Archive for October, 2010

 

By Sylvia Anderson, IH Editor — Published: October 11, 2010

September was a stellar month for marketers.  In case you didn’t know, the month of September was officially declared Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and food companies have had quite the celebration.  Not that childhood obesity is anything to celebrate but if you’re in the business of targeting kids to make a profit, it’s a goldmine of a marketing opportunity.  Approximately $17 billion dollars is spent honing and implementing advertising and marketing campaigns directed at children.

The media is just rich with possibilities, too.  From the Internet, mobile marketing, and even the classroom, the ways to reach kids is practically endless.  And don’t forget about the “kid’s meals” at fast food restaurants. Some parents take their children to McDonald’s and Burger King just so they can get a free action figure or Disney character in their “healthier” kid’s meal.  If you’re a marketer, it’s a brilliant strategy.  If you’re a child, it’s a high price to pay.  Preying on the innocent.   Children are vulnerable.  With single parent families and latchkey kids, more and more children are left home alone with only the television to keep them company.  And though the FTC tried to ban ad campaigns targeting children younger than eight, there was such a corporate outcry that Congress caved and restricted the FTC’s regulatory control.

So when Congress designated September as the month to raise awareness of childhood obesity, the opportunities must have been too hard to resist.  All marketers had to do was hitch their advertising campaigns to the proclamation, announce their outrage at the obesity epidemic, and plan to collectively cut trillions of calories from their junk food to make it healthy. Never mind what kind of calories.  The plan had a noble ring to it and the American public was sure to buy into it.   Self-promoting rhetoric.  The American Beverage Association used the month of September as a springboard for marketing “lower-calorie, nutritious, and smaller portioned” soft drinks.  In addition, they plan to make sure labels are clearly displayed on bottles or cans so you can plainly see just how many calories sugar-laden sodas contain.  Wouldn’t it be much more beneficial to at least curtail marketing sugary sodas to children?  Or put that money towards a new fitness center?

McDonald’s jumped on the bandwagon, too.  They are the only fast food corporation listed among public health groups making a stand against childhood obesity on the Healthier Kids, Brighter Future website.  At best they look out of place. At worse they look fake and insincere.  Do McDonald’s ad men seriously think parents are going to take their kids to a fast food place so they can develop healthy eating habits?

Not if they know about this.  A favorite on the kid’s menu, McNuggets, has achieved its own share of negative media attention. CNN recently reported:

“American McNuggets (190 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat for 4 pieces) contain the chemical preservative tBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product. They also contain dimethylpolysiloxane … a form of silicone used in cosmetics and Silly Putty.”

It would take a broad leap of faith to think any restaurant chain is serious about promoting good health.  Offering reduced calorie food doesn’t cut it as all calories aren’t created equal.  As long as profits dictate menu fair, nothing is likely to change, and it doesn’t matter what month out of the year it is.  Despite the claims, finding healthy choices for children at restaurants isn’t easy.

Ultimately, when it comes to childhood obesity, the best change agents are parents. Yes, it’s hard and it’s not always convenient.  But the fact remains parents are largely responsible for what young children put in their mouth and thus, their overall health.

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and save your kids and yourself!)

Chris


By Sylvia Anderson, IH Editor — Published: October 04, 2010By Sylvia Anderson, IH Editor — Published: October 04, 2010

Many health conscious people have shunned beef burgers and choose veggie burgers as a safer alternative to red meat.  If you’re one of them, you may want to rethink your strategy.

According to an investigation conducted by the Cornucopia Institute, some makers of veggie burgers use a dangerous chemical called hexane to reduce the fat in their product.  Hexane is a petroleum byproduct of gasoline refining.  It’s also a neurotoxin meaning it’s toxic to the nervous system.  The EPA lists hexane among its list of hazardous air pollutants.  When you consider all of this, it’s easy to see why hexane is known as “the dirty little secret of the natural soy foods industry.”

Are all veggie burgers potentially dangerous?  Even foods labeled “made with organic ingredients” could contain soy once bathed in hexane.  These include burgers from Boca Burger, Morningstar Farms, Garden Burger, and Amy’s Kitchen. In order to make sure you’re veggie burgers are hexane free, look for products labeled “organic.”  However, Boca Burger and Morningstar products labeled “made with organic soy” are hexane free.

The dangers of hexane.  Hexane is a powerful chemical.  That’s why it’s so useful as a cleaning substance and why it can dissolve glue and varnish.  In the food industry, it’s used to separate the oils from corn, peanuts, and soybeans.  As a matter of fact, grain and soy processors are responsible for more than two-thirds of the United State’s hexane emissions, states Cornucopia.

Most of the research on hexane reports the dangers of exposure from inhalation.  There simply hasn’t been any research to know the effects of eating hexane, even though hexane residues in common soy ingredients can be 10 times higher than what the FDA states as normal.  The fact remains the dangers from inhalation should be cause enough for anyone to avoid hexane-tainted veggie burgers.  These risks include:

Dizziness

Giddiness

Nausea

Headache

Numbness in the extremities

Weakness

Blurred vision

Headache

Fatigue

And it’s not only your veggie burger that could put you at risk for the above symptoms.  Hexane is also found in nutrition bars, protein shakes and even baby formulas that contain soy.

If you’re feeling a little frustrated right now, it’s understandable.  First no beef on your burger, now you can’t even throw a veggie patty on the grill.  What do you have to do to get a healthy and tasty burger?Try tempeh burgers instead.  Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake that carries no risk of hexane contamination, or the other dangerous effects of unfermented soy.  Even though some experts proclaim soy as a miracle food, the truth is unfermented soy, the kind found in most health foods, can lead to a whole host of problems from digestive distress to heart disease and even cancer.

The reason tempeh is an acceptable soy product lies in the fact that is fermented.  The fermentation process reduces the unhealthy properties of soybean products and delivers beneficial substances to your system.

Go ahead and try a tempeh burger at your next cookout.  You may be pleasantly surprised, it’s much safe than the majority of veggie burgers, and your body will sure thank you for it later.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris