The Shape of Food and the Influence on Children’s Food Preferences

Many child care providers can relate to children’s requests to have their sandwiches cut into squares or triangles.  Child care providers are all too familiar with young children eating only shells and macaroni noodles over spirals and spaghetti noodles. We often hear children’s demands for food in various shapes, but the question is whether their demand really makes a difference in their intake and preference for that food.

Researchers at the University of Idaho have found that it does!

Children who participated in the bread shapes study were offered four bread samples made from Idaho-grown hard white whole wheat flour.  Bread shapes included breadstick, knotted roll, cloverleaf roll, and butterflake roll. Bread was selected because it is a highly palatable food and may be less influenced by shape bias.   All shapes were standardized for uniformity in baking time with the only difference being the individual shapes.




Knotted roll


Cloverleaf roll


Butterflake roll

Children’s preferences for each bread sample was determined by a liking scale (yummy, yucky, just okay).  Children’s intake for each bread shape was determined by gathering the pre-weight and post weight of each bread sample.  Taste preference activities were video recorded to capture child behaviors. 

Child reported liking of the bread shapes were not consistent across all shapes.  The majority of children reported a high liking for the breadstick, while few children reported a high liking of the cloverleaf roll. Children’s intake of the bread shapes were not significantly different however, children consumed more of the breadstick by weight.

Videos showed that children frequently identified food as something they were familiar with, making statements such as: “This one looks like a hotdog.” “Mmm, I love breadsticks!” “Cupcake, cupcake, cupcake, hot dog!”  Children tended to show interest and positive responses to the bread shapes they were most familiar with (i.e. breadsticks). 

In young children, a single characteristic, such as shapes and their familiarity with that shape influences food selection, preference, and may affect intake. Caregivers who feed young children should recognize how a single characteristic, such as how food is presented can influence the foods liked and consumed by children.  Strategies such as explaining what the food is, how it was prepared, what it tastes like, and how to eat it can help children learn about different food and the various shapes in which food can be eaten. 


Written by University of Idaho Dietetic Student and MS Candidate,

Lauren Keeney


This project was funded by the Idaho Wheat Commission
For the full abstract see 
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Celebrating Whole Grains Month

Make Half Your Grains Whole!

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend half the grains you eat be whole grains.  What is a whole grain?  Whole grains contain all three parts of a kernel – the bran, germ, and endosperm.  The refining process generally removes the bran and the germ, leaving the endosperm.  According to the Whole Grains Council, without the bran and germ, nearly one quarter of the grain’s protein is lost and at least seventeen key nutrients are greatly reduced.

Benefits of Whole Grains

Whole grains, like whole wheat flour, have many health benefits.  According to the Idahowheat-9-27-16 Wheat Commission, not only do whole grains provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to keep you strong and healthy, but whole grains also contain dietary fiber.
Fiber can help reduce your risks of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.  Whole grains are loaded with nutrients that are packaged into a little kernel that will leave you feeling satisfied and full longer.

Enrich the Other Half!

While at least half of your grains should be whole grains, the remaining grains should be enriched.  Enrichment is the process of adding some nutrients after processing.  While fiber is not added back to enriched grains, iron and important B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid are added back.  The Idaho Wheat Commission recognizes bread products made from whole grains, enriched grains, or a combination of both to be nutritious and beneficial to health, while some provide more nutrients and dietary fiber than others.  A variety of options are available to please a diversity of taste preferences.  

Finding Whole Grains

To find whole grains, start by reading the label.  Any wheat bread labeled “whole wheat” must be made from 100% whole wheat flour.  Being brown doesn’t mean the bread is whole wheat, and being white may not mean the bread is made purely out of refined flour.  Check the ingredients list on the back.  If the first ingredient is whole wheat flour, you have a whole wheat grain product.

Add Whole Grains to Your Diet

If you’re looking to add more whole grains into your diet, change things up in the kitchen.  You can add whole grains to each meal by following these tips:

  • Read the ingredients.
  • Select bread labeled “whole wheat”.
  • Switch to whole wheat bagels, buns, tortillas, and pasta.
  • You can even substitute whole wheat flour into your desserts! Check Out the whole grain cookie recipe below.


Best Chocolate Chip Cookies


Note: Prep: 20 min, Cook: 10 min, Ready: 1 hour


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking  soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts (chopped)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Cream together butter, white/brown sugar until smooth.  Beat the eggs in one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.  Dissolve baking soda in hot water.  Add to batter, along with salt.  Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts.
  3. Scoop large spoonfuls and drop onto ungreased pan.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely brown
  5. Let cool for 30 minutes


Written by University of Idaho Dietetic Student,

Lauren Keeney



  • Idaho Wheat Commission and Whole Grains Council
  • 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • Recipe: modified from allrecipes
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Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2016

Join Idaho’s Southwest District Health in celebrating

World Breastfeeding Week


Children and Babies Welcomed! ~ Refreshments Will Be Provided!

Date: Friday August 5th, 2016

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Location: Southwest District Health ~ 13307 Miami Lane ~ Canyon Community Room ~ Caldwell, Idaho

For more information, call 208-455-5330

Check Out: Benefits of Breastfeeding

An Ida-Ore Sponsored Event
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Senior Health: Osteoporosis

What Is Osteoporosis? [1][2]

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones, which literally means porous bone, where the density of bones is decreased to make bones weak and more likely to break. The inside of a normal bone looks like a honeycomb. If a person has osteoporosis, the spaces and holes inside this honeycomb become bigger, meaning the loss of bone strength and density.


In 2015 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that one-quarter of all American women aged 65 or older has osteoporosis and about 6 percent of men in this age group also suffer from the condition. Almost half (48 percent) of seniors had osteopenia (low bone mass), including 52 percent of women and 44 percent of men.


Understand a Bone Density Test [3]

A bone mineral density (BMD) test is called a DXA or DEXA scan. It uses X-rays to measure the amount of mineral in the bones of the hip, spine, low back, and sometimes other bones. It is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis. If any of the following conditions apply to you, consider talking to your doctor and ask if you should have a bone density test.

bone density

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends that you have a bone density test if:

  • you are a woman age 65 or older
  • you are a man age 70 or older
  • you break a bone after age 50
  • you are a woman of menopausal age with risk factors
  • you are a postmenopausal woman under age 65 with risk factors
  • you are a man age 50-69 with risk factors

A bone density test may also be necessary if you have any of the following:

  • an X-ray of your spine showing a break or bone loss in your spine
  • back pain with a possible break in your spine
  • height loss of ½ inch or more within one year
  • total height loss of 1½ inches from your original height

Bone Health

What Your T-score Means. According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • A T-score of -1.0 or above is normal bone density.
  • A T-score between -1.0 and -2.5 means you have low bone density (osteopenia) but not osteoporosis.
  • A T-score of -2.5 or below is a diagnosis of osteoporosis.

Suggested Lifestyle Changes for Osteoporosis Treatment [4]

  • Exercise. Weight-bearing physical activity and exercises can strengthen bones and decrease the chance of a fracture. Try to do at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
  • Good nutrition. Eat a healthy diet and make sure you get enough calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. Potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and beta carotene (found in fruits and vegetables) have been associated with higher total bone mass.
  • Decrease your sodium intake. Avoid salty processed foods and fast food. Don’t salt your food before tasting it.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking cigarettes may speed up bone loss.
  • Limit caffeine intake.
  • Avoid alcohol or drink only in moderation.

Supplements for Osteoporosis Treatment [4]

  • A calcium/magnesium supplement. For seniors, calcium citrate is better because of its absorption. Magnesium is also an important mineral in the bone matrix. Note: foods that are high in fiber are generally high in magnesium.
  • Vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of dietary calcium, mineralization, and the maintenance of healthy and strong bone
  • Vitamin K supplement. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is most well-known for blood clotting. However, vitamin K is also helps activate certain proteins that are involved in the structuring of bone mass to building strong bones.

Don’t Let Osteoporosis Sneak up on You [5]

Osteoporosis is often called a “silent” disease because bone loss often presents itself without any symptoms at all and you cannot feel your bones getting weaker.

“Osteoporosis isn’t just your grandmother’s disease. We all need to take better care of our bones,” US Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, MD, PhD said. “With healthy nutrition, physical activity every day, and regular medical checkups and screenings, Americans of all ages can have strong bones and live longer, healthier lives.”

To learn more, please contact a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist on the Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website by clicking Find a RD.

Written by Idaho State University Dietetic Student,

Vanessa Yu


  1. National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). “What is osteoporosis?” (n.d.). Retrieved from
  2. Mundell, E. J. (Aug. 13, 2015). “1 in 4 senior women in U.S. has osteoporosis: CDC.” WebMD News from HealthDay. Retrieved from
  3. National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). “Having a bone density test.” (n.d.). Retrieved from
  4. Weil, A. (n.d.). “Osteoporosis treatment.” Retrieved from
  5. Rockville (MD): Office of the Surgeon General (US). (2004). “Bone health and osteoporosis: a report of the surgeon general.” Retrieved from
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Older Adults and Nutrient Deficiencies

One segment of the population that is experiencing substantial growth is older adults, those 65 years old and over. 


The US Census Bureau estimates that:

  • 1 in 5 people will be 65 years old or older by 2030
  • By 2050, there will be about 78 million older adults, almost one quarter of the population
  • 18 million of those will be 85 years old and up, which is also known as the “oldest old” population 

In this report the Census Bureau states, “since the oldest old often have severe chronic health problems which demand special attention, the rapid growth of this population group has many implications for individuals, families and governments”.1

Through the natural process of aging, without disease, the human body’s ability to absorb important nutrients changes.

  • Changes in the sense of smell and saliva secretions decrease the desire to eat, causing decreased caloric and nutrient intake.
  • Less hydrochloric acid is produced as aging occurs, creating a less acidic environment for iron and calcium absorption.2
  • Less intrinsic factor production and medications like PPI’s, H2 antagonists, and even metformin, limit the amount of vitamin B12 that is available for the body’s use.
  • Excessive alcohol intake can also limit the amount of available vitamin B12 3
  • Limited sun exposure and reduced kidney function make vitamin D less available for older adults.2

With decreased intake and absorption, deficiencies can occur and increase health risks in older adults. 

  • Vitamin D is not only important for the absorption of calcium and bone health, but it is important for muscle strength and balance. Weak musculature and poor balance can also increase fall risk with possibility of fracture; which puts older adults at greater risk.3 
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency has been associated with mood symptoms, such as depression, and cognitive impairment, like dementia.4

Addressing deficiencies early with supplementation can reduce the risk of chronic issues.   

Older Adults

Older adults need the same amount or more nutrients than their younger counterparts, but they require fewer daily calories.

  • Adults 50-70 years of age should get 600 IU of vitamin D per day
  • Those over age 70 should get 800 IU of vitamin D per day
  • Dosing of vitamin D should never exceed 4000 IU vitamin D per day
  • Adults over the age of 60 years old should get 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day. It may be difficult to get this amount from food so supplementation may be necessary with the guidance of your doctor and your Registered Dietitian Nutritionist 5
  • Women over 51 and men over 71 should obtain 1,200 mg of calcium per day from food sources or supplementation with the guidance of your doctor and your Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. 

Eating nutrient dense foods becomes very important for their health and well-being.  This My Plate for Older Adults published by the Florida Cooperative Extension, is a good reference to encourage older adults to eat healthy nourishing foods first, stay active and add extra supplements to their diet for better health. 

Older Adult Plate

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can be GREAT sources of information for this population to remain healthy and active. To learn more, please contact a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist on the Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website by clicking Find a RD.


Written by Idaho State University Student,

Becky Woodhouse


  1. Accessed April 19, 2016
  2. Robnett RH, Chop WC. Gerontology for the health care professional. 3rd ed. United States: Jones and Bartlett Publishers; January 22, 2014.
  3. Skarupski KA, Tangney C, Li H, Ouyang B, Evans DA, Morris MC. Longitudinal association of vitamin B-6, folate, and vitamin B-12 with depressive symptoms among older adults over time. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010;92(2):330–335. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2010.29413.
  4. Muir SW, Montero-Odasso M. Effect of vitamin D Supplementation on muscle strength, gait and balance in older adults: A systematic review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2011;59(12):2291–2300. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03733.x.
  5. Institute N, Aging. Vitamins & minerals. Accessed April 25, 2016.
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Raw Milk

The consumption of raw milk is growing in popularity.  Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized.  Consumers looking for a healthier lifestyle may make the decision to drink raw milk because they believe that it is more nutritious or that it can solve or prevent health problems.  They may not realize that instead of improving health, they may be putting themselves at risk. 

Cow 1.png

Raw milk contains bacteria that can cause sickness and death.  Bacterial contamination can occur even when good hygienic practices are in place.  Common sources of contamination include:

  • Cow feces coming into contact with the milk
  • Infection of the cow’s udder (mastitis)
  • Cow diseases (bovine tuberculosis)
  • Bacteria on the cow’s skin or in the environment (dirt, processing equipment)
  • Insects, rodents, animal vectors
  • Humans (1)

The number of outbreaks in the United States caused by unpasteurized milk has increased in recent years.  From 2007-2012, 81 outbreaks were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), resulting in 979 illnesses and 73 hospitalizations.  Between 2007-2009, 30 outbreaks were linked to raw milk.  This increased to 51 outbreaks from 2010-2012 (3).

  • The CDC reported that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness than pasteurized milk (2).
  • The most common bacterial cause of outbreaks was Campylobacter (81%) followed by coli (17%) and Salmonella (3%).
  • Those with the highest risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk were young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems (3).

Many misconceptions and unsupported claims exist concerning the benefits of raw milk versus pasteurized milk.  Some of the more common myths are:

  • MYTH: Raw milk contains natural antimicrobial components that make it safe.
  • FACT: Naturally occurring antimicrobial compounds do exist in milk, but their concentration is not high enough to ensure the safety of raw milk (4,5).
  • MYTH: Pasteurization reduces the nutritional value of milk.
  • FACT: Pasteurization does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk.  Vitamins that are found in milk at high levels, such as riboflavin, B6 and B12, are relatively heat stable.  The only vitamin that is significantly reduced by heat is Vitamin C, but milk is not a major source of vitamin C (4).  Pasteurization does not change protein quality.  Minor levels of whey denaturation have been reported, but protein denaturation does not affect the nutritional quality of protein.  Minerals are heat stable and not affected by pasteurization (5).


  • MYTH: Raw milk can cure lactose intolerance.
  • FACT: People who are lactose intolerant lack the lactase enzyme necessary for breaking down lactose during digestion.  All milk, raw or pasteurized, contains lactose.  Lactase does not naturally occur in milk (4).   A 2014 randomized controlled study found that raw milk did not reduce lactose malabsorption or lactose intolerance symptoms compared with pasteurized milk among adults positive for lactose malabsorption (6).
  • MYTH: Raw milk can cure or treat asthma and allergy.
  • FACT: A 2007 study often cited by raw milk advocates found an inverse association of farm milk (not raw milk) with asthma and allergy.  Many farm residents boil their milk prior to consumption, and the authors had no objective confirmation that the farm milk samples were raw.  The study concluded that consumption of raw farm milk cannot be recommended as a preventive measure (7).

Consumers seeking health benefits can safely enjoy pasteurized milk and milk products.  Pasteurization effectively destroys pathogens found in raw milk without significantly changing its nutritional value. 


To learn more, please contact a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist on the Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website by clicking Find a RD.

Written by Idaho State University Dietetic Student,

Lori Friedman



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Raw milk questions and answers. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from
  2. U.S Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.). The dangers of raw milk: Unpasteurized milk can pose a serious health risk. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, March 16). Increase in outbreaks associated with nonpasteurized milk, United States, 2007-2012. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from
  4. U.S Food and Drug Administration. (2011, November 1). Raw milk misconceptions and the danger of raw milk consumption. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from
  5. Lucey, J. A. (2015). Raw milk consumption. Nutrition Today, 50(4), 189-193. doi:10.1097/nt.0000000000000108
  6. Mummah, S., Oelrich, B., Hope, J., Vu, Q., & Gardner, C. D. (2014). Effect of raw milk on lactose intolerance: A randomized controlled pilot study. The Annals of Family Medicine, 12(2), 134-141. doi:10.1370/afm.1618
  7. Waser, M., Michels, K. B., Bieli, C., Flöistrup, H., Pershagen, G., Mutius, E. V., . . . Braun-Fahrländer, C. (2007). Inverse association of farm milk consumption with asthma and allergy in rural and suburban populations across Europe. Clinical & Experimental Allergy Clin Exp Allergy, 37(5), 661-670. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2222.2006.02640.x
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Benefits of Breastfeeding


Did you know that the national average of breastfed infants at 6 months is 51.4%, but drops down to 29.2% at 12 months of age?  Idaho alone shows that 58.2% of infants are breastfed at 6 months while only 27.9% of infants are breastfed at 12 months.1 The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least up to 12 months, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to continue breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or longer.2

Why is this?

Breastfeeding your infant has many benefits:

  • Breast milk naturally contains nutrients infants need to grow and develop3
  • Breast milk has antibodies that can help build up the infants immune system
  • Reduce likelihood for ear infection4
  • Decrease risk in diarrheal disease
  • Protection from allergies, such as eczema

Although breastfeeding provides many benefits to the infant, it also has many benefits for the mother:

  • Tends to be easier for the mother to lose weight after pregnancy
  • Can help the uterus get back to normal size with the oxytocin release
  • Reduce risk of osteoporosis
  • Decrease risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer
  • Increase emotional health by reducing anxiety, creating a stronger bond with the child, and more
  • Potential economic savings

According to findings from WHO and a new series on breastfeeding published January 2016 in “The Lancet”, breastfeeding can result in large economic savings. Just in the U.S., boosting breastfeeding rates for infants below 6 months could cut treatment costs of common childhood illnesses, such as pneumonia, diarrhea and asthma, by almost $300 billion.5

One of the main goals for Healthy People 2020 is to improve the health and well-being women, infants, children, and families.6 Their four objectives to help make a push for women to breastfeed their infants are:7

  1. Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed
  2. Increase the proportion of employers that have worksite lactation support programs
  3. Reduce the proportion of breastfed newborns who receive formula supplementation within the first two days of life
  4. Increase the proportion of live births that occur in facilities that provide recommended care for lactating mothers and their babies


Where can you go to get support for breastfeeding in your community?

  • Hospital
  • Women, Infant, Children (WIC) program
  • La Leche League
  • International Lactation Consultant Association
  • Breastfeeding Helpline

For more information on where to get breastfeeding support and the benefits of breastfeeding, visit Idaho Health and Welfare.


Written by Idaho State University Dietetic Student,

Karlie Petti

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