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Posts Tagged ‘ Center for Science in the Public Interest ’

Food Day

Today, and hopefully for years to come, October 24th, is Food Day. It is a national day of food awareness- to promote healthy eating and affordable, accessible food. It is sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit advocacy group that has led successful campaigns for food labeling, better nutrition, and safer food. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are the Honorary Co-Chairs for Food Day 2011. Advisory board members include nutrition experts and public health activists Marion Nestle, Michael Pollan, and Kelly Brownell.

Food Day is centered on six principles:

  1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
  2. Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness
  3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
  4. Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms
  5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
  6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers


In honor of Food Day, I will be giving a lecture on portion sizes and the obesity epidemic entitled Portion Sizes Continue to Increase: Issues and Policy Implications to students at Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition in New York City.

There are so many ways YOU can get involved in Food Day. This is just the beginning of a movement to promote healthy eating, reduce disease, curb junk-food marketing, alleviate hunger, support sustainable farms, and more. Read more about Food Day and see how you can get involved and what you can do.

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Unrealistic serving sizes

Unrealistic serving sizes

Do you know anyone who eats only ¾ cup cereal, ½ cup of ice cream, or 1 cup of soup at a sitting? Probably not. Even children eat more than that.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group in Washington, is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to revise its serving-size regulations as many people underestimate serving size.

Labels for canned soup, ice cream, coffee creamer and non-stick cooking sprays understate the calories and sodium consumers are likely to eat. Canned soup, in particular, presents a clear example of how unrealistic the stated serving sizes are. Labels for Campbell’s Chunky Classic Chicken Noodle soup, for example, indicate that a serving size is 1 cup — a little less than half a can with 790 milligrams of sodium. But in a telephone survey commissioned by CSPI, 64 percent of consumers surveyed said they would eat the whole can at one time and only 10 percent of consumers say they eat a 1-cup portion!  Chances are you are getting closer to 1500 mg sodium. Ice cream serving sizes are also unrealistic. The serving size is a half-cup of ice cream—a quarter of a pint.  However, many people eat closer to a whole cup. And some people probably eat an entire pint.

In my experience counseling overweight patients, and as I wrote in my book The Portion Teller Plan, so many people underestimate how many calories they consume, in part because people think that a serving is whatever amount they eat, and pay little attention to the amount of food listed on a package label. And since typical portions have grown in size, the amount of food you usually buy these days is much more than the amount listed on a package label. After all, I have never seen an ice cream shop sell ½ cup serving. (And if they did, consumers would probably complain!) Kiddie sizes usually contain at least 1 cup of ice cream.

Anahad O’Conner from The New York Times has an excellent summary.  The foods shown above, from the NYT article, are typically underestimated by many consumers.

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Lots of calories in restaurant foods!

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group who also puts out the terrific newsletter Nutrition Action Health Letter announced its most recent Xtreme Eating Awards. To summarize: “Stacked, Stuffed, and Topped” is the trend at Applebee’s and other chain restaurants.

Many of the “winners” contained nearly as many calories as American’s should eat
in an entire day. And that is without the drinks, side dishes, and desserts. These “winners” ranged in calories from 1200 to 2500 calories. (The average American should eat around 2000 calories daily.) Huge portions are also to blame for many of these jumbo calorie counts.

Here are some of the winners of the X-Treme Eating Awards:

The Cheesecake Factory Farmhouse Cheeseburger: This burger is “topped with grilled smoked pork belly cheddar cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo and a fried egg.” It contains 1,530 calories and 3,210 milligrams of sodium. That’s assuming you just eat the burger: Adding a side of Fries will add another 460 calories! As CSPI indicates, eating this burger is “equivalent of eating three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with cheese.”

Cold Stone Creamery PB&C Shake: A 24-oz. “Gotta Have It” size shake of peanut butter, chocolate ice cream, and  milk has 2010 calories, equivalent to an entire day’s worth of calories (2,010).  And it is just a drink!! As CSPI indicates, this is equivalent eating “two 16-oz. T-bone steaks plus a buttered baked potato.”

Applebee’s Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs With Fettuccine: This dish contains four cups of pasta, two sauces, and “cheese-injected” meatballs and delivers along with garlic bread 1,520 calories and 3,700 mg of sodium (more than two days’ worth). It’s like eating two of Applebee’s 12-oz. Ribeye Steaks plus a side of Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

The Cheesecake Factory Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake: This slice weighs in at three-quarters of a pound and contains 1,540 calories and 59 grams of saturated fat (three days’ worth). As CSPI indicates, eating one slice is like equivalent in calories to eating one Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizza plus two Quarter Pounders with

My suggestion if you insist on ordering such dishes is: share, share, and share!! And be sure to do plenty of exercise.

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