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The Buzz at This Year's ADA Convention

Nutrition Experts Tackle Wide Range of Issues

At the recent American Dietetic Association Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Denver Colorado, more than 9,000 professionals in areas of health, wellness, food/nutrition and dietetics covered a wide range of timely food and nutrition topics. The theme of the convention was EXPLORE. EXCHANGE. ENGAGE.

Registered dietitian Edith Buchert RD, LD, CDE, filed this report exclusive to The Food Channel.

Some the highlights and the ‘buzz’:
Organic vs. conventional food production. With the growth of organic food sales in the market place along with increased funding for organic agriculture, it was one of the ‘hot topics’ of the gathering. Discussions revolved around potential nutrition benefits vs. cost and the challenges of implementing universal standards.
Trans and saturated fat. Recent research shows that while consumers are more aware of these fats, their overall knowledge (especially regarding food sources) remains low. Evidence-based information was provided on the importance of limiting these fats in the diet, food technology challenges and opportunities and how registered dietitians can help change consumer behavior.

Blogging and beyond. Seizing of social media and digital tools to communicate and do business. Several nutrition professionals discussed how they used social media and the steps they took to get started. Hundreds of attendees live-tweeted this and other sessions and drove traffic to websites mentioned during sessions. Attendees were all encouraged to maximize digital space to market themselves and their services as this is a key area where consumers will be getting information for decision making.
Clean Up on Aisle 4. This interesting session spoke about the proliferation of labeling icons and systems that grace the food products and grocery shelves. Some argue there are too many, some say too confusing and too limited. Three perspectives were discussed: from a food manufacturer, a national labeling program and an educator and consumer advocate. The consensus was there’s a need to simplify the information and provide a consistent message.
Other topics and themes included sessions on Nutrition and Aging, Physical activity, strategies for weight maintenance, weight loss and prevention of weight gain, childhood obesity and school meal programs.

Healthy New Products

New products of interest seen on the ADA show floor included:
Fruit Juice with a Caffeine Kick – Minute Maid is launching ‘Minute Maid Enhanced,’ combining extracts from yerba mate, a plant native to South America that contains natural caffeine, with fruit juice.
Fortified Chocolate Sweets – Brightspots Brands has launched enhanced premium chocolate sweets: Gimme Calcium contains 50 percent of the RDA of calcium, Gimme Omega 3 sweets contain ground flaxseed and Gimme Probiotics provides one billion active bio cultures.
Snapple Goes Natural – Snapple has reformulated its beverages to contain all natural ingredients and flavors, while its newest line of beverages touts functional ingredients such as pomegranate and green teas.
Pancakes Join Fiber-Rich Product Line – Fiber One has extended its line of fiber-rich foods to include a Buttermilk Flavored Complete Pancake Mix. Each serving contains 5 grams of fiber and at least 10 grams of whole grains.
ConAgra Commits to Sodium Reduction – ConAgra foods has announced that over the next five years it will reduce the sodium content in its food products by 20 percent.
Introducing Fructevia – Stevia Brands introduced its latest product extension, Fructevia. It is a blend of fructose, FOS rebaudioside-A (stevia extract) and magnesium carbonate. It has less than 3 calories per serving and because it does not affect blood sugar levels like sugar, it’s safe for people with diabetes or hypoglycemia.
Carrots to Go – Chiquita launched Crunchy Carrot Bites with Ranch Dressing as an on-the-go snack. The label describes these carrots as ‘fresh energy to go.’ Each bag contains 50 calories plus phytonutrients and antioxidants.

The Exhibit Hall: so much to see and so little time

T-fal debuted the ‘Actifry’ which will be launched in December in department stores for approximately $300. It is a wonderful way to make delicious French fries (2# with only 1 Tbs. of oil), also to cook delicious and healthy entrees and yummy desserts; samples and recipes were provided.

Australia’s Barramundi. This booth featuring ‘healthy, tasty and sustainable fish’ got rave reviews! All were amazed at the taste and texture of this fish. In addition, Kate Geagan autographed copies of her book ‘Go Green, Get Lean.’ A good website for locations, recipes and information is: www.TheBetterFish.com
The only green nut: pistachios! Information was given on it’s virtues: cholesterol free, a good source of fiber and just 1.5 grams of saturated fat per serving (49 pistachios!)
Many Gluten Free cookbooks and samples of gluten free products from snacks to casseroles were highlighted in different booths in a Gluten-Free Pavilion area. This reflects the keen consumer interest in not only Celiac disease but utilizing these foods for healthy eating and weight management.