Monday, October 31, 2011

Badvertising: Boost - Is it Really "Complete Nutrition"?

You know if you're making health claims and you run your ad often enough, I'll probably get around to checking up on it.

Today's ridiculousness?

Boost. It's made by Nestle Nutrition and they've been advertising like crazy these days with that ad up above being plastered all over multiple Canadian medical journals.

The ad claims the silly dressed up guy in the frog glasses is

"totally serious about complete nutrition",
and that ad suggests that for said "complete nutrition" I should recommend Boost for my patients.

So do I?

Lord no.


First take a moment to peek at Boost's ingredient list:

And now let me ask you, if a beverage starts out with a 237ml glass of water and added to that are 7 teaspoons of sugar and corn syrup, would there be any concoction of vitamins or minerals that you could stir into that glass that would have you believe it'd be a smart choice?

I didn't think so, and yet with 28g of sugar, and sugar and corn syrup being the 2nd and 3rd ingredients after water, that's exactly what you get with Boost, with added sugar accounting for a whopping 47% of Boost's total calories.

So I guess the morale of the story here is that you shouldn't take nutritional recommendations from a clown....or at the very least not from Nestle Nutrition.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Stories - Illusions, weight cycling and Canada's Food Guide

Which Comes First Cardio or Weights' Alex Hutchinson on the "illusion of validity"

Arya on the survival advantage of weight cycling in animals.

And finally Ottawa based trainer Jean-Luc Boisonneault has posted his first video far he reports a great deal of hunger and 7lb weight gain since following Canada's Food Guide for 3 weeks.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Classic Children's Book Goodnight Moon Reprinted as Good Night iPad

Goodnight Moon. You know, the book that makes you scratch your head and wonder why you didn't write it and make millions. Well it's been rewritten for modern times.

Today's Funny Friday is a sneak peek at Goodnight iPad.

Have a great weekend

(Email subscribers,you've got to head to the blog to watch)

[Hat tip to my Mom]

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Weight bias rears its ugly head in Newfoundland

Newfoundland native Andrew Murley has a medical problem. You see Andrew, through lifestyle change, has lost 224lbs, and now he's got folds of hanging skin that are markedly interfering with his quality of life, causing him pain, and putting him at risk for recurrent skin fold infections.

Andrew would like his province's Medical Care Plan (MCP) to cover the cost of the $7,000 surgery, but their response to date has been an outright, "No".

I'll get to the MCP in a moment, but first I need to address the CBC poll on Andrew's case that snidely includes this response as one of the poll's 4 options,

"I'd like MCP to cover my Botox and liposuction treatments too"
While offering a poll response option that suggests this surgery shouldn't be covered as it might be considered cosmetic may be fair, comparing Andrew's request to Botox or liposuction is making light of a man's suffering, and I would have hoped that would have been beneath the CBC.

Now back to the MCP.

Let's look at a few other surgeries and their coverages:

1. Breast reduction surgery for a woman whose breasts' weight caused back pain - COVERED

2. Reconstructive plastic surgery for the drug addict who fell asleep with a lit cigarette that then burned down his house leaving him with second and third degree burns - COVERED

3. Open heart surgery for the diabetic who didn't bother taking their medications for over a decade and was consequently found to have severe hardening of their arteries - COVERED

4. A 1 month ICU stay, and multiple open reductions and internal fixations for the 4 compound fractures suffered by a man who drove his truck drunk into a wall - COVERED

A man who through his weight loss has saved the health care system far more money than he's seeking, who has a medical need for a procedure, who has a condition that markedly impairs his quality of life - DENIED.

And why are his needs being denied?

Purely because of blame based or hateful weight bias.

Shame on the bureaucrats who've denied Andrew this surgery. Medicine's not about blame, and if there's a medical need, at least on paper here in Canada we're supposed to meet it.

[NB - That's not Andrew up above, but certainly helps in visualizing why this is a medical need and not a Botox style indulgence]

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Does this vending machine really contain healthy choices?

A few weeks ago a story out of Toronto had nutritional lug nut and Toronto City Councillor Doug Ford angry at the city for "force-feeding" kids "healthy" beverages.

He was angry because City vending machines weren't generating as much profit as he'd like since the watered down plan of replacing half of the "unhealthy" beverages with "healthy" ones.

But the real story for me came from an accompanying piece from the National Post. Headlining the piece? The photo up above of the "healthy" beverages.

What were they?

Milk2Go, and while yes there's plain milk in there, I also spy sugar sweetened chocolate and strawberry splash.

Comparing those "healthy" sweetened milks with sugared soda?

Milk2Go's flavoured options contain 60% more calories than Coca Cola and have an equivalent amount of sugar.

If this plan that Doug Ford so loathes was meant to get sugar sweetened beverages out of City vending machines, why are they still there?

[And before the comments begin, if you think that the fact we're talking about "milk" justifies added sugar, do you also think we should serve kids who don't like fruit, pie?]

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Eat Wise: Dietitians of Canada's new Online Venture. Helpful, Harmful, or Ho-Hum?

So last week I received an email from the Dietitians of Canada promoting their latest venture. It's called "Eat Wise" and it's basically an online searchable database of nutrition fact panels.

So what's it for?

According to the press release it's to,

"make it easier for Canadians to get the nutrition facts on the foods they eat",
and Mary Sue Waisman, the PR and Communications manager of Dietitians of Canada was quoted as saying,
"Whether it’s a fresh apple, apple juice or frozen apple pie, you can get the information you need with just a few ‘clicks’ to help you make informed food choices."
So I decided to put Mary's quote and the site to the test.

Here's what the site taught me regarding fresh apples, apple juice and frozen apple pie (click on the image to enlarge if you'd like):

So what did the site teach me to help inform my food choices?

Fresh apples? Hmm, they really don't contain much of anything, not even vitamins, and wow, they're a lot fewer calories than I thought.

Apple juice? Well a serving apparently is nearly 2 cups, but not quite 2 cups. Gotta remember not to pour that last 27ml.

Apple pie? Great source of iron.

What didn't I learn?

I didn't learn that diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been shown to protect against a myriad of chronic disease, and that apples, given their water content and low energy density, are great in terms of volume based satiety, and that even though they may not be superstars in terms of the meager selection of nutrients Eat Wise scored, their consumption has been linked to health. Nor did I learn that the majority of apples are nearly double the size (and calories) of the "serving" reported by Eat Wise.

I didn't learn that the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society recommend kids younger than 8 have no more than 125ml of juice daily and that drop per drop juice has as many calories and as much sugar as Coca Cola.

I also didn't learn whether or not that apple pie was a large piece or a small piece, or whether compared with other apple pies or home made, it was a good, bad or neutral choice. Interestingly, when I clicked on other apple pies to try to figure that out, serving sizes varied from 164g to 100g, to 156g making actual comparisons quite challenging.

Lastly, while I learned what percentage of my daily recommended value the ten nutritional determinants of food scored provided, glaringly absent was a daily recommended sugar allotment to put that rather important ingredient in perspective.

I think the Eat Wise site is ho-hum, bordering on harmful.

It promotes pure nutritionism and sadly also misinforms by allowing industry based and/or seemingly random portions to be evaluated.

The notion that food is the sum total of its nutrients flies in the face of the fact that virtually everything we understand to be true about the impact of diet on the prevention of chronic disease comes from patterns of whole food consumption, not nutrients.

At the end of this day, I can't imagine who'd find value in this site. If you want pure nutrition data, check out Nutrition Data, where rather than 10 nutritional determinants, they score dozens.

Of course, if you want to know if you're making healthier processed food choices, I'd just stop right there.

Sure it's worth looking at the backs of your packages and getting the least bad options you'll enjoy, but easier still not to worry about nutrients and instead focus on something magical for health - the transformation of raw ingredients. It's called cooking, and it's the very definition of eating wise, and I don't the that the Dietitians of Canada, or anyone else, should be creating products or programs that may lead people to believe that they can do it with boxes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: Rocco Dispirito's Now Eat This! 100 Quick Calorie Cuts

[Full disclosure. I was sent this book by the publisher]

Today's guest post is from my office's Registered Dietitian Mark McGill. A few weeks ago I handed him Rocco's latest book. My hope had been that it'd be a book I'd be comfortable recommending to folks.....

Here's Mark's take:

The central message of Rocco Dispirito's latest book, "Now Eat This! 100 Quick Calorie Cuts" is that in order to lose weight you need to reduce the calories you consume and that these reductions need not be several hundred calories at a time. Often it is easier to make small changes to your diet. How? Canadian, or turkey bacon in place of regular bacon saves you 52 calories. Ultra light beers, such as “MGD Light 64tm,” are as much as 85 calories less per 12 ounce bottle.

A quick and easy read, the book is divided into two main parts: calorie cuts at home, and on-the-go. Between them is a fast-track weight loss plan, and a more long term healthy eating plan, both with corresponding shopping lists. More on those, later.

Remember, if you cannot see yourself happily making any change indefinitely any weight lost consequent to that change will be temporary. For example, Rocco's suggestion of using a zero-calorie condiment brand is something I would never do. Why? I’ve tasted many of these products and to put it nicely, they’re awful! I also wouldn’t eat pumpkin pie without crust because pie isn’t pie without crust. What would I do? I would always measure the amount of oil I use, never skip breakfast, use applesauce instead of butter in a recipe, switch to lower fat cheeses, use Greek yogurt instead of full-fat sour cream on a baked potato. The important thing is to be consistent.

His on-the-go or eating out strategies? Most of the advice reflects what many may already know: choose broth-based soups instead of cream, avoid high-fat/high-calorie appetizers, ask for dressing on the side, share your entrĂ©e, don’t order regular soda, skip desserts. I did like his advice on using a salad dressing spritzer – assuming that you were comfortable packing your own dressing.....

Four ideas for calorie reductions caught my attention in particular.

The first suggests you ask the person making your food to re-tool the dish you’ve ordered to have no more than 500 calories. Do chefs have the ability to tailor recipes on the basis of calories?

The second: bring a brown bagged lunch from home instead of eating out. That’s right – a great way to cut calories when eating out is to not eat out.

Rocco also suggests that eating out following his rules is a safe thing to do. While it's certainly part of life, I wouldn't want readers to believe that Rocco's advice truly makes eating out a healthful choice. Cooking meals from scratch as often as possible and eating together are important healthy eating habits. While I understand that people are going to eat out, don’t assume it’s healthy and conducive to weight loss – it’s not. Restaurant calorie amounts are very high and the more you eat out the harder weight loss will be. A better idea: pick up some frozen dinners to have on nights when you’re not cooking, you’ll save calories and money.

The third: Pour hot sauce on foods. He cites a small study showing individuals who consumed capsaicin, the "hot" in hot sauce led to decreased consumption. Now if you like hot sauce, great, but even if you do, can you really pour it on everything?

The fourth: Eating grapefruit before a meal will result in fewer calories consumed. Of course it's not grapefruit that's magical, it's eating a large, non-energy dense food right before eating. But what if you don't like grapefruit? Why not school readers on the value of any pre-eaten, low-energy density choice?

Now as for those meal plans:

The two-week fast-track plan has women averaging 1200 calories per day and 1400 for men. Will you lose weight at these calorie levels? Absolutely. Are you going to feel satisfied or will you be hungry and fatigued? That depends. Some women may be satisfied at 1200 calories, but most will need more. I've not yet met a man satisfied with just 1400 calories per day.

The lifestyle plan, which is meant for long-term has women eating 1400 calories per day and men 1600. This will also result in weight loss for most but again, will you be satisfied? A better approach: Have the smallest number of calories per day that leave you happily satisfied, and don't worry about specific numbers or thresholds. Meal plans are great for giving you ideas and to act as a guide. But following them to the letter cannot be done forever. After all, what if you don’t want salmon and wild rice on day 9 for dinner? It's more practical to know how to build a balanced meal and count calories so you can make appropriate substitutions for your meals.

In the end, if you pick up a few new tips that you’re able to implement and see yourself sustaining then this book may be worth picking up, but unfortunately the book has too many shortcomings for me to offer it a ringing endorsement.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Stories - Sitting, Paleo and PepsiCo edition

My friends over at Obesity Panacea are proud to introduce the Sedentary Behaviour Research Network

Darrin Carlson covers some of the "failings" of Paleo (I'm not anti-Paleo, but this was a great post which made me rethink some of my own criticisms as well as gain some new insight).

Michele Simon over at Appetite for Profit covers some very scary marketing tactics that PepsiCo is aiming at your kids.

Friday, October 21, 2011

V-neck t-shirts - Yay or nay?

I admit it, Ben Stiller makes me laugh.

Today's Funny Friday involves him, Adam Sandberg, and something of a manifesto on men and V-neck t-shirts.

Have a great weekend!

(email subscribers, head to the blog to watch)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

American Diabetes Association selling ice-cream and pizza for the cure?!

Hot off the heels of yesterday's obscene public-private partnership between Pizza Pizza and Canadian children's hospitals comes these equally offensive and insane partnerships with the American Diabetes Association.

Forwarded to me by Dr. Jacqueline Jacques of Bariatric Advantage, they're called, "American Diabetes Association Deals".

Think of them like a Groupon style program where every day a new deal is offered where,

"A portion of every deal purchased will go directly back to American Diabetes Association!"
So what sort of deals have they featured recently?
"$5 for $10 Worth Of Ice Cream at Cold Stone Creamery!"

"50% Off Create Yo'-Own-Gurt Purchase!"

"$10 Worth Of Juice It Up For $5"

and yesterday's deal of,
Sadly I'm not surprised.

I'm so jaded at this point, none of these types of co-branded sales/fundraising ventures shock me anymore, but what I still can't wrap my head around is how they don't shock, offend, shame, and horrify the folks who actually work over at the American Diabetes Association?

If I were king, heads would roll.

Given I'm not, I guess I'll just publish this post.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Canadian children hospitals fundraising by selling $4 medium pizzas?!

So unbelievably misguided.

A veritable cornucopia of children's hospital foundations have teamed up with Pizza Pizza to sell and normalize insanely cheap junk food in the name of fundraising.

For the next two weeks, for the ridiculously low price of just $2, you can get half a pepperoni pizza, and for a measly $4 you can get a full sized medium with "a portion" of proceeds going to fund children's hospitals.

Who cares that associating Pizza Pizza with fundraising helps to elevate Pizza Pizza's brand? Who cares that insanely low prices coupled with children and charity drive customer loyalty and increase frequency of fast food consumption? Who cares that the normalization of junk food, meals out and highly processed carbs are driving the incredible pace of worsening childhood chronic disease? It's free money, right?

Bruce Bradley, new blogger and author of Fat Profits and former 15 year veteran food marketer explains what's in it for Pizza Pizza. It's called Brand Laddering. This promotion? It's the top rung.

Defenders will shout that we shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth and that after all, this is for the children.

Maybe children's hospitals should start selling subsidized smokes? Or maybe crack or heroin? I hear they've got great profit margins, and after all, it's for the children.

[Hat tip to BMI's director Lorne Segal]

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The food industry preys on your children after school too

And I'm not talking television commercials.

So yesterday's guest post detailed the food industry and how their involvement during and in school undermines parental guidance.

Well what about after school?

Just a few weeks ago I attended the Obesity Society's 2011 Annual Meeting in Orlando. Also at our convention center? The Florida After School Alliance who according to their website,

"was founded in 1988 to support professionals in creating quality out-of-school experience for children & youth. FASA provides leadership, support & training opportunities for professionals who serve schoolage children in a variety of after school settings"
Want to know who sponsored the conference?

Pretty much a who's who in highly processed, and oftentimes nutritionally wanting food manufacturers.

Kellogg's, Mars Chocolate, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Con Agra, Sara Lee, Pepsico (including FritoLay) and Del Monte.

Think they just give the Florida After School Alliance money and don't get involved any other way?

Me neither.

Guess those Florida Moms and Dads will have to utter a whole lotta after school "No"s to be good parents.

We sure must all be great parents given parental "no"s are regularly trotted out as society's fair answer to more than a billion dollars a year of predatory marketing.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A real world mom on the futility of the parental, "No".

Today's guest post is from Kristen Schlag, who among many other things, is a caring and concerned Virginian mom.

A few weeks ago I invited her to guest post here on the blog after she emailed me to tell me of her frustration when her autistic son came home sporting that sticker up above. Here's her take on the utility of the, "parental no", as well as a clear cut example of why regardless of the dollars they put in, Big Food has no place in our schools.

It was a typical crazy day. I had spent three hours downtown waiting for car repairs to be done (that’s not easy with a three-year-old). I knew I needed to go to the grocery store and if I didn’t do it before the older kids got home from school it probably was not going to happen. To make a long story short: the car didn’t get done at all, my husband had to pick us up and the kids got home from school right after we did.

That is when my son got off the bus with a bright orange sticker on his shirt:

Tonight is Papa John’s Pizza Night

Gabriel is in second grade and he’s autistic. The first thought that ran through my mind: the school is using my seven-year-old autistic son as an unpaid corporate sponsor.

I asked Gabriel what the sticker was for, he told me we are supposed to order pizza tonight from Papa John’s for “Spirit Night”. I explained to him that, while pizza is very tasty, it isn’t very healthy for our bodies and Mommy and Daddy will decide what we have for dinner. Autistic children thrive on routine and take expectations very seriously. It is hard for him to learn that he can’t have his favorite food when another adult gave him the expectation. Predictably enough, he was very upset.

When I went through his and his sister’s school folders later I found a flyer in both advertising the Papa John’s fundraiser, a letter from the PTA stressing how important these fast food fundraisers are and the school calendar for October with a reminder about a Chick-Fil-A “Spirit Night” on the 18th.

I try to feed my kids good food, I really do. It’s not enough that the school gives them things like chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese for lunch every day. They offer some fruits and veggies too, but if you were a kid what would you fill up on first? The school offers them the choice of chocolate milk every day as well.

The food companies like to say if my kids become overweight it’s my fault; parents just need to learn how to say no. I say no constantly! Everyday! We don’t watch commercial television; we rent videos instead because of the constant barrage of ads. We explain to our children what is and isn’t healthy and why; we offer fruits and veggies at meals and snacks. We aren’t perfect, but we shouldn’t have to be. These fast-food outlets are using the fact that schools are underfunded to prey on children. It’s not fair that helping raise money for our school also contributes to making kids sick.

Don’t get me wrong; I love pizza. I think my kids should have pizza sometimes and I probably give it to them more than I should, but nobody should be telling my children to ask me to buy them unhealthy foods, and nobody should be putting a sticker on my son at school advertising their salty, fat-laden foods.
[Kristen Schlag is a mother of three who lives with her family in Virginia USA. Her goal is to raise children who view food as a healthy fuel and wonderful indulgence; it's all about proportion, not perfection.]

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Et Voila! Diet Doctor settles suit. "Secrets" safe.

As I opined a few days ago, Dr. Bernstein's diet "secrets" will stay, well, "secret".

The lawsuit he launched against Dr. Scott Seagrist, and Dr. Seagrist's subsequent countersuit, have been settled, just 3 days after the judge ruled that the court would be "open" and we'd learn about Dr. Bernstein's, "Quantum Weight Loss" and B vitamin injections.

I'm guessing it's Seagrist's pockets that are fuller, as I don't believe that there are any secret weight loss formulas, and if there's no secret formula, it'd sure be tough to sue your ex-partner.

But putting aside the question of whether or not Dr. Bernstein truly has an efficacious and reproducible "secret", what do you think of the ethics involved with a doctor who having found a "secret formula" that helps to treat a medical condition, then decides to fight in court to keep it secret?

Saturday Stories - Aspartame, leisure time activity and

Science Based Medicine asks (and answers) "Is Aspartame Safe"

Dueling posts from Sweat Science's Alex Hutchinson and Obesity Notes' Arya Sharma on the role of leisure time physical activity.

Food Republic covers the scam that is, "Natural Food"

Friday, October 14, 2011

Best outdoor gym ever?

Loved this Funny Friday worthy bottled water advertisement....too bad it's promoting bottled water.

Have a great weekend!

(email subscribers, head to the blog to watch and hat tip to BMI's fitness director Kelly)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

No "secrets" for Canadian diet doctor

Just a quick update on that "secret formula" of Dr. Stanley K. Bernstein.

The judge has ruled that there aren't to be any secrets.

My prediction?

Rather than have his "secrets" see the light of day in a court, Dr. Bernstein's going to settle his suit with Dr. Seagrist, and I'd be willing to wager, unless Seagrist is truly in breach of some signed non-disclosure agreement, it'll be Bernstein paying Seagrist and not the other way around.

The food industry and health. Not even remotely on the same page.

I know I've had a great many posts lately on the food industry and how health by corporate necessity must take a back seat to profit.

So why am I flogging that horse again?

Because of a great, short and powerful video released by the Prevention Institute, which discusses the duplicity of corporate interests as they'd pertain to the corporate lip service that health matters, vs. the realities of the actions they take to protect their profits.

And while I readily agree there are truly thoughtful, caring and health concerned folks in each and every big food corporation (I've met some, and truly am not being even remotely sarcastic), it doesn't change the fact that they're singular voices in massive corporate entities which in turn are beholden to their shareholders and not to our or our childrens' health.

(email subscribers, the video's only 2 mins long and well worth a watch - head over to the blog and click away)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Can a doctor fairly withhold a "secret" weight loss formula?

I imagine not many folks outside of Canada, or potentially outside of Globe and Mail readership, are following the lawsuit of Dr. Stanley K. Bernstein vs. Dr. Scott Seagrist.

Short version of the suit is that Dr. Seagrist once worked for/with diet MD Dr. Bernstein, and then branched out on his own, and according to Dr. Bernstein's team, benefited by using Dr. Bernstein's "secret formula" of dieting techniques.

According to the article in the Globe and Mail, Dr. Bernstein's lawyer reports that

"the “totality” of his (Dr. Bernstein's) treatments is unique and similar to a secret formula or trade secret."
That leads me to wonder, were a physician to learn of a "secret formulas" or "trade secrets" as would pertain to the treatment plan for an established medical condition, would it be ethical for them to withhold that treatment from their patients? Do doctors not have an absolute obligation to deliver care to the best of their knowledge and ability?

Obesity is a medical condition that affects literally millions of Canadians. It causes co-morbidity, shortens lifespan and impairs quality of life and certainly is often a very difficult challenge to treat for the medical profession as a whole.

Without going into the issues of whether or not I believe a "formula" for weight loss is even theoretically possible given the complex and myriad causes of obesity, were Dr. Seagrist aware of a treatment modality that he believed to be beneficial in the management of his patients' obesity, could he fairly withhold it from them?

Remember, we're not talking about the breach of a patent here, we're talking about a treatment plan. Could a physician ethically withhold treatment because they learned the methods involved in that treatment from another physician? Is there any treatment in medicine that isn't learned that way?

The spirit of medical learning as taught to me was,
"See one. Do one. Teach one."
"See one. Do one. Never breath a word of this to anyone."
"Trade secrets" in medical care seem anathema to patient-centered medicine.

Here's hoping the courts don't deem there to be "secret formulas" in medicine, as that sort of precedent could set us off on a very slippery slope where you might find yourself one day not receiving the best possible care from your doctor because he or she didn't pay their teachers a licensing fee.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guiding Stars vs. Health Check Round One - Cheerios

A ways back I posted about the new Hannaford Brothers Guiding Stars program that was hitting Canadian Loblaws.

While I think there are more powerful front-of-package scoring programs out there, I figured that the simple fact that the Guiding Stars program scores everything in the store puts it head and shoulders above Health Check in terms of shopping utility.

I also guessed that there'll be examples where the Guiding Stars program and Health Check disagree.

Take the photo up above.

Regular Cheerios - 2 stars and a Health Check.

Multigrain Cheerios - 1 stars and an identical Health Check.

Why did Multigrain Cheerios score lower on the Stars? Probably in part due to the extra nearly 1.5 teaspoons of added sugar per bowl.

Way to misinform shoppers Health Check. Great job.

[Thanks to the reader who prefers anonymity who sent this in, and look for more in a few weeks as I'll be heading into Toronto and will be making Loblaws a field trip.]

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Food Industry: Friend or Foe. Videos of the complete (parsed) debate!

After some reflection, the Obesity Society has decided to graciously allow me to upload the video of our debate. They didn't need to do that, and I'd like to thank them sincerely.

So here it is.

To make for easier viewing, I've split the debate up into its various sections, and as a bonus, I've also uploaded the Kellogg's video that didn't work properly during my presentation.

Please feel free to embed, share tweet and email far and wide.

(Keep your eye on The Obesity Society's Annual Meeting page to explore other talks from the conference once they come available)

Friday, October 07, 2011

How does the guy know who did it?

This Funny Friday video made me smile.

It also made me not want to be a dog owner anytime soon.

Have a great weekend!

(email subscribers need to head to the blog to watch)

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Domino's thinks 2oz of pizza is a serving!?

Many thanks to eagle eyed blog reader and tweeter Kristen Schlag who spotted some discrepancies over at Dominos regarding their new line of "artisan" pizzas.

What'd she notice?

Well according to their hover over and menu based descriptions, these pizzas "Serve 2".

Personally, when looking at the photo of the pizzas as a whole I'd argue that a 2 person serving, in the real world, ain't gonna happen, and that most certainly these $7.99 pizzas are designed and expected to serve just one.

But here's the neat trick part.

Looking at the nutritional information page for the pizzas you'll learn that according to Dominos per artisan pizza there are eight servings - with the Artisan Spinach and Feta pizza, each of those servings is listed as just 62g (2oz).

If Dominos were even remotely interested in doing right by their customers, these pizzas' nutritional information would be listed per pizza.

So I'll help them out.

Artisan Italian Sausage and Pepper Trio: 1,280 calories, 2,640mg sodium

Artisan Spinach and Feta: 1,200 calories, 2,000mg sodium

Artisan Tuscan Salami and Roasted Veggies: 1,200 calories, 2,240mg sodium

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Coca Cola the Corporation vs. Coca Cola the Individuals

There's a difference.

Just over a week ago I had a meeting with David Moran. He's Coca Cola Canada's Director of Public Relations.

He had emailed me and asked me if I'd be willing to sit and chat with him. My initial thought was, "not a chance", but I mulled it over a bit and decided that my curiosity as to what he wanted to chat about, superseded my reluctance to sit and chat with the food industry.

All told, it was just a chat. He was curious to pick my brain about some of my concerns regarding food industry partnerships and I was able to vent about Coca Cola specifically.

I enjoyed our chat. Dave seemed genuinely interested in trying to improve Coca Cola's approach to many of the issues I've blogged about, let me know that some of my blogging had in fact had an impact on how Coca Cola does things, and I honestly believe that while at the end of the day his job is in large part to try to help improve the image of a company selling carbonated sugar, that he's a mensch. But none of that is the reason I'm blogging about our meeting.

I'm blogging about it because of what happened at the end.

He asked me, in a very straight forward manner, could I think of any circumstance where I'd be ok with a health organization partnering up with the food industry.

I answered, "No", but what was surprising to me was how difficult that was. It was difficult because Dave is a truly nice guy who I believe is honestly concerned about doing the rightest thing he can in a company that makes much of its profit off the sales of sugar water. It was difficult because suddenly Coca Cola wasn't this big, faceless, to me at times deceitful and unethical multi-national corporation, it was a nice caring man named Dave.

That worries me.

Not because I think I'm going to change my mind about things like yesterday's blog post detailing what I see as Coca Cola's figurative nose thumbing at their own "pledge" not to advertise to children, I'm far too jaded (I think) to be swayed, but it sure hammered home how tough it must be for politicians, when faced with kind, well spoken, seemingly well intentioned folks, to still push agendas that those kind folks say won't help (like the Children's Advertising Initiative).

And it's not that Dave's being disingenuous. It's just that Dave's a person, and Coca Cola is a corporation, and while Dave can have all the ethics in the world, at the end of the day by their very definition, corporations can't. It doesn't mean they can't do good things, just that they can only be done when those good deeds, products and programs coincide with profit.

I like Dave.

I'm still not fond of the Coca Cola Company.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Coca Cola's latest predatory cartoon proves why voluntary advertising commitments are useless!

A few days ago I debated Diane Finegood about the perils of partnering with the food industry.

In my slide set, there's no doubt that Coca-Cola had the lion's share of examples of partnership gone wrong and seemingly nefarious intent.

Perhaps that was just coincidence, but regardless, today I've got another example to add to the list, but first part of Coca Cola's "pledge",

"Coca-Cola North America will not place any of our brands' marketing in television, radio and print programming that is primarily directed to children under the age of 12 and where the audience profile is higher than 35% of children under 12."
I do notice a conspicuously missing medium.

The internet.

Perhaps that's why just two weeks ago Coca-Cola released this nearly 7 minute cartoon called, "The Great Happyfication"

After all, kids under 12 don't ever use the Internet, or do they?

But Internet aside, that's not the explanation Coca-Cola is providing for why this is a kosher video.

Here's their on high official explanation,
"Animation works well for our global system as it is an effective medium for communicating to a global audience, transcending languages and different cultures.'

'This is not a piece directly marketed to children under age 12, which is the focus of our responsible marketing policy. Our policy focuses on not marketing any of our products in any mediums where the audience is under 35 percent children under 12.'

'The characters are not "kiddie", neither are the scenarios portrayed. There are many animated properties - e.g. The Simpson's, Family Guy etc. - that use animation as the medium but that are not targeted to children
Logic translation?

There are cartoons out there that don't target children.

This is a cartoon.

Therefore this doesn't target children.


Do we really need any more examples to prove that "voluntary" means useless, and again I need to ask the question, why isn't the Internet part of the media included in Coca-Cola's Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative "pledge"?

(Worse still, according to Adweek, apparently the White House is considering "softening" even these weak and clearly ignored voluntary guidelines)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Food Industry: Friend or Foe. The #obesity2011 great debate's online!

Yesterday I had the very real pleasure and honour of speaking at the Obesity Society's 2011 Annual Scientific Meeting and I'd like to thank Diane Finegood (@DTFinegood) for making that happen.

Diane had been involved with the debate from the get go as the champion of the Friend side, but apparently no one wanted to debate her, and after striking out 8 times with I'm sure fancier folks, she suggested me to the organizing committee as a potential opponent.

I jumped at the chance.

Now I would guess that everyone in attendance already had a formed opinion before they walked into the room, and I'm fairly confident that no one left with that opinion changed. That said, I hope that many on both sides of the argument, left with some provisos and caveats that they didn't have prior.

UPDATE: I had uploaded the whole video, but the Obesity Society requested that I take it down as they sell/own the rights. As a courtesy and as a teaser they've let me post my rebuttal. It's 10 minutes long and it certainly provides some flavour and briefly covers many of my arguments.

If you'd like to watch the complete slide share version with both of our main arguments, our rebuttals and our post debate discussion, you can head to where I expect it'll soon be available for purchase.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Saturday Stories - Crowdsourced health link roundup!

So on Thursday I posted a call for you to post websites, stories and recipes interesting to you.

For those who aren't comment readers, here are all of the recommendations (be advised, these aren't necessarily sites endorsed by me (though I like most), but rather sites endorsed by Weighty Matters readers) minus those that are already linked to on my sidebar:

Weight Management

Drop It and Eat - "A Guide to Dropping the Senseless Rules about Diet and Eating"

Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger. - detailing blog author Raj' journey and thoughts.

Bariatric TV - highlighting issues pertinent to those who've had weight loss surgeries

Diet Scam Watch - Quackwatch's "Guide to Weight Control Schemes and Rip Offs"

Body Image and Weight Bias

Cynosure - "the revolution against what we thought we were supposed to believe"

Yale Rudd Center's Podcasts - from the indefatigable Yale Rudd Center

Personal Stories

Escape from Obesity - "A look into the secret life and inner thoughts of an obese mom."

Food Activism

Dig in Manitoba - "Dig into Fresh Local Food. Dig into Fresh Local Earth"

Culinate - "Eat to your Idea"

Jugalbandi - "ode to minimally processed, primary-sourced, highly opinionated living."

Nutritional education

Eating Rules - by Andrew Wilder

Family Feeding Dynamics - "Bringing Peace and Joy to the Family Table"

Ellyn Satter written by a pediatrician "to help children and adults be joyful and competent with their eating"

Jack Norris RD - "News for vegan advocates and those eating plant based diets"

The Vegan RD - "Thoughts on being Vegan, a dietitian's perspective"

Nutrition Diva - Monica Reinagel's "Quick and Dirty tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous"

The World's Healthiest Foods - from, "The George Mateljan Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation with no commercial interests or advertising, is a new force for change to help make a healthier you and a healthier world."

Nutrition Data - a nutritional information database

Prescription 2000 - "Our goal is to share with you current health information with a focus on nutrition and preventive medicine to help you be and stay well in our busy modern world."

Nutrition Coach Calgary - written by Foothills' hospital's registered dietitian Adam Betzelt

Nutriwatch - Quackwatch's "Guide to Sensible Nutrition"


Training for Warriors - "A physical and mental training program"


Enlightened Cooking - "Healthy, natural, quick to table dishes"

Snack Girl - mainly recipes for snacks written by a PhD Evolutionary Biologist

Simple Bites - "Real Food for the Family Table"

101 Cookbooks - Recipe for Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

Fat Free Vegan - "Sinfully delicious"

Prevention RD - "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"

Kath Eats Real Food! - by registered dietitian Kath!

Health News Literacy

Gary Switzer's Health News Review - reviewing the quality of health reporting.

Just for Fun

Jelly Shot Test Kitchen - Turning alcohol into Jello

Moggit - "the guilty pleasure of the decorating world"