Q: I bought a 100 percent whole-grain cereal that has the word "organic" printed 18 times on the box. When I got home, I read the small print and saw that it contained organic dried cane syrup. I know sugar syrup is one of the Five Food Felons. Do I have to cross this cereal off my grocery list? -- Candace F., Northridge, Calif.
A: Sorry you didn't read the small print before you bought that cereal, but now you see how easy it is to fall for packaging hype, even on so-called healthy products. That added sugar syrup is one of the Five Food Felons -- a big one.
Dr. Mike came up with the Five Food Felons after seeing their relationship to diseases such as diabetes, dementia, heart disease, sexual dysfunction and immune-related problems. So say "so long" to that cereal. And here's a quick review of those bad guys and what they do:
• Trans fats raise lousy LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lower your healthy HDL cholesterol level and fuel disease-triggering inflammation.
• Saturated fat in red meats, poultry skin, full-fat dairy products and palm and coconut oils fuels cancer risk, coronary artery disease, dementia, obesity and diabetes.
• Added sugars and sugar syrups cause the proteins in your body to be less functional and age your immune and cardiovascular systems and your joints. Plus, they disrupt your metabolism and contribute to almost every lifestyle-related malady, including some cancers.
• Refined and processed grains don't contain the fiber or nutrients (contained in 100 percent whole grains) that you need to keep the bacteria in your guts happy, glucose levels regulated, immune system strong and digestion running smoothly.
If you look around, you shouldn't have much trouble finding a cereal that's Five Food Felon-free -- and it should get even easier. The FDA wants to make nutrition labels more informative.
Q: I just read a report on how parents' attitudes and actions can make their kids fat -- and it hit home. It described my childhood perfectly. I've struggled with weight my whole life! Can you spread the word about what attitudes can set kids off on a fat path? -- Bruce F., Portland, Ore.
A: Bruce, we sure can! And you're right that kids may become overweight because of their parents' attitudes. Parents have great power to influence the choices their kids make -- for good and bad. But luckily, parents don't have to be perfect to raise healthy kids. They just need to be loving, offer rules and stay engaged.
A recent study delivered at the American Heart Association annual meeting reinforces how parenting styles can influence a child's health. Researchers followed more than 37,000 Canadian kids, ages 0-11: Some had parents who were overly demanding ("Eat your peas!") but never explained the reasons for their strict rules or listened to what their kids had to say; others were strict but attentive parents, who set boundaries and rules, but took time to explain why and to listen to their kids.
The researchers discovered that overly demanding parents were 30 percent more likely to have obese 2- to 5-year-olds, and 37 percent more likely to have obese 6- to 11-year-olds than those parents who set rules but had a dialogue with their kids. Permissive or neglectful parents were also twice as likely to have overweight kids as strict but attentive parents.
Kids want to be healthy, have lots of energy and feel good about themselves.
(Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at email@example.com.)