In a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Kakinami explores how parents use nutrition labels when buying food for their children, and the relation of parents’ nutrition knowledge to childhood obesity.
Her results showed that parents with good nutrition knowledge generally raised slimmer children, yet correlations between nutrition label use and childhood obesity were relatively weak.
“[There’s a] need for further public health education regarding how to use nutrition labels” — especially as changes to labels are expected soon in Canada and the U.S. — Kakinami’s article concludes.
“There are a lot of gaps in how we measure both nutrition label use and nutrition knowledge. For example, perhaps people who consistently buy certain products don’t check labels because they already know what’s on them” she says. “For people who report not using labels, do they not use them because they don’t know about them or because they buy fresh foods with no labels? It’s only when we start doing research that we realize the limitations of existing data.”
Kakinami is now collaborating with fellow PERFORM researchers Sylvia Santosa and Angela Alberga, along with Department of Psychology professor Carsten Wrosch and McGill University researchers, to investigate how people make up for unhealthy behaviours. For instance, if you eat junk food in the morning, will you be more active in compensating for that, or eat more junk food because you figure you’ve already missed your nutrition objectives for the day?
“By measuring day-to-day behaviours we can learn what impact they have on obesity measures and perhaps even cardiovascular health,” says Kakinami.
We all experience stress sometimes. It can motivate us to finish projects, submit assignments and get things done. “When stress is prolonged and chronic, it has a negative impact on health,” says Department of Psychology associate professor Jean- Philippe Gouin. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Chronic Stress and Health and studies the stress experienced by parents of children with autism.