To Each His Own

The obesity concerns in the U.S. and abroad have led many to ponder the role of portion control in the weight-loss struggle. Numerous articles have touted the consequences of increased portion sizes in restaurants, in vending options and even in products prepared in the home.

Manufacturers are not turning a blind eye to the situation. While Welch's Fruit Snacks and Sun-Maid Milk Chocolate Raisins Fun Size packs debuted in time for Halloween, manufacturer Promotion in Motion Companies Inc. (Closter, N.J.) assures the nutritious snack choices will be available for parties, grab bags or just about any time.

Each of the Fun Size pouches contains 0.5oz., “making them easy to enjoy, without worries of overindulging.” Further boosting parents' confidence in the products, the Welch's Fruit Snacks contain 100% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, and 25% of vitamins A and E, while also being fat-free. The Sun-Maid Milk Chocolate Raisins claim to be “a great source” of iron, calcium and protein.

Such Teas

Whether due to positive health news, a desire for more-diverse beverages, or even the result of manufacturers providing more options in the grocery aisles and on foodservice menus, tea is one hot commodity. Since 1999, the estimated wholesale value of the U.S. tea industry has jumped to $5.55 billion from $1.84 billion, according to the Tea Association of the U.S. (New York).

That group estimates 1,500 specialty tea rooms and retail shops across the country, and chai--a blend of tea, spices and milk--can be found increasingly on menus. In fact, chai quickly is gaining favor in mainstream retail groceries. Celestial Seasonings (Boulder, Colo.), for instance, has added two new flavors to its TeaHouse Chai line.

Vanilla Ginger Green Tea Chai and Sweet Coconut Thai Decaf hope to capitalize on the popularity of chai. The former offers full-bodied green and black teas blended with sweet vanilla, ginger and cinnamon, while the latter has naturally decaffeinated black tea, caffeine-free rooibos and Thai spices mellowed with the flavor of coconut.

A Matter of Taste

The move to offer gourmet products continues unabated in this country, now spreading to the beer segment. Heineken USA Inc.'s (White Plains, N.Y.) Amstel Light is revamping its packaging and marketing to communicate the brand's “upscale and premium” quality, says a press release.

The new marketing campaign aims to expand the brand's position in what Heineken terms is the “luxury light” beer subcategory. “Amstel Light. Live Tastefully” reinforces the line's “worldly, sophisticated and premium image with key consumers,” the company says, and is replacing Amstel Light's “The Beer Drinker's Light Beer” campaign, which had been around since 1999.

New packaging is expected to further the “Live Tastefully” mantra, featuring a more sophisticated label and what the company describes as a “chic” new look for six- and 12-packs.

Not So Fast

A study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine examined trends in fast-food consumption and its relationship to calorie, fat and sodium intake in black and white adolescent girls.

“Fast-food intake,” Marcia Schmidt of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and collaborators write, “was positively associated with intake of energy and sodium, as well as total fat and saturated fat as a percentage of calories. Fast-food intake increased with increasing age in both races.”

Calorie intake ranged from 1,837kcal among low-frequency diners to 1,966kcal in the group with the highest frequency. Total fat was 34.3% and 35.8%, and sodium jumped from 3,085mg to 3,236mg among low- versus high-frequency diners, respectively.

The study concludes, “Dietary intake of fast food is a determinant of diet quality in adolescent girls. Efforts to reduce fast-food consumption may be useful in improving diet and risk for future cardiovascular disease.”