Saturday, March 28, 2020

Saturday Stories: Some Of This Week's Most Important #COVID19 Reads

Jennifer Yang, in The Toronto Star, speaks with 3 of Toronto's health care heroes.

Adam Rogers, in Wired, explains what convalescent plasma is and how it might help treat COVID19.

Ed Yong, in The Atlantic, being Ed Yong and writing an incredible piece on how this pandemic might end.

David Enrich, Rachel Abrams and Steven Kurutz, in The New York Time, on the sewing army rising up to help.

Helen Branswell, in STAT, summarizing all the we've learned to date about the SARS-CoV2 virus.

Daniela J. Lamas, in The New York Times, writing as a critical care physician in Boston on the unfathomable reality she's facing there.

Siddhartha Mukherjee, in The New Yorker, on how the coronavirus behaves inside of our bodies.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Saturday Stories: #COVID19 #FlattenTheCurve #CancelEverything Edition

7 views on why social distancing is so important right now and why we have to "cancel everything". If you think that #COVID19 isn't a big deal, do take the time to read these pieces to learn why you're wrong (ordered solely by way of the order I happened to read them in).

Eliza Barclay and Dylan Scott, in Vox.

Tomas Pueyo in Medium

Yascha Monk, in The Atlantic

Helen Branswell, in STAT

André Picard, in The Globe and Mail

Sharon Kirkey in The National Post

Kaitlyn Tiffany in The Atlantic

Also, here's Wency Leung, in The Globe and Mail, on what you should do if you think you have COVID19, and here is the Toronto Star's infographic on what self-isolation should look like if it's determined that you've contracted the virus.

Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris / CC BY-SA

Monday, March 09, 2020

TikTok Is All About Fat Shaming These Days

I was driving with my 13 year old daughter on Saturday and we were just chatting. I asked her what was trending these days on her TikTok stream (in the past she'd been served up antisemitism)? Apparently it's fat shaming Lizzo.

I asked her to share some videos with me.

She sent over 10 in less than a minute.

Some representative examples to follow, but all this to say, TikTok, while hugely entertaining, is a cesspool of hate and bullying, and if your children use it, probably worth asking them every once in a while what's trending on their streams so that you can take the time at least to talk about it.
@noahswitzer98

Everyone please ##stop making ##lizzo memes ##fyp

♬ original sound - noahswitzer98
@nickring4

When you lose Lizzo while your whale watching 😂 ##greenscreen ##lizzo ##meme ##xyzbca ##xyzcba ##joke ##fyp ##memes ##tiktokmemes ##comedy ##comedicgenius

♬ ITs ANIT new girlfriend of your ex - its_anit
@yaboyg35

##greenscreenvideo ##lizzo ##meme ##tacticalnuke ##mw2

♬ original sound - yaboyg35


Saturday, March 07, 2020

Monday, March 02, 2020

Australian Food Industry Launches World's Least Aggressive New Voluntary Self-Regulatory Effort

Waiting for any industry to self-regulate itself is just plain dumb. Honestly, industry's job is to protect and promote sales, and that's of course true for the food industry as well.

Self-regulation tends to crop up not out of altruism or doing the right thing, but rather as a means to forestall legislative regulatory efforts which in turn would prove to be more damaging to sales.

Take this recent initiative out of Australia which will see the food industry not advertising their junk to kids within 150m (500ft) of schools. 150 whole metres! While certainly not likely to do anything at all, it'll be especially useless perhaps in that the school buses themselves will be exempt, as of course will be the bus stops' shelters.

Oh, and as toothless as it is, it's also voluntary.

Really the only thing this initiative will do is provide the food industry with ammunition if and when facing calls for legislated regulation (something we're hearing more and more calls for) and to pretend that they care about anything other than profits.

It's always best to remember, as I've written before, the food industry is neither friend, nor foe, nor partner.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Saturday Stories: Coronavirus Edition

James Hamblin, in The Atlantic, on how yes, you're probably going to get the coronavirus.

Peter Daszak, in The New York Times, welcomes you to the age of pandemics.

Vivian Wang, in The New York Times, with the bad good news that most coronavirus cases are likely to be mild.

Zeynep Tufekci, in Scientific American, on what you can do to prepare for when the coronavirus spreads to your country.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Health Canada Fails Science And Canadians By Allowing Any Purported Weight Loss Supplements To Be Sold

The latest of many systematic reviews and meta-analyses of herbal supplements for weight loss plainly makes the case that there is no justification for their sale.

They. Don't. Work.

None of them.

None. Of. Them.

So why does Health Canada license and allow the sale of 1,128 natural products whose listed purported use is for weight management? Or of the 671 products that purport they'll improve sexual enhancement? Or of pretty much any of them?

Maybe the answer lies somewhere in the taxation of the $1.8 billion annual Canadian sales of vitamins and supplements?

Maybe it lies in well-intentioned hope?

Maybe it lies is political contributions and lobbying?

But the one place where it doesn't lie is in science. Shouldn't that be the only place that matters?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Oh My God The Nutrition World Is Painful

Short post to say that watching people aggressively argue about their preferred diets of choice, and seeing reputable people willing to prop up the most shameless of medical hucksters if they happen to share a nutritional belief, and confirmation bias cherrypicking, and the endless debates about physiology, and meal timing, and breakfast, and fasting, and macronutrients, and lipids, and anti-science shilling, and multi-level marketing, and so much more, is so very tiresome.

As a clinician I know that what actually matters is how to help the person sitting in front of me, remembering that science, meal patterns, macronutrients, and physiology, may not always matter the way some study says they could or should in the face of an individual's life and personal preferences. Ultimately, and regardless of what I think is "right" on paper or right for me, my job is to help patients make sustainable changes that in turn lead them towards the healthiest life that they can actually enjoy.

Similarly, as a public health advocate, I know that if there were any amount of education, or a brilliantly crafted public health message, that in turn would effectively drive societal behaviour change we'd have all already changed all of our behaviours. I can also tell you that energies spent on initiatives relegated to personal responsibility, including but not restricted to those promoting one person's diet tribe, pale in importance to energies spent on initiatives relevant to changing the food environment. And there's no shortage of targets that span all dietary dogmas - from advertising to kids, front-of-package health claim reforms, junk food fundraising, the provision of free cooking skills to kids and adults, national school food programs and improvements, tax incentives and disincentives, and more.

All this to say, it's my opinion that these two flawed foci, that there's one best or right way and that personal responsibility will be our salvation, are the two main reasons why we can't have nice things in nutrition and nutrition related public health.