Increased Availability to Food Contributes to Increased Obesity Rate

Increased Availability to Food Contributes to Increased Obesity Rate

Researchers collected data from the USDA Economic Research Service from 1970-2009 to determine whether or not there is a significant link between the rise in obesity and fructose consumption, primarily in the form of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.  Published in the Nutrition Journal, they concluded that fructose consumption alone is not a causal factor. However, the total energy availability in the US food supply –primarily in the form of starch in grains – does play a significant role.  Authors found that the availability of overall food to consumers increased by 10.7% during the 40-year period with carbohydrate availability increasing more than any other macronutrient. The net change in total fructose availability for the 40 years was 0%. 

The Take Home: Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where fresh, mostly un-processed foods are found.  Promote increased vegetable intake and encourage patients to  limit processed snack goods and, when possible, choose only whole grain varieties with more than 3 g of fiber per serving. 


Fish May Help Brain Function with Age

A study published in the journal Neurology, found that post-menopausal women with higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids had less total volume brain loss as they aged.  This could translate into improved brain function for an additional 1- 2 years.  Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, swordfish and tuna. 

The Take Home:  Aim to include fish in your diet.  For added benefits, substitute high fat animal proteins like beef and processed meats for fish.


Vitamin D and Calcium Disparities Found Among American Subpopulations

Researchers studied data from the National Health and Nutrition Examines Survey (NHANES) to characterize usual intakes of calcium and vitamin D from both food and dietary supplement sources in specific populations.  Their goal was to determine which populations are in most need for fortification/enrichment and supplementation.  Results showed that low-income, overweight, and/or obese minority populations may be at greater risk for insufficiency.  Furthermore, children aged 4-8 years were more likely to obtain recommended dairy intakes compared with older children and adults of all ages.  Excessive intake of both calcium and vitamin D was low among all studied populations. 

The Take Home:  Dairy is not the only food source of calcium.  Nuts and seeds contain calcium and should be included in the diet for their many health benefits.  Another reason to eat fish is that it is one of the few natural food sources of Vitamin D.  Eggs (the yolk) are another source of Vitamin D and, when eaten in moderation (one egg a day), are part of a healthy diet. 


Final Recommendation on Multivitamins to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer

As an update to its 2003 recommendation, the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) released its final recommendation on the use of multivitamins to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer.  The recommendation applies only to healthy adults without specific nutritional needs.  After reviewing evidence on the efficacy of multivitamin use as a means of prevention, the USPSTF concludes that current data is insufficient to assess the benefits and harms of multivitamins, or single- or paired-nutrient supplements.  They also specifically recommend against the use of beta-carotene or vitamin E supplements to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer.

The Take Home:  Your multivitamin is not protecting you from heart disease but your dietary choices can.  Food sources of nutrients are often more bio-available than there supplemental counterparts.  A diet that is high in fiber and low in saturated fat and sodium has been shown to decrease risk of heart disease.


Vegetarian Diet May Help Lower Blood Pressure

A new review looking at 39 previous studies found that participants who consumed a vegetarian diet had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure when compared to meat-eaters.  The review, which looked at nearly 22,000 participants in 37 observational studies and seven controlled trials, was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.  Whole, Plant-based foods are usually low in sodium and saturated fat and free of cholesterol all of which support a healthy lifestyle.

The Take Home:  Eat more veggies!  Fill half your plate with vegetables to crowd out animal based foods which are higher in saturated fats and cholesterol.  Real foods are best so choose un-processed foods whenever possible. 


Katie Cavuto MS, RD

Research:  Erin DeMito RD