Nutrition News: Taco Bell and Pizza Hut Get Real, Kids’ Summer Fitness Tips, Skim vs. Whole Milk

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut cut artificial ingredients, find out how to keep your kids healthy and fit this summer, and consider skipping the skim and drinking whole milk.
Taco Bell and Pizza Hut Aim to Get Real

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, both owned by Yum Brands, have announced plans to eliminate artificial colors and flavors from their menu items. This means that Taco Bell’s seasoned beef will soon feature black pepper rather than “black pepper flavor,” and artificial dyes including Yellow No. 6, Blue No. 1 and carmine will be removed from the chain’s nacho cheese, avocado ranch dressing and red tortilla strips, respectively. High-fructose corn syrup, unsustainable palm oil and some (though not all) artificial preservatives will also be phased out, although fountain beverages and co-branded products will not be affected. Pizza Hut, meanwhile, aims to eliminate artificial colors and flavors by late July and will then begin listing ingredients online.

Keep Your Kids Fit This Summer

We think of summer as a time of optimal kids’ health [CM2] — outdoor exercise, fresh fruits and veggies — but it turns out lots of kids gain weight in the summer. Part of the reason, according to a recent survey of parents of kids ages 5 to 12 by the YMCA and the American Academy of Pediatrics, is that two-thirds of kids spend at least three hours in front of screens (on the computer, watching TV and playing video games) in the summer — about 30 percent more than they do during the school year. Meanwhile, only about half of them are engaging in physical activities for even one hour per day. And they’re sucking down more sugar-sweetened beverages. What’s a parent to do? Turn off the TV and shoo your kids outside. Limit sugary drinks and desserts, and curb salty snacks. Pack healthy snacks on road trips, take after-dinner walks together and visit your local farmers market. Find more suggestions here.

Milk: Skip the Skim, Drink It Whole?

Do you drink skim milk and shun whole milk because you think it will help keep your weight down? You may want to rethink your dairy selection. Although the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee endorses choosing low-fat and fat-free milk over whole, Quartz lays out the case for whole milk. And it’s rather persuasive. Scientific research cited in the article suggests that consuming dairy fat may actually be inversely related to weight gain and obesity, meaning that even though whole milk is more caloric than skim, it may actually help you lose (not gain) weight. No one is precisely sure why, though experts have their theories and have called for further research.

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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