40 Years of Government Nutrition Data May Be Flawed

40 Years of Government Nutrition Data May Be Flawed | Experts' Corner | Big Think

For forty years, the CDC\’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has collected data on the caloric intake of Americans, answering the simple and important question of how much food we eat. This research has in turn been used to instruct public health policy. NHANES is actually the basis for national standards of height, weight, and blood pressure, and its findings are often used to develop programs in the public battle against obesity.

But there\’s just one \”tiny\” problem. According to an analysis conducted by exercise scientist Edward Archer at the University of South Carolina, NHANES is very likely invalid. And it\’s for a simple reason that almost anybody could point out: All of the data it collects on caloric intake is self-reported.

Try to remember precisely what you ate over the past twenty-four hours and you\’ll see why this is a problem. People aren\’t only inept at estimating how many calories are in the foods they eat, they\’re also bad at recalling what they consumed and when.

With this in mind, Archer performed calculations merely to gauge if NHANES\’ data is physiologically plausible. In 1991, a team of physiologists determined that average, free-living individuals must consume at minimum at least 35% more calories than their basal metabolic rate (BMR) — the amount of calories they expend resting — in order to maintain their weight and health. This accounts for the energy people need to perform everyday activities, from just walking around, to playing sports, to gardening, etc. Archer used a well-established equation to estimate the BMR of individuals in the NHANES study, multiplied those values by 1.35, and compared them to the self-reported energy intakes in NHANES. What did that comparison yield? The majority of respondents, totaling 28,993 men and 34,369 women, reported eating less calories than even the bare minimum necessary to survive!

Continue reading @ 40 Years of Government Nutrition Data May Be Flawed | Experts’ Corner | Big Think.


Space Farming: The Final Frontier

NASA looks to grow fresh veggies, 230 miles above the Earth

By Jesse Hirsch on September 10, 2013

Photographs by Stephen Allen

Last year, an astronaut named Don Pettit began an unusual writing project on NASA’s website. Called “Diary of a Space Zucchini,” the blog took the perspective of an actual zucchini plant on the International Space Station (ISS). Entries were insightful and strange, poignant and poetic.

“I sprouted, thrust into this world without anyone consulting me,” wrote Pettit in the now-defunct blog. “I am utilitarian, hearty vegetative matter that can thrive under harsh conditions. I am zucchini — and I am in space.”

An unorthodox use of our tax dollars, but before you snicker, consider this: That little plant could be the key to our future. If — as some doomsday scientists predict — we eventually exhaust the Earth’s livability, space farming will prove vital to the survival of our species. Around the world, governments and private companies are doing research on how we are going to grow food on space stations, in spaceships, even on Mars. The Mars Society is testing a greenhouse in a remote corner of Utah, researchers at the University of Gelph in Ontario are looking at long-term crops like soybeans and barley and Purdue University scientists are marshaling vertical garden design for space conditions. Perhaps most importantly, though, later this year NASA will be producing its own food in orbit for the first time ever.

And if space farming still seems like a pipe dream, the zucchini also served a more tangible purpose. It kept Pettit and his crewmates sane…

via Space Farming: The Final Frontier – Modern Farmer.

What Your Favorite Ice Cream Says About You

Ice Cream

via What Your Favorite Ice Cream Says About You [Infographic].

Learn to eat


Dark chocolate ‘may lower blood pressure’

dark choc

There may be good news for people looking for an excuse to munch on a couple of squares of chocolate after a review showed the treat could reduce blood pressure.

An analysis of 20 studies showed that eating dark chocolate daily resulted in a slight reduction in blood pressure.

The Cochrane Group’s report said chemicals in cocoa, chocolate’s key ingredient, relaxed blood vessels.

However, there are healthier ways of lowering blood pressure.

via BBC News – Dark chocolate ‘may lower blood pressure’.

Summer Couscous Salad


Summer Couscous Salad


2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous, uncooked
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 green onions, white and green parts chopped
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup reduced fat feta cheese

See full recipe at www.melskitchencafe.com


Red = Don’t Eat: Simple Food Labels and the Effective Illusion of Control

Food Traffic Light System

From New York City’s point of view, humans are notoriously bad at making good decisions. That’s what makes a ban on large sodas necessary: the idea that Americans can’t be trusted with their own health. But maybe there’s a middle ground between letting people gorge themselves on junk food and making it illegal. The key to making it all work is creating an environment where consumers still believe they’re in control.

Data released this week by the Massachusetts General Hospital describes the efficacy of a stoplight-style color-coding system that researchers applied to foods and beverages sold to hospital cafeteria-goers. Products were labeled as red, yellow, or green according to three main indicators:

  • How many of the item’s main ingredients contained either fruit, vegetables, whole grains, or low-fat dairy?
  • Did the item have a lot of saturated fat?
  • Did the item have a high caloric content?

Items that had healthier ingredients and less of the bad stuff were given a green label that advised diners to “consume often.” Items that had good and bad in equal proportions were given a yellow label; customers were told to consume these products “less often.” Items with a great deal of calories and saturated fat were given a red label. “There is a better choice in green or yellow,” diners were told. After launching the labeling system, the researchers then took the added step of moving things around so that the green-labeled items were more accessible…

via Red = Don’t Eat: Simple Food Labels and the Effective Illusion of Control – Brian Fung – The Atlantic.

Genetically Modified Food May Be Why You’re Fat!

GM food

The jury is still out on whether genetically modified food is dangerous–though the genetic engineers discussed in this post make a pretty compelling case for its shortcomings. A new study suggests that even if GM food isn’t directly making us sick, it might be causing us to gain weight. Which then makes you sick. So, by the transitive property.

The study, carried out by researchers from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science and elsewhere, examined how rats and salmon respond to GM food. As part of the study, rats were fed GM corn (genetically modified for pest resistance). The rats slowly got fatter than those who hadn’t been fed GM corn over a 90-day period. They also ate more and grew faster. When rats were fed fish that had eaten GM corn, they were hit with the same effects…

via Genetically Modified Food May Be Why You’re Fat | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation.

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