Thursday, July 02, 2009

Diet claim: Eating food with a high water content, like soup, can help reduce your calorie intake

Another stupid theory put forward without testing. I have no doubt that people will habituate to such a diet and end up eating larger quantities. See the article following this one

It gives a whole new, and rather more healthy meaning to the liquid lunch. Eating food with a high water content could be the key to losing weight. Nutritionists believe that dishes such as rice, pasta, soups and stews, appear to keep you feeling fuller for longer. But the liquid must be part of the food. Drinking a glass of water while you eat will not have the same effect, said the British Nutrition Foundation.

The theory is based on studies which showed that although somebody will eat different foods on different days, the weight of food consumed will hardly vary. This means that if we eat foods that are just as bulky but contain fewer calories, we should feel just as full.

Water-rich foods tend to be low in calories or have a low energy density, a BNF conference heard. A spokesman said: 'Studies have shown that people tend to consume the same weight of food each day but not necessarily the same amount of energy or calories. 'So it is possible to trick ourselves into consuming less energy, without feeling hungrier, by eating a lower energy density diet which still makes up the same weight of foods overall throughout the day.'

To work out the energy density of a food, divide the number of calories by its weight. So a 40g bag of crisps with 200 calories has an energy density of five – putting it towards the high end of the scale. At the other end of the scale are most fruits and vegetables, as well as vegetable soups, low-fat yoghurt, baked beans, baked potatoes and cornflakes. Many of these are high in water and all have an energy density of 1.5 or less, making them good to fill up on.

Foods with a medium rating include strawberries and cream, lasagne, steak, pizza and chips.

Joining crisps at the high end of the scale, with ratings of four or more, are cheese, chocolate, mayonnaise and butter. Chocolate-lovers, however, can take some heart. The lightness of chocolate mousse means it has a lower rating – and so is more filling – than squares of chocolate. Weight for weight, a low-calorie mousse has around a quarter of the calorie count as the solid variety, but, according to the BNF, should be just as filling.

Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum, a nutrition scientist at the foundation, advised including 'more foods with a low energy density, moderate amounts of foods with a medium energy density and small amounts with a high density'. She added: 'For instance, if you make spaghetti bolognese and make the sauce with mincemeat it might be a bit high in fat. 'If you put a lot of veg in the sauce, you will probably eat the same amount of sauce but a lot fewer calories.'

The idea that certain foods make you feel more full than others is the basis of several popular diets. The Atkins Diet, for example, works on the principle that protein satisfies hunger quicker than carbohydrates. So dieters who fill up on steak and eggs lose more weight – and keep it off for longer – than those who tuck into similar quantities of pizza and potatoes.

The British Dietetic Association said it was a good idea to eat lots of fruit and vegetables but that meat, fish and starchy foods should also have a place on our dinner plates.


Why those oh-so-healthy diet foods make us eat even more

On a diet but struggling to shed the pounds, or - horror of horrors - actually gaining weight? Well it could be because you're on a diet, according to scientists. A study has shown that when faced with a healthy, low-calorie dish, we instinctively increase the portion on our plate or feel justified in going back for second helpings.

Researchers at the University of Bristol discovered those on low-calorie diets believe you can't have too much of a good thing and end up consuming just as many calories as if they were eating regular dishes. 'A person's perception of how full a meal will make them feel will no doubt affect portion size,' said Lisa Miles, of the British Nutrition Foundation. 'It's so important to be aware of behavioural triggers for overeating.'

The Bristol team, led by Dr Jeff Brunstrom, looked at the responses of 76 adults to 18 foods and found they quickly learnt their calorie values and over-compensated accordingly. The findings back up a 2007 Canadian research paper on the causes of childhood obesity, which found that rats given low-calorie food also tended to over-eat.

In a second study, Dr Brunstrom found children whose parents regulated sugary snacks, such as chocolate or crisps, ended up bingeing on them when given a chance. The researchers tested 70 children aged between ten and 12 years old, presenting them with six unhealthy treats. A child who was rarely allowed the snack was more likely to over-estimate how much they should eat, miscalculating a 250kcal portion as a 120kcal one. Meanwhile, a youngster who had eaten the foods previously would be able to assess accurately how calorific it was, on average guessing that a 250kcal portion contained 230kcal.

Dr Brunstrom, a lecturer in experimental psychology, will present his work at a BNF conference this week. He said: 'These findings suggest that limiting access to certain snack foods limits learning about their properties. Thus, when snack foods are eventually encountered they might tend to be selected in larger portions.'

This could be bad news for parents who believe they are doing their children a favour by placing sweet treats off-limits. Tam Fry, chairman of the Child Growth Foundation and a member of the National Obesity Forum, said: 'Early in a child's life they need to be introduced to portion size as a positive measure, otherwise it becomes forbidden fruit. 'It isn't just the ignorant affected by obesity, it goes across all social classes.'


More on boy's peanut death

It seems that the army has unfairly taken the rap for this. It was entirely a school responsibility. Apparently the boy's parents did the right thing but the school failed to pass on the info to the relevant staff. I would still call it "death by misadventure", though, and it may still motivate the army and others to ban peanut products across the board. South-East Asian cuisine (Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian) could be badly hit as they use peanuts in almost everything

The role of an elite private school in the death of a 13-year-old student on an army cadet camp should be examined by an inquest, a Federal Court judge has recommended.

Nathan Francis, a student at Melbourne's Scotch College, died on March 30, 2007, after suffering a severe allergic reaction to peanut butter, which was in a beef satay army meal supplied on the Australian Defence Force camp. The camp, in the Wombat State Forest in central Victoria, was run by staff and teachers at the school.

The school had told parents not to provide food as they were using ADF meals, but asked to be alerted to any food allergies. Nathan's mother, Jessica Francis, wrote that her son had a severe allergy, stating: "PEANUTS -- but all nuts must be avoided."

However, a list of students with food allergies did not reach the staff member who issued the meals and Nathan was given beef satay. After a mouthful, the boy was helped by a fellow student to the camp's headquarters and he died on the way to hospital.

"There has so far been no opportunity for the role of Scotch College in the death of Nathan to be examined in public," judge Tony North said. "The circumstances presented to this court raise a question whether Scotch College, through its teachers and staff, bear some responsibility."

His recommendation came as he passed judgment on civil action against the ADF and the chief of the army over the boy's death. Comcare, on behalf of Nathan, who was considered an employee of the ADF, had sued the commonwealth for breaching its duty of care. The commonwealth admitted liability and the ADF was fined $210,000.


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