Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday Stories: Facts, Evidence, and Drugs

Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker on why facts don't change our minds.

David Epstein and Propublica in The Atlantic on when evidence says no, but the doctor say yes.

John LaMattina in Science on drug approval in the era of Trump.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

This Hour Has 22 Minutes Meets Governor Mike Huckabee

National Canadian treasure Rick Mercer interviews Governor Mike Huckabee who congratulates Canada on what-now for today's Funny Friday?

Have a great weekend!

[h/t to friend and colleague Dr. Mario Elia]

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Industry Self-Regulation of Marketing to Kids is Worthless - McDonald's Edition

So maybe you've heard of The Canadian Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative Commitment (CAI) - it's the voluntary program that the food industry has adopted as their defense against a legislated ad ban for marketing their products to children. The thinking goes that legislated regulation (which undoubtedly will be stricter than the CAI) isn't necessary if the industry is able to police itself.

Just a few weeks ago I wrote about the Heart and Stroke Foundation's newest report card on health, The Kids Are Not Alright, which highlighted the fact that companies signed onto the CAI were serving up millions of online annual junk food advertisements to kids.

Well here's yet another example of the failure of industry self-regulation.

It was sent to me by a mom whose 2 year old came home from daycare on Valentine's day with a McDonald's coupon book.

Here are some of the coupons:

Now McDonald's is pretty clear on their CAI commitment. They committed to ensuring that 100% of their advertising to kids was for "healthy dietary choices" and/or promoting "healthy lifestyle messages" ,

Clearly these coupons don't meet either of those criteria.

And just in case you're tempted to suggest that these coupon books weren't meant for kids, you should know that the coupons are (their caplocks and bold, not mine),
If we as a society want to rein in the predatory marketing practices of the food industry that target our children, we're going to need to do that ourselves as industry self-regulation continually proves itself to be worthless.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Running More Doesn't Burn Any Extra Overall Calories (In Mice)

In terms of the constrained energy expenditure model of physical activity (whereby beyond a certain increase in activity, total daily calorie expenditure stays the same), this small mouse study is pretty cool.

15 mice were housed in indirect calorimetry chambers that contained running wheels. The experiment included a habituation phase, then a locked wheel phase, and finally a run as much as they wanted phase.

All told, despite a doubling of wheel use, the mice' total daily energy expenditures stayed roughly the same - elevated somewhat from their wheel locked baseline, but stuck at an elevation seen with slight use.

The researchers observed a pattern they'd previously hypothesized - mice who ran more on the wheel, were less active when off the wheel. And though not measured, researchers also wondered whether increased muscle efficiencies with time might also be playing a role in the lack of increased energy expenditures.

The researchers' not-meant-for-mice conclusion echoes my confirmation bias,
"physical activity should be encouraged for its overall health benefits, while expectations concerning its role in weight loss should be kept realistic."
Exercise is primarily for health, not weight loss.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday Stories: 3 Terrific Doctors' Tales

Gabor Maté for CBC News on addiction.

That Lady Doctor on That Lady Doctor and what she does for $37.05.

Michael Lewis in Nautilus with a fascinating backgrounder on Dr. Don Redelmeier (who I was fortunate enough to briefly train with as a medical student).

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Standing Desk Truths From The Family Guy

Laughed out loud while watching this week's Funny Friday.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sudbury Hospital Says Eat Blizzard Cupcakes To Support Cardiac Programs

From the Annals of Junk Food Fundraising I bring you this gem from Sudbury's Health Sciences North Foundation. Buy a half dozen Dairy Queen Blizzard cupcakes for $15 and the hospital's cardiac programs will receive $2.

Just in case you want to take the position that you'd be buying them anyhow, looking to Health Science North Foundation's Facebook page you'll see their encouragement to buy them
"for a good cause",
that you should
and that,
"now's your chance to eat cupcakes without guilt".
Remember too, you can't buy just one, you need to buy a half dozen, and each and every one packs 240 calories along with 5 teaspoons of sugar.

That hospitals and their Foundations are comfortably shilling half a dozen cupcakes in return for $2 isn't so much reflective of incompetence but more that junk food fundraising is so normalized that no one bothers giving it a second thought.

And it's not as if this sort of fundraising can't be done right. Also for heart month, last week my inbox saw this initiative from Roots and Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF). Buy a Roots toque for $26 and $10 will go back to the HSF. Buy a $10 bracelet and $5 goes back to the HSF.

[Thanks to RD Ashley Hurley for alerting me to the cupcake campaign]

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Remember This The Next Time You Hear Soda Consumption's Going Down

Last week saw the release of yet another important initiative from Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation - this one on sugary drinks.

Now the news often talks about how soda consumption is going down (-27% according to this report), and while it was slightly heartening to learn that juice consumption has gone down by 10%, neither are going down in a vacuum.

During that same time frame, other liquid candy sources have picked up some major steam
  • Energy drinks +638%
  • Sweetened coffees +579%
  • Flavoured water +527%
  • Drinkable yogurt +283%
  • Sweetened teas +36%
  • Flavoured milk +21%
  • Sports drinks +4%
Also shocking were the daily per capita consumption amounts - especially of the kids:
  • Children 0 – 8 years consumed 326ml/d
  • Youth 9 – 18 years consumed 578ml/d
  • Young adults 19 – 30 years consumed 504 ml/d
  • Adults 31+ years consumed 259ml/d
And you have to remember that per capita is an average per person that includes those of us whose kids consume virtually none. And when considering the incredible rise in energy drink consumption also remember that Red Bull was the 4th most commonly advertised food on the top 10 websites favoured by 2-11 year old children.

Looking to my experiences in our office's Ministry of Health funded program that works with parents of children whose weights are a concern, I can tell you that it's not at all uncommon for kids to be consuming 300 or more calories of chocolate milk and juice a day. In most of these cases, the kids were doing so consequent to their parents great intentions - intentions that have been poisoned by a national Food Guide that includes chocolate milk as a healthy dairy choice, and juice as a fruit and vegetable equivalent this despite chocolate milk being to milk what apple pies are to apples, and juice being just a flat soda pop alternative with a smattering of vitamins.

Liquid calories, especially sugary ones, are perhaps healthier diets' lowest hanging fruits. That Canada is still dithering on them, especially those that are marketed to kids as being healthy by way of the Food Guide and school milk programs, is quite unfortunate.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Singapore's Answer to Added Sugar - Sugar Defending Darts?!

If today's Funny Friday is to be believe, Singapore is really taking the fight against added sugars seriously!

And as an aside, though I don't miss North American commercials, I may not have cancelled cable had we been living in Singapore or Japan.

Have a great weekend!

[Hat tip to blog reader Laurie for sending my way]

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