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Court Upholds NYC Calorie-Count Rule

February 17, 2009: 04:29 PM EST
New York city’s rule that requires restaurant chains with more than 15 outlets in the city to disclose the calorie content of menu items is legal, says the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals. The rule was challenged by the New York State Restaurant Association, which represents 7,000 outlets. The Association says it may appeal the ruling. Other states have implemented or are considering similar rules, aimed at combating obesity. The National Council of Chain Restaurants says members want to disclose nutritional information, but is calling for a national standard, saying that the differing state and city rules are confusing. Congress is considering a measure that would require calorie counts on menus in national chains with 20 or more outlets.
"Appeals Court Upholds NYC's Calories-On-Menus Rule", Newsday, February 17, 2009, © Newsday Inc.
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Diet Drinks have Role to Play

February 16, 2009: 08:11 PM EST
Research has shown that diet drinks containing non-nutritive sweeteners can help people to control their weight, but only if they’re not used as an excuse to eat more calories from other sources. Only about 15 percent of Americans regularly choose food and drinks that contain artificial sweeteners, despite the rising tide of obesity. Reasons for sticking with caloric sweeteners such as sugar and high-fructose corn syrup include taste and safety fears. In a few cases the safety fears have been well founded, but in general there is no evidence that the wide range of alternatives on the market actually cause health problems. Successfully using diet sodas as part of a weight loss plan comes down to behavior rather than biology, says Dr Barry M. Popkin of the University of North Carolina, who reviewed 224 studies with a colleague, Richard D. Mattes of Purdue University. Non-nutritive sweeteners help with weight loss only if they substitute for calories, not if they are used as an excuse to consume high-calorie foods or drinks.
Jane E. Brody, "Sweeteners: Real Aid or Excuse to Indulge?", New York Times, February 16, 2009, © The New York Times Company
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Placing Bets Can Make Dieting More Effective

February 4, 2009: 08:17 PM EST
Putting cash on the line is becoming the latest fad in the weight-loss business. A number of internet companies have been set up to help people place bets on meeting weight-loss targets, in competition with friends or others. Recent studies support the idea that a financial incentive is a good way to encourage people to stick to their diet plan. Among web companies helping people to make friendly bets is StickK.com, which motivates people by asking them to sign signing contracts: if they fail in their goals, it costs them money. The lost money can go to a friend, a charity, or a “non-charity”, which appears to be the most effective. People who know that their cash will go to a group they don’t like are better at sticking to their diets. Fatbet.net and makemoneylosingweight.com provide a forum for publicly tracking weight and setting specific incentives, but don’t handle the money. StickK.com takes the money up front via credit card.
Pamela Weiler Grayson, "Dieting? Put Your Money Where Your Fat Is", New York Times, February 04, 2009, © The New York Times Company
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Wellbeing Key Driver in Milk Launches

February 1, 2009: 04:13 PM EST
More than half (53 percent) of the milk-based beverages launched in 2008 promoted health as their primary benefit, a 42 percent increase over 2007, says Innova. Health benefits were part of the marketing mix for 17 percent of last year’s new products. There was a 10 percent increase (from 164 to 181 products) in beverages containing inulin and oligofructose, both of which are prebiotics. Gut health featured in 17 percent of the product launches, up from 13 percent in 2007 and 2 percent five years ago. Low fat claims fell from 17 percent to 2 percent, low sugar claims dropped from 3 percent to 2 percent, and convenience claims dropped from 34 percent to 17 percent. The trends “reflected the fact that consumers were becoming increasingly aware of specific health claims within the well-being category”, says Tim Van der Schraelen, Beneo-Orafti's marketing and communication manager. The survey was commissioned by Beneo-Orafti.
"Dairy Drinks: Health in Control as Convenience takes Back Seat", Functional Ingredients, February 01, 2009, © Penton Media, Inc.
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Fat on the Menu at R&D Seminar

February 1, 2009: 04:07 PM EST
Consumers are looking at the facts on nutritional labels rather than the claims, says Marjorie Gilbert, food ingredients director for AarhusKarlshamn USA Inc. In a presentation (“The Fact of the Matter: The Facts are in the Nutritional Panel”) to Prepared Foods’ 2008 R&D Seminar-East, Gilbert cited figures from a June 2007 IFIC study that shows consumers look first for the expiry date, then the Nutrition Facts Panel, then the ingredient statement. Fewer looked at statements about health and nutrition benefits in 2007 than they did in 2006. When looking at the nutrition label, they look first for calories, then total fats, then trans fats. Saturated fats are sixth on the list. Olive oil is considered the healthiest, followed by canola, soybean and sunflower. Other presentations covered reducing fat in chocolate; use of omega-3 oils in products; emulsifiers in cakes; and use of omega-6.
"Fats From Nutritional Nuances to Physical Functionality", Prepared Foods, February 01, 2009, © BNP Media
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Diet Factor in Prostate Cancer

January 29, 2009: 05:46 PM EST
A low-fat, vegetarian diet may reduce the chances of men getting prostate cancer or prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate). Dr James Carmody and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester found in a recent pilot study that levels of PSA, an antigen used to measure the risk of the cancer, increase more slowly in people on a diet low in saturated fat, low in animal protein, and high in vegetable protein. The higher the levels of PSA, the greater the cancer risk. More clinical trials are needed to “examine the effect of a similar diet on clinical disease markers of disease progression with a larger sample of men followed for a substantially longer period”, the research report says.
"Low-Fat, Vegetarian Diet Slows PSA Doubling Time", Reuters, January 29, 2009, © Thomson Reuters
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Weight Loss Linked to Incontinence in Obese Women

January 28, 2009: 06:05 PM EST
A program to reduce incontinence through diet and exercise has provided “conclusive” evidence to support the commonly held belief that losing weight can help to reduce incontinence in obese women. The Program to Reduce Incontinence by Diet and Exercise (PRIDE), conducted in Birmingham, Alabama, and Providence, Rhode Island, shows that women can reduce weekly urinary incontinence episodes by nearly one-half (47 percent) if they’re on an intensive weight-loss program. Only 22 percent of women in an information-only group achieved the same level of reduction.
"Weight loss reduces incontinence in obese women, UCSF study shows", January 28, 2009, © The University of California
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Fast Food Negates Breastfeeding Benefits

January 27, 2009: 03:24 PM EST
Fast food can negate the beneficial effect of breastfeeding in preventing asthma in children. The links between breastfeeding and asthma are well known, but this study shows that children who eat fast food once or twice a week lose that benefit. A recent study shows there are links between fast food and asthma, breastfeeding and asthma, and all three together. Senior author Dr Anita Kozyrskyj, an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, says that her recent study shows that breastfeeding for too short a time was linked to a higher risk of asthma, and children who had been exclusively breastfed for 12 weeks or longer as infants had a lower risk. The lower risk was canceled out if the children ate fast food. The study did not reveal a cause, but the authors say the high fat and salt content may be to blame. Nutrition is only one of many factors thought to influence asthma.
Nutrition Horizon, "Fast-Food Diet Cancels Out Benefits of Breastfeeding in Preventing Asthma", January 27, 2009, © CNS Media
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Mothers Flexible over Kids’ Food

January 27, 2009: 08:26 PM EST
Mothers are choosing healthier foods for their children, and the kids are responding by beginning to like them, according to research conducted by Stamford-based Just Kid Inc. In a report entitled “The Moms Food Study: Understanding Moms’ Needs for Her Kids”, Kim Bealle, managing director of strategy and innovation, says that moms balance a number of factors when choosing food for their children. Emotional, rational and environmental factors drive the choices, which are balanced by what Mom thinks is best and what she knows her kids will like. Different factors come into play for each meal. “Eating right” topped the list of preferences: healthy and nutritious, helps establish good long-term eating habits, and “fills my child up” ranked over 80 percent in the survey. Authenticity is important, and it’s OK to add a bit of fun: healthy cereal with chocolate bits is acceptable, for example. Treats are OK for special occasions, but there’s a preference for small serving sizes to keep the number of calories down. A combination of balanced nutrition, fresh, unprocessed, fewer preservatives, all-natural foods and more traditional ingredients is the mothers’ holy grail. The kids themselves know more about healthy eating and are beginning to enjoy their fruit and vegetables, Bealle says.
Diane Toops, "Moms Choosing Healthier Foods for Kids", FoodProcessing.com, January 27, 2009, © 2004-2009 Food Processing
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Weight Loss Pill Eludes Drugmakers

January 22, 2009: 04:45 PM EST
The search is still on for a weight loss pill that really works. Some of the pills on the market at the moment, such as GlaxoSmithKline's Alii, and its full strength prescription counterpart, Xenical, have unpleasant side effects and less-than-significant results. Fen-phen was taken off the market; Meridia has been linked to hypertension; and Accomplia is not approved for use in the US. There are, however, a few products in the pipeline, including Orexigen Therapeutics’ experi-mental drug Contrave (which fell short of US standards in a recent late-stage trial) and Arena Pharmaceuticals' lorcaserin, which fared well in a mid-stage trial. Pfizer and Merck are working on the problem.
Debra Sherman, "Want to Lose Weight? Don't Count on Pills", Reuters, January 22, 2009, © Reuters Foundation
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Dangers for Lean People in Cutting Calories

January 22, 2009: 03:53 PM EST
Overweight people may gain benefits from reducing calorie intake, but lean people gain nothing and it may shorten their lives, according to researchers Raj Sohal and Michael Forster. Reducing calories as an anti-aging strategy may be “pointless, frustrating and even dangerous,” says Sohal, professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Pharmacy. Working with Forster, from the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Sohal found that a “fat” strain of mouse benefited from caloric restriction, but lean mice did not. The researchers came to a simple conclusion: Caloric restriction is only useful when an animal eats more than it can burn off. The two researchers found in a 2003 study that caloric restriction begun in older mice actually shortened their life span, suggesting that lean humans should be careful about cutting calories. It is also better for overweight people to skip the double cheeseburger than it is to turn up the treadmill after binging, the researchers say. Over-exercising can cause injuries and long-term wear and tear. Restricting calories worked best in mice that gained weight rapidly in early adulthood, Sohal and Forster found.
"Eating Less May Not Extend Life", Newswise, January 22, 2009, © Newswise
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Children Backslide as they Age

January 9, 2009: 04:45 PM EST
Children quickly lose good eating and exercise habits after they move from pre-school to school. Researchers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Brown University Medical School relied on parents’ perceptions in a study of diet and exercise in their children. Parents of pre-school children (aged 2-5 years) said their children had good eating habits and activity levels, while parents of 6-12 year olds felt their children had less healthful diets and activities. The older age group consumed more sweetened drinks and salty and sweet snacks, was less likely to eat dinner with their parents, and more likely to spend time at weekends watching television. However, despite the parents’ perception that younger children had healthier diets, researcher Dr Hollie A. Raynor said, “"Although preschool-aged children engaged in more healthful behaviors according to parent recall, the preschool-aged children only met 2 dietary recommendations, fruit and low-fat dairy intake”. The diets of older children also did not meet guidelines.
"Eating Habits and Exercise Behaviors in Children Can Deteriorate Early", Nutrition Horizon , January 09, 2009, © CNS Media
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Inactivity Not Driving Obesity Epidemic

January 8, 2009: 04:49 PM EST
Physical activity may not be a major player in maintaining healthy weight, suggest the authors of a study comparing women from Chicago and Nigeria. Researchers from Loyola University Health System and other centers compared the two groups, and found that they burned about the same amount of energy through physical activity – 760 calories a day in Chicago, and 800 a day in Nigeria. The Chicago women averaged 184 pounds in weight, and the Nigerian 127. "Decreased physical activity may not be the primary driver of the obesity epidemic," said Loyola nutritionist Amy Luke, Ph.D, one of the study authors. Colleague Richard Cooper, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, notes that people burn more calories when they exercise, but they compensate by eating more. Diet was the most likely factor in the weight difference, the researchers found. The Nigerian women consumed more fiber and carbohydrates, and less fat and animal protein than the Chicago group, whose diet was 40 percent to 45 percent fat and high in processed foods.
"Researchers: Physical Activity May Not Be a Key Factor to Obesity Epidemic", Nutrition Horizon , January 08, 2009, © CNS Media BV
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Slow Eating Benefits Young Adults

January 6, 2009: 04:53 PM EST
“Slow down and eat” appears to be the key message to take away from a recent study of young adults. The research on 18-25 year olds shows that eating alone or on the run may result in less healthy food choices. Investigators from the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, found that eating with friends and family was associated with eating more healthful foods, and with higher intakes of calcium and fiber among males. “Eating on the run" was linked to higher consumption of soft drinks, fast food and fat, and with lower intake of several healthful foods among females.
"Young Adults Need to Make More Time for Healthy Meals", January 06, 2009, © Elsevier Health Sciences
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Obesity Factor in Ovarian Cancer

January 5, 2009: 04:56 PM EST
Obese women who have never used menopausal hormone therapy are at higher risk of developing ovarian cancer than similar women of normal weight. The mechanism is thought to be hormonal. The finding comes from a review by a team led by Dr Michael F. Leitzmann of the National Cancer Institute of data from nearly 95,000 women aged 50 to 71, 303 of whom had ovarian cancer. Obesity was associated with an 80 percent increase in the risk of the disease among women who had not taken hormones after menopause. There was no link between the cancer and woman who had ever used hormones. Overweight postmenopausal women produce more estrogen, which may stimulate the growth of ovarian cells and play a role in the development of ovarian cancer. The risk was also higher in overweight postmenopausal women with no family history of ovarian cancer.
"Study Links Obesity to Elevated Risk of Ovarian Cancer", Nutrition Horizon , January 05, 2009, © CNS Media BV
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Unilever Seeks Divorce over Hoodia

November 14, 2008: 07:27 PM EST
Unilever is discussing terminating a development agreement with Phytopharm to create a drink-based format using hoodia extract. The company is not satisfied with the results of clinical studies. The two companies signed a license and joint development agreement in December 2004. Unilever says the product is not suitable for its portfolio, while Phytopharm believes that pre-clinical and clinical data justify further work in the areas of obesity, and pharmaceutical and veterinary applications. Hoodia extract has been shown to reduce caloric intake in overweight subjects. Phytopharm says it will seek other partners.
"Phytopharm in Talks with Unilever to End Hoodia Extract Pact,", November 14, 2008, © CNS Media
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UK Govt Launches Obesity Campaign

November 11, 2008: 07:47 PM EST
More than 12,000 grassroots organizations, including the British Heart Foundation and the Fitness Industry Association, have signed up to the UK government’s $413 million anti-obesity Change4Life initiative. Companies including Kellogg's, ITV, Asda, Tesco and PepsiCo have also signed up. The drive to tackle obesity includes price cuts on healthy food from Tesco and Adsa, a national health campaign on ITV, and Pepsi stars featuring in fitness advertisements. The government is also in talks with companies including BSkyB, Kraft and Unilever about joining the initiative, working through the Advertising Association. Health secretary Alan Johnson says the aim is to “create a lifestyle revolution that will help families to eat well, move more and live longer”.
Mark Sweney, "Government Unveils Details of £275m Anti-Obesity Push", November 11, 2008, © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008
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Optiva Gets Heart Health Tick

November 10, 2008: 07:29 PM EST
Kellogg has gained the endorsement of UK cholesterol charity Heart UK for its Optiva cereal brand. It plans to spend $1.71 million on a UK marketing campaign to gain a larger share of the market, and has introduced a new variety, containing oat flakes, hazelnuts and almonds. Kellogg has invested $30 million in the brand since it was launched in August 2006. Optiva is available in Sainsbury's and Morrisons in the UK, and is targeted at the aging population increasingly concerned about cholesterol and heart health.
"UK: Kellogg, Heart Charity in Optivita Push", November 10, 2008, © just-food.com
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