Overly Sweetened and Overly Nutrified

over_fortified_cbs.jpgIt might be going a little too far to suggest that we stop eating food entirely to be safe, but a recent study from our friends at Environmental Working Group released a report last week that points out just how out of sync some parts of our food system are. Kids breakfast cereal, which is under close watch by EWG, are loaded with sugar, but also with way too many “fortified” nutrients. Jane Coastan explains in the press release:  

EWG’s new report found that two types of products, cereals and snack bars, often contain added vitamin A, zinc and niacin (vitamin B3) in amounts much greater than young children need – and sometimes in amounts that the prestigious Institute of Medicine considers unsafe for children.

EWG goes further to blame the FDA for not updating their nutrition recommendations for the past 34 years, despite new research and suggests that their should be a dual labeling system for Daily Values on nutrition labels: one for children and another for adults. Obviously, it is important that children and adults get enough nutrients in their diet but Amy Westervelt of the Guardian explains the dangers of too much of a good thing:

For children, zinc, niacin and vitamin A are particularly problematic, as excessive doses can contribute to liver damage and skeletal abnormalities.

Westervelt goes on to explain that though fortified food sources have played an important role in foreign food aid and domestic nutrition, they may be a thing of the past:

In fact, children covered by the US Department of Agriculture's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, have unusually high levels of nutrients because they are receiving so many fortified foods.

And, if you don’t feel like reading about it, check out the CBS This Morning segment with Samantha Heller, NYU Dietician, in which she explains a little more about why we should start thinking about “over-fortification.”


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