What’s cooking, Uncle Sam?


1943 USDA nutrition chart

2011 USDA's MyPlate

2011 USDA's MyPlate

With the reveal of the new food plate from the USDA, nutrition has been in the news lately. An article on NPR’s Morning Edition recently discussed “Washington’s long tradition of trying to guide the American diet”. From turn of the century agricultural expeditions to “the Poison Squad”, a group of young volunteers who explored the effects of contaminated food in the basement of the Department of Agriculture, this report chronicles the relationship of government and nutrition.

If you’re in DC this year, a new exhibit, “What’s cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government’s Effect on the American Diet” at the National Archives details America’s food history.

National Nutrition Month

Adding color to your day is always a good idea; after all colors can brighten a room, lift your mood, and apparently improve your nutritional health.

The month of March is National Nutrition Month sponsored by the American Dietetic Association. The theme for this year is ÔÇ£Eat Right With Color,ÔÇØ encouraging everyone to add a burst of color to their plate with vegetables and fruits.

Find out easy ways to improve your daily eating habits at

New Dietary Guidelines

On January 31st, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released and their main focus is to emphasize that reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity will lead to better health. Currently, more than two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese and ultimately the new guidelines will help to prevent diet-related chronic disease. Tips that are emphasized to incorporate in our everyday lives are:

  • Avoiding oversized portions
  • Drinking water instead of other beverages
  • Consuming foods with less sodium
  • Reducing caloric intake
  • Increasing fresh fruits and vegetables

Be on the lookout for more consumer-friendly tools and advice which will be released within the next few months.

For more information please visit:

Call to Action: Breastfeeding

Last week, the US Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin released a Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. This call to action was aimed at families, communities, employers and health care professionals to improve breastfeeding rates and increase support for breastfeeding. Download the complete report and the fact sheet.

Blood Pressure & Sugary Drinks

Liwei Chen, an LSUHSC School of Public Health faculty member is making news (WebMD, NPR, UPI, Reuters, and HealthDay News) because of her study on the connection between sugary drinks and blood pressure. The study (pdf) is in the “publish ahead of print” section of Circulation. The study was released as a EurekAlert by LSUHSC Information Services.

Link to the pdf of the article is available to LSUHSC faculty, staff & students. It can be accessed off-campus with a valid LSUHSC library barcode & PIN. You can find more information at our remote access webpage.

High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad

A new study published in Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior finds that high fructose corn syrup leads to abnormal increases in body fat, at least in rats, when compared to regular table sugar.

Link to the pdf of the article is available to LSUHSC faculty staff & students. It can be accessed off-campus with a valid LSUHSC library barcode & PIN. You can find more information at our remote access webpage.

National Junk Food Day

July 21st is National Junk Food Day, but try not to go wild. According to the CDC, Louisiana went from having under 15% obesity rate in 1990 to a rate of 25-29% in 2008. If you’re going to celebrate today, just try to be smart and eat healthy the rest of the week.

Scourge of Scurvy – Defeated over 260 years ago

On this date in 1747, a Scottish Naval physician began the testing that uncovered the cause of scurvy and lead to its cure. So go eat an orange today, in honor of Dr. James Lind.

Think Before You Drink

April is indeed a busy month, adding?é?áAlcohol Awareness Month?é?áto the list?é?áof health observences.

Drinking one glass of wine per day has been clinically proven to provide health benefits. But what are the risks of drinking more than one glass on the weekend?

Brush up on facts about alcohol to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Also, learn where Louisiana stands in drunk driving statistics.

March is National Nutrition Month

Every March the American Dietetic Association sponsors National Nutrition Month. One fun feature of their website is a fad diet timeline; I don’t think I would have wanted to try Lord Byron‘s vinegar & water diet (1820) or the sleeping beauty diet (1976) which featured heavy sedation for several days.

Peanut Product Recall

The FDA has a website that lists all the peanut containing products that have been recalled by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). Some PCA peanut products have been linked to the Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak.

Dark Chocolate=Good

And good for you? According to a story released yesterday by Reuters Health, dark chocolate font size=”-1″>(link removed) may keep your healthy. The original research appeared in Journal of Nutrition, v.138 (9) 1671-76 September 2008. Just what I need an excuse to indulge my love of chocolate.

National Turnoff Week

Every day, children ages eight to 18 spend more than six hours watching TV, playing video games or using the computer for recreational purposes. The more time youth spend in front of the screen, the more likely they are to be overweight.

Turnoff Week (April 21-27) is a nationwide campaign to raise public awareness about the effects of too much screen time. Sponsored by the NHLBI We Can! program, they offer helpful activities to reduce screen time.

Click here to see current literature on television’s effect on obesity in the US from PubMed.

Nintendo makes you skinny. April Fools.. no, wait, really.

No, I’m not talking about the Wii. This summer Nintendo will introduce a new program for the DS system. My Weight Loss Coach comes with a pedometer, mini quizzes and challenges designed to motivate and reward users for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

5 pounds of holiday heft

“The average American gains five pounds over the holiday season.”
It’s a common assertion over the holiday season, but where is the evidence?

A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain” from the New England Journal of Medicine (published March 23, 2000) investigated this claim and found that Americans experience a net 0.48-kg weight gain in the fall and winter. “Since this gain is not reversed during the spring or summer months,” the study found, “[the weight gained] probably contributes to the increase in body weight that frequently occurs during adulthood.”

Two more recent studies also investigate the 5 pound phenomena.
The effect of the Thanksgiving holiday on weight gain.” from the Nutrition Journal (published 21 November 2006) and “The effect of the holiday season on body weight and composition in college students” from Nutrition and Metabolism (published December 2006) assessed potential changes that occur in body weight during the Thanksgiving holiday break in college students and found participants gained a significant amount of BW (0.5 kg) during the Thanksgiving holiday. “While an increase in BW of half a kilogram may not be cause for alarm,” the authors noted, “the increase could have potential long-term health consequences if participants retained this weight gain throughout the college year.” In fact, although average body weight remained relatively unchanged from pre-Thanksgiving to post-New Year’s, a significant positive relationship existed between the change in BMI and percent fat, total fat mass, total fat free mass, and trunk fat mass for the pre-Thanksgiving and post-New Year’s visits.

So what is to be done about it?
A study from the International Journal of Obesity (London) looked at “The role of conjugated linoleic acid in reducing body fat and preventing holiday weight gain.” Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), is a naturally occurring dietary fatty acid shown to reduce body fat in animals. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study among overweight adults, 3.2 g/day CLA significantly reduced body fat over 6 months and prevented weight gain during the holiday season. “Although no adverse effects were seen,” the study reports, “additional studies should evaluate the effect of prolonged use of CLA.”

Can’t get your hands on linoleic acid isomers?
Check out these tips on having a healthy holiday:

  • Heft for the Holidays: How to Hold Off Those Extra Pounds from NIH News in Health
  • Healthy Holiday Eating from SAMHSA’s Family guide
  • Holidays the Healthy Way from the CDC
  • Holiday Meal Planning from the American Diabetes Association
  • Seasonal Food Safety from the USDA
  • Countdown to the Thanksgiving Holiday from the USDA
  • The Louisiana 2 Step Initiative
  • Surviving Thanksgiving: Keep Food Safe, Don?óÔé¼Ôäót Overindulge from the LSU AgCenter