Category Archives: Colleen Doyle

Less Food Marketing, Healthier Children

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

Have you seen all those fun and flashy commercials encouraging your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables? No? Neither have I. And there’s a reason for that. 

Out of the $1.79 billion that the Federal Trade Commission says major food and beverage companies spent marketing foods and beverages to kids and teens (in 2009 – the most recent data available), less than .05% was spent marketing fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately for those of us who care about children’s health – which I hope is all of us – the majority of those dollars was spent on marketing unhealthy foods and beverages. Forty percent was spent to market fast food and other restaurant foods, and another 22% was spent promoting high-sugar sodas and other carbonated beverages.

And consider these additional statistics:

  • Two BILLION advertisements for foods and drinks appeared on websites directed at kids in 2009, mostly for sugary cereals and fast food.
  • Dollars spent to market foods and drinks to kids via online games, mobile apps, social network ads, and other digital media increased by 51% from 2006 to 2009.
  • Companies spent $149 MILLION in 2009 to market sugary drinks and food in schools.
Continue reading →

New healthy living guidelines for cancer survivors

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

In my work at the American Cancer Society, when I talk with people who’ve been diagnosed with cancer, they tend to ask me 3 things: what can I do to reduce the chance that my cancer will come back? What can I do to help me not develop some other kind of cancer? How can I help my family members reduce their own risk for developing cancer?

For many years, answering questions 2 and 3 was a cinch.

We’ve known for years that for people who don’t smoke, the most important ways to reduce their risk of cancer are to strive to be at a healthy weight, live a physically active lifestyle, eat a diet made up mostly of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and watch how much alcohol is consumed (if any, at all).  As a matter of fact, a recent study published by ACS researchers showed that non-smokers who most closely followed those recommendations had a significantly lower risk of premature death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all causes when compared to people who followed the guidelines least closely.

So giving advice about how to reduce their risk of developing another type of cancer and providing information to pass on to their own family members was pretty easy, because that data has been around for many years.… Continue reading →

Heart Healthy Foods Your Whole Body Will Love

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

 

Love is in the air – and not just because Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. It’s also National Heart Month – a time to show our hearts a little love, and do what we can to reduce our risk heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

Fortunately, there are things we can put in our cereal bowls, lunch boxes and dinner plates every day that can help reduce our own risk for developing heart disease. Not only that, a lot of these things can also be part of a healthy diet that can also reduce your risk of developing a variety of types of cancer. A two-for-one! Now who wouldn’t love that? [more]

Oats, beans, and apples

You’ve probably heard that we should eat more fiber. There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber, which helps reduce serum cholesterol levels and is therefore good for your heart; and insoluble fiber, which helps keep a healthy GI tract, which is good for your colon!

Oats, beans, and apples – along with other fruits, vegetables and grains – are great sources of primarily soluble fiber, but contain insoluble fiber, as well.… Continue reading →

ACS Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines Evolve

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

Today, the American Cancer Society released its 2012 Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity Cancer Prevention. Based on sound science and strong evidence, our best advice to the general public to help reduce their risk of cancer through nutrition and physical activity is to:

  • achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life
  • adopt a physically active lifestyle
  • consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods
  • limit consumption if you drink alcoholic beverages

As a matter of fact, for the majority of us who don’t smoke, these are the most important ways to reduce cancer risk. [more]

In addition to these recommendations for individuals, also included in the guidelines is a key Recommendation for Community Action:

Public, private, and community organizations should work together at national, state, and local levels to implement policy and environmental changes that:

  • Increase access to affordable, healthy foods in communities, worksites, and schools, and decrease access to and marketing of foods and beverages of low nutritional value, particularly to youth.
  • Provide safe, enjoyable, and accessible environments for physical activity in schools and worksites, and for transportation and recreation in communities.


Guidelines evolve with evidence

Writing about this last night got me thinking about how our nutrition and activity guidelines have changed since we first published them in 1984 as we’ve learned more about how nutrition and physical activity impact cancer risk.… Continue reading →

Jump on the ‘bran wagon’ for better health

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

It may be time to jump on the “bran wagon,” if you’re not already on it.

 

In a study published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers report that eating a high fiber diet reduces the risk of dying at an early age from a variety of causes, including heart disease, respiratory and infectious diseases, and among men, cancer.

 

During a 9-year study looking at diet and health, more than half a million AARP members between the ages of 50 and 71 completed a survey about their eating habits. Those who reported eating the most fiber (about 30 grams a day for men, and 26 grams a day for women) were 22% less likely to die from any cause during the study compared to those consuming the least amount (about 13 grams for men and 11 grams for women). [more]

 

Compared with men in the low fiber group, men in the high fiber group had a 24% – 56% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and infectious and respiratory diseases. Women consuming the highest amount of fiber had a 34%-59% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and infectious and respiratory diseases compared to women consuming the lowest amount, but there was no difference in cancer death rates.… Continue reading →

Beating Lunchbox Boredom the Healthy Way

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

I read a recent study from a group of Harvard researchers who wanted to determine what foods and/or beverages are most likely to cause that slow and steady weight gain that many of us see over time as we get older – those things we eat or drink that may contribute to the number on our scale inching up ever so slightly year after year.

Interestingly enough, what topped the list were potato chips, potatoes (especially french fries), sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats (think hot dogs).  And that got me thinking about my kids and what they eat at school. [more]


A Front in the War on Childhood Obesity

The nutritional quality of foods and beverages in schools has been a hot debate for quite some time, largely driven by trends in childhood obesity in this country. About 17% of US kids today are obese.

While kids eat plenty of foods outside of school, the foods and beverages available at schools are an important consideration because of the time our kids spend in school.  It’s been estimated that for some children, 50% of the calories they eat in a day are from school meals.

It’s been exciting to see innovative, kid-approved initiatives that are helping to reduce the calories, sugar, sodium, and fat in school meals – initiatives that are bringing salad bars to schools and getting local chefs to work with students to create new and healthier menu options that taste great, for example.… Continue reading →

From the Pyramid to the Plate

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled a new graphic, a new icon designed to help make it easier for all of us to eat a healthier diet.  Called “MyPlate,” this icon replaces the Food Guide Pyramid that, in one form or another, has been around since 1992. And it is a huge improvement. Especially because we eat off plates, not pyramids. [more]

MyPlate is designed to be an easy-to-understand tool to help consumers put into action the key recommendations of the 2010 Federal Dietary Guidelines. This tool, along with other resources developed in support of the Guidelines, collectively strive to help all of us do these things:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less
  • Avoid oversized portions
  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Switch to fat-free or 1% milk
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals, and choose the foods with lower numbers
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

And why are these recommendations so important? Because right now, 63% of adults in this country are overweight, including 27% who are obese; 17% of children and adolescents are obese; and our poor diets (and physically inactive lifestyles) contribute to 4 out of the 7 leading causes of death in this country, including cancer.… Continue reading →

Another Reason to Have a Second Cup of Coffee?

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

I admit it; I’m a java junkie. I LOVE my morning (and mid-morning) cups of coffee.  So any study that looks at the potential health benefits of coffee gets my adrenaline pumping, whether I’m revved up on caffeine or not.

A study just published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute looked at whether or not coffee consumption was related to prostate cancer risk. The researchers were particularly interested in whether or not coffee consumption reduced the risk of advanced prostate cancer (by advanced, they mean that the cancer has spread beyond the prostate at the time of diagnosis).  As a matter of fact, this study is the first of its kind looking specifically at the relationship between coffee consumption and advanced prostate cancer.  While prostate cancer is one cancer I don’t need to personally worry about, on behalf of all the men in my life, I took a look. [more]

 

 

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health collected data on about 48,000 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Every 4 years between 1986 and 2008, the men reported how much coffee they drank, and researchers determined the risk for prostate cancer related to the amount of coffee consumed.… Continue reading →

‘May’ We Talk about Getting Healthier?

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

 

I just heard on the radio the other day that spring is more than halfway over. Before we know it, the year will be halfway over – and at that point, I always like to reflect back on the last six months, think about those resolutions I set at the beginning of the year, and see how I’m doing. It’s a time for me to take stock, get real, and get back on track if need be.

 

At the beginning of the year, I did a little research to see just how popular setting New Year’s resolutions is. According to surveys, about 50% of us will make some kind of resolution. And likely, those resolutions will be related to eating better, being more active, and losing weight.

[more]

All lofty goals, of course, but according to those same surveys, only 8% of us will achieve what we actually set out to do.  Forty-five percent of us will have thrown in the towel by the end of January, and most of the rest of us? Well, by Valentines’ Day, love may be in the air, but chance are, those New Years resolutions are getting the boot.  And by the mid-year mark, well…let’s just say, most people are asking, “What resolutions?”

 

So what’s the deal?… Continue reading →

Hot dog! Headlines Can Be Deceiving.

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

Did you hear the one about the hot dog and the rotisserie chicken? Recent news reports suggest that, at least when it comes to cancer, the hot dog may be the better choice.

But don’t reach for the mustard and relish just yet.

Researchers at Kansas State University, with funding in part from the American Meat Institute and the National Pork Board Check-off, tested the heterocyclic amine (HCA) levels of a variety of popular ready-to-eat meat products: hot dogs, deli meats, bacon, pepperoni and rotisserie chicken. HCAs are chemicals that are formed in meats when they are cooked at very high temperatures. Studies show that these chemicals can damage DNA and cause cancer in animals. It’s not clear how much they may contribute to cancer risk in people. Even so, the American Cancer Society recommends cooking meats with methods that create fewer HCAs, such as baking or poaching.

[more]

The hot dog study results, published in Meat Science, the journal of the American Meat Science Association (who knew?), found that pepperoni had the lowest levels of HCAs, followed by hot dogs and deli meat. Bacon and rotisserie chicken came next. And then came the headlines: “Good News for Meat Lovers: Most Ready-to-Eat Meat Products Contain Very Few Cancerous Compounds,” and “Hot Dogs for Better Health?… Continue reading →