Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Juice as a Gateway Drug For Soda

Is juice a gateway drink?

That's the question asked by some Harvard and University of Michigan researchers in their paper, "Juice and water intake in infancy and later beverage intake and adiposity: Could juice be a gateway drink?" (free full text link here)

It may follow. Train your child's palate to enjoy cloyingly sweet beverages in early childhood and they'll be more likely to continue consuming them later in life.

To try to shed some light on that question the researchers studied the association between 1 year olds' juice and water intakes (as reported by their mothers) to their reported intakes of sugar sweetened beverages in early and mid childhood.

After controlling for confounding maternal socio-economic, ethnic (though the authors report that there was limited ethnic variation), and health variables the researchers found that higher juice intake at 1 year correlated with higher juice and sugar sweetened beverage intake, and higher weights, at early and mid childhood.

Juice is a glass of sugar water with a small smattering of vitamins. It's not sating. It has little if any fibre, and it is stripped of much of the originating fruit's phytonutrients. The World Health Organization, Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society all caution against its regular consumption.

Juice is basically flat soda pop, and should be treated as such, with the aim being the consumption of the smallest amount of juice you need to enjoy your life, and its marked limitation in children.

[Thanks to Laval University's Dr. Michel Lucas for sending this study my way]

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Four Brief Thoughts on Conflicts of Interest

  • Just because a study is funded by industry that doesn't mean its findings aren't valid.
  • Literature on conflicts of interest clearly states that while perhaps no one believes they can be influenced, being influenced by your conflict, consciously or unconsciously, is a great evidenced based bet.
  • Dollars aren't just used to fund studies that industry believes will be beneficial, they're also used to provide megaphones to researchers whose messages and research are industry friendly (no better example of this than the Global Energy Balance Network).
  • Dollars aside, relationships matter to industry. I'd wager friendships are far more influential in motivating conscious and unconscious biases than dollars, and are relevant even when actual dollars are small.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Who Doesn't Need an Easy Laugh This Week?

Awful week.

Hopefully today's Funny Friday video will afford you a quick and easy laugh (but maybe don't try this at home with your cat)

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

I Love This Food Industry Funded Initiative

To be more accurate, it's funded by produce (not product) manufacturers, is run by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and it's called Six by Sixteen.

Why does it exist and what will it do?
"We're serving up food literacy.

There's a very clear link between healthy eating habits and lifelong health. Six by Sixteen wants to ensure the next generation knows how to make healthy, nutritious food choices. That's food literacy.

Six by Sixteen will help young people learn to plan and prepare six nutritious, locally sourced meals by the time they are sixteen years old. We'll arm them with lifelong skills, lifelong health and they'll be supporting local farmers, food processors and our economy.
Here are the program's sponsors

Though I've yet to see any Six by Sixteen collateral, getting kids into the kitchen and teaching them how to cook meals from fresh whole ingredients is definitely something I can support.

[H/T to RD Rebecca Davids for sending my way]

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Only 46 Words of Health Advice You'll Ever Need

In no particular order:
  • Avoid trans fats.
  • Substitute unsaturated fats for saturated if you can.
  • Cook from fresh whole ingredients.
  • Minimize restaurant and ultra-processed foods.
  • Cultivate friendships.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Nurture sleep.
  • Drink alcohol at most moderately.
  • Exercise as often as you can enjoy
  • Only drink those calories that you love
Comparatively, everything else is minutia.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Toronto Hospitals Rewarding Flu Shot Receiving Staff With Chocolate Bars

Post vaccination lollipops for kids may be one thing (though are clearly debatable), but do fully grown adults, adults who are physicians, nurses and other allied health professionals, really need to be rewarded, let alone with a chocolate bar, for getting a flu shot?

Toronto's University Health Network hospitals clearly think so.

As a whole, society needs to be striving to provide fewer opportunities for the consumption of junk food, not encouraging and permitting more, and who better than hospitals to be leading that charge?

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

A Personal Post (Or Why This Blog Will be Dark for the Next 12 Days)

Tomorrow I'm heading to Israel to join a group of Canadian physicians receiving disaster relief training from the Israeli ambulance service Magen David Adom (MDA).

Organized by the Canadian Friends of Magen David Adom, the course will see us trained in basic life support, advanced cardiac life support, advanced trauma life support, some mass casualty training, and will also include a live MDA mobile intensive care unit shift. Once trained our cadre will become part of the Magen David Adom family and be available to help with emergency relief efforts not only in Israel, but around the globe.

Given what's been going on in Israel of late, I can't say I'm not at all anxious. I'm not so much worried about my own safety, or the injuries I might see, as I am about those injuriues' possible nature. Though I've certainly seen my share of tragedy in emergency rooms, I've never been a witness to terror, and there's a real chance that will change on this trip. Since September 14th Israel has faced nearly daily terrorist attacks which have included 58 stabbings, 5 shootings, and 6 car rammings resulting in over 150 casualties and 11 deaths. Among those stabbed are women, children, and senior citizens, including a toddler, a 13 year old riding his bicycle, and, 3 days ago, an 80 year old grandmother out for a walk in central Israel (the after scene in the above photo).

For more on the MDA's relief efforts, here's a fascinating and detailed Reddit AMA with Tal Rabin, an Israeli paramedic who joined the MDA's mission to Nepal after last year's disaster.

While I might find time to periodically update this blog while gone, the updates will likely involve my experiences with MDA.

If you're looking for more information on MDA as a whole, or to give a donation, here's a link to the Canadian friends of Magen David Adom, and here is a link to the American friends of Magen David Adom.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Why You Might Want To Step Away From The Kale Chips

I spotted these as I wandered around Whole Foods before heading to the movies.

The packaging screams out health. "Kale", "Air Dried, Not Fried", "GMO Free", "MSG Free", "Gluten Free", "Vegetarian"

Turn the package over however and you might be surprised to learn a few things.

The bag's 640 calories clock in at 16% more than a Big Mac's 549 (and more gram for gram than Doritos), and they're also packing the same amount of sodium gram for gram as Lay's potato chips (regular flavour).

The nutrition data is also a bit curious.

Looking at 28g of raw kale you'll notice that it contains 86% of your Vitamin A %DV and 56% of Vitamin C. And yet 28g of these dehydrated kale chips, which you might imagine would in fact represent more than 28g of raw given the dehydration, have 97% less vitamin A and 73% less vitamin C.

Putting aside the fact that if you're actually looking for the nutritive benefits of kale, at least as compared with Kaley's Kale Chips, actual kale's the way to go, some might say that I'm being too harsh. They might say that the bag isn't meant to be consumed in one sitting. But as you can see from the photo where I'm holding it, the bag's no larger than your average checkout aisle chip bag, and at least with chips, you won't for a moment convince yourself they're a healthful choice.

If you want kale buy kale. If you want chips buy chips. Simple.

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Monday, November 02, 2015

Did the Muppets Reboot Really Need Fat Jokes?

So I watched the first few episodes of The Muppets reboot as I'd heard that they were full of fat jokes.

Here are some that I caught:
Kermit: "Hey Zoot, listen, the next time we do a sketch where Piggy flies across the stage we should choose a wire that actually supports her weight.
Zoot: "Huh, it should have worked, it was a cable from a wrecking ball"

Kermit: "From now on let's just be honest with each other, ok?"
Piggy: "Ok. I don't know what you see in your girlfriend and you're getting a little tummy"
Kermit: "What?! I mean if I stand up straight it uh, goes away doesn't it, uh, oh no, it doesn't"

Weird looking muppet: "Well I was fitting Piggy for a new dress"
Kermit: "Oh no, you didn't cut out the tag, she knows her size?"
Weird looking muppet: "Oh please, I've woven such a cocoon of lies she doesn't know her size, weight, or even how old she is"

Gonzo: "Keanu Reeves says he's in (to date Miss Piggy). Oh, no, no, no, he says he's put on 100lbs
Though there may have been fat jokes in the original Muppets as well, it aired between 1976 and 1981, a different time and era when it came to rates of childhood obesity, and also in regard to the recognition of weight bias.

Given it's 2015, with weight being the number one source of childhood bullying and where 1 in 3 children watching the show will have overweight or obesity, I'd have hoped that The Muppets wouldn't have decided to add to their bullies' piles.

Goes back to the notion that people don't question social norms, and sadly, fat jokes, even in kids' shows, movies and books, are very much an awful norm.

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