After publishing a blog post in November with several colleagues about how PepsiCo is doing its part to help people lead well-balanced lives and combat diabetes, I received a comment from a reader. The question was about whether the sugar content found in many soda and fruit drinks is a major contributor to the increased number of diabetes cases. This is a good question. This is a topic I am personally very passionate about. I hope that sharing just a little about my background will help you understand how my views on how the increases in obesity and type 2 diabetes have been influenced.  I was a practicing behavioral medicine professional and a diabetes educator at the Joslin Clinic/Joslin Diabetes Center for 30 years. Working with patients and clinical research colleagues at Joslin and Harvard made it clear that there are many factors that influence the development... Read more

Two reports were recently released within a week of each other that highlight the continued presence of hunger in a world where obesity is increasing, and the long-term consequences for the environment given current farming practices in many parts of the world. Both are worth reading and have implications for PepsiCo. The first report, ‘2011 State of the World: Innovations that Nourish the Planet’, was produced by the Worldwatch Institute. The report is based on two years of extensive reviews of farming and food across Africa. It highlights the centrality of women as the major contributors to farming, the massive post harvest losses that remain common, and the importance of taking an ecological approach to addressing soil health. It is illustrated with many optimistic stories of real progress in boosting productivity in a continent that contains over 250 million of the world’s 1 billion hungry. The second... Read more

Readers of the Hartford Courant and Washington Post may recently have come across a profile on a research lab that we opened in New Haven, Conn., in 2010. The lab has eight full-time scientists whose work focuses on finding ways to make snack foods more healthful. The article quotes three scientists who are also Food Frontiers bloggers: Mark Pirner, Eric Milgram and Jeff Zachwieja. The article reads, in part: “PepsiCo officials say the lab is part of a pattern toward offering more healthful fare. In expanding its product line, Pepsi has bought part of Sabra, a company that makes hummus; its Frito-Lay division now offers sunflower seeds and several types of nuts. And the company recently bought Wimm-Bill-Dann, a Russian dairy company. Placing a greater emphasis on science, Pepsi hired Mehmood Khan in 2007 as its chief scientific officer. Khan, who had worked as an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, has... Read more

As Mehmood Khan wrote last fall, we honored several members of our R&D team at PepsiCo’s inaugural Academy of Science awards in September. We have previously highlighted a team that took a classic Indian drink called “nimbu paani” and packaged it for on-the-go consumers, and another that worked in China on a locally sourced cereal that appeals to the local palette. Today we wanted to recognize another team for its development of a new Gatorade product for use after workouts. Recovery is a critical step for the body after a workout. Basically, adapting to the repeated stress of exercise applied during workouts is how performance is improved. Protein provides the amino acids muscles need to rebuild and repair, while carbohydrates replenish the muscle’s energy stores. The goal of the project was to develop a refreshing beverage, to be consumed post-workout, that delivered the protein and carbohydrates needed to... Read more

Connecting with people about the importance of nutrition requires personal attention. That’s the lesson from Dr. Steven Shapin’s recent book, “Never Pure: Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority.” Dr. Shapin, a professor of the History of Science at Harvard, traces the history of how people have viewed healthy eating and drinking. In particular, I was interested in the section in which Dr. Shapin discusses the meaning of “expert” in the nutrition science context. He outlines the tension between nutrition as hard science and nutrition as popular culture and does so in a compelling manner. Dr. Shapin begins with a discussion of the mainstream hard scientific view of nutrition. His narrative draws parallels between the standard clinical dietary focus of eating to avoid heart disease, diabetes and cancer... Read more

As Mehmood Khan blogged earlier this fall, we were excited to recognize members of our global R&D team at PepsiCo’s first Academy of Science awards in September. One of the groups we highlighted is the Quaker R&D team, which worked in China on a cereal that is sourced locally and appeals to the local palette. While Quaker Oatmeal is a popular breakfast food here in the United States, other types of hot cereals are popular in other parts of the world. In China, a local porridge called “congee” is a traditional breakfast food. Chinese consumers generally dislike the texture and taste of oatmeal, finding it coarse and bland. With that in mind, the Quaker R&D team began work on a product that would have a smooth texture and glossy appearance similar to that of congee. The result is a Quaker oat-based product that uses... Read more

On Monday, PepsiCo hosted a ‘company day’ at the New York Academy of Sciences. We invited 50 students and young scientists who are all in Masters, PhD or post-doc programs to spend the day with several leaders from PepsiCo’s global R&D team. Through panel discussions, roundtables, and one-on-one interactions students learned about research opportunities and our efforts to develop products using science-based nutrition. Read more

World AIDS Day, celebrated on December 1, has become one of the most recognized international health days. It is an opportunity to increase awareness, remember those who have died, fight prejudice, improve education and celebrate victories. As the New York Times recently noted, it is nearly 30 years since the epidemic began, and an estimated 33.3 million people are living with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Progress continues to be made — according to the 2010 UNAIDS report 2.6 million people became newly infected with H.I.V in 2009 — almost 20 percent fewer than the annual rate in the late 1990s. The theme for World AIDS Day 2010 is ’Universal Access and Human Rights’. The world has made progress in increasing access to H.I.V and AIDS services, but greater commitment from world leaders is needed to achieve the goal of universal access. Of the millions infected with H.I.V... Read more

Diabetes is a serious disease affecting over 27 million Americans. If the current projections continue, that number could triple by 2050, according to CDC scientists. Diabetes occurs when a person’s insulin production either shuts down (type 1 diabetes) or insulin and the body’s cells no longer work together as efficiently as they should (type 2 diabetes).  In both cases the result is that glucose, the fuel that the body uses to supply cells with energy, can not enter the cells. This leads to excess glucose in the blood, causing the condition known as high blood sugar.   There is a third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes, which can develop during pregnancy. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin to help balance their blood sugars.  People with type 2 diabetes can often balance their blood sugars adequately with oral medicines.  Both forms of diabetes require a healthy diet and... Read more

It is common knowledge that genetics plays an important role in the risk for obesity. However, recent research highlights another important aspect of a predisposition to becoming overweight or obese: namely the nutritional status of mothers during pregnancy and nursing. Read more