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Food Insight Blog

Shedding light on the science behind nutrition and food safety.

By: David Schmidt, International Food Information Council Foundation President and CEO Date: 1/29/10

This week, the President, in his State of the Union, noted that First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010 “is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make our kids healthier."

We at the International Food Information Council Foundation also are committed to helping families and children lead healthful and active lives. One of the ways that we have been addressing this matter is through our childhood obesity prevention initiative,, a healthful eating and active living Web site for children and their families, as well as for health professionals and educators. 

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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD   Date: 1/28/10

We talk a lot about mindful eating on this blog because it’s a concept that resonates with a lot of the health professionals and nutrition communicators here at the IFIC office. However, we recognize that mindful eating can be a hard thing to get your head around if you are not working in the food, nutrition, and health world 24/7 or have strong interest in these matters.

How Mindful Eating Works
Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab has done research showing that the average person makes over 200 decisions about food everyday. That might sound like a big number, but when you breakdown all of the small decisions that are centered on eating one meal, you can begin to see how all these food decisions add up. These decisions can include things like this:

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By: Jennifer Schleman   Date: 1/26/10 

Last fall shortly after reading our Putting the BRAT on a Diet post, I came down with the dreaded flu. Not the H1N1 variety, but the good, old-fashioned, upper respiratory influenza.

It got me thinking – what could I have done to prepare myself for cold and flu season? And now that I had the flu, what could I do to help me quickly get back on my feet? I asked several of my colleagues, and here are a few tips.

To help prepare for possible illnesses:

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 By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD   Date 1/25/10

The IFIC 2009 Functional Foods/Foods for Health Consumer Trending Survey found that people’s top health concerns are (in order of importance) heart health, weight management, cancer, diabetes, nutrition/diet, and exercise. Interestingly, people don’t always prioritize their New Year’s resolutions the same way. In fact, most people—including my colleagues here at the International Food Information Council Foundation—mention losing weight, improving diet, and exercising more as their top resolutions for the New Year. 

Are you one of the people who made a resolution to improve your health? Whether your goal is to manage your weight, improve heart or digestive health, or improve your energy levels so that you can exercise more, the benefits of adding fiber to your diet should not be overlooked. One key that can help you find success with your New Year’s resolution is to break down your ultimate goal into smaller, more achievable, baby steps. Adding more fiber to your diet can be one of these steps.  Why should you add fiber? Here are just a few good reasons:

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By: Kerry Robinson, RD   Date: 1/22/10

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is often mentioned in media articles pertaining to food safety and nutrition, especially if there is a regulatory implication. Have you ever wondered: What exactly does the FDA do? If so, you are in luck!  

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By: Jennifer Schleman   Date: 1/20/10

After hearing so much about today’s Kaiser Family Foundation study on kids and their “screen time” habits, I think this bright paper from 2006 is still extremely relevant.

So, what's the big deal?

Children who don't get enough physical activity are at increased risk for becoming overweight or obese. Spending hours watching TV and surfing the Internet crowds out time for physical activity.

Experts recommend that children total at least 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week but, ideally, every day. They can accumulate this total throughout the day in chunks of 10-minutes or more. Activities may include sports, active play such as biking or jumping rope and household chores such as vacuuming and sweeping.

Try these tips to set some limits on screen time and get your kids moving:

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By: Kerry Robinson, RD   Date: 1/19/10

At some point, most of us have wanted to lose (or in some cases, maintain) our weight. In fact, if you are like many Americans, it may have been one of your New Year’s resolutions.  With a bombardment of strategies and quick fixes to help shed those pounds, you may find that you end up confused as to the plan that’s best for you, whether it be tracking your calories through a food journal, increasing your level of activity, or even vowing to skip your favorite desserts. 

Personally, one of my goals has been to maintain my weight, which requires an army of strategies.  But, I’ll focus on one of my major challenges: Conquering my sweet tooth.  Over the years, I’ve learned that if I vow to skip the sweets, I’ll want them even more, which can lead me down the path of failure.  So, I’ve employed a few strategies to keep me in check while still enjoying sweets:

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By: Tony Flood   Date: 1/15/10

With the buzz growing about the FDA missing multiple self imposed deadlines on an update about the safety of BPA, the agency responded today to fill us in on its progress.  First and foremost FDA commissioner Peggy Hamburg reiterated that BPA is safe for the general public and people shouldn’t be afraid to use bottles or cans made with it. 

However the agency did adjust its stance a bit to agree with a 2008 National Toxicology Program review saying that there is “some concern” about infants and young children consuming BPA.  In order to determine if it truly has any impact on the health of infants and young children, the FDA will spend $30 million to do its own research over the next couple of years.

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By: Ann Bouchoux   Date: 1/14/10

New York City’s call for the food industry to reduce sodium by 25 percent in the next five years has dominated the headlines in the food world this week.  Such recommendations are nice, but the great news is that people can take matters into their own hands if they are interested in reducing their sodium intake.

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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD and Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD   Date: 1/12/09

As the saying goes, everything that’s old is new again. We are use to seeing this in the world of fashion, where classic silhouettes worn by the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Twiggy, and Jackie Onassis are re-imagined with modern touches and grace the pages of today’s glossy fashion magazines. Surprisingly, the world of nutrition isn’t all that different.

Decades have passed since the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (a.k.a. NLEA) was passed, requiring most foods and beverages sold for purchase in the United States to bear a nutrition label. This sweeping action by Congress took what had been a patchwork of nutrition labeling policies in a number of states and turned them into the standardized Nutrition Fact panel (NFP) that we see on foods and beverages in grocery stores today. Recent action from the Food and Drug Administration has signaled a unique opportunity to modify and update the NFP and make it a more effective tool for today’s consumer.

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By: Jania Matthews   Date 1/11/10

The Biggest Loser is a television program that needs no introduction.  The show draws millions of viewers each week and I am one of them.  I’ve been an admirer of the show for several seasons and the show is nothing less than inspirational.  The transformations that take place from day 1 until the end of the season are phenomenal.  While there’s no doubt that the physical changes contestants undergo is amazing, the time and dedication they give to achieving their goal isn’t realistic for the average person.

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By: Katie Burns Date: 1/8/10

Well, here we are: one full week into the New Year, a new decade, the “teens.” This time last week many people, IFIC staff included, made their New Year’s resolutions. I’ve heard everything from lose weight, to get fit, to get organized, even to go sky diving!  Whether your resolution is to improve your body, mind or spirit, or simply step outside your comfort zone, a resolution doesn’t mean much unless you stick to it.

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*Editors Note: Here at the International Food Information Council Foundation, we're always on the lookout for strong, science based materials on food and health.  Below is one example put together by experts we work with at the National Cancer Institute.

By: Anu Kaur, MS, RD, National Cancer Institute Nutritional Science Research Fellow   Date: 1/6/09

Tired of not knowing where to turn for diet and cancer prevention news? Want to meet the scientists who are paving the path to health knowledge? Wait no longer. The Nutritional Science Research Group, Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Cancer Institute has launched a quarterly electronic newsletter, Nutrition Frontiers. The newsletter highlights emerging evidence linking diet to reduced cancer risk.

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Note: This was previously posted as a guest blog post on Healthy Blog Snack by former Foundation staffer Sarah Alligood

By: Sarah Alligood, MPH, RD   Date 1/5/09

Here at the International Food Information Council Foundation, one of the most common trends we see in nutrition is that consumers are confused about the sugars in their diets. All the time, we see people bombarded with messages about what they should or shouldn’t eat, and the science behind those messages is often lost.

With that in mind, we recently teamed up with the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) to hold a Web cast, “From Science to Communication: Understanding Fructose, HFCS, and Sugars.” The Web cast was designed to be for dietitians—by dietitians, to help clarify the confusion surrounding sugars that contain fructose.

It’s a very scientific discussion for dietitians, but there are some important take-aways that can help put the issue of fructose-containing sugars into perspective for anyone.

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By: Food Insight Blog Contributors Date: 12/31/09

As the sun sets on 2009 and we look forward to a new year and new decade, we wanted to share some new years resolutions from the many contributors to the Food Insight blog. Enjoy!

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By: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD Date: 12/30/09

Many New Year’s resolutions come down to two things…eating healthy and getting fit. Teaching group fitness makes me a role model when it comes to staying active and fit…and being a registered dietitian makes me a role model when it comes to eating right.  Sometimes I don’t like being a role model because as many of us know…”the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”  Why is that? 

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By: Michelle Ronholm   Date: 12/28/09

People have a lot on their minds when it comes to food and health. We want our food to make us healthy, we want it to taste good and we want it to be safe. There are a variety of factors that impact all of these wants. Looking toward 2010, there are three big areas that could have a big impact on the world of food:

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By: Kerry Robinson, RD   Date: 12/23/09

At the International Food Information Council Foundation, we host numerous interns with diverse backgrounds in nutrition, food safety, and communications throughout the year.  These interns come to our organization with a desire to learn about the ways in which we carry out our mission to communicate science-based information on health, food safety and nutrition for the public good.
I had the opportunity to talk with Lauren Morgan, one of our recent dietetic interns from the University of Maryland, College Park Dietetic Internship, about staying on track with diet and exercise during the holidays. During our conversation, she shared with me that she faces a unique food-related challenge during the holidays: attending several food-centered events with multiple food allergies.

I asked her if she’d be interested in sharing her perspective on navigating the holidays with food allergies for the Food Insight Blog, and she graciously agreed. Here’s what she had to say:

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By: Kerry Robinson, RD   Date: 12/22/09

Do you ever get that fuzzy-headed, can’t-remember-where-I-put-my-keys feeling?  Or maybe you slip into “tortoise mode” by mid-afternoon – that is, until you’ve had your daily cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage – then you feel revived and you’re thinking clearly again.

If you are a regular coffee drinker, then you are probably grateful for the energy boost you get from the caffeine. What you may not know is that the scientific evidence supporting potential health benefits from consuming moderate amounts of caffeine is growing.

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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD   Date: 12/18/09 

This week I attended the Federal Trade Commission’s public forum “Sizing Up Food Marketing and Childhood Obesity.” A diverse group of experts presented and discussed the effects of marketing to children, from legal analyses of the first amendment, to recent research examining the effects of marketing to kids, and evaluation of self-regulatory initiatives that have been instituted by food and entertainment companies. However, no persons’ words struck me more than the speech given by Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.

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