Health News: Chronic Disease Risk Factors

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that “metabolically healthy obese” people, a subset of obese individuals who were initially thought to not be at high risk of heart and other chronic diseases, still might have elevated health risks.

Study author Kristine Faerch from the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen states that while it was once thought that it was not unhealthy to be overweight or obese if you lived a healthful lifestyle, newer research suggests that this is not the case.1 Overweight and obese individuals face an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. To lower risk, maintaining a healthy weight throughout the lifecycle is vital.

Faerch and her team of researchers evaluated data from over 6,200 men and women that joined a Danish study wherein they were tracked for over 10 years. The subjects’ initial BMIs and risk factors for heart disease (including HDL a.k.a. “healthy” cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, triglycerides, and blood glucose) were all monitored. “Metabolically healthy” subjects had none of these risks, while “metabolically unhealthy” subjects were defined as having at least one risk factor. In the follow up period, 323 subjects developed heart disease. Men who were metabolically healthy but obese had 3 times the risk of heart disease when compared to metabolically healthy men at a normal weight. Women that were metabolically healthy but obese had double the risk of heart disease. Overweight men that were metabolically healthy had equivalent risk as their normal weight counterparts. Overweight women had a slightly higher risk than normal weight subjects. The authors note that only 3% of male and female subjects were obese, but considered metabolically healthy. Over a 5-year period, 40% of those considered metabolically healthy became metabolically unhealthy.

Joshua Bell from the UK’s University of Bristol was not surprised by these results. He and his colleagues published a paper this past February which noted that obesity increases age-related disability and decline, even in metabolically healthy individuals.2 His research found that after 2 decades, physical ability declined two times more while pain increased six times more in obese individuals when compared to normal weight individuals. Bell further stresses that heart disease is not the only risk factor to consider when discussing healthy aging.

Matthias Schulze at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbruecke believes that other measurements such as waist to hip ratios, waist circumference, and body fat could be explored to determine whether someone is “metabolically healthy” and obese.3 Healthy and obese can change to unhealthy and obese very quickly.

More research is needed to find how to decrease disease risk in both groups.

By Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, LD


  1. Louise Hansen, MSc, Marie K Netterstrøm, MSc, Nanna B Johansen, MD, PhD, Pernille F Rønn, MSc, Dorte Vistisen, MSc, PhD, Lise LN Husemoen, MSc, PhD, Marit E Jørgensen, MD, PhD, Naja H Rod, MSc, PhD, DMSc, Kristine Færch, MSc, PhD. Metabolically healthy obesity and ischemic heart disease: a 10-year follow-up of the Inter99 study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab jc.2016-3346. Published March 7, 2017.
  2. J A Bell, S Sabia, A Singh-Manoux, M Hamer, and M Kivimäki. Healthy obesity and risk of accelerated functional decline and disability. International Journal of Obesity advance online publication 14 March 2017; doi: 10.1038/ijo.2017.51.
  3. Kristin Mühlenbruch, Tonia Ludwig, Charlotte Jeppesen, Hans-Georg Joost, Wolfgang Rathmann
    Christine Meisinger, Annette Peters, Heiner Boeing, Barbara Thorand, Matthias B. Schulze. Update of the German Diabetes Risk Score and external validation in the German MONICA/KORA study. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. June 2014 Volume 104, Issue 3, Pages 459–466.

And here are a few fantastic posters to promote healthy weight management…

Make Your Salad a Rainbow!

Did you know that four final rules for implementing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) were just announced?

In a nutshell, the USDA finalized its rules for nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, including breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

According to a press release sent out by the USDA, “As a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation, the rules will ensure that children have access to healthy snacks and that nutrition standards for the foods marketed and served in schools are consistent. The rules will also promote integrity across the school meals programs.”

Want to help communicate the key nutrition lessons that are central to these new rules?

Check out this fantastic new salad bar sign!

After all, making healthful food available is only half the battle. We need to make it appealing to kids too.


This new salad bar sign is a better design and at a lower price than the previous version, and the video above offers some great inspiration on how to use it.

And that’s just the beginning. Here are some other “eat from the rainbow” resources that can help make healthful foods appealing to kids of all ages…

And here’s a free printable handout about eating a variety of healthful foods…

Rainbow Salad Handout

Press Release: Employee Health Programs

For Immediate Release: February 18, 2016
Media and Consumer Inquiries: 800-462-2352

Vallejo, CA — Judy Doherty, PC II and founder of Food and Health Communications Incorporated, has just released 4 comprehensive wellness and weight management programs for businesses and their employees. These are the only employee weight loss programs available that include information from the 2015 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, along with comprehensive nutrition education data and eating plan support. There’s also an extensive review of the importance of building wellness and managing stress.

These are updates to previous editions of highly-successful programs. The consumer response has been resounding acclaim, with one hospital helping 3,102 employees lose a grand total of 9,530 pounds in 10 weeks. The materials make it easy to create, launch, promote, and sustain an employee weight loss program, with lots of games and contests along the way. The brand-new update for 2016 builds on the successful past programs, adding the latest scientific research (including 2015 dietary guidelines materials), updating the presentation art and images, and streamlining all the information to be most relevant for the consumers of today. Each program is available by instant download and on a flash drive as well. There’s also an auto-update download system for newer editions as they are released.

All of these nutrition education programs are available at The 4 complete weight loss programs for a year include…

  • The 12 Lessons of Wellness and Weight Loss
  • 12 More Lessons of Wellness and Weight Loss
  • 12 Lessons of Wellness and Weight Management for Kids (perfect for schools!)
  • 12 Lessons of Diabetes

Former purchasers of these employee weight loss contests should use the contact link at the bottom of the page of to get their updated version of these materials. For more information, visit or call 800-462-2352.

New Nutrition Education Store

For Immediate Release: January 19, 2016
Media and Consumer Inquiries: 800-462-2352

Vallejo, CA — Food and Health Communications, Inc has just launched an all-new educational materials store. This new site makes accessing the latest science-based and engaging resources both simple and straightforward. The site, which remains under the name Nutrition Education Store, is now hosted by Shopify and boasts a variety of new features that will make the lives of nutrition and health educators easier.

The new store includes…

  • Posters
  • Handouts
  • Brochures
  • PowerPoint Presentations
  • Displays
  • Prizes
  • Banners
  • Games
  • Floor Stickers
  • DVDs
  • Workbooks
  • Placemats
  • Bulletin Boards
  • And More!

Interested parties can access the comprehensive store at This store features lots of fan-favorite materials, addressing a wide range of subjects. For example, the store includes materials that cover…

  • The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • MyPlate
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Physical Activity
  • Nutrients
  • Portion Control
  • And More!

Judy Doherty, PC II and founder of Food and Health Communications, Inc. spearheaded this launch in order to provide vital resources to busy health educators. This newly-designed store will offer health and nutrition materials to people who will use them to improve the lives of their clients.

For more information, visit,, or call 800-462-2352.

Here are a few of the newest materials for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans…

Dietary Guidelines Poster

Health Hopscotch Floor Sticker 

Dietary Guidelines PowerPoint

Where Does the Information Come From?

How does Food and Health get the information it offers?

I’ve been asked that question a lot lately, and since I’m so proud of the answer, I want to share it with you. After all, it’s important to get your information from sources that are trustworthy and accurate. How else are you going to have confidence in what you offer your clients?

Dietry Guidelines for Americans

So, let’s start with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The Dietary Guidelines are our gold standard and the base for many of our materials and articles. To make the guidelines, a committee of university professors go through the latest peer-reviewed journals and distill the most important information into a document for the public. These guidelines are updated every five years, and a new update is just around the corner!

MyPlate is also a key player on our stage. Put forward by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), MyPlate is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and offers a guide to what people should eat each day, along with descriptions of the health impact of various foods. MyPlate is key to the health and nutrition policies of many government agencies and public schools.

MyPlate in Schools

Of course, we don’t stop there! We constantly monitor government agencies and associations for news updates and scientific information. Here are the heavy hitters…

Checking in with the American Heart Association

Now let’s talk about our team. After all, what we do with the information is almost as important as where we get it, right?

Our professionally-accredited editors and advisory board members evaluate the data, looking for practical information, updates, and opinions from private and public practices. Then they put everything into plain language that highlights the key points.


After that, we arrange everything into aesthetically-pleasing and engaging handouts and blog posts with the help of our artists and web team. Our chef often creates related materials to help make sticking to these health recommendations easier. After all, it’s more fun to eat healthfully when the food also looks delicious and tastes good, right?

But the bottom line is that we stick to peer-reviewed science that you can trust.

Discussing New Findings

In fact, we don’t accept any industry advertising whatsoever. That way, we never feel compelled to protect our sponsors or present any information in a different light that might be less harmful to foods that aren’t good for our health. Since we don’t receive advertising dollars, we don’t have to appease our advertisers. Instead, we can focus on you.

So there you have it. A closer look at our information, how we present it and where we get it. I hope you enjoyed it!

Want to see how we put that information to good use? Here are some of our favorite heath and nutrition educational materials…

Dietary Guidelines for Americans Poster Set

6 Lessons of Heart Health PowerPoint and Handout Set

Premium Diabetes Education Kit

Oh, and as a special bonus, I’ve included a copy of the handout that comes with the Freedom from Chronic Disease poster. Want a PDF version that’s all your own? Get your copy right here!Freedom from Chronic Disease

Going to California: Food and Health’s Next Adventure

Press Release: A Move for Food and Health Communications, Inc.

Food and Health Communications, Inc. was founded in Florida. Once the innovations and creativity of the Colorado food scene became irresistible, founder Judy Doherty, PC II, moved the company to Louisville. There, Doherty spent years learning about the factors that made Colorado one of the healthiest states in the nation. After many years growing the business in Colorado, however, Doherty realized that it was time to move the company elsewhere. In a few weeks, Food and Health will be starting up new headquarters in California.

The websites, email, and contact information for Food and Health will all remain the same. Plus, since the Food and Health team is spread out across the world, there will be no changes made to the staff. Even the shipping facility in Michigan will not move, since that location is perfect for speedy shipping across the United States.

So what is changing?

The home address of Food and Health Communications will now be…

Food and Health Communications, Inc.
164 Robles Way, #290
Vallejo, CA 94591

Customers and members of the media can still reach the team at Food and Health by phone at 800-462-2352 or by fax at 800-433-7435.

The promising food scene in California, especially the farmers’ markets, wine country, ethnic cuisine, and fantastic restaurants all proved to be too inspiring to ignore. With this move, Doherty can offer new resources for health educators based on all the fresh ideas and inspiration to be found in California. Since Food and Health Communications, Inc. is one of the leading suppliers of nutrition and health education materials for professionals, this move to a new locale will offer the opportunity to grow and innovate, driving the team to create new products and resources for everyone who might need them.

For more information, call 800-462-2352 or visit

A Better Way to Plan

By now, almost everyone is settling in to the back-to-school groove. But what if there were a new way to optimize performance?

Study CalMeet Study Cal.

My son Nicholas has created this well-reviewed and top-selling app for iPhones and iPads that will help students optimize their academic performance. Study Cal is a student planner and teaching tool that helps students manage their classes, organize and prioritize assignments, and even track their grades! It also has full-screen daily and weekly calendars and offers goal-setting calculations.

So. Why am I sharing the news about the app on this website?

Well, for one thing, Study Cal is my son’s project and I’m super proud of him. And, for another thing, I think this app can be hugely useful, so I want to tell you about it.

I believe that Study Cal could help all teachers and students. It’s intuitive and a great teaching tool. Plus, it helps students focus on getting better grades while managing their workload effectively.

Let’s look at an example from the app’s homepage. When you’re viewing an upcoming assignment, you’ll be told exactly what grade you need in order to either achieve the next letter grade in the class, or to maintain your current grade. So  if you have a 88% in a class, Study Cal might say something like “You need a 93% on this assignment to achieve an A in the class.” How cool is that?

The fun doesn’t stop there. When you view a grade in Study Cal, you can see how much it counts toward your final grade in the class too. Meanwhile, the full-screen weekly and daily calendars offer an intuitive view into when upcoming events happen in relation to each other. You can also see how much time you have for each one.

What do you think? Feel free to get more information or even buy the app today. After all, it’s only $1.99!

There are other performance-optimizing resources in the Nutrition Education Store. Check out some of the most popular options below…

Actual MyPlate Plates

Salad Secrets Cookbook

Portion and Calorie Bingo

Fruit Juice: As Bad as Sugary Drinks?

The lowdown on juiceYour clients have probably already been warned about the health impact of sugary sodas and energy drinks. But have they considered fruit juice?

Fruit juice certainly seems healthful, especially when you get a brand that has no added sugars and lots of health claims on the label. But is it actually good for you?

Research published in The Lancet indicates that fruit juice may be as bad as sugary drinks in terms of calorie content, sugar content, and even, to a lesser extent, nutrient profile. Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and one of the lead authors in the study, asserts, “Fruit juice has a similar energy density and sugar content to other sugary drinks, for example: 250 ml of apple juice typically contains 110 kcal and 26 g of sugar; and 250 ml of cola typically contains 105 kcal and 26.5 g of sugar.”

Of course, fruit does still contain sugar, but generally a piece of fruit has less sugar than a glass of juice. Whole fruit also contains fiber, which is mostly lost in the juicing process. According to Sattar, “One glass of fruit juice contains substantially more sugar than one piece of fruit; in addition, much of the goodness in fruit – [fiber], for example – is not found in fruit juice, or is there in far smaller amounts.”

Choose whole fruit instead!The Grape Juice Trial, referenced both by this study as well as in Medical News Today, provides a good illustration of this point. In the trial, participants drank a little over 2 cups of grape juice per day for 3 months. At the end of the trial, overweight participants had larger waists and higher levels of insulin resistance.

The trouble is that most people don’t realize that fruit juice isn’t the health powerhouse that it’s marketed to be. The article in The Lancet laments, “Thus, contrary to the general perception of the public, and of many [healthcare] professionals, that drinking fruit juice is a positive health [behavior], their consumption might not be substantially different in health terms from consumption of [sugar-sweetened beverages].”

After coming to that conclusion, the study authors assert, “We [hypothesized] that public perception of the healthiness of fruit juices might be based on poor awareness of their sugar content.” In order to test this hypothesis, they surveyed over 2,000 people about their knowledge of a variety of beverages.

What did they find?

The people surveyed often significantly underestimated the sugar content of fruit juice and smoothies while slightly overestimating the sugar content of sugar-sweetened beverages.

So what can we conclude? Well, it seems that people don’t really know how sugar-dense, calorie-dense, and nutrient-light many fruit juices are. Fruit juices lack many of the nutrients and much of the fiber that you can get in whole fruit. Plus, whole fruit has less sugar than a glass of juice.

We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for more research on the subject!


Of course, there are tons of great educational resources about nutrition and drinks in the Nutrition Education Store. Here are some options that might be useful…

Are You Drinking Candy? Sugar Awareness Poster

Don’t Drink Your Calories PowerPoint and Handout Set

Healthier Choices Bulletin Board Kit

Checking Out Chia

Are you staying on top of the latest developments in food and nutrition? I try to keep up with everything, but it can be hard. After all, the field is constantly evolving. Nevertheless, I do my best to keep an eye on scientific studies while keeping abreast of fads and trends.

So what has caught my eye lately?

Chia seeds.

Chia seeds appear to be the food of the year. Health food websites feature them, news outlets profile them, and even TV personalities are actively pushing them.

I have to confess, the first thing I thought was, are these the same seeds from chia pets? Remember the chia pet that was sold as a gift for “the person who has everything?”

Yes, the chia seed we’re hearing about nutritionally is the same seed that they use to grow green fur on pottery animals. This crop of “hair” is what happens when the chia seed sprouts.

I contacted the folks at a chia pet company, and they were quick to tell me not to eat the seeds or sprouts that come with chia pets. It seems that the food product seeds are grown and tested differently than those that are developed for the chia “pottery that grows” market.

So, what are chia seeds?

Chia seeds are exactly that  — seeds. They look a lot like sesame or flax seeds and they come from the plant Salvia Hispanica, which is in the watercress family. Chia seeds have a long history and were eaten by the Aztecs and Mayans. Now the seeds are grown all around the world and are key crops in Mexico, South America, and Australia.

Personally, I don’t think that the seeds taste like much. Some people think they have a nutty flavor. Chia seeds can be used whole or ground, and the sprouts are edible too. Many people sprinkle chia seeds onto yogurt, ice cream, baked goods, cereal, and fruit. They are also popular in smoothies. Since they like to soak up water, chia seeds tend to swell when added to liquids. You can use this to your advantage by adding them to soups or smoothies as a thickening agent. I’m seeing more and more chia seeds sold in bulk or baked into “healthful” crackers and snacks.

Now let’s take a look at why people would eat chia seeds.

Chia seeds contain quite a lot of nutrients. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one ounce (about 2 tablespoons) provides 10 grams of dietary fiber, 5 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fat. That same ounce has 179 milligrams of calcium and 138 total calories. Chia seeds are also said to be full of omega-3 fatty acids, with high levels of antioxidants, and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

So here’s where we switch from facts to hype.

Some people are claiming that chia seeds can help with weight loss.

It seems that people are always looking for that “magic bullet” — or in this case, “magic seed” — that will help them lose weight easily. The people who claim that chia seeds are all you need for easy weight loss explain that since these seeds hold water and expand to about 10 times their original size, they will help you feel full. If you’re full, perhaps you’ll eat less. That means losing weight.

Yes, there have been some small studies on this subject. But the verdict is still out until more information becomes available. There’s just not enough evidence to support these weight-loss claims yet.

Learning about new foods and trying new things is always fun. However, it’s important to dig a little deeper before jumping on a new nutrition bandwagon. Chia seeds do have some potential for providing some good nutrition, in moderation. However, they’re not the “magic seeds” that some people make them out to be… except maybe if you’re trying to grow hair on your chia pet.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Looking for tried-and-true weight management and nutrition tools? Check out these popular educational materials…

Weight Management Brochure: Portion Control

Online Wellness Program

Healthful Food Poster Set

2 Weeks to Go!

The deadline is fast approaching!

MyPlateBack in February, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service proposed guidelines for local school wellness policies. Now there are only 2 weeks left to comment on them!

The rules that the Food and Nutrition Service outlined focused on what school wellness policies need to feature, including…

  • Physical activity goals
  • Nutrition education goals
  • Rules for informing parents about wellness policies
  • Assessing progress
  • Sharing updates

According to the USDA, “Parents, students, representatives of the school food authority, teachers of physical education, school health professionals, the school board, school administrators, and the general public must be permitted to participate in the wellness policy process as a part of the wellness policy team.”

This rule would also affect the marketing of snacks, drinks, and other foods at the school. Everything would have to align with the Smart Snacks in Schools rules and regulations.

So, what do you think about these proposed guidelines? There are only 2 weeks left to log your comments, so, if you have views, share them today!

For More Information:

Remember, there are tons of resources for schools! Check out the Nutrition Education Store for amazing handouts, posters, display kits, and more!

School Menu Erasable Poster

7 Elementary School Nutrition Poster Set

MyPlate Stickers