Potato in School Lunches and WIC Packages

When you realize that just a few years ago Congress proclaimed that pizza is a vegetable, some of us remember once again that Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson was correct when he said, "When you are scientifically literate, the world looks different to you." Congress's recent attempt to intervene in the health standards in the WIC package reveals how different the world looks to it from the world that the scientist is seeing, particularly a nutritionist. Recently, Congress's attempt to put the potato back into the WIC packages for women and children shows how scientifically illiterate this group of senators really is. The senatorial scientific illiteracy has caused nearly 100 nonprofit health and science organizations — including the American Pediatric Association, the American Medical Association, the National PTA and the March of Dimes — to join one another and ask Congress to stay out of nutrition scientific matters. We are saying, "If you can't stay out of matters concerning nutrition, then at least educate yourselves. Find out the facts about good sound nutrition science." We have come a long way, hundreds of years, from the time when we took out the bran and germ of wheat grains, from the time when we removed the husks of rice making them thiamine deficient resulting in thousands of deaths from beriberi in Asia. We have come a long way in our understanding the value in bran and germ of wheat grains, the husks of a rice grain. This is because we have gathered proof, proof of the nutritional dangers in eating refined foods and processed foods. Now, we find ourselves tackling another issue in nutrition, and that is the frequent consumption of foods brimming with "easily digested carbs". Dr. David Katz describes the food supply that we are being offered as willfully adulterated to strip away nutritional value and maximize the calories it takes to feel full.

We have created a video Potatoes in School Lunches to help you understand why all these nutrition science based professionals want Congress to stay out of nutrition science. As you watch our video, you will see what no nutritionist or physician ever wants to see in a parent or a child. You will see what doctor's call a "big red flag". The frequent consumption of foods that are loaded with "easily digested carbs" causes a spike then a plummeting in blood sugar levels along with a spike then plummeting in blood insulin levels. This dual spike followed by a plummeting looks like a roller coaster path to doctors as well as non-scientists. In fact, this graph could look like the economic picture of various non life-threatening events in this country since 2008. But, when doctors and nutritionists see this roller coaster path in the blood of a patient, parent or child, senator or layman, they know there is trouble ahead. They know this roller coaster scenario plays out when a patient eats a food that is brimming with "easily digested carbs, like the fresh white potato, on a frequent basis. As Dr. Walter willett explains in his 2005 book Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy ---the "easily digested carbs" in a fresh white potato are broken into smaller pieces, sugar molecules, very, very quickly. This creates a flood of sugar molecules in the blood which then creates a flood on insulin molecules in the blood to take those sugar molecules and park them somewhere; store them in the liver, transport them to body cells like the cells in the neck, cheeks, arms--- somewhere!  Ever notice how obese children look plump everywhere? Their arms, their elbows, their wrists, even their necks, are all plumpy--"fatty". Even their cheeks are fatty. They look healthy, don't they? This roller coaster-ing of sugar and insulin blood levels leads to life-threatening conditions like heart disease and diabetes. This is the picture physicians and nutritionists see. And this is what the roller coaster effect is telling us; our lifestyle choices come home to roost. This is Epigenetics, the science of consequences, in this case, of choosing a poor diet, a poor lifestyle. This clearly reveals that a person's lifestyle means something. It has consequences. This is the message in the "big red flag"! If you eat foods that are brimming with "easily digested carbs" you will get sick. When Stephen Colbert recently showed in his skit on the health consesquences of eating sugar packed breakfast cereals, his report fell short on the facts. He didn't paint a picture of the entire "big red flag". Part of the flag was missing in his skit. There's more to the story than what Colbert told us. It isn't only the roller coaster path of the blood sugar level, It is also the accompanying blood insulin roller coaster path that appears. Even though Colbert doesn't mention the roller coaster effect, the consumption of kid's cereals on a frequent basis is not good. No matter if you are a pet hamster, a turtle, a lizard, a dog or a cat, a mother or a child who eats suager packed beakfast cereals every morning, the consequence of the roller coaster paths of both blood sugar and insulin levels is disease---heart disease and diabetes.

The politicians who led the vote to put the potatoes back into the school lunchroom in 2011 were Susan Collins R-Maine and Mark Udall D-Colorado. At that time Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, responded to Senator Collins' degree of ignorance as being "amazingly shortsighted". He did this not only because of the poor quality in her reasoning but also because she didn't consult with scientific literate individuals like physicians and nutritionists who understand the rule called Nutrition 101: The frequent consumption of "easily digested carbs" must be avoided if one is to stay healthy, free of heart disease and/or diabetes.

Three years have passed and Senators Collins and Udall as well as 18 other Senators have not proven to be of much value to the nutrition issues of our children's school lunches or the WIC package. It is clear they cannot add knowledge to school lunch issues or the WIC package issue. They have demonstrated that they can't give any sense of 'hope' to our children's healthy choices. Congress is a body of beings that is plagued by lobbyists, another body of beings, who are paid by food companies who want their bottom line to be fatter and fatter. And Congress, everyone knows, serves as the only pathway for that to happen. Asking a potato lobbyist to use the best judgment based on good nutrition science is like asking Monsanto to write up a risk management report for the use of one of their new pesticides.

When Congress called a pizza a vegetable a few years back it made it clear that Congress is not in the business of giving 'hope' to our children. Putting the fresh white potato back into the WIC packages for women, infants and children as well as lunch trays in our public schools is not only lying to our mothers and children about the nutritional value of the fresh white potato, it is leading them down a very dangerous, unhealthy path. Everyone knows roller coasters are the most dangerous ride of all at the circus. But more importantly, they are devastating to one's health when they show up in the body. They belong in amusement parks and theme parks, not in the body of a mother or a child.

Recently, twenty percent of our senators wrote USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack a letter expressing their troubled-ness about "the exclusion of fresh white potatoes from the final rule amending the food packages in the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, WIC. This decision is not based on the most current Dietary Guidelines for America, DGA, and the department's explanation of the justification for that exclusion remains unsatisfactory." Yup! There it is. Twenty percent of our senators put their heads together and came up with this argument which goes against the scientific findings of eating a food that is, as Dr. Willett expresses, brimming with "easily digested carbs" like the fresh white potato. Fresh white potatoes are on a nutritional par with eating trans fats and added sugars as in a candy bar or a slice of bread. And because of this, it is a food that Dr. Willett recommends be eaten "sparingly". Why sparingly? Watch our Potatoes in School Lunches video and you will understand this issue more deeply than twenty percent of our senators.

The list of senators who are riding on the white potatoes in school lunch bandwagon are: Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mark Udall (D-Colorado), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) , Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), John Hoevan (R-North Dakota), Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska), Carl Levin (D-Michigan), Angus King (PI-Maine), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), James Risch (R-Idaho), Patty Murray (D-Washington), Charles Schumer (D-New York), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan). Look them up. Talk to them about what you learned from our Potatoes in School Lunches video. Ask them to read Dr. Willett's 2005 paperback edition Eat, Drink and Be Healthy. Pages 103 - 105.

This shows members of all three political parties, 10 Democrats, 1 Political Independent, and 9 Republicans, were listening to the lobbyists, the most scientifically illiterate group in the Senate chamber for putting the potato back onto the school lunch trays and into the WIC package. They were not inquiring about the nutritional value of this food. Obviously, not one of these Democrats or Republicans or the one lone Political Independent have a clue about the dangers in the insulin/sugar roller coaster event. What can they tell their constituents about why they voted to put the fresh white potato back onto the school lunch trays of children or in the WIC nutritional package? Do they dare tell their constituents why they didn't contact the USDA about the reasoning behind the USDA's exclusion of the fresh white potato from the final rule amending the food packages in the SNAP program for WIC? What will they tell their constituents when a constituent asks, "Why didn't you call the local Public Health Department and ask them about the nutritional profile of the white potato?" Are these elected officials criminals? After reading what Dr. Willett said in 2011, you tell us!

We ask Mark Szymanski, spokesman for the Potato Council, the same question. He has said, "we are encouraging Congress to reverse a policy not founded in good nutritional science or common sense. The USDA is singling out one item from the entire food basket and saying, 'Do not eat this because it's somehow lacking.' " We ask you, Mr. Szymanski, "Show us your expertise in nutritional science. Who has told you that you are an expert on what is good nutritional science or common sense? We ask you, Mark Szymanski, "Have you talked with your own physician or your pharmacist, or your nutritional guide or your kids' science teacher about eating "easily digested carbs" frequently? Have you not a telephone and cannot call the local public health department in your city and ask them about the danger of the frequent consumption of a food that is full of "easily digested carbs"?" After seeing the graph animated on our video, do you not have some desire to ask what is going on in your own body when you eat a food frequently that is brimming with these carbs?  Do you think that Dr. WIllett has made up this graph showing the roller coaster effect? Do you think that all the nearly 100 nonprofit health and science organizations don't know what they are talking about when they ask Congress to step away from the chopping block?

Three years ago Dr. Willett wrote, "Unfortunately, Congress embedded their changes to the school lunch plan in a broad spending bill that President Obama could not veto.  This is a short term victory for potato growers and narrow parts of the food industry, but the losers are our children who will pay in shortened lives and suffering. In the debate about foods in schools, Senator Collins from potato-growing Maine argued that our country could not afford the cost of approximately one billion dollars a year to feed children healthy vegetables instead of high-starch foods. This is "amazingly shortsighted", because the costs of the obesity epidemic already raging in our children's generation will be many hundreds of billions of dollars over the coming decades. In reality, we can't afford a society burdened with disability at what should be productive ages and ever escalating medical costs." Twenty Senators found it socially easier to go on with a narrow, shortsighted specialization of making sure funding for their reelection happens via potato lobbyists. That's the pure and the simple truth. We agree with Dr. Willett of Harvard: Change the system so "amazingly shortsighted" Senators can't affect the health of our children and their parents. If we change the system, we will change the quality of life for our children for the better.


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Overweight, obese preschoolers lose more weight when parent is also treated

Three out of every 10 people hospitalized in Monterey County have diabetes, a little more than the one in four people in neighboring Santa Cruz County's hospitals, driving up health care costs according to a study released May 15th by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research recommending prevention efforts. Just three years ago Monterey county taxpayers paid out $14.7 million for the medical care of diabetic patients at local hospitals. Looking more deeply into this issue we find some clear reasons why this happened. The reason our county had a $14/ million medical bill for diabetic patients in 2011 is because of a lack of awareness about the role of the parent in making healthy choices. The childhood diabetes epidemic is all over the place. Farmers markets, pediatric clinic managers, and restaurant owners, while all thriving in this culinary savvy county, offer what they can to families They not only offer healthy veggies and fruit but they also come up with healthier dishes on their menus. But, this is not the avenue that has brought much success. Dr. Teresa Quattrin in Buffalo New York has shown there is another pathway to a pre-schooler's success with staying healthy. Learning how to make healthy choices is a family event.

Dr. Teresa Quattrin of University of Buffalo recently published her results on the inclusion of a parent when an obese child is being treated for obesity. "Our results show that the traditional approach to overweight prevention and treatment focusing only on the child is obsolete," says Teresa A. Quattrin, MD, senior author and UB Distinguished Professor, chair of the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and pediatrician-in-chief at Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo. When a parent was included in her Buffalo Healthy Tots program, the obese pre-schoolers did better; they lost more weight, stayed healthier. Her study of 96 children ages 2-5 found that when overweight and obese youth and their parents were treated in a primary care setting with behavioral intervention, parents and children experienced greater decreases in body mass index (BMI) than did the children who received the traditional treatment, focusing only on the child. Weight loss for both parent and child was sustained after a 12-month followup. Dr. Quattrin's results are stunning. She used one important feature in her study: She included practice enhancement assistants, trained in psychology, nutrition or exercise science that assisted the parents. These assistants worked with the families both during treatment and education sessions and afterward by phone.

If we are to make any significant progress in the childhood obesity epidemic in this country we must think about how to get the parent and the child acting together as one.  One way to do this is to use appropriate educational materials that are desinged to do just that: create a bond between the parent and the child. When the parent hangs our Healthy Choices flyer up in the family kitchen, for example, the child is better able to process the parent's interest in making healthy choices. When a parent and child get involved with planning a meal that's when you see amazing results. more


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