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Highlights from the June 2006 Journal of the American Dietetic Association

CHICAGO - The June 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association contains articles and research studies you may find of interest. Below is a summary of some of this month's articles. For more information or to receive a copy of a Journal article, e-mail media@eatright.org.

Would Requiring Nutrition and Calorie Labeling in Restaurants Make a Difference to Consumers?

Amid calls from public health and consumer advocacy groups for legislation that would require nutrition and calorie labeling on menus at fast-food and similar types of restaurants, a survey by researchers at the University of Vermont found significant numbers of people do not look at food labels now, and many are unable to use the information the labels contain.

Telephone surveys of more than 600 adults and more than 300 college students found that "approximately half of the surveyed college students and a third of the individuals in the community sample reported that they did not generally look at food labels," according to the researchers.

In addition, the surveys found two-thirds of the participants were unable to identify the number of calories they should be consuming each day, and 44 percent to 57 percent of the combined sample "self-reported that they would not likely use restaurant food caloric information," according to the researchers.

The findings suggest labeling legislation "may not be particularly effective in combating the obesity epidemic if people are not looking at existing food labels and are not able to use this information for nutrition planning," according to the researchers.

"While it is always better for consumers to have access to more rather than less information, these preliminary results indicate that public health efforts to control obesity perhaps should first focus on an education campaign designed to teach appropriate calorie intake values and food label reading skills to the general public."

Can a High-Fiber Diet Prevent Obesity?

While diets low in carbohydrates and high in protein continue to attract the public's attention, researchers at the University of Texas Austin report that "normal-weight" adults tend to eat more fiber and fruit than people who are overweight or obese.

The researchers looked at dietary intakes of more than 100 people of generally the same age and height, half of whom were considered normal weight based on their body mass index and other measurements, and half of whom were overweight or obese. The researchers found the diets of the two groups were similar in many ways, including intakes of sugar, bread, dairy products and vegetables. The main difference between the groups was the amount of fiber consumed by the normal-weight adults 33 percent more dietary fiber and 43 percent more complex carbohydrates each day (per 1,000 calories).

"Obviously, no magic formula exists for weight loss," the researchers write, "but our results indicated that a diet containing more than average amounts of fiber, complex carbohydrate and fruit was associated with normal body fat stores and standard weight for height."

American Dietetic Association Issues Position Statement on "An Evidence-Based Analysis of Individual-, Family-, School- and Community-Based Interventions for Pediatric Overweight"

Excess weight in children is a national problem requiring prevention and treatment efforts in virtually every aspect of a child's life, according to a new position statement of the American Dietetic Association. This is ADA's first official position statement to be based on a rigorous, systematic, evidence-based analysis of the literature on the practical effectiveness of pediatric intervention programs. ADA's position statement is as follows:

The American Dietetic Association recognizing that overweight is a significant problem for children and adolescents in the United States, takes the position that pediatric overweight intervention requires a combination of family-based and school-based multicomponent programs that include the promotion of physical activity, parent training/modeling, behavioral counseling, and nutrition education. Furthermore, although not yet evidence-based, community-based and environmental interventions are recommended as among the most feasible ways to support healthful lifestyles for the greatest number of children and their families. ADA supports the commitment of resources for programs, policy development, and research for the efficacious promotion of healthful eating habits and increased physical activity in all children and adolescents, regardless of weight status.

Additional research articles in the June Journal of the American Dietetic Association include:

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The Journal of the American Dietetic Association is the official research publication of the American Dietetic Association and is the premier peer-reviewed journal in the field of nutrition and dietetics.

With approximately 65,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. To locate a registered dietitian in your area, visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.


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