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    Archive for the ‘American Dietetic Association’ Category

    2011: A Year to Remember (and Forget!)

    It wasn’t until I started compiling stories for this post that I realized just how much had taken place this year on issues of food, agriculture, and nutrition. While by no means a definitive list, I think it covers the most substantial events.

    So, if you’ve been spelunking in Antarctica for the past twelve months — or just want a short trip down memory lane — let’s review 2011, the year where:
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    Should RDs Be Gatekeepers of Nutrition Advice?

    The Alliance for Natural Health’s Really Eat Right campaign was one of this week’s nutrition hot topics.

    Of special interest was the group’s petition, which addresses concerns over the American Dietetic Association’s collusion with ‘Big Food’ and ‘Big Pharma’, as well as the organization’s “multi-state legislative effort[s] to monopolize nutritional therapy through legislative initiates.”

    While I do not see eye-to-eye with ANH on every issue, I am in full agreement with this one.

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    2011 ADA Conference Wrap-Up

    Unlike the past few posts which have dealt with specific topics, this is a hodgepodge of odds and ends, thoughts, suggestions, and anecdotes from the 2011 American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo.

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    What’s In A Name (Change)? Nothing, Really

    The 2011 American Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo kicked off with some interesting news — an upcoming organizational name change.

    In a letter to all members, current President Sylvia A. Escott-Stump explained that as of January 2012, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) will be known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). “Why?”, you ask?

    “This is a name that immediately and fully complements our focus: the nutritional well-being of the American public. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes the strong science background and expertise of our members, primarily registered dietitians. Nutrition science underpins wellness, prevention and treatment.

    An academy is “a society of learned persons organized to advance science.” This term describes our organization and immediately emphasizes the educational strength of our advice and expertise. By adding nutrition to our name, we communicate our capacity for translating nutrition science into healthier lifestyles for everyone. Keeping dietetics supports our history as a food and science-based profession.”

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    In The News: Go Ahead… Veg Out!

    46874180.happypeppersThe latest issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association contains a position paper on vegetarianism that is summarized with this statement:

    “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes.”

    Mind you, The American Dietetic Association only offers position papers on issues which they feel are supported by sound scientific evidence.  This particular position paper is an updated version of the original one, as it specifically describes vegetarian and vegan diets as adequate for all lifecycles.

    I especially post this for some of the vegetarian pregnant women and teenage athletes who have written me, saying their doctors — or, in the case of athletes, sports coaches — have referred to diets free of meat as “nutritionally inferior.”

    Next time that happens, refer them to this position paper — and ask them if they have read any nutrition studies in the past fifty years!

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    FNCE 2008/Say What?: The Sweet Stuff Hits A Sour Note

    In a perfect example of “reaching,” The Sugar Association’s booth at the 2008 American Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo offered a variety of pamphlets, including one titled “Sugar’s Healing Powers.”

    “There is no doubt that ‘sugar’ tastes good and, therefore in our guilt-ridden society, it is commonly assumed that ‘sugar must not be good for us,” the awkwardly written information sheet begins.

    “Nothing could be further from the truth — sugar is one of Mother Nature’s most miraculous creations,” it continues.

    The argument here is that as far back as 1700 BC, sugar has been used to treat wounds.

    The document quotes three studies — all concluding that sugar exerts antibacterial effects on wounds and promotes faster healing.

    Technically true, but how is that relevant in a society where the problem is the massive amounts of sugar people are putting down their throats?

    Furthermore, what is the purpose of mentioning sugar’s wound healing properties in hospital settings at a nutrition conference?

    In another bizarre move, The Sugar Association provided some recipes (with the comma-less grammatically incorrect title “a little sugar can make healthy nutritious foods taste better”) that left me perplexed.

    Here is a perfect example — adding sugar to a breakfast shake made of orange juice concentrate, milk, and a banana. Huh??

    I am by no means a “sugar is the devil” advocate, but suggesting the addition of sugar to already sweet fruits and promoting its wound healing powers to nutrition professionals seems like a misguided PR move.

    Their tagline (“Make an informed choice. Choose pure natural sugar — 15 calories per teaspoon,”) also does not sit well with me.

    While putting a teaspoon or three of sugar into your coffee every morning (or enjoying an ice cream cone every Saturday night) is by no means a problem, sugar is calorically identical to other caloric sweeteners.

    They ALL offer 14 – 16 calories per tablespoon.

    I am not exactly sure what “informed choice” consumers are making by adding two teaspoons of sugar — rather than that same amount of honey — to a cup of tea.

    I don’t even understand why The Sugar Association is present at a nutrition conference to begin with.

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    FNCE 2008: Out of Towners

    Some of the booths at this year’s American Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo struck me as very out of place:

    Slimshots: A vanilla-flavored appetite suppresant. Maureen McCormick (Marcia Brady) istheir spokesperson. Appetite suppresants at a food conference?

    Corn Refiners Association: Despite current ADA president Martin Yaddrick’s statement that “The American Dietetic Association had no involvement with the recent Corn Refiners Association advertisements. ADA did not review or approve the ad in question, nor any wording in it; nor did ADA have advance knowledge of the advertisement,” the people behind this campaign were present at FNCE with all sorts of literature claiming high fructose corn syrup is just dandy.

    GNC and Vitamin Shoppe: Although these stores sell legitimate vitamins and minerals, they also hawk supplements (which are unregulated) that often succumb to nutrition quackery in their advertising.

    Coca Cola: I am completely at a loss as to how carbonated water with high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners belongs at a nutrition conference. Sprinkling corn fiber into it does not make it “healthy.”

    Thoughts?

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    FNCE 2008: Diet Coke and Splenda Drop The F Bomb

    Fiber and whole grains were undisputed royalty at this year’s American Dietetic Association Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo.

    Cereals, corn chips, crackers, cookies, and protein powders breathlessly advertised their inclusion in ingredient lists.

    I certainly was not expecting, however, to come across fiber in Splenda and Diet Coke.

    The Splenda folks — who, oddly enough, suggest sprinkling their non-caloric sweetener over fresh fruit — are making the case that this is one easy way for Americans (who are currently getting, on average, half of their recommended fiber intake) to boost their fiber consumption.

    With each packet containing 1 gram of fiber, two packets in your morning coffee and another over your breakfast cereal puts you at the 3 gram mark (as much as an apple, they exclaim.)

    Coca Cola, meanwhile, will be releasing Diet Coke Plus With Fiber around March or April of 2010.

    Apart from the vitamin and mineral combination found in Diet Coke Plus, this beverage will contain 5 grams of soluble fiber (all derived from corn) per 20 ounce bottle.

    Splenda and Coca Cola have their marketing pitch perfected.

    “We’re simply helping people get the amount of fiber they need!” they explain (with puppy dog eyes, I’m sure.)

    I’m not as optimistic.

    While the idea of including fiber in Diet Coke may appeal to some people, it serves as a complete deterrent to get it from unprocessed, whole foods that offer multitudes of other nutrients, phytochemicals, and health benefits.

    As much as Splenda wants to make the case that three packets of their sweetener contain as much fiber as an apple, it’s a meaningless comparison.

    An apple is more than just fiber in a round shape.

    It contains vitamin C, potassium, and a significant number of antioxidants, among them quercetin and epicatechin (the former has been associated with reduced cellular damage, the latter with improved blood flow.)

    By relying on fortified empty calorie foods for specific nutrients, you are missing out on hundreds of health-promoting components.

    What’s most mind-boggling to me is that these products give the false idea that fiber is just so gosh darn hard to find, that there’s no choice but to stick it inside a soda bottle.

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    Administrative Announcements: Chicago Update

    Whew! I am absolutely exhausted.

    I have just spent four and a half hours at the 2008 American Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo visting hundreds of stands from a variety of companies.

    I should mention that I am also lugging around forty pounds of food samples. Yes, forty pounds.

    The samples range from individual size bags of walnuts to a pound of Barilla Plus pasta to a new line of alternative potato chips from a company by the name of Brothers All Natural.

    I have LOTS to blog about when I return to New York City late Monday evening.

    There is, however, one little tidbit I must share with you right now.

    Guess what the buzz was at the Coca Cola booth? None other than their new variety of Diet Coke set to be released in 2010 — Diet Coke Plus with Fiber!

    That’s right — 5 grams of soluble corn fiber per 20 ounce bottle. Oy.

    Although the product will not be released for another year and a half, they had tasting samples. Taste wise, it is the exact same as a non-fortified Diet Coke.

    I will detail my issues with adding fiber to Diet Coke in a future posting.

    Oh, did I mention that the high fructose corn syrup folks also had a stand here? Wait until I tell you about THEIR “educational materials.”

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    Administrative Announcements: In Chicago

    Dear readers,

    Greetings from Chicago!

    I am in the Windy City for the American Dietetic Association’s Annual Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo.

    Last year, you may recall my postings from the 2007 FNCE (held in Philadelphia),which included such gems as the Beer Board trying to make the case that their beverage is a smart caloric option.

    Beer at a nutrition conference. Anyone else find that to be more than a little odd?

    Anyhow, I will provide full reports during the coming week on what foods companies are pushing as their latest healthy products, so stay tuned!

    PS: Last night I saw a television commercial for Splenda with fiber. Oh, boy. Watch for a posting on that very, very soon.
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    You Ask, I Answer: Fish Oil Supplements/Metal Toxicity Cleansings

    Yesterday I attended a talk given by an “applied clinical nutritionist” who works at a local pharmacy.

    She really advocated the use of supplements for everyone (probably because the pharmacy she works at generates a lot of revenue through the sale of herbs/supplements and homeopathic remedies).

    She recommended taking fish oil instead of flax because she said that flax requires an extra step to be processed by the body.

    She said that some people’s bodies aren’t able to perform this extra step and you would never know one way or another, so she just prefers to stick with fish oil.

    Since you often recommend flax, what are your thoughts?

    She also talked about “cleansing” (the colon in particular).

    Her recommendation wasn’t about losing weight, but rather to flush out toxins, no matter how healthy your diet.

    She said this is needed to flush out “toxins” that accumulate in our bodies from pesticides in food, air pollution, etc.

    The cleanse involves eating certain kinds of foods (she wasn’t specific) and taking some sort of supplements that help flush your colon, like magnesium (I think).

    All of this sounded sort of unnecessary to me.

    Is there any evidence that this type of cleanse is beneficial for people whose diets are already consist of nutritious, whole foods?

    — Kristin (last name withheld)
    Austin, TX

    Before I begin, let me thank Kristin for following up her question with an e-mail revealing the results of her own investigative research.

    Turns out that acquiring the “applied clinical nutritionist” title is a simple task.

    “It’s a self paced certificate program through the Texas Chiropractic College. To earn the certificate, you must be a health care professional, or the staff or student of a health care professional (I suppose you could be a dental receptionist). You have to attend 7 seminars (100 hrs), take a test and pay $1400. In return, you get a shiny wall plaque,” writes Kristin.

    Sigh. Anyhow, onto Kristin’s question.

    As far as the fish vs. flax issue, I agree with the speaker, to a point.

    It is true that the Omega-3 fats found in flaxseed (ALA) need to be converted by the body to DPA and EHA.

    It is also accurate to say that the majority of people do not convert ALA efficiently.

    A significant factor inhibiting conversion is that Omega 6 fatty acids compete with Omega 3 fatty acids for the same desaturase (conversion) enzymes.

    Keeping in mind that our current food supply contributes an abundance of Omega 6, you can see why ALA –> DHA/EPA conversion isn’t happening as optimally as we would expect.

    That being said, I still recommend ground flax simply because most people don’t consume much of ANY Omega-3’s.

    Simply put, ground flaxseeds are an effortless way to add some Omega 3’s to a variety of foods (not everyone likes fish or wants to eat it.)

    I also hope that the speaker’s recommendation of taking fish oil supplements was mainly targeted at people who do not consume fish (or sea vegetables, which offer the same omega-3 fatty acids).

    I would much rather you get your DHA and EPA from actual food first, and consider supplements a “second best” choice.

    Furthermore, I hope she stressed that non-DHA/EPA sources of Omega-3’s offer a wide array of nutrients.

    Ditching walnuts and flaxseed and instead swallowing a spoonful of fish oil every morning isn’t necessarily a smart swap.

    What I COMPLETELY disagree with her on (and why I doubt she is an RD) is her colon cleanse recommendation. It is unnecessary and not particularly healthy. If people want to “flush out” their colons, all they need to do is consume more insoluble fiber and liquids. Plain and simple.

    Not to mention, I would love to ask this expert how, exactly, toxins accumulate in a body with a regularly functioning liver and kidneys. There is no evidence whatsoever supporting the belief that we need to cleanse ourselves of toxins.

    What I find most illogical is that people who furiously support colon cleanses apparently fail to realize that colon cleansing eliminates all the HEALTHY bacteria in the human gut and can cause electrolyte imbalances!

    If you’ll excuse me, I now need to go center myself.

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