While public health advocates have sung the praises of tap water for years, Coca-Cola has been focusing on its own covert assault on the affordable, healthful, and refreshing beverage. Unbeknownst to many in the nutrition and public health world, the soft drink giant launched a “Cap the Tap” program–aimed at restaurants–in 2010, described in the following manner on the Coke Solutions Web site: Read more
For years, the public health nutrition field has warned Americans about the risks associated with a high-sodium diet. This past April, the New York City Department of Health launched a sodium reduction campaign encouraging the purchase of lower-sodium packaged foods. More recently, The American Journal of Hypertension published a series of point-counterpoint articles debating the weight of the evidence supporting recommendations to reduce sodium. I worry that when the crux of the conversation focuses exclusively on sodium reduction, it overlooks a crucial part of the puzzle: The ratio of sodium to potassium in our diets. Read more
Bolivian indigenous farmer Carmelo Flores made global headlines this week as “the oldest person to have ever lived.” Though that claim has yet to be verified, part of Mr. Flores’ story is that he attributes his longevity to a traditional Andean diet of quinoa, riverside mushrooms, and coca leaves. Not surprisingly, this has led to hyperbolic headlines, such as Australia’s Daily Telegraph‘s “Quinoa, Mushrooms, and Coca Kept Me Alive for 123 Years.” Read more
This past February, I created Dietitians for Professional Integrity, a group co-founded with 15 other registered dietitians that advocates for ethical and socially responsible sponsorships within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This came on the heels of the release of public health lawyer Michele Simon’s thorough report “And Now A Word From Our Sponsors,” which took an in-depth look at the Academy’s Big Food ties, making national headlines. Read more
Last week, in what is yet another example of Big Food’s symbiotic relationship with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), McDonald’s Director of Nutrition, Registered Dietitian Cindy Goody, spoke to her fellow colleagues at the Utah Dietetic Association meeting about the chain’s new “healthy initiatives.” McDonald’s is such a good friend of AND that it is also a “gold sponsor” at next month’s California Dietetic Association meeting. Read more
You’ve heard of pink slime. You know trans fats are cardiovascular atrocities. You’re well aware that store-bought orange juice is essentially a scam. But no matter how great of a processed-food sleuth you are, chances are you’ve never set food inside a processing plant to see how many of these products are actually made.
Writer Melanie Warner, whose new expose-on-the-world-of-processed-foods book, Pandora’s Lunchbox, is out this week, spent the past year and a half doing exactly that. In her quest to explore the murky and convoluted world of soybean oil, milk protein concentrates (a key ingredient in processed cheese), and petroleum-based artificial dyes, she spoke to food scientists, uncovered disturbing regulatory loopholes in food law, and learned just how little we know about many of the food products on supermarket shelves.
After reading Pandora’s Lunchbox, I sent Melanie some burning questions via e-mail. Read more
For many years, a number Registered Dietitians have felt frustrated with – and misrepresented by – the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (AND) partnerships with Big Food mammoths like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Hershey’s. Despite expressing this disappointment to their professional organization, these concerns did not appear to be taken seriously, nor have there appeared to be any attempts from AND to reevaluate who it obtained funding from. While some dietitians within the organization are tackling this issue, RDs still felt a need for a vocal coalition to publicly speak out on this issue. Dietitians for Professional Integrity was formed with the hopes of becoming one more part of the solution towards more appropriate corporate partnerships from the country’s leading nutrition organization. Read more
It didn’t take long for the year’s first controversial health study to go viral. A new systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that carrying extra weight decreases the risk of death (those in the “overweight” category were six percent less likely to die than individuals at a “normal weight”). This is a stark contrast to the usual weight-related headlines, which identify excess weight as the root cause of various chronic diseases. Cue confusion and heated debates.
Flavored milk has come under scrutiny as more people, including school food activist and chef Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution, have implicated it in the childhood obesity debate. (UPDATE: In fact, thanks to Oliver’s work, flavored milk is no longer a choice as of July 1 in LA schools.) Yet many in the mainstream health and nutrition media maintain that it is a weight loss and muscle building “super food.” Read more