Monday, June 19, 2017

One Last Tribute To My Trailblazing Mother Helen Freedhoff

The last week was an incredibly difficult one with our family reeling from the sudden and unexpected death of my mother.

During the course of the week I reached out to Hilda Bastian as I felt that as a fellow trailblazer for women in STEM, she might be interested in my mother's career.

After reading about her, Hilda offered a nearly unbelievable kindness - over the course of her own weekend, Hilda put together a Wikipedia entry for my mother (click here to read it) which I was able to share with my father before having to leave Toronto.

Through his many tears also came, "how lovely, how lovely", and "what a tribute!"

Were my mother still alive, an incredibly modest and private person, she'd have been embarrassed (maybe even mad at me for indirectly facilitating) and might have asked that the entry be removed, but since she's unable to complain, and as I and her family is intensely proud of her accomplishments, consider my sharing them my last opportunity as her son to shake her tree a bit (please also find our eulogies below).

With the shiva over I will slowly be returning to social media and blogging. Will be returning to Twitter and Facebook first, and blogging a touch later. With Jewish mourning, the first 30 days have a special significance and so I'm thinking I'll start blogging again (aside from this post of course) once they're complete part way through July.

[My deep and heartfelt thanks to Hilda for her compassionate kindness and generosity in putting my mother's Wikipedia page together.]

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Remembering My Mother (And Why I Won't Be Around As Much For a While)

Dr. Helen Freedhoff January 9th, 1940 - June 10th, 2017
My mother was her own force of nature, and tragically, wholly unexpectedly, and thankfully without suffering, she died on Saturday. To say our family is in shock is an understatement. My mother lived life on her own terms, both for the better, and at times for the worse, but there was never an instant in my life where I didn't know how fiercely she loved me, nor where I didn't love her back.

A theoretical physicist who received her PhD from the University of Toronto she was a trailblazer for women in science. Her work in science is baffling to me. I read the titles of her papers, and while I understand some words here or there, they might as well be written in a foreign language - one of her students told me that this paper is one of which she was especially proud. She once explained to me how it was she went about choosing what to study. The gist was that she would look at experimental results that people could not explain, and then if she thought that the solution would be mathematically elegant, she'd get to work. And while I may not be telling that story perfectly accurately, that's how I remember it anyhow. We've no doubt, that had it not been for mandatory retirement (she missed its abolition by 2 years), she'd have still been teaching.

It was my mother who taught me, again for better or for worse, to always speak my mind and not to be shy, even with criticism. Below is the obituary we're placing in the papers - and I thought I'd share it here as well and let it fly out into the ether. Love you Ma, can't believe you're gone, and will always be proud to be your son.

Helen (Henchy) Sarah Freedhoff (nee Goodman)

Passed away suddenly on Saturday June 10, at the cottage she loved in Muskoka at the age of 77.

She was predeceased by her parents Sholom and Ethel Goodman (Kohl)

She will be dearly missed by her husband Stephen of 57 years, her daughter Michal (Michael Van Leeuwen), her son Yoni (Stacey Segal), her brother David Goodman, her grandchildren, Rena, Zahava, Talia, Sammy, Leah, Vivienne, and Yael who adored their Omi, and many nieces and nephews. Sister-in-law of Judith and Aubrey Golden,Sylvia Goodman (late brother Irving), and Doba Goodman.

Helen was born in Toronto and excelled in the sciences, having graduated from the University of Toronto with the highest marks and was awarded the Governor General’s Gold medal. She went on to obtain a PH.D in physics and was appointed an assistant professor at York University in 1967. At the time of her appointment, she believed she may have been the only woman in Canada teaching at the university level in her field.

She took a keen interest in her students and was responsible for many of them under her guidance continuing their careers in science. She was soft spoken, a voracious reader, had taken up piano again upon retirement, was an expert ken-ken solver, a weekly yoga practitioner, and maintained a meticulous household

Funeral service at Benjamin’s Park Memorial Chapel 1:30 Monday June 12.

Shiva at 38 Alexandra Wood. Morning services daily at 7:45 a.m. Evening services at 8:45 p.m. Shiva will conclude Sunday morning, June 18.

Donations in memory can be made to Associated Hebrew Schools, Ethel and Sholom Goodman Fund, (416) 494-7666

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Friday, June 09, 2017

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox Is All Kinds of Hilarious

Honestly, today's Funny Friday bit, with Fox lecturing Trump about the wall, is just genius.

Don't miss it.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Canadian Nutrition Society Calls 13 Daily Teaspoons of Added Sugar "Moderate"

To be fair, it wasn't the Canadian Nutrition Society (CNS) directly who told attendees of their recent annual scientific conference that consuming 13 daily teaspoons of added sugar represented a "moderate" amount, it was the handout they stuffed into all their conference swag bags that did.

That handout, available here, had this to say,
"In 2004 Canadian consumption of added sugars was about 11% of daily energy intake (53g or 13 tsp per day), according to an analysis of dietary intake data from the Canadian Community Health Survey. Average intake ranged from 9.9% of energy in adults aged 19 and above to 14.1% of energy in adolescents aged 9-18 years. This is generally considered to be a moderate amount"
Given it was authored by The Canadian Sugar Institute, it's wholly understandable that they're not lining up with the World Health Organization or Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation in considering 12 teaspoons of added sugars per day a daily maximum, and 6 teaspoons of sugar per day a better goal. Less understandable though for the CNS.

According to the CNS, their aim is to,
"foster the next generation of skilled nutritionists, thereby building a better and healthier future for all Canadians"
I struggle to see how providing the food industry with the ability to influence and directly access the next generation of nutritionists would fit within that mandate.

(Thanks to the dietetic student attendee who sent me the handout, and for the record, I feel the same way about medical organizations providing pharma with the opportunity to stuff medical conferences' swag bags with their marketing materials)

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Monday, June 05, 2017

Definitely Don't Take Your Kids To See Red Shoes And The Seven Dwarfs

Via Tess Holiday on Twitter
Want to know how socially acceptable weight bias is?

There's a movie coming out, for children, about, what if Snow White were fat?

The trailer highlights the apparently hilarious horror.

The pervasiveness of weight bias in children's movies, TV shows, and books is a near constant.

Can you imagine how you'd feel if you were a little girl with obesity and you saw this poster (let alone the movie)? Or if you were a schoolyard bully that hadn't yet started targeting kids for their weights (weight by the way is the number one target of bullies by a long shot).

It's horrifying that weight bias is so normalized that a movie studio signed off on this. Hopefully, with awareness, ticket sales will be sufficiently bad and the outcry sufficiently loud, so as to dissuade future such projects.

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Saturday, June 03, 2017

Saturday Stories: Opioid Origins, Trump Loneliness, and the Confederacy.

By Infrogmation of New Orleans - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
Pamela Leung, Erin Macdonald, Irfan Dhalla and David Juurlink in New England Journal of Medicine expose the 1980 letter to the editor that may be responsible for today's epidemic of opioid addiction.

Rebecca Solnit in Literary Hub with an amazing piece of writing on the loneliness of Donald Trump.

New Orleans' Mayor Mitch Landrieu in The Atlantic with the speech he gave to explain why his city's confederate monuments had to come down.

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Friday, June 02, 2017

This Commercial Almost Makes Me Want To Watch Shark Week

But not quite.

That said, today's Funny Friday video is a gem for those of us old enough to be Seal fans.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

If Pokémon Go Doesn't Keep People Moving, What Chance Does Public Health Have?

You remember Pokémon Go, right? I remember when it launched I was giving a talk in LA, and honestly it seemed as if the entire city was trying to catch Pokémon. Flash forward a year or so and I can't remember that last time I saw anyone trying to catch one.

I was curious about whether or not people were still playing and so I hunted around online a bit and found a few articles.

What I learned was, during that launch time last summer there were 28.5 million global daily users. That same article has it that by January, just 5 months later, the number of daily players had dropped by 80%.

Or has it dropped even further than that? Certainly if this Reddit thread can be believed, it has, as the thread asserts that a large percentage of active players now are
  • "Bots used by scanners -- Who knows how many bot accounts are out there.
  • Multi-account players -- Based on concerns of gym shaving, this appears to be prevalent, but there is no way to determine how many "alt" accounts are out there.
  • Account Sellers -- Overlapping 1 and 2, there are many accounts that are floating around out there for sale that have been either leveled by bots or by hand."
All this to say, that the 5 month drop off rate of the most viral and widely launched augmented reality game is somewhere between 80 and 90%, strikes me as more evidence that rather than promoting flashy, feel-good, new online tools and commercials that stand virtually no chance at inspiring sustained behaviour changes, we need to spend our energies and efforts on environmental engineering to squeeze more activity out of our normal lives (eg. cycling and walking infrastructure, tax incentives or disincentives, stairwell renovations and signage, etc.), forcefully building the opportunity for exercise back into our kids' lives (eg. the return of proper school recess), and lobbying our politicians for same.

And maybe it's just my cynicism, but I do find it odd that despite our global and possibly total failings at inspiring intentional, because-it's-good-for-you, behaviour change, both with food and fitness, that as a society we still seem to be clinging to the notion somehow, someone, somewhere, will figure out the golden message, app, or website that will set us all straight. At this point, and certainly in the developed world, it's hard to imagine that the problem is a lack of education as to the benefits of exercise and/or a healthful diet.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Forks vs. Feet for Obesity: The Great Debate Part II (Next Week in #Toronto)

Which is more critical to obesity treatment and prevention - our forks, or our feet?

That's the subject of my upcoming debate with the inimitable Dr. Bob Ross.

It's actually a redo of our prior debate from 2011 on the same topic (which you can watch here if you'd like).

It's being presented by the Toronto chapter of the Canadian Obesity Network (CON) and it's taking place at 5pm on Tuesday June 6th in the Ben Sadowski Theatre of Mount Sinai Hospital.

Tickets are just $15 with proceeds going towards the support of the chapter's activities (and you can buy them in advance by clicking here).

My prediction?

There's going to be far more agreement than you might imagine.


It should be a lot of fun.

Hope to see you there!

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday Stories: Special End Of Life Edition

Have an hour and bit this weekend? Spend it listening to the podcast Sickboy who interviewed friend and one of our office's former RD's, 37 year old Candace Reid, whose husband Layton (whose brilliant letter to his metastases I published as a guest post on this blog last September) died this January, on life Newly Widowed.

Carol Cowan-Levine in The Walrus on the failure of Canada's healthcare system and the death of her daughter by suicide.

Catherine Porter in The New York Times on the living wake and medically assisted death of John Shields.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Parents, How Many Of These Scenes Resonate For You?

As a father of three, today's Funny Friday sure was familiar.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

No Coke and Pepsi, Adding Fibre and Pro-Biotics Doesn't Make Liquid Candy Healthy

As the liquid candy business falters, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are desperately turning to the addition of pro-biotics and fibre to their juices and sodas in a bid to sustain their sales.

First up is Coca-Cola Plus. Launched in Japan each bottle of the diet soda beverage has 5gr of added insoluble fibre. According to its official press release,
"Drinking one Coca-Cola Plus per day with food will help suppress fat absorption and help moderate the levels of triglycerides in the blood after eating"
And a statement to that effect will apparently be placed directly on the front of the bottle.

Next up is PepsiCo's juice arm's offering of Tropicana Essentials Probiotics, which along with its 7.25 teaspoons of sugar per glass (which incidentally is more sugar per glass than Pepsi), is reported to pack,
"more than 1 billion active probiotics in each serving"
What will they do for you?

According to PepsiCo they will,
"work to promote gut health"
Desperate times call for desperate measures I suppose.

[Sorry, earlier version had Coca-Cola, not PepsiCo making Tropicana]

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

An Incredibly Belated Review of James Hamblin's Terrific New(ish) Book

Full disclosure: I received an e-copy of Hamblin's If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body for review from James' publisher Doubleday. I should also disclose, I was likely predisposed to enjoying this book as I've long been incredibly fond of Hamblin's Twitter feed and Atlantic pieces. I'd have written this sooner, but I have this rule of not writing about things I haven't actually read myself and it took me longer than I expected - not because I didn't enjoy it, but more because I fall asleep in about two seconds flat every night. Also, if you use the Amazon links I provide, Amazon will send me a tiny commission.
James Hamblin is a medical doctor. But he doesn't practice medicine in its traditional seeing his own patients sense, instead his practice involves the translation of health into words for whoever wants to read them as he decided to pursue journalism and writing rather than the much safer path of radiology. Hamblin's main platform is his work with The Atlantic where he's a senior editor, and he's also a must-follow (if you like wonderfully dry humour) on Twitter.

Hamblin's book, If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body, was published back in December. Simply, it's a collection of questions spanning various topics about health, the human body, followed of course by Hamblin's science-informed answers. It's also a lot of fun.

From questions like,
"Why don't eyelashes keep growing"
(and answers that include, "For three months, then, the hair is called a "club hair". It is, like so many people in clubs, outwardly fin-looking but actually dead at the roots"), to
"Does the G-spot exist?"
(and Hamblin's admonishment, "never liken it to a bike tire"), to
"What about Smartwater?"
(where Hamblin helps you to learn that "electrolyte enhanced" means "bullshit"), the book covers a lot of ground.

Because each question and answer are fairly short, the book makes for excellent bed time reading (in that sense it reminded me some of another book I loved - Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything). And along with the humour and pith, comes a great deal that's both fascinating and informative (did you know that the hyperbole of carrot eating leading to better night vision arose in part as an attempt to conceal Britain's discovery of radar in World War II, or that Ben Carson (yes, that Ben Carson), played an important role in the treatment of an exceedingly rare and devastating brain disease?).

So why do you need this book when you can simply Google those very same questions? I think Hamblin covers this aptly by noting that
"Googling health information is roughly as reliable for finding objective answers as picking up a pamphlet on the subway floor"
The book is a delight. Suitable too for those parents like me who want to teach their children, without lecturing, that critical appraisal is sadly necessary in this day and age (another recommendation here is to listen to the podcast Science Vs. with them).

If you're looking for a book that entertains while it educates and you'd like to purchase a copy for yourself, here's an Amazon link to it for my American readers. And if you're living here in Canada - this one's for you (though at least when I was typing this, it would still be cheaper to use the American link).

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Schoolhouse Rock's "I'm Just a Lie" (Thanks Jimmy Kimmel)

For those of us old enough to remember, "I'm Just a Bill", todays' Funny Friday is sure to bring a smile. A sad one though.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Guest Post: Public Health RD Questions Ontario's Calorie Labelling Rollout

Last week an RD who'd prefer to remain anonymous asked me if they could share their thoughts on Ontario's new calorie labelling initiative with my readers. I readily agreed, and I agree with much of this post. I'm strongly supportive of calorie labelling, but the rollout certainly could have been more thoughtful. And while I agree with all of this RD's closing points, I don't see calorie labelling vs. other changes as being either or - I'd like to see them all.
On January 1st of this year it became mandatory for restaurants with at least 20 locations in Ontario to post the calories on their menus. Many dietitians and other healthcare professionals rejoiced as this information would help people to make better, or at least more informed choices when eating out. Personally, I was a little more skeptical. From what I had seen from other places implementing similar legislation resulted in little if any change in eating habits. We are always talking about evidence-informed decision making in healthcare, yet this legislation from the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care seemed to be based more on appearances than on evidence.

There were problems from the start. Training for public health inspectors (who are responsible for enforcing the legislation) didn’t take place until just over a month before the legislation took effect. It was made very clear to the PHIs that they were to only ensure that eating establishments adhere to the legislation; i.e. that calories were posted in the appropriate places in large enough font and that the contextual statement was posted. They were not to question the calorie counts posted. Some of you might remember the time everyone got upset about Chipotles posting the calories for just the chorizo in a wrap, rather than for the entire wrap. Well, if something like this were to happen in Ontario, unless a complaint came from the public, the PHIs have no recourse. They might see calories posted that seem blatantly incorrect but they have been instructed not to question them. Restaurant owners and operators need only use means that they “reasonably believe” to determine the calorie counts. That means that calorie counts could be determined by a bomb calorimeter (accurate) or by myfitnesspal (questionable) as long as the owner believes it to be accurate. The Ministry declined to provide PHIs with any guidance as to what methods and tools would be appropriate so they are left to take restaurant owners at their word.

Framing this as an initiative to decrease childhood obesity was a huge mistake in my mind. Teaching children to calorie count is not healthy or helpful. Nor is simply providing calorie amounts to parents when caloric needs vary so much among children. Sometimes providing just a little information can be dangerous. I’m sure that the government meant well and they thought this would be a great visible way to show that they’re tackling childhood obesity while downloading the cost onto restaurant owners, win-win. However, this legislation should have been targeted toward adults only. Children should never be counting calories.

The point of this legislation is ostensibly to help the public make informed choices. To that end, you would think that there would have been a public education campaign launched well in advance of the implementation of the legislation. You would be wrong. Despite numerous requests from public health dietitians, and assurances that public education was coming, it wasn’t until over a month after the legislation came into effect that any “education” was undertaken. As a dietitian, I was expecting information on how to use the newly available calorie postings to make better choices. Boy was I wrong. Instead, the Ministry released a series of ads that read more like fast food advertisements and essentially just say “calories are now on menus”.

Let’s fill our kids with ideas about eating right.

A post shared by Ontario Government (@ongov) on

I see these and I think, “wow! Poutine and hash browns are so low in calories. They’re not as bad a choice as I thought.” Not at all the message that I think should be coming through this campaign. It’s embarrassing that the government used our tax dollars to pay people to come up with these terrible ads. Apparently they focus group tested them and the teens thought they were hilarious. Perhaps they can’t tell the difference between laughing with you and laughing at you? Regardless, there should have been someone working on this campaign who saw that it wasn’t sending the intended message (check out the comments). They should also realize that simply telling people that calories are posted on menus isn’t sufficient to aid them in appropriately using this information. As it stands, it only serves to help those who are already health conscious and who know roughly how many calories per day they should be consuming. They should have been giving people the information and tools to better understand and use the calorie counts.

Does putting calories on menus even work? There was a recent webinar by Health Evidence on this and they said that on average, it led to reductions of about 70 calories per day. Which sounds great except that the average caloric intake of people in the studies was about 3000 calories a day, about 1000 calories more than the recommended daily calories for an average adult. So, yes, putting calories on menus may lead some people to choose items with fewer calories but if they’re still consuming about 900 more calories than they need I’m not sure that’s anything to write home about.

Calories are only one piece of information and I worry about putting too much emphasis on it. Restaurant meals tend to be obscenely high in sodium but the calories won’t tell us anything about this. Calories also don’t tell us if a menu item is nutrient dense or nutrient void. It can make it appear that deep-fried foods are equal to salads.

Something else to consider, beyond the concerns I mentioned above about the accuracy of the methods used to determine the calorie counts, is the human factor. Even if the calories are accurately measured, that’s based on the sample as provided by the restaurant which you can bet is going to put that food in the best light possible. Do you really think that line cooks in a restaurant, or teenagers at Five Guys are concerned about portioning things so that meals contain the same number of calories as is posted on the menus? I doubt it. they’re probably using more oil on that stir-fry or scooping extra fries onto that plate. It’s pretty safe to assume that the actual number of calories in any given menu item is going to be higher than the number posted on the menu so take the number on the menu with a grain of salt.

I’m sure that there are people reading this thinking “but at least they’re doing something. What would you do?” I would bring back mandatory home ec in schools. I would help to ensure better access to and affordability of nutritious foods across the province. I would provide more support and funding for healthy eating and food literacy initiatives for all ages. Instead of accepting that people are going to eat out regularly, and assuming that providing calories on menus is going to make people healthier, we should be encouraging people to get in the kitchen.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Guest Post: Local Teacher's Tips For Cultivating Healthy Classrooms

One of this blog's long time readers is a local teacher, Heather Crysdale. On Facebook she regularly adds thoughtful comments to my posts around kids and school - so much so that I asked her if she'd be interested in writing a guest post with some of her ideas on how to make a classroom a healthy place. Happily she agreed! Here are her thoughts - proving that yes, you can cultivate healthy classrooms, it just takes some thought and creativity:

Modelling Healthy Living in a Primary Classroom:

It can be a challenge to create a classroom where healthy activity levels and food choices are promoted. Here are some of the ways I try to promote healthy lifestyles in my classroom.

Modelling Health Activity Levels:

Being an active Role Model:
The students know that I am an older teacher (e.g., 55 plus) and that I make a conscious effort to stay active. They see me walk to school daily with my husband and little dog, rain or shine, in all seasons. I share with them when I plan to go skate skiing, kayaking, cycling or to go to the yoga studio. I think it is important for them to see people of all ages, and genders, being active.

On May 7th (2017) the families in my class raised $500, to support my CN Cycle for CHEO (Ericsson 70 km) ride.

Physical Fitness Embedded in Daily Physical Activities (DPA), Gym and Special Event Days:

During the autumn and the spring, students do a morning run three times a week, and a group dance (Dancemania) twice a week before heading up to class. In the winter, students do body break dances on Go Noodle ( or stair climbing in school for their DPA. We also have special fitness based days (e.g., a Winter Walk to School Day, a Bike Day, five days of Skating at Dulude Arena, etc.) With staff and students taking part in these activities, fitness and fun is the goal for everyone!

Modelling Healthy Eating Habits:

Setting an Example with Nutritious Lunches:

When the students see me eating a healthy lunch (e.g., a sandwich, soup, salad and/or leftovers from home), I am modelling good choices for them. When I see students enjoying a healthy food item during a Nutrition Break, I might comment on how tasty the food looks. If a child has a less healthy food item in their lunch bag, it is not up to me to critique the food choice. Food shaming is disrespectful, unhealthy and poor behaviour modelling for a teacher. Packed lunches from home reflect a family’s food culture, food prep skills and/or budget.

Mindful Eating:

At our school, we make a real effort to encourage the students to eat mindfully. At the beginning of the year, I bring in a basket of apples from the Parkdale Market. Each child gets to hold an apple, while listening to the story No Ordinary Apple. A Story About Eating Mindfully. Students are reminded to eat their food slowly and quietly, using all five senses to truly enjoy their food. Students show more gratitude for their food, when they learn how it got to their plate (from seed to platter)!

Food-Free Birthdays Celebrations:

If every birthday in class was celebrated with Pinterest worthy treats, the students would have cupcakes and candies at least 20 times in the school year. In my classroom, I encourage parents to provide food- free birthday treats to celebrate student birthdays. I heard about this idea at an OPHEA (Ontario Physical Health and Education Association) conference. Parents have followed through by sending in dollar store bouncy balls that each child used in the gym, by sending in Perler beads for the students to make Melty bead creations and by donating games and puzzles for the students to enjoy on the birthday, and afterwards too. The students enjoy these birthday games, crafts and puzzles!

Activity Based Holiday Treats:

Special holidays, like Halloween and Valentine’s Day, can mean overindulging in candy corn, caramels, cinnamon hearts and chocolate kisses. Instead, the students might have roasted Pumpkin seeds or fruit skewers as a treat. On these special days, the students in my class usually get a little gift bag from me. Instead of giving them food items, I always make them a handmade, handwritten card. Gift ideas might include themed pencils, erasers, notebooks, books and passes to skate or swim at City of Ottawa pools and arenas. The students enjoy the writing, reading and sporting activities!

Sugar and Salt Free Math Activities:

Instead of using food items for graphing and sorting, the students in my class use Legos, plastic counters and other reusable manipulatives. Or, they use seasonal materials found in nature (e.g., leaves, pine cones and oak keys). They still enjoy sorting and graphing, without having to eat unhealthy foods in the process.

A Focus on Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Rewards:

One of the tenets of our Alternative school is that we do not give out rewards for good behaviour, effort or work. The goal is to have students behave well, make an effort and work hard, and then experience the intrinsic satisfaction of a job well done. That means no stickers or other extrinsic rewards…and therefore no candies or other sugary treats!

Tower Gardening:

One of my teaching colleagues, Tiiu Tsao, is growing greens in her classroom (e.g., Leaf lettuce, Yau Choy and Basil). She has borrowed the Tower Garden from the Parkdale Food market. The students had an opportunity to taste the produce that they grew. Pure Kitchen is purchasing the produce for its restaurant. Profits from the sale of these greens to Pure Kitchen are then returned to the Parkdale Food Market. What a great way to learn about fresh food growing, harvesting and eating!

On these special days, the students in my class usually get a little gift bag from me. Instead of giving them food items, I always make them a handmade, handwritten card. Gift ideas might include themed pencils, erasers, notebooks, books and passes to skate or swim at City of Ottawa pools and arenas. The students enjoy the writing, reading and sporting activities!

Growing Up Organic:

Several other colleagues are working toward creating an on-site school garden. Growing Up Organic (a garden and farm based educational program for children) is providing startup workshops for students. The workshops include the following topics: soil exploration, seed saving, planning a garden, planting a salad garden, seed starting and transplanting. The goal is to teach students greater food literacy and food skills. Ideally, they hope to create a sustainable garden that produces produce that can be shared amongst community members, including the Parkdale Food Centre.


It takes a community to create an environment where children can learn, by example and through practice, to develop life-long fitness and nutritional habits. Together, we can make a difference!

Heather Crysdale is a teacher at Churchill Alternative Public School. She has been teaching in the Public School system for over 30 years. In 2014, Heather was awarded the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) Staff Health and Safety Award, for making an outstanding and significant contribution, over an extended period of time, to Health and Safety. Heather has been married to Douglas Abraham for 25 years. She is the mother of two twenty-something young men. Heather enjoys paddling her sprint kayak on the Rideau River. She likes to swim, cycle and skate ski in the Gatineau Park, and practice yoga at Pure Yoga. She is constantly seeking ways to move and eat well as well as to promote healthy lifestyles. In her spare time she likes to make cards and to knit!

The opinions expressed in this post are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the ideas of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board.

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday Stories: Sewer Viruses, Nuremberg, and Stillborn Photography

Azeen Ghorayshi on Buzzfeed on life saving sewer viruses.

Lesley Stahls' interview for 60 minutes on what the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor wants the world to know.

Seema Marwaha in Macleans on photography and stillborns.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

I'm Not Sure My Mom Knows How To Text

But Jimmy Kimmel's staffs' moms sure do, and here they are for your Mother's Day Funny Friday

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

If You Serve It, We Will Eat It (Ontario Medical Association Edition)

For the past 4 years or so (not sure exactly), I've been a delegate to the Ontario Medical Association and as such, along with a few hundred of my MD peers, attend their biannual council meetings.

The councils are each a terrific opportunity to see the passion and energy of my colleagues, and also a great opportunity to see how strongly our food environment impacts upon our freedom of choice.

22g of sugar (4.5tsp) per bar (more than in a Snickers)
Short version? Because all of the MDs here are human, when faced with indulgent dietary choices, they choose them.

Soft drinks, potato chips, pastries, and candy bars (Clif bars with as much sugar as a Snickers) - all of these are offered to us during our meals and snacks.

Offered at lunchtime. By afternoon break, 2 bags remained
And guess what? Once offered, away they go.

And yet I'd be willing to wager that were these options not provided by the council organizers, not a single physician would have walked over to the hotel's variety shop to buy them.

If even the Ontario Medical Association enables and encourages terrible dietary choices at physician events, why would anyone expect better from others?

Until we stop leaning on the theoretical ability of people "just saying no" as the sole means to address a food environment that offers and pushes nutritional chaff at every turn, we're not likely to ever see change.

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Monday, May 08, 2017

Childhood Obesity, Bullying, Shame and Inactivity (In That Order?)

Last week, while enjoying the Canadian Obesity Network's biennial Summit, I attended a lecture about childhood obesity and physical activity. One of the slides presented demonstrated a robust correlation between weight and inactivity - and the thrust of the lecture was that there was likely a strong element of causality to it.

That correlation certainly fits with the findings of the Coca-Cola funded ISCOLE trial, which examined the relationships between lifestyle and weight among over 6,000 9-11 year olds from 12 different countries and found the greatest correlation with weight was with physical activity.

But I do wonder about directionality.

Working for the past 4 years with the parents of children with obesity, I can tell you that it's an incredibly common story to hear about the kid who used to love dance, or hockey, or soccer, or swimming - who suddenly stopped wanting to participate. Why'd they stop? Maybe because they no longer felt comfortable.

What do I mean? Take a moment and consider how you might feel about physical activity as a child if:
  • Someone had made fun of how you looked in your gym clothes or uniform
  • Someone had laughed at how you jiggled when you ran
  • Whether anyone had ever said anything, you were self-conscious about those two points above
  • You had experienced weight-related bullying in the past that made the likelihood of being bullied while exercising a credible possibility
  • You were one of the slowest kids on your team, or on the track, or in the pool
  • No one ever passed the ball to you
And that's just regarding organized play and sport. The same questions would apply to active play, and so too would the question of whether or not you had friends to play with, as sadly, especially among kids with the highest weights, many don't.

Research on the impact of childhood bullying on physical activity exists, but it's scant. That said, it definitely supports the notion that children who are victims of bullying are less likely to be physically active (Study 1, Study 2, Study 3). Given that weight is the number one source of childhood bullying (by a substantial margin), I would love to see bullying explored as a co-variable in studies like ISCOLE, where their findings are often utilized to infer that inactivity leads kids to develop obesity, and not that obesity leads kids to become inactive. That latter directionality was found in the study Fatness predicts decreased physical activity and increased sedentary time, but not vice versa: support from a longitudinal study in 8- to 11-year-old children, which concluded,
"Our results suggest that adiposity is a better predictor of physical activity and sedentary behavior changes than the other way around."
The ISCOLE trial, in its introduction, speaks to the existence of bullying consequent to childhood obesity, as well as obesity related social isolation - but neither are considered by the authors as possible confounding variables when it comes to inactivity. In fact, in the study's entire discussion, this is the only mention of correlation not necessarily representing causation (for any of the examined associations)
"Finally, given the cross-sectional study design, cause-and-effect inferences cannot be made, and we cannot exclude the possibility that unmeasured confounding variables may explain some of the observed relationships."
But given the plausible path from obesity to inactivity, along with the impact these sorts of studies have on public health and policy discussions, I sure wish it had included a more fulsome discussion therein.

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Saturday, May 06, 2017

Friday, May 05, 2017

Have You Ever Had A Friendship Like This?

Best friends. Let's hope today's Funny Friday features got adopted/purchased together.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

New Study Suggests If Anything, Fasting More Difficult For Long Term Weight Loss

You might be able to buy a bowl like this here.
Now let me be clear right out of the gate, the study I'm about to discuss found that alternate day fasting led to just as much weight loss as tracking calories. But there was one difference.

The study, a randomized, controlled, year long affair assigned 222 patients to either:
  1. Alternate day fasting
  2. Daily calorie restriction
  3. Nothing
For the first 3 months, both the fasting group and the calorie restriction group received all their meals from the study coordinators. For the next 3 months, both groups were encouraged to reduce their energy intake by 25% per day. The fasters were told to consume 25% of their baseline daily calories as a lunch (between 12 pm and 2 pm) on fast days and 125% of their baseline daily calories split between 3 meals on alternating feast days. The calorie restrictors were told to consume 75% of their baseline daily calories split between 3 meals. For the last six months, following the calculation of total daily energy expenditure (by way of doubly labeled water), participants were instructed to maintain their body weights. Fasters were advised to consume 50% of their calculated energy needs at lunch on fast days, and 150% of their energy needs split between 3 meals on alternating feast days. Restrictors were told to stop restricting and instead to consume 100% of their energy needs split between 3 meals.

Throughout it all, both intervention groups received support and counselling from RDs.

The study's primary outcome was weight loss. Physical activity was controlled for and calculated by two 1 week periods of accelerometer use. Dietary adherence was monitored by way of food recall.

Secondary outcomes were blood pressure, heart rate, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, C-reactive protein, and homocysteine concentrations.

Weight loss wise, as you can see from the graph, at virtually no point in time during the year long study was there was a difference found between fasters and restrictors (triangles and squares).

There were also no statistically significant changes found to body composition between the groups.

At 12 months, there were also no differences to be found in any of the secondary outcomes or measures.

In fact the only difference the researchers found was to adherence.

More people dropped out of the fasting intervention (38%) than of the restricting intervention (29%).

I'm not sure how surprising that finding is, as fasting may be challenging for many with respect to lifestyle including to family meal times, socializing with friends, and eating with coworkers.

Or maybe it leads people to be more hangry?

All this to say, if you enjoy fasting as a lifestyle, go for it. But no, it doesn't appear, at least not from this study, that fasting has any magical properties.

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Monday, May 01, 2017

People Self-Medicate With Chunky Monkey Because Chunky Monkey Works

In what's not likely news to those who use food for comfort during times of stress, a recent small study found that at least in regard to the over-consumption of sweet beverages, the sugary ones (and not the artificially sweetened ones), led subjects who were consuming them to lower levels of stress induced cortisol.

The study recruited 19 women without obesity to a parallel-arm, double-masked diet intervention with three phases:
  1. A 3.5 day in-patient pre-intervention where participants were provided a low-sugar baseline diet.
  2. A 12 day outpatient intervention where participants were instructed to consume one serving of either an artificially sweetened provided beverage or a sugar sweetened provided beverages (and they of course weren't told which they were provided with) with each meal while not consuming any additional sweetened beverages
  3. A 3.5 day in-patient intervention where participants were provided with identical diets except for their assigned beverage differences
During the second day of each pre-intervention inpatient period, and after the 12-day outpatient intervention, participants completed an fMRI task designed to induce a stress response which included, " a timed mental arithmetic task and negative feedback" that has been shown in the past to induce physiologic stress which is reflected in elevated cortisol levels and the activation of the limbic system (a part of the brain involved in emotion).

What'd the researchers find?

In what will come as no surprise to anyone who's ever comforted themselves with sugary foods, the sugar drinking subjects were less stressed in that the consumption of beverages with sugar, but not with aspartame, decreased stress-induced cortisol production and led to greater hippocampus activation (an area of the brain inhibited during stress).

Now this was a small study, and limited just to sugar, but I'd bet that were this repeated, this time with a combination of sugar and fat (like the combo you'd find in Chunky Monkey for instance), you'd see an even greater response.

Food's definitely not just fuel.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

The Simpsons Takes on Trump's First 100 Days in Office

Today's Funny's funny all right, and yet at the same time, not so much.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Cult of Personal Responsibility Only Extends To Obesity #COS17

Yesterday saw the release of the Canadian Obesity Network's Report Card On Access To Obesity Treatment for Adults which grades the availability of obesity treatment options in Canada.

While you're welcome to peek at the report, its bottom line is that despite obesity's growth and prevalence, whether it's behavioural programs (and full disclosure, I run one), medications, or surgery, virtually nothing is covered aside from surgery, and among the report's findings, not a single provincial drug benefit plan covers the cost of pharmacotherapy for obesity, nor do any of the Federal Public Drug Benefit Programs.

And it's important to be clear here too as to what CON is talking about when calling for increased access to obesity treatment options. This isn't about vanity. According to CON, obesity,
"should be diagnosed by a qualified health professional using clinical tests and measures that assess health, not size"
and that it matters because,
"obesity is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer and other health problems. It also affects peoples’ social and economic well-being due to the pervasive social stigma around it. Weight bias can increase morbidity and mortality, and is associated with significant employment, healthcare and education inequities."
The responses to the report (in the comment sections of various stories) are anything but surprising and can be summed up by the quotes obtained by the National Post from Senator Kelvin Ogilvie in discussing the report with him
"Obesity, to be blunt, is very largely a lifestyle issue", he said.

It would seem that according to Senator Ogilvie people with obesity have done this to themselves, and similarly, if they just wanted to badly enough, they could fix things stating,
"So, at some point people have to take some responsibility for their own management, and obesity is one of those areas around which, with some initial medical advice and guidance, people do have the opportunity, largely, to manage it on their own."
Now rather than expound on how the provision of health care should not be blame based, or discuss the fact that only ignorance and weight bias leads a person to cite personal responsibility as obesity's answer while simultaneously discussing the appropriateness of medical attention and treatment for a myriad of other chronic non-communicable diseases (diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, many cancers, mood disorders, and many more) which are all also preventable and/or treatable by way of lifestyle, I want to bring your attention to a new study that just came out in JAMA that explored the use of cholesterol lowering medications in patients who had just suffered a heart attack.

You'd imagine that someone who had just survived a heart attack would be an incredibly motivated patient - one that would likely take on behaviour changes to try to prevent a recurrence. Now this study didn't look at the far more difficult behaviour changes involving dietary overhauls and the adoption of regular exercise that would be required in the management of obesity, this study looked at whether or not post-heart attack patients took their daily recommended cholesterol lowering medication - a behaviour that no one could argue requires much effort.

Cholesterol lowering medications are recommended post-heart attack because people who have had heart attacks are at much higher risks of more heart attacks and these medications have been shown to reduce those risks.

Before getting into this study, I should point out that a prior study had found that less than 30% of Medicare beneficiaries 65 to 74 years of age who were hospitalized for heart attacks filled their prescription for statins within 90 days of discharge. That means that the vast majority of patients who'd had heart attacks didn't even bother to try to take on the behaviour change of filling the prescription for, let alone taking, a medication shown to reduce their risk of having another.

This study wanted to explore the rest - the minority of post-heart attack patients who did fill their prescriptions for cholesterol lowering medications, and it followed nearly 60,000 patients hospitalized for a heart attack who filled their prescription for a high dose of cholesterol lowering medication within 30 days of discharge and then tracked the medication's continued usage.

6 months later 32% had stopped taking it with high adherence. 2 years later and 60% weren't taking it as directed, and 20% had stopped taking it altogether.

Pulling the two studies together (which while not statistically fair is something I'm going to do to make a point anyways) suggests that of those patients on Medicare between the ages of 65 and 74 who had a heart attack, 2 years later only 8% were actually following through on the recommended behaviour change of taking a daily high dose statin.

I bring this up because it demonstrates that behaviour changes, even those that as effortless as taking a daily medications, are challenging to sustain.

Regardless of just how tone deaf it is in the face of decades of global increases in weight, to suggest the useless truism of "eat less move more" as a practical approach to the millions of Canadians whose weights are affecting their health or quality of life, the fact is that sustained changes in behaviour challenge each and every one of us regardless of how beneficial those changes might be.

Change being difficult is part of the human condition, and the provision of health care should not be dependent on a person's success therein. Denying that only when it comes to obesity? Well that's just ignorance, or bias, or both.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Will Candy With 30% Less Sugar Just Make Matters Worse?

Once reformulated this candy will "only" be 36.5% free sugar by weight 
A few weeks ago I blogged about the new lower in sugar Kit Kat bar that contains 4 fewer calories than the old bar (with 0.7g less sugar). The front of its package doesn't shout out about lower sugars though, instead it hypes "extra milk and cocoa".

It was the first example I'd seen of the inevitable future of ultra-processed treats that are being designed and launched under the banner of sugar as our global, singular, dietary boogeyman.

While there's little doubt we over consume sugar, and that sugar is one of the primary drivers of hyper-palatability and obesity, if the marketplace sees an influx of "now with 30% less sugar" ultra-processed foods, I'm not sure they won't make matters worse.

And that's precisely the sort of thing we're going to see as evidenced by this new line of Nestlé candy which according to this news story, will be sold alongside the original candy "with a 30% less sugar banner on the packaging"

Sounds an awful lot like the early 1990s when we saw the launch of "Fat-Free" Snackwell cookies (and more of course).

Will the "Now With 30% Less Sugar" banner lead people to buy candy more often? To eat candy more frequently? To eat more candy at each sitting? To grudgingly give in to their naggy kids and pack it in their lunches because it's less bad? Or will it lead to an overall reduction in free sugars and calories consumed?

For the majority of folks, my money's on all of the former, and none of the latter.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Saturday Stories: Car Currency, SuperBabies, and a Supplement Scheme

Debbie Weingarten in Longreads explains the relationship between the currency of cars and how to leave a husband.

Heather Kirk Lanier in Vela on how superbabies don't cry.

Charles Rusnell and Jennie Russell in CBC News highlight a government funded Vitamin D supplement scheme.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Buddy Mercury Sings His Ode To Post November 8th, 2016 America

And I have to say, I'm right there with today's Funny Friday's Buddy.

Have a great weekend

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

For Beginners, Maybe Cooking Shouldn't Be "Healthy"

Serious Eats' 3 Ingredient Stovetop Mac & Cheese
Having worked with literally thousands of patients on improving the quality of their diets I can tell you that the most common barrier I hear to their adoption of more regular home cooked meals is a real or perceived lack of skill or talent at it.

Sometimes their beliefs stem from personal experiences and experiments. Other times they come from one or more family members who have complained about a particular dish (rather than be thankful that someone took the time to cook for them).

I can also tell you that many of the folks who don't cook regularly believe that if they were to start doing so, they'd need to be cooking "healthy" foods.

Why sure, cooking especially healthy meals is a nice aspiration, but if you're a beginner in the kitchen, why not instead focus on cooking meals that while perhaps not incredibly healthy, are meals that you're confident that you or your family will enjoy?

The goal really is to gain comfort in the kitchen and/or to gain the trust of your family members that you can cook yummy things.

So if you're a beginner in the kitchen, maybe cutting your cooking teeth on less healthy meals will encourage you to gain the skills and comfort you'll need to slowly improve your repertoire, and in so doing make the kitchen a room in which you actually enjoy spending time.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Hey MDs, Scales Measure Gravity, Not Health, And Not Lifestyle

Today's guest post comes from long-time reader Sarah Trend who shared with me the handout she received on leaving her most recent endocrinology appointment. She also provided me with her thoughts and kindly agreed to let me share them with you. All this to say, if you're an MD the only thing your patient's weight tells you is the gravitational pull of the earth on them at a given moment in time. It tells you nothing about the presence or absence of health, nor does it tell you anything about their lifestyles. And if you're planning on providing lifestyle related advice, best you explore your patients' actual lifestyles first - regardless of their weights. Plenty of people with higher weights have incredibly healthful lifestyles, and many people with lower weights live awfully unhealthy lives.
I went to the endocrinologist this morning. The PA had me step on the scale and she recorded my weight. There was no discussion whatsoever with her or with the doctor about my weight. Imagine my surprise when I reviewed the "follow up" instructions - photo attached.

For the record, I weigh about 5 lb more than their "long term goal weight". I am 5'8". Had there been any discussion whatsoever, the doctor would have learned that the "weight loss tips" are not of much value to me: I only drink water. I do not eat fast food. I eat breakfast (hard-boiled egg and some fruit) every morning. I watch, at most, one 30-minute TV show a day. My husband does all grocery shopping. We cook >95% of our meals at home (from scratch, not boxes) and I take leftovers for lunch every day. Many of these meals are vegetarian. I get 4-5 hours of vigorous exercise every week - in fact, before my appointment I ran 3.25 miles at a pace of 9:22/mile. I only take the stairs at work. I get >10K steps each day.

Also, my blood pressure, as taken by his PA in the appointment, is 91/56.

So yes, I would really like to lose 10-15 vanity pounds, but that is all they are - vanity pounds. And yes, my weight is a few pounds above a BMI of 25. Had he had a conversation with me, he would have learned that I worked 61 straight 12-16 hour days at the start of this year. Some days, yeah, I grabbed a bag of peanut M&Ms or skittles from the snack cupboard in the office. Because I'm a human. And also - my period is due, so I'm up about 3 pounds of water weight from that.

I am so angry. Is this what passes for medical advice now? Meaningless random comments about weight loss with no conversation about health? I am appalled that an endocrinologist (who presumably sees patients with a variety of weight issues) thinks this is appropriate. Thought you might like to see it.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Saturday Stories: Horseshoe Crabs, Math Proofs, and Fentanyl Addiction

By Asturnut (talk) - I (Asturnut (talk)) created this work entirely by myself., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Caren Chesler in Popular Mechanics on the irreplacable medical marvel that is horseshoe crab blood.

Natalie Wolchover in Wired on the retired German statistician who solved one of mathematics most elusive proofs.

Darryl Green (as told to Katherine Laidlaw) in Toronto Life details his journey from successful ER physician to a fentanyl addiction.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Life Is A Real-Life Episode of Veep

I can't imagine you didn't catch Sean Spicer's recent press conference. If it weren't so horrifying, it'd fit perfectly in HBO's apparently prescient presidential comedy Veep as is evidenced by today's Funny Friday.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

No, Grade 1 Teachers Shouldn't Use Fun Dip To Teach Adjectives

And here I thought I could no longer be shocked by the gratuitous use of junk food to reward, entertain, or pacify kids.

Silly me.

Thanks to a friend who'd rather remain anonymous, I learned that her son's Grade 1 class was given Fun Dip to eat and write about in an exercise on adjectives.

Little did they realize they were also being taught about marketing, and about how giving kids junk food has become so normalized, that their teacher didn't see anything wrong with this lesson.

That the use of candy as a teaching tool didn't give this particular Grade 1 teacher enough pause to not follow through speaks not to her skills as a teacher, but rather to just how pervasive this sort of practice has become. People don't question normal behaviour, but just because something's been normalized, does not make it wise.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

No, Juice Is Not, "Really Close To Fruit"

If I had to rank juice companies by how blatantly their packaging tried to convince consumers that vitamin-fortified sugar water was healthful, Oasis would come out on top by a mile. So I'm not at all surprised to learn that it's Oasis' packaging that now includes the statement,
"Really Close To Fruit"
Nor was I surprised by this new product that I spotted at my local convenience store.

It's candy gussied up by Welch's to infer that it's fruit.

With pictures of grapes across the front, it reports it's "Family Farmer Owned", that it's "Grape", that it's "bursting with fruit flavour", and "made with real fruit juice".

They're 50% sugar by weight.

While I doubt there'll be parents out there who confuse these with actual grapes, I bet the majority will think they're a "better for you" product than Twizzler's Nibs. Yet if you compared the two you'd discover they're pretty much the same, with the Welch's candy actually containing 2.5% more sugar gram for gram than the Nibs.

But at least they're calling them licorice and not "fruit chews" or something of that sort.

Until juice is explicitly removed from national dietary guidelines as being a fruit equivalent we'll continue to see this sort of health-washing.

Oh, and coming down the pipes perhaps to a McDonald's near you?

Minute Maid Slushies - which apparently were debuted at a McDonald's funded children's festival.

No word yet on how much sugar these new faux-healthy Slushies are packing.

[h/t to Christine T. for sharing the "Really Close To Fruit" photo with me on Twitter]

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Saturday, April 08, 2017

Saturday Stories: Concussions, Conservatism, and a Crusade

Reid Forgrave with his debut article in GQ, and it's a doozy - the concussion diaries.

Matthew Sitman in Dissent on leaving conservatism behind.

Maureen Dowd in Vanity Fair on Elon Musk's billion-dollar crusade to pre-empt the AI apocalypse.

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Friday, April 07, 2017

Pushy, Pushy, Cats

Ah to be one of these Funny Friday cats. Looks like they've got a pretty decent setup.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

New Reduced Sugar Kit Kat Bars And The Risks of Overly Simplistic Dietary Demons

One of the things that proponents of low-carb high-fat diets rage against, and probably rightly so, is how the overly simplistic demonization of dietary fats led to the rise of an ultra-processed market place of low-fat (but often high sugar) packaged foods.

And yet many of those same folks spend much of their time beating another overly simplistic drum these days - sugar.

While there's no argument from me that society's excessive consumption of sugar is a large raindrop in our flood of calories and chronic non-communicable diseases, if it becomes a singular focus, we may wind up with products like this new Kit Kat bar.

Nestlé is promoting their new bar on the basis of its reduced sugar content, and its packaging also infers it's "healthier" than before with it's large shout out to having "extra milk and cocoa".

As to the bar itself?

It contains 4 fewer calories than the Kit Kat bar it's replacing along with 0.7g less sugar.

At the end of the day there's a world of difference between "inconsequentially less awful" and "healthier", but that's a distinction that will likely be lost as new lines of ultra-processed foods are launched under the banner of lower sugars.

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Monday, April 03, 2017

Clean Your Plate Club - The Board Game?!

Yep, eat everything your parents put on it and you get to the final, covered, space - dessert.

The plate has won a 2016 National Parenting Product Award, a 2016 Family Choice Award, and was featured by the National Parenting Product Awards.

Yet according to research on feeding kids, pressuring kids to eat "healthy foods" along with using food as a reward are linked with dis-inhibited children's eating patterns.

Having 3 kids, all of who went through their picky eater stages, I know what it feels like when they don't eat. But rather than pressure them, trick them, coerce them (with the promise of dessert if they eat their dinners), or encourage them to ignore whether or not they're full by having required portion sizing, we kept offering them healthy choices, encouraged just "one bite to be polite", allowed fruits and vegetables to their hearts' contents after any meal, involved them in both menu planning and cooking, and didn't ever link dessert with how much or what they ate for dinner (and yes, we have dessert at least once weekly and usually more).

And while your mileage may vary with the strategies we employed, if your kids are turning their noses up at what you're serving them, the gamification of the clean your plate club strikes me as something that could generate some unhealthy, unintended, consequences.

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