Food News Today Transcripts for the week of August 24th, 2011

August 26, 2011

Too little sleep can keep you from losing weight, virtual food on your plate and food prices and your BMI, for August 24th 2011.

Good Morning, today's broadcast is prerecorded. Please feel free to email me any thoughts, comments or questions you may have - Phil@ Food News Today is sponsored by ConAgra Foods, who shares with me the desire to provide the most current, interesting and unbiased food news.

>When it comes to Health and wellness it appears that one of the most important factors to consider is having too little sleep.  Are you waking up early to get in a workout before you head to work, or vice versa and staying up late to get some extra exercise? Well there have been many studies linking our weight to the amount of time we sleep and the newest of the bunch found that those who got very little sleep ate more but didn't burn any extra calories.  The finding does not exactly prove that a lack of sleep causes people to pack on the pounds or how the relationship works but we definitely do know that sleep is a factor. The study was conducted at the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital where thirty men and women in their 30's and 40's, all of roughly normal weight, lived and slept in a research center during two different five-night periods. During one of those visits, they were allowed to sleep for nine hours and during the other, participants were only permitted four hours of sleep. During both sessions, they were fed a strict diet for the first four days and then were allowed to eat whatever they wanted on the fifth and final full day.  Researchers found that regardless of which sleep schedule they were on, people burned a similar amount of calories -- about 2,600 per day. But when sleep-deprived, people ate about 300 more calories on average compared to when they had been sleeping normally. Clearly if that continued, it would put the sleep-deprived at higher risk of gaining weight and obesity. Researchers believe that there are a few possible explanations behind the link between sleep and eating.  One - is that sleep is important for the hormones that help control how much we eat.   Another explanation is that when we're tired, we're less good at making healthy eating decisions.  Too little shut-eye has also been tied to heart disease and diabetes, which have separate associations with sleep, complicating the picture even further. The complete study can be found in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

 >And now a shameless plug! The “Smarter Shopping” app is now ready for your free download! The app features the Supermarket Guru tips to help lead consumers down the path of smarter shopping, so they save money, eat better and expand their palate and knowledge of the latest food news and trends.Features of “Smarter Shopping” include a money saving Tip of the Week, replacement options for common recipes ingredients for health, allergy or weight control reasons,  Recalls and food safety alerts, our new product hits & misses, a Produce Guide that directs consumers to which produce in season, in their area and a Label Translator helps demystify some of the most common ingredients on labels. I hope you will share this with your readers, viewers and shoppers. You can Download the FREE “Smarter Shopping with Phil Lempert” mobile app for your iphone or iPad at the iTunes® store.

>In economy and spending we look at the impact of prices on our waistlines and we ask Can Food Prices Predict Body Mass? Food prices may be able to explain the rising rates of childhood and general obesity in our country, according to a recent USDA report.  The report, titled, The Effect of Food and Beverage Prices on Children’s Weights, explores the effect of food prices on children’s Body Mass Index (BMI) using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 and the Quarterly Food-at-Home Price Database.  As a reminder, BMI is an approximation used to estimate body fat based on weight and height; body mass index does not take into account body composition ( muscle mass) and therefore is only an approximation.   The study found that if prices increased 10 percent for soda, starchy vegetables, and sweet snacks, children's BMIs dropped 0.42 percent. That translates to half of an 8 or 10 year-old's normal weight gain for a year.  As well as making prices higher for less than healthy foods like soda, the study also found that making healthy foods more affordable had a positive impact on body mass. For example, if the price of 100 percent juice decreases 10 percent, BMIs decreased .3 percent.  The same process works for low-fat milk (0.35 percent decrease) and dark, leafy vegetables (0.28 percent decrease). Making those healthy foods easier to buy does wonders for a child's weight, as their parents find them more feasible options. Unfortunately as we take a look at food prices over the past 20 years, we see that the price of fresh produce has risen almost exponentially as compared to sodas and the like. Perhaps it is time to rethink our food subsidies.

>Have you even been so confused about what to order that you wish you could just have a great visual of everything on the menu? Well then you should head to London where an Asian-themed restaurant is giving its customers a preview on the dinner table.  Projecting images of dragon rolls, black cod, and other dishes directly onto diners' plates.  A projector is mounted above each table and beams down a preview of each dish- whats more is that it’s interactive with icons for browsing the menu, ordering food, and even viewing the bill. Diners can even set the mood by picking the table's background image and other ambiences- and they can even plan what to do after dinner and book a taxi, and browse nearby neighborhoods.  The plate stays blank until diners use a touchpad to open the menu and click on items. Once you choose a dish, the order is sent to the kitchen and you finally see a waiter to bring your food or drink.  

For Food News Today, I’m Phil Lempert, thanks for joining us. If you have a colleague in retailing, the media or a blogger who would like to also receive our advance email - please send them to to sign up. Next week’s stories will be in your Tuesday email.