Top 5 things we didn't know we should be afraid of - Part II

May 2, 2012 | by Suzy Badaracco
Top 5 things we didn't know we should be afraid of - Part II

* Get caught up, read Part I first.


The Hype: Toys in kid's meals entice children to eat fast food.


  • According to the CDC, in 2009-2010, the prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents was 16.9 percent; this was not changed compared with 2007-2008.
  • Some 32 percent of families ate at McDonald's due to their kids' influence, compared to 7 percent for all other quickservice restaurants, according to research from CFI Group. Toys however were the primary driver only 8 percent of the time.
  • A study of 13,000 California children by the RAND Corporation found no link between local food sources, such as fast-food restaurants and supermarkets, and what children ate or how much they weighed. Researcher analyzed food environments, looking at how many fast-food restaurants and supermarkets were within a 1.5-mile radius of their homes and schools. They then looked at how much fast food, fresh fruits and other foods the kids consumed. The whole idea that what is 400 meters away is no longer relevant when people drive everywhere. Also consider what fast-food restaurants and supermarkets sell. Grocery stores do sell fruits and vegetables, but also candy, soda and chips.
  • Consumers who live near quick-service restaurants may not be heavier than the rest of Americans, according to a 30-year study by Harvard Medical School. Researchers found no consistent relationship between participants' driving distance to fast food joints and their weight over a 30 year span. On average, for each kilometer women lived from the nearest fast food place, they showed a slightly lower body mass index (BMI). Therefore a woman of average height would weigh about a pound less for every additional kilometer she lived away from a fast food place.


The Hype: GMO is "harmful", can introduce allergens, and possibly alter one's own DNA.


  • The GMSAFOOD consortium research team conducted short-term, medium-term and generational pig feeding studies where the health of piglets of sows fed Bt-maize is measured. A three year feeding study has shown no adverse health effects in pigs fed genetically modified maize. The results were one of the key findings of trials conducted as part of the GMSAFOOD consortium undertaking post market monitoring: long term, generational and food chain studies to test food safety. The research team conducted short-term (31 days), medium-term (110 days) and generational pig feeding studies where the health of piglets of sows fed Bt-maize is measured. No adverse effects were observed. The researchers were also looking for biomarkers (fragments of DNA) associated with immune responses which could be used for predicting immune response to future genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The GMSAFOOD consortium includes researchers from Austria, Ireland, Norway, Hungry, Turkey and Australia.
  • A long-term study of genetically modified foods did not find any negative effects, according to researchers from the Medical University of Vienna. Feeding experiments, some lasting the entire lifetime of the animals tested, found no negative changes in the metabolism of pigs, salmon or mice. Researchers fed two different GM plants to the trial animals. One was the Bt maize MON810, the other was a type of GM pea that carries the gene for an amylase inhibitor taken from beans. The offspring of the animals fed on the GM plants also did not demonstrate any negative effects.
  • Consumers are willing to pay more for healthier genetically modified foods according to a study by Iowa State University. Modifications that are seen as a benefit to the consumer which were desired included enhanced levels of vitamins. Farmer traits refer to traits that benefit farmers, such as pest and drought resistance. Consumers are willing to pay 25 percent more for the GMO products than for the plain product (with no enhancements). When consumers saw that the intragenic produce had more healthful attributes, they were willing to pay more for them but they were not willing to pay more if those enhancements were introduced through transgenic methods.


The Hype:

Slime has been characterized as meat scraps which are at best - unwholesome, at worst - unsafe.


  • Slime (lean, finely textured trimmings (LFTB) refers to edible meat that couldn't be removed with a knife, but done by a machine and which has been in use for decades. The trimmings are separated from fat and treated with ammonium hydroxide or citric acid to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157 and salmonella, before being ground, compressed and frozen. Approximately 700 million to 800 million pounds of LFTB is added to roughly 10 billion pounds of ground beef in the U.S. yearly. 

*Silence empowers the media and adversarial groups.

Topics: Food Allergies / Gluten-free, Food & Beverage, Health & Nutrition, Operations Management, Trends / Statistics

Suzy Badaracco
Suzy Badaracco is a toxicologist, chef, and registered dietitian. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Criminalistics, an Associates degree in Culinary Arts, and a Masters of Science degree in Human Nutrition. wwwView Suzy Badaracco's profile on LinkedIn

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