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Posts from the ‘Weekend Reading’ Category

Weekend Reading: Calories and Weight Loss – they’re not adding up

A new study reveals why reducing calories by the magic number of 3,500 does not always produce a pound of wt loss.  Why? Because it’s not just about eating less. Your body size and exercise also play an important role. Profiled in this article, which has an interview with the head researcher, a new study in The Lancet discusses that gaining weight with small increases in intake is easy (ok, we knew that already), but losing the weight is much harder than simply eating less. This phenomenon occurs because more of the calories you are taking in each day are used to support the extra weight you’re carrying around.  Furthermore, if an overweight and lean person overeat the same number of calories per day, the overweight individual is more likely to gain a greater amount of weight as fat because fat is less metabolically active than the same weight of lean tissue (muscles and organs). The researchers also claim that exercise plays a big role in both burning calories and helping to maintain a new, healthier lifestyle.

How can you reduce your calorie intake and increase expenditure?

  • Add in an additional 15 minutes of walking each day. It’s easy to walk an extra block or two for lunch or a coffee break. As an added benefit you may find some favorite new haunts. Don’t go out to lunch? Use the stairs in your building to go to the next meeting and as an easy energy pick-me-up.
  • Watch your condiments. Mayo isn’t the only option for your sandwich. Try mustard, salsa or two slices of avocado – you’ll lose calories and increase healthy nutrients at the same time.
  • Don’t treat yourself to a high fat snack after a workout. Most snacks will be packed with more calories than you burned off. If you can’t wait until your next meal, have a piece of fruit with almond butter or a few nuts to hold you over.

Characters for Health (and wealth)

The results of a recent study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine that found that the presence of a spokescharacter on a cereal box positively affected the child’s opinion of the cereal got me thinking. Can cartoon characters also be used to sell healthy foods? Why not? Spokescharacters such as Ronald McDonald and Tony the Tiger have helped with brand recognition and sales for years. McDonald’s latest campaign asks kids to go to the Happy Meal website where they can send a Ronaldgram to friends or compose a picture with him.

Children and teens control over $200 billion of spending money per year through food purchases and requests. Given that children respond to visual cues when deciding on which brand of food they want to eat, it is particularly important to look at how advertising can work in tandem with promoting healthy foods. If kids respond to the character, the logical next step is that sales of that product will increase. Why not have a spokescharacter for fruits and vegetables? Or milk? Should there be legislature to ban spokescharacters on foods that have little to no nutritional value? I think all of these possibilities can help businesses make money by increasing sales of healthy foods and downplaying the appeal of unhealthy foods. It’s time to help educate the next generation so that they can make the right choices for a healthy lifestyle.

Craving more? You can find a comprehensive overview of how advertising influences children in the book “Food Marketing to Children and Youth – Threat or Opportunity?” published by the Institute of Medicine and available to read online.

Weekend Reading: Your Health

Go Easy on Yourself

Are you your own toughest critic?  Next time you’re scolding yourself stop and think about what you would tell a friend in the same situation.  Now, tell yourself.  The idea of self-compassion is undergoing research as a tool towards health and better food choices.  By allowing yourself to enjoy favorite foods, studies have shown you will eat less of them and feel good, not guilty, about your choices and yourself.  This seems to tie back to the saying “everything in moderation”.

Higher Profits or Better for Your Health?

The line seems a little blurry with the FDA approval of Allergen’s lap band surgery for people who have a lower BMI than current regulations.  Currently, a person must have a BMI of 40 with no health complications and a BMI of 35 with obesity related health complications to qualify for surgery.  Under the new ruling, a person with a BMI of 30 may qualify if he or she has obesity health related complications, and it remains at 40 for those without health related complications.  A BMI of 30 is the lowest threshold for a person to be considered obese. Furthermore, the lap band is only for people who have tried to lose weight by diet, exercise and drugs and still can’t lose and keep the weight off.

What do you think about this new ruling?

Weekend Reading: Cheese vs. Your Health

Eat low fat dairy products. Eat more cheese.  The first statement is a long-time general promotion by the government as a way to lower the levels of saturated fat in American diets and help prevent heart diseae. The other statement is a goal of Dairy Management, a division of the USDA that promotes cheese.  These ironically opposing views of the USDA are discussed in this NY Times article published on Saturday. The promotion of low fat dairy over the years led to a surplus of cheese and butter, and the government, who bought the excess, had to find a way to sell it.  According to the article, Americans eat 33 pounds of cheese per year – triple the 1970 rate.  While full fat cheese is a source of saturated fat, some people involved with these organizations are saying that regardless, it’s important to promote cheese for calcium.  Just how much cheese are we talking about?  This analysis of 1/4 of the Domino’s American Legends Wisconsin pizza (with 6 types of cheese) shows that it contains the following:

Think about what these numbers would look like if you ate more than 1/4 of the pie.

Have you seen more restaurant items or recipes with cheese recently?