Saturday, February 22, 2014

Avoid Nutrition and Diet Myths with Scientific Facts

Dr. Lydia Kaume, nutrition and health education specialist
Headquartered in Barton County
Tel: (417) 682-3579

LAMAR, Mo. -- Myths in the scientific world are considered beliefs that are not scientifically supported. There are numerous diet and food related myths circulating in the media, and sometimes through conversations with friends, colleagues and family members.

“Beliefs that are not scientifically supported by sound research findings create confusion and make choosing a healthy eating plan a difficult task,” said Dr. Lydia Kaume, a nutrition and health nutrition specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Research based information is information that relies on a body of findings from soundly conducted studies. Therefore, if searching for scientific based information, it is advisable not to rely on information based on scientific findings from a single study.

“Sometimes, journalists may report on a single study and cause unnecessary confusion to consumers. The advice to reporting or quoting a single study is to put the information in context and avoid generalizations that could lead to confusion,” said Kaume.

Kaume says there are numerous unsupported beliefs with the aim of providing clarifying facts.

Myth:  Certain foods can burn fat and make you lose weight.

There is diet information prescribing cabbage soup, celery and grapefruit as fat-burning foods.  The facts are that there is no research to support any one type of food’s ability to burn fat. Certain foods may speed up your metabolism for a short time, but do not cause weight loss.

“In other words, for a short time caffeine/coffee stimulates the metabolic rate of an individual and speeds up the way the body uses energy or calories. The recommended way to lose weight is to have a balanced diet reducing the number of calories and increasing physical activity to lose one or two pounds a week,” said Kaume.

Myth: A serving size on a Food Nutrition Facts Label means how much I should eat of that food (portion size).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Nutrition Facts label appears on most packaged foods and informs us how many servings are in a box or can. The serving size varies from product to product and provides information on how many calories are in one serving size.

“A portion size is how much of that food we choose to eat at one time. In some cases, serving sizes and portion sizes match but at all times an individual determine their portion size,” said Kaume.

Myth: Exercise and physical activity only counts if I can do it for extended periods of time of 30-45 minutes.

To achieve your 150 to 300 minutes of activity each week, you do not need to be active for a long time. Experts advise that 10 minutes or longer at a time is adequate for aerobic exercise and one can plan to work on three of these sessions per day for five days to achieve recommended physical activity.

Myth: Dairy products have fattening effects and are unhealthy.

Dairy products are rich sources of calcium and vitamin D. Research shows most Americans do not consume enough calcium and vitamin D. Choosing fat-free or low fat dairy products, like  low-fat yogurt, cheese, and milk, offer the protein necessary for building muscles and other body processes  and calcium and vitamin D to strengthen bones.  Adults aged 19-50 need 1000mg of calcium per day and adults over 50 need 1200 mg of calcium per day.


For more information on nutrition, go online to or contact one of the nutrition and health specialists working in the Ozarks: Dr. Lydia Kaume in Barton County, (417) 682-3579; Dr. Pam Duitsman, in Greene County, (417) 881-8909; or Cammie Younger in Texas County, (417) 967-4545

For 100 years, MU Extension has engaged Missourians in relevant programs based on University of Missouri research. The year 2014 marks the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act, which formalized the Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service, a national network whose purpose is to extend university-based knowledge beyond the campus.

University of Missouri Extension programs focus on the high-priority needs of Missourians. Each county extension center, with oversight by locally elected and appointed citizens, is your local link to practical education on almost anything. More information on this topic is available online at


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