Current standards for classifying foods as “whole grain” are inconsistent and, in some cases, misleading, according to a new study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. The Whole Grain Stamp, one of the most widely used industry standards, actually identified grain products that were higher in both sugars and calories than products without the stamp. The researchers urge adoption of a consistent, evidence-based standard for labeling whole-grain foods to help consumers and organizations make healthy choices. This study is the first to empirically evaluate the healthfulness of whole-grain foods based on five commonly used industry and government definitions.“Given the significant prevalence of refined grains, starches, and sugars in modern diets, [having] a unified criterion to identify higher-quality carbohydrates is a key priority in public health,” said first author Rebecca Mozaffarian, project manager in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH.The study appeared in the Jan. 4 online edition of Public Health Nutrition.The health benefits of switching from refined to whole-grain foods are well established, including lower risk of cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. Based on this evidence, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans consume at least three servings of whole-grain products daily, and the new U.S. national school lunch standards require that at least half of all grains be whole-grain rich. However, no single standard exists for defining any product as a “whole grain.”Mozaffarian and her colleagues assessed five different industry and government guidelines for whole-grain products:The Whole Grain Stamp, a packaging symbol for products containing at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving (created by the Whole Grain Council, a nongovernmental organization supported by industry dues)Any whole grain as the first-listed ingredient (recommended by the USDA’s MyPlate and the Food and Drug Administration’s Consumer Health Information guide)Any whole grain as the first ingredient without added sugars in the first three ingredients (also recommended by USDA’s MyPlate)The word “whole” before any grain anywhere in the ingredient list (recommended by USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010)The “10:1 ratio,” a ratio of total carbohydrate to fiber of less than 10 to 1, which is approximately the ratio of carbohydrate to fiber in whole-wheat flour (recommended by the American Heart Association’s 2020 Goals)From two major U.S. grocers, the researchers identified a total of 545 grain products in eight categories: breads, bagels, English muffins, cereals, crackers, cereal bars, granola bars, and chips. They collected nutrition content, ingredient lists, and the presence or absence of the Whole Grain Stamp on product packages from all of these products.They found that grain products with the Whole Grain Stamp, one of the most widely used front-of-package symbols, were higher in fiber and lower in trans fats, but also contained significantly more sugar and calories compared with products without the stamp. The three USDA recommended criteria also had mixed performance for identifying healthier grain products. Overall, the American Heart Association’s standard (a ratio of total carbohydrate to fiber of equal or less than 10-to-1) proved to be the best indicator of overall healthfulness. Products meeting this ratio were higher in fiber and lower in trans fats, sugar, and sodium, without higher calories, than products that did not meet the ratio.“Our results will help inform national discussions about product labeling, school lunch programs, and guidance for consumers and organizations in their attempts to select whole-grain products,” said senior author Steven Gortmaker, professor of the practice of health sociology.Other HSPH authors included researchers Rebekka Lee and Mary Kennedy; Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology; and David Ludwig, professor in the Department of Nutrition.Support for the study was provided by the Donald and Sue Pritzker Nutrition and Fitness Initiative; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Prevention Research Centers grant, including the Nutrition and Obesity Policy, Research and Evaluation Network); the New Balance Foundation; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Nassau County police are taking an investigation into a string of armed robberies and a related homicide to the streets.Several members of the police brass joined Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano outside a BP gas station in Jericho on Friday to unveil a giant school-bus sized mobile billboard requesting information that will help an army of investigators find the brazen, gun-toting robber, who has targeted at least 11 businesses, mostly gas stations, in Nassau since mid December.“Nassau County Crime Stoppers needs your help!” the billboard blares in large white letters.Crime Stoppers is offering a combined $35,000 reward—$25,000 for the homicide and $10,000 for the robberies—for information leading to the arrest of the suspect.Mangano, standing at a podium in front of the billboard on the gas station’s property, said police are asking the public to help “bring this cold-blooded killer to justice.”The moving billboard will be driven to the areas where the robberies have occurred, police said. Officials hope this effort will breathe new life into the investigation and perhaps attract the attention of individuals who have crucial information regarding the suspect.“This person has struck every day of the week,” said Chief of Detectives Kevin Smith, describing how the suspect operates. “Our resolve is intact,” Smith added. “It’s not diminished. We’re going to catch this guy.”Police officials are hoping the public can help with their cause.“Don’t hesitate” to call, Smith implored.An armed assailant, pictured in these surveillance images, is believed to be responsible for nine robberies and one homicide since December, police said.The suspect, who is still unknown to police, is responsible for 10 robberies in the county, beginning on Dec. 20 last year and continuing into February. The suspect last struck on Feb. 18, stealing cash from a Sunoco gas station on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow.Investigators believe the suspect is also responsible for the fatal shooting of 57-year-old Levittown resident Hany Awad, who was gunned down on Jan. 28 inside the same BP gas station where officials held Friday’s press conference. Police have yet to say what, if anything, was taken from the gas station during the homicide.The suspect is described as a black man between 5-feet, 11-inches and 6-feet tall, with a thin build, wearing all black Nike clothing, a black mask, black gloves, black Nike sneakers with red laces and armed with either a black or a silver revolver. The assailant has hit nine gas stations and two 7-Eleven stores in Westbury, Hicksville, and Jericho. The robbery in East Meadow was the only one committed outside those three neighborhoods.Both the robbery and homicides squads are investigating the crime spree. The Major Case Bureau and Bureau of Special Operations are also assisting in the investigation.Anyone with information regarding these crimes can call Crime Stopper sat 1-800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.