Food and nutrition trends seem to change weekly, and marketers are right there to exploit any and all fads.
Here are some research paper topics on healthy food, misleading food labels, restaurant nutrition facts and diet trends.
“Healthy” mislabeling on nutrition facts
One trend in food nutrition you could write about is misleading food labeling. Many Americans want to eat healthy and are concerned with things like salt, fat, sugar, calories, dyes, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup. Foods with labels declaring “healthy,” “fat free” or “all natural” attract customers who want to do the right thing by buying foods that are good for them. The problem is that the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t define certain catch phrases, such as “all natural,” so marketers tend to make their products sound much better than they really are.
In “16 Most Misleading Food Labels” by Danny Deza for Health.com, Stephan Gardner, director of litigation at the Center of Science in the Public Interest, reported, “Some natural products will have high fructose corn syrup and companies will argue that since it comes from corn, it’s healthy.” Other misleading labels or packaging include:
- Darker brown bread isn’t necessarily whole grain; it could contain caramel or corn syrup
- “No sugar added” products can contain maltodextrin, a carbohydrate, which can raise blood sugar
- If it says “0 trans fat,” it could still contain hydrogenated oils and shortening which has trans fat
Dieting trends aim toward mindful eating
The rapidly changing field of dieting trends and their effectiveness would make a good research paper topic. Contrary to popular belief, strict dieting and fad dieting is waning, and “mindful eating” is on the rise. Writing in “Mindful Eating: 5 Easy Tips To Get Started” on Huffington Post November 12, 2013, Jenni Grover of Mother Nature Network explained, “Mindful eating is based on the idea that there is no right or wrong way to eat, but rather varying degrees of consciousness about what we are eating and why. The goal of mindful eating, then, is to base our meals on physical cues, such as our bodies’ hunger signals, not emotional ones — like eating for comfort.”
As Grover described, mindful eating involves eating slowly, eating in silence with no distractions (turn off the phone and TV), savoring the flavors and knowing where your food comes from. Mindful eating also favors minimally processed foods, fresh vegetables and whole grains, seeds and nuts, and non-genetically modified food. Superfoods that contain beta carotene, omega-3, antioxidants and glucosinolates (cancer fighting agents in broccoli and cauliflower) are in, and kale is on the way out.
Restaurant food calorie counts
An interesting topic for your research paper is to discuss federal versus state laws regarding calorie counts on restaurant menus. We may not really want to know how many calories our cheese smothered nachos or deep dish pizza have, but some health-conscious advocates recognize that the information can help restaurant-goers make healthier choices. Because mandates from the Food and Drug Administration are often delayed, the state of California enacted a state law requiring restaurants to post calorie counts. While restaurants in several states are posting menu nutrition information, grocery stores, convenience stores and retailers are dragging their feet.
In “Nutrition: Laws Can Help with Calorie Counts, but It’s Up to You to Be Proactive,” posted in the Los Angeles Daily News, April 18, 2016, registered dietitian LeeAnn Weintraub said “While we know that mandating calorie information on menus in restaurants will not curb the obesity epidemic alone, experts do believe it’s an important part of creating a healthier food environment. Because people do often underestimate the calories in away-from-home foods, having this information available will help those who have the intention of choosing lower calorie items.”
For more information, check out Questia’s library on Food and Nutrition.
What information do you want to see on food labeling?