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Foods in the news

FoodFit bytes on some of the latest research that's been making news headlines.

Teens and Junk Food

Teenagers today eat more junk food than their counterparts in the 1960's at the expense of fruits and other good- for-you foods, which could have long term health effects, according to a study in the July issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Researchers in North Carolina examined surveys by the U.S. Agriculture Department on the eating habits of 12,498 boys and girls aged 11 to 18 between 1965 and 1996. They found that nowadays teenagers eat fewer calories each day and less fat. But they're eating more pizza and macaroni and cheese.

Lower fat milk has replaced higher fat milk, but teens are drinking less milk overall. Meanwhile, there's been a jump in soft drink and non-citrus juice consumption. While they may be eating more potatoes, teens are not meeting the daily fruit and vegetable recommendations in the Food Pyramid. "These trends, far greater than for U.S. adults, may compromise health of the future U.S. population," the study's authors warn.

Jolt For Your Joints

Finnish researchers found coffee lovers who drink four or more cups of java a day may be twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

In the August issue of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, they speculate that an unidentified ingredient in coffee may help to produce the rheumatoid factor, a protein found in the blood of many people with the disease. The authors say that their "hypothesis remains to be tested in further studies."

Over two million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis, the bulk of them women. For those with the disease, the body's natural immune system doesn't operate right and it attacks healthy joint tissue causing inflammation and joint damage. The cause of the disease is not known.

Prepared Meals as a Dieting Tool

Prepared meals may be a helpful dieting tool if you are trying to lose weight for health reasons, according to a new study published in the July 24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study tracked 302 overweight people with either diabetes or cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure. They were either given a prepared meal plan or a diet to follow at home. After a year, researchers found participants on the prepared meal plan lost significantly more weight.

"The prepared meal plan promoted and sustained long-term weight loss and reduced cardiovascular risk," the study concluded. "The simplicity, variety, portion control, and nutrient composition necessary to enhance and maintain long-term dietary compliance while concomitantly improving quality of life were crucial to achieving these outcomes."

Participants ate prepared meals specially made for the study by Campbell Soup Co.

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