Top 15 crusaders for health in the food industry

Published: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 @ 10:59 PM
Updated: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 @ 10:59 PM

We’ve seen it on the news, the covers of best-selling novels, and even on the big screen. Americans are getting bigger and more unhealthy day by day. Over a third of American adults are considered obese, and it’s estimated that up to one in three adults will suffer from diabetes by the year 2050. (In 2010, it affected one in 10 U.S. adults.) And many of these problems have been blamed on things like fast food, super-sized portions, and high levels of sugar in the foods available on store shelves.

So just what has to be done to turn this doom-train around? Maybe it’s eating more local produce? Or improving school lunches? Or campaigning for better regulations in the food industry? Whatever ends up being the answer, here are our 15 favorite health heroes who have devoted themselves to improving America’s relationship with food.

1. Marion Nestle
Let’s talk politics. Food Politics, that is. It’s the name of Nestle’s blog, where she writes about nutrition, biology, health policy, and food marketing. She’s published several books discussing the importance of our food sources, including Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health and Safe Food. Her research has made waves in the world of food politics, including on topics like the scientific and socioeconomic influences on food choices, obesity, and food safety, and she emphasizes the role of food marketing in the health of our country. No relation to the Crunch bar. (Photo: — SL

2. Michael Pollan
Food for thought is this guy’s specialty. Michael Pollan‘s the author of bestsellers like The Omnivore’s Dilemma and, most recently, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. One of the leading activists for changes in the food industry, he’s never shy about sharing his (often controversial) opinions on food, agriculture, and health. (Photo: Ken Light)— SL



3. Ann Cooper
“School lunch” usually brings back memories of processed food-like substance — I’m still scarred by “pizza-burgers.” Chef Ann Cooper, better known also known as “Chef Ann” or the “Renegade Lunch Lady,” has one mission — to change the way we feed kids in our school. She’s working with schools to reasonably budget for healthy food and pushing for school lunch to become a part of the legislative conversation. (Photo: Kristen Boyer) — KK


4. Sam Kass
This Chicago native isn’t JUST the first family’s personal chef — he plays a huge role in first lady Michelle Obama’s “Lets Move!” campaign, too, starting with the garden on the White House’s South Lawn. Kass has worked on everything from child nutrition legislation to how to fund school lunch programs, and the best ways to fight childhood obesity. (Photo: — KM


5. Alice Waters
In terms of the “slow food” movement in America, Alice Waters and her restaurant Chez Panisse started it all. Waters and her iconic San Francisco restaurant helped launch the organic craze by serving only healthy, local, high-quality ingredients. Waters, an organic food advocate and activist, has expanded her mission of using a few amazing ingredients cooked to perfection by creating the Chez Panisse Foundation and the Edible Schoolyard, two initiatives designed to bring healthy food and produce into classrooms across America. (Photo: — ZS

6. Robyn O’Brien
After working as a food industry analyst, Robyn O’Brien decided to switch gears to become an author and public speaker about the issues that matter to her most — ensuring the food we eat (and feed our children) is safe and healthy, and making sure the food industry understands that necessity, too. Her first book, The Unhealthy Truth, discusses the ties between American food, government, and culture, and the importance of  cleaning up the food system in our country. O’Brien also founded AllergyKids to help children suffering from food allergies, autism, ADHD, and asthma, and to address the role that food additives play in our health. This is one mother (of four!) who’s taken the health of her family as inspiration to help millions of others! (Photo: — KM

7. Jamie Oliver
Starting with his ABC reality show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution back in 2010, this British chef started the “revamp America’s school kitchens” fire. Even after filming ended, the Food Revolution campaign has been dedicated to improving school lunches across the country. He’s won countless awards for his efforts, and although his defeat by the bureaucracy of the school system was well documented on the show, his efforts made lasting waves that have continued to inspire others to make a difference since. (Photo: — KM

8. Mike Bloomberg
Mike Bloomberg isn’t afraid to make waves in the name of public health, and other cities take note. As NYC’s mayor, he’s tackled smoking in public and banned the use of trans fats in many of the city’s restaurants. Next up? Sugary drinks — he recently proposed a (very controversial) ban on the sale of large sodas. Now, for the rest of the country! (Photo: — KK


Doctor: Popular charcoal masks could cause permanent skin damage

Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 @ 3:47 PM

A popular “do-it-yourself” charcoal mask that has been trending all over the internet could cause serious damage to your skin, according to a dermatologist.

"It might be dangerous if you like all three layers of your skin," Dr. Seth Forman, a dermatologist in Tampa, Florida, said in an interview with WFTS

Many people have taken to YouTube to show users the painful process of peeling off the charcoal mask. Many of these products are sold from “unregulated vendors,” WFTS reports. Forman said that some of these products are mixed with a foreign charcoal powder and super glue, and will “most likely” be illegal soon. 

If certain layers of skin are peeled off, it can lead to scarring and infection “especially when you get down to the second layer (of skin),” according to WFTS

The good news is that there is a large variety of FDA approved facial masks that are safe, Forman said.

WATCH: Young girl left temporarily paralyzed illustrates dangers of tick bites

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 4:49 PM

A 3-year-old girl in Oregon awoke on May 13 to find herself unable to stand or use her arms.

>> Read more trending news 

Evelyn Lewis’ mother, Amanda Lewis, filmed her daughter’s failed attempts to stand with help from her husband. 

WGHP reported that the parents took Evelyn to the emergency room, where a doctor discovered a small but dangerous reason for her condition.

After combing through Evelyn’s hair, the doctor discovered a tick, diagnosing her with a condition called “tick paralysis.”

“The doctor talked to us for a minute and said over the past 15 years he had seen about seven or eight children her age with identical symptoms and more than likely she had a tick,” Amanda Lewis wrote on Facebook. “It can affect dogs also and can be fatal. I’m glad we took her in when we did and that it wasn’t something worse and that we found it before it got worse.”

According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, tick paralysis attacks a person’s muscles and results in symptoms like muscle pains and numbness of the legs. These begin after a tick has attached itself to a host, generally on the scalp.

>> Related: Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals

Fortunately, Evelyn is now doing much better, as her mother wrote on Facebook that she “is now pretty much completely back to her feisty little self. She complains a lot about her head itching but otherwise, she’s just fine.”


Here’s how much fruit juice children should drink, according to new guidelines

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 12:19 PM

KidStock/Getty Images/Blend Images

Next time you're grocery shopping for your kids, think twice before adding a carton of fruit juice to your basket. The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its guidelines on all juices, advising parents to pull back on how much they serve their little ones.

» Related: What Atlanta dietitians feed their kids 

Previous recommendations said parents should wait to give their babies juice until after six months, but its latest update is suggesting that they wait one year. 

In fact, infants should only be fed breast milk or infant formula for the first six months. After six months, moms and dads can then introduce fruit to their diet, but not fruit juice. 

>> Read more trending news

“Parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, but it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories,” said Melvin B. Heyman, MD, FAAP, co-author of the statement. “Small amounts in moderation are fine for older kids, but are absolutely unnecessary for children under 1.”

» Related: Should we slap a tax on sugary drinks? 

Scientists laid out instructions for older children, too. Toddlers who are ages 1 to 4 should only have one cup of fruit a day. Four ounces of that can come from 100 percent fruit juice, but it should be pasteurized and not labeled “drink,” “beverage” or cocktail.” 

For children ages 4 to 6, fruit juice intake shouldn't exceed four to six ounces a day. 

The amount increases just slightly for children ages 7 to 18. They can have up to two and a half cups of fruit servings, but only eight ounces of it should be juice. 

Top 15 crusaders for health in America's food industry

Published: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 @ 10:59 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 @ 10:59 PM

Wondering how this year's list stacks up against the last? Check out Top 15 Crusaders for Health in the Food Industry 2012.

Amongst all the junk food commercials and donut sandwiches, there are a handful of health heroes. These aren’t just people who eat organic greens for lunch and free-range eggs for dinner; they’re moving and shaking the way we think about our food, including where it comes from, the implications it has on our environment, and what our meals mean for our bodies. Here, we recognize 15 superstars (in no particular order) that have devoted themselves to improving American’s relationship with food.


1. Marion Nestle
Nestle has got her hand in nearly every facet of America’s food industry. Her blog, Food Politics, covers topics from nutrition and biology to health policy and food marketing. She’s been teaching nutrition for nearly four decades and currently teaches sociology, food studies, and public health at NYU. Nestle is the author of many books, but her latest — “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics” — is all about understanding the intersection of health and food amidst all the mass marketing and misinformation put forth by major food manufacturers. Currently, Nestle updates her blog regularly and presents at universities and conferences on topics such as genetically modified foods and the role food companies play in our food system. (Photo:


2. Michael Pollan
As one of the foremost activists for change in the overwrought food industry, Pollan is an outspoken and often controversial figure in the food and farming space. Though probably best known for his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (which hung out on The New York Times Bestseller list for more than three years), Pollan has continued to write. In his most recent book, “Cooked”, Pollan explores how cooking connects us to plants, animals, farmers, and culture (amongst other things). (Photo by Ken Light)


3. Michelle Obama
After launching the Let’s Move! campaign at the start of 2010, the First Lady has made healthifying America’s eating habits (especially for kids) her job. The ultimate goal is to eliminate childhood obesity and help kids live healthier lives with good food and a little extra physical activity. This year, Obama held the second annual “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge,” where she asked children ages eight to 12 to whip up nutritious, tasty, and affordable recipes. Unfortunately, we weren’t invited to the White House kids’ “State Dinner” with the winner of this year’s challenge. (Photo:


4. Mark Bittman
As an author and New York Times writer,Bittman likes to weigh in on what’s wrong with the American diet. A part-time veganhimself, Bittman is an advocate for the “flexitarian” diet — which means eating vegan during the day, but allowing for more flexible consumption after 6 pm. His super popular book, “How to Cook Everything”, is a go-to resource for basic kitchen skills. Not only does he push for humans to stay healthy, Bittman relentlessly encourages us to keep the environment happy and healthy, too. Oh, and in his spare time, he runsmarathons(Photo:


5. Mike Bloomberg
As the mayor of New York City, Bloombergtakes his role seriously, making waves in the name of public health. From smoking bans tosoda bans, Bloomberg’s initiatives aren’t without controversy and backlash. Passionate about combating obesity, he’s pushed for salad bars and healthier menus in school cafeterias. Plus, he’s managed to eliminate trans fats from tons of restaurant items, and make it mandatory for chain restaurants to clearly post calorie counts on menus. We’re excited to see what goals Bloomberg sets (and reaches) next. (Photo:

For the full list of 2013's top health crusaders in the food industry, go to