Friday, August 25, 2006


Ok, I admit I took some blogger license with the post title. I've got nothing against Starbucks and in fact enjoy their coffee very much.

I am however going to use them to illustrate why the visible posting of calories on food items would be helpful.

Let's take a hypothetical 45 year old 150lb woman who like most North Americans, is inactive. According to the metabolism calculator I've referred to in a prior post, she likely burns 1800 calories daily.

Like most days, she decides she's going to hit Starbucks for coffee and breakfast. Having read about the health benefits of whole grain oats she chooses the Island Oat Bar and a Caramel Frappucino (hold the whip cream).

The Island Oat Bar has 760 calories including a heart busting 8 grams of saturated fat while her frappucino has 390 calories for a grand total of 1150 calories (more calories than 2 Big Macs or 4 McDonald's Cheeseburgers) or 65% of her total daily burned calories. Small wonder she's gaining weight and small wonder when she goes to her doctor to complain, she reports, "But I really don't eat very much". The fact is, not very much of high calorie food can still lead people to high calorie intakes.

As far as I'm concerned, it's only a matter of time until there is legislation to have calories on menuboards. Until that time, the onus is on each of us to find the calories ourselves.

A great website to look up calories is

Remember you can gain weight on an all-salad diet if you eat enough salad and you can lose weight on an all ice-cream diet so long as you don't eat too much.

At the end of the day, it's the calories that count.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

NEWSFLASH: Being overweight isn't good for you!

In what I'm sure will be a disappointment to those individuals who still persist in denying that there is medical risk associated with obesity a landmark study was published in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

527,265 people were followed for over a decade in determining the risk of weight on life expectancy. The study was controlled for ethnicity, smoking status, education, physical activity and alcohol consumption.

During the 10 years of follow up 42,173 men and 19,144 women died. The death curves were U shaped with dramatic increases in risk as weight climbed.

These data also included 186,000 non-smokers. In that group the risk of death from obesity and overweight was substantially strengthened.

When restricting their observations to those who were free of preexisting diseases again there was a strengthening of the relationship between weight and death.

The bottom line's not really news - being overweight or obese is bad for your health.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Fat Clock

You know those clocks that count? The ones that post a real-time count of things like a country's accumulating national debt, number of people on earth, people dying of various diseases?

Well there's a new clock on the block - the Fat Clock. Using a fairly sophisticated home-made algorithm the Diet Detective website has a clock posting the running tally of the weight of all Americans. It takes into account birth rate, death rate, population age and other variables.

According to the clock, Americans are currently gaining 1,267 pounds per minute!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Walk away (briskly) from depression

A great deal of well designed research has been published demonstrating that exercise is just as good, if not better, than antidepressants for mild to moderate depression.

One of the best papers on the matter was published in 2000 in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. In it Michael Babyak and his co-authors randomly assigned 156 depressed adults to one of three groups: Zoloft, Exercise, or Zoloft plus exercise. They then looked at depression after 4 months and again after 10 months utilizing the fairly standard Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression.

Exercise involved 10 minutes of warmup followed by 30 minutes of moderate intensity cycling, jogging or brisk walking and finally by 5 minutes of cool down. This was performed 3 times per week.

The results were impressive. After 16 weeks of treatment all groups showed significant reductions in their depressive symptoms. Medication worked faster, but by week 16 exercise had caught up. What was more impressive were the results at 10 months - those exercising had lower remission rates than those on Zoloft or a combination of Zoloft and exercise.

The authors summarized their results with the following statement, "Each 50-minute increment in exercise per week was associated with a 50% decrease in the odds of being classified as depressed"

Bottom line: Don't throw out your pills, but slowly, along with your doctor, it may be reasonable to try to trade your drugs for some great shoes and a minor committment to exercise.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

That's one scary cookie jar!

Here's a cookie jar you don't want to get your hands stuck in - the Shockolate Vault designed to keep you away from your goodies.

Not recommended by me as a diet aid, definitely recommended by me as a gag gift, the Shockolate Vault, can be set to "protect" your valuables or goodies for a given period of time. Try to get to them before the time is up and "there will be shocking consequences".

Would make for some interesting, amateur science experiements.