Calorie Counting: Are New Yorkers Skipping Sweets & Other Foods Now Because Of the High Calorie Count?

Stephen J. Dubner, author of the bestselling book Freakonomics, raises an interesting topic in today’s Freakonomics blog.

He wonders if people in New York eating any differently now that calorie counts are posted in restaurants with more than 15 oulets.

Noting that the new regulations present a "great opportunity for obesity researchers," Dubner recommends delving into whether or not calorie-sensitive behavior occurs at certain times of day, days of the week or even types of days (holiday vs. workday, bad weather vs. good, etc.)

He also encourages learning about whether or not these calorie counts "shock people into buying/eating differently" and if so how long that shock lasts.

Intriguing questions, but I’d like to recommend that New Yorkers take things personally.

In other words, don’t leave the studying up to the obesity researchers? Instead, Big Apple residents (or visitors), study your behavior and see just how these calorie counts affect you.

Rather than get upset with the city for taking such a bold stance, regard this as an opportunity to learn more about what you put into your mouth, because the better foods you eat, the better you feel.

Judge Upholds NYC Rule That Restaurant Chains Put Calorie Counts In Menus

U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell agreed with the New York City’s health department that requiring restaurant chains to post calorie counts on their menus would help lower the obesity rate and upheld the city regulation requiring they do so.

So reports Colleen Long of the AP.

The New York State Restaurant Association, a lobbying group for New York’s restaurant industry, argued that the regulation forced "convey the government’s message regarding the importance of calories," violating the First Amendment. But apparently Judge Holwell didn’t find that argument persuasive.

The rule requires restaurants with more than 15 outlets nationwide to post calorie information. This will now take effect on Monday, April 21.

Reporter Long reports that the restaurant association plans to ask the judge to stay his ruling pending an appeal, though.

Jennifer Moore for SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Super Bowl Star Endorses Sugary Oreos, and Mike Adams Doesn’t Like It

While I was busy spending the day dashing back and forth to Philadelphia for a taping of the popular Comcast TV show, "Seeking Solutions With Suzanne" — which you’ll hear more about later — my research assistant and blog contributor Jennifer Moore came up with this item about another athlete pushing sugary foods. What gives with these ball players?  Can’t they find something more healthy to promote? Here’s Jennifer’s post:

The ever-provocative Mike Adams, editor of the informative, opinionated health website NewsTarget, recently wrote an article that takes another celebrity sugar-endorser to task.

You see, Adams — whom Connie interviewed recently on her Stop SUGAR SHOCK! Radio Show — isn’t pleased that Eli Manning, quarterback of the just-crowned Super Bowl champion New York Giants, appears in numerous commercials peddling Oreos.

"While Manning’s on-the-field victory was monumental, his off-the-field promotional choices have so far been nothing short of shameful," Adams fumes.

"He may be a football hero today, but until Manning decides to more carefully choose which products to promote to his fans, he will only be a shamed junk food promoter playing a highly influential role in the continued destruction of the health of the very people who made him famous: His fans."

Wow! Adams isn’t shy about letting us know what he thinks, is he?

As a mother to an impressionable five-year-old girl, I am concerned about commercials on television influencing her desires (though I worry more about her wanting more and more toys as opposed to sugary snacks — thankfully, she’s not a huge fan of most sweets). So she doesn’t watch any commercial TV programs, and I’m sure I’m not the only parent with that rule in my home.


McDonald’s Will Stop Pushing Its Food on Report Cards, Thanks to Grass-Roots Campaign

Note from Connie: Parents, I urge you to pay attention to this inspiring story. It shows the power of rallying people together to fight to toss junk-food ads out of your children’s schools. Jennifer Moore brings you this report.

The onslaught of junk-food advertising aimed at kids sometimes seems unstoppable.

But thanks, in part, to one spirited mom in Seminole County, Florida, fast food giant McDonald’s will stop using the report cards to push their products to 27,000 impressionable kids.

This positive development was reported by Stuart Elliot in the New York Times, Dave Weber in the Orlando Sentinel, and Emily Bryson York in Advertising Age magazine.

Things began when mother Susan Pagan was shocked when her fourth-grade daughter came home with a report card plastered with Ronald McDonald, the golden arches, and photos of Happy Meal items like Chicken McNuggets. (Being a mom to a young girl myself, I shudder to think how I’d react if my daughter arrived home with such a blatant ad, along with her grades.)

Hurrah for Pagan, because she wasn’t content to take this lying down. The furious mother sounded the alarm by calling the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CFCC), who rounded up thousands of complaints from other angry parents.


Junk Food Manufacturers Unhappy About U.K.’s New Rules on TV Advertising of Unhealthy Foods to Kids

Over in the U.K., food companies that make sugary, less-than-healthy snacks and beverages are predictably unhappy about the idea that their ads won’t be shown on television before 9 p.m. as part of phase two of the new British rules that restrict advertising unhealthy foods to children, reports.

What intrigues me is how Great Britain even went so far as to restrict foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Clearly, our British brethen are way ahead of us Americans in limiting junk-food ads that children will see.

More Than One-Third of Schools in the U.S. Are Near Fast Food Joints, Study Finds

Note from Connie: Even if schools get their acts together and start serving more healthful foods, fast-food joints near these schools may lure in the kids anyhow to eat their nutrition-bereft food.

Alas, more than one-third of middle and high schools in the U.S. are within a half-mile of a fast-food restaurant or convenience store, according to from researchers from the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois.

Thanks to Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times for alerting us to these unfortunate findings, which were published in the January issue of Health Place. SUGAR SHOCK! Blog researcher/writer Jennifer Moore brings you more information.

This study — one of the largest of its kind — also revealed that two-thirds of urban high schools had at least one fast food outlet within walking distance, Parker-Pope of the New York Times tells us. What’s more, over half of schools were no more than half a mile away from a convenience store, which, of course, are more likely to be stocked with junk food rather than fresh fruits or vegetables.


Fast Food Nightmare: Kids With Good Grades “Win” McDonald’s Happy Meals in Florida

In school, kids are supposed to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. Is it too much to ask that children also begin to get some nutrition basics from at least one of their teachers?

Apparently, in Florida’s Seminole County, the notion of teaching kids about healthy eating and good food is a foreign one.

The school board there struck the most ill-conceived, nutritionally horrific, jaw-droppingly bad deal with McDonald’s restaurants in Seminole County: For the 2007-2008 school year, elementary school kids with good grades and near-perfect attendance are rewarded with Happy Meals.

That’s right. If you’re one of the 27,000 school kids from kindergarten through fifth grade who does well in school and comes all but one or two days to classes, you get a “food prize” — nutritionally lacking, fatty, sugar-or-culprit-carbs laden, calorie-packed junk food.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, as part of this so-called “report card incentive” program, the Seminole County schools also are allowing McDonald’s to turn report cards into advertising vehicles. In fact, Stuart Elliot of the New
York Times
so aptly puts it, the Florida schools are “using children’s report cards to help stimulate sales [at McDonald’s].”


Fitness Coach Peter K on Stop SUGAR SHOCK! Radio Today

Today’s Stop SUGAR SHOCK! Radio Show at 2 p.m. EST on Blog Talk Radio will feature an interview with health and fitness coach Peter K.

Peter will share with you:

  • 5 secrets you may not know about exercise.
  • 5 best exercises  to do anywhere.

And we’ll also chat about sugar and exercise —  do they mix?

FYI, Peter K also does his own show on BlogTalkRadio, which hosts my show. In fact, Peter recently interviewed me for his show. So now it’s my turn to interview him.

Remember, you don’t need to listen live. You can listen afterwards, at your convenience. Just click here to listen to any of my shows after they run.

American Schools Cut Back on Sugary, Fatty Foods, But Is There Enough Progress?

American schools are cutting back on sugary, fatty, unhealthy foods, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

The survey — which Will Dunham of Reuters and Kevin Sack of the New York Times covered — found changes in school health policies from 2000 to 2006 that:

  • 19% of schools served French fries in 2006, down from the 40% in 2000. This means 25,000 schools nationwide are no longer selling the fast-food fare.
  • 30% of schools kicked junk food from vending machines, up from just 4% in 2000.
  • 46% of schools now sell bottled water, up from 30% in 2000. (Curiously, though, 100% of schools aren’t selling H20. Why not?).

However, schools certainly could be doing better:

  • 12% percent of elementary schools, 19% of middle schools, and 24% of high schools still offer fast food from the likes of Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.
  • 75% of high schools still sell soda, and 61% still offer potato chips or other processed snacks to high schoolers.
  • Only 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools and 2% of high schools follow the CDC’s recommendation to provide daily gym class. And 20% of schools don’t require any physical education at all.

Although progress has certainly been made, it’s still disappointing that less-nutritious food still finds its way into schools.

But at least schools are starting to do take steps to improve food in the schools.

Jennifer Moore of the SUGAR SHOCK! Blog contributed to this post.

Tiger Woods & Gatorade Plan to Join Forces

I absolutely love Tiger Woods. I admire just about everything about him — his poise, his physique, his talents, his sense of dignity, etc.But now he’s fallen off the pedestal for me. I just don’t look up to him the way that I once did.

That’s because of an article I read from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, in which AP reporter Doug Ferguson revealed that Gatorade and Tiger Woods are going to bed together, so to speak.

Evidently, Tiger Woods and Gatorade have teamed up to launch a new line of drinks called “Gatorade Tiger,” which are scheduled to hit stores in March 2008.

And the arrangement offers Tiger Woods one hefty price tag: The golf hero could get as much as $100 million
for promoting the drink, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

So, here’s what I’m wondering. Just how much sugar will these drinks contain? As it is, no matter which drink you select, Gatorade already contains its share of sugar, whether it’s sucrose, glucose or fructose.

I’m wondering: Why would Tiger Woods — who little kids, teens and us adults admire and seek to emulate — agree to push a sweet, sugary concoction, which his fans may then gulp in abandon, but they won’t be exercising the way Tiger does?

Anyhow, if the current Gatorade is any indication, this new Tiger line of beverages will be plenty sweet, too.