Entries in Junk Food (8)


School Snack Laws Effective in Curbing Weight Gain, Study Finds

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- State laws that curb the sale of junk food in schools may be helping combat childhood obesity, according to the findings of a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

In the first national study to measure the effectiveness of state laws that curb the sale of sugary snacks and drinks, researchers found that kids in grades five through eight who lived in states with stronger laws actually gained less weight than kids in states without them.

“[I]t really shows that there can be an effect -- a positive effect -- by curbing the sale of junk food and sweetened drinks,” said Dr. Keith Ayoob, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Ayoob was not involved in the study.

These findings, though not considered hard proof because the differences were slight, are increasing optimism among public health experts. Ayoob says states that do not have laws limiting the consumption of junk food and low nutrient drinks in schools might want to consider adopting legislation that would do so.

And while curbing junk food in school is a good start, it’s critical that healthy habits extend beyond the classroom, Ayoob says. “That's where maybe parents can have a bigger impact.”

The study was conducted over three years and involved more than 6,000 kids in 40 states.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


People More Likely to Eat Unhealthy Foods When They're Sleepy, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New research suggests that people who do not get enough sleep are more likely to indulge in unhealthy foods, Health Day reports.

Researchers found that the reward centers of the brain, which are involved with addiction and pleasure-seeking behaviors, were strongly activated when sleep-deprived study participants saw pictures of unhealthy foods. The study involved 25 men and women who underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging after five nights of four hours of sleep, followed by five nights of nine hours of sleep. They were shown pictures of healthy foods, unhealthy foods and nonfood items while in the scanner. Researchers found that the unhealthy foods activated the reward centers of the brain only in people who did not get enough sleep. After resting a full night, the reward center of the brain was not activated when they looked at the unhealthy foods.

The study was scheduled to be presented at the Association Professional Sleep Societies' yearly meeting in Boston on Sunday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Spend Less Time on the Couch and You'll Eat Less Junk Food

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Getting off of the couch will mean less time eating junk food, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine randomly assigned 204 adults one of four different lifestyle treatments.  The treatments included increasing fruit and vegetable intake and exercise; decreasing fat and sedentary leisure; decreasing fat and increasing exercise as well as increasing fruit and vegetable intake; and decreasing sedentary behavior. 

When patients were asked to change one lifestyle behavior, it was easier for them to change others, as well, creating a snowball effect, according to the findings.

“The key take-away is that people can change their unhealthy eating and activity behaviors, contrary to what many health professionals believe.  By focusing on just two targets (increasing fruits/vegetables and cutting down leisure screen time) people were able to make large changes in those behaviors rapidly and they also reduced saturated fat intake without even trying,” Bonnie Spring, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and lead author of the study, told ABC News.

It is important to note that this was not a weight loss study.  Only about 60 percent of participants were overweight or obese.  However, 100 percent had all of four unhealthy diet and activity behaviors that characterize most Americans: not eating enough fruits/vegetables, eating too much saturated fat, not getting enough moderate physical activity, and watching too much TV. 

Spring said these unhealthy lifestyle behaviors are very important behavior change targets in and of themselves, because they all have long-term adverse effects on health, independent of any effects on weight.

For the first three weeks, study participants were paid $175 to stick to the lifestyle changes and report their progress.  When that phase was completed, patients no longer had to maintain the lifestyle changes in order to be paid, but the researchers found that 86 percent of people reported trying to keep with the changes once they were made.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Florida Senator Wants to Keep Food Stamp Users from Buying Sweets

Hemera/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- In an attempt to cut down on purchases of junk food on the government's dime, Florida Sen. Ronda Storms is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit the use of food stamps to purchase sweets.

The Republican lawmaker says she was appalled at watching people in supermarkets use their food stamps to buy soda, candy and other junk foods, and that if they want to buy unhealthy stuff, they should pay with their own money -- how it's done with tobacco and alcohol.

Storms' measure would prohibit all 3.3 million food stamp users in Florida from buying any candy, pre-made cakes, trans fats, Jello, Popsicles, ice cream, popcorn, pretzels, pies, muffins and all sweetened drinks.

Yet, even if the bill passes the Legislature, legal challenges would kill it -- since any changes in the law have to come from Washington because food stamps are federally funded.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Schools Consider Putting Junk Food Back Into Vending Machines

Fuse/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Many school districts around the country are pulling vending machines out and putting healthier food in.  But schools in Seattle are thinking about doing the opposite.

Vending machines can mean big money -- for every bag of Doritos or pack of Skittles a kid buys on campus, the school gets a cut of it.  Now the school board in Seattle is considering relaxing its ban on unhealthy food because it is costing student governments hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Current rules in Seattle are stricter than federal guidelines, allowing only milk, fruit juice, baked chips, and oat-based granola bars.

Soon some junk food could be allowed back in.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Will Eating Junk Food Make Men Infertile?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- Junk food adds weight, clogs arteries and, according to a new study, may make young men infertile.

The Sun reports a new joint study by researchers at Harvard University and the University of Murcia in Spain shows men who eat lots of junk food, particularly items containing trans fats, have poorer quality sperm.

The study examined sperm from hundreds of men between the ages of 18 and 22.  Men who ate a high proportion of junk food had poorer quality sperm than those guys with a healthy diet.

The study also found the sperm of men with junk food diets remained poor and were less likely to fertilize an egg, even if the subjects exercised and maintained a healthy weight.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Government Asks Food Firms to Stop Marketing Junk to Kids

Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The federal government proposed new guidelines Thursday that urge the food industry to market only healthy foods to children.

The proposal recommends foods marketed to children should “provide a meaningful contribution to a healthy diet,” containing either fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk or lean proteins.  The guidelines also urge food companies to stop targeting children with ads for foods with high levels of saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and sodium.

These recommendations -- proposed jointly by the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration -- are not mandatory, they’re just recommendations.  They are open to public comment for 45 days.

The agencies are asking the food industry to follow these new guidelines at some point in the next five years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Junk Food Nearly Half of Kids' Calorie Intake

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEW YORK)-- Nutrition experts say a new study highlights just how unhealthy young people's diets are these days.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that nearly 40 percent of calories consumed by children ages 2 to 18 were empty calories, the unhealthiest kind of calories.

Half of these calories came from just six foods:  soda; sugary fruit drinks; grain desserts, such as cake, cookies and donuts; dairy desserts such as ice cream; pizza; and whole milk, which is far fattier than skim.

"Consumption of empty calories far exceeded the corresponding discretionary calorie allowance for all sex–age groups," wrote the researchers, led by nutritionist Jill Reedy.

"This number is staggering and depressing," said Kelly Brownell, professor of psychology, epidemiology and public health at Yale University.

While the findings don't surprise many nutrition experts, they say the reasons kids consume so many empty calories are complex. Despite the push for healthier foods over the past few years, experts say there are still many obstacles to changing eating habits for the better -- including a lack of physical activity, parental and peer influences and marketing by the food industry.

In an effort to improve the nutritional quality of school lunches and the food in vending machines, the Senate passed a bill that would provide $4.5 billion hoping to eliminate at least one obstacle.  The bill has yet to pass the House of Representatives.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio