Nutrition and Lifestyle

For many of us, there's often a tug of war when making some food choices. Should we go for the yummy snack that's high in sugar/fat/calories, or opt for the healthier version? Nutrition labels are supposed to help with that — help us choose health over taste. But judging by Americans' expanding waistlines, maybe we need more help.  Researchers from Bonn University in Germany and Ohio State University collaborated to investigate the possibility of aids to change food choices and published their results in the journal Judgment and Decision Making.

According to these authors, previous research has identified traffic light (TL) labeling as an effective means of conveying the healthfulness of food products to...

 

One reason that some give for accruing too much body fat is "I have a slow metabolism," a variant on the "blame the genes" approach. And that does make some sense — that is, a slow basal metabolic rate (BMR) means a person with this characteristic is more efficient at using fuels to energize necessary bodily processes. By that I mean things like breathing, having the heart pump blood, keeping body temperature constant. For a sedentary person, BMR can be a significant part of the total daily energy expenditure. But how much can a low BMR be blamed for the weight people gain as they get older?

Two researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, investigated that question in a group of about 760...

For years - no, make that decades - we've been warned about the dangers of dietary fat. It has too many calories, it leads to high cholesterol and heart disease, too much can cause obesity, and on and on. But lately we've been told that the sugar industry ("Big Sugar"?) had a hand (or perhaps an underhand) in demonizing fat so that sugar might be used to add flavor to otherwise not-so-yummy low or no fat products. There's been a fair amount of research lately that focuses on the possibly deleterious effects ot too much dietary sugar, leading to various movements to tax or otherwise inhibit sugary beverages in particular.

Apparently such occurrences are having impacts on consumers' dietary choices, perhaps not for the better.

What could be better for a dieter than non-fat...

Combination vitamin/mineral supplements (VM) have been popular dietary adjuncts for many years, but as research has progressed, various health benefits have been touted for some individual nutrients — some of which haven't been traditionally included in the typical combo products. Researchers, led by Dr. Elizabeth D. Kantor from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, found that while overall vitamin/mineral supplement use remained pretty stable (about half of participants said they used them) between 1999 and 2012, use of some individual supplements actually increased substantially, while that of combination products fell.

These researchers analyzed data from 7 repeated cycles of...

Is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the take from Big Soda? Dr. Tom Frieden will be surprised to hear that their $7 billion budget is moved by a tiny marketing sponsorship at some events. As would the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), and we here at the American Council on Science and Health. But that is the inference made by a 'follow the money' conspiracy correlation brought about by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

All of those groups are advocates for public health and all, including some 90 others, received occasional funding from a large soda company in...

Despite decades of public health campaigns, a lot of Americans still smoke. The CDC recently released data on the prevalence of tobacco use in the U.S. The map below depicts the percentage of adults who smoke cigarettes in each state. Clearly, there is a regional pattern: Tobacco is most popular in Midwestern and Southern states, where roughly 20-25% of the population smokes. 

Notably, this regional pattern is very similar to the one observed for obesity. The map below depicts the prevalence of obesity in each U.S. state. Once again, the Midwest and South struggle with the highest percentages of people with obesity.

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Last week the Northern California Record published an article about the plethora of questionable lawsuits being brought in California against various companies on the basis that their products or marketing are basically fraudulent. The article questions whether the real basis for many, if not all, of such suits derive from anti-science activists trying to frighten consumers (especially mothers) away from conventional foods and products.

What caught our attention was the results of a survey run by the Independent Women's Forum that found:

-    "83 percent of women said they have trouble telling the...

America has an obesity problem. We can thank science for that.

Not science directly, of course, the scientific method doesn't make us pick up that spoon, but science in the sense that it's now easy to be obese. For the first time in the history of the world, the poorest people can afford to be fat, a much different scenario than was painted a few generations ago, with mass starvation and mandatory birth control promoted by Apocalyptic firebrands like Drs. Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren.

Rather than watch helplessly as people starved, as was the future promised those born in the 1960s, scientists have made it possible to produce more food on less land using less environmental strain than was ever believed realistic. Three generations ago, meat was something most people...

Cryotherapy Believer

When they're not cooking themselves in the latest incarnations of searing hot boxes, a legion of celebrities are dunking themselves in cylinders of super-chilled air -- all in the name of stress and pain relief. Or so they'd like to believe. 

Hot. Cold. Cook. Freeze. Pick an extreme, and someone will embrace the craziness, spending a bundle in the process. Lost on these adopters is the fact that whatever these so-called feel-good machines claim to do, none of it is true. And despite health warnings from experts, and the lack of evidence from the scientific community, the true believers still line up for more.

Only weeks ago we wrote about the...

 

As a professional nutritionist, I have been evaluating nutrition research for more years than I care to remember. This task involves perusing articles from multiple journals, keeping up with the latest governmental guidelines, and trying to make sense of often conflicting advice for consumers. To say nothing of investigating the often bogus claims of the latest fad diet or out-of-the-mainstream diet doctor. But now, I am forced to admit that, as expressed on the website 538, much of what we think we know about nutrition probably isn't so. 

Let's be clear, I'm not talking about some tried and true nutrition information — yes, vitamin C does prevent/treat scurvy, and vitamin D...