RobardUser Robard Corporation | September 2015

Rise in Food Energy Supply Equals Rise in Obesity

The rise of obesity around the world is seemingly running parallel with another global trend that might be directly linked: The food energy supply. Food available for human consumption has seen a dramatic increase in quite a few countries, many of which have also had an explosion in obesity during the same time span, including the United States. The U.S. has seen one of the highest food energy supply spikes with a 768 calorie increase from 1971 to 2010.

As if the oversaturation of available calories wasn’t enough, many of those calories come from highly-processed foods. The convenience, accessibility and high palatability of processed foods has resulted in the unencumbered rise of their overconsumption. The increased food energy supply, combined with additional environmental factors such as increased urbanization, car dependence and sedentary occupations, created a recipe for a substantial surge in obesity. Other countries may not have the same environmental hurdles, but the additional food energy supply “can readily explain the weight gain seen in most countries,” according to Stefanie Vandevijvere, senior research fellow in global health and food policy at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

What can be done about this situation is the source of much debate. The World Health Organization and some researchers believe the answer comes in additional government policies such as mandating a “restriction of the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, front-of-pack supplementary nutrition labelling, food pricing strategies, and improving the nutritional quality of foods in schools and other public sector settings.”

However, while U.S. school food programs have made some strides in improving, we recently learned that children in daycare are actually eating healthier at daycares than at home. Childhood obesity is certainly a significant issue, but the numbers that substantiate the rise in obesity is America primarily comes from adults. Knowing that, the question becomes how can we make adults healthier eaters? Would additional policies like the ones mentioned above help?

Source: Bulletin of the World Health Organization


The Illusion of Diet Soda

Diet beverages rose in popularity primarily because they contain little to no calories. However, the calories that aren’t being consumed in these kinds of beverages are being consumed elsewhere. According to Dr. Ruopeng An, a University of Illinois Kinesiology and Community Health Professor, those calories are being consumed in the form of unhealthy foods.

Dr. An measured the caloric intake of over 22,000 individuals including their amount of consumption of five types of beverages: diet or sugar-free drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages, coffee, tea, and alcohol. An also cross-referenced people’s diets with a database created from the U.S. Department or Agriculture which included 661 foods categorized as “discretionary” — foods that aren’t important to one’s diet, such as cookies, ice cream and pastries. In other words, foods that should be avoided as part of a healthy diet.

What An found is that almost everyone from the study consumed one of the five types of beverages. Forty-three percent drank at least two. Even though coffee and diet-beverage drinkers consumed the least amount of daily calories, they also had the highest percentage of calories that came from the list of discretionary foods. What does that mean? It means that even though some of the study’s subjects had consumed less calories than some of the other study’s participants, those calories were more likely to cause someone to gain weight. Think of it like this: One person is eating donuts or cookies and another person is eating the same amount of calories (or even more) in vegetables and lean protein. Who’s more likely to gain weight quicker? Most likely the person eating the donuts and cookies.

There are times that you will see someone consuming a fast food meal that includes a double cheeseburger, medium French fries and a diet soda. That speaks directly to what the study states. It’s an illusion. Diet beverages do not allow you to eat more. Remember, it will always be a matter of what you eat or drink just as much as how much you consume.

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Children Eat Worse at Home than at Daycare

Providing a child with a proper diet is vital for their future health. But what if we told you that daycare and child care centers are feeding children healthier foods than they get at home? That’s what a recent study from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has concluded.

Let’s start with why child care centers are providing better food choices. These centers base the children’s meals off of guidelines from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These guidelines include how much fruit, vegetables, and milk a child should be consuming under their care.

The study exposed that once children left the centers, they weren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables, or drinking enough milk. They were also consuming more calories than needed; In fact, the excess calorie consumption (including sweet and salty snacks such as pretzels, crackers, cookies, etc.) was to the tune of 140 additional calories. 
This is a dangerous recipe for childhood weight gain — and future health. A retrospective study found that as BMI increased in adolescence the probability of obesity as an adult significantly increased as well. Obese male youths are 18x more likely to become obese adults, while obese female youths are 49x to become obese adults (1).

So, where’s the disconnect? How can there be such a contrast in diet between child care centers and the home? When it comes to children, we first have to look at who’s feeding them. Centers run their diet by guidelines; however, what are the guidelines that parents or caretakers are adhering to? As obesity numbers continue to skyrocket in the United States, it appears that the poor diet habits of adults are trickling down to children. It should come as no surprise that children born to obese mothers are twice as likely to be obese and to develop type 2 diabetes later in life (2).

What can we do? Let’s start with having some guidelines of our own, such as the ones created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics which were created to lay the foundation of the best diet possible. Sure, we can occasionally indulge in crackers or cookies, but if children are eating too many of these, it’s safe to conclude that adults are as well. Let’s apply healthy guidelines in our own diets, and do the same for children. Let’s lead by example.

Source: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Additional Sources:
(1) Wang LY, Chyen D, Lee S, et al. The Association Between Body Mass Index in Adolescence and Obesity in Adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42(5): 512-518, 2008.
(2) Maternal and Infant Health Research: Pregnancy Complications. In U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (accessed March 2011).