Posts Tagged ‘ nutrition ’

Kellogg Will Drop ‘All Natural’ from Some Products

Monday, May 12th, 2014

The food producer Kellogg Co has announced its plan to drop the labels “All Natural” and “100 Percent Natural” from some of its Kashi and Bear Naked branded products, in the wake of a class action fraud lawsuit.  More from Reuters:

The settlement by the world’s No. 1 maker of breakfast cereal marks the latest such outcome in a recent wave of litigation challenging nutrition claims in food labeling.

Several lawsuits merged into a single case in 2011 accused Kellogg of deceiving consumers by labeling products as “All Natural” when they contained ingredients such as pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate or hexane-processed soy oil.

The settlement must be approved by a federal judge in San Diego overseeing the case before the suit is dismissed. It was submitted in court last week and contained no admission of false or misleading labeling by Kellogg.

In a statement on Thursday, company spokeswoman Kris Charles said Kellogg’s Kashi and Bear Naked lines “provide comprehensive information about our foods to enable people to make well-informed choices.”

“We stand behind our advertising and labeling practices,” she said. “We will comply with the terms of the settlement agreement by the end of the year and will continue to ensure our foods meet our high quality and nutrition standards, while delivering the great taste people expect.”

Under the proposed settlement, Kellogg will drop the terms “All Natural” and “Nothing Artificial” from labeling and advertising for Kashi products containing certain ingredients challenged in the litigation.

Similarly, the terms “100% Natural” and “100% Pure and Natural” will be removed from certain Bear Naked products.

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Pre-Pregnancy Diet May Affect Baby’s Genes

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

The types of foods a mother-to-be eats just before she becomes pregnant may have an effect on her baby’s genetic development–especially if there are nutritional deficiencies in the mother’s diet.  More from NPR on a new study published in the journal Nature Communications:

The study, published in Nature Communications, is the first to show that an environmental factor during the first few days of development can change DNA long term.

The researchers didn’t look at how these genetic changes affect overall fetal development or the baby’s health later in life. And they analyzed only six genes.

But there’s growing from other studies that similar types of genetic changes may help determine a child’s risk for some diseases, including diabetes, mental disorders and autism.

“Can diet affect other genes? What’s the biological impact of those [DNA] modifications? At the moment we don’t know the answer to those questions,” says nutritionist , who contributed to the study. “But subsequent research we have — and haven’t [yet] published — says it does matter.”

Now we’re not talking about altering the DNA code itself — you know, the building blocks of genes, the ? Rather, Prentice says the dietary effects he and his team have found seem to be changing whether genes are turned on or off in that earliest stage of embryonic development.

This on-and-off switch is controlled by decorating the DNA with a special tag, called . How much the six genes got tagged in the developing embryo depended on the levels of a few micronutrients in the mom’s blood at the time of conception, Prentice and his team found.

The team examined several B vitamins and nutrients associated with them. They couldn’t pinpoint exactly which ones were most important. But in general, when several of these nutrients, including vitamin B2, were at lower levels in mom’s blood, the six genes had less methylation.

“The vitamin levels [in all the women] weren’t way out of the normal range either,” Prentice says. “If you took the blood to your doctor, he would say they were normal.”

Image: Woman eating salad, via Shutterstock

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FDA to Regulate Honey Labeling

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Grocery store shelves have long held products that are labeled “honey” but are actually more like “honey blends” that mix pure honey with cane sugar, corn syrup, or other sweeteners.  The Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidelines that will help families know what they’re buying.  More from Boston.com:

The Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines Tuesday that will require companies to label any honey that is not pure, or even food containing this honey, with “blend of sugar and honey” or “blend of honey and corn syrup,” depending on the ingredients. This policy change is the result of organizations like the American Beekeeping Federation and other honey associations petitioning against the common food industry practice of misrepresenting “pure honey.”

So why do we care?

Calorically, honey and sugar have approximately the same amount of calories if you compare teaspoons, said Alicia Romano, a clinical registered dietitian at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center. “But with raw honey you might get more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties. Ultimately, though, the way our bodies break down the two is the same.”

Pure honey is part sugar (glucose and fructose) and part minerals (iron, calcium, phosphate, potassium, magnesium, and sodium chlorine). While many of the medicinal properties attributed to honey require further research, the natural process of honey gives it anti-inflammatory properties that you may miss out on in a sugary substitute.

For example, a 2012 randomized, placebo-controlled study published in the journal Pediatrics found that natural honey (recommended by the World Health Organization as a cough medication) was superior to a placebo in alleviating a night-time cough associated with upper respiratory infections for children older than one year.

But don’t go honey-crazy yet. Sugar (glucose and fructose) still makes up the majority of pure honey.

“Sugar is sugar and should be treated that way,” said Romano. “There’s still a lot of research that needs to be done to compare sugars and additives, but for people who are trying to get away from table sugar and sugar substitutes such as Stevia or Splenda, a teaspoon or two of natural honey added to unsweetened Greek yogurt, on top of oatmeal, and added to smoothies with berries, greens, and yogurt is a way to use honey that’s porton controlled and not adding extra sugar or calories.”

Image: Dripping honey, via Shutterstock

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Kids Mistake Apples for French Fries in Fast Food Ads

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

When asked what foods a Burger King ad depicting a child’s meal included as part of a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics, only 10 percent of children correctly identified apple slices–most of the rest said they thought the food was French fries.  More from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, which completed the study:

In research published on March 31, 2014 in JAMA Pediatrics, Dartmouth researchers found that one-half to one-third of children did not identify milk when shown McDonald’s and Burger King children’s advertising images depicting that product. Sliced apples in Burger King’s ads were identified as apples by only 10 percent of young viewers; instead most reported they were french fries.

Other children admitted being confused by the depiction, as with one child who pointed to the product and said, “And I see some…are those apples slices?”

The researcher replied, “I can’t tell you…you just have to say what you think they are.”

“I think they’re french fries,” the child responded.

“Burger King’s depiction of apple slices as ‘Fresh Apple Fries’ was misleading to children in the target age range,” said principal investigator James Sargent, MD, co-director Cancer Control Research Program at Norris Cotton Cancer Center. “The advertisement would be deceptive by industry standards, yet their self-regulation bodies took no action to address the misleading depiction.”

In 2010 McDonald’s and Burger King began to advertise apples and milk in kids meals. Sargent and his colleagues studied fast food television ads aimed at children from July 2010 through June 2011. In this study researchers extracted “freeze frames” of Kids Meals shown in TV ads that appeared on Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and other children’s cable networks. Of the four healthy food depictions studied, only McDonald’s presentation of apple slices was recognized as an apple product by a large majority of the target audience, regardless of age. Researchers found that the other three presentations represented poor communication.

This study follows an earlier investigation conducted by Sargent and his colleagues, which found that McDonald’s and Burger King children’s advertising emphasized giveaways like toys or box office movie tie-ins to develop children’s brand awareness for fast food chains, despite self-imposed guidelines that discourage the practice.

While the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission play important regulatory roles in food labeling and marketing, the Better Business Bureau operates a self-regulatory system for children’s advertising. Two different programs offer guidelines to keep children’s advertising focused on the food, not toys, and, more specifically, on foods with nutritional value.

“The fast food industry spends somewhere between $100 to 200 million dollars a year on advertising to children, ads that aim to develop brand awareness and preferences in children who can’t even read or write, much less think critically about what is being presented.” said Sargent.

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Fruit Nachos
Fruit Nachos
Fruit Nachos

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Kids’ Sugar, Salt Cravings May Have Developmental Purpose

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Kids who crave sweet and salty snacks might not only be drawn in by multicolored products and clever marketing schemes–they may actually be responding to a developmental instinct to ingest energy-boosting foods while they’re doing their most dramatic growth and development.  More on a study from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, from NPR.org:

The study included 108 kids, aged 5 to 10, as well as their moms. It turned out that the children who preferred sweet solutions over salty ones tended to be tall for their age. And there was a slight correlation between sweet preference and a biomarker of growth found in the kids’ urine.

Julie Mennella, the study’s lead author and a biopsychologist at Monell, says that scientists have known for a while that kids prefer both sweeter and saltier tastes than adults, and that kids to like sugar and salt. But no one could say exactly why.

This study suggests it has to do with children’s development — kids crave more energy and sugar because they’re growing, Mennella tells The Salt. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, since kids who sought out more calories were probably more likely to survive.

The researchers also looked into children’s’ salt intake, and found that the kids who preferred the saltiest foods tended to have more body fat. Mennella says that kids’ salt cravings might also be related to development, since our bodies associate salt with minerals essential to growth.

But the research, which Monday in the journal PLOS One, only shows that sweet and salty preferences are correlated to growth in children; it can’t show exactly how they’re related. Bigger, longitudinal studies would tell us more, Mennella says.

In the meantime, she says, the study does confirm just how hardwired kids are to consume super-sugary foods — like the candy and cereals that are now so heavily marketed to them. Nowadays, American children consume far and than they actually need.

And the widespread availability of these foods these days makes it easy for kids to overindulge, putting them at risk for obesity and diabetes, she says.

“When you understand the biology of taste, you realize how vulnerable they are to the food environment,” Mennella says.

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Sesame Street Lessons: Limiting Sweets
Sesame Street Lessons: Limiting Sweets
Sesame Street Lessons: Limiting Sweets

Image: Sugary cereal, via Shutterstock

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