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In Facts, Figures & The Future this month, Phil Lempert issues a stern warning about last week’s report suggesting that there is no connection between a low-fat diet and the likelihood of contracting heart disease.

“Since 1900, Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) has been the number one killer in the United States every year, except in 1918,” Lempert writes. “In 2006, that means that nearly 2500 Americans die of CVD every day - or 1 person every 35 seconds.

“I have lived with this reality first hand. My mom, Lillian Lempert, who many of you met over the years and many more know through my stories of her adventures, passed away unexpectedly due to heart disease on January 20th...She had her first heart attack at age 50 after years of smoking (she never smoked again), a triple bypass followed as did 4 more heart attacks and a pacemaker.

“She was a vibrant and energetic heart patient who tried her best to change her lifestyle to enjoy her life. She switched to a heart healthy diet (and stuck to it most of the time) and read labels. And there is little doubt that reducing fat, calories and sodium helped her to be as active as she was.

“Which is why the report that was issued last week by the National Institutes of Health as part of the Women's Health Initiative, which has cast doubt on the effectiveness of a low-fat diet in preventing heart disease or cancer, sends the wrong message to the consumer. And while many nutritionists and doctors have already suggested that the study is questionable, especially since the women in the study were for the most part post-menopausal and didn't actually reduce the percent fat in their diets to the study's 20% recommended level. The reality is that it is in the headlines, consumers have read them and are now trying to figure out what foods to eat.

“Health, as the Institutes' report states, needs to be looked at as a complete picture with a diversity of nutrients, exercise and proper sleep habits. Of course it does...but just as we have seen in the past, poor nutrition communication leads to confusion in the supermarket aisle.

“Studies and reports like this are dangerous to the shopper, and we in the food world need to continue the ‘nutritional correction’ that we started in 2004 by reducing portion size, calories, fats, sodium and sugars and at the same time adding more whole grains and fibers to our foods.”

In other F3 stories:

• Michael Sansolo, senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), writes about technology issues that were highlighted at the recent FMI Marketechnics conference that seem to be far beyond the mastery of most businesses – and what the industry can do about it.

• A look at how consumers are seeking out and finding environmentally friendly sanitation products, in part because of growing evidence that traditional cleansers may be making people sick.

• How and why value retailing continues to grow in popularity.

• Sales opportunities connected to next month’s St. Patrick’s Day observance.

And much more.

To get your copy, go to:

F3 is a joint production of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), ACNielsen, and Phil Lempert.

(Full disclosure: MNB Content Guy Kevin Coupe is a contributor to F3.)
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