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A new US House Subcommittee report found that popular baby food brands like Gerber, Beech-Nut, Earth's Best, Enfamil, and Similac contain high amounts of toxic metals, including arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium. These metals can remain in the environment for decades from past pesticide and herbicide use, according to Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumer Reports. The Food and Drug Administration considers these metals harmful to human health, and babies are particularly vulnerable due to their developing brains. The subcommittee's report said Earth's Best Organics used ingredients that tested as high as 309 parts per billion for arsenic, while Beech-Nut used ingredients testing as high as 913 ppb for arsenic, well over the FDA's 100 ppb limit. The companies claim the report cites outdated data, but Hansen recommends that concerned parents switch to fruits, vegetables, and grains pureed at home.
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Every 5 years, the USDA updates its dietary advice, which also directs funding for federal food and nutrition programs such as military rations and the School Lunch Program. An Advisory Committee studies the latest science and makes recommendations, this year including advice that Americans consume less than 6% of calories from added sugars and drink no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day. The USDA sidestepped those suggestions in favor of earlier ones to limit added sugar to less than 10% of calories a day and daily alcohol to two drinks or less for men and one or less for women. Perhaps lawmakers saw the folly of telling people to cut back on cookies and alcohol during a global pandemic. But they also saw the wisdom of advising Americans on what babies should drink. The new guidelines are the first to recommend feeding only breast milk to infants for at least six months and feeding no added sugar to children younger than 2.
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A new study of 8,000 adults from 50 countries and every state in America found that 27% of participants gained weight since pandemic lockdowns began in March. Researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana also found that 20% of participants experienced higher anxiety levels, and 44% said their sleep patterns had worsened. If you're feeling fat, agitated, and sleep-deprived, you're not alone. The upside? Researchers found that 17% of the study population actually lost weight during the pandemic, and 10% said their sleep had improved. If you're among those sleeping more, losing weight, and feeling great during the pandemic, count yourself lucky. And maybe show the rest of us how to do it.
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According to the latest data from the U.S. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, 17% of Americans say that they are on a diet. That's up from 14% ten years earlier. Over the same time period, obesity rates climbed to 42% of Americans, up from 34%. The takeaway? At least we're aware of our growing waistlines. Now, if only dieting could help the situation more.
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According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 3,000 additives are used in foods to enhance flavor, texture, and shelf life, among other functions. Some are simple ingredients like salt and sugar, while others are complex chemical compounds such as acesulfame potassium. In a new review, Consumer Reports weighs the pros and cons of FDA approved additives such as carrageenan, nitrites, phosphorus, and various artificial sweeteners. subscription model
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The City Council of Berkeley, California, passed an ordinance preventing grocery stores from stocking candy and soda in checkout lines, and encouraging them to stock fresh fruits and vegetables instead. Under the ordinance, the first of its kind, grocery stores larger than 2,500 square feet cannot sell products with more than five grams of added sugars or 250 milligrams of sodium per serving at checkout aisles, where junk food is often at the eye level of children. The new ordinance goes into effect March 1, 2021.