This Week's Nutrition News Feed

488806815

488806815

Assorted Fancy Gourmet Cupcakes with Frosting

In this week's news: Cravings could be a gut thing (if not a good thing); the outdated BMI system gets a checkup; and the "all-natural" label is, well, kinda fake.

It's Not You, It's Your Microbiome

Don't blame yourself if you can't resist that cupcake. Blame your gut bacteria. A new study, published in the journal BioEssays, has found that the bacteria living within us, which are 100 times more numerous than our own cells, may affect the foods we crave as well as our moods. The tiny bacterial overlords, the theory goes, compel us to eat the foods they live best on -- perhaps fat or sugar -- overriding our healthy eating efforts and propelling us toward obesity. "Bacteria within the gut are manipulative," says study co-author Carlo Maley, PhD. "There is a diversity of interests represented in the microbiome, some aligned with our own dietary goals, and others not."

BMI: Body Meaningless Index?

The commonly used body mass index, which factors in only height and weight, has been derided for making no distinction between fat and muscle mass -- and for seeming a little stuck in the 1980s. Yet, despite its limitations, experts say, it might be the best method of gauging obesity that we have. The index, in fact based on a formula devised by Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet in the early 1800s, was never intended to measure individual fatness. Yet major public health organizations adopted it as a standard obesity measurement because, the Wall Street Journal reports, it is "simple, cheap and accurate for assessing overall trends." For most people, the correlation between BMI and body fat holds, making it a useful proxy. "You can get very precise if you have a CT or MRI, but are we really going to go to that level for routine clinical practice?" Lawrence Appell, a Johns Hopkins University medical professor, wondered. "There's a value to BMI."

All Natural, or Maybe, All Nothing

The term "all natural" on a package label conjures up images of foods that are organic, perhaps, or at least low in sugar. So it's not surprising that consumers gravitate toward such wording: In a recent study, "natural" tied for first place as the food-product claim people said meant the most to them. And yet it turns out  the label may not actually mean much at all. The Food and Drug Administration has yet to clearly define or regulate the use of the term, leaving consumers open to being misled. The good news, according to the Chicago Tribune, is that packaged food makers themselves are striving for greater clarity and using more-specific language -- such as "no GMOs" or "no artificial colors" -- on labels. "Companies are talking more and more about what's in the product rather than slapping some ill-defined label on it," consumer researcher Lynn Dornblaser told the Chicago Tribune -- an evolution that seems only natural.

Amy Reiter also contributes to FN Dish.
Keep Reading

Next Up

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: Nouveau fast-food franchises flaunt their healthy sides; coconut water claims get a reality check; rumors of kale's demise turn out to be greatly exaggerated -- and more.

This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

In this week’s nutrition news: Chocolate is good for more than just your heart, the war of the protein powders, and say buh-bye to this popular fad diet.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

Tomato juice, ingredient labels, and tempeh in this week's Nutrition News.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: California takes a hard stance on soft drinks; marketers realize there's more bread to be made in the gluten-free aisle; and an amino acid in spinach gets the spotlight.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: The organic set has a told-you-so moment; the calories-in-calories-out theory loses cachet; and the veggie burger seizes the gourmet spotlight.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: Some Americans -- but not all -- are eating better; junk-food cravings may be all in our minds; and back-to-school may mean back-to-better-meals

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

School lunch, going vegan, and your metabolism, all in this week's nutrition news feed. More health news on Food Network.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: Vegetables save lives; baseball stadiums cater to the Whole Foods set; and scientists keep putting monkeys on wacky diets.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: Yogurt discovers its savory side; scientists look into the problems of piling on the protein; and caramel coloring gets a red flag.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: Imagining the coffee-pod version of Soylent; sizing up gummy bears as body-builder food; and creating a non-profit supermarket in a low-income suburb.