Blog Posts for: Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
07/23/2007 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
The Importance of Menu Labeling
Several states are considering legislation to require calorie labeling on restaurant menus. This follows on the heels of action by the New York City Department of Health to take trans fats out of all restaurants and to require calorie labeling in restaurants that have the information already available (the chains for the most part – about 10% of all restaurants).
06/07/2007 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Does Treatment for Obesity Ever Work?
Several recent studies, one from Stanford and another from UCLA, have questioned whether treatment of obesity works. Both studies found that on average, people who get the best available treatments lose little weight and tend not to keep off what they do lose. The only real exception is surgery. What do these results mean?
05/04/2007 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Why Get Rid of Trans Fat?
The New York City Department of Health recently took action to ban trans fat from all restaurants. This was courageous action which brought down the political wrath of the restaurant industry, which is considerable. Now states and other cities are considering similar action.
01/08/2007 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
The Sydney Principles: Might the Food Industry Be Accountable For Marketing to Children?
A group of leaders in the public health, nutrition, and obesity fields have released a draft document known as The Sydney Principles. This document contains guidelines the experts feel the food industry must consider if their marketing of food to children is to avoid hurting them and to be ethical. The impetus was a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting in Oslo, Norway in which people from around the world who deal with the marketing issue were assembled.
12/21/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Ahoy, Chocolate Chips – in a Bus Shelter!
An article in the San Francisco Chronicle noted recently that food marketers have reached news levels of cleverness. The milk industry is planning a test in which chemical strips that give off the small of chocolate chip cookies will be placed in bus shelters in San Francisco, along with Got Milk? ads. The hope of course, is that this will trigger irresistible desires to go home and have milk and cookies.
12/04/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Marketing Food to Children: The U.S. is an Outlier
Earlier this year the World Health Organization convened a meeting of experts in Oslo, Norway to address the issue of children’s food marketing. The report from that meeting was just released and is available here.
10/13/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Dysfunction by Design: The USDA and Nutrition
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has two primary goals – to promote healthy eating and to promote agriculture (aka help the industry sell more food). These goals sometimes oppose one another, creating an inherent conflict of interest. The most obvious is that food and agriculture industries benefit when people eat more food, but the last thing the nation needs is to eat more.
09/26/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Real change on the menu in New York
The Big Apple gets five stars for proposing a ban on trans fats in restaurants and requiring nutritional labeling on menus. New York City Health Commissioner Tom Frieden announced the changes today. Trans fats raise “bad” cholesterol and lower “good” cholesterol. Numerous studies have linked trans fats to heart disease and premature death. The city tried getting restaurants to voluntarily stop using trans fats, for which there are many alternatives. After a year of campaigning for restaurants to act in their patrons’ best interests, a third of New York eateries were still serving trans fat. Given the weight of scientific evidence showing the danger of trans fats, the city had a responsibility to act.
09/21/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Should there be a junk food tax?
Once blistered for being outlandish, the idea of food taxes has become part of the popular debate. Entire countries like Ireland, England, and Australia have discussed this. The idea could easily get traction in the U.S. – a number of states already have small taxes on soft drinks and snack foods. The problem is that the revenue is not earmarked for anything related to nutrition.
09/07/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
What do we owe our children?
Millions of studies have been done on nutrition and weight. Among the most consistent findings is that children’s food marketing is having a negative impact. But attitudes and policies about this vary widely around the world, with the U.S. being an outlier.
08/23/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
The Debate to Nowhere
In today’s New England Journal of Medicine are two papers dealing yet again with whether excess weight brings risk but more specifically about the exact BMI where risk begins to increase. The quotes from experts in press accounts are now predictable – some say the research is necessary and important and others say the obesity experts are overstating their findings and obesity is really not such a problem -- hot debate on an unimportant issue.
08/18/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Pimas and personal responsibility
In the August, 2006 issue of the journal Diabetes Care, researchers compared rates of obesity and diabetes in two groups of people who are genetically similar but live in much different environments. The comparison is between Pima Indians, some living in Mexico primarily as subsistence farmers and others living in Arizona where American lifestyles carry the day.
08/14/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Will drugs ever cure or prevent obesity?
A recent article entitled “Denmark chasing billion profit on obesity pills” showed what is true around the world - pharmaceutical companies chasing unspeakable profits are in a frenzy to find a drug to cure obesity. The world would rejoice if something really worked, but other than in rare cases, overweight is not caused by biology gone awry. The body does what ancient conditions programmed it to do – pack in the calories to survive anticipated scarcity.
07/24/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
MySpace Joined by Food Space
The Kaiser Family Foundation just released the first report on the use of the internet to promote food to children. For many years the lion’s share of advertising was on TV, but that is giving way to product placements in TV shows, movies, and video games, the internet, and more.
07/22/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Can food be addictive?
Professionals who help people with obesity often hear the language of addiction. People talk about cravings, having symptoms like headaches when they stop eating some foods, and experiencing relief of negative moods when they get a chance to eat. The possibility of food addiction has been rejected for the most part, but finally there is some research. The initial results are striking.
07/15/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Having it their way
The big fast food players divide into those who at least talk about nutrition and others with an in your face, don’t tell us what to do mindset. There is no mistaking Burger King’s approach, captured in a 2005 quote by its CEO in USA Today. When asked about whether their Enormous Omelet is a nutrition nightmare (2 eggs, 2 slices cheese, sausage patty, and 6 slices of bacon – 740 calories), he responded: “We did not give that 10 seconds’ worth of thought. I am not bothered by the food Nazis.”
06/30/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Soft Drinks, Schools, and Bill Clinton: Victory or Being Snookered?
Recently former President Clinton and the American Heart Association announced that a deal had been worked out with the major players in the soft drink industry and the trade association that represents them (the American Beverage Association). The news of this “breakthrough” was all over. The question is what impact this will have and whether it represents victory or capitulation.
05/26/2006 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
The Food is Sweeter in America
A report was issued recently suggesting that some prominent American foods have more fat, especially trans fats than the same products sold in other countries. Researchers from Denmark looked at fast food products sold in different countries, and among their findings was that a combination of large fries and chicken nuggets has .33 grams of trans fats in Denmark, about 3 gram in Spain, Russia, and the, Czech Republic, and 10.2 grams in the U.S.
02/04/2004 | Kelly D. Brownell, PhD
Mississippi Bill Puts Weight Bias on the Menu
In late January, the Mississippi House of Representatives introduced House Bill 282 (HB 282) which seeks to prohibit state-licensed food establishments from serving food to any person who is obese, as defined by criteria outlined by the Mississippi State Department of Health.