The new Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program launched at two NYC hospitals this week. Under this new initiative, overweight or obese patients can be prescribed Health Bucks along with nutritional counseling. These Health Bucks, which accrue at $1 per day per family member over a four month period, are redeemable only at NYC farmers markets.

The use of Health Bucks allows for increased access to locally grown fresh food, leading to improved health outcomes for individuals while bringing lasting changes to the local economy.

Patients from the pilot program have already seen dramatic weight loss and other positive changes for themselves and their children. Could this be the default nutritional therapy of the future?

New Yorkers have been seeing calorie counts on menus since 2009. But has anyone stopped to consider how effective this law has been on influencing consumer choice?
A new study by the American Journal of Public Health shows that providing McDonald’s customers with flyers about how many calories they should eat in a meal or day when calorie counts were available on the menu made no significant difference in what they ordered. Women ordered meals with 27% more calories than recommended, while men ate 11% more - regardless of whether or not they received a flyer.
What does this tell us? Maybe the issue is simply their location - fast food chains have not done much in the last decade to improve their offerings. But perhaps it would be better to look at calories as the problem. Menus offering exercise times instead of calories have been shown to be more effective in reducing calorie intake, although they are far less exact. 
Do you pay attention to calorie counts when you go out to eat? How can this system be improved? Sound off in the comments!

New Yorkers have been seeing calorie counts on menus since 2009. But has anyone stopped to consider how effective this law has been on influencing consumer choice?

A new study by the American Journal of Public Health shows that providing McDonald’s customers with flyers about how many calories they should eat in a meal or day when calorie counts were available on the menu made no significant difference in what they ordered. Women ordered meals with 27% more calories than recommended, while men ate 11% more - regardless of whether or not they received a flyer.

What does this tell us? Maybe the issue is simply their location - fast food chains have not done much in the last decade to improve their offerings. But perhaps it would be better to look at calories as the problem. Menus offering exercise times instead of calories have been shown to be more effective in reducing calorie intake, although they are far less exact. 

Do you pay attention to calorie counts when you go out to eat? How can this system be improved? Sound off in the comments!

We all know about the concept of counting calories - but have you ever really thought about what that means?

In this quick video by ASAP Science, the difference in quantity and quality of 200 calories worth of various foods is explored. More than anything, this visual shows how counting calories is not the end all be all to a healthy diet. Instead, a balanced diet made up of foods containing the most nutrients per calorie is the way to go.

Check out the video above!

Obesity: It’s officially a disease.
Now that obesity has officially been classified as a disease by the American Medical Association, changes in the way doctors and insurance companies treat patients may be on the horizon. This decision could also affect public policy moves, the food industry, and the outlook of the American people. Currently almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.

Obesity: It’s officially a disease.

Now that obesity has officially been classified as a disease by the American Medical Association, changes in the way doctors and insurance companies treat patients may be on the horizon. This decision could also affect public policy moves, the food industry, and the outlook of the American people. Currently almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.

The idea of medicine as food has existed for centuries. But throughout those centuries, the human race has been altering ancient, wild plants for our food consumption. As we have selected for sweeter and larger crops, we have dramatically reduced the cancer-fighting phytonutrients in them. For example, native Peruvian purple potatoes have 28 times more phytonutrients than the common potatoes we consume. The wild ancestors of apples have “a staggering 100 times more phytonutrients than the Golden Delicious” variety.

What does this mean for our food supply and our health? As companies such as Monsanto as well as the US Department of Agriculture develop disease-resistant and quick-growing varieties of our crops, does this mean even more nutrient loss will occur? Time can only tell. In the mean time, be sure to use food as medicine by including more herbs, greens, and colorful vegetables in a varied diet.

Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases their list of the twelve most pesticide-ridden fruits and veggies. Pesticides have been linked to hormone disruption in children and have carcinogenic properties. Of course, the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables far outweigth the potential risks from pesticides, but these twelve residents of your produce aisle should be bought organic whenever possible.
Apples - apples test positive for pesticides 99% of the time!
Strawberries
Grapes
Celery
Peaches
Spinach
Bell Peppers
Imported nectarines - all samples tested positive for pesticides
Cucumbers
Potatoes
Cherry Tomatoes
Hot Peppers
 

Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases their list of the twelve most pesticide-ridden fruits and veggies. Pesticides have been linked to hormone disruption in children and have carcinogenic properties. Of course, the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables far outweigth the potential risks from pesticides, but these twelve residents of your produce aisle should be bought organic whenever possible.

  1. Apples - apples test positive for pesticides 99% of the time!
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Imported nectarines - all samples tested positive for pesticides
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Potatoes
  11. Cherry Tomatoes
  12. Hot Peppers

 

That’s what Ria Chhabra, a 13 year old from Texas, did. When in a debate with her parents over the value of organic products over conventional ones, she decided to scientifically prove it one was better than the other

Originally, she tested the vitamin C levels in organic fruits and compared them to conventional ones. She found that vitamin C was higher in the organic produce, and decided she wanted to study the consequences this finding could have on health. So she did what any other kid would do - research an animal model and reach out to college professors across the country to find someone interested in helping her finish the project.

One professor, Dr. Bauer at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, called her back. While “he would not normally agree to work with a middle-school student”, Dr. Bauer and Ria worked successfully to feed fruit flies different diets and test the effects of diet on their health. Ria’s work was published by the lab and then by a scientific journal. It is titled "Organically Grown Food Provides Health Benefits to Drosophila melanogaster and available online. (For the record, she proved that Drosophila fruit flies fared far better on organic bananas and potatos than conventionally grown options.)

Today at 16, Ria continues to work with Dr. Bauer, now studying Type 2 Diabetes with fruit flies. Her family and friends are confident not in only in their choice to purchase organic foods but also that Ria will have a plethora of colleges to choose from in the coming years. Not bad for a 13 year old!

No more Rice Krispies at school? From the above video… (please excuse the opening advertisement!)

Recently, the USDA has developed new rules on what kinds of snack foods can be sold in public schools in the US, created as an extension of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 signed by President Obama.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the first ingredient of snacks purchased on school grounds now must be a vegetable, fruit, dairy product, whole grain, or protein. If an item doesn’t meet that standard, it could still be sold if it contains 10% of the Daily Value for calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or fiber - if it is naturally occurring, not as part of a fortification or supplementation package.

If these rules hold, school cafeterias around the country could be looking very different very soon. However, there is already backlash from food industry giants crying foul over lost profits and marketing and the standards are not yet finalized.

What do you think - is it the government’s responsibility to restrict harmful foods from reaching kids’ hands while they are in school? Should good nutrition practices start at home? Or should parents, teachers, and the government work together to start changing the food kids eat?

Diet Soda Deception

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According to a recent Huffington Post article highlighting new research on the food industry, diet sodas - which millions turn to in order to cut their calorie intake - can actually be worsefor your body than regularly sweetened sodas. 

A study of over 66,000 women during 14 years, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that diet soda drinkers are more likely to be overweight and that these diet sodas raised their risk for Type 2 Diabetes more than if they drank regular soda.

Here’s some of the science on why -

  1. Artificial sweeteners fool your body into thinking there is sugar on the way.
  2. Once there is no sugar, your body becomes confused and will both store fat and crave more sugar.
  3. Artificial sweeteners can be thousands of times more sweet than sugar - making them more addicting as well.

The food industry is deceptively creative with things like diet sodas. For more information on diet sodas as well as other processed food secrets, check out the article here and in the mean time, remember - all natural fruit juice is the best drink to have if you or your kids are looking for some liquid fuel.

mothernaturenetwork:

How Farm to School programs are chipping away at childhood obesity
These healthy food initiatives emphasize local food consumption, school gardens and food education in school curriculums.

mothernaturenetwork:

How Farm to School programs are chipping away at childhood obesity

These healthy food initiatives emphasize local food consumption, school gardens and food education in school curriculums.