What the Good Morning America Audience Thinks About Diet

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During a Live Chat session following an appearance on Good Morning America  last week, I received a number of good questions from the audience about food products, ingredients and their impact on diet, health and obesity. While my focus was on simple ways to help lower caloric intake for those who are struggling with their diet, the most common questions raised were concerns about the “toxins” in our foods and beverages, particularly as it related to

diet drinks and weight management ingredients. Here follows a sampling of the dialogue:

Q. I feel that anyone recomending chemical sweeteners over natural ones is, at best, misleading the public, and is causing more harm than good. Recent studies have indicated that chemical sweeteners are part of the problem and are contributing to the obesity epidemic, because they stimulate the appitite and cause people to eat more. (not to mention the harm these unnatural chemicals cause to the human body. People should stick to natural sweeteners, such as agave nectar, which does not cause a spike in blood sugar, and avoid soda and soft drinks altogether, if they want to weigh less and be healthier. Posted by: gypsyrose2009

A. Hi gypsyrose: Thank you for your comments. Your points are well taken. However, most of the top research nutritionists, while not fans of aspartame sweetened diet drinks, are even more against sugar sweetened beverages (no matter the source of the sweetener) given their high caloric load. My point of view is not that soft drinks, etc. are good for you, but that most Americans consume them in such high quantities that the first pragmatic step is to wean them away from consuming as much as they do without trying to push them too far. That’s the reason why most diet plans fail. 

Q. Does Hank realize that the diet or no calorie drinks that have few or no calories use fake sugars which trigger an insulin response and cause us to crave sugar. Studies have found that people that use these sugar substitutes are heavier than those who don’t. Melissa Posted by: coretherapies

A. Hi Melissa: The jury is still out on the issue of the effect of artificial sweeteners. Some of the most reputable obesity and sweetener researchers have stated that they would (reluctantly) go along with aspartame sweetened beverages over regular sugared drinks given their concerns about the latter. Bottom line, the solutions I espouse are not perfect, but they represent actions that frequent consumers of soft drinks, high calorie snacks, etc. can adopt today to start them on the right path. 

Q. apartame and msg is what is killing us. excitotoxins. google it. and look up the definition of artificial and natural flavors. hidden sources of more msg and aspartame. these poisons are in every thing from our packaged, canned baked foods and medicines and baby food. look for it its there. Posted by: lucy4grace

A. Hi lucyforgrace: The issue of toxins in our foods is certainly a concern. My position is not to “push” people to eat more cookies, soft drinks, etc. Rather, NOTHING has worked so far and the first step to engage us erstwhile consumers is to GO SIMPLE. Except for those among us who are most disciplined, asking a consumer to go cold turkey on their eating habits is a stretch – witness that diet plans have failed and that even after adding nutritional labels on packages in the early 90’s, the rate of obesity has risen from 14% to over 30%. My approach is not perfect, but I believe it’s a necessary step. Ultimately I will champion the cause that food companies market only foods that are good for us.

As you can see, there is a huge gap in perspectives about what the best course of action is to overcome our poor eating habits. Stay tuned.

15 Responses to “What the Good Morning America Audience Thinks About Diet”

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  2. David Cardello says:

    Most people I know try to stay healthy by eating well and exercising on a regular basis. But there has also been a major shift in concepts revolving around local, sustainable living practices that tackle the problem from a different angle. As we see, healthy eating is only one piece of the puzzle.
    And where are our healthy foods coming from? Most of us would like to say the backyard or neighborhood and community farmers, but regretfully most of us rely on standard manufacturing and distribution methods that are cause for concern. In the end, the harm that is done to the environment in addition to the shameful waste of precious natural resources will not keep up with the demands of an exponentially expanding human population on Earth.
    It’s clear these questions surrounding ‘toxins’ are simply an adjacent puzzle piece – products of a now-defunct system that is in desperate need of an overhaul. Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon.
    If standard manufacturing and distribution methods are revolutionized through technologies currently being developed in the R&D sector, many of the ‘toxins’ and other issues concerning ordinary Americans would disappear.

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