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Food Insight Blog

Shedding light on the science behind nutrition and food safety.

By: Regina M. Gill, University of Maryland College Park Dietetic Intern   Date: 11/29/10

Did you know that November is American Diabetes Month?  As a dietetic intern and soon-to-be Registered Dietitian, I have learned that knowledge is critical in helping individuals and communities understand how a disease can potentially impact their health.  Educating my community about how to live a healthy, nutritious life, with or without diabetes, is my goal.

Diabetes is a disease characterized by high blood sugar that results from the body’s inability to properly use or make insulin.  Overtime, diabetes can cause damage to your eyes, kidneys, and nerves, and can cause many other health problems, such as heart disease.  

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 23.6 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes, and more than 1.5 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes since 2009. In addition, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has been on the rise. While family history and genetics play a large role in type 2 diabetes, other factors, such as low activity level, poor diet, and excess body weight can significantly increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.

Whether you think you or a friend or family member might have diabetes, or you’re just trying to get educated, here are some important facts you should know about diabetes:

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By: Kait Fortunato, University of Maryland College Park Dietetic Intern Date: 11/24/10

For many people, Thanksgiving conjures thoughts about food, family, rest, and relaxation. We often give thanks for our food, but what about the health and well-being of ourselves and our family and friends?

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By: Dayle Hayes, MS, RD   Date: 11/23/10

As the holiday season begins to shift into high gear, families across America begin to dream of gifts, celebrations, and festive meals. However, many of our friends and neighbors will need our help to meet their basic needs, as well as our donations to bring holiday cheer to the table.

The  U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service recently released its annual study measuring food security in the United States, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009, indicating that 1 in 6 Americans is still food insecure and now more than 50 million Americans. This includes 1 in 4 children.


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By: Kerry Phillips, RD   Date: 11/22/10

In early November, I joined thousands of Registered Dietitians and Dietetic Technicians, Registered, in Boston at the 2010 American Dietetic Association (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE).  From sustainability to social media, the conference program was packed with timely and relevant food and nutrition topics.  Leading up to the conference, I looked forward to the closing keynote speaker – chef, author and TV personality, Anthony Bourdain.  Bourdain’s speech helped me to think beyond nutrition and remember the other roles food plays in our lives when communicating about nutrition and health: 


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By: Michele Payn-Knoper, CSP   Date: 11/18/10

Food is served on a variety of plates today; plastic, china, big, small and even fast food wrappers.  You might be wondering why I’m asking about the shape of your food plate. As a cook and a bit of a “foodie”, I love a beautiful presentation on the cool square plates and the look of the ovals.

However, as an agriculturist, I’m firmly convinced our food plate needs to remain round so that we can have all sides connected equally. This will give equal voice to the farmer, scientist, nutrition expert and food buyer. The circle gives people the opportunity to reach across, shake hands, and find common interests.  For example, science, accuracy and credibility are hot buttons with food producers, dietitians and scientists. Food fads, misinformed celebrity “experts” and inability to connect facts with buyers also add to the confusion.


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By: Adrienne Richards, Public Relations Manager, National Turkey Federation   Date: 11/17/10

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) takes great pride in being the centerpiece for the Thanksgiving holiday.  People don’t affectionately refer to it as “Turkey Day” for nothing.  So, as consumers go back in the kitchen to prepare most of their holiday feasts from scratch, many new and seasoned home cooks often have questions about purchasing, preparing and storing their holiday bird safely.  In fact, more than 46 million turkeys will be consumed this Thanksgiving.  NTF, along with theInternational Food Information Council Foundation and the Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE), held a Thanksgiving Twitter Chat this week (Monday, Nov. 15) to help remind home chefs of how they can have a festive, delicious and food-safe celebration.


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By: Janet Helm, MS, RD   Date: 11/15/10

I recently returned from the American Dietetic Association’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo, where I was entrenched in presentations reviewing the latest nutrition science.  Speakers addressed everything from the conflicting data on saturated fats and heart disease to the emerging evidence exploring the anti-inflammatory benefits of spices and herbs.

Throughout many of the sessions, I was reminded of how important it is to accurately interpret this research for the consumer.  So often, scientific studies get lost in the translation, and confusing or misleading information is communicated to the public

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By: Kimberly Reed, Executive Director of the International Food Information Council Foundation   Date: 11/10/10
Nín hǎo.  I recently presented risk communication best practices and IFIC’s research on U.S. consumer perceptions of food technology and labeling to nearly 200 Chinese officials, including from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Provincial Government Offices, scientists from research institutes, and local industry representatives, at a first-ever Food Biotechnology Safety Assessment and Risk Management Forum.  The Forum took place at Nanjing Agriculture University in Nanjing, China. 

Simply stated, the Chinese said that they wanted to learn how to better communicate science-based issues to consumers, and asked professionals from the U.S., Brazil and the Philippines for their insights. 

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By: Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD   Date: 11/9/10

Being among 10,000 of my professional colleagues attending educational sessions in Boston at theAmerican Dietetic Association Food and Nutrition conference has been fantastic.  Nutrition is an evolving science and keeping up to date is essential for all practicing registered dietitians. 

This blog is not long enough to cover all the cutting-edge presentations, so instead here are a few highlights that intrigued and inspired me:

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By: Dayle Hayes, MS, RD   Date: 11/8/10

The American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) – held this week in Boston, Massachusetts – is a once-a-year opportunity for registered dietitians to hear new research, see (and taste!) new products, and learn the latest in best practices in nutrition.

As Chair of the School Nutrition Services Dietetic Practice Group, I am thrilled to see an increased emphasis on childhood nutrition this year. School nutrition programs have certainly been under intense scrutiny recently, so it is especially important for ADA members to hear the good news about how their colleagues are leading the way toward healthier school meals and comprehensive wellness programming.

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By: Eric Mittenthal, MS   Date: 11/5/10

Tomorrow marks the start of one of our most highly anticipated events of the year: the American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo.  Thousands of dietitians come together from around the country at FNCE to catch up on the latest science and nutrition trends.  As an organization that specializes in communicating the latest science and trends to health professionals, FNCE is a great opportunity for us to connect with a huge group of dietitians and of course reconnect with lots of friends and experts.  There’s so much going on over the course of the four day conference, so we wanted to highlight some of the things we’re most looking forward to.

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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD   Date: 11/3/10

There are thousands of choices available when we shop for food in a grocery store and if you are anything like me then you are a creature of habit, with a repertoire of foods that you commonly select, trip after trip. My habits don't mean that I’m not adventurous or that I don’t enjoy trying new foods, but I often find myself crunched for time when I shop and let my recipes for the week guide my choices. I believe that having a list when I shop is key to staying on budget and planning for my weekly meals. While planning is integral to my weekly grocery trips, I do add new foods to my cart from time to time, but what exactly causes me to make additions, I haven’t the faintest idea. What leads me to stop and smell the roses, long enough to try a new product?

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By: Eric Mittenthal, MS   Date: 11/2/10

A couple of weeks ago, my colleagues and I here at the International Food Information Council Foundation had the opportunity to meet with several journalists at a special briefing in New York City to talk about food production and the role of ingredients in food.  As a former journalist myself, meeting with reporters is one of my favorite parts of my job, not only because I get to reconnect with my roots, but also because I get their insight into the latest nutrition and food safety issues and the many projects we work on daily here at the Foundation.  The topics on many of these reporters and editors minds now will likely be what you’re reading about in a few months.  Our role at the International Food Information Council Foundation is to provide journalists with science-based information on food and nutrition topics that will help them as they develop their stories. 

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By: Kerry (Robinson) Phillips, RD and       Date: 10/29/10
University of Maryland College Park Dietetic Interns Kellie Faughander & Melissa Lang

As October 31st nears, we’ve got Halloween candy on the brain!  Halloween marks the start of a series of holiday events brimming with delectable indulgences, goodies, and home-baked treats.  But for parents, the thought of these food-centered holidays, especially Halloween, may have you worried about how it will affect your kids.

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By: Kerry (Robinson) Phillips, RD and University of Maryland College Park Dietetic Interns Kellie Faughander & Melissa Lang

“Hey Mom and Dad!  Look at all the candy I got trick-or- treating!”

“That’s great, pick three pieces to have tonight and we’ll save the rest for later.”

Sound familiar?  This is a typical conversation many parents will have with their children on Halloween.  However, for parents of children with diabetes, the conversation is somewhat more complex. But don’t get discouraged – Halloween can still be fun for the entire family! Put your mind at ease this Halloween with the following tips:


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By: Nick Alexander   Date: 10/27/10

In the natural ebb and flow of safety concerns, Bisphenol A (BPA) has in recent months surfaced as one of the chemicals of concern by consumers – consumers are confused by the science around Bisphenol A, and by the variation in the public announcements by health agencies.  To put this concern in some perspective with regard to food safety, in a recent International Food Information Council Foundation survey of consumers, almost as many expressed interest in safety around chemicals in food (39%) as around bacterial-caused food borne illness (44%).

In an October 26 Webinar, “Clarifying the Controversies: The Science of Bisphenol A (BPA), IFIC brought together three foremost scientists to address the latest research around BPA, the toxicological concerns of consumers, and the perceived health risks of BPA.

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By: Jania Matthews Date: 10/25/10

Note:  Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, was recently named Senior Vice President, Nutrition and Food Safety at the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and the International Food Information Council Foundation.  As part of her responsibilities, she will lead the IFIC and the Foundation’s nutrition and food safety communications programs.  In an effort to introduce our blog readers to Marianne we sat down and asked her a few questions.

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By: Gretchen Chriszt Date: 10/20/10

Pink – it’s everywhere! As many of you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You may have spotted shades of pink in a number of places – I know I’ve seen groups of ladies decked out in their finest shades of pink on their way to a Race for the Cure event. And who couldn’t help but spot pink all over the NFL teams during their Sunday and Monday games this month?

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By: Eric Mittenthal, MS   Date: 10/18/10

Yesterday marked a special occasion for those of us at the International Food Information Council Foundation.  It was the one year anniversary of our blog and Food Insight website.  We started with a welcome post from Foundation CEO David Schmidt and since then have written 182 blog posts.  We have written on a variety of issues from numerous contributors including Foundation staff and interns as well as some of the top nutrition and food safety experts in the world.  Before we move forward with year #2, we wanted to take a look back at the posts that got the most views from our first year:

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By: Gretchen Chriszt   Date: 10/15/10

The word is getting out about International Fitness Day. It is the day dedicated to celebrating health and fitness around the world. Although the official International Fitness Day doesn’t  happen until October 16, 2010, this week has been full of events leading up to the big day. Thanks to technology, an online fitness expo took place this week at the International Fitness Day website featuring high-caliber fitness experts and health professionals sharing their unique perspectives on health, nutrition and fitness.


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