February 8, 2012
By: CBS News Staff
Americans get too much sodium, according to a new government report. That fact may not come as a shock to a fast food nation, but what’s surprising is where the sodium comes from.
Sodium overkill: Top 10 culprits in U.S. diet
For the report – released Feb. 7 – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiled a list of the top 10 sources of sodium in the U.S. diet. These 10 foods were found responsible for 44 percent of all sodium consumed, HealthPop reported.
But salty snacks, such as potato chips, were last on the list.
“Potato chips, pretzels, and popcorn – which we think of as the saltiest foods in our diet – are only No. 10,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.
If not salty snacks, then what was the biggest contributor of sodium? Bread and rolls – accounting for twice as much sodium as salty junk food.
Breads and rolls aren’t really saltier than many of the other foods, but people tend to eat a lot of them, said Mary Cogswell, a CDC senior scientist who co-authored the report.
Registered dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic, director of wellness coaching at Cleveland Clinic and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told HealthPop that she recommends opting for breads with “low sodium” on the label, and avoiding salty meats in sandwiches.
Salt is the main source of sodium for most people, and sodium increases the risk for high blood pressure, a major cause of heart disease and stroke. Health officials say most Americans get too much salt, mostly from processed and restaurant foods – not added from the salt shaker.
Dietary guidelines recommend no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, equal to about a teaspoon of salt. Certain people, such as those with high blood pressure, should eat even less. But average sodium consumption in the U.S. is around 3,300 milligrams, the CDC study found. Only 1 in 10 Americans meet the teaspoon guideline.
“It’s possible to eat a whole bunch of sodium without it seeming salty,” John Hayes, an assistant professor of food science at Penn State, said.
Other items on the list include soups, pizza, cold cuts and cured meats, and pasta dishes.
The amount of sodium in food types can vary. For example, a slice of white bread can have between 80 and 230 milligrams of sodium. A cup of canned chicken noodle soup has between 100 and 940 milligram. A small 1 ounce bag of potato chips ranges from 50 to 200 milligrams.
The new CDC report is based on surveys of more than 7,200 people in 2007 and 2008, including nearly 3,000 children. Participants were surveyed twice, each time answering detailed questions about what they had eaten over the previous day.
What should people do to cut their sodium intake?
“Cooking fresh food at home is the best way to lower sodium,” Samantha Heller, a dietitian and clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., told HealthDay.
February 25th, 2011
By: Jill Ettinger
In the largest study of its kind recently published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, toddlers who ate a diet higher in junk food were more prone to develop lower IQ levels later in life.
Nearly 14,000 children from Western England born between 1991 and 1992 participated in the program conducted by the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol. Researchers looked at data provided by parents, which detailed dietary habits ranging from highly “processed” foods, “traditional” meat-oriented diets and one considered to be more “health conscious” with a focus on fruits, vegetables, pastas and rice.
Of the 14,000 in the program roughly 4,000 children provided complete data on their diets. When the children were 8.5 years old, they were given the Wechsler Intelligence Scale test that revealed there was a significant difference in IQ among those who had had the “processed” as opposed to the “health conscious” diets in early childhood. The study states, “the 20 percent of children who ate the most processed food had an average IQ of 101 points, compared with 106 for the 20 percent of children who ate the most “health-conscious” food.”
Vital nutrients may often be lacking in processed foods—even in those proclaiming to be “fortified” with vitamins and minerals—as scientists have long speculated that a certain unknown synthesis of nutrients occurs in whole foods versus isolation of key components.
Additional risks of processed foods include behavioral problems from artificial colors, flavors and other ingredients that have been linked to developmental issues, which could also be a factor in the decreased IQ levels.
IQ tests (intelligence quotient) have been used since the early 20th century to account for a number of factors in a child’s intelligence and cognitive development. Despite the effects of processed foods on IQ levels as proposed in the study, average IQ scores for many populations have been rising at an average rate of three points per decade since the early 20th century in a phenomenon called the Flynn effect.
February 8th, 2011
Toddlers who have a diet high in processed foods may have a slightly lower IQ in later life, according to a British study described as the biggest research of its kind.
The conclusion, published on Monday, comes from a long-term investigation into 14,000 people born in western England in 1991 and 1992 whose health and well-being were monitored at the ages of three, four, seven and eight and a half.
Parents of the children were asked to fill out questionnaires that, among other things, detailed the kind of food and drink their children consumed.
Three dietary patterns emerged: one was high in processed fats and sugar; then there was a “traditional” diet high in meat and vegetables; and finally a “health-conscious” diet with lots of salad, fruit and vegetables, pasta and rice.
When the children were eight and a half, their IQ was measured using a standard tool called the Wechsler Intelligence Scale.
Of the 4,000 children for which there were complete data, there was a significant difference in IQ among those who had had the “processed” as opposed to the “health-conscious” diets in early childhood.
The 20 percent of children who ate the most processed food had an average IQ of 101 points, compared with 106 for the 20 percent of children who ate the most “health-conscious” food.
“It’s a very small difference, it’s not a vast difference,” said one of the authors, Pauline Emmett of the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol.
“But it does make them less able to cope with education, less able to cope with some of the things in life.”
The association between IQ and nutrition is a strongly debated issue because it can be skewed by many factors, including economic and social background.
A middle-class family, for instance, may arguably be more keen (or more financially able) to put a healthier meal on the table, or be pushier about stimulating their child, compared to a poorer household.
Emmett said the team took special care to filter out such confounders.
“We have controlled for maternal education, for maternal social class, age, whether they live in council housing, life events, anything going wrong, the home environment, with books and use of television and things like that,” she said.
The size of the study, too, was unprecedented.
“It’s a huge sample, it’s much much bigger than anything anyone else has done,” she said in an interview with AFP.
Emmett said further work was needed to see whether this apparent impact on IQ persisted as the children got older.
Asked why junk food had such an effect, she suggested a diet that was preponderantly processed could lack vital vitamins and elements for cerebral development at a key stage in early childhood.
“A junk food diet is not conducive to good brain development,” she said.
The paper appears in the peer-reviewed Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, published by the British Medical Association (BMA).
April 13, 2010
A study of over 47,000 Italian adults found that women alone whose diets contained a lot of bread, pizza and rice doubled their heart disease risk.
These foods have a high glycaemic index (GI), meaning they release energy and raise blood sugar quickly.
The findings are published in Archives of Internal Medicine.
The experts say much more research is needed to understand why these high GI foods, rather than carbohydrates per se, appear to pose a risk – and why the risk applies to women and not men.
Low GI carbohydrates, such as pasta, which release energy and raise blood sugar far slower, showed no such link with heart disease.
The doctors who produced the report studied 15,171 men and 32,578 women who completed dietary questionnaires over many years.
This allowed the researchers to calculate overall carbohydrate intakes as well as the average glycaemic index of the foods eaten and the glycaemic loads of the diets.
The glycaemic index (GI) is a measure of how much a food raises blood glucose levels compared with the same amount of glucose or white bread.
The glycaemic load is calculated based on the glycaemic index of a given food and also on the total amount of carbohydrates it contains.
After seven years, 463 participants had developed coronary heart disease.
The researchers found that the women whose diet had the highest glycaemic load had more than double the risk of heart disease compared with those women with the lowest glycaemic load.
The authors concluded: “Thus, a high consumption of carbohydrates from high-glycaemic index foods, rather than the overall quantity of carbohydrates consumed, appears to influence the risk of developing coronary heart disease.”
The researchers believe that a high-glycaemic diet may dampen ‘good’ cholesterol levels in women more than in men.
But further research is needed to verify the absence of a link between high-glucose foods and cardiovascular disease in men, says the study.
Victoria Taylor, senior heart health dietician at the The British Heart Foundation, said that for women, choosing lower GI foods could be useful in helping them to reduce their risk of coronary heart disease.
She said: “They could try broadening the types of bread and cereals they eat to include granary, rye or oat; including more beans, pulses; and accompanying meals with a good helping of fruit and vegetables.”