Q: Everyone’s cheering about the new nutritional labeling for added sugars. But don’t we already have that? -- George G., Marietta, Ohio
A: This new nutritional label will offer important information, and a lot of processed food manufacturers fought it. But it isn’t initially taking take effect until July 26, 2018; small manufacturers have until 2019. In the meantime, look on the ingredients label (the nutrition and ingredients labels are separate) for words like maltose, dextrose, sugar, high fructose corn syrup and about 100 others that indicate the food contains added sweeteners!
Once the changes come into effect, you’ll be able to see the more in-depth details on the nutrition label about sweeteners in packaged foods you buy. And we bet you’ll be surprised by what you see! Added sweeteners (both sugars and syrups) are found in 75 percent of packaged foods, and 77 percent of all calories purchased in the United States in 2005-2009 contained caloric sweeteners! Knowing how much of these dangerous ingredients are in your food can help you dodge bodywide inflammation and lessen your risk for everything from obesity and diabetes to heart disease, dementia, depression and a lousy sex life.
The new labels also will have more realistic serving sizes and give you a better idea of how many calories you’re likely to consume. Why does this matter? We live in an age of Portions Gone Wild.
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Will the new labels really make a difference? A recent study shows that 48 percent of people read labels before they buy. That’s down from 65 percent when labels were first introduced. And 48 percent say they’re concerned with the healthfulness of the food they buy -- down 13 percent from 2013. But we can’t stop trying to halt the obesity epidemic that’s threatening the country economically and physically! So read those labels and ingredients lists, dive into 5-9 servings of fruit and veggies daily, and get walking, headed for 10,000 steps a day with no excuses, like “life got in the way.” Then you can label yourself HEALTHY.
Q: My gynecologist is on a real exercise campaign, saying it can greatly reduce my risk for cervical or breast cancer. I think that because I am a little overweight, she’s just saying this to scare me into trimming down. Is there any proof that exercise reduces cancer risk? -- Patricia L., Davenport, Florida
A: Brava for your gyno! That’s great advice, and recent studies back her up. One, published online by JAMA Internal Medicine, pooled cited data on 1.4 million people and found that folks who got greater amounts of physical activity outside of work had a 42 percent lower risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma; 26 percent lower for lung cancer; 23 percent lower risk of liver and kidney cancer; 22 percent lower for gastric cardia cancers; 21 percent lower for endometrial cancer; 20 percent for myeloid leukemia; 17 percent for myeloma; 16 percent for colon cancer; 15 percent for head and neck cancer; 13 percent lower for rectal and bladder cancer; 10 percent lower for breast cancer. And, that was mostly regardless of body size or smoking history.
Another recent study, out of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, found that women who got less than four days of physical activity a month were two and a half times more likely to develop cervical cancer than women who reported getting regular physical activity.
So to take advantage of this great cancer-dodging news! We recommend a walking routine five to six days a week, heading for 10,000 steps daily. Your best bet: Use a fitness tracker or pedometer, enlist a walking buddy and get good shoes! As you increase your distance and speed, add interval training. As you feel more physically confident, try swimming, bicycling or playing tennis. Then add resistance exercise for 30 minutes a week at the gym or at home with stretchy bands or hand weights. For tips on getting more physically active, check out sharecare.com.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at email@example.com.