Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturday Stories: Brazil, Thalidomide, and Menu Board Calories

Tom Philpott in Mother Jones covers Brazil's now official, awesome new national dietary guidelines.

Ingrid Peretz in the Globe and Mail covers the ongoing tragedy of Canada's thaliodomide scandal

Marion Nestle, over on her blog Food Politics, explains the ins, outs, and genuinely happy surprises with the US' new mandatory menu labeling law.

[And if you don't follow me on Facebook or Twitter, here are two videos me and my stache did with The Social. The first is the longer segment on late night snacking, and the latter a quickie on the pros and cons bedtime boozing has on sleep.]

Thanks to everyone who has donated to my Movember fundraising! Thrilled to report as of the time of typing this my fundraising is now up to $3,267! Thrilled a bit too that my itch factory can come off on Sunday.

And if you haven't yet donated, and you enjoy my blog, a blog which is now and will forever be free from advertising and cost, please consider supporting natural forms of birth control by clicking here.]

Friday, November 28, 2014

Are You a Back Home Baller?

Today's Funny Friday video might well speak to some of my US readers - Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Breakfast Club of Canada Pouring Heaps of Sugar Into Canadian Children

So last week saw Coca-Cola Canada writing about their involvement with Breakfast Club of Canada, a national breakfast charity that serves 90,000 Canadian school children.

Coca-Cola is involved because by way of their orange juice donation they're teaching a whole new generation of kids that OJ and breakfast are a perfect fit.

Though of course juice isn't a perfect fit for anything really as it packs the same sugary caloric punch as soda, and while it does contain a smidgen of vitamins, if you put those very same vitamins into Coca-Cola that certainly wouldn't be a beverage you'd be recommending Breakfast Club of Canada serve 90,000 children daily now is it?

That's why the World Health Organization and Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation both finger juice as being an unhealthy provider of free sugars.

Another unhealthy provider of free sugars? Chocolate milk.

And yet looking at that photo up above it would seem Breakfast Club of Canada is pouring both into children and with them, 12 teaspoons of sugar - double the World Health Organization's daily recommended maximum - and all before the school's very first bell.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How Bad Do We Want Good News Regarding Childhood Obesity? This Bad

So let me set the stage.

Researchers wanted to evaluate the impact of 6-8 months of motivational interviewing, self monitoring, text messaging and email support, had on the weights and behaviours of high school students with obesity. This intervention group was of course matched with a control group that didn't receive all that great attention.

Retention was great with 94% of the intervention group completing their last visit (and 87% of controls).

The results? Well they were published last month in the journal Childhood Obesity.

While 54% of the intervention group either maintained or reduced their BMI scores, the control group did markedly better with 72% of the control kids seeing their BMI scores maintained or reduced.

The difference by the way, according to the authors' statistical analysis, was likely real and significant with a p value of 0.025. And of course, there were confounders, and the authors did present some thoughts as to why they may have seen the results they did.

And yet what was the first of the authors' conclusions about this study where their lengthy and involved intervention was shown to be statistically inferor to doing nothing?
"This SBHC intervention showed successful recruitment and retention of participants and delivery of preventive services in both groups."
Shows you just how badly we want this particular glass to be half-full.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Terrific Short Video on Food, Kids, and Sport

Today's blog post is a video put together by that lady up above. She's Kim Raine. She's super smart, an RD, a professor at the University of Alberta, a colleague and a friend. And damn didn't she put together a great whiteboard style video on how to improve the foods served up with school sports and in our community arenas as part of the Everactive project (worth a click too as well as a share with your local school's officials).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mere Access to Pots and Seafood Doesn't Lead to Great Cioppino

The study, which sounds quite promising, is titled, "Effectiveness of a Smartphone Application for Weight Loss Compared With Usual Care in Overweight Primary Care Patients: A Randomized, Controlled Trial".

The application being studied for "effectiveness" was myfitnesspal - the world's most popular food diary app. Now you might presume from the title that the study was in fact designed to determine whether or not the use of myfitnesspal in the pursuit of weight loss was effective. You would be wrong however.

Reuters' journalist Andrew Seaman summed up the study's conclusions in just 10 words, "Mere Access to Calorie-Counting App Doesn't Lead to Weight Loss". Yes that's right, all the study looked at was whether or not having a research assistant in a physician's office help a patient to download myfitnesspal to their smartphone and show them a youtube video highlighting its use (presumably this one) would lead that patient to lose weight. That's right, patients who weren't supported in app use, counselled in self-monitoring best practices, and other than one followup a week later for help with "technical problems", had no other points of contact with the research team, didn't lose any remarkable amount of weight. Shocker.

As to how this study was published (and publicized!), and not in the Journal of Duh but actually in Annals of Internal Medicine, speaks to the the fact that obesity and weight management sells, as I can't fathom we would see studies or press coverages of studies that determined:
  • Mere access to dumbbells and barbells doesn't lead to muscle growth.
  • Mere access to running shoes doesn't lead to running.
More amazing to me was this statement made by the authors in the study's discussion,
"Given these results, it may not be worth a clinician's time to prescribe myfitnesspal to every overweight patient with a smartphone."
In turn this leads me to offer the following advice - it may not be worth a patient's time to stay on with any clinician who even remotely entertains the notion that the sole and simple act of recommending a smartphone application for the treatment of obesity could be construed as sufficiently helpful.

And lastly, two more "mere" statements.

Mere access to funding support doesn't lead to useful studies or conclusions.

And sadly, no, mere access to pots and seafood doesn't lead to great cioppino.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday Stories: Shirtstorm, Ebola, Israel, and PE

Phil Plait in Slate does a masterful job explaining why shirtstorm matters.

Helen Branswell in Scientific American covers the rather dreary topic of how stopping Ebola in Africa might cruelly mean not developing a vaccine.

A great read from Lee Smith in Tablet on Israel, land for peace, and the challenges and responsibilities of a democracy.

Here's a fabulous video shared by Steve Crandall on the value of PE in schools (hint, it's not about weight)

Other than call to action for PPP

[And if you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, my piece this week in US News and World Report explored the myth that 95% of people fail diets]

Thanks to everyone who has donated to my Movember fundraising! Thrilled to report as of the time of typing this my fundraising is now up to $3,187!

And if you haven't yet donated, and you enjoy my blog, a blog which is now and will forever be free from advertising and cost, please consider supporting my lip lawn by clicking here.]

Friday, November 21, 2014

At Times in our Lives We're All Golden Retrievers

Today's Funny Friday video features a golden retriever that I can greatly empathize with.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More Depressing News on School Based PE and Kids

The "Activity Stat" hypothesis suggests that kids are pre-programmed to get a certain amount of exercise each day. If they're more active during their school day they'll be less active after it's done.

The theory was first described in England back in 2011 when objectively measured activity (via accelerometers) from children attending 3 schools with widely varying amounts of prescribed PE, was shown to be roughly equivalent.

Well a few weeks ago, these findings were confirmed in Denmark where researchers compared the objectively measured activity of children in "sport schools" and regular schools. The sport schools provided children with a minimum of 4.5 hours of activity weekly, while the regular schools saw their kids moving weekly for 1.5 hours - and yet all kids, regardless of school, accumulated roughly the same amount of weekly activity.

Me? I'm all for well designed PE classes to help children both develop and accumulate physical literacy and to improve their school based attention and behaviour. I'm also all for increasing recess duration and frequency and lifting school yard safety restrictions. But if you think that simply adding more PE to school is going to have a tremendous impact on getting kids these days to be more active (or lose weight), there's a growing body of evidence that suggests that it won't.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanks to #Movember, Here's Me Channelling My Best Freddie Mercury

Winter 1996, 2nd Issue, The Auricle
The year was 1996. We were in 2nd year medical school at the University of Toronto and one of us, I can't remember which, came up with the bright idea of having a "Cheesy Moustache Competition" with the proceeds going to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

40 or so of us in first and second year participated and I still have the photographic proof.

I placed 2nd in the competition (my friend Tony won) dressed in tight leather pants and a black mesh t-shirt, and I promised that were I to hit $3,000 in my Movember fundraising, that I'd post a pic in celebration.

Thanks to everyone who donated, and if you haven't yet and you'd like to donate to my home made brillo pad, you can do so by clicking here.

(And if any former classmates are reading this - do you remember the backstory to our names? I can't.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Get a Black Belt in Healthy Living

Find a healthy living dojo (virtual, paper, person, or peer) with a sensei you trust.

Go to as many classes as you can fit into your life.

Start with the basics.

Practice, practice, practice.

Oh, and you're going to fall down a lot, that's inevitable.

Getting back up again, that's one of the most important skills to cultivate.

Black belts aren't things you can get in a hurry.

Just because you can picture what a jumping spinning hook kick looks like, the odds of you being able to do one because you can see it in your mind's eye are pretty low. Skill building doesn't work that way.

So maybe cut yourself some slack, find your sensei, go to class, start with a white belt, and stop expecting yourself to have a black belt just because you've got this mind's eye view of what healthful living looks like.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The End of the Awful Food Frequency Questionnaire is Nigh

Let's hope.

In case you aren't aware, a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) is the most commonly used method of tracking an individual's diet. Oftentimes decades worth of observational studies are generated from one or two FFQs administered at their starts.

The problem is, whether consciously or unconsciously, we tend to forget our portions and choices and so FFQs are fraught with error.

What we need is a means to track that takes forgetting (and perhaps guilt) out of the picture.

Enter the "Automatic Ingestion Monitor" (AIM).

The AIM is pretty simple. It fits over a user's ear and by means of a motion sensor and a camera, when it detects chewing, it takes photos of what a person's eating and then via Bluetooth transmits those photos to a paired device.

As far as I'm concerned, validation of the AIM device can't come fast enough.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday Stories: Gaza, Food Policy, Dietary Supplements and More Mo

Gaza burns again and Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn in The Algemeiner ask, could the hypocrisy of the international community be any more blatant?

Bittman, Pollan, Salvador and De Schutter in the Washington Post with a strong call for a national food policy.

Virginia Hughes in National Geographic covers the scary and secret ingredients of dietary supplements.

Thanks to everyone who has donated to my Movember fundraising! Thrilled to report as of the time of typing this my fundraising is now up to $2,618! That definitely has me closing in on my reach goal of $3,000 and my 1995 Freddie Mercury stache picture posting.

And if you haven't yet donated, and you enjoy my blog, a blog which is now and will forever be free from advertising and cost, please support my lip kitten by clicking here.]

Friday, November 14, 2014

Awesome Daddy Toddler Dance Battle

Today's Funny Friday has a fabulous 20 month old dancing with his dad.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Canadian Sugar Institute Denies Silencing Child, Blames School Instead

It's the story that just won't quit.

A few days ago I blogged about Northern Secondary School's bizarre invitation to the Canadian Sugar Institute to come to their "Healthy Hub" cafeteria to, "promote healthy sugary treats".

Next came the story from Ryan Storm, a young 13 year old student at Northern who went to CSI's presentation and reported back that after asking a few questions he was told that his questions were no longer welcome.

Today I'll be posting the email I received from CSI's Manager of Nutrition and Scientific Affairs Dr. Flora Wang. I'm also posting a follow up email from her as in the first email she states that CSI never asked Ryan to stop asking questions. I found it difficult to imagine a reason why Ryan would fabricate that part of the story and when asked specifically she reiterated that while CSI didn't ask Ryan to stop asking questions perhaps the school representatives who were also present had.

Dear Dr. Freedhoff,

We have noted two of your recent blog posts (Nov 10 and Nov 12) and would like to provide important clarification and correct inaccurate information referenced in those posts.

The nutrition professionals at the Canadian Sugar Institute were invited by nutrition representatives of Northern Secondary School’s “The Healthy Hub” program to speak about evidence-based information regarding sugars and carbohydrates in the context of a balanced diet. This was an informal session with a table set up in the cafeteria for interested students and focused on the functional roles of sugars in foods, myths and facts about sugars and activities related to nutrition label reading.

We would like to assure you and your readers that the Canadian Sugar Institute did not engage in any financial or profitable partnerships with Northern Secondary School. The Institute is a non-profit association whose mandate is to communicate science-based information not to encourage/promote the sales of sugar or other specific foods. As such, the Institute was not involved in the promotion or sale of a new banana loaf that was featured in the school cafeteria. We do understand, however, that the banana loaf, prepared by the nutrition students at the school, was in accordance with the strict nutrition standards set by the government for food and beverages sold in publicly funded elementary and secondary schools in Ontario (PPM 150), and was solely a school initiative.

The representatives of the Canadian Sugar Institute who were present at the event are qualified nutrition professionals communicating evidence based information. They included one of our Registered Dietitians with a Masters in Public Health, myself (a PhD in Nutrition and Metabolism) and a Masters of Health Science student in nutrition communications. We welcomed all students’ questions and addressed everyone’s questions including those asked by Ryan. We did not ask anyone to stop asking questions and in no way asked Ryan to leave the presentation. We made no statements about Ryan’s interest or curiosity in food and nutrition. After the event, we were informed that Ryan also spoke with school representatives of “The Healthy Hub” program.

Science-based nutrition information is a priority at the Canadian Sugar Institute. The goal of our Nutrition Information Service is to inform Canadians about sugars in the context of a balanced diet, and to advocate for nutrition policies and recommendations that are based on reliable scientific research. We kindly ask that you share these important points of clarification with your readers.

Kind regards,
Dr. Flora Wang, PhD
Manager, Nutrition & Scientific Affairs
Canadian Sugar Institute
Yoni Freedhoff
Sent- Wednesday, November 12, 2014 2-04 PM
To- Flora Wang
Subject- Re- Response to recent blog posts (Nov 10 and Nov 12)

Happy to share. But need to clarify something. You are in effect stating that Ryan is lying about being told to stop asking questions (or alternatively that he was told his questions would no longer be answered).

Sent from my iPhone
Dear Dr. Freedhoff,

Thanks for responding so quickly. We are simply stating the facts regarding our communications with students including Ryan. Ryan also spoke with school nutrition representatives that were present. We were not involved in those discussions and didn’t answer any questions that were asked of those representatives. As a result, we cannot comment on the interactions Ryan had with school representatives.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Canadian Sugar Institute Tells Curious 13 Year Old Boy To Get Lost

Meet Ryan Storm.

Ryan is a 13 year old student at Northern Secondary School. He's also a blogger in his own right, and a budding food activist, and when he heard that his school had invited the Canadian Sugar Institute (CSI) to "promote healthy sugary treats" in his school's cafeteria, he knew he had to be there.

Unfortunately, shortly after Ryan showed up at the Canadian Sugar Institute's display, he was told that their presenters would no longer answer his questions and so I reached out to Ryan with a few questions of my own.

Can you describe the school display from the CSI folks?

CSI had a table right near the doors to the cafeteria, where kids go to buy their food. Their table had a banner on it that read “The Healthy Hub”, which is a school program, that isn’t really very healthy. There were four women staffing the table, but they weren’t wearing uniforms or any identifying marks about where they were from. They also had no Canadian Sugar Institute signage. I was told that they were doing a presentation, but it was more like they had a table at a trade show that people could go up to if they wanted. On the table they had a few black and white photographs of seemingly random foods with the nutrition facts of each pasted on the back. They were trying to tell people how sugar is connected to calories somehow, and I didn’t really understand the point they were trying to get across. They also had a “Jeopardy” game board with categories like “Sugar and Health” and “Sugar and Your Body” and were trying to get people to answer their questions. I chose the “$1,000 question” from the “Sugar and Health” category, which was
“Sugar can be part of a balanced diet.”
I said,
“What is NO?”
and they replied,
“actually it is yes”,
that was my first big inkling of how much of a problem this was. The women were friendly at first and tried to explain to me that since sugar is in almost everything we eat today we should embrace it and then starting talking about how fruits even have sugars.

What was the message the CSI folks were trying to teach the kids in your school.

They were trying to teach about “healthy sugary treats” and actually used that term in promoting it! Absurd! I actually read it and laughed at first because of how much of an oxymoron that was!

How many questions did you ask before you were asked to stop asking questions?

I think I probably asked maybe 4 questions about their work and then 2 questions to see if I could interview them on camera or audio.

What reason did they give you for why they were no longer comfortable fielding your questions?

They thought I was being “too inquisitive” and also “invasive” into their privacy. They mentioned that they were university students and didn’t feel comfortable being asked questions.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Ryan, and thanks too for caring and trying to make a difference.

[And if you want to reach out to Ryan, you can also find him on Twitter]

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Guest Post: Northern Ontario School of Medicine Gives Chocolate Bars to MDs

When RD Laurel Leconte reached out to me to tell me the tale of the chocolate bar that the Northern Ontario School of Medicine hands out to physician preceptors I knew I had to feature it on my blog and she graciously agreed to this guest posting. No doubt treats are part of life, but as it stands now we as a society are forced to go out of our way to avoid them, rather than out of our way to find them, and medical schools, of all places, ought not to be in the business of providing opportunities for treat avoidance.

Good morning Yoni,

I found this NOSM chocolate bar at a local family health team. The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) trains physicians, physician assistants and dietetic interns (registered dietitian students). It provided these chocolate bars to physician preceptors presumably as a thank-you and invitation for the supervision physicians to call the university for support if required.

I was taken aback when I saw the NOSM chocolate bar. To me, it was yet another symbol of the ubiquitous culture of treats in our daily lives. The problem, as your blog convincingly demonstrates, is that “treats” like NOSM chocolate bars, are no longer “treats”. They are everyday occurrences in our society. Foods that were once considered “once in a while indulgences” are now daily, normalized foods. Normalized, daily foods become our “lifestyle.” Therefore this seemingly benign chocolate bar actually represents the negative food landscape that so many well-meaning parties are unknowingly contributing to.

Every time a school sports team sells chocolate bars as a fundraiser, or a skating club holds a bake sale table, or we as parents, use food as a reward, I feel we are contributing to this negative lifestyle which is the opposite of what most of us are hoping to cultivate.

Your blog has challenged some of us to “change the status quo” and identify these instances of unintentional contributions to unhealthy lifestyles. Many of your posts are controversial, as many people don’t share this point of view. I feel strongly that we do need to collectively find opportunities to improve our environment to make the healthy choices the “easy” choices.

Will power is not going to improve the western word’s rates of chronic disease. Many people will say that “treats” like NOSM chocolate bars, can be part of a healthy lifestyle. I wholeheartedly agree. The problem is that we seem to be bombarding ourselves with opportunities to overeat, eat inferior foods and avoid physical activity. We are going to have to continue to challenge the status quo if we want to stem to growing trends of chronic disease.

When I first sent this to you, I wanted to be anonymous because I felt like a hypocrite. I know that in my current personal professional roles, I am contributing to this negative lifestyle landscape in a number of ways. However, I realize that if I am going to continue to thrive in my current profession, I will need to develop a thicker skin and accept confrontation head-on. Your blog has inspired me to become a better advocate for changes I believe in, such as removing pop machines from hospitals, etcetera. In the words of Margaret Meade,
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

Laurel LeConte, RD, CDE
Manager, Diabetes Education Program/ Nutrition and Foodservices
Manitoulin Health Centre

Laurel Leconte has been a jack-of-all-trades dietitian on Manitoulin Island for the past 8 ½ years. In her spare time she enjoys running, cooking and wearing disguises to the grocery store. She appreciates the broadened perspective that being a mother of small children brings to her dietetic practice. She would love to network with other dietitians working in similar practice situations.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Toronto High School and Canadian Sugar Institute Partner to Promote Sugar?!

I wouldn't have believed it had I not seen it. Thanks to the many concerned and upset parents who shared this beyond crazy story out of Toronto with me where Northern Secondary School, well, let's just have the email they sent out to parents speak for itself,
"Subject: Northern Updates for the Week of November 10, 2014

Dear Northern families:

There are several things happening next week at Northern that it is impossible for me to limit my weekly updates to “Three Things” this week. Instead…

1. Healthy Hub News

Our new cafeteria initiative, the Healthy Hub, will include two events next week at lunch:

On Monday, November 10, our guests will be presenters from the Canadian Sugar Institute. We will be selling a new banana loaf this week to promote healthy, sugary treats.
Would love to have been a fly on the wall when this initiative was being discussed.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Saturday Stories: Microbiomes, Mindsets, Purpose, and a Movember Pic.

Ed Yong with a great piece in the New York Times explaining that there is no such thing as a "healthy" microbiome.

Bruce Grierson, also in the New York Times, with a fascinating piece entitled, "What if Age is Nothing but a Mindset?"

James Hamblin in the Atlantic and his treatise on the need and benefits of having a purpose in life.

Movember 7th, 2014
Thanks to everyone who has donated to my Movember fundraising! Thrilled to report as of the time of typing this my fundraising is up to $2,022! That puts me well on the way to my reach goal of $3,000 which would see me posting a picture from my University of Toronto Class of 9T9's Cheesy Moustache competition where I placed second wearing leather pants, a mesh t-shirt, and my very best Freddie Mercury stache.

And if you haven't yet donated, and you enjoy my blog, a blog which is now and will forever be free from advertising and cost, please support my lip caterpillar by clicking here.]

[And if you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, here's the segment I did with CBC's The Current explaining why I don't think it's wise to pay people to lose weight - I come in for the last 3rd of the interview.]

Friday, November 07, 2014

Ze Frank's Sad Cat Diary

Whenever I'm stuck for a Funny Friday, there's always Ze Frank.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Where Is People First Language at Experts' Obesity Week? #OW2014

People aren't "obese". People have obesity. That distinction is referred to as people first language and many have championed its use and importance in other chronic diseases and especially in regard to mental illness.

Not using people first language labels the individual by way of their medical condition, and when it comes to "obesity", given the incredibly negative societal stereotypes associated with the word, labeling an individual as "being" obese carries with it real stigma.

The Obesity Society and the American Society of Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery have both formally adopted people first language but 3 days into their joint Obesity Week conference, and more than a dozen speakers later, I have yet to hear it used once in a lecture hall here. And given the speakers who clearly in many cases aren't using people first language are the very experts called upon by the media for comment on obesity, their adoption of people first language is important beyond these lecture halls.

Here's hoping that next year both TOS and the ASMBS provide their speakers with more aggressive encouragement as to the need for and value of people first language with obesity. Perhaps a category on people first language on the speaker evaluation could help as many no doubt see the value, but might not realize they aren't adopting it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

World's Foremost Obesity Experts Don't Practice What They Preach #OW2014

This week I'm in Boston for "Obesity Week" - a massive joint conference co-hosted by The Obesity Society and The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Among the over 5,000 attendees are quite literally the world's foremost obesity researchers and clinicians. These are the folks who most assuredly understand and appreciate the impact lifestyle has on health, and I've no doubt, among the many recommendations these health professionals provide their patients and the public is,
"take the stairs instead of the escalator",
and yet.....

Here's a video I shot yesterday morning. It's a hyperlapsed few minute snapshot of some of Obesity Week's expert attendees when faced with the very obvious choice to either use the escalator, or to take the immediately adjacent stairs.

As you can see, almost no one chooses the stairs.

The fact that the folks with arguably the most education about the value of purposeful healthful lifestyle choices don't make this incredibly easy, healthful, and obvious choice speaks to the folly of simple "education" as a means of changing societal behaviour.

On the other hand, I'd wager, with a sign placed at the base of the escalator asking, "Why not take the stairs?", along with an arrow pointing to them, the numbers of stair climbers would rise quite dramatically.

All this to say that if the world's top obesity experts don't practice what they preach it bolsters the case that education alone isn't going to cut it in improving our nation's health. We need to change the world. Without environmental engineering and legislative efforts designed to support and encourage desired behaviours, our various healthy living staircases aren't likely to see much use.

[Hey Obesity Society and ASMBS folks - if you put up a sign for Thursday, would be happy to reshoot the video!]

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Breakfast Club of Canada Fundraising with Chocolate Syrup. Literally.

Thanks to RD Cathy Richards for sending this my way.

Breakfast Club of Canada, a charity established to,
"guarantee our members a healthy breakfast in a friendly atmosphere every school day."
has decided to partner with Chocolats Favoris, the makers of chocolate fondue dip to fundraise.

Apparently they've produced a special, "Breakfast Club of Canada" edition of their chocolate syrup, and $1 from the sale of each can will go to Breakfast Club of Canada coffers.

I guess so long as the kids get a healthy breakfast Breakfast Club of Canada sees no irony or conflict in encouraging and providing incentive for the sale of chocolate syrup, which Breakfast Club of Canada notes on their sponsorship page,
"this “sweet” gift idea is a great way to share the holiday spirit with employees, clients and suppliers. Large quantities of the canned chocolate dip can be ordered"
While I do hope that a day might come where health charities cease their junk food fundraising efforts, clearly that day's not here yet.

[For more on why junk food fundraising is a bad idea click here.]

Monday, November 03, 2014

A Personal Request

And so it begins.


This month I pledge to grow something resembling a small anchovy on my upper lip in the name of raising awareness for men's health.

If you enjoy my blog, a blog fully free from advertising and wholly non-monetized, I'd like to ask you to consider donating to my Movember fundraising efforts. Every dollar counts, no donation is too small, and funds raised go to support an incredible grab bag of projects including those involving men's mental health, body image, eating disorders, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and more.

Donating is easy. Just click here and give! And of course, Movember is a registered charity, so all donations are fully tax deductible.

In return I vow to continue to blog freely, to never allow advertisements, and to regularly post pictures of the natural form of birth control I'll be growing on my face. And, as a reach fundraising goal, should my fundraising exceed $3,000, I will publicly post a photo of me from back in 1995 when during medical school at the University of Toronto I placed second in our own cheesy moustache competition by channeling my best Freddie Mercury and sporting tight leather pants and a fishnet shirt.

Movember 1st, 2014

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Saturday Stories: Cancer, Letters, NCDs, Microbiomes, and Telomeres.

David Chan in Slate (via Quora) answers the question of whether or not cancer MDs look down their noses at "natural" treatments.

Dr. Sandro Demaio in PLoS on the greatest health threat you've never heard of.

State executed rape victim Reyhaneh Jabbari's haunting last letter to her mother in the National Council of Resistance of Iran's webpage.

Gabrielle Canon in Mother Jones pours a touch of cold water on your microbiome.

Daniel Engber in Slate wonders if drinking Coca-Cola will make you age faster (like the recent study and headlines purport)?