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This study estimates the environmental impacts of what it terms discretionary foods - foods and drinks that do not provide nutrients that the body particularly needs. It finds that these foods account for 33-39% of food-related footprints in Australia.
This paper quantifies what the environmental impacts would be if the typical US diet were to shift in line with the USDA dietary recommendations. The paper has created a lot of interest and debate since it shows that shifting towards healthier diets in some cases can increase the energy, emission and water intensity of the diet. This is why we wanted to provide a more extensive summary and some commentary below. Please do read, share and add your own comments.
A new report by the Commons’ Health Committee discusses the potential of implementing a sugary drink tax as a way of combating child obesity. Sugary drinks are the largest sources of sugar for 11 to 18 year-olds and there is increasing concern over the effects of sugar on people’s health, particularly the health of children and teenagers.
This paper published in PLOS ONE, entitled Global Food Demand Scenarios for the 21st Century, describes a transparent method for constructing specific food demand scenarios for total and animal-based calories. It requires only population and income projections as input, with no information on the food supply side needed.
The World Health Organisation has called on countries to reduced sugar intakes among their child and adult populations. It recommends that people should obtain no more than 10% of their daily calories from free sugars, and cutting intakes to below 5% would provide additional benefits.
Two new papers from researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University have analysed the portion sizes and nutritional contents (including calories, sodium, saturated fats and trans fats) of popular menu items served at three national fast-food chains between 1996 and 2013. The researchers found that average calories, sodium, and saturated fat stayed relatively constant, at high levels and the only decline seen was of trans fat of fries that took place between 2000-2009. The products analysed were: French fries, cheeseburgers, grilled chicken sandwich, and regular cola.
Although there is no absolute consensus on the recommendation for total fat and dietary fat and saturated fat (SFA) intake between governing bodies and health organizations, there is a general sense of convergence. All guidelines currently suggest that total fat should not exceed 35% of daily calories. Although most guidelines propose a target for dietary SFA, there is no consensus on the value to aim for.
This systematic review examines the most common persuasive techniques used to promote junk food to children on television. The study shows that the approaches most frequently used are: free toys, gifts, discounts and competitions, promotional characters and celebrities, and appeals to taste and fun to promote junk food to children. These persuasive techniques were found to be used more often when promoting unhealthy food. The study authors argue that a ban on junk food advertising to children under 16 would be an important measure to fight child obesity. NB: the study looks at which persuasive techniques were most commonly used – it doesn’t assess which are the most effective.
The paper is a systematic review of literature describing seven dietary interventions aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in overweight or obese children. It points out that in the context of the global obesity problem, dietary interventions can be used to promote healthy eating habits, but taking a narrow and restrictive focus can result in an increased preference for the restricted foods and be unlikely at achieving positive, long-term change.