October 4, 2015
Last month, I wrote about how the new nutritional labels might end up making Americans fatter and sicker. Particularly dangerous, in my opinion, is the addition of the “added sugars” requirement. Having both total sugar and added sugars may confuse some consumers, some of whom might think that foods with no or low added sugars are okay to indulge in, without thinking about the total amount of sugar in the item. Canadian health officials seem to have worried about the same issues when they considered, and ultimately rejected, requiring added sugars be listed on nutritional facts panels.
Back in June, Health Canada announced plans to revise nutritional labeling requirements for foods sold in the country. As with the FDA’s...
September 23, 2015
In 2012, the Australian government instituted a plan tobacco packing requirement—that is, a generic package that removes all stylistic aspects of packaging: colors, imagery, corporate logos, and trademarks. In addition to legally required warnings, the only brand specific-print on the package allowed is the brand name in a mandated font size. The purpose of the Soviet-style packaging is to help reduce tobacco consumption by neutralizing any advertising technique used by the companies to woo costumers who’d otherwise avoid tobacco products. Unfortunately, it seems that plain packaging has failed to reduce tobacco use in Australia and might have even slowed the reduction that was already underway.
In the year following implementation of the plain packaging requirement,...
September 22, 2015
If you watched football during the open weekend of the NFL season, you probably saw an advertisement for DraftKings or FanDuel. Part of the rapidly expanding industry of daily fantasy sports betting (DFS), each company is worth more than $1 billion and counting, with an estimate 57 million people in North American participating. In addition to being big business, fantasy sports betting has become an integral part of the sports fan’s experience, which even the major leagues seem recognize with individual NFL teams have even forming official “partnerships” with DFS sites.
However, the aggressive advertising campaigns of DFS sites during week one of football season has raised some eyebrows and now one lawmaker is calling for an investigation into their legal...
September 21, 2015
There’s a new push to finalize the Food and Drug Administration’s new guidelines for nutritional panels. The changes, which include listing “added sugars” and updating serving sizes to reflect what people actually eat, are intended to make it easier for people to know what they’re eating and make better choices. However, newly published research suggests that the updated labeling guidelines could end up backfiring, causing people to eat more than they normally would.
Last week, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) sent a letter to FDA Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff praising the label changes—specifically the addition of added sugars—and urged the FDA to swiftly finalize the rule in order to address health problems such as obesity and diabetes. However, a...
September 17, 2015
As I wrote in The Hill today, Congress this month will decide whether or not to continue funding Michelle Obama’s favorite Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The goal of the program was to address childhood obesity by getting schools to adhere to government nutritional standards in exchange for federal funds. Five years after implementation, we must ask if the program has achieved its laudable goals or if it is time to put those fifteen billion dollars to better use.
HHFKA, enacted in 2010, requires schools to offer more fruits and vegetables, less sugar, less sodium, and more whole grains in order to receive federal funding supporting free breakfasts and lunches at school. According to ...
September 16, 2015
Public health advocates love to make the case that “sinners,” those folks who drink, smoke, or eat “unhealthy” foods, cost society money and that gives bureaucrats the right to interfere in their lives. Users and abusers of these products cost taxpayers billions of dollars, they say. If we have to pay for it, that’s argument enough to justify tax increases, advertising restrictions, and sometimes outright product bans. But is it true?
A new study by Christopher Snowdon, director of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, found that while drinkers in England cost around 3.9 billion pounds per year, they provide 10.4 billion in annual tax revenue. Therefore, drinkers in England are actually subsidizing non-drinkers to the...
September 11, 2015
You may have heard on the news that New York City is, once again, on the cutting edge of interfering with consumers and businesses. This time they’ve decided to mandate that chain restaurants add a warning to items that are too high in salt. The rule is supposed to be aimed at informing consumers and helping to reduce hypertension and cardiovascular risk. However, it will not reduce peoples’ overall sodium consumption and may end up putting them at greater risk for disease.
Unanimously approved by the New York City Board of Health Board of Health, that notorious government body fond of overstepping its legal authority (recall the ...
August 24, 2015
Last week a very interesting and, by all accounts, very well-done study made waves among the nutritional science community. For many years, the idea that reducing carbohydrates is the most effective way to reduce fat due to its effect on insulin has been rapidly gaining in popularity.
Prominent researchers like Dr. Robert Lustig (who famously called sugar a “poison”), and Gary Taubes (author of Good Calories, Bad Calories) have promoted the idea that it’s not just about how much you eat, but what you eat, that leads to obesity. Specifically, that carbohydrates and sugar cause a cascade of problems...
August 19, 2015
It’s back to school season, which for many parents means spending money on new clothes, shuttling young people from sports games to ballet, and increasingly, worrying about the kind of nutrition their kids are getting when they’re away from the home.
This is understandable since they are inundated with hyperbolic headlines like “sugary drinks kill,” “death by salt,” and “processed meat causes cancer”. It’s enough to add a few gray hairs to any parent’s head. While it’s important to teach kids about proper...
August 10, 2015
Add it to the list of things that the government got wrong when it comes to nutrition: skipping breakfast may not make you fat. It turns out this apparent truism isn’t so true and the idea has only been in circulation for the last five years or so:
The notion that skipping breakfast might cause weight gain entered the Dietary Guidelines in 2010, during one of the reviews conducted every five years by experts to update its findings… [They] collected research on skipping breakfast. Some of it did, indeed, suggest that breakfast skippers may be more likely to gain weight.
But the evidence the experts on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee relied on were observational....