Friday, January 30, 2009

Funny Friday: The Broken Escalator

Oh the horror!

Today's Funny Friday is a reenactment of the drama associated with a broken escalator.

Have a great weekend!



[Very belated posting and hat tip to loyal blog reader Jerry]

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Have you eaten off a Weight Watchers menu over the past 4 years?

If it was at an Applebee's you might want to give Tara Kelly a call.

If you remember a few months back I blogged about the calorie labeling lawsuit that alleges misrepresented calorie counts at Applebee's restaurants from items off the Weight Watcher's menu whereby independent tests revealed some items to contain double the fat and calories posted.

Apparently now 4 separate law firms have launched class action lawsuits and a recent news story reported Gilbert Oshinsky lawyer Tara Kelly hopes to represent, "every person who has eaten from the Weight Watchers Menu in the last four years".

Given there are over 2,000 Applebee's in 49 states, 17 international countries and one U.S. territory, and lots of folks on Weight Watchers, I imagine Tara will be pretty busy.

The trial is scheduled for 2010.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Small Victory in Quebec in the Battle for your Children's Plates


Two days ago Saputo Inc., makers of the obscenely Heart and Stroke Foundation Health Check endorsed chocolate chip muffin and peddled by adorable Igor the Gorilla, pled guilty to 22 charges of targeting children with advertisements.

For my non-Quebec readers, Quebec is unique in Canada in that there's this rarely used set of laws established in 1980 that in fact bans advertising aimed at kids younger than 13.

Saputo Inc agreed to pay $44,000 in fines.

A pittance likely compared to the sales their campaign generated but at least a start.

Karine Vachon, a Saputo spokesperson had this to say about their Igor muffins, they're,

"healthier than other Vachon cakes"
which is kind of like bragging that eating your company's bacon is healthier than consuming pure lard.

Similar lawsuits are now moving forward versus McDonald's, Burger King and Lucky Charms maker General Mills.

What a shame these laws aren't shared by the rest of our country.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

World's Stupidest School Food Policy?


Wow.

And here I thought that St. Andrew Elementary in Barrhaven's weekly ice-cream sandwiches for 6 year olds was a stupid plan.

This one takes the cake (almost literally).

Welcome to Mitchell High in the UK where if you show up for extra-classes you get rewarded with pizza and fish and chips!

But maybe they're crazy like foxes because guess what? Their pilot project's participants' grades were twice as good as the year before's controls.

Change4Life?

Spicoli would be proud.

[Congratulations to the two winners from yesterday's giveaway - Ashley and Natalie. To claim your prize pop me an email and I will then send you further instructions! Thanks to everyone who entered.]

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Awesome Mindless Eating Webinar (Also 1st Weighty Matters Giveaway)

Received a nice email last week to inform me of a pending webinar that Dr. Brian Wansink is presenting.

For newer readers of my blog Brian is one of my favourite researchers. He's the Director of the Cornell Food and Brands Lab, the Executive Director of the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and the author of Mindless Eating.

He's speaking in an online webinar this Thursday from 4pm-6pm and here's his talk's description,

"In this lively and information-packed two hours, Dr. Wansink teaches you his revolutionary Mindless Eating Solution and helps you develop ways to mindlessly eat better in your home, work, or client base. Learn how to identify hidden persuaders in your immediate environment that lead you to overeat and gain weight. Dr. Wansink also shares his fascinating research into everything from “100 calorie” packs and mouthwatering descriptions on menus to getting pre-k children to eat more fruits and vegetables and parents acting as nutritional gatekeepers. Most importantly, you will discover how to get a grip on mindless eating."
Having seen Brian speak a number of times I can tell you firsthand - he's a fantastic speaker being both remarkably informative as well as remarkably entertaining.

The cost is $15 and you can buy your tickets and read more about the talk by clicking here.

That said, I've got two free passes to give away. If you're interested in winning one, leave a comment by 8pm tonight. I'll then randomly draw two names and post the winners in tomorrows blog along with instructions on how to claim your prize.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Going Out of Business Sale

Git'mo of everything!

Today for Funny Friday is SNL's take on the closing of Guantanmo Bay.

(remember email subscribers need to head over to the blog itself to view).

Have a great weekend!

video

[Hat tip to Peter from the blog Obesity Panacea]

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Are you eating North America's Least Healthy Breakfast Cereal?

Can't say I've ever heard of it.

Quaker Instant Grits Butter Flavor received a score of just 6/100 from NuVal (formerly known as ONQI), my favourite food rating scale.

Coming in a close second last was a more familiar name - Cap'n Crunch Sweetened Corn & Oat Cereal with a 10/100.

So what's the healthiest cereal according to NuVal? Another unknown for me - Hodgson Mill Unprocessed Wheat Bran (Millers Bran) which received a perfect score of 100 with Red River cereal a close second at 93.

This is why I love NuVal - it's incredibly easy to use. It takes 30 nutrients and 5 nutritional concepts and gives them to 11 of the world's leading nutritional scientists who then crunch them down in a weighted algorithm that spits out a rating between 1 and 100.

Healthiest sugary cereal? Kashi Golean Crunch Protein & Fiber Cereal Honey Almond Flax with a score of 40.

Most surprisingly unhealthy cereal? Cheerios with a score of 34.

Brain-dead simple to use.

Thanks NuVal!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Lancet Hates the new UK Obesity Initiative



Can't say I blame them.

Change4Life, the new massive UK initiative to help with their obesity epidemic is being paid for by the very companies that helped bring them their problem.

Big Food's money is supposed to be spent on television advertisements, billboards, and posters with an aim of reducing childhood obesity rates by 2020.

Want to see how the money is being spent? Check out this television spot. Want to guess where my head's at as to whether spots like this will make one whit of difference?



Hopefully as this project grows messages will be more useful than the classically useless, "Eat less, exercise more" message this spot provides and while I'm sure there is some useful information on their website, I did also note their explicit recommendation to swap soft drinks for "unsweetened" fruit juices as part of a, "sugar swap".

Pssst, Change4Life people, there's just as much, if not more sugar in juice than in sodas!

[BTW - check out the neat new feature up above. It's the article from the Lancet as an embedded PDF, use the magnifying glass slider to read]

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Quackery: The Amazing "Diet Guard"


Wow.

"Snack Proof your Mouth"
How will you do that?

You'll shove two plastic mouth guards into your mouth so that you can't chew.

So what if you end up talking with a slight lisp, after all boxers wear mouth guards and they're in great shape.

Super-stylish too.

What's not to love?

Only $99.99.



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Monday, January 19, 2009

Frankenfood - Hot Beef Sundae Edition


Yup. Hot. Beef. Sundae.

Thanks to Matthew Stoller who snapped pics of one of the viler Frankenfoods I've ever seen.

The description reads,

"Golden mashed potatoes covered with a generous portion of our roasted and seasoned to perfection top round beef, then aged cheddar cheese, more golden mashed potatoes, smothered with our special beef gravy, more aged cheddar cheese, a slice of buttered toast and a cherry tomato on top."
You can get yours in Nebraska.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Men vs. Women vs. The Walk-in Closet

Sure it stereotypes men and women, but that doesn't mean it isn't funny.

Today's Funny Friday covers the differing priorities of the sexes.

Have a great weekend!

video

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Badvertising: Anti-aging Yogurt puts the "sigh" in Acai


Yup, it's anti-aging.

Why?

Because of the miraculous Brazilian acai berry that contains "antioxidants".

According to Dairyland's Alive page, antioxidants,

"may help people sustain vitality as they become older and decrease the risk of age related health issues such as cancer, decreased immunity, and heart disease"
I can't imagine why doctors everywhere aren't prescribing this stuff.

Must be because we're afraid we'd go out of business.

Yup, that's got to be it.

This really puts the "sigh" in a-sigh-ee (the correct pronunciation of acai)

(Thank goodness all of my dietary health needs are covered by yogurts, juices and chips)

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Badvertising: Chips are Vegetables, Right?


So after I eat my heart chips, I'm going to have a hearty serving of vegetables.

No stupid broccoli for me. Kiss my artichokes goodbye.

From now on I'm going to have Flat Earth Impossibly Good vegetable crisps.

I don't care that they're not whole grain because I'll get my whole grain from those Sun Chips.

I don't care that they've got piles of sodium and calories because there's a half a serving of real vegetables in every ounce.

Let's see....if I have 8 ounces a day that's like 4 "vegetables".

Of course it's also over 1000 calories and a day's worth of sodium.

Huzzah!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Badvertising: Heart Chips


Yup, I get all my whole grains from salty snack foods.

No stupid whole grain breads, pastas or cereals for me.

Those are for suckers.

I eat a bag of Sun Chips daily.

"Less salt than you think" has got to be good right?

Yup, one bag a day. I'm going to do my heart the favour of 21lbs of extra salty snack calories a year.

I bet they're really filling too!

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Badvertising: Cholesterol Lowering Orange Juice


"What's not to love", the ad asks.

How about the 22lbs worth of OJ calories you'll have to drink per year to get the 12% reduction in LDL found in the Minute Maid funded study looking at this fortified OJ? No? Then how about the 76 cups of sugar you'd consume that year from the OJ. That's 38.5lbs of sugar by the way.

You think maybe, just maybe, drinking 22lbs of OJ calories and 76 cup fulls of sugar per year might have some negative health outcomes?

What's that? You're asking about those folks who already drink two glasses of OJ per day and that a straight swap's a good thing.

I suppose it would be.

Do you think maybe cutting out the 22lbs a year of juice and 76 cups of sugar altogether would be a better thing?

What's that? You're asking about the person with the healthy weight who's drinking two glasses of juice per day? It'd be good for them right?

Sure, 76 cups of sugar a year never hurt anybody, right?

[Calculation wise: 48grams of sugar per 2 cups of OJ x 365 days a year / 229grams of sugar per cup]

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Are Taxis Cheaper than Hearses?

Dad, I know you've always wanted a hat tip so here you go.

Hat tip to my Dad for today's Funny Friday which proves cabbies are far more understanding than you might think.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Mom!

(new email subscribers, usually to see the videos you have to actually visit the blog which you can do by clicking here)

video

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Renowned Dietitian Leslie Beck Calorically Confused?

What is it about calories that makes health professionals not want to talk about them?

Some say that teaching people about calories will lead to increased incidences of eating disorders - yet there's never been any evidence published to suggest that would be true.

And really it's more about how you talk and teach about calories.

At my offices we teach people to be non-judgmental about calories. They're not by definition, "bad", it's just that we have to pick and choose when they're worth it.

It's a money type analogy - before you buy anything it's probably a good idea not only to look at the price tag, but also to know how much you've got in your bank account and how much you make a month. We all buy things we don't need, but we of course don't buy every last thing we want - some things just aren't worth their price tags and frankly some foods just aren't worth their calories.

The other thing we teach about calories is that rather than worrying about maximums, worry about minimums - eating too few of them at any given meal or snack and you're asking to get hungry and as anyone who's ever gone to the supermarket hungry knows, hunger influences our choices.

Of course there's much more to successfully losing weight than simply keeping track of calories. Elements such as the timing of meals and snacks, macronutrient distributions, protein consumption, learning how to cook, finding time, planning and meal preparation, shopping skills, media awareness and so on.

Which brings me to Leslie Beck. She's a very prominent Toronto based dietitian and I often quite like what she's got to say. Yesterday though wasn't one of those times.

Yesterday she wrote an article for the Globe and Mail that told readers that the key to weight loss was simply portion control and explicitly discouraged them from looking at calories.

Why is her assertion ridiculous and upsetting?

Well it's upsetting because she knows better. It's upsetting because there's this non-complicated factor of which she's well aware called energy density. What energy density refers to is the fact that gram per gram some foods have more calories than others. What that means is that even eating small portions of highly energy dense foods can lead to the consumption of large numbers of calories. By not including this concept in her article and by simply telling people to eat less, she's doing a disservice both to the public and to the privilege she enjoys of being able to reach huge numbers of people.

It's a ridiculous assertion because basically Leslie is telling her readers that in order to lose weight you simply have to eat less. While ultimately that's true it's about as useful a piece of advice as someone telling you that to get rich all you need to do is, "buy low and sell high" in the stock market. In Leslie's case the analogy would be to an actual stockbroker giving you that sage advice.

If it were that easy Leslie, everybody'd be skinny.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

New York State Health Commissioner Calorically Confused?

I figure most of my blog readers already know about New York State's fat-tax proposal whereby an 18% premium will be attached to sugary drinks. The hope of course is that if soda costs more, people will therefore buy and drink less, and by drinking less sugary beverages those folks will lose weight (or stop gaining).

It's a very simple premise really - drink fewer calories, gain less (or even lose some) weight and in NYC where calories are posted on menus, people really ought to "get it".

You know who absolutely ought to "get it"? New York State's Health Commissioner - the board certified in internal medicine physician Dr. Richard Daines who you'd guess ought to be fairly well versed in all things caloric.

Well if the video below really represents his views, I'm not so sure.

You see in the video below Dr. Daines boils down the point of the tax to be shifting the consumption of cola "back" to the consumption of milk as in the 70s when obesity was less of a concern the average New Yorker was drinking more milk and less soda.

The problem with that notion is that the past 30 years of weight gain cannot be skimmed down to a single variable. It's not soda that's caused the gain, it's the calories in it as well as the various other foods and portions that have grown in size, quantity and calories since the 70s.

Watch the video and you'll hear how in fact since the 70s the average New Yorker is drinking at least 2 more glasses of liquid calories a week just between milk and soda. Of course we also know that since 1970 juice consumption has gone up as well so likely the average New Yorker is consuming anywhere from 200-500 more calories weekly purely from liquid sources. Splitting the difference and extrapolating for a year that's 5.2lbs more calories per year just from non-satiating liquids.

Given that 2% and higher fat milks have drop per drop more calories than soda, and juice the same, if all a New Yorker did following the introduction of the fat-tax was swap some sodas for milks or juice liquid calories won't change (and neither will weight).

Now I can't imagine Dr. Daines doesn't "get it", I think he probably figured it'd be best to try to dumb things down.

Problem is dumbing things down when it comes to calories is just plain dumb. If New Yorkers who watch Dr. Daines think that soda has magically bad calories and milk and juice magically good ones they're missing the really important take home point - liquid calories aren't satiating and we drink too many of them.

The message really has to be, don't drink your calories. Too bad Dr. Daines blew the opportunity to hammer that home.



[Hat tip to one of my favourite nutritional economists Parke Wilde]

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I hope you gained weight over the holidays


That's what I'm telling my patients.

Frankly I think for many (certainly not all), significant losses over Christmas and New Years carry a worse prognosis than small gains.

Why?

Simple.

To lose weight over Christmas and New Year for many would require an overly strict approach, a slap-your-wrist, wish you could have seconds, damn that stupid pie, type approach. An approach otherwise known as a "diet".

"Diets" by definition are temporary.

Lifestyles are forever.

Life includes Christmas.

Hope you enjoyed yours.

(And if you did lose, don't feel guilty, just ask yourself if you were reasonably indulgent and if not, perhaps loosen your reins just a touch)

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Monday, January 05, 2009

French-Fried Hot Dogs?


I need a softball post to get back to blogging and thanks to my favourite blogging anaesthetist Joe, I've got one.

Introducing this year's first Frankenfood, straight from South Korea - the french-fried hot dog.

I imagine that whatever evil technology was used to fuse the fries to the dogs will soon be used to make french-fried lots of other stuff.

Hope you all had great holidays - look for some more figuratively meaty posts later this week.

[Hat tip to Joe via The Last Appetite blog]

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