Study tracks school lunch food waste

More fruit and veggies than ever ending up in trash

It's harvest season!

You can give school kids all the fruit in the world, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to eat it. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A push to get kids eating healthier school meals isn’t exactly playing out as hoped, according to Vermont researchers, who used cameras to track what students are doing with the fresh fruit and veggies on their lunch trays.

It may not be a surprise to anyone who has spent time in a school lunch room, but many students are putting the apples and oranges straight into the trash, eating even fewer of them than they did before the the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was passed.

The new study, published online in Public Health Reports, is the first to use digital imaging to capture students’ lunch trays before and after they exited the lunch line. It is also one of the first to compare fruit and vegetable consumption before and after the controversial legislation – the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – was passed.

The study found that students put more fruits and vegetables on their trays, as required by the law. But that doesn’t mean the goodies are being eaten. Overall, the study found a big increase in food waste. Continue reading

Vermont study paints nuanced picture of GMO labeling effects

Some colorful cereal. I had never tasted these until a friend of my son's came for a sleepover and brought these along because they don't have any wheat in them. Anyone venture to guess what kind they are?

Does your favorite cereal include GMO ingredients?

Labeling may actually reduce opposition to GMOs among some demographic groups

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new Vermont study suggests that consumers don’t necessarily see GMO lables on food as a negative warning. In some cases, such labels may actually increase consumer confidence, the researchers said after analyzing five years worth of data.

A new study released just days after the U.S. House passed a bill that would prevent states from requiring labels on genetically modified foods reveals that GMO labeling would not act as warning labels and scare consumers away from buying products with GMO ingredients.

The statewide survey was focused on two key questions: whether Vermonters are opposed to GMO’s in commercially available food products; and if respondents thought products containing GMO’s should be labeled. Continue reading

Study: Pollinator decline poses huge human health risks

A honeybee gathers pollen on a wildflower in Austria.

A honeybee gathers pollen on a wildflower in Austria.

New study links decline of bees with malnutrition, especially in developing countries

Staff Report

FRISCO — Declines of crucial crop pollinators like bees is likely to put huge numbers of people in developing countries at risk for malnutrition, according to a new study that bolsters links between ecosystem stability and human health.

The research by scientists at the University of Vermont and Harvard University tested the claim that pollinators are crucial for human nutritional health by connecting what people actually eat in four developing countries to the pollination requirements of the crops that provide their food and nutrients. Continue reading

Study: Ecosystem alterations leading to widespread human health impacts

Research consortium proposes systematic assessment approach


In Belize, agricultural runoff is changing lowland wetlands to favor a proliferation of mosquitoes that are efficient malaria vectors. bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The accelerating pace of human-caused changes to natural systems may threaten the Earth’s ability to sustain a growing population at a fundamental level, a team of researchers said in a new paper published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper describes a new branch of environmental health that focuses on the public health risks of human-caused changes to Earth’s natural systems. Researchers contributing to the paper work with the Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages consortium.

The approach differs from the classic discipline of environmental health, which focuses on micro-level impacts — for example, how changes in the home environment can affect the health of an individual or a family, said Dr. Samuel Myers, a research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health. Continue reading

Health: Building a better pizza

A made-from-scratch Napoli-style pizza, with anchovies and black olives.

A made-from-scratch Napoli-style pizza, with anchovies and black olives.

Scottish researchers go back to pizza’s roots to find a healthy recipe

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — It turns out the secret to a better pizza might not be a double-stuffed cheese crust — all it takes is a little bit of seaweed and some whole grain flour, according to nutritionists with the School of Medicine at the University of Glasgow.

“Traditional pizza should be a low-fat meal containing at least one portion of vegetables, so mainly made from ingredients associated with better cardiovascular health,” said Professor Mike Lean.

“However, to enhance shelf-life, commercial pizza recipes today include much more fat and salt than desirable. Until now, nobody has stopped to notice that many essential vitamins and minerals are very low or even completely absent. From a nutrition and health perspective, they are hazardous junk,” Lean said. “Pizzas are widely consumed and regarded as meals in themselves, and yet their impact on human nutrition does not seem to have been studied,” he added.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Historically, pizzas were made from a few humble ingredients: Bread, tomatoes and a little cheese, combined to form a traditional, healthy meal. Continue reading

Health: Bite-size fruit a better bet for school meals


Kids at school are more likely to eat fruit if it’s pre-sliced, a new study shows.

Study shows dramatic increase in consumption when fruit is sliced

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Most parents know that kids coming home from school are more likely to eat fruit that’s been cut into bite-sized pieces. That same technique might encourage youngsters to eat more healthy foods as part of their school lunch, according to new research from Cornell University who tested the idea in eigh elementary schools.

Previous studies and surveys have shown that kids love to eat fruit in ready-to-eat bite-sized pieces, yet in most school settings, the fruit is served whole, which could be the reason children are taking fruits but not eating them.

Most people believe that children avoid fruit because of the taste and allure of alternative packaged snacks. A study by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab researchers Brian Wansink, David Just, Andrew Hanks, and Laura Smith decided to get to the bottom of why children were avoiding their fruit. Continue reading

Health: Tackling the obesity epidemic

Good, but not so healthy.

Mix of policy options needed to discourage junk food consumption and encourage healthy lifestyles

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With obesity rates still on the rise in North America, governments are under pressure to take stronger regulatory steps to curb rising health-care costs for maladies such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

A recently published series of papers from the University of Alberta examines some of the options available for policy makers seeking to promote healthier eating, including zoning restrictions on fast food restaurants, mandatory menu labels, higher taxes on junk food or even incentive-based approaches for pursuing a healthier lifestyle.

“Since eating and physical activity behavior are complex and influenced by many factors, a single policy measure on its own is not going to be the magic bullet,” said Nola Ries, of the university’s Faculty of Law’s Health Law and Science Policy Group. “Measures at multiple levels — directed at the food and beverage industry, at individuals, at those who educate and those who restrict — must work together to be effective.” Continue reading


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