• Archives

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 21,921 other followers

  • Instagram

    Today, the United States spends $218 billion a year growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that is never eaten. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to reduce food waste.Click here to read IFT Achievement Awardee Edward Hirschberg’s solution for how we can address food loss due to poor transportation and storage. Link available in bio or copy/paste this link: http://bit.ly/IFTFoodWaste Today, we are celebrating women in science for International Women's Day! The International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. These particular five women have been at the forefront of some of today’s most complex and controversial scientific issues including genetic engineering and lab-grown meat. In addition to highlighting their work, these interviews explore the influence of gender in food and science. Click link in bio #IWD2017 #internationalwomensday #womeninstem #foodscience http://hubs.ly/H06wKB60 Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted. Fruits and vegetables have the highest wastage rates of any food. What can we do with spilled, wilted, blemished produce? Click here to read IFT Achievement Awardee Edward Hirschberg’s solution for bringing life back to the "ugly" lettuce. Link available in bio or copy and paste the following to view solution: http://bit.ly/IFTFoodWaste #Repost @hanna_instruments ・・・
The Hanna Texas team had a great time at @iftfoodscience's Lunch & Learn at @nasajohnson on 2/23. Hanna USA proudly sponsored this event featuring a talk by @nasa scientist Dr. Shannon Walker, a tour of the food lab facility, and behind-the-scenes tour of Mission Control! Thank you again to IFT and NASA for an incredible event.

Large Soda Ban: Public vs. Personal Policy

Large SodaThere has been much discussion on the proposal to ban large (>16 oz.) serving sizes of non-diet soft drinks in New York City. I am glad it has people talking about the problem of obesity, but I am not sure this policy is the best approach on balance. My colleagues and I examined the available studies published as of 2010 that might indicate whether such a policy would have the desired effect (Mattes et al., 2010).We found five randomized, controlled studies that had attempted to determine whether asking people to reduce their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs, of all types, including soft drinks) would result in weight loss. In people who are already overweight, it appears that there is a very small mean effect in weight reduction, although it is not statistically significant when looking at the range of effects in the whole sample.

This proposed policy might have more power if more people drank larger volumes of SSBs, but it appears that the trend in sweetened beverage consumption has already been going down over the last decade (Welsh et al., 2011). Data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2007–2008) indicate that SSB consumption is 6.6% of total energy intake across all age ranges, whereas all added sugars (includes food) is 14.6% of daily caloric intake. Even if we all eliminated all SSBs (based on the reported average daily intake of 2,069 kcal in NHANES 2007–2008) that works out to reducing daily intake by 136.6 kcal. An average 16 oz. SSB has more kcal than that.

Don’t get me wrong, any reduction in intake is a trend in the right direction. However, as a Health Psychologist, I think there are other ways to help people make better choices without limiting personal freedom. There is experimental evidence that when given a range of choices that includes smaller sizes, e.g., 12 oz., more people will choose a beverage size that is smaller than the most extreme size (Sharpe et al., 2008). Another option might be caloric content in the “between” range, e.g., sodas that have half the calories as the full sugar version. This might help people transition from full sugar sodas to diet versions so that they can get used to the lower kcal version gradually.

Obese populations are made up of obese individuals, with varying and complex factors driving body weight. It seems our biology drives weight gain in optimal conditions and resists permanent weight loss. As much psychological research has shown, very often the situation is stronger than the individual. In the present environment, this requires conscious effort for individuals to avoid opportunities to over consume. However, one need not wait on public agreement or policy enactment to make different choices. The challenge is in cutting through the noise to find what works, not for the entire population, but for that one individual.

I tell people to “be your own scientist.” Science is the business of measurement, and in weight management it begins with measuring body composition, physical activity, and food intake. I would like to see policies that make these fundamentals and evidence-based education to support them being made freely available to everyone. We are beginning to see such things in schools and in the workplace, but we have much more to do. The need is urgent.

For a healthier future, scientists, policy-makers, as well as food manufacturers and suppliers must create a culture of cooperation for the common good. For this to be sustained, forces ranging from macroeconomics to individual psychology and biology must be taken into account. To this end, I hope the dialog (and science-based action) continues.

Kathryn KaiserKathryn A. Kaiser, Ph.D.
Office of Energetics, Dean’s Office, School of Public Health
University of Alabama at Birmingham


Mattes R.D., Shikany J.M., Kaiser K.A., Allison D.B., 2010. Nutritively sweetened beverage consumption and body weight: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized experiments. Obesity Reviews 12: 346-365.

Sharpe, K., Staelin, R., Huber, J., 2008. Using Extremeness Aversion to Fight Obesity: Policy Implications of Context Dependent Demand. J Consum Res 35: 406-422.

Welsh, J., Sharma, A., Grellinger, L., Vos, M., 2011. Consumption of added sugars is decreasing in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr 94: 726-734.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: