Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Holiday Gauntlet: From November To New Years

If you have kids, you can expect a pillowcase full of candy to come into your living room and spill across your dining room table.

Even if you don’t have kids, you typically buy too much candy for the goblins and princesses passing by, and will have enough Twizzlers and fireballs to stain your lips violet for weeks.

We'll be talking about how to deal with your newfound candy windfall, and prevent the short-term and long-term problems it can cause.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pace and Portions ... Like I Said

Since beginning this work almost 10 years ago, we have been teaching individuals a very simple principle.

Pace Controls Portions.

This was derived from the behavioral
habits of the Mediterranean people, who do NOT gobble from styrofoam, and do NOT suffer our weight and health problems.

This Medline Article reports on research on 1,122 men and 2,165 women that makes the point. This study revealed that those who ate quickly and until they were full had a higher body mass index (BMI) and total energy intake, and were three times more likely to be overweight than those who didn't eat until they were full and didn't eat quickly.

There are many reasons to control pacing. The most important one is that you learn to love your food again. But if you just need to focus on preventing or reversing Overweight, a lifestyle behavior to begin with is your eating habits that lead to speed eating.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Putting Caffeine in Food?

According to this Food Industry Report, you should expect to see caffeine-spike foods and snacks appearing on your grocer's shelves.

The brand, Morning Spark’s, for example, now produces a caffeine-fortified instant oatmeal in addition to their energy bars.

Even weirder, if that were possible, Dakota Valley Products manufactures natural, healthy seeds infused with caffeine, taurine, lysine, and ginseng. They say this provides twice the amount of energy as an energy drink without the added sugar.

According to one food industry spokesperson, “This trend shows that consumers may be distinguishing between somewhat unhealthy stimulants, which they desire, and high sugar content in drinks, which they do not.”

“Stimulants could be infused into many other foods – breakfast foods may be a particularly good candidate, including energy-giving cereals, breads and spreads.”

Who are they targeting for caffeine-spiked foods?
In 2003, 9 percent of adult respondents to a survey by Mintel had said they consume energy drinks; in 2008, that number had increased to 15 percent.
However, the consumer segment that revealed the most growth was teens. Mintel’s latest survey found that 35 percent of teenagers regularly consume energy drinks, up from 19 percent in 2003.
"Energy drinks have quickly become a daily beverage choice. As more Americans use energy drinks, we've seen a rise in products being launched with innovative new ingredients, claims and consumer targets," according to one industry analysist.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Too Much Caffeine???

Too much caffeine -- and it's likely you don't know just how much caffeine is in each drink -- poses a potential health risk to the teens and kids they are marketed to. This, according to Dr. Roland Griffiths, a caffeine researcher.

He says that while there are no known effects
from caffeine that are particular to children, they are at a higher risk from caffeine intoxication because of their smaller size and generally lower tolerance to the stimulant.

Caffeine intoxication is an overdose of caffeine, with symptoms including restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, rapid heartbeat and stomach problems. In extreme cases, it can be fatal.Energy drinks usually contain caffeine and sugar, or a calorie-free sugar substitute like aspartame.

That's what helps give them their kick. But unlike soda drinks, in which caffeine content is limited by law, and over-the-counter caffeine stimulants like No-Doz, energy drinks suppliers don't have to spell out their caffeine content on the label because those drinks are marketed as nutritional supplements and not food.
The energy drinks market isn't new: Remember Jolt
Cola? That was the precursor to today's energy beverages, making its splash in 1985 with the slogan, "All the sugar and twice the caffeine."Red Bull was introduced in the United States in 1997, and a slew of competitors have since followed.

Now, the energy drinks segment is among the fastest growing in the U.S. soft-drinks market. In 2006, the market for energy drinks was worth $5.4 billion, having grown an average 50 percent a year from 2001 to 2006, according to market research group Mintel.The caffeine content in energy drinks varies widely by brand: Red Bull has 80mg per 8 oz. can. The limit on a can of soda is no more than about 70mg. The 16-oz. cans of Monster and Rock Star have 160mg and Cocaine has 280mg.

By comparison, a cup of instant coffee has about 100 mg and a cup of tea or a can of cola have 45 mg each.Of course, taking caffeine isn't new. Many adults use it regularly, with their morning coffee for example. But children's exposure to the substance is usually limited and their bodies can be unprepared for the large doses they may get through energy drinks. And when people consume energy drinks mixed with alcohol, for example, the risk of adverse effects increases, he said.

The energy drink industry disputes claims that their marketing takes aim at children or encourages possibly dangerous use of their products, and many beverages contain labeling advising maximum daily doses and warnings that the product is not intended for children.

But the writing may be on the wall: After an investigation by 11 state attorneys general, Anheuser-Busch this year agreed in a settlement to stop making alcoholic beverages containing caffeine because of the increased risk they posed to the typically young consumers of the drinks.

Some jurisdictions are looking at restricting access to the beverages. In Canada, doctors in Prince Edward Island are pushing for a ban on the purchase of energy drinks by minors. In neighboring province Nova Scotia, energy drinks are not allowed for sale in the school system, though students can bring them on campus if they buy them outside the school.

Parents should talk to their children about energy drinks as they'd talk to them about alcohol and other drugs, Griffiths advised. As with drinking, energy drinks are not going to go away, so the best tactic is to educate kids about their responsible use and the risks of abuse, he said.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Red Bull. A drug delivery device?

Are stimulant drinks just a vehicle for drug injection?

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are raising the issue, and recommending that caffeine be subject to the very same regulations as other drugs. Stimulant drink manufacturers have skirted US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation by selling their products, which contain from 50 mg to up to 505 mg caffeine per bottle, as nutritional supplements.

And even though sodas have a caffeine maximum set at 71 mg per 12 ounces or less, and requires that over-the-counter stimulant medications containing caffeine list their content and include warnings on risks, these caffeine bolus drinks do not.

The doctors simply want labeling. Just spell out how much caffeine there is in the little plastic bottle. The American Beverage Association (ABA), predictably, is against this. And why in the world would they be?

According to the ABA, "mainstream responsible players" who make energy drinks containing more moderate amounts of caffeine should not be lumped together with "novelty companies seeking attention and increased sales based solely on extreme names and caffeine content."

It seems that the very best way to do this is to label the concentration of caffeine in the drink. They should WANT this. Moreover, the only reason to fear labeling is if you are worried that people will realize that you are "a novelty company ... incresing sales based solely on ... caffeine content."

Read the entire article here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Caffeine Intoxication

Write this down: A little is good ... A lot is not.

Surging global demand for high-caffeine energy drinks has led to increased reports of negative health impacts linked to the stimulant’s use in beverages, according to a new review.

Researchers from John Hopkins University suggest that the labelling and aggressive marketing of some energy drinks, particularly towards young males, could lead to increased incidences of caffeine intoxication in consumers.

Read the entire article here.

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