Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stupidest Water Ever?

I dare you to click through and peruse Aquamantra's website - it made my brain hurt.

From the opening flash movie with the messages, "Seeing is Believing", "Stimulate your Soul", "Experience the Flavor of 100% Pure Thought", "You are What you Think", "Now you are What you Drink" and "Inspiration in a Bottle", through the rest of the site reading it was like having an online lobotomy.

Apparently the marketers behind Aquamantra believe that the secret to selling water is to enhance it with "Energy".

So what is this energy? It is the "energy" infused to the water by their labels that have self-affirmation "mantras" like, "I AM HEALTHY", "I AM LOVED" and "I AM LUCKY" stamped prominently on them.

Here's a great quobesity straight from the site,

"The thoughts inherent in those words permeate the liquid, influencing the taste and beneficial properties of the water. If you are drinking ‘I am Healthy’ for example, you will resonate with the energy to be healthy. I am Loved will allow you to feel loved and I am Lucky will make you feel prosperous and LUCKY!"
Here's another,
"The water will nourish your cells delivering the carefully chosen messages of each mantra."
As unbelievably, mind-numbingly, depressingly stupid as the website and its products are, I think my favourite part is the fact that the company has apparently trademarked their mantras.

Of course there's one mantra that they haven't trademarked which might well apply if you spend money on this sad societal statement - I AM STUPID.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kosher - Your New Health Food Craze?

Here's a story that blows me away. According to a report on FOX news' website, marketers are aiming to make Kosher the next health craze.

Now I'm Jewish and I know Kosher.

Kosher doesn't have anything to do with healthy eating, just rabbi supervised abattoirs, not mixing milk and meat, avoiding animals with cloven hooves, filter feeders, fish lacking scales and birds of prey.

Kosher includes the imminently healthy grieben (deep fried chicken fat - my bubbie, god bless her, made great grieben), latkes (deep fried potato pancakes), and sufganiyot (deep fried jelly doughnuts).

Now I'm not knocking kosher, but if Manishewitz starts showing up prominently on my Supermarket shelves, I'll have to hire their marketers.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

What Should You Eat?


While we're on the subject of the New York Times, there was a great essay published there yesterday by Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma.

The essay was about what we should be eating.

Now readers of this blog know that I'm partial to Dr. Willett's Healthy Eating Pyramid, however Dr. Pollan's essay, especially its first line, gets it pretty much bang on,

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
It's a long piece, but one well worth reading.

I'd be willing to wager a great deal of money in Vegas that Canada's pending Food Guide, won't meet with Dr. Pollan's approval.

Rather than post the whole thing, I'll summarize his summary for you here:
  1. Eat Food - According to Dr. Pollan, don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
  2. Avoid food products bearing health claims.
  3. Especially avoid food products whose ingredients are unfamiliar, unpronounceable, more than 5 in number, or contain high fructose corn syrup.
  4. Try to shop at Farmer's markets rather than Supermarkets.
  5. Pay more (organics, local etc.), and eat less.
  6. Eat more plants, especially leaves.
  7. Eat according to the traditional food culture of your choice (French, Italian, Greek). North American doesn't count unless it's first nations.
  8. Cook.
  9. Eat like an omnivore, lots of variety and diversity.
I imagine the folks from The Mouth Revolution would agree whole-mouthedly.



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Friday, January 26, 2007

The Hypocrisy of the New York Times

I have to submit an extra post today.

One of my favourite bloggers, www.bookofjoe.com noted an interesting hypocrisy coming out of the New York Times.

On September 22, 2006 the New York Times ran a scathing editorial on the use of extremely thin models in the fashion industry.

Astute Joe notes that the New York Times seems to have no issue allowing those same fashion companies to pay presumably a great deal of money to publish ads with those very same extremely thin models into the pages of their newspaper.

If you want to read Joe's post and the New York Time's editorial - click here.

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"All-Vegetable" Crisco - your Tub of Health?

A classic Steve Carell skit from the Daily Show exploring the virtues of Crisco. Unfortunately, the lead-in to this skit was pulled from Youtube but thankfully this survived.

Mmmm, all Vegetable.

Have a great weekend!

video


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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hesperidin - the Foot Cramp Champ

Have you ever heard of hesperidin?

I hadn't, but in a fit of desperation a few nights ago, I came across it in an article on foot cramps. Actually it wasn't really an article - it was a patient handout on nocturnal cramps that I found on a subscription only based medical site called MD Consult.

For weeks I'd been having really painful foot cramps. They would occur fairly randomly and the night in question they were keeping me from falling asleep. They'd start in my arch but could spread to around the baby toes as well.

Anyhow this patient handout mentioned that "rarely" cramping may be caused by an hesperidin deficiency.

So where do we find hesperidin? Citrus fruit - something I'm loathe to eat (I simply don't like citrus very much).

I searched Medline to see if I could find anything more substantiated than a patient handout and came up empty.

So I did what any desperate, remotely scientific individual would do - I ate an orange, and have had half an orange or a tangerine every day since.

Haven't had a cramp since that night.

Coincidence? Very possibly.
Placebo? Maybe.
Happy? Absolutely

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How to Read a Food Label Part II

A while back I posted the easy way to read a food label.

While I did add some advanced steps, I realize that due to Big Food doublespeak, it's often a challenge to truly understand their front of the package claims - that's where they have their "Special Statements". Here's a quick glossary:

  • No Fat Or Fat Free - Contains less than a 1/2 gram of fat per serving.
  • Lower Or Reduced Fat - Contains less the fat or calories of the original version or a similar product
  • Low Fat - Contains less than 3 grams of fat per serving.
  • Lite - Contains 1/3 the calories or 1/2 the fat per serving of the original version or a similar product.
  • Low Calories - Contains 1/3 the calories of the original version or a similar product.
  • No Calorie Or Calorie Free - Contains less than 5 calories per serving.
  • Sugar Free - Contains less than 1/2 gram of sugar per serving.
  • No Preservatives - Contains no preservatives (chemical or natural).
  • No Preservatives Added - Contains no added chemicals to preserve the product. Some of these products may contain natural preservatives.
  • Low Sodium - Contains less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving.
  • No Salt Or Salt Free - Contains less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving.
  • Baked Not Fried - Used mostly for potato chips, crackers or corn chips, this label means the product is usually sprayed with a light oil then baked in an over instead of fried in the oil. More often than not this does nothing to affect the calories of the item.
  • Lean - Contains less than 8 grams of total fat, up to 3.5 mg of saturated fat, and less than 80mg of salt in a serving.
Of course you have to keep in mind the fact that many of these statement are comparative ones. 1/3 the calories of an extremely high calorie original item may still contain a great deal of calories - similar story for saturated fats.

I also realized that in terms of my step #4 (Look at the sugar content), there are quite a few synonyms for sugar. Here's a list of all sort of different kinds of sugars.
Cane juice
Custard powder
Falernum Fructose
Glucose
Honey Jaggery
Jus de canne
Lactose
Levulose
Malt
Maltodextrin
Maltose
Marshmallow
Misri
Molasses
Orgeat
Panocha
Sorghum
Sucrose
Sugar
Treacle
Turbinado
Zuckerhut
Remember, at the end of the day, sugar is sugar and whether God added it doesn't make any difference.

Information is good.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Great Gear Website for Functional Exercisers

I love a good deal.

I also love functional exercise.

What's functional exercise?

It's exercise that doesn't feel like exercise. Riding your bike to work, playing with your children, gardening, housework, walking (not Segwaying) around town, hiking, skating, skiing - pretty much anything other than pushing weights.

If you want exercise to be a lifelong commitment, you'd better make sure you commit to something you enjoy, and gyms really aren't for everyone.

Remember too that exercise for weight control is cumulative, not consecutive. It's like going to the bank. Go 6 times in a day and deposit $10 each time and you've got the same amount of money in your account as if you went once and deposited $60. Now switch the "dollars" to minutes and it's the same for exercise, 6 ten minute blocks is the same as one 60.

So what does this have to do with gear? Well while you don't need a gym membership for functional exercise, it sure helps to have great gear.

I found a fabulous gear sale website that posts one-deal at a time offers for extremely discounted outdoor gear.

It even has a widget that sits on your desktop and alerts you when a new deal is live, and their shipping costs to Canada are extremely reasonable.

www.steepandcheap.com

That site's going to cost me a fortune!

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Segway Holidays - Apparently Walking is for Suckers

I've been meaning to post about these for a long time.

They're now in many major, non-snow bound cities.

Tours on Segways.

I'm very split on this one. On the one hand, a nice idea for folks who perhaps due to age or infirmity aren't able to walk. On the other hand, for everyone else they seem so incredibly lazy.

Take a look at these pictures, do these folks look like the aged or infirm?

Telluride, Colorado


Florence, Italy


Paris, France


Barcelona, Spain



To me, they just look lazy.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Buy Cocaine at 7-11

So what's in a name really?

Mr. James Kirby is hoping quite a lot. He's branded his energy drink, "Cocaine" because he thinks kids think drugs are cool.

His website, www.drinkcocaine.com invites you to find "Dealers" in your area.

So what will you be drinking? Kirby has called it a, "fruity, atomic fireball" and it has roughly 8x the amount of caffeine in a Coca Cola and 3.5x that of a Red Bull which means that according to the website Death by Caffeine 39 cans of Cocaine will do you in.

Today, in honour of Funny Fridays, here's the Daily Show's Jason Jones and his take on Cocaine.

Have a great weekend!

video


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Thursday, January 18, 2007

For Sale: Dean of a Medical School - Cheap

Kudos to Pepsi Co. They've actually managed to buy the Dean of a medical school to help bolster their public image.

Dean Deborah E. Powell MD from the University of Minnesota sold out and boy did she sell out cheap. $30,000 per year retainer, $2,000 per board meeting and $60,000 in stock options.

Perhaps by supporting Pepsi Co., Dr. Powell is trying to help out her namesake Deborah E. Powell Center for Women's Health whose research page is currently looking for participants in an obesity and binge eating clinical trial.

So what if obesity is the number two preventable cause of death in North America. Who cares if kids are getting type II diabetes and hardening of the arteries before they hit puberty. Type II diabetes doubling in the next 20 years, big deal. No worries that Pepsi and Mountain Dew make up close to 1/2 of the company's $3 billion sales. After all, Pepsi Co. sells water and diet drinks too and of course no one would point their fingers solely at soft drinks as being exclusively responsible for the World's current weight problems.

Like a prior post's artwork stated, "No single raindrop thinks it's responsible for the flood".

So what does Dr. Powell have to say for herself?

"The issue of children and adolescents being exposed to carbonated, sugar-filled soft drinks is one that everybody is talking about, and I think (corporate) boards have to reflect about. I think we can do it in a responsible way to ensure that the company is successful and shareholder value is maximized and people take into account responsible stewardship."
Uh huh.

So where would Dr. Powell draw the line?

Apparently she said she wouldn't work for a cigarette company - but I wonder if the price was right....

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How to Lose 6lbs, 15oz in only 10 hours


After 10 hours and literally one contraction worth of actual pushing my gorgeous and wonderful wife thrust Leah Ethel Freedhoff, all 6lbs 15oz of her, into this world.

Mom, dad, daughter, and big sister are all doing great!

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Health Canada's Whole Grain Cover Up


I'm the first person who'll tell you there's plenty I don't know, but I have to admit I was surprised to learn what I didn't know about "whole wheat" in Canada.

This morning Rosie Schwartz, consulting dietitian, author and National Post columnist exposed yet another Health Canada failing - turns out that in Canada a food label that reads 100% whole wheat doesn't mean that it contains 100% whole wheat!

A labeling law dating back to 1964 allows products with roughly 70% of the whole grain's germ removed (in this case the word germ refers not to a bacteria but rather to the germ, the bran and the endosperm of the wheat) to still call themselves whole wheat.

Frankly I'm flabbergasted.

Rosie contacted often posted about here Dr. Walter Willett from Harvard to offer his thoughts on this matter and here's what he had to say,

"Whole wheat should mean the whole wheat and nothing but the whole wheat. Excluding part of the germ means the loss of essential fatty acids, antioxidants and other important nutrients. Whole grain consumption can reduce risks of heart attacks and type 2 diabetes. Consumers of "whole grains" with 70% of the germ missing may be rudely disappointed when they land in hospital"
Combine that with Health Canada's brilliant recommendation to make only "half your grains whole" in the draft Food Guide (fingers are firmly crossed hoping this will change) and you can basically kiss the benefits of whole grain consumption goodbye to anyone following the Food Guide's recommendations.

If this upsets you as much as it does me, you can do something about it.

Until February 12th, 2007 Health Canada is accepting submissions for a revision on their definition of whole grain.

You can send your submission to:
Section Head: Nutrition Labelling and Claims
Nutrition Evaluation Division, Health Canada
Sir Frederick G. Banting Research Centre,
251 promenade Sir Frederick Banting Driveway
A.L. 2203A
Ottawa, ON Canada, K1A 0K9
Or email them at: healthclaims_submissions@hc-sc.gc.ca

Though why they need folks to send their submissions to help change a labeling law that contributes to increased morbidity in Canadians is beyond me, but far from surprising given the political, industry pandering, bureaucratic quagmire that apparently is Health Canada.

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Chocolate Cereal - Your new Weight Loss Weapon?

Nothing says weight loss like chocolate cereal!

Special K, in that special way they have of marketing refined carbohydrates and sugar as a powerful weight loss aid, have now extended their never-ending wisdom to chocolate, or at least the suggestion of chocolate, because despite the name "Special K Chocolatey Delight", the cereal doesn't actual contain any chocolate. Instead it contains "chocolatey" chunks that include sugar, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, cocoa processed with alkall, cocoa, soy lecithin, artifical flavor and milk. I suppose that's why it's a chocolatey delight and not a chocolate one.

The news release is a quobesity goldmine, starting with the fact that the entire news release is written only about women.

Here are some of my favourites:

"Research shows by replacing a higher-calorie evening snack with a lower-calorie snack, like a bowl of Special K(R) Chocolatey Delight(TM) cereal, women may lose weight."
You don't say. Eat less calories and lose weight?
"Women's eating habits can swing dramatically good to bad throughout the day, including during the evening hours, according to an August 2005 study by Insight Research Group for Kellogg Company."
Not men though. We're immune to "eating habit swings".
"We know from talking with women that they want simple tips and tools, not rules, to help them meet their weight-management goals"
Ummm, isn't "Eat a bowl of cereal instead of another snack" kind of like a rule or something?

How about this for a rule, look at the Calories in your usual foods and try to replace them with foods lower in Calories.

Here's another one. Don't fall prey to the marketing machine that promotes refined carbohydrates and sugar as either healthy choices or weight loss options.

[Hat tip Nutrinformation Blog]

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Big Food Coup for Hershey's!

Check out these new Valentine's day stamps.

Available at your local US post office, they feature quite prominently the venerable Hershey's Kiss.

Amazingly the Kiss has been around for 100 years.

I guess that kind of staying power gets you a national stamp.

Anyone out there know if Hershey's pays for this kind of advertising?

If you want to figure out something to do with your Kisses, head over to the Hershey's website where believe it or not there are 64 recipes.

We like Kisses at our house - they've been extremely successful as potty training tools - Brown gets you brown (whereas yellow just gets you stickers). Amazingly I did not note this use on the Hershey's Kiss page.

25 Calories per.

[Hat tip to bookofojoe]

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Always Prepare before an Interview

Stephen Colbert's interviewing skills are frightening. Watching his show I often wonder how it is he's able to keep a straight face and how it is that someone's PR people would allow them to be interviewed by him.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

Have a great weekend!

video


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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who Wants a Doughnut Bacon Cheeseburger?

It consists of a thick and juicy burger topped with sharp cheddar cheese and two slices of bacon. The burger is then placed in between each side of a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut.

You can buy it in Sauget, Illinois at the home of the Frontier Baseball League's Gateway Grizzlies.

A 1,000 Calorie Dinner-ssert!

Who needs separate courses!

Oy.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Big Food Money buys Study Results!


Hot on the heels of yesterday's post (detailing Big Milk's Info-Udy) comes proof that my cynicism is well warranted.

A non-industry funded study in this month's Public Library of Science Journal looked at the relationship between the funding source and the conclusions among nutrition related scientific articles.

They identified three types of studies - interventional studies, observational studies and scientific reviews having to do with soft drinks, juice and milk published between January 1999 and January 2004. There were 206 articles in the study and of them 22% were funded by Big Food, 47% had no Big Food funding and 32% had mixed funding.

The studies were sadly not surprising.

For interventional studies (where a beverage was used as in intervention like increasing milk consumption to minimize fracture risk) the proportion of industry funded studies with results unfavourable to the intervention was ZERO percent comapared with 37% for non-industry funded studies.

So not a single interventional study funded by Big Food provided a result or conclusion that was unfavourable to the funding source!

For all studies, the odds of a Big-Food-favourable conclusion vs. an unfavourable conclusion was 6.18 times more likely if the study was funded by Big Food, a number that rose to 7.61 times if you eliminated the neutral studies.

Again I have to reiterate, think about where you read it - always, always question the source!

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Think About Your Drink - a New Milk Info-Udy

If you haven't heard it yet, you'll hear it soon, the new mantra of milk ads, "Think about your drink". They have a website, a "study", and already ample media attention.

So why did I put the word study in quotations?

Because this report is to studies what infomercials are to commercials. I'll call it an info-udy

The info-udy is called, "What America Drinks: How Beverages Relate to Nutrient Intakes and Body Weight".

The first tip-off that something's up is the fact that this info-udy was not actually published in a medical journal but rather was,

"commissioned by the Milk Processor Education Program. What America Drinks is a component of an education campaign called Think About Your Drink."
The rest of the tip-offs come from the content. How's this line for objective empirical conclusions?
"The results of this study show that beverages make significant contributions to calorie and nutrient intakes of Americans. Milk provided Americans with a substantial portion of essential nutrients, while other types of beverages tended to contribute substantially to calories and added sugar intakes but provided few nutrients other than vitamin C, potassium and some folate"
Looking at their data, depending on the age group, milk actually is the second highest contributor of liquid calories to most diets, but of course, it's not spun that way.

Here's another oddity. The info-udy did something I've never seen before. They took their data, divided folks by age and sex and then subdivided by beverage intake, with two categories. The first category was "High Milk/Low Sweetened Beverage" consumers and the second was, "Low Milk/High Sweetened Beverage Consumers". They then drew conclusions from the body mass indices of these groups and concluded that folks who drank more milk weighed less that folks who drank more sugared beverages. Big problem here - they didn't bother controlling for anything else!

What if the folks who drank more milk did so because they were trying to live what they thought were healthier lifestyles (after all, milk's done a bang up job of marketing itself as a healthy choice)? Perhaps they were more active? Perhaps their dietary choices as a whole were lower in calories? The info-udy tries to suggest that they controlled for calorie intake, but with a dietary recall study, that's pretty much impossible.

Bottom line, when you hear the call to action, "Think About What you Drink", I'd advise you to, "Think About Where you Heard it".

So what's not in the report? How about the fact that higher dairy consumption has been shown to be linked with increased risks of ovarian cancer and increased severity of prostate cancer? How about the fact that higher dairy consumption has not been shown to minimize the risk of osteoperosis?

Oh, and if this type of info-udy and its reporting bothers you, if you feel that there's an obvious lack of objectivity, if you feel that the scientists involve should not be selling their good names for such clearly spun data, it might also bother you to learn that Susan Barr, the scientist who according to the report itself, "provided invaluable input on the design of the study and the analysis of the results" is a member of the 12-member advisory board to the revisions to the Canada's Food Guide - interestingly her official Food Guide bio doesn't mention her ties with Big Milk (she's a member of the medical advisory board for the International Dairy Foods Association)

No, our upcoming Food Guide couldn't possibly be influenced by conflicts of interest (please note the non-veiled sarcasm).

Chalk up another win for the marketing machine that is Big Milk!

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Monday, January 08, 2007

CBC Time Change

If there is anyone out there planning on listening to my interview with the CBC, the time has been changed from 10:30am to 10:05am on CBC Radio One.

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Stupidest Weight Loss Drug Ever Round II

It's called Slentrol and it's being marketed by Pfizer as a prescription weight loss drug for dogs.

Yes, I did just write a prescription weight loss drug for dogs.

So where does this dramatic rise in canine obesity come from?

It must be the growing prevalence of suburbia where the dogs are much more likely to drive to work than walk. Or perhaps it's all of the commercials that basically brainwash dogs into eating more. Maybe it's the rapid growth of fast dog food restaurants where dogs get to great-dane-ersize all of their portions for just a few pennies. I suppose it's also possible there's a new doggie gut bacteria causing rapid weight gain, or maybe an adenovirus?

Or maybe, just maybe, it's from their owners feeding them too much food and not going out with them for exercise?

If a doggie weight loss drug isn't enough of an example for you of a world gone wrong, how about a doggie gym? Or a doggie treadmill?

Here's a simple rule - you know your lifestyle needs a major makeover if : (a) Your dog is fat, and (b) The best solution you can come up with for helping your dog lose weight is a prescription weight loss drug.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Mmmm Coffee!

Yesterday if I hadn't had coffee, I may not have made it through the day. I was up at roughly 4:00am so that I could have some time to blog and get down to the CBC Radio One studios by 6:30am for an interview.

This Monday at 10:30am on CBC Radio One, on their show, Sounds Like Canada, my interview will run along with others detailing the politics of the creation of the Canada's Food Guide. As my readers will know, I'm not a big fan of the Food Guide or the entrenchment of Big Food in its creation.

In honour of my fatigue and Funny Fridays, here's a classic Saturday Night Live skit featuring decaf coffee and the comedic stylings of the late Chris Farley.

Have a great weekend!



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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Seventeen Magazine makes me want to Vomit!

Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I do find the magazine to be rather repulsive.

But the question that researchers have asked and that the media has reported on is does reading magazines like Seventeen make young women vomit, practice other disordered eating behaviours or negatively affect their body images?

A study conducted by Dr. Patricia van den Berg looked at over 2,500 teenage girls and boys in Minnesota and followed them for 5 years. They followed their body image attitudes, whether or not they fasted, skipped meals, smoked, binged or used laxatives to help control their weight, and the frequency with which they read dieting articles in the lay press. What they were looking to see was whether or not reading the shlock dieting articles in magazines like Seventeen led to an increase in any or all of these behaviours or attitudes.

The authors concluded that indeed, among teenage girls (not boys), more frequent reading of diet articles led to increased frequency of unhealthy eating behaviours and unhealthy body images.

BUT, and this is a very big but, the researchers did NOT control for weight gain over the 5 years of this study and it's affect on these young women.

Teenage years are hard to say the least. Given societal role models for teenage girls, gaining weight would almost certainly lead many teenagers to look for help. Where would they look for help? Well they'd probably look at what they might well already have at hand - magazines, and the diet/weight loss articles therein.

Frankly the omission of a control for weight or BMI at the end of the study is a staggering one. I think it is extremely likely that those girls who may have gained more weight during the five years of the study would in turn be the ones to be more likely to read diet articles, be more likely to engage in unhealthy eating behaviors and have more difficulties with their body images.

I don't doubt that the fascinating pieces like the one in the issue above entitled, "Is that my Butt?" can't help with a young woman's body image, but to blame the articles for triggering unhealthy eating behaviours and attitudes is not substantiated because weight gain was not taken into consideration during the study as a possible cause of trouble.

It's a matter of chicken and egg and in many cases I would venture, the weight comes first and may well inspire disordered eating even in the absence of reading dieting articles.

Heck, a large percentage of the adult population turns to unhealthy behaviours to lose weight and has poor body images, why should teenage girls be any different?

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Ph.D. in Fat Studies?

An article published in the New York Times recently discussed the growing field of "Fat Studies" - a discipline dedicated to the social and political consequences of weight.

The concept behind the field is to follow an approach similar to that of the women's movement in the 60s with the birth of women's studies and more recently in the 90s of gay and lesbian studies - as the New York Times put it all of these disciplines are, "a study of a people its supporters believe are victims of prejudice, stereotypes and oppression by mainstream society."

I think it's a great idea.

There's an absolutely tremendous amount of anti-weight bias in society and scholarly research on both its impact and potentially a means to help combat bias is a great idea, especially considering that obesity is not something that's going to be disappearing from society any time soon.

I have no doubt that some of the courses will take a very anti-intentional weight loss view and that others will likely purport that all the research ever done that has ever shown any risk with weight to be flawed - but I don't really care. We need passionate people on both sides of the fence to advance this issue forward, both in terms of ethical and effective approaches to weight management and in terms of countering the bias of what has often been referred to as the last socially acceptable form of stereotype.

Perhaps when I retire I'll go back to school.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Why Do my Plates Keep Yelling at me?

Put this one on your do-not-buy list.

Dr Hryhory Chausovsky, a Ukrainian scientist from the University of Zaporizhia's Life Activities Laboratory has invented the irritating plate (he calls it a talking plate).

The plate is quite small, 15cm in diameter and it's hooked up to a small computer and has a built in scale.

If the plate decides you've put too much food on it, it yells at you,

"Stop right there",

"What about excess weight?"

"Where's your willpower?"
Chausovsky apparently hasn't met really anyone with a background in nutrition. The problem with his vision, as I'm sure many of you are aware, is that weight alone does not dictate the nutritional or caloric content of a food. I don't want my heaping plate of salad yelling at me and asking me about my willpower.

The plate reminds me of a common occurrence in many households - Food Cops.

He or she is the guy that watches you carefully while you eat and asks "helpful" questions like, "Are you supposed to eat that?" and "How much of that are you allowed?".

Food cops aren't helpful. Instead of helping they push our buttons - buttons that once pushed, often lead to angry eating.

If you've got a food cop at home feel free to forward this blog where they can read the only question they're is ever allowed to ask you, and they're only allowed to ask it once. The question is,
"Is there anything that I can do to help you honey?"
And if the answer's no, no more questions.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Calorie Awareness - A Doable New Year's Resolution

So it's New Year's and therefore it's also resolution time.

Sure lose weight, exercise more, are the most common New Year's resolutions, but how many people stick to them?

May I suggest an easily achievable resolution - Calorie Awareness.

I'm not telling you to count Calories, I'm not telling you that Calories are bad and that a food simply having lots of Calories makes it unhealthy. What I'm suggesting is that you make 2007 a year where you practice Calorie Awareness.

Simply know what you're eating.

I've used the money analogy before - before you buy something it's a good idea to know how much is in your bank account, how much you make a month and how much it costs. As far as weight goes, it's currency is Calories and therefore it's a good idea to know how many Calories you burn in a daytime, how many you've had and how many you want.

In terms of how many you burn I've provided the link before, but here it is again. The best online how many calories do I burn calculator I've ever found is located here.

In terms of how many Calories you have, yes counting works better than simple awareness, but I bet lots of folks don't keep carefully balanced cheque books every month, instead they simply try to remain aware of how much they've spent. How do they do it? Well certainly they know how much they make and definitely they read the price tags. There may be some months here and there where their Visa bills are surprising, but it's definitely a better strategy than not paying attention to prices at all.

The price tag of weight is Calories. Look at the food label and use the four simple rules I posted before to evaluate it. With regards to home recipes, spend the time figuring out how many calories are in them. Most families only have a few recipes that they eat over and over, once you've figured them out once, you'll never have to do it again. Simply take all the ingredients and head over to a website like Calorie King and plug them into their search engine and add them all up.

So eat high Calorie foods, but you pick and choose when they're worth it. And a simple rule for eating out - estimate and then add at least 40%. Lastly remember that Dr. Wansink would tell you not to trust your eyes. Consider buying a high quality kitchen scale to really track how much you're choosing. Scale's job is to tell you how much you've had, not how much you're allowed.

So by all means, pick those other resolutions, but make sure at the very least, you keep this one.

Happy New Year!

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