The quality and safety of foods are a worldwide concern and have been a societal issue since the beginning of civilization. In the United States, very complex laws and regulations have been developed to address food safety concerns.
One of the many luxuries Americans enjoy is access to the safest and most abundant food supply in the world. This stems from many advances and improvements in food safety, sanitation, and crop production that reduce the chance of food-safety problems, including food-borne illness, pesticide contamination, or infectious disease.
Fortification is the addition of nutrients to foods to enhance their nutritional value. Enrichment, on the other hand, is the addition of nutrients to foods to restore nutrients lost during processing.
The term French paradox refers to the observation that although the French eat similar amounts of high-fat foods, exercise less, and smoke more than Americans, they appear to have a markedly lower mortality rate from heart disease. Medical experts generally agree that a low-fat diet, exercise, and not smoking minimize the risk of heart attacks, which makes this paradox difficult to understand.
Functional foods are foods that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition due to certain physiologically active components, which may or may not have been manipulated or modified to enhance their bioactivity. These foods may help prevent disease, reduce the risk of developing disease, or enhance health.
In 1959, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a list of seven hundred food substances that were exempt from the then new requirement that manufacturers test food additives before putting them on the market.
Genetic modification employs recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) technology to alter the genes of microorganisms, plants, and animals. Genetic modification is also called biotechnology, gene splicing, recombinant DNA technology, or genetic engineering.
Hunger and malnutrition occur throughout the world, though the knowledge and resources exist to eliminate them. The challenge lies in changing political will, developing realistic policies, and taking determined actions both nationally and internationally.
The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate foods individuals with diabetes use to manage their disease. This ranking is based on the rate carbohydrates affect blood glucose levels relative to glucose or white bread.
A goiter is a noncancerous enlargement of the thyroid gland in the front of the neck. Many conditions can cause goiter, but the most common is a lack of sufficient iodine in the diet, which is usually a result of the soil in which food is grown being iodine-poor—a condition that occurs in many mountainous regions away from the sea.
The term grazing is used to describe the eating of small, frequent meals, or mini-meals, throughout the day, typically every three to four hours. Grazing does not mean constantly eating snack foods, but rather is a concept of consuming one's daily food intake, including all necessary nutrients, over five or six (or more) small meals, rather than two or three large ones.
The "Mediterranean diet" gained much recognition and worldwide interest in the 1990s as a model for healthful eating habits. The diet is based on the traditional dietary patterns of Crete, a Greek island, and other parts of Greece and southern Italy.
The Green Revolution (GR) refers to the use of high-yield variety (HYV) seeds, which were invented by the crop geneticist Norman Borlaugh. HYVs are normally used as a part of a technological package that also includes biochemical inputs such as water, fertilizers, and pesticides, and often mechanical inputs.
Growth charts are used by pediatricians, dietitians, nurses, and parents to assess the growth of infants, children, and adolescents. In the United States, growth charts are created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and assess weight, height, and body mass index (BMI).
Human growth hormone (HGH) stimulates the growth of bones and affects the metabolism of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. It is secreted by the pituitary gland, which is located in the brain.
Health is a measure of quality of life that is difficult to define and measure. In the 1940s, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as a "state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." At the first International Conference on Health Promotion in Ottawa, Canada (1986), the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion built on the WHO's concept and further defined health as "a resource for everyday life ...
As part of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented regulations defining what terms may be used to describe the level of a nutrient in a food, as well as what claims could be made about the relationship between a nutrient or a food and the risk of a disease or health-related condition. Prior to the implementation of these regulations, there were no guidelines for food manufacturers to use when making statements about the nutritional value of a food product.
Health communication is the discipline that studies and develops appropriate communication strategies to inform individuals and communities about ways to enhance health. It is used at all levels of disease prevention and health promotion and can contribute to improving health and delaying disease, disability, and death.
Health education is the discipline dedicated to designing, implementing, and evaluating health programs and materials that improve the health of individuals, families, and communities. Health education is one of the tools of health promotion.