Posts Tagged ‘weight management’

The Evidence Builds: New Research Highlights Calcium’s Role in Weight Management

In June, an analysis of research published in Nutrition Reviews found a modest, yet significant effect of calcium in reducing body weight and body fat in studies at least six months long. And now, new research adds to the growing amount of evidence for calcium’s role in weight management.


Fan of Yogurt? New Study Provides Another Reason to Be!

If you’re already a fan of yogurt, a new study published by the Harvard School of Public Health has good news for you.

Researchers followed more than 120,000 U.S. men and women over a 20 year period, and found that while certain foods are associated with putting on the pounds, others including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and yogurt are associated with less weight gain. In fact, yogurt was associated with the highest level of weight gain prevention over a four-year period; however, the study did not separately examine yogurts with various levels of fat or sweeteners.


Nutrient rich foods: The answer to question, “What do I eat?”

Given the unfortunate trend among kids and adults that we are seeing today – more are overfed yet undernourished – I was pleased to see several sessions at last month’s American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Scientific Assembly in Boston that addressed nutrition and weight management. In particular, one that stood out to me was given by Michelle May, MD, an AAFP member, 3-A-Day advisory panel member and self-proclaimed “recovered yo-yo dieter.”  

In her talk, “A Family Centered Approach to the Prevention of Obesity and Eating Problems in Childhood,” Dr. May addressed specific strategies on how to address feeding, nutrition and physical activity during well child visits.  Her stated goal: Provide the optimum environment for healthy growth and development…and eating habits that don’t lead to food and weight problems. She offered the following key messages:

1. Respect the child’s instinctive cues of hunger and fullness. Don’t force children to eat when they’re not hungry or clean their plates.
2. To decrease the development of triggers for overeating, don’t use food to entertain, reward, bribe, distract, or comfort children.
3. Encourage family mealtime.
4. Decrease sedentary activity. Limit screen time to two hours daily.
5. Make physical activity a high family priority.

Dr. May also firmly believes that all foods can fit into a healthy diet. When faced with the question asked by families, “What do I eat?” Dr. May suggested physicians encourage intake of nutrient-rich foods like low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Good answer, Dr. May! Her suggestion for dietary guidance is essentially the basis for the Nutrient Rich Foods Approach. By choosing dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains first, patients will get the most nutrition for their calories and follow recommendations laid out in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid. And, with an emphasis on what to eat as opposed to what not to eat, the positive tone may be better received than other, more punitive, recommendations.

To learn more about Nutrient Rich Foods and download valuable health professional educational resources, go to

And, stay tuned for a guest blog from Dr. May, in which she’ll discuss her approach in more detail.

Low-fat dairy intake improves body weight and composition change in college students

In a recent study by Poddar published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, it was observed that college students who consumed more low-fat dairy foods (0.8 + 0.1, range 0.5 to 2.6 servings/day) had a reduced gain in body weight, and reductions in waist circumference, percent truncal fat, and percent total body fat than students who consumed lower amounts of dairy foods (0.1 + 0.0, range 0 to 0.4 servings/day). Total dairy food intake was not associated with body weight or body composition changes. Students who were better consumers of low-fat dairy foods had better overall dietary patterns.

It is interesting that in these mainly normal weight students they were able to see effects of dairy food intake on changes in weight and body composition in this short term study (8 months).

In a 2005 study by Gunther et. al. published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition it was observed that higher dairy food intake by young women for 1 year did not result in significant affects on weight or fat gain. Although there was a trend towards lower fat mass, it was not significant. However, when these investigators examined a subset of the participants at 6 months after the study (found in Obesity), they found that the higher dairy consumers continued their better intakes and had significantly lower fat mass accumulation.

These studies help us understand that the effect of dairy food consumption, in a predominately normal weight population, is significant over time.

School nutrition plays a role in child health and wellness

I recently had the pleasure to attend the American Dietetic Association’s Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management in Kansas City. With overweight and obesity rates at an all time high among children and adolescents – 32% according to NHANES – I was encouraged to see more than 150 registered dietitians participating in the two and a half day workshop designed to produce providers of comprehensive and integrated weight management care.

While I found all of the speaker presentations to be informative and helpful, one that really stood out was given by dietitian Donna Martin, director of the Burke County School Nutrition Program in Waynesboro, Georgia.

When you consider that students who buy school lunch tend to be at a healthier weight, consume three times as many dairy products, twice as much fruit and seven times the amount of vegetables, it’s hard to overlook the value of school meal programs, as well as Donna’s role in maintaining a healthy school nutrition environment. Donna shared many best practices that have helped her district achieve a “Gold Level” rating by Healthier US School Challenge, a program that recognizes nutrition excellence in schools.

Here are several:

1) Elimination of fried foods in the cafeteria, with the exception of fried chicken on the menu once every six weeks. Given fried foods are a staple in Southern cooking, this change took courage!

2) Switching recess to the period before lunch, rather than after, so that kids are hungry when they return to the cafeteria and aren’t in a rush to go outside and play.

3)  The New Look of School Milk program, which gives students access to plain and flavored bottled milk in the cafeteria.

Because many students don’t have access to milk at home, Donna says ensuring availability of milk at school is one of her top priorities.

Way to go Donna and Burke County schools for paving the way toward a healthier future for our children! She and her staff demonstrate that with time, commitment and creativity, change is possible.

Kids gain more weight in the summer

Around the country, school kids are breathing easier—summer vacation is here. But maybe the change in season should alarm parents and health professionals. A recent journal article indicated that students gain more weight when they are not in school. This was especially true for those at the most risk of obesity— Hispanics, blacks and already overweight children.

I’ve heard many say that the study findings surprised them. After all, there’s so much pressure on schools today to improve the nutrition environment. As health professionals, how can we help parents, especially when they are concerned about their child’s weight? I’ve outlined five strategies that can help:

1. Schedule meals and snacks
Ellyn Satter’s work provides the best sensible advice on feeding children of all ages, from picky eaters to overweight children. Structuring times for meals and sit-down snacks is critical because it allows for children’s nutritional needs to be met. It also means children learn to trust that their food needs will be met; that allows them to rely on their own body’s cues for satiety. Children do have smaller stomachs so snacks are important. As a busy parent, I know it’s great to have the whole family on the same timetable to avoid being a short order cook! Who has time for that?! I’m not a particularly structured person but as my kids have grown, I have really come to fully appreciate the wisdom in this advice, both for the kids and for the parents. What do you find with clients or your own family?

2. Offer snacks that pack a nutrition punch
With kids consuming significant calories as snacks, parents should view snacktime as a chance to serve nutrient-rich foods, especially food groups that kids don’t get enough of (like dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains).  Feeding expert Ellyn Satter again offers parents practical guidelines so that they know which decisions they need to make and which decisions to allow children to make.

In a healthy division of feeding responsibility, parents decide:
• what foods are offered
• when food  is offered
• where food is offered

Kids then determine how much to eat—and whether to eat at all.

3. Watch Liquid Calories
Kids today drink more sugar sweetened beverages, according to one study published last year in Pediatrics. From NHANES 1988-2004 data, on a typical day, four out of five teens (84%) drink beverages such as soda, fruit drinks and sports drinks, sipping an extra 356 calories a day. It’s not just the older kids though. Children as earlier as two are part of this alarming trend. In fact, the largest increase was among school-aged children, ages 6-11, which increased consumption about 20%.

When children are thirsty, parents should offer water between meals and snacks. In fact, to help prevent tooth decay, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents only offer water or milk in between meals.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend children ages 9-18 get 3 servings a day of calcium-rich dairy foods. As a dietitian, I find it’s hard to achieve that without milk. For children who aren’t really milk drinkers, parents might serve chocolate milk with snacks. Any parent knows that kids drink more milk when it is flavored. NHANES data show that kids who drink flavored milk don’t consume any more sugar or total fat than non-milk drinkers.

Research also indicates that kids who drink milk are as lean or leaner than those who drink little milk.

4. Get kids moving
Plan active family outings like a walk after dinner or a stroll in the park. Let kids play outside with friends. Gather a group for some double-dutch Play a game of kickball. A pedometer might make a game out of moving more. One way to encourage children to be more active is to limit screen time—time in front of a television, computer or video game. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a limit of two hours total a day, as discussed on MayoClinic.

5. Make family meals a priority
In all cultures through the ages, families have shared food at mealtimes. Today’s lifestyle threatens that bond. Yet, kids who eat more often with their families are less likely to have a weight problem. In fact, family mealtimes offer lots of social and psychological advantages that go even beyond better nutrition. This is tradition worth holding on to, yet as a mother, I know it’s hard to stick to but I keep trying because I know it’s so critical. Anyone have tricks that make it easier?

Let me introduce myself: Stephanie Cundith on weight management, child nutrition and sports nutrition

As a registered dietitian and nutrition spokesperson for the National Dairy Council and Midwest Dairy Council, I’m excited for the opportunity to post on The Dairy Report.  With degrees in journalism and dietetics, the desire to write about nutrition is in my blood!  And, amidst so much online discussion  about health and nutrition, I am eager to jump into the conversation with credible, science-based posts, including the most recent breaking news on dairy nutrition and details on the many benefits of dairy.  

With a professional focus on weight management, child nutrition and sports nutrition, I’ll be sharing some great information on how dairy supports overall health for people of all ages.  In addition to working full-time for the dairy council, I am the mother of a young son.  I know a thing or two about juggling the responsibilities of work and family, while still finding time to make health and nutrition a priority.  I look forward to sharing my strategies for success. 

Working with a variety of audiences, including media, dietitians, family physicians, pediatricians, and consumers, equips me with a broad understanding of the types of information and resources people are in search of as they work to build a healthier lifestyle.  This insight, no doubt, will be beneficial as I select my next post.   Be on the lookout for more! 

In good health,


Check out the supplement in the new issue of JACN!

A recent peer-reviewed supplement focused on dairy’s role in nutrient adequacy and chronic diseases was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition

These peer-review articles were authored by experts in the field and provide a nice overview of the current state of the science related to dairy’s role on bone health, metabolic syndrome, blood pressure, weight management and nutrient adequacy.  Check it out!  

Nicklas, O’Neil, and Fulgoni: The Role of Dairy in Meeting the Recommendations for Shortfall Nutrients in the American Diet

Heaney: Dairy and Bone Health

Tremblay & Gilbert: Milk Products, Insulin Resistance Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes

Kris-Etherton, Grieger, Hilpert, & West: Milk Products, Dietary Patterns and Blood Pressure Management

Van Loan: The Role of Dairy Foods and Dietary Calcium in Weight Management