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How your body reacts to any food is more important than what the studies say

Numerous dietitians are surprised that so many large food manufacturers show up at conventions to advertise their products instead of conferences for dietitians being about continuing education with the latest research, according to the article, "Registered dietitians register dissent over ‘Big Food’ presence at their event." The big picture is how your body reacts to any food product or sweetener is more important than what the scientific evidence says about that product if your physical exam shows that the food isn't the healthiest for your particular genes and metabolism.

How your body reacts to any food is more important than what the studies say: Annual "Read Your Labels" Day.
Anne Hart, photography. Red fruit blend.

A noteworthy news release is "Research Presented at Cardiology Conference Fails to Show Causal Relationship Between Diet Beverages and Cardiovascular Events." Last year, not only did its annual Food and Nutrition conference feature a CRA booth, but several “continuing education credit” sessions for registered dietitians conducted by the CRA. You also may wish to check out the site, "Take part in 'Read Your Labels Day', and tell the food industry that you’re ‘fed up’ and not going to eat it any more."

Huge food manufacturing corporations don't want to lose their income. So they'll find some way to prove to readers, usually professionals in health and related areas, that their product does not harm. The issue is the evidence found by science about any product isn't about how that product works in your individual body, with your genetic predisposition, be it an adverse reaction, no change, or helping you become healthier in the long term.

You may wish to check out the April 9, 2013 article, "Registered dietitians register dissent over ‘Big Food’ presence at their event ." Citizens for Health, one of the country's oldest consumer advocacy groups, is once again encouraging American families to get the "411" on what's in packaged foods and beverages by naming 4/11/2014 as the second annual "Read Your Labels Day," according to a news release, "April 11, 2014 Named Second Annual 'Read Your Labels Day."

Ingredients labels on food and beverage packages are one of the most valuable tools consumers have, and are required by the Food & Drug Administration to provide vital information. Reading them can help families safeguard their health and make smart, informed choices about their nutrition. See the December 03, 2013 article, "High Fructose Corn Syrup is Deemed "The New Trans Fat." You also may wish to take a look at the October 23, 2013, article, "Mechanically Separated Chicken" is the Fowl Equivalent of "Pink Slime."

"We should all read food and beverage ingredients labels to find out what we're really eating," said James S. Turner who chairs Citizens for Health, according to the news release. "We suggest shoppers avoid ingredients that they are unable to pronounce or define because usually these are not really food at all, but substances with questionable chemical ingredients, like artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and preservatives."

Based in Washington, D.C. the non-profit organization powers the Food website to keep consumers aware of the latest food and beverage safety issues and concerns, including information about controversial ingredients that can be found in hundreds of processed and packaged foods, as well as where to look for them and why families should avoid products that contain them.

The Food Identity Theft website has published the "Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid," a list of today's most worrisome sweeteners, preservatives, and industrially synthesized additives, such as high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, potassium bromate and monosodium glutamate

Consumers are asked to take photos of supermarket products they find that contain these ingredients and share them on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadYourLabels. "It's no secret that the better informed we are, the better the choices we make. That should include what we feed ourselves and our kids," added Turner, according to the news release. "Choosing to read ingredients labels is one of the smartest decisions families can make."

About Citizens for Health
Funded by concerned consumers, non-profit partners, food growers, and businesses, Citizens for Health is a non-profit organization that provides over 130,000 supporters with consumer news, action alerts, and ways to demand access to healthy food, non-toxic products, and truthful, non-misleading health information. More information is available at the website. Or view all news by Citizens for Health.

Fast food giants' ads for children's meals

Fast food giants attempts at depicting healthier kids' meals frequently goes unnoticed by children ages 3 to 7 years old according to a new study by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center. In research published on March 31, 2014 in JAMA Pediatrics, Dartmouth researchers found that one-half to one-third of children did not identify milk when shown McDonald's and Burger King children's advertising images depicting that product. Sliced apples in Burger King's ads were identified as apples by only 10 percent of young viewers; instead most reported they were french fries.

You may wish to check out the March 31, 2014 news release, "Fast food giants' ads for healthier kids meals don't send the right message." The subtitle is "Apple Slices Perceived as French Fries and Milk Not Identified by Large Percentage of Children." In the study, other children admitted being confused by the depiction, as with one child who pointed to the product and said, "And I see some…are those apples slices?"

According to the news release, the researcher replied, "I can't tell you…you just have to say what you think they are."

"I think they're french fries," the child responded, according to the news release.

"Burger King's depiction of apple slices as ‘Fresh Apple Fries' was misleading to children in the target age range," said principal investigator James Sargent, MD, co-director Cancer Control Research Program at Norris Cotton Cancer Center. "The advertisement would be deceptive by industry standards, yet their self-regulation bodies took no action to address the misleading depiction."

In 2010 McDonald's and Burger King began to advertise apples and milk in kids meals.

Sargent and his colleagues studied fast food television ads aimed at children from July 2010 through June 2011. In this study researchers extracted "freeze frames" of Kids Meals shown in TV ads that appeared on Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and other children's cable networks. Of the four healthy food depictions studied, only McDonald's presentation of apple slices was recognized as an apple product by a large majority of the target audience, regardless of age. Researchers found that the other three presentations represented poor communication.

This study follows an earlier investigation conducted by Sargent and his colleagues, which found that McDonald's and Burger King children's advertising emphasized giveaways like toys or box office movie tie-ins to develop children's brand awareness for fast food chains, despite self-imposed guidelines that discourage the practice.

Regulatory roles in food labeling versus self-regulation and marketing

Whereas the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission play important regulatory roles in food labeling and marketing, the Better Business Bureau operates a self-regulatory system for children's advertising. Two different programs offer guidelines to keep children's advertising focused on the food, not toys, and, more specifically, on foods with nutritional value.

"The fast food industry spends somewhere between $100 to 200 million dollars a year on advertising to children, ads that aim to develop brand awareness and preferences in children who can't even read or write, much less think critically about what is being presented." said Sargent in the news release. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Healthy Eating Research program funded this study.

About Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Norris Cotton Cancer Center combines advanced cancer research at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth with patient-centered cancer care provided at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock regional locations in Manchester, Nashua, and Keene, NH, and St. Johnsbury, VT, and at 12 partner hospitals throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. It is one of 41 centers nationwide to earn the National Cancer Institute's "Comprehensive Cancer Center" designation. Learn more about Norris Cotton Cancer Center research, programs, and clinical trials online at

There's a new textbook on sweeteners and health: Analyses on caloric sweetener consumption to dispel myths about sweeteners: But your body's reaction to any type of sweetener is the best evidence of how that particular sweetener is affecting your system regardless of what the studies say about any given sweetener

A new textbook, Fructose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sucrose and Health, published this month by Springer Press, under their Humana Press imprint, provides one of the most comprehensive scientific analyses on the closely-watched issue of caloric sweetener consumption, according to the March 31, 014 news release, "New Textbook on the Consumption of Sugar/Fructose Offers a Unique Nutrition Resource for Health Professionals."

It represents the most up-to-date review of relevant scientific data that seeks to provide facts and dispel myths for audiences that often receive conflicting information about sugar/fructose consumption. Chapters in the book discuss the effects of both nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners on appetite and food consumption, as well as the physiologic and neurologic responses to sweetness.

Evidence on sweeteners

Chapter authors are world class, practice and research oriented nutrition authorities. They provide practical, data-driven resources based upon the totality of the evidence to help the reader understand the basics of fructose, high fructose corn syrup and sucrose biochemistry. The textbook also examines the short-term and long-term consequences of consuming these sweeteners in the diets of young children through to adolescence and adulthood.

"The issue of sugar and fructose consumption is one of the more prominent health issues currently being debated and there is quite a bit of misinformation and hyperbole in this issue," said the textbook's editor, James M. Rippe, MD, according to the March 31, 2014 news release, New Textbook on the Consumption of Sugar/Fructose Offers a Unique Nutrition Resource for Health Professionals. "We were fortunate to get some of the best minds in the field of nutritional science to provide unvarnished, scientific facts about this issue in hopes of providing greater public understanding and a strong foundation for future scientific research in this field." James M. Rippe, MD is the Founder and Director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida.

Some chapter highlights include the following information:

  • "Added Sugars and Health" by John L. Sievenpiper, MD, PhD., McMaster University : "Concerns raised by fructose's unique biochemistry and the ecological and animal studies linking added fructose to various diseases have not been supported by higher level evidence. Evidence from prospective cohort studies and controlled feeding trials when taken together has not shown convincing evidence of harm of added fructose-containing sugars over and above that of other carbohydrate sources of energy in the diet."
  • "Are Sugars Addictive?" by Rebecca L. Corwin, Ph.D., RD, Pennsylvania State University and John E. Hayes, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University: "We and others have argued against the idea that food addiction is widespread and functions as a driving force behind the current obesity epidemic. Even the idea that a small segment of the population, such as those with Bulimia Nervosa or a subpopulation of those with Binge Eating Disorder, is addicted to food is questionable and should be approached with caution."
  • "Sweeteners and the Brain" by Athylia Paremski and Miguel Alonso-Alonso, MD, MPhil, Harvard Medical School: "Cognition can influence food intake at multiple stages. High-level cognitive inputs, such as the sight of a word, can modulate the activity of brain regions that are involved in processing sensory characteristics of a particular food, such as taste and smell, and the resulting reward value. There is also data suggesting that cognitive suppression of hunger and craving elicited by cues of palatable food engages the activity of a distributed brain network comprising lateral and dorsomedial parts of the prefrontal cortex. Additionally, it is well-known that branding can have a profound impact in the way a food product is perceived, specifically in the case of a sweetened beverage."
  • "Non-Nutritive Sweeteners" by John D. Fernstrom, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine: "The influence of non-nutritive sweeteners on incretion secretion and action is still an unfinished area of investigation, but human studies in which NNS are covertly added to the diet for as long as 18 months, uniformly show that chronic NNS ingestion does not stimulate food intake or cause weight gain."
  • "Sweeteners and Diabetes" by Adrian I. Cozma, HBSC, University of Toronto; Vanessa Ha, M.S.; Viranda H. Jayalath, M.S. (candidate); Russell J. de Souza RD, Sc.D., McMaster University; and John L. Sievenpiper MD, PhD., McMaster University: "Much of the evidence cited in support for a role of sugars in the increasing prevalence of obesity is derived from weak animal and ecological studies that establish associations, but not cause and effect relationships… the current evidence fails to show a clear link with, or between, sucrose and fructose and the increasing incidence of diabetes.

If you wish to learn more about Fructose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sucrose and Health, please visit Dr. Rippe is a cardiologist and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School.

His research laboratory has conducted numerous studies and is published widely in the areas of nutrition and weight management. He is an advisor to the food and beverage industry. Dr. Rippe's research laboratory has received unrestricted grant funding to conduct research trials and Dr. Rippe has received consulting fees from a variety of companies, organizations, publishers or trade associations that utilize, market or publish information about fructose, high fructose corn syrup or sucrose and hence, have an ongoing interest in the metabolism and health effects of these sugars. He is the Founder and Director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute, and is a Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida.

The question for you, will be how does any particular sweetener impact your own body? What's next regarding food, food-related products, and health?

What's next for health when it comes to food? You may check out the March 31, 2014 news release, "What next for Health in Food? Consumer Lifestyles, Nutrition, Food Labelling and Product Choice."

Product Synopsis

Disease-related, demographic, and desire-led drivers are making health of growing importance to food marketers. However, barriers such as cost, habits, and confusion over how to eat healthily are limiting consumer's ability to act on these drivers. After exploring these drivers and barriers, this report focuses on the health solutions available to consumers, the best practice case studies and the actions food marketers need to take to make the most of the increased focus on health.

Introduction and Landscape

Why was the report written?
Finding ways to overcome the barriers consumers face to eating healthy will provide key growth opportunities worldwide as disease-related, demographic and desire-led drivers are making health of growing importance to food marketers.

What is the current market landscape and what is changing?
There is growing demand for food that offers remedial solutions to diseases such as heart disease and risk factors such as obesity, food that provides preventative action against age-related diseases as the population ages, and food that enables lifestyle choices for personal, societal, and environmental wellbeing.

What are the key drivers behind recent market changes?
Rising numbers of diet-related non-communicable diseases, an aging population and growing per capita consumption of impulse and convenience foods means health will be of growing importance to food markets over the next few years. However established eating habits, the desire for pleasure, time restraints, cost, and confusion over how to eat healthily means opportunities exist for food marketers who are able to provide healthy food that overcome these barriers.

What makes this report unique and essential to read?
This report provides the reader with a comprehensive review of what is driving the growing importance of health in food markets and the barriers that prevent consumers from following through on an often stated intention to eat more healthily. By looking at both the best and worst case studies, and evaluating the future outlook of food marketers, key opportunities for growth emerge for companies able to provide healthy products that meet the leading needs of value for money, convenience, and indulgence and relaxation.

Key Features and Benefits

The rising importance of health in food markets is analyzed as the result of three drivers: disease related factors, demographic factors and desire led factors.

The report details the barriers to health that must be addressed in order to reduce dietary risk to consumer health.

Solutions to consumers' health needs are presented in order to explore how the health trend is manifested in consumers' product choice.

Best and worst practice case studies highlight how marketers can better target consumer's health needs.

The future outlook for the health trend is analyzed, leading to clear recommended actions for making the most of emerging opportunities around health.

Key Market Issues

Food has a clear role to play globally, and in particular for specific age groups, in addressing the key role diet and exercise play in preventing the further rise of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and stroke, and managing on-going health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

An aging population will create demand in new product categories. Meanwhile the explosion in the number of people with food allergies, and particularly children, correlates with an increase in population. Finally population growth and per capita consumption growth creates a need to increase yields from agricultural land, but this may come at the expense of producing healthier food or building a better environment.

Consumers' desire for affordable, quick and easy food is leading them to eat more and to eat less healthily. Marketers need to develop healthy products that better meet people's primary consumption motivators, be they looking for better value for money, for convenience or to indulge.

Barriers to health must be addressed in order to reduce dietary risk to consumer health

The most significant barriers to the health trend can be broken down into three categories: personal choice factors such as pleasure and habit, lifestyle factors such as cost and time, and institutional factors such as confusion as to what constitutes a healthy diet and the availability of healthy food or portion sizes.

Dietary guidelines are issued for the general public and as such do not take into account specific ailments, diseases, intolerances, and preferences and it is perhaps for this reason that people do not follow them. For some time now, the idea of personalized nutrition has been discussed as the key to allowing consumers to successfully address their health needs. In particular, nutrigenomics, which combines the study of nutrition and genes, has the potential to provide truly personalized approaches to nutrition. However, this has not yet become a reality for the mass population.

Key Highlights

In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 36 million of the 57 million deaths globally, close to 60%, were the result of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Nutrition and exercise play a key role in preventing or managing many of the leading NCDs. The food industry must therefore engage with other parties, such as health and education services, in order to help address the effects of NCDs, and individual marketers should evaluate the market opportunities the rising prevalence of NCDs is creating.

Per capita consumption of packaged food is increasing rapidly in the 10 key countries studied; for instance by 2017, the per capita consumption of packaged food in both Italy and the UK will exceed 300kg per year. This means that it is imperative to enable healthier consumption habits in order to prevent any further increases, and eventually drive a decline, in levels of non-communicable diseases and incidences of associated risks.

A number of launches tapping into the health and wellness trend have reformulated or created new products that speak more overtly to a missed audience within a strong performing category

Recent examples of overcoming barriers to uptake when a product inherently appeals to one gender include Dr Pepper Ten and Powerful Yogurt for Men. Numerous diet fads and plans over the last decade, combined with more research on what causes weight gain, has led to the popularity of a high protein diet that benefits those seeking to gain muscle as well as consumers who are looking to lose weight. Protein has greater satiety effects and is more energy giving than carbohydrates, and as such, consumers are seeking to incorporate protein into more meal occasions.

Companies Mentioned: Amy's, Arla Lactofree, A2 Milk, Beyond Meat, Danone Essensis, Dean Foods, Dr Pepper, and Freedom Mallows. Read the full report

You also may wish to check out, "What next for Health in Food? Consumer Lifestyles, Nutrition, Food Labelling and Product Choice." You also may be interested in another news release on prescription products for macular health. See, "Macular Health, LLC Introduces Two New Products To Fight Blindness." Or if you're interested in the business end of nutrition, you may wish to see the news release, "Nutrition Business Journal Unveils the 2014 Raw Material & Ingredient Supply Report."

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