all your [nutrition] questions answered

In my unending quest to find alternatives to research, I came across this website. In addition to its blog, which provides all kinds of useful information about foods and food products, Fooducate has a handy iPhone app (it’s free!) which can be used to scan the barcode of a any product in the grocery store. What is returned is an overall rating (a grade from A to D) of the product, complete with details about where the product falls short (i.e Whole Grain Cranberry Almond Crunch Cereal [C+] has 3.5 tsp of added sugar per serving and is not, as it claims, 100% whole grain), or why it’s a good purchase (i.e. no trans fats; low in sodium). My Lundberg Organic Rice cakes, lightly salted scored a B grade, which is not bad (it seems that their portion sizes are not always true to the label [which I didn’t know] and that hurt their rating some. Rice cakes also have very little nutritional value, so there’s that strike against them!)
I decided to study nutrition for several reasons. I wanted to understand why people ate what they did and how that was related to health, specifically the rising rates of obesity. I wanted to know how to change individuals’ dietary behaviors for the better. But most importantly, I wanted to improve peoples’ access to healthy (and affordable) foods.  My work has done that, to a point. The impact is just not very tangible.

This is (seemingly) one of the nice things about blogging: you get immediate feedback on your ideas. One can write that it’s wise to think twice about picking up that diet coke and people- real people (not just other researchers [who, yes, are sometimes not real people])- actually see it. And they respond. And you see them respond. And as I read through the posts on Fooducate I thought “I want to do this.”

So I emailed “blog [at] fooducate [dot] com”. And guess what?! They said “Sure. Send us a post. And a photo and a short bio and we’ll publish it.” Just like that.

Trouble is, that now I’m short on ideas. So, let’s have it. What are your most burning nutrition (or food) questions? If you had your own personal nutritionist (or obesity researcher) at your disposal what would you ask her/him?

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3 thoughts on “all your [nutrition] questions answered

  1. I recently came across the website for the Weston A. Price Foundation. My initial reaction was “what a bunch of loonies,” but I’m a somewhat uninformed consumer of nutritional information. I’m not sure that the Weston A. Price Foundation is something you’d want to blog about on Fooducate, but it is something I’d love to hear your thoughts on sometime (online or offline).

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  2. Kiyah, one of my students alerted me to a UCSF doctor talking about how the consumption of fructose may change your biochemistry such that you store more energy as fat and continue to feel hungry despite the fact that you’ve consumed the same amount of calories. http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2010/03/3222/ucsf-lecture-sugar-and-obesity-goes-viral-experts-confront-health-cri. The doctor then attributes the rising rates of obesity to the fact that we consume more fructose through high-fructose corn syrup, as opposed to through table sugar, although *I think* he says that biochemically the two are the same thing and processed similarly by the body. It seems more than coincidental that the increase in the obese population occurred around the same time as the invention of high-fructose corn syrup, but I haven’t seen any studies that systematically connect the two. The corn lobby obviously doesn’t think so; their website on this is amusing (www.sweetsurprise) but has USDA stats showing that the total consumption of sucrose hasn’t increased (just the % that is corn syrup). Dr. Lustig’s exposition of the issue is very convincing, but then I’ve read that nutritionists are skeptical of his hypothesis. I don’t have the nutrition/biochemical background to understand. Blog idea?

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