5-for-fridays-image35-Nov13

Oh no! It is Friday the 13th! A coincidence maybe, but I just noticed that this is the 3rd Friday the 13th this year. Maybe that is why we are having a nightmarish year so far – there is simply no good news anymore! Hopefully things will change for the better soon.

Here are 5 nutrition related articles that caught my eye this week. Enjoy and drop me a comment to share your thoughts.

Toronto conference raises another red flag on vitamin D

If  you want to be heard, scream louder! That seems to have been the strategy of the conference organizers in Toronto who made loud proclamations like “breast cancer risk virtually eradicated by elevated vitamin D levels” and “97% of Canadians are vitamin D deficient and don’t even know it”. I love it when I hear attention grabbing headlines like these! Sounds like the vitamin D enthusiasts are getting desperate because their research so far has not been able to influence policy decisions by health officials.

Interestingly, a non-profit “grassroots” organization called Grassroots Health is leading this fight with their flagship D*Action panel of leading researchers in North America. They recommend 2000 IU of daily vitamin D and blood levels of 100-150 nmol/mL to reduce the risk of all kinds of chronic diseases. Their mission is to promote awareness of the vitamin D problem by educational seminars and encourage people to get their blood levels checked two times a year.

There is no consensus on optimal vitamin D levels, especially for children. Keep in mind that the current recommendation is 400 IU for infants, children and adolescents. Many “experts” believe children need about 10 times the current recommended levels! I am not really convinced of that and I don’t recommend you to fall for this kind of advice without testing and consultation with your pediatrician.

Will you raise your hand for chocolate milk?

The creators of the “Got Milk?” campaign now want you to encourage your children to “raise their hand” for chocolate milk in school. The logic is simple – kids are not drinking enough milk, vitamin D levels are low, chocolate milk is popular so why not let them drink more of it in school? It is not as bad as candy and soda anyway! Check this out:

I am not necessarily against this idea because it seems like a practical solution to a common problem. Some experts have opposed this idea because of extra calories coming from added sugar. Kids are getting enough sugar already so chocolate milk has no place in schools, they say.

What do you think? If you raise your hand for the chocolate milk mustache this time, try to cut those extra calories from somewhere else in your child’s diet.

By the way, I understand why this video would use dietitians to endorse this idea, but what’s up with the actors and models? Does their endorsement carry the same weight? But then, I probably don’t understand Marketing!

Getting the division of responsibility right in feeding toddlers

I was thrilled to read Dr Kathleen Cuneo’s sound advice in response to my guest post on her blog a couple of weeks ago about challenges of feeding toddlers using Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility idea. 5 challenges that we have faced with our 3 year old twins are – can’t be sure if they are really full, they are not hungry at dinner time, they are distracted by TV, they are too tired and you are just too tired and “give in”.

As she promised, Dr Cuneo followed up with a couple of posts on her blog, which I strongly recommend you to read if you are facing a similar challenge. In her post Are They Really Full? she advises parents to acknowledge their fears and do a realistic assessment of how much their children are eating on average. Probably about what they need because they are naturally programmed to regulate their food intake. So keep your fears in check and use division of responsibility consistently.

Just like getting a workout buddy can keep you on track to burn those extra calories in the gym each week, a community-level program to fight childhood obesity is more likely to work based on recent experience in Europe. Together Let’s Prevent Childhood Obesity is a proven program in France (it goes by the name EPODE), which aims to build healthier habits over a lifetime by using all key stakeholders at the local level. First started in 2003, EPODE now extends to 1.8 million people across 167 French cities, 20 in Spain and 8 in Belgium. Greece and Australia are expected to follow soon. The results, measured by BMI of children have shown reduction in the percentage of overweight and obese children.

Why does it work so well? I think the key is making it a community level issue and not an individual issue. Also encouraging healthy habits, moderation and not stigmatizing certain foods. Mindful eating, peer pressure and involvement of key opinion leaders such as dietitians, chefs and school administrators seem to create a supportive environment for the individual.

Should we wait for our policy makers to wake up and act? Why not get a Mom’s group together and develop a simple action plan to address this problem in your community? What do you think?

Changing the way we eat in 2010 and beyond

Registered Dietitian Janet Helm provides a great preview of what we might expect in the 2010 revision of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Looks like the experts are considering the following recommendations – fight obesity, promote nutrient-rich foods, focus on nutrients of concern (vitamin D etc.), emphasize plant-based foods, highlight diversity of vegetables and cut the salt. How the exact guidelines will turn out, no one knows but we can probably expect more emphasis on these points. I think it is quite timely and a clear recognition of a link between what we put in our bodies and our present healthcare challenges.

There is no shortage of advice and guidelines and yet we are facing a public health crisis. I think the gap is in implementation and accountability.

Enjoy and do let me know what you think. I would love to have you share your best tips in comments below.

Photo source – everystockphoto

©2009 Littlestomaks.com

4 comments

  1. Hello,
    Once again, you’ve done a great job with your Five For Fridays! I love your idea to summarize the nutrition news of the week. Thanks for including my recap of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines committee meeting. Appreciate!
    Keep up the good work.
    Janet

  2. Hello,
    Once again, you’ve done a great job with your Five For Fridays! I love your idea to summarize the nutrition news of the week. Thanks for including my recap of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines committee meeting. Appreciate!
    Keep up the good work.
    Janet

  3. Vitamin D requirements (actually any sort of nutritional requirement) is hard to pin down. You have to find a low end where it causes health problems and then a high end that causes toxocity and then recommend something in between. The RDA is established to meet the nutrient requirements of 97-98% of healthy people (assuming no sun exposure). Remeber, the primary reason for setting a minimum vitamin D level is to ensure adequate bone development – not cancer or other health issues.

    Toxicity of vitamin D is poorly studied and documented.

    The claim that 97% of breast cancer could be eliminated with elevated vitamin D levels sounds very sensationalist and highly unbelieveable.

    I suspect a larger factor in breast cancer is The Pill, which increases the incidence of breast cancer by 1-2 per 10,000. It sounds pretty inocuous, yet, teh incidence of breast cancer is (region / country) typically between 9 to 13 per 10,000. Consquently, use of the Pill increases the incidence of breast cancer by 10-20% in women (yes, it is true that it reduces other cancers, such as ovarian, however, the net result is that more cancers are caused by it than prevented by it)

  4. Vitamin D requirements (actually any sort of nutritional requirement) is hard to pin down. You have to find a low end where it causes health problems and then a high end that causes toxocity and then recommend something in between. The RDA is established to meet the nutrient requirements of 97-98% of healthy people (assuming no sun exposure). Remeber, the primary reason for setting a minimum vitamin D level is to ensure adequate bone development – not cancer or other health issues.

    Toxicity of vitamin D is poorly studied and documented.

    The claim that 97% of breast cancer could be eliminated with elevated vitamin D levels sounds very sensationalist and highly unbelieveable.

    I suspect a larger factor in breast cancer is The Pill, which increases the incidence of breast cancer by 1-2 per 10,000. It sounds pretty inocuous, yet, teh incidence of breast cancer is (region / country) typically between 9 to 13 per 10,000. Consquently, use of the Pill increases the incidence of breast cancer by 10-20% in women (yes, it is true that it reduces other cancers, such as ovarian, however, the net result is that more cancers are caused by it than prevented by it)

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