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Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Food Dye Debate

Another topic I have seen a lot of press about recently, is the use of food dyes and their link with hyperactivity.  Are they harmful or not?  If so, what do they cause?  I guess this has been a controversy for many years now, even going back to the 1970’s.  The FDA just recently decided to formally weigh all the evidence, also raising the possibility that they may eventually make the regulations on food dyes more strict.

As of now, it currently stands that food dyes do not cause ADHD or hyperactivity.  The FDA has stated that the evidence “doesn’t appear to be conclusive evidence that food additives actually cause ADHD.  But some research suggests that they may be linked to exacerbated symptoms in people who already have ADHD.”

The food industry continues to defend the use of food dyes, stating that there is no evidence, and there will be no evidence linking its consumption with hyperactivity.  They do not plan on stopping their use any time soon.  Hopefully they are able to either find a clear causal or non-causal relationship.  And if they do find a link, I hope the FDA is able to restrict their use, and the food companies will start to regulate and restrict their use as well.

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Deceptively Delicious

I have seen a few cook books (for example The Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious), that gives parents secret ways to incorporate healthy foods into normal foods for kids to eat.  It usually consists of using pureed vegetables and fruits, giving more nutrition and vitamins to the meal, but not majorly altering the overall taste of the meal.  This is a great method of getting those picky eaters to eat healthy.

I remember my mom doing this when I still lived at home.  She would add things like carrots, spinach, and squash into meals and we would eat them not even knowing, and loving it. When she would tell us what extra she added into it, it wasn’t unusual for us kids to be grossed out and then say we really hated it, even though just minutes earlier we were raving about how good it was.

I see this as an excellent way in getting children to eat healthy, nutritious foods, but I have also heard some bad press about this “secret” method.  Bonnie Taub-Dix, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says, “Any recipe book that involves enhancing a child’s diet, especially through the use of more fruits and vegetables, is positive.  But, it’s important for kids to know what’s going into their food because that’s how they learn and make their own choices. Tricks like grinding up carrots in tomato sauce don’t need to be top-secret.”  I would agree with this statement.  It is a great for improving the children’s diets, but it does not necessarily need to be kept a secret.

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Energy Drink Overdose

I personally have only had about half of an energy drink, ever, and that was enough to make me feel crazy. I do not know how people can consume multiple drinks a day, or how children can consume even just one, and not have any adverse effects from it.

A new study looked at the health effects of energy drinks on children and adolescents, and found that they are consumed by 30-50% of this age group. High amounts of caffeine have been linked with serious adverse effects especially in children and adolescents, including seizures, diabetes, liver and kidney damage, high blood pressure, heart problems, and behavioral disorders.

The study found that of the 5,448 caffeine overdoses in the US in 2007, almost half (46%) occurred in those younger than 19 years.  About 1,200 of these cases were in children under the age of 6. Another article discussing this study suggested that these energy drinks might not only be harmful because of what they contain, but also what they are replacing (drinks like water and milk that provide essential minerals and protein for growing bodies), as well as contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic.

Does anyone else see this as a big problem as well? And what are ways that this problem can be solved?

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A recent study in the journal Child Development indicates that children of working mother’s have an increased risk and incidence rate of being overweight and obese.  It does not state it as causation, but simply as a clear association.  It also states that the length of the mother’s employment is associated with an increase in children’s  BMI.  Not one single cause was found, but a small, yet significant increase in children’s BMI was.

Although the reasons for this positive association are unclear, there are many possible factors:

  • Working mothers could be pressed for time, and turn to fast foods more often
  • Some families are not able to eat together, and when this happens, diets are often worse
  • Children with employed mothers watch more TV than children with non employed mothers

The lead author of this study, Taryn Morrissey stated that intent of the study is not to bash on working mothers, but to help them. “The bottom line is that families face many, many constraints and that policies and additional research are needed to help balance health and family life.”

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