Sorry, No Magic Pill

New U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggest that consumers cut calories, eat more whole-grain foods and exercise daily.
Forget quick fixes and fad diets. To lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle, Americans need to show some initiative, have some discipline, apply some motivation and use a little common sense. That’s the message from the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released earlier in January by the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.
“It’s really [about] common sense,” HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, told reporters at a January 12 conference. “Do you want to look better? Yes. Do you want to feel better? Yes. If you do that, you lower your calorie intake, you lower your fats, you eat more fruits and vegetables, more whole grain and you exercise, and that’s as simple as it can be.”
If a weight-loss plan sounds too good to be true, it probably is, he added.
“There’s not going to be a pill,” he said. “Let’s face it, America.”
For the baking industry, the good news is that the guidelines strongly recommended that Americans increase their consumption of whole grains to three servings a day. Of concern to some bakers may be the recommendation that consumers substitute three servings of whole grains for refined grains.
The number of grains recommended is now in common household measures — cups or ounces. The guidelines recommend that at least 3 oz., or half of the daily consumption, be from whole grains. For example, the recommended daily amount for a teen-age boy is 10 oz., of which 5 oz. should come from whole grains.
“It is important to promote the benefits of whole grains as, on average, Americans are consuming less than one serving daily of whole grain,” said Judi Adams, president of the Grain Foods Foundation (GFF). “Whole grains are important, as they have been shown to prevent the risk of Type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and some cancers.”
Although the guidelines emphasized whole grains, they did note that enriched grains are a part of a balanced diet. Fortified enriched grains, the guidelines noted, provide a source of riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, iron and especially folic acid, which can reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes and some forms of cancer. Since 1998, when folic acid fortification of enriched grains was mandated, neural-tube birth defects, including spina bifida, have declined 26%, GFF noted.
“We should not overlook the importance of enriched grains because of their increased folic acid content,” Adams said.
Many snack and baking industry groups were pleased with the overall tone of the guidelines, which focused on fighting obesity, maintaining a balanced diet and developing a regular exercise regimen. The American Bakers Association applauded the guidelines because they emphasize the importance of bread and other grain-based food as part of a healthy diet.
“The new announcement repudiates the fad ‘low carb’ misinformation from the past and reinforced the importance of grain-based foods in the diet,” said Paul Abenante, ABA’s president and CEO.
Many industry observers were concerned that the government might have taken a position that could negatively impact the sale of some snacks and baked goods. For the most part, that didn’t happen.
Instead, in the section on carbohydrates, the guidelines recommend the consumption of bread and other nutrient-packed foods that provide natural dietary benefits. It also suggested avoiding those carbohydrate-laden products, such as candy, soda and alcohol, which are loaded with empty calories and have little or no health attributes.
Specifically, the guidelines urged limiting foods high in fat and with added sugar. Although Thompson urged Americans “to skip dessert or only eat half of it,” the guidelines do allow for discretionary calories for those who are maintaining their weight and may want to treat themselves.
However, the amount of calories is not substantial. For a person on a 2,000-calorie diet, the guidelines recommend only 267 calories for an indulgence. People on a 2,400-calorie regimen have 362 discretionary calories for higher-fat or added-sugar products. Those who are trying to lose weight may opt to not have any discretionary calories until they reached their goals.
Even the salted snack industry got off relatively unscathed. The guidelines slightly lowered the recommended daily consumption of sodium from 2,400 mg. a day to 2,300 mg. or about 1 tsp. a day.
“The impact on snack foods remains to be seen, but the guidelines themselves are relatively benign,” says David Dexter, SFA’s senior vice president of government and public affairs.
However, the new guidelines are just the first of several critical announcements that the government is expected to make during the next year.
According to Thompson, the FDA is currently reviewing its recommendation on trans fat, which must be included on food labels by the beginning of next year. At the news conference to announce the dietary guidelines, the HHS secretary hinted that the agency might recommend that Americans limit the consumption of trans fat to 2 gm. or less per day.
“Two [gm.] is probably the upper limit that you should have as a consumer,” he told reporters.
Moreover, the USDA and HHS are developing a new Food Guidance System. “Whether or not it takes the shape and form of a pyramid again is still being looked at,” said outgoing USDA Sec’y Ann Veneman.
Thompson suggested that more changes may be made to the new guidelines as new scientific research and nutritional insight emerges.
“These guidelines are not static. They’re evolving,” Thompson said. “This is the benchmark as of right now, and it’s really a very good benchmark.”
Troubled Krispy Kreme Taps Interim Enron Exec
For years, financial analysts and industry pundits compared Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and its high-flying stock to dot-coms and other high-flying companies in the late 1990s, and in the end, those prognostications may end up ringing truer than anyone believed.
In January, the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based donut chain shook up its management team by announcing Scott Livengood, the architect of the Krispy Kreme phenomena, would retire as its chairman, president and CEO. The 52-year-old executive, who had been CEO since 1998, also resigned as a director on the company’s board. He had been with the donut chain since 1977.
Replacing Livengood as CEO is Stephen Cooper, who is chairman of the New York-based turnaround firm, Kroll Zolfo Cooper (KZC) that Krispy Kreme has retained as its financial adviser and interim management consultant. Cooper currently acts as interim CEO and chief restructuring officer of Enron, the scandal-ridden energy concern.
KZC’s list of clients also includes companies, suchas MCI WorldCom, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New England Patriots, Boston Chicken and Sunbeam.
In addition to Cooper’s appointment, Krispy Kreme’s board tapped Steven Panagos as president and COO. Panagos is managing director of Kroll Zolfo Cooper. Meanwhile, the donut chain promoted James Morgan, its vice chairman, to chairman of the company. Morgan is also chairman of The Morgan Crossroads Funds and previously served as chairman and CEO of Wachovia Securities. Robert Strickland, the retired chairman of Lowe’s and another Krispy Kreme board member, becomes vice chairman of the firm.
Upon announcing the news on January 18, Krispy Kreme’s stock soared more than 10% to nearly $10 a share, but the company’s shares are still trading around 70% less than 12-month highs.
Livengood’s departure did not come as a surprise. In fact, many observers thought it was only a matter of time before Krispy Kreme’s board had to make some significant management changes.
During the last year, the producer of the famous hot glazed donut saw its stock collapse because of soft sales, net losses, accounting irregularities, restating earnings, shareholder lawsuits and Security and Exchange Commissions investigations into its franchise buybacks and earnings outlooks.
Although Livengood doesn’t receive a severance, Krispy Kreme is still paying him nearly $46,000 a month, or the equivalent of his monthly salary as top executive, to serve as a consultant for the chain.
Under the six-month agreement, which is renewable, Livengood has a non-compete clause and agrees to consult up to 40 hours a week. The company agrees to pay for his family’s medical benefits, some attorney fees and any reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket expenses.
Livengood also has vested options to purchase more than 1.38 million shares of Krispy Kreme shares, subject to certain terms.
Highlights of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines
• To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended. To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.
• Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week.
• To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.
• To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements. Some people may need to consult with a health-care provider before participating in this level of activity.
• Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.
• Consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within and among the basic food groups while choosing foods that limit the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol. For moderately active people ages 31 to 50, the guidelines recommend 2,000 calories for women and 2,400 to 2,600 for men.
• Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. In particular, select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables and other vegetables) several times a week.
• Consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain products per day, with the rest of the recommended grains coming from enriched or whole-grain products. In general, at least half the grains should come from whole grains.