Monday, May 19th, 2014
Connecticut legislators have sent to the governor a measure that would prohibit public schools from offering chocolate milk and some juices to children, citing the beverages’ links to imbalanced nutrition when it comes to fat, salt, and sugar. More from CBS News:
If he signs it, Connecticut would be the first state in the country — not just a single school district –to ban chocolate milk in school cafeterias. The law would go into effect next September.
Politicians in the state faced pressure to pass school nutrition rules or risk forfeiting funds from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a federal policy that sets requirements for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Nutrition Programs, which includes its school lunch program. However, the USDA points out that the Act does not ban individual food items. A USDA spokesperson told CBS News that it does require flavored milks to be non-fat.
Under the state proposal, schools in Connecticut would only be allowed to serve low-fat, unflavored milk and beverages without artificial sweeteners, added sodium or more than four grams of sugar per ounce.
Chocolate milk contains high fructose corn syrup and up to 200 milligrams of sodium, which means it won’t make the cut.
Some child nutritionists think the proposed law will backfire and jeopardize the health of children in the state. Jill Castle, a registered dietician and nutritionist from New Canaan, Conn., told CBS affiliate WFSB that when chocolate milk is removed from the cafeteria the overall consumption of milk goes down.
“From a nutrient profile, you’re getting calcium, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorous, protein, and other nutrients,” said Castle.
But some food experts disagree. Marlene Schwartz, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, says the ban means that the food industry will simply need to adjust.
“This isn’t going to keep out flavored milk,” Schwartz told the Hartford Courant. “All it’s going to do it make sure the flavored milk that’s in there is not going to have added salt.”
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Image: Chocolate milk, via Shutterstock
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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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Image: Sugary cereal, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, July 17th, 2013
The high volume of salt-laden snack foods consumed by American children is the culprit cited in an article published in the journal Hypertension for a marked rise in cases of high blood pressure among US kids and teens. The percentage of kids between ages 8 and 17 with high blood pressure–a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes–has increased 27 percent over the past 13 years, according to researchers. More from NBC News:
The new research, published Monday in the journal Hypertension, positively links rising blood pressure to increasing body mass index, especially waist circumference, and sodium intake. In short, far too many American children are too fat and eating too many salty snacks.
More than a third of children and teens in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The reason we’re seeing high blood pressure in kids, is due to the obesity epidemic,” said pediatrician Dr. Joanna Dolgoff.
Dolgoff has been seeing elevated blood pressure in so many of her young patients, she thought her equipment was broken.
“Recently, I’ve been a lot more of my patients having high blood pressure,” Dolgoff, a child obesity expert and creator of the “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right” nutrition program, said. “I thought perhaps my blood pressure machine was broken. But actually the incidence of high blood pressure in children is increasing.”
Being overweight is a key risk factor for high blood pressure in adults so “it stands to reason that it would be the same in children,” said Dolgoff.
Image: Child having blood pressure taken, via Shutterstock
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Friday, March 22nd, 2013
The foods that many American babies and toddlers are eating contains too much sodium, according to new information compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and presented to a scientific meeting of the American Heart Association. Consuming too much sodium can lead to elevated risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, among other things. From a release announcing the findings:
In the first study to look at the sodium content in U.S. baby and toddler foods, researchers compared the sodium content per serving of 1,115 products for babies and toddlers using data on major and private label brands compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Baby food was categorized as intended for children less than one year old, and toddler food was categorized as intended for children between the ages of one and three.
A product was defined as high in sodium if it had more than 210 mg of sodium per serving. Toddler meals had significantly higher amounts of sodium than baby meals, and the amount of sodium in some of the toddler meals was as high as 630 mg per serving – about 40 percent of the 1,500 mg daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association. The foods with the most sodium were savory snacks and meals for toddlers.
“Our concern is the possible long-term health risks of introducing high levels of sodium in a child’s diet, because high blood pressure, as well as a preference for salty foods may develop early in life. The less sodium in an infant’s or toddler’s diet, the less he or she may want it when older,” said Joyce Maalouf, M.S., M.P.H., ORISE, lead author and Fellow at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium consumption to less than 1500 mg a day. Sodium is in regular table salt and many foods, including most prepared meals and snacks for toddlers.
The CDC listed the following 10 foods as the biggest sodium culprits affecting Americans from ages 2-19:
- Bread and rolls
- Cold cuts and processed meats
- Savory snacks
- Mixed pasta dishes
- Frankfurters and sausages
Image: Salt, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
U.S. children are consuming as much salt on average as American adults, and as a result face an elevated risk of health problems including elevated blood pressure and even heart disease, according to a new report published in the journal Pediatrics. CNN.com has more:
Health experts recommend that most people eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt a day, the equivalent of 1 teaspoon. But children and adults alike are consuming, on average, about 3,400 milligrams daily, according to the study.
The study authors found that when young people increased their daily salt levels by 1,000 milligrams, the risk for high blood pressure increased 74% for overweight or obese youngsters, but only 6% for kids in the normal weight range. The researchers looked at more than 6,200 young people, ages 8 to 18. More than a third were overweight or obese and 15% had elevated or high blood pressure.
Most of the salt we consume is already in the foods we eat, not what we add at the dinner table.
Breads and rolls, cold cuts, pizza, fresh and processed poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta dishes, meat dishes and snacks are the top 10 food sources that account for 44% of sodium consumed, according a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in February.
“If you have high blood pressure in childhood, it’s likely that the effects will last into adulthood. Increased blood pressure is one of the most significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease (heart disease),” explains lead study author Quanhe Yang, who works with the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Image: Salt shaker, via Shutterstock
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