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Top 3 Nutrition Headlines in 2012

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  December 26, 2012 01:49 PM

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Looking back on my blog postings over the last year, I have compiled the top three nutrition stories in 2012:

Kids and Obesity

With over 30% of Americans’ youth, ages 2 to 19, either overweight or obese, we are raising a generation that is on a trajectory to have a shorter lifespan than the generation before them.  The science is clear: being obese increases the risk of dying prematurely of heart disease, certain cancers, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.  The message sent from the White House with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign and the new federally mandated nutrition changes in school meals, all the way to your house, with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is the same:  the young (and old, for that matter) need to clean up their plates and log off from their sedentary, technology-driven ways and get up and move.

Source:  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Gluten-Free Fad

More than 2 million Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which they can’t tolerate specific proteins in grains, collectively called “gluten,” which are found in wheat, barley, and rye.  However, it is estimated that 1.6 millionpeople are on a gluten-free diet even though they don’t have the disease.  Why?  Gluten-free has become the year’s fad weight loss diet.  This popularity for gluten-free foods has fueled a $6 billion food industry producing everything from gluten-free breads to cookies, crackers, and candy, which are all being gobbled up by the public.  

Will a gluten-free diet keep you lean?   Probably not.  It’s the calories, not the gluten, in the diet that counts when it comes to managing your weight.   Interestingly, gluten-free foods may actually have more calories than the traditionally baked products, as extra fat is often added to compensate for the removed gluten in order for the product to be palatable.  Cost in another factor.  Gluten-free products can cost over 240 percent more than regular products.  Ouch. 

Source:  USDA
The Not So Sweet Side of Sugar

The banning or taxing of sugary beverages was the talk of the town in 2012.  First, New York City Mayor Bloomberg made headlines by proposing to restrict the sale of gigantic sizes of soda available in the Big Apple.  Then, the American Medical Association voted on a policy which recommended that if sweetened beverages were to be taxed that the levy should be used to fund anti-obesity programs and educational campaigns about the adverse health effects of overindulging these beverages.

While soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks collectively make up the largest category of contributors of added sugars in the American diet, they aren’t the sole source.  According to the USDA, the other major sugary culprits are grain-based desserts (cookies, cakes, pastries, pies, donuts) and fruit drinks (lemonade, fruit drinks).   With added sugars contributing an average of 16 percent, on average, of the total daily calories in our diets, Americans need to stop gulping sugary beverages as well as chowing down on the sweets and treats on a daily basis.

Here's to a Happy and Healthy 2013.

Follow Joan on Twitter at:  joansalgeblake

Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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