Thursday, June 28, 2007

U.S. children with chronic health problems has soared

Spike in kids’ health issues foretells problems
Reuters News Service

WASHINGTON - The number of U.S. children with chronic health problems such as obesity has soared in the past four decades, foreshadowing increases in adult disability and public health-care spending, researchers said on Tuesday.

More time in front of the television and use of other electronic media, decreased physical activity, increased time spent indoors, increased consumption of fast foods and sugar-sweetened beverages, and changes in parenting are all likely to blame, the researchers said.

Writing in an issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association devoted to childhood chronic disease, researchers tracked rising rates of obesity, asthma and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, among U.S. children.

In the early 1970s, about 5 percent of children ages 5 to 18 were obese, compared to about 18 percent now, the researchers said. Asthma rates are estimated at 9 percent among these children, doubling since the 1980s, they said. See:

What ever happened to real food?

Faux Food: Where Have All Our Nutrients Gone?
By Rachael Moeller Gorman

A loaf of white bread has been sitting on my desk for three weeks. I've been watching it, waiting for something to happen. Mold, perhaps. A touch of staleness. Bugs maybe. Its sell-by date came and went 14 days ago, but a peek through the wrapper reveals a tanned crust completely devoid of fungus, and a firm press of the package produces a springy return to a perfect rectangular shape, just as it did the day I bought it.

Most of the food consumed in this country passes through a factory or processing plant before ever reaching our tables, and for simple reasons: food needs to be safe, transportable and to stay sellable in the supermarket. Minnesotans want to eat canned peaches in January and working parents want to buy a loaf of bread at the store instead of spending all day baking it themselves. The result is that less and less can be called "unprocessed" anymore. Yet the transition from field to shelf happens in wildly divergent ways, from the simple baking of a few ingredients, like my Small Planet loaf, to inventing a sports drink that comes in a choice of several different neon colors, the product of food chemists and marketers hoping to create mega-demand.

A growing number of voices question whether extreme processing is just making modern food safe and convenient or if it may actually be creating a long-term threat to our society's nutritional health.

"During processing, a lot of beneficial nutrients like fiber, minerals and antioxidants are lost—especially in highly processed, refined-grain products," says Frank Hu, an epidemiologist at Harvard School of Public Health who tracks the effects of food on diseases in the American population. "Manufacturers also add a lot of sugar and trans fats back in to enhance the taste," he says. "So you get rid of the good stuff and add a lot of bad stuff and that's the reason those kinds of foods are really detrimental." See: Faux Food: Where Have All Our Nutrients Gone?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ultra Healthy Hebrews

On the 40th Shavuot since their triumphant exodus from the United States in 1967, the Black Hebrews had ample cause to rejoice
By Ben Piven

With a vibrant community of about 2000 proud souls mostly residing in the north Negev town of Dimona, the group celebrated stunningly good health and longevity.

Compared with distressing health statistics of African-Americans living in the United States, the Black Hebrews have largely avoided the dominant Western medical scourges: cancer, heart attack, diabetes, and stroke. According to a study conducted by a group of American researchers in 1998, elevated blood pressure is about 1/5 and obesity about 1/6 that of the average rate for African-Americans. Moreover, a minute number of hospital calls originate in their section of Dimona.

"We are not a religion but a way of life," said Hecumliel Ha-Kohen, one of 14 priests in the community, which is formally called the African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem, often shortened to Hebrew Israelites.

"The movement's collective consciousness is rooted in the essence of the Hebrew Bible. We've seen observable, positive consequences of following these traditions," said Hecumliel.

"Generally, we are asserting the power of village life over the temptations of modern urban life," said Ahmadiyah ben Yehuda, a community doctor. "As a light unto the nations and unto Israel, we say 'no' to the things that seek to destroy life," said Ahmadiyah. "So-called normal diseases just don't exist here."

To See "Must Read" Complete Article click on: Ultra Healthy Hebrews - Haaretz - Israel News

Why Go Vegan?

Consider - Is It Cheese Still Cheese?
By Rachael Moeller Gorman

Leave a slice of American cheese on a windowsill and after weeks it will dry, darken in color and curl. But rarely will it mold. Individually wrapped orange cheese slices melt smoothly on burgers and taste great straight from the package, but in most cases these soft slivers of heaven aren't technically "cheese" at all. More likely, they fall under the title of "pasteurized process cheese," "pasteurized process cheese product" or "pasteurized process cheese food."

Regular cheese, like Cheddar, for example, is made by heating milk, stirring in enzymes and cultures, separating the curds from the whey, salting and knitting the curds into a block or wheel to age. Pasteurized process cheese, on the other hand, is a mixture of already-made cheeses that are reheated, blended together, pasteurized and mixed with an emulsifier to provide a uniform texture, mild taste, smooth mouthfeel and the consistent melt that many people love.

Food technologists can lower the fat and then add flavor back in or create a variety of textures and tastes. Often, these "light" cheeses have less fat and fewer calories than regular cheese because they contain less actual cheese, more moisture and other additions. But with up to 20 ingredients, not to mention layers of extra processing, this "cheese" is far from its milky roots.
A small piece of true cheese offers much more flavor and satisfaction than a larger serving of processed cheese, which is why you don't need as much, says Max McCalman, author of Cheese, A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best. "If I'm hungry I'll eat the fake stuff if that's all I have, but even my daughter's dog knows the difference: he's thrilled to eat the rinds of real cheese, but if it's a processed cheese slice he often won't finish it."

Just Juice?
Way back when, juice used to be simple—you squeezed a piece of fruit and drank what squirted out. Now, with everything from natural organic nectars to fruity-sounding "nutraceutical" drinks crowding the shelves, taste and nutrition have become much more complicated.

Take fruit punch with 10 percent real fruit juice: the first three ingredients in one brand are water, high-fructose corn syrup and sugar—90 percent of the total product.

The first three ingredients in a 100-percent juice brand, on the other hand, are apple, grape and passion-fruit juices. Natural flavors (to replace the taste lost during pasteurization), ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and citric acid (to maintain a shelf-stable pH) may round out the list. The 100-percent juice packs a punch of heart-healthy potassium, absent in the 10-percent version.
Of course the best choice for health is to enjoy the whole fruit, which gives you beneficial fiber and myriad other nutrients otherwise tossed out with the pulp.

A Suspect Nugget
Dinosaurs. Stars. Tiny drumsticks. Breaded, formed chicken nuggets come in all shapes and sizes and are almost universally loved by kids, but most varieties barely resemble meat at all and consumers might be surprised to discover what's in them.

Generally, two types of "nugget" sit in your grocer's freezer: whole meat and formed. Whole meat is just what it sounds like—chunks of chicken that are usually battered, breaded, fried and frozen. Formed products, on the other hand, contain chicken "trimmings"—the meat left over or cut from larger whole pieces. This meat is not necessarily inferior, it is just too small, miscut or doesn't look as pretty as the whole chicken breast you'd buy to make Chicken Parmesan. The trimmings are finely chopped and mixed with a solution of water, salt and phosphates that binds them into a sticky paste and adds juiciness. A forming machine molds the paste into whatever shape manufacturers—or kids—want, and the resulting nugget is dusted, battered, breaded, deep-fat-fried and frozen.

Some processed nuggets can have almost double the calories, five times the fat, and six and a half times the sodium as an equal amount of regular skinless chicken breast.

Shopping Smart
-Make sure the first ingredient in a bread or grain-related food begins with "whole."
-Avoid foods with "partially hydrogenated oil" in the ingredient list and choose low-salt varieties of canned, frozen and boxed foods.
-Focus on foods with fewer ingredients: "In many instances, fewer ingredients—and ones that people recognize—suggest that the food is closer to its natural form," says Richard Bell, who researches eating behavior for Tufts University, Harvard University and the U.S. Army.

"If you are going to get applesauce, and you have choices, choose the one that says, Ingredients: Apples, water.'"

Monday, June 25, 2007

French cracking down on junk food ads

Warning labels tell citizens to stop snacking and start exercising
Associated Press

PARIS - Less fat, less sugar, less salt: Even the mostly svelte French are cracking down.

Beginning Thursday, the government ordered food ads to carry cautions telling the French to stop snacking, exercise and eat more fruits and vegetables.

With processed snacks and fast food encroaching on France’s tables and culinary traditions, health officials fear the nation’s youth face a growing risk of obesity.

This from a nation where just slightly more than 9 percent of the 63.4 million citizens are obese and fewer than a third are overweight, according to government figures. In the United States, by comparison, one-third of adults are obese, about two-thirds are overweight. Several Mediterranean and Eastern European countries have similar statistics. See: French cracking down on junk food ads