Apples vs. oranges: Google tool offers ultimate nutrition smackdown

March 24, 2014, NPR [The Salt Blog]

By Eliza Barclay

Leave it to the folks at Reddit to uncover the hidden treasures of the Internet. Recently, they were gabbing about Google’s nutrition comparison tool, which was quietly launched at the end of 2013 and escaped us here at The Salt.

Using this clever little tool is as simple as searching for two types of food, preceded by the word “compare.” The word “vs.” between the two foods also seems to work for some comparisons but not every single one.

So, for example, say you want to compare the calories, sugar content, and nutrients of mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes? Just type in “compare mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes,” and boom, you get photos and an elegant chart revealing that sweet potatoes have 4.2 grams of sugar per 100 grams, compared with 0.5 grams in mashed potatoes. Scroll down and you’ll see that sweet potatoes kill mashed potatoes in vitamin A, potassium, and calcium content.

As you contrast ingredients, perhaps out of sheer curiosity, perhaps to design a meal plan, you’ll learn a lot by playing around with the preparation and cooking method of the food. Tweak the mashed potatoes to “potato, mashed, with milk and butter,” and unsurprisingly, the fat content jumps up.

You can even compare apples and oranges (apples are slightly sweeter and have slightly more calories, in case you were wondering). Or analyze foods from totally different food groups — for instance, what do grapes and bacon have in common? Google says it’s getting most of its data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database, so you can compare pretty much anything in it.

According to Google spokeswoman Krisztina Radosavljevic-Szilagyi, the company created the comparison tool after the success of its original nutrition search tool, introduced in May 2013.

IOM to host webinar about increasing physical activity and physical education in schools

Almost one year ago, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released the report Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School, which offered recommendations, strategies, and action steps that have potential to increase children’s opportunities to engage in physical activity at school, including before, during, and after school. However, many barriers exist to achieving the recommended amount of physical activity in the school environment.

In recognition of the one year anniversary of the release of the report, IOM will host a webinar on May 13 (3-4 p.m.) titled, “Making it Happen: Overcoming Barriers to Increasing Physical Activity and Physical Education in Schools.” The webinar will review the recommendations of the report and ways that schools across the country are working to implement physical activity programs. The webinar will consider barriers to implementation faced by schools and highlight ways in which district and school-level administrators are working to overcome these obstacles. Continue reading

NCCOR members contribute to new research that shows major food companies have cutback on calories

Sixteen of the nation’s leading food and beverage companies have cut 78 calories out of an American’s daily diet according to a new study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). This is the result of a five-year (2007-2012) reduction in sales of food and beverages totaling 60.4 trillion calories. The data collection and analysis of this study was overseen by a handful of national experts including members of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR).

The companies involved, including Campbell Soup, Nestlé, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo, acted together as part of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF). The companies pledged to remove 1 trillion calories from the marketplace by 2012, and 1.5 trillion by 2015. The study found that, thus far, the companies have exceeded their 2015 pledge by more than 400 percent. Continue reading

Pre-packaged foods too salty for young children

March 22, 2013, Red Orbit

By Brett Smith

On average, Americans like their food salty, but it is an affinity that often results in conditions like hypertension and heart disease.

A new study from officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that many pre-packaged children’s food may be giving the youngest Americans an early start when it comes to eating salty foods. They may also be giving these young kids an early start on lifelong health issues as a result of too much sodium in their diet. Continue reading

How ‘crunch time’ between school and sleep shapes kids’ health

How ‘crunch time’ between school and sleep shapes kids’ health
Feb. 25, 2013, NPR [Shots Blog]

It’s an important question for American families and the nation as a whole: Why do so many kids weigh too much?

There are recent hints the epidemic may be abating slightly. Still, one in every three American kids is overweight or obese.

To understand why, NPR conducted a poll with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. It focuses on what happens in American households during the hours between school and bedtime.

This is crunch time for most families — when crucial everyday decisions get made about food and exercise.

Our poll used a unique design to get at what is actually happening in the life of a “target child” in each household. We supplemented their responses with more than 800 that came in when we asked parents, through NPR’s Facebook page, to describe their own “crunch times.” Continue reading

Measurement of the food and physical activity environments

April 2009

Given the high rates of obesity prevalence in the United States and around the world, research interest has grown regarding the effects of the community food and physical activity environments on individual diet and activity behavior. Robust measures of these environments are required in order to assess any effect. Measurement of food and physical environments is a relatively young field, although many “first generation” measures exist. Continue reading