Public Release: 

Calories from home-cooked recipes grow over time

The solution is in small changes

USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2009 - Recent research presented today at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Small Changes Summit that addresses childhood obesity shows that calories in recipes have gradually increased over time. Speaking before the Summit, Dr. Brian Wansink, Executive Director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion said, "As an example, the calories in recipes in the iconic cookbook, The Joy of Cooking, have increased by 63% from its first publication in 1937 to its most recent edition in 2006. Unfortunately, overweight and obesity have resulted in small steps that have gone in the wrong direction. The solution is to bring the resources of government, industry and academia together to promote small changes in the right direction, changes that will improve the lives of all Americans."

In discussing the Small Changes strategies, Dr. Wansink said, "This is the first time that the Department of Agriculture has led a major collaboration with government, research, and industry to talk about these critical issues. We all have a role to play in this initiative, and this initiative has a place at the table for all of the players." As example,

  • The food company, Con Agra, has introduced MyPyramid food group information on hundreds of food products and by summer 2009 will have about 700 food products displaying MyPyramid information in grocery stores across the Nation.
  • Curves, with over 10,000 gyms and over 4 million members will be incorporating the USDA MyPyramid Menu Planner in their exercise equipment. The MyPyramid Menu Planner will be integrated into the MYTRAK health system and made available to the over one million MYTRAK users representing over 150 million workouts.
  • Subway sold 300,000 MyPyramid tray liners to their franchises in 2008 and has served over one million Fresh Fit meals that include MyPyramid recommendations.
  • The National Cattlemen's Beef Association has published over one and half million pamphlets with MyPyramid nutrition information, and
  • The Dairy Council of California has provided almost one million MyPyramid related booklets and has launched a nutrition and fitness challenge reaching over 10,000 consumers in a three week period.

In addition, two new web-based programs developed by CNPP will be announced. First, MyFood-a-pedia will have basic information on about 1,000 commonly eaten foods. MyFood-a-pedia will allow consumers to enter a particular food and provide them with that food's total calories, its contributions from each of the 5 food groups, and the extra calories that may come from fats, sugars and alcohol. Second, the Cost of Raising Child Calculator, which has traditionally been published in printed form, has now been computerized to allow a parent or caregiver to go online to see how much they might expect to spend on a child based on national and regional statistics from the previous year. The Calculator will break expenditures down according to housing costs, food, transportation, clothing, health care, and child care and education through high school.

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Note to Editor: For reporters and writers planning to cover this event:

The Small Changes Summit will be held Wednesday morning, Jan. 14th from 9:30 to 11:00 in the Patio of the J.L. Whitten Building of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, located at 14th and Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC. Entrance to the event will be through the main doors facing Jefferson Drive which parallels the National Mall.

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