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In this week's news: Cravings could be a gut thing (if not a good thing); the outdated BMI system gets a checkup; and the "all-natural" label is, well, kinda fake.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

Next Up

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: Rappers delight in healthy eating; Alice Waters predicts a farmers markets bonanza; and scientists do the important work of building a healthier hot dog.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: Bean buffs have reason to rejoice; "plant-based protein" shapes up to be the other white meat; and vitamin D is back in the spotlight (make that the sunlight).

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's Nutrition News Feed, why smoothies are best, quinoa in your Cheerios, and choosing your sugars wisely.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: time-warping with sprouted grains and hemp brownies; tracking down the four-leaf clover of kale; and betting the farm on farm-to-table real estate

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: Taking the long view of the diets du jour; growing up on raw foods; and having a complicated relationship with diet soda.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: vending machines that dispense fresh salads; another pro to probiotics; and yes, there's something called the werewolf diet (howwwl!).

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: School bake-sale restrictions spark a tempest in a muffin tin; homemade yogurt is, yes, whey better than the store-bought kind; and veganism gets a high-profile new cheerleader.

The Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: more good news about oatmeal, fast-food receipts that make you rethink your order -- plus the latest glimpse into Americans' eating habits.

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: Sugar addicts beware, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and if you’re confused about nutrition, you’re not alone!