May 07, 2008

FDA Health and Diet Survey: Dietary Guidelines Supplement

The government's Health and Diet Survey: Dietary Guidelines Supplement -- Report of Findings (2004 & 2005) is available on the FDA website.  From the Foreward:

The choices we make every day of what to eat and how much physical activity to get play a vital role in how long we live, how much energy we have, and how healthy we are.  We live in a time of widespread availability of food options and choices. More so than ever, Americans need good advice to make informed decisions about their diets. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to encouraging and helping the public adopt long-lasting, healthy lifestyles. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines) provide the science-based information we need to make smart choices from every food group, get the most nutrition out of the calories we consume and find a balance between eating and physical activity.

The Health and Diet Survey: Dietary Guidelines Supplement tracks national change of Americans' attitudes, awareness, knowledge, and behavior regarding various elements of nutrition and physical activity.  The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) collaborated with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to leverage FDA's on-going household survey mechanism and include information based on the key recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines.   HHS initiated the baseline survey just prior to the launch of the Sixth Edition, Dietary Guidelines for Americans in January, 2005, and repeated the survey a year later.   

The survey findings indicate that although Americans believe healthy eating habits are important, sometimes knowledge and good intentions do not add up to making better choices and changing behavior.  Not surprising, there are differences in how Americans view their health and what is important to them related to their gender, age and education.  The survey also inquired where Americans turn for nutrition information, how reliable they consider Federal government nutrition information, how easy they think it is to access the information, and their familiarity with specific government nutrition offerings such as the Dietary Guidelines

The information from the Dietary Guidelines provides a blueprint for action.  However, putting knowledge into practice can be challenging and changing behavior is usually a long-term proposition.  Future fielding of this survey will help us monitor American eating habits and lifestyle choices over time, recognizing that adopting more healthy, active lifestyles will take a concerted effort - from the Federal government to health experts to the food and agriculture sectors to business leaders, state and local governments, scientists and researchers, and teachers and parents and individuals.

We hope you find this information helpful and encourage all of us to consider the role we can play to reinforce that developing healthy habits early in life is great, and it's also never too late to start.  Children need a healthy diet for normal growth and development, and Americans of all ages may reduce their risk of chronic disease by adopting a nutritious diet and engaging in regular physical activity.  At any age, at every stage of life, everyone can make healthier choices.

May 7, 2008 in nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 16, 2008

America’s diet -- need for Processed Food Reformulation?

According to a USDA study titled, “Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in the US Food Consumption; 1970-2005”, America’s fat consumption is up and Americans are failing to meet the Federal Dietary Guidelines. This study, coupled with a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics that shows the rise in obesity over the last 30 years, suggests that further reformulation of processed foods may be needed.

From an article in Food Navigator

The USDA’s report reveals a swell in added fats consumption of 63 percent and a 19 percent increase in added sugar and sweeteners between 1970 and 2005.  This study correlates to the findings by the National Center for Health Statistics that “two-thirds of US adults were either overweight or obese between 2003-2004, compared with 47 percent between 1976 and 1980.”

The USDA report also “shows the average intake of added sugars and sweeteners is over the recommended levels, and consumption of refined grains is too high while Americans fall short on whole grains.”

These findings demonstrate areas where food manufacturers should be looking to improve their products. 

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Heather McDougall for preparing this post.

April 16, 2008 in nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 26, 2008

Wales bans junk food vending in hospitals

On March 25, 2008,  the Welsh Assembly Government (Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru) banned the vending of junk food in NHS hospitals in Wales. Most junk food is expected to be removed from vending machines in the next six months. From a BBC news article:

Chips_3 “ Crisps, chocolate and sugary drinks are to be removed from vending machines in NHS hospitals in Wales.”

Health Minister Edwina Hart says Wales is the first part of the UK to commit to such a move to tackle obesity and diet-related disease.”

In a news announcement on the Welsh Assembly Government webpage, Health Minister Edwina Hart is quoted, saying:

Vending_2 “Diet has an important role to play in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.”

“We need to create an environment where it is easier for people to make healthy choices and our public sector settings should be an exemplar of best practice, particularly our hospitals.”

The March 26, 2008 BBC article can be found at:

A press release on the Welsh Assembly Government web page can be found at:

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Rebecca Steffen for preparing this post.

Photos:  Rebecca Steffen

March 26, 2008 in nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 11, 2008

Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, and Heart Disease --not connected

This is a video of a presentation to British Medical Association last November.  The presenter is a physician, Dr. Malcolm Kendrick.  He presents data about saturated fat, blood cholesterol, and heart disease and makes a very credible and compelling argument that eating saturated fat does not cause heart disease and that high blood cholesterol does not predict heart disease.There are 5 parts to Dr. Kendrick's presentation. If the embedded video doesn't work, here's the YouTube link: 

March 11, 2008 in Books, Dieting, nutrition policy, Obesity, Scientific studies | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 12, 2008

Recent Efforts to Ban Junk Food Sales in Schools

According to an early December New York Times Article, federal lawmakers were considering a national ban on selling junk food in school vending machines. The measure, which was an amendment to the farm bill, faced significant hurdles before this beneficial change could become a reality.

Federal lawmakers are considering the broadest effort ever to limit what children eat: a national ban on selling candy, sugary soda and salty, fatty food in school snack bars, vending machines and à la carte cafeteria lines. Whether the measure, an amendment to the farm bill, can survive the convoluted politics that have bogged down that legislation in the Senate is one issue. Whether it can survive the battle among factions in the fight to improve school food is another.

No such luck.  On Thursday, December 13, 2007, the Senate dropped the amendment. According to a December 15, 2007 Washington Post Article :

The Senate on Thursday night dropped an amendment to the farm bill that would have banned fatty foods and high-calorie beverages at school snack bars, stores and vending machines, dealing a blow to its chances of passage.

The National School Nutrition Standards Amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), would have been the first legislation to update the nutrition standards since 1979, a period in which scientific opinion on what foods are appropriate has drastically shifted. Link to the current bill: Bill Summary and Status

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Helen McDonough for preparing this post. 

February 12, 2008 in Children, Legislation, nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CSPI Report on Junk Food Marketing in Schools

Pop_canJunk food marketing is prevalent in our schools.  The marketing influences children's food choices, and in turn, their health. Should foods marketed in schools meet certain nutrition standards?

From the Center for Science in the Public Interest press release:

WASHINGTON: Junk-food and soda makers directly market to young children right in their schools, according to a new survey of public schools in Montgomery County, Maryland. Conducted at the request of Montgomery County Council Member George Leventhal, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found that the most prevalent forms of marketing in schools are signs on the exteriors of vending machines, food sales in vending machines, posters, and school fundraisers.

Eighty-three percent of schools have posters or signs with food or beverage marketing messages (such as posters for Rich’s ice cream or Little Debbie snack cakes), and less than half (42 percent) of those signs market healthier categories such as dairy.

more (press release)

Montgomery County survey (pdf)

Thanks to William Mitchell College of Law student Helen McDonough for preparing this post.

February 12, 2008 in Children, nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 29, 2007

Hannaford's Chain concludes nutrition sells

Beveled_header_man The Hannaford Brothers grocery store chain, based in Maine, has developed a nutritional rating system to help guide customers towards healthier foods.  The system that Hannaford developed, called Guiding Stars, rated the nutritional value of the grocery items in the store on a scale of zero to three stars, with three representing the most nutritious products.  A survey of Hannaford customers found that 81% were aware of the system and half of the customers used it fairly often.
NY Times article

November 29, 2007 in Labeling, marketing, nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2007

Wansink to head USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

USDA news release:


Washington, Nov. 19, 2007 -- Agriculture Under Secretary Nancy Johner for Food,Nutrition and Consumer Services today announced the appointment of Dr. BrianWansink as the Executive Director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion(CNPP). Dr. Wansink currently serves as the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab in the Department of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

“Dr. Wansink is nationally recognized in his field of nutrition research which focuses on how to encourage consumers to eat more nutritiously and better control how much they eat,” said Johner. “Dr. Wansink’s work has been featured in national print and broadcast media. We feel quite fortunate in having Dr. Wansink join our team here at the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and look forward to working with him.”

At CNPP Dr. Wansink will be responsible for overseeing the planning, development and review of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the food pyramid known as, and programs including the Healthy Eating Index, the USDA Food Plans, the Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply, and the cost of raising a child.


November 22, 2007 in nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2007

Texas fitness policy for grades 3-12

In attempt to combat the trends and gain some knowledge of how healthy, or unhealthy, Texas students really are, lawmakers during the last legislative session passed a bill requiring school districts to annually assess the fitness and activity levels of all students in grades three through 12, and report those findings to the Texas Education Agency.   This bill, which piggy backs on recent changes in the Texas school nutrition policy, is now taking effect throughout the Texas school system.


Food nutrition policy:,1248,2348_0_0_0,00.html
fitness bill:  (deals only with physical activity, not food)

(Thanks to William Mitchell College of Law student Teri Carlisano for preparing this post)

November 20, 2007 in Children, nutrition policy, Obesity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 06, 2007

Farm Policy a cause of obesity?

From the Danville Register Bee:

Fat? Blame Congress, at least partly
By SEAN MUSSENDEN, Media General News Service

. . .

It costs far less to get the calories from unhealthy foods with added oils or sweeteners than it does from nutritious foods like fresh vegetables. Energy-dense foods made with subsidized crops like soybean oil and high-fructose corn syrup have been linked to heart disease and diabetes.

"There's a huge cost disparity. It's not a coincidence that low-income people will gravitate towards cheaper, energy-dense foods that are nutritionally poor," said Adam Drewnowski, director of the nutritional sciences program at the University of Washington.

His studies have found that foods made from subsidized crops - like cookies and soda -- cost five times less per calorie than unsubsidized foods -- like carrots or orange juice.

Drewnowski finds it ironic that the Agriculture Department encourages people to eat vegetables like lettuce or carrots that are not subsidized, and therefore more expensive, while giving people an economic incentive through subsidies to buy foods it says they should eat sparingly.

"The farm bill is geared to production of calories, not nutrients," he said. "It's resulted in a diet that is energy rich but nutritionally poor."


November 6, 2007 in Farming, Food culture, Food security, nutrition policy, Obesity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Case for Real Food

From the New York Times Nov. 5, 2007: 

Is there more to a carrot than beta carotene? Is lycopene the best we get from tomatoes? And when we heap our plates with salmon, are we serving up something other than omega-3s?

For years the scientific community has viewed individual vitamins and nutrients as the best that food has to offer. Nutrition studies have isolated beta carotene, calcium, vitamin E and lycopene, among other nutrients, in order to study their health benefits in the body.

But now, after several vitamin studies have produced disappointing results, there’s a growing belief that food is more than just a sum of its nutrient parts. In a recent commentary for the journal Nutrition Reviews, University of Minnesota professor of epidemiology David R. Jacobs argues that nutrition researchers should focus on whole foods rather than only on single nutrients. “We argue for a need to return to food as the source of nutrition knowledge,'’ writes Dr. Jacobs with co-author Linda C. Tapsell, a nutrition researcher at the University of Wollongong in Australia.


November 6, 2007 in nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 26, 2007

Parke Wilde on Impact of Industry on Nutrition: An Academic Perspective at the Tufts Friedman School Symposium Monday

The Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy's 2007 Friedman School Symposium,  takes place next week (Oct. 29 - 31). U.S. Food Policy blogger Parke Wilde will speak on  the Impact of Industry on Nutrition. Here is the abstract:

Economists are known as cheerful boosters for market answers to society’s most important questions, such as deciding what food to produce. Yet, the market’s wonderful and paradoxical power to benefit consumers depends on the quality of the information consumers have about food choices. With good information, and only with good information, consumer demand disciplines market forces and guides them in the service of the public interest and the public health.

For nearly twenty years, a key goal of federal policy in the food sector has been to improve consumer information about the nutrition qualities of food, without otherwise intervening much to spoil the free operation of the food market. In recent years, some shortcomings of this hands-off approach have been perceived. This presentation will discuss three policy areas where the failure of market incentives is most apparent and the economic case for greater public policy intervention is strongest: information about links between food and chronic disease, information about food in restaurants, and food marketing to children.

October 26, 2007 in nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 25, 2007

new MyPyramid for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

From a USDA news release:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2007 -- Acting Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner today announced the launch of a new MyPyramid web site designed specifically for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. The new interactive guidance, found at, provides unique, individualized nutrition guidance to meet the needs of expectant and new moms.

"The Department of Agriculture and the George Washington University Medical Center are pleased to announce this valuable on-line tool to assist pregnant and nursing mothers with easy access to important nutrition information," said Conner. "During this time of life, proper nutrition for mom and baby are critical. This tool will also be helpful to obstetricians and other health care providers. I am confident this addition to MyPyramid will be put to good use, based on the more than 3.9 billion hits to MyPyramid web sites since our 2005 launch."


October 25, 2007 in nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2007—Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner today approved the State of California's request to operate a Disaster Food Stamp Program (DFSP) in San Diego County from October 21 to November 19, 2007.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have suffered losses as the result of the continuing wildfires in Southern California," said Conner. "We are closely coordinating with other federal departments to meet the immediate and long-term needs of those affected by the wildfires. In addition to the 2,500 USDA Forest Service firefighting personnel who are assisting, this food assistance to individuals and families in San Diego County will help to ensure their needs are met."

. . .

Disaster benefits are provided like regular program benefits – through a debit card that can be used at authorized food retailers to buy food. These systems are commonly referred to as Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) systems.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service can authorize the issuance of emergency food stamp benefits when the President declares a major disaster. FNS works closely with States to prepare plans for the Disaster Food Stamp Program.

Administered by the Food and Nutrition Service, the Food Stamp Program is the cornerstone of USDA's 15 nutrition assistance programs that form the nation's nutrition safety net. The Program provides a vital supplement to the food budgets of 26 million low-income men, women and children each month. For more information on the Food Stamp Program and USDA, visit or call 1-800/221-5689.

read the USDA news release

October 25, 2007 in Food security, nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 24, 2007


USDA News Release:

Washington, Oct. 24, 2007—Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner today announced $2.5 million in grant and cooperative agreement awards in ten states and the District of Columbia for research on food and nutrition assistance.

"USDA administers 15 domestic food and nutrition assistance programs that work to provide a nutritional safety net for children and low-income adults" said Conner. "Sound research helps these programs continue to operate effectively and efficiently."

The goal of the research is to examine, evaluate, and enhance USDA's food and nutrition assistance programs. The grants and cooperative agreements will fund projects in California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Utah.

October 24, 2007 in nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 23, 2007

University of Wisconsin to lead Farm-to-School efforts in Midwest

UW news release:

UW center will lead efforts to expand farm-to-school programs in Midwest

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 23, 2007 in Children, Farming, Food culture, nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 20, 2007

CDC School health study results available

Apple2 From CDC:

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 20, 2007 in Children, nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FDA to hold public hearing on salt and sodium

From an FDA/CFSAN news release:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing a public hearing concerning FDA's policies regarding salt (sodium chloride) and sodium in food. FDA also is announcing the availability for comment of a citizen petition, submitted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), requesting that FDA make changes to the regulatory status of salt, require limits on salt in processed foods, and require health messages related to salt and sodium. The purpose of the hearing is for FDA to share its current framework of policies regarding salt and sodium and to solicit information and comments from interested persons on this current framework and on potential future approaches, including approaches described in the citizen petition.

The public meeting takes place November 29, 2007.  For more information and to register online go to the FDA website announcement.

To read the Center for Science in the Public Interest position on salt and to read the petition to the FDA, go to the CSPI website.   

October 20, 2007 in Ingredients, Labeling, nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 19, 2007

Farm Bill Markup October 24

The California Coalition for Food and Farming website includes a table of Farm Bill Priorities and proposed funding amounts.  After a number of delays, the Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to take action on their version of the Farm Bill next week.   The full Senate could vote as early as October 29. 

October 19, 2007 in Farming, nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 17, 2007

WTO and US anti vegetable policy -- U.S. Food Policy Blog

Parke Wilde has an interesting post on his US Food Policy Blog:

WTO rules against U.S. policies that discourage fruit and vegetable production on land that gets crop subsidies

From a nutrition perspective, the most blatantly counter-productive U.S. farm subsidy policy may be the prohibition against growing fruits and vegetables on land that is eligible for direct subsidy payments.

This is a bit complicated, so bear with me.
(Click here to go bear with him.)

October 17, 2007 in nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack