by Stephanie Linakis and Sheryl Rifas-Shiman
Be sure to read the last two musings of our team members on ObesityWeek 2014!
One of the most memorable presentations I saw at ObesityWeek 2014 was by Dr. Lorien E. Urban from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University. Dr. Urban and her colleagues analyzed meals from 33 independent and small chain restaurants. These types of restaurants account for approximately 50% of the nation’s restaurant locations but will be exempt from the new federal rules requiring calorie menu labeling. Dr. Urban’s presentation illustrated how independent and small-chain restaurants may be an overlooked group. The most popular food choices at these businesses, Moussaka at a Greek restaurant, for example, provide twice as much energy as required for weight maintenance (often far more than the most caloric meals at traditional fast food restaurants). As a Greek American with a love for traditional Greek cuisine, and an ethnic food junky in general, I left Dr. Urban’s presentation pondering the potential – direct and indirect - of calorie menu labeling for patrons at all restaurant types, and not only the oft-accused McDonald’s and KFCs of the world.
Donna Spruijt-Metz gave a great talk called “Back to the Future: Next Generation Sensors for Health”. Her talk was about using electronic tools for weight control, including smartphones, Fitbits, and other media. She talked about a fascinating patch (“Bio Ribbon”) that sticks to your waist and can measure activity, steps, sleep, body composition, blood pressure, heart rate, stress, emotions, biofeedback and the list goes on! This futuristic patch is not quite ready for prime time, and I couldn’t find it on Google. But I’m excited to see how it will be used by researchers and the public for data collection and to manage weight and other health outcomes.