Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Sarnia School Rewards Reading Kindergartners with Pizza

Because apparently learning to read and the many magical worlds that unlocks aren't reward enough, St. Michael's School in Sarnia, Ontario sent this Boston Pizza "Partners in Reading" reward sheet home with their kindergarten students.

And as I mentioned to the mom who sent the sheet my way, these sorts of partnerships are so commonplace nowadays that they can be considered the norm.

People tend not to question norms.

Our new norms are awful.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, October 05, 2015

Ontario Schools Allow Dairy to Shamelessly Target Kindergartners

Thanks to fellow Ottawan Sarah Wise for sending these my way.

They're photos of the milk propaganda provided to her 5 and 7 year olds at school in support of their school milk program.

Putting aside your stance on whether you think milk is a magical beverage or the devil's brew, can we at least agree that providing the dairy industry with direct access to children who can't discern truth from advertising, let alone advertising from actual teaching at school, is plainly wrong?

For a story worthy of teaching kids in school, have a peek at pediatrician Aaron Carroll's short video on how the milk emperor has no clothes.

Schools should not be places that industries can pay or partner with to provide children with advertising collateral.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, October 02, 2015

Beauty Facemasks Are Made of Human Placentas Now?

I certainly had no idea.

Neither did the guys wearing them in today's Funny Friday video.

Have a great weekend!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Supplement Maker Arbonne Thinks You're An Idiot

Well truthfully I don't know that for sure, but what other explanation is there for their trying to sell their product with this statement as their proof of its efficacy?
"Data based on consumer perception after a 60 day home-use trial of PhystoSport products by 25 Arbonne Independent Consultants, Arbonne employees, and friends."
As to what that means? Well basically Arbonne, referred to by many as a multi-level marketing scheme, asked its own salespeople, employees and friends about the very products they were trying to sell, and then compiled their answers into really awesome sounding statistics with a tiny disclaimer that they're hoping no one will read.

Scumbags might be too kind a descriptor.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Breast Cancer Foundations Probably Shouldn't be Promoting Booze

Again, not The Onion.

The charity is called the Keep A Breast Foundation and they sure do like cross promotions with alcohol and junk food.

There was their "Brewbies" beer festival, their "I love boobies and pizza" partnership, their partnership with Little Black Dress Wines, and my favourite, their "Drink Pink" Cheeseburgers in Paradise partnership that saw a whole 10% of the cost of pink drinks go back to the Foundation. I bet that'd be fifty shiny cents a glass!

Clearly they see no irony in these promotions despite their own proviso,
"Please remember - More than one (1) drink each day (if you are 21, of course) increases your odds of developing breast cancer. Alcohol can increase the levels of some hormones such as estrogen and unusually high levels of estrogen increases the risk of breast cancer. We know it's not fair, but think of the consequences if you drink too much. Be responsible and drink in moderation if you do."
But beyond ironic is what's odd.

What's odd is the fact that notwithstanding what the Keep A Breast Foundation says about the safety of a drink a day, meta-analyses on alcohol and breast cancer risk identified associations at all levels of consumption.
  • This massive meta-analysis of 53 epidemiological studies, including 58,515 women with breast cancer and 95,067 women without the disease found that for every 10g of alcohol consumed (less than that found in a single drink), relative risk of breast cancer rose by 7% (albeit the absolute risk rise would be quite small).
  • This similarly massive UK study found the rise in relative risk of 10g of alcohol per day to be 11%.
  • And this study looking at the risk of breast cancer recurrence and alcohol consumption found that drinking just 6g a day of alcohol increased recurrence risk.
But hey, $0.50 per glass!


[Thanks to Erica Berman for sending my way]

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

All You Need to Know About Healthy Eating in 15 Entertaining Minutes

Out of the gate I need to disclose that I was asked by Dr. Mike Evans to give him my two cents on this video at a few different time points during its creation.

That out of the way, honestly, if you never want to read, listen or watch another piece on diet and health again for the rest of your life, strap in and watch these 15 incredibly informative, entertaining, and realistic minutes.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, September 28, 2015

Saturated Fats, Conflicts of Interest, and Nutritional Partisanship

Last week saw the British Medical Journal publish an op-ed on the American dietary guidelines written by Nina Teicholz. I think a fair summary of Teicholz' piece is that she believes conflicts of interest and shoddy science led the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) to get everything all wrong in recommending diets lower in saturated fats.

I think it's important though to know, that Teicholz isn't just any old journalist, she's a journalist who recently authored a global, absolutely blockbusting, bestseller on diets, a fair summary of which, "Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet", is included on its cover.

Oddly, despite her BMJ thesis being in large part about how conflicts of interest and personal biases clouded the DGAC's recommendations, in the embargoed version of Teicholz' BMJ piece that was shared with reporters in advance of publication, her conflict of interest statement failed to mention her million dollar (or more) baby,
"I have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and declare I have received modest honorariums for presenting my research findings to a variety of groups related to the medical, restaurant, financial, meat, and dairy industries. I am also a board member of a non-profit organization, the Nutrition Coalition, dedicated to ensuring that nutrition policy is based on rigorous science. This article was fully funded with a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation."
What wasn't as odd, or at least not as unexpected as Teicholz' original lack of disclosure, was the passionate nature of responses to her piece, and then of course the passionate and rather partisan nature of the rebuttals to the rebuttals, and rich in all of them were cries of conflict of interest.

Coincidentally, on the same day that Teicholz' piece published, so too did a new saturated fats position statement from Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF). The HSF, up until very recently, had some major food industry inclusive conflicts of interest, but over the course of the past few years the HSF has divested itself of those.

So what was the HSF's take on saturated fats? In summary, they argue that the current science on saturated fats would suggest that there may be health benefits if you replace them with unsaturated fats, and that,
"There is emerging evidence to suggest that the health effects of saturated fats could vary depending on the food sources in which they are found."
They then make a series of recommendations that eschew a threshold or limit for saturated fat and instead are reminiscent of Brazil's recently published national dietary guidelines - which can be boiled down to cooking more with fresh, whole ingredients while minimizing restaurant and ultra-processed foods.

Of Teicholz' and the HSF's takes, I'm with the HSF. That's not to say that Teicholz' concerns hold no water at all, but rather that they, perhaps consequent to her own clear and significant conflicts of interest, do the very thing she rages against - draw sweeping conclusions from less than sweeping data. The HSF on the other hand, at least in my opinion, are doing their best to summarize the unfortunate truth of nutrition research - that it's nowhere near as clear cut as it's often presented, and that our best evidence to date is supportive of benefits to broad patterns of eating that unfortunately haven't yet been drilled down to best diet style specificity.

The frustratingly partisan nature of the responses to Teicholz, and to the responses of the responses, I think is well summarized in this tweet by MPH candidate Sarah Kunkle Amen.

If you're interested in wading through them, here are a collection of responses to Teicholz' piece in order of their publication, including a newly launched petition for the oped's removal which was posted just a few hours ago (last in line):

BMJ Publishes Error-Laden Attack on Dietary Guidelines Report - CSPI

Medical journal’s bogus investigation could derail better dietary guidelines - The Verge

Expert is as expert does: in defence of US dietary guidelines - The Conversation

The DGAC's official response to Teicholz' accusations - The BMJ

An Open Letter to the BMJ Regarding US Dietary Guidance - Dr. David Katz

Nina Teicholz Reports in the British Medical Journal ~ The Conflicts & Funding - The Carb-Sane Asylum

British Medical Journal (BMJ) gives low-carb journalist Nina Teicholz an outlet to blast the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) - U.S. Food Policy Blog

Call for The BMJ to retract Teicholz article on Dietary Guidelines Committee and Science - Evelyn (CarbSane)

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015

Personal Trainers of the World, This 6 Year Old is Coming For Your Jobs

Today's Funny Friday video is of a truly up and coming personal trainer from Jamaica.

Oh, and he's 6.

Have a great weekend!

Bookmark and Share