News Herald – Juliann Talkington
There never seems to be enough time in the day, especially when you have a job and kids. After a long day of work the last thing most of us want to do when we get home is worry about preparing a meal. As a result, many of us stop for take-out, pop TV dinners in the microwave, or go through the drive-through on the way home.
While fast, pre-prepared, and restaurant food is quick, convenient, and satisfying it is often low in nutrients, fiber, and phytonutrients; high in refined carbohydrates; and full of artificial colors and flavors. In addition, these foods are generally easy to digest and high in trans-fats or processed vegetable oils. Worst of all, many prepared foods are designed for “sensory-specific satiety” which makes it easy for us to eat more than we need and to become addicted to the product.
Sadly, the impact of consuming these foods is not usually immediately apparent. In many cases, it takes years or decades for symptoms to develop. As a result, it is easy for parents to overlook the impact food may be having on the long-term health and welfare of their children.
More information on the hazards of poor food choices has reached the mainstream press recently. Dr. Eva Selhub wrote about the connection between food choices, brain structure and function, and mood in the Harvard Medical School Health Blog. “If your brain is deprived of good-quality nutrition, or if free radicals or damaging inflammatory cells are circulating within the brain’s enclosed space, further contributing to brain tissue injury, consequences are to be expected. What’s interesting is that for many years, the medical field did not fully acknowledge the connection between mood and food.”
Also, according to research conducted by Sanjay Basu M.D., Ph.D. at the Stanford University Medical Center, “increased sugar in a population’s food supply was (is) linked to higher diabetes rates, independent of obesity rates.”
Although it might seem overwhelming, ditching processed foods is possible even if you have a super busy schedule. The key is advanced planning, selecting healthy items when you get to the supermarket, and cooking enough extra food that you can have leftovers on days when there is no time to cook.
Once you adjust to the new approach to food, you will likely notice that everyone is less cranky and feels better, there are less sick days, and that you have more energy and patience.
Science Daily – Staff Writer
“Excess body weight has been linked to poor academic performance in children in several previous studies. A new Finnish study now shows that a high body fat percentage is associated with poor reading skills in 6-8-year-old boys. However, these associations are largely explained by poor motor skills. The results published in the Journal of Sports Science are part of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study conducted in the University of Eastern Finland and the First Steps Study conducted at the University of Jyväskylä.” (more)
The 74 Million – Kevin Mahnken
“Efforts to make school meals more nutritious have yielded noticeably positive results, according to a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. That progress, however, isn’t measured in lower obesity rates, but in improved academic performance. The study collected data between 2008 and 2013 from roughly 9,700 California public schools, comparing the vast majority that prepare meals in-house to those that contract with outside vendors. Measuring the nutritional quality of the vendors’ meals against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Eating Index, the authors found that students who ate healthy meals at school also scored slightly better on California’s STAR tests (then the state’s standardized examinations of annual student progress, which have since been replaced by another system).”(more)
BBC – Staff Writer
“School meals should include fewer puddings and more fresh vegetables, according to a report. Obesity Action Scotland (OAS) said improvements to school meals could play an important part in reducing childhood obesity. It wants to highlight the issue ahead of the council elections in two weeks’ time. The Scottish government said a review of school food and drink nutritional standards was under way. OAS is calling on local government election candidates to commit to transform school meals in Scotland “from a feeding culture to an eating culture”. The organisation said it wanted unprocessed or “minimally processed” foods used wherever possible and vegetables, soup and salads prioritised over puddings.”(more)
Medical X-Press – Emma Rich, Niamh Ni Shuilleabhain And Simone Fullagar
“An estimated 1.6m people in the UK have experienced an eating disorder. In the US, these figures are as high as 20m women and 10m men. With numbers like these, and rising levels of body disaffection among young people, tackling eating disorders is an increasingly urgent task. As well as leading to potentially life threatening conditions, eating disorders have significant social and economic impacts. While we are often told of the burden of obesity on the NHS, it is also worth remembering that eating disorders are reported to cost the British economy £15 billion each year.”(more)
Medical X-Press – Neil Schoenherr
“Mothers who are overweight or obese tend to underestimate the weights of their obese children, according to a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. Researchers, led by Rachel Tabak, research assistant professor, surveyed 230 overweight or obese mothers in St. Louis who had a preschool-aged child. Nearly half of the mothers considered their overweight or obese children “about the right weight.” The study, “Associations Between Feeding Practices and Maternal and Child Weight Among Mothers Who do and do not Correctly Identify Their Child’s Weight Status,” was published in the January issue of Obesity Science & Practice.”(more)