nutrition

Julio Ochoa/WUSF

Inside the kitchen at Bethel Community Baptist Church Boyzell Hosey and Samantha Wilson are battling for bragging rights.

When Food Stamps Pass As Tickets To Better Health

Jan 17, 2018
Courtney Perkes / Kaiser Health News

Rebeca Gonzalez grew up eating artichokes from her grandmother’s farm in the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala. But for years after emigrating to the U.S., she did not feed them to her own kids because the spiky, fibrous vegetables were too expensive on this side of the border.

Health Coach Sues Florida Department Of Health

Oct 4, 2017
wp paarz / Flickr

A Florida health coach is suing the state Department of Health because she was forced to shut down her diet advice business.

What we eat can influence more than our waistlines. It turns out, our diets also help determine what we smell like.

A recent study found that women preferred the body odor of men who ate a lot of fruits and vegetables, whereas men who ate a lot of refined carbohydrates (think bread, pasta) gave off a smell that was less appealing.

Skeptical? At first, I was, too. I thought this line of inquiry must have been dreamed up by the produce industry. (Makes a good marketing campaign, right?)

The advice to eat a healthy diet is not new. Back around 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the Greek doctor, had this missive: Let food be thy medicine.

But as a society, we've got a long way to go. About 1 out of every 2 deaths from heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes in the U.S. is linked to a poor diet. That's about 1,000 deaths a day.

If you wanted a bag of Doritos from one of Brad Appelhans' experimental vending machines, you'd have to wait. The associate professor of preventative medicine at Rush University Medical Center designed a device that fits inside of vending machines and waits 25 seconds before releasing the typical processed snacks. But healthier fare — like peanuts or popcorn — drops instantly.

No Fries: State Wants Students To Cook Healthy Dishes

Jan 29, 2017
John Danza / Flickr

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is looking for the state's best student chef.

With school starting, Florida Agriculture officials are hoping parents and students will have an easier way to find out about school meals ahead of time. Officials are encouraging them to download the meal apps—specific to their school district.

We're living at a time when more than 80 percent of Americans fail to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. At the same time, many Americans overeat refined grains and sugar.

This may help explain why the obesity rate seems stuck. The most recent estimate is that 36 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese.

Be it SpongeBob SquarePants or Tony the Tiger, food companies have long used cartoon characters to market their products to children. But that tactic can also sway younger kids to eat fresh vegetables, according to a new study.

Lee Memorial Health System wants to expand a program that targets malnutrition. Malnutrition is poor health caused by eating unhealthy foods or just not eating enough.

Malnourished patients are more likely to develop infections after surgery and are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital.

But, the condition can be hard to detect. Older folks are especially at risk because of things like taking medications that suppress their appetites.

When you hold a tiny infant in your arms, it's easy to be struck by the fragility of a new human life.

I remember feeling both exhilarated and, at moments, terrified when my oldest son was born. It was such uncharted terrain.

One of the greatest comforts in those early months was watching him thrive and gain weight. I hadn't anticipated the compulsion – the singular focus — on feeding my babe. It was an overwhelming, primal impulse that must be universal among new mothers, right?

What do large tables, large breakfasts and large servers have in common? They all affect how much you eat. This week on Hidden Brain, we look at the hidden forces that drive our diets. First we hear from Adam Brumberg at Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab about how to make healthier choices more easily (hint: good habits, and pack your lunch!). Then, Senior (Svelte) Stopwatch Correspondent Daniel Pink returns for another round of Stopwatch Science to tell you about those tables, breakfasts and servers.

I encounter claims that humans were designed to eat meat — that it's in our genes, that we have teeth made for eating meat, that we need meat to get all the right nutrients — all the time in casual conversation and in media in stronger and weaker versions.

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? And does eating a morning meal help us maintain a healthy weight?

The breakfast-is-best dogma is based on a blend of cultural tradition and science (and more than a little cereal marketing.)

For the first time in decades, the majority of U.S. school children come from low-income families.

Florida has one of the highest rates in the country -- federal data shows just seven states have a higher percentage of low-income students.

The Pine Manor Improvement Association’s annual teen culinary class recently graduated 8 students. The three week course teaches teens cooking basics and the importance of sustainable farming by using the community’s own garden.

Each student gets a cookbook and a set of cooking utensils to sharpen their new skills.

The Pine Manor Improvement Association’s culinary classes are the brainchild of Florida Gulf Coast University professor Chef James Fraser.

He founded ICARE – or The Institute for Culinary Awareness Research & Education. Fraser recognized a desperate need in Pine Manor, which is considered a food desert, an area with limited or no access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods.

With the first day of school right around the corner, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam wants more parents and students to take advantage of a Back-to-School app.

Abuse. Drugs. Mental health issues.

It’s tough enough for anyone to talk about those problems. It can be even harder for teens facing them for the first time.

You know the saying about an apple a day keeping the doctor away. Now two USF students are hoping that “one apple” might help keep an entire neighborhood healthy.

Hector Angus and Andrea Little have opened 1Apple Grocery in Plant City, in part to provide relief in a so-called “food desert.”

"A food desert is an area where the residents don’t have access to fresh fruits, or nutritious foods," said Angus, who's pursuing his bachelor's degree in information technology with a minor in business.

"So that’s one of the problems that we’re trying to tackle with 1Apple is being able to provide the fresh produce for the families," added Little, who just completed her third year of medical school.


Lottie Watts / WUSF

Food deserts, areas where fresh and healthy foods can be hard to come by, are all over Florida. There are efforts under way in the Florida Legislature to provide tax incentives for grocers to open up in these areas.

"There's no single definition for a food desert, but generally, by the term, they mean that it's usually a low-income area, and an area where there are a lot of people that may have problems accessing healthy food," said Michelle Ver Ploeg, an economist with the United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

This Friday, Floridians who rely on food stamps will have to tighten their belts even further. That’s because SNAP -- the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- is set to shrink when money from a stimulus bill expires. Some say charities will fill the gap, but a group of Southern religious leaders say they’re not sure they can help.

Religious leaders across the South say the reduction of SNAP benefits corresponds with an increase in demand. Russell Meyer is the Executive Director of the Florida Council of Churches.

Obesity is hurting the nation's health, but the pain is not evenly spread. Those who have low incomes are the most dependent on processed foods sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, a product kept cheap through taxpayer subsidies to the corn industry.

Meanwhile, writes public-health specialist and consumer advocate Gary J. Stein, the cost of healthier and leaner foods -- vegetables, fruits and dairy products -- keeps going up. They become less and less affordable to families who need them most.

At his site Our Health Policy Matters, consultant Paul Gionfriddo lists the public health initiatives that have had the biggest impact during his lifetime.