Monday, June 30, 2008

Lessons I Learned From Watching Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda is an animated Dreamworks kids movie that to date has grossed more than $631,000,000 worldwide (updated January 2012). It features the voices of Jack Black, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and Lucie Liu.

The hero is an overweight panda bear named Po that learns Kung Fu.

I didn't take my kids to see it but did watch it myself as I was tipped off that it might be something I'd want to blog about.

Wanna know what some of the take home messages included?

  • Fat people are clumsy and fun to laugh at

    As evidenced by Po's belly being the punchline of the majority of the movies jokes with of course the requisite sight gags of his belly knocking over bowls of food and his weight snapping a pole vault, a tree and more.

  • Fat is something that a person can be judged on,
    "That flabby panda can't possibly be the dragon warrior. You were about to appoint the tigress and that "thing" fell in front of her"

    "One would think master Ugway would at least choose someone who could touch his toes...or at least see his toes"
  • Fat people eating are disgusting

    As told by Po when Shifu finds him eating Monkey's almond cookies
    "Yeah, I know, I disgust you"
  • Fat people will do anything for food and get angry if food is taken away from them

    Shifu trains Po by having him try to catch and defend his dumplings culminating in a "fight" with Shifu over the last dumpling (the fight's embedded below); that it's only Po's gluttony that provides him with sufficient incentive to truly become the Dragon Warrior.

    The nice way to look at the ending is that size in the end doesn't matter.

    What a shame that arriving at that conclusion comes at the expense of the gross perpetuation of the last socially acceptable form of stereotyping, with the message really being, that despite the fact that Po's obese, he's managed to overcome it's obvious limitations and flaws to become a useful and productive member of a team.

  • Friday, June 27, 2008

    My New Favourite Gameshow?

    It's from the UK and it's called "Distraction".

    Goal is to answer questions without being "distracted".

    Today for Funny Friday - is it easy to answer buzzer questions when the buzzer is surrounded by cacti? Oh, and if you think it seems only mildly silly at the beginning....make sure you watch through to at least the 30 second mark.

    Have a great weekend!

    [Hat tip to BMI's fitness director Rob]

    Thursday, June 26, 2008

    Vending Machine Salmon with Julienne of Vegetables & Chive Sauce?


    In my adventures around hospital cafeteria food I found myself exploring the Compass Group's website (world's leading provider of retail food service delivery) and I also enlisted some folks from my office to do so. Lorne, our director of operations, came across something they call, "Steamplicity".

    Basically it's a vending machine that cooks meals using steam, and where I see great promise for a system like this is in those hospitals where their cafeterias close at 2pm and aren't open on weekends.

    If you've ever worked a night shift in a hospital you'll know that pretty much every night there's a group of docs and nurses ponying together to order something from takeout and I'd be willing to wager there's not a nursing station in North America that doesn't have a dedicated drawer of take out/delivery menus.

    How great would it be to actually be able to instead go downstairs and order a hot, healthy meal? Meals like Oriental Rice with BBQ Chicken, Mediterranean Chicken & Ratatouille Vegetables, Mild Vegetable Curry and Rice, Haddock with a Penne Pasta Mornay, Broccoli and Cauliflower Mornay, Mediterranean Vegetables with Olives & Mozzarella and of course Salmon with Julienne of Vegetables & Chive Sauce? That's the promise of Steamplicity.

    Now of course I don't have any nutritional breakdowns to look at, and the photograph on the menu has a big steaming pile of white refined rice, but certainly I can't imagine it would be that difficult to have Steamplicity make some truly healthy options.

    I'm not sure if Steamplicity is set up as a standard vending machine or if it's more for institutional meal preparation, but given the existence of the unit itself, how hard could it be to set it up for vending machine style use?

    See, even good news from Big Food!

    So that rounds out good news week....maybe I'll do another one someday, but not next week. Next week I've got a bunch of angry posts planned.

    World's Greatest Kids Curly Hair Conditioner!

    Sometimes there's a product so spectacular that even though it has nothing to do with food, I have to post about it.

    Today it's Johnson's Buddies Easy Comb Conditioner.

    With my exceedingly curly haired almost 4 year old, bathtime brushing could be an ordeal for both of us (perhaps leading me to need comfort food?).

    Now however, it's a breeze as this stuff has the brush literally sliding right through the hair.

    It's phenomenal.

    Not sure what's in it, but don't really care. It's that good.

    Parents of curly haired little girls - you're welcome.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008

    Food Guide Labeled "Obesogenic" by Someone Other Than Me!

    Continuing with positive development week, yesterday through the magic of Google (disclosure - I own shares), I came across something that excited me very much.

    It was an abstract that was presented at the Atlantic Networks for Prevention Research conference in St. John's Newfoundland last summer.

    The conference was put on by some of the who's who in prevention in Canada including the CIHR.

    So what was so exciting?

    The abstract was entitled, Dietary intake, the new "CFG" and NS Youth and here it is in its entirety (some sections highlighted by me),

    "Investigation by the Physical Activity and Dietary Intake of Children and Youth (PACY) research group reveals many Nova Scotia youth (males and females in grades 7 & 11) fail to meet minimum recommendations outlined by Health Canada in Canada’s Food Guide (CFG) to Healthy Eating (1992). The newly released food guide (2007) recommends an increased number of daily servings for youth for grain products, meat and alternatives and vegetables and fruit. The number of NS youth which don’t meet the new minimum recommendations has increased.

    If strong education and messaging regarding the need to reduce intake levels from energy dense food sources isn’t implemented, the new guide may serve to further increase dietary intake in this population, rendering the new CFG more obesogenic for youth than the previous version.

    Policy and programmatic implications will be discussed.
    So why am I excited?

    I'm excited because here is evidence that nutrition professionals are using critical thinking to analyze the impact of the Food Guide rather than simply accepting Health Canada's recommendations as sacrosanct. I'm also excited because here's a group of nutrition professionals focusing on the "energy-in" component of childhood obesity rather than futilely discussing "energy-out"

    So for the score keepers out there, that's two prominent media friendly dietitians who have stated following the Food Guide leads to weight gain and here's 6 more University researchers and nutrition professionals who agree.

    Oh, and me of course.

    If I were in Vegas I'd be willing to bet there are going to be more.

    Wanna know why?

    Because our Food Guide's obesogenic, that's why; momentum coupled with evidence is hard to resist.

    Kudos to all the involved researchers - Matthew Durant - Acadia University; Phil Campagne - Dalhousie University; Rene Murphy - Acadia University; Laurie Rehman - Dalhousie University; Angela Thompson - St. Francis Xavier University; Laurie Wadsworth - St. Francis Xavier University

    [Interesting sidebar - the senior scientist involved in this analysis is Dr. Laurie Wadsworth who also happens to sit on Health Check's technical advisory committee. Here's hoping she takes her critical thinking approach and applies it to Health Check as well]

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Nova Scotia's School Food Policy

    Working on an editorial with Dr. Rob Stevenson (hospital cafeteria crusading cardiologist out in Halifax) I have had the opportunity to review Nova Scotia's School Food Policy and for the most part, I've got nice things to say.

    Unfortunately almost by definition the policy will have to follow Canada's Food Guide and consequently there are bound to be flaws and while I do have some issues with the specific foods mentioned in the accompanying document Food and Beverage Standards for Nova Scotia Public Schools (a fat-phobic, juice loving, calorie-ignorant document), the policy statement clearly shows both caring and thought.

    Here's some of Nova Scotia's progressive thinking,

  • "School food and beverages should be served and sold primarily for the purposes of providing nutrition rather than for revenue generation"

  • "The business world is keenly aware of the potential to build preferences and cultivate brand loyalty by targeting schools that house a captive and impressionable audience of future consumers. Partnerships between schools and businesses can be mutually beneficial. However such partnerships work best when designed to meet identified health and educational needs rather than commercial motives"

  • "Schools will not use deep fat fryers to prepare food"

  • "When possible, schools should integrate nutrition education into other subject areas and activities beyond the classroom."

  • "School schedules should recognize that students need nourishment every 3-4 (I recommend 2-3) hours, based upon the time they would have last had an opportunity to eat. For example, students may benefit from a 10 minute break to eat a snack scheduled separately from recess, if possible."

  • "Effective September 2006, school staff and volunteers will not use food as a reinforcer or withhold food from students as a consequence."
  • But it's certainly not without warts and while certainly worthy of praise, there are two large areas where I feel Nova Scotia dropped the ball: They don't put a limitation on juice, despite calls from both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society to limit its consumption, and they recommend that children wait until they're hungry to eat.

    As I've noted in this blog many times before, waiting until you're hungry to eat is not necessarily a great plan. We make different choices when we're hungry, both in terms of dietary content and quantity. If you don't believe me, head to a supermarket hungry or go to a restaurant hungry and compare your purchases and meals to going back on days you're not hungry. Good thing the policy includes snacking as consequently the likelihood of real hunger is markedly diminished through the use of snacks.

    Me, I believe wholeheartedly in eating pre-emptively to avoid hunger rather than trying to outsmart over a hundred million years of evolution that has taught my body that if I'm hungry and I don't eat a lot, the ice age will get me.

    All in all though, some forward looking thinking and free-from-industry recommendations.

    Kudos to Nova Scotia.

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    What Have you "Tweetened" Today?

    One of the comments last week asked that I please post some things that are positive and so for this entire week, I'm going to try to find things I can be positive about.

    First off is the highest tech food diary I've ever come across, but for those of you net-savvy enough to try to tame it, I think it's probably the best I've seen.

    It's called, "Tweet What you Eat" and it involves utilizing a service called Twitter.

    Twitter is a service that allows specified friends to stay in touch via instant messenger and cell phone text messaging and Tweet What you Eat involves harnessing this capacity with a make believe private friend you'll know as Twye.

    Once mastered, Tweet What you Eat will allow you to keep an itemized food diary on the fly using your cell phone and/or instant messenger service. Not only will it keep track of what you're eating, but due to the nature of Twitter, it'll keep track of the times you eat too (assuming you Twitter as you eat in real time) and in my mind the best feature of all, it'll allow you to set up reminders that'll get sent to your cell phone or instant messenger - something that may be extremely helpful in ensuring you don't miss any meals or snacks.

    Tweet What You Eat has also begun to harness the power of social networking by creating what's likely the internet's first crowd sourced calorie database which can be utilized to automatically track your food's calories.

    Also amazing is the fact that once you've entered Calories for your own food, enter that food again and the calories will appear automatically. If you're a creature of habit and eat things like the same breakfasts and lunches day in and out, you can have your own B1, B2, L1, L2 shortforms that'll be remembered as well.

    Tweet What you Eat is a great addition to the online food diary world - I only wish Twitter were more intuitive for those of us who are no longer teenagers or techies.

    To start keeping track of what you've Tweeten, first you'll have to set up a free Twitter account (click here) and once that's done, a free Tweet What You Eat account (click here).

    Anyone out there using this service?

    [Hat tip to loyal blog reader Ruth]

    Saturday, June 21, 2008

    Lay off David Caplan

    And I don't mean "lay off" in the firing kind of way.

    Yesterday David Caplan was sworn in as Ontario's new Health Minister (taking over from George Smitherman).

    Was the first question he faced in the press gallery about wait times, or perhaps more apropos, about how many Ontarians don't have a family doctor?


    It was whether or not as Health Minister he planned to lose weight.

    Weight is a private matter. The insinuation of course is that perhaps he's not suited to his job because he does not possess a healthy body weight.

    Does that mean a cardiologist with hypertension should look for something else to do?

    His health is his business, and just because he has weight that may be healthy to lose does not make him any more or less suited to his job.

    Whoever that reporter was, feel free to give me a ring and I'll be happy to give you a whole article about why questions like yours set back efforts at treating obesity as the chronic condition that it is, and how that in turn makes it easier for the government to slough off obesity as a problem of the individual, rather than one of our environment.

    Friday, June 20, 2008

    Behind the Sugar: Cereal Mascots

    I always knew it wasn't just glamour and marshmallows.

    Here for Funny Fridays is a behind the scenes peek at the difficult lives of sugary cereal mascots (warning, one or two profanities).

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Better Strap on your Hip Waders

    'Cause I've got boatloads of quobesity for you to wade through.

    Today's steam rises off a new product (not surprisingly endorsed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation's mis-information program's Health Check) called YoPRO.

    Basically it's frozen yogurt with added protein.

    The YoPRO website is a quobesity goldmine. It shouts out in CAPSLOCK,

    Why is ice cream good for you now? Let's ask YoPRO,
    "As protein, calcium, potassium and iron, which are found in YoPRO, have been studied for many health benefits, this super premium, guilt - free indulgence is the perfect snack".
    So what will this magical ice-cream do for you? According to YoPRO its ingredients will help with,
  • "Building immune system health
  • Facilitating healing of wounds after surgery or injury
  • Decreasing wasting tissues and speeding overall recovery during illness
  • Promoting healthy skin, hair and nails
  • Building and repairing muscles and tissues
  • Providing a source of energy
  • Muscle contraction
  • Nerve conduction
  • Building and maintaining strong bones and teeth
  • Helps to keep muscles strong (including your heart)
  • Assists in controlling blood pressure
  • Works with sodium to assist in maintaining proper water balance
  • Works with sodium to assist in proper nerve function
  • Is important for normal growth and building muscle
  • Delivers oxygen to every cell in the body
  • But my favourite quobesity by far comes from their FAQ page in the answer to the question,
    "Is YoPRO high in calories?"
    My answer's pretty simple - Yes. Bowl per bowl chocolate YoPRO has 30%more calories than Dairy Queen soft serve, 37% more than Breyer's All Natural Chocolate Ice Cream, and virtually the same number of calories as a Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar. But their answer is priceless,
    "When looking at calories, it is important to look at where your calories are coming from. Are you getting any nutrients from those calories and is there a balance between carbohydrates, protein and fat?"
    So I guess these magic health calories won't contribute to weight at all because they contain "balance" and "nutrients"!

    So bottom line, if you think feeding yourself or your kids ice-cream as a snack is a good idea you might as well feed them YoPRO. On the other hand, if you think that perhaps there are snacks healthier than ice-cream, perhaps you should try something else.

    Gee, what does this remind me of .....

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    Another Sign the Apocalypse is Nigh

    So I've blogged about cheeseburgers in a can, bacon in a can, the car exhaust burger grill and smothering.

    So what do I have today?

    It comes from Scotland and it's called a "Munchy Box", and don't let the box fool you, it's not filled with pizza and the ten inch box pictured here only costs $10.

    Wanna see what's in it (to truly appreciate the photos, click 'em to make them bigger)?

    But don't think that's all - that's just the top layer. Here's more:

    Oh, and if that doesn't look like enough food for you, you can opt for the 12 inch version.

    Holy crap!

    [Via and hat tip to loyal blog reader Stefan]

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    He Ain't Heavy, He's my Canadian Public Service Executive

    So thanks to a Canadian government public service executive that I have the pleasure of knowing I was tipped off to a report put out by the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada.

    The report looked at various determinants of health and among them, obesity.

    Specifically the report looked at self-reported rates of obesity (which are notoriously inaccurate in that people tend to report themselves as being lighter and taller than they actually are) and guess what? Being an executive in the public service in Canada's not too good for your weight.

    How not good?

    Well their rate of obesity is about 50% higher than the general population's rate. General population clocks in at around 23% obese while our public service executives clock in at over 36%.

    That's not a small difference.

    It's also not surprising. Having my office in Ottawa has had me involved in the care of many government executives and one thing's very striking about their lifestyles - there's a ton of travel and/or a ton of business meals. Consequently there's a ton of restaurants and if there's a ton of restaurants, there's probably a ton of Calories.

    I wonder if they get danger pay?

    [Hat tip to an anonymous and lovely bigwig who has done great and is no longer part of the 36%]

    Monday, June 16, 2008

    Philadelphia Police "Reward" Kids with Pizza and Slurpees

    Here's the plan.

    A police officer sees a child between the ages of 7-12 do a good deed.

    The officer issues the child a "positive ticket".

    The ticket consists of a coupon for a free Slurpee, Wendy's Frostie, Applebee's child entree or a slice of pizza, teaching the child that good deeds are rewarded with junk food. Oh, and that junk food is therefore considered a good choice by someone children look up to - police officers.

    Strange plan for a State where the 18% rate of overweight and obesity in its children exceeds the national average (a number that jumps to a truly frightening 27% among Philadelphian low-income 2-5 year olds).

    Sheer genius.


    [Update: My wonderful wife just informed me that during Ottawa's kindness week, our police officers give out coupons for junk food to children too. Consider this post my shot across the bow, more to follow on Ottawa's "kindness" tickets.]

    [Via Slashfood]

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    Stephen Colbert Night in Canada (a MUST see!)

    I definitely have a man crush on Stephen Colbert.

    There, I said it.

    God love him.

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Leslie Beck says the Food Guide Makes you Fat

    If you live in Canada, you've probably heard of Leslie Beck - she's one of our most well known dietitians and aside from writing books and running a practice, she's also a health columnist for the Globe and Mail.

    Yesterday her column entitled, Supersized servings, supersized people had her discussing portions and how certainly one of the main contributors to global weight gain has been global portion size gain.

    She also had this to say,

    "The first step in downsizing portions is to become familiar with the number of food servings you need each day (Canada's Food Guide is available on the Internet). If you're trying to lose weight, you'll probably need to eat fewer servings than recommended."
    Of course that means if you don't reduce the number of servings recommended by the Food Guide, you won't lose weight.

    That means that the number of servings recommended by the Food Guide provides you with enough Calories to keep you overweight.

    That means that if you're a healthy weight and eat the Food Guide's recommended number of servings it would follow that Leslie Beck thinks you're liable to gain.

    Now I've been criticizing the Food Guide seemingly forever but Leslie is now the second prominent dietitian to come right out and say that following the Food Guide makes you fat (the other was former College of Dietitians director Samara Felsky Hunt as I blogged about here).

    If you travel back in time a bit further you can also hear Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, telling the Canadian Medical Association Journal's Margot Andresen,
    "the Guide isn't meant to be "a weight-loss tool or a diet system," but rather, a means of helping Canadians make healthier choices."
    So for those of you keeping score.

    Canada's Chief Public Health Officer says the Food Guide isn't a weight loss tool or a diet system and two of Canada's most prominent dietitians say that if you're one of the now minority of Canadians with a healthy body weight and you follow the Food Guide, you'll gain.

    Great job Health Canada - that's one heckuva Guide.

    [By the way, that graphic up top was sent to me by a loyal reader who wishes to remain anonymous - it's a testament to the fact that the only people who are truly benefiting from our obesigenic Food Guide are those involved in the food industry - more food = more sales. Please feel free to disseminate the graphic widely!]

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Depressed? SAD? Read this.

    Depression is an all too common medical condition and seasonal affective disorder is common too.

    Ever wonder how severe your depression or seasonal blues are, or whether or not you should pursue treatment?

    I recently found some great net based testing utilizing the very same tests that psychologists and psychiatrists administer to their patients - and like many things net-based, they're free. They can help you determine if you need help or in the event of ongoing therapy, can help to track progress. Now of course they won't take the place of the clinical judgment of a decent doctor, but they may be a good place to start.

    Click here and the Centre for Environmental Therapeutics will serve you the option to take a Personal Inventory of Depression and SAD, or a Structured Interview for the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale with Atypical Depression Supplement, or your Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (regarding circadian rhythms).

    Doctors reading my blog may want to let their patients fill these out in their offices as you can send the results to the printer.

    Thank you internets!

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    Food at the Ottawa General Hospital

    Today's installment in my ongoing Ottawa Hospital Food Series is the Ottawa General Hospital.

    The fare was more of the same - no-name junk food, although at least on the surface there were a few healthier sounding options: Wraps, whole-grain sandwiches and Carribean crusted snapper.

    Of course as evidenced at the Ottawa Civic, simply sounding healthy doesn't mean the nutritional breakdown's good - I mean who ever would have thought hospital soups (soups that are by the way sold at the General as well) would contain up to 3grams of trans fats and a day's worth of sodium? Therefore without a nutritional breakdown, it's hard to say how healthy the options really were.

    Prices were interesting. You could have chosen the snapper for $6.99 or the cheesy bistro burger for $3.99.

    And $1.25 for an apple?

    Royal Gala Apples are $0.99/lb this week at Food Basics. That means my non-wholesale price on apples is roughly $0.33 per medium sized apple. So the General's cafeteria is selling them with an almost 400% markup?

    That's a helluva profit margin!

    Oh, and I finally got to see with my own two eyes the mind-boggling display of Health Check'ed Slush Puppies (made with sugar from juice which somehow magically is better for you than other sugars and which allows the Heart and Stroke Foundation to formally endorse them with their ridiculous Health Check).

    And what was right next to the Slush Puppies?

    A fridge dedicated to the energy drinks Rock Star and Full Throttle.

    Interesting choices to sell in hospitals given that energy drinks have been implicated in hospital admissions for individuals with mental illness, supra-ventricular tachycardia (super-fast heart rhythms leading to emergency room visits), caffeine poisoning in adolescents and a constellation of risky and aggressive behaviors including unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence in College students.

    All this really makes me wonder if there's any dietetic oversight in these institutions or whether it's simply the almighty dollar that's king?

    Monday, June 09, 2008

    Bacon of the Apocalypse

    I bet this'll go great with the canned cheeseburger covered in a previous post.

    It's Yoder's Bacon in a Can,

    "With a shelf life in excess of 10 years, this bacon makes a perfect addition to your food storage program and it is great for every day use."
    Per 3 slices 60 calories (66% from fat), 190mg of sodium.

    Wanna see what it'll look like?

    Here goes


    Friday, June 06, 2008

    Fast Food's Latest, Greatest Invention!

    As first reported on the Onion News Network, for Funny Friday I'd like to present the Yum! brand feedbag!

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday, June 05, 2008

    Dr. Rahul Parikh's Open Letter to Lucas & Spielberg

    I have often wondered how rich a company or person would have to be in order to not succumb to the pressure of licensing their movie/cartoon character/likeness to sell crappy food.

    Witness the recent marriage of the latest Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas creation Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull despite their combined personal net worth of $6.5 billion, to Burger King in the form of an Indy Whopper (two quarter-pound patties topped with two slices of melted pepper jack cheese, four slices of bacon, spicy Cajun mayo, tomatoes, lettuce and onions on a toasted sesame seed bun) and to Mars with their Snicker's Adventure Bar.

    Pediatrician Dr. Rahul Parikh took notice too, and in a bitingly funny, yet scathing open letter posted on called on Lucas and Spielberg to stop allowing their characters to be licensed to junk.

    Here are some excerpts but please do yourselves the favour and click on through as this is one letter worth reading (and sharing),

    "In the 30 years since you've started making movies, one thing that hasn't changed is a kid's (or in my case, a grown man's) imagination and wonder. And who sparks that better than you?

    But a lot of other things about kids have changed. Their health is one of them. Today, almost one in four kids is obese, putting them at risk for, among other things, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The epidemic of obesity is serious enough that we're predicting that this current generation won't live as long their parents and grandparents. That's incredible if you think about it.

    Which brings me to why I wrote this letter. I'm a pediatrician, and every day I see overweight kids coming into my office. Getting families and kids to change how they eat is an uphill battle, and it doesn't get easier when big studios like yours wheel and deal with companies that peddle junk food and fast food.


    Besides the fact that none of these foods is healthy, one has to ask if they're what your characters would eat. Would Lord Vader chug down a Pepsi before he wielded his light saber? (If he did, would he drink it with a straw or take off his entire mask?) Wouldn't Indy, now a senior citizen, have more than just a little bump in his cholesterol if he had scarfed down his namesake burger with fries and a soda? How could he be fit enough to chase down ancient relics while dodging boulders and outwitting Nazis?


    So I'm asking you: Why do you still tie in your movies with junk food and fast food? I know that you and your corporate partners make millions from deals with conglomerate food companies and fast-food chains. But do you really need the extra cash at this point? Wouldn't it be better, in a corporate crusader kind of way, to change course? Stop these deals, or partner with somebody who thinks a little healthier?


    If not, then perhaps a little truth in advertising, or in cinema, is in order. You should show us how your characters would look if they ate the food that you helped peddle. In that vein, you got Jabba the Hutt right. But Princess Leia in her skimpy steel bikini with cellulite? Indiana Jones having to hit the brakes during a car chase and find a glass of water so he can take his Lipitor? Now that I think about it, wouldn't Viagra have been the best tie-in for the new movie?
    Cheers to Dr. Parikh!

    Jeers to Lucas and Spielberg!

    Wednesday, June 04, 2008

    Are there ANY healthy hospital cafeterias?

    That's the question Dr. Rob Stevenson is trying to answer and to do it, he and his colleagues have launched the Canadian Healthy Hospital Cafeteria Project Survey (CHHCPS - pronounced 'chips').

    They announced the project last week at the Canadian Lipid Nurses Network Conference in Halifax and it consists of ten simple questions based on principles of the Nova Scotia School Food and Nutrition policy (I can't speak to the principles of this policy as I haven't seen them).

    If you work at a hospital, please take a few moments and fill out their questionnaire by simply clicking here.

    Who knows, maybe there is a shining beacon on nutritional light somewhere on the North American hospital horizon.

    But don't hold your breath.

    (As an added bonus for today, here's a video of the situation out in Halifax that Rob pointed out and I blogged about before - it's hospital staff heading to a local high school for a healhty lunch while the students ironically head to the hospital for a deep fried one)

    Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    Restaurants Lie!


    Ok, maybe not so shocking.

    What am I talking about?

    So what's the story?

    ABC News in seven cities across the US set out to see if the items they purchased from the low-fat or low-calorie options in Chili's, The Cheesecake Factory, Taco Bell, On the Border, Applebee's and Macaroni Grill actually had the amount of fat and calories the restaurants' nutritional information pages said they did by sending them to an independent lab for analysis.

    The results?

    Some foods had twice the calories and fat that the restaurants claimed they did, and in a few rare cases some had less.

    The lesson here?

    When you eat out, even if you order "healthy" choices, even if the restaurant lists the calories, there's still a great chance you're getting more than you paid for.

    The other lesson is for public health authorities and that is if in fact you legislate that calories be listed on menus, you'd better put in a mechanism for not only enforcement of the listing, but also validity.

    Monday, June 02, 2008

    Food at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)

    Continuing in my Ottawa Hospital Food Series I bring you the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario's (CHEO's) offerings.

    What's remarkable about CHEO's offerings is that they can be broken down by time. If you're there between 6:30AM and 2:00PM Monday to Friday you can enjoy CHEO's Rainbow Cafe which according to CHEO's website offers hot and cold meals along with offerings from Pizza Pizza and Timothy's coffee.

    If however you're at CHEO after 2:00pm or on weekends, well now you're stuck with the Oasis coffee shop open from 7:30AM to 11:00PM seven days a week. Don't worry though, you'll find much more than just coffee at this junk food Oasis. You'll find Mr. Sub, Pizza Pizza, Starbucks and plenty of potato chips, ice cream, sugary cereals, huge bottles of pop, supersized chocolate milks (they don't offer a 250ml only the 500ml, more calories than 2 cans of Coca Cola carton) and if you look carefully you'll see the People's Pantry line of "Perfect Portion" nuts that I complained to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency about their misleading and likely erroneous labeling.

    Here's a quick tour:

    But let's get back to the Rainbow Cafe. The Cafe's interesting because it was recently designated a "Centre of Excellence" by the EatSmart! program.

    [UPDATE: The junk-food Oasis is also an EatSmart! location as evidenced by this picture a kind reader just sent me from their cell phone:

    What's EatSmart!?

    Well if it helps, in a prior post I renamed it EatStupid! and in a nutshell if within your cafeteria's kitchen you've got ingredients the program deems healthful, and if your cafeteria is clean, then you can brag about how healthy you are. Here's a quote from EatSmart!'s website,

    "Through its "Award of Excellence" program, Eat Smart! Ontario’s Healthy Restaurant Program offers recognition to Ontario restaurants that meet exceptional standards in nutrition, food safety and smoke-free dining."
    The reason the program's so stupid is because it doesn't actually steer people to healthy dishes and frankly doesn't even care if there are any - all it cares about is whether or not the ingredients in your kitchen could be combined together to make a healthy meal.

    (By way of example, Denny's is an EatSmart! restaurant)

    Want to know what the EatSmart! Centre of Excellence Rainbow Cafe offered patients and staff on May 29th?

  • CHEO's version of the McMuffin
  • CHEO's version of Tim Horton's Bagel BELT
  • One or two eggs with sausages, homefries and toast
  • Two egg omelets with home fries
  • Western omelet sandwich with homefries.

  • Lunch
  • Roasted Red Pepper and Cream of Chicken Soup (and if it's anything like the soups served at the Civic this one's not going to be a healthy choice)
  • Fish and Chips with Coleslaw
  • Sundried Tomato and Chicken Ravioli with Vodka Rose Sauce
  • Pesto Grilled Chicken on Garlic Ciabatta with Fries or Salad
  • Hamburger
  • Hot Hamburger (I believe that's a hamburger smothered in gravy)
  • Cheeseburger
  • Swiss Mushroom Burger
  • Bacon Cheeseburger
  • Chicken Fingers

  • And while it's certainly not a regular custom I'm aware of, there's the option of dessert with lunch:

  • Blackberry Crisp
  • Apple Crisp
  • Banana Cream Pie

  • Those are sure some "Centre of Excellence" choices huh?

    But of course even if the Rainbow Cafe were to change their menu today and actually include healthy and nutritious choices (and before you start telling me there's nothing wrong with grilled chicken or ravioli with rose sauce I'd want to see a nutritional breakdown), you're right out of luck if you happen to go or work at CHEO after 2:00PM or on weekends.

    Oh, and let's get real here - even if there were multiple nutritious options available at CHEO, the hospital administrators sold their souls to Pizza Pizza, Mr. Sub, Starbucks and Timothy's for a reason - junk sells. Really, when faced with the option of a slice of pizza, bag of chips and a sugared soda special, are there many parents out there that would force their sick child to opt for a healthier choice even if by some miracle something other than simply a salad were available?

    Gee thanks CHEO for looking out for my children's best interests.

    (Oh, and did you notice whose logo is on the EatSmart! certificate? Good ole Heart and Stroke Foundation. Thanks Heart and Stroke Foundation - great work once again)

    [Real thanks to my undercover videographer, my wonderful wife, who also reports that at Pizza Pizza you are not allowed to substitute bottled water in place of the 591ml pop in the meal deal or purchase their salads individually and that with the exception of the plain garden salad, the cost of a Mr. Sub salad (which you are allowed to purchase individually) is greater than or equal to the cost of the pizza, pop and chips deal offered right beside it.]