Thursday, July 31, 2008

Google Walk

Two Google Map mashups in two days!

This one's by Google themselves.

Basically in North America, if you go to Google Maps and put in two locations you've now got the options for driving directions or walking directions!

Google states that their walking directions will try to be direct, flat, and if available, uses pedestrian walkways.

Of course you'd better hope that Mr. T.'s not driving around your neighbourhood as evidenced in this fabulous ad for Snickers.

Thanks Google!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Have Something Nice to Say about the Heart and Stroke Foundation

My internal sources over at the Heart and Stroke Foundation tell me that the higher ups over there think the reason I'm so critical of their atrocious mis-information program (Health Check) is due to the Foundation's vocal support of another mis-information program - Canada's Food Guide.

While there's no doubt that the Foundation's support of the Food Guide wasn't an evidence based move, my disgust with Health Check isn't personal - it's professional.

Proof comes here where I've got something nice to say about the Heart and Stroke Foundation as they've cofunded (along with the University of British Columbia) a fantastic new google mashup for Vancouver that helps cyclists pick the best routes.

The mashup, allows google style directions but includes information pertinent to cyclists including:

  • Major streets vs. alternative streets and dedicated cycling paths
  • Least traffic pollution
  • Least elevation gain
  • Most vegetated route
  • Shortest path route
  • Restricted maximum slope

  • If you're in Vancouver and you're a cyclist be sure to check it out by clicking here. If you're in the rest of the country, let's hope the Heart and Stroke Foundation helps roll it out to the rest of us.

    Thanks Heart and Stroke Foundation

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    Is Exercise Necessary for Weight Maintenance?

    Yes, but the much more important question really is why?

    Today a new paper in the Archives of Internal Medicine again suggests that exercise is crucial for long term weight maintenance, but I think misses the boat on why.

    The paper, written by one of the giants in exercise and its role in obesity treatment and prevention Dr. John Jakicic and colleagues, follows 201 women for 24 months randomizing them into one of 4 different exercise arms (having to do with intensity and duration) and giving all of them Calorie reduced diets.

    They then subdivided the results into groups representing percentages of maintained weight loss at 24 months and analyzed scads of data.

    Their results and conclusions?

    The folks who maintained a weight loss of greater than 10% of their starting weights exercised more minutes per week than those who did not. The authors concluded that the magic number of weekly exercise minutes for weight maintenance therefore were 275 (an average then of 40 minutes daily or an hour 5 days a week).

    The thing is, I don't think that's the whole story.

    Looking more carefully at the data we can see that on a weekly basis the folks who exercised the most burned only 1,145 more Calories than the folks who exercised the least (illustrating that exercise really doesn't burn boatloads of Calories given that to burn those additional Calories those folks on average exercised 3.5 hours more a week). That's only an average of 163 Calories more burned daily - not much to write home about.

    No, for me the story is elsewhere in the data.

    Looking at those who exercised the most, on a daily basis they were consuming 444 Calories less than those exercising the least. Extrapolating that and those folks were eating 3,108 fewer Calories a week! That's almost a full pound of Calories less a week! They also had much better scores on an eating behaviour inventory meant to assess weight control eating behaviours.


    The folks who exercised the most, ate the least and controlled their eating the best and in fact the magnitude of their dietary interventions at 24 months were 3 fold higher in Caloric impact than their exercise interventions.

    My conclusion?

    Exercise works and is integral to most for weight maintenance, but not via its direct Calorie burning capacity (which is small), but rather through its remarkable ability to cultivate healthy attitudes about weight management and in so doing, support dietary restraint and thoughtfulness for the long run.

    Therefore to truly harness the power of exercise, we need to explore how exercise leads these folks to consume less Calories and stick to weight control eating behaviours. If we can figure that out, perhaps we can create interventions that do not in fact necessitate seemingly other-worldly amounts of daily exercise.

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Proof NYC Menu-Board Calories Change Behaviour

    No, it's not the incredibly quick publication of research - it's a buried statement in an MSNBC news story.

    The story of course is about Calories on NYC menus and the "sticker shock" many patrons have when realizing their beloved meals out contain enough Calories to feed a family (as evidenced by the insane numbers in the IHOP menu posted up above).

    While certainly many of these stories talk of individuals who will no longer consume their more-Calories-than-a-BigMac muffins and fancy coffees, this piece included another important piece of information.

    People are choosing lower Calorie options.

    The part that leads me to believe that?

    The part where the story reports that T.G.I. Fridays had run out of the "suddenly popular" 290 Calories Bistro Sirloin Salad (the article states it's the "Classic Sirloin" but that's not possible as the Classic Sirloin without sides contains 520 Calories) even before the dinner rush had arrived.

    MSNBC also had another tidbit on their site I found interesting.

    It's a vote where the question asked was,

    "Do you want to know the calorie counts of every cookie, muffin and morsel at the restaurants you go to?"
    The politicians who read my blog may find these results particularly interesting.

    Out of the 28,587 responses at the time of my visiting the poll an overwhelming 79% said,
    "Yes. More information leads to smarter choices."

    Sunday, July 27, 2008

    Sad News - Randy Pausch has Died

    I blogged about him back in April.

    He's the computer scientist who inspired the world with his moving, insightful and surprisingly positive approach to dealing with a terminal diagnosis.

    Unfortunately he died on Friday.

    Rest in peace Dr. Pausch, and thank you.

    [If you're so inclined, his family has suggested the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network for donations as a tribute to Dr. Pausch. You can donate by clicking here]

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    From the Scientists at Domino's Pizza

    I do often love the Onion.

    Today for Funny Friday I bring you an interview with ONN and the scientists at Domino's - they were trying to understand where people would draw the line with unappetizing, unhealthy and frankly in many cases bizarre Domino's creations.

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    A Personal Request

    Today I'm taking a day off nutrition blogging to ask you for your help.

    On October 5th I'm running in the CIBC Run for the Cure, a charity run supporting breast cancer research.

    Last year 53 communities and 170,000 Canadians participated and together helped to raise $27 million for breast cancer research, education and awareness programs.

    My office at BMI has made the Run for the Cure our annual charitable cause and I'm proud to say that over the course of the past 4 years we have raised nearly $100,000 for the Run.

    If you're a regular reader of my blog (or even just a passer-by) you'll know that I put a tremendous amount of work into my daily posts. I do it because I love to do it. My blog's not monetized (and never will be) and doesn't have ridiculous ads promoting dubious weight loss solutions and nobody pays me for my opinion.

    All that said, if you enjoy my blog, please consider donating to my Run for the Cure efforts.

    To donate click the pink button below which will take you to the CIBC Run for the Cure website. You can choose to give anonymously, you can use a credit card and if you donate more than $10, you'll receive a tax receipt.

    Click here to donate!

    Thank you and back to normal programming tomorrow.


    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    Coca-Cola Lies to Doctors?

    Sure looks that way to me.

    The ad pictured above appeared on page 1632 of the June 17th edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

    The ad leads,

    "Can't remember the last Coca-Cola ad targeted at children? There's a reason"
    Reading the paragraph below,
    "Parents tell us they prefer to be the ones teaching their children about beverage choices. That's why for over 50 years we've adhered to a company policy that prohibits advertising soft drinks to children."
    Then they go on to brag about their voluntary efforts,
    "And as a founding member of Canadian Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, we'vre recetnly extended this policy to include all forms of media, including broadcast, print, the web and beyond."
    So what's my issue?

    Well I can remember boatloads of Coca-Cola advertisements targeting children. From the famous Mean Joe Green football jersey commercial, to Santa Claus, little stuffed vending machine animals, animated polar bears, video games and recording and sports idols.

    Thankfully, youtube remembers them as well and a smattering of them are posted down below (email subscribers, you'll have to actually visit the blog by clicking here as embedded videos don't make it into the email).

    Visiting the Coca-Cola company's website you'll find that there's a lot of small print attached to their pledge but basically it comes down to this - it only applies to programming that is specifically geared towards children under the age of 12. I suppose that means targeting children during any family friendly shows (American/Canadian Idol, sports, some prime time stuff) is fair game and I suppose it also means Coca-Cola thinks your 12 year old is an adult.

    What a beautiful example of how Big Food sponsored voluntary "regulation" through grandiose sounding endeavours such as the "Canadian Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative" aren't worth the paper they're written on.



    CHRISTMAS (Entire commercial with 12 year olds)







    GRAND THEFT AUTO (Videogame)

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation Still Backpedaling on Trans-Fats

    For long time readers, the Heart and Stroke Foundation hypocrisy highlighted here is not exactly going to be news. Newer readers on the other hand may find it surprsing.

    You see the Heart and Stroke Foundation and most specifically their CEO Sally Brown are heavily entrenched in the war against trans-fats.

    Only thing is, appeasement appears to be their battle cry.

    Yesterday the trans-fat monitoring program coadministered by Health Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation released their year two findings.

    The results?

    Not surprisingly the non-regulated approach to removing trans-fat, referred to by Sally Brown in the past as a toxin unsafe in any amount, from our food supply is piecemeal at best. Still plenty of major transgressors and with no teeth to bite them and no incentives or disincentives other than market pressure (which does in fact amount to something - trans-fat free labels help sell foods), not much hope that anything real is going to happen anytime soon.

    Of course none of this is a surprise to the Heart and Stroke Foundation's CEO Sally Brown as you'll see below, yet over the past few years, she has been very vocal about her support of this ridiculous voluntary approach afforded to industry.

    One ray of light though - perhaps not everyone at the Heart and Stroke Foundation is as comfortable as Ms. Brown at dismissing the absolute need for regulation as Mr. Stephen Samis, the Scientific Director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, last night on CBC televsion stated,

    "We still do believe that the best way to regulate this across the country on a national scale is through regulation."
    Below are a collection of posts from Ms Brown issued before the government decided to give Big Food the unconscionable gift of self-"regulation".

    Frankly I feel badly for Ms. Brown, as I can't imagine that the woman who made the quotes below is truly ok with the charade of effort that has come to pass over the course of these past two years.

    Here's some of what she had to say before she decided or was forced to kowtow to either Big Food or governmental pressure:

    (By the way, the formal press release? Conducted at a Swiss Chalet. Nice to know the government and the Heart and Stroke Foundation think eating out is a good plan)

    "Taking all the evidence into consideration, the task force agreed to a regulatory approach to effectively eliminate trans-fat in all processed foods"

    Sally Brown, CBC News Jun. 28, 2006

    The task force took many factors into consideration and was careful in choosing the limits and timeline that it did"

    "When you're changing public policy, you have to come up with a solution that is doable, practical but meets your outcomes and that's what we very much tried to do"

    "We believe if these regulations were promulgated, Canada would become a world leader in this area"

    Sally Brown, Vancouver Sun Jun. 28th, 2006

    "The problem is, without regulations, we won't get everyone on board and it's harder to get product changes. Unlike french fries, with something like doughnuts and chocolate bars, you have to take it out of the formulation which is more difficult. We needed regulations uniform across both sectors"

    Sally Brown, Vancouver Sun Nov. 1st, 2006

    "Trans fats are a "toxic" killer that need to be removed from the food chain as soon as possible"

    "We know that the government is taking our recommendations very seriously, but we also know that they're getting some push back from industry who traditionally don't like regulatory approaches"

    "Our argument is, if you don't regulate it, it'll be piecemeal"

    "We also say that by regulating it, you're sending a signal to the marketplace to ... create healthier oils."

    "We think we've given the government a great opportunity to implement what was a consensus report," she said. "[The food industry] supported all the recommendations, they're ready to act. Now we need the government to act."

    Sally Brown, National Post Jan. 11th, 2007

    "We don't understand why the federal government has not moved on this important health issue,"

    "We want this toxin - which is what it is - removed from our food supply"

    "Canadians are consuming on average 2.5 times the daily limit, and in some age groups, much higher than that"

    Sally Brown, CNews, Apr. 5th, 2007

    "could account for between 3,000 and 5,000 Canadian deaths annually from heart disease"

    "The longer we wait, the more illness and in fact death will happen, so we know we have to get it out of our food supply"

    "There is no safe amount of trans consumption, but many of these foods are well past recommended limits."

    Sally Brown, The Windsor Star, Jun. 5, 2007

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Canada - Lighter than America

    Not a huge surprise, but thanks to David Eaves (of the interesting blog we can see that if obesity rates in Canadian Provinces were ranked alongside American States, our Provinces place first through fifth.

    Before you get too excited, Nunavut and the North-West Territories fall into 30th place.

    Regardless of how you want to look at the data one thing's for sure - North America is one big continent and it's only getting bigger.

    [Hat tip to Mark Schrimsher from CalorieLab who also created the original map that David worked off of]

    Friday, July 18, 2008

    Something for Everyone

    Even us Canadians can't escape the swing of an American election campaign and no matter who you're routing for, there's something for everyone in this great JibJab Funny Friday compilation.

    (Keep your eyes peeled and you may see someone you don't expect in it)

    Have a great weekend!

    [Hat tip to my sister who was the first of many to send this my way]

    Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    Shocker - Kids' Foods aren't Healthy

    Maybe that's why we're recommending they take cholesterol lowering medications at age 8?

    A study, published in the July edition of Obesity Reviews, looked at 367 food products targeting Canadian children (products whose packaging had a cartoon on the front of the box and/or were tied to children's movies, TV shows or toys). The products did NOT include obviously unhealthy fare such as candy, soft drinks and baked goods. What the study analyzed was the food claims made on the label versus the actual product's nutritional value.

    The results?

    89% of products were classifiable as of, "poor nutritional quality" due to high levels of fat, sodium or sugar.

    More importantly, 62% of those products deemed of poor nutritional quality had front of label claims (Health Check?) that made positive nutritional comments about the contents of the package.

    The lesson learned here?

    Our government needs to do more to regulate health claims on foods. Busy parents with or without a background in nutrition don't necessarily have the time (especially with kids in tow), to analyze each food label for themselves while shopping in a supermarket. Canada needs a robust front of package labeling program based on evidence based nutrition like ONQI to help protect Canadians against the outlandish claims that Health Canada allows on our food packaging.

    And we need it yesterday.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Another Nail in the Low-Fat Coffin

    Hot off the presses.

    322 obese folks randomized to one of 3 diets for 2 years: Low-fat, Mediterranean or Low-Carb.

    An amazing 84.6% adherence rate at 2 years!

    The results?

    Not spectacular in terms of actual amount of weight loss but significant in terms of who lost what.

  • 3.3kg in 2 years for study completers in the low-fat group.
  • 4.6kg in 2 years for study completers in the Mediterranean group
  • 5.5kg in 2 years for study completers in the low-carb group.

    Metabolic parameters were also better in the Mediterranean and low-carb groups versus low fat for cholesterol numbers, fasting insulin and glycemic control.

    Bottom line?

    Blindly low-fat diets do not appear to be as effective for weight loss OR for health as other dietary approaches.

    National eating guidelines and guidelines from medical organizations need to start changing their recommendations and letting go of an outdated and now unsupported approach for the blanket reduction in dietary fat as either a means to improve health or weight loss.

    It's my opinion that blindly low-fat diets, whether for weight-loss or for health, are dead horses as far as the evidence is concerned.

    How much ya wanna bet people keep beating them?

  • Should 8 Year Olds be on Cholesterol Lowering Medication?

    In case you hadn't heard, last week the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that kids between the ages of 2 and 10 be screened for cholesterol problems if they have risk factors for problems therein.

    Risk factors would include strong family histories, obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes.

    The Academy goes on to recommend that for kids over 8 with high cholesterol, medications be considered.

    On the one hand, perhaps that makes sense. We know high cholesterol to be a risk factor for heart disease and these kids therefore have at least two risk factors. Presumably lowering cholesterol will therefore reduce long term cardiac risk in these children.

    The problem is, given that generally we haven't been treating 8 year olds with cholesterol lowering medications, we actually don't know that there will be a long term benefit, we just assume there will be one and that there won't be any surprising long term complications from starting these drugs during years that their bodies and brains are developing.

    On the other hand, by giving these kids drugs, at least in kids whose secondary risk factor is not a strong family history (in which case they may well have genetically high cholesterol levels), we're not addressing the root cause of their effectively middle-aged bodies - lifestyle.

    Given that 8 year old kids don't cook for themselves, don't shop for food for themselves, don't pack their own lunches for themselves and all in all live the way their parents have taught and allowed them to live, I think it's a crying shame that there's no pill that we can prescribe to their parents to help them learn, set, live and lead better examples.

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Chatelaine Sticks it to Health Check

    Canada's answer to Cosmopolitan has something not nice to say about Health Check, the Heart and Stroke Foundation's mis-information program?


    On page 71 of the August issue of Chatelaine is an article entitled, "How to Decode Food Labels". It's a 4 step process, and unfortunately the article's not available in full online.

    Here's step four (emphasis mine):


    Marketing symbols like Health Check and PC Blue Menu can be distracting, but stay vigilant. These designations don't have to follow standardized criteria the way nutrition labels do. "Just because it has the stamp doesn't mean it's the best option out there," says Yong (a Vancouver dietitian), who recommends going the extra mile by comparing and contrasting the food labels of similar products to find your healthiest bet."
    I love the fact that Chatelaine magazine, not exactly a magazine known for its health reporting, is able to see through the smoke and mirrors of Health Check's deceptive advertising and hits the nail right on the head rightly labeling Health Check a, "Marketing symbol".

    The most ironic part?

    Remember how a few months ago I blogged about the fact that rather than fix their awful program the Heart and Stroke Foundation has apparently elected to simply spend money on huge advertisements?

    Well, not 6 pages after the Chatelaine swipe are not one, but two Health Check ads. One is a full page (page 78) and the other a half page right beside.

    I'm guessing they'll be getting some discounted ads in the next issue.

    [Congratulations to blog reader and friend Brad, his wife Tracy and their son Jack on the birth of future Weighty Matters reader Wilson]

    Monday, July 14, 2008

    The American Heart Association Gets It!

    Or do they?

    A few weeks ago, the American Heart Association released a position paper and call to action on the matter of obesity.

    The paper, entitled "Population-Based Prevention of Obesity: The Need for Comprehensive Promotion of Healthful Eating, Physical Activity, and Energy Balance" is available online and it details how medical professionals and organizations like the AHA can get involved in the fight against obesity.

    The paper rightly reports that rather than target the individual, we need to target the environment in an approach akin to the one taken in the fight against tobacco, and that everyone can play a role.

    In an interview the paper's lead author, Dr. Shiriki K Kumanyika had this to say to Medscape's Heartwire,

    "The main point of the statement is that we need to place more emphasis on population-based and preventive approaches than we have to date"

    "It's inefficient to put all your eggs in the basket of screening and treating the individual"
    But perhaps it's Dr. Kumanyika's comments on why this is important to the AHA that I felt were most on the money,
    "This statement is about putting the information in one place and telling people who don't think it's their business that the level of advocacy and awareness we need also applies to them. We can't afford to have anyone working on cardiovascular disease who, if asked by the person next to them on the golf course or next to them in the hospital, doesn't really get it that obesity is not just a bunch of people who overindulge."

    "We can't afford to have the people who are involved in treatment think that's the only solution. They also have to convince people to do things that are a lot harder, because they're getting right to the heart of how people live, they're getting into vested interests, and there's not necessarily a profit motive. But cardiologists are very, very authoritative and influential people. People will ask their cardiologist for an opinion, and we want them to know what they should say."
    I agree wholeheartedly with everything she said and think that the position piece is excellent.

    So what was my off the cuffness about at the top of this post?

    Well after all that when I look on the AHA's website, under the section entitled, "Diseases and Conditions", despite their call to action on educating the public and professionals about obesity, despite the opening salvo of their position piece,
    "Obesity is a major influence on the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and affects physical and social functioning and quality of life. The proportion of adults and children who are obese has reached epidemic proportions",
    obesity is not listed as a disease or condition important enough to the AHA to highlight on their homepage (click my image above to enlarge).

    If the AHA really wants their members to get that obesity is not just about individual overindulgence, how about they come right out on their homepage and declare that it's a chronic disease condition and should be treated with the same degree of concern and respect as diabetes, hyperlipidemia and hypertension as a valid target for both treatment and prevention efforts?

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    This is Parkour

    So today's Funny Friday isn't so much funny as it is awesome.

    Parkour is the term given to the sport of urban gymnastics.

    Not sure what I'm talking about?

    Watch the video.

    Makes me feel uncoordinated within 2 seconds of watching it.

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday, July 10, 2008

    Will the "Grocery Store Shrink Ray" Shrink Us?

    One of the internet's best blogs has got to be The Consumerist. It's a blog that takes on the corporate world's shadier and less friendly dealings. I read it daily.

    Over the course of the past few months they've had a series of posts on what they've dubbed the, "Grocery Store Shrink Ray" referring to the fact that as energy prices increase Big Food is responding by zapping their foods with a shrink ray and then charging the same amount.

    The picture above shows how Babybel cheese has shrunk by 9% (but the price remained the same) and on the Consumerist site there are before and after shots of shrink rays hitting Yoplait yogurt, Apple Jacks, Cocoa Crispies, Corn Pops, Fruit Loops, Honey Smacks, Tropicana orange juice, Brighams Ice Cream, Edy's Ice Cream, Garden Salsa Sun Chips, Arizona Ice Tea, Arby's and even draft beer!

    So the question that leaps to my mind of course....if the food we're sold gets smaller, will we?

    Wednesday, July 09, 2008

    Movie Popcorn Just Got Worse!

    I think most people know that as far as nutrition goes, movie popcorn is killer. Even without butter, large movie popcorns can run you well over 1,200 calories.

    So how did movie popcorn get worse?

    Well at least at Cineplex now we're being offered free packets of "flavouring" to shake onto our popcorn.

    Having recently been at the movies my wife and I shared a small popcorn and we decided to try the white cheddar shaker.

    Turning it over pre-shake I was astounded to learn that basically it was a packet of flavoured salt - 1,470mg or roughly a day's worth.

    They're serving it to kids and seniors too - more than a day's worth.

    But no MSG....

    Gee thanks Cineplex!

    [Kevin and Brad, please consider this my formal nomination for the next National Salt Lick Award.]

    Tuesday, July 08, 2008

    Pringles are only 42% Potato?

    So what the heck makes up the remaining 58%

    Last week Britain's High Court decided that Pringles were exempt from Britain's value added tax in a decision that will likely save Pringles' makers Proctor & Gamble millions of dollars.

    During the case the Pringles lawyers sure painted a tasty picture of Pringles - here is how they describe a Pringle",

    "The appearance and taste of a Pringle is not that of a potato crisp. It has none of the irregularity and variety of shape that is always present in crisps. It has a shape not found in nature, being designed and manufactured for stacking"

    "A Pringle does not taste like a crisp, or otherwise behave like one"
    And they called on the court to note that Pringles' colouring and texture,
    "betrays its doughy origins"
    In the end the High Court ruled that Pringles were,
    "not made from the potato"
    So about that 58%?

    Potato flour, corn flour, wheat starch and rice flour together with fat and emulsifier, salt and seasoning.


    [Via the UK Times]

    Monday, July 07, 2008

    Calgary Stampede Serves New Zealand Beef?

    Thanks to my Calgarian friend Julie the strange world we live in column just grew one item longer.

    Julie's one of those multi-tasking folks...CBC reporter, chef, cookbook author, blogger, mom etc. and apparently she's kicked up something of a sh*tstorm when her reporting uncovered the fact that the beef at the Calgary Stampede, one of Alberta's premiere tourist attractions, comes from New Zealand and Wichita Kansas despite the fact that beef is, as aptly reported by Julie, "Alberta's signature agricultural product".

    Another example of how at the end of the day sadly it's all about the almighty dollar.

    [Be sure to check out Julie's remarkable blog Dinner With Julie where she's been chronicling through photographs, prose and recipes ever dinner she and her family eat for the year (she's up to day 188)]

    Friday, July 04, 2008

    We're all Doomed!

    So Rob our fitness director sent me this video and I watched it duly amused figuring it to be a satire of just how lazy our world has become.

    I was wrong though.

    It's not a satire.

    It's real.

    Today for Funny Friday I bring you Interactive Toy's remote controlled cooler.

    Click here to buy your very own - only $79.

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday, July 03, 2008

    Super-duper Yogurt Cures Cancer and Heals Blindness!

    Ok, maybe not, but you've seen them - claims like the one in the scan above clipped from this month's Chatelaine. It reads,

    "You balance it all and then some. You're a super woman. That's why there's new Maximmunite, a delicious probiotic drink with 10 billion active probiotic cultures per serving that helps strengthen your body's immune system"
    Well in the States at least, the Centre for Science in the Public Interest has had enough. Yesterday they filed a formal complaint with the FDA to try to reign in some of the more ridiculous claims made by products including yogurt.

    Claims such as Crystal Light Immunity Berry Pomegranate that makes the same claim as the Maximmunite above of helping,
    "maintain a healthy immune system"
    Minute Maid Enhanced Juice Blend Omega-3 DHA Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices that purports to,
    "help nourish your brain"
    Sunsweet PlumSmart for Digestive Health Plum Juice Extra with Fiber that claims to,
    "keep your digestive system healthy"
    And Minute Maid Enhanced Juice Active 750 mg Glucosamine HCL that they report helps,
    "protect cartilage and joints"
    Basically CSPI wants Big Food to have to prove their product can in fact deliver on their claims. Perhaps they said it best in their press release on the matter,
    "When companies claim their products will “maintain a healthy immune system,” consumers believe this means those products will help ward off disease. But while vitamins A, C, and E are important for the functioning of just about every system in the human body, there’s little evidence to suggest that drinking Crystal Light will have any impact on the average person’s immune system."
    Wanna read more about baseless and potentially fraudulent yogurt claims? Click here to head over to the websites of Coughlin, Stoia, Geller, Rudman & Robbins LLP to read their press release about the class action lawsuit they've launched against Dannon with regards to their yogurts Activia and DanActive.

    Mmmmmmm, brain nourishment....

    Wednesday, July 02, 2008

    It Ain't About Gym Class

    If figuratively beating a dead horse actually counted as exercise I'd likely be one of the fittest guys in the world.

    Here's yet another story on gym class and how the school based energy-out component of pediatric obesity is not in fact particularly important.

    The story's about Dr. Kevin Harris, a pediatric resident at B.C. Children's Hospital who presented his findings on gym class' ability to change BMI. Dr. Harris and his fellow researchers looked at 13 trials of 6 months to 3 years duration involving over 10,000 children.

    His quote says it all:

    "Phys-ed and physical activity are tremendously important but this research shows phys-ed doesn't change BMI. So while the overall health benefits are established, phys-ed shouldn't be looked at as a central component of any obesity strategy"
    Hmmm, if energy-out interventions don't help, what else could we try?

    Do you think that maybe, just maybe, it's time to look at the energy-in?

    UPDATE: Kevin's work has now been published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Click here to read his study.

    Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    Montreal to get Public Bike System

    Though calories burned through exercise aren't usually much to write home about, exercise as a determinant of health is tremendously important.

    One of the most challenging things about exercising in this day and age is that we all lead such incredibly hectic lives - that's why I'm such a strong proponent of what I'd call functional exercise whereupon it's exercise that doesn't feel like exercise. Things like gardening, biking to work, family walks etc. all fit into that category and interventions like the one proposed for Montreal can help - a public bike system whereby for a small fee you can simply rent a bike, bike to your destination and then drop the bike off at one of their other locations.

    This type of system is hugely popular in Europe including Paris and hopefully will be rolled out (no pun intended) to more Canadian cities.