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New Documentary “Fed Up” Shows Skinny Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Healthy

There is a new documentary in the works, and it has certainly captured my attention. Executive produced by Katie Couric and directed by Stephanie Soechtig, the film  ”Fed Up” explores the American obesity epidemic, specifically focusing on sugar. However, the film differentiates itself from other books, movies, television specials that focus on sugar in one big way: In addition to railing on sugar as the cause of obesity, “Fed Up” focuses on the fact that skinny is not a sign of healthy.

It’s about time.

I’m so glad that we are finally having a conversation around the fact that someone can thin but still have as much internal body fat as a morbidly obese person. In recent years, emerging research has shown that just because a person is skinny it does not mean that they are healthy. People of average weight can suffer from type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions once thought to be associated with only obese individuals. Weight may not be the driver behind this, but body fat that comes from foods loaded with sugar most certainly is, according to “Fed Up”.

The film attacks sugar pretty seriously, even referring to it as the “new tobacco,” and blaming the food industry and the government as the biggest pushers of the substance. Fed Up focuses on the importance of not blaming children for the fact that they are obese, but rather the marketing that has pushed our country into a sugar induced epidemic.
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Conflict of Interest Colored Dietitians’ Annual Food and Nutrition Conference

Sponsorships are generally beneficial and non-controversial. They’re a way to keep doing business without having to worry about funds. But what happens when those sponsorships are in direct conflict with the mission of the sponsored?

AND sponsors

When this happens in the field of dietetics, advocacy groups like Dietitians for Professional Integrity (DFPI) are formed. Founded in February by a group of citizens and 14 dietitians, they were primarily a Facebook group discussing concerns like the connection between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and Big Food.

Last month AND held their annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. DFPI attended the event, commonly referred to as FNCE, and have now released a report entitled “The Food Ties that Bind,” summarizing and detailing the message Big Food shared with the attendees.

According to the report, the Expo hall was liberally peppered with information from AND’s various partners and sponsors, including but not limited to: Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Unilever, General Mills, PepsiCo and the National Dairy Council. Corporate sponsors of FNCE had the opportunity to include “educational materials” in the tote bag provided to each attendee.

One handout, “Aspartame: One of the Most Studied Ingredients in the World,” was provided by Coca-Cola’s Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness. It detailed how long aspartame has existed and stated that it is used in 100+ countries around the world. It failed to include information from a recent study that found artificial sweeteners can alter the food reward-system response in the brain. This after Coca-Cola got blasted for being the health and wellness sponsor at BlogHer by the social media community.
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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Relationships with Big Food Soil the Good Name of Registered Dietitians

A couple of bad reviews on Yelp can put a restaurant out of business. It’s called a reputation crisis. Registered dietitians (RDs) face a reputation crisis due to the actions of their parent organization, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). AND is being called out for having close ties to the food industry. For their nutrition conferences and events, AND accepts sponsorship from big food and beverage corporations. Sponsorship gives the appearance of conflict of interest, and in reputation management, perception is everything.

apple money

It started last October when lawyer/author Michele Simon released a report, “And Now a Word from Our Sponsors.” She called out AND for having close ties to Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Mars, and the like because those companies sponsor their continuing education activities. Soon, celebrity nutritionists like Marion Nestle and Dr. Mercola were writing about “How the Junk Food Industry Controls Registered Dietitians.” And then, this month, another incident made the New York Times, Food Politics Creates Rift in Panel on Labeling. More negative press. I fear AND has sullied my unblemished reputation.
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It Takes 32 Minutes of Pilates to Burn the Calories in a Can of Coke

Beverages are one of the major culprits in the battle of the bulge. Most are high in calories, low in nutrition, and do nothing but add to your waistline. However, many of us love our sweet drinks, especially soda and diet soda. And the leader in these fizzy beverages, Coca-Cola, just launched a new calculator to help those who love their sweet drinks learn how they can burn them off.

Coca-Cola Britain just introduced the “Work It Out Calculator.” Users can access the online calorie calculator to effectively burn off a favorite Coca-Cola drink. By simply choosing a drink, like a classic Coke for example, the user can see that a can has 139 calories. Then, the user can see all the various activities they could do to burn off those 139 calories, like 32 minutes of Pilates or yoga, 36 minutes of cycling, or 17 minutes of Zumba. The 137 calories in a can of Dr. Pepper would require spinning for 14 minutes, doing Zumba for 17 minutes, or yoga for 31 minutes.

The calculator does this for all Coca-Cola products as well as provides additional information about energy expenditure and calorie burning. The calculator looks to be an easy to use tool and perhaps an effective one, but how realistic it that for the typical soda drinker? Will people who drink full-sugar soda actually stop and track their intake and then proceed to burn off their drinks before the day is over? We’re not sure Coca-Cola and calorie burning have much in common.
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Soda Vending Machines To List Calorie Counts in 2013

As if the soda industry hasn’t gained enough negative attention from the New York City soda ban, another wave of criticism has caused a serious change that will roll out as early as next year. 

What will likely become a new national standard will begin taking place in 2013: Vending machines in Chicago and San Antonio municipal buildings will begin showing calorie counts on the front of all machines.

As reported by Associated Press, Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper are introducing new vending machines that will show the calorie count of each beverage before you select it. Mock-ups of the new machines by Coca-Cola show 20-ounce bottles of Coke and Sprite in vending machines with labels on the glass that state “240 calories.” We can only assume that this is another initiative – much like the soda ban – to try and make people more conscious of their diet choices.

This move comes as part of the Supreme Court decision this summer to uphold President Obama’s health care law, requiring vending machines and restaurant chains larger than 20 locations to clearly post their calorie information on the menu. McDonald’s complied last month when it began posting nutrition information on its menus nationwide.

Mike Jacobson, the executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told AP that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed an amendment that would require nutrition information to be posted on the side of vending machines via a poster. His organization advocates for food safety and nutrition and is pleased about these upcoming changes, believing they will help people make more conscious decisions regarding their health.

“This would be an important step forward. Currently, people don’t think about calories when they go up to a vending machine,” he said. “Having the calories right on the button will hep them make choices.” 
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