Tag Archives: kids

How to Stay Away from BPA!

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

(Huffington Post) The more I know about Bisphenol A, the more I realize what a truly sneaky little substance it is.

First I found out it was leaching into my water from plastic bottles, so I stopped buying bottled water and started filling up from the tap. Then I learned that BPA can enter the body through the coating on register receipts, so I started asking the cashier to trash them for me. And, most recently, I found out that because it coats the inside of cans — even those that contain baby formula — the stuff can sneak into our food, too. (So much for mom’s “homemade” black bean soup.)

In fact, a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicated that 93 percent of us have detectable levels of BPA in our bodies at any given time.

Yikes!

Why should we worry? In a nutshell: BPA is an endocrine disruptor that has been linked to cancer, birth defects, brain and nervous system dysfunction, and reproductive abnormalities.

Double yikes.

But now, BPA, your days may be numbered. That’s because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced plans to test you for toxicity and environmental impact, according to UPI. This comes on the heels of a January announcement that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would examine the potential human health effects of BPA in the food supply, and last year’s FDA proclamation that parents should take “reasonable steps” to reduce their infants’ exposure.

That’s good news, because a recent study reported in Endocrine Today linked thyroid disruption to BPA — adding yet another negative impact to an extremely long list of BPA side effects.

The bad news is that those silver bottles we’ve all been filling up — in order to avoid BPA — may actually release up to eight times more BPA than polycarbonate plastic, according to a new study reported by ScienceDirect.

So, what’s a concerned citizen to do? Check with manufacturers to make sure your bottles are made from stainless steel, rather than aluminum lined with epoxy-based resin. Wash your hands after you handle receipts. Limit your intake of canned foods, and look for cans that are “BPA-free.” Then take a look at a series of recipes which doctors say can block the impact of BPA, which we collected for Healthy Child Healthy World’s Eat Healthy section.

Finally, help us urge Campbell’s — one of the largest canned food corporations — to stop using BPA in their cans. Sign our petition telling Campbell’s that BPA is NOT “Mmm mmm good!”

BPA, you’re in our sights. Consider yourself warned.

Food Industries Pressuring Congress to Scrap New Healthy School Lunch Guidelines

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed common-sense nutrition guidelines to improve school lunches and breakfasts, including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk and less salt, unhealthy fats, and calories. So you thought all that news about Congress passing a new Child Nutrition Bill meant that we had solved the problem of junk food in our schools, right?

Think again.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the french fry industry and other food groups are pressuring Congress to scrap the USDA’s new healthy school lunch rules and start from scratch. They write:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed common-sense nutrition guidelines to improve school lunches and breakfasts, including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk and less salt, unhealthy fats, and calories.

If industry is successful in convincing the Senate to do the same, the goal of seeing healthy school lunches in cafeterias across the country will be in serious jeopardy.

Click here to find out how you can tell Congress not to cave to the food industry lobbyists.

(TakePart.com)

Cartoons + Food Packaging = Pestering Kids

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

Are we creating a generation of naggers? New research out of the United States shows a direct correlation between cartoons on food boxes and the amount of pestering parents will receive from their children.

The placement of recognizable cartoons and figures on food boxes, like cereal packets, has been a successful tactic for decades.
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According to new research in the Journal of Children and Media, the packaging, characters and commercials all make a difference to the amount of nagging the children will do.

Those children who watched more television advertisements were found to be more likely to nag for products with relate-able characters on them, even if they did not like the food, the US ABC reports.

Not only did they nag more, but the kids who watched more TV had more varied forms of nagging – juvenile nagging, nagging to test boundaries and manipulative nagging.

Juvenile nagging consists is the repeated asking for items, whining and even flailing arms and stomping feet.

Children who nagged to test boundaries engaged in public tantrums and putting items in the cart even as their mother refused.

Manipulative nagging consists of sweet talking the mother, or arguing that they needed it because other children had it.

“Our study indicates that manipulative nagging and overall nagging increased with age,”

Holly Henry, a co-author of the study and a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins said in a statement.

Researchers said mothers of 5-year-olds recalled more negative nagging experiences, researchers said.

The research is a timely addition to the debate about advertising junk food to children in Australia, particularly when they are still seeing advertisements for junk food left, right and centre, two years on from the voluntary marketing code against the practice.
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The Australian Food and Grocery Council suggested to junk food advertisers in August 2009 that they should stop advertising unhealthy food choices during children’s programs and were also advised that maybe they shouldn’t aim the advertisements at the children.

But new reports have shown ads selling unhealthy food options on television are just as prevalent as they were before the code was introduced.

The number of fast food ads is even higher than it was before the code, and the amount of junk food ads seen on our screens hasn’t wavered.

Is anyone really surprised by this?

Did anyone really expect companies to voluntarily reduce their profits by not advertising their products to some of the most impressionable members of society?

The suggestions, not least from the Australian Medical Association, that the government should step in to ban junk food advertising targeted at children has been met with varying responses.

Some say the government involvement is a necessary measure to protect our children, while others argue the move would further increase the Nanny state Australia exists in.

The US study analysed surveys and interviews from 64 mothers with children between 3 and 5, who were asked questions about family eating and shopping habits, media use and how they dealt with nagging children.

“She picks up the characters by osmosis,” one mother who took part in the study said of her 4-year-old daughter.

“It really became clear to me how much TV impacts his preferences when he asked me to go to Burger King and I said, ‘Why Burger King?’ and he replied he had seen it on TV,” another mother with a four year old said.

Co-author of the study Dina Boraekowski, associate professor at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said there is no doubt the advertising tactics work, but companies should be focused on using it more positively.

We know marketing works, so the trick is to make it work for healthier products,” she said.
The most successful cartoons used included Dora the Explorer, Elmo, Spongebob and Scooby Doo.
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“It’s been a battle with my child,” said one mother. “No reward in whining.”

“Giving in was consistently cited as one of the least-effective strategies,” said Henry.

Almost 40 per cent of mothers said they tried to combat the nagging by limiting their child’s exposure to commercials, which researchers found was the most effective way to limit the nagging and consumption of unhealthy foods and drinks.

They also suggested explaining the marketing ploy to children, by telling them they would be tempted by products when they go shopping, but they may not be healthy.

“I don’t’ think marketing is going away anytime soon, said Borzekowski. “We need to help parents deal with the current situation.”

On Monday, the Victorian government announced a Ministry of Food campaign, similar to the one implemented by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, to educate families about food and health.

The initiatives come after new figures revealed on in four Victorian primary school students are overweight or obese.

A $40 million program is being rolled out in key communities to offer families practical advice and classes on healthy eating, grocery shopping and lifestyle choices.

(Retrieved from: Jessica Burke, Food Magazine)

Michelle Obama vs. Childhood Obesity

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Foodfacts.com likes to stay updated with all the recent news and information pertaining to foods and nutrition. As part of Michelle Obama’s campaign to fight childhood obesity, she has announced that she has teamed up with over 1,500 major food retailers to promote more accessibility to fruits and vegetables in urban areas. Check out the article below.

WASHINGTON: The US first lady, Michelle Obama, has teamed up with major food retailers to launch an attack on ”food deserts” as a key part of the US battle to bring down childhood obesity.

lets-move”We can give people all the information and advice in the world about healthy eating and exercise, but if parents can’t buy the food they need to prepare those meals because their only options for groceries are the gas station or the local mini-mart, then all that is just talk,” Mrs Obama said on Wednesday.

Many US inner cities are ”food deserts”, or areas where shops selling healthy foods are rare or expensive, and residents live on processed meals and sugary drinks that pile on the weight with scant nutritional benefit.

USA/Major food retailers pledged to open more than 1500 shops over the next five years to sell fresh, nutritious foods in communities that are currently underserved.

The fight against ”food deserts” is one of the linchpins in Obama’s ”Let’s Move” campaign, to try to bring down the staggering rate of childhood obesity, which affects one in five children in the US.

When overweight children are included in the tally, one in three American kids is found to have a weight problem.

”There’s a reason why we set a goal that every family in every community in America would have access to fresh, healthy, affordable food,” Mrs Obama said.

”’Let’s Move‘ is about giving parents real choices about the food their kids are eating.
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”If a parent wants to pack a piece of fruit in a child’s lunch, if a parent wants to add some lettuce for a salad at dinner, they shouldn’t have to take three city buses, or pay some expensive taxi, to go to another community to make that possible,” she said.

”They should have fresh food retailers right in their communities – places that sell healthy food at reasonable prices so that they can feed their families in the way that they see fit, because … that can have a real, measurable impact on a family’s health.”

(theage.com.au)

Parents Losing Custody of Obese Children

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At Foodfacts.com we like to present you with the latest news and research revolving around foods, ingredients, and healthy eating. Because many of our followers are parents, we like to present you with information regarding parenting and child nutrition.

We must share that there was a recent opinion piece from the July issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association arguing that parents should lose custody of their obese children. Author, Dr. David Ludwig an obesity specialist at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, believes that although parents should not be blamed for their children’s weight status, the children should be placed in a situation where they are able to receive appropriate attention and assistance to maintain a healthy weight.

This article has received a huge amount of feedback in the past few days in regards to such a drastic step in removing children from their home. Although many parents do believe that parents should carry some responsibility for a child’s weight status, they also argue that Dr. Ludwig’s suggestion of taking away the child is wildly unnecessary and unethical.
We know that there are millions of children currently considered overweight or obese. We also know that parents may lack the knowledge or resources to help their children. Here are some tips that may help get your child back on the right track.

Keeping your children in shape:

1. Consult with a doctor and/or registered dietitian. If your child is overweight it’s important to regularly see a physician to make sure they are not at risk for any associated conditions, such as diabetes. Diabetes in the US is steadily increasing, which can cause other related complications such as heart disease, sleep apnea, and hypertension.

Also, see a registered dietitian to have a menu plan created for your child. An RD will be able to provide nutrition counseling and develop a plan over time that will help your child lose and maintain a healthy weight.
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2. Play outside. With video games and TV programs plaguing modern society, people are more confined to sitting on their couches rather than getting outside. Set aside an hour or two every day to arrange outdoor activities for the family. Bike riding, going to the park, water activities, and gentle hiking are just of few of many activities you can plan for your family. If not every day, try to designate 3 days out of the week where you can play outside, and ignore the technology indoors.
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3. Fruits and vegetables. Consuming more fruits and vegetables are a great start to eating healthy. For children, try consuming 2 servings of fruit, and 3 servings of vegetables a day. It can be easy to incorporate these servings into your diet. Try adding banana to cereals, blueberries in smoothies, peppers and onions in an omelet, etc. The options are endless, and definitely rewarding.
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4. Calcium-rich foods. Fat-free and low-fat milks are a great source of added calcium to the diet, but they aren’t the only choices. You can also do low-fat yogurts with no added sugars to help your children get the calcium they need, and to also fix a sweet tooth.
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5. Healthy snacks. You may want to consider stepping away from cheesy nacho chips, sugary fruit snacks, and salty processed foods. These snacks fix cravings, but further damage your health and weight-loss goals. Instead, try snacking on plain popcorn, celery with peanut butter, or even vegetable hummus with crackers.

New Nutrition Standards! .. made by Major Food Companies???

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Today at Foodfacts.com, we have come across a recent event that we feel should be mentioned. We know many of our followers are taking a healthy initiative to better feed themselves and their families. However, sometimes this can be difficult because the amount of processed foods that plague many supermarkets. The majority of junk in stores is directly targeted at children, of course by major food corporations just looking to make profit. Take a look at what is currently going on.

Today the Council of Better Business Bureaus in Washington, DC announced that major food companies such as Kellogg’s, Nestle, Kraft, and ConAgra will be cutting down on marketing unhealthy products aimed at children. Products will now only be marketed if they meet a new set of nutritional standards. What they forgot to mention was that the government had recently proposed a strict set of standards that these food companies disapproved of and discarded, then they turned around and made their own. Is this really ethical? Can food companies with a reputation of marketing mostly junk in boxes really be allowed to come up with their own nutritional standards? And why just now? After years of increasing numbers of children with obesity and diabetes, do they just start initiating nutritional standards? Sounds sketchy.

Here is the new criteria list set by the “Sensible Food Policy Coalition” (which is now what the big food corporations now refer to themselves as):

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Juices. For juices, no added sugars are permitted, and the serving must contain no more than 160 calories.

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Dairy. This category includes products such as milk and yogurt. For ready to drink flavored milk, an 8 fluid ounce portion is limited to 24 grams (g) of total sugars. For yogurt products, a 6 ounce portion is limited to 170 calories and 23 grams of total sugars. These sugars criteria include both naturally-occurring and sugars added for flavoring.

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Grains, fruits and vegetable products (and items not in other categories). This category includes products such as cereals, crackers and cereal bars. Foods with ≤ 150 calories, such as most children’s breakfast cereals, must contain no more than 1.5 g of saturated fat, 290 milligrams (mg) of sodium and 10 g of sugar (products with > 150−200 calories get proportionately higher limits). Foods in this category also must provide ≥ ½ serving of foods to encourage (fruits, vegetables, non- or low-fat dairy, and whole grains) or ≥ 10% of the Daily Value of an essential nutrient.

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Seeds, nuts, nut butters and spreads. Foods in this category, which includes peanut butters, must have no more than 220 calories, 3.5 g of saturated fat, 240 mg of sodium and 4 g of sugar per 2 tablespoons. Foods in this category also must provide at least one ounce of protein equivalent.

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Main dishes and entrees. Foods in this category, such as canned pastas, must have no more than 350 calories, 10 percent calories from saturated fat, 600 mg of sodium and 15 g of sugar per serving. Foods in this category also must provide either ≥ 1 serving of foods to encourage or ≥ ½ serving of foods to encourage and ≥ 10% of the Daily Value of two essential nutrients.

What do you think about these new standards? Let us know!

LA School District Bans Flavored Milk

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Jamie Oliver has set forth a new generation of revamping school lunches. As seen in the first season of his popular TV show, “Food Revolution”, Oliver first modified school lunches in Huntington, West Virginia. This community was deemed by the CDC as one of the top unhealthiest cities in America, with high rates of obesity, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. The main concept of this revolution was to get rid of sodium-packed processed foods, and bring in fresh foods made on site with loads of fruits and vegetables.

This year Jamie Oliver focused his attention on the Los Angeles School District. Below is an article from Los Angeles Times revealing their latest triumph.

L.A. Unified removes flavored milk from menus

The Los Angeles school district becomes by far the largest in the country to do so, as part of its effort to make school food healthier and help combat childhood obesity.

The Los Angeles Unified School District on Tuesday, with a 5-2 vote on a new dairy contract, became by far the largest district in the country to remove flavored milk from its menus, part of its effort to make school food healthier and help combat childhood obesity.

The milk issue has overshadowed other changes in the district’s food services division, which serves 650,000 meals a day at 1,000 sites. A menu overhaul is underway that will mean fewer meals that resemble fast food and more vegetarian offerings. Spinach tortellini in butternut squash sauce and California sushi rolls, along with many ethnic foods, are to be added. Corn dogs, chicken nuggets and other breaded items are out, said Dennis Barrett, food services director.

“Absolutely, by the fall the district will be a national leader,” said Matthew Sharp, senior advocate with the California Food Policy Advocates, who has long worked on school food reform.

The Board of Education does not generally vote on individual menu items, but it weighed in on flavored milk because it must approve large contracts. The board approved a five-year, $100-million dairy contract Tuesday that excludes chocolate and strawberry milk. It includes low-fat and nonfat plain milk as well as soy and Lactaid milks.

L.A. Unified, the nation’s second-largest district behind New York City, has been in the forefront among large urban districts in the effort to improve cafeteria food. The district banned sodas on campuses in 2004, starting a trend followed by the state and districts across the country. Later that year, the school board passed a motion to ban the sale of junk food during the school day by restricting the calories and fat content in snack foods. It also endorsed farm-to-school programs and called for more produce to be served.

And in 2005, the board approved the Cafeteria Improvement Motion, which required that foods have less salt, banned added trans-fats and limited saturated fats.

Not every initiative has panned out. A call for salad bars at all schools “where facilities permit” has left many campuses without them. And some school food activists and others say the cafeterias still have a long way to go.

Among his first acts as superintendent in April, John Deasy appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s TV talk show with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to say he would propose eliminating flavored milk.

Responding to Tuesday’s decision, Oliver said, “This is a giant step forward for the health and future of 680,000 kids in Los Angeles, and leads the way for more school districts around the country to follow.” Oliver set his recent “Food Revolution” reality TV series in Los Angeles, and, among other things, loaded a school bus with sand to demonstrate students’ sugar consumption.

Parents and others have also lobbied against chocolate and strawberry milk, saying flavored milk contains unnecessary added sugar in a county where about one in three kids is overweight or obese.

Board member Tamar Galatzan, who voted against the plain-milk contract, suggested that the district was letting “a TV chef who’s trying to get publicity” dictate the decision.

“I think we are demonizing milk,” Galatzan said. The juice the district serves at breakfast has more sugar than flavored milk, she said.

Board member Yolie Flores, who voted in favor of the contract, said students tell her that food is their No. 1 issue at school, and she wondered how it can be appealing and healthy when the district has “77 pathetic cents” to spend on food per meal.

A cup of fat-free chocolate milk served in L.A. Unified has 120 calories, with 20 grams (80 calories) of sugar. Strawberry fat-free milk has 130 calories, with 26 grams of sugar. White, plain nonfat milk has 90 calories, with 12 grams of sugar. (Milk contains some natural sugar in the form of lactose.) For comparison, a cup of Coke has 26 grams of sugar.

Emily Ventura, a research fellow at USC’s Childhood Obesity Research Center, said a child who chooses a school breakfast of sweetened cereal, chocolate milk, coffee cake and juice would eat 51 grams, or 204 calories, of added sugar.

Some flavored-milk advocates say students won’t drink milk at all if chocolate or strawberry isn’t offered. Julie Buric, vice president of marketing for the Milk Processors Education Program, cited an industry-funded study that shows milk consumption can drop 35% when flavored milk disappears. And in January the dairy industry held a seminar for California cafeteria workers called “Keep Flavored Milk From Dropping Out of School.”

About 60% of the milk taken by students is flavored, and some officials as well as the dairy industry say plain-milk-only policies could keep kids from the lunch lines altogether. Students are required to take three of the four items offered for breakfast and four of the five at lunch in order for school districts to receive reimbursements from the federal School Lunch Program and breakfast program.

The district needs to attract students to the cafeteria with an effective campaign that will introduce students to the new menu items and explain why flavored milk has disappeared, said Sharp of California Food Policy Advocates.

Megan Bomba, a project coordinator with Occidental College’s Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, agreed, saying “the meal needs to be better, not [that] we need to keep chocolate milk” to attract students to the cafeteria, she said.

The menu proposed for fall sounds more appealing and sophisticated, she added.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs school food programs and promotes the dairy industry, allows flavored milk in reimbursable school meals. New York City schools serve chocolate milk. Berkeley, Compton and San Diego as well as Boulder, Colo., Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., have eliminated flavored milk with at least some meals.

(Los Angeles Times – June 15 2011)