Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The Texas Corn Dog
A staple of the annual Texas State Fair, the corn dog was reportedly invented in Texas in 1942 by two brothers named Carl and Neil Fletcher (although the Minnesota State Fair says it all started in Minnesota a year earlier). Since then, Texans have served up pretty much everything deep-fried, from Coke in 2006 to butter in 2009. The Fletcher family sells an estimated 500,000 each year at the Texas State Fair.
Ingredients: Deep-fried hot dog with corn flour coating
Fat content: 19 grams, 4 of which come from the dog’s coating
This link will show you all 50 of the fatest foods from every state in the Union.
Organic claims on food packaging could lead consumers to overeat or even exercise less, according to a new study published in the journal Judgment and Decision Making Vol. 5, No. 3, June 2010.
The researchers hypothesized that a “tendency to over-generalize health claims” could lead consumers of organic foods to assume that an organic label implies a less calorific product – not just one that is produced without synthetic chemicals. Both the terms ‘organic’ and ‘low-calorie’ are strongly associated with the concept of ‘healthy’ in contemporary America, they wrote, suggesting that “these associations might lead consumers to assume that foods produced organically contain fewer calories than their conventional counterparts, despite the fact that the ‘organic’ designation entails no such claim.”
The researchers conducted two experiments to see whether consumers might equate organic with fewer calories.
In the first study, they asked 114 college students to read nutrition labels for cookies labeled either ‘Oreo cookies’ or ‘Oreo cookies made with organic flour and sugar’, both clearly marked as containing 160 calories. They were then asked to rate whether they thought the cookies contained fewer or more calories than other cookie brands and whether they should be eaten more or less often than other cookie brands.
As predicted, the cookies described as ‘organic’ were perceived to have fewer calories, and participants also said the organic cookies could be eaten more often than the non-organic ones.
In a separate study, 215 college students read about a character who wanted to lose weight, but also wanted to skip her after-dinner run. They were told that she had chosen either an organic or non-organic dessert, or no dessert at all.
The participants were more likely to be lenient about the character’s choice to forego exercise when if she had chosen an organic dessert – and were even more lenient if she had chosen an organic dessert than if she had chosen no dessert at all.
"These findings suggest that 'organic' claims may not only foster lower calorie estimates and higher consumption intentions, but they may also convey that one has already made progress toward one's weight loss goal, thus undermining subsequent
goal-consistent action," the researchers wrote.
The authors noted that their findings were in line with previous research that showed an association between certain label claims and unrelated characteristics; for example, understanding ‘low fat’ to mean that a product is low in calories, or ‘low cholesterol’ to mean that a product is low in fat.
Source: Jonathon Schuldt and Norbert Schwarz, Decision News Media SAS
Monday, June 28, 2010
The study, of 5,800 U.S. teenagers included in a government health survey, found that rates of obesity, and abdominal obesity specifically, declined with the number of snacks kids had each day.
Of teens who said they did not snack, 39 percent were overweight or obese; that compared with rates of 30 percent, 28 percent and 22 percent among their peers who consumed two, three or four or more snacks in a day, respectively.
Similarly, the rate of abdominal obesity was 24 percent among non-snacking teens, while the lowest rate -- 11 percent -- was seen in the four-snack-a-day group.
The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, add to a conflicting body of research on whether snacking is good or bad for the waistline.
Some studies have linked snacking to lower body weight, while others have not. And while there is some evidence of metabolic benefits in having more-frequent, smaller meals throughout the day -- in managing cholesterol levels and diabetes, for instance -- it is not clear whether such eating patterns help prevent weight gain or promote weight loss.
What's more, if people do not balance their snacking by eating less at meal time, that between-meal "grazing" could help pack on the pounds.
In one recent study, researchers found that U.S. children increased their snacking between 1977 and 2006 -- downing an average of three snacks per day in the most recent year. Desserts and sugary drinks were the top sources of snack calories, the researchers found, and they speculated that this trend "toward constant eating" may be one of the reasons for the rise in childhood obesity.
In the new study, however, "snackers" were the thinner ones.
When the researchers accounted for a number of other factors -- including exercise habits (active teens may need more snacks for energy), time spent in front of the TV or computer, ethnicity and family income -- snacking itself remained linked to a lower risk of being overweight or obese.
Teens who reported having four or more snacks in a day were 60 percent less likely to overweight or obese, and similarly less likely to have abdominal obesity, than their peers who reported no snacking.
The researchers also looked at whether the teens had been trying to lose weight. Logically, people trying to shed pounds might cut out snacks, and that could account for the higher rate of obesity among non-snackers, explained lead researcher Dr. Debra R. Keast, of Food & Nutrition Database Research Inc., in Okemos, Michigan.
But weight-loss attempts did not explain the connection between teenagers' more-frequent snacking and a lower risk of excess pounds, Keast told Reuters Health.
The findings do not prove that snacking itself helps kids control their weight. A key limitation of the study, Keast pointed out, is that teenagers were surveyed at one point in time; all were part of a government health and nutrition survey conducted between 1999 and 2004, in which they were asked to recall everything they had eaten in the past 24 hours.
To help confirm a connection between snacking and lower weight, Keast said that studies should follow kids over time -- seeing whether those who report frequent snacks are less likely to become overweight in the future.
For now, the bottom line for parents is to encourage their kids to have healthy snacks, according to Keast. That means foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy -- the types of foods, Keast said, "that we know kids are not getting enough of."
Cutting out sugary beverages is another wise move. Keast noted that she and her colleagues did not consider sugar-sweetened drinks to be "snacks" in this study; other studies have, however, and that may be one reason her team's findings differ from those of some past research.
The current study was partially funded by Frito-Lay Inc. Something to think about: was this study biased because of the funding source?
SOURCE: link.reuters.com/hat24m American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online June 16, 2010.