Would You Like Extra Calories With That?

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Yesterday, Mya posted about a study that showed eating fast food was associated with an increase in these measures associated with metabolic syndrome (high BMI, large waist and high blood pressure).  As evidence mounts that eating fast food can contribute to overweight and obesity, many cities and states are considering legislation to require these establishments to include nutrition information on their menus.Nathans

Last year, New York City began requiring some chain restaurants to post calories on menus. Health officials hoped it would curb the number of obese New Yorkers. But do these measures affect how people choose their foods?

One year later, two studies show differing results from the calorie count experiment.

The first study examined 1,156 fast-food purchases in low-income, minority neighborhoods. The authors found that although nearly 28% of people who saw calorie labels said it influenced their choices, they did not find any change in calories purchased.

The second study, conducted by New York City health officials and presented at the 2009 Obesity Society conference, reported that customers who took the calorie information into account (about 15% of those surveyed) bought about 106 fewer calories than customers who didn’t use the information.

While it’s probably too early to say whether or not these initiatives will make a difference in people’s food choices in the long run, experience has shown that knowledge alone doesn’t typically translate into behavior change.

What do you think – will putting calorie counts on the menu help people make healthier choices and reduce their caloric intake? Are there policies that could nudge people toward healthy behavior?

AICR offers tips, self-assessment tools, and ideas for small step dietary changes to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Read more about calories and fast food from AICR Nutrition Consultant, Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN.

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    Children will eat vegetables…

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    Healthy veggie sandwichIn this morning’s session, Barbara Rolls, PhD presented info about veggie eating from her study with pre-school children. She and her research team made changes to the kids’ normal lunches so they contained more vegetables and fruits and fewer calorie-dense foods.

    The question – would they increase their veggies and fruits and would they eat more food overall to make up for fewer calories at lunch? The answer is “yes” to more veggies and fruits and “no” to eating more later in the day to increase their calories.

    How to get children to eat their veggies? The successful method in this case may be that they served them veggies first – carrot sticks or tomato soup – before they received other foods.

    Studies have shown the same ideas work for adults as well. A simple, easy to implement idea!

    Check out more ideas for helping children eat more veggies on the AICR Web site.

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      Should Cancer Survivors Exercise?

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      Is it important for cancer survivors to exercise?  Dr. Melinda Irwin summarized observational studies which all showed a decreased risk of cancer recurrence with physical activity.  The good news is that all levels of exercise showed benefit.  Those who met the U.S. physical activity guidelines showed greatest benefits.  So – grab your sneakers and take a walk!

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