Reducing Waist Lines By Limiting Sugary Drinks

25 06 2012

Last week, CNN wrote a post indicating that the mayor of Cambridge, MA, Henrietta Davis, took steps to adopt the sugary drink ban that was proposed by New York City’s Mayor, Michael Bloomburg. Not only did Mayor Davis want to prevent oversized drinks sales (greater than 16 oz.), but she took it one step further by proposing to ban free refills on soft drinks at restaurants. “Our environment is full of way too many temptations,” Davis said. “This is one temptation that isn’t really necessary.”

This is a very bold move and some Americans will complain (mainly restaurant owners and those losing their free refills).  However, with obesity rates and diabetes  still on the rise, bold actions must be taken. Amid the studies and warning signs of inactivity and overeating in America, the majority of Americans are unwilling to make the healthy change. An action to restrict people from inflicting harm on themselves should not be looked upon as a governmental takeover, but rather a change to allow us to live longer. When the government decided to ban smoking in restaurants, there was an outcry from smokers complaining that their freedom was being taken away. However, after a few months, those who smoked went outside as usual, very little complaining occurred, and everyone was able to breathe easily again.

America Weighs In


Limiting the amount of soft drinks someone consumes in one sitting may be a good start in fighting obesity and diabetes. However, the other part of the equation is not just quantity, but also quality. How much sugar is in that 12 oz cup? Sugar is the key ingredient in all soft drinks, and is a factor in the epidemic of obesity. The sugar content in drinks can be difficult to estimate, so we need to turn to the nutrition label on a product.

This is where a startling realization hits those who know how to read the label. The amount of calories within many products are not accurately represented! That’s right, those calories are not what they may appear. A search for an answer was prompted when I was explaining to my wife how one calculates the amount of calories in a product. To figure out the total calories in a product, the three macronutrients are summed up by their respective caloric value. In all foods and beverages, calories are calculated by adding the total amount of fats (1 g = 9 kcal), carbohydrates (1 g = 4 kcal), and proteins (1 g = 4 kcal) in the product. Sometimes alcohol is also added (1 g = 7 kcal). An example was presented using a can of Coke (see picture). When we take a look at the three Macronutrients, we see that the only one that has a value is carbohydrates. This made it easy…so I thought.  When we multiply the amount of carbs in the beverage (39 g.) with its corresponding caloric value (4 kcal), we get 39 * 4 = 156 calories. But wait, why does the calories of the can state 140 cal? This is not a rounding issue as you will read below. The  extensive search led me through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (who regulates the food label) to get to the bottom of the fiasco. Scrounging through the FDA guidelines for proper labeling of nutrition facts was daunting. I came across a plethora of jargon and redirections that made it hard even for the product manufacturer to adhere to the guidelines.

The following were some questions relating to the problem, but there was nothing in my search that could explain why Coke was able to misrepresent their caloric value by 16 calories!

N8. Should a value of 47 calories be rounded up to 50 calories or rounded down to 45 calories?
Answer: Calories must be shown as follows:
50 calories or less–Round to nearest 5-calorie increment: Example: Round 47 calories to “45 calories”
Above 50 calories–Round to nearest 10-calorie increment: Example: Round 96 calories to “100 calories”
21 CFR 101.9(c)(1) Also see Appendix H for rounding guidelines.

N18. What is meant by sugars on the Nutrition Facts label?
Answer: To calculate sugars for the Nutrition Facts label, determine the weight in grams of all free monosaccharides and disaccharides in the sample of food. The other nutrients declared on the nutrition label are defined in 21 CFR 101.9(c). 21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)(ii)

N16. How is total carbohydrate calculated?
Answer: Total carbohydrate is calculated by subtracting the weight of crude protein, total fat, moisture, and ash from the total weight (“wet weight”) of the sample of food. 21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)

When I was able to find the section on carbohydrates and caloric measurement requirements (see references), there was nothing that mentioned how accurate the manufacturer had to be when producing a number. They did state that a certified chemical testing company had to weigh all amounts of nutrients before producing the label. So my question is, what scientist doesn’t know how to do basic arithmetic? Before banning the extra-large cups and refills, we might want to figure out how much sugar we really are consuming.

References:

Code of Federal regulations. Title 21 – Food and Drugs: Section 101.9 Nutrition Labeling of food

CNN: Mass. Mayor Suggests Ban on Large Drinks, Free Refills

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Appendix H: Rounding the Values According to FDA Round Rules

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Nutrition Labeling; Questions G1 through P8





The Seven Deadly Sins – Part 2

15 05 2012

In the last part of the series I explained the sweet effects of sugar. The second part of the series weighs two other highly consumed ingredients. Follow the guidelines and you’ll have your body working for you instead of against you. Reading the food labels will help with this part. If you never understood the label on the sides and backs of packages, the American Heart Association can help you out: Reading Food Nutrition Labels.

Fats – According to the American Heart Association, coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease.  Fats, along with cholesterol, are the key factors for clogging up the body’s arteries. Yet, we love them so much that we have to have them in every meal. Now don’t get me wrong, there are benefits from the healthy fats that raise your high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and we do want to continue consuming recommended doses of that fat. The problem American’s are facing currently is the amount of saturated and transfats in our diets. The American Heart Association recommends anyone over the age of two to limit their saturated fats to less than 7% of their total daily calories, and limit their trans-saturated fats to less than 1% of daily total caloric intake. The CDC reported in 2007-2008 that Americans (males and females) were consuming 11% of saturated fats. In recent years, the media and FDA have helped reduce the amount of trans-saturated fat found within products by exposing the health risks associated with this fat and requiring companies to show the amount on their nutrition labels. Kudos to them, but the FDA can still be better at regulating what companies print and “claim” on their packages. “Low fat” doesn’t always mean that the fat content is lower than everything else. For a good idea of how many calories are made up from fats, multiply 9 by the number of fat grams (1 gram of fat = 9 kcal). Then subtract that from the total calories in the food to see how much fat you’re actually consuming.

Salt- Sodium has a number of functions in our body. It is an electrolyte that exchanges with potassium within our cells to maintain fluid balance, blood pressure, and acid-based balance. Our muscles also need sodium to contract and move. Lastly, sodium assists in the absorption of certain nutrients such as glucose. While our bodies need salt to maintain homeostasis, we tend to consume larger quantities than we actually need. According to the Institute of Medicine, the Adequate Intake (AI) for the majority of Americans is 1,500 mg of sodium per day. One should not exceed 2,300 mg/day.  Yet, the CDC has reported that the average American consumes roughly 3,436 mg/day. That’s twice as much as the AI! I understand that we have evolved from our Neanderthal ancestors, but really, have we evolved so much that we can no longer tolerate bland foods? Let’s just toss out the main purpose for eating in the first place. Our primary focus now is to make sure that whatever we consume tastes delectable. To accomplish this, throw a dash (or a heaping) of salt on it. I know people who will reach for the salt shaker even before tasting the food and make it snow on their food like a blizzard came through. Too much sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure. This in turn leads to, you guessed it, heart disease! Help yourself out by drinking enough water throughout the day to keep your fluid balance in check. Then switch over to some lower sodium foods. Even though the front of the package says “low sodium,” read the nutrition label and make sure it’s not going to put your salt levels through the roof at the end of the day.

References:

American Heart Association – Know Your Fats

CDC – Trends in Intake of Energy and Macronutrients in Adults From 1999-2000 Through 2007-2008

CDC – Americans Consume Too Much Sodium







The Seven Deadly Sins – Part 1

13 05 2012

One time or another we’ve all been there. The trip to Taco Bell or the late night pantry run. An impulse fires off in our brain that craves a certain substance and we’re suddenly controlled by that impulse to search out and conquer. Once we start consuming, we just can’t let it go. We know where we stashed the Double Chocolate Heath Bar Crunch ice cream from the night before and it’s still going to be there when we look. And sometimes, you regret that urge that came over you. You tell yourself that you can’t do it again. However, days or even a month pass and suddenly that craving strikes again. How do you handle it this time?

In just the last few days, I have heard and seen on several news broadcasting outlets the damaging impact that obesity has created within the US.  Since an article on the cost of obesity was published in Reuters last week, there has been numerous reports following up on how people are getting so big. I can’t blame media for capturing this epidemic, however, why is it only surfacing now? According to an article that came out in this week’s publication of NewsWeek, obesity in America can be traced back to the 1930’s.  As I read Gary Taubes’ article in NewsWeek and Sharon Begley’s in Reuters, I begin to connect the dots. We are now seeing more coverage on obesity because the cost isn’t just affecting the obese. It’s now also affecting tax payers and the actual government (due to the health care reform) because of the amount of money we need to spend to help out those who are overweight and obese. A quick price figure to get a scope on the problem: it costs $190 BILLION in excess medical spending a year to provide services for those overweight and obese. Now what do you think the medical services does to help leverage this cost? You got it, everyone (even the non-obese) pays for it with higher insurance premiums. Find out more about the cost of America’s waist line by clicking on this article, As America’s Waistline Expands, Costs Soar, and read what else is going on as we become the world’s real Big brother.

However, we can’t judge our health based solely on our waistlines. Let’s face it, there are some other substances that we can’t stay away from that are also affecting our health. The question is, why are we slowly (maybe quickly for some) jeopardizing our bodies for that brief moment of pleasure? I refer to these pleasures as the Seven Deadly Sins, I mean Addictions. Studies have shown that the following, when exceeding normal amounts, can cause detrimental effects to our health.

7 Deadly Addictions

  • Sugar
  • Fat
  • Salt
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Overeating 

Many of these addictions have contributed to the top causes of mortality in America. And, these addictions are catching on around the world too. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in America, with 599,413 deaths per year. Cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke are the other three causes that make up the top four in America. What and how much we consume is all linked to the increase in mortality in our country. Understanding how these addictions impact our health and lives can help prevent further increases of adult mortality in the future (not to mention for children). In this four part series, I will touch on each addiction. Hopefully by the end, the information will allow you to yield to temptation and further your success in a healthy life.

Sugar – “Oh how sweet it is to be loved by you,” to quote James Taylor. You can’t resist it and it’s everywhere. I call it a love-hate relationship. We love it when it goes in, we hate it when it sticks around–around our love handles. Walk down any aisle of a supermarket and you’ll find a form of it in the ingredients of any container or bottle. And don’t be fooled, pure cane sugar, maltodextrin, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and even carbohydrates are still sugars. (I’ll speak more about carbs in another article.) NewsWeeks’ columnist Gary Taubes pounces on the idea that this is the real factor that is causing most of the world to be overweight. He has a valid point too.  The majority of Americans still consume too much of this granulated crystal even with the vast awareness of obesity. In the past decade, our  world has consumed more sugar and processed foods than every before, thanks to the convenience of the fast food industry explosion. China, one of the healthiest countries in the world has slowly lost footing for the top rank as their childhood obesity rates jumped by 25% in the last decade. One article states that the influx of fast food chains in Shanghai has caused many children and adults to convert to lower quality of eating. Too much sugar leads to obesity, diabetes, and ultimately heart disease. Don’t forget the adverse effects that come with these diseases, which include, orthopedic problems (swollen ankles, knee pains, and back pains), sleep apnea, and lots of medication. Reduce the intake of sugar by consuming foods without added sugar and stick with fresh produce to get the sugars that will keep you going throughout the day.

References:

CDC – Leading Causes of Death

The Sydney Morning Herald – China’s Spoilt Generation Takes Obesity to New Level 






Dog Gone It! Our Pets Are Obese!!

14 04 2012

I posted this on my other blog a few months ago and feel that it’s still relevent and so I want to share it with you all here.

 My wife and I were out strolling around old downtown Venice, FL a few weeks back and she pointed out something that made both our mouths drop. An older couple was walking by us with a stroller and my wife caught a glance at the carry-on. Inside the stroller was not a baby or heavy groceries, but a small dog! REALLY?  Then there was another one! Crossing the street we both saw a similar stroller, with mesh in the front and a roof to block the sun, and inside a little puffy terrier standing on all fours rolled ahead of the couple. This was ludicrous! I mean, come on people! What is wrong with this picture? These animals have legs, more legs than we do (remember why God gave us legs right?), and we’re carting them around! This was totally crazy in my eyes and as a trainer I had to notice that the couples were not daily exercise-goers either.

Then four days ago while at work making our country a little bit healthier one client at a time, I happen to glance up at one of our televisions that is set to CNN. Right in the middle of a screen was a video of a large overweight dog and the caption read “OBESITY EPIDEMIC STRIKES U.S. PETS.” I had to laugh. (You can read about it on CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/03/living/overweight-pets/index.html) Then I made the connection. Why are 41 million dogs and 47 million cats obese? Because we’re abusing them worse than we abuse ourselves with lack of exercise and too much food! According to the veterinarian on CNN, foods for our pets are higher in calories than the past and we aren’t providing them enough exercise. Get up and move people! Not just yourself, but with your pets too! Our pets, like our children, share similar lifestyles as you do. Why is Brutus turning into Fluffy? Most likely because we don’t have time to exercise ourselves, and so he doesn’t get the exercise either.  That is unacceptable! And so is going for a walk while you push Sparky around in a stroller. Walk your dog, get some exercise and make this country a healthier place for humans and pets. Remember 33% of people and 21% of pets are obese. Help us out!

This woman is the only one smiling. Please don't do this to your pet.





What Will Make Me Lose More Fat, Weight Training or Cardio?

7 04 2012

The majority of fitness and health club members join for the purpose of losing weight. The previous statement is a fact and we all are aware of it. The truth we are still confused about is not whether to exercise but how to exercise. Many studies have been done in the last few years trying to determine whether cardiovascular exercise (running, biking, swimming, walking) will shed more pounds than resistance exercise (free weights, machines, body weight exercises). 
In a  latest study performed by Duke University Medical Center, 197 overweight individuals were placed on a cardio only program, resistance only program, or combination of the two. The results showed that those on the cardio only lost more weight and inches of body fat than the other two groups. Those who did the combined program lost about the same amount of weight as the cardio only group.  The resistance training group did lose weight however just not more than the cardio or combined group.
Therefore, the next time you’re in the club, don’t forget to hit up the cardio to shed some inches. However, to keep your body looking toned and lean, you still need to keep the resistance training. Resistance training will build lean muscle mass which will help expose your wash-board stomach and defined arms.