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Summary Synthesis

After reflecting on my time as a student at PSU, I’m extremely grateful for the unconventional route I chose to take. After struggling back and forth for several years between a business major and a health major, I really felt like I was stuck in a difficult position and ready to give up getting my degree all together. As a first semester Junior, I had plenty of credits, but nearly half of them were in business course and half were in health courses. I met with several different professors and advisors to try and figure out a plan for my degree that did not involve me being in college for another four years. This is when one advisor I met with told me about Interdisciplinary Studies and how I would be a perfect fit for it. Like many, I had never heard of IDS and was fairly skeptical at first. After some discussion I decided to look into it for myself, scheduled a meeting with the IDS advisor and changed my major all in one week.

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Having the ability to combine both of majors that I loved into one integrative program I tilted health and fitness marketing, was something I never thought was possible, but I am so grateful for. Now as I’m finishing up my degree, it is a perfect combination of all the classes I know would bring me the most success post graduation. I focused the majority of the business side of my degree on marketing and finance courses. For the health portion of my degree, its focused mainly on nutrition and exercise based courses. Both my applied project as well as my research article combine both aspects of my degree.

My research article focused on food label regulations and the industry that makes these regulations. This is a huge area of interest to me because I love all things nutrition. I figured this would be a good research topic because there is plenty of information about it and also because it involves health and the marketing aspect of food products to get people to purchase them. My applied project had a similar idea behind it. Quickly into my research I was able to see how much deception and false information is out there for the public to be fooled by. Because of this, I decided to focus my applied project on creating a healthy grocery shopping reference guide for individuals looking to better their health. It provides them with different health food options, tips on how to properly read nutrition labels as well as what nutrients they should add to their diet and what to stay away from. With so much unregulated health claims and inaccurate information out there, I wanted to create an easy guide to make healthy living a little easier.

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These two projects were a great way to conclude my studies and journey to complete IDS program I created. I learned a lot through the process of both the research article and the applied project. Although they seem like daunting tasks at first, I can really see the benefit behind them. They compile and utilize all of the information I’ve learned not only through the health and business classes I’ve taken over the years, but through the IDS program itself. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to switch to an IDS major so late in my college career and really find what I excel in and am passionate about.

My PLN

The PLN I created for my Interdisciplinary courses over the past year was my Twitter profile. I utilized this profile for a marketing course my junior year as well as IDS Introduction and senior seminar. Looking back, it is amazing to see how my interest and knowledge has evolved in both health and fitness as well as marketing. Finding new articles and learning new information was my favorite part of this PLN because I was learning about things I’m truly passionate about. Utilizing social media is a great opportunity to continuously learn things in a more modern that works with our society. Instead of using books, you are able to find amazing articles, collaborate and network within your industry.

Some of my favorite aspects of having my PLN was the ability to see different professionals interact and challenge each others ideas. I also loved the opportunity to follow along with different professionals and pages that I loved and see what opinions and articles they found interesting or learned from.

These are just a few examples of articles and posts that I both found inspiring or learned something from. After this course is over and graduation comes around, I hope that I still utilize Twitter to continue to learn alongside other professionals in my industry.

Marketing inspiration

Much of my blog has been centered around health related topics, as that is where my true passion is. Despite this, my program is titled Health and Fitness Marketing, so I figured I’d provide a quick background about how I became interested in the business and marketing side of things as well.

Two years ago I was given the opportunity to internship with a real estate company based out of the White Mountain region. My job in short was to run several social media pages for this growing real estate company, create advertisements, logos and send current clients as well as potential clients weekly newsletters. When I was presented with this internship opportunity, I felt like I was extremely under qualified to be doing these tasks independently and have this company rely on my skills as an unexperienced college student. Despite my hesitations, the owner was confident that I could pull it off, so reluctantly I agreed.

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The internship only lasted one summer, but I genuinely learned more from those few months of hands on work that I have in many classes where I just sat behind a desk and listened to a professor give lectures. I was really thrown into the position to figure things out on my own, and although it was a scary experience at first, I’m extremely grateful for it. Not only did it give me the opportunity to grow my business and marketing skills immensely in just a few short months, it also taught me that situations where you feel the most vulnerable are usually the ones you learn the most from.

Research Article

Nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle hold a special place in my heart that most people would have trouble understanding. I grew up with a fairly normal diet for a picky child. Healthy eating was never a true focus in my household, similarly to most people. Highly processed snacks and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were staples in our family. As I got older, my nutrition habits stayed the same and as someone that never really excelled at sports, my general health was definitely not up to par. In high school I began hanging around the wrong crowds which led to a lot of drinking and poor decision making. This continued on for several years until I realized that I needed to make a change and start respecting and becoming more conscious of what I was putting into my body. I found a passion for fitness and truly felt like I had found who I was while at the gym. I realized that if I wanted to give my best effort in the gym, I needed to make some serious changes with my nutrition and daily habits. The more I started learning about nutrition, the more I realized how misinformed I was about healthy eating my entire life. I had zero knowledge of portion sizes, macronutrients, saturated fats, any of it. It quickly became clear to me that the majority of the general public had the same knowledge, or lack of, when it come to nutrition. As I continued to learn how to fuel my body, my passion for all things health and fitness related grew. I eventually changed my major at Plymouth State to Interdisciplinary Studies so that I could study health and fitness marketing. In the midst of all of these changes, I decided to make it my mission to teach and inform as many people as possible about changes they can make to live the healthy lifestyle everyones body deserves. 

After taking several health and nutrition classes at PSU, along with doing my own research, I started to become more and more skeptical about the information the public is told about nutrition and being healthy. I recognize that most people do not research, or probably care about certain health subjects as much as I do. Despite this, I believe that most people want to be healthy, or make some kind of attempt to be healthy. Considering this, it frustrates me to no end knowing how difficult it is to get accurate information on healthy living. Much of what society believes about health and nutrition comes from magazines, TV ads and social media influencers who are not qualified to be giving that kind of information. While brainstorming what I wanted to do for this research project, I realized that while changing the inaccurate and misleading information that is out there might be impossible, I do have the opportunity to potentially make people stop and question what they are told. One of the first places my mind went to was where people make their initial health choices for themselves and their family, the grocery store. I’ve always wondered about the accuracy of the claims on the front of food packages displayed at the grocery store. Are certain heavily processed cereals really considered “heart healthy” and backed by scientific research? Do food companies have to abide by certain regulations, or are they able to mislead consumers into buying their product by labeling their products as organic or healthy if they so choose. Trying to be healthy in todays society with the overwhelming amount of information at our fingertips is difficult enough. It is stressful to think that many food corporations are distributing information to the public that is not actually accurate. The purpose behind food label regulations is to help customers make the best informed decisions about the foods they choose to purchase. So what happens when those regulations intended to help consumers, actually end up negatively impacting them and their health, without their knowledge?

In todays society, obesity is a huge concern to the welfare of the public. Misleading information represented by the food industry is a major contributor of obesity in our country, among many other factors. Often times customers believe a product they purchased to be healthy because of the packaging and labels that make certain health claims. Unfortunately despite customers attempts at making better choices, many of these labels and health claims are far from the truth. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the agency responsible for regulating food labels, but ultimately lack the regulatory authority and necessary resources to address these questionable labeling practices. Although food labeling may seem like a minor problem in the grand scheme of things, addressing it may help individuals make better informed decisions on what they choose to consume. 

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Many nutritionists and health experts are demanding the FDA to more clearly define food label claims for things like “made with whole grains” “contains real fruit” and “low sugar.” These more strict regulations would prevent food companies from leading consumers to believe that a food is healthier than it actually is. The current packaging choice language and images often lead customers to consume products that are highly processed and loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients under the misconception that they are making healthy choices. A frighteningly large number of processed cereals and snack foods boast about healthy ingredients such as real fruit or vegetables, when in reality, they contain tiny amounts of those healthy ingredients and are loaded with heavily processed crap. Allowing customers to purchase these items that are actually unhealthy, with the belief that they are making good choices is not only extremely misleading and unlawful, but it also effects the producers of truly healthy foods and their businesses. For this reason, nutritionists are pushing for regulations that require stricter protocol for definitions of terms like “healthy” and “all natural.”

According to the Institute of Food Technologies (IFT) “In the United States, food laws such as the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), Food Quality Protection Act, Food Allergens labeling, and Consumer Protection Act impose different labeling requirements on foods and beverages. These laws were passed to prevent consumer deception, ensure fair trade practices, ensure food safety, improve public health, inform about possible health risks (allergen labeling) etc. Under provisions of the U.S. law, importers of food products intending to market in the U.S. are responsible for ensuring that the products are safe, sanitary, and labeled according to U.S. requirements.” Although no one can argue the fact that food regulatory laws have improved in recent years, there is still a long way to go to eliminate customer deception. 

The FDA does have current laws in place to avoid misleading labels to make it on the shelfs, but the majority of them are too vague and allow for too many loopholes. The current laws for label claims for foods and dietary supplements fall into three categories. The first is covered under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 authorized health claim which permits the use of claims on labels that characterize a relationship between a food, food component or dietary supplement ingredient and risk of a disease. The second category is health claims based on authoritative statements: the FDAMA authorizes use of health claims based on an authoritative statement of the National Academy of Sciences or a scientific body of the U.S. government with responsibility for public health protection or nutrition research. The final category for health claims is a qualified health claim which provides a mechanism to request FDA to review the scientific evidence when there is emerging evidence for a relationship between a food substance and reduced risk of a disease or health-related condition, but the evidence is not well enough established to meet the significant scientific agreement standard required for FDA to issue an authorized health claim regulation.

Reviewing the laws that food manufacturers need to abide by makes it easier to understand how so many companies are able to get away with misleading claims and labeling on their packages. Those laws are extremely vague and allow for too much room for interpretation. Allowing companies to make health related claims without sufficient scientific evidence to back it up should not be allowed in any circumstance. If companies choose to make nutrient content claims on their packaging, they must follow the guidelines of the NLEA (Nutrition Labeling and Education Act) which permits claims that characterize the level of a nutrient such as free, high, and low, or compare the level of a nutrient in a food to that of another food, using terms like more, reduced, and lite. These nutrient claims are then authorized by the FDA. The fact that the FDA authorizes these claims reiterates the fact that the organization as a whole, lacks the resources necessary to regulate this industry and eliminate misleading marketing schemes. 

My next area of research was focused on the laws and regulations of other countries to see how the United States compares. Not far into my research process it was made clear that the US has a much more relaxed and unorganized system when it came to food labeling and nutrition claims when compared to other countries. According to researchers, there are currently sixty four countries around the world that require labeling of genetically modified foods. Unlike most other developed countries, the U.S. has no laws requiring labeling of genetically modified food.Aside from GMO labeling, most other countries seem to be much more advanced when it comes to health food claims and the regulation of this. According to European press regarding this study of health claims “EU decision makers adopted a regulation on the use of nutrition and health claims for foods which lays down harmonized EU-wide rules for the use of health or nutritional claims on foods based on nutrient profiles. Nutrient profiles are nutritional requirements that foods must meet in order to bear nutrition and health claims. One of the key objectives of this regulation is to ensure that any claim made on a food label in the EU is clear and substantiated by scientific evidence.”While the United States FDA has cracked down on some health claims, its regulations could be much stronger, following the lead of many other countries, many of which do not allow health claims to be used at all, if not throughly inspected and approved.

Six years ago the UK introduced a front of package labeling system which rates food product with three different colors depending on their nutritional value. Other countries have developed a list of healthy food criteria for different food categories. Foods that meet the criteria display a specific symbol on the front of their package.The United States has made several attempts at regulating this industry in the past. One popular program that was launched in the US was called Smart Choices. The intention behind this program was to use one standardized logo to identify the more healthful and nutritious choices within specific categories. Unfortunately, this program was a corporation-controlled system, that inaccurately labeled highly processed foods such as Fruit Loops as a “Smart Choice”. Clearly this program had ulterior motives and intentions outside of improving the publics health and was ultimately dropped, for good reason. So what is the next step our country needs to take towards a more regulated system? Following in the footsteps of other countries, it is in the US’s best interest to find a consistent and highly regulated symbol system. The Center for Science in the Public Interests explains “The FDA should identify the most effective front of package nutrition labeling approach for empowering consumers to choose healthier foods. The FDA and the USDA should then propose regulations for a mandatory new labeling system. The FDA and the USDA should prohibit the use of competing front-of label nutrition labeling schemes once a national system has been implemented.” These changes to our food labeling system could make a huge impact on public health. Following one system like many other countries do would allow customers to pick healthier options and simplify the label regulation process.

Sources:

Truman, Cynthia M. Food Issues, Policies, and Safety Considerations. Nova Science Publishers, Inc, 2016.

Edenbrandt, Anna Kristina, et al. “A Hedonic Analysis of Nutrition Labels Across Product Types and Countries.” European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 45, no. 1, 2018, pp. 101–120.

Laufer, Peter. Organic : A Journalist’s Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling. Lyons Press, Imprint of Globe Pequot Press, 2014.

Jaworowska, Agnieszka. “Nutritional Challenges and Health Implications of Takeaway and Fast Food.” Nutrition Reviews, vol. 71, no. 5, 2013, pp. 310–318.

Hemphill, Thomas A, and Syagnik Banerjee. “Genetically Modified Organisms and the U.s. Retail Food Labeling Controversy: Consumer Perceptions, Regulation, and Public Policy.” Business and Society Review, vol. 120, no. 3, 2015, pp. 435–464

Lynch, Holly Fernandez, and I. Glenn Cohen, editors. Fda in the Twenty-First Century : The Challenges of Regulating Drugs and New Technologies. Columbia University Press, 2015. 

Beyranevand, Laurie J. “Regulating Inherently Subjective Food Labeling Claims.” Environmental Law, vol. 47, no. 3, 2017, pp. 543–556.

Walker, M. J. “Health and Nutrition Claims – Guidance, Regulation and Self-Regulation.” Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 42, no. 1, 2017, pp. 69–79.

Fernan, Catherine, et al. “Health Halo Effects from Product Titles and Nutrient Content Claims in the Context of ‘Protein’ Bars.” Health Communication, vol. 33, no. 12, 2018, pp. 1425–1433.

Applied Project

For my applied project I decided to create an easy to follow guide to grocery shopping for a healthy and nutritious diet. Mastering healthy grocery shopping can be a complicated task, even for those with some knowledge of nutrition. This pamphlet is designed to give individuals who are interested in making a positive lifestyle change some tips and suggestions on things to look for when shopping for their food. Finding everything you need in a crowded grocery store can be intimidating enough, but not knowing what to purchase or look for to begin your health diet transition can be discouraging. To help with this, I created a quick cheat sheet reference guide for anyone looking for assistance with their nutrition so they can make the best informed decisions at the grocery store.

Compound Exercises vs. Isolation Exercises

A big controversy throughout social media recently is whether compound or isolation exercises are more effective. There is a lot of conflicting information and questions out there, like is one is better for muscle growth or fat loss? Should you stick to one or the other, or a combination of both for maximum results?

For starters, compound exercises are defined as multi-joint exercises that work several muscle groups at one time. Isolation exercises on the other hand, are exercises that involve only one muscle group. An example of a compound exercise could be squats, deadlifts or bench press. An isolation exercise could be bicep curls, lateral raises or dumbbell flys which all target one specific muscle group.

Advantages of compound exercises:

  • Progressive overload is easier since multiple muscles are working to lift the heavier weight togetherWorking multiple muscle groups in a shorter period of time
  • Working multiple muscle groups in a shorter period of time
  • Gets your heart rate up faster
  • Good for functional training purposes/making daily tasks easier

Advantages of isolation exercises:

  • The ability to target specific muscle groups without using others (great if you are injured or sore)
  • Strengthens one are that could potentially be weaker than other muscles
  • Helps to develop better mind to muscle connection/activation of one specific muscle group

The verdict:

After reviewing the benefits of both compound and isolation exercises, research supports the fact that both have their place in an effective workout routine. Focus should be made mostly on compound exercises because they burn more calories in a shorter period of time, use a greater amount of muscle at once and aid more in the everyday functionality of your body. Isolation single joint exercises are a great addition to any workout and provide a lot of benefits in combination with mostly compound movements.

Staying on Track While Traveling

If anyone else travels often like me, you probably know how stressful it can be to stay on top of your health and fitness routine while you’re constantly on the go. 2019 has already been a crazy year of traveling for me with no plans of slowing down any time soon. I’m really big on having a set routine, especially to stay on track with my health and wellness goals. Here are some tips you can follow to make sure you don’t ruin your progress during your travels!

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  • Pack your own snacks- I like to bring protein bars, instant oatmeal, fruit and baggies with my protein powder and other supplements when I travel
  • Bring a refillable water bottle- Staying hydrated is a great way to help your body digest any foods you might not be used to while staying hydrated and reducing unwanted bloating from traveling
  • Walk places- Instead of taking an Uber everywhere, walk where you can to get extra steps in
  • Don’t overeat just because you’re on vacation- It’s normal to consume a few more calories while you are on vacation, but it’s important not to go overboard on every meal
  • Utilize hotel gyms or do a HIIT bodyweight circuit in your hotel room if you have the time

Considering all these tips, I always try to remind myself that to practice everything in moderation. Realize that being healthy and physically active is a lifelong journey, not a quick fix. What you are fueling your body with on a regular basis is what will contribute to your health, so one week of poor nutrition won’t ruin all your progress. Despite this, even while traveling, a whole nutritious diet should still be your main focus!

BBG Review

Considering the amount of people that are continuously on the hunt for a good workout regimen that works for them and their schedule, I figured I’d share a little bit about the program I have been following for the past 43 weeks! I started an online app based program call Bikini Body Guide around the summer of 2018 and fell in love with it.

I’ve been very passionate about my health and workout routine for several years now, but like many people, I needed a structured program that I could follow to hold me accountable towards my goals. I ended up finding the Kayla Itsines BBG program through some internet searching of different programs that weren’t overpriced or too crazy.

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This program is a great tool for anyone from beginners just starting their workout journey to more advanced athletes. It provides you with a workout split of three main resistance sessions a week, typically being 30-40 minute leg, arm and abs that are circuit style high intensity workouts. It also recommends you complete three cardio sessions weekly that can range from 10-60 minutes of either high intensity interval training (HIIT) or low intensity steady state cardio (LISS).

Aside from these main weekly workouts, the app also provides a number of different resources to use such as different challenges, quick workouts if you’re short on time, targeting workouts, stretches and even a daily list of recommended food and recipes to try. All of these resources for under $20 a month is well worth the investment for your health!


Precis

I will be working on a research article to uncover what kinds of laws and regulations food manufacturing companies need to abide by when labeling their packages with health claims. I will also be researching the any progress the FDA and other agencies have made as far as regulating these labels and its effect on what customers choose to purchase. The idea behind this article is to uncover the reasoning behind the seemingly ineffective regulations the United States has in place when it comes to food labeling regulations and how that effects the public and their health. 

Lynch, Holly Fernandez, and I. Glenn Cohen, editors. Fda in the Twenty-First Century : The Challenges of Regulating Drugs and New Technologies. Columbia University Press, 2015.

In “FDA in the Twenty-First Century : The Challenges of Regulating Drugs and New Technologies” Holly Lynch and Glenn Cohen provide very valuable information pertaining to the FDA and its struggle to provide safety, efficacy, and security of medicines and food products in the United States. It takes an in depth look at issues the FDA has faced over the years regarding funding, proper associations with industry, and public health concerns. The intended audience seems to be US citizens that are concerned with the regulations, or lack thereof, that the food they are consuming needs to go through in order to make it on the shelves of grocery stores.

Elliott, Charlene. Food Promotion, Consumption, and Controversy. AU Press, 2016.

In the book Food Promotion, Consumption, and Controversy, authors Elliott Charlene looks into the food industry laws and medias effect on the foods we choose to consume. The book also questions food items that are labelled with health related claims made by the manufacturer, that are often times not backed up with scientific research. The author examines topics such as ethics in food advertising, the true meaning of organic and natural, and other health claims, food tourism, obesity, and fears about food safety. The authors intended audience is likely those that are trying to purchase health foods, but are skeptical about the health claims many processed food companies claim on their packaging.

Jaworowska, Agnieszka. “Nutritional Challenges and Health Implications of Takeaway and Fast Food.” Nutrition Reviews, vol. 71, no. 5, 2013, pp. 310–318.

Agnieszka Jaworowska author of Nutritional Challenges and Health Implications of Takeaway and Fast Food wrote this article that reviews different negative changes to the average persons diet over the years and different factors that influenced those changes. The article also provides scientific evidence about the effects of a diet that is high in fast food consumption and saturated fats and the health risks associated with it. The intended audience is likely either individuals looking to change their poor eating habits or those that are already consuming a nutritious diet, and are attempting to get facts to back their claims to getting others to do the same.

Hemphill, Thomas A, and Syagnik Banerjee. “Genetically Modified Organisms and the U.s. Retail Food Labeling Controversy: Consumer Perceptions, Regulation, and Public Policy.” Business and Society Review, vol. 120, no. 3, 2015, pp. 435–464.

Thomas Hemphill wrote this article titled Genetically Modified Organisms and the U.s. Retail Food Labeling Controversy: Consumer Perceptions, Regulation, and Public Policy. This is a great article that reviews the laws and regulations about the labeling of GMOs in the United States as well as discussing the policy aruguements both for and against the mandatory labeling of GMOs. It also compiles all of this information as well as scientific evidence to determine the safety of consuming GMOs. The intended audience here is individuals that have concerns regarding the genetic modification of the food they are consuming, as well as the safety and health effects that GMO could contain.

Truman, Cynthia M. Food Issues, Policies, and Safety Considerations. Nova Science Publishers, Inc, 2016.

Cynthia Truman provides an in depth look into the policies and laws surrounding different food controversies as well as the regulatory laws that food manufacturers need to follow when marketing their products. She gives a lot of great information on concerns that the public have regarding the safety of the food they are consuming as well as the authenticity of the claims that many food labels make, yet are not backed by sufficient information. Her intended audience is people that are skeptical about food safety laws and how it effects the food they are consuming and purchasing and how politics influence those laws.

Food Label Regulations Research Article Outline

Section 1- Introduction/explanation of the purpose of food labels

  • Food safety
  • Food promotion to consumers

Section 2- Misrepresenting information on packaging 

  • Health label claims and their accuracy
  • Do they need to be backed by scientific proof?

Section  3- Current laws/guidlines/ethics in the industry

  • Purpose behind laws that are in place
  • Are laws actually abided by?
  • Compare laws in other countries

Section 4- GMOs, health impacts 

  • Media marketing foods/controversies

Section 5- Consumer perceptions 

  • General publics beliefs on what they should purchase
  • Do misleading food labels contribute to health problems and obesity?

Section 6- Key things to look for to spot misleading food labels

  • How to navigate the grocery store
  • Misleading labels to be aware of