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About Nutrition Notes

Michelle Albee Matto Nutrition Notes Blog offers insight, news and analysis on nutrition, as well as food labeling. The blog is written by Michelle Albee Matto, who worked in IDFA's regulatory department for eight years, most recently as assistant director for nutrition and labeling.

Michelle now works exclusively for IDFA as a nutrition and labeling consultant. Contact her at

Michelle is a registered dietician and holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition from Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Society for Nutrition Education.

Nutrition Notes

  • Looking Backward, Looking Forward

    December 30, 2012
    This is the time of year where we look forward to the year that we’re just beginning. We’ve seen lots of big food and nutrition trends through 2012, and we’ll see these and other trends continue in 2013. The Internet is filled with predictions for the new year, so here are some of my predictions for dairy in 2013. Breakfast: One of the healthy habits commonly adopted by people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off is to eat breakfast every day. Breakfast is a great opportunity to highlight dairy’s nutritional benefits—milk on cereal, a cup of yogurt or even cheese on a breakfast sandwich. Snacking: Another eating pattern that’s been associated with maintaining a healthier weight is smaller meals or snacks through the day. There are so many dairy products that work perfectly as healthy snacks: individually wrapped sticks of cheese, a single serve drinkable yogurt or flavored milk. More protein: Americans are looking for more protein, and this trend will likely continue this year. Dairy is naturally a good source of protein, including lowfat and fat-free sources of protein like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and milk. Less sugar: If people are looking for more protein in 2013, they’ll also be looking for a lot less sugar, especially added sugar. Processors have already done a lot of work to lower levels of sugar in flavored milk and are using non-caloric sweeteners in products like yogurt and ice cream. Some products even use filtration ... Read More
  • Looking Forward to…. 2015?

    December 19, 2012
    While the majority of us are looking forward to 2013, the public health and nutrition communities are already looking forward to 2015. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans process has already begun. Nominations for experts to serve on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee were due last week. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will review the nominations and appoint a committee of nutrition and health experts to make recommendations about the content of the new Dietary Guidelines. The first meeting of the Advisory Committee is planned for April 2013. Over the following 18 months, committee members will review current nutritional research and make recommendations about the content of a healthy diet for Americans over the age of 2. After the release of the Advisory Committee’s report, HHS and USDA will prepare a policy document that will guide the nutrition policy of the US government over the following 5 years, which will then be followed by the release of consumer-friendly documents. At this point, the official release of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is expected to be in the fall of 2015. Additional consumer education materials, such as the “MyPlate” icon ( will then be launched after the Dietary Guidelines. The Dietary Guidelines is important because not only does it set the standard for nutrition recommendations from the federal government, it also serves as the nutritional basis for federal nutrition programs, such as the school meal programs. This means that ... Read More
  • Marketing to Kids

    December 17, 2012
    With Christmas coming up, I’m very aware of marketing to children. As the ads on TV are running, my kids are picking out exactly what car, truck or dinosaur they want me to buy for them. The “Pillow Pets” song is permanently stuck in my head. We talk about what advertisements say and don’t say, and most of the time I tell them “No, I’m not buying that” or “You can save your own money for that.” While marketing toys to kids is a sticky situation for parents, marketing of foods and beverages to kids has been targeted by public health experts as a cause of childhood obesity. In the past I’ve posted about the Interagency Task Force and an IOM committee focused on childhood obesity. Some food companies are taking voluntary action through the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), a project of the Better Business Bureau. The group has set uniform standards for the nutritional value of products that can be advertised to kids. All companies that are part of the CFBAI will need to align with the uniform standards by January of 2014. The IOM Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention recently provided an update on the efforts of government, food industry and food retailers related to marketing to kid. The one-day workshop featured speakers from advocacy groups, academics and the food industry. Dr. Ellen Wartella opened the session by citing two studies that she had published over the past year, looking at the progress made regarding marketing to ... Read More
  • Healthy Holidays with Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation

    December 07, 2012
    IDFA is an associate member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), a group of food companies and community organizations. The foundation's goal is to help families change their eating and activity habits by eating together more often and being active together. Each month, we post an update about current work of the HWCF. Feel free to share the information and resources with your customers. The holiday season brings plenty of parties, family gatherings and delicious food. For some, events like these bring anxiety about weight. The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, of which we are a member, emphasizes the importance of “energy balance” – balancing the calories you take in through food with those you burn through exercise. Try and set a goal this month to maintain this kind of balance. After dessert, take a walk around the neighborhood with your kids, or go ice skating or sledding. Winter activities provide great opportunities for exercise! Along with food and festivities, December is also a great time to start thinking about the year ahead – what you’d like to change, how you can contribute to your community and new goals to set for the months to come. In terms of energy balance goals, maybe you want to run a 5K or try a new recipe once a week. Through HWCF’s Together Counts ™ campaign, you can find a variety of tools that can help bring energy balance to your community. They have great (and free!) curriculum for teachers, nurses and parent-run after-school programs. ... Read More
  • More Companies Seek to Offer Lower-Sodium Products

    December 05, 2012
    Sodium intake continues to be a concern for many individuals who must limit their consumption for health reasons and for the public health communities trying to promote good health. Companies are stepping up to the challenge of lowering sodium in their products, including dairy foods. Continuing reformulation work and ingredient innovation have allowed companies to make advances in lowering sodium in a variety of products. Along with other companies debuting or expanding lower sodium products or lines, both Kraft and Nestle have made announcements over the past few months about their sodium reduction efforts. Ingredient suppliers, like Tate & Lyle, also continue to develop salt replacers that could help lower sodium levels in dairy products. In addition to working as individual companies, many cheese companies are joining their efforts as part of an Innovation Center for US Dairy working group to identify challenges facing the entire cheese industry and work toward solutions that will benefit cheesemakers and cheese consumers. One of the particular challenges for sodium reduction has been the intersection of product standards, nutrient content claims and product development. While a nutrient content claim such as “reduced sodium” would allow salt reducers to be used in standardized ... Read More
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