Small Swaps for Big Returns: What I Saw at FNCE 2012
Sunday, October 14th, 2012
Each year I eagerly register for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo. Primarily, it’s because of the expo. While I enjoy catching up with colleagues and friends from around the world at this lively event, nothing tops the expo offerings. Learning firsthand from vendors about their new products and their new ideas is exhilarating and quite useful. I work in dietetics education and in private practice—two places where keeping current is paramount. Students and patients pose the most timely and the most challenging questions. The expo brings key information to the forefront and prepares me with the latest tools.
Booth after booth, I observed the theme of balance. How can consumers eat what they love and manage weight? Through energy (or calorie) balance. The tired advice to “avoid this” or “avoid that” wasn’t evident, thankfully. Instead, I saw vendors who shared novel ways consumers could make delicious foods fit and still manage body weight. After all, keeping an eye on the calorie budget—and knowing how to manage that budget smartly—is indispensable to healthy weight.
Sargento® cheese, for example, is a favorite among my patients for sandwiches and in composed dishes. I just had to stop there, especially since the FNCE booth exclaimed, “Keep it Balanced.” What a good fit! Think calorie budget, which is simple with the right amount of flavorful ingredients, like sharp cheddar or colby-jack cheeses. When a food has flavor, you can indulge in a smaller amount and feel satisfied. Their light string cheese is as tasty as the regular variety but with only 50 calories. That’s a savings of 20 calories, and significant given the average adult needs to reduce their caloric budget by 100 per day. Shave 30 more calories through another smart choice plus burn 50 with a brisk walk and you’re there! See how this equation works?
For as long as I’ve counseled patients, a fundamental message has been to make half your plate veggies. At Del Monte, they boasted “Rethink Your Plate®,” a message congruent with balancing calories. Making more room for vegetables fits seamlessly into calorie budgeting because vegetables are very low in calories and packed with what we need more of: vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Del Monte recommended, for example, a veggie egg wrap. I love this idea for breakfast, which is traditionally a time my patients find more challenging when it comes to eating vegetables. Just shred or chop your veggies the night before. In the morning, combine those veggies along with rinsed, drained canned corn right into the eggs. You have a high-fiber, nutrient-dense, delicious breakfast wrap. Plus the veggies add color, texture, and volume to the eggs with minimal calories on your plate.
Speaking of the plate, one vendor was exhibiting tableware that fostered balance and moderation. PrecisePortions® makes a clever line of plates that indicate how much vegetables to add (both starchy and non) along with protein/meat. They help consumers by eliminating the guess work. For those who didn’t attend the expo, you can give the PrecisePortions plates a whirl on their web site in a section labeled “play with the plate.” There you can select foods and see where they’d fit on the plate.
With more American’s than ever before striving to manage their calorie budgets it was exciting to see demonstrated on the FNCE Expo floor just how far companies have come to offer new (and tasty I might add) food and beverages choices and tools to help consumers make small swaps for big returns – and strike just the right balance (energy, that is).
Filed under Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, calories, eating, FNCE, weight | Submit Comment
Launching Your Dietetics Career – Book Review
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
I wanted to share a recent review I received on Launching Your Dietetics Career from the fantastic Alex Oppenheimer, RD. Be sure to check out her site and blog, plus you can follow her tweets: @AlexOppRD.
Launching Your Dietetics Career
Kyle W. Shadix, MS, RD, CCC and D. Milton Stokes, MPH, RD, CDN with Jenna A. Bell, PhD, RD, LD
Launching Your Dietetics Career is a tremendous resource for anyone considering or already enrolled in a nutrition and dietetics program. It is equally important that advisors, professors, preceptors and mentors know of this book, so that they can suggest it as a resource to students, interns or mentees. For everyone that has been a nutrition student, you know how overwhelming and confusing the path to dietetics can be. Kyle and Milton effectively describe the process of becoming a registered dietitian, ensuring that students understand the process and don’t get lost along the way. From accredited programs and dietetic internships to the “RD exam,” this resource has you covered. The book is equally supportive of less traditional pathways into dietetics and makes the journey just as clear for career-changing students. Aside from clarifying the path to become a dietitian, Launching Your Dietetics Career offers invaluable advice to help students and new professionals stand out and be a more attractive candidate to academic programs, internships and even jobs. If that wasn’t enough, the “Movers and Shakers” and “A Closer Look” sections highlight dietitians’ stories of success and provide additional, specialized guidance. These sections supply great inspiration and empowerment for students to pursue and strive for their dream jobs. It also explores lesser-known positions that are held by dietitians, opening the door to endless career possibilities. It’s an easy and inspiring read that is an important resource for students, interns and new graduates in the dietetics field.
Filed under education, Launching Your Dietetics Career | Submit Comment
Socioeconomic Status May Explain Racial Disparities in Diet, Exercise, and Weight
Monday, December 5th, 2011
According to New Study Published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association
Media Contacts: Ryan O’Malley, Allison MacMunn
800/877-1600, ext. 4769, 4802 email@example.com
Large disparities exist in obesity and other chronic diseases across racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Are racial differences in diet, exercise, and weight status related to better knowledge about healthy eating and awareness of food-related health risks? Or are they more closely related to differences in socioeconomic status (SES)? A new study published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association finds that people with a lower socioeconomic status are more likely to be overweight, regardless of racial/ethnic background, and that the level of nutritional knowledge and health awareness did not lead to significant racial differences in weight and diet.
“Our findings suggest that disparities in obesity in the United States may be more affected by the broader social environment,” said authors Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, MS, director of the Johns Hopkins Global Center for Childhood Obesity and associate professor of International Health and Epidemiology, and Xialoi Chen, MD, PhD, MPH, assistant scientist in the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD. “Poor quality retail food environments in disadvantaged neighborhoods, in conjunction with limited individual economic resources, contribute to increased risk of obesity within ethnic minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.”
The authors hypothesized that between-group differences in nutrition- and health-related psychosocial factors, including nutrition knowledge and beliefs, are important contributors to the large racial/ethnic and socioeconomic differences observed in U.S. adults’ dietary intakes, exercise and obesity. They analyzed nationally representative data collected from 4,356 individuals who had participated in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Continuing Survey of Individual Food Intakes, and who had completed the Diet and Health Knowledge Survey, which asks about self-perceptions of nutritional intake, awareness of the relationship between diet and health, perceived importance of following nutritional guidelines and other questions related to health and diet.
Each participant was asked 24 questions to evaluate nutrition and health-related psychosocial factors (NHRPF). SES was assessed using education and household income. The authors analyzed the relationship between NHRPF and SES with self-reported dietary intake, diet quality (measured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Eating Index [HEI]), exercise participation, body mass index (BMI), and overweight or obesity. Changes in racial/ethnic differences in weight status were compared with diet and exercise participation.
In general, compared to non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks had higher BMI and scored lower on the HEI, and were less likely to participate in exercise. Hispanics scored higher on the HEI. The racial and ethnic differences in diet and BMI changed little after controlling for NHRPF. But when SES was controlled for, the black–white differences in HEI became smaller and the white–Hispanic differences became greater.
“Our study shows several important findings that could help enhance the understanding of the complex factors that affect disparities in diet, exercise, and obesity across ethnic and SES groups,” commented Dr. Wang. “Different from what we expected, few of the racial/ethnic differences in diet, exercise, and weight status were explained by health- and nutrition-related psychosocial factors. But SES explained a considerable portion of the disparities.”
“The underlying causes of ethnic disparities in eating, exercise, and obesity in the United States are complicated. More well-designed studies with vigorous and comprehensive assessment of related factors are needed to help advance understanding.”
The article is “How Much of Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Dietary Intakes, Exercise, and Weight Status Can Be Explained by Nutrition- and Health-Related Psychosocial Factors and Socioeconomic Status among US Adults?” by Y. Wang and X. Chen. It appears in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 111, Issue 12 (December 2012) published by Elsevier.
Filed under ADA Public, diet | Submit Comment
Consumers Don’t Pay As Much Attention to Nutrition Fact Labels As They Think
Monday, December 5th, 2011
New Eye-Tracking Study Published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association
American Dietetic Association
Tel: 800/877-1600, ext. 4769
Nutrition Facts labels have been used for decades on many food products. Are these labels read in detail by consumers when making purchases? Do people read only certain portions of the labels? According to a new study published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, consumers’ self-reported viewing of Nutrition Facts label components was higher than objectively measured viewing using an eye-tracking device. Researchers also determined that centrally located Nutrition Facts labels are viewed more frequently and for longer than those located peripherally.
“The results of this study suggest that consumers have a finite attention span for Nutrition Facts labels: although most consumers did view labels, very few consumers viewed every component on any label,” according to investigators Dan J. Graham, PhD, and Robert W. Jeffrey, PhD, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. “These results differed from the self-reported survey responses describing typical grocery shopping and health behaviors submitted by the participants.”
Currently most US Nutrition Facts labels are positioned peripherally, not centrally, on food packages and, as such, may be less likely than they could be to catch and hold the eye of a potential consumer, according to the study.
In a simulated grocery shopping exercise, 203 participants observed 64 different grocery products displayed on a computer monitor. Each screen contained three elements, the well-known Nutrition Facts label, a picture and list of ingredients, and a description of the product with price and quantity information. These three elements were presented so that one third of the participants each saw the Nutrition Facts label on the left, right, and center. Each subject was asked whether they would consider buying the product. Participants were aware that their eye movements would be tracked, but unaware that the study focus was nutrition information.
Using a computer equipped with an eye-tracking device, investigators observed that most consumers view label components at the top more than those at the bottom. Further data suggest that the average consumer reads only the top five lines on a Nutrition Facts label.
Self-reported viewing of Nutrition Facts label components was higher than objectively measured viewing. 33% of participants self-reported that they almost always look at calorie content on Nutrition Facts labels, 31% reported that they almost always look at the total fat content, 20% said the same for trans-fat content, 24% for sugar content, and 26% for serving size. However, only 9% of participants actually looked at calorie count for almost all of the products in this study, and about 1% of participants looked at each of these other components (total fat, trans fat, sugar, and serving size) on almost all labels.
When the Nutrition Facts label was presented in the center column, subjects read one or more sections of 61% of the labels compared with 37% and 34% of labels among participants randomly assigned to view labels on the left- and right hand sides of the screen, respectively. In addition, labels in the center column received more than 30% more view time than the same labels when located in a side column.
“Taken together, these results indicate that self-reported Nutrition Facts label use does not accurately represent in vivo use of labels and their components while engaging in a simulated shopping exercise. In addition, location of labels and of specific label components relate to viewing. Consumers are more likely to view centrally located labels and nutrients nearer the label’s top. Because knowing the amounts of key nutrients that foods contain can influence consumers to make healthier purchases, prominently positioning key nutrients, and labels themselves, could substantially impact public health.”
The article is “Location, Location, Location: Eye-Tracking Evidence that Consumers Preferentially View Prominently Positioned Nutrition Information,” by Dan J. Graham, PhD, and Robert W. Jeffery, PhD. It appears in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 111, Issue 11 (November 2011) published by Elsevier.
In an accompanying video Dr. Graham narrates a presentation of his findings. The video may be viewed at http://adajournal.org/content/podcast.
Filed under ADA Public | Submit Comment
ShopWell – Online Grocery List Tool
Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
I just spoke with ShopWell’s dietitian, Marci Harnischfeger, MS, RD, and she walked me through their amazing site. You can make personalized grocery lists for yourself and for others (e.g., family, parents, etc.). While you’re at it, have a look at their fall farmer’s market list.
Filed under farmers market, Grocery, ShopWell | Submit Comment
Milton’s 6th Book: Launching Your Dietetics Career
Monday, September 5th, 2011
I’m thrilled to announce the release of Launching Your Dietetics Career (American Dietetic Association, 2011), which I co-authored with fellow dietitians, Kyle Shadix and Jenna Bell. Finally a guide covering today’s careers in nutrition–a clear and concise survey of the world of the RD, from the healthcare industry to careers in PR and media. Filled with interviews and advice from the movers and shakers in dietetics, the guide covers the difference between a nutritionist and an RD, educational options, the internship, registration, secrets to success, portfolio preparation, getting a job, and much more. Educators will appreicate this guide for their professional seminars in dietetics.
Filed under continuing professional education, Jenna Bell, Kyle Shadix, Launching Your Dietetics Career, Writing | Submit Comment
Friday, July 1st, 2011
Our new dietitian, Stephanie, has a few thoughts on fiber:
Fiber is a substance found only in plants, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. The part of the plant that you eat is called dietary fiber. Fiber passes relatively intact through the intestines and out of your body, which promotes intestinal health.
In addition, it lowers the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and certain cancers. Fiber can help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and help us feel fuller longer, which in turn can help with weight loss!
Fiber is classified into two categories: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber comes from the storage material of plants and is used to store water. They are found in foods that are thought of as “starches” and are also known as pectins, gums, and mucilages. Soluble fiber has been proven to help lower cholesterol, manage blood glucose levels, assist in weight control, and prevent as well as relieve constipation and diarrhea. It’s found in grains, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, squash, lima and kidney beans, peas, bananas, mangoes, avocados, oranges, melons, and apples and pears.
Insoluble fiber, also known as roughage, helps digestion and promotes regularity by acting as a stimulant. This can be beneficial for those with constipation. Insoluble fiber is often found in plant foods that seem rough, stringy, with a tough skin, peel, or seeds. They are also known as cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignins. These include whole wheat flour, seeds, nuts, popcorn, beans and lentils, unpeeled tree fruits, and cabbage.
On average Americans only consume between 10-15 grams of fiber, but the goal is 25-35 grams per day. Here is a recipe from Epicurious I’ve tried that can help you increase the fiber in your diet.
Filed under beans, carbohydrates, cholesterol, diet, fiber, health, heart health, obesity, recipe, Stephanie Gagliardo, weight | 1 Comment
Saturday, June 25th, 2011
The American Dietetic Association’s Heather R. Mangieri, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, recently discussed the relevance of attitude to behavior change. How fitting for behaviors pertaining to food and diet. The highlight of her post for me was mention of Bandura’s self-efficacy concept: if you think you can do it, regardless of skill, then you’ll find a way. Have a look at her post and let us know what you think. What goals can you set? Maybe start with an attitude goal . . . .
Filed under ADA Public, diet, dieting, eating, nutrition | Submit Comment
MyPlate – New Graphic
Friday, June 3rd, 2011
First Lady, Agriculture Secretary Launch MyPlate Icon as a New Reminder to Help Consumers to Make Healthier Food Choices
WASHINGTON, June 2, 2011 – First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled the federal government’s new food icon, MyPlate, to serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices. MyPlate is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times and to seek more information to help them do that by going to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. The new MyPlate icon emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups.
The new healthful eating graphic for consumers.
“This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating and as a mom, I can already tell how much this is going to help parents across the country,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “When mom or dad comes home from a long day of work, we’re already asked to be a chef, a referee, a cleaning crew. So it’s tough to be a nutritionist, too. But we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates. As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.”
“With so many food options available to consumers, it is often difficult to determine the best foods to put on our plates when building a healthy meal,” said Secretary Vilsack. “MyPlate is an uncomplicated symbol to help remind people to think about their food choices in order to lead healthier lifestyles. This effort is about more than just giving information, it is a matter of making people understand there are options and practical ways to apply them to their daily lives.”
Originally identified in the Child Obesity Task Force report which noted that simple, actionable advice for consumers is needed, MyPlate will replace the MyPyramid image as the government’s primary food group symbol as an easy-to-understand visual cue to help consumers adopt healthy eating habits consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. MyPyramid will remain available to interested health professionals and nutrition educators in a special section of the new website.
ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information to individuals, health professionals, nutrition educators, and the food industry to help consumers build healthier diets with resources and tools for dietary assessment, nutrition education, and other user-friendly nutrition information. As Americans are experiencing epidemic rates of overweight and obesity, the online resources and tools can empower people to make healthier food choices for themselves, their families, and their children. Later this year, USDA will unveil an exciting “go-to” online tool that consumers can use to personalize and manage their dietary and physical activity choices.
Over the next several years, USDA will work with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’sMove! initiative and public and private partners to promote MyPlate and ChooseMyPlate.gov as well as the supporting nutrition messages and “how-to” resources.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, launched in January of this year, form the basis of the federal government’s nutrition education programs, federal nutrition assistance programs, and dietary advice provided by health and nutrition professionals.
The Guidelines messages include:
• Enjoy your food, but eat less.
• Avoid oversized portions.
Foods to Increase
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
• Make at least half your grains whole grains.
Foods to Reduce
• Compare sodium (salt) in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose foods with lower numbers.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Coupled with these tested, actionable messages will be the “how-tos” for consumer behavior change. A multi-year campaign calendar will focus on one action-prompting message at a time starting with “Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables.”
“What we have learned over the years is that consumers are bombarded by so many nutrition messages that it makes it difficult to focus on changes that are necessary to improve their diet,” said Secretary Vilsack. “This new campaign calendar will help unify the public and private sectors to coordinate efforts and highlight one desired change for consumers at a time.”
As part of this new initiative, USDA wants to see how consumers are putting MyPlate in to action by encouraging consumers to take a photo of their plates and share on Twitter with the hash-tag #MyPlate. USDA also wants to see where and when consumers think about healthy eating. Take the Plate [http://www.choosemyplate.gov/global_nav/media_resources.html] and snap a photograph with MyPlate to share with our USDA Flickr Photo Group [http://www.flickr.com/people/usdagov/].
For more information, visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Filed under diet, First Lady Michelle Obama, health, MyPlate, nutrition, nutrition symbol | Submit Comment