January 27th, 2014
02:30 PM ET
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The first time the South Korean factory owner watched his North Korean employees nibble on a Choco Pie, they appeared shocked - even overwhelmed.

He summed up their reaction to the South Korean snack in one word: "Ecstasy."

Much like what Twinkies are to Americans, South Korea's Choco Pies - two disc-shaped, chocolate-covered cakes, sandwiching a rubbery layer of marshmallow cream - are ubiquitous, cost less than 50 cents and are full of empty calories.

But on the other side of the Korean border, the snacks are viewed as exotic, highly prized treats, selling on North Korea's black markets for as much as $10, according to analysts. Their rising popularity in the north reveals an unexpected common ground between the two Koreas, despite their fractious relationship - a shared sweet tooth.

January 25th, 2012
02:00 PM ET
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School meals will have to offer fruits and vegetables to students every day under standards issued by the United States Department of Agriculture on Wednesday.

The meal programs, which feed about 32 million students in public and private schools, will have to reduce sodium, saturated fat and trans fats. Schools must also offer more whole grains as well as fat-free or low-fat milk varieties.

These standards go into effect July 1 and will be phased in over a three-year period, according to the USDA.

The new nutrition standards are largely based on recommendations by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, as part of efforts to curb childhood obesity. Recent numbers show that about 17% of children in the United States are obese.

Read the full story: "USDA issues new rules for school meals"

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Filed under: Childhood Obesity • Food Politics • News • School Lunch • Think • Video

October 11th, 2011
01:30 PM ET
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For a year, an anonymous blogger ate the same school lunches as her students at a Chicago, Illinois, elementary school.

From bagel dogs, yellowish meatloaf and chicken tenders, which she likened to "squirts of chicken foam," she ate the lumps on her orange school lunch tray.  With spork in hand, her mission was to chronicle the $3 school lunches on her blog going by the pseudonym Mrs. Q.  For a year, she shared her observations about the food and how it affected students.

No longer anonymous, Sarah Wu revealed her identity with the release of her new book,  Fed Up With Lunch, which shares the title of her blog.

Read the full story: "Newly revealed lunch blogger hopes for better school nutrition"

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Filed under: Food Politics • School Lunch • Think • Video

Happy Meals supersize apple slices, downsize french fries
July 26th, 2011
01:00 PM ET
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McDonald’s Happy Meals are getting their fat and calories trimmed, the fast food giant announced Tuesday.

The seemingly ubiquitous Happy Meals that have drawn the ire of health advocates and have been blamed for contributing to childhood obesity, will carry apple slices, reduced portion of french fries and a choice of beverage, including new fat-free chocolate milk and 1% low-fat white milk.

The core of the Happy Meal will remain the same as kids will still get fries (a smaller portion) and a choice of a hamburger, cheeseburger or chicken nuggets.

The changes are scheduled to begin September with the hopes that all 14,000 restaurants will transition to the new Happy Meals by the first quarter of 2012.

The suggested retail price of the Happy Meal will not change.

Read the full story: "Happy Meal gets a makeover"

Putting MyPlate to the test
June 14th, 2011
03:00 PM ET
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While writing about the USDA’s new food icon, MyPlate, I wondered if anyone can eat like this consistently.

In its color-by-numbers simplicity, MyPlate is a constant reminder of how far my diet falls from the ideal.  Vegetables on my plate are like Sumatran tigers in the wild – they're verging on extinction.

“Comparing the ideal proportions of MyPlate to those of the typical American diet is like holding MyPlate up to a fun-house mirror,” Health.com wrote.

“Even if Americans hear the message that they need to eat more fruits and vegetables, for instance, MyPlate’s 50% standard may be difficult for many people to live up to."

Read - "Food challenge: Is MyPlate possible and affordable?"

Previously - iReport: MyPlate gets your personal touch

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Filed under: Health News • News

Food pyramid officially loses its edge(s)
June 2nd, 2011
11:00 AM ET
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The food pyramid has been dismantled in favor of a simple plate icon that urges Americans to eat a more plant-based diet.

One half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, with whole grains and lean protein on the other half, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Low-fat dairy on the side, such as a cup of skim milk or yogurt, is also suggested.

The new icon, MyPlate is designed to remind Americans to adopt healthier eating habits, in a time when more than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.

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Filed under: Diets • FDA • Food Politics • Health News • MyPlate • News

Pass the soda to the left hand side
February 9th, 2011
01:30 PM ET
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It's not enough to fizz with carbonation and taste sweet.

For years, drinks have been infused with promises of electrolytes, caffeine and instant energy. But now, some sodas and other concoctions are offering the opposite of Red Bulls and Four Lokos - they slow things down.

As more sedating sodas enter the market, some beverage makers have taken relaxation to another level by producing sodas laced with marijuana or ingredients to mimic that drug.

"Everyone is looking for some effect somewhere," said Dr. Matthew Seamon, assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy at Nova Southeastern University.

Beverages such as Malava Novocaine, Drank, Unwind, Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda and Slow Cow (sold in Canada) are marketed as helping people unwind.

Read the rest of "Anti-energy drinks: Relaxation in a can""on CNN Health.

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Filed under: Bite • Products • Sip • Trends

Bagel dogs & Rib-b-que: 162 days in school lunches
January 21st, 2011
11:15 AM ET
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After a year of eating school lunches, Mrs. Q survived to blog about it.

She works at an urban school in the Midwest, where she ate bagel dogs (yes, that's an entree), yellowish meatloaf and chicken tenders, which she likened to "squirts of chicken foam."

With spork in hand, her mission was to chronicle the $3 school lunches on her blog, Fed Up With Lunch. Every afternoon, Mrs. Q - who asked to remain anonymous out of concern for her job - photographed the lumps on her orange school lunch tray, and shared her observations about the food and how it affected students.

The blog gained a substantial following and stirred conversations about what should be on kids' trays. Mrs. Q announced on her blog late Thursday that she will reveal her identity later this year when she publishes a book about the project.

Read the rest of "She ate 162 school lunches - and blogged it" on CNN Health.

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Filed under: Childhood Obesity • Food Politics • Health News • News • School Lunch

Study shows people don't give a crap how many calories they eat
January 18th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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Posting calories on menus has little effect on what customers buy, according to a recent study.

Customers at TacoTime (a western Washington chain)  who read how many calories are in their chimichangas, burritos and tacos on the restaurant's menu were just as likely to order them as people who don’t have that information.

For 13 months, researchers recorded food purchases at seven suburban TacoTimes and seven inside Seattle, Washington. Seattle passed a law requiring that all fast food chains post their calories, fat and sodium content to the menus in 2009.

Once the law went into effect, public health researchers in Seattle  and researchers from Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School compared what people were buying at TacoTimes inside and outside the city.

Contrary to their hypothesis, “We found no difference,” said lead author Eric Finkelstein.  “We looked at the variables – the transactions, total calories per transaction, food, dessert, entrees. We weren’t able to find any effect whatsoever.”

Read the rest of "Customers pay little heed to calories on menus" on CNN Health.

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Filed under: Diets • Health News • News

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