Low-Fat vs. Low-Carb: The Winner is Neither

Welcome to round 3,752 of the Diet Wars. This week’s opponents have been battling it out for decades, each with hordes of devoted fans. In one corner: carbohydrates. In the other: fat. Both have taken their share of punches throughout the years, and they are back for more following the release of a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

A much-cited New York Times article on the study titled “A Call For a Low-Carb Diet” reads: “People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades.” Read more

Processed Feud: How the Food Industry Shapes Nutrition

What exactly does “processed food” mean? According to a new position paper from the American Society For Nutrition (ASN) processing means “the alteration of foods from the state in which they are harvested or raised to better preserve them and feed consumers.” By this definition, processed foods encompass everything from washed raw spinach and frozen strawberries to Betty Crocker’s Cheesy Scalloped boxed potatoes (a box of the latter is made up of reconstituted ingredients held together with partially hydrogenated oils, artificial dyes, and the sodium equivalent of 60 potato chips per serving). Read more

Nutrition Label 2.0: Bigger, Bolder, Better

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama–known for her role in the Let’s Move! Campaign–announced the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed changes to The Nutrition Facts label. These are the first changes to the familiar black-and-white informational text box since its inception in 1993. And they couldn’t have arrived any sooner. Read more

The Year in Food: McD’s, Big Food Tweets, Best New Reads, & GMO Seeds

It’s almost the end of December, which means it’s time to look back at the year’s highlights and lowlights. In 2011, I opted for a straightforward chronological review of that year’s major food and nutrition issues. Last year, I took a more didactic approach, pointing out the lessons imparted by the year’s biggest food stories. This time around, I pay homage to high school yearbooks and take a look back at the year in food and nutrition via superlatives. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… the class of 2013. Read more

Coca-Cola’s Assault on Tap Water

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

Take Sodium Reduction Advice with a Grain of Salt

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

Live Longer, Cut Out the Crap

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

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Big Food Controversy

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