Friday, November 21, 2014

At Times in our Lives We're All Golden Retrievers

Today's Funny Friday video features a golden retriever that I can greatly empathize with.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

More Depressing News on School Based PE and Kids

The "Activity Stat" hypothesis suggests that kids are pre-programmed to get a certain amount of exercise each day. If they're more active during their school day they'll be less active after it's done.

The theory was first described in England back in 2011 when objectively measured activity (via accelerometers) from children attending 3 schools with widely varying amounts of prescribed PE, was shown to be roughly equivalent.

Well a few weeks ago, these findings were confirmed in Denmark where researchers compared the objectively measured activity of children in "sport schools" and regular schools. The sport schools provided children with a minimum of 4.5 hours of activity weekly, while the regular schools saw their kids moving weekly for 1.5 hours - and yet all kids, regardless of school, accumulated roughly the same amount of weekly activity.

Me? I'm all for well designed PE classes to help children both develop and accumulate physical literacy and to improve their school based attention and behaviour. I'm also all for increasing recess duration and frequency and lifting school yard safety restrictions. But if you think that simply adding more PE to school is going to have a tremendous impact on getting kids these days to be more active (or lose weight), there's a growing body of evidence that suggests that it won't.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanks to #Movember, Here's Me Channelling My Best Freddie Mercury

Winter 1996, 2nd Issue, The Auricle
The year was 1996. We were in 2nd year medical school at the University of Toronto and one of us, I can't remember which, came up with the bright idea of having a "Cheesy Moustache Competition" with the proceeds going to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

40 or so of us in first and second year participated and I still have the photographic proof.

I placed 2nd in the competition (my friend Tony won) dressed in tight leather pants and a black mesh t-shirt, and I promised that were I to hit $3,000 in my Movember fundraising, that I'd post a pic in celebration.

Thanks to everyone who donated, and if you haven't yet and you'd like to donate to my home made brillo pad, you can do so by clicking here.

(And if any former classmates are reading this - do you remember the backstory to our names? I can't.)

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Get a Black Belt in Healthy Living

Find a healthy living dojo (virtual, paper, person, or peer) with a sensei you trust.

Go to as many classes as you can fit into your life.

Start with the basics.

Practice, practice, practice.

Oh, and you're going to fall down a lot, that's inevitable.

Getting back up again, that's one of the most important skills to cultivate.

Black belts aren't things you can get in a hurry.

Just because you can picture what a jumping spinning hook kick looks like, the odds of you being able to do one because you can see it in your mind's eye are pretty low. Skill building doesn't work that way.

So maybe cut yourself some slack, find your sensei, go to class, start with a white belt, and stop expecting yourself to have a black belt just because you've got this mind's eye view of what healthful living looks like.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

The End of the Awful Food Frequency Questionnaire is Nigh

Let's hope.

In case you aren't aware, a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) is the most commonly used method of tracking an individual's diet. Oftentimes decades worth of observational studies are generated from one or two FFQs administered at their starts.

The problem is, whether consciously or unconsciously, we tend to forget our portions and choices and so FFQs are fraught with error.

What we need is a means to track that takes forgetting (and perhaps guilt) out of the picture.

Enter the "Automatic Ingestion Monitor" (AIM).

The AIM is pretty simple. It fits over a user's ear and by means of a motion sensor and a camera, when it detects chewing, it takes photos of what a person's eating and then via Bluetooth transmits those photos to a paired device.

As far as I'm concerned, validation of the AIM device can't come fast enough.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday Stories: Gaza, Food Policy, Dietary Supplements and More Mo

Gaza burns again and Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn in The Algemeiner ask, could the hypocrisy of the international community be any more blatant?

Bittman, Pollan, Salvador and De Schutter in the Washington Post with a strong call for a national food policy.

Virginia Hughes in National Geographic covers the scary and secret ingredients of dietary supplements.

Thanks to everyone who has donated to my Movember fundraising! Thrilled to report as of the time of typing this my fundraising is now up to $2,618! That definitely has me closing in on my reach goal of $3,000 and my 1995 Freddie Mercury stache picture posting.

And if you haven't yet donated, and you enjoy my blog, a blog which is now and will forever be free from advertising and cost, please support my lip kitten by clicking here.]

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Awesome Daddy Toddler Dance Battle

Today's Funny Friday has a fabulous 20 month old dancing with his dad.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Canadian Sugar Institute Denies Silencing Child, Blames School Instead

It's the story that just won't quit.

A few days ago I blogged about Northern Secondary School's bizarre invitation to the Canadian Sugar Institute to come to their "Healthy Hub" cafeteria to, "promote healthy sugary treats".

Next came the story from Ryan Storm, a young 13 year old student at Northern who went to CSI's presentation and reported back that after asking a few questions he was told that his questions were no longer welcome.

Today I'll be posting the email I received from CSI's Manager of Nutrition and Scientific Affairs Dr. Flora Wang. I'm also posting a follow up email from her as in the first email she states that CSI never asked Ryan to stop asking questions. I found it difficult to imagine a reason why Ryan would fabricate that part of the story and when asked specifically she reiterated that while CSI didn't ask Ryan to stop asking questions perhaps the school representatives who were also present had.

Dear Dr. Freedhoff,

We have noted two of your recent blog posts (Nov 10 and Nov 12) and would like to provide important clarification and correct inaccurate information referenced in those posts.

The nutrition professionals at the Canadian Sugar Institute were invited by nutrition representatives of Northern Secondary School’s “The Healthy Hub” program to speak about evidence-based information regarding sugars and carbohydrates in the context of a balanced diet. This was an informal session with a table set up in the cafeteria for interested students and focused on the functional roles of sugars in foods, myths and facts about sugars and activities related to nutrition label reading.

We would like to assure you and your readers that the Canadian Sugar Institute did not engage in any financial or profitable partnerships with Northern Secondary School. The Institute is a non-profit association whose mandate is to communicate science-based information not to encourage/promote the sales of sugar or other specific foods. As such, the Institute was not involved in the promotion or sale of a new banana loaf that was featured in the school cafeteria. We do understand, however, that the banana loaf, prepared by the nutrition students at the school, was in accordance with the strict nutrition standards set by the government for food and beverages sold in publicly funded elementary and secondary schools in Ontario (PPM 150), and was solely a school initiative.

The representatives of the Canadian Sugar Institute who were present at the event are qualified nutrition professionals communicating evidence based information. They included one of our Registered Dietitians with a Masters in Public Health, myself (a PhD in Nutrition and Metabolism) and a Masters of Health Science student in nutrition communications. We welcomed all students’ questions and addressed everyone’s questions including those asked by Ryan. We did not ask anyone to stop asking questions and in no way asked Ryan to leave the presentation. We made no statements about Ryan’s interest or curiosity in food and nutrition. After the event, we were informed that Ryan also spoke with school representatives of “The Healthy Hub” program.

Science-based nutrition information is a priority at the Canadian Sugar Institute. The goal of our Nutrition Information Service is to inform Canadians about sugars in the context of a balanced diet, and to advocate for nutrition policies and recommendations that are based on reliable scientific research. We kindly ask that you share these important points of clarification with your readers.

Kind regards,
Dr. Flora Wang, PhD
Manager, Nutrition & Scientific Affairs
Canadian Sugar Institute
Yoni Freedhoff
Sent- Wednesday, November 12, 2014 2-04 PM
To- Flora Wang
Subject- Re- Response to recent blog posts (Nov 10 and Nov 12)

Happy to share. But need to clarify something. You are in effect stating that Ryan is lying about being told to stop asking questions (or alternatively that he was told his questions would no longer be answered).

Sent from my iPhone
Dear Dr. Freedhoff,

Thanks for responding so quickly. We are simply stating the facts regarding our communications with students including Ryan. Ryan also spoke with school nutrition representatives that were present. We were not involved in those discussions and didn’t answer any questions that were asked of those representatives. As a result, we cannot comment on the interactions Ryan had with school representatives.


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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Canadian Sugar Institute Tells Curious 13 Year Old Boy To Get Lost

Meet Ryan Storm.

Ryan is a 13 year old student at Northern Secondary School. He's also a blogger in his own right, and a budding food activist, and when he heard that his school had invited the Canadian Sugar Institute (CSI) to "promote healthy sugary treats" in his school's cafeteria, he knew he had to be there.

Unfortunately, shortly after Ryan showed up at the Canadian Sugar Institute's display, he was told that their presenters would no longer answer his questions and so I reached out to Ryan with a few questions of my own.

Can you describe the school display from the CSI folks?

CSI had a table right near the doors to the cafeteria, where kids go to buy their food. Their table had a banner on it that read “The Healthy Hub”, which is a school program, that isn’t really very healthy. There were four women staffing the table, but they weren’t wearing uniforms or any identifying marks about where they were from. They also had no Canadian Sugar Institute signage. I was told that they were doing a presentation, but it was more like they had a table at a trade show that people could go up to if they wanted. On the table they had a few black and white photographs of seemingly random foods with the nutrition facts of each pasted on the back. They were trying to tell people how sugar is connected to calories somehow, and I didn’t really understand the point they were trying to get across. They also had a “Jeopardy” game board with categories like “Sugar and Health” and “Sugar and Your Body” and were trying to get people to answer their questions. I chose the “$1,000 question” from the “Sugar and Health” category, which was
“Sugar can be part of a balanced diet.”
I said,
“What is NO?”
and they replied,
“actually it is yes”,
that was my first big inkling of how much of a problem this was. The women were friendly at first and tried to explain to me that since sugar is in almost everything we eat today we should embrace it and then starting talking about how fruits even have sugars.

What was the message the CSI folks were trying to teach the kids in your school.

They were trying to teach about “healthy sugary treats” and actually used that term in promoting it! Absurd! I actually read it and laughed at first because of how much of an oxymoron that was!

How many questions did you ask before you were asked to stop asking questions?

I think I probably asked maybe 4 questions about their work and then 2 questions to see if I could interview them on camera or audio.

What reason did they give you for why they were no longer comfortable fielding your questions?

They thought I was being “too inquisitive” and also “invasive” into their privacy. They mentioned that they were university students and didn’t feel comfortable being asked questions.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Ryan, and thanks too for caring and trying to make a difference.

[And if you want to reach out to Ryan, you can also find him on Twitter]

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Guest Post: Northern Ontario School of Medicine Gives Chocolate Bars to MDs

When RD Laurel Leconte reached out to me to tell me the tale of the chocolate bar that the Northern Ontario School of Medicine hands out to physician preceptors I knew I had to feature it on my blog and she graciously agreed to this guest posting. No doubt treats are part of life, but as it stands now we as a society are forced to go out of our way to avoid them, rather than out of our way to find them, and medical schools, of all places, ought not to be in the business of providing opportunities for treat avoidance.

Good morning Yoni,

I found this NOSM chocolate bar at a local family health team. The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) trains physicians, physician assistants and dietetic interns (registered dietitian students). It provided these chocolate bars to physician preceptors presumably as a thank-you and invitation for the supervision physicians to call the university for support if required.

I was taken aback when I saw the NOSM chocolate bar. To me, it was yet another symbol of the ubiquitous culture of treats in our daily lives. The problem, as your blog convincingly demonstrates, is that “treats” like NOSM chocolate bars, are no longer “treats”. They are everyday occurrences in our society. Foods that were once considered “once in a while indulgences” are now daily, normalized foods. Normalized, daily foods become our “lifestyle.” Therefore this seemingly benign chocolate bar actually represents the negative food landscape that so many well-meaning parties are unknowingly contributing to.

Every time a school sports team sells chocolate bars as a fundraiser, or a skating club holds a bake sale table, or we as parents, use food as a reward, I feel we are contributing to this negative lifestyle which is the opposite of what most of us are hoping to cultivate.

Your blog has challenged some of us to “change the status quo” and identify these instances of unintentional contributions to unhealthy lifestyles. Many of your posts are controversial, as many people don’t share this point of view. I feel strongly that we do need to collectively find opportunities to improve our environment to make the healthy choices the “easy” choices.

Will power is not going to improve the western word’s rates of chronic disease. Many people will say that “treats” like NOSM chocolate bars, can be part of a healthy lifestyle. I wholeheartedly agree. The problem is that we seem to be bombarding ourselves with opportunities to overeat, eat inferior foods and avoid physical activity. We are going to have to continue to challenge the status quo if we want to stem to growing trends of chronic disease.

When I first sent this to you, I wanted to be anonymous because I felt like a hypocrite. I know that in my current personal professional roles, I am contributing to this negative lifestyle landscape in a number of ways. However, I realize that if I am going to continue to thrive in my current profession, I will need to develop a thicker skin and accept confrontation head-on. Your blog has inspired me to become a better advocate for changes I believe in, such as removing pop machines from hospitals, etcetera. In the words of Margaret Meade,
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

Laurel LeConte, RD, CDE
Manager, Diabetes Education Program/ Nutrition and Foodservices
Manitoulin Health Centre

Laurel Leconte has been a jack-of-all-trades dietitian on Manitoulin Island for the past 8 ½ years. In her spare time she enjoys running, cooking and wearing disguises to the grocery store. She appreciates the broadened perspective that being a mother of small children brings to her dietetic practice. She would love to network with other dietitians working in similar practice situations.

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