Monthly Archives: December 2016

Food Portions As Status Symbols

People who feel powerless may choose larger food portions in an attempt to boost their social status, a new study suggests.

Northwestern University researchers found that people equate larger food portions with higher social standing. For example, study participants believed that people who opted for a large coffee had more social status than those who chose a medium or small coffee, even when the price was the same.

The study also found that people who feel powerless (such as those in lower socioeconomic groups) selected larger pieces of bagels than others, and chose larger smoothies when they were at a social event than when they were alone.

The findings were released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

“An ongoing trend in food consumption is consumers’ tendency to eat more and more. Even more worrisome, the increase in food consumption is particularly prevalent among vulnerable populations such as lower socioeconomic status consumers,” study author David Dubois, of HEC Paris, and colleagues at Northwestern University wrote in a journal news release.

The team noted that it’s common for people to equate the size of a consumer product — such as a house, TV or vehicle — with social status.

The researchers also found that when powerless people were told that smaller hors d’oeuvres were served at prestigious events, they selected the smaller food items.

“Understanding and monitoring the size-to-status relationship of food options within an assortment is an important tool at the disposal of policy makers to effectively fight against overconsumption,” the study authors concluded.

How One Teen Will Feed Cancer Patients in Need

During the first season of Everyday Health , hosts Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca visited Katie Stagliano, founder of Katie’s Krops in Summerville, S.C. The 13-year-old began a community garden after her 40-pound cabbage won top honors in her elementary school class’s contest. After three years, Stagliano now has 11 satellite gardens, which also donate food to local shelters and families in need. (Catch the Everyday Health episode featuring Katie’s Krops on Dec. 17 or 18 on your local ABC station.)

After hearing that Zohn’s cancer had returned, Stagliano became inspired to do even more. Here, she checks in to tell us what else she’s got growing.

The holidays are a time when a lot of people are donating to soup kitchens and giving toys to those in need. I think that it is amazing how much support these people get during the holiday season: Food baskets on Thanksgiving, coat and jacket drives for the cold winter months, and toys for Christmas. This means a lot to families, especially those with young kids, who have trouble providing for themselves.

But what a lot of people do not realize is that hunger does not end after the holidays. People will still wake up hungry January 1st.

Appearing on Everyday Health was a huge honor. Since the show first aired in September, we have started cooking and serving dinners at Summerville Baptist, a local church with a huge dining hall. Word has spread across the community, and we have had huge crowds. Our first dinner alone had 60 people, and at our last dinner, 95 meals were served!

I believe that because of the challenging status of our economy, more people are falling on hard times. We get calls every day from families asking for fresh vegetables and food or for the date of the next Katie’s Krops dinner. I am thrilled that Summerville Baptist Church believes in our mission and has agreed to fill the void of no longer having a soup kitchen in my community by allowing us to continue to prepare healthy, fresh, and hot meals to anyone in need in 2012.


Everything Happens for a Reason

I have found that sometimes life is like a puzzle. All you need are the few missing pieces for it all to make sense. And this year I found those missing pieces in the people I met.

I had the great privilege to work with Ethan Zohn on Everyday Health. He is a cancer survivor and is so full of life, so much fun, and so determined to live life to the fullest.

I also met Mark Hertlizch, a survivor who fought cancer all the way to the football field. Mark is a player for the New York Giants, #58. While he was at Boston College he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Mark had been an amazing football player at the college and he was determined to beat cancer and play again. Mark did just that and now he plays for the Giants.

Harper Drolet was an 11-year-old girl who lived in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. She battled cancer twice, but, unfortunately, during her second fight Harper passed away. Her memory lives on and her spirit lives on through ‘Hugs for Harper,’ which raises money to help fund pediatric oncology research.

And finally, our family friend and neighbor, Miss Susan, is a breast cancer advocate. She approached us before Thanksgiving, asking if we had any food she could pass along to breast cancer patients, some of who are even homeless.

Why did I meet these people? What did I learn?

Just as I knew there was a reason I grew my 40-pound cabbage, I know there is a reason that these people came into my life. In 2012, I will continue to fight hunger one garden at a time, and I will continue to put the pieces of the puzzle together and see where they will lead me.


Planting the Seeds for a New Garden

I learned what I think most of us already know — that cancer is a horrible disease. Cancer takes a toll financially on patients and their families. Often caregivers are forced to give up their jobs to care for their loved ones. The financial burdens of the disease can be overwhelming and, as a result, families battling cancer sometimes struggle to put food on their tables. When you are fighting any disease or caring for someone in the fight of their life, proper nutrition is of the utmost importance.

That is when I put the pieces of the puzzle together: Katie’s Krops would start a vegetable garden to provide cancer patients and their families with healthy, fresh produce.

Katie’s Krops mission is to grow vegetable gardens to feed people in need, and I can see no greater need than growing produce to provide nutritious fruits and vegetables to cancer patients and their families. In 2012, I will start a Katie’s Krops garden dedicated to feeding people who are fighting cancer. The harvest will provide patients with healthy produce, and it will be a tribute to honor those who are battling this terrible disease and those who have passed because of cancer. The pieces of the puzzle are coming together.

Sugary Drinks for Targeting Kids

A new report claims that the makers of sugar-laden drinks such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks take direct aim at children, particularly black and Hispanic kids, in their marketing campaigns.

Despite promises to improve their marketing practices, these companies still use tactics such as rewards for buying sugary drinks, community events, cause-related marketing, promotions and product placement in social media, according to researchers at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. The findings were slated to be presented Monday at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

“We found that children’s exposure to TV ads for full-calorie soda doubled from 2008 to 2010,” Jennifer Harris, report author and director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center, said during a morning news conference. “We also found that energy drinks are heavily marketed to children and teens.”

Companies are reaching children not only by direct advertising, but through product placement on prime-time TV, the Internet and Facebook, Harris said.

Not only do beverage makers target children, but they also make health claims even though their products contain sugar, artificial sweeteners and caffeine, added Marlene Schwartz, deputy director of the Rudd Center. Many parents think sweetened sports drinks and fruit drinks are good for their children, she noted, and “they also believe the nutrient claims about vitamin C and real and natural ingredients, and interpret those as meaning that these products are healthful options.”

“One of the things we were surprised to learn is that some of these products marketed to children contain both artificial sweeteners and sugar,” she added.

To reach these conclusions, the authors looked at the marketing strategies of 14 companies and almost 600 products.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Lots of fruit drinks and energy drinks contain as much sugar and calories as full-calorie sodas.
  • Forty percent of kids’ fruit drinks contain artificial sweeteners.
  • More than half of sugary drinks and energy drinks make nutrient-related claims on their packages. Sixty-four percent say they contain “all-natural” or “real” ingredients.
  • Energy drinks are not appropriate for children and teens, but they are heavily marketed to them. In 2010, teens were exposed to 18 percent more TV ads and 46 percent more radio ads for energy drinks than adults. In 2010, teens saw 20 percent more TV ads for energy drinks than they did in 2008.