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Archive for July, 2011

3 Reasons Why the New Happy Meal is Still Problematic

McDonald’s announcement yesterday morning regarding upcoming menu reformulations and a Happy Meal makeover had my public health and nutrition colleagues buzzing, analyzing, and tweeting.

The gist?

“The new Happy Meal will automatically include both produce (apple slices, a quarter cup or half serving) and a new smaller size French fries (1.1 ounces) along with the choice of a Hamburger, Cheeseburger or Chicken McNuggets, and choice of beverage, including new fat-free chocolate milk and 1% low fat white milk. For those customers who prefer a side choice of apples only, two bags of apple slices will be available, upon request.”

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For the Most Part, One Size Does Fit All

Often times, the pail of cold water that gets dumped on a fiery nutrition debate is the “one size does not fit all!” mantra. That is to say, one particular manner of eating can make person A feel great but person B feel sluggish and tired, and both experiences are legitimate. To a certain degree, I co-sign on this. Some individuals are grazers, others are “three square meals” types; some people like to eat breakfast right upon waking, some don’t really feel hungry until an hour after. Fine with me.

Approaching nutrition from a completely individualist lens, however, takes away from the fact that there are certain truths that apply to everyone, and should be strongly recommended across the board:

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‘Nanny State’ Nonsense: The Inaccuracy & Hypocrisy of The Latest Conservative Outrage

The latest conservative meme is a spin-off of the National Rifle Association’s infamous 1970s slogan, “I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands”, with different foods replacing the word ‘gun’.  The most common variation refers to “burgers and fries”, but as Sarah Palin demonstrated last year, cookies also apply.

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5 Ways the Nutrition Field Hinders Its Own Progress

I often write about the external factors that pose a threat to the nutrition field, including (but not limited to) Big Food’s egregious advertising budgets, deceptive claims on food packaging, misguided agricultural policies that subsidize foods we should be eating less of, and politics that taint seemingly-subjective processes like FDA-approval of substances that end up in our food supply.

This time, however, I’m shining the spotlight inward, taking a look at pervasive, accepted, and often times unquestioned concepts, ideas, and issues within the field of nutrition that carry a significant risk of self-harm.  They are dangerous because they don’t allow for growth, critical analysis, or substantive dialogue; instead, they minimize the nutrition field’s importance and have helped create the current free-for-all we are in, where the term “nutrition expert” is as loosely thrown around as “reality TV star”.  Although presented in no particular order; in my mind, they are all equally damaging.

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Small Sizes, Big Numbers

Some nutritional horror figures don’t exactly come as a surprise.  No one is particularly shocked when told that an order of Burger King’s large fries packs in 580 calories, or that a large Wendy’s chocolate frosty shake clocks in at 890 calories and contains almost as much added sugar as three cans of Coke.

It’s not just the large sizes that come with jaw-dropping nutritional values.  In fast food world, “just go with a small” advice goes out the (drive-thru) window. Below, my three picks for “yes, really, those numbers are for the SMALL size!”

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