News Feed: Label Transparency, Ultra-Processed Foods, The Hearty Breakfast Myth



Person Reading Nutrition Label on Packaged Food

Photo by: Ryan McVay ©(c) Ryan McVay

Ryan McVay, (c) Ryan McVay

Person Reading Nutrition Label on Packaged Food

Who farmed your food?

Curious about what’s in the packaged foods you eat, where the ingredients came from, and who produced them and how? More and more consumers are demanding this sort of information and transparency, and so companies big (Kellogg’s, Hershey, Wal-Mart and Campbell’s Soup, among others) and “niche” (Fish + People, The Real Co.) are responding through a variety of labeling initiatives. “Driving the efforts are consumers’ heightened concerns about health and the environmental and social impact of food production, as well as regulatory and safety worries,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Soon we’ll probably know a lot more about the people who produce our food — a development that is as sweet as it is empowering.

Speaking of the need for greater transparency…

Guess how much of Americans’ daily caloric intake comes from “ultra-processed’ foods — those made with not only salt, sugar, oils and fats, but also flavorings, emulsifiers and other real-food-mimicking additives. The answer: more than half — nearly 60 percent. (Gulp.) What’s more, according to a study published in BMJ Open, “ultra-processed” foods — such as soft drinks; packaged snacks, instant soups and noodles, and baked goods; and reconstituted meat products like chicken and fish nuggets — are responsible for nearly 90 percent of the average American’s intake of added sugars. To curb the intake of added sugars on a broad scale, the researchers say, Americans should cut way back on their consumption of these foods.

Breakfast benefits overblown?

The conventional wisdom is that you need to eat a hearty breakfast every day to stay lean and healthy. But, in response to a reader question about whether skipping breakfast really slows down your metabolism and leads to weight gain, The New York Times has busted the myth. “The food industry has promoted this claim for decades to sell breakfast cereal,” Well blogger Anahad O’Connor writes. “But rigorous scientific studies have found no evidence that it’s true.” One recent study, published in February, found that people randomly assigned to either eat or skip breakfast didn’t differ in terms of their weight and health changes. “Whether or not you have breakfast in itself is not going to impact your body weight,” said study author James Betts, of the University of Bath in England. There you have it.

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.

Next Up

The Hearty Boys Bio

The Hearty Boys, Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, are nationally recognized television hosts. Find out more about them on Food Network.

Demystifying the New Food Labels

A dietitian gives the skinny on the latest nutrition label terminology.

5 Overly-Processed Foods

If you're looking to clean up your diet, start by eliminating processed foods such as packaged pastries and fake whipped cream.

Breakfast: Myths vs. Facts

There’s so much misinformation swarming around about breakfast. Get the facts straight about this important meal.

Reading Food Labels

Get the facts on saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol.

The Nutrition Label's New Look

The food label on packaged food has been there since the early 1990’s. With all the label confusion, the FDA finally decided it was time the nutrition label got a makeover (we couldn’t agree more!). Although the proposed changes were released a few months ago, a new black and white food label photo was released this morning.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: The produce aisle takes a page from the junk food playbook; breakfast proponents get a wake-up call; and new thinking on salt shakes things up.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

Organic milk, that thermometer in your kitchen drawer and exercise does a brain good, in this week's Nutrition News Feed.

This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: Vending machines may soon have to dispense more than just candy bars; nutrition professionals say count kale in (again) for 2014; and a dietitian explains the secret to making realistic New Year's resolutions.

This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: The rise of vegan Thanksgiving, food banks that grow kale and the problem with pizza joints and calorie counts.

Related Pages