Monday, February 16, 2009

Is pizza the answer to a healthy diet? - News

Is pizza the answer to a healthy diet? - News

Gina Akers, Daily Vidette Senior Staff
Issue date: 2/16/09 Section: News

Michael Arendell, of Normal, takes a breather in between bites of his Papa John's pizza late Saturday night.
Media Credit: CJ Zimmerman / Daily Vidette Senior Staff Photographer
Michael Arendell, of Normal, takes a breather in between bites of his Papa John's pizza late Saturday night.

With the majority of the country overweight or obese, a lot of people are looking for ways to lose weight. While many turn to exercise and eating healthy foods, it is hard to know what is considered healthy.

John Schattner, founder of Papa John's, one of America's largest pizza chains, claims pizza can be healthy.

"Pizza's actually healthy for you if you don't eat too much of it," Schattner said in an interview with BBC's Radio Four Program. "You can't eat five or six slices but if you eat one or two slices it's very nutritious."

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 66.3 percent of non-institutionalized adults over the age of 20 are overweight or obese. Seventeen percent of adolescents ages 12-19 and 19 percent of children ages 6-11 are overweight.

Because of many people's avid health concerns, pizza chains are beginning to appeal to "health freaks," as Domino's refers to them on its Web site.

Papa John's, Domino's and Pizza Hut all have nutritional information available on their Web sites. Some even make pizzas specifically designed for those counting calories.

Pizza Hut recently introduced "the natural pizza," which is made with "a multigrain crust, all-natural pepperoni or Rustica sausage, all-natural mozzarella cheese and all-natural sauce from vine-ripened tomatoes," according to its Web site.

Matt Simms, a shift leader at Papa John's, recommends the whole wheat crust or the veggie pizza for those watching their diets.

"We have a veggie pizza that's … probably our healthiest pizza with the wheat," Simms said. "If you want to be super healthy, you can get no cheese. Cheese is probably the unhealthiest thing for you."

Diane Feasley, registered dietician for Campus Dining Services, said pizza consumption in moderation is alright.

"Nutritionists fall back on words like variety and moderation and balance. Pizza is often the example I give for moderation," Feasley said. "There are nutrients associated with any foods, including pizza. You don't need to eliminate it from your diet, but practice moderation."

Feasley suggested eating a salad with pizza to practice balance and prevent oneself from eating just pizza. She also warned students against thinking that being thin equals being healthy.

"Being thin is not health insurance for yourself," she said. "We know that your health is really a reflection of your lifestyle."

"Are you fit, do you eat a good diet, do you eat all the nutrients you need? Those things reflect health more. Thin people hide behind that."

While eating pizza itself is not always bad, it is best in smaller portions. If cutting back is necessary, doing it slowly could be the most beneficial.

"People respond to more subtle changes in their behaviors so you don't have to take lots of things away, just aim for improvement. Then you see the benefits," Feasley said.