Nutrition News: Packaged-Food Changes at Target, USDA GMO-Free Labels, Banishing Belly Fat

Target targets healthier foods, and the USDA introduces a new GMO-free labeling system. Also, find out the best way to whittle your waistline.
Target to Promote Healthy Foods

These are not great times for the packaged-food industry, thanks to Americans’ increasing interest in fresh ingredients and growing disregard for things boxed and canned. Target has just informed some of the nation’s biggest food companies that its stores will no longer be promoting their products or featuring them as prominently as Target has in the past. This means that instead of pushing sugared cereals, processed snack foods, canned items, and stuff like mac and cheese in the front of the store, close to checkout areas, Target will be promoting healthier foods like yogurt and granola, which happen to have a higher markup. Industry analyst Amy Koo told The Washington Post that Target’s move may signal a shift at other retail outlets as well. “Fundamentally, food suppliers are going to have to grapple with this new landscape," she said.

Look for the GMO-Free Label

Want to know if the foods you buy are free of genetically modified ingredients? The U.S. Department of Agriculture has come up with a new government certification and label to indicate that foods are free of GMOs. The certification and "USDA Process Verified" GMO-free label (not to be confused with existing non-governmental GMO-free labels) would be voluntary and paid for by the companies whose products carry it. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told USDA employees about the new certification process in a May 1 letter, explaining that a “leading global company” had asked for a government-certified GMO-free labeling process. Still, some consumer advocates contend that the voluntary labeling system may be confusing, and they’ve called for a mandatory system instead, the Associated Press reported.

Stroll Your Way to a Slimmer Belly?

How best to whittle your waistline? The New York Times’ Well blog notes that belly fat, which is made of visceral (aka deep) fat, can be especially difficult to get rid of and can lead to increased inflammation and even premature death. Still, all hope is not lost. The Times points to evidence that engaging in moderate exercise twice a week coupled with cutting calories can help people shed visceral fat. The best sort of exercise to rid you of belly fat is open to debate, but contrary to popular belief, the sit-up will not actually help you lose your spare tire. “You’re better off going for a walk,” Gary R. Hunter, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told the paper.

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. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish .

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