The Lempert Report LIVE

A Focus on Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Processed Foods, & Influential Legislation

October 16, 2023 Phil Lempert Episode 99
The Lempert Report LIVE
A Focus on Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Processed Foods, & Influential Legislation
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you ready to join us on a critical exploration of children's health as we uncover crucial insights about the alarming increase in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease among children? This episode promises to raise your awareness about the insidious link between ultra-processed food in our diets and the worrisome rates of depression and addiction, particularly in the younger generation. We'll also highlight the bold actions taken by California to ban certain food additives and how this global move is shaking up the food industry, with a special spotlight on Nestle's breakfast innovations.

Phil:

Welcome to the Lempert Report LIVE. On today's episode, Why the incidence of liver disease in children is on the rise. The link between ultra-processed foods and depression. California becomes the first state to ban food additives, will other ones follow? On Food Not Phones, What's the impact of eating by yourself? And on the Bullseye, what's going on with breakfast and how Nestle is getting involved? Let's get started. So Sally. This new report has come out that more pediatricians are seeing kids with fat disease globs of fat cells in their liver concentrations that shouldn't be there. In fact, what they find is millions are affected. Researchers in the journal Clinical Liver Disease estimate that 5 to 10 percent of all US children have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, making it about as common as asthma is. And if we look at the data from 2017 to 2021, it shows a large jump in the incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease across all ages of the nation. But the steepest increase by far is in our children. For kids up to age 17, the rate of diagnosis more than doubled. What that means is a million hospitalizations. Mostly adults are being treated in emergency rooms or admitted in 2020. And liver transplants have likewise grown among adolescents and young adults 25 percent increased during the past decade in kids 11 to 17. And transplants for young adults 18 to 34 more than doubled. What is going on here?

Sally:

This is a very serious topic, and while this is something that historically, we saw as something liver disease primarily occurred in someone who consumes alcohol, it primarily occurred in men now showing up in children non-alcohol related, obviously, and not necessarily related to body mass index. Although weight obesity can be a contributor to this, the science is showing that it's not always the connection. In fact, they're finding that many children who have liver disease have a lower body mass index, and you mentioned that the transplant rate has gone up. Also, the life expectancy in the United States has been on decline and it's now hitting 76.4, which is the lowest that it has been in decades. So there's something happening when we are young that is staying with us as we grow old and affecting our health and our life expectancy. Some of the things that are being pointed at is our modern lifestyle. We've talked a lot about how we are very connected to the internet and our screens and possibly not exercising as much as we can. The body, the liver, functions in a way that we need to sweat, exercise and sweat and get out those toxins, and if we're not doing that, then the liver is not able to perform the job that it is there for. So that could be part of the reason. We're also looking at a lot of ultra process food intake and the story here is talking a lot, particularly since the 1980s, when ultra process foods weren't as common, weren't as a bigger part of our diet. Now they make up more than 67% and these foods are causing hormonal changes and other interruptions in our body. So there are several different things that researchers are looking here to understand why we are seeing this happen in children, but it is definitely something that we clearly need to pay attention to.

Phil:

And also what they've talked about in this study is that in the 1980s and 1990s, as you pointed out, and not only did we have a rise in ultra process foods, but we also had the anti-fat craze that really prompted more artificial substitutes, created in, according to the study, industrial labs and partially digested before people eat them. Their use altered how food is dealt with in large intestine and a few studies suggest potentially failing to trigger bacteria that lives there Microbiomes we've talked a lot about that, how essential they are to health and, frankly, until we can go back and people like Michael Holland and Mary and Nestle for years have talked about our diets and how we really have to be smart about what we're eating and moving away from ultra processed foods and more into natural foods, more into products that don't have 20 ingredients in them but have maybe one ingredient or two ingredients. And also what's probably the most disturbing to me about this study is that they found that maternal obesity and the high consumption of diet soda and junk foods have been associated with the development of fatty liver in kids. So this is a problem that is taking place in the embryo, not just when kids are eating by themselves, and the study also talks about the fact that there's now been changes in infant formula that use a sweetening agent that's different from the natural lactose that's found in cow's milk and that replacement is corn syrup solids and, as a result, that is creating even more of a problem.

Sally:

Yes, as young as being in your mother's womb is when you can now start developing a liver problem or other non communicable diseases, which are up across the board in young people. But, yes, as you mentioned, we're talking about infant formula. We're talking about transition milks. When an infant moves on to become a toddler and starts drinking more milk from a bottle or a sippy cup, there are transition products, and those products are also very high sometimes in these sweeteners. And so, yes, we need to look at these foods that the food industry is giving us and we need to really think about how we can make these better for people.

Phil:

And talking about ultra process foods, there's another study that came out that found the one in seven adults and one in eight kids may be hooked on ultra processed foods as an addiction. What they're saying is ultra processed foods, including ice cream, carbonated drinks, ready to eat meals All of these have an increase in cancer, weight gain and heart disease, and it now makes up more than half the average diet both here in the US and in the UK, and what it can do is give us some behavioral challenges intense craving symptoms of withdrawal, less control over intake, continued use, despite some consequences, such as obesity, binge order, poor physical and mental health and the lower quality of life. This report looked at 281 studies from 36 different countries. It's a very robust study and they found that ultra processed food addiction occurs in 14% of adults and 12% in kids, and that's just right now.

Sally:

That is very concerning and, as we're talking we are talking a lot about ultra processed foods today and we'll continue after this story and the link to so many health problems that are occurring to Americans, as we just talked about the liver disease and other non-communicable diseases, but then also we are looking at damage to our mental well-being and in this case we are looking at foods that are highly likely to cause addiction, addictive behaviors. So this is important to think about when we're shopping and what we fill our carts up with and what we take up and we fill our fridge and our pantry up with, that. The more we indulge and eat these foods, the more likely we are to become addicted to them.

Phil:

And when we look at addiction, one form of addiction is also depression, and yet another study came out that found that there's an association between the consumption of these ultra processed foods with about 50% higher risk for those consuming nine portions a day or more, compared to those consuming four portions a day of ultra processed foods. And when you think about ultra processed foods, it's a much bigger list than what you might be thinking about. These includes pre-packaged soups, sauces, frozen pizza, ready-to-eat meals, hot dogs, sausages, french fries, sodas, store-bought cookies, cakes, candies, donuts, ice cream, and the list goes on and on. And certainly anything that's including artificial sweeteners is part of that list as well. And when we look at the numbers and the situation when it comes to depression, what these researchers found is that when you're depressed, you eat more ultra processed foods. When you eat more ultra processed foods, you become more depressed. So it's like a no-win situation. And just to put in the right perspective, if somebody is on a 2,000 calorie diet a day and you go to McDonald's, you order a small order of fries and a regular cheeseburger that contains a total of 530 calories. And basically what they're saying is, if you consume more than 400 calories from ultra processed foods, you have a risk 20% risk of dementia and sorry, not a 20, that there's just a link to dementia If more than 20% of your calories come from ultra processed foods. There's, as we talked about, the microbiome, the biggest study, the nurses health study 32,000 middle-aged women looking at their diets found the exact same thing. So when we look at these ultra processed foods and what's going on and there was a great book out a few years ago called Sugar, salt and Fat and it really talked about how these companies were heading down this path and what these companies needed to do to stop this before it got to this point but we're here- yes, we are, and I'm really glad that you listed all those different types of ultra processed foods, because I don't think shoppers always know that some of the foods that they are buying are on that list and contain those ingredients that they should be mindful about and consume in moderation.

Sally:

We've seen a lot of studies linking diet sodas and other diet drinks the artificial sweet nurse that we put in our coffee and tea. We've seen a lot of studies that link that towards depression and, as you mentioned, it's a vicious cycle. If ultra processed foods and artificial sweet nurse are contributing to us becoming depressed, then they're also the foods and the beverages that we want when we are depressed. So it's a vicious cycle there and something that we should all be thinking about as we maybe we want to shop more that produce section in the outer, the perimeter of the store, rather than the thinner aisle, so much.

Phil:

Absolutely, and I think for me, one of the most important things about this study and you just mentioned it again is this balance between having ultra processed foods and getting depressed. Getting depressed, you eat more ultra processed foods. It's almost like an alcoholic who has to have that drink and gets more depressed so that they drink more as a result of it. So it's really something that we need to take control of, and the good news is, here in California, governor Newsom is trying to do something that no other state has done. It's been done in Europe, but basically he's prohibiting the sale of foods that contain four chemicals that are found in ultra-processed foods cereals, candy, soft drinks, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromide, propylparaben and red dye number three. And these are already banned in Europe because of the research that they've been doing for years, like you know, to cancer, reproductive issues and other health problems. Also, new York has a similar bill that's going through the legislature right now and, to their credit, there are certain companies who have already eliminated them Coke, Pepsi, gatorade, panera. They have voluntarily stopped using these because of it, but there's still products out there. Like you know, peeps, we're getting up to Easter time in a few months from now. So all those little brightly colored peeps, well, guess what? They have red dye, number three in them to make pink and purple marshmallow peeps. And you know, we really need other states to follow. And I think what's so interesting because California is so big, as is New York this is going to force companies to reformulate, and that's all that they're looking for. They're not looking to take peeps off the market, off the shelf nobody has to get nervous about that but just to reformulate to get rid of these four ingredients. And if it happens in California, and if it happens in California and New York, guess what? The other 48 states? They're not going to have them either, because these companies, you know, can't have two varieties and, by the way, these companies are already selling their foods without them in Europe. So this is not a big stretch and I give Newsom so much credit for doing it. He's coming under a lot of criticism from a lot of trade groups, which you know. I think that they should take their lobbying money and put it to better use to try to get people eat healthier. And also, the environmental working group estimates that there's about 12,000 products in our supermarkets. The average supermarket has about 40,000 products, so almost 25% of the products that are in a store have these four ingredients. So hopefully we're on a good role here in California.

Sally:

Yes, and it comes just in time for Halloween as well. We're thinking about all that candy that we're getting, and there were a lot of headlines recently that we're Skittles are gonna be banned in California. And Skittles are not being banned in California. They will be allowed to sell Skittles. They just have to sell the good formula and not the formula that is harmful to our bodies. And you know, something I wanted to point out, Phil, is that red dye number three in the 90's was banned from being used in our cosmetics because it was shown in studies to cause cancer. Now, if it's banned in our cosmetics, then why are we still eating it?

Phil:

Yeah, why are we ingesting it if we don't wanna put it on our face? Yeah, excellent, excellent point. Today on Food Not Phones, we're gonna talk about what it's like when you're eating by yourself. A new study that was just published in the Public Health Nutrition Journal found that about 20% of adolescents report often eating alone. And the bottom line is, when you eat alone, it's related to being overweight or obese, having less healthy dietary intake, perceptions of less-supportant food-related parenting practices. And what they did is they analyzed the diet of 1,652 adolescents and that's where they found that 21% of them were eating alone. And you know, part of what we're trying to do on Food Not Phones is get people to talk to each other over the dinner table, over breakfast, over lunchtime, to be able to combat these kinds of situations. And what's so important and this study points it out is adolescents is considered a foundational life stage where individual patterns for long-term health behaviors are established that last into and throughout adulthood. So put down the phones while we're eating. Talk to each other so these people don't have to eat alone, right?

Sally:

Yes, this is a great study and really teaches us a lot about what our meal time practices are and how that relates to the foods that we eat. Because what the study points out is that they found out there was a link when children are eating alone, then they have less fruit and vegetable intake and more sugary beverage intake. You know two things we don't want to happen in growing children. So that is one big, huge takeaway for me. And another thing that was a big takeaway for me in this field because I have experience being a mom myself and talking to a lot of other parents since the pandemic that more children and more families are kind of having their own space in their home and oftentimes eating alone. Oftentimes that involves a screen involved. But one thing that was interesting about this study is that they're talking about that. You know those children that are a part of a autonomy, supportive parenting that they do better when if they're eating alone, if they still know that their parents want them to eat fruits and vegetables and they don't want them to drink sugary beverages and they don't want them to be on their screens as much, when they know that there are certain boundaries and certain eating habits that their parents are encouraging or have rules about, then they tend to adhere to those practices, even if they are eating alone more. And you know, there is a big difference in the way that our society has changed with how more moms are working out of the home, I think, since 2014, 70% of women are working full time now, and we just know historically that mothers can be most often primary caregivers and make, you know, choose, making the food choices for the family. So there's a big part of that that has changed. And we're also seeing younger people, kids that are younger than 18, that are going to work as well. So there are a lot of changes in our schedules and our habits. But what we need to remember is that we don't want to always eat alone maybe, and if we are, we really want to take into consideration if we are eating alone, what sort of diet habits is that supporting or not supporting?

Phil:

And this study also points out that what they found is in the homes that had a lot of sweet snacks and candy. These kids were more likely to eat alone as well. So you know there's just everything is interrelated with this. So get ready for our next Food Not Phones day, if you would. It's gonna happen on Thanksgiving and throughout the year. You know we're talking about Food Not Phones at different times of the year, different events and also make sure you go to FoodNotPhones. com to learn more about it and see more research about why this is so important. Thanks, Sally. This week on Lost in the Supermarket, I spoke to Jaclyn Cardin, chief Brand Officer at Organic Valley Co-op, on the importance of National Farmers Day and the importance of sustainable dairy itself. For the complete episode, just log on to SupermarketGuru. com. Here's what you have to say. I know you have this new campaign protecting where your food choices come from. Tell us about that.

Jaclyn:

Sure. So there's often a one-sided view in animal agriculture and we're hearing it more and more often that there's this perceived need to reduce dairy and meat consumption in order to lower the carbon footprint or in order to treat the planet better or make the more sustainable choice. But the whole idea behind protecting where your food comes from is to be able to offer another view at that right and show what ethically sourced, organic dairy from small family farms really looks like. We've done, you know, a lot of surveys with our own consumers and with broader consumer groups, you know, throughout the United States and asking people how important is sustainability, how important is knowing where your food comes from, and upwards of 80% of people just told us last month that it is important for them to know where their food comes from, though fewer than two in five people have actually been to a farm, and so the idea of protecting where your food comes from is to show what it means when you do pull Organic Valley off the shelf. We, as a cooperative, protect over over a half a million acres of certified organic pasture land, and not only is that really great news for the farmers and for the local communities and for the animals that live on those acres. But there's such an outside impact that we don't talk about and that is the biodiverse ecosystems that are supported by organic farmland. So we're talking birds and bees and butterflies and salamanders and deer and all sorts of wildlife that that needs these organic systems to be able to continue to thrive, and people don't think about that. They don't make that direct connection when they're buying their milk or when they're buying their cheese or their eggs. But that's the beauty of organic dairy and organic Valley is when you are supporting that it goes to. It's such a broad benefit that you're able to support just through how and where you purchase your milk.

Phil:

On the bullseye. As if breakfast wasn't confusing enough, some new news. Breakfast is often hailed as the most important meal of the day, and it's more than just a morning ritual. Breakfast is a crucial part of maintaining good health and good well-being for us. But in recent years, hey, our breakfast habits have shifted, with many opting for quick fixes like a shake or a protein bar and, in some cases, even a microwave sandwich or, like me, even skipping breakfast altogether. Not good. This change in behavior has been accompanied by a noticeable decline in the sales of breakfast cereals. Breakfast serves as the jumpstart that our bodies need. After, you know, we have a nice rest. It provides the necessary nutrients and the energy that we need to kickstart our metabolism and, frankly, fuel our body and our brain for the day ahead. When we don't consume breakfast, our bodies are essentially running on empty, and it leads to being more tired, poor concentration and increased irritability. Now, studies have linked regular breakfast consumption to improve cognitive function, to better mood and a lower risk of chronic disease. Many people now are turning to convenience and often ultra-processed foods that may lack the nutritional punts from a well-rounded breakfast. Now, according to a 2020 survey by the NPD group, a leading market research firm, over 31 million Americans admit to skipping breakfast every single day. One of the most noticeable trends that accompany this changing environment, the changing breakfast landscape, is the decline in sales of breakfast cereals. Historically, cereals have been a breakfast staple. Their prize for their convenience, certainly, and their variety and occasionally, the toy inside. However, data from Statista reveals a steady decrease in the consumption of cereal in recent years. According to them, in 2023, sales of breakfast cereals here in the United States amounted to $21.98 billion. Wow, the average volume of cereal consumed per capita is 17.196 pounds. Now that's down from 17.8575. Now that might not seem like a big drop, but for cereal makers it's huge, and it shows a slowing decline in consumption of our breakfast cereals. Our changing dietary preferences have led individuals to explore many other breakfast options In rich smoothies, avocado toast, yogurt and yogurt bowls. These alternatives offer a perception of healthier choices and more exciting flavors compared to the traditional cereal and milk. Our concern as Americans about the sugar content and nutrition value of some breakfast cereals, frankly, have pushed more health conscious consumers towards more natural, whole grain, whole food options. The sales of sugary cereals have taken a hit, there's no question about that, while healthier cereal alternatives like granola muesli, have experienced modest growth. So help me understand this one. Kellogg's and Nestle have teamed up to bring us get this Frosted Flake's cereal flavored milk and Ego Maple Waffle flavored milk. Breakfast is synonymous with cereal and waffles, for sure, and fans will be able to shake up their morning routine with a drinkable way to enjoy the taste of both. That was said by Megan Sparkman, nestle USA General Manager and Marketing Director for the brand and the Ready to Drink business unit. Well, there's no question that these two drinks are inspired by two Kellogg classics. The new Nestle Sensations Frosted Flakes cereal and Sensations Ego Maple Waffle combine the magic of childhood meals, they say, with the delicious flavor of our iconic milk beverages, delivering a delightful taste to our fans nationwide. Seriously, this is what you're putting out there. It's going to hit stores in November and the Nestle Sensations Frosted Flakes flavored milk, according to the company, tastes like it's straight from the bottom of the cereal bowl. I never liked what was on the bottom of the cereal bowl. The best part, they say, you don't have to have a bowl or a spoon. Featuring the beloved taste of Frosted Corn Flakes, complete with a rich and creamy dairy finish. Experience, your favorite childhood cereal on the go. This is all on their website. Who are they trying to sell this to? Baby Boomers who had Frosted Flakes as a kid? Moms with kids? Anybody. And it gets even worse. I'm a little confused. Nestle already sells Carnation Breakfast Essentials Kellogg's Frosted Flakes flavored nutritional drink. That product has water as its first ingredient, glucose syrup as a second, milk protein Concentrate as number three. Number four sugar. In just over eight ounces you get 240 calories, four grams of fat, 41 grams of carbs, 15 grams of added sugars and 10 grams of protein. It also happens to contain 21 added vitamins and minerals. The suggested retail price for the new Nestle Sensations Frosted Flakes and Ego is $2.59 for a 14 ounce bottle. Now I did some research and I couldn't find the ingredients or nutritional on these two new products. It's not anywhere. But I was able to find Nestle Sensations Froot Loops that came out a couple years ago. Now I know it's a stretch and it's not the same. The ingredients probably are not the same either, but here's what we might surmise. The Froot Loops contain natural and artificial flavors, contains low fat milk and has 14 grams of protein. It is made from real milk and contains no high fructose corn syrup, but sugar is the number two ingredient. One bottle contains 39 grams of sugars, of which 18 grams are added sugars. I'm imagining that some people may choose to drink it right out of the bottle. I don't know why, but they might. But isn't it likely that some may use these flavored milks to add to their cereals? In the case of Froot Loops, according to the FDA nutritional facts label, the standard size serving size for breakfast cereal is 100 grams. That's a bit over 3.5 ounces of cereal. So if we add 4 ounces of Froot Loops flavored milk to 3.5 ounces of Froot Loops cereal, we would be consuming 23 grams of added and naturally occurring sugars. By the way, according to Zippia, cheerios is the number one selling cereal here in the United States. Frosted Flakes is a close second, with sales of $412.6 million in 2022. Maybe these marketers need to have some healthy breakfast.

Sally:

Be sure to visit SupermarketG uru. com for the latest marketing analysis, issues and trends, and don't forget to join us back here next Monday at 2.30 pm Eastern for more.

Liver Disease in Children on the Rise
Processed Foods' Link to Addiction and Depression
Eating Alone's Impact on Health
National Farmers Day and Sustainable Dairy
Breakfast Cereal Sales Decline and Flavored Milk Introduction
Flavored Milk's Impact on Cereal