Amanda Johnson

Dangerous nutrition advice? - Food Stuff

Aug 01, 2012

I was interested to read this week about a case in the USA where an unlicensed ‘Life Coach’ was suing the Nutrition Licensing Board! Apparently, the ‘Life Coach’ is trying to prevent the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition from stopping him providing advice to people with diabetes and has asked the court to void North Carolina’s Dietetics/Nutrition Practice Act, and its accompanying regulations, as unconstitutional. The Board has responded by saying that “The Dietetics/Nutrition Practice Act was created to safeguard the public health, safety and welfare and to protect the public from being harmed by unqualified persons.” They go on to say, “An injunction prohibiting the Board from enforcing the Act would jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of citizens of North Carolina and cannot be countenanced.” Under the Dietetics/Nutrition Practice Act, in order to practice … Read More

The truth about sports performance products - Food Stuff

Jul 30, 2012

Well, the Olympic Games are now in full swing, and the eyes of the world are focussed on London as international top athletes compete for gold. It is quite timely, then, that the British Medical Journal has just published a paper on sports performance products and the usefulness (or lack) of taking such products. This was the subject of a documentary in the UK on the BBC’s Panorama programme and has sparked considerable debate in the UK. Check out these articles on the BBC news website and in the UK’s Guardian newspaper. Basically, the BBC Panorama team worked with researchers from Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine and the British Medical Journal to investigate the research and scientific evidence behind claims made about sports performance products as part of a systematic … Read More

Is the food industry ripe for scrutiny? - Food Stuff

Jun 20, 2012

The journal PLoS Medicine (Public Library of Science Medicine) has today (June 20) launched a special series of articles highlighting the influence and impact of the food industry. Seven articles, published over the next three weeks, will examine the activities and influence of ‘Big Food’ (defined as the multinational food and beverage industry with huge and concentrated market power) in the health arena. The series aims to stimulate debate by examining the activities and influence of the food industry in global health. The series kicks off with an editorial suggesting that the food industry is ripe for scrutiny. It is suggested that ‘Big Food’ is shaping the field of global health and that this is a concern since food companies’ primary obligation is to drive profit by selling food. Then there is an essay on ‘Big Food’, food … Read More

Should we be drinking 2 litres of water a day? - Food Stuff

Jun 06, 2012

According to an editorial published today in the Australian and New Zealand Public Health Journal, the recommendation to drink 8 glasses of pure water appears to be an over-estimation of requirements. This advice by Spero Tsindos from La Trobe University in Australia is nothing new — but does stem from misunderstandings about fluid recommendations. Of course water is a healthy drink and a great way to re-hydrate — especially on a hot day or after exercise or activity. However, the current recommendation in New Zealand, according to the Ministry of Health Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Adults is to ‘take an amount of fluid equivalent to 6-8 glasses of water per day’. Australian guidelines also recommend consuming 8 glasses of fluid daily. The misunderstanding about the difference between pure water and fluid has (according to the editorial) driven a … Read More

Managing obesity in primary care - Food Stuff

May 16, 2012

A new paper published yesterday (14 May 2012) in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has reviewed the literature from January 2006 to July 2011 to establish the most effective methods for managing the ever increasing problem of obesity in the primary care setting. Say the authors, ’there is an urgent need to find simple, effective strategies for improving weight loss counselling in clinical practice’. This is an interesting review that covers the whole spectrum of treatment from diet to exercise and psychological interventions. Overall, there is clear evidence that a holistic approach is the most effective. Dietary interventions show that dietary adherence and calorie restriction are more important than macronutrient composition. In terms of physical activity, interventions that combine exercise and diet certainly resulted in a greater reduction of weight than dietary interventions alone. Behaviour change is also … Read More

New study shows discrimination against obese people - Food Stuff

May 09, 2012

A new study published this month in the International Journal of Obesity by an international collaboration of researchers from New Zealand, Australia, the UK and Hawaii, has shown that discrimination against obese people is occurring in the work place. Researchers used a newly-developed measure of anti-fat prejudice, the universal measure of bias (UMB), to predict workplace discrimination against obese people. Lead researcher Kerry O’Brien, from Monash University in Australia, said the nature of the study initially was concealed from the participants to avoid biased results. Under the guise of a personnel selection task, 102 participants were asked to give an assessment of obese and non-obese women applying for a managerial position. Participants viewed resumes that had attached either a photo of a pre-bariatric surgery obese woman (body mass index (BMI 38—41) or a photo of the same woman … Read More

How much salt is in our food? - Food Stuff

Apr 19, 2012

A new study just published this week (16 April) by Canadian researchers has looked at the salt content of different foods in countries around the world, including New Zealand. It’s an interesting paper! You’d think, for example, that if you ordered a burger from Burger King, McDonald’s, or KFC; or even a Subway sandwich, or a Domino’s pizza, that you’d get the exact same product from a particular company, with the same nutritional content, wherever you were in the world. Not so! In fact a McDonalds Big Mac provides 30% more salt in New Zealand than it does in the UK or France, and a Subway Club Sandwich provides more than twice as much salt in New Zealand than it does in France. Overall, results show that New Zealand is comparable with Australia in terms of the amount … Read More

Meat and cancer - Food Stuff

Mar 26, 2012

One headline that just keeps on popping up in the media is the one about red meat causing cancer. Every few years there is a new study or report published claiming a link and it always grabs the headlines. The study published earlier this month by a research team from the Harvard School of Public Health was no exception. Published in Archives of Internal Medicine on March 12, 2012, this latest study found that red meat consumption was associated with an increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality. The paper had quite a bit of coverage both in New Zealand and overseas. For example, there was an article in the New Zealand Herald; it was reported on by the BBC; and it was discussed on the Jim Mora show on … Read More

Defining ‘best’ foods is a matter of ‘fact’, not ‘perception’ - Food Stuff

Mar 20, 2012

I was shocked to read an article in the Sunday Star Times a week ago (11 March) by Lee-Anne Wann that was full of inaccuracies, was misleading, and could be potentially dangerous for some people. The article Defining ‘best’ foods is a matter of perception made the following incorrect claims: 1. Not all people carry excess body fat because of excess calories. FACT: For weight loss to occur, a calorie deficit is ESSENTIAL! Here is a quote from the Obesity Task Force Report of the British Nutrition Foundation (which I edited some years ago), written by some of the world’s leading experts in obesity: ’One of the few statements about obesity that can be made with absolute certainly is that obesity can only occur when energy intake remains higher than energy expenditure, for an extended period of time. This is … Read More

Pure, white and deadly? - Food Stuff

Mar 15, 2012

It’s now 40 years since Professor John Yudkin (a Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of London from 1954 to 1971) published his controversial book Pure White and Deadly. It’s about sugar by the way, in case you didn’t know! Yet still the sugar debate rages on just as strongly today. Over the last month it’s been a hotly discussed topic in nutrition circles. The latest surge of interest started with a commentary article in Nature at the beginning of February by Robert Lustig and colleagues. They suggest that added sweeteners pose such a danger to health that it is justifiable to control them in the same way that alcohol is controlled. Their suggestions include a ban on the inclusion of toys with unhealthy meals, a ban on television adverts for products with added sugar, the … Read More