Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Jun 23 2008

Corn sweeteners: enjoy in moderation?

My upstate New York edition of the New York Times today carries a full-page, full-color advertisement from the Corn Refiners Association: “A little sweetness in life is good. And what sweetens a lot of our favorite foods and beverages are sugars made from corn, such as high fructose corn syrup. It has the same natural sweeteners as table sugar and honey. And the same number of calories. But like most foods, sweeteners should be enjoyed in moderation. Please visit our website and learn the facts.”

I went right to the website and took the quiz. If you were wondering why this group would buy an expensive ($80,000?) ad like this, check out question #3: “Which of the following sweeteners is considered a natural food ingredient? (a) High fructose corn syrup, (b) Honey, (c) Sugar, (d) All of the above.”  Aw come on.  You can guess.

Jun 22 2008

Soft drink research: the drink industry fights back

The soft drink industry is using the latest research findings to argue that vending machines in schools are not the problem in childhood obesity, and it’s what kids drink at home that matters. The research in question finds that adolescents get 10% to 15% of their calories from sugary beverages. Average intake among 2 to 5 year olds is 176 calories per day; among 12 to 19 year olds it is 356. Overall average intake rose from 240 calories/day in 1988 to 270 in 2004. Doesn’t what kids drink in school influence what they drink at home, and vice versa? Never mind. Try this one: a new meta-analysis – coincidentally (?) sponsored by the American Beverage Association–finds no relationship between consumption of sweetened beverages and body mass index. High marks to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition for printing a rather tough sponsorship note: “The research proposal to the sponsor was approved as submitted, but the sponsor requested that an independent expert on meta-analysis—to be chosen by the authors—review the manuscript…One author (MLS) accepted a position with the sponsor after the first decision letter regarding the manuscript was received.” Could this cozy relationship have anything to do with the way the study was designed and conducted? Just asking.

Jun 21 2008

Physical activity is good for you!

The Department of Health and Human Services has just released the report of a committee that has just spent the last two years reviewing research on the benefits and risks of physical activity for specific population groups.  Guess what?  It’s good for you!  And to summarize all that research: some is better than none, more is better than less, higher intensity is better than lower intensity.  The “some is better than none” part should be an inspiration to everyone to get out there and start moving.

Jun 19 2008

Is HFCS “Natural?” Court says it’s up to FDA

A federal judge in New Jersey rejected a complaint against Snapple that its claim to be “natural” is false because the drinks contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and HFCS is no way “natural.” If the FDA won’t decide what “natural” means, we certainly aren’t going to , says the judge. So, FDA, how about it?

Jun 18 2008

Upside of the food crisis?

According to the Wall Street Journal, the rising cost of food is getting the governments of developing countries more interested in supporting agricultural production by small farmers. This will be a tough row to hoe, as it were, but surely worth it. Can anything good come out of the food crisis? Maybe this?

Today’s WSJ coverage of the world food crisis provides a nifty interactive map. Click on the country and the map tells you how its farmers are doing and how its government is reacting to rising food prices.

Jun 18 2008

Obesity is not due to less physical activity

Or so says a new study from Europe. If anything, the study finds that physical activity in Europe has slightly increased since the early 1980s, a result that is consistent with findings of the CDC for Americans (the chart plots the percentage of people who say they never do physical activity; that percentage is declining). What this means, of course, is that people who are gaining weight must be eating more. Big surprise.

Jun 17 2008

Pet food recall settlement: how to file a claim

The New Jersey court has now moved on to the next step in settlement of the class action suit against pet food makers involved in the melamine recalls of 2007. If you think you qualify for compensation, you need to fill out a form and send it in by November 24.  If you want to deal with this some other way, the same claim website explains how.  This won’t bring back the lost pets, but it may help a little.  Go for it.

Jun 16 2008

NYC Calorie labeling: preliminary results

The NYC Health Department has just published its baseline data for evaluation of the effects of the calorie labeling initiative. The results of a survey of 7000 diners at 275 fast food places show that just 4% of customers looked at calorie labeling when it was hidden in brochures, wall signs, and tray liners, – except at Subway. At Subway, the 31% of customers looking at calorie information chose lower calorie items. OK, the reduction was just 50 calories per meal on average, but this study was done before the labels went up on menu boards. Stay tuned.

Page 232 of 294« First...230231232233234...Last »