Posts Tagged ‘Diet’


Learn the Truth about Sugary Drinks and Soda from the Food Day Campaign

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(Photo credit: CBS News)

Soda is the largest source of calories in the American diet and also contributes to a variety of health problems including obesity and diabetes. Get the facts about soda, without the sugar coating, from the Food Day Campaign, some soda-loving polar bears, and Jason Mraz at

Watch the full video here!



Feeding the World Sustainably: Agroecology vs. Industrial Agriculture (Infographic by the Christensen Fund)

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Take a look at this interesting infographic from The Christensen Fund that evaluates the major differences between agroecology and industrial agriculture.

Click on the picture to view a larger image. (Infographic by the Christensen Fund)

Downsides of the industrial agricultural system include a huge reliance on petrochemicals and heavy mechanization. Agriculture contributes roughly one third of global greenhouse gas emissions, and industrial agriculture can also be a tremendous user and polluter of the world’s water resources.

But the graphic also shows how agroecological approaches—including the incorporation of livestock and crops, integrated pest management, and cover cropping—can not only reduce the burden of agriculture on the environment, but also improve nutrition and increase incomes. Agroecology can actually conserve and protect both soil and water—through terracing, contour farming, intercropping, and agroforestry—and absorb greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. And agroecological practices could double and triple yields in poorer areas, where many farms lack irrigation infrastructure, or are situated on hillsides or other difficult farming sites.

Reports and organizations such as State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, the International Food Policy Research Institute, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development all agree: agroecology can protect and restore degraded soils, improve biodiversity, decrease pollution, and encourage communities to become more involved in agriculture. And because agroecology operates within the natural organization of an environment, it creates diverse agricultural systems which are more resilient to dramatic weather events, making it an increasingly sound option for feeding the world.

Do you believe in the potential of agroecology? Tell us what you think in the comments section!

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE.


The Five Worst Drinks in America

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By Kimberlee Davies

According to the US Center for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC), between 1988 and 2008 the proportion of obese American adults increased from 23 percent to 35 percent. The CDC considers an adult with a “body mass index” (BMI) greater than 30 to be obese (for reference, a 5 foot 6 inch person would have to weigh at least 186 pounds to exceed a BMI of 30). Despite consuming all those calories, most Americans still do not eat enough fruits and veggies. In 2009, only 14 percent of American adults ate at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables per day. How can consumers fix this problem—and control their waistlines?

One simple step is to alter our liquid consumption. Many drinks are effectively liquid candy; the worst offender contains the caloric equivalent of three Big Macs. By reducing, replacing, or entirely cutting these beverages out of their diets, consumers can significantly decrease their sugar intake. Eat This, Not That! recently produced a list of the “20 Worst Drinks in America.” Here’s a list of the top five offenders and some suggestions for replacing them.

Photo credit: Men’s Health

1) The top culprit is Cold Stone’s 24 oz Peanut Butter and Chocolate Shake. That 24 oz cup packs in 1,750 calories, 140 grams (g) of sugar, and 64g of saturated fat. So what? That level of sugar is equivalent to 30 Chips Ahoy cookies, and the saturated fat rivals 68 strips of bacon. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic recommends a maximum of 16g to 22g of saturated fat per day (a third of that in this shake). They also recommended consuming only 30g to 45g of sugar daily for women and men respectively.

Try this instead: Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Banana Smoothie! Freezing the bananas and yogurt beforehand gives the drink the texture of a milkshake. The tasty treat only has 350 calories and 31g of sugar. Cut out the honey and the sugar goes down to 22g.

Photo credit: Starbucks

2) Starbuck’s venti Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream provides a whopping 13g of saturated fat and 94g of sugar.

Replacement: The ideal coffee substitution is black coffee. With 5 calories, no sugar, and no fats, pure coffee is the healthier way to get your caffeine fix. If you can’t stand the bitterness, you can always add sugar and milk yourself (so you know exactly how much goes in the mug).


Photo credit: Mountain Dew

3) Mountain Dew is the top soda to avoid. In addition to its 77g of sugar, the sweet treat includes brominated vegetable oil (BVO) among its ingredients. BVO is used as a flame retardant in plastics and can build up in body fat. With stats like that, maybe the 48 percent of Americans that drink soda daily will consider a diet change.

A delicious and healthy replacement is homemade soda. While this may sound unbearably complicated, the beverage just requires mixing seltzer water and your favorite 100 percent fruit juice. The CDC recommends 2oz of orange juice with seltzer water for a refreshing 30 calorie drink. If daily soda drinkers switched to this concoction, they would knock out nearly 95,000 calories annually from their diet.

Photo credit: Rockstar

4) Rockstar Energy Drink takes the medal for the least healthy energy drink. Who needs caffeine for an energy charge when consuming the 62g of sugar in this caffeinated beverage? No wonder this drink is “not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women,” as stated on the label.

Replacement: Why not just stick with coffee and tea?




Photo credit: Wegmans

5) Possibly the least expected offender is SoBe Energize Green Tea. This bottle of tea has been saturated with 51g of sugar. Sugar lists far above green tea on the ingredients list.

As usual, the best alternative is to make tea at home. When you make something, you know exactly what has gone into it.

Over the last 50 years, Americans stopped viewing these beverages as irregular treats and started considering them as a way to meet their weekly, and sometimes daily, hydration needs. The Mayo Clinic recommends that a healthy adult consume between 8 and 13 cups of fluid per day. To decrease sugar and fat intake, Americans could exchange these sugary drinks for water. Consuming more water would lead to better hydration, less fatigue, and improved overall health.

Kimberlee Davies is an intern with the Nourishing the Planet project. 

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE.


Food For Health: Lifestyles Influence the Way We Age

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By Caitlin Aylward

On Thursday, June 28, the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project and the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition will release Eating Planet–Nutrition Today: A Challenge for Mankind and for the Planet in New York City. Today, Nourishing the Planet highlights a contributing author of Eating Planet, and shares his views on how to fix the broken food system. Tune in on the 28th via livestream: we will be taking questions in real time from the audience, from the livestream, and from Twitter and Facebook.

Alexandre Kalache stresses the significance of health span and quality of life. (Photo credit: BCFN)

Alexandre Kalache is one of the world’s leading experts on aging, particularly the care and treatment of the elderly and the epidemiology of aging. Kalache’s concluding vignette in the Food for Health chapter of the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition’s most recent publication: Eating Planet 2012 – Nutrition Today: A Challenge for Mankind and for the Planet, questions whether living longer is necessarily better. In his piece, Kalache challenges the measure of lifespan as an indicator for societal health and well-being, and instead stresses the significance of health span and quality of life in determining the success of healthcare policies.

Although average life expectancies have increased drastically over the course of the past century, Kalache suggests that life-style related diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain forms of cancer, as well as the rapid onset of obesity, pose an imminent threat to the gains in life-expectancy from modern medical advancements. In addition to tobacco smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, Kalache points to unhealthy diets and sedentary life-styles as major contributing sources of age-associated diseases. In addition to decreased quality of life and reduced lifespans, these life-style related diseases also contribute to increased health care costs and less money for other public services, such as schools and parks, that would improve the quality of life for communities at large.



Increase in Farm Animals Poses Many Risks

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Check out this article in Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper, which features our new research on rising farm animal populations and the increase in factory farms, or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Photo credit: Haaretz

Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), or factory farms, are the most rapidly growing system of farm animal production. Although CAFOs originated in Europe and North America, they are becoming increasingly prevalent in developing regions like East and Southeast Asia, where environmental, animal-welfare, public health, and labor standards are often not as well-established as in industrialized regions. To prevent serious human and environmental costs, policymakers will need to strengthen production regulations around the world.

Click here to read the full article.

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


Developing Countries See Sharp Rise in Meat Consumption

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Check out this article in Voice of America that features our new research on rising farm animal populations and the increase in factory farms, or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

The demand for meat products is rising sharply in developing nations as their economies improve. (Photo credit: Voice of America)

The demand for meat, eggs, and dairy products in developing countries has increased at a staggering rate in recent decades, according to the report. Although industrialized countries still consume the most animal products, urbanization and rising incomes in developing countries are spurring shifts to more meat-heavy diets. To meet this demand, animals are often raised in factory farms, which produce high levels of waste, use huge amounts of water and land for feed production, contribute to the spread of human and animal diseases, and play a role in biodiversity loss.

Click here to read the full article.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


There’s No Place Like Home: Why Cooking at Home May Be the Answer to America’s Obesity Problem

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By Graham Salinger               

Changes to demographics and the growth of the restaurant industry have shifted eating habits in a way that has devalued home -cooked meals and contributed to growing health problems, argues  Craig A. Lambert in the August issue of Harvard Magazine.

Craig Lambert argues that the growth in the restaurant industry has contributed to health problems. (Photo credit: Jim Harrison)

Americans are eating out more than ever before.  The National Restaurant Association reports that people spend nearly twice as much of their food budget at restaurant than they did in 1955. Furthermore, restaurant industry sales have increased from$US42.5 billion  in 1970 to an anticipated US$604 billion dollars this year. Lambert argues that  demographic changes can help explain this increased reliance on  restaurant  to supply meals.  “Compared to the 1950s, there are now relatively more divorced adults, more single-parent and single-person households, and more two-income households whose earners haven’t time to cook dinner,” he explains.

Meanwhile, the nutritional value that consumers get out of their meals has declined, leader to an increase in health problems. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one –third of the adult population in the United States is obese and that there are 12.5 million obese children in the United States. In addition to the prevalence of obesity doubling since the 1980’s, the CDC notes a rise in the number of people with diabetes . Home- cooking advocates argue that these health trends result from people eating out, rather than of having home- cooked meals.



Denmark’s Tax on Fat: Trimming Waistlines or Wallets?

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By Marissa Dwyer

In October, Denmark implemented the world’s first tax that directly targets saturated fat in foods.  Saturated fat, according to the World Health Organization, raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels which can increase the risk of cardio vascular disease. Saturated fat is found in foods from animal sources, such as butter and bacon. Any products which contain more than 2.3 percent saturated fat are subject to the tax. The consumer must pay an additional 16 Danish kroner (US$2.85) per kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) of any food product which has more than 2.3 per cent saturated fat. For example, consumers now have to pay 37 Danish kroner (US$6.50) instead of 34 Danish kroner (US$6) for a pound of cheese.

The Danish pastry: this butter-intensive dessert is one example of the foods that will be taxed under the recently implemented law. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This tax was passed overwhelmingly by the Danish Parliament this past March. But there are serious concerns by the food industry, particularly organic dairy farmers, who worry about the potential loss in revenue from the tax and believe that the government is unfairly deeming their products unhealthy. According to an article in The Washington Post, the tax could prove to be regressive, putting a heavier burden on lower-income consumers.

Furthermore, the likelihood of the tax to change dietary behavior is debatable. A study conducted by Lisa Powell and Frank Chaloupka of the University of Illinois at Chicago determined that, “Small taxes or subsidies [of unhealthy, energy-dense foods] are not likely to produce significant changes in BMI or obesity prevalence but that nontrivial pricing interventions may have some measurable effects.” Based on these findings, the tax could have little or no effect on food consumption habits in Denmark if it remains at the current rate. An alternative of directly taxing the producers of these food products would not likely lead to a different outcome, since the cost would be passed on to consumers anyway via price increases.



Changing the Way We Eat

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Tomorrow, TEDxManhattan will be hosting a panel discussion on steps needed to change the way we eat.

Tune in to hear experts discuss how we can, and should, change the way we eat. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The panel will feature president of the board of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and former director of Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Fred Kirschenmann and Senior Advisor at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, David Wallinga, among other experts.

Although the event is already sold out, you can view the livestream here. Click here for more program details.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


Citywatch: Revolting Food Trends of 2011-12

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By Wayne Roberts

Citywatch: Whether it’s action or traction in the food world, cities are stepping up to the plate. The world is fast going urban, as are challenges of social, economic and environmental well-being. Citywatch is crucial to Worldwatch. Wayne Roberts, retired manager of the world-renowned Toronto Food Policy Council, has his eye out for the future of food in the city. Click here to read more from Wayne.

Four uprisings of global significance surprised the world in 2011, and the spirit of all four will surprise those who manage the food system in 2012—which leads to my choice of year-end and year-beginning  indicators that pick up the colors of these uprisings in emerging habits related to eating.

North American sales of local food topped $7 billion in 2011 thanks to the establishment of numerous urban gardens. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Historically speaking, the  hot link between food or farm issues and social unrest is almost axiomatic. Long before 1789, when the pot was stirred for the French Revolution after the poor of Paris heard that the Queen dismissed their need for bread by saying “let them eat cake,” and for many decades since 1917, when Russian workers and peasants were inspired to revolution by the slogan “peace, land and bread,”  food and farming issues have caused massive and radical protests.

Those in charge of food policy have learned a thing or two from the Boston Tea Party, a 1773 protest against British taxes on tea that erupted into the American Revolution, and from Gandhi’s mass march across India in 1926 to protest British taxes on salt, which grew into the movement for Indian independence. Lesson learned: artificially cheap food became and remains an assumed foundation of food and tax policy in all countries.

Perhaps as a consequence of this, 2012 will be one of the first times in history when food protests follow, rather than precede, mass protests. But signs are there that food fights are coming, and will deepen the spirit rising up around the world.