Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An Employment Lawyer's Take on the McDonald's "Human Rights Violation"

Last week I blogged about the "human rights" case involving a worker at McDonald's who was awarded $50,000 because McDonald's, a restaurant, had the audacity of not creating a job for the worker that did not involve handwashing - this despite the fact that in a McDonald's restaurant no such job exists.

In the comments section of my blog there were a few folks who were quite upset with my take on the situation.

They felt that I misunderstood the ruling.

I felt they misunderstood the ruling.

Apparently, the Financial Post sides with my take on the issue as today they weighed in on this "human rights violation".

It was Howard Levitt's Workplace Law column that took on the story.

He too felt that the ruling to "cease the discriminatory conduct or similar conduct and refrain from committing such conduct in the future." meant that McDonald's could no longer insist that their workers wash their hands and commented,

"One might think consumer safety should supercede the right of an employee with unclean hands!"
He also took issue with the notion that McDonald's should have created a job for this worker noting that the tribunal (Ms. Parrack) was well aware that there were no jobs that did not require handwashing,
"This is despite Ms. Parrack's acknowledging all jobs at Mc-Donald's require hand washing and, depending on how busy a section is, any position might quickly take over for another."
and that the Ms. Parrack also agreed that it may not be possible to create such a position.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Levitt has also called for a reigning in of these ridiculous tribunals.

Think Mr. Levitt is wrong?

Well feel free to take it up with him - you can write him at hlevitt(at)

Before you do so however you should know that Howard Levitt probably knows a bit more than you about workplace law as he is an employment lawyer who practises in seven Canadian provinces, is recognized by the 6th Edition of The World's Leading Labour and Employment Lawyers published by Euromoney, is listed in all editions of The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a leader in Employment & Labour Law, and is the author of Canada's leading dismissal text book, The Law of Dismissal in Canada and the recently published The Law of Dismissal for Human Resources Professionals.

Japan Penalizes Employers for Obese Workers

Who says governments can't get involved in the obesity fight?

Not Japan.

This month all Japanese employees over the age of 40 will undergo a mandatory "flab check" to ascertain their risk of developing metabolic syndrome - the constellation of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL (good cholesterol) and insulin resistance.

The cut off for men will be 85cm or 33.5 inches (I couldn't find the cut off for women).

If you're found to be wider than the cut off you'll be given an exercise and diet plan and in some cases you might be referred to a doctor.

Japanese firms will be required to cut the number of overweight workers and their dependants by 10% by 2012 and those firms who fail to do so will face surcharges of up to 10% on contributions to a welfare fund for the elderly.

My take?

While I'm all for government involvement in obesity treatment and prevention, I don't think this is really the way to go. Penalties are not something I would ever want to see imposed and while one might argue they're penalizing the corporations not the individuals, I'll be curious to see what Japan's unemployment numbers do in 2012 when a bunch of obese folks get layed off before their corporations get penalized.

What do you think?

[Hat tip to my sister Michal and her colleague Josh]

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Scary Statistics

According to an article in Diabetes Care the number of pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes has doubled in just 6 years.

This was no small study either. The study looked at 175,249 women ages 13-58 years with 209,287 deliveries of 20 weeks gestation from 1999 through 2005.

Back in 1999 only 10% of children born to diabetic mothers were born to moms with pre-existing diabetes (90% were in moms who developed gestational, or during pregnancy, diabetes). By 2005, that number climbed to 21%.

Even more alarming?

The number of diabetic teenagers giving birth rose more than 5 fold.

Yup, diabetic teenagers.

We sure can't call it "adult-onset" any longer. Perhaps we should call it "nutritional" or "weight-related" diabetes?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Kids Agree Ontario's Trans-fat "Ban" is Useless

Some of my longer term readers may remember my take on Ontario's trans-fat "ban".

The word ban is in quotes because it's not actually a ban, it's just the removal of trans-fats from schools whereas a ban would involve removing it from the Province.

I called it shameless political hay and pointed out that banning it solely in schools will do nothing to decrease its consumption since you can buy it elsewhere and that it will have zero impact on the rates of childhood obesity since the currency of weight is calories and not trans-fats.

Interestingly, on the CTV blog who picked up my take on the story, I took some flak in their comments section. Readers were aghast that I was unable to see the good in the plan.

Well, today I'd like to share some comments with them. These comments come from a Durham region online news source's story on the trans-fat "ban". For the story the reporter interviewed some students about their take on the "ban". The kids were asked,

"How will the upcoming trans-fat ban affect you?"
You can see their responses in the articles sidebar, but I'm going to include them all here,
"I think it'll suck because I eat food there every day, I eat chips, chocolate bars, chickenburgers and cheeseburgers. I'll have to go to Pizza Nova or make my lunch and bring it in"

"it won't really affect me because I only eat large fries once a week, a cheeseburger once in a while, and Miss Vickie's jalapeno chips. I'll just eat that stuff when I get home."

"It won't affect me at all because I don't eat in the cafeteria very much. I eat a chickenburger or some chips once in a while. I think it'll be a good thing, though"

"I don't think it'll affect me because I don't buy lunch in the cafeteria.""
Yeah, that "ban"'s sure going to do a lot.

[Hat tip to our fitness director Rob]

Friday, April 25, 2008

"A New and Better Holiday"

Before you click the video be forewarned - if you don't like profanity or Earth Day satire, please don't click the video below.

While I don't necessarily share the sentiments expressed in the video, in honour of this week's Earth Day (during which Starbucks kindly filled up my thermos for free), for today's Funny Friday I thought I'd post a contrarian's view.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another Reason Not to Eat Beef

Assuming of course you care about the environment and are worried about global warming. If you don't and you're not, this post doesn't apply to you.

There's a new word being bandied about to go alongside words like carnivore or vegetarian and that word is locavore and it refers to individuals who strive to eat locally with their predominant rationale being that it'll help the planet to not truck tomatoes in from Mexico or garlic in from Chile.

Strict locavores may limit their dietary choices to foods that come from within a 50 mile radius of where they live. The word (and presumably the practice) has become so trendy as to have been voted the 2007 word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary.

Well a study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology says that while indeed eating local does reduce greenhouse emissions, if you're a local carnivore who likes beef, you're probably not helping much.

The researchers estimated that shifting to an entirely local diet would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of driving a hypothetical 1,600km (1,000 miles) less per year.

They also estimated that switching one day's beef meal to anything other than beef would likely have the same impact.


Because transportation of food apparently only contributes 4% to total food supply greenhouse gas emissions, while production of food contributes 83%.

And what food contributes the most?

Beef. Delicious, bad for you, cancer-inducing, beef. On average beef production contributes 2.5 times more greenhouse gas emissions than those from emitted during the production of chicken or fish.

What's the second worst?


Really want to help the environment?

Become a vegetarian - the study authors estimate that doing so would be the equivalent of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a hypothetical 12,800 transport kilometres (8,000 miles) per year and this is even if you're not a locavore.

Food for thought?

[Hat tip to loyal blog reader and eagle-eyed Rob]

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More Canadian Health Hypocrisy

Four days ago, Tony Clement, Canada's Minister of Health announced that the Government of Canada was calling on an immediate ban on the sale of bisphenol-A containing bottles in Canada.


Well there have been some studies that suggest that there may be some risk to bisphenol-A, especially with newborns.

But I think the real reason why is because politically it's easy to do.

Certainly the science isn't there yet, and of course the government knows that too. Here's a quote from their own press release,

"The scientists concluded in this assessment that bisphenol A exposure to newborns and infants is below levels that may pose a risk"
But they want to be prudent. Here's Tony Clement on the matter,
"We have immediately taken action on bisphenol A, because we believe it is our responsibility to ensure families, Canadians and our environment are not exposed to a potentially harmful chemical."
So where's the hypocrisy?

Let's look at what Tony Clement and our government had to say about trans-fats - an absolutely proven to be harmful substance,
"We are giving industry two years to reduce trans fats to the lowest levels possible as recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force."
Our government needs to stop making policy on the basis of politics and instead make policy on the basis of evidence.

I guess the baby bottle industry lobby isn't as powerful as Big Food's.

[And before anyone gets themselves in knots regarding my personal stance on bisphenol-A (which I don't note above), you should know that my 15 month old now drinks from glass baby bottles. If there's no need to take a chance, why would I?

It's not that I'm suggesting the risk associated with BPA is or isn't a certainty, just that the evidence isn't in yet. The same cannot be said for trans-fats where the evidence is quite overwhelming, yet here's our government acting immediately on BPA and sitting on its trans-fat filled hands.]

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

From the Journal of Duh?

A headline from one of my media trawls caught my eye yesterday, "Fruit and vegetables may help weight loss" and so I clicked the link and found myself face to face with an article discussing a recent paper published in Nutrition Research.

The paper, High intake of fruits and vegetable predicts weight loss in Brazilian overweight adults details the story of 80 overweight Brazilians who attended a nutritional counseling program. Comparing their weight and food frequency questionairre answers from both before and after the 6 month program they found.....


People who ate more fruits and vegetables lost more weight.

Why isn't this exciting?

A few reasons.

Firstly because of the study's design. In its analysis it only controlled for age, sex, changes in walking time and total energy intake. No mention of meals out, exercise outside of walking, macronutrient dietary changes, frequency of meals and snacks and many other variables that certainly have a role in weight loss differences.

Secondly because it's not news. Barbara Rolls has dedicated her life's work to the concept of energy density which can be summarized simply in saying eat more foods with lower energy densities (calories per gram) like vegetables and fruits and you'll lose weight.

Thirdly because in the study the weight loss we're talking about in this study is barely weightloss - 3.08lbs over 6 months.

I've seen constipation weigh more than 3.08lbs.

Bottom line?

Eating fruits and vegetables can certainly help with you with weight loss if they are replacing higher calorie options and certainly irregardless of their effect on your weight, they're good for you. But as far as this study goes all it taught me was that I won't be recommending the weight loss program in Brazil that over 6 months only managed to help patients lose a grand total 3lbs and eat a whole 3.5 ounces more fruits and vegetables a day.

Monday, April 21, 2008

How to Use a Scale

A while ago I posted about scale addiction and how often you should weigh yourself. It was my opinion that while losing once a week, stark naked, before breakfast, after pee on Wednesdays was my preference, and that while maintaining, daily was a good idea.

Today I'm going to take it further and explain how to deal with the number you see staring back at you.

Firstly if you're trying to lose weight it's important before you step onto the scale, to ask yourself how you're doing. After all, what does the scale know? How you're doing depends on how you're living, and the scale frankly knows nothing about that. If you're happy with how you've been living and feel that you're making the healthiest choices you can enjoy, even if the scale goes up, it shouldn't take away your pride in your accomplishments.

So once you've decided how you're doing, next you step onto the scale.

Looking at the number, you've got to remember a bunch of stuff. You've got to remember that scales measure a lot of extra stuff. Clothing (if you're wearing any), constipation (can weigh up to two pounds), water retention (time of the month, after a salty meal, from sore muscles) and it doesn't know if there have been great reasons to have Calories - celebratory and comfort reasons that definitely call for indulgences.

Ok, now you're looking at the number. If you're happy with it step down and you're done.

If you're unhappy with it, you've got to ask yourself two questions:

1. Am I doing something about it?
2. Do I know what I'm doing?

If the answers to those questions are "Yes", then there's nothing to worry about, even if the number's not doing what you want. Remember there is the law of averages at play too meaning that some weeks you'll lose far more than you'd expect and some weeks far less and that at the end of the day, doing the best you enjoy, not the best you can tolerate, is truly the best you can do sustainably.

Going back to that question number 2. What does knowing what you're doing mean? Well to me it means knowing how many Calories you're eating, otherwise it'd be like getting upset at your Visa bill despite having gone shopping without looking at price tags.

Bottom line, you may not love the number you see staring back at you, it may be distressing to you, but at the end of the day, if you're doing something about it, and you know what you're doing, you're doing great.

Friday, April 18, 2008



It's that time of the year again where for the next 8 days Jewish colons around the globe strain to handle huge volumes of matzah - the dry unleavened bread of Passover.

Today's two part Funny Friday includes this musical tribute to one of my least favourite foods.

Have a great weekend, and if appropriate, Chag Sameach!

Conan O'Brien's Writer gets his Computer Serviced

Living in North America outsourcing computer help desk jobs has become pretty much the norm.

Apparently NBC's computers' help desk is located in India.

How do I know?

I watched this video on youtube.

For this special two-part Funny Friday, you should too (bear with it to the 2 minute mark - it really picks up after that).

Have a great weekend!

[Hat tip goes out to Rob our fitness director]

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Your Human Right NOT to Wash your Hands Working at McDonald's?

In Canada right now there is a great deal of scrutiny being cast on our country's various human rights tribunals.

The tribunals were established to help ensure that complainants who felt they were being discriminated against due to their race or sex could settle their disputes. Unfortunately it seems that over time these tribunals have extended their reach and now try to arbitrate many matters that you might have thought would have been beyond their purvey.

In the case of Ezra Levant, former publisher of the Western Standard, they are trying to quash his freedom of speech. He is being investigated by the Alberta Human Rights Commission for his magazines publication of the Danish cartoons of Muhammad that led to riots in many Muslim countries. He's explicitly detailed his dealings with the courts and regardless of your political bent, it makes for fascinating and frightening reading. I'd start with this post of his and then work your way up from it (January 11th, 2008) in his archives.

So after that long tangent it brings me to Ezra's post from yesterday detailing the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruling that awarded a McDonald's employee almost $50,000 for apparently violating her "human right" to not wash her hands while she worked there. Here's a brief clip from Ezra's blog,

"Datt wouldn't wash her hands. She just wouldn't -- she said she couldn't. So her employment was terminated. The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ordered that McDonald's pay her not only $23,000 for "lost income", but an additional $25,000 for her "dignity and self-respect". You see, in B.C. a food preparation worker's self-respect trumps a company's commitment to cleanliness. They violated her "human rights".

The $50,000+ penalty -- plus several years of legal fees and medical and rehab experts -- isn't the worst of it. Inventing a "human right" for a worker to go to the bathroom and then to handle meat without washing her hands in between, as an excuse for that $50,000 shakedown isn't the worst of it either.

The worst of it is that the BCHRT has ordered that McDonald's, in paragraph 298 of the decision, to "cease the discriminatory conduct or any similar conduct and refrain from committing the same or similar contravention.
While I'm not trying to diminish the medical condition of the complainant, I would think that certainly a restaurant has the right to fire someone who is unable to wash their hands especially given that it's actually the law as Ezra points out,
"In B.C., McDonald's hygiene policy isn't just a matter of corporate pride. It's a matter of the law -- both the Health Act and the Food Premises Regulations. And then there's B.C.'s Food Protection Guidelines issued by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control."
We live in a strange, strange world.

Bottom line on the matter?

Maybe it'd be best to avoid the McDonald's located on South West Marine Drive in Vancouver.

For a brief overview of this whole issue (human rights tribunals, not the McDonald's case), here's national treasure Rick Mercer's rant on the matter:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The "You Look Soooo Great" Speech

4 years of exclusively working in obesity medicine later, I've learned a few things that certainly aren't taught by society, medical school or weight loss books.

One of those things was the, "You should stop losing weight phenomenon" which I blogged about in the past.

Today I'm going to share another.

It's the "You look soooo great" great speech and why you shouldn't deliver it.

Now I realize that on the surface going on about someone looking great doesn't sound insulting, but let me give you a different way to hear it.

Let's say that over the course of the past year you've lost a significant amount of weight - enough weight let's say that it makes folks you haven't seen in a long time's heads' turn and eyes bug out.

Let's say that they're then so inclined to come over to you and deliver an oration on how great you look now, how much better you must feel now, how wonderful it is you've finally done this, how much happier you must be now, and so on and so forth.

You might thing, "So what's wrong with that? Those are all compliments, no?"

Sure they are. But of course their effusive enthusiasm about how great you look now translates into you hearing how terrible you looked before.

My advice?

If someone's lost a great deal of weight and you're so inclined to say something, three simple words, "You look great" is much better received than a full-on speech.

Think I'm nuts?

Let's ask my readers. Can you relate to what I'm reporting here or are the folks who have mentioned this phenomenon to me overly sensitive?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Now This is Going Too Far

You know I'm all about healthy living, but this is really going too far.

It's a house in Long Island, NY and it was specifically designed to be, get this, as uncomfortable to live in as possible.

The house even has a name, it's called the Bioscleave House and it's also known as the Lifespan Extending Villa.

So why would it be a good idea for the home to be uncomfortable?

Well according to an article from the New York Times, the designers feel,

"Its architecture makes people use their bodies in unexpected ways to maintain equilibrium, and that, she said, will stimulate their immune systems."
So what's uncomfortable? Well as you can see from the picture above, the floor is an undulating, uneven mass with poles for stability and if you click on the slideshow on the New York Times' website, you'll also see that power outlets and light switches are placed at seemingly random and hard to reach locations.

Other than perhaps Dr. James Levine, I'm not sure who else would want this house. That might explain why not surprisingly, the house is unoccupied - but if you've got $2 million to spare, its wonders can be yours.

A word of advice to the would be buyers - if you go out for a bender, instead of getting a taxi home, rent a room.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Subway's Jared Celebrates 10 Years of Weight Maintenance!

Congratulations go out to Subway's Jared for doing what the vast majority of those that lose weight don't do - keep it off.

According to an article in the Washington Post, Jared's Subway eureka moment came back when he weighed 425lbs and his college roommate at Indiana University made a tape recording of the sounds he made while sleeping (severe sleep apnea can sound quite dramatic and frightening). He reports trying a few other efforts before finally settling in on his now famous Subway diet which arose with him reading a nutrition facts panel while standing in line for a sub. The rest of course, is marketing history.

Jared's Subway diet amounted to roughly 1,500 Calories a day, low for the majority of men, combined with lots of walking.

Subway took notice after Jared was featured on multiple local media outlets and he has remained a spokesman for them every since.

He no longer formally counts Calories but certainly practices Calorie awareness and knows what portions work best in his own personal foodscape.

Jared's not alone in his weight maintenance success. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) now numbers well into the thousands and to be a registrant you've had to have lost over 30lbs and kept it off for over 1 year. The last time I saw Dr. Rena Wing (one of the registry's founders) speak, the average registrant had lost 66lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years.

So how do the registrants do it? The NWCR has a great facts page and here are some highlights,

  • Duration of successful weight loss has ranged from 1 year to 66 years!

  • Some have lost the weight rapidly, while others have lost weight very slowly--over as many as 14 years.

  • 45% of registry participants lost the weight on their own and the other 55% lost weight with the help of some type of program.

  • 98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.

  • 94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking.

  • 78% eat breakfast every day.

  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.

  • 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.
  • One thing's absolutely certain and during a working day you'll hear me say it at least 5 times a day,
    "The more weight you'd like to permanently lose, the more of your lifestyle you'll need to permanently change"
    which of course then leads me to the,
    "Therefore if you don't like the life you're living while you're losing, you're much more likely to gain it back"
    Jared has kept his weight off because he likes his new lifestyle.

    Do you like yours?

    Congratulations again Jared.

    Friday, April 11, 2008

    The 3 Minute Parent

    Given that my wife's on call this weekend and I've got the kids alone I wonder if I can just loop this video and stay in bed?

    Today's Funny Friday - the 3 minute parent.

    Have a great weekend!

    [Hat tip to my friend and colleague Dr. Barry Dworkin from the nationally syndicated radio program Sunday House Call]

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    "A Perfect Portion"

    My wonderful wife picked these up for me from the cafeteria at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

    Notice two things - the words, "A Perfect Portion" and the 75g size of the bag.

    I imagine most folks when buying the People's Pantry line of "Perfect Portions" (they sell lots of different "Perfect Portions" - other nuts, jelly beans etc.) would assume that they were appropriately sized portions.

    Now let's take a look at the back (click it if you can't see):

    2 obvious questions here:

    If it is a "Perfect Portion" why is it that the nutritional information is per 40g of the 75g serving?

    How it it possible that the salt-as-a-second-ingredient, visibly-covered-in-it nuts only contain 1mg of sodium per serving?

    The lesson here of course is that you've always, always got to read labels to actually know what you're eating.

    In this case the "Perfect Portion" of nuts, if consumed wholly, would provide you with a perhaps not so perfect 460 Calories (more than a quarter-pounder at McDonald's) and who knows how much sodium.

    [Given the sale of this product in a hospital, where some patients may well medically be ill-advised to consume too much sodium, I've taken the liberty of writing to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency who I hope might also take issue with the wording, "A Perfect Portion" on the front.]

    Wednesday, April 09, 2008

    Welcome Livin' La Vida Low-Carb'ers

    I want to welcome the folks arriving from the Jimmy Moore's Livin' La Vida Low Carb blog!

    While not a true low-carb'er, I'm a Canadian family doctor with a focus in obesity medicine and my blog Weighty Matters tries to look at obesity, the media and nutrition from what I feel to be a common sense, realistic and hopefully (at least sometimes) humourous manner.

    Enjoy yourselves, poke around and hope to see you again soon.

    Best regards,

    Treat High Cholesterol with Chocolate?

    What? You didn't know you could do that?

    Get with it.

    Dove Chocolate, an arm of the Mars company, has created two new chocolate bars: Dove Vitalize and Dove Beautiful.

    According to the press release Dove Vitalize,

    "contains rich dark chocolate, plus energy-releasing B vitamins, the natural goodness of cocoa flavanols to help support circulatory health and plant sterols to help maintain a healthy cholesterol level"
    While Dove Beautiful,
    "contains smooth milk chocolate, plus skin nourishing vitamins C & E, biotin, zinc, and cocoa flavanols that help hydrate from within to support beautiful-looking skin"
    Uh huh. Who needs Lipitor when you can simply eat chocolate?

    Yeah, that's gonna help.

    I think they ought to be named Dove Dummify and Dove Sucker.

    For more, here's a video press release from Mars (designed to look like real news).

    [Hat tip to Julie from It Must have Been Something I Ate and Dinner with Julie]

    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    Children's Junk Food Ad Ban in Ontario?

    We're one step closer.

    Yesterday Ontario New Democrat Rosario Marchese introduced a private members bill that if passed would ban advertising of food and drinks to children under 13.

    Proponents of the bill (myself included) recognize that banning advertising to children is a good idea in and of itself given that studies have proven that children (especially children under the age of 6), are unable to discern the difference between truth and advertising, and that there's simply no need to enable Big Food to hoodwink our kids into thinking junk food is healthy.

    So who would be against this bill? Well Big Food and marketers.

    Guess what?

    In the media today you're going to see quotes from two organizations, a group shadily entitled, "The Concerned Children's Advertisers" which is an industry organization representing the interests of 16 Big Food corporations including General Mills, Kraft, Coca Cola and Pepsi and another group entitled the, "Media-Awareness Network" representing the interests of founding member Bell and supporter CTVGlobemedia.

    What will they be saying about the proposed ad ban?

    They'll be saying that:

  • There's no proof it'll help

  • In our day and age with the internet and satellite television even if we ban it in Ontario, it'll still trickle in

  • That Big Food has already voluntarily reduced targeted children's advertising

  • My take on those arguments?

    1. There's no proof it'll help because it hasn't been done (except in Quebec where albeit minimally, they have the lowest rate of childhood obesity in the country) and frankly given the inability of young children to see the difference between truth and advertising, it doesn't matter. We shouldn't allow folks to prey on our children's innocence. Furthermore, the argument's longer version is the, "obesity it too complex to blame on one thing" argument which then effectively paralyzes action. As I've mentioned before, "no single raindrop thinks it's responsible for the flood". Junk food ads are certainly one fat raindrop.

    2. Yes, there are still satellite televisions and the internet - so what? There's a heck of a lot of hard core pornography on the internet too, doesn't mean I want my kids watching commercials for it. Furthermore, as we're seeing with calls to ban trans-fats and post calories on menus, these types of things have a tendency to build on themselves.

    3. Big Food's voluntary reduction? Read my post on their fantabulous initiative by clicking here.

    Perhaps MPP Marchese said it best in a quote from an article in the Toronto Star,
    "Some children's advertisers claim that you can't put a fence around the ocean to protect children. We're not trying to put a fence around the ocean, we're simply putting lifeguards on the beach where our children are just learning to swim."
    What can you do?

    Well if you live in Ontario you can contact your MPP and let them know that in fact your support Mr. Marchese's bill. If our MPPs feel there's enough public support, maybe, just maybe, the Trix rabbit will die.

    (For a list of Ontario MPPs click here. If you don't know your electoral district you can click here. Unfortunately the government's postal code MPP search is down)

    Monday, April 07, 2008

    Must See TV

    Not so much about weight, more about life.

    A celebration of life actually, delivered by someone where illness will almost certainly cut life short.

    Over 6 million folks have watched it online already and this coming Wednesday April 9th, ABC and Diane Sawyer will be covering it in their presentation "The Last Lecture: A Love Story For Your Life" at 10pm/9 CST.

    "The Last Lecture" the title refers to was actually entitled Really Achieving your Childhood Dreams and it was delivered by Dr. Randy Pausch a Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon who in the summer of 2006 was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. By August 2007 the cancer was found to have spread and he was given the prognosis of 3-6 months to live.

    In September of 2007 Dr. Pausch delivered a lecture at Carnegie Mellon University. It was part of a series entitled, "The Last Lecture Series" where academics are asked to present a hypothetical last lecture presenting it as if it were their last lecture; their last chance to impart whatever wisdom they felt was most important for them to share.

    Clearly in Dr. Pausch's case, his last lecture wasn't necessarily just a theoretical exercise.

    On Wednesday ABC will be covering Dr. Pausch's amazingly inspirational and surprisingly uplifting story. Here's their trailer:

    If you'd rather, you can watch his entire "Last Lecture" online (amazing speech), but make sure you've got some time - it's nearly 2 hours long.

    And lastly, if you're so inclined, you can watch the lecture Dr. Pausch himself is most proud of delivering and that's his lecture on time management. It's roughly an hour long where Dr. Pausch notes that the first 8 minutes are, "introductions I don't deserve"

    Dr. Pausch is still fighting - for his own postings on his fight, feel free to head over to his update site.

    Keep on slugging Dr. Pausch, and thank you.

    Friday, April 04, 2008

    Do you Love your Job?

    How many of you love your jobs?

    I adore mine.

    Some folks however, they're happier than me.

    Today for Funny Friday my instruction is, "Keep your eyes on the drummer"

    Have a great weekend!

    (P.S. Video starts at around the 15 second mark, drummer's happiness grows throughout)

    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    World's Best Nasal Product?

    So let me be very upfront - this post really isn't about a "Weighty Matter".

    Today I'm blogging about a product I started using a week ago and the results have been so astounding, I feel compelled to write about it.

    It's called Neilmed's Sinus Rinse and basically it's a squeeze bottle that you fill with warm water, some salt and some baking soda and then squirt it up your nose.

    I know, it sounds rather vile.

    It's phenomenal.

    I've suffered for years with chronic nasal congestion. Going to bed every night I would sniffle and blow and try to get enough stuff out of my nostrils to be less disturbing to my wonderful wife. I would rarely succeed.

    So, desperate I turned to the internet and read about sinus rinsing and found a lot of rave reviews for sinus rinses and neti pots.

    Now my readers here certainly know, I'm a natural born skeptic, but given how cheap the thing is and that I had nothing to lose, I picked one up from my local pharmacy.

    Within one day of use my nose was markedly clearer. A week later I'm down to using it only once a day and my nose is clearer than I can literally ever remember it being with our without medication.

    Frankly I'm gob-smacked.

    Now I won't suggest it's a pleasant experience to use, but at the same time, it's certainly not painful.

    If you've got nasal congestion or allergies, I'd recommend one in a heartbeat. Worst case scenario, you'll be out the $10.49 it sells for on

    Want one?

    Click here.

    (In Canada - they sell them in Shoppers Drug Mart for I believe $16)

    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    Why Would a Hospital Serve Poutine?

    One of the things I've learned from writing this blog is that make enough noise and have a strong enough case and you'll be amazed what can come of it.

    Today I've got an example of a young new doc, using his voice.

    Dr. Rob Stevenson, a cardiology resident at Dalhousie, recently wrote a column for the Chronicle Herald detailing his experiences with his hospital's cafeteria.

    The QE II hospital's cafeteria had been featured in the news as students from a local school who had outlawed junk food, started showing up in the nearby hospital's cafeteria to eat the now comparatively junkier hospital food. In fact that picture up above was taken by Rob and shows a group of cardiologists and nurses heading over to the high school to see their healthy fare and a group of students heading out to the hospital cafeteria to get their french fry fix.

    The QE II, in response to the bad press, apparently came out to state that cafeteria customers were adults, "who can make their own decisions" and that there were some, "healthy choices at point of sale".

    Adults sure, but as Dr. Stevenson rightly points out,

    "The customers of the QE II cafeterias are often patients and their families, in addition to many of my fellow workers at the hospital. The food is often consumed during the most stressful of times, and throughout long days, and nights in-house."
    And about those healthy choices?
    "I have been mostly aware of chips, cookies, doughnuts and chocolate bars – hardly a lasting image of sound nutrition."
    The QE II has hemmed and hawed that changes will be coming sooner rather than later, but Dr. Stevenson wonders, why wait?
    "Every day is the perfect day to stop serving fries and doughnuts. Every day is the perfect day for a health care institution to lead by healthy example."
    No, it's not going to change obesity rates in Canada but I can't help but agree with Dr. Stevenson that hospitals have an obligation to patients to lead by example and to quote him again directly,
    "On a daily basis, we physicians make recommendations to patients regarding lifestyle, and every day we battle with the poor food choices offered by vendors within the hospital. Why would any fried food (yes, doughnuts are fried) ever be available in a health care facility? Why would a hospital serve poutine?
    Why indeed?

    Kudos to Dr. Stevenson - I wish there were more docs like him willing to use their voices. Let's hope his noise affects change.

    Stay tuned over the course of the next few weeks for more hospital cafeteria woes as I take you on a guided tour of Ottawa's offerings (hint, they're not any better).

    : For my international friends and readers who don't know what poutine is, it's french fries, smothered in cheese curds, smothered in gravy. Here's a representative picture.

    Tuesday, April 01, 2008

    More Proof We're Failing

    We in this case being a global we.

    What are we failing at?

    We're failing at ensuring the translation of evidence-based nutrition into easy to understand public education.

    So what has been done?

    We've allowed Big Food to come into our schools, consultations, dietetic organizations, influence national dietary recommendations and in general use their considerable clout to keep consumers confused to the point of paralysis regarding what's healthy and what's not.

    So why am I ranting today?

    According to a survey conducted by the international market research firm Mintel, British consumers felt that a food package's "recycling credentials" were more important to them than salt content, sugar content or Calorie content.


    Probably because the average consumer doesn't have a clue how much salt, sugar or Calories they should be consuming and therefore those values on packages are effectively meaningless, whereas recycling information is consumable.

    Unfortunately to date, governments, dietetic organizations, and of course Big Food, have been loathe to provide folks with consumption maximums. Instead they've been content to rely on fluffy, wishy-washy statements like, "there are no bad foods", or downright stupid statements like our Food Guide's, "Eat the recommended amount and type of food each day."

    How about statements like, "Try not to eat more Calories than you burn" along with a calculator to help you figure out how many that might be, or, "aim for less than 2,000mg of sodium daily", or "aim for less than 50g of sugar daily"

    Until we actually educate folks how to interpret a food label with actual recommended maximums, we're really not going to get anywhere.

    I suppose one good thing will come of it all and that is apparently our food packages, and hopefully our effectively useless Food Guide, will at the very least end up in their appropriate recycling bins.