Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday Stories: POM, Courts, and Men's Rights

Great piece by Alan Levinovitz in Slate highlighting the strange but true POM Wonderful/Coca-Cola supreme court lawsuit.

The best, and I mean best, judge's ruling ever. Truly worth the read and share.

James Fell lands in TIME Magazine with a great piece on the "Men's Rights Movement"

Friday, May 30, 2014

True Facts About the Octopus

Whenever I'm pressed for a Funny Friday, my go to is always Ze Frank.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why Does a Donut Company Own Amateur Kid Sport in Canada?

Following yesterday's post on Athletics Canada's inane partnership with Hershey's comes a quick pictorial piece on Tim Horton's covering the fact that if you have a Canadian child that is involved in organized sport, Tim Horton's, a doughnut company, wants them.

Timmies wants them because there's tremendous literal branding involved in the Tim Horton's logo festooned jerseys. They want them because there's tremendous emotional branding by being tied to the joys of sport. They want them because there are tremendous actual sales involved due in part to the name, and in part due to programs designed to get parents to take their kids to Tim Horton's after the game like their, "I just played, I'm thirsty" program that entitles Timbit uniform wearers to a free frozen lemonade or hot chocolate after the game.

And if you thought it was just hockey (70,000 kids!) and soccer they sponsored (like I once did), you'd be dead wrong.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Athletics Canada Partners With Hershey's to Market Candy to Kids

Yes, those are Hershey's Kisses and yes, Hershey's has just deepened their pre-existing partnership with Athletics Canada, Canada's national governing body for track and field, cross country, road running and road racing, in order to target children with their now co-branded Run Jump Throw program.

Gord Orlikow, Athletics Canada Board Chair, had this to say about Athletics Canada's partnership with the candy giant,
"We are ecstatic to have Hershey on board to work together in attaining our mutual objective of getting Canadian kids active and providing them with a sound foundation for a lifetime of physical activity. This game changing partnership will position Run Jump Throw as an entryway to sport and recreation through a try track concept, positively affecting the youth of this country from coast to coast."
What Mr. Orlikow didn't mention is that partnerships by definition always benefit both parties. In this instance, Athletics Canada's partnership with Hershey's, while perhaps spreading the Run Jump Throw program, will simultaneously provide Hershey's with an emotional branding opportunity worth an absolute fortune as Run Jump Throw reaches 100,000 kids a year and no doubt generates tremendous goodwill, pride, excitement and pure joy. It will also provide Hershey's the opportunity to target the children directly, and here I'm talking about marketing that extends far beyond the kids' new roles as running, jumping, throwing Hershey's Kisses billboards.

Don't believe me? Here are some snapshots of how Hershey's uses their similar and longstanding Hershey Track and Field Games (of which Athletics Canada is also a proud supporter and partner) to prey on children:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

UK's Largest Supermarket Chain Bans Checkout Line Candy!

In a move that will hopefully be mirrored by supermarkets the world over the UK's Tesco chain is eliminating checkout lane candy from all of its stores.

Here in Canada Loblaws has played around some with candy-free checkouts, and just a month ago Indigo, Canada's largest bookseller, under the leadership of Heather Reisman (who is also one of the movie Fed Up's executive producers), removed candy from their checkout aisles. Ms. Reisman, when asked about candy's checkout removal from Indigo, gave this incredibly heartening quote to the Globe and Mail,
"Will this cost us a bit of money? Yes. It’s not the heart and soul of what the business is about. I think one of the great things about being my age is I can make the decisions that I believe in with all my heart and know that somehow or other we will make up for that."
Our current environment challenges us to constantly, consciously, resist temptation. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the challenge instead was to consciously indulge, and where the default was health?

Thanks to all of those fighting to make that change a reality.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday Stories: Intermittent Fasting Science, Diet Quality, and Crappy Breakfasts

Want to read more about the state of the evidence underpinning intermittent fasting? My friend Dr. Bojan Kostevski thesis is the review you're looking for.

You've only got 2 weeks left to read this thoughtful piece by Drs. Ludwig and Friedman in JAMA on how the quality of our dietary choices may affect our weights.

Nancy Huehnergarth in Civil Eats with a great piece on whether whole grain poptart breakfasts are better than no breakfasts for our kids.

[And if you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook you can read my US News and World Report piece on how walking's not likely to lead you to lose piles of weight, here I am in the Globe and Mail suggesting that if you're keen on your kids getting outside and playing, you should head outside and play with them, and here's a great piece by Christie Aschwanden in The Washington Post on whether or not you need to "refuel" or "recover" post exercise (with some quotes from me).]

Friday, May 23, 2014

I Wish I Had These Amazing Sleeping Skills

Today's Funny Friday is a simple one involving very tired, very cute animals.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dairy Farmer's RDs Think Canadians Aren't Eating Enough


So there's a new immersive advertisement app being marketed promoted by the Dairy Farmers of Canada's Registered Dietitians. According to them we Canadians simply aren't eating enough, and they and the app are here to help.

It's called, "Get Enough" (not kidding) and using it involves you tracking the number of Canada Food Guide servings of this that and the other you've had each day and if you're not eating "enough", the app will provide you with handy hints on how to eat more.

There's charitable healthwashing charity involved as well as Dairy Farmers of Canada has partnered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Osteoporosis Canada and the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada whereby they'll donate up to $50,000 to each organization dependent on how much the app is used.

What's more amazing is that this advertisement app made literal news with a Canadian Press story covering the app, and then yesterday the story hit at least one major morning show where again we were again told, Canadians aren't eating enough these days.

So I downloaded the advertisement app and I entered a day of servings to see what sage advice it would give me.

Here's literally the first tip I received:


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The 13th (and Most Dangerous) Myth of Modern Day Dieting: Weights Should Be "Ideal"

If I had to pick the single most toxic, backward, and yet desperately believed societal myth about weight there's no doubt it would be this 13th myth of modern day dieting - that weights should be "ideal", that people of similar heights are supposed to weigh similar amounts, and that numbers make useful goals.

They don't. But if you believe that they do, well that's likely to lead you to all sorts of stupid when it comes to trying to lose as it's a belief that has fuelled the past 60 or 70 years of traumatic and extreme diets.

Let me say it quite plainly (and forgive me for my language) - as a means to set personal goals BMI is bullshit. Sure it may be useful when considering a population and risks associated with weight overall, but it's simply not useful to you as an individual as there are all sorts of weight-affecting realities that you simply won't be able (or willing sometimes) to change.

Like every other area of your life, your goal with weight management or healthy living is to do your best, and whatever weight you reach living the healthiest life you honestly and actually enjoy - well that's your "best weight". And I'm here to tell you, whatever that weight is, it's frickin' great.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The 12th Myth of Modern Day Dieting: The Last 10lbs Are the Hardest!

If you want those last 10lbs to stay off, well then they'd better not be any "harder" to lose. "Harder" usually implies extremes of effort - lots of white-knuckles to pass by the yummy stuff, more gym sweat than is enjoyable, or incredibly monotonous eating and denying yourself the ability to enjoy food for comfort or celebration. Well guess what? You're not likely to live with those extremes for good and as a result (and you know this is true) it's not a matter of if, but rather of when those last 10lbs are going to return.

Your real last 10lbs, while I don't know which 10lbs they're going to be, and while they will certainly be the slowest 10lbs, shouldn't be any "harder" than your first 10, and if they are, you're doing something wrong.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bet You Don't Love Sloths as Much as Kristen Bell

There's really no explaining this clip. Suffice it to say today's Funny Friday covers the fact that Kristen Bell really, really, loves sloths.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

RD Rob Lazzinnaro Describes His Week of Feeding Himself on Just $1.75/day

A few weeks ago our office's RD Rob Lazzinnaro elected to "live below the line". Below is a crossposting from his blog highlighting his experiences.

From April 28th to May 2nd I participated in the Live Below the Line Challenge to raise awareness around food insecurity and poverty, as well as to raise funds for Results Canada whose mission is to generate the political will to end extreme poverty. The challenge: live on a food budget of a $1.75 a day for five days. You can still donate until the end of June by clicking here.

One of my primary curiosities in taking the challenge was to see if I could actually get in adequate nutrition on only a $1.75 a day. I specifically chose to track vitamins A and C, calcium and iron as these tend to be the most common micronutrient deficiencies in those who are extremely food insecure. I also kept a close eye on protein, as this tends to be the main overall macronutrient deficiency when food is scarce.

With the above nutrients in mind, I purposefully sought out these low(er) cost food items:
  • Frozen Spinach - Vitamin A, iron, calcium (used it in my chana masala and rice patties).
  • Molasses - Iron and calcium (added it to my oatmeal in the morning, but to be honest molasses does not go down easy without something sweet to cut the bitterness, which is why I didn’t have it every day.)

  • Hot chilli peppers - packed with vitamin C (used it in my chana masala and rice patties and as a amazing bonus Vit.C actually helps increase iron absorption!).

  • Split peas & chickpeas - protein, iron, calcium (essentially some of the cheapest sources of protein on the planet.)

  • Corn meal, rice, whole wheat flour(bread) (these are cheap sources of calories, which is essential to meet energy requirements, AND they help complete the amino acids (protein) that are low in the split peas & chickpeas)

Here is my average daily nutrient intake over the 5 days:
  • Calories ~1625 - This was well below my estimated requirements of 2000-2400
  • Protein ~ 95 grams - Did well here! Was aiming for minimum of ~25g/meal.
  • Fiber ~110 grams - my word! Recommendations for men ~35g/day
  • Vitamin A ~49%DV
  • Vitamin C ~70%DV - the chili peppers helped out quite a bit!
  • Iron 101%DV
  • Calcium ~35%DV - I eased up on the molasses and I paid...
My daily calorie distribution between the three macronutrients: (Hello Carbs!)
  • Carbohydrates ~65% Protein ~23% Fat~12%
It is extremely important to note that having strong cooking skills and nutrition knowledge definitely was an advantage that helped me immensely through the challenge. I also benefited from having many grocery stores to shop from and access to kitchen appliances that many would not have. I imagine it would have been a completely different experience had I not had these advantages, and unfortunately makes my nutrition goals somewhat unrealistic.

Nutrients aside, what surprised me the most over the five days was how much this challenge really impacted my well-being. I went in as a pompous dietitian thinking that I would make it through unscathed, but how wrong was I. My energy levels were low (I definitely didn't follow my typical exercise regime), I struggled to mentally focus at work, my mood was at times depressive, I was constantly preoccupied with hunger, and it was only five bloody days! I have lived on a limited food budget before as a student (guessing ~$5 a day), but this challenge gave me a perspective I was not prepared for. When you are truly hungry your world changes, even if you manage to eat enough food volume wise, the nutrients and joy of eating are void. As a food fanatic, I can’t fathom many other scenarios more dire than not having enough quality food to eat. The thought of someone never being able to enjoy one of life’s simple daily pleasures overwhelms me with sadness.

The Saturday morning after the challenge I found it strange to essentially eat whatever and whenever I wanted. I visited a few grocery stores (my favorite activity FYI) that morning, one being a local grocer to get vegetables for a salad at lunch. I grabbed my four vegetables and headed for the checkout where the cashier rang my items through for a total of $9.17...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Docs! Please Stop Telling Patients How Many Pounds They Need to Lose!

I don't think a week goes by without a patient in my office recounting how at their last physical their doctor told them how many pounds they ought to try to lose. Sometimes those MDs will be going by BMI tables and aiming patients at a BMI less than 27. Othertimes those MDs will be pulling those numbers right out of their proverbial butts with random guesses of how much would be "good" or "healthy".

No doubt too, in the majority of cases, the recommendation to lose a particular amount of weight didn't come with any useful advice on how exactly those pounds were supposed to get lost.

So fellow MDs, if you're reading this, if you think weight is having a negative impact on one of your patient's health or quality of life I do think a respectful discussion of the issue is warranted. But before you go down that road you need to know a few things. Firstly you need to know that despite what society teaches, we don't have direct control over our weights. Sure, indirectly behavioural choices can influence weight, and yes, we can likely suffer ourselves down to whatever weight we choose, but suffering doesn't last, and consequently the direct control of losing "x" pounds - that's nonsense - if desire, guilt or shame were sufficient to lead to specific amounts of loss the world would be quite slim. Secondly you need to understand that if you have no useful weight management advice to offer beyond the less than useful, "try to eat less and move more", all you're really doing is undermining your doctor-patient relationship as the likelihood of your patients not wanting to lose if their weights are truly affecting their health or quality of life, is likely close to zero, and yet here you are, their doctor, telling them something they already know, inferring quite clearly that you think that if they just put their minds to it they could make it happen, while simultaneously offering them no actionable help or support whatsoever.

Docs, if you're concerned about one of your patients' weights, make sure you have a realistically actionable plan to help them with. If you yourselves are providing lifestyle advice, please make sure you have personally lived by that advice for at least a two month stretch to ensure it's remotely realistic and to help you to understand what your patients might face as challenges with it. If you don't plan on providing any advice yourself, please explore your community's options and find an organization or an individual that you personally research in regard to their program's safety, efficacy and ethics. And lastly, don't ever target numbers on scales as there's simply no way to ensure your patients will get there, nor is there necessarily any need that they do given that markedly subtotal losses, when combined with lifestyle changes (or even lifestyle changes alone without weight loss), are likely more powerful medically than any drug you have ever prescribed.

Putting this another way, as my friend Dr. Jamie Beckerman is liable to say, the goal must be the journey itself, not the destination.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Just Because You Can Pronounce It Doesn't Mean It's Good For You

It's sad to see the cooptation of Michael Pollan's message of not eating anything with ingredients you can't pronounce.

True, that message is exceedingly oversimplified and does lend itself to chemophobia, but ultimately I believe Pollan meant it as a means to steer people away from relying on products in place of produce, or at the very least steer them to products that were closer to produce.

And here's Kellogg's capitalizing on Pollan's very popular and well known message with their ad up above whose copy reads in part,
"Made with simple ingredients you recognize, Rice Krispies cereal makes a great bedtime snack for little ones"
So what simple ingredients are we talking about?

Rice, sugar, salt, malt (corn flour, malted barley), bht.

Putting aside the fact that I'd imagine most parents wouldn't recognize "bht", those ingredients certainly aren't what I'd be rushing to feed my kids as a bedtime snack.

Moreover, why do kids need a bedtime snack? Is that a great habit to build in yours?

I'd encourage you to champion produce to your little ones, not products, and never let a shmaltzy ad dupe you into believing that health comes in boxes, or that pronunciation is in and of itself actually a virtue.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The 11th Myth of Modern Day Dieting: There Are Bottles Full of Weight Loss

There are no shortage of products promising remarkable weight loss benefits. You can buy them from actual pharmacies and sometimes they're even promoted on television by actual doctors (or at least by one actual doctor). Yet the only thing remarkable about those bottles is that they're legally allowed to be sold.

If there were such a thing as bottles full of weight loss, the world would be very slim indeed.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Saturday Stories: Cancer, Phineas, Confusion and Camels.

Oncologist Dr. Peter Back in the New Yorker and his heartbreaking story of losing his wife to cancer.

Sam Kean in Slate with the actually true story of Phineas Gage.

Alan Henry in Lifehacker explains where the world's confusion in nutrition and health comes from.

Helen Branswell in Slate discusses why we should fear the camel.

[And if you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, here's my review of the must-see movie Fed Up, and here's my call to arms from the Globe and Mail on what you can do to fight the food industry]

Friday, May 09, 2014

I Have Something Nice to Say About Pom Wonderful!

At least one person who works there has a great sense of humour.

Here's Pom Wonderful's response to Last Week Tonight's John Oliver following his recommendation that people print up stickers and affix them to bottles in the supermarket (seen up above).

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Ontario's Former Minister of Health Promotion Now Flipping Burgers at McDonald's?

Former Minister of Health Promotion Jim Watson at a 2012 "McHappy Day"
Here's the copy a local talk radio station sent out to promote the Mayor's yesterday appearance at McDonald's,
"Mayor Jim Watson will be lending a hand flipping burgers at a McDonald's in Orleans this morning. Craving a Big Mac well what a better day to cave in then McHappy day. One dollar from every big mac, happy meal, and McCafe hot beverage will go to Ronald McDonald House and the CHEO foundation."
Mayor Jim Watson, in case you haven't figured it out yet, is also Ontario's former Minister of Health Promotion Jim Watson, and so difficult to make the case that he's unaware of the health consequences of society's normalization of junk food and the charitable health washing of unhealthy brands.

That said, maybe he thinks he's really lending a hand. Maybe he's unaware of just how truly detached McDonald's the corporation is from Ronald McDonald House the charity. This past fall Eat Drink Politics' Michele Simon put out a report entitled Clowning Around With Charity: How McDonald's Exploits Philanthropy and Targets Children where among many other revelations she revealed that the money McDonald's the corporation spent on just a two month television advertising campaign for Ronald McDonald House was in fact three times as much money as they actually gave to Ronald McDonald House that year. If this was about charity and not sales and charitable brand-washing you'd expect those numbers to be reversed, wouldn't you?

I wrote about Simon's report for US News and World Report and while you can click here to get to that full piece, I wanted to leave you with my last paragraph therein:
There's no questioning the value of Ronald McDonald House Charities to those who need their services, just as there's no questioning the value they provide McDonald's in polishing their brand, creating good will and promoting sales and profit. There was a time when the tobacco industry gave generously in a similar bid to benefit from co-branded good will, yet now it would be unthinkable to donate or support a tobacco-branded charity. Perhaps the time is now to rethink co-branded food industry charities and charitable donations, and as Simon suggests, in the case of McDonald's, rename and rebrand Ronald McDonald House Charities and recognize that food industry money with strings that tie directly to illness may not be in society's best interests to continue to take – however worthy the cause.
So here we have a Mayor and former Minister of Health Promotion and the CHEO Foundation further normalizing our toxic culture of convenience. Frankly I'd have expected more leadership from both.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Coca-Cola, If You Don't Market To Kids How Do You Explain Your Dr. Seuss Soda Fountains?

"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."

- Coca-Cola advertisement in the Canadian Medical Association Journal
So from that I'd have to gather that Universal Studio's Seuss Landing in Orlando isn't geared to small children as I snapped these photos there two months ago.

Pretty sure they speak for themselves.

The food industry is not a partner in health.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Words Cannot Describe This Idiocy From The BC Children's Hospital Foundation

In a world awash with nearly never ending opportunities for society (and especially kids) to eat candy and junk food, wouldn't you think that children's hospitals would be among those working diligently to provide us with fewer, not more, opportunities to consume it?

And the icing on the BC Children's Hospital Foundation's incredibly shortsighted and painfully stupid chocolate bar fundraising campaign pictured up above?

Each bar not only contains 520 calories (more than 2 Twix bars) packed with 13 teaspoons of sugar (nearly 16 Oreo's worth) but the damn things also contain 0.4g of artery-clogging trans-fat.

The mind boggles.

Thanks to Jean Burrows for sharing.

Monday, May 05, 2014

The 10th Myth of Modern Day Dieting: You Should Save Your Calories For Dinner

If you know you've got a big dinner planned, while it might intuitively make sense to try to skimp on your daytime eating, if you show up to your indulgent meal hungry, you're likely to eat back your savings and then some.

Given the average restaurant appetizer packs between 400-600 calories, and that bread baskets beckon before appetizers even arrive, and that decadent mains and desserts festoon all menus, if you show up to a restaurant hungry because you skimped all day long and between the bread, an appetizer, a more indulgent hunger-influenced main that you're more likely to finish,  and whatever daytime calorie savings you racked up will likely begone even before your main course arrives. On the other hand, show up not particularly hungry and suddenly the bread's less tempting, there'll be no need for an appetizer, your main is likely to be less indulgent (and perhaps not finished), and dessert'll be easier to share.

Bottom line for most meals out - if you save your calories for dinner, your overall daily total may well wind up higher than if you don't.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Saturday Stories: Restriction, Lux, Cochrane, Confessions & A Must Read

Restricting your kids' food is going to backfire explains New York Times' Tara Parker Pope.

A thoughtful New York Times Mark Bittman piece on comfort food, bagels and lux, and worries for comfort food's future.

Science Based Medicine's Marc Crislip has some crisp words about the value of Cochrane Reviews including, "There was a time when I was under the impression that the conclusions of a Cochrane review were of value. No more. Now I see one and a roll my eyes. What kind of Food Babian nonsense is this one going to have?".

My friend, colleague, and perhaps the most pumped physician in history Spenser Nadolsky on Precision Nutrition details his experiences as a low-carber undertaking an n=1 personal high carb experiment.

And with the must-read piece of the week it's Brooke: Not on a Diet, and her refusal to put on a shirt for Shape magazine.

Friday, May 02, 2014

That Poor Dog

A rare Funny Friday double shot!

Poor Cooper.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The 9th Myth of Modern Day Dieting: Muscle Gains Outweigh Fat Losses

Have you ever told yourself that the reason you're not losing weight is because you're gaining muscle?

Oh how I wish muscle were that easy to gain!