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Food Insight Blog

Shedding light on the science behind nutrition and food safety.

By: Eric Mittenthal   Date: 4/29/10

Back in my days working as a journalist, most of my experiences covering food involved figuring out which stories would have a free spread involved.  I’d enjoy the food that came along with the story (of course not letting the freebie impact my balanced approach) never thinking much about what I was eating. How quickly times have changed. These days it seems that reporters are craving food stories and my experience last weekend at the Health Journalism conference only solidified that idea.

The conference brings together some of the top health reporters from around the country including outlets such as the Associated Press, Reuters, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and many more. 

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By: Ann Bouchoux   Date: 4/27/10

Did you know that research has shown no direct link between moderate consumption of sugars and serious disease or obesity?  Did you know studies have shown that there’s no discernable difference between the way HFCS and table sugar are metabolized in the body?

These days there are a lot of misconceptions about sugars and while just about anyone with even a mild interest in nutrition issues has an opinion on it and those opinions are often shared loudly and with conviction, they’re not always matched with facts.  New nutrition studies are being published almost every week, impacting how the subject is communicated to consumers, how public policy is determined, and how dietary guidance is formulated. 

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By: Lindsey Loving   Date: 4/22/10

Today is “Earth Day” – a day dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of our planet, and all that it provides for us. Many people recognize this day by planting a tree, using mass transportation to get to work instead of driving, or switching to energy-efficient light bulbs in their homes.

But what evokes Earth Day for me is in the very word “Earth”, which is literally the soil we walk upon, and which fertilizes the seeds that grow the food that feeds the world.

Did you know that the world’s population is projected to grow from 6 to 9.1 billion people by the year 2050? And that the Earth’s food production must double to meet the growth in demand from all these additional people?

Where is the land to grow all this food going to come from?

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By: Lindsey Loving   Date: 4/21/10

With an increasing focus in recent years on nutrition and health has come a greater interest in where our food comes from and how it is produced. And, along with this increased interest have come concerns and misperceptions about the safety and health of our food supply and the food production process, which have been perpetuated in the media and in popular books and movies. 

But, what do food safety, nutrition, and agricultural production experts have to say about food production? You may be surprised to learn that some of the negative information out there about food production is not supported by scientific research or data, and that, according to the experts, food is safer and more accessible now than ever before. In fact, food production has played a major role in improvements in the safety and availability of our food supply.

Here are some common questions we’ve heard regarding different aspects of the farm to table process, including food safety, modern food production, food sourcing, and the business of farming - all of which have an impact on nutrition, health, and the environment – and access to the answers from respected academic experts across the U.S.:

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Note: This blog post originally ran on 12/2/09.  With today's release of the IOM Report on strategies to reduce sodium intake, we felt that it's important to highlight what consumers think about sodium in their diet. 

Sodium, a component of salt, is essential for life and good health. Yet many people are consuming more than the recommended daily intake for sodium. You may start to hear more about this as increasing concerns about our sodium intake levels have prompted public health efforts to reduce how much sodium we consume. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) conducted consumer research to learn what people know about sodium and how that impacts their diets.

Here’s a snapshot of what we found:

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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD   Date: 4/19/10

For more than a year and a half my colleagues and I at the International Food Information Council have hunkered down for two day intervals to listen to the deliberations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee. The most recent deliberations were held last Tuesday and Wednesday, April 13-14th.

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Note: Below is a transcript of our 4/15/10 #FoodInsight twitter chat on diabetes with Tami Ross, RD, LD, CDE.  If you have any additional questions for Tami, please don't hesitate to contact us.  Below the transcript we've also included a comprehensive list of resources on diabetes and sweeteners.  Be sure to follow @IFICMedia and @FoodInsightOrg for more food and health updates and info on future chats.
IFICMedia: Welcome to our chat on #diabetes. Getting started now! Let's start w/intros: I'm Eric Mittenthal w/IFIC Foundation #foodinsight

: Hi all! I'm an RD, diab educ & author of 7 DM books. Been on nat'l TV & radio shows too. Excited to be with you! #foodinsight

tamirossrd: Let's talk DM! #foodinsight

IFICMedia: We'll cover a variety of topics including basic ?s, meal planning and more. Anyone joining introduce yourself #foodinsight

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By: Kerry Robinson, RD   Date 4/14/10

How many carbs should someone with diabetes have in a day? Do all carbs impact blood sugar equally?   How does exercise affect blood sugar? Are low-calorie sweeteners an option for people with diabetes to consume sweet foods?

To get the answers to these questions and many more, we invite you to join the International Food Information Council Foundation on Thursday, April 15th from 1:00-2:00 pm EDT for a Live Twitter chat on diabetes and health.  Certified Diabetes Educator, book author, and dietitian Tami Ross will be on hand to discuss common questions about diabetes and nutrition, exercise and health.

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By: Kris Sollid, RD   Date: 4/12/10

For the past thirty years, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) have joined forces every five years in publishing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  In the effort to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce risk of chronic disease, these two government agencies recruit our nation’s brightest nutrition and public health professionals to compile a report for which the eventual Dietary Guidelines are based.  This panel of experts is otherwise known as the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), and this week (April 13-14, 2010) they are scheduled to convene for the fifth time in preparation for the much anticipated release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  

While the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is always an extremely helpful and impressive document, such high level thinking can sometimes get lost in translation as it trickles down to consumers.  With that in mind, before we head into the next half-decade of dietary decisions, let’s clarify a key, but abstract concept introduced in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans; discretionary calories. 

At first glance, the term appears perplexing.  I thought a calorie was a calorie was a calorie?  Was a new type of calorie recently discovered that I should be made aware of?  While we’re at it, what does discretion even mean…and how is it relevant to diet?  I wondered all of these things myself, so I did some investigating. 

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By: Dayle Hayes, MS, RD   Date: 4/9/10

Dayle Hayes, MS, RD, is nutrition consultant based in Big Sky country (Billings, Montana) and incoming Chair of the School Nutrition Services Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association.

The frenzy over Jamie Oliver's smackdown with “school lunch ladies” in West Virginia gives us all a chance to talk about the real revolution in school nutrition. In his unreality TV show, Chef Jaime missed an opportunity – to highlight and support thousands of hard working school nutrition heroes around the US who have been making amazing improvements against incredible odds. 

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By: Kimberly Reed   Date: 4/8/10

Today, I spent an hour with some very knowledgeable people who really care about consumers and shared an important message with them:  ALL CONSUMERS COUNT!  In today’s world, no customer is too small, and social media is a powerful way to connect with them on a personal level to share important information.    

Specifically, I was a guest speaker at the 2010 GMA Consumer Complaints Conference on the topic of reaching and engaging consumers through social media.  As an example, I shared the story of the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s communications transformation over the past six months and how we have joined the social media conversation.

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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD   Date 4/7/10

It’s early April and so far Washington, D.C. is experiencing one of the warmest Aprils on record. Yesterday, an area suburb reached a high of 93 degrees! Its official, we’ve cut through the red tape of spring and are quickly whirling toward the hot (not to mention humid) summer heat. It’s time to cue the glossy magazines that will be encouraging us all to “Get Our Bodies Beach Ready” and “Find Six-Pack Abs” just in time for the summer.

Despite all of the wonder and glory that comes with being in shape for the summer, the women of the world received some disappointing news last week about exercise and weight loss that deserves a closer look. As you may recall, I’m especially devoted to this issue since my New Year’s Resolution was to be more diligent with my workout routine in an effort to be healthy, but also to stave off the dreaded weight gain that comes with aging.

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By: Katie Burns   Date: 4/5/10

Spring has sprung, and along with the nice weather and chirping birds comes... SPRING CLEANING!  Those two words likely conjure up images of dust bunnies and furniture polish; however, it's important to take time to spring clean the refrigerator, too.  Many people use and appreciate the fridge, but it often gets overlooked when it comes to getting clean and tidy.
The refrigerator plays a very important role in keeping food safe, so it's all the more important to keep the fridge clean and ensure it's at the right temperature. 

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By: Eric Mittenthal   Date: 4/2/10

National Nutrition Month is officially over, but I wanted to highlight some of the great work done by our Registered Dietitians on this blog over the course of the month, and also other bloggers who celebrated the month with their own posts.  As we’ve previously mentioned, this year’s theme was "Nutrition From the Ground Up."  Here at the International Food Information Council Foundation we started the month with a kickoff post featuring the various steps you can take to build your nutritional health from the ground up.  We then dove deeper into each topic with insights from our RDs including:

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Note: As part of National Nutrition Month, we'll be highlighting tips from our Registered Dietitians around the theme of "Nutrition from the Ground Up." For more info see our kickoff post or visit ADA's National Nutrition Month page.

By: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD  Date: 3/31/10

Do you know how many calories you really need in a day?  Most people do not according to our Food & Health Survey.  When asked to estimate the number of calories they should be consuming in an average day, 74 percent of Americans provide an answer; 26 percent say that they “don’t know.”  Among those willing to estimate the amount of calories per day, only 11 percent are able to provide an accurate estimate.

So much attention is being paid to calories these days from calorie listings on the front of food and beverage packages as well as menus and menu boards to calorie charts highlighting how many calories can be burned during brief bouts of certain types of physical activity.  The “calorie” – this small, seven-letter word - is a BIG deal.  We often talk about what eating too many calories will do to us or how we should expend more calories than we consume.  But what I – and many of my weight management clients from my experience working in private practice – find more interesting is…”How can I make calories work for me?” 

As we close out National Nutrition Month®, we at the International Food Information Council Foundation, will continue to reflect on many of this year’s themes, including “making calories count” and “balancing physical activity and a healthful diet to manage weight.”

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By: Katie Burns   Date: 3/30/10

Last week I joined food safety educators and experts from around the globe in Atlanta for the 2010 Food Safety Education Conference.  My time at the conference flew by, but due to the incredible amount accomplished and learned there, it is hard to believe I was there only a week.  While it is difficult to whittle my newfound wisdom down to a few “key takeaways,” I decided to pick my three favorite pieces of knowledge from the conference for those of you unable to attend.

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Note: As part of National Nutrition Month, we'll be highlighting tips from our Registered Dietitians around the theme of "Nutrition from the Ground Up." For more info see our kickoff post or visit ADA's National Nutrition Month page.

By: Kerry Robinson, RD   Date: 3/29/10

March is National Nutrition Month® and here at the International Food Information Council Foundation, we’ve reflected on many of this year’s themes, including tips to increase fruit and vegetable intake and ways to enhance variety in the diet. Today I’m discussing the theme “look locally” and how it intersects with nutrition and building a healthful diet.

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Note: As part of National Nutrition Month, we'll be highlighting tips from our Registered Dietitians around the theme of "Nutrition from the Ground Up." For more info see our kickoff post or visit ADA's National Nutrition Month page.

By: Christa Eimers, Dietetic intern, St. Louis Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center  Date: 3/26/10

Mmm, food. It is the song of the soul. At least for some of us (chicken soup anyone?). At other times, creating something appetizing, not to mention “healthy”, can be a daunting task. This is especially true after a long day of work with no concrete plans for what healthful and scrumptious food will be served up for the family dinner that night. For those of us (myself included) trying to provide a balanced meal for our families while still keeping our waistlines in check, it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle.

Healthful eating is not just about mindlessly shoveling down foods we call “healthy”. It is about listening to our internal cues and learning to enjoy and savor food. But that poses an interesting question: How do you enjoy food?

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By: Ann Bouchoux   Date: 3/26/10

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the recent release and promotion of a new study that claims to show that when rats consumed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) they gained significantly more weight than those that consumed table sugar.  Given that there is already considerable confusion about sugars in general and HFCS in particular, it is not surprising that researchers would want to learn more about the subject. Unfortunately, rather than clarifying the issue, the study (published online in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior) seems to have added to the confusion.

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By: Eric Mittenthal   Date: 3/22/10

This past weekend I had the unique opportunity to attend and present at the first ever Fitbloggin conference.  The conference which was arranged by Roni Noone of Roni’s Weigh was an opportunity for health, fitness and nutrition bloggers to come together, talk shop and connect in a new way.  I have to admit, I’ve been to conferences before, but this one was unlike any other I’ve come across.

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