Archive for » February 17th, 2012«

Will eliminating King Size Snickers help us lose weight?

snickers2togo.jpgThe Snickers 2 To Go contains two candy bars, each containing 220 calories.

The King Size Snickers is dead (almost). Long live the Snickers 2 to Go?

Mars Inc. announced recently it is stopping production of chocolate bars with more than 250 calories – which spells the end for the 510-calorie king-size bar. It’s all part of a new nutrition initiative, the candy maker says.

At the same time, the company is offering Snickers 2 to Go, a package containing two candy bars, each delivering 220 calories, 11 grams of fat and 28 grams of carbohydrates. Consumers are supposed to eat one and save the other for later. But if they eat both, that’s 440 calories – almost as much as a King Size bar.

It’s hard to see how this will improve American diets and reverse the upward trend of American waistline measurements. That’s not really the job of a candy maker, of course. But Mars is pitching its commitment to healthy eating:

“Mars chocolate products should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle,” the company says in a statement.

Even the regular Snickers bar, which has 280 calories, will be trimmed down a bit. The company says it will stop shipping candy bars over 250 calories by the end of 2013.

Mars also is cutting sodium by 25 percent by 2015. And it says it will not advertise in cases where more than a quarter of the audience is likely to be under 12.

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No single diet will work for all diabetics

Some people were troubled that even after she was diagnosed, she continued to cook high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie recipes on her TV show – foods that people with the disease are advised to consume infrequently. Deen said she eats such foods only in moderation.

Meanwhile, Alec Baldwin told “Entertainment Tonight” he lost 30 pounds since being diagnosed with in May. He says he gave up sugar, which was a real “killer” for him.

So what’s the best diet for people with diabetes? There is no one diet, whether it’s a Mediterranean, low-carb or low-fat diet, that is consistently better at helping people manage diabetes, says Stephanie Dunbar, director of nutrition and medical affairs for the American Diabetes Association. She is one of the authors of a new review of the research on diabetes diets published in February’s .

“People need to do what works for them. There are people who do well on a lower-fat diet and others who do well on a lower-carb diet.” One thing that helps in keeping blood sugar under control is losing weight, even as little as 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight, Dunbar says.

People with diabetes need to be counseled by a capable registered dietitian who can tailor their meal plan to their taste, says Ann Albright, director of the diabetes division for the . “If you give someone a list that says they have to eat this or that, and those are not foods they like, then they won’t be successful, and they’ll end up eating in secrecy.”

They need to make most of the time, but an occasional indulgence is OK, she says. “That’s one of the big burdens that people carry. Many say, ‘I can’t be perfect, so why try at all?’ “

Almost 26 million adults and children, about 8.3 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes, the CDC says. There are two major forms of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 accounts for more than 90 percent of cases. Factors that increase the risk of Type 2 include a family history, obesity, inactivity and age.

In people with diabetes, the body does not make enough of the hormone insulin, or it does not use it properly. Insulin helps glucose (sugar) get into cells, where it is used for energy. If there’s an insulin problem, sugar builds up in the blood, damaging nerves and blood vessels.

Symptoms include thirst, hunger, fatigue, blurry vision, healing problems and frequent urination. Complications can include heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and amputations.

The diabetes association gives general guidance on carbohydrates, advising people to try to get about 45 to 60 grams at a meal, Dunbar says. “Some people may need more or less. About 45 grams allows someone to follow the diabetes plate method; we call it create your plate. It calls for half the plate to be non-starchy veggies, a fourth plate whole grains and a fourth plate protein.”

People with the disease can eat from a wide range of healthy choices, says Geralyn Spollett, president of health care and education for the diabetes association and associate director of the Yale Diabetes Center. “It’s really a balancing game of trying to eat healthy foods but still enjoy many of the things that they love.”

But the diet shouldn’t include a lot of sweets, Spollett says. “We stress reduced intake from concentrated sweets because they cause a spike in glucose, and that makes it difficult to manage your diabetes. We usually say to avoid things like soda and ginger ale and only to occasionally drink juice, because even though it has vitamins, it tends to cause blood sugar to skyrocket.”

People with diabetes can have a sweet occasionally if they do it properly, Spollett says. “If someone is using insulin, they can calculate how much insulin they would need to reduce the spike in blood sugar caused by a sweet food. They can keep their blood glucose fairly even.”

If they have and are not on insulin, they don’t have that flexibility and need to be more conscious of how many sweet foods they eat, she says.

Fruit contains natural sugar fructose, so it can raise blood glucose, but it is a good source of vitamins and minerals and people should include it in their diet, Spollett says. Some find that the berries do not raise their glucose levels as much and will eat them, she says.

Even if you are taking medications for diabetes, making healthy food choices is important, Albright says.

Some people with diabetes appear to have a greater reaction to the foods they eat, she says. They have much more difficulty managing their blood sugar (A1C), blood pressure and cholesterol than others, she says.

But if people with diabetes keep their A1C level at 7 percent or less (an average glucose of 150-170 mg/dl), it can help reduce the risk of complications, Spollett says. “Unless people are eating in a way that is diabetes-friendly, it’s very difficult to control their blood sugars.”

Still, diabetes is a progressive disease, no matter how perfectly you live, Spollett says. “What people want to hear is that there is a cure, and we hope someday there will be, but in the meantime, people with diabetes need to do the best they can to keep their glucose in a healthy range.”


The offers this list of 10 “superfoods” that people with diabetes may want to consider incorporating into their diets:

Beans, such as navy, black, kidney or pinto, are very high in fiber, with about a third of the daily requirement in a half-cup. They’re starchy vegetables, but a half-cup provides as much protein as an ounce of meat.

Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are powerhouse foods so low in calories and carbohydrates you can’t eat too much.

Citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruit) delivers part of the daily dose of fiber and vitamin C.

Sweet potatoes are a starchy vegetable packed full of vitamin A and fiber.

Blueberries, as well as strawberries and other berries, are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. Some people with diabetes find berries do not raise blood glucose levels as much as other fruits, experts say.

Tomatoes, whether pureed, raw or in a sauce, provide vital nutrients such as vitamin C, iron, vitamin E.

Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, is a good choice. Stay away from the breaded and deep-fat-fried varieties.

Whole grains. It’s the germ and bran of the whole grain you’re after. It contains all the nutrients a grain product has to offer. When you purchase processed grains such as bread made from enriched wheat flour, you don’t get these. Pearled barley and oatmeal are a source of fiber and potassium.

Nuts. An ounce of nuts can go a long way in providing key healthy fats along with hunger management. Some nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flax seeds, also contain omega-3 fatty acids.

Fat-free milk and yogurt. In addition to calcium, many fortified dairy products are a good source of vitamin D. More research is emerging on the connection between vitamin D and good health.

(c)2012 USA Today
Distributed by MCT Information Services


Want to Lose Weight? Try Teamwork

Want to Lose Weight? Try Teamwork

group jogging in park

Feb. 17, 2012 — Weight loss may be influenced by joining a team.

A new study shows that people who shed at least 5% of their initial body weight during a weight loss competition were likely to be on the same teams. Those who said their teammates played a large role in their weight loss were more likely to lose a significant amount of weight.

The findings appear in Obesity.

Shows like The Biggest Loser often have team-, family-, or couples-based competitions that harness the power of peer influence when it comes to weight loss.

“People around us affect our health behaviors,” says researcher Tricia Leahey, PhD. She is with The Miriam Hospital’s Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center and is an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, R.I.

This is true for healthy and unhealthy behaviors. “It could be quite beneficial if a bunch of friends that choose to lose weight make healthy food choices together, and hold each other accountable to those choices,” she says.

Team members can motivate one another to stay the course. “If someone is doing really well, it could influence the whole group,” Leahey says.

The findings are based on the results of the 2009 Shape Up Rhode Island campaign, a 12-week statewide, online weight loss competition. Participants competed against other teams for weight loss, physical activity, and the number of steps taken. The weight loss arm included 3,330 overweight or obese people on 987 teams. The teams had between five and 11 members.

Two of the study’s co-authors, Rajiv Kumar, MD and Brad M. Weinberg, MD, are co-founders of ShapeUp, Inc.

Weight Gain Shockers Slideshow: Surprising Reasons You’re Gaining Weight

There Is No ‘I’ in Team

People who lost at least 5% of their body weight, which is an amount that is thought to be significant in improving health, tended to be on the same teams. Those who reported a higher level of social influence by their teammates increased their odds of significant weight loss by 20%. 

“This is really quite powerful,” Leahey tells WebMD. “We were surprised by the magnitude of the effect.”

Team captains lost more weight than team members. This may be because they were more motivated and engaged in the contest.

Kevin Sloan is the acting psychology director at Beaumont Weight Control Center in Royal Oak, Mich. The findings mirror what he sees in his practice. “We find that when couples begin their weight loss journey together, they tend to do better. There is a lot of credence to the buddy concept,” he says.

Not everyone is a team player. “It is important to do a self-assessment before signing up, but this a good approach for some people who are joiners and do much better as part of a group,” he says.

Weight Loss Is Contagious

“People do better in a group because of the peer pressure,” says Louis Aronne, MD, founder and director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

And “virtual” weight loss works, too. Groups can get together via the web. “Social support helps people to do better, and there are a variety of ways to accomplish it,” Aronne says.

Still, group dynamics can backfire. “When someone is not doing very well, sometimes that person gets pulled along and sometimes they don’t,” he says.

Diet soda tied to heart attack, stroke risks: study


11:56 a.m. CST, February 17, 2012

Equilibrium essential for slimmed-down Soto

Equilibrium essential for slimmed-down Soto

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MESA, Ariz. — It’s all a matter of balance for Cubs catcher Geovany Soto.

He’s working on better balance in his diet, which should help Soto keep off the 25 pounds he dropped this offseason. He’s also been working on improving his balance at the plate, and spent the winter focused on his footwork on the advice of hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.

On Sunday, Soto will officially get to work when Cubs pitchers and catchers have their first session under new manager Dale Sveum at Fitch Park. The Cubs’ No. 1 catcher has been in Arizona for a couple days to get settled, show off his slim physique and start swinging.

He’s lost weight before. Prior to the 2010 season, Soto reported to camp 40 pounds lighter. That year, he hit .280 with 17 homers in 105 games. But that offseason, he existed on a steady diet of chicken breasts.

“Now, I have a little more carbs in the morning and a lot more balanced [diet], so when I come off the diet I’m not as ferocious hungry as before,” he said Wednesday at Fitch Park after an early hitting session in the batting cages.

“Now, I have a better balance [in my diet],” he said. “[Cubs outfielder] Marlon Byrd and I are going to be on the same program and keep the weight off. He looks unbelievable. I just want to stay in shape and get the club some wins.”

Byrd saw a nutritionist this offseason and discovered he was allergic to milk and wheat, which prompted him to alter his diet. He lost more than 20 pounds, too.

The struggle for Soto is keeping the weight off during the season.

“Sometimes you throw away the diet after catching nine innings in a day game,” he said. “I think I’ve made the adjustment in the eating program. I know what to do to keep it off.”

Last season, Soto’s fourth full year in the big leagues, he hit a disappointing .228. His 17 homers did rank third among National League catchers. But he’s been inconsistent since his breakout 2008 season when he won Rookie of the Year, hitting .285 with 23 homers and 86 RBIs.

“Working with Rudy, I haven’t been doing the adjustments I need to be doing as Rudy has said,” Soto said. “I need to keep with my plan.

“Sometimes I’m a little hard on myself and that gets me a little down,” he said. “I love this club and I like to win and I want to help the club win and sometimes when I don’t do that I get frustrated with myself. This year, I have a new mentality and I want to do the best on the field.”

The problem wasn’t Jaramillo’s plan, but more the mind games that can happen in baseball. Soto is trying to learn how to forget bad at-bats and move on.

“I wanted to hit a five-run home run after going 0-for-2,” he said. “I just have to take one at-bat at a time and make the adjustment I need to make and work on a consistent basis.”

Every offseason when Soto, 29, returns to his home in Puerto Rico, he takes time to reflect and then starts looking ahead.

“Every year, I come with the same mentality and come prepared and ready to do a great job, but this game is a mental game as well,” he said. “Taking stuff too much to heart — that’s a problem, too. You’ve got to find a nice balance and whatever happens the day before, leave it in the past and live in the present. That’s the main thing for me — and keep healthy and the numbers will be there.”

Jaramillo asked Soto to work on his footwork this offseason. It will provide a solid base — and better balance — for the season.

“He emphasized the adjustments I need to make at the plate,” Soto said of an end-of-the-season meeting with the hitting coach. “Obviously, he emphasized it all year. If my head’s not there, it’s a bigger transition to make the adjustment. I’m just going to leave my ego on the side and just do whatever Rudy says. He’s the best in the game. I’m going to make my adjustments and keep playing hard with a good mentality to win.”

The Cubs head into this spring looking for a new backup catcher following the departure of Koyie Hill, who signed with the Cardinals. The candidates include Welington Castillo, Steve Clevenger and Jason Jaramillo, who is no relation to Rudy. Soto feels he’s still fighting for a spot, too.

“I’m going to be playing like I’ve got no job — that’s the way I’ve always played and that’s the way I like to play,” Soto said. “It’s not the competition, but I expect a lot from me and I’m going to try to get the most out of me on the field.”

Food Choices Leading Cause of Environmental Damage in Australia

Food Choices Leading Cause of Environmental Damage in Australia

Australians are eating themselves to death and food choices are one of the nation’s leading causes of environmental damage, according to a new report released by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

At the launch of A Future for Food 2, the PHAA made an urgent call to the Federal Government to take responsibility for the crisis in our food system and establish a dedicated Ministry of Food with a position within Cabinet to drive cross-portfolio efforts.

PHAA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael Moore said obesity and other diet-related disease were evidence of a serious failure of the current food system and a ‘do nothing’ approach will allow the system to slip into crisis.

“There is growing evidence that in Australia a poor diet contributes more to people being sick than any other single risk factor including tobacco and alcohol,” Moore said. “Australians need to eat less and eat differently to address the sky-high rates of preventable diet-related disease. The current food system is skewed towards energy dense foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. We need to make healthy food choices the easiest and most affordable option for all Australians.”

The PHAA also believes that while the phenomenon of diet-related disease is grabbing headlines and what is not recognized is the significant impact of our food choices on carbon emissions. The association pointed out that more than 30 percent of Australia’s carbon footprint is related to food production.

According to PHAA Food and Nutrition spokesperson, Associate Professor Heather Yeatman from the University of Wollongong’s School of Health Sciences public health nutrition has the responsibility to promote food that is not only healthy, but also environmentally sustainable.

“There is overwhelming evidence that certain diets and styles of eating impact more heavily on the environment than others. Fortunately, an environmentally sustainable diet is also a diet that protects against preventable disease,” Yeatman said. “Moving toward a plant-based diet with smaller amounts of meat from sustainable sources and reducing consumption of highly processed foods — such as takeaway foods that rely on fossil fuel use in production, or use excess packaging — will help to achieve two goals. These goals are reducing the incidence of diet-related disease and reducing the impact of the food system on the environment.”

Moore added that working with the food industry was essential to implement changes in the food system, however, vested interests must not drive the policy decisions of governments. The food-related research and policy actions of government in the different sectors of health, primary industry, environment and social justice must also be connected.

“The Federal Government must lead the collaboration and establish a healthy, sustainable and fair food system with public and environmental health at its core,” Moore said.