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The Skinny on School Lunch


More Eye Food


What Your Mother Didn't Feed You



What Americans Eat-The Message Is Slowly Getting Out

Per capita food consumption in the United States has grown from 1,800 pounds per year in the early 1980s to 2,000 pounds (of food, that is, the effects on our body fat require separate calculations!). A significant portion of this increase has come from foreign imports, which now represent approximately 11% of all food consumed in this country. Food trends during the past 20 years indicate a reduction in overall meat and dairy consumption and an increase in the consumption of grains and vegetables. More information on this topic can be found at (USDA Electronic Outlook Report, July 2003)


The Skinny on School Lunch

Paradoxically, a new study says that the more choices a child is given for lunch the worse his intake of fruits and vegetables at home. Martha Y. Kubin and team at the University of Minnesota collected data from 16 middle schools. They measured a la carte availability and the number of school stores, vending machines and amounts of fried potatoes served at school lunch and compared it to what the children ate during 24 hours in and out of school. A la carte availability was inversely associated with fruit and fruit/vegetable intake and positively associated with total and saturated fat intake. So...should the choice for children be "would you like the peach or the plum" rather than extensive offerings of all sorts of foods? (On the Pulse, July 3, 2003)


Vitamins and Minerals for Your Eyes

A clinical trial just published suggests that zinc and vitamin C in combination can help decrease the odds of macular degeneration. A total of 3,640 patients aged 55-80 years old with advanced macular degeneration (AMD) were given vitamin C 500 mg, vitamin E 400 IU and beta carotene 15 mg, zinc oxide 80 mg, or antioxidants and zinc or placebo and followed for 5 years. At the end of the study the "estimated probability" of progression to advanced AMD was 28% with placebo, 23% with antioxidants alone, 22% with zinc alone, and 20% with both zinc and antioxidants. Treatment with zinc and antioxidants was the only therapy that had a statistically significant effect. Small differences that need further study, but interesting nonetheless. (The Medical Letter, June 9, 2003)


More Eye Food

In a study examining the absorption of lutein supplements into the eyes and blood, researchers found increased blood levels of lutein at all levels of supplementation but increased eye levels of lutein only at the higher 30-mg levels of lutein ester but not at 2.4 mg, 5 mg, and 20 mg. Subjects consumed the supplements from 60 days to 6 months. Lutein is an antioxidant carotenoid that forms the yellow "macular pigment" in the center of the eye's retina. This macular pigment is believed to be instrumental in filtering out harmful light and reducing free radical damage. For good eyes, keep up your intake of red and yellow fruits. (Veris, June 2003)


Many Weight Loss Ads Contain False Advertising

After reviewing more than 300 advertisements for weight loss products promoted through television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) discovered that 57% contained false or unsubstantiated claims. Examples of inaccurate statements include indicating that diet and exercise were not needed to lose weight, that the weight loss induced by the products was permanent, and that the products were "clinically proven." Many products described as safe contained ephedra, which increases the risk of heart problems. (On the Pulse, June 27, 2003)


Getting Doctors to Refer Patients to Dietitians

A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at medical doctors' (MDs) and registered dietitians' (RDs) reasons for referring patients for nutrition counseling. It drew a convenience sample of general practitioners (GPs) and RDs and surveyed them on their referral patterns. "The primary influence on a GP's decision to initiate nutrition management was the presentation of a patient who required nutrition advice." From the GP's perspective, barriers to providing nutrition counseling were time and knowledge, whereas RDs saw lack of patient interest as a significant issue. GPs referral patterns were dictated by the complexity of nutrition intervention needed, in contrast to RDs who see patient motivation as a key referral factor. Cost surfaced as the main barrier to RD referral for the GP, whereas RDs saw lack of GP understanding of where to refer as the main barrier to obtaining more patients. (Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;77(suppl):1039S-1042S)


Obesity Linked to Low Circulating IGF-II Levels

An article in Diabetes suggests that IGF-II may influence body weight regulation and that individuals with low IGF-II levels may be predisposed to obesity. Scientists looked at 463 nonobese men and women aged 45 to 60 years with normal glucose tolerance. Participants were followed for 4 years. They measured IGF-II at baseline and at study end follow-up. Of the participants, 217 gained >=2.5 kg body weight and 29 developed obesity. Baseline IGI-II levels were significantly lower in participants who gained weight compared to those who lost weight or didn't gain. (Diabetes. 2003;52:1403-1408)


New Organic Standards Are Here to Stay, but Don't Show That Organic Foods Are Healthier

It has been a year since the new National Organic Standards (NOS), which developed consistent standards for all food sold as organic, became law. The following labeling guidelines tell consumers how the product was grown:


100 percent organic: All of a product's ingredients or contents are organic. The USDA Organic Seal can be displayed on these products.


Organic: The product must consist of at least 95% organically produced ingredients. The USDA Organic Seal can be displayed on these products.


Made with Organic Ingredients: The product must contain at least 70% organic ingredients and can display the phase "Made with Organic" followed by a listing of up to 3 specific ingredients.



To be "organic," a food must be grown and processed without using most conventional pesticides, without fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, without biotechnology, and without ionizing radiation. This does not mean that the food has been grown without pesticides; only that approved pesticides are used. Organic foods are usually more expensive, but whether they are better is in the eye of the beholder. There are no scientific studies that prove that organic foods contain any more nutrients than conventional-grown foods today. (Food Insight, May/June 2003)



October 16-17, 2003. Symposium on "Defeating Hunger and Famine" Celebration of United Nations World Food Day, Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, visit


November 21-22, 2003. The Second National Conference on Diabesity in America, New Brunswick, NJ. For more information, e-mail or call 732-939-1449.


November 2-4, 2003. Enhancing the Safety of Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition: Redefining Hospital Nutrition in Modern Medicine. Cambridge, Mass. For more information, call 617-667-2651.


December 2-5, 2003. 15th Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care. New Orleans, La. For more information, call 617-754-4800 or visit


February 9-12, 2004. Nutrition Week 2004, Las Vegas, Nev. For more information, visit outbind://84/


June 24-26, 2004. The 28th US National Nutrient Databank Conference. Iowa City, Iowa. For more information, visit