Tuesday February 18, 2020

Americans Addicted to Snacks, Food Experts Paying Closer Attention to What that Might Mean for Health

In the late 1970s, about 40 percent of American adults said they didn’t have any snacks during the day. By 2007, that figure was just 10 percent

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Americans, Addicted, Snacks
This Sept. 7, 2019 photo shows items in a vending machine in New York. Americans are addicted to snacks, and food experts are paying closer attention to what that might mean for health and obesity. VOA

Americans are addicted to snacks, and food experts are paying closer attention to what that might mean for health and obesity.

Eating habits in the U.S. have changed significantly in recent decades, and packaged bars, chips and sweets have spread into every corner of life. In the late 1970s, about 40 percent of American adults said they didn’t have any snacks during the day. By 2007, that figure was just 10 percent.

To get a better handle on the implications of differing eating patterns, U.S. health officials are reviewing scientific research on how eating frequency affects health, including weight gain and obesity. The analysis is intended to gauge the broader spectrum of possibilities, including fasting. But snacking, grazing and “mini meals” are likely to be among the factors considered, given how they have upended the three-meals-a-day model.

Findings could potentially be reflected in the government’s updated dietary guidelines next year, though any definitive recommendations are unlikely.

Americans, Addicted, Snacks
Americans are addicted to snacks, and food experts are paying closer attention to what that might mean for health and obesity. Pixabay

For public health officials, part of the challenge is that snacking is a broad term that can mean a 100-calorie apple or a 500-calorie Frappuccino. How people adjust what they eat the rest of the day also varies. Snacks may help reduce hunger and overeating at meals, but they can also just push up the total calories someone consumes.

While there’s nothing wrong with snacks per se, they have become much more accessible. It also has become more socially acceptable to snack more places: at work meetings and while walking, driving or shopping for clothes.

“We live in a 24/7 food culture now,” said Dana Hunnes, a senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center.

To encourage better choices as global obesity rates climb, public health officials have increasingly considered government interventions, including “junk food” taxes.

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In Mexico, which has among the highest obesity rates in the world, special taxes on sugary drinks and other foods including some snacks and candies went into effect in 2014.

Last week, a study in the medical journal BMJ said taxing sugary snacks in the United Kingdom could have a bigger impact on obesity rates than a tax on sugary drinks that went into effect last year. While sugary drinks account for 2 percent of average calories in the United Kingdom, sugary snacks like cakes and cookies account for 12 percent, the study said.

Complicating matters, snack options are also continuing to broaden beyond the standard chips and cookies.

“Manufacturers have tried to tap into Americans’ concern for health,” said Paula Johnson, curator of food history at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Americans, Addicted, Snacks
Eating habits in the U.S. have changed significantly in recent decades, and packaged bars, chips and sweets have spread into every corner of life. Pixabay

Beyond nutrition, health officials should also consider what emotional or mental health benefits might be lost when people move away from meals, said Sophie Egan, who writes about American food culture. Meals can be a time for socially connectivity, she said, while snacks are usually eaten alone. She also noted the growth in snacking may be fueled by the stress of busier lives.

“Who knows how much food is a Band-Aid for those issues,” Egan said.

For their part, food companies have moved to capitalize on Americans’ love of snacks and stretched the definition of the word. Dunkin Donuts’ former CEO has said the chain’s sandwiches should be considered snacks, not lunch. When Hershey bought a meat jerky company, the candy company said it wanted to expand its offerings across the ”snacking continuum ” to include more nutritious options.

Health experts’ recommendations on snacking vary. Children may need more snacks and to eat more frequently. For adults, many dietitians saying what works for one person might not for another.

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Hunnes, the UCLA dietitian, recommends sticking to minimally processed options like fruit or nuts when snacking. But she acknowledged the advice could sound like it’s coming from an ivory tower, given the prevalence of packaged snacks.

“They’re just there, and they have a great shelf life,” she said. (VOA)

Next Story

Giving Back: Here’s How to Help Those In Need After Natural Disasters

Te aftermath of Natural Disasters is the worst. People lose property and life and that is why you need to help them out

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Natural disasters
A new poll revealed that nearly three-quarters of Americans see natural disasters worsening as time goes on and those surveyed feel that it’s due to global warming. Pixabay

How many times have you been sitting in front of the TV watching your favorite show and then all of a sudden, it interrupted by a “Breaking News” story? Within the past year, it’s happened all too often… 

“Massive tsunami strikes Hawaii leaving 57 dead and the number is steadily rising” 

Or

“Hurricane Shawn continues to wreak havoc in the Carribean, leaving millions of natives homeless”

We’ve all seen these types of “Breaking News” stories and felt so much empathy and sympathy for those affected by those natural disasters, yet we sit warm and cozy on our comfortable couches just shaking our heads in disbelief. 

It’s tough seeing lives lost due to natural disasters but unfortunately, these things happen all the time. A new poll revealed that nearly three-quarters of Americans see natural disasters worsening as time goes on and those surveyed feel that it’s due to global warming…

As you watch the news and see the millions of families walking around in despair, you feel compelled to help them… So what do you do? You grab an old box and start loading it with clothes you don’t wear anymore and shoes you no longer can fit. In your mind, you’re thinking you’re doing the right thing and helping but in doing that, you’re actually not helping at all… you’re actually making things harder for relief workers.

Natural disasters
Donating clothes and cell phones can be helpful for people who have suffered from natural disasters. Pixabay

There is this thing called the “disaster after the disaster” and this is when post-disaster donations become so overwhelming that they become more of a burden than a help, more so because people donate things that can’t be used, according to npr.org

In an effort to help, people will go in their pantries and grab canned goods and other non-perishable items that have expired or foods that have already been opened… those are items that are being donated to those in need and those are also items that pose health risks and cannot be given to anyone. So relief workers then have to sort through those and dispose of them, taking them away from helping the families in need.

If you feel compelled to help, please do! Families are still trying to recover from natural disasters that have long gone and they need everyone’s help. But if you want to donate, first take a look at the items that will be most beneficial to those in need.

How to Help Those in Need

Host a Community Food Drive

When natural disasters strike an area, the families affected have lost everything they owned and one of the best ways you can help them is to host a food drive. You want to send non-perishable items like canned goods, dried goods, bottled water, dehydrated foods, and even water filters. When donating these items also be sure to check the dates on them… just because non-perishable foods have a longer shelf life, doesn’t mean they don’t have an expiration date.

Get with your local churches and businesses to see about coordinating a drive. Once you have all donated items, you can package everything up and deliver it to larger organizations that can have the packages delivered to the areas that need help.

Donate Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies is something that not too many people think about when it comes to helping with natural disasters but what people forget is that some homes are actually able to be salvaged with a little elbow grease and cleaning supplies. Things like gloves, masks, bleach, and paper towels and rags are going to go a long way for those who can salvage their home.

For those affected, you have to remember, a major part of a new start is also a clean one.

Money natural disasters
Monetary donations are always going to be the best way to help those in need after natural disasters. Pixabay

Donate Cell Phones

You’re probably thinking, what is a cell phone going to do during this time? Well, what you don’t know is that donating cell phones is going to help those in need tremendously. When a lot of these natural disasters hit, cell phones are the last things on their minds… their main concern is to stay alive!

By donating cell phones, they will at least have a device to use once they get back on their feet and won’t have to buy one. If you hadn’t noticed, cell phones are very expensive, so imagine the financial relief you’ll be providing them by donating a cell phone. 

Maybe you have a few extra cell phones at home and if you don’t, you can buy pre-owned cell phones that will give those affected a way to communicate with their loved ones to let them know they’re okay. The thing about pre-owned cell phones is that they’re in great condition and they’re reasonably priced.

Consider getting with your local churches, businesses, and non-profit organizations to host a cell phone drive. For reasonably priced pre-owned cell phones, visit glyde.com/buy

Also Read- How Residential Proxies Work?

Donate Money

Monetary donations are always going to be the best way to help. Organizations like the American Red Cross and Save the Children are always accepting monetary donations to put towards families in need after natural disasters. Check with your local non-profit organizations to see how you can help those in need.