November 01, 2007
Anti-freeze and cupcakes -- The Daily Show on Cupcakes
The Daily Show did a clip on the dangers of cupcakes last night:
October 23, 2007
University of Wisconsin to lead Farm-to-School efforts in Midwest
UW news release:
The Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been named as lead agency in a six-state area for a new national program to encourage schools to serve more locally grown food.
As regional lead agency for the National Farm-to-School Network, CIAS will be the hub for farm-to-school activities in the Great Lakes region, encompassing Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Indiana.
The national network is supported by a three-year, $2.4 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The national network allots funds to the regional agencies with the proviso that its contributions be matched dollar-for-dollar with funds from other sources.
October 20, 2007
CDC School health study results available
The School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS) 2006 is the largest, most comprehensive assessment of school health policies and programs in the United States ever conducted.
This new report describes key school health policies and practices across all eight school health program components: health education, physical education and activity, health services, mental health and social services, nutrition services, healthy and safe school environment, faculty and staff health promotion, and family and community involvement. In addition, SHPPS 2006 includes new topics—crisis preparedness and response, and the physical school environment—which reflect new issues and concerns in school health and public health.
According to the New York Times,
The survey, which is conducted every six years, shows that more schools than six years ago offer salads and vegetables and that fewer permit bake sales. More states and school districts insist that elementary schools schedule recess and that physical education teachers have at least undergraduate training. More states have enacted policies to prohibit smoking at school and to require courses on pregnancy prevention.
Perhaps most striking, 30 percent of school districts have banned junk food from school vending machines, up from 4 percent in 2000. Schools offering fried potatoes in their cafeterias declined, to 19 percent from 40 percent.
October 16, 2007
Anatomy of a school lunch -- Barriers to organic food
National School Lunch Week -- an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer outlines the challenges to school lunch programs trying to serve healthier, more local food:
Many barriers keep organic food out of school lunches by Jennifer Langston
. . .
The ingredients in this single school lunch of nachos served in September traveled more than 7,500 highway miles before reaching a cafeteria tray in Seattle.
The beef came from California ranches by way of a federal program that provides commodity items to schools at no cost. Tomatoes ripened in the San Joaquin Valley. Beans likely traveled from Minnesota or North Dakota.
Those items could have been bought from farms in our backyard, but weren't.
October 15, 2007
National School Lunch Week
The School Nutrition Association website has all sorts of activities and promotional materials (like the Vote for School Lunch banner shown here).
The USDA is in on it too. From the USDA news release:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2007 — Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner today marked the opening of National School Lunch Week, highlighting local school wellness and school nutrition through the President's HealthierUS School Challenge. On Wednesday, October 17, Secretary Conner will travel to celebrate with students at Neabsco Elementary School Woodbridge, Virginia.
"Our schools are taking on the HealthierUS School Challenge, and combined with local wellness policies, have raised students' awareness of healthy nutrition," Conner said. "Agriculture offers healthy food choices as an important start to the day, while USDA provides nutritious snack, school breakfast and school lunch opportunities for many of these children."
October 12, 2007
Food Fussiness may be inherited
This explains a lot. AP article by Maria Cheng
LONDON -- Having trouble persuading your child to eat broccoli or spinach? You may have only yourself to blame.
According to a study of twins, neophobia -- or the fear of new foods -- is mostly in the genes.
"Children could actually blame their mothers for this," said Jane Wardle, director of the Health Behavior Unit at University College London, one of the authors of the study in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Wardle and colleagues asked the parents of 5,390 pairs of identical and non-identical twins to complete a questionnaire on their children's' willingness to try new foods.
September 25, 2007
Junk food as human rights issue
A black market in junk food has evidently arisen in a Canadian high school after a provincial wellness policy banned junk food from the school.
Last week, Free Press reporter Nick Martin discovered a burgeoning black market in the halls of Kelvin. Some students, outraged because a tough new WSD policy forbids the sale of junk food, were dealing candy and pop out of their lockers.
The junk food policy, part of an overall provincial nutrition drive, was put into effect to combat obesity and lifestyle-related health issues. School vending machines have been stripped of chips, candy and soft drinks. They've been replaced with healthier choices like milk and juice.
Winnipeg Free Press: Kelvin students run 'black market' in sweet treats, by Nick Martin Winnipeg Free Press columnist Lindor Reynolds, Junk food as human rights issue? Come on!
Winnipeg Free Press: Kelvin students run 'black market' in sweet treats, by Nick Martin
Winnipeg Free Press columnist Lindor Reynolds, Junk food as human rights issue? Come on!
September 17, 2007
Ban on Food in Classrooms -- Un-American?
A new districtwide policy in Huntington, NY, prohibits food in school classrooms. Period. Parents had mixed reactions. Here is an excerpt from an article on Newsday.com, Parents divided over ban on food in classrooms, by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher:
Some parents said they should be allowed to bring healthy snacks, such as fruit platters, to celebrations. Others said the rule is unfair, pointing to a vending machine in the cafeteria that sells snacks including granola bars and popcorn.
"It's un-American," said Donna O'Beirne, a mother of two, standing with a group near a table offering standard PTA fare of cookies and pound cake. "You can't even bring in broccoli for a birthday."
On the other hand:
Allison Conner-Harewood said the policy will help reinforce healthy eating habits at home. She said it can be frustrating when her sixth-grade daughter comes home with a bag full of candy after a school holiday party.
"It helps me in my household so I don't look like the bad person," she said.
"De facto" standard against sugary beverages in schools
The other ABA (the American Beverage Association) says it will not oppose proposed new standards prohibiting sugared soft drink sales in schools. From WebMD:
Major soft drink manufacturers agreed last spring to a voluntary deal that takes sugared sodas and other drinks out of elementary and middle schools. But for years it has opposed efforts to make new standards part of national law.
The industry is no longer opposing a new national standard, said Susan Neely, president of the American Beverage Association, the trade group representing Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and other drink makers. The reason for the shift, she suggested, is that the nutritional requirements are unlikely to be much stricter than voluntary standards already endorsed by the industry.
“We are moving full-caloried soft drinks out of the nation’s schools,” Neely told reporters at a forum on the new proposals Friday. “It is basically a de facto national standard.”
September 04, 2007
Two Angry Moms -- Documentary on School Lunches
Today is back-to-school day in my household (except for the high school kid -- Freshmen only today), so it's also back to school lunches. A recent documentary focuses on the quality of school lunches:
AP article by Lisa Chamoff
WESTON, Conn. - In Amy Kalafa's ideal world, the processed pizzas and chicken nuggets normally found in school cafeterias would be replaced with meals made from scratch, and fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers or students.
While working on a documentary, Kalafa, a Weston resident and veteran independent filmmaker, learned it happens in some parts of the country.
But in most others, bags of chips, cookies and snack cakes sit tantalizingly in bins at the end of the lunch line, and most of the meals arrive frozen in the kitchens.
August 31, 2007
Kids prefer McDonald's
Kids prefer food that comes in a McDonald's wrapper, according to a recent study, even if it's the same as the food in a plain wrapper.
"Told they were playing a food-tasting game, the kids sat at a table with a screen across the middle. A researcher reached around either side of the screen to put out two identical food samples: slices of a hamburger, french fries, chicken nuggets, milk, or baby carrots.
The only difference between the pairs of food samples was that one came in a plain wrapper, cup, or bag, and the other came in a clean, unused McDonald's wrapper, cup, or bag. The kids were asked whether they liked one of the foods best, or whether they tasted the same.
In all cases, the majority of the kids said the "best" foods were those linked to the McDonald's brand, even though the only differences between the bags were the McDonald's logos (no special advertising materials were used). " -- CBS News/ WebMD
The preference for brand-name foods even applied to carrots. Read the CBS News article.
July 06, 2007
Kids resist healthy eating efforts
This one is kind of depressing. An Associated Press article by Martha Mendoza says that nutrition education efforts aren't working.
PANORAMA CITY, Calif. -- The federal government will spend more than $1 billion this year on nutrition education -- fresh carrot and celery snacks, videos of dancing fruit, hundreds of hours of lively lessons about how great you will feel if you eat well.
But an Associated Press review of scientific studies examining 57 such programs found mostly failure. Just four showed any real success in changing the way children eat -- or any promise as weapons against the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. . . .
The results have been disappointing :
Last year a major federal pilot program offering free fruits and vegetables to school children showed fifth-graders became less willing to eat them than they had been at the start. Apparently they didn't like the taste.
March 15, 2007
Oregon Considering Banning Junk Food from Schools
The Oregon legislature is considering a bill that would require school foods to be healthy, but the measure is controversial.
We're teenagers. We don't want healthy food," explained Kaleb Lewis, a junior at Portland's Cleveland High School.
The debate is triggered by House Bill 2650, which would cap the amount of fat, sugar and calories for food sold in schools. A House subcommittee took up the measure, the third attempt in three sessions to target junk food in schools.
According to a dietician interviewed for the Oregonian article, at least 10 states have already adopted such legislation.
This is where nutritional information passes through policy on the way to becoming law. Why cap the amount of fat? What if the information we have about fat is wrong? What if the information we have about fat is old and outdated? What if Atkins is right? What about almonds? Could a snack be more healthy than almonds? Here's what the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has to say about almonds:
Almonds have high levels of unsaturated fatty acids, which make up 93% of their total fat content. The most important if these is oleic acid. Frequent consumption of this helps to reduce levels of cholesterol in general and "bad" or LDL cholesterol, while building up "good" or HDL cholesterol. Being a foodstuff of vegetable origin, almonds do not contain cholesterol.
Due to their high vitamin E content, almonds provide an extra dose of antioxidants, playing an important part in the prevention of coronary illness and cancer. A 30g portion of almonds provides 50% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E. They also contain vitamin B6 in smaller amounts.
Almonds have the highest fibre content of any tree nut, which is important in facilitating and regulating colon transit, so avoiding constipation and preventing cardiovascular illness.
Almonds are an important source of minerals such as calcium, necessary for the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth, magnesium, potassium, copper, phosphorus and zinc.
January 14, 2007
Kids Affect Parents' Food Choices
Adult Fat Intake Associated with the Presence of Children in Households: Findings from NHANES III , an article published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, reports that adults living with children eat about the same calories as adults living without children, but more of the calories come from fat. Families with children, it seems, eat more junk food and pizza.
Baltimore Sun article on the report.
November 30, 2006
Cutting Salt in Kids' Diets Reduces Blood Pressure
A new study shows that reducing salt intake in children quickly lowers their blood pressure. If their blood pressure remains lower, those kids could experience lower rates of heart attacks and strokes as they age. But according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), makers of popular packaged and restaurant foods make it virtually impossible for children not to consume unhealthy levels of salt if they eat them.
British Plan to Shield Kids from Junk Food Ads Better than US Approach
While officials at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington are merely observing the debate over junk-food marketing aimed at kids, British regulators are actually doing something about it. The Office of Communications (Ofcom), the quasi-governmental agency that has statutory authority to regulate...