Picture




by Renata Smith, MPH


Exposure to media and advertising has been linked to consumption of low-nutrient foods in children. The bulk of food advertising is for high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, such as sugary cereals, fast foods, candy, and soda. Traditional methods of advertising include television commercials, popular character licensing, and athlete endorsements. As technology advances, “new media” advertising on social media, mobile devices, and the Internet has also evolved. If you use Facebook, you may have noticed “sponsored posts” that now show up in your newsfeed (as a runner, I see targeted ads from race organizers, gear companies, etc., for example).

 
 
Picture





by Wei Perng, PhD


I have always loved dessert. As a researcher in the field of nutrition and obesity prevention, I am embarrassed to say that I love it more than “real food.” My mother believes that my unrelenting sweet tooth stems from her own preference for anything sweet when she was pregnant with me – pastries, donuts, ice cream, pudding, chocolate – you name it. I always thought this was an old wives’ tale until I stumbled upon some interesting literature while working on a book chapter on the effect of maternal diet on the long-term health of the child. Might we develop preferences for food even before we are born?

 
 
Picture





by Jason Block, MD, MPH


This post will also be posted on the Eperspective blog from the Institute of Food Technologists.

The long-awaited final regulations for calorie labeling were released on December 1, 2014. These regulations come 4+ years after the law requiring them passed, as part of the Affordable Care Act. The regulatory verdict from the US Food and Drug Administration is clear: Calories will be everywhere. Nearly all chain food establishments that sell “restaurant-type food” and have 20 or more sites nationally will have to post calories on their menus. Despite early signals that some food establishments might be exempt, the final regulations state that fast-food restaurants, full-service restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores, movie theaters, bakeries, convenience stores, vending machine operators, and yes, bowling alleys must comply. Schools are pretty much the only entities that aren’t included. The regulations give establishments until December 2015 to post calories; vending machine operators have until December 2016.


 
 
Picture





by Karen Switkowski, MPH, MS


I often hear people express frustration with nutritional guidelines and recommendations. It can be difficult to find a reliable source of information given the influence of politics, the media, and the food and beverage industry on nutrition research. Even when studies are conducted according to high scientific standards and reported appropriately in the media, they often contradict one another or are difficult to interpret. One example is the much-hyped resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, dark chocolate, and berries. When initial studies showed that resveratrol might have beneficial effects for reducing risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and associated morbidities, the media was quick to disseminate the message that everyone should be indulging regularly in wine and chocolate bars. However, recent studies in humans have shown that resveratrol (in dietary or supplement form) has no effect on CVD risk and may actually be harmful in certain contexts such as physical activity and pregnancy. Conflicting nutrition research findings like these are very common. Why can’t we get a straight answer about nutrition?

 
 
Picture




by Avik Chatterjee, MD


Low-fat, low-carb, Paleo, Zone, Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers—the list of named diets is long, and also lucrative. In 2013, Americans spent over $60 billion dollars on weight loss. But with such a dizzying array of options, how should consumers know how to choose the best among them? Unfortunately, the popular press, in search of a splashy headline, can mislead.

 
 
Picture




by Emily Oken, MD, MPH


This headline came up on my home page last week, linked to an Us Magazine story about a celebrity who had gained 40 pounds during her pregnancy, “and she’s not ashamed.” You might wonder, is she really ‘just like us?’ and more importantly, why should we care about pregnancy weight gain?

 
 
Picture




by Jason Block, MD, MPH


I see patients with obesity both in my primary care clinic and in a weight management clinic. I have long wondered how to best communicate with them regarding their weight problem. Typically, I start by explaining to them that they fall into the “obese” weight category. I further describe this as a clinical term that is only helpful in describing their risk for health problems. But, should I change my words? Should I tell them they have a “weight problem” or an “unhealthy weight”? Burgeoning research on weight stigma suggests that my current practice may be missing the mark.

 
 
Picture





by Kristina Lewis, MD, MPH, SM


Imagine biting into your favorite dessert. Think about the sugary, gooey goodness as it hits your taste buds……Feeling hungry yet? More importantly – are you feeling happy?  According to a growing body of research on the neuroscience of taste preferences, you probably should be.