by Arleigh Aldrich
More and more studies are surfacing with the argument that it’s not just how much we eat that is fueling obesity, but what we’re eating. For years, scientists and nutritionists have adhered to the “calories in, calories out” model, in which one loses weight by burning more calories than they intake. Now researchers are asking if pollutants that make their way into our food affect that model.
The culprits on trial are called “obesogens,” a new term coined to describe organic pollutants such as pesticides for crops and slimicides for water purification. Here’s the question: If I consume a diet with ingredients exposed to obesogens containing X amount of calories, will it cause me to gain more weight than if my diet didn’t contain those pollutants?
Bruce Blumberg, professor of developmental and cell biology and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of California, says yes. Blumberg coined the term obesogens and claims they have an effect on how the body responds to calories and stores fat. In his study, one group of rats was fed a diet which contained the pollutants tributyltin and triphenyltin, and the other fed a diet with the same amount of calories, sans the pollutants. He found the rats who were fed the pollutants were found to have larger and higher quantities of fat cells.
March marks the start of nutrition labels for raw meat and poultry. The new USDA rule states that nutrition information must be made available for most ground meat and ground poultry and for popular cuts of the two.
Previously, the USDA only required nutrition labels on meat that had added ingredients like stuffing or a marinade sauce. Now, all ground meat and poultry must carry a label. Along with ground meat 40 popular cuts will also be required to post a label either on the product or on a nearby chart. Some of those cuts include beef porterhouse steaks, chicken breasts, and pork chops.
The labels will provide the calorie and fat content of the meat. If the product shows a percentage of lean meat, it must also include the percentage of fat.
The labels do not have to include amount of trans fat though. This is not a requirement as the USDA estimated that nearly 80 percent of all nutrition labels list trans fat voluntarily.
There is an exception to the new labeling rule. Small meat grinding businesses are exempt. As long as the business provides lean and fat content information and makes no other nutrition claims on the package, they do not have to provide the other content in a label.
Starbucks has closed a $30 million dollar deal with Evolution Fresh to launch a chain of juice bars this year. Starbucks Corp purchased the California-based juice maker with plans to move into the health and wellness market by offering fresh, healthy juices and snacks completely seperate from the coffee shops we are used to on every street corner.
Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz hopes that buying Evolution Fresh, sold in a few health retailers including Whole Foods, will lend credibility to the bars for their health-conscious consumers. Evolution Fresh, which was started by the founder of Naked Juice, uses a heat-free, high-pressure pasteurization process they claim retains more nutrients compared with using conventional heat pasteurization.
Starbucks has been quiet about how many bars they plan to open and the name of the chain, but do say they hope to open the first around the middle of this year. It is also unknown is they will keep their famous mermaid logo, which recently dropped the word “coffee” from its design.
A new gym in Springfield, Ohio may be on the cutting edge of what women are needing. A gym of their own.
Premier Fitness opened on December 26, 2011 in a former gym’s location. The gym re-branded, went under new ownership, all previous members kept their membership and most things stayed the same. However one major change has been making news. The club contains a new women-only section.
“We really target ladies who wouldn’t go to a fitness environment due to the stigma of what it means to be fit,” said new owner, Wade Gates. “Over the years a lot has been done to make the environment friendly to women who would be intimidated.”
The women’s room is a fitness center within a fitness center. The room has equipment designed for smaller frames and different types of weights, but “The main thing is it’s just an area (women) can go where they aren’t sweating next to guys,” Gates said.
Some may think Wade’s comments are unfounded or demeaning to women, but a lot of women really do care about working out next to men. “It’s really nice to be separate from the men’s, it’s not so embarrassing,” said Christina Butts, who has been a member for a month.
California has been the trend setting state for decades. Hollywood, California alone is responsible for most of the trends set around the world. Aside from the glitz and glam influences, California may be the top health trendsetter, too.
California was first to do many things. They were first to require smog checks, pass anti-tobacco laws, even to require bike helmets. They were pioneers in 1998 when they banned smoking in workplaces, bars and restaurants. The state passes many laws on a yearly basis, and many are positive for public health.
“There have been progressive legislation in tobacco, environment and obesity prevention,” said Mark Horton, a lecturer at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health. “In some respect, the rest of the country looks to California as a laboratory for moving forward with those various types of initiatives.”
While some are excited about the 151,002 health and safety laws the state currently has, others feel the government is barging into their lives. “It never ends,” said Laer Pearce, who works in public affairs in Orange County. “Every year, several hundred bills come through and dozens of them tell us how to live our lives.”
Stacey Irvine takes fast food addiction to a whole new level. The British teenager has lived on a diet of practically nothing but chicken nuggets since the age of two.
“McDonald’s chicken nuggets are my favorite,” she said. “I share 20 with my boyfriend with chips. But I also like KFC and supermarket brands. My main meal is always chicken nuggets every day,” she said.
Irvine, who has claimed to have never eaten a fruit or vegetable, was diagnosed by doctors to have anemia, an iron deficiency, and swollen veins in her tongue. The 17-year old was rushed to the hospital after she collapsed and began struggling to breathe. Irvine received nutrient injections and was put on a course of vitamins before being released home.
Even after doctors urged her to change her diet, she says she will continue to eat her favorite food. “I first tasted chicken nuggets when my mum took me to McDonald’s when I was two. I loved them so much they were all I would eat. I just couldn’t face even trying other foods. Mom gave up giving me anything else years ago,” she added.
Every parent knows that come Saturday morning, their kids will be asking for the hottest new toy, the fun new cereal, and to go to the drive thru for the kid’s meal that comes with the must-have collectible action figure. And parents know this because Saturday morning cartoons are littered with company advertisements aimed at their target audience, their captive audience: children.
Research points in many directions when it comes to the effectiveness of these ad strategies, especially when it comes to the sway the fast food and junk food companies have over our purchases. Many don’t believe that unhealthy food should be promoted to children. Others don’t think it has any effect.
Recently a Canadian study was revisited to see what kind of effect advertising has on our purchases.
There was a complete ban on junk food advertising in the Canadian province of Quebec from 1984 to 1992. Evidence found that the ban reduced fast food expenses by 13 percent per week. That equaled up to 11 million to 22 million fewer fast food meals eaten per year. All that further added up to 2.2 billion to 4.4 billion fewer calories consumed by children. Those are significant numbers. Those from the University of Illinois who researched this study believe that if the U.S. as a whole banned such advertising, the results would be similar.
What do a gym and the Holocaust have in common? According to at the Circuit Factory, a gym in Dubai, they are both a great place to burn calories.
Whoa, wait a second! That’s incredibly insensitive and not funny. However, that did not stop the company’s marketing team from posting pictures of Auschwitz, a famous Nazi death camp in Poland, with the words “Kiss your calories goodbye” on their Facebook page. Around 3,000,000 people died at Auschwitz during World War II.
Obviously, many people were offended and upset when these images appeared on Facebook on Tuesday morning. One user said he was “shocked [at] the level of ignorance.” The company quickly took the images down and then made a statement on Twitter: “Apologies for the insane poster campaign that was put up this morning… The creative guy has been told where to go.”
It seems that the Circuit Factory really does regret the campaign. It appears that they have fired the creative guy who posted the pictures and have released the following statement from Phil Parkinson, who runs the company.
“I am mortified and extremely sorry and it was wrong,” Parkinson said. “I should not have put that campaign up. I am very sorry about that.”
High fructose corn syrup, found in sodas, cereals and baked goods, has become a food bad guy for its link to obesity and diabetes but it might not only be food the sticky stuff is lurking in. Some common cough and cold syrups use high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as their sweeteners, the most popular offenders including Vicks, Delsym and Robitussin brands.
Cough and cold syrup makers could use other sweeteners like sucrose but HFCS is inexpensive to manufacture. High fructose corn syrup is a chemically made sugar that primarily contains fructose (fifty-five percent,) glucose (fourty-five percent) and water. The good news is that the companies clearly list HFCS as an inactive ingredient on their labeling, which means it will have no effect on suppressing a cough, for example.
“One teaspoonful of pure HFCS has 3.8 grams of carbohydrates and is about 15 calories,” Mary Hartley, RD, our registered dietician, states, “but 1 teaspoonful of cough syrup is not one-hundred percent HFCS.” The amount HFCS that is in cough syrups compared to the rest of the ingredients is not something that is clearly labeled on their packaging. When I tried to contact a representative from Vick’s about how much of the sweetener was in their product, the rep told me the information was proprietary and legally they may not be allowed to release the information.
Recently, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta launched an aggressive ad campaign targeted squarely at Georgia’s staggering childhood obesity epidemic. The ad campaign uses stark imagery and emotional messaging to reach the parents of the growing group of obese children. While critics blast the ads, the reoccurring sentiment is that while these ads use a more dramatic approach, these are the issues that need to be dealt with.
The ads show young, sad, overweight children with a warning label below them featuring messages like “My fat may be funny to you, but it’s killing me.” The public’s response has been mixed, but one thing is clear: desperate times call for desperate measures. “They are in your face,” said Gayla Prestage Grubbs, mother of an overweight 15-year old struggling with weight related issues. “But I know, for me, I was not offended by it. I was more like — oh, my gosh, that’s right.”
On twitter, the response was much the same. Taking the ad’s message one step further, @BarkingUnicorn tweeted: Another question that parents don’t want to answer: “Mom, why am I fat?”