McDonald’s Plans to Make Happy Meals Nutritionally Happier

July 23rd, 2011 by Abby Hitchcock | Tags: Happy Meals, Meals

McDonalds has ignored calls to give Ronald McDonald the boot. But today it said it will take steps to improve the nutritional quality of its Happy Meals. (Heres the WSJ story.)

Starting in September, McDonalds will roll out Happy Meals that package a smaller serving of French fries along with that burger or order of McNuggets.

Apple slices previously a rarely chosen option to replace fries will now be included automatically. (If you skip the fries, you get two servings of apples.) And the choice of beverages will include a new fat-free chocolate milk, as well as 1%-fat regular milk.

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El Salvador bans public-area smoking

July 23rd, 2011 by Abby Hitchcock | Tags: El Salvador, Smoking

El Salvador’s congress has overriden a veto by President Mauricio Funes and approved a ban on smoking in closed public spaces.

The law explicitly bans smoking in work places, public transport and public areas where children gather.

It also bans the sale of single cigarettes and requires warning messages on cigarette packs.

Congress approved the law Thursday, after Funes had vetoed it on the grounds that it excessively regulatied private activities.

In February, neighboring Honduras passed an even tougher anti-smoking ban that allows family members to call the police on people who smoke at home.

That law requires smokers to stand at least six feet away from nonsmokers in any open space.

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Epidemic of Obesity in U.S. Kids Began in Late ’90s

July 23rd, 2011 by Declan Nguyen | Tags: Began, Began Late

The epidemic of excess weight gain and obesity among young Americans began about 15 years ago, a new study finds.

“Our research documents the emergence of the obesity epidemic among adolescents in the later half of the 1990s, and among young adults in 2000,” said Hedwig Lee, who led the study while at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is now an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“The jury is still out about all the possible causes for the increasing weight gain among adolescents . . .

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Health Blog Video: Mosquitoes and the City

July 22nd, 2011 by Abby Hitchcock | Tags: City

Ah, summer in the city. If urbanites arent contending with a stifling heat wave, theyre slapping at the aggressive mosquitoes that prefer big-city infrastructure as their hunting grounds. As the WSJ reported last week, two types of mosquitoes inadvertently imported from Asia are settling into new digs in big U.S. cities.

In this WSJ video, State University of New York at Albany professor Laura Kramer talks about one of these species, the Asian tiger mosquito. It prefers cities because there are lots of small, artificial containers like tires and cans its chosen places to breed.

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Vitamin-enhanced products skirting Health Canada regulations

July 22nd, 2011 by Declan Nguyen | Tags: Canada, Health Canada


OTTAWA — Health Canada cannot always uphold its safety and nutritional quality standards for foods because of a “legal loophole” that allows companies to sell snacks and drinks fortified with vitamins and minerals, internal government records suggest.

The problem, flagged by top nutrition experts at Health Canada over two years ago, is still not resolved, even though the chief of the food directorate’s nutrition evaluation division recommended regulatory amendments to resolve the matter as far back as February 2009.

“This legal loophole continues to have a significant potential to impact on the ability to administer the provisions of the Food and Drug Regulations with respect to foods,” wrote Nora Lee, the chief of Health Canada’s nutrition evaluation division, in internal correspondence released under access to information.

That’s because food companies found a way to get around Health Canada’s food regulations that tightly control the amount of vitamins and minerals that can be added to drinks and foods — by classifying vitamin-fortified products as natural health products (NHPs).

Under the current food regulations, Health Canada limits the ability of companies to boost products with nutrients at their discretion, part of the regulator’s goal to ensure the integrity of the food supply and make sure people don’t overconsume certain nutrients. Mean

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