Nutrition News Highlights

The first quarter of 2014 has brought with it a few interesting headlines in the world of nutrition and health. With the help of Science Daily, I bring you some of the topics that have caught my eye over the past few months.

March 17th: Eat fewer calories to live longer

I was a graduate student the first time I learned about the Society for Calorie Restriction. I actually knew a proud member and recall him looking a little depleted most of the time. Since then I have more than once seen a headline like this one and thought of him and also cringed to think about the information landing in the “wrong hands” of an impressionable person who thinks under eating is a healthful, beneficial choice. My fear aside, science is showing that there is possible link between caloric restriction and increased lifespan, which may be related to increased cellular turnover and repair (AKA superior anti-aging). This will be an interesting space to continue to watch.

March 5th: Is saturated fat all that bad after all?

No doubt, the headline that rocked the nutrition world in these first few months of 2014 was the news that maybe, just maybe saturated fat isn’t so bad for us after all? No doubt, like anything that makes a flashy headline, there is more to this story. Read further and it doesn’t seem like there is actually too much news here since the report is really related to carbohydrates and what a one replaces their saturated fat with when it is limited in a diet. Essentially, this report highlighted that a diet low in saturated fat and yet still high in simple carbohydrates and omega 6 fats (especially those found in corn oil (an oil that doesn’t earn any Guiding Stars) will not reduce risk of heart disease. Guiding Stars scientific advisor Kit Broihier agrees that there is nothing new here.

Feb 26th: Obesity rates improve among 2-5 year olds

Maybe all those health campaigns focused on families and “proper” use of cartoons is paying off. The end of February brought with it this exciting news that our efforts at improving the diets of our youngest are leading to reduced obesity rates among 2-5 year olds. With this report and previous positive data from the CDC we may be reversing the obesity trend for our children and beginning to see “healthier habits become the new norm” as Michelle Obama puts it. This positive news is not likely the result of any one intervention but, rather the combined efforts of Let’s Move, families, schools, communities and even big companies to support healthy habits in children.

Jan 15th: Eating right for your blood type

I debunked it 15 years ago, and now science has debunked it again. I was assigned the “Eat Right For Your Blood Type” diet in graduate school for a project that required us to investigate fad diets and see if they were based on science or not. Even then, it was clear that it was not. Yet almost 15 years later we are still discussing this diet (and people are still buying the book, which has been translated into over 40 languages). Earlier this year, researchers determined that following a diet based on your blood type is not correlated with weight loss. No worries if you have bought the book: at least researchers also found that the diet recommendations were “sensible,” even if they don’t lead to weight loss.