Nutrition News: Autumn Weight Gain, Salt Reduction, Kids and Online Ads


Adver-games exposed

Once upon a time, parents’ fears about advertising’s sneaky effects on their kids were more or less confined to TV ads. Nowadays food and drink companies are able to reach kids online in ways parents aren’t even aware of — and research indicates that exposure to these marketing efforts does influence kids’ consumption habits. Writing in the Washington Post, nutrition expert Casey Seidenberg ticks off a few of those methods.

They include using “adver-games” featuring the products, directing kids to their products to retrieve “codes” and incentivizing them to invite their friends to play; using GPS tracking and notifications to push coupons and discounts to them on their phones based on their locations; using social media to track and reach them and encourage them to influence others in their peer network; and collecting and analyzing kids’ personal data via mobile apps to better target them and build loyalty. Creepy.


Don’t let your weight rise in fall

In autumn, as the weather turns crisp and cool, many of us find ourselves putting on a few pounds, which doesn’t feel cool at all. Writing in U.S. News and World Report, Healthy Eats nutrition expert Toby Amidor offers tips on how to battle the seasonal bulge.

Among them: Make lighter versions of fall-favorite baked goods (halve the butter and sub in nonfat plain Greek yogurt). Stay active (take an indoor exercise class; hop on that dusty treadmill). Don’t go nuts on the Halloween candy (buy a kind you don’t like to hand out the kids, so you’ll be less tempted to eat it yourself). Lighten up those comfort foods you crave (cut calories and fat by using leaner meats). Don’t OD on takeout, delivery or fast-food meals just because life is busy (plan and prep your own meals ahead of time instead).


Strategic salting

Confused about how to respond to the FDA’s recent move to reduce the recommended daily sodium intake from 3,400 milligrams to 2,300 milligrams (1,500 milligrams for those with, or at risk for, hypertension)?Chefs and dietitians consulted by the Wall Street Journal suggest cooking from scratch using fresh ingredients at home so you can control the amount of salt added to foods; limiting salty ingredients (like anchovies and capers) and balancing them with high-potassium foods (like leafy greens and potatoes); switching from granulated salt to flaked sea salt (larger crystals mean less sodium per pinch); avoiding salty snacks, cured meats and sneakily sodium-packed canned foods; and using herbs, spices and other ingredients to add flavor. That’s not to say you need to avoid salt altogether, unless you have a medical reason to do so. Our bodies need some salt — just don’t overdo it.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.