Flavour of the Week


  • A new study published in BMJ links sugar-sweetened beverage consumption to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes INDEPENDENT of body weight. Why is this a big deal? Previous research suggested sugary drink intake didn’t affect risk unless you were overweight or obese. This is correlational data, so more research on cause-and-effect is needed BUT this does suggest pounding soda is not risk-free even if you are at a healthy body weight. Researchers also found a link between diabetes risk and artificially sweetened drinks but the quality of evidence was poor.
  • The Food and Drug Administration in the US is moving ahead with their plan to put “added sugar” on nutrition labels. They have even proposed not simply listing added sugars in grams but also included a percent daily value for added sugars! Looks like they plan to go with World Health Organization recommendation of no more than 10% of total kcalories.

    Though unpopular with food manufacturers, the FDA backs up their decision to move ahead based on evidence: now further supported by newly reviewed studies suggesting healthy dietary patterns, including lower amounts of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, are strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • More evidence added phosphates may be bad for you, even if you kidneys are in tip-top shape. Phosphates artificially added to food products appear to cause bigger spikes in blood phosphorus levels than naturally occurring phosphates. Why is this an issue? High phosphorous levels but added strain on your kidneys, stiffen your blood vessels and reduce bone mass. While phosphorous is not on nutrition labels, just look for “phosphate” on the ingredient list. Check out our previous post Phosphate Additives: The Next Trans Fat? for more information.
  • The National Institute of Health (NIH) has released their Body Weight Planner, a tool to “prescribe” a kcaloric intake based on age, gender and activity level, as well as weight goal and time frame. The resulting calculations tell you three things: daily kalories for weight maintenance, kcalories to reach your goal in your specified time and kcalories maintain after you’ve met you goal (often the most difficult part).
    Keep in mind, a kcalorie is not just a kcalorie – food source counts too! We are not fans of reducing weight loss to simply kcalories in vs. kcalories out. An equivalent number of kcalories (based on food label) from sugar-laden candy and almonds will result in very different satiety effects. Fibre, fat and protein help you feel full longer, so choosing nutrient-dense foods may be more important than simply counting kcalories if your diet is fill with processed and refined foods.

    A 2012 study by Novotny et al. found almonds actually contain 32% fewer kcalories than a food label says. Why? Digestion! You burn more kcalories eating high fibre foods AND you are unlikely to chew your almonds well enough for your body to extract all of the kcalories.
  • The Cornell Food and Brand Lab has developed two new “scorecards” to help consumers and retailers identify changes facilitate healthier eating among consumers. Both the Grocer Retailer Scorecard and Restaurant Scorecard for Healthier Dining use principles of behavioral economics and psychology to rate the design of grocery stores and restaurants related to supporting healthy choices. These findings will be presented as a at the 2015 Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior conference so we’ll post more information soon!

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