Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Advocacy via the public or via industry?


I had a meeting yesterday morning with a very nice, very well respected, and very well connected physician and public health advocate.

We were chatting about how I may be able to help him out in his endeavours and of course we chatted about health advocacy in general.

It turns out we come at things from two sides of the same coin. He thinks we need to pressure industry to affect changes to trickle down to the consumer (change the environment) while I think we need to pressure the consumer to increase awareness and knowledge to trickle up to industry to affect change (change the environment).

Of course both are good ideas and plans and I'm certainly not sure which is better.

Me?

I'd like to see nutrition taught better in schools to indoctrinate our children regarding the importance of food and health. I don't want there to be whole courses dedicated to boring kids about food and making them hate learning about nutrition, instead I want to see nutrition insidiously rolled out the entire curriculum, from reading comprehension exercises, to math problems, to healthy foods being served in cafeterias, nutritional information posted on cafeteria menu boards, unhealthy food policies abolished (junk food fundraising), and the truth of energy balance being effectively addressed (to explain how it's not a level playing field and that intake matters far more than output ultimately to weight).

Why?

Because I don't think industry believes in health altruism. They're not going to, on their own volition, recommend that vending machines be removed from schools. They're not going to recommend that we ban advertising towards children, they're not going to recommend that governments encourge the consumption of less food. And why should they? Their job is to sell food and make profits for their shareholders.

What will industry respond to? Consumer demand and governmental regulation.

Consumer demand wise look no further than the recent ban on bPA in baby bottles. Regulation wise look no further than California. California mandated that calories be placed on menus and suddenly restaurant calories are getting makeovers. Salads that had 1,270 calories suddenly have 390 and Denny's rolls out lower calorie Grand Slams.

I believe that demand is a function of awareness and that neither industry nor government is going to act without the public being behind an idea.

To boot you just watch what happens over the next 5 years with both industry and regulatory approaches to sodium, trans-fat and posted calories because suddenly the public wants to see those things change.

At the end of the day there's need and value for both approaches and I'm thrilled that there are folks out there fighting the good fight.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

3 Cheers for Cancer Project Dietitian Krista Haynes!


She should start a blog!

I just came across an op-ed piece she wrote that was published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in October last year. In it she works the argument that providing processed meat to children in schools is tantamount to schools handing out cigarettes.

Click the link above and see what you think of her arguments.

Me? I'm right beside her.

(the Heart and Stroke Foundation not so much as processed meats are still a category of foods to which they award their hellacious Health Check).

I wonder if she wants to move to Canada - we're looking for another dietitian!

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Monday, September 28, 2009

iPhone's new killer app food diary


Got an iPhone?

If you do and you want to track calories then there's a new kid on the block that may help. It's called Food Scanner and the premise is simple, all you've got to do is use your iPhone to scan a bar code or you can type in a food name and presto, nutritional information.

According to the creators there are already over 200,000 different foods in their database and you can of course add your own if they're not there.

For my Canadian readers, it may be worth contacting the folks at the Daily Burn to find out if it works with Canadian bar codes (does anyone know if they differ from the US?).

$0.99

If you want to see it in action you can watch the video.

(Oh, and I've got to say, while this may be the first such app for the iPhone, I can say with some certainty that it won't be the last with future apps not only able to track your food but also able to suggest healthier alternatives when you're shopping. Will cover that app when it launches.)



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Friday, September 25, 2009

Why Government rarely works

Today's Funny Friday may not be so funny to anyone who's ever had to participate, care or watch governmental committees trying to figure out what they ought to do.

Have a great weekend!

(Remember email subscribers you've got to go to the blog to watch the video)



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Thursday, September 24, 2009

A personal request for help.


Today I'm taking a day off nutrition blogging to ask you for your help.

On October 4th I'm running in the CIBC Run for the Cure, a charity run supporting breast cancer research.

Last year 55 communities and 170,000 Canadians participated and together helped to raise $28.5 million for breast cancer research, education and awareness programs.

I've been doing the Run for the Cure for years now and while it's true that there are many worthy charities and causes out there, one of the reasons I love the Run is because of the day itself. Tens of thousands of Canadians in cities across the country join together fostering an incredible sense of community. It's a day to be active with your family, a day to teach your children about the importance of giving, and of perseverance, and of kindness.

This year my two "older" daughters (5 and 2.5) will be doing the run themselves for the first time while my wife and I push our baby. The big girls are excited to run with mom and dad and we're excited to start teaching them about why they're running - not necessarily teaching them about breast cancer but more about helping people, charity, making a difference and never giving up.

If you're a regular reader of my blog (or even just a passer-by) you'll know that I put a tremendous amount of work into my daily posts. I do it because I love to do it. My blog's not monetized (and never will be) and doesn't have ridiculous ads promoting dubious weight loss solutions and nobody pays me for my opinion.

All that said, if you enjoy my blog, please consider donating to my Run for the Cure efforts.

To donate click the pink button below which will take you to the CIBC Run for the Cure website. You can choose to give anonymously, you can use a credit card and if you donate more than $10, you'll receive a tax receipt.

Click here to donate!

Thank you and back to normal programming tomorrow.

Sincerely,
Yoni

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What do you call the person who graduates last in their medical school class?


I'll get to the answer in a minute but first let me tell you about the most jaw-droppingly, mind-numbingly, stupid weight loss invention I've ever had the displeasure of coming across.

It's called the Chugay Tongue Patch and is named after its inventor, plastic surgeon Dr. Nikolas Chugay.

The premise is simple. Dr. Chugay sews a postage stamp sized "patch" onto your tongue. The patch,

"makes chewing of solid foods very difficult and painful, limiting the patient to a liquid diet."
Yes, Dr. Nikolas Chugay believes that the answer to weight loss lies in causing his patients to experience physical pain.

I wanted to learn a little bit more about Dr. Chugay because I was having a really hard time with the concept that an actual physician was misguided enough to believe that he could help his patients by creating a "yes pain, no gain" weight loss aid so I decided to head over to his RateMDs page. There I learned that of the 6 people who rated him he received an average score of 1/5 with comments like,
"I regret the day I ever heard about this so-called doctor forever."

"I have a broken looking, crooked nose that I need to fix by having a reconstructive surgery recommended by three other doctors that were amazed how badly Chugay has ruined my nose."

"He is a ****. He is the worst thing could happen to you."

"Do Not let him touch you even for free."

"I will not recommend him to my worst enemies."
Which brings me back to the joke, "What do you call the guy who graduates last in their class in medical school?"

Unfortunately you call him Doctor.

[Hat tip to my friend Julie Deardorff from the Chicago Tribune who first showed me the "miracle patch" and who got me at my snarkiest for her blog]

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Calling all Canadian Dietitians!

I need your help!

My office, the Bariatric Medical Institute needs a part time dietitian.

Our current part-timer Candace is getting tired of working two jobs and because she's really enjoyed working with us she was kind enough to give us "unlimited" notice and while selfishly I'd love to make that about two years, I don't think that'd be particularly fair.

If you're a dietitian in Canada and you or someone you know might want to work with us, please pop me an email and pass this post along far and wide!

Right now we're only looking for 6 hours/week to start but given our plans for the near future, we suspect that number will grow by the New Year and certainly has the long term potential to morph into a full time job.

As far as job description goes, here's the ad we took out when we found Candace:

The Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa, a multi-disciplinary holistic weight management office that includes medical doctors, personal trainers, registered dietitians and a clinical psychologist is looking for a part-time dietitian to join our professional and unique team.

We are looking for someone who loves working with people, is great at multi-tasking, is a team player, thrives off of challenge and responsibility and wants to utilize his or her skills in making a dramatic positive difference in people’s lives. Our office is incredibly unique in that enrollment in our program provides patients with unlimited access to dietetic counseling and therefore you’ll have all the time in the world to actually steer people towards healthier lifestyles.

Responsibilities will include:

  • Collaboration with multidisciplinary team members
  • Positive and non-restrictive approach to weight management
  • One-on-one counseling sessions to motivate and help patients live the healthiest they can.
  • Perform group discussions for general nutrition
  • Design individualized nutrition plans based on each individuals’ unique lifestyles, metabolic rates and dietary likes and dislikes.


  • The skills you’ll need:

  • Exceptionally strong motivational counseling skills
  • Must have excellent listening skills, empathetic and sensitive to patient’s needs. We do not ever utilize negative reinforcement in our counseling.
  • Able to adapt nutrition advice to recent scientific research with thoughtful critical appraisal
  • Must be innovative and give patients realistic and helpful nutrition advice
  • Comfortable giving presentations
  • Possess sound professional judgment, initiative and enthusiasm
  • Good time management skills and ability to organize
  • Good computer skills


  • The requirements we’re looking for:

  • B.Sc in Nutrition
  • Completed dietetic internship
  • Member of governing provincial dietetic body and in good standing

    Working with us you will have access to a full gym facility as well as shower and change rooms. Physical activity and healthy living are the primary focus of our work and therefore we view your active lifestyle as a great asset.

    You will be starting with a fixed number of part time hours and our offered hourly wage is highly competitive. More importantly, the position has ample room for growth into a future full time position.

    We look forward to meeting with you.


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    Heath Canada's latest failure hits mothers, babies and pocketbooks.


    According to a report written by Canwest reporter Sarah Schmidt, Health Canada has rejected calls from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to restrict infant-formula manufacturers from printing undeserved health claims on their products.

    The claim in question has to do with the addition of DHA which is touted to support healthy brain development. Currently Health Canada allows formula manufacturers to include a DHA related health claim even if the formula only contains smelling salt amounts.

    According to Sarah's article, in the EU such a claim could only be made if the fatty acid content of the formula is at least 0.3% DHA as this would be the amount required to be consistent with the studies supporting its use. According to the CFIA there are formulas being sold in Canada that contain as little as 0.1%.

    Sarah reports that in a letter obtained from an access to information request (click the photo at the top to see part of it) the CFIA pleaded with Health Canada to set a minimum DHA level if a manufacturer wanted to make a claim, with the letter stating,

    "It is unfortunate that the Health Canada is removing the proposed revision to require that a food actually contain a significant (source) amount of the nutrient that is subject to the claim, otherwise you end up with situations like this one where a big deal is made about a food containing what appears to be a significant amount of a nutrient.

    I would question how a biological role claim could be generally recognized as an aid in an organic function without some source level established as part of the generally recognized role
    "
    So what did Health Canada do with CFIA's well grounded concerns and their request that claims only be allowable on products with claim based contents consistent with research?

    They denied it.

    By denying the CFIA's request Health Canada has given the green light to infant formula manufacturers to continue to peddle insignificant amounts of DHA as brain/baby enhancing which in turn may have the potential to sway some mothers to think that formula is as good as breast and decrease the time they'd decided to breast feed their infants.

    Gee thanks Health Canada, you're sure doing a swell job.

    (Oh, and guess what, formula with miniscule amounts of DHA costs a heck of a lot more than plain old formula so if you are duped by overly optimistic claims you'll be paying a premium for Health Canada's pandering to industry.)

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    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Danone's latest sexy health claim (sarcasm alert).


    Somehow I don't think you'll be seeing this one on the side of your Activia anytime soon, but not because it isn't true.

    If you remember a while back I observed that if Danone's Activia health claims were really as robust as they like to present them, that perhaps they wouldn't have withdrawn them from consideration in the EU where the rules of proving your claim to be true are much, much more stringent.

    Well Danone's resubmitted a claim all right, but it's not the claim that Activia helps keep you regular, instead it's,

    Fermented milk that contains the probiotic Lactobacillus casei, reduces the presence of Clostridium difficile toxins in the gut, associated with the incidence of acute diarrhoea.”
    Sexy.

    And very possibly true as Danone funded a double blind, placebo controlled trial involving 135 hospitalized patients taking antibiotics and found that only 12% of the probiotic group contracted diarrhoea associated with antibiotic use compared with 34% of the controls.

    So once again I've got to wonder aloud - if their evidence regarding their Activia health claims were as robust as those referred to above, why did they withdraw them from consideration in the EU and why haven't they been resubmitted?

    Hickson, M., D'Souza, A., Muthu, N., Rogers, T., Want, S., Rajkumar, C., & Bulpitt, C. (2007). Use of probiotic Lactobacillus preparation to prevent diarrhoea associated with antibiotics: randomised double blind placebo controlled trial BMJ, 335 (7610), 80-80 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.39231.599815.55

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    Friday, September 18, 2009

    Schadenfreude (I'm a bad man)

    All I know is when I watch today's Funny Friday video suddenly my day doesn't seem as bad.

    Have a great weekend!



    [Hat tip to BMI's fitness director Rob]

    Sorry for the late post!

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    Thursday, September 17, 2009

    Artificial sweeteners help keep it off.


    Not exactly a surprising result, but likely one that will be poo-poo'd by all those who love to vilify artificial sweeteners.

    Researchers in New Zealand studied folks who had successfully lost weight and their dietary consumption patterns. More specifically they looked at folks who had maintained a weight loss of greater than 10% of their weight for 11.5 years and they compared these folks' dietary strategies to folks of similar weights who had never been overweight.

    What unshocking yet valuable results did they find?

    They found that folks who lost the weight had to work harder at their dietary strategies to help keep that weight off than folks who never had weight to lose. Their strategies included consuming fewer calories from fat (though the importance of this one's debatable as the 90s were the low-fat decade and more recent data from the National Weight Control Registry suggest that low-calorie is of course more important than low-fat and can be accomplished many different ways), consuming more of sugar and fat modified foods (reduced fat, reduced sugar), consuming more water, less pop and three times more daily servings of artificially sweetened soft drinks.

    Go figure - folks who are predisposed to weight gain can help themselves keep the weight off by employing dietary strategies to help themselves consume fewer calories.

    Go ahead, drink your diet Coke.

    Phelan, S., Lang, W., Jordan, D., & Wing, R. (2009). Use of artificial sweeteners and fat-modified foods in weight loss maintainers and always-normal weight individuals International Journal of Obesity DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2009.147

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    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Jamie Oliver - the video game?


    You know I love Jamie Oliver.

    I even emailed his publicist once to let them know that if they were ever looking for an outspoken obesity doc to work with him, I'd be there with bells on.

    Anyhow, not to diss Jamie or anything but what's up with What's Cooking? Jamie Oliver, a new game for the Nintendo DS.

    I mean if you've actually got the time to sit and practice "shopping", "chopping" and "dressing the dish" on your Nintendo shouldn't you simply be cooking?

    Not sure where Jamie was going with this license. Let's teach kids to pretend cook? Let's teach kids to experiment in the virtual kitchen where tastings a bit challenging? Let's teach kids to waste their time on a gaming system so that when it's dinner time there'll be no time to actually cook and they'll need to order take out or nuke something? I suspect the point was an interactive cookbook, but given the wealth of online, interactive cooking resources and Jamie's own along with lord knows how many other TV cooking shows, I'd say this is overkill.

    Sorry Jamie, I love your work but this endeavour seems off to me.

    Oh, and if you were wondering if it were a good game, here's what one review had to say,
    "After the first few recipes, you quickly realize that this is a game of rolling through monotonous motions. Long before the game is finished, you will become very bored and have no desire to return."
    Ouch.

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    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Heart and Stroke helps sell Franken-goo to your kids


    In their press release regarding their childhood obesity report the Heart and Stroke Foundation states,

    "The most disappointing finding is the number of children meeting the daily recommendations for fruit and vegetables"
    So I thought it might be illuminating to discuss what the Heart and Stroke's Health Check program considers fruit and why juice sweetened options like "Dole Squish'ems!" are not fruit equivalents.

    Dole Strawberry Squish'ems! come in 90 gram packages. Each package contains 50 calories, 11 grams (nearly 3 teaspoons) of sugar and 1 gram of fibre in a red fruit based goo that you're meant to squish into your mouth.

    Strawberries on the other hand come in self contained berries. An equivalent 90 grams of them contain 29 calories, 4.2 grams of sugar (1 teaspoon) and 1.8 grams of fibre.

    The 2 added teaspoons of sugar and nearly double the calories in the 90 grams of Squish'ems! vs. actual strawberries comes from added sugar, though not the white stuff, instead it's the sugar that comes from adding juice concentrates and fruit purees. Of course it's still just sugar and certainly the addition of fruit juice concentrates will have the same metabolic effects as would the addition of table sugar or high fructose corn syrup (a vegetable based concentrate). I guess the Heart and Stroke Health Check technical advisors skipped that day of school. Great job Heart and Stroke Foundation - I'm sure adding sugar to fruit and berries can only help improve childhood obesity rates.

    Wondering how many strawberries your kid could have for those same 50 calories? 50 calories worth of strawberries would be just over a cup of berries and would still give your kid 1 fewer teaspoon of sugar and triple the fibre of the "no-sugar added", sweetened with juice concentrate, certainly not actual berries, Frankenfood you and/or your unsuspecting children squish into their mouths with the blessing from the Heart and Stroke Foundations' dietitians that it's good for you.

    So clearly berries are far healthier. That said, also important in obesity prevention is satiety. What do you think would be more filling? A bit more than a cup of berries or just over a third of a cup of goo?

    Eat food, not goo!

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    Monday, September 14, 2009

    A doctor other than me bashes the Heart and Stroke kids report.

    Just got an email from my friend and colleague Dr. Barry Dworkin. He hosts a few weekly medical radio programs that are syndicated nationally (Sunday House Call - Sundays from 3-5 EST). He read my blog today and rightly told me that he beat me to the punch last Thursday.

    Click below (email subscribers you may need to head over to the blog) to hear his discussion with Steve Madely regarding the recent Heart and Stroke Foundation report on childhood obesity.

    Thanks for the heads up Barry!





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    Hypocrisy & the Heart and Stroke Foundation's kids report

    Last weeks the Heart and Stroke Foundation released a report on the health of Ontario's children entitled,
    "FAT - Saving a generation before it's too late"
    The report received tremendous press and rightly points out that in the past 10 years we've done an absolutely miserable job of stemming the tide of childhood obesity and it's full of pictures of obese children wearing T-shirts with scary facts. The accompanying press release then spews statistics about how kids these days eat even less fruits and vegetables than they did in the 90s, and in general eat far less fresh food.

    So Freedhoff, where's the hypocrisy? Isn't it true that obesity rates are rising and that kids don't eat well?

    Sure it's true, but the Heart and Stroke Foundation itself discourages the consumption of fresh, healthy food.

    You heard me - the Heart and Stroke Foundation discourages the consumption of fresh healthy food because the Heart and Stroke Foundation effectively discourages cooking.

    How?

    By promoting consumption of boxed foods by adorning them with a health halo that lets you feel good you're not bothering to cook.

    And who do they sell their logo to that scores at most 5 (and usually only 3 or 4) nutritional criteria?

    Anyone.

    Oh, and guess what, Health Check's nutritional criteria, even though in 2006 the Heart and Stroke Foundation identified childhood obesity as "a critical issue for the future health of Ontario" and even though they've just published and promoted their scary report on how your kids aren't going to live as long as you because they're so obese, their nutritional criteria don't include calories.

    So what types of foods get the Health Check logo?
    • Health Checked boxed, highly processed, not fresh, lowest common denominator, white flour, salty, sugar sweetened, too busy or lazy to cook for their family, types of foods.
    • 188 different Health Checked fruit juices with not one warning or proviso that states that medical organizations the world over recommend a 1/2 cup daily juice maximum for young children and 1 cup daily maximum for older ones.
    • Health Checked beef in all shapes and sizes despite its clear cut link to cancer and with no mention or warning regarding the Canadian Cancer Society's recommendation of a 255gram weekly beef maximum.
    • Health Checked processed meats despite the World Cancer Research Fund and the Canadian Cancer Society's warnings that there is virtually no safe amount of processed meat one can consume and therefore it should be limited to, "special occasions, such as ham for a holiday dinner or a hot dog at a sporting event".
    • Health Checked French fries, Fruit Roll Ups, Dole Squish'Ems (see tomorrow's blog), canned fruit and apple sauces - and if you're looking for fresh fruit with Health Checks you'd better get ready to look hard because of the 531 current fruit or vegetable products with Health Checks only 11% are for fresh fruits or vegetables.
    Oh, and in case you didn't notice the Health Check logos on your kids' foods, your kids sure will as Health Check still happily allows for co-advertising with Disney cartoon characters - a kid targeted advertising practice maligned and vilified by everyone who cares about children's health and nutrition. Why drink a healthy beverage when you can get a Health Checked Slushie or sugar-sweetened Buzz Lightyear "milk buddy"?

    Health Check is a healthy eating abomination - it discourages healthy eating, fails to guide Canadians to truly healthy choices, by its nature regularly steers consumers away from even healthier options (if they don't pay, they don't play so if there's a healthier option on the shelf that didn't cough up to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, unless you're a back of label reader you're going to miss it), encourages people not to cook, and still allows for tremendous amounts of even the few criteria they monitor (is there a particular reason why Health Checks are awarded to 17% fat ground beef when 10% extra lean exists or why tomato juices are allowed to provide 480mg or 1/3 of your total daily HSF sodium allotment in 1 cup?).

    If the Heart and Stroke Foundation and its spokespeople were actually sincere in their desire to help our swelling children they'd put an end to Health Check tomorrow and instead focus their significant amounts of time, energy and clout into promoting the importance of decreasing juice and calories, not skipping any meals and snacks, proper exercise nutrition, loudly promoting school cafeteria reform, discouraging the consumption of processed foods and teaching kids and their parents how to actually cook.

    Fat chance there though as Health Check generates millions of dollars for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and despite it's glaring, unforgivable, pathetic shortcomings, they're still actively promoting and expanding it - and in so doing harming the health of Canadian children and guiling parents into thinking that boxed food is nutritious and that cooking fresh, healthy meals isn't necessary.

    And really, it's not as if they don't understand just how grave the situation is. Here's a collection of all of their annual reports' t-shirts.
    "My parents may live longer than I will"
    "28% of kids in Ontario are overweight or obese. And it's not their fault"
    "I've got 3 times greater risk of high blood pressure than kids 20 years ago"
    "My parents care more about my grades than heart disease"
    "If I stop obesity can I keep the $1.8 billion saved in healthcare?"
    "Only 1 out of 10 kids is fit"
    "9 out of 10 kids parents THINK their kids are fit"
    "Inactivity makes me decades older"
    "Too much screen time is GAME OVER for my health"
    "Healthy food feeds my whole body"
    "Build me a sidewalk and I'll walk to school"
    "My Cafeteria needs an urgent Health Check"
    "We should all get in the game"
    "Healthy living is smart. Just check my grades."
    "Let the TV eat by itself. I'm better off eating with my family"
    "Race ya to the park and back"
    "Eat well. Get active. Live longer"
    "I have the right to grow up healthy"
    We deserve better and the Heart and Stroke Foundation's advisers and health professionals know it and so do nutritional professionals the country over - they're just too scared to say anything because the Heart and Stroke Foundation's reach is tremendous. Heart and Stroke Foundation representatives sit on boards of directors of NGOs, provide grants, fund research and help shape Canadian health policy. Perhaps that's why in frank and candid off the record discussions with me I've found academic researchers and nutritional professionals to be uniformly terrified of biting the hand that feeds them despite behind closed doors agreeing that Health Check is awful and likely does more harm than good.

    Too bad too because the hand that hand feeds them offers metabolic syndrome promoting, obesity inducing, diabetes promoting, blood pressure raising, cancer causing, crap.

    [Pathetic, telling and unbelievably sad side note? Their report, "FAT - Saving a generation before it's too late" doesn't include the word "calorie" even once.]


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    Friday, September 11, 2009

    Arnold Schwarzenegger - a dumbbell divining rod


    I probably don't watch enough Jimmy Kimmel.

    He seems like a guy who's got some great observational skills.

    For today's Funny Friday here's Jimmy Kimmel's take an Arnold Schwarzenegger's hidden talent.

    Have a great weekend!



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    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Badvertising: Mott's Fruitsations miracle sauce.



    "Your taste buds and your immune system will thank you."
    Because they've got shares in Cadbury (the owners of the Mott's brand)?

    Because they're not fond of you and like to laugh at you behind your back?

    Because they've got a bet going that they think you're too dense/harried/pre-occupied/distracted/lazy to see through shameful badvertising?

    Am I being too harsh?

    Have I been out of medical school for too long?

    Maybe it's the current standard of practice to prescribe apple sauce to treat a myriad of conditions.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid me.

    All hail apple sauce - purveyor of health, banisher of disease and ambrosia of the gods.

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    Wednesday, September 09, 2009

    Hydroxycut - a case study in scumbaggedness.


    And if that's not a word yet, in this case it should be.

    Remember a few months back when Hydroxycut was pulled from the market because it injured livers and killed people?

    Well guess what?

    It's back!

    And not only is it back but reportedly the only ingredient left from the original formulation is caffeine.

    Pretty neat stuff eh? Bing-bam-boom and a bit of bibbidity bobbidy boo and presto - a new fantastic supplement that, "really works!". Clinical trials are so 1990s!

    So what does it work at?

    Well that's a great question.

    According to Iovate's new Thermogenic Hydroxycut Advanced website, it

    "Boosts Metabolism to Burn Calories"
    How you ask? Well according to the fine print,
    "Increased energy and boosted metabolism to burn more calories is supported by its key ingredient, caffeine"
    So I guess it's like an awesome cup of coffee and yet unlike the box of Thermogenic Hydroxycut Advanced I've never seen a Starbucks cup that brags about its,
    "SCIENTIFICALLY RESEARCHED PRIMARY INGREDIENT".
    So is coffee a weight loss supplement?

    Um, no.

    Is Hydroxycut Thermogenic Advance a weight loss supplement?

    Looking at the box you might think so as right there at the top in big banner letters you'll read,
    "From the makers of America's #1 selling weight-loss supplement brand of 07-08"
    (I'm guessing it was also America's #1 killing brand of 07-08 but somehow that doesn't have the same zing)

    Well guess what, if you read the smaller letters you'll find out that not even Hydroxycut's parent company Iovate calls it a weight loss supplement as in the tiny fine print you'll note they say,
    "It is not a weight control product"
    Yeah, I know, caveat emptor but do remember emptors, what you've got to caveat are scumbags that try to pawn off expensive, overhyped, deceptively marketed neutraceuticals "that really works!" as useful where the only "scientifically researched" ingredient is one you can get in a cup of coffee.

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    Tuesday, September 08, 2009

    Big Food flexes marketing muscles to combat fat taxes



    There are two consumer options for "fat taxes".

    There's disincentive taxation whereby for instance sugar sweetened beverages are taxed so dramatically that it decreases their consumption or there's incentive taxation where a nominal tax is levied to raise money to be spent on educational programs, health food subsidies etc.

    Not surprisingly Big Food's not happy.

    So what are they doing about it?

    Well aside from intense lobbying and pressuring of elected officials they're after your hearts and they're doing it under cover.

    They're calling themselves, "Americans Against Food Taxes", but looking at their About Us page you'll quickly find that they're a collection of who's who in Big Food.

    They've put together an ad campaign meant to paint any type of consumer taxation as governmental quashing of good healthy fun and simple pleasures.

    Looking back at Kelly Brownell and Kenneth Warner's Big Tobacco playbook their initial 30 second ad makes these 3 plays

  • Focus on personal responsibility as the cause of the nation’s unhealthy diet.
  • Raise fears that government action usurps personal freedom.
  • Emphasize physical activity over diet.

  • Don't get duped by slick marketing. While there's certainly room for debate over the merits of fat taxes, it's not in the realm of big bad government ruining your family's ability to enjoy life.


    Brownell KD, & Warner KE (2009). The perils of ignoring history: Big Tobacco played dirty and millions died. How similar is Big Food? The Milbank quarterly, 87 (1), 259-94 PMID: 19298423

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    Monday, September 07, 2009

    Frankenfood - Deep Fried Butter!



    Urghlehhcha.

    Sorry, that was the sound of my breakfast being retched up.

    Yup, someone has invented deep-fried butter.

    My favourite part of the video below? I think it's when the inventor explains it's not as if he's just taking big slabs of butter and then deep frying them and then he just takes big slabs of butter and deep fries them.

    [Hat tip to loyal blog reader Hilary for sending this my way]

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    Friday, September 04, 2009

    Do you really want to send that meal back?

    Warning - this video is meant for my more juvenile readers.

    If juvenile humour doesn't appeal to you, please, please, please, don't watch today's Funny Friday video (and remember, email subscribers you'll need to click the post title to head to the blog to view the video).

    Have a great weekend!



    [Hat tip to Lorne, BMI's Director of Operations]

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    Thursday, September 03, 2009

    World's most affordable treadmill desk!


    $40!

    Treadmill not included.

    It's call the SurfShelf and this thing looks perfect. It's a simple stand that attaches to most treadmills that supports a laptop.

    Walk at 1-2 miles an hour and build up your NEAT while working or pop in DVDs to watch videos while running. p

    It'll also fit recumbent bikes, ellipticals etc.

    Want one?

    Click here!

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    Wednesday, September 02, 2009

    World's Stupidest Childhood Obesity Tie-in?


    At the very least it's in the top three.

    You see childhood obesity intervention sells. It sells magazines, newspapers and apparently it helped sell the concept of a $10 million seal exhibit at an aquarium.

    Say what?

    Yup - the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center recently unveiled its $10 million dollar seal habitat and Move It! program. The program basically involves people, presumably including children, watching seals with the hope that watching seals while the children themselves are either stationary or seated will translate into improved childhood fitness and a reduction in childhood obesity.

    I kid you not.

    Apparently not only will children be able to stand still and watch seals playing actively, they'll also be able to stand still and look at panels around the aquarium that show seal "moves" like stretching, jumping and swimming which encouraging the kids to, "Try it!"

    Here's what Paul Boyle, vice president of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums had to say about this mind-numbing initiative,

    "You can almost see a child in front of the exhibit, gyrating, trying to mimic the seal and saying, 'Well this is pretty cool,'" he said. "Then they go home and they may roll around in the backyard and then they may start to, you know ... run"
    Better not take your kids to a bird sanctuary Paul - they might climb up on the roof and try to fly.

    [Hat tip to my friend and colleague Dr. Sara Kirk]

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    Tuesday, September 01, 2009

    World's Greatest Measuring Cup?


    I can't imagine any other contenders.

    Pour stuff in - digital measurement on handle.

    Not sure about you folks but all my cheapy plastic cups end up having their side printed gradations erase over time.

    It can even do imperial to metric conversions!

    I want one!

    [Via Engadget]

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