European day of healthy food and cooking with children

25 11 2007

I’m a bit late to report this, but better late than never… Last 8th of november was the European day of healthy food and cooking with children, co-organised by the European Commission and the European Chefs’ Association.

This day aims to encourage healthy eating among children, with a view to tackling the rising childhood obesity levels in Europe. EU officials, top chefs and school children came together for demonstrations on how to cook healthy, tasty food and workshops to promote a balanced lifestyle.

With around 22 million overweight or obese children in the EU today, the aim is to instil an interest in children in the food that they eat and to make them aware of the basic principles of good nutrition. Childhood obesity is an extremely worrying problem, with the number of overweight or obese children growing at the rate of 400 000 a year in Europe. Obese children not only suffer from health problems such as diabetes and liver disorders when they are young, but are also likely to be at high risk of heart disease, cancer, hypertension, stroke and depression as they get older.

This website for children demonstrates that eating healthily can be fun. It also provides a European forum for healthy food and cooking with first class healthy recipes and cooking advice. The website is available in 12 languages and includes an interactive cooking game so that children can learn by playing. What a shame catalan is not included among them, it would be a great way to approach 9 million potential viewers.

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Hungry people crave more variety

4 11 2007

A study from the Journal of Consumer Research found that when we long for something intensely – like a much-needed vacation – a wider array of options will sound appealing, potentially leading to some out-of-character choices. Similarly, when we are especially hungry and presented with an range of menu choices, we are more likely to deviate from our favorite meal. The research investigated whether desire-induced perception changes can reduce loyalty to our favorite stuff. The findings point to the power of desires to affect choice making.

In the study, the researchers had participants who were hungry and participants who were satiated quickly decide whether they liked or disliked twenty-eight different snacks by pressing either a red or green button. Hungry participants were asked not to eat within four hours of the experiment. Satiated participants were presented with a large piece of cake upon arrival and told they had to finish the entire thing. On average, the participants who were hungry liked two more snacks than the participants who had cake.

So, an active desire increases the perceived value of the desired object class. This increase in perceived value can influence variety-seeking tendencies. The results support the notion that an active desire increases the value of any item that may satisfy the desire. Due to a particular desire, a larger number of items may be considered satisfactory than in the absence of that particular desire.

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Whole grain breakfast seems to lower heart failure risk in men

24 10 2007

wholegrain It was already known, from previous studies, that high grain consumption is linked to a lower risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and high blood cholesterol, and lower mortality in general.

A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has shown that the consumption of whole grain cereals for breakfast lower the risk of heart failure in man, compared to those who never or rarely eat whole grains for breakfast.

The authors explain that the lifetime risk for heart failure is about 20% for both men and women at 40 years of age. Researchers looked at the link between breakfast cereal consumption and new cases of heart failure among 21,376 males whose average age was 53.7 years. The analysis of data demonstrated that a higher intake of whole grain breakfast cereals is associated with a lower risk of heart failure. They believe this link may be because of the beneficial effects of whole grains on heart failure risk factors, such as heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

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The importance of eating together as a family

17 10 2007

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association has found that eating together as a family during adolescence is associated with lasting positive effects on dietary quality in young adulthood.

The study, conducted in 1,500 students, consisted in a survey to determine the long-term effects of family meals on diet quality, social eating, meal structure and meal frequency.

The researchers found that eating family meals together during adolescence resulted in adults who ate more fruit, dark-green and orange vegetables and key nutrients, and drank less soft drinks. An elevated frequency of family meals as adolescents predicted eating dinner more frequently as adults, placing a higher priority on structured meals and a higher priority on social eating.

This study proves once again the importance of food and nutrition education and the role that professionals in this field, like dietitians, can play encouraging families to share meals as often as practically possible.

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Perceiving Food As Healthy Often Encourages Overeating

4 10 2007

A recent study from the Journal of Consumer Research reveals that people usually over-generalize “healthy” claims. This research has shown that consumers choose beverages, side dishes, and desserts containing up to 131% more calories when the main dish is positioned as “healthy”.

People tend to have a black and white view, classifying food simply as good or not good. If we see a fast-food restaurant advertising low-calorie products, we think, ‘It’s OK: I can eat something there and then have a high-calorie dessert,’ when, in fact, many of this products contain more calories than a Big Mac.

The study show us how the result of this calorie underestimation translates in consumers choosing beverages, side dishes, and desserts containing up to 131% more calories when the main course was positioned as “healthy” compared to when it was not. Even though, in the study, the “healthy” main course already contained 50% more calories than the “unhealthy” one.

The authors stated that “These studies help explain why the success of fast-food restaurants serving lower-calorie foods has not led to the expected reduction in total calorie intake and in obesity rates”.

Researchers believe that agencies should encourage people to examine whether the restaurant’s health claims actually apply to the particular food they ordered, eliminating then the “health halo” effects.

People need to learn to think about food not just qualitatively (as in “good food — bad food”) but also quantitatively (as in “how many calories are in this meal?”). But to achieve that, there’s need of more nutritional education, which should be provided by the professionals in this field –dietitians–.

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Risk Of Prostate Cancer Lowered By Eating Certain Vegetables

30 09 2007

The risk of prostate cancer may be reduced by consuming more than one serving per week of broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

This research conducted among over 29,000 men has found that men who ate broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and turnips were 40 percent less likely to be diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer compared to men whose diet included very little of these vegetables.

The study found that men who consumed cauliflower more than once a week were 52 percent less likely to be diagnosed with extraprostatic prostate cancer compared to those who ate cauliflower less than once a month. Men who consumed broccoli more than once a week were 45 percent less likely to be diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli or cabbage, contain numerous powerful anticarcinogens called glucosinolates. The results found in this and previous studies have suggested that a healthy diet should regularly contain servings of this group of vegetables.

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Some helpful info about fat

27 09 2007

Wanna know about how much fat should be included in a healthy diet? What about trans fats or omega-3? There is tons of information about fat, but sometimes it can get confusing. Now the latest joint position paper released by Dietitians of Canada and the American Dietetic Association makes things clearer.

Check out a copy of the position paper available on the Dietitians of Canada website. There is also a fact sheet that puts the scientific language of the position paper into practical, consumer-friendly tips for healthy eating.

Also, for guidance on reading food labels to make healthy food choices check out the web Healthy Eating is in Store for You.

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