The Biggest Nutrition Stories and Why They Matter

Welcome to our new quarterly feature…nutrition news roundup! Look for this quarterly series that will highlight the stories that have the nutrition world buzzing.

Mayor Bloomberg…man vs. soda

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s fight again supersized soda took a major hit when a judge ruled in favor of big soda instead. His soda ban, which would have limited the size of soda served in restaurants, theaters and food carts to 16 oz, was overturned just before it was set to take effect. While even Mayor Bloomberg admits that there was little he could do to stop someone from ordering more than one 16 oz portion anyway, he argues that reminding people of what a reasonable size looks like offers education and may cause some people to curb their intake. My guess is that we haven’t heard the last of this and that Mayor Bloomberg will not give up his fight that easily.

Twinkies for Sale

As if the future of supersized soda wasn’t enough, we learned recently that Twinkies will also have a long life ahead. You may recall that Hostess, the maker of popular products like Wonder Bread and yes, Twinkies, was forced to close their plants and therefore discontinue production of these food icons. However, this week Hostess cakes was purchased, which will ensure the future production of Twinkies (as well as two other American favorites- HoHo’s and Ding Dongs). Pair that Twinkie with a 32 ounce soda and you have a whopping 46 grams of sugar!

Addicted to Sugar and Fat

By this point you may be noticing a theme among recent nutrition headlines. But, if you missed the cover article of the New York Times magazine a few weeks ago titled, The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, I highly suggest checking it out. The article, which was a prelude to a book that will be released this month, will no doubt lead to many conversations about how the junk food industry is using science to deliberately create products that we will undoubtedly crave. Yes, it all started with reminding us that we “can’t eat just one” and has grown into what the industry admits is purposeful addition of sugar, salt and fat in order to maintain sales and the intentional decision not to change snacks we have loved for decades despite growing concerns over the link between food and disease. Sounds like we are caught in a vicious circle that is driven by a company’s bottom line and, as long as consumers keep buying these foods, it likely won’t improve soon.

Wheat / Jayneandd / CC BY 2.0

Whole Foods and GMO

GMO, Genetically Modified Organisms, are genetically engineered plants or animals, which are used throughout the food industry. Whole foods announced recently that going forward they will only stock foods that are forthcoming about their GMO status. The CEO of Whole Foods reports that within the next five years, all products sold in Whole Foods Markets must make clear to the consumer if genetically modified ingredients were used. It will be interesting to see if this move by Whole Foods grows into a broader discussion about GMO labeling in other markets and potential mandatory labeling of all products. At a time when the FDA is considering label changes to improve consumer awareness about the products they choose, the conversation about GMO couldn’t be timelier. Of course, it also raises the question of whether the public knows what to do with the information and if they understand how to use GMO status in their decision making at the supermarket or if avoiding GMO foods improves their health. No doubt, for those in the nutrition field, learning to communicate facts about GMO ingredients and recent science and research on the topic will be a priority in the coming months and years.