Nutrition News: Foods We Crave, GMO Labeling, Light and Obesity

Can’t eat just one…

We eat in hopes of satisfying our hunger, but some foods actually do the opposite, activating areas in our brain and gut that stir our desire for more. “The sight, smell, or taste of some food will trigger the cephalic food response,” Dr. Belinda Lennerz, an endocrinologist affiliated with Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told Time. The news magazine’s website fingers nine foods that create, rather than curb, cravings. They are … processed carbs like 1) potato chips, 2) crackers and 3) bread; sugary foods like 4) cookies, 5) cake and 6) sweets; easy-to-swallow foods like 7) low-fat, single-serve yogurt; and 8) diet drinks and 9) artificially sweetened snack foods.

Truth in labeling

Pretty soon, it should be somewhat clearer to you whether the foods you buy contain genetically modified ingredients. President Obama has signed into law legislation passed by Congress requiring the makers of foods that contain GMOs to alert consumers to their inclusion by featuring a text label, symbol or smartphone-readable electronic code on product packaging.

The Agriculture Department has been tasked with producing specific labeling regulations for companies to adhere to within the next two years. “The food industry says 75 percent to 80 percent of foods contain genetically modified ingredients — most of those corn and soy-based,” notes the Washington Post. “The Food and Drug Administration says they are safe to eat.”

Light the lights (but not at night)

Can too much light at night make you fat? A new study by Japanese researchers has determined that, among older adults, exposure to bright light at night and low light in the morning is linked to abdominal weight gain, regardless of calorie consumption, exercise or sleep timing — and that, conversely, exposure to dimmer light at night and bright light in the a.m. may actually help with weight loss, Reuters Health reports.

The researchers suspect that exposure to inappropriately timed light may result in misaligned circadian rhythms, which may affect the secretion of the hormone melatonin, which is associated with the expenditure of energy. They add that young people, who are more sensitive to light, may be affected even more than the older people involved in the study. They recommend battling obesity by (in part) boosting daytime sunlight exposure and curtailing nighttime exposure to artificial light from TVs and smartphones.

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.

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