Yup, that uplifting subject is today's Funny Friday (courtesy of the Onion News Network).
Remember Fridays I take big swigs of mirth rather than vitriol.
(And email subscribers if you want to watch, click the link in the email to bring you back to the blog.)
Have a great weekend!
Friday, February 27, 2009
Yup, that uplifting subject is today's Funny Friday (courtesy of the Onion News Network).
Thursday, February 26, 2009
So far it's only in the experimental phase but playing off the recipe of french-fried hotdogs which I blogged about a ways back some enterprising lad has decided to french-fry bacon.
I must say, it actually looks like it would taste good but then again, I'm a sucker for bacon (don't tell my god).
That said, here is the quote from the inventor regarding taste,
"I feel ill and so very, very dirty"[Hat tip to Rob our fitness director via The Last Appetite where there are a few more images for you to enjoy]
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Fleurbaix and Laventie, France - combined population 57,819. Not exactly the big time, not exactly household names - yet.
Why might that change? Because they are perhaps the only two towns in the world where childhood obesity rates are in fact dramatically declining.
What's their secret? Special mineral springs? Treadmills instead of desks? A fast food ban? 10 hours of phys-ed a day?
Education - lots of it, to many different players.
In Fleurbaix and Laventie healthy living education began in 1992 and for 5 years schools were recruited to teach children about characteristics of foods and nutrients, healthy eating habits, food processing and food labelling in lessons that were implemented throughout the teaching syllabus (not just in gym or home economics). Teachers at the school were trained by dietitians. There was no focus placed at this time on physical activity. Impressively classes were augmented with cross-cutting initiatives including cooking classes, visits to farms, visits to supermarkets and dietitian monitored school based family breakfast programs. This first stage was meant to last for 5 years only but given the success of the program, it's still running today.
The second stage began in 1997 and continued through 2002 and while it was meant to simply be an observational period, as the teaching from stage one became more pervasive, community involvement continued to grow. So much so that in 1999 two dietitians were employed to perform school interventions and also to present to town councils and other adult meetings. The town councils in turn started to support actions in favour of physical activity, built new sporting facilities, hired new sport educators, and created walking schoolbus programs while family activities started to focus on fitness and various local stakeholders (GPs, pharmacists, shopkeepers, sporting and cultural associations etc) set up further family activities that focused on healthy living.
From 2002 through 2007 intervention entered the home whereby a free home based healthy living checkup was offered to 3,000 residents (a full 5% of the population). The visit included blood testing, a clinical exam and a questionnaire aimed at screening for unhealthy habits. Individuals thus identified to be at risk were offered family oriented advice delivered by a dietitian on healthy eating and physical activity and if necessary were referred to a GP for specific health issues (including childhood obesity).
Over the 14 years of study the local media became involved and multiple newsletters and press releases supported the project. As a whole 212 articles appeared in local newspapers, 190 in the medical press, 208 in the national press and there were 25 television reports and 75 radio reports.
In 2005 childhood obesity rates in the control towns (and much of the UK) had reached a staggering 17.8%.
In Fleurbaix and Laventie?
What Fleurbaix and Laventie did was what has been missing from every other public health intervention I've ever come across. They treated this as a disease of the environment, rather than a disease of the individual.
Every public health professional interested in obesity should be encouraged to read this paper and study the interventions put forth in Fleurbaix and Laventie. We need to start pressing for similar changes yesterday.
(Want to know what Canada has done? We've created a food guide that ignores calories and recommends far too much food, spent $5 million on television advertisements that in isolation tell people they ought to exercise more and we have a Public Health Agency that explicitly and purposely refuses to label obesity a disease. Think we're in trouble? International readers if you're wondering about the TV commercials, here's a parody that sums them up pretty quickly:)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Simple - they're invited to the table and once there they're able to extend their considerable influence and spin on the proceedings (how many public citizens, scientists, doctors or dietitians have teams of PR folks and scientists helping craft their messages?).
I've blogged about this a great deal in the past and commented on how bad an idea it is to bring people with a vested interest in national food policy to the table when trying to develop new national food policies.
Rather than go through all that again I strongly encourage you to spend 6 minutes of your morning watching the following video. It does a great job covering just who it is who attends and gets involved in the consultations surrounding national food policy development.
While this particular video deals with American school lunch programs, rest assured this video could have been filmed at every "public" consultation surrounding Canada's Food Guide and of course the non-public, stakeholder invited consultations as well.
(Thanks to Marion Nestle for featuring the video on her blog)
Monday, February 23, 2009
I read a fascinating piece in the New York Times a few weeks ago. It was about a new online service that allows you to place monetary bets regarding your ability to meet your own specified lifestyle goals. Bets may range from quitting smoking, quitting drinking, spending less, studying more etc., but one of the most popular categories are weight loss bets.
Every week you fail to meet your goals the site bills your credit card and then holds your money in escrow until the end of your challenge. Who gets your money then is up to you. You can of course set up bets whereby you've challenged a friend and the winner takes all, or you can allocate it to charity but more interestingly you also set it up so that the money goes an "anti"-charity (someone you'd hate to see your money go to).
The site, StickK.com is the brainchild of Yale professors Dean Karlan and Ian Ayres who had done research on how contractual committments helped with both smoking cessation and weight loss and with the help of a graduate student of theirs, set up the site.
I think it's a brilliant website and certainly for some may help them getting that last little bit of motivation to finally do whatever it is they've now entered into a binding contract to do.
Who'd be your "anti"-charity. Not too tough to figure out who mine might be.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Are you so regularly happy that you annoy all the people around you?
If so, there's hope - it's called Despondex and an Onion News Network report is today's Funny Friday (beware, minor cursing in the video).
Have a great weekend!
(Given that there are a great many new subscribers - Fridays are my day off being irritated. Usually I post a video or story that I find amusing. Videos need to be watched on the blog itself and you can get there by clicking the title in the email)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Have I ever mentioned how much I love Brian Wansink?
I love him even more today for his most recent study. Very simple, very elegant and very telling.
What did he do?
He took all 7 editions of the Joy of Cooking cookbook, identified the 18 recipes that were consistently included in all editions, and then examined the portion sizes of the resultant recipes.
What did he find?
"The average calorie increase in 18 classic American recipes has increased 35.2 percent per serving over the past 70 years. Part of this is due to the use of more caloric ingredients and part to serving sizes that showed small increases in the late 1940s and early 1960s, but showed a 33.2% increase since 1996"Even more evidence that it's about the calories going in much more so than the calories going out.
If you want to read it, the ever lovely and always brilliant Marion Nestle is hosting it on her blog's server over here.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Wow, the editorial sure made a splash.
Of course editorials are brief and points always need to be limited so I just wanted to take a few moments and flesh this out some more.
Plainly put we need to protect consumers from weight management fraud, but where weight management differs from other areas is that the problems are more real and the people, more vulnerable. No one would care if you bought a shammy from Vince from Sham-Wow and it didn't work - $19.99 (or whatever it is) and no harm done. Here there's harm.
Obesity and overweight contribute dramatically to morbidity, mortality, reduced quality of life, social stigma and bias and both direct and indirect health care expenditures. Media, governments, physicians all hammer home the notion that weight has major risk and it would be healthy to lose it. Of course by not telling people where to go, consumers may find themselves in programs or buying products that they purchased due to overtly fraudulent or misleading claims.
The harm is not only in consumers being swindled into non-evidence based and likely non-sustainable approaches, not just to their pocket books that in many cases will end up much, much lighter, the harm is that those same individuals who are clearly in a state of change involving readiness, likely won't be at that same state once they've failed a program that itself was a failure - they'll blame themselves and be less likely to trust or seek out further help.
The call to action in the Journal is simple and it's a no brainer really - if you're going to make a claim about a product, pill or potion to treat obesity, if you can't back up your claim with evidence you shouldn't be allowed to make it.
With allied health professionals I'll go one step further. While Vince from Sham-Wow might be able to get away with outlandish claims, allied health professionals are not, or at least should not be able to. Physicians, dietitians, chiropractors etc., are all governed by the Heath Care Act and as such we are not allowed to make claims that are fraudulent or misrepresent the evidence base. Consequently I'll throw down my gauntlet to the Colleges of various health care professionals and state that it is their immediate and direct responsibility to protect the public from the myriad of health professionals currently sullying the good names of their respective Colleges and preying on the public that in too many cases trusts them too much.
Unfortunately doctors too can be unscrupulous.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Yesterday the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an editorial I co-authored with my friend, colleague and fellow blogger Dr. Arya Sharma (here's his Obesity Notes blog).
The editorial very simply calls on both the medical establishment and governments to put an end to the shady practices that permeate the commercial weight loss industry.
I will likely post more thoughts on this tomorrow but for today I'd like to provide you with a top ten list. Ensure that all ten items are true for any program you're considering and if they're not, you might want to consider another program or at the very least, speak to your physician about it before enrolling.
- The program is not a one-size-fits-all diet, and has individualized nutritional, exercise and behavioural components.
- Nutritional advice is provided by a physician or a registered dietitian
- Exercise is encouraged and physical activity is promoted at a gradual, rather than at an injury-inducing rapid pace
- Reasonable weight loss goals are set encouraging at most a 3lb per week pace and the program does not promise, "guarantee" or imply dramatic, rapid, weight-loss as an outcome
- The program does not require large sums of money at the start or make clients sign contracts for expensive, long-term programs without the option of at least partial refunds (which you should discuss with them before enrolling)
- The program does not promote diets lower than 800 Calories daily and if less than 1200 daily are supervised by a physician.
- The program does not require the use or purchase of any products, supplements, vitamins or injections
- The program does not make outlandish claims such as, “you will only lose fat” or that they are able to, “target” problem areas.
- The program has an established maintenance program optionally available
- The program provides you with statistics that include the percentage of clients who drop out, the average percentage of weight loss and the average weight loss sustained following completion of their maintenance program.
Monday, February 16, 2009
(Yes, I know "you're" is spelled wrong in the graphic. Too bad I'm not technical enough to fix it)
Who's Sally Brown?
She's the CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
She was also the head of Ontario's Trans-fat Task Force which back in 2006 called for a regulatory approach to the removal of trans-fats from our food supply.
Sally was a strong proponent of such an approach as evidenced by these soundbites gleaned from the press of the day,
"The problem is, without regulations, we won't get everyone on board and it's harder to get product changes. Unlike french fries, with something like doughnuts and chocolate bars, you have to take it out of the formulation which is more difficult. We needed regulations uniform across both sectors"Imagine my surprise then when in late 2007 Sally Brown rolled over and congratulated Tony Clement for giving Big Food a 2 year free pass to try to voluntarily remove trans fats from the food supply!
Sally Brown, Vancouver Sun Nov. 1st, 2006
"Trans fats are a "toxic" killer that need to be removed from the food chain as soon as possible"
"We know that the government is taking our recommendations very seriously, but we also know that they're getting some push back from industry who traditionally don't like regulatory approaches"
"Our argument is, if you don't regulate it, it'll be piecemeal"
"We also say that by regulating it, you're sending a signal to the marketplace to ... create healthier oils."
"We think we've given the government a great opportunity to implement what was a consensus report," she said. "[The food industry] supported all the recommendations, they're ready to act. Now we need the government to act."
Sally Brown, National Post Jan. 11th, 2007
"could account for between 3,000 and 5,000 Canadian deaths annually from heart disease"
"The longer we wait, the more illness and in fact death will happen, so we know we have to get it out of our food supply"
"There is no safe amount of trans consumption, but many of these foods are well past recommended limits."
Sally Brown, The Windsor Star, Jun. 5, 2007
It lead me in multiple postings to chant, "Bring Back the Old Sally Brown"!
Well I'm happy to say, she's back!
Last week the Health Canada's Trans-Fat Monitoring Program proved the old Sally Brown right in that voluntary trans-fat reduction was piecemeal and that Big Food was doing a dismal job of doing it on their own. Excitingly, unlike every other Health Canada Trans-Fat Monitoring press release this one was not accompanied by Sally Brown's apologist stance and wait and see attitude, this one had her stating this,
"Although some companies and sectors have stepped up to the plate and done well, overall the food industry is not sufficiently reducing trans fats voluntarily.Welcome back Old Sally Brown!
"So our view is this data seems to be suggesting quite strongly that it's not going to happen without regulation"
Shame though that during these past two years of wait and see pandering to Big Food, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation's own estimates, Health Canada's voluntary free pass lead directly to the deaths of between 4,000 and 6,000 Canadians.
[You might notice a new feature in my sidebar - it's a countdown timer to the official 2 year mark set by the then Health Minister as to when regulations will be employed if voluntary efforts fail. Anyone care to wager as to how long AFTER the countdown's finished we see a regulated effort?]
Friday, February 13, 2009
So what if you take an 80s video, cut out all the lyrics and then dub back in a literal description of what's going on in the video?
Well it makes Funny Friday on February 13th, 2009.
Have a great weekend!
(As always, email subscribers you need to visit the blog to view - just click on the link at the top of the email)
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Readers of my blog may remember my post detailing the press release where the headline sounded alarm bells about Canadian women battling with body image and then proceeded to call on the Canadian women reading the press release to explore their own, "problem areas" and specifically look for,
"muffin tops to thunder thighs, from junk in the trunk to flabby arms"I also referred to Nadeen Boman, she's the trainer quoted in the press release and the trainer on the Slice TV shows, "Bulging Brides" and, "The Last 10lbs Bootcamp".
Nadeen read my piece and left a thoughtful comment (scroll down through the linked post (it'll open in a new window) to get to the comment).
Now I've got nothing against Nadeen and she's certainly entitled to her opinion and her approach.
Me, I think Bulging Brides and The Last 10lbs Bootcamp encapsulate everything that's wrong about society and its approach to weight management, nutrition and healthy living.
I also think Nadeen's got a serious case of cognitive dissonance if she can in the same sentence no less, describe the existence of the show's "Aisle of Shame" as part of a process that "encourages a guilt-free attitude".
So now you know what Nadeen and I think - what do you think? Have you watched the show? Do you think it fosters a healthy attitude towards health and life in general? Leave us your comments, I'm sure we'll both be reading.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Anyone here familiar with the Greek myth of Milo? So the story goes,
"Milo of Croton was born in the sixth century B.C. in southern Italy, won the boys' wrestling Olympic Games in 540 B.C., and went on to victory in five consecutive Olympics.My guess is that the folks who work for Palos Sports a Chicago based sporting good distributor might have taken that myth literally.
Some modern athletic coaches consider Milo the father of resistance training, the process of lifting heavier and heavier weights to build strength. This stems from another legend: As a youth, Milo carried a newborn ox on his shoulders. As Milo grew, the ox grew; the load got heavier and Milo's muscles became stronger."
Well last week they issued a press release detailing their,
"Operation Pull Your Own Weight"Their premise?
I'll let their website do the talking (caplocks are theirs),
"1. Kids who can do pull-ups, ARE NEVER OBESE.Ummm, I think someone needs to help these folks with the principles of cause and effect.
2. Using a Height Adjustable Pull Up Bar and Leg Assisted Pull Ups, (pulling and jumping at the same time) ALMOST ALL KIDS can develop the ability to do conventional pull-ups.
3. Which is to say, ALMOST ALL KIDS can naturally immunize themselves against obesity for a lifetime, without pills, shots, or fancy diets, by simply developing, and maintaining the ability to do pull ups."
Oh, and logic too.
Here's some comparably brilliant "logic" sure to blow Operation Pull your Own Weight guys' minds:
1. All astronauts are mammals.
2. Monkeys are mammals.
3. All astronauts are monkeys.
I'm guessing they call NASA the instant they read this.
By dumbing down obesity into an argument that includes a truism with misappropriated causality the individuals behind this effort do more harm than good.
Now normally I wouldn't bother posting about something like this. It's just so unbelievably stupid it almost isn't worth mention. Yet somehow this organization has managed to actually make noise with a piece having appeared in the Chicago Tribune...a positive piece no less. (if you want an entertaining read, head over to the piece and read the comments)
Oh, and if you're wondering what might be motivating these folks? They sell sporting goods equipment to schools and schoolyards for doing pull-ups.
[Hat tip to Travis from Obesity Panacea]
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Damn you Humanscale!
Damn you for making such a ridiculously comfortable chair.
Some brief background.
I've got a bad back. MRI shows disc herniations at L4-L5, L5-S1 and when it's "out" I'm a complete mess. I get shooting pain down my right leg and suffer with terrible muscle spasms in my lower back. I don't sleep well, I can't pick up my kids, exercise, etc.
It went "out" last June. By the fall I was desperate. I had another MRI to ensure there wasn't something growing in there and when that came back negative I decided it couldn't hurt to research my options in office ergonomics.
For anyone who's looked into their options for chairs and keyboard trays etc., you'll know that the options are not cheap.
My research online brought me to two chairs - the Humanscale Freedom and the Humanscale Liberty.
Contacting the company brought me to Mr. Joel Howey who kindly brought by one chair a week for test sits.
I opted for the Freedom, much to the chagrin of our Director of Operations who was nonplussed about spending nearly $1,000 on a chair. His measure of whether or not it was a good purchase was whether or not I ever opted to buy one for my home.
Fast forward to now. My back is back "in". I'm exercising again and completely functional. Yet whenever I work at home, and I mean literally every single time, within half an hour of sitting in my chair (an Obus Forme) I start getting shooting pain down my right leg and an hour of work usually translates to 2-4 hours of pain. I've adjusted it every which way I can think of to no avail.
So last week I shelled out my own dough to pick up another Humanscale Freedom. This weekend I worked away, pain free.
Damn you Humanscale for making the greatest chair on earth so darn expensive.
Worth every penny.
[If you're in the Ottawa region and would like to deal with an exemplary company and customer service representative feel free to contact Joel Howey at Jhowey@humanscale.com or call him on his cell at 613.218.3383. For further proof of just how good the service is, Joel was at my home on Saturday morning at 9:00am replacing a bolt that had disappeared during shipping - no charge. If his bosses are reading this, give him a raise!]
Monday, February 09, 2009
So a few weeks ago the second annual "Salt Lick Award" was announced.
The Salt Lick Award is the dubious honour conferred by the Canadian Stroke Network, the Canadian Obesity Network and the Advanced Foods and Materials Network to the producer of a food with an obscene amount of salt.
This year's award was given as a whole to the country's commercial pizza producers including Boston Pizza where it was reported in the Salt Lick press release,
"Two slices (284 grams total) of a large Rustic Italian pizza at Boston Pizza contain 2,580 mg of sodium"(or about 1,000 mg more than an adult's daily recommended daily maximum)
Boston Pizza of course is a restaurant that's part of the ridiculous Heart and Stroke Foundation misinformation Health Check program whereby certain items on the menu are given a Health Check seal of approval including items containing as much as 1,220mg of sodium (the Thai chicken wrap) or almost a full day's worth.
So in essence Boston Pizza capitalizes on the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Health Check program to bring customers through the door, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation capitalizes on the dollars paid for by Boston Pizza for the endorsement along with the increased exposure. While you might want to make an argument that at least they'll have "healthier" choices if patrons order a Health Check'ed item, given how much sodium the Health Check program allows, a comparative analogy would be the Lung Association profiting off their endorsement of "light" cigarettes (if they're going to smoke anyway....).
Having far more experience that I'd care to admit in understanding how the Health Check program operates and the players behind, it I'd be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that when the Canadian Stroke Network and friends put out their Boston Pizza mentioning press release that someone from the Heart and Stroke Foundation called them to complain, as the bad press might affect the business of a Health Check participant.
And really, it is about business. Exhibit number two is the current promotion being put forth by Boston Pizza themselves whereby you can order heart shaped pizzas with some proceeds going to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
I guess Boston Pizza's trying to protect its customer base by ensuring the dollars flow to an organization who supposedly is there to help prevent heart disease.
Ironic that the Heart and Stroke Foundation try to "prevent" it by encouraging unhealthy eating in restaurants.
[Want more irony? Here's the Heart and Stroke Foundation's own press release calling for a maximal daily sodium consumption of 1,500mg and here's one where the Foundation recommends that you eat out less frequently.]
Friday, February 06, 2009
A doctor on his morning walk noticed a very pretty older lady sitting on her front step smoking a cigar, so he walked up to her and said, 'I couldn't help noticing how happy you look! What is your secret?'Have a great weekend!
'I smoke ten cigars a day,' she said. 'Before I go to bed, I smoke a nice big joint. Apart from that, I drink a whole bottle of Jack Daniels every week, and eat only junk food. On weekends, I pop pills, get laid, and do no other
exercise at all.'
'That is absolutely amazing! How old are you?'
'Twenty-four,' she replied.
[Hat tip to my friend and fellow Single Malt Book Club member David L.]
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Here's how I figure:
2,000,000 people ate an almost 800 calorie breakfast.
For the sake of argument I'm assuming that such a breakfast will cause most who consumed it to have exceeded their daily calorie needs by at least 400 calories.
2,000,000 x 400 calories / 3500 calories per lb = 228,571 lbs.
Oh, and each free breakfast also provided the recipient with more than a day's worth of sodium (almost 10,000lbs of the stuff for the nation!).
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Well if Bulging Brides is any indication, not so much.
Bulging Brides is a Canadian "reality" TV show that you guessed it, tries to help brides lose some weight pre-wedding.
According to this piece not only did the show misrepresent itself to a former participant, it also fabricated drama for the sake of the show.
Cathy Snow was originally recruited to be on a show she was told was entitled, "Buff Brides" and apparently was horrified when she learned that she was to be featured on a show that was actually called, "Bulging Brides",
"They portrayed me as an overindulgent pig, like all I do is eat my face out. They send you down the ‘aisle of shame’. They basically doubled what I ate and drank. They planted things in my cupboards. You know the whole time what’s happening. I’m a normal-sized person who eats a normal diet, but they need to make it good TV watching."So what does the show have to say for itself?
Mea culpa according to one of the show's producers,
"The food diary, the ones [days] we choose to illustrate could be a worst-case scenario.…To be honest, we always pick the day where she’s like, ‘Oh my God! Did I eat that?’ If the audience thinks that’s what she eats for every meal, well...."Snow reports that once everything was said and done she didn't regret her experience on Bulging Brides. She also reports gaining back the weight she'd lost. No shocker there given that the show's hosts and "experts" (note the sarcastic quotes), Tommy Europe and Nadeen Boman rely on the classically useless exercise-like-stink and eat-far-too-little short term diet.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
In this month's Journal of the American Dietetic Association there's an elegant little paper that generates a none too surprising conclusion.
The paper details a randomized study whereby subjects were given a lunch meal which began with their being provided 0.5, 1.0 or 1.5 "portions" of pasta. They were then allowed to continue to eat as much pasta as they wanted following the preload consumption.
Being told you just ate 1.5 "portions" of pasta doesn't influence how much pasta you'll continue to eat afterwards or how full you'll feel.
According to the study subjects felt that the term "portion size" referred to the,
"standardised index of the nutritional content of a food/meal, rather than as an index by which to estimate personal food intake"So you mean people don't eat a third of a cookie if that's what the bag's "serving size" states?
Monday, February 02, 2009
Writing this blog has led to my inclusion in the press release launches of diet, weight and for some reason beauty related products.
Mostly they're ridiculous and honestly I question the wisdom of the folks who include me in their diet-centric mailings - did they ever bother to actually read my blog?
Anyhow, last week I received this press release. The headline read,
"Yikes! 1 of 3 Canadian Women Battling Body Image"and I admit it did what a good headline ought to - it had me reading the next line.
I assumed of course it would be somehow related to a means to cultivate a healthier body image, or perhaps pointing me to a commentary on fat-ism.
Instead I got this line,
"The mirror doesn’t lie. From muffin tops to thunder thighs, from junk in the trunk to flabby arms, Canadian women say they don’t like what they see."So Canadian women - to improve your body image look for "problem areas" in the mirror, eat meal replacement bars and take nutritional and workout advice from Nadeen Boman - someone whose career has been built on berating womens' bodies and providing them with ridiculous, non-sustainable, workouts and diets.
Gee, I wonder why Canadian women battle body image issues? Could it be that press releases like this one and grotesque TV shows such as Nadeen Boman's Slice Networked Bulging Brides and The Last Ten Pounds Bootcamp contribute to the development of unhealthy body images in Canadian women?