, would prevent employees from being taxed on benefits that compensate them for health-club dues and would also provide tax incentives for employers offering this benefit.
June 9, 2005
Advertising and Kids
TV confuses children about which foods are healthy, new study finds
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Despite -- or perhaps because of -- the barrage of information about food that they consume while watching television, kids are getting the wrong message about healthy eating.
A study has found that the more television kids watch, the more confused they are about which foods are -- and which aren't -- going to help them grow up strong and healthy.
Increased television viewing had, in fact, a double-negative effect on the children in the study. Regardless of their initial nutritional knowledge, the more television they watched, the less able they also were "to provide sound nutritional reasons for their food choices," said the author of the study, Kristen Harrison, a professor of speech communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Foods marketed as aiding weight-loss were particularly problematical for the kids in the study. They equated the words "diet" and "fat-free" with being nutritious.
"When they were presented with choices like Diet Coke vs. orange juice and fat-free ice cream vs. cottage cheese, they were more likely to pick the wrong answer -- the diet and fat-free foods -- than when they were presented with choices without these labels, for example, spinach vs. lettuce.
"The labels 'diet' and 'fat-free' suggest that these foods are good for them and make it harder for them to pick the 'right' answer," Harrison said, noting that the goal of the study was "to gauge children's understanding of which food would help them grow, not make them slimmer."
TV advertising intentionally blurs the lines between diet and nutritional -- in Harrison's words it "frames" diet foods by "equating weight-loss benefits with nutritional benefits." One TV ad for chocolate syrup, for example, runs the tagline, "as always, fat free."
"Child television viewers are bombarded with health claims in television advertising," Harrison said. "Given the plentitude of advertisements on television touting the health benefits of even the most nutritionally bankrupt of foods, child viewers are likely to become confused about which foods are in fact healthy."
Adults, Harrison said, should be able to understand the difference between foods that are healthy because they help one grow up, and foods that are healthy because they prevent one from growing out, "but this is too much to expect kids to understand."
Study findings appear in the most recent issue of the journal Health Communication. Harrison's research focuses on media effects on children and adolescents and the impact of media exposure on body image and eating disorders.
For the study, 134 children in the first through third grades were asked to respond to a questionnaire that measured their nutritional knowledge, nutritional reasoning and television viewing, once at the onset of the study and again six weeks later.
On average, the children reported that they watched 28 hours of television a week; there was no correlation between gender and age and the amount of television watched.
In the nutritional knowledge part of the study, children were presented with six pairs of foods and asked to choose which item in each pair was better for helping them "grow up strong and healthy." One food in each pair was predetermined to be more "nutritionally dense" than the other, Harrison said. The pairs were carrot/celery, rice cake/wheat bread, jelly/peanut butter, spinach/lettuce, fat-free ice cream/cottage cheese, and orange juice/Diet Coke.
The children displayed "moderate" nutritional knowledge, Harrison said. Out of a perfect score of 6, they got a median score of 3.7 the first time, and 3.92 the second. To test their nutritional reasoning, Harrison asked the children why they chose each food, and their answers were scored as representing either nutritional reasoning or non-nutritional reasoning. Examples of nutritional reasoning were: "More juicy, has vitamins (referring to celery)" or "It has cheese, cheese is made from milk, and milk is good" (cottage cheese).
Examples of non-nutritional reasoning: "It's chewy" (wheat bread) and "My brother hates it" (spinach).
The children also displayed moderate nutritional reasoning. "But as the study shows, this number decreases with heavier TV viewing, especially for the choices involving fat-free and diet labels."
One interesting finding was that children's nutritional reasoning was "largely independent of their nutritional knowledge."
For example, a second-grade boy who chose jelly over peanut butter explained that he chose jelly because "it has fruit in it and just a little sugar because sugar is bad." "Although his answer was incorrect, his reasoning was nutritional," Harrison said. Conversely, a third-grade girl who chose cottage cheese over fat-free ice cream said she did so because "it has less calories."
"Although her answer was correct, her reasoning reflected the food's potential for weight loss rather than its utility for helping her grow up strong and healthy."
The reasoning that a food does not contain fat or has fewer calories may appear to be nutritional in nature, Harrison said, "but a lack of fat and calories will not in itself help a child grow up strong and healthy. We know that many American children are consuming too much fat and too many calories, but replacing the nutrient-dense foods in their diets with low-fat, low-calorie items like rice cakes and diet soda does them a disservice by depriving their bodies of the whole-food nutrients needed for growth."
The ideal compromise, Harrison said, would be a diet of foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, with moderate levels of fat and calories. There is a "crucial difference between foods that don't contain 'bad-for-you' ingredients and foods that do contain 'good-for-you' ingredients."
Harrison said that whenever she presents this work, people invariably say that because childhood obesity is out of control in the country, a diet of rice cakes, lettuce, jelly and Diet coke wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.
"But I maintain that it would be a bad thing because these foods are nutritionally vacuous," she said. "Vodka is fat-free and has zero digestible carbs, so should we have kids drinking that every morning? They need nutrients to grow, and the 'right-answer' foods in the study have more of those nutrients than the 'wrong-answer' foods."
In her report, Harrison cited previous studies that have found that 97.5 percent of the food commercials appearing on weekend morning TV network programming were for unhealthy foods -- defined as products containing significant amounts of fat, sodium, cholesterol or sugar; for weekend evening programming, 78.3 percent of the commercials were for unhealthy foods.
Therefore, whether kids are watching children's programming or adults', they are exposed to ads for unhealthy foods.
"Thus, television in general seems to be a source of nutritional misinformation, and children's exposure to television in general may increase their risk of becoming misinformed food consumers," Harrison wrote.
June 8, 2005
Healthy Weight Gain
Athletes: Eat up to bulk up, but choose the right foods
Editor's note: In this weekly column, Atlanta registered dietitian and Georgia State University nutrition instructor Chris Rosenbloom offers advice on how to maintain a healthy diet and active lifestyle. And she's prepared to answer your questions as well — whether you're trying to shed pounds, lower your cholesterol, fuel yourself to excel at your favorite sport or simply eat better and live longer.
Summer is a time when most people think about losing weight. But there is a group of young people trying to gain weight this summer: high school athletes.
Young athletes are poring over muscle and fitness magazines and cruising the aisles of health food stores in search of the magic pill, powder or potion that will put the pounds on for football, basketball or soccer season.
Gaining weight is not as easy as it seems, although many of you might argue that point. Athletes need to do three things for weight gain: Eat more, eat smart, and do progressive resistance exercise or lift weights.
•Eat more: This sounds simple, but the volume of food needed for weight gain can tire the jaws of most athletes. One way to increase calorie intake is to choose calorie-dense foods; that is, foods that pack a lot of calories into a small volume, such as nuts and dried fruit.
Milkshakes, smoothies and fruit juice also can contribute to calories. I once analyzed the food record of an athlete who consumed 2,000 calories a day from fruit juice! Keep in mind that grape and cranberry-apple have more calories than apple or orange juice.
Peanut butter or other nut butters are good choices for sandwiches and for topping toast or bagels, or add a slice of avocado to a sandwich or tortilla to increase healthy calories.
Use zero-trans-fat margarine on potatoes, vegetables and breads; low-fat sour cream on baked potatoes or chicken quesadillas; and olive oil and Parmesan cheese on bread.
Choose higher-calorie vegetables, too. Potatoes, beans, corn and peas have more calories than salad greens and broccoli.
Aim for an additional 500 calories each day during the summer and eat six times a day.
•Eat smart: Time your food intake to match your exercise. Most high school athletes who are trying to gain weight work out twice a day, so provide your muscles with fuel to stimulate growth.
Research suggests that eating a carbohydrate-and-protein snack before exercise provides muscles with the growth stimulation they need. The combination of carbohydrate and protein will provide the nutrients needed to repair muscles after a hard workout and help strengthen muscle.
Most athletes think protein is the king nutrient — but I think calories are king and protein is a prince. Protein is important but is not the only nutrient critical to building muscle; the calories provide the energy needed to increase weight. Carbohydrate-plus-protein food choices include low-fat chocolate milk, a hard-boiled egg with toast, turkey on a bagel, and plain yogurt with added fruit.
•Weight training: Eating all the food in the refrigerator won't increase muscle mass unless you stimulate your muscles to get big. That only happens with weight training. Find a professional certified strength and conditioning specialist to set up a summer coaching program tailored to you and your sport, suggests Scott McDonald, CSCS, an assistant player-development coach for the Georgia Tech Athletic Association. "Don't let your friends train you, but work with a certified professional to get the most out of your summer workouts."
500-CALORIE SNACKS OR MINI-MEALS
2 Nature Valley peanut butter granola bars
12 ounces low-fat milk
1 packet instant cinnamon and spice oatmeal, mixed with water, per directions
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped almonds
2 ounces Swiss cheese
3 ounces turkey breast
8 ounces Boost high-protein vanilla shake
2 oatmeal cookies
1 cup instant chocolate pudding prepared with low-fat milk
Banana nut muffin
1 1/2 cups chunky beef soup
1/2 cup canned corn, drained (add to soup)
Small corn muffin
•Chris Rosenbloom, Ph.D., R.D., is a member of the nutrition faculty in the College of Health and Human Sciences at Georgia State University. She'll answer nutrition questions of general interest at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send your questions to her c/o The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Eighth Floor, 72 Marietta St. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30303.
June 7, 2005
Farmers Market Nutrition Program Opens
HARRISBURG, Pa., June 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff today announced the start of the 2005 Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). From June 1 through November 30, eligible seniors, and Women, Infant and Children (WIC) participants can redeem vouchers for fresh produce at participating farms, farmers markets and roadside stands.
"The Farmers Market Nutrition Program exemplifies how Pennsylvania and the federal government can work together to support local farmers and provide fresh, nutritious produce for residents," said Wolff. "It's a win-win situation for all involved."
According to Wolff, the program is a $5.2 million joint effort funded through a $2 million contribution from the commonwealth, $1.9 million from the federal WIC program, and $1.3 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant funds. More than 230,000 people statewide receive assistance through FMNP.
Under the established guidelines, WIC participants, and income-eligible seniors receive four checks totaling $20 to purchase Pennsylvania fruits and vegetables. There are more than 825 FMNP participating farmers at 469 farm stands and 156 farmers markets across the state.
Checks may not be used for any processed foods such as jams, honey, nuts, cider or baked goods. Similarly, they do not include citrus or tropical fruits, such as bananas, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines, pineapple or mangos. Only crops grown in Pennsylvania are eligible.
In order to qualify, seniors must be 60 years of age and older and meet income requirements during the program year. The income requirement for a single person is $17,705, while couples can earn no more than $23,736 (based on total income). WIC recipients must be deemed eligible by their local agency. Generally, pregnant, breastfeeding or postpartum women, and children ages three and four qualify.
Eligible state residents should contact their local Area Agency on Aging or WIC agency for further information, including locations, dates and times of check distribution. Those interested in enrolling as a participating farm, farmers market or roadside stand should visit http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us and click on 'Producers.'
June 6, 2005
The growing number of overweight Americans is leading to an increased incidence of metabolic syndrome, a disorder that often includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar.
Metabolic syndrome is not a single disease but a cluster of health problems. Experts say the syndrome may be caused by a combination of genes and lifestyle factors including overeating and lack of physical activity.
According to the National Institutes of Health, metabolic disorder may be present if a person has any three or more of the following symptoms:
A waist measuring greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women
Triglyceride levels equal to or greater than 150 milligrams per deciliter
HDL (good cholesterol) levels of less than 40 milligrams per deciliter in men and less than 50 milligrams per deciliter in women
Blood pressure 130/85 milligrams of mercury or higher
Blood sugar 110 milligrams per deciliter or higher.
If you find that you fall into three or more of these categories, contact your physician or registered dietitian to learn more about metabolic syndrome and how to treat it.
Produced by ADA’s Public Relations Team
June 1, 2005
Ana, Mia and Ed
Pro-anorexia movement has cult-like appeal
Experts alarmed by Web sites that promote self-starvation
The Associated Press
CHICAGO - They call her “Ana.��? She is a role model to some, a goddess to others — the subject of drawings, prayers and even a creed.
She tells them what to eat and mocks them when they don’t lose weight. And yet, while she is a very real presence in the lives of many of her followers, she exists only in their minds.
Ana is short for anorexia, and — to the alarm of experts — many who suffer from the potentially fatal eating disorder are part of an underground movement that promotes self-starvation and, in some cases, has an almost cult-like appeal.
Followers include young women and teens who wear red Ana bracelets and offer one another encouraging words of “thinspiration��? on Web pages and blogs.
They share tips for shedding pounds and faithfully report their “cw��? and “gw��? — current weight and goal weight, which often falls into the double digits. They also post pictures of celebrity role models, including teen stars Lindsay Lohan and Mary-Kate Olsen, who last year set aside the acting career and merchandising empire she shares with her twin sister to seek help for her own eating disorder.
“Put on your Ana bracelet and raise your skinny fist in solidarity!��? one “pro-Ana��? blogger wrote shortly after Olsen entered treatment.
The movement has flourished on the Web and eating disorder experts say that, despite attempts to limit Ana’s online presence, it has now grown to include followers — many of them young — in many parts of the world.
No one knows just how many of the estimated 8 million to 11 million Americans afflicted with eating disorders have been influenced by the pro-Ana movement. But experts fear its reach is fairly wide. A preliminary survey of teens who’ve been diagnosed with eating disorders at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, for instance, found that 40 percent had visited Web sites that promote eating disorders.
“The more they feel like we — ’the others’ — are trying to shut them down, the more united they stand,��? says Alison Tarlow, a licensed psychologist and supervisor of clinical training at the Renfrew Center in Coconut Creek, Fla., a residential facility that focuses on eating disorders.
Experts say the Ana movement also plays on the tendency people with eating disorders have toward “all or nothing thinking.��?
“When they do something, they tend to pursue it to the fullest extent. In that respect, Ana may almost become a religion for them,��? says Carmen Mikhail, director of the eating disorders clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
She and others point to the “Ana creed,��? a litany of beliefs about control and starvation, that appears on many Web sites and blogs. At least one site encourages followers to make a vow to Ana and sign it in blood.
People with eating disorders who’ve been involved in the movement confirm its cult-like feel.
“People pray to Ana to make them skinny,��? says Sara, a 17-year-old in Columbus, Ohio, who was an avid organizer of Ana followers until she recently entered treatment for her eating disorder. She spoke on the condition that her last name not be used.
'Helping girls kill themselves'
Among other things, Sara was the self-proclaimed president of Beta Sigma Kappa, dubbed the official Ana sorority and “the most talked about, nearly illegal group��? on a popular blog hosting service that Sara still uses to communicate with friends. She also had an online Ana “boot camp��? and told girls what they could and couldn’t eat.
“I guess I was attention-starved,��? she now says of her motivation. “I really liked being the girl that everyone looked up to and the one they saw as their ’thinspiration.’
“But then I realized I was helping girls kill themselves.��?
For others, Ana is a person — a voice that directs their every move when it comes to food and exercise.
“She’s someone who’s perfect. It’s different for everyone — but for me, she’s someone who looks totally opposite to the way I do,��? says Kasey Brixius, a 19-year-old college student from Hot Springs, S.D.
To Brixius — athletic with brown hair and brown eyes — Ana is a wispy, blue-eyed blonde.
“I know I could never be that,��? she says, “but she keeps telling me that if I work hard enough, I CAN be that.��?
Treatment often fails
Dr. Mae Sokol often treats young patients in her Omaha, Neb., practice who personify their eating disorder beyond just Ana. To them, bulimia is “Mia.��? And an eating disorder often becomes “Ed.��?
“A lot of times they’re lonely and they don’t have a lot of friends. So Ana or Mia become their friend. Or Ed becomes their boyfriend,��? says Sokol, who is director of the eating disorders program run by Children’s Hospital and Creighton University.
In the end, treatment can include writing “goodbye��? letters to Ana, Mia and Ed in order to gain control over them.
But it often takes a long time to get to that point — and experts agree that, until someone with an eating disorder wants to help themselves, treatment often fails.
Tarlow, at the Renfrew Center, says it’s also easy for patients to fall back into the online world of Ana after they leave treatment. “Unfortunately,��? she says, “with all people who are in recovery, it’s so much about who you surround yourself with.��?
Some patients, including Brixius, the 19-year-old South Dakotan, have had trouble finding counselors who truly understand their struggle with Ana.
“I’d tell them about Ana and how she’s a real person to me. And they’d just look at me like I’m nuts,��? Brixius says of the counselors she’s seen at college and in her hometown. “They wouldn’t address her ever again, so it got very frustrating.
“Half the time I’m, like, ’You know what? I give up.��?’
Other days, she’s more hopeful.
“I gotta snap out of this eventually if I want to have kids and get a job. One day, I’ll get to that point,��? she says, pausing. “But I’ll always obsess about food.��?