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CC News Wrap: Food, Fitness, and Health

By +Carolyn Richardson on Feb 22, 2012 10:00 AM in Tips & Updates

You may have missed the latest news in the world of healthy living, so Calorie Count put together a mishmash of the info you need to know or would just like to read while your local news station covers a dog rescue, road closures or this week's upcoming Oscar Awards.

Mars Kills the King Size Candy Bar

Mars, Inc. is officially cutting its portion size by limiting their regular size candy bars to 250-calorie servings starting in 2013. The King Size variety will be served in two to four smaller bars. Mars tells NPR the switch is meant to "enable sharing or saving a portion for later." If you're a chocoholic, check out Mars' Making Chocolate Better initiative for more about the company's attempt to put a limit on your chocolate cravings.

Michelle Obama Wins Push Up Challenge

Fresh off a ski trip to Colorado, First Lady Michelle Obama, 48, is still officially at the top of her fit game celebrating the second anniversary of the "Let's Move!" initiative. Not only did she beat talk show host Ellen in a pushup challenge, but she put Jimmy Fallon to shame in a nice throwback to PE class with tug o war, sack race, dodgeball and hula hoops. Whether President Obama will serve a second term remains up in the air, but I'm voting for Michelle Obama in the next WNBA draft. 

Eating Dessert Better than Avoiding It

Because healthy eating habits involve a treat every now and then, it's no surprise that a recent study detailed in the journal Steroids, found that those who indulged in desserts for breakfast - cookies, cake, or chocolate - lost an average of 40 lbs. more than a group that avoided such foods. Learning to enjoy treats while keeping calorie counts in check can help you prepare for maintenance. The study found those who had dessert kept the pounds off longer. Lead author, Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz of Tel Aviv University, said "... if you eat what you like, you decrease cravings. The cake — a small piece — is important.”

1-Minute Intervals Good For Your Health

Most people have heard of the USDA's recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, but few have heard of the second option given, 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario found those who engaged in a modified high-intensity interval training program improved their cardiovascular performance despite the exercise falling well short of the usual 150 minute recommendation. Middle-aged volunteers engaged in 1-minute intervals of strenuous effort, marked by 90 percent of a person’s maximum heart rate, followed by one minute of easy recovery. The effort and recovery are repeated 10 times, for a total of 20 minutes.

Kids Eat More Veggies when Pictured

Researchers at the University of Minnesota found kids ate more vegetables from lunch trays with pictures of the foods on them. The study saw the number of students taking green beans and carrots more than double following the addition. The amount of vegetables eaten by students who took vegetables remained similar, but the additional exposure to so many more students shows promise for increasing vegetable intake in school lunches.

Your thoughts...

What health headlines caught your eye in the last couple months?


Too bad we as adult can't have our large candy bars and that one person can tell us what to eat. Now we have to pay more money for a smaller version. This is sad....doesn't stop anyone from eating them so what's the point. The bloviating about mrs Obama is a little over the top. I don't believe half of what is written....all hype. Now our children have to,look at their mothers as one who does not know how to prepare lunches. Since when does one first lady have the right to usurp the constitution?

@ autumn500-It sounds like they will still be making king size candy bars - they are just going to look a little different - at least packaging wise to make it easier to save some for later if you wish.  You can still eat the whole thing if you insistWink, but I personally like the idea of the change.  On the rare occasion that I buy king size I either feel obligated to eat the whole thing because it doesn't close back up well or I end up tossing it because it sits in the fridge going stale.

In regards to Mrs. Obama - while I'm sure Jimmy Fallon let her win on at least some of their competition - at least she's trying to bring attention to the obesity epidemic and do something about it.  While as an adult I don't want to be told what to eat, I do appreciate the honest concern I sense behind her motives.

As a mom to a teenage girl, I can tell you that anything they can do to promote healthier eating (and cooking) in our schools is welcome!  My daughter, now in her late teens has been packing her own lunch for years because the food choices are as she puts it "crappy".  They used to serve nice healthy salads as an option when my son went to high school but some where along the line, budget overrode healthy choices!  I am glad to see that the tides are changing again! 

Personally, I love the attention Mrs. Obama is bringing about for change in how we take care of ourselves.  I would much rather see the "hype" on exercise and healthy eating than to find out what type of china the first lady purchased for the White House!  My children and I will never see the china but we do see her enthusiastically promoting health choices for ourselves and our Earth!  Go Michelle!!

AT Autumn 500... Wow, I can't believe your thinking in this matter. This is healthy thing to do considering we have the highest number of overweight/obese people in the world. We have oversized everything and we have refills up the ying yang of drinks in every restaurant... that we think it is the norm... It is not... we are not condemning being overweight or obese, but THE SERIOUS HEALTH HAZARDS it presents.... Heart attack, High blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, to name a few .... If you don't care about your health, then it's fine, but other people have the right to stay healthy ... and if this is one way to help us NOT EAT A BIG PORTION, then it is well and good... you want to save a few dollars by gettinga supersize candy.for your money .. you could save a lot more with less medical bills because you do not have any of the obese/overweight related medical illness.....

I agree. I appreciate First Ladies who actually try to DO something positive for the country. I'm on board with healthier school lunches thing, so long as money is not an issue...unfortunately the crap they've been serving has been keeping costs down so more kids' families can afford them, or it doesn't cost too much to provide free lunches for those who can't. I just hope that our tax dollars go to good use for once in providing healthy food for kids at school.

Not sure how I feel about the king size candy bars. I really don't buy candy (I'm a salt addict) and usually only eat it when there are the "fun size" or "minis" available at a party or something. I do, however, tend to eat a couple more minis than I need...

The whole school lunch argument has gone overboard. Did you hear about the kid who was told they could not eat the lunch (turkey sandwich, banana) that his mother packed for him? He had to go and get one from the hot food line.

I would like to see Ms Obama do something about food additives that can cause obesity, bloating, allergies, and illness.


I liken the Obama's to the animal kingdom's Puffer Fish. When the Puffer Fish is approached by other fish it inflates itself.... so as to appear bigger than the other fish around them. Much like how they spin their economics and appearances as help to the middle class. A lot of chest beating and talk of the evil rich people...  (he's worth $8-$10M!!). OK enough of that...

In terms of chocolate, which I love. I purchase several bars of Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa) at a time from The Dollar Store ($1.50 each). The bar (4'x8") is scored to break into four sections, each with 4-scored bars. Each day I break off one section, break each of those four small sections in half (about a half inch square), and consume them one at a time... slowly... after dinner while watching a favorite program. That gives me eight pieces of chocolate each nite! Let it melt in your mouth. Don't just chew and swallow. Savor it. Tongue outFoot in mouth

 I seldom eat candy bars but think the 2 or 3 piece option is a good thing. Easy to save or share and only 1/2 the calories at a time. And if the price goes up maybe a few wise people will choose to spend their money elsewhere--like maybe one might choose to buy an apple instead. 

Mrs. Obama did good in her efforts!  I am not a particular fan of Michele, but ya gotta give the lady credit for bringing awareness to many, of the poor food choices we are making and consuming, not to mention our lazy couch potato lifestyles.

As far as food costs and affordability for individuals and schools, I'm wondering if we could convince the Hostess of cupcakes (and similar vendors)  to be more health conscious.  Some are really trying--I commend McDonald's for making such an effort, even though their hamburgers are not good nutritional choices they at least offer choices and are trying to make strides in change. I've noticed that many people are raised knowing only white bread and fried fish and don't want to change, but in time, with continued effort maybe the pendulum of health foods availability will become the normal and reduce the costs.

I just can't fathom why an apple (for example) should be more expensive than a  wrapped in cellophane, pumped with preservatives, sugar laden, single serving, apple turnover!!! That is ridiculous!  I honestly believe most or all of this is food politics and big business at it's best. If we could get them on the bandwagon we have won half the battle. But, training our palates to prefer good food is our next hurdle and that is done though efforts of people such as Michele Obama and individuals who wish to embrace a healthier life for themselves and their children.   We have been duped by advertising and hype that the candy bar, for example, is "good for you" because the vendor added a teaspoon of oats to their sugar laden preservative packed candy bar. 

Condemning positive change is unfortunate and if one can't afford the candy bar--don't buy it, it'll do your body good.

I am not without "sin" I have made PLENTY of bad food choices in my life and much of it is because of affordability, but have found inexpensive and easy alternatives.  When my kids were little, I would pop corn and bring water, tea or juice or bring a few apples, etc. whenever we'd leave the house. That would be our 'fast food' snack on the road 30 years ago. And it doesn't take any longer to do that than it does waiting in line at a drive-through.  It can be done. 


I wouldn't jump too quick with commendations for McD's with their launch of the new "chicken food product" to accompany the same but smaller size McNuggets.

Which Jay Leno calls "Pidgeon McPieces". A quarter inch square of compressed "chicken food" (Ground up tendons, organs etc.. and maybe some chicken and of course skin) and covered by a half inch square of breading.

I think maybe rather than plead with Hostess to put fewer chemicals in their cupcakes perhaps..... we should ditch the idea of buying cupcakes by the box...

or maybe ... buy an apple. Lol. As far as buying candy bars for food... just read the label first and you'll ditch the idea if good judgement prevails.



I think its great that the size of chocolate bars is being reduced.  I don't eat candy bars but no one needs to eat 500+ calories of chocolate as a snack.  The sugar is unhealthy and with the increase in diabetes in children and adults, it is important to be aware of the amount of sugar and carbs that are consumed.  I think its wonderful Michelle Obama is promoting exercise and eating better foods.   School lunches have not been healthy for a long time.  Promoting eating fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed foods is important.  Our children have become too sedentary with all the computer emphasis these days.  I think its wonderful Mrs. Obama is out there practising what she believes.  Usurping the constitution???  Really?  LOL!  Let's leave politics out of this and give credit to people who are trying to help us be healthy and improve ourselves.

Wow, an array of opinions....great!  What if we brought back gym class, mandatory outdoor recesses, limiting TV and limiting computers, games, etc.  This would not only reduce obesity, but if we are going to be told what to eat, I feel that education starts in the home. We do not need the food police.  Unfortunately not alot of children and also adults do not know how to eat.  However, the states should bring back physical education in the schools and the parents should be responsible for teaching the children in the home., not the schools.  You can't expect the schools to be babysitters. this is not what they are for.    Practicing what she believes she will eventually control our lives.  .  Politics?  This IS important because it is who be put in office that affects our freedom is to provide my children with the meals for their lunches, my freedom is MY choices.  The puffer fish comment was precious.!

By the way, I exercise daily, not obese, vegetarian and yes I am an adult with my own mind and if I choose to purchase a large candy bar, I am old enough and disciplines enough to choose how to eat it for my health.

I might add, that obesity is not just about food, it is about self worth, social problems, etc.  Most people are not active especially if they are dependent on a source to take care of them no matter what.  Remove the pacifiers and you might find that people can actually take care of themselves intelligently.

I would be happy to find a candy bar that was less than 100 calories: it would be great to just have enough of a treat/snack to hold me over until lunch or dinner, not to replace a meal with 250+ empty calories I don't really need or want! 

We have a local cafe that offers healthy alternatives to cafeteria and fast food, but their portions are HUGE and their prices are too high to eat there every day.  If they cut their portions and their prices in half, I would eat there 3 times a week.  As of now, I can't afford to eat there more that 2x a month. 

Just saying...

Well I am obese , exercise daily, and an adult with my own mind.  I am slowly losing weight, and in part because of the info now so readily available.  My palate was trained in the 50's and 60's when no social program was in place to counteract the white bread white sugar diet that dominated our diets.  Hense, 50-60 years later, we have generations stuck in obesity and diabetes brought about directly as a result of our choices back then.  Not only that , there are generations that still are 'addicted' to that type of taste.  Computers , tv, video games all play a part as well.  I was thin when young , probably because I walked to school and was physically active but was probably malnurished as well.  Even though our parents thought if we had food enhanced with vitamins we would be healthy, even though these foods had all the natural minerals and vitamins removed for our 'good'.

Government is charged with providing good for the people, and there would be nothing wrong with reversing bad trends ( as in years of white bread, white sugar diets).  I would rather be charged with being zealous of doing good, than to do nothing.

Original Post by: tierney7

I liken the Obama's to the animal kingdom's Puffer Fish. When the Puffer Fish is approached by other fish it inflates itself.... so as to appear bigger than the other fish around them. Much like how they spin their economics and appearances as help to the middle class. A lot of chest beating and talk of the evil rich people...  (he's worth $8-$10M!!). OK enough of that...

In terms of chocolate, which I love. I purchase several bars of Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa) at a time from The Dollar Store ($1.50 each). The bar (4'x8") is scored to break into four sections, each with 4-scored bars. Each day I break off one section, break each of those four small sections in half (about a half inch square), and consume them one at a time... slowly... after dinner while watching a favorite program. That gives me eight pieces of chocolate each nite! Let it melt in your mouth. Don't just chew and swallow. Savor it. Tongue outFoot in mouth

so, not sure if you meant to, but that is one big ole chocolate bar at 4 feet and 8 inches...

Oppsss....... 4" x 8".... but if know where I can get the 4-footer....

I meant to say I AM NOT OBESE, sorry for the mistake

Not sure about everything else but the puffer fish comment still has me laughing. I have a  few coworkers that now have a new nickname. haha

Personally, I think the changes Michelle Obama is pushing for are vital. Less than a year ago, I was obese, and one of the first things I realized was that I didn't know how to eat. Not the way that people should be eating, anyway. With all the food advertisements kids see everyday, I am especially encouraged by the study that found that kids who saw pictures of the vegetables on their tray ate more vegetables. That's amazing! We need to be giving youth the chance to see what is a healthy option, that still tastes great! I know when I was growing up, my school lunches were very brown and quite unhealthy. We need to change this! Considering school is a place of learning, where better to teach about eating habits? 

Still no one is talking about physical education in the schools. Eating right isn't all there is to good health. We all know that school lunches are not the most desirable at times but we still don't need the government solving our problems. It is intrusion at its best. Tell this to the mothers whose children had to have their meals replaced with good ole chicken nnuggest. Real healthy. Also adults need to get off the couch.

so the government can teach our kids English, math, science, etc, but they can't teach healthy eating? No one is debating that exercise is important, but schools have physical education. Also, if schools were serving better foods, they wouldn't be replacing anything with chicken nuggets.

Comment Removed


I am thinking the Chocolate companies are acting from a fiscal rather than altruistic position. Sale of the "Big" bars are down, chopping em up and calling it an attempt to help folks with portion control is really just taking advantage of a few folks who don't know any better. Back when I used to drink, I as delighted with "Lite" Beer, it meant, I could have 3 where I used to have one! The big point is, the desire for better health is something that we have to embrace as a lifestyle goal. That is one reason I like this site so much.

I live in Michigan. Our state is identified as having the greatest number of obese children and adults in the country. And a short walk on a any given day will reveal the facts. It costs more to eat healthy, at least so far it does. It would be wonderful if ideas like Community Gardens and Community Ed were implemented. The benefits are wonderful to all. Looking to the food, diet, or gov industries for help is like expecting every doctor to personally address the source of so many of their patients health issues. While my doc is very happy with my weight lose and corresponding health improvements: he never once said to me: "You are fat! Lose the weight!" Of course it took a long time to get them to tell folks to quit smoking. But it is a serious issue. Currently, the FDA is recommending making medications which have proven side effects effecting the heart among other organs,available as obesity is the worst  of two evils and,frankly, a lot of folks would love a "diet pill". There is something very frightening in that argument, as well as totally misleading.

Finally, just about any other American woman, on achieving a great degree, landing a good husband and bearing several children, could safely sit on her "laurels" and let the  pounds roll on. I think it was a lot worse in the 50's when it was pretty much assumed that once you got married you were gonna get fat. I do not care who you are, if you are brave enough to stand up in the face of public and corporate pressure and discuss important health issues like "obesity" especially in our children, good for you!

Finally, if you truly think that kids are going to learn things like healthy eating in public institutions like schools. Think again. Which is why  I began my response talking about Community Actions, which are in essence family activities, the place where some serious learning should be approached!


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