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Nutritional Concepts Mid-Week Brief
May 15, 2013
Dear Valued Subscriber, 


We hope you are having a great week!


Have a happy, healthy day. Bonnie and Steve Minsky

Restaurants and Grocers Are Failing You.

Steve and Bonnie: A study published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine evaluated the nutrient levels at sit down restaurants around the United States for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not surprisingly, on average, meals contained more than a full day's worth of sodium and nearly a full day's worth of fat and saturated fat. The researchers acknowledged that these levels were alarmingly high.


Another study from the same issue found that reducing sodium levels in restaurant food between 2005 and 2011 was painfully slow and inconsistent. The researchers urge stronger measures to encourage sodium reduction.


Let us be very clear. It is not just national chains that are to blame. Independent and small chain restaurants were just as culpable with regard to these shockingly high levels of negative calories. In many cases, they contained higher calorie content than the national chains.


The researchers implore that "A national requirement for accurate calorie labeling in all restaurants may discourage menus offering unhealthy portions and would allow consumers to make informed choices about ordering meals that promote weight gain and obesity."  

There is a national requirement on the horizon. However, we do not have any confidence that it will be implemented. The restaurant and grocer lobbies have fought tooth and nail to eliminate any labeling or posting of nutritional information on menus. Without sodium, fat, and sugar, they would have to work much harder to make food taste good. In turn, prepared food would become more expensive. As a result, people would undoubtedly eat out less often.
The lobbyist for grocers, including Kroger and Safeway, is calling on President Obama to curtail a health law provision that mandates companies to display the calorie content of all their prepared foods. The mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act, is unpopular among restaurant chains that complain about the cost of new signage and grocers that say the diversity of their products creates a logistical nightmare. Now, the pizza and grocery industries are seeking help from Congress, backing legislation introduced in March that would limit the FDA's ability to implement the mandate. 


Americans spend almost half their food dollars on meals and snacks eaten outside the home. Most have absolutely no clue what is in their food. The industry backlash is purely economical and logistical. They have everything to lose and nothing to gain.


If we want to make any semblance of headway with obesity and diabetes, it is impossible without transparency. These companies are as culpable as we are for creating the gargantuan healthcare gorilla that threatens our future prosperity. They need to suck it up and at least do the minimum.


The link between nutrient-poor, calorie dense food and obesity is undeniable. An international team of health experts recently looked at the number of Subway restaurants per 100,000 people in 26 economically advanced countries. Published in the journal Critical Public Health, countries with the highest density of Subway restaurants (such as the United States and Canada) had a higher prevalence of obesity than countries with a low density (like Norway and Japan).


Nobody is denying restaurant chains and grocers the opportunity to serve their nutrient-poor, calorie catastrophic, prepared food. But you must show us what is in the food! You cannot expect a population to make educated decisions about what they eat without information. Are we not in the midst of the information age?


Mag More Important Than Cal for Kids?
A study presented at this month's Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting found that magnesium was key for children to have healthy bones.
While it is known that magnesium is important for bone health in adults, few studies have looked at whether magnesium intake and absorption are related to bone mineral content in young children.
Researchers examined healthy children ages 4 to 8 years old who were not taking any multivitamins or minerals. Children were hospitalized overnight twice so their calcium and magnesium levels could be measured. All foods and beverages served during their hospital stay contained the same amount of calcium and magnesium they consumed in a typical day. Foods and beverages were weighed before and after each meal to determine how much calcium and magnesium the children actually consumed.
While hospitalized, children's levels of calcium and magnesium were measured using a technique that involved giving them non-radioactive forms of magnesium and calcium, called stable isotopes, intravenously and orally. Urine was collected for 72 hours. By measuring the stable isotopes in the urine, the researchers could determine how much calcium and magnesium were absorbed into the body. Bone mineral content and density were measured using total body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). 
Results showed that the amounts of magnesium consumed and absorbed were key predictors of how much bone children had. Dietary calcium intake, however, was not significantly associated with total bone mineral content or density.