Will Children Be Attracted to Caffeinated Gum?

Caffeinated Gum?

Wrigley’s gum, the national gum company powerhouse, will be launching a new chewing gum next month with added caffeine. This new gum, called Alert Energy Caffeine Gum, is supposedly only to be targeted towards an adult population. We’ll see if that sticks (no pun intended)…  

The gum looks like it’s going to have about 40mg of caffeine per piece of gum. This is about half the amount of caffeine in 1 cup of coffee. So, on one hand there’s a small amount of caffeine in the stick of gum. But, on the other hand, what if you chew multiple pieces of gum per day? That’s a lot of caffeine that can add up really quick. And knowing Americans and our problems with portion control, I could see a lot of people consuming a lot of caffeine without trying even hard. It’s bad enough that healthcare providers are currently advising people to cut back on caffeine. But, with this added source- I think people really need to be careful and aware of what they’ll be consuming.

Normally people should not ingest more than 200-300 mg of caffeine per day. When people consume more than this, side effects are associated like shakiness, sleep problems, and GI disturbances.

The new gum will be sold in convenience stores and food retailers all over America. This isn’t the first caffeinated gum to hit the market though but, it’ll be the first from Wrigley’s brand and its associated marketing power behind it.  

Energy drinks have become an in-demand product over the years. According to Euromonitor International, a global market research firm, U.S. gum sales are down 3.8% since 2008, while sales of energy drinks are up 41% during the same period. Wrigley’s sales make up more than half the gum market, according to Euromonitor.

Again, Wrigley claims that it intends to market the gum to consumers age 25 and older. A warning label is placed on the back of the gum package saying it’s “not recommended for children.” The public should be concerned about this. In October, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against energy drink maker Monster Beverage after a 14-year-old girl died of cardiac arrest. The suit charges that she had 2 of the drinks in 24 hours before her death. The FDA has also started a probe into whether there are deaths tied to another energy drink, Five Hour Energy.

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Qatar Outdoes America in Obesity Rates?

Well, America isn’t the Only Heavy Hitter Anymore…

The obesity epidemic in America has obviously generated a lot of publicity, in recent years. And more specifically, West Virginia has been in that spotlight with its towering obesity rates, let alone its childhood obesity rates.

But, now Qatar has been given that title of being the most obese country in the world.  According to new data release by the Supreme Council of Health, about 70% of people in Qatar are overweight and some 41% are obese.

If you’ve read my blogs before, I have posted about the Middle East and its urbanization, associated with fast food chains and obesity rates. The rapid urbanization in Qatar, and many other states in the Arab Peninsula, following the discovery of oil has contributed to a sedentary lifestyle. Coupled with a lack of exercise culture and diets high in fats, salts and sugar, obesity has rapidly increased in the Middle East.

The rapid increase in obesity has led to an increase in several non-communicable diseases in the small Gulf country, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the rate of diabetes in Qatar has climbed to 20.2% of the population.

Often people think that they need to do a lot to prevent illnesses. That is not the case. Often simply making minimal changes will help. The incidence of these diseases can be significantly reduced by simple lifestyle changes, such as increased regular exercise and integrating healthier foods into your diet.

Just alone is 2012, studies showed that 45% of adult Qataris were obese and up to 40% of school children were obese as well. Many Qataris, especially dietitians, are worried that in the next 5 years that 73% of Qatari women and 69% of Qatari men will be obese. Combined with high rates of diabetes, often triggered by excess weight, this has become a national… Wait, now a global concern for the country. In 2012, 15.4% of adult had diabetes, with rates in children below the age of 5 ay 28.8%.

Qatar surpasses US in obesity

Qatar is World’s Wealthiest and Obese

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qatar fat

Qatar sign

The “Salt Calculator” Has Arrived!

The “Salt Calculator” Has Arrived!

Now Americans can take that extra step at reducing their sodium intake when eating out or cooking at home. A new online “salt calculator” jointly developed by a Toronto dietitian aims to encourage Canadians to curb the unhealthy quantities of sodium gulped down daily. So, why not Americans too, right?

The results can be staggering, said a University of Toronto postdoctoral fellow who developed the calculator with researchers from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

“Many people are surprised about how high their sodium intake is,” she said, adding that more than three-quarters of consumed sodium is “hidden” in processed foods and prepared meals.

“It was really to engage people about the amount of sodium in their diet,” “It’s really making high sodium intake personal.”

On average, Canadians consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, more than double Health Canada’s recommended “adequate intake” level. This can lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk of stroke, heart problems, kidney disease and other health problems like osteoporosis and stomach cancer, according to Health Canada.

There are hopes this calculator can act as a wake-up call to many who are unaware they are consuming risky levels sodium, and serve as a tool for doctors to bring up the issue with their patients. It also breaks down the sources of one’s salt consumption, suggesting what changes will help bring it down.

“People cannot make effective dietary changes unless they are aware that they personally are consuming high amounts of sodium,” she said. “Through the calculator, we do hope to show people that.”

Salt Calculator article

Salt Calculator

The calculator asks questions regarding the user, like age and gender. Then dives right into everyone’s “hidden secrets” and asks questions regarding eating out:

  • Lunch/dinner from quick-service or fast-food restaurants (eat-in or take-out)
  • Lunch/dinner from table-service restaurants (eat-in or take-out)
  • Breakfast from quick-service or fast-food restaurants (eat-in or take-out
  • Breakfast from table-service restaurants (eat-in or take-out)

Other areas of interest that the calculator takes into consideration are:

How often you eat these foods prepared or eaten at home

  • Bread products
  • Baked goods
  • Breakfast cereal and hot instant cereal

Processed meats, fish, and poultry

  • Processed meat products
  • Frozen or pre-seasoned meat, poultry, and fish
  • Canned tuna and salmon & smoked fish

Cheese & Dairy

  • Cheese eaten alone or with other food
  • Milk as a hot or cold drink & milk in cereal

Canned vegetables

  • Canned vegetables, legumes, pickles & olives

Added salt

  • Add a dash or shake of salt to food

Spreads, Condiments, Dips Sauces

  • Condiments & dips
  • Prepared sauces & marinades

Prepared Meals, Sides & Soups

  • Pasta and rice dishes with sauce/seasonings, and packaged mashed/scalloped potatoes and stuffing dishes
  • Frozen appetizers & side dishes
  • Frozen entrees & meals
  • Canned chili, stew & pasta or baked beans with sauce
  • Pizza or pizza snacks
  • Soup, broth, oriental noodles & bouillon

Salty Snacks

  • Salty snack foods i.e., potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, peanuts, other nuts.

salt calc

Our Healthy Roadtrip Has Begun!

Roadtrippin’ With My Favorite Friends

Yesterday, Monday March 4th, was the launch of this semester’s Shack Neighborhood House nutrition education programming. Every semester and summer, the WVU Didactic Program in Dietetics implements a nutrition education program at the Shack Neighborhood House. The Shack is no stranger to this group of future Dietitians. The two organizations have been collaborating for years now. Over the summer we ran “Carrot Sticks”- a nutrition education program focusing on food culture, smoothies, and fruits/vegetables. In the fall, we ran a program called “Racing the Rainbow”- a nutrition education program that focused on different colors of the rainbow correlating to the different food groups.

All of our programs have a target population of youth, usually between the ages of K-5, or more specifically K-2. I’ve somewhat mastered a system as to how we organize each lesson plan within the programs.

Part 1- Nutrition education

–        MyPlate

–        Focus on a specific type of food (Example- berries, potatoes, avocados, etc.)

–        Focus on the specific benefits of our targeted food of discussion

Part 2- Snack incorporating the food(s) we’ve discussed

–        We make sure that the snack is interactive and they are required to make/build/construct it in an artistic nature

Part 3- Activity

–        We usually find crafts related to our lesson topic

–        I try to make sure that we find activities that the students can cognitively grasp, but also enjoy and learn from as well.

This week, we focused on the region of Oregon. And we discussed the benefits of potatoes but, focused more on the health benefits of berries. The undergraduates used a MyPlate visual as an aid to guide the students in questions, regarding different food groups.

Each week, I will put stickers on the region that we “drove” to on our healthy roadtrip across America.

“Our Healthy Roadtrip” will continue for 5 additional lessons (excluding March 25th because of WVU’s Spring Recess).  I took the liberty at creating a poster of the map of the U.S. to document all the different regions of the country, which the program will touch base on.

Only time will tell, if the Shack’s students start to really get into “Our Healthy Roadtrip” theme this Spring!

Shack Neighborhood House

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The location of our new nutrition education curriculum!

The location of “Our Healthy Roadtrip” program!

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