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Bravo to the Institute of Medicine for New School Meal Guidelines

In the United States. many children receive up to one-half their daily calories from meals served at school. Everyday, millions of children get free or low-cost food through the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program.

To be reimbursed from the federal government, school meals must meet specific nutritional standards. Currently those standards are rather loose, allowing questionable quality meals for our young people. They certainly deserve much better!

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to evaluate current policies and to make recommendations for improvements. This report, School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children is now available. The IOM deserves commendation for the following important changes:

Preventing Cancer: Is Progress Being Made?

My head is spinning this evening! Not because I am dizzy, but because all day I have been attending the 2009 American Institute for Cancer Research's Conference on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer in Washington, DC. It is really amazing how much is known about risk factors, genetics, treatment, and prevention of this dread disease! Here are a few "headlines" from my notes of today.AICR

Colorectal Cancer:

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Nutritional Quality of Organic Foods

Organically grown produce not found to be nutritionally superior to conventionally grown.

The perception among many consumers today is that organically grown produce is nutritionally superior, and more healthy for you, than conventionally grown products. A new study published late last month sheds some important light on this sometimes heated topic. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine reviewed the findings of 162 scientific papers published over the past 50 years on this topic and concluded "there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superority."

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Eating When There is Not Enough to Eat

Eating patterns of food-insecure youth differ from the eating patterns of those who are food secure.

It may seem hard to believe, but nearly 11% of U.S. households experience food insecurity (not having access to enough food for an active, healthy life because of a lack of resources) during the past year. New research reveals significant and challenging differences between the eating habits of food-secure and food-insecure adolescents.

The food-insecure were more likely to think healthy-eating was inconvenient and lest tasty. They also ate more fat, and fewer family meals and breakfasts. Interestingly, they were more likely to have a body mass index above the 95th percentile.

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DASH Diets and Heart Failure

Can diet help you DASH away from heart failure?


Adherence to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been shown to lower blood pressure. This diet emphasizes high intakes of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains.

New Swedish research reports from a large prospective observational study that women who most closely followed the DASH diet were 37% less likely to experience heart failure (HF) than those whose compliance was the poorest. Interestingly, the women with the lowest HF risk at significantly more daily servings of fruit (3.0 vs. 1.4), vegetables (3.5 vs. 1.8), and whole grains (5.1 vs. 3.3); and they consumed less sweetened beverages (0.1 vs. 0.4) and less red or processed meat (0.8 vs. 2.3).

Confused about Nutrition Labeling? It is Getting More Complex

Today, the government, food manufacturers, supermarket chains, health organizations and trade groups are all involved in nutrition profiling systems designed to help you make wise food decisions when you are shopping. Are all these initiatives going to help you, the consumer, along the road to better health? Or, will they simply serve to confuse and confound the well intentioned shopper? Is there consistency between systems, or do they vary widely?

Today's food shopper is confronted with an increasing number of shelf tags to on-pack symbols highlighting the goodness of many products. In the past, price and taste preferences determined most of our choices. While these are still predominant determinants of our shopping choices, our increasing awareness of the connection between diet and health is driving the creation of these systems.

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Breakfast: Meal of Champions

Make breakfast the best meal of the day!

Many, many people skip breakfast either because they don't take the time or they believe in the misguided notion that doing so will help them control their weight. Can eating a good breakfast really make a difference in your performance? Here are four reasons to consider: