Highlights from the November 2006 Journal of the American Dietetic Association

The November 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.

Dietary Effects of Free School Breakfast for All Children Offering free school breakfasts to all elementary school students regardless of income increases the likelihood that the children will consume a nutritionally sound breakfast, according to researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Abt Associates, Inc.

The researchers spent three years tracking the dietary intakes of more than 4,300 students in second through sixth grades at 153 elementary schools. The study looked at the effects of offering "universal-free" school breakfast, or free breakfast to any student regardless of family income, in elementary schools on students' breakfast consumption and their total food and nutrient intake throughout the day compared with students at schools who participate in the federal government's School Breakfast Program that offers free or reduced-priced breakfast for children from families below the poverty level.

On average, the students receiving universal-free school breakfasts consumed less cholesterol than students in the School Breakfast Program. However, the study found no significant differences in the children's total daily dietary intakes, the overall quality of their diets or rates of "breakfast skipping" among children in either group.

"Students who cannot eat breakfast at home should have the opportunity to eat it at school," The researchers write. "This study and others have shown that improvements in children's nutrient intake are needed, particularly with regard to food energy, fat, sodium and fiber, as well as calcium for older children."

Cocoa Flavanol-Enriched Snack Bars Containing Phytosterols May Lower Total and LDL Cholesterol In the wake of evidence that indicates sterol esters and plant stanol esters may reduce a person's risk of coronary heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels, researchers at the University of California Davis say consuming "phytosterol-enriched" cocoa-flavored snack bars as part of a balanced diet can help manage cholesterol.

Many food products containing plant sterols are now commercially available, including enriched margarines, milk and orange juice. The purpose of this study was to evaluate "alternative dietary means" to lower blood cholesterol "before prescribing pharmacological treatment."

Participants in the study were divided into two groups of adult men and women with blood cholesterol levels over 200. One group of 32 consumed two cocoa snack bars enriched with plant sterols per day for six weeks, and the other group of 35 people consumed snack bars that were not enriched. The researchers found what they termed significant reductions of 4.7 percent in total cholesterol and 6 percent in LDL-cholesterol levels in the group that consumed the flavanol-enriched snack bar with plant sterols.

"The data suggests the incorporation of this snack food into a balanced diet represents a practical dietary strategy in the management of cholesterol," the researchers write.

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The study was funded in part by Masterfoods USA, a division of Mars Incorporated.

American Dietetic Association Issues Updated Position Statement on "The Roles of Registered Dietitians and Dietetic Technicians, Registered, in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention" A healthful diet and exercise are important factors in the promotion and maintenance of good health throughout the life cycle according to an updated ADA position statement published this month: It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that primary prevention is the most effective, affordable course of action for preventing and reducing risk for chronic disease. Registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered, are the leaders in delivering preventive services in both clinical and community settings, including advocating for funding and inclusion of these services in programs and policy initiatives at local, state and federal levels. In addition, registered dietitians are the leaders in facilitating and participating in research in chronic disease prevention and health promotion.

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

  • "Influence of Nutrition Attitudes and Motivators for Eating on Postpartum Weight Status in Low-Income New Mothers"
  • "Meeting Adequate Intake (AI) for Dietary Calcium without Dairy Foods in Adolescents, Aged 9-18"
  • "Calcium and Dairy Intakes of Adolescents are Associated with Their Home Environment, Taste Preferences, Personal Health Beliefs, and Meal Patterns"
  • "Predictors of Nutritional Adequacy in Mother-Toddler Dyads from Rural Families with Limited Incomes"
  • "Breakfast Ready-to-Eat Cereal Consumption Enhances Milk and Calcium Intake in the U.S. Population"
  • "Reliability and Validity of a Brief Questionnaire to Assess Calcium Intake of Middle-School-Age Children."

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. The Chicago-based 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.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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