Bonnie Modugno, MS, RD
Sound Bite Nutrition: How perception drives food choices
Sound bite nutrition tells us fat makes us fat, and blueberries help fight cardiovascular disease. These helpful hints tell us to avoid red meat and pretend juice is nutritionally superior to soda. Nutrition sound bites make the challenge of feeding our kids and our selves seem deceptively simple.
Sound bites tell us plenty about individual foods, and too often fail to explore the more complex nature of a healthy diet. In the cacophony of nutrition sound bites, people get lost in the conflicting and confusing advice.
A 2006 Pew Research study found that 14% of people claimed that they don’t know what is healthy anymore. This is a problem when these same adults are charged with determining what to feed their children.
In San Francisco, a toy ban for kid’s meals that don’t meet specific nutrition parameters was passed last fall. Parents argued it is not the county supervisor’s role to determine what is healthy for their child.
In Chicago, parents are subjected to mandatory school lunch for their children. Lunches from home are banned except for medical reasons. The rest of the nation argues if the public school policy has gone too far.
Dr. Oz, of You on a Diet fame, faced off with Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat on his show March 7, 2011. Dr. Oz attempted a dramatic upstaging with signs proclaiming that Gary Taubes promotes eliminating all carbohydrates. Trailers introduced Gary as “The Man Who Thinks Everything Dr. Oz Says Is Wrong”. Great television, lousy science.
I spent a few hours surveying the aftermath of Gary Taubes’ guest appearance. Mr. Taubes’ fans and detractors duke it out on his blog in a condensed version of a controversy that has festered over the last fifty years.
March is National Nutrition Month. Recently both the USDA and Weston Price Foundation published dueling dietary guidelines.
People are confused about food. Too many studies, too many experts, and all sorts of contrary ideas are floated as evidence of the right way to eat. Makes me wonder if there is a single “right” way to eat that works for everyone.
The Weston Price Foundation (WPF) threw down the gauntlet on February 14, 2011, introducing “Healthy 4 Life” in direct competition with the recently released USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Why are food recommendations so controversial?
Researchers and scientists are saying it out loud. Weight is not a good marker of obesity or health. When we will stop using weight as a surrogate for our health status?
I attended theAmerican Society for Nutrition conference two weeks ago in San Francisco. After the last presentation of the conference I stood at the microphone available to the attendees and asked just this question. One of the presenters started clapping his hands. I heard applause behind me.
I typically offer insight and advice to situation that impacts the public at large. With this blog, I zoom the spotlight in to focus on the world of continuing education for health care professionals.
It is not easy to sit still in conferences from 8 AM until 5PM with two +/-10 minute breaks and less than an hour for lunch. Every 35 minutes another topic, a rash of power point slides, a few pressing questions and on to the next topic, the next speaker.
Thankfully the American Society of Nutrition planned the event over three days, with the first and last day a blessedly truncated four hour stint.
Marion Nestle recently tweeted her followers, alerting us to a you tube video titled “So You Want To Lose Weight“, mocking a nutrition counseling session. Gable Kermit, the creator and a registered dietitian, claimed he was creating an amalgam of his patients. Did he realize he was also creating an amalgam of dietitians?
The patient depicted the most demanding, opinionated, resistant, clueless, and defended patient I can imagine. Every request was met with defiance, every suggestion was met with opposition. I hope this is a parody.
Child Obesity Starts in the Womb
In January, 2011, Endocrinetoday.com reported a change in the definition of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in attempt to stem the increase of diabetes and obesity in future generations. While more pregnant women will be diagnosed with GDM, these women should have access to more nutrition support.
Americans eat too much refined sugar and starch. Excessive refined carbohydrate consumption has led to a tripling of child obesity. Today 17% of American children are considered obese, with rates climbing all over the world. This global phenomenon starts in the womb.
Evan Kleiman elegantly interviewed Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser at the Vision and Voices presentation at USC last week. The conversation was mostly a celebration of the current food movements that emphasize eating “close to the earth.” Mr. Pollan’s mantra: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” prevailed throughout the evening.
I celebrate so much of this message. The Omnivore’s Dilemma was a seminal read for me. I went on to read a half dozen related books and continue to step up my game. As a dietitian it was confronting to realize how little attention I paid to how food is raised.
The 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines were released this week. In an attempt to establish nutrition guidelines for the masses of overweight, unhealthy Americans these guidelines attempt to curb our appetites and nudge Americans towards more healthful diets. In ninety five pages of committee speak, the messaging begins to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Wah, Wah, Wah.
Declaration after declaration drones on about how we should be eating. Decrease sugar, eat more fiber, decrease saturated fat, consume less sodium, use only reduced fat dairy, eat more fruit and vegetables, stop drinking sodas. I don’t like the tone or most of the message.