As a pediatric endocrinologist, I am on the frontline of the childhood obesity epidemic. In fact, I am now seeing 100-pound two year olds and 150-pound three-year-old kids in my clinic and I am concerned. The obesity epidemic is perpetuated by a processed food-culture that lacks healthier local whole foods.
Diets dominated by processed foods (refined carbohydrates with high fat- and/or high-sugar content and artificial ingredients) over whole foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) spur more obesity and diabetes, and have even been shown to negatively change gene expression of the offspring during pregnancy. All-processed ingredients reflect the balance of desirable factors in the modern way of life such as shelf life (long), taste (sweet), texture (fat) convenience (high), and price (low) — all profitable, all less nutritious, and all with a mass-marketed, generic, “cultureless” appeal that reduces emphasis on local cultures and flavors.
The recent rise of social networking is testament to the fact that people are hungry to connect and yearn to be culturally inspired. Culture (art, food, music) deeply connects people and transcends time, politics, and poverty because it is the language of being human — and something that never changes. Medical research as well as the positive embracing of First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign demonstrates an open mind to the idea of a healthier culture and readiness for change. In fact, many of the families that I meet in my clinic are interested in considering whole-food choices, but lack knowledge and guidance.
Food-culture change offers the best hope for transforming obesity and what Americans eat. Oprah’s recent vegan-whole-food-challenge show on February 1st is a step in the right direction and will help to propel the emerging whole-foods movement. Columbus, Ohio is emerging as a center for local whole-foods activism and food-culture change. Just in 2010, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission released the Central Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan — the first plan of its kind in the nation — and received an $885 million US. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant to create an urban foodscape in one of Columbus’ most blighted neighborhoods. Read more »
Just about everybody agrees that kids should eat breakfast every day. Breakfast improves their overall nutrition and their performance in school, among other things. But how helpful can breakfast really be if it consists of cereal deluged in sugar?
“Not very” is the answer.
Thankfully, a new study by Jennifer Harris and colleagues at Yale suggests that kids are perfectly willing to consume low-sugar cereals instead, particularly if they can add a pinch of table sugar or fresh fruit to the mix.
To evaluate kids’ willingness to eat low-sugar cereals, Harris’ team randomized 91 kids between the ages of five and 12 to two groups. Kids in the first group were offered low-sugar cereals like Cheerios, Corn Flakes, and Rice Krispies, which contain one to four grams of sugar per serving. Kids in the other group chose between Cocoa Pebbles, Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops, which contain about 12 grams of sugar per serving.
Kids in both groups were also offered orange juice, 1 percent milk, pre-cut sections of bananas and strawberries, and sugar packets. The kids served themselves and then completed a questionnaire about their breakfast. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*
Medtronic MiniMed has recently released a new educational game for kids and young adults that takes them through an educational tour to learn how to deal with foods when you have diabetes.
A rep for the company tells Medgadget:
Called Carb Counting with Lenny, it’s offered for free download on the Apple iTunes App Store for the iPhone, iTouch and iPad. It’s great for parents (and even adults with diabetes have enjoyed it too), as the app features a guide presenting nutritious food choices with associated serving sizes and carbohydrate values. The other key components of the app are fun, interactive games that help reinforce carb counting skills and keep children engaged. And just in case you are not fully familiar with Lenny the Lion, he is a global ambassador for children’s diabetes education.
What’s more, there’s a contest with prizes for those who can beat Lenny at the app’s carb counting games.
Link: Carb Counting with Lenny!
*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*
Shopping for groceries the other day, my kids noticed this product that made us all stop in our tracks: Chubby Drink from Aisle 7!
Yes, this is a real product from a real major brand supermarket.
Yes, the label does read “Chubby” and shows a picture of a, well, chubby kid.
No, it’s not a new health drink. Packed into that portable, kid-sized 8-ounce container is the equivalent of 2 candy bars worth of calories and sugar.
No, you’re not being “punked” or on candid blogger or seeing a prop from SNL. This truly is a real drink sold in stores coast to coast. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Gwenn Is In*