My prior blog entry discussed some of the information that the Mars, Hershey's and Pepsico companies shared at the FNCE. Another important sponsor of the Expo and event was the Dairy Council of America. At their press event, The Dairy Council of America discussed obesity versus hunger. It’s incredible to consider that while obesity trends now put two thirds of the adult population and a full one third of kids and teens in the “overweight or obese” category in the U.S., one in five children and one in six elderly Americans suffer with food insecurity. You can also be overweight or obese and suffer from quality food hunger, because the types of foods you choose have such poor nutritional quality. Check out www.feedamerica.org to see a current map of food insecurity nationwide. Highlighted during the press event was the fact that efforts need to be made to feed the hungry, while helping those struggling with excess weight to learn to eat the right foods in proper portion sizes. The three main take-away messages from the presentation were the importance of:
- Increasing awareness among the general population that there is hunger and food insecurity. It may even affect someone you know. Co-existing at the same time with hunger is child obesity, and that too demands serious multi-factoral attention.
- Recognizing that we, as a national community, need to somehow “level the playing field,” so that there is access to adequate, healthy, nourishing food
- Provide\ing education to those in lower socio-economic communities so they can earn enough to pay for healthy wholesome food, and not continue to suffer with hunger directly due to finances. We also need to educate those who struggle with weight to better understand concepts including nutrition and exercise balance.
One other key presenter at the FNCE was General Mills. Their seminar highlighted some key food principles: how to achieve calorie balance, the importance of increasing consumption of certain foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, the need to reduce consumption of less-healthy snack foods, and why we must find time to exercise. There are tools at MyPlate.gov, and Supertrakker.usda.gov to help with calorie tracking, learning appropriate portion sizes, and how to make healthier food choices, as well as other lifestyle information. A variety of health tips were shared by some of the presenters on the expert panel. One easy way to start eating healthier is to always make sure that half your lunch or dinner plate is filled with fruits and vegetables, one quarter of the plate should contain a whole grain serving, one quarter of the plate a serving of lean protein, and during your day you should have two servings of calcium-rich dairy products (or an equivalent calcium serving from another food source).
Look for whole grains as the first ingredient on a food label, or for the term “fiber-rich whole grain” on labels, to help you assess the nutrient value of the grain choices you make. General Mills has pledged to continue to increase the amount of whole grains in its cereals. Currently, if the product contains at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving, you will see a “white check mark” on the box. General Mills’ next goal is 10 grams of whole grain/serving in all its cereals. Remember, you don’t necessarily have to have a traditional bowl of cereal for breakfast. You can add whole grain cereal to a yogurt parfait, use whole grain breads and tortillas or choose a whole grain-rich nutrition bar for a fast meal on-the-go.
Next month: Taste tests winners and more from the Food and Nutrition Expo 2012.
Published On: October 18, 2012