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It’s Time for New Dietary Guidelines

Every five years, the USDA and HHS publish “dietary guidelines,” which serve as the basis for Federal food and nutrition education programs. Last week the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee submitted a report with proposed revisions for the 2010 ones.

Some hot debate has started over whether these new guidelines are good.

The Committee FINALLY realized that what they recommend doesn’t always translate to what Americans do. So they spent some time figuring out new strategies that might encourage better eating. These include a few that I can get behind…

  • Improving nutritional literacy and cooking skills
  • Increasing nutrition, health and PE programs in schools
  • Creating greater financial incentives to purchase and prepare vegetables and fruits
  • Improving the availability of affordable fresh produce
  • Encouraging the restaurant industry to offer smaller portions and food with less sodium, added sugars and refined grains

Where I start to get a little uncomfortable is with the calorie intake. The Committee recommends total calorie intake for men be between 2,000 to 3,000 calories and 1,600 to 2,400 for women. HELLO! I am a five foot petite woman, if I ate 2,400 calories a day I would be INCREDIBLY unhealthy, not matter how much I worked out.  (Basically, I would have to quit my day job and ONLY work out…all the time.)

AND considering the latest surveys indicate that 36 percent of adults are considered inactive, only 31 percent engage in any leisure time physical activity at all, those calorie recommendations are pretty unrealistic.

Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol also take a beating, despite all the new research that has questioned its role in heart disease.

It makes me wonder, are they even reading any data to make these recommendations?

Do Dads Need an Image Makeover?

Tomorrow marks the centennial celebration of Father’s Day and I think the perception of fathers in America needs a change.

I am a very lucky girl. Growing up my dad took a vested interest in everything I did. From coaching my basketball team to attending my musicals, he was always there supporting me.

My dad taught me how to drive and how to balance a check book. He moved me into my college dorm and drove me and my stuff the 839 miles between Jacksonville and New York City.

So imagine my surprise when I went to get him a Father’s Day card this year and the cards were either fart jokes, “dad can’t do anything” jokes  and “let him watch his sports” jokes.  None of these really fit my dad.

And why is it that on television dads are still portrayed as the goofballs who don’t necessarily make the best decisions? Sure there are exceptions Mike O’Malley’s Burt Hummel on Glee is one that comes to mind, but for the majority it is Homer Simpson.

Dad’s image has gotten so bad that just last year the Ad Council and HHS started a campaign to promote fatherhood.  You remember it involved those commercials with dads doing strange things, the camera pans out and they are doing something with their kid.

I’m not gonna lie those commercials make me smile every time because I know my dad would have done those things for me.

I wish the card companies and television producers could find a way to honor the good guys out there. They may not always be perfect….but they do things with love and that is what counts. (I think I just wrote next year’s card.)

Love you Dad!

Obesity Rate Increases

A recent CDC survey reports that 34.7 percent of people claimed they participated in regular leisure physical activity in 2009. But, obesity rates among adults aged 20 and over is just a few percentage points above 2008 at 28%.

How is that possible? Are people lying about their physical activity? Are they exercising but thinking they can eat whatever they want?

More info including diabetes and smoking rates can be found here

Eating What You Watch

A study published this month in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, says if you follow a diet based on the food advertised on television you won’t get the proper nutrients.

Basically you will consume 25x the recommended amount of sugar, 20x the amount of fat and not nearly enough fruits or vegetables. (That’s less than half the recommendation)

Just one advertised food item by itself will provide, on average, 3x your daily recommended servings of sugar and 2.5x the fat

The study looked at 2004 primetime and Saturday-morning programming on all four major networks. Primetime because most of the nationwide advertising is done during this time; Saturday morning to see what the kiddies were watching.

And to no one’s surprise, it seems what you are watching is influencing what you are eating. According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we consumed too much saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars, all of which were oversupplied in advertised foods. And the food that was undersupplied in the ads? Calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin E were not eaten enough.

Researchers also noted that not a single PSA addressed nutrition education (maybe it is time for a Kellogg or General Mills to get on that?).

And if education doesn’t work…maybe we go the route of NYC restaurants and include fat content and calories in the ads for specific foods. But then again…who is watching ads anyway?

Skip Breakfast, Burn More Fat?

Results of several new studies have totally blown my mind. Apparently, exercising while your body is low on food may be a good way to trim excess fat.

Usually, you are told to carbo load before a big race to fuel you muscles but scientists say if you don’t eat before you are forced to burn fat.

“When you exercise (after fasting), your adrenalin is high and your insulin is low,” said Peter Hespel, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Leuven in Belgium. “That ratio is favorable for your muscles to oxidize (break down) more fatty acids.” Hespel said that people who exercise without having eaten burn more fat than they would if they had grabbed a bite beforehand. (AP)

In a 2008 study, Hespel and colleagues tested the effects on men who did endurance training without eating versus those who ate. In the athletes who hadn’t eaten, the researchers found a spike in the amount of proteins needed to process fat, meaning their bodies had been primed through fasting to burn more fat.

The best time to do this is before breakfast, since eating carbohydrates interrupts the process of metabolizing fat for about six hours.

As usual there are two sides to every opinion…some experts say the fasting method will give you results faster and others say it won’t help people trying to lose weight because the fat mostly comes from the muscles.

Either way it’s probably not the best idea to be starving before a meal, so be careful. You don’t want to be the kid passed out on the treadmill.