Bloomberg’s Soda Ban Put Into Perspective

Mayor Bloomberg recently announced his latest crusade in the war against fat by proposing to ban all large servings of soft drinks. This proposal has been met with a variety of backlash from newspapers, politicians, comedians and many more critics. The ultimate question however remains, what will be the ultimate effect of this proposal and will it actually increase healthy consumption habits?

One of the first things noticed about this proposal are all the loopholes people can use to still consume as much sugar as they wish. Consumers can still get refills at fast food restaurants, and they can still consume many other sugary beverages like milkshakes, sweetened juices and alcoholic beverages. Mayor Bloomberg has tried similar initiatives in the past, such as the required calorie counts on restaurant menus. However it seems like the mayor has learned little from his past mistakes.

Chain restaurants like McDonald’s are mandated to tell consumers how many calories are on each item in their menus, but local delis and restaurants have no obligation to do this, once again creating a loophole in Bloomberg’s plan. With so many ways to get around Bloomberg’s policies, a careful analysis of what the actual goals are of Bloomberg’s war on fat is needed. Health costs have gotten much higher in recent years due to rising obesity; however it is unprecedented for the government to limit what Americans can and cannot eat. Some of the strongest backlash to Mayor Bloomberg’s policies has criticized the mayor for abusing his power; if food regulations start with soda, where will they end? Will we soon be regulated into eating certain size portions of ‘healthy food’ for the rest of our lives?

Large soft drinks can still be purchased at grocery stores and drug stores, simply making it less convenient for customers to consume large quantities of soda. Since the mayor cannot hope to actually regulate how much soda people consume, the major goal of this initiative is to raise awareness and create a buzz about the health risks associated with these sugary beverages. Raising awareness and enacting a law are two very different things, and the mayor needs to realize that he cannot force people to change their eating habits.

In dealing with America’s obesity epidemic government policy needs to examine the big picture. Making our decisions for us will not yield greater long term results, but most likely frustration at the government. Has Mayor Bloomberg heard of the Prohibition in the early 20th century? Changes need to be made that will affect people’s behavior and views towards nutrition. Access to healthy and fresh foods might expose consumers to more culinary options and an emphasis on physical education in schools might encourage healthier habits. Rising costs in agriculture make unhealthy food more affordable, and current health insurance policies help the ill but do little to prevent illness. While Mayor Bloomberg alone cannot curb unhealthy eating, a look at all the factors at play might make his next set of policies more effective.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

Junk Food Consumption Now Linked to Depression

You may have heard about a recent study correlating the consumption of trans fats to an increase in aggressive behavior; now a newer study correlates the consumption of ‘junk food’ to feelings of depression.

The journal Public Health Nutrition recently published this study, claiming that people who regularly eat junk food such as doughnuts, pizza, hamburgers and other fast food, can be linked to an increase in depression levels. The same study also found that people who regularly consume junk foods tends to be more sedentary, smoke, eat poorly, and work more than 45 hours per week.

Though this is just preliminary research, researchers suggest that people should be careful with how much junk food they eat, as it affects both their physical and mental health. The study was performed on 8.964 people without depression and free of antidepressant medication. The study tracked their mental health and diets for about six months. After this period of time, 493 participants were depressed or were taking antidepressants. The researchers analyzed their diets and found that the ones who ate the most junk food were 51% more likely to develop depression than the people who ate the least junk food.

An earlier study by the Mayo Clinic reported similar findings. This study found that people who consumed many fried foods, processed meats, desserts and high-fat dairy foods had an increased risk of depression symptoms. Coupled with the previous study linking trans fats to aggressive behavior, the risks of eating unhealthy foods just got a lot worse.

Trans Fat Linked to Aggression

In recent years trans fats have come under a lot of scrutiny, as many fast food chains have eliminated trans fats from their foods, and local governments have made progress in banning or reducing their consumption. It’s well known that trans fats are bad for your health, increasing your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, lowering your ‘good’ cholesterol levels and increasing the risk of heart disease.

In a new study, trans fats may be even more harmful for the body than we originally thought, causing people to become more irritable and aggressive. Tran fats are actually dietary trans fatty acids, and are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, to make certain foods last longer. In this study in the journal PLoS ONE, scientists studied the diets of 945 men and women, and conducted behavioral assessments on them, including analyzing their history of aggression and their score on an “overt-aggression” scale. The study revealed that the greater the trans fat intake, the higher the probability that a person would be exhibit aggressive behavior. This finding held true no matter the individual’s sex, age or ethnicity.

The implications of this study may just add fuel to the fire already burning against trans fats. If trans fats truly cause aggression, then foods that include them in institutions such as schools or prisons should be avoided at all costs. Trans fats previously only affected the individual who consumes them, but a link to aggressive behavior means that the effects of trans fats may extend to others as well.

Links were made between trans fats and the brain in an earlier study, which found that people with high blood trans fats levels perform worse on cognitive tests and have less total brain volume. With trans fats harmful to the brain and the heart, people are being recommended to do whatever they can to look at the ingredients of the food they are eating. While many restaurants have eliminated trans fats from their menus, trans fats are still very much out there, and some restaurants and fast food chains still contain them in their products.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com