In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites
- An observational study by the National Institute of Health made headlines last week by announcing that people who drink more cups of coffee per day live longer than those who drink only one or two cups per day. On average, male and female coffee drinkers cut their risk for death by about 13% with four or five cups. However, coffee drinkers still live shorter lives than non-coffee drinkers. The study attributes this discrepancy to the linked behaviors of coffee drinking and unhealthier activities, such as smoking.
- An advocacy group in California has put a ballot measure up for the November elections that would require labeling of genetically-modified ingredients in processed foods. There has been an ongoing national campaign to achieve GM labeling on a larger scale, but California may be the first state to implement its own labeling policy. Currently 40 countries around the world require labeling of GM products. The FDA has maintained its position that there is no significant difference between GM and non-GM products, and so labeling is unnecessary.
- New York City made a splash a few months ago with anti-soda ads depicting the sugary beverages as glasses full of fat. The stomach-turning image raised a firestorm of protest from the beverage industry. Last week, the newly-formed New York City Beverage Association released hundreds of ads on buses and subways telling their side of the story - that beverage companies provide jobs, help fight obesity by decreasing serving sizes and clearly displaying calories, and promote a healthy lifestyle. Check out the NYCBA's website here.
- A study by the USDA found that it is relatively less expensive to purchase grains, dairy and fruits according to the MyPlate recommendations than it is to purchase vegetables and "protein foods." When calculated per calorie, the cost of vegetables and fruits is high compared to processed foods. However, when calculated on a per-serving basis, the prices for healthier items drops significantly. This finding is important in providing policy recommendations for increasing food affordability.
- Brian Wansink, an influential food researcher at Cornell, released a study suggesting that "stop signs" in packaged foods could help control portion size for consumers. A group of college students was presented with a tube of Pringles that had a red-colored chip after the recommended serving size (seven chips for one serving, fourteen for two). The group of students with colored chips in their tube ate 50% fewer chips than their peers in the control group - 20 chips on average compared with 35 for the control. Could an edible red warning help eaters stop at 7 Pringles?
About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.