Welcome to my blog! My name is Isabel, and I'm currently a student at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, attaining a Masters of Science in Nutrition Communications. I'm also an avid health-nut who is allergic to absolutely everything- wheat, soy, corn, dairy, and eggs, and who loves to work out! I am currently in school learning how to better communicate to the public why and how they can become healthier and happier. So hopefully you can learn something too! Anything that you want to see on my blog or any questions you have please leave me questions and I will do my best to answer! I'm just getting going, but I soon hope to post recipes, fun fitness tips, and other exciting nutrition and fitness tips! enjoy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Making the better choice...

In the fight to help American's get healthier (and lose weight!) restaurants and food companies have begun to put calorie counts on their menu's and on their food-signs. In the good-old-days you used to be able to be completely naive about the calorie, fat, and sugar content of the food you were eating- well no longer! It's hard to walk into most chain-based restaurants now without being bombarded by the calories, fat, carbohydrates and sugar in the food you are about to eat- I don't know about you, but for me this surely ruins most pleasure about buying myself a treat. Generally, if I am going to buy myself a "treat" and am bombarded with the nutritional content of what I am about to consume- I will usually shy away from that option if it's bad... but isn't that the point?
Isn't the point of this information to cause us to shy away from this-

to this? 
... if only we all looked so happy picking out vegetables.

Though sometimes I wish that these helpful reminders were left off the menus, I can't help to remember why these are there... to promote the exact reaction in the general public as they do in my case; however, this reaction isn't yet the typical one- especially in kids and teens.
I think the reason I am so affected by these calorie counts (not only because I can't eat most things that have a calorie count) is because I have the knowledge of the sugar, fat, and calories that are to be consumed during the average day. But for people who don't know better it seems like these are just numbers...
A recent article published in the International Journal of Obesity, available on Reuters, found that the calorie contents on foods don't affect kids and teens the way they are supposed to. The findings of this paper were based on the number of teens who reacted to calorie counts in New York City after it was mandated that fast food restaurants in NYC put the correct nutritional information of the foods they serve front and center on their menus.

Though it was found that the kids did notice the signs, it didn't help them in making the right choice, and they still chose the Big Mac and fries. Heres the problem- not only are 33% of American's obese (adults),  but on average 15% of kids and teens are overweight and/or obese now too (in some states that number is at 30%)!

So we need to act fast... it's really important to teach your kids about these numbers. Teaching kids that the option with the lower sugar, fat, and calorie content is the one to choose is the best way to start.  Don't overload them with information because they won't listen- but teaching kids about making smart choices given two options is the way to start.


Here's the good news. While many kids weren't influenced by the calorie contents when making their choices, 9% were influenced and made their decisions based on what they thought was the better choice.  Teaching your kids why its important to make smart choices is the best means of preventing overweight and obesity because knowledge is power!

Making smart decisions all the time just isn't possible, even when you know it all,  but try to make the better decisions when you can!
Remember, everyone deserves a treat every now and then too!

-Healthy Gal

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