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‘Whole grain’ not always healthy

first_imgCurrent 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.last_img read more

Lecture examines development challenges, economic prospects

first_imgRosie LoVoi | The Observer Bart W. Edes, the Asian Development Bank’s representative in North America, addresses challenges and advancements that affect developing Asian countries. He lectured in Jenkins Nanovic Hall on Monday to promote an awareness of the Asian Development Bank’s mission, which involves reducing poverty.The ADB, Edes said, does not work the same way many other banks do. “We’re a bit of a mix between a commercial bank and a program like the United Nations Development Program,” Edes said. “Our overarching mission is not to make money and give the dividends to our shareholders but to fight poverty and promote inclusive, sustainable development in developing nations.” To this end, he said the ADB is involved in financing development all across Asia in a variety of ways, from reforming education in Nepal to implementing clean energy initiatives in the Philippines to building railways in Bangladesh to constructing infrastructure for safe water in Uzbekistan. While most of what the ADB does has to do with funding projects, its employees also conduct research on economic trends of development in Asian countries over recent years.  “In the latest estimates for 2018 for developing Asia — so not including countries such as Japan — we’re looking at about a 6.3 percent increase in gross domestic product,” Edes said.Meanwhile, the United States achieved 2.4 percent growth over the same period, Edes said. The Asian economic sector appears to be one of the most quickly growing and developing that there is, Edes said.“Asian countries are working in ever more integrated and cooperative ways,” he said. When it comes to tourism, for instance, 60 percent of Chinese travelers stay inside the region, which is incredibly important to small Asian countries with large tourism industries, Edes said. The Maldives, for example, attribute 83 percent of its gross domestic product to the tourism industry, he said. While the region is experiencing rapid economic growth and development in some areas, it is still also facing a number of challenges such as poverty, climate change — which can exacerbate monsoons, storms, mudslides and other natural phenomena common to the region — and an aging population. “Asia is among the most vulnerable areas of the world when it comes to climate change,” Edes said. “This could lead to a real humanitarian crisis. We are responding in part by doubling down on our investments on climate change mitigation.” Edes said the ADB is currently committed to putting six billion dollars into countering climate change by 2020. With longevity going up and fertility rates going down across the board in Asia, the aging population may soon create a problem in some Asian countries. Edes said. A similar trend is occurring in other countries across Asia, which could lead to economic trouble as a diminishing workforce has to work increasingly hard for a growing body of dependent citizens. “By 2030, we will have almost 30 percent of Japan’s population at an age of 65 or older,” he said. Tags: ADB, Asian Development Bank, Bart W. Edes, development, Jenkins Nanovic Hall The North American representative for the Asian Development Bank (ADB) — an institution seeking to reduce poverty in Asia and the Pacific — Bart W. Edes, spoke in Jenkins Nanovic Hall on Monday about his experience working for the ADB for the past 16 years and the lessons he has learned about economic growth, development and challenges facing some developing Asian countries.last_img read more