SP Premium

Nutrition News You Can Use

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Almost daily, I get e-mail alerts or updates related to nutrition information in the news. Sometimes it is information about new study findings and other times it is information about school lunches or new diet products.

From time to time, the information is terrific for a complete blog. Other times they are pieces of information that do not provide complete blog topics but are still important things for our readers to be aware of and informed about. To keep you "in the know," I will offer nutrition news updates every so often to help you stay informed about interesting topics. Here are a few things that have caught my eye recently.
  • According to USA Today, soon there will no longer be a need to turn to the back of your Coke bottle or can to know how many calories you are about to consume. Later this year, calories-per-serving and servings-per-container information will be printed on the front of the container for products purchased in the US and Canada. This packaging update is expected to extend to all beverages sold by the Coca-Cola Company by 2011.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released the 2009 State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables which outlines national and state-specific information related to fruit and vegetable consumption. Surprisingly, none of the states of the U.S. are meeting national consumption objectives for fruits and vegetables. The Healthy People 2010 objectives aim for "at least 75 percent of Americans to eat the recommended two or more daily servings of fruit, and for at least 50 percent of Americans to eat the recommended three or more servings of vegetables daily". The CDC survey results indicate that Americans are not even close to these objectives. If this is an area of your diet that you have trouble meeting your personal goals, be creative and find easy ways to eat 5 fruits and veggies each day. You can also use the USDA farmers market search to find one of over 4,800 farmers markets throughout the United States for locally grown produce.
  • As of October 1, 2009, the USDA has instituted changes to the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program. This change is the first since the 1970's and has been made to expand the supplemental food packages permitted with food vouchers. WIC recipients are provided vouchers that can be used to purchase infant formula and cereal as well as eggs, dairy, juice, peanut butter and dried beans. The new changes will increase monthly allotments so recipients can also purchase whole grains, produce, canned beans, canned fish, baby food and tortillas. This change has been desired for many years and now brings low-income pregnant woman and children under the age of five healthier food options for more optimal health.
  • While it may not be news to learn there is interest in reducing obesity especially in children, learning who has started a new foundation to promote it just might be. Some of the most unlikely organizations, many large food-manufacturing companies, have formed the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation. Yep, more than forty companies and non-profit organizations such as Nestle USA, ConAgra Foods, Kraft Foods Inc., Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc., Hershey Co., Sara Lee Corp. and other manufactures have launched the new foundation. The most interesting part of this new foundation surrounds their intent, "to help consumers lead healthier lives by making energy balance – calories in balanced with calories out – a daily habit" There doesn't seem to be a focus on reducing energy in but simply encouraging energy out through exercise and getting children to be more active. Participants may also make changes to packaging and labeling (like Coca-Cola listed above) to help consumers "manage their calorie intake", offering additional support and resources to their employees to help them manage their weight and public education and awareness campaigns targeted at children ages six to eleven and their families. With a stated mission "to try to help reduce obesity – especially childhood obesity – by 2015", perhaps this new foundation is more about marketing than it is about a solution.

Which of these news stories provide information most helpful to you? Where do you find helpful nutrition news?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


I like the fact that wic is making better changes for a pregnant mom and children. Healthier food to help them grow and to learn to eat healthy. Report
Food manufacturers should stop printing the ingredients so small you need a magnifying glass to read. Also, don't they know that red letters on blue background, or similar combinations is almost impossible to read? If I can't read the ingredients, I don't buy it - period. The only way to communicate with these huge food companies is with our wallets. Report
I have to be honest here and say that yes-I am a little lazy when it comes to looking at food labels. With a 2 year old in tow more often than not, sometimes shopping is a bit hectic and I don't have time to compare 2-3 food labels in order to make the best decision. It would be great to see more products with some of the calorie/nutrition information on the front of the packaging. I have already seen Lean Cuisine and also California Pizza Kitchen products with information on the front of their product boxes and I was very excited and pleased to see that! It makes shopping at a glance so much easier!! Report
While I do not want to see the government telling us what to eat or not eat, I do hope the public (especially those of us in Spark) will do everything in our power to make companies realize that we want, and will buy, healthier foods. I try to make a positive comment about healthy options I find on restaurant menus so that eventually the corpporate brains may get the idea that healthy does sell.

Thanks for the tidbit format, Tanya. It really helps to get info out in a timely way. Report
WIC is such a big help. I used it when I had younger kids. Believe it or not my mother helped to bring WIC to our county. KUDDOS to them for adding whole grains, and fruit! On the other hand our state sucked in the veggie and fruits rankings. Gotta help them bring them up. Report
Great digest of important health information. Good job! Report
Any time there is information the public should know, it is good to know there is a trusted place like SP to go to. So, whether it is big, small, good or bad just give to us like it is. It will help somebody somewhere. Report
WIC also offers breastfeeding support, breast pumps to moms who work/go to school and additional food to breastfeeding mothers! Breast milk is the FIRST health food we can give our babies! Report
Lots of good information. I am glad that some things are being done. I think it's very benneficisl for wic to offer healthier options. Although more could still be done, I am glad of anything to help focus us all toward getting healthier . Report
I think that it is sad that people are to lazy to turn around their soda can/bottle to read the calories per serving & per bottle. I think that all Coke is really doing is making unnecessary changes to the container, which in the long run will end up costing us consumers money. Report
Lots of good information. Thank you!! Report
I was interested to see that you can look up Farmers Markets on the USDA site, but I was disappointed that at least in Georgia, the markets listed were only the state markets and I know there are so many more out there. For those of you interested in another resource, I recommend www.localharvest.org . You can find CSA listings there as well. Report
You go Coca-Cola! Way to start the trend on heathy choices for Americans! I think that while there will still be less healthy choices available, when people know how much they are consuming, they tend to chose healthy once they are informed. More companies jumping on will be great! Report
I enjoyed reading the tidbits in the blog and am very happy to see that WIC is expanding its program to include more healthy options for low income mothers and children. WIC is such an important program and helped my sister tremendously throughout her pregnancies, I'm glad to hear that the program is expanding. Report
thanks for the info! Report
i think the more we resist eating sugar, the more we control our diet. Now that I am off sugar treats and chips the less I want it. I can have alittle and I don't crave it. Children want sugar and salt and crave it just like adults. We need to act like parents and in our children best interest limit the amount of sugar and salt in their diet. Report
Thanks for the great information. Spark pages are the only way I find to get such information. Report
I love your "tidbit" postings - I always find something new and interesting! I have little interest in major food manufacturers' shenanigans until they start producing real food, not processed junk, but it is heartening to see them sitting up and taking notice of the havoc their trash has caused on Americans. Too bad they are in it to make money and convince people to continue to buy their products - I'll believe they are sincere when they stop using conventionally raised raw ingredients and start providing fresh, wholesome food, not food products, to the consumer. Good to see WIC expanding to include more healthful products - being an extremist, I'd like to see all types of "food stamp" type aid limited to purchasing whole, close to the source ingredients and eliminating all processed foods. As for Coke products listing the calorie counts - someone else said it perfectly - if a Coke drinker wants a Coke, calorie counts won't stop him/her from drinking it, no matter how obvious they are. Coca Cola knows this, or they would not have made this decision. Report
Thank you! Report
I get most of my nutrition news right here on SP. Thank you for the information. Report
I like these tidbits Tanya. Thanks for sharing them with us.

Jake Report
Although I live in Europe, I have found this food information very interesting. I hope this kind of articles will keep appearing in Spark People.

Uhura Report
I actually liked all the articles. My fav was the repackaging containers to show the caloric intake. I also think that the new WIC program is a good one. Too bad my baby is 14 and I don't qualify for it anymore but it will help alot of other mothers. Report
SO pleased to see that WIC is incorporating some healthier choices available for children of low income. This is grassroots engagement of starting children out on the right footing. Until WE as a NATION address the epidemic of childhood obesity alongside of malnutrition, how shall we ever HOPE to change the course of sky-rocketing insurance costs? So many intertwining variables, yet this is a positive step forward. Thanks for the share! Report
I think there are some good intentions here. If everyone could just change one thing (ie eat more fruit, drink less pop, etc) it would make a difference. I work at Wal-Mart and have known about the WIC changes for awhile. I am glad they are adding more items to the list, it should have been done long ago. There are other healthy things out there besides milk, juice, and peanut butter! Report
These changes are good, but at the end of the day it is the consumer that needs to actually make the right choice. Report
It is nice to learn more. Report
Here are a few responses to the article posted about a study where subjects reduce their calorie intake by 25%.

The questions were: 1) the researchers didn't think most people could keep close track of their calorie intake--they should check out SparkPeople! *grin* - Having served as a research dietitian I understand the gist of what was being suggested. Keeping track of your calorie intake and accurately tracking are two different things. This study requires accurate tracking and since the participants were not over weight and likely not even monitoring their intake, learning to accurately track (in the process and manner the study required) is likely what was being referred to.

2) the researchers actually recommended one subject REDUCE his exercise so he could maintain a low calorie intake--what is that all about???' - They recommended decreasing exercise/activity because the study is designed to not be able to increase the calories to compensate. When you have to keep calories constant, the only variable is exercise/activity calories expended.

Hope that helps - Interesting study - thanks for sharing.
Could you review this article? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/m

It's about a study where subjects reduce their calorie intake by 25%. The two bits I was most interested in were 1) the researchers didn't think most people could keep close track of their calorie intake--they should check out SparkPeople! *grin* and 2) the researchers actually recommended one subject REDUCE his exercise so he could maintain a low calorie intake--what is that all about???'

Thanks! Report
I doubt most people will even notice the changes on Coke products. Not to be totally pessimistic, but I don't think it will make a difference; if a Coke drinker wants a Coke, they'll drink it no matter where the calorie info is located. Report
I find it interesting that major food companies are taking some responsibility in the obesity problem. It is nice to see that someone is stepping up to help and not just blaming someone else. Report
It's ironic that Coke is getting so much great publicity for putting the number of calories and servings on the front of the bottle. They fought tooth and nail to not put the full amount of calories on those 20 ounce bottles that we all know folks drink as 1 serving, not 2.5 or whatever they call it.

It might just make someone pause if they saw that large number in a resonably readable size on the front of the bottle. Report
I am so tired of the government trying to tell us what is or isn't good for us. Just about the time you really get into the new "super" food, they say something is wrong with eating lots of that and you should eat this other thing instead. First it was oat bran, then rice bran, then whole grains, then foods with antioxidants. I just eat whatever I please in sensible amounts. My grandparents and my husband's all lived to be over 100 years old. All they did with those new "super" foods was laugh at them. Grandpa still had his bacon or sausage and eggs every morning and they always used real butter and sugar. Now all I have from eating the "super" foods is gout. Big whoop. I truly believe most of the diseases we have out there today are because of all the chemicals in our food today. Try going back to natural and you'll feel a lot better. Report
I find both the blurbs on fresh produce consumption and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation oddly complimentary. One way to achieve the "energy balance" being promoted by the HWCF: eat less of packaged foods, and more fruits and vegetables. This is not rocket science people... :-\ Report
Interesting to see the companies who have joined the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation. Seems to me that to achieve a healthy weight, you would need to stop buying from Nestle, Kraft, Hershey, Pepsi, etc.

Small wonder they're worried. Report
I am glad to see that wic is doing more to help !! My neice is getting it and i know that baby food is very costly for a lot of people.. but i thing that it should go longer than just 5 but i guess if you feed your kids good for the fisrt 5 years that is good.. I have said for a long time that they need to put the cals on the front so people can see what there eating drinking .. Report
I find it very surprising that we can't meet the fruit/veggie servings. It's so easy to do and we have such access to them!

I get 10+ servings a day without even trying. The serving sizes are surprisingly small. I was getting a ton of servings a day before I even started counting.

We need to work on this people! Report
I'll be glad to see reports on the front of the labels showing nutritional information. Report
I love the concept! Report
Oh, I would definitely agree the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation is about marketing - parents are being inundated with reports about childhood obesity and may turn away from these companies unless they show a good faith effort to address parents' concerns. And since so much of our society is led by marketing illusions and "seeming", a lot of parents will fall for it and continue to purchase their products while trying to encourage their kids to go outside and play. But little will actually change unless the parents get up and go outside too, start changing their own eating habits and educate themselves about health and nutrition. Corporations who exist solely on selling food products are a biased resource for "healthy" lifestyles. Report
Until I joined SP, I never checked the nutritional guidelines. Now it is the first thing that I do. I have to admit I never drink pop and try not to eat out of a can. Placing the calories etc. on the front will be great. Thanks for sharing this information. Report
All of these are moves in the right direction. Enjoyed reading them. Thanks! Report
I wish the rest of the world would put nutrition information on all products but not all countries believe in doing so. Report
It is amazing to me that Americans are not meeting the guidelines for fruit/vegatable consumption. We have such easy access to nutritious foods and make such poor choices. Report
You mean no more squinting my eyes to read lables.. love it.. & the wic thing wonder why it took 40 years almost for the gov to get it.. but i'm glad they did. thanks for the info!! Report
I like these snippets of information. Thank you for sharing them. Report
It will be great to be able to see the nutritional value of a food product right on the front of the product! Report
The WIC program ones are the most encouraging!
So happy to hear that people in Washington are waking up to the emergency need for WIC families, especially pregnant women, to eat healthier foods - - and now there's financial assistance for families who need it. Yeah! Report
I think it will be great to pick up a coke container and read the calories instead of turning it around and searching. I think all products should do have the calories on the front of the container. I find myself always picking up an item and turning it around to look and decide if I want or need the amount of calories posted. Report
i love the idea of being able to pick up a bottle or food item and being able to see the information readily available Report
Walking Guide