Nutrition News Bites – February 2nd, 2011

by Rachel Perez

Feature: Why Almost Everything You Hear About Medicine is Wrong

Newsweek investigates the accuracy of conventional health wisdom and the current framework of medical investigation. Biased publication of positive results and studies with shoddy statistics may lead to findings that are unproved.

Unveiling of new Dietary Guidelines

On Monday the federal government released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, with recommendations for fat, cholesterol, potassium, and fiber largely unchanged since 2005. Of note, there is increased attention to added sugars, but little change for sodium (still 2300mg/day for the general public)—a point of debate for many. Press release can be found here. Look for Meghan Johnson’s coverage of the new Dietary Guidelines in this Friday’s issue of the Sprout.

Once again, genetically modified alfalfa to grow in US

Following completion of an environmental impact assessment in December, the USDA has recommended cultivation of genetically modified “Roundup Ready” alfalfa. The decision overturns previous prohibitions in 2007, and some believe it may delay cooperation between organic and conventional agriculture sectors.

Salty foods quickly impair blood vessel flow, study finds

A small study in healthy volunteers found that eating high salt soup, compared to low-salt soup, hindered the ability of arteries to widen only 30-minutes after consumption. Long-term effects are unknown, however changes in blood vessels could increase atherosclerosis risk. “The findings show that salt has an impact even in people with healthy blood pressure,” the authors note.

First Lady sees model for children in military fitness program

One year after launching the Let’s Move program to end childhood obesity, Michelle Obama toured the military health and fitness initiative at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. The first lady was impressed with the training program, which has made changes to their mess hall, such as replacing soda machines with milk and water, and color-coding meals according to nutritional value.

Opinion: Can you eat meat and still be an environmentalist?

This Q-and-A covers factory-farming, organics, and the carnivore philosophy with Jonathon Safran Foer, best-selling author of Eating Animals.

JAMA calls energy drinks a public health threat.

A commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association urges health professionals to educate consumers on the dangers of energy drinks, acting ahead of FDA action. Energy drinks, not regulated as soda, can be dangerously high in caffeine and pose increased health risks, especially when mixed with alcohol.

USDA reports food prices to spike 3% this year

Newly released 2011 Consumer Price Index analysis predicts a 2-3% increase in overall food prices due to rising commodity prices, shrinking supply of ingredients, and increased global demand. Consumers will notice higher prices first at the meat counter and in restaurant menus.

New federal chicken labeling law will take effect in 2012

In January 2012, the USDA will require nutrition information on raw, single-ingredient poultry products. They calculate a $150 million cost over 20-years, which may fall heaviest on the consumer. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack comments, “More and more busy American families want nutrition information that they can quickly and easily understand.”

Rachel Perez is a second year Nutrition Communications student and dietetic intern at Frances Stern Nutrition Center-Tufts Medical Center. She hopes you enjoy the News Bites, and welcomes feedback. Don’t hesitate to email her at rachel.perez@tufts.edu with any newsworthy nibbles of your own!


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