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Tag: sugar

A Look at Why We’re All Confused About What to Eat

Part of my job as the primary blogger for Be Food Smart is to stay up to date on what’s new in the food and nutrition world. For the most part I love it, but inevitably, there comes a point in my week where I throw my hands up in frustration. It seems that every type of food I thought I knew somehow becomes a subject of debate. Need some examples?

Sugar – The stuff that comes from the lush sugarcane plant is now suddenly associated with the “T” word. Remember when toxic was primarily used to describe a pile of nuclear waste oil drums with skull & crossbones? Robert Lustig’s YouTube video has only been viewed 1.16 million times.

Wheat – Between whole, unbleached, enriched, stone ground, and bleached, wheat is downright confusing. And all this before I even mentioned the almighty power word: gluten.

Salt – Sodium is bad, right? Or wait, is the regular stuff bad and sea salt good? What about rock, kosher, or unrefined pink Himalayan salt? Do I need the iodine (especially since the Japanese nuclear reactor is leaking)? I predict a future blog post on salt…
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Have you ever sat down and watched a half hour of children’s programming? How many ads do you see marketed specifically towards children? Between Ronald McDonald, the Keebler Elves, Captain Crunch and Tony the Tiger, there is no shortage of cartoon mascots tantalizing our children with visions of sugary and colorful delights.

According to a newly formed inter-agency Working Group (FTC, FDA, CDC, USDA), the food industry spends more than $1.6 BILLION each year to promote junk foods to our kids (foods high in calories, low in nutrition). They find every possible way to reach your kids using TV, the internet, video games, social media, movies, and even marketing in schools. Here is a shocking statistic:

Cookies and cakes, pizza, and soda/energy/sports drinks are the top sources of calories in the diets of children 2 through 18. Chips and french fries comprise half of all the vegetables kids eat.

Since when are french fries and chips vegetables? It’s no wonder that one in three children will be overweight or obese putting them at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and other diseases.

Yesterday, this Working Group released a set of proposed principles for the food industry to use when marketing food to children. The proposal is designed to “encourage children, through advertising and marketing, to choose foods that make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet; and contain limited amounts of nutrients that have a negative impact on health or weight…”

Overview of the Proposal:

The basic premise is our government is trying to get the food industry to market healthy foods to kids instead of junk food.

  • Applies to children ages 2-11 and adolescents 12-17
  • Defines what  “food marketing targeted to children” means
  • Sets separate guidelines for individual foods, main dishes and meals.
  • Gives the food industry 5 years to be in compliance with guidelines (by 2016)
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This is the flowchart everyone needs to see.

Check out our new flowchart and in your comment, tell us what sweetener you ended up on. Click on the image below to see the full flowchart and to get the embed code to add it to your site.

Click above to see the full flowchart

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Image: theimpulsivebuy via flickr

McDonald’s is making headlines again, this time for their Fruit & Maple Oatmeal. In Mark Bittman’s New York Times Opinionator article, How to Make Oatmeal…Wrong, he lambastes McDonald’s  for turning their oatmeal into “expensive junk food.”

So why is McDonald’s oatmeal so unhealthy? It starts with the fact that their new “bowl full of wholesome” contains 21 ingredients or as Bittman says,

“A more accurate description than “100% natural whole-grain oats,” “plump raisins,” “sweet cranberries” and “crisp fresh apples” would be “oats, sugar, sweetened dried fruit, cream and 11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen.”

So what is actually in the oatmeal? McDonald’s first ingredient list shows: Oatmeal, Diced Apples, Cranberry Raisin Blend, Light Cream. Wow, only 5 easy-to-understand and simple ingredients; sounds good, right? But then as you look down the page a bit you realize that each of those ingredients have sub-ingredients:
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Cookie Crisp

Most cereals are too sweet. Ok, so maybe I’m biased because I grew up on Spoon Size Shredded Wheat, Grape Nuts, and Corn Puffs, but it looks like I’m not alone. General Mills will be lowering the sugar content in the cereals marketed to children under 12. How much lower you ask? Well, they are going from 11 grams per serving to 10 grams. That isn’t a big change, but that’s exactly the point according to Jeff Harmening, president of General Mills’ Big G cereal division. He said in an interview, “Consumers have a very keen idea of what these cereals ought to taste like and if you change the taste dramatically or suddenly, they’ll walk away from the brand.”

By the end of the year all the cereals marketed to children will adhere to the 10 gram maximum.  It looks like they won’t stop at 10 grams either and will likely lower to 9 grams in the future before feeling ‘victorious’. The fight against obesity and diabetes needs all the help it can get.

Sources: Yahoo News

Image: theimpulsivebuy


Drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages may lower blood pressure.

Study highlights:

  • Drinking one less sugar-sweetened beverage a day was associated with a drop in blood pressure in a study of 800 adults with elevated blood pressure.
  • Increased intake of sugar-sweetened beverages has already been linked with risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
  • Researchers say this does not prove that sugar-sweetened beverages cause high blood pressure and warrants further study.
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