Health Front: Honey Boo Boo’s Diet Controlled in New York City
By DR. JERRY DeCAPUA
• Both New York City and Los Angeles are beginning to see real declines in childhood obesity rates with polices initiated to fight childhood eating habits. In New York City, the prevalence of obesity appeared to have peaked around 2003-2004. In Los Angeles it appeared to have leveled off around 2010-2012, acknowledge new government studies. Los Angeles trailed New York City in making strides against childhood obesity largely because New York unveiled a government program that promoted healthy behaviors among low-income kids sooner.
New York State’s program promoted nutritional messages about “eating well and playing hard,” and “drinking low fat dairy” only. The New York program aggressively promoted more fruits and vegetables while limiting television viewing for young people. Walking around with big soda drinks or suckers in one’s mouth like Honey Boo-Boo does, is not cool in New York City.
The findings suggest that ongoing education, support and approaches that target specific cultural and socioeconomic groups can have positive effects in reducing obesity and improving the healthy lifestyles of children. Educating parents as well as children on the importance of healthful food do shift cultural habits towards a healthy lifestyle.
• Not all whole grain products are created equal, notes a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health. Many whole grain products aren’t quite as healthy as consumers might think, new research contends, but some are healthier than others. Some of the confusion lies in the fact that there are five different industry and government guidelines that define a product as a whole grain. Some guidelines are set by the industry while others are set by the government or the American Heart Association, and all with different standards.
The most fuzzy and least helpful is the “whole grain stamp” we see on packages. The stamp of whole grain given by the Whole Foods Council, an industry non-profit group, approves 8 grams of whole grain per serving. It may have more whole grain per serving but it could have added sugar, starch and gum making it higher in overall calories. For-profit companies pay annual dues to belong to the Whole Foods Council, and use the whole grain stamp on foods that meet that particular standard. Researchers found that the products that had the whole grain stamp were higher in total calories and sugars overall.
The Harvard research team wanted to study products that had a carbohydrate-to-fiber ratio of 10 to 1. This standard ratio is endorsed by the American Heart Association and is considered healthier. This standard says that a muffin with 20 grams of carbohydrates must have 2 grams of real fiber to be considered healthy. The amount of whole grain is less important than the amount of carbohydrates or sugars.
The Harvard research found that products that had whole grains listed first on the label as the first ingredient with no added sugar were judged very healthy. Products with the American heart Association’s 10:1 ratio were deemed very healthy. The researches advice was to look for products that have whole grain listed first and include no added sugars.
• ER visits due to energy drinks have almost doubled for young Americans. As the popularity of energy drinks has soared, so has the number of Americans seeking hospital treatment after consuming the high chemical beverages. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of ER visits doubled, with 58 percent of these ER visits involving energy drinks alone, while 42 percent also included drug or alcohol use.
Symptoms included nervousness, agitation, insomnia, headaches and fast heartbeats to seizures. Most of the cases involved teens or young adults, although there were an alarming number of people over 40 years of age. The American Beverage Association took issue with the new report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The report also states that “the (highly caffeinated) beverages can also have other ingredients that may boost the stimulant effects of caffeine.”
• It’s estimated that 85 percent of Americans consume caffeine regularly, both in beverages and chocolate. According to a new study, the amount of caffeine typically found in one quart of coffee may contribute to leaky bladder in men. The new study released by the Journal of Urology, suggests that men who notice lack of bladder control should modify their caffeine intake.
The University of Alabama research team used responses from 4,000 men in a national survey between 2005 and 2008. The researchers looked at how many had urinary incontinence and how much caffeine they ate or drank, as well as how much water they took in. After adjusting for the men’s age and other risk factors, the researchers found that those who digested 234 milligrams of caffeine every day were 72 percent more likely to have present and future bladder control issues. Men who downed 392 milligrams of caffeine (3 coffee cups) daily were more than twice as likely to be incontinent.