Articles

The “Most Important Meal of the Day” is NOT so Important to Some Consumers

A recent NPD Morning MealScape 2011 study discussed that 31 million Americans still skip breakfast. This is a huge opportunity for health professionals. The public has heard (us) and the media talk about the benefits of breakfast, but this has not motivated much change in consumption. What can we do differently to help facilitate change? One approach that I have seen incorporated in other behavior change models is to discuss the risks of not eating breakfast. Example: Children who do not eat breakfast may perform worse in school or people who do not eat breakfast consumer MORE calories throughout the day. Would this make an impact?

Among children, the incidence of skipping increases as children age with 13-to-17-year-olds having the highest incidence (14 %) of skipping breakfast. I again think it is like any other habit-breakfast should become part of a lifestyle. I feel strongly that it starts with parents showing a child at a young age that breakfast is important for the whole family. Perhaps everyone cannot sit together at breakfast, but focusing one everyone eating breakfast to start their day is important.

Of reasons not to eat breakfast “not being hungry” is one that the participants reported. It would really be interesting to see how much and how late these individuals consumed other meals. Also if you incorporate breakfast as a habit it would become second nature to eat the morning. I personally have to eat soon after I wake up or I am not a happy camper. Another reason is the “time” aspect and I would challenge those people to find 3 minutes to make a microwave coffee cup scramble.

The study also discusses that 3/4 of the people eating breakfast are doing it at home, but the others are eating away from home. The quick service restaurants could build on the groups eating away from home as well as sparking interest in those not eating breakfast at all. Why not offer an egg sandwich on a whole wheat bread/bun with a side of fruit instead of a hash brown? Perhaps breakfast skippers that feel they feel they do not have time at home, might consider this option if it were a healthier one? However on the other hand, I must say that those who eat on the run because they feel it takes too much time should consider how much time is spent at the drive-thru (bet it is about the same or more than the 3 minutes to make scrambled eggs). Of course perception is everything.

So what can we do to continue to promote breakfast consumption? Easy healthy recipes? Showing the time factor can be met? Focusing on the risks? Continuing to promote it as the “most important meal of the day” and hoping it takes hold?

Here is a breakdown of the adults in the study-as you can see males skip more often.
Percent of Adults, By Gender, Who Skip Breakfast * percent of individuals who are up, but don’t eat or drink anything in the morning prior to 11 am
Males Females
18-34 years old 28% 18%
35-54 years old 18% 13%
55+ years old 11% 10%
Source: The NPD Group/Morning MealScape 2011

American Dietetic Association’s Food Nutrition and Exhibition Conference 2011

Marcia and I hold this conference and exhibit close to our hearts since the health professionals we educate are also our peers. Once again our booth and materials were well received. The attendees also already actively use our website for our materials. This show we also tried something new. We had a video set up in our booth showing our research videos, egg production video and our recent webinar. This gave the booth an even more “techy” look as well as highlighting some of the great work we do. Over 350 attendees completed the survey and signed up for our newsletter. Many attendees asked about our research including cholesterol and choline. We also reviewed other research projects that we were working on. Overall, I think it was a successful conference.

 

Prostate Cancer Research: Unscrambling the Science

The journal Cancer Prevention Research recently published a study online ahead of print examining the link between dietary factors and risk of fatal prostate cancer. Among other things, the researchers concluded that consumption of eggs may increase the risk of fatal prostate cancer. Given the large body of research supporting the health and nutritional benefits of egg consumption, this finding is unexpected. However, statistical associations do not prove cause and effect. Rather, they show relationships and are best used in guiding the direction of future research. In this study, it is important to note that researchers only looked at a specific population – predominantly Caucasian, adult men – and that there were few cases of lethal prostate cancer overall. This finding in and of itself calls into question the rather bold claims made in the press regarding the study results.

Additionally, certain dietary factors were not taken into account, such as foods commonly eaten with eggs like bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, cheese and various refined carbohydrates. According to the recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines, eating an egg a day is safe and healthy for most individuals. Nevertheless, it is important to pair eggs with other good-for-you foods, such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains as part of a balanced diet.

If you are interested in further information about the study, here are some of the specifics:
• Study participants included 27,607 male health professionals from the Health Professional Follow-up Study (HPFS) followed from 1994 to 2008. Typical dietary intake was measured using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire to determine how often each participant consumed red meat (processed and unprocessed), poultry and eggs (with yolk).
• The outcome studied was fatal prostate cancer, which included death from prostate cancer or organ metastases.
• A total of 199 events of lethal prostate cancer were observed among the 27,607 men over the follow-up period. In other words, only 0.7% of subjects developed lethal prostate cancer.
• The researchers concluded that men who consumed 2.5 or more eggs per week had an 81% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer compared to men who consumed less than half an egg per week.
• The study did not find a significant association between egg intake and progression of prostate cancer after diagnosis.
• Researchers adjusted for age, body mass index (BMI), smoking and physical activity. No adjustments for other dietary factors were made.

Choose MyPlate

What constitutes a healthy diet has been up for debate probably since the Stone age. The US government began to advise us about what makes a healthy diet prior to World War II when our nation needed to ration food and the need for a healthy armed services became a concern. Since then, dietary guidance has been provided as a joint effort by the US Health and Human Services and Agriculture departments every 5 years based on the most current recommendations from a panel of nutrition experts and known as the US Dietary Guidelines.

Communicating the US Dietary Guidelines has been just as difficult as establishing the criteria for a healthy diet. When the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines were released, the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion was tasked with making the dietary guidance document applicable for public usage. The expectation for the communication program was that not only should the latest dietary guidance be understood by everyone in the country but also followed.

Prior to June 2011, the Food Guide Pyramid was an attempt to put dietary planning into a context of meeting daily nutritional goals. One basic weakness of this tool for communicating a healthy diet was that most consumers plan their meals not diets, so it was hard to adapt the messages into daily life. Since June 2011, the release of the ChooseMyPlate.gov program suggests that a healthy meal involves eating a balanced intake of foods from each of the 5 food groups; fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. A plan to extend the reach of the ChooseMyPlate.gov program was developed by USDA to invite partners from the community which will use the MyPlate icon and 7 accompanying messages (*see below). It is hoped that a high visibility of the MyPlate icon will serve as a reminder, endorsed by all members of the local community including its business members, to eat a healthy meal and include exercise daily. If we all become familiar with the concepts represented by the MyPlate icon, it will serve to show our support for improving the health of our nation and will help build our national, community and individual pride at a time when it is so sorely needed.

The Egg Nutrition Center is a Strategic Partner of the ChooseMyPlate.gov program and collaborates with other partners to incorporate the MyPlate messages into educational tools which are shared with health professionals and their patients or clients around the nation.

*● Enjoy your food, but eat less. ● Avoid oversized portions. ● Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. ● Make at least half your grains whole grains. ● Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk. ● Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers. ● Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

The Global Obesity Pandemic: Shaped by Global Drivers and Local Environments

Below are highlights from the article.  We as health professionals already know many of these. I think the approach of looking at obesity in the large picture rather than pieces is long overdue. There have been many “smaller scale strategies” and some of those have been successful in targeted areas.  I think the approach of looking at obesity in the large picture rather than pieces is long overdue.  What does this really mean though?

We’ve all seen the numbers and generally are aware of the history of obesity.  Obesity began in most high income countries in the 1970-80’s, but now most middle and low income countries also have obesity.  Three years ago, in 2008, it was estimated that 1.46 million adults globally were overweight and 502 million were obese.  Children were estimated at 170 million as overweight or obese.  Other trends within obesity are prevalent as well, but these numbers tell the story.

A Hoad, Somerford and Katzenellenbogen article (Aust NZ J Public Health) drives home that obesity has overtaken tobacco as the largest preventable cause of disease burden in some regions.

What are some key indicators in this report?

  • Economic Effects
    • Sufficient wealth-this has been an enabler for obesity.  This however, is not always indicative as shown in the Pacific Island nations and others.
    • Some countries are faced with a substantial burden of undernutrition also has an emerging burden of overnurition and related diseases to both forms of malnutrition.
    • Obesity is the result of people responding to the obesogenic environment and the obesogenic environments arise because governments and business are responding the economic and politic environments.
    • Drivers of the obesity epidemic
      • Several studies have shown that technological changes have created cheaper and more available food calories and have driven forces towards overconsumption.
      • The “built environment” Changes in our overall habits- less physical activity (driving instead of walking) as well as increased of the food supply starting in the 70’s.  Interestingly enough if everyone was following the fruit and vegetable recommendations of the dietary guidelines, there would not be enough fruits and vegetables for everyone.  What does this say about the oversupply of food? 
      • Cultural preferences such as (body size) can have a significant effect in different regions. 
      • Marketing-On the marketing question-Is the market failing children”?  You decide
      • Genetics- an article by Bray GA states genetics loads the guns but the environment pulls the trigger.
      • Approaches and implications to address obesity
        • The figure below shows a framework to categorize determinants and solutions of obesity.
        • Sustainability and affordability remain to challenges for programs.
        • The major strategies available to directly affect behaviors aim to increase motivation to make healthy choices and include social marketing health education and promotion programs.
        • Realistically policy interventions can be directed at the environment (rather than the individual).
        • The article suggests the solution to obesity should be developed on a global level.

 

Stay tuned for reviews of the next articles in the series.