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Healthy Lifestyles (Part II)
 
Three groups are playing crucial roles in shaping the discussion of healthy lifestyles: consumers, the food industry and the government. These forces are among the issues examined in this second installment of the National Restaurant Association Special Report. Part I, an overview of the healthy lifestyle issues, was published on March 23.
 
At-A-Glance 
The Issue
The rise in obesity has further focused the food industry on the question of nutrition and personal choice. What role does marketing and government intervention play in getting those and other messages across to consumers?
 Marketing: Reveries Magazine held a roundtable discussion with a group including representatives from McDonald's, Dole and Johns Hopkins University, on the connection between food marketing practices and obesity. Shelly Rosen of McDonald's says "there is no connection," and obesity is an issue of "energy balance." Dr. Robert Lawrence of Hopkins suggests restaurants have plenty to gain by offering healthy-eating options, both in customer health and bottom-line returns.   Reveries Magazine (12/2003)
 Government Initiatives: The Department of Health and Human Services released a report encouraging, as part of its newly launched consumer education initiative to combat obesity, food companies to take a proactive role in promoting nutritious options. Suggestions include revising nutritional labels on packaged food and for   The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.) (3/13),   Chicago Tribune (3/13)
The News
Access an extensive collection of articles about nutrition, healthy lifestyles and obesity from SmartBrief's news archive. To register for this free service, simply type in the e-mail address at which you receive SmartBrief and create a password. Sign up now.
Marketing Healthy Lifestyles 
The new burger wars
The competition between Burger King and McDonald's has moved from improving fries to adding additional nutritious menu choices. McDonald's touts its low-carb options, while Burger King recently unveiled its steakburger lettuce wrap. Overall, McDonald's operates 5,000 more units than Burger King, with about double the sales growth in the past 16 years, according to one analyst. Click here to view a video report on the two quick-service giants.   MSNBC (1/14)
 McDonald's ends Super Sizing: McDonald's announced it will end its Super Size fries and beverage options in all restaurants by the end of this year, though it will occasionally bring back the 42-oz. drink as a promotion. A company spokesman says the move "has as much to do with operations as it does with emphasizing a balanced diet." McDonald's has recently added salads and yogurt to its menu to increase healthy-eating options.   CNN/Associated Press (3/3),   Nation's Restaurant News (free registration) (3/3),   Chicago Tribune/Associated Press (3/3),   Financial Times (free content) (3/3)
Food industry responds to advertising-obesity connection
In light of recent reports that claim food advertising is a cause of childhood obesity, industry representatives told a congressional panel the industry has been working hard to offer more health-oriented choices. A representative of the advertising industry warned against censoring ads aimed at children, saying such action may have the unintended effect of curtailing development of children's programming. Lee Culpepper of the National Restaurant Association stressed that restaurants' survival is dependent on following consumer demand and providing market-driven solutions.   Advertising Age (tiered subscription model) (3/3)
 National Restaurant Association speaks to legislators: National Restaurant Association Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy Lee Culpepper recently spoke to a Senate subcommittee on the industry's commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles. Click here to read the release.
HHS secretary asks restaurants to continue to add nutritious options
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is encouraging the restaurant industry to continue to diversify its menus with nutritious foods to help fight the nation's obesity problem. He also wants restaurants to urge their customers to exercise more. Ultimately, he said, he wants everyone with a stake in the problem to be part of the solution.   CNN (2/2)
University, hospital food operators work to keep up with changing diets
Foodservice operators such as Aramark, Sodexho and Flik International report noticeable changes in the eating habits of their diners, such as hamburger baskets being returned with the bun and fries untouched. Rather than offering new dishes, some operators are choosing to "deconstruct" existing dishes, such as Flik's "create-a-plate" program.   Nation's Restaurant News (free registration) (2/16)
Restaurants alter menus to offer low-carb options
With more than 32 million Americans on low-carb diets, restaurants and supermarkets are taking notice. P.F. Chang's China Bistro says it's seen a huge increase in low-carb menu options such as Cantonese scallops. Blimpie Subs & Salads has developed a low-carb bread, while 7-Eleven offers zero-calorie, zero-sugar Diet Pepsi Slurpees, among other low-carb items.   Las Vegas Review-Journal (1/1)
 National Restaurant Association on menu initiatives: Click here to read more examples of what restaurants are doing to meet consumer demand for nutritious menu items.
 
   
  What are your customers looking for in their low carb diets? Might we suggest a little variety? Lean cuts of pork are excellent sources of high-quality protein and other nutrients, which play an important role in your customer's eating plan. From chops to roasts to tenderloins, pork's versatility and great taste is just what your low-carb customers are craving. For tempting recipes, tips and the skinny on pork, visit: www.otherwhitemeat.com/foodservice.  
 
 
Policy Watch 
Bill banning obesity-related lawsuits against food companies clears House
The House voted 276-139 in favor of a bill that would protect restaurants and food manufacturers from obesity-related class action lawsuits. The measure, to be considered by the Senate, was sponsored by Florida Republican Ric Keller, who said consumers should use "common sense" in eating, instead of turning to legal action. Opponents of the bill maintain it is special interest legislation that bars consumers from another viable avenue for addressing their concerns but a National Restaurant Association spokesman said, "Thankfully, people realize that it's silly to sue a food company for satisfying their customers."   CNN (3/10),   RealCities.com/Knight Ridder (3/11),   BBC (3/11),   NYTimes.com (3/11),   The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (3/11)
 National Restaurant Association hails bill's passage: Click here to read a release from the National Restaurant Association regarding the Keller Bill.
Host of legislative proposals would cut off obesity liability suits at the state level
Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, California and Utah are among the states considering proposals that would outlaw lawsuits against restaurants from customers who allege their food caused obesity. The Missouri Restaurant Association says these bills place a needed emphasis on personal responsibility. "It's simply unfair and unrealistic to target restaurants as the sole reason for an individual's weight gain," said Ron DiNella of the Illinois Restaurant Association and Morton's Steakhouse. Trial lawyers have generally opposed legislation restricting access to the courts.   Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (2/5),   American City Business Journals/Kansas City (2/16),   Crain's Chicago Business (2/26)
 National Restaurant Association on obesity lawsuit bills: Click here to read the most recent National Restaurant Association release regarding obesity lawsuits, and click here for an overview of state actions.
Should restaurants be required to provide diners with nutritional information?
One Connecticut congresswoman has introduced a national bill requiring calories, saturated and trans fat and sodium content to appear on menus of companies that have at least 20 restaurants. The National Restaurant Association's president says the one-size-fits-all bill is a distraction that would create a logistical nightmare for restaurants, add unfair liability and not allow for customization of meals.   The Miami Herald (free registration) (2/3)
 National Restaurant Association on labeling laws: Click here to read the National Restaurant Association's release on mandatory menu labeling laws.
Perspectives 
Editorial: Obesity is a matter of choice
In light of new findings on the widespread obesity problem, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes fighting this health issue requires effort on behalf of government, consumers and the food industry. But ultimately, the editorial concludes, "Obesity has much to do with our own choices. Changing how we think about food would be a good first step toward improving how we eat, exercise and take care of ourselves and those around us."   SeattlePI.com (3/11)
Expert: Obesity is a disease
Dr. Arthur Frank, a board member of the American Obesity Association, says in a Washington Post online chat that to blame consumers for their own obesity is to assume "eating is simply a matter of choice." Obesity is a disease, says Frank, and its victims' brains don't send the proper signals when to stop eating. He says fighting obesity will require the cooperation of sociologists, urban planners and politicians.   The Washington Post (3/10)
Opinion: Focus on ban on obesity lawsuits too narrow
The Washington Post writes that the recently passed legislation preventing consumers from suing food companies and restaurants for obesity-related health problems is not the answer to slow the increasing overweight epidemic in the U.S., and that other policy measures are needed. The editorial argues real progress must be made to alter American culture and to put in place significant labeling regulations.   The Washington Post (3/22)
Commentary: Adults should take more control over children's eating habits
One writer says that it's parents who are responsible for making American children obese, not restaurants and food manufacturers. She says more parents should learn to say "no" to children when they ask for sugar- or calorie-rich foods.   PittsburghLIVE.com/Valley News Dispatch (2/23)
Editorial: Decision to dump Super Size won't prevent obesity
The Wall Street Journal writes McDonald's choice to remove Super Size items from its menu is not the ultimate solution to address and prevent obesity. The newspaper points out there is no evidence that restaurants contribute to obesity, and in fact, the net increase in calorie consumption appears to be from more snacking.   The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (3/9)
Analysis: To figure out cause of obesity, look around
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Suzanne Martinson tries to assess responsibility to the various factors causing obesity, from food advertising to parental responsibility to restaurant menus to school lunches. She notes despite recent menu changes there still is much more to be done and restaurants need an "economic reason" to modify their dishes. In the end, she concludes, "what we eat is up to us."   Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (3/17)
Commentary: Don't vilify carbs
Nutritionist Suzanne Havala Hobbs writes the rise of the Atkins Diet has led to the perception that carbs are bad for you, a theory she says is unproven. The author points to studies that say people are losing weight on Atkins simply because they are cutting overall calorie consumption, and she cites a Duke researcher who specializes in researching low-carb dieting who says he doesn't recommend patients go low-carb for more than six months.   The Cincinnati Post/The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) (1/14)
NRA Resources 
Restaurants are committed to promoting healthy lifestyles
The restaurant industry has a long-standing commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles, which can best be obtained via balance and moderation in diet, combined with physical activity. Seventy-six percent of meals are eaten at home, but when Americans dine out, the nation's 878,000 restaurants offer myriad menu options -- and options to customize meals, which 75% of diners do -- to satisfy the diverse dietary needs of a diverse population. As an industry of choice, restaurants find market-driven solutions to cater to increasingly health-conscious diners, including creating new menu items, voluntarily providing nutritional information and establishing their own initiatives to assist consumers live a healthy lifestyle.
How the National Restaurant Association can help
The National Restaurant Association offers a host of materials to help restaurants stay on top of healthy living trends and policies.
  • Click here to read a PDF file summarizing the complex issue of obesity.
  • Click here to access the Association's "Ask the Nutritionist" feature, as well as links to other health and government sites and smart eating tips.
  • Click here to learn more about how you can be politically active on local, state and federal levels on important policy issues.
  • Click here to download "Three Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle," a free resource for consumers; restaurants can order them for the cost of printing.
  • Click here to go to the Dine Out Smart Web site, a collection of smart eating tips for consumers in partnership with FoodFit.com.

  • Healthy living updates and releases
  • Are you an Association member who wants to keep up to date with the trends and facts in nutrition and healthy lifestyles? Then sign up for our member-exclusive free weekly e-newsletter "Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles Hotline."
  • Click here for a list of Association news releases over the past year on healthy lifestyles.
  • Click here for a list of Association news releases over the last year on public policy issues related to nutrition and healthy lifestyles.

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