Book – First Bite, by Bee Wilson

Bee Wilson – First Bite: How We Learn to Eat

I’m only half way through the book, but it’s very thought-provoking and relevant to us right now, since our toddler is just nearing the age of 3. Chapter 4 on Feeding discusses several styles of feeding children that researchers have divided them into:

  • Uninvolved: low warmth and low demands
  • Authoritarian: low warmth and high demands
  • Indulgent: high warmth and low demands
  • Authoritative: high warmth and high demands

Where ‘warmth’ is described as being the level of sensitivity to the child’s needs. I think of myself as being somewhere between Indulgent and Authoritative. I tend to indulge our son in many of his wants but he tends to be quite good in his ability to accept small indulgences (one or two mini chocolate chips, for example) as sufficient, so it’s never a worry for me. At the dinner table; however, I tend to ask him several times if he wants to try a food, or if he wants to finish his soup or if he’ll have one more bite of something. Especially after he starts getting down from his chair to go play. The danger being that the high demands may skew his liking of certain foods that we serve. Regardless, the take-away is best stated by Wilson:

The art of feeding, it turns out, is not about pushing “one more bite” into someone’s mouth, however healthy the food. Nor is it about authoritarian demands to abstain from all treats. It’s about creating a mealtime environment where – as in Clara Davis’s feeding experiment – those who are eating are free to develop their own tastes, because all of the choices on the table are real, whole food.

 

Ontario fast food restaurants will soon require food labels

Laura Wright for the CBC – Ontario fast-food labels could cause women to gain weight, public health advocate says:

Along with the calorie information, chain restaurants will have to display a “context statement” meant to help consumers better understand the calorie count. The statement will say adults require 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day, but that individual calorie needs vary.

Maybe carbohydrates aren’t that bad after all

Julia Belloz at Vox – We’ve long blamed carbs for making us fat. What if that’s wrong?

The main scientific model behind the low-carb approach is the “carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis,” which journalist Gary Taubes, Harvard professor David Ludwig, and others have extensively promoted. It suggests that a diet heavy in carbohydrates (especially refined grains and sugars) leads to weight gain because of a specific mechanism: Carbs drive up insulin in the body, causing the body to hold on to fat and suppress calorie burn.

But what’s often lost in all the boosterism around the low-carb approach is that it is still an unproven hypothesis in science.

So they did a study to show whether a low-carb diet can actually help to reduce weight. 17 overweight or obese men in a metabolic chamber for 4 weeks and fed either a high carbohydrate diet or ketogenic diet with the same number of calories. Results? No increased body fat loss with the ketogenic diet.

But as Bazinet points out, “The study … doesn’t see any [relationship between a decrease in insulin and an increase in fat loss]. Show me a better study that supports this.”

There isn’t any, he added.

Ah. Conclusions?

Tobias urged dieters not to lose sight of the bigger picture. “Low-carb versus low-fat should not be the focus for people selecting a weight loss diet.” The focus, she said, should be on improving the quality of food that people eat instead.

On Fat and Sugar

Jill Eisen for the CBC – Fat and Sugar, Part 1

First, fat was the dietary bad guy. We were warned back in the 1980s to cut back on eggs, meat and full-fat dairy to avoid heart disease. So we started eating more bread, rice and pasta and fat-free snacks. But we got sicker and fatter. Now sugar is the bad guy. Contributor Jill Eisen explores the complex, and sometimes contradictory, science of nutrition — and tries to find clarity amidst the thicket of studies and ambiguous research.

There’s also a great list of research references and a reading list at the link, for more information.

Part 2 airs on June 22, 2016.

Added sugar labelling!

That exclamation point is not an accident. I’m looking forward to this. From the FDA:

Today, the FDA has finalized the new Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods with changes that will make it easier for consumers to make informed choices about what they’re eating.

Some groups aren’t too happy with the change:

The Sugar Association is disappointed by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ruling to require an “added sugars” declaration and daily reference value (DRV) on the Nutrition Facts Label (NFL). The extraordinary contradictions and irregularities, as well as the lack of scientific justification in this rulemaking process are unprecedented for the FDA.

But the FDA says:

And you can have confidence in the science on which it is based, including evidence used to support the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, nutrition intake recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, and nutrition intake information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Whose interpretation of science is correct? Well, the Sugar Association is likely a little biased.

Cow milk allergy and calcium in children

Kathryn Doyle at the Globe and Mail – Kids allergic to cow’s milk may have low bone density: study:

Kids with cow’s milk allergy had lower bone mineral density than others, and 6 per cent had low bone mass, while none of the kids in the comparison group had low bone mass, according to the results in Pediatrics.

“The important message is that these children should be followed preventively to be sure that they take sufficient calcium and vitamin D to have strong bones and avoid bone problems,” Des Roches said. “Otherwise, these kids are in very good health.”

Less than half of kids with cow’s milk allergy were taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.

As a parent of a child with many allergies, it’s been difficult to find a good replacement for the milk/dairy that is recommended in all food guides. We eat plenty of vegetables, but perhaps we also need to find a supplement.

Fat vs sugar

Ian Leslie at the guardian – The sugar conspiracy:

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, in a 2008 analysis of all studies of the low-fat diet, found “no probable or convincing evidence” that a high level of dietary fat causes heart disease or cancer. Another landmark review, published in 2010, in the American Society for Nutrition, and authored by, among others, Ronald Krauss, a highly respected researcher and physician at the University of California, stated “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD [coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease]”.

Many nutritionists refused to accept these conclusions. The journal that published Krauss’s review, wary of outrage among its readers, prefaced it with a rebuttal by a former right-hand man of Ancel Keys, which implied that since Krauss’s findings contradicted every national and international dietary recommendation, they must be flawed. The circular logic is symptomatic of a field with an unusually high propensity for ignoring evidence that does not fit its conventional wisdom.

Sugars in children’s fruit juices and smoothies

A study published in the BMJ by Boulton and Hashem et al – How much sugar is hidden in drinks marketed to children? A survey of fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies:

The difference between whole fruit and fruit juice:

One key difference between whole fruit and juice is fibre content. Whole fruit slows down consumption and has a satiating effect. Research shows the body metabolises fruit juice in a different way compared to whole fruit. After whole fruit consumption, the body seems to adjust its subsequent energy intake appropriately, whereas after fruit juice consumption, the body does not compensate for the energy intake.

And the conclusion? (formatted for readability)

The sugars content in FJJDS marketed to children in the UK is high. Over 40% of products surveyed contained at least 19 g of sugars—a child’s entire maximum daily amount of free sugars.

-We suggest that FJJDS with high free sugars content should not count as one of the UK government’s ‘5 a Day’ recommendations.
-Ideally, fruit should be consumed in its whole form, not as juice.
-Parents should dilute fruit juice with water, opt for unsweetened juices and only give them during meals. -Portions should be limited to 150 ml a day.
-In order to help combat the growing problem of childhood obesity, manufacturers need to stop adding unnecessary sugars and calories to their FJJDS now; otherwise, it will be essential for the government to introduce legislation to regulate the free sugars content of these products.

Canadian Senate Report on Obesity – on sugars

From page 6 of the report:

Sandra Marsden of the Canadian Sugar Institute testified that sugar consumption has declined in recent years, however, as that organization represent the sucrose industry (the sugar extracted from beet and sugar cane), this decline seems to be only associated with sucrose and not all sugars combined.

(Zing!)

The Canadian Sugar Institute says the estimated added sugars* consumption in Canada is approximately 51 – 53 g per day.

A number of witnesses also told the committee that sugary beverages are the primary source of added sugar in our diet and are the primary driver of obesity. They noted that these beverages have little or no nutrient value while being calorie-rich. Further they indicated that these are ‘invisible’ calories as they do not contribute to satiety and are simply added calories over and above food intake. Some witnesses offered testimony that sugar is addictive and that it promotes overconsumption.

Addictive? Interesting.

From page 12 of the report:

At the same time, Manuel Arango, of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, indicated that as much as 62% of the Canadian diet can be categorized as highly-processed, a percentage that has been rising in recent decades at the expense of whole foods. As a consequence of the increased intake of highly processed foods, sugar consumption has increased dramatically from 4 bounds annually per person 200 years ago to 151 pounds annually per person today.

151 pounds per person is huge. That’s nearly 1 cup of sugar per day. I’m not sure where they get that figure.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s position statement on sugar cites that total sugar intake is 110 g per day, or about 1/2 cup per day.

As mentioned previously, Health Canada’s proposed limit is 100 g per day of total sugars.

Footnotes:
*"Added sugars" is defined as follows:

Sugars and syrups (Statistics Canada Category - Sugar and sugar syrups (from sugar cane or sugar beets), maple sugars, honey. Does not include corn sweeteners.
Corn sweeteners: high fructose corn syrup ("glucose-fructose"), glucose syrup, and dextrose.
Fruit juce/concentrated fruit juice or other ingredients that act as a functional substitute for added sugars.

 

Report on Health in Children in Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada publication, published February 24, 2016 – Health Behaviour in School-aged Children in Canada: Focus on Relationships:

Key Finding #11: Healthy Eating

While some concerning dietary habits were reported, there were also some positive findings with respect to healthy eating.

Almost half (46%) of boys and more than one third (37%) of girls reported eating neither vegetables nor fruits once per day or more, while 34% of boys and 42% of girls reported eating both fruits and vegetables once per day or more. Some of these behaviours may be attributable to the food environments that surround young people and the availability and affordability of fruits and vegetables. More positively, reports of soft drink and candy consumption have decreased over time, and reported daily consumption of potato chips, diet soft drinks, and energy drinks was quite low. This lower frequency of consumption was consistent with the Canada Food Guide recommendations on reducing the intake of foods high in fats, sugar, sodium, or calories.

Boys and girls aren’t eating enough fruits or vegetables, but at least they have reduced their consumption of sugary drinks and snacks.

Key Finding #12: Healthy Weights

The epidemic of overweight and obesity is not declining in young Canadians.

Approximately 1 in 3 boys and approximately 1 in 4 girls were classified as overweight or obese by Body Mass Index (BMI; calculated from self-reported height and weight). Up to 25% of girls and 10% of boys were, or thought they should be, on a diet to lose weight. The percentage of young people who perceived that their body was too fat has increased from 28% in 2002 to 32% in 2014. Despite ongoing public health efforts, the prevalence of youth obesity, and the behaviours and feelings surrounding it, remain high and have increased over time.

We need to teach kids about growing food, cooking food and eating food, healthfully.