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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New antiobesity gene discovered

12 10 2007

A new research has revealed an antiobesity gene that keeps worms and mice trim, according to a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism. If the gene works similarly in humans, the findings could lead to a new weapon against obesity.

The research has shown how animals without a working copy of the gene, known as Adipose (Adp), become obese and resistant to insulin, while those with increased Adp activity in fat tissue become slimmer. During the study, researchers used a treatment that increased Adp in the animals’ fat tissue, leding them to lose weight.

While fat storage is an important mechanism for getting through lean times, too much fat in times of plenty has deleterious consequences. In a modern world where many people have essentially unlimited access to food, it’s a wonder that even more people aren’t overweight. If this gene plays a similar role in humans it might mean that those with a high food intake but still lean, Adp would work well, while in those who are fat would’t be working properly.

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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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