WBEZ | obesity http://www.wbez.org/tags/obesity Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago High Schoolers Launch Website Against School Food http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-high-schoolers-launch-website-against-school-food-113980 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Foodfight.png" alt="" /><p><p>Two years ago, something pretty revolutionary happened in Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>The district made every meal in nearly every CPS lunchroom free for every student.</p><p>The idea was to end the mountains of <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-01-13/news/ct-met-cps-lunch-fraud-20120113_1_free-lunches-reduced-price-lunches-lunch-applications">sometimes fraudulent</a> lunch paperwork, move lunch lines faster, reduce stigma on low-income kids and make it easier for everyone to get a school meal.</p><p>Given the new federally subsidized program, officials expected to see a big bump in the number of kids who take the meals.</p><p>But that&rsquo;s not at all what happened.</p><p>Instead, that number dropped by about a million lunches in the first year and more than 800,000 in the second, according to CPS records (The drop did accompany enrollment declines in the district but outpaced them).</p><p>So what happened? Why would so many kids reject food that had become completely free for everyone?</p><p>&ldquo;Because that food is disgusting,&rdquo; said one North Side high schooler who recently talked to me in a lunchroom while munching Flamin&rsquo; Hot Cheetos with a Powerade. She didn&rsquo;t want to share her name.</p><p>Junior Shirley Hernandez will share her name. She&rsquo;s one of the honors civics students (taught by Roosevelt High School&rsquo;s Tim Meegan) who this month launched the <a href="https://rhsschoollunch.wordpress.com">School Lunch Project </a>website and a <a href="http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/petition-to-improve-school?source=c.em.cp&amp;r_by=14594209">petition </a>to change food in the district. Students complain of brown lettuce, soggy gray broccoli, plastic found in burgers and frozen, mealy fruit.</p><p>They say it&rsquo;s unhealthy, unappetizing and overly processed.</p><p>&ldquo;We want bigger portions, more nutritious food and [food] partly handmade from scratch,&rdquo; Hernandez said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a human right to have decent food, not the lowest quality of food.&rdquo;</p><p>If CPS and its caterer Aramark (which also arrived two years ago) can&rsquo;t produce better food, the Roosevelt students say they want permission to eat off campus or even go home for lunch as other Chicago students have done in the past or currently do.</p><p>As it stands today, the students are presented with a menu of mostly processed fast food dominated by pizza, burgers and chicken patties. And Roosevelt civics student Duyen Ho believes this could create problems for their long term health.</p><p>&ldquo;The fact that we eat fast food every day is going to affect us in the long term,&rdquo; said Ho. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to affect us a lot.&rdquo;</p><p>Recent changes to the National School Lunch Program have required that the meals deliver less fat and sodium and more fiber than previous lunches. But CPS records show that the three most frequently served entrees &mdash; pizza, cheeseburgers and chicken patties &mdash; are still <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/cps-reveals-only-ingredients-its-chicken-nuggets-arechicken-nuggets-109963">full of preservatives, fillers, stabilizers and additives.</a></p><p>The School Lunch Project website details these ingredients, shares links to research materials (including some written by this reporter) and offers a gallery of sometimes graphic lunch photos. So far the site has gained attention and comments from parents, students, teachers and a even a supportive CPS principal. &nbsp;</p><p>The CPS central office sent a statement to WBEZ saying &ldquo;the health and wellness of our students is among our top priorities, and we will look into the students&rsquo; questions about their meals.&rdquo;</p><p>Aramark, for its part, says it became aware of the website through social media and is &ldquo;looking into it with CPS and the principal.&rdquo; &nbsp;But the company said it had not heard about the specific complaints listed on the site from staff or students directly.</p><p>Still, this week the Roosevelt students plan to take their protest beyond the online world. They&rsquo;re planning a schoolwide lesson on school food Wednesday followed by lunch boycotts among upperclassman Thursday and Friday. Next Monday, they say, they plan to take the lunch boycott schoolwide, and even to partnering schools.</p><p>CPS and Aramark get a $3.15 federal payment (that they share) for each school lunch a student takes, so thousands of students brown-bagging it for even a day could cost them several thousand dollars.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s especially important for young people in Chicago &mdash; where we see so much corruption, cronyism and nepotism &mdash; that they learn how to make change within large organizations,&rdquo; said Tim Meegan, who&rsquo;s taught at the Albany Park school for 14 years. &ldquo;This is just one of many diverse tactics that we are trying to teach young people so they are fully equipped to participate as citizens in a democratic society.&rdquo;</p><p>Meegan&rsquo;s not your average mild-mannered instructor.This year he <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-33rd-ward-lawsuit-met-20150303-story.html">ran for alderman</a> in the 33rd ward, backed by the Chicago Teachers Union. And last month some of his students <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/news-chicago/7/71/1014017/roosevelt-high-school-students-walk-out-protest-cuts">staged a walkout</a> to protest budget cuts in the district. Meegan says he asked his five civics classes to come up with a project to work on this year. Across the board, he says, they wanted to work on changing school lunch.</p><p>The Roosevelt lunch protest adds to a chorus of complaints about school food that have appeared this year in the <a href="http://www.hancockhs.org/apps/news/show_news.jsp?REC_ID=374953&amp;id=0">Hancock High School newspaper </a>&nbsp;and by CPS students who&rsquo;ve shared photos of their <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23dishorditch&amp;src=typd">lunch on Twitter</a>.</p><p>Still, few CPS food protests have garnered this level of attention. Tim Meegan says last week he got a call from the city&rsquo;s school board asking to arrange a meeting with the civics class students. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a food and health reporter for WBEZ. Follow her at </em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"><em>@monicaeng </em></a><em>or write to her at </em><a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org"><em>meng@wbez.org</em></a></p></p> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 08:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-high-schoolers-launch-website-against-school-food-113980 Obesity and junk food: A tale of two studies http://www.wbez.org/news/obesity-and-junk-food-tale-two-studies-113785 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/junkfood1small-057b4ffe9afb81841b76e7e887bb74986059521a-s700-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455377053" previewtitle="What role do high-calorie, low-nutrition junk foods play in expanding waistlines? Two recent studies tackle that question."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="What role do high-calorie, low-nutrition junk foods play in expanding waistlines? Two recent studies tackle that question." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/09/junkfood1small-057b4ffe9afb81841b76e7e887bb74986059521a-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="What role do high-calorie, low-nutrition junk foods play in expanding waistlines? Two recent studies tackle that question. (Morgan McCloy/NPR)" /></div><div><p>More than 36 percent of American adults and 17 percent of youth under 19 are obese, according to the latest&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db219.htm">figures</a>&nbsp;from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p></div></div><p>Scientists still don&#39;t fully understand what got us here. And sometimes, the answers they&#39;ve come up with turn out to be wrong. Consider the changing&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/25/416936527/farewell-low-fat-why-scientists-applaud-lifting-a-ban-on-fat">advice on fat</a>, which has been amended of late from its days as a dietary demon.</p><p>By now, it would seem that the link between the obesity epidemic and the consumption of high-calorie, low-nutrition foods like sodas, cookies and fries is well-established. But as two recent studies show, researchers are still probing the mechanics of that connection.</p><p>Broadly speaking, both studies explore the connection between junk food and weight &mdash; though they do so using different data sets from two different populations (adults and kids).</p><p>Let&#39;s start with the finding that seems most counterintuitive: For most of us, junk foods may not be what&#39;s driving weight gain. That&#39;s what behavioral economist David Just and his colleagues at the&nbsp;<a href="http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/about">Cornell University Food and Brand Lab</a>&nbsp;concluded in a paper in the journal&nbsp;Obesity Science &amp; Practice.</p><p>The researchers looked at data collected in 2007-2008 from a nationally representative sample of roughly 5,000 U.S. adults as part of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes.htm" target="_blank">National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)</a>, including information on weight, height and eating habits. Junk food was defined as fast food, soda and sweets.</p><p>Some of that data set had been used in a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db114.htm#ref1">2013 CDC study</a>&nbsp;that found that heavier Americans were indeed getting more of their daily calories from fast food. But the Cornell researchers wondered what would happen if they excluded the people on the extreme ends of the weight spectrum &mdash; those who are clinically underweight and the very morbidly obese.</p><p>And they found that once those groups were eliminated, there was no association between body mass index and how much fast food, sugary sodas and sweets people consume.</p><p>The finding, which applies to 95 percent of the population, &quot;was really counterintuitive &mdash; not what we expected at all,&quot; Just tells The Salt.</p><p>But if fast food isn&#39;t driving the obesity epidemic, what is? &quot;I suspect we&#39;re eating too many calories from all foods,&quot; Just says. He points to data from the USDA&#39;s Economic Research Service showing that Americans, on average, now eat 500 calories more daily than they did around 1970, before the obesity epidemic took off.</p><div id="res455486233"><div id="responsive-embed-calories-20151110"><iframe frameborder="0" height="546px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/calories-20151110/child.html?initialWidth=675&amp;childId=responsive-embed-calories-20151110&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2Fsections%2Fthesalt%2F2015%2F11%2F12%2F455074815%2Fare-junk-food-habits-driving-obesity-a-tale-of-two-studies%3Fft%3Dnprml%26f%3D455074815" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="620"></iframe></div></div><p>To be clear, Just isn&#39;t saying that you can eat all the junk food you want with no consequence. &quot;You increase your consumption of these things, yeah, you&#39;re going to put on weight,&quot; he says. &quot;But that&#39;s not to say that is the differentiator between those who are overweight and those who aren&#39;t.&quot; And if that&#39;s the case, Just says, instead of targeting junk foods in the war against obesity, maybe we should be preaching the gospel of moderation and portion control with&nbsp;all&nbsp;foods.</p><p>Sure, that&#39;s good advice in general &mdash; but it may not&nbsp;mean we can let junk foods off the hook.</p><p><a href="https://globalhealth.duke.edu/people/faculty/finkelstein-eric">Eric Finkelstein</a>, an associate professor at the Duke Global Health Institute at Duke University, notes that the data the Cornell researchers used is only a snapshot of what a cross-section of Americans were eating at a single moment in time. So it&#39;s possible, for example, that the overweight and obese people included in the study reported eating less junk foods because they were trying to lose weight.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;d lend a lot more credence to studies that follow change [in eating habits and weight] over time,&quot; Finkelstein tells The Salt.</p><p>And, over time, he says, the evidence suggests strongly that even modest increases in the consumption of certain foods will result in long-term weight gain. He points to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1014296#t=article">2011 study</a>&nbsp;in the&nbsp;New England Journal of Medicine&nbsp;that looked at data gathered over decades on 120,000 U.S. adults. Over a four-year period, an extra daily serving of potato chips was associated with weight gain of 1.69 pounds, the study found. That may not sound like much, but for most adults, that&#39;s how the pounds add up &mdash; gradually, over time, at an average rate of about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/diet-lifestyle-weight-gain/">a pound a year</a>.</p><div id="res455377505" previewtitle="junk food"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="junk food" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/09/junkfood2small-08e9280d5086435939078f831640552ab5136b36-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="(Morgan McCloy/NPR)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>And problem foods will pack on the pounds for kids, too. Last week, Finkelstein and his colleagues published a similarly detailed breakdown of the links between weight gain and certain foods in children. The researchers turned to data on more than 4,600 kids from the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bristol.ac.uk/alspac/">Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children</a>, an ongoing study in the U.K. that has tracked the same set of children &mdash; with records on their height, weight and food intake &mdash; since their birth in the early 1990s.</p><p>Once again, potato chips raised red flags.</p><p>As the researchers&nbsp;<a href="http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/34/11/1940.abstract">reported</a>&nbsp;in the journal&nbsp;Health Affairs, over a three-year period, every 25-gram serving of potato chips (a little under an ounce) that kids ate daily was linked to about a half-pound of excess weight gain. (Basically, that&#39;s defined as weight beyond what a child should weigh for his or her height and age.)</p><p>Again, half a pound doesn&#39;t sound alarming, &quot;but if you&#39;re also getting an extra half a pound from burgers, and half a pound from french fries, these things add up. And some kids are eating more than a serving&quot; daily, Finkelstein says.</p><p>Other foods the study linked to excessive weight gain included &quot;kid food&quot; staples &mdash; like breaded and coated fish and poultry (think fish sticks and chicken nuggets) and french fries &mdash; and processed meats, butter and margarine, desserts and sweets.</p><p>That&#39;s important, because some 31 percent of American and 38 percent of European kids are now overweight or obese &mdash; and the pounds we gain as kids often stay with us through adulthood.</p></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 14:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/obesity-and-junk-food-tale-two-studies-113785 CDC: More women than men are obese in America, and gap is widening http://www.wbez.org/news/cdc-more-women-men-are-obese-america-and-gap-widening-113783 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/obesity_custom-9ee9d533dc5930b332764725ec0582aa85903ab8-s700-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455907311" previewtitle="Obesity prevalence among women in their 40s and 50s has risen to 42 percent since 1999-2000, the CDC found. For middle-aged men, the rate is 38 percent."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Obesity prevalence among women in their 40s and 50s has risen to 42 percent since 1999-2000, the CDC found. For middle-aged men, the rate is 38 percent." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/13/obesity_custom-9ee9d533dc5930b332764725ec0582aa85903ab8-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Obesity prevalence among women in their 40s and 50s has risen to 42 percent since 1999-2000, the CDC found. For middle-aged men, the rate is 38 percent. (iStockphoto)" /></div><div><div><p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db219.htm">&nbsp;crunched new numbers</a>&nbsp;on America&#39;s obesity epidemic. What do they tell us? As a nation, we seem to be stuck.</p></div></div></div><p>The overall prevalence of obesity in the three-year period ending 2014 was just over 36 percent. This mean that about 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. is obese.</p><p>But if you&#39;re a silver-linings kind of person, there&#39;s this: After decades of increases, obesity rates do seem to be flattening out.</p><p>The CDC says the changes in the prevalence of adult obesity were so slight between 2011 and 2014 (the most recent data available) that they were not statistically significant.</p><p>And another note of optimism: The CDC finds childhood obesity has leveled off. In many states, as we&#39;ve reported, obesity rates are<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/08/06/209213524/falling-obesity-rates-among-preschoolers-mark-healthful-trend">&nbsp;falling&nbsp;</a>among preschool-aged kids.</p><p>Health advocates say that&#39;s a sign of progress.</p><p>&quot;We are excited to see that our nationwide efforts to prevent childhood obesity have stopped the decades-long increase in childhood obesity rates,&quot; said Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, in a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.healthiergeneration.org/news__events/2015/11/12/1392/prevalence_of_obesity_among_adults_and_youth_united_states_20112014_national_center_for_health_statistics_data_brief_november_2015">statement</a>.</p><p>But he adds, &quot;it is imperative that we double down on our efforts to go beyond flattening the rates so that we actually start decreasing childhood obesity rates.&quot;</p><p>If you dig into the data a little deeper, it&#39;s clear that middle-aged Americans are not as successful at avoiding weight gain &mdash; especially middle-aged women.</p><p>The prevalence of obesity among women in their 40s and 50s has risen to 42 percent since 1999-2000. That&#39;s higher than the 38 percent the CDC found for middle-aged men. Across all adult age groups, about 38 percent of women are obese, while 34 percent of men were obese.</p><p>Study author and CDC epidemiologist&nbsp;<a href="http://cdczilla.com/cdc-employee/contact/cynthia-ogden-301_458_4405">Cynthia Ogden</a>&nbsp;says these gender differences are a new development. &quot;This hasn&#39;t been the case for some years,&quot; Ogden says.</p><p>And, the divide becomes even greater for some women of color. The obesity rate among African-American women is 57 percent and 46 percent among Hispanic women.</p><p>&quot;The biggest problem is that the obesity rates among low-income Americans and minorities are not improving,&quot; says obesity expert&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/nutrans/popkin">Barry Popkin</a>&nbsp;of the University of North Carolina.</p><p>The medical and economic toll of this problem remains huge as well. According toHealth Affairs, the obesity epidemic carries a $117 billion <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/13/455883665/cdc-more-women-than-men-are-obese-in-america-and-gap-is-widening?ft=nprml&amp;f=455883665" target="_blank"><em>medical price tag.</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/13/455883665/cdc-more-women-than-men-are-obese-in-america-and-gap-is-widening?ft=nprml&amp;f=455883665" target="_blank"><em>&mdash;</em></a> via NPR</p></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 14:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cdc-more-women-men-are-obese-america-and-gap-widening-113783 Surgery helps some obese teens in battle to get fit http://www.wbez.org/news/surgery-helps-some-obese-teens-battle-get-fit-113784 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/bariatric-2bd9acf62b39859d063989fd822a03da249300f4-s700-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455025089" previewtitle="Physical exercise, diet and supportive counseling are the first steps of any weight-loss program. But sometimes that's not enough to take large amounts of weight off, and keep it off, doctors say."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Physical exercise, diet and supportive counseling are the first steps of any weight-loss program. But sometimes that's not enough to take large amounts of weight off, and keep it off, doctors say." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/06/bariatric-2bd9acf62b39859d063989fd822a03da249300f4-s700-c85.jpg" title="Physical exercise, diet and supportive counseling are the first steps of any weight-loss program. But sometimes that's not enough to take large amounts of weight off, and keep it off, doctors say." /></div><div><div><p>Physical exercise, diet and supportive counseling are the first steps of any weight-loss program. But sometimes that&#39;s not enough to take large amounts of weight off, and keep it off, doctors say.</p></div>13/Ocean/Corbis</div></div><p>Surgery to reduce the stomach&#39;s size is often seen as a last resort for severely obese teenagers, partly because there has been little information on the procedure&#39;s long-term effects on young people.</p><p>But a study&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1506699?query=featured_home">published</a>&nbsp;online Friday in the&nbsp;New England Journal of Medicine&nbsp;tracked teens for three years and suggests that bariatric surgery as part of a weight-reduction plan was not only safe, but increased their heart health and the quality of their lives.</p><p><a href="http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/bio/i/thomas-inge/">Dr. Thomas Inge</a>, a surgeon at Cincinnati Children&#39;s Hospital Medical Center, led the study of 242 severely obese adolescents who underwent the surgery.</p><p>The young people were between 13 and 19 years old and averaged 325 pounds at the start of the study, Inge says. Surgery helped them lose nearly a third of their original body weight and maintain that loss for three years. Even more importantly, Inge says, the development of obesity-linked disease was stopped in its tracks.</p><p>Of teens who had Type 2 diabetes when they underwent the surgery, &quot;95 percent of them had no sign of diabetes at three years,&quot; Inge says. Most participants in the study also dramatically reduced their blood pressure after surgery, and had improved kidney function and less blood fat.</p><p>The hope is that these sorts of improvements in physical markers will ultimately translate to fewer strokes, heart attacks and other disabilities down the road, he says. Previous research has suggested that only about 2 percent of severely obese teens are able to lose weight and keep it off without surgery.</p><p>Adults who have weight-loss surgery also see reductions in diabetes, blood pressure and blood fat, Inge says. But the improvements aren&#39;t as dramatic &mdash; perhaps, he says, because it&#39;s easier to tame a disease that hasn&#39;t already had years to do damage.</p><p>The teens also experienced a big jump in their confidence.</p><p>&quot;I think it&#39;s one thing to talk about what this does to their blood pressure and diabetes,&quot; Inge says. &quot;It&#39;s a whole other thing, when you&#39;re in the patients&#39; shoes, to be able to talk about how they&nbsp;feel&nbsp;after the operation.&quot;</p><p>The answer, he says, was unmistakably good &mdash; so good that some kids made a few other bold changes in their appearance, taking deliberate steps to stand out instead of trying to hide.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s very much the routine to see them expressing themselves and saying, &#39;Here&#39;s me with green hair color, pink hair color,&quot; Inge says. &quot;It&#39;s telling the world, &#39;This is the new me, and I like it!&#39; And, &#39;Here we are!&#39; &quot;</p><p>The surgery isn&#39;t without side effects and these, too, showed up in the study. In addition to the risks of any surgery, bariatric surgery alters how the body digests food &mdash; so most of the teens also had to start taking vitamin and iron supplements after the procedure. And about 13 percent wound up needing additional abdominal surgery &mdash; most commonly gall bladder removal.</p><p>These teenagers and others need continued follow-up to be certain that benefits outweigh risks as the years go on, Inge says. But at least now, teens &mdash; and their parents and doctors &mdash; are starting to get a little more solid information to help guide choices about treatment.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/06/455007824/surgery-helps-some-obese-teens-in-battle-to-get-fit?ft=nprml&amp;f=455007824" target="_blank"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 14:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/surgery-helps-some-obese-teens-battle-get-fit-113784 Surgeon General Vivek Murthy breaks his quiet on nutrition and says it will be a big part of his tenure http://www.wbez.org/news/science/surgeon-general-vivek-murthy-breaks-his-quiet-nutrition-and-says-it-will-be-big-part <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/surgeon general1.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy - the country&rsquo;s key spokesperson on public health - spoke last week at a luncheon for Chicago&rsquo;s Healthy Schools Campaign. Despite the deep dietary problems faced by Chicago kids, Murthy&rsquo;s speech largely <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/surgeon-general-wants-us-walk-health-113033" target="_blank">glossed over nutrition to focus on walking</a>. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The speech came in the wake of<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-david/step-it-up-coca-cola_b_8131834.html"> similar criticism</a> earlier in the month from filmmaker Laurie David and activist dietitian Andy Bellati. They said Murthy&rsquo;s approach sounded a lot like the way soda companies frame the obesity debate: It&rsquo;s not about what you eat, it&rsquo;s about how much you move. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A pattern seemed to be emerging. It didn&rsquo;t help that Murthy&rsquo;s office offered no response to the articles and took no questions after his Chicago speech.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Monday, the surgeon general broke his silence in a call to WBEZ. He told us that he actually cares a lot about nutrition. He even plans to launch his next campaign on the topic.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Here are some edited excerpts from our interview:</div><div><hr /><p><strong>ENG</strong>: You&rsquo;ve taken some heat recently for perceptions that you emphasize physical activity at the cost of nutrition. Is that a fair reading of your stance?</p></div><div><strong>MURTHY</strong>: There are a lot of issues that I plan to address during my tenure as surgeon general. I began talking about vaccinations during the measles outbreak in the United States. And what I said, even prior to my confirmations, is that prevention is really the central focus for me. And when I think of building a culture of prevention in America, I believe there are three core components: One of them is physical activity, one of them is nutrition and the other is emotional well being. A few weeks ago we rolled out our first initiative on physical activity and, in coming months, we&rsquo;ll be rolling out initiatives on nutrition and emotional well-being as well&hellip;. That&rsquo;s because, in my experience caring for patients, I&rsquo;ve seen that good nutrition is essential for good health, and it&rsquo;s really at the core of being healthy.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>ENG</strong>: Can you give a preview on what you&rsquo;ll be saying about nutrition in that initiative?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>MURTHY</strong>: &nbsp;A lot of that is still in the works but I can tell you a little bit about why I&rsquo;m concerned in particular about nutrition. My real concern is that we are as a country are not eating enough in the way of fruits and vegetables and we overconsume sugar and salt in particular. This has important consequences for our health, particularly in terms of contributing to chronic illness like diabetes and heart disease. Chronic illness accounts for seven out of 10 deaths in America and they cost us over a trillion dollars a year, which is this is why emphasizing physical activity and nutrition and changes we can make in both realms is so important to addressing chronic disease...</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We are also looking at how we can increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. What&rsquo;s exciting to me is that there are innovative programs out there that are having success in terms of increasing fruits and vegetables. (Murthy cites a program in Virginia that<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/08/10/426741473/healthy-eaters-strong-minds-what-school-gardens-teach-kids" target="_blank"> teaches kids about produce</a> and another in Michigan that <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/11/10/361803607/how-double-bucks-for-food-stamps-conquered-capitol-hill" target="_blank">doubles the value of SNAP dollars</a> when they are spent on local produce.)</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So these are some of the issues we&rsquo;re examining right now: how to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and increase water consumption and reduce our consumption of sugar and salt. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>ENG</strong>: Because this was the first thing you rolled out, I think people got the impression that the Surgeon General was simply going to tell us to walk, and not talk about drinking sugary drinks and getting junk out of our diets. What would you say to them? &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>MURTHY</strong>: We are getting to these topics. We are addressing them sequentially, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean that I don&rsquo;t talk about them all the time. When I go to communities across the country I hear about concerns folks have about the lack of availability of nutritious food. I hear concerns about neighborhoods not being safe for physical activity. I hear concerns about prescription opiate abuse, about &nbsp;measles outbreaks and range of other issues that are concerning to folks across the country. &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>ENG</strong>: It&rsquo;s no big secret that the food industry and its lobbyists have considerable influence in D.C., and those who speak out against them can find themselves on the end of some tough attacks. Does that ever work into your mind when you say, &lsquo;Ok I&#39;m going to give a speech and instead of attacking sugary drinks I&rsquo;ll focus on physical activity.&rsquo;?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>MURTHY</strong>: For anyone who has paid attention to my history, not only as Surgeon General, but during my confirmation process as well, I think you know I don&#39;t shy away from controversial issues. I took a lot of heat for talking about controversial issues [gun control] during my confirmation process. And what I said, then and now, is that what drives me in my decision on what to talk about and how to talk about is science and what&rsquo;s going to improve people&rsquo;s health. I come at that as a physician who has seen far too much preventable disease and who feels a great sense of urgency around this because I feel that the longer we take to make changes in physical activity and nutrition and in other areas related to health, the more people experience illness, and the more people pass away prematurely and the more healthcare costs we rack up. So that&rsquo;s what drives me. &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng" target="_blank">Chewing The Fat </a>podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng" target="_blank">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org?subject=Surgeon%20General">meng@wbez.org</a></em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 11:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/surgeon-general-vivek-murthy-breaks-his-quiet-nutrition-and-says-it-will-be-big-part Cooking up change in American medical schools http://www.wbez.org/news/cooking-change-american-medical-schools-112130 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Food as med manny.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s a stormy Friday night in Chicago and traffic is a mess. But, one by one, a group of damp medical students comes filing into a classroom at Chicago&rsquo;s Kendall College. They could be out drinking tonight or hunkered down with their anatomy books. But instead they&rsquo;ve traveled miles from the University of Chicago&#39;s campus to attend a voluntary 3-hour class that they&rsquo;re not even getting credit for.</p><p>The course is Culinary Medicine, which explores the intersection of food, science, medicine and nutrition. The idea is to learn how to help prevent and control some of our most pervasive chronic health conditions.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t get a lot of devoted curriculum to this issue,&rdquo; says Erik Kulenkamp.&nbsp; He&rsquo;s a first-year med student at University of Chicago&rsquo;s Pritzker Medical School.&nbsp; &ldquo;And I feel like it&rsquo;s one of the things patients are most curious about and have the most questions about &mdash; lifestyle changes and things they can do to prevent things from happening to them rather than treating them once they occur.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Where&rsquo;s the nutrition training for doctors?</strong></p><p>Only about 30 institutions around the country teach culinary medicine. And according to a 2010 survey, only about 27 percent of all American medical schools teach the 25 hours of nutrition coursework recommended by the National Academy of Science.</p><p>This comes at a time when a recent <a href="http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1710486">Journal of the American Medical Association study</a> found that dietary quality is the single biggest risk factor for death and disability in the country.&nbsp;</p><p>This seems crazy to folks like Stephen Devries, who runs Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.gaplesinstitute.org/">Gaples Institute</a>. It&rsquo;s trying to expand more nutritional training in the medical field. When he spells out for people the current requirements for nutrition training among medical professions, &ldquo;they are shocked.&rdquo;</p><p>Last year, Devries wrote a<a href="http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343%2814%2900308-8/abstract"> commentary in The American Journal of Medicine </a>decrying the current lack of nutrition education among doctors. He noted that a recent study showed only 14 percent of physicians feel trained to provide nutritional counseling and yet 61 percent of patients turn to their doctors as &ldquo;very credible&rdquo; sources of nutrition information.</p><p>Dr. Geeta Maker Clark is a clinical instructor at the University of Chicago; she also runs an integrative family practice in the North Shore University Health system. She pursued culinary medicine studies after medical school, and has used them in her integrative practice as well as a class for non-med students that she teaches with a chef in Evanston.</p><p>But a couple of years ago she was approached by University of Illinois at Chicago doctoral student Sabira Taher with an idea to expand that teaching to future doctors. Things moved slowly. But last month, working with U of C&#39;s&nbsp; Dr. Sonia Oyola (who co-teaches the class) and Kendall&#39;s chef instructor Renee Zonka, they finally launched this pilot class. The pilot is funded by a grant from the U of C Women&rsquo;s Board, but the university stresses it will not give students credit for taking it.</p><p>At this point the University says, &quot;Instructors are just starting to review data that was collected on the nutritional medicine project to help them assess the class and make refinements if it&rsquo;s offered again. It&rsquo;s possible some iteration will be incorporated into the formal curriculum in the future, but it&rsquo;s too early to say.&rdquo;</p><p>This is not the case at <a href="http://tmedweb.tulane.edu/mu/teachingkitchen/">Tulane University</a>, where med students are required to study culinary medicine. Maker Clark is using teaching modules from the Tulane program in the 4-week&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; course that meets for three hours a session.&nbsp; Each class begin with case studies and clinical lectures. But for the second part of the class they put down the pens and pull on the chef hats.</p><p><strong>Breakfast tacos as medical care</strong></p><p>During a recent class, the University of Chicago medical students cooked up spinach and feta frittatas, quick granola, banana nut muffins and breakfast tacos.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s one of the only opportunities we have at Pritzker to combine treating with pills and things that are directly in the patient&rsquo;s control,&rdquo; says first-year student Maggie Montoya. &ldquo;Also, it will help me with my cooking skills because I can&rsquo;t cook for beans.&rdquo;</p><p>This is a common refrain among med students who said they were eating a lot of take-out and processed food before they took the class. They see it as a way to improve their own health and become examples to their patients.</p><p>That&rsquo;s a huge part of this kind of training, says Dr. David Eisenberg of the <a href="https://www.samueliinstitute.org/">Samueli Institute </a>and the<a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/03/30/qa-with-dr-david-eisenberg-on-self-care-skills-teaching-kitchens-thinking-outside-of-the-box/"> Harvard School of Public Health.</a> For nearly a decade he&rsquo;s been leading a <a href="http://www.healthykitchens.org/">4-day culinary medicine class</a> for health professionals at the Culinary Institute of America in California.</p><p>Surveys from doctors who&#39;ve taken the class have convinced him that such personal experience is key to translating the information to a patient. He cites studies showing that&nbsp; doctors who exercise or have given up smoking are much better at counseling patients on the issues.<br /><br />In a recent <a href="http://academicmedicineblog.org/sneak-peek-nutrition-education-in-an-era-of-global-obesity-and-diabetes-thinking-outside-the-box/">article for Academic Medicine,</a> Eisenberg lamented that so few medical schools prepare their students to dispense dietary guidance, &ldquo;and more importantly there are really few if any requirements on the part of graduating medical students to be knowledgeable about nutrition and its translation into practical advice for patients,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And those competencies don&rsquo;t exist on the certification exams to become a licensed physician.&rdquo;</p><p>The accreditation body that decides standards for 4-year medical school training is called the <a href="http://www.lcme.org/">Liaison Committee for Medical Education.</a> Its co-chair, Dan Hunt, says that after four years of medical school, he might expect graduates to &quot;identify nutritional disorders, but I wouldn&rsquo;t expect them to be able to treat those disorders because they&rsquo;re going to get the management of the illness in the next set of [specialized residency] training.&quot;</p><p>But that&#39;s not really how it works. In fact, in its <a href="https://www.acgme.org/acgmeweb/tabid/134/ProgramandInstitutionalAccreditation/MedicalSpecialties/InternalMedicine.aspx">34- and 35-page accreditation documents </a>for doctors of internal medicine or cardiology, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education never once mentions a need for any nutrition knowledge. When WBEZ contacted Dr. Mary Lieh-Lai, at the ACGME to ask her why, she initially said that she doubted this was true. Lieh-Lai is the senior vice president of medical accreditation at ACGME and she asked for time to go over the documents herself, and then speak to us.</p><p>When we called 30 minutes later she conceded that nutrition is never mentioned in the documents, but added, &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t dictate the detailed requirements. We leave that up to the programs and the programs make those detailed requirements at the local level because it depends on the local needs and things of that nature.&rdquo;</p><p>Asked if ACGME might ever consider including nutrition knowledge as a requirement for accreditation, Lieh-Lai said, &ldquo;No.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>&ldquo;Tsunami of obesity and diabetes&rdquo;</strong></p><p>Still, Eisenberg blames the current situation less on negligence by the accreditors than a slow response to the &ldquo;tsunami of obesity and diabetes&rdquo; that&rsquo;s hit this country.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think we could have predicted that health care professionals would need to know so much more about nutrition and its translation into shopping for and preparing healthy delicious foods,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Nor did we expect that we would need to know more about movement and exercise or being mindful in the way we live our lives and eat or how to change behaviors. I think these are relatively new areas of expertise that (we) really must grapple with for the next generation of health professionals.&rdquo;</p><p>Back in the Kendall College kitchen Maker Clark aims to give her students some of that expertise. In just the last two hours her students have mastered 12 healthy dishes that they will be able to pass on to future patients.</p><p>Today, this class is just a small grant-funded pilot, but Maker Clark envisions a day when it&rsquo;s standard fare in local med schools.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;That would be absolutely fantastic,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;If we can get it to the point where they are getting credit for it and then incorporated into the curriculum, that is a goal.&rdquo;</p><p>A more immediate goal is for students to share what they&rsquo;ve learned with others. Later this month, they&rsquo;ll be expected to teach healthy cooking workshops in underserved Chicago communities as their final project.</p><p>WBEZ will check that out and report back on it here.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at @monicaeng or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Wed, 03 Jun 2015 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cooking-change-american-medical-schools-112130 Culturally-sensitive workouts yield health results for immigrants http://www.wbez.org/news/culturally-sensitive-workouts-yield-health-results-immigrants-111973 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Asian-exercise.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On a Sunday afternoon at a small martial arts studio in a Lincolnwood strip mall, a dozen or so South Asian women warm up by marching in step to a thumping merengue beat.</p><p>Some of them wear stretchy yoga pants and t-shirts, but several sport traditional headscarves, and long, colorful tunics over billowy pants. Most of them are recent immigrants to the U.S. from India and Pakistan. All of them are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.</p><p>With flushed cheeks and glistening foreheads, they keep up with instructor Carolina Escrich as she barks out instructions. They jump, punch, squat, do push-ups and smile.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel happy &mdash; I&rsquo;m so happy,&rdquo; said Manisha Tailor giddily, after finishing the hour&rsquo;s workout right at the front of the class.</p><p>Tailor is one of thirty women recruited to participate in a 16-week study led by researchers at Northwestern University. She&rsquo;s been coming to the classes since February, and it was an entirely new experience for her.</p><p>&ldquo;I never danced before,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So, I like (to) dance. And I feel very comfortable.&rdquo; She adds that she also lost four pounds since coming to the class twice a week.</p><p>Tailor, like most of the participants, said she never exercised in her native India, and the thought of joining a gym was too intimidating. But now she&rsquo;s considering joining a women-only gym once the study finishes.</p><p>For Namratha Kandula, Principal Investigator of the Northwestern study, this is a breakthrough.</p><p>&ldquo;They have a lot of barriers to doing exercise,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;South Asians uniformly are less physically active than other groups. This group has high rates of overweight and obesity, and high rates of physical inactivity.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Kandula said this directly relates to the prevalence of diabetes among South Asians. Nearly a quarter of these immigrants in the U.S. develop the disease &mdash; a rate higher than that of Caucasians, African Americans and Latinos.&nbsp;Kandula&rsquo;s research at Northwestern&rsquo;s Feinberg School of Medicine focuses on crafting effective interventions for communities who are underserved and unaware of best health practices.&nbsp;</p><p>Kandula said on top of sedentary lifestyles, South Asians are genetically predisposed to developing diabetes. Still, research has shown that individuals can improve their odds of avoiding the disease through healthy eating and exercise.</p><p>&ldquo;The problem is that that research was not reaching the South Asian community in the sense that they weren&rsquo;t necessarily hearing the same messages, they weren&rsquo;t getting more physically active,&rdquo; said Kandula. &ldquo;And we know that a lot of evidence-based programs &mdash; they don&rsquo;t reach some of the more disadvantaged communities or communities that are isolated because of culture or language or geographic location.&rdquo;</p><p>Kandula&rsquo;s team is monitoring the women&rsquo;s weight and blood sugar to see if they show any changes over the course of the program. They partnered with Metropolitan Asian Family Services, a social services agency that works with many South Asian immigrant families on Chicago&rsquo;s far North Side. MAFS recruited participants and provides them free transportation to and from the classes.</p><p>The study aims to educate immigrant women, in particular, about eating healthier and the importance of exercise. In crafting the workouts, Kandula had to consider cultural hurdles that stood in the way for many women who were most at-risk for developing diabetes.</p><p>&ldquo;Modesty is something that&rsquo;s really important,&rdquo; explained Kandula, &ldquo;and women didn&rsquo;t feel comfortable working out at a regular gym or recreational facility.&rdquo;</p><p>Additionally, many women told Kandula that they prioritized their families over their own health. So she worked that into the design of her program by offering free martial arts classes to their children once a week. The only condition was that the mothers had to come to their workouts at least twice a week.</p><p>In fact, many women attend three times a week &mdash; and on the days they show up, several will stay for two classes back-to-back.</p><p>Rehanna Patel, a 49-year old mother of four, said the class works for her because it is fun and there are no men.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s important for it to be women&rsquo;s-only and having that secure space,&rdquo; she said through a translator.</p><p>Many other women echoed the thought, saying that they would feel less free to move about in the class if men were included, or if men could walk by and see them.</p><p>Patel said the class helped dispel her assumption that exercise is only for younger people.</p><p>&ldquo;I had always thought that these steps would only be done by a 20 or 25-year-old girl,&rdquo; she said, referring to the dance routine of the class. &ldquo;But the instructor did a great job.&rdquo;</p><p>Teaching these women was a new experience for instructor Carolina Escrich, too.</p><p>&ldquo;I needed to adjust the class and be careful with the type of music that I should use,<br />she said.</p><p>Escrich said it took two months to modify her usual Latin-inspired Zumba workouts into something more appropriate for her culturally conservative students. She modified the song selections to be less explicit, and has shifted the emphasis from sexy dance moves to more of an aerobics routine.</p><p>If the program shows significant health improvements, Namratha Kandula hopes they&rsquo;ll win funding for a wider study. But the women here have a more immediate concern.</p><p>&ldquo;I would feel really sad when the classes end,&rdquo; said Patel. &ldquo;The way we do it here, it&rsquo;s different, we enjoy it, I feel good and my body feels light.&rdquo;</p><p>Patel says even after the study ends she wants to keep exercising at home.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef"><em>@oyousef</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud"><em>@WBEZoutloud</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Fri, 01 May 2015 10:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culturally-sensitive-workouts-yield-health-results-immigrants-111973 Morning Shift: Has obesity in Illinois gotten out of control? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-09-08/morning-shift-has-obesity-illinois-gotten-out-control <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Yogma.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We take a look at obesity rates in America and why Illinois ranks 25th in the nation. We also talk about the medical marijuana registration process for the state. Plus, we get a unique take on bluegrass music from three Aussies.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-obesity-in-illinois/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-obesity-in-illinois.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-obesity-in-illinois" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Has obesity in Illinois gotten out of control? " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 08:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-09-08/morning-shift-has-obesity-illinois-gotten-out-control Is it time for the 'Immigrant Diet'? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/it-time-immigrant-diet-110723 <p><p>At a little Asian grocery store on Chicago&rsquo;s north side, Douglas Cheok studies the produce as he shuffles down the aisles. The Malaysian-born communications consultant, carefully selects small amounts of ginger, garlic, leafy greens, and soba noodles.</p><p>Then he stops at a shelf lined with fermented bean curd.</p><p>&ldquo;This salted bean curd soaked in vinegar and oil adds a more solid taste to the noodle soup or whatever you cook,&rdquo; he says sharing an Asian secret to inexpensive flavor. &nbsp;</p><p>Cheok adds the pungent curd to his cart, grabs a few fresh shrimp and heads to the check out line to buy groceries. It all costs less than $15 but he says it will last well over a week.</p><p>Once back in the kitchen, Cheok chops, minces, boils and stir fries his ingredients into a large feast of soup, greens and noodles. In the process, he demonstrates what might hold the key to affordable nutrition for all.</p><p>At least that&rsquo;s the working hunch of public health professor Adam Drewnowski, who is researching folks who upend conventional wisdom by achieving high levels of nutrition on tiny budgets.</p><p>Drewnowski stumbled upon the phenomenon last year when he was examining data on nutrient dense foods. Much of it is fairly expensive, but there were a few exceptions. Among a small group of Mexican American adults Drewnowski found consumers who were achieving high levels of nutrition at a low cost.</p><p>&ldquo;So maybe the secret is being able to transform those real foods, the raw ingredients which can be obtained cheaply at ethnic markets, into tasty meals&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Maybe, if you know how to cook them and transform then you&rsquo;re going to be OK.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Douglas Cheok show how he cooks healthy on a budget</strong></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/XKVFUFgUWUM" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Drewnowski is the Director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington and he&rsquo;ll be looking at a different sample of data later this year from Seattle. There he also expects to find Asian immigrants like Cheok.</p><p>So what is it about these immigrants that allows them to pull off this feat? &nbsp;</p><p>The folks at Oldways believe it&rsquo;s about sticking to traditional diets. OldWays is a nutrition non-profit aimed at improving health through heritage. And it urges folks to adopt many of the healthful tenets of Mediterranean, Latin American and Asian diets. This month they are launching classes on the African Heritage diet as well. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Traditional diets are not expensive diets,&rdquo; says Oldways president Sara Baer-Sinnott. &ldquo;The longer that immigrants are here in the US and become acculturated, the less likely they are to continue their traditional way of eating and therefore their health statistics decline. They become more obese. They have more hypertension. They are overweight. And by following traditional diets, it&rsquo;s not a very expensive way to eat and it&rsquo;s a healthier way to eat.&rdquo;</p><p>These diets can be especially affordable in cities like Chicago with abundant, low-cost ethnic grocers. While limes can cost 50 cents apiece at mainstream stores, they can often be 12 for a dollar at ethnic grocers.</p><p>Kenny Moore is a produce buyer for Pete&rsquo;s Fresh Market which serves heavily ethnic communities. He says that he&rsquo;s able to offer bargain prices because he sells such a large volume.</p><p>&ldquo;On a whole Hispanics and Asians do buy a lot of produce and so it helps our volume and our buying,&rdquo; Moore says. &ldquo;They like cooking and use a lot of herbs and vegetables to do so.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ethnic%20grocer%202.jpg" title="Ethnic grocery stores can offer incredible deals on produce because they sell so much of it, store reps say. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p>The situation in these ethnic neighborhoods would appear to be a public health professional&rsquo;s dream: affordable, accessible produce and lots of folks who know how to cook it. So does that automatically equal great health? Not always. &nbsp;</p><p>While Asian-Americans suffer less obesity than the general population, Latinos check in with more. In fact, 6th grade Latino boys suffer from the highest childhood obesity levels in the nation, despite generally robust access to fresh produce. &nbsp;</p><p>Public health researchers are still trying to sort it out why this happens.</p><p><strong>&ldquo;</strong>There are plenty of grocery stores in the neighborhood but buying healthy food. It gets tricky,&rdquo; says Erica Rangel a coordinator for <a href="http://enlacechicago.org/">Enlace, a health and education non-profit</a> in the Little Village neighborhood.</p><p>She recently gathered a group of women enrolled in an Enlace healthy gardening program to talk to about what&rsquo;s contributing to poor health in their community.</p><p>Graciela Contreras is a school lunch lady, gardener and grandmother who suffers from diabetes. Ironically, she blames some of the health problems in her community on traditional Mexican foods.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re used to the way we were taught to eat by our parents in Mexico &mdash; to eat tacos and enchiladas all that,&rdquo; she says in Spanish. &ldquo;That comes with more fat. So we are teaching our children and grandchildren to be healthier by eating vegetables. I steam the vegetables now.&rdquo;</p><p>Rangel believes the health issues have more to do with genetic factors, assimilation and little time for scratch cooking.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s easier when you&rsquo;re trying to feed a family and you feel that pressure to just buy in bulk things with higher sodium that are processed foods,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;You find it everywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>The other ladies offered similar sentiments. But I also chatted with local 6th grader Victor Marquez. While he doesn&rsquo;t have a weight problem, he says he know a lot of boys who do.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think they&rsquo;d have a problem if they ate good food but they eat bad foods,&rdquo; Marquez says. <strong>&ldquo;</strong>They eat junk like frozen stuff, chips, pizza, candy chocolates, lollipops, whatever.&rdquo;</p><p>But what about the fresh fruit stands that operate on nearly every block in Little Village? Don&rsquo;t his pals buy their fresh cups of mangoes, corn, melon and pineapple?</p><p>&ldquo;I always see kids get the chicharrones and the raspados and those aren&rsquo;t good because they&rsquo;re like ink,&rdquo; he says &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>Those chicharrones are deep fried artificial pork rinds and the raspados are snow cones drenched in inky sugar syrup. One vendor told me they&rsquo;re her No. 1 seller with kids.</p><p>But there may be hope for these kids off the street and back in the home. Drewnowski has some new research coming out that suggests the longer folks spend cooking, the better they eat. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>That certainly seems to be true for Douglas Cheok.</p><p>Back in his kitchen, he&rsquo;s chopping vegetables and boiling water for his stir fried greens and shrimp noodle soup. In less than an hour he&rsquo;s turned out enough dishes to last him all week. &nbsp;</p><p>As Cheok finally sits down to his his meal of shrimp soup and tofu with greens, he shares a startling secret.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t know how to cook before I came to the States,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;In Malaysia eating out was cheap so I didn&rsquo;t have to cook.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, the retiree says that if he can learn to cook, &ldquo;Anyone can learn. You don&rsquo;t need a college degree to know how to cook. But it is always good to know how to cook.&rdquo;</p><p>And it might not hurt to live near an ethnic grocery store.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/48706770&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/it-time-immigrant-diet-110723 CPS doesn’t know how much sugar is in kids’ meals http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-doesn%E2%80%99t-know-how-much-sugar-kids%E2%80%99-meals-110079 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/132244825_dbf0e21d9f_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>UPDATE TO UPDATE: May 2: Early Friday afternoon Aramark told WBEZ it had supplied CPS with the sugar data. Late Friday afternoon CPS sent it to WBEZ. An initial glance shows that a single CPS breakfast of French toast, syrup and orange juice can deliver 34.5 grams of sugar. &nbsp;This far exceeds the sugar limits set by the American Heart Association for grown women over an entire day. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>UPDATE: May 2: Tim O&#39;Brien of the Illinois Attorney General&#39;s office tells WBEZ that he is contacting Chicago Public Schools about the district&#39;s failure to complete our Freedom of Information Act request --particularly when it comes to revealing how much sugar is in CPS food. &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>When it comes to pinpointing the source of our childhood obesity epidemic, factors like fat and calories are receding slowly into the background while sugar is emerging as a major factor.</p><p>In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health says that &ldquo;Rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Strange, then, that in the most recent revamp of school food rules, sugar was untouched and remains completely unregulated. Sugar (which often arrives in the form of corn syrup)&nbsp; is such a non-issue to school food authorities that Chicago Public Schools don&rsquo;t even bother to keep track of how much they put in CPS food--food fed to some of the most obese children in the nation.</p><p>Seven weeks ago WBEZ sent in a Freedom of Information Act asking CPS for its Top 5 entrees and their ingredients, as well as the district&rsquo;s 50 most served foods and their nutrients. When the FOIA was finally answered, many things, including sugar levels, were missing.</p><p>Today, seven weeks after filing the FOIA request, WBEZ learned that the district doesn&rsquo;t &ldquo;collect&rdquo; and subsequently doesn&rsquo;t know how much sugar it&rsquo;s serving up to Chicago children.</p><p>WBEZ has put in a request to CPS caterer Aramark for this information. Representatives at the Pennsylvania-based company say that CPS never asked them for the data and this is the first they&rsquo;d heard of it.</p><p>It&rsquo;s unknown how much sugar is in the CPS &ldquo;syrup pancake cup&rdquo; or strawberry pancakes or French toast sticks, but it is known that Danimals yogurt cups contain 13 grams of sugar per serving. That&rsquo;s more than half of what the American Heart Association recommends for a grown woman&rsquo;s daily diet.</p><p>We&rsquo;ll keep you updated on our quest for data on Chicago Public School food here.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fmonicaeng&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGoYzy7NkmnMSoIdG75anzNVCJ90A">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 16:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-doesn%E2%80%99t-know-how-much-sugar-kids%E2%80%99-meals-110079