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hCG Injections for Weight Loss: Do They Really Work?

What if I told you that we've discovered the secret to weight loss—something so amazing, easy, and effective that it can help you drop several pounds a day, lose that stubborn belly fat for good, and finally "fix" your metabolism so that you'll never suffer from weight problems again? Sounds great, right?

All you have to do is never eat any brand name foods from big food companies, eliminate all artificial sweeteners, white sugar and flour (and a handful of other things), switch to a 100% organic diet, eat big salads at lunch and dinner, consume no more than 500 calories a day and inject yourself with a special "solution" each day while you do it. Your reaction to that should be "no thanks, I'll pass," but many others think it sounds like the weight-loss breakthrough they've been waiting for.

It's called the hCG diet. If you haven't heard of it, it's not your fault. Proponents of this diet claim that it's so effective that the government has worked hard to cover it up for years because it would solve obesity and health problems that would put pharmaceutical companies out of business.

That may seem plausible. I love a good conspiracy theory myself. But the deeper you dig, the more red flags you'll find about the hCG diet and its infamous injections.
Posted 7/24/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 211 comments   496,478 views
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Do Packaged Diet Foods Really Result in Better Weight Loss?

A recent study published in the April 2013 issue of the International Journal of Obesity examined whether people would lose more weight on their own (sticking to a prescribed calorie goal) or by eating pre-packaged diet foods that totaled the same number of daily calories. The story was picked up by news outlets with eye-catching headlines like "Packaged diet foods may spur more weight loss," (Reuters).

Sounds pretty good, right? We thought so, too. So we dug a little deeper to bring out the real truth. 

Posted 5/11/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Megan Patrick : 43 comments   22,574 views
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Poll: Whom Do You Trust for Nutrition Information?

I've noticed a popular trend this year among friends who have children.  A common New Year's Resolution I heard other moms talking about was to feeding their families fewer processed foods.  This has been one of my goals for quite some time, but I know from experience that it's not very easy.  One reason it can be difficult to feed your kids healthier foods is that you get different recommendations about the "right" and "wrong" things to eat depending on where you look.  Your doctor says one thing. The doctor on TV says another. SparkPeople's dietitians recommend certain strategies. And those tips might conflict with what your best friend has tried successfully.
According to a new national survey, moms will be making changes to their food-buying decisions over the next year, and looking to more non-traditional sources for advice.  When it comes to food and nutrition, "Moms place higher priority on the opinions of bloggers and peers than that of experts like doctors and dietitians," according to the survey results. This stood out to me; it seems we trust one another more than the people we've been told to trust as "experts" all these years. So who do you trust more?
Posted 3/25/2013  4:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 28 comments   13,764 views
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Should You Believe the 'Organic Isn't Healthier' Study?

It's been all over the news this week: A new study conducted by researchers from Stanford University, and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, finds little evidence that organic foods are any healthier than conventionally grown foods.
If you've been shelling out the extra cash for organic (which does cost more than conventional in most cases), you may feel as if you've been duped!
Before you wallow in all of your wasted dollars, let's stop and think: Could this really be true?
Don't put those pesticide-free carrots back on the shelf just yet! Like any study, it's important to read past the attention-grabbing news headlines and think critically about the information being presented. If you ask me, this study (and its news coverage) is questionable.
Posted 9/7/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 141 comments   27,062 views
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Tempted by the Latest Fitness Gadget? Do Your Homework

We’re all familiar with the saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  Yet it’s so easy to get sucked in by the big promises many health and fitness products make.  “Lose 10 pounds a week!”, “Get ripped abs with this one piece of equipment!”, or “Get the body you want without all the effort!” are some of the more extreme examples, but we spend billions of dollars every year hoping there is just a little bit of truth in their claims.  Before you get out your wallet, it’s a good idea to dig into these product claims further.  A new survey investigated the research supporting magazine advertisements and websites for a broad range of sports products.  The results might surprise you.
Posted 8/21/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 22 comments   12,166 views
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VIDEO: Shocking Before and After Transformation Photos in 5 Hours

How many times have you seen a product that promises great results for weight loss in a short amount of time? Too many, if you ask me! Not only do they make these great promises, but they have "fabulous before and after photos" to show consumers how their product can help you see such amazing results too. Of course, the photos that they show make their product look like it really works, but are they true before and after photos? I'm sure most people have heard about photos being manipulated in Photoshop, which some may be, but below is a video that shows some interesting insight into how some before and after photos for "weight loss" can be done in the same day (within 5 hours of each other, without Photoshop).
Posted 2/23/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 64 comments   48,722 views
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10 Red Flags of Junk Science (and Bogus Diets)

One day you hear that a certain food, supplement, or diet is good for you, the next day you hear the opposite. According to survey results shared by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), one in five people reported being confused by news reports that give dietary advice. Can you blame them?

Most people don't have access to the professional journals that publish these studies, so the average person relies on secondary sources (newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs and other media outlets) that interpret, condense and report on the studies in a more consumer-friendly way. Trouble is, research is hard to interpret. Ten people could look at one study and come away with 10 different takeaways. And even the best reporters and bloggers can get it wrong, especially under tight deadlines or pressure to write an eye-catching story that will sell papers or garner more views.
Mundane news becomes sensationalized to get viewers and readers. Results are often spun to feed the writer's or organization's own interests. And vital details like who funded the research (conflict of interest), how it was designed, or how well controlled it (or not) was often go unmentioned.
But it's important that we all become better consumers of health information—and read any news story with a discerning eye. Because what you read—and believe—based on these reports affects your behaviors, which in turn affect your health.
So the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance (FANSA), a partnership of the ADA, American Society for Clinical Nutrition, and the American Society for Nutritional Sciences and the Institute of Food Technologists, developed the Ten Red Flags of Junk Science to help people recognize nutrition misinformation. Remember these points next time you read the latest news on weight loss or nutrition.
Posted 8/5/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 19 comments   23,012 views
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New Wendy's 'Natural-Cut' Fries: Are They Any Healthier?

In a recent 2010 Zagat Fast-Food Survey, Wendy's French fries came in at number four behind industry leader McDonald's, up-and-comer Five Guys and In-N-Out Burger. Perhaps that is why after 41-years, Wendy's has redesigned their fries.

In an attempt to enhance flavor and texture, the new "natural-cut" fries include the skin and sea salt seasoning. They have been designed to be a hotter and crispier fry. The new 100 percent Russet potatoes made their nationwide debut a few weeks ago but they have just arrived in restaurants in our area. They seem to be another focus on wholesome ingredients to appeal to the nutrition conscious just as their new salads were earlier this year. So how do they measure up?

Posted 11/30/2010  6:27:18 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 126 comments   38,884 views
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Separating Hype from Reality on Menus

When you're on the run or out with friends, it's not always possible to plan ahead and do your research before heading to a restaurant. (If you can plan ahead, Tanya's Food on the Run series is a fantastic resource.) Once there, your senses are often assaulted by glossy photos on menus and table tents, tantalizing smells, and fast-paced sales pitches from servers. Even your fellow diners get in on the act, urging you to try the newest, most popular menu item. "Crispy breaded macaroni and cheese bites wrapped in bacon and served with our five-queso, dragon fire dipping sauce." Sounds good when everyone else is ordering it, right?

While the trend at some hip restaurants is simplicity (Mac-n-cheese: penne + pancetta + artisan Gouda), most restaurants add long descriptions to entice diners. "Fluffy omelets," "real cheese," and "fresh lettuce" become selling points.

But think about it: Omelets are fluffy by nature. Shouldn't all cheese be real? And would someone really serve not-fresh lettuce? (Perhaps, but most customers would send it back.) If you're telling me about a specific type of food--Hass avocados, which have a richer flavor than other varieties; Vidalia onions, known for their sweetness; or Niman Ranch pork, a high quality brand--then please add the descriptors. But if restaurants are stating the obvious, overselling their dishes, or trying to gloss over unhealthy ingredients, we as consumers should be able to read beyond that and make educated decisions.

My number one piece of advice for translating menus: If you would never be willing to eat the opposite of a menu description (e.g. stale bread, soggy lettuce, tough chicken), then the modifier is just hype!

When you're learning to maneuver the thick menus of restaurants and seek out healthier items, it's not always easy. I've scoured menus for descriptions that are full of hollow marketing terms. Let's separate hype from reality. Below, I'll translate these menu descriptions. Do any of these adjectives and descriptions actually mean food is better for us? Or--health aspects aside--does it really make a difference in the final taste? Does it justify an added cost? No restaurants will be named in the list below.
Posted 8/25/2010  11:10:12 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 34 comments   16,053 views
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Decoding the Mystery of Food Labels

I consider myself to be a conscientious label-reader at the grocery store. As a general rule of thumb, I don't buy products that contain a long list of ingredients with words I can't pronounce. If I have no clue what is in the product, I assume it's probably not the best thing to be putting into my body or serving to my family. But sometimes it's overwhelming and confusing. Companies do their best to convince us their products are good for us, even if they aren't. Do words like "all-natural" and "organic" mean "healthy"? Not necessarily.
Posted 7/30/2010  12:30:14 PM By: Jen Mueller : 42 comments   14,988 views
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Froot Loops Qualify for the new “Smart Choices” Label (?!)

You’ve probably seen those new green checkmark labels that are starting to show up on lots of packaged food products in your grocery store. The label is intended to be a guide for consumers who want to make healthier choices when shopping for groceries. It’s part of a new program called “Smart Choices” that’s sponsored by a group of 10 major food producers, including Kellogg’s, General Mills, ConAgra Foods, Tyson Foods, and PepsiCo.

In order to display the Smart Choice label, a product must meet nutritional guidelines established by the program, which set limits on the amount of sugar, salt, and fat a product can contain, and specify that it should have a certain amount of desired nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Sounds pretty good, right? Many people don’t pay much attention to the food labels on these same products, so having a simple label prominently displayed on the front of the package could be a good way to let people know which products are more nutritionally sound than others.

But as usual, the devil is in the details—in this case, the details of the program’s nutritional guidelines. It seems that both Froot Loops and Cocoa Crispies are eligible for the Smart Choice label, as are both lite and regular mayonnaise, and any frozen or packaged meals with up to 600 milligrams of sodium in them (25% of the recommended maximum intake).

What’s going on here?
Posted 9/10/2009  5:23:48 PM By: Dean Anderson : 261 comments   23,565 views
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Natural vs. Organic: What's Truth and What's Hype?

Pop quiz: Which is the best product description to read on a food label?
A. “100% natural”
B. “All natural ingredients”
C. “100% organic”
D. “Certified organic ingredients”

(Keep reading for the answer!)

This spring, Eco Pulse, a recent survey conducted by the Shelton Group, asked that same question, and though natural and organic foods are now available in seven in 10 supermarkets nationwide, according to the Food Marketing Institute, most of the 1,006 respondents didn't do so well.

We're paying more attention to the food that goes into our mouths.

Sales of natural and organic food topped $28 billion in 2006, according to the Nutrition Business Journal, with demand for organic foods alone increasing 22 percent, to almost $17 billion.

However, as consumers try to become more discerning at the supermarket, the buzzwords used on food labels are growing more complicated and convoluted. Whether you want the greenest option or products that are minimally processed and free of laboratory-created ingredients, all those grandiose marketing claims can confound even the savviest shopper.

“Many consumers do not understand green terminology,” said Suzanne Shelton of the Shelton Group.

In a world where burgers are "now made with real beef," carrots are labeled cholesterol-free and sugary drinks are sold as vitamin supplements, what's hype and what's healthy?

Posted 7/14/2009  10:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 56 comments   34,106 views
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Simple Ingredient Lists: Just Another Marketing Gimmick or a Healthier Food Option?

There seems to be a new trend in town these days that may or may not help the average consumer. But in a world where there are literally hundreds of new products on the shelves to choose from, having a simplified ingredient list may just be the answer. Or is it?
Posted 4/15/2009  4:09:18 PM By: Nancy Howard : 187 comments   11,128 views
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Does it Really? The Truth about Açaí

We've all seen the ads.

Rachael Ray lost weight with açaí berries!

Lose 20 pounds in 2 days with açaí!

Açaí flush is the secret to weight loss.

Is it true? Does açaí, a berry native to Central and South America, hold the key to weight loss?
Posted 12/18/2008  3:15:03 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 120 comments   26,549 views
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Consider the Source: Could McDonald's Be Good For Your Kids?

McDonald's has launched a new kind of ad campaign, this time targeting moms . The idea is to promote some of the more positive aspects of foods like French fries and Egg McMuffins. Skeptical? I know I was……
Posted 11/28/2008  4:46:42 PM By: Jen Mueller : 172 comments   9,950 views
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