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Does Access to Calorie Information Make You Eat MORE?


A national health care debate on reducing obesity* has resulted in mandatory postings of calories on some of the menus in fast-food chain restaurants. A recent study tracked what people ate at four popular fast-food restaurants -- McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken -- and found that customers consumed even more calories after they were posted on menus.

*Obesity… Three points of measure:

  1. “If the waist measurement doubled (x2) is same or greater than height” (a simple point of measure according to Dr. Oz)

  2. According to the CDC, For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the "body mass index" (BMI). BMI is used because, for most people, it correlates with their amount of body fat.

    • An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.

    • An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

  3. For children and teens, BMI ranges above a normal weight have different labels (at risk of overweight and overweight). Additionally, BMI ranges for children and teens are defined so that they take into account normal differences in body fat between boys and girls and differences in body fat at various ages. For more information about BMI for children and teens (also called BMI-for-age), visit BMI for Children and Teens.

Would knowing the calorie count of menu items at your favorite restaurant influence your choice of entrée?

Yet, after calories were posted on the menu boards of the popular restaurant chains, around 28 percent of the customers said that the calorie count information influenced what they chose from the menu, and 9 out of 10 of the customers said that they opted for healthier items after reading the calorie posting.

But what the customers said didn’t match up to the receipts that were reviewed afterward. As a matter of fact, it was just the opposite. It was discovered the typical customer ordered even more calories after a calorie labeling law went into effect in July 2008. The details of the study shed light on these discrepancies:

  • Study focused on poor black and Hispanic fast-food customers in neighborhoods of New York City experiencing high rates of diabetes and obesity

  • Researchers collected 1,100 receipts two weeks prior to the calorie posting in chain restaurants then again four weeks after

  • Customers in New York City placed orders on the average of 825 calories before the calorie label law took effect and proceeded to order 846 calories after it was in effect

Customer Feedback Versus What the Experts Say

When asked about the findings of the study, fast-food customers revealed taste and cost led their decision-making process when it came to ordering.

One customer who was in Harlem for a job interview ordered two cheeseburgers, about 600 calories, for $2 and said that he bought it because it was cheap.

Another customer who bought a Happy Meal with chicken nuggets for her son and a Snack Wrap for herself said that she’s not interested in counting calories because life is short and because she’s pregnant she could eat everything she wants now.

Most experts agree that fast-food decisions made by low-income families are primarily based on cost and items that they perceive as filling.

“Low-income families may use calorie postings to get more for their money. I tend to do that too. When I go to Subway for lunch, I often order what can get me more calories [to fill me up], not what’s healthiest. To people who don’t have a lot of money, it may seem like getting the 95 calorie salad would be throwing money away,” said Adam Drewnowski, Ph.D., director of the UW Center for Obesity Research on why people are eating more despite the posting of calories.

Drewnowski believes the answer to this dilemma is two-fold -- identifying affordable nutrient-rich foods and supplying an affordable nutrition index, which calculates nutrients per dollar, not calories per dollar.

In order of importance, taste, cost, convenience, health and variety were cited as the main factors surrounding the psychological process that goes into eating, added Drewnowski.

How to Eat Healthy During Challenging Economical Times

During these tough economic times, it is still possible to shop for and prepare healthy meals without breaking the bank.

How to get the most out of the least …

Get More Nutrients From the Food You Eat With AbsorbAid Platinum: Super Digestive Blend

AbsorbAid Platinum is a vegetable-based digestive enzyme system that combines its effective ratio of proteases, amylases, lipases and cellulases with two "acid-tolerant" bacteria or a probiotic combination, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. AbsorbAid Platinum:

  • Breaks down all food groups
  • Maximizes nutrient absorption from consumed food
  • Helps alleviate digestive disturbances such as gas, bloating and acid indigestion
Learn More and Order AbsorbAid Platinum Now!

When you eat a meal, your body does not automatically absorb all the nutrients it contains. The term "bioavailability" refers to how many nutrients are actually absorbed by your system, and uncovering just how much of different nutrients are bioavailable in the foods we eat is no easy task.

If a substance is ingested, as foods are for example, its bioavailability is determined by the amount that is absorbed by your intestinal tract. So how do you know how much that is? The problem is you really don’t.

Nutrition experts are fond of saying that to get the most benefits, eat a varied diet, one that includes an array of fruits and vegetables, lean meat and whole grains. This is good advice but there is more to it than that.

Digestive enzymes are what allow your food to be broken down, and the nutrients absorbed by your bloodstream, however if you eat a mostly processed, cooked food diet you may be lacking in these crucial catalysts to nutrient absorption.

So if your diet consists primarily of cooked foods it’s important to take an enzyme supplement. There are numerous enzyme supplements available on the market to help increase your levels, but highly recommends the plant-based, acid-resistant digestive enzyme formulation, AbsorbAid Platinum from Nature’s Sources.

This vegetable-based digestive enzyme system combines its effective ratio of proteases, amylases, lipases and cellulases with two "acid-tolerant" bacteria or a probiotic combination, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

This product addresses not only the digestive enzyme system deficiencies recognized in most adults, but it combines two effectively beneficial bacterial strains that are metabolically complementary and help create a symbiosis with the digestive enzyme system complex and helps promote immune system excellence.

Why AbsorbAid “Platinum”?  

Compare and Be Aware: Why should you choose AbsorbAid® Platinumversus original AbsorbAid®? What we found:

“Platinum” does everything that the original does plus IMPORTANTLY much more!

  • “Platinum” has 12 enzymes (“AbsorbAid” doesn’t) 

  • 7 times (700% more) the amount of Lipase

  • 4 times (400% more) the amount of Amylase + Amyloglucosidase for complete breakdown of starch groups

  • More than 4 times (400% more) the amount of Protease (Plant protease, acid stable protease, bromelain and peptidase)

  • 20 times (2,000% more) the Cellulase + Hemicellulase or breaking down xylan and beta glucan

  • Includes Invertase for converting sucrose to flucose and fructose (“AbsorbAid” doesn’t) 

  • “Platinum” has alpha galatosidase for breaking down complex sugars in foods like beans and onions (“AbsorbAid” doesn’t) 

  • Two heat-stable probiotic blends (“AbsorbAid” doesn’t) 

  • “Platinum” is a better choice for those people who eat larger amounts of animal proteins

AbsorbAid “Platinum is also an ideal choice for those who:

  • Want the benefit of friendly bacteria to stabilize the gut

  • More assurance that all protein molecules are broken down more completely…(allergy sufferers, those who consume protein drinks, etc)

  • Have a more compromised immune system

  • Younger people who have a more rigorous level of physical activity, and those who are consuming fattier foods

  • Are attempting to rehabilitate from illness or injury

  • Suffer with age-related conditions and joint concerns

  • Metabolism has slowed due to age, illness, injury, lifestyle habits, etc.

  • Are showing signs of toxicity (mental impairment, aches, pains, bowel problems, slow transit time, indigestion, etc.)

  • Cannot chew their food (or do not chew their food) well enough due to dental problems

  • Live a more stressful lifestyle in general

Remember that your digestive enzyme production drops with age; it also declines greatly during times of stress such as when you are too cold, too warm, too tired, ill, recovering from injuries, or suffering from life’s pressures physically, mentally or emotionally, making a high-quality digestive enzyme important for nearly everyone!

Further, by stocking up on the following four food groups, you can eat nutritious meals and feel good about the amount of money you are spending on groceries by getting more nutritional intake (vs. spending same or more for nutritionally less).

1. Brown Rice

Brown rice offers a lot of versatility in meal planning and contains numerous health benefits, including weight loss, increased satiety, blood sugar stabilizing effects and prevention of cancer and heart disease. It can also be used to create a variety of meals such as soups, stews, stir-fries, beans and rice, rice salad, rice pilaf, rice and bean cakes, rice pudding and healthy fried rice.

Brown rice is a whole grain and is high in the following antioxidants and vitamins:

  • Manganese: helps with energy production

  • Selenium: helps prevent colon cancer

  • Thiamin and Niacin: B vitamins that support production of hydrochloric acid for the digestive system and play a critical role in carbohydrate metabolism and energy production

2. Frozen Produce (Can be Just as Nutritious as Fresh Fruits and Vegetables)

Frozen fruits and vegetables retain their soluble vitamins because they are processed at their peak ripeness state and then flash-frozen just hours after being picked.

One report revealed that fresh produce may lose their nutrients and deteriorate during the time spent in the chain of wholesalers and producers before they reach the retail stores.

Frozen vegetables are inexpensive and nutritious, and can be added to soups, stews, stir fries and side dishes and frozen fruit can be dropped in muffin mixes, used in smoothies or as a topping in your yogurt or oatmeal.

Buying healthy staples like brown rice and beans in bulk is a simple way to save money.

3. Eggs

Buying a dozen eggs is an inexpensive way to make many easy meals. Not only are eggs high in protein and low in carbohydrates, but they are also a source of brain-boosting choline, a chemical similar to B 1 vitamins.

Some creative egg dishes are frittatas, omelets, egg salad, hard-boiled and sliced on top of crackers or hard-boiled eggs with salt and pepper for a quick and healthy snack.

4. Beans

If you’re looking for a healthy, inexpensive meat substitute, stock up on beans. Keep in mind you’ll reap a great savings if you buy them in bulk when they are on sale. Beans also help keep you at a healthy weight because they are low in calories and high in fiber, protein and iron.

Other healthy benefits from beans include:

  • Helps lower your cholesterol

  • Keeps your system regular

  • Removes cancer-causing substances from your digestive tract

  • Helps stabilize your blood sugar levels

  • Can lower your risk of cancer

  • Heart-healthy

In addition to purchasing these four types of foods to have on hand you can take on the challenge of eating healthy and save money by planning your meals ahead of time and making a few, simple lifestyle changes.

Seven Tips to Eating Healthy, Saving Money and Staying at an Ideal Weight

  • When you go shopping, be sure it’s on a full stomach as there is a tendency to buy more when you are hungry

  • Prepare big-batches of food -- you’ll then have leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day(s)

  • Take a pass on prepared or pre-cut foods such as vegetables -- these items often cost twice as much as whole ingredients

  • Avoid buying pricy boxed cereals: instead buy rolled oats, steel cut oats, millet or other grains to prepare hot cereal for breakfast in the morning

  • Eat mainly fresh, whole foods, rather than processed varieties. As you switch over to more fresh foods, we highly recommend you take advantage of the healthy and absolutely delicious recipe book “Alive in 5”: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes

When prepared with locally grown ingredients from a source you trust, these are among some of the safest meals you can eat.

Your Pathway to Well-Being

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Create Your Own Stylized Fitness Plan With SheaNetics From

  • Grow your own food when you can. This is one way you can ensure that your food is pesticide-free. It’s also a great way to save money even if you start by putting together a small window garden for growing fresh herbs. If you don’t have the time to grow your own food, the next best thing is, an excellent Web site to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of safe and sustainably grown food in your area.

  • Don’t forget your exercise plan! Daily exercise is a healthy behavior that compliments your eating habits. For a complete mind-body workout to add to your exercise routine, we highly recommend SheaNetics.

Most exercise programs are geared only to give you short term physical improvement. But SheaNetics™ understands the real goal for us all is to find total health and fulfillment that is life-lasting. This can only be achieved by creating harmony in body, mind and self.

We encourage you to check out Shea’s new 6-Disc DVD/CD workout set to get started on your pathway to well-being!

And Now You Can Keep Fit for Less!

Sheanetics has nearly sold out and told us that they will soon no longer offer this value of combined DVDs and CDs. They plan to break this set up into individual DVDs and CDs, each costing as much as one half this price or more, which could make this total package as much as three times the price or more.

So we recommend you buy NOW before this offer is no longer available!

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Recommended Reading

How to Eat Out at a Restaurant: 12 Tips to Save Money, Eat Healthy & Still Enjoy

All the Health Risks of Processed Foods -- In Just a Few Quick, Convenient Bites


The Faculty Lounge February 23, 2009

Health Supplements Nutritional Guide September 11, 2009

Trusted MD March 29, 2009 November 18, 2008

The New York Times October 6, 2009

iVillage October 12, 2009

To get more information about this and other highly important topics, sign up for your free subscription to our weekly "Be Safe, Live Long & Prosper" e-newsletter.

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