Archive for the ‘Health & Nutrition’ Category

Diets: KETO vs. MIND

September 19, 2019

Earlier this week we posted that the MIND Diet is being promoted for brain-friendly nutrition.

A loyal reader asked: “I’ve been hearing a lot about the KETO diet.  How does the MIND diet compare?”

Good question.

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With the disclaimer that I’m not a nutritionist, here’s what I found…

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Brain health: The MIND diet.

September 16, 2019

In prior posts, we’ve addressed how intermittent fasting can improve (and prolong) brain health.

See: Can fasting make you smarter? and Is breakfast over-rated?

A logical question is: “So, what to eat when not fasting?”

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The answer: The MIND Diet.

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Is breakfast over-rated?

August 19, 2019

Recent studies indicate benefits from fasting … and, breakfast may be on the chopping block.

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From the WSJ

For years, conventional wisdom has been “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.”

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But, recent research suggests that intermittent fasting (aka.  time-restricted eating) may be a better route to weight loss and improved health .

Specifically, some doctors are advising patients to omit either dinner or breakfast, so that they don’t ingest any food for at least 14 hours at a stretch.

Here’s why…

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When it comes to your health, don’t bet on long shots …

April 30, 2019

… unless you’re out of options.
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In my Business Analytics course, I had students read a couple of excerpts from a book called Think Twice: The Power of Counter-intuition by Michael Mauboussin.

In a chapter called “The Outside View” the author reports findings from a medical study that investigated the relative importance of hard data and anecdotal evidence when patients select from among treatment options for serious health conditions.

Patients were given the hard scientific data about a treatment‘s success rates and an anecdote about a case history.

Some anecdotes were positive (the treatment was a success), some were negative (the treatment failed or had complications), and some were neutral (neither a clear success nor a dramatic failure).

Below is an extract of the study’s results summarizing the percentage of respondents selecting a treatment given the hard data on its success rate and a related anecdote of a specific case’s outcome.

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Let’s drill down …

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Health: Get skinny by sleeping more …

June 30, 2016

The Daily Mail reports that scientists have discovered that sleep deprivation increases cravings for junk food:

  • Sleep deprivation impairs activity in the brain’s frontal lobe
  • The frontal lobe is the part of the brain responsible for complex decision making
  • Lack of sleep increases activity in the centers that respond to rewards
  • This means sleep deprived people are more likely to choose junk food

 

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Here’s the skinny on the study…

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Tipping the scales: Airline starts weighing all passengers …

August 17, 2015

You read that right …

Uzbekistan Airways is going to start weighing passengers before flight

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Here’s what’s going on …

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Carpal tunnel is so yesterday … thumb tendonitis and AHS are maladies du jour …

June 1, 2015

From the “had to see this one coming department” …

In the old days, folks who who banged computer keyboards day in and day out suffered nerve damage in their hands & wrists called carpal tunnel syndrome.

More time on tablets and phones may have abated that problem a bit … but, of course, new problems have cropped up.

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Here are the son and daughter of carpal tunnel …

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Antibiotics, anti-antibiotics, and anti-anti-antibiotics …

October 2, 2014

First, the disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, and I don’t dispense medical advice … I just report things that I think might be of interest.

This one has two tracks: urgent care clinics and antibiotics.

Loyal readers know that I’m a proponent of Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants and Urgent Care Clinics.

 

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Here’s the story …

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Carpal tunnel is so yesterday … thumb tendonitis and AHS are maladies du jour …

September 30, 2014

From the “had to see this one coming department” …

In the old days, folks who who banged computer keyboards day in and day out suffered nerve damage in their hands & wrists called carpal tunnel syndrome.

More time on tablets and phones may have abated that problem a bit … but, of course, new problems have cropped up.

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Here are the son and daughter of carpal tunnel …

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8 Rules for Healthy Living

July 11, 2014

Forwarded by a friend …  cuts to the chase.

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Thanks to KZ for feeding the lead.

#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

Do you think that stress is bad for your health?

January 16, 2014

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Health: Get skinny by sleeping more …

August 14, 2013

The Daily Mail reports that scientists have discovered that sleep deprivation increases cravings for junk food:

  • Sleep deprivation impairs activity in the brain’s frontal lobe
  • This is the part of the brain responsible for complex decision making
  • Lack of sleep increases activity in the centers that respond to rewards
  • This means sleep deprived people are more likely to choose junk food

 

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Here’s the skinny on the study…

(more…)

Fitness: How many marathons did YOU run last year?

July 23, 2013

If the answer is less than 366, then Annette Fredskov of Næstved, Denmark might think you’re a slacker.

According to the Copenhagen Post, 41-year-old  Fredskov just completed a full year in which she ran a full marathon every single day.

That’s except for the 365th day … when she ran 2 marathons back-to-back …  to up her total to 366.

She averaged about 11 minutes per mile for the 9,589 miles.

 

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Here’s the really interesting part of her story …

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What’s the difference between Krispy Kreme doughnuts and gourmet cupcakes?

April 23, 2013

We’re not talking baked goods quality, we’re talking quality of the earnings baked into stock market valuations.

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And, the answer may surprise you.

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Nums: How people die …

March 20, 2013

Interesting infographic from www.informationisbeautiful.net both because of the info and the way the data is visualized.

Bottom line from the full chart:

1) Non-communicable diseases (including cancer)

2) Infectious diseases

3) Cardio-vascular diseases

4) Humanity-inflicted (e.g. murders)

click the picture below to view the full infographic with details

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma              >> Latest Posts

Holy Toledo: To lose weight, carry a heavy backpack …

February 18, 2013

No, it’s not what you think.

You’re thinking: carrying a heavy backpack burns off calories, right?

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In fact,  there’s a web site called Fatpacking that offers “Weight Loss Backpacking Adventure Vacations”

Their slogan” “Shape Up. Lose Weight. In Just 1 Week. Backpack Your Way to Fun & Fitness!”

But, that’s not what I’m talking about.

You see, researchers have found that carrying extra weight (i.e. a heavy backpack) increases guilt and, as a result, motivates healthier eating.

Here’s the skinny …

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Motivation: A compelling reason to shed some pounds …

January 24, 2013

A study reported by EurekAlert! – a science society — concludes that obese drivers are much more likely to die in car crashes than normal weight drivers.

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Here’s the skinny on the study …

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For Sale: Treadmill … Coke says to laugh off the calories …

January 16, 2013

Punch line: Coca-Cola is defending itself with a new TV Campaign that  focuses on the health benefits of Coca-Cola’s products. 

Say, what?

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Excerpted from brandchannel.com’s, “Coca-Cola Addresses Obesity Critics With U.S. TV Campaign”

The Coca-Cola Company on Monday evening began airing a two-minute spot on U.S. cable news networks.

The subject, in a first for the company: America’s obesity debate, in a bid to defend its brands ahead of looming beverage size controls.

Coca-Cola Coming Together Video

The world’s biggest beverage company debuted the “Coming Together” commercial in hopes of flexing its marketing muscle in the debate over sodas and their impact on public health.

The theme ties into the company’s “Live Positively” and “Open Happiness” campaigns.

Another ad, which will run later this week during American Idol and before the Super Bowl, is much more reminiscent of the catchy, upbeat advertising people have come to expect from Coca-Cola.

It features a montage of activities that add up to burning off the ‘140 happy calories’ in a can of Coke: walking a dog, dancing, sharing a laugh with friends and doing a victory dance after bowling a strike.

The ads are intended to address “confusion” about the number of calories in soda.

Hmm.

Think “sharing a laugh with friends” can really burn off 140 calories?

Beats the old treadmill, for sure.

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

World View: Americans eat Chinese food, and the Chinese eat ..

January 15, 2013

You guessed it, Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Yum has been one of the most successful foreign companies in China.

Yum has more than 4,000 KFC outlets and more than 700 Pizza Huts.

Yum gets about 50% of its revenue from China.

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Nice to see the Chinese adopting a wholesome American diet …

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

Controversary: Is the 5-second rule legit ?

November 2, 2012

First, the no-no warning from the  CBS affiliate in Atlanta

Most people are familiar with the famed “five second rule,” which states that if dropped food is picked up off the floor within five seconds of contact, it is still safe to consume.

In fact, 65 percent of parents admitted to implementing the five second rule in their homes.

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Though a popular belief, a new study has found that germs often win the race.

The study, co-funded by Clorox and conducted by researchers at San Diego State University, found that germs do in fact attach themselves to edible items within that amount of time.

Baby carrots were reportedly deposited on different surfaces, including a countertop, a kitchen sink, a table, and both a carpeted and tiled floor in the interest of testing the theory.

An additional carrot was kept clean, to serve as a constant.

Researchers found that germs affixed themselves to the carrots within five seconds of contact with different surfaces.

The countertop was found to be the dirtiest surface, with the carpeted and tiled floors following closely in second and third place.

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And, the counter story that says it’s ok for some foods …

We’ve all quoted the 3 or 5 second rule — if food falls on the floor, it’s ok if you retrieve it within 3 (some say 5) seconds!

In other words, all the yucky stuff on the floor/ground/sidewalk won’t have time to stick to our yummy stuff if we drop it.

But is it true?

Scientists investigated, and it seems for some foods, like cookies or processed ham, yes, it does work!

For other foods, like pasta, it’s a fail. The wetter the food, the bigger the risk.

Click to watch for yourself:

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We report, you decide.

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Ouch: Why getting kicked “there” hurts so much …

August 8, 2012

One of the America’s Got Talent quarter-finalists this year was a nasty guy named Horse.

His talent: an ability (and willingness) to take repeated shots to the  family jewels.

Warning: viewer discretion advised … guys, it may hurt just to view the clip or read the scientific info below..

click for AGT video
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Fortunately, Horse didn’t pass through to the semi-finals.

But, he got me wondering …

Why does it hurt so much?

Here’s the scientific explanation.

Excerpted from mentalfloss.com

More than any other bodily injury, getting hit in the family jewels is probably what every man dreads most … of all the spots on the human body, none register the same kind of incapacitating, end-of-the-world pain .

What causes such inconceivable pain?

Well, for starters, because of nerves, it’s gonna hurt.

Unlike most other parts of your body, though, the scrotum lacks protection in the form of bones, large muscle mass, and fat …. it   absorbs the whole force of the blow all on its own.

Second, the groin has a ridiculously high number of sensory nerve endings, and such generous innervation makes good and bad touches alike very “noticeable” sensations.

And the pain doesn’t just stay down there …  It  radiates throughout the groin and up into the abdomen (and, psychically, out to every other dude standing within a few feet), leading to a weird stomach ache.

This is the work of a phenomenon known as referred pain, which is when a sensation originating at one spot travels along a nerve root to other parts of the body and is perceived as happening there, too.

The pain starts in the groin and travels up the perineal and pudendal nerves and the spermatic plexus … to the abdomen and  around the spine.

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Design flaw ?

Why is such a sensitive and delicate body part just hanging there in the open?

The placement of the testicles is inconvenient, but absolutely necessary.

The testes’ job is to produce sperm, and sperm are very fragile. They’re extremely sensitive to high and low temperatures, and must be kept away from the rest of the body.

They can handle human body temps for only one to four hours, or the average amount of time it takes them to travel through the female reproductive tract and fertilize an egg.

Internal testes or any type of significant shielding for them would heat them up too much, too early and make them drop out of the race well before reaching the egg, rendering them useless.

Ken’s Take: (1) OUCH !  (2) Compelling proof that god is a woman.

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How many “Minute Clinics” are there in the U.S.?

June 28, 2012

Trick question.

CVS operates about 550 in store clinics under the the Minute Clinic brand umbrella.

More broadly, there are about 1,200 total in-store clinics … run by CVS, Walgreen, Wal-Mart, Kroger and Target.

Ken’s Take: These are great providers of routine health care … I’d like to see them spread like wild fire … and, I’d be all for government run “free clinics” in under-served urban and rural area.

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WSJ: Lab Mistakes Hobble Cancer Studies …

April 24, 2012

Punch line: Many scientists work has been undermined by the contamination and misidentification of cancer cell lines used in research labs around the world.

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Excerpted from the WSJ

Cancer experts seeking to solve the problem have found that a fifth to a third or more of cancer cell lines tested were mistakenly identified —with researchers unwittingly studying the wrong cancers, slowing progress toward new treatments and wasting precious time and money.

In hundreds of documented cases that undermine a broad swath of research, cancer samples that were supposed to be one type of tumor have turned out to be another, through either careless laboratory handling, mislabeling or other mistakes.

These mix-ups are maddeningly difficult to pinpoint: an improperly sterilized pipette, a lab worker momentarily distracted, a misread label or a typo on a record sheet.

When seeking cancer treatment for a specific tumor, he said, such mistakes “are an utter waste of public money, charity money and time.”

“It may be causing drugs to be used which are inappropriate for that particular type of cancer.”

The problem is particularly damaging for research into such rare cancers as adenoid cystic carcinoma, which strikes 1,200 people in the U.S. each year. The lack of a good cell line slows research and few in the field have the time or resources to create new lines.

Seeking to solve the problem, a committee led by ATCC, a nonprofit group based in Manassas, Va., released guidelines this year to establish standards to authenticate cancer cell lines.

ATCC is working with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, to establish a central repository and database of cell lines that have undergone genetic testing and whose origins can be verified.

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Do monkeys eat Pringles?

April 24, 2012

Excerpted from the NY Times When a Sugar High Isn’t Enough

Dr. John Kellogg — founder of the world’s largest cereal company had a simple  credo:  “Eat what the monkey eats …  simple food and not too much of it.”

Do monkeys eat Pringles?

Hope so because Kellogg is buying Pringles from Procter & Gamble in a $2.7 billion deal expected to close this summer.

Why?

For openers, Kellogg’s legacy brands (Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies) are under pressure from private labels and other breakfast convenience foods.

Note: Kellogg cranks out about 200 million pounds of private-label cereal a year.  

The real growth for Kellogg, as well as for packaged-food rivals like PepsiCo and its Frito-Lay division, is foreign markets and snacks.  That’s where Pringles comes in.

Kellogg’s CEO says that selling cereal and selling snacks are two entirely different skills.

What the company is buying with Pringles is not just a line of products that is already huge internationally, but a group of Procter & Gamble merchandisers with “the snack mind-set.” 

“When you’re talking about snacks … it’s about someone who came into the store to buy something else and hit a display and thinks, ‘Hey, I’d love to have a can of Pringles.’

With snacks, it’s much more intercepting the consumer in-store as opposed to getting on their shopping list.

It’s in-store merchandising.

It’s retail entertainment.

Whereas cereal is much more about the 30-second feel-good ad.” 

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Nutrition note: According to  Robert H. Lustig, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco:

”People who consume sugar are more likely to overeat because “there are signals to the brain that tell you when you’ve had enough; sugar blocks them.

Eating calories from sugar will therefore lead you to consume more calories.”

 Thanks to DM for feeding the lead

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In the UK, it’s better to be fat than to be old.

April 6, 2012

Recent editorial in the UK’s  Telegraph pointed out that the National Health Service (NHS) discriminates against elderly folks … rationing their care by dealying or denying medical services.

According to the Telegraph, the elderly are displaced in the medical queue by overweight folks whose “conditions, though, are the direct result of bad habits, poor diet, and the wrong choices. These conditions range from obesity and diabetes to smoking-related diseases like emphesema.”

If a 20-stone, 30-something woman comes into hospital with a bad diabetic attack, does she deserve to be at the front of the queue or the back?

She has chosen to stuff her face with Mars bars and Coke, and is now suffering the consequences of her choice.

She cannot claim ignorance of the dangers of her diet: the Government has carpet-bombed us with health advice, from schools to GP practices.

Class no longer regulates access to healthy living: everyone who can watch the telly, let alone read the magazines, knows that a high-fat diet will make you look bad and feel worse.

So what?

The Telegraph’s view:

The septuagenarian who develops breast cancer has done nothing wrong – except grow old.

The NHS has to consider that there are deserving cases and undeserving ones.

Age should not be a barrier to optimum care; but bad habits should be.

As my personal odometer races forward, I gotta agree with the Telegraph.

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I’m not gaming, I’m helping fight HIV / AIDS …

April 3, 2012

TakeAway: South By South West Trend Alert: The use of gaming to leverage collective manpower to improve health, fundraise for charities, solve once unsolvable problems – such as, a retrovirus enzyme related to HIV / AIDS.

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Excerpted from psfk.com, “The Gaming-For-Good Trend [Need To Know: SXSWi]

…. Fueled by the ability to connect and gather players from across the world and motivate them to participate by injecting competitive aspects and rewards into structured play, games are growing up and being seen as agents of change.

The ability to scale enables these platforms to prompt positive action and overcome challenges on both an individual and societal level with implications for a growing number of areas from science and medicine to education and the environment.

Whether improving health, fundraising for charity or solving previously unsolvable problems, games are encouraging personal and social good …

Gamers Assist In Cracking The Aids Puzzle

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Fold.it is a web-based platform for collaborating on scientific research that allows gamers to compete against one another to design new proteins which could be used to help prevent or treat diseases like HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s and Cancer.

Developed by researchers at the US based University Of Washington, the platform asks online players to build 3D models of protein molecules online to earn points and status based off their problem solving abilities.

Researchers recently took advantage of the platform by inviting gamers to compete in configuring the structure of a retrovirus enzyme related to HIV/AIDS.

The resulting breakthrough in configuring the 3D structure of the protein in question took players just weeks though the puzzle had stumped scientists for years …

Edit by KJM

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Practice your downward dog at SFO airport …

February 6, 2012

Takeaway: Decompress before your next flight through SFO airport by using the yoga room built in Terminal 2. Based on a passenger suggestion, this yoga studio is considered the first of its kind globally. Namaste.

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Excerpted from Reuters.com, “San Francisco airport unveils yoga room for travellers

Just cleared airport security and in need of a little deep breathing and stretching relaxation?

San Francisco Airport has opened what it calls a first of its kind yoga room, and while it’s not quite a mountaintop in Tibet, airport officials say the low lights, and soothing blue walls aim to afford travellers, stressed out or sanguine, an oasis of calm in which to flex, twist and decompress.

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Doin’ a Downward Dog

“As far as we know it’s the first (yoga room) at an airport anywhere in the world,” said Michael C. McCarron, director of community affairs for the airport.

He said the idea for the room, in the newly refurbished Terminal 2, came from a passenger suggestion at an open house. It joins the Berman reflection room, a space intended for silence and meditation located before Terminal 2 security.

Airport Director John L. Martin called the room, which opened last week, “another leap forward in providing our travellers the opportunity and space to relax and decompress on their own terms.” …

Edit by KJM

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An apple a day is so yesterday … now, “go bananas” every day !

January 19, 2012

Takeaway: Forget the old adage, “An Apple a Day,” Dole wants you to make it a banana a day. As part of its “Go Bananas” campaign, Dole aims to drive more usage occasions with Americans, while making us all a bit healthier…

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Excerpted from progressivegrocer.com, “Dole Dares Consumers to ‘Go Bananas’ in 2012

… Although nearly 90 percent of U.S. households already buy bananas on a regular basis, Dole wants all Americans to make bananas part of their daily routine in 2012. The year-long initiative aligns with Dole’s long-time goal of bettering the public’s nutritional health through greater consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

As the world’s largest provider of fresh produce and the top banana brand in North America, Dole is building upon the success of its “Go Bananas” campaigns in 2009 and 2010 to take America’s love for bananas to the next level. The “Go Bananas Every Day” initiative from Dole Fresh Fruit offers recipes, promotions and partnerships with 366 ways (2012 is a leap year, after all) to enjoy the ubiquitous fruit this year …

Among the ways consumers can show their banana love throughout 2012:

  • Day 78 (Mar 18): Treat your post – St. Patrick’s Day hangover with a banana, nature’s Vitamin B6-rich hangover cure.
  • Day 238 (Aug. 25): Observe National Banana Split Day. The famous dessert celebrates its 108th birthday in 2012.
  • Day 285 (Oct. 11): Trade in the nicotine gum or patch for a banana to help stop smoking

The initiative will be supported by a 12-month-long multimedia marketing effort encompassing a campaign-specific microsite, traditional and digital advertising, a sticker program, public relations, social media, a blogger and other third-party partnerships. Dole will visit select cities throughout the year to meet with food bloggers, registered dietitians, retailers, the media and other influencers to discuss the health, versatility, affordability and convenience benefits of bananas …

Edit by KJM

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Quick: How much tea do Americans drink?

January 12, 2012

No, it’s not a case interview question, but it could be. 

Answer: In 2010, 3 billion gallons of tea was consumed by 154 million folks in the U.S.  That’s about half of the U.S. population drinking a bit under a half-gallon per week per drinker..

Some other factoids from the Tea Association of the USA:

  • tIn 2010, the US imported more tea than the UK
  • Southerners and Northeasterners are the most likely tea drinkers.
  • The split is about 80-20 between black and green tea.
  • The split is about 85-15 between iced and hot.
  • So-called herbal teas aren’t really teas … they’re leaves, roots, bark and/or flowers.

Recent reports have touted tea’s health benefits, especially cardiac health:

“People who drink more tea do appear to have less risk of heart disease, and for those who have developed some cardiac event like a heart attack, those who are tea drinkers seem to have a lower incidence of a second event.”

Researchers suspect that natural components in tea, particularly a class of polyphenol antioxidants known as flavonoids, are responsible for tea’s health benefits

How much tea is needed for good health?

Researchers say 3 to 5  cups per day  is where you start to see benefits.

Tips for maximum health benefits:

  • Ready-to-drink and instant teas are diluted, so you’re not getting as strong a dose of flavonoids as you would from a cup of freshly brewed hot tea,.
  • For optimum flavonoids, drink tea soon after it’s brewed.
  • When you add sugar or buy it sweetened, you turn a zero-calorie beverage that’s great for hydrating the body and has half the caffeine of coffee into a drink loaded calories.

Excerpted from USAtoday.com, “Reading the tea leaves is easy: A brew can be beneficial

Edit by KJM

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Nobody has ever lost a pound reading while pedaling…

January 9, 2012

The WSJ offered up 27 Rules of Conquering the Gym.

Here are my favorites from the list:

1. A gym is not designed to make you feel instantly better about yourself. If a gym wanted to make you feel instantly better about yourself, it would be a bar.

4. No one in the history of gyms has ever lost a pound while reading a book, magazine or newspaper  and slowly pedaling a recumbent bicycle. No one.

6. Don’t fall for gimmicks. The only tried-and-true method to lose 10 pounds in 48 hours is food poisoning.

14. You can take 10 Minute Abs, 20 Minute Abs, and 30 Minute Abs. There is also Stop Eating Pizza and Eating Sheet Cake Abs—but that’s super tough!

19. If a gym class is going to be effective, it’s hard. If you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, you’re at brunch.

21.  Muscle shirts are for people with muscles, and rhythm guitarists.

26. A successful gym membership is like a marriage: If it’s good, you show up committed and ready for hard work. If it’s not good, you show up in sweatpants and watch a lot of bad TV.

27. There is no secret. Exercise and lay off the fries.

To see the full list

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Uh-oh: Bootleg liquor kills 102 …

December 16, 2011

You can relax … it was in India, not on M Street.

Reported in USA Today: Bootleg liquor kills 102 people in India :

Day laborers and other poor workers began falling ill late Tuesday after drinking the brew that was laced with the toxic methanol around the village of Sangrampur,India.

The tragedy began  when groups of poor laborers finished work and bought some cheap homemade booze for about 10 rupees (20 cents) a half liter, less than one-third the price of legal alcohol.

The men were drinking along the roadside near the railway station, when they began vomiting, suffering piercing headaches and frothing at the mouth, Nigam said.

The death toll skyrocketed to 102, and dozens more remained hospitalized.

Police arrested four people in connection with making and distributing the methanol-spiked booze.

Highly toxic methanol can be used as a fuel, solvent and anti-freeze. (Ouch !)

Two-thirds of the alcohol consumed in the country is illegal hooch made in remote villages or undocumented liquor smuggled in.

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Despite religious and cultural taboos against drinking among Indians, 5 percent — roughly 60 million people, the population of France — are alcoholics.

Teaching point: “This Bud’s for you” … ok to go goofy, but stay safe

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Unfit to serve … under 6% qualify for military

October 21, 2011

The  ABC News headline reads

“Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam”.

That’s true, but it’s only part of the story.

A study by The Education Trust found that 23 percent of recent high school graduates don’t get the minimum score needed on the enlistment test to join any branch of the military.

Here’s the line that caught my eye.

The military exam results are also worrisome because the test is given to a limited pool of people:

Pentagon data shows that 75 percent of those aged 17 to 24 don’t even qualify to take the test because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record or didn’t graduate high school.

Doing the arithmetic, the military is drawing from a pool that only contains 5.75% of those aged 17 to 24.

Holy smokes …

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How to keep the flab off …

October 18, 2011

Most folks have dieted at one time or another to shed a few pounds.

Inevitably, the pounds creep back.

But, according to a place called the National Weight Control Registry, regaining lost weight isn’t inevitable:

Some people are able to lose a substantial amount of weight and keep it off at least a decade.

Here’s how they do it:

  • Track their food intake.
  • Count calorie or fat grams or use a commercial weight-loss program to track food intake.
  • Follow a low-calorie, low-fat diet … about 1,800 calories a day with less than 30% of calories from fat.
  • Eat breakfast regularly.
  • Limit the amount they eat out … dining out an average of three times a week and eating fast food less than once a week.
  • Eat similar foods regularly with no binging on holidays and special occasions.
  • Walk about an hour a day or burn the same calories with other activities.
  • Watch fewer than 10 hours of TV a week.
  • Weigh themselves at least once a week.

OK,  I’ll start by having breakfast … the rest can come later.

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Super size it …. but, hold the calories, please.

September 16, 2011

TakeAway: New ultra-low calorie products celebrate America’s love of over-indulgence …  They give folks ‘normal’ portions with fewer calories.

About the taste? You decide …

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E
xcerpted from courier-journal.com, “Marketing to your inner glutton: Ultra-low-calorie foods allow bingeing without guilt

There is a recent wave of ultra-low calorie products — such as, Artic Zero’s 150-calorie per pint dessert Artic Zero, 20 calorie per serving Tofu Noodles, and MGD 64, a 64 calorie beer — are aimed to direct appeal to our national sense of gluttony …

“What we’re seeing here is a strategy that says Americans like to stuff their faces … And these mean we don’t have to sacrifice.”

“It’s fine to eat one serving of ice cream, but I can’t remember the last time I sat down with a pint and ate half a cup,” said the CEO of Arctic Zero., whose pints of “ice cream replacement” prominently feature the 150-calorie message. “We feel like a serving is an entire pint.”

Tofu Shirataki noodles from House Foods America., offers two 20-calorie servings per 8-ounce package, but “most people eat the whole bag for a meal,” said Yoko Difrancia, the company’s marketing supervisor. “The whole bag is more realistic.”

Consumers seem to be buying it. Sales of Arctic Zero, introduced in 2009, have grown 15 to 20 percent per month for the past 18 months … ‘

“The idea is not that you can or should eat a much bigger volume than you typically
do,” Penn State Professor Barbara Rolls said. “It’s that if you eat your usual amount, you’re going to feel full but with fewer calories.”

… Health advocates and dietitians remain committed to the idea that portion sizes must come down. But they say these products could offer baby steps to people struggling to control their weight. They might also be useful when you feel that binge coming on …

Edit by KJM.

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A man who walked the talk … bye,bye Jack LaLanne

January 25, 2011

Fitness guru Jack LaLanne passed away on Sunday  … at the ripe old age of 96.

Nice article in the Wash Post touting the man …

Jack LaLanne was … a fitness pioneer!

He inspired us to get off the couch and do jumping jacks.

He once swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge while toting 140 pounds of equipment!

And, on television, he encouraged us to engage in manageable fitness — or at least to buy a juicer!

Jack LaLanne was a hero for people like me.

The world these days is more polarized than ever. The Fit People meet up once a year, slather their bodies in oil, and march around in swimsuits lifting refrigerators with their teeth. They jog distances traditionally associated with announcing that the Greeks are victorious and then dying on the spot.

The Fat People meet up every day at Chili’s and order platters of things slathered in other things that you wouldn’t think were a good combination unless your goal was to singlehandedly consume more calories than the entire population of a smaller first-world country like Liechtenstein.

There are the rest of us. We just sort of muddle along. Every year we resolve to go to the gym and lift things and jog on the machines and maybe use those giant inflatable balls for whatever it is they’re supposed to be used for.

Jack LaLanne wasn’t about just the fit people — or just about the Fat People.

During his years on television, he encouraged everyone to work out, not just the people with buns of steel or buns of cinnamon.

I’ll miss Jack LaLanne.

Washington Post, This is why we’re fat: Missing Jack LaLanne, January 24, 2011

Eliminating MediCare waste and fraud … so, how’s that going?

October 29, 2010

It has been about 6 months since ObamaCare was passed.

About half of the funding is supposed to come from MediCare, and Obama said not to worry — most of that would come from eliminating waste and fraud.

Except for the Andy Griffith ad, there’s been eery silence about progress cutting waste & fraud.

Hmmm … as I was wondering how they’re doing on that, the WSJ published the following:

Somewhere in the New York City area there is a family-practice doctor who, in 2008, pocketed more than $2 million from Medicare, the federal insurance program for the elderly.

That made her one of the best-paid family-medicine physicians in the Medicare system.

But more noteworthy than the sum is her pattern of billing, which strongly suggests abuse or even outright fraud, according to experts who have examined her records.

* * * * *
Unfortunately, the Medicare database comes with a severe limitation.

While the services and earnings of hospitals and other institutional providers can be publicly identified, such information is kept strictly confidential for doctors and other individual providers.

The reason is that the American Medical Association, the doctors’ trade group, successfully sued the government more than three decades ago to keep secret how much money individual physicians receive from Medicare.

The AMA stands by its position and says little would be accomplished by publishing individual physician billing information.

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748704696304575538112856615900-lMyQjAxMTAwMDIwNjEyNDYyWj.html

Oh yeah … the AMA –which represents less than 20% of U.S. doctors — is on board for ObamaCare.

Hmmm, again.

 

Feeling deprived? Then sleep late on Saturday (and Sunday) …

August 10, 2010

Simply sleeping late on Saturday doesn’t counter the  ill-effects of a lack of sleep during the week.

In tests, researchers found that a 10-hour “recovery” snooze was not sufficient to make up for a few nights of four hours of sleep.

Participants scored poorly in measures of attention span and reaction times.

The study counters the currently held view that there is “tremendous recovery” in just one night’s sleep.

It means several nights of extra sleep may be needed for those who have been burning the candle at both ends.

“The bottom line is that adequate recovery sleep duration is important for coping with the effects of chronic sleep restriction on the brain”

“Lifestyles that involve chronic sleep restriction during the work week and during days off work may result in continuing build-up of sleep pressure and in an increased likelihood of loss of alertness and increased errors.”

“The bottom line is that adequate recovery sleep duration is important for coping with the effects of chronic sleep restriction on the brain.”

In previous research, it was found that sleeping six hours a night or fewer for two weeks has the same negative effects as two nights of total sleep deprivation.

Source: BBC.com, A weekend lie-in may not help catch up on lost sleep, August 1, 2010 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-10819746

German idea: Don’t tax the rich … tax the fat.

July 30, 2010

Excerpted from AOL News: Germany Weighs Tax on the Obese, July 23, 2010

Germany, famed for its beer, pork and chocolates, is one of the fattest countries in Europe. Twenty-one percent of German adults were obese in 2007, and the  cost of treating obesity-related illnesses is about $21.7 billion, a year.

Germany’s health system is paid for by a series of mandatory health insurance funds, all of which are reporting serious deficits as the system is overused.

A conservative member of parliament said it is unfair and unsustainable for the taxpayer to carry the entire cost of treating obesity-related illnesses in the public health system.

“I think that it would be sensible if those who deliberately lead unhealthy lives would be held financially accountable for that.”

A health economist called for Germany to tackle the problem of fattening snacks in order to raise money and reduce obesity.

“One should, as with tobacco, tax the purchase of unhealthy consumer goods at a higher rate  … that applies to alcohol, chocolate or risky sporting equipment such as hang-gliders.”

The German teachers association recently called for school kids to be weighed each day,

The fat kids could then be reported to social services, who could send them to health clinics.

A professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, described the idea of a fat tax as “not humane … since lifestyle is not the only factor in obesity, with both genetics and urban environments playing major roles … Most people who are obese would prefer not to be so.”

Full article:
http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/germany-considers-tax-on-the-obese/19566425

Uh-oh … chicken McNuggets and Chipotle’s burrito under attack from health police

July 1, 2010

I can’t add much to this one, except to say it hits close to home …

I had a Chipole on Saturday and have been under the weather since Sunday evening.  Coincidence ?

* * * * *

Excerpted from BrandChannel: McDonald’s McNuggets Under Fire, June 29, 2010

One particularly kid-appealing food item on McDonald’s menu  is facing fire following an investigation by CNN — the Chicken McNugget.

The humble McNugget is being attacked for containing the same chemical found in Silly Putty, a toy tie-in that McDonald’s isn’t eager to have associated with its name.

Specifically, McNuggets “contain the chemical preservative tBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product.”  and dimethylpolysiloxane, ‘an anti-foaming agent’ also used in Silly Putty.”

McDonald’s is not the only fast food giant to constantly face public criticism over its food.

Chipotle, a chain that prides itself on fresh, local ingredients, was recently attacked for serving burritos that are less healthy than a Big Mac.

Chipotle defends the product while acknowledging that its sodium level is too high.

Full article:
http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/2010/06/29/McDonalds-Chicken-McNuggets-Under-Fire.aspx

Warning: this will make your mouth water … guaranteed !

June 25, 2010

The Center for Science in the Public Interest puts out an annual ranking of unhealthy (i.e. really good tasting) restaurant dishes.

Reads like they just shadow the Homa family around for awhile.

I may submit a job app – imagine getting paid for scarfing this stuff.

* * * * *

NutritionAction CSPI: Xtreme Eating 2010 , June 2010

2010 Xtreme Eating Awards

Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger: A Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger has 920 calories and 30 grams of saturated fat (1½ days’ worth) without toppings. Think two Quarter Pounders. And how many Five Guys patrons eat a burger without fries or a drink? Add 620 calories for the regular fries .

The Cheesecake Factory’s Chocolate Tower Trouble Cake. A tower of any food is rarely a good idea. If it weren’t served on its side, this one would stand over six inches tall. And upright or not, the slab of cake still weighs in at threequarters of a pound. What do you get for all that heft? Just 1,670 calories and 2½ days’ worth of saturated fat (48 grams.

California Pizza Kitchen Tostada Pizza with Steak: The (individual-size) Tostada Pizza brings 1,440 calories and more than a day’s saturated fat (27 grams) and sodium (2,630 mg) to each diner. The crust alone supplies some 400 calories’ worth of flour (about 1 cup). With grilled steak the pizza has 1,680 calories, 32 grams of sat fat, and 3,300 mg of sodium.

The Cheesecake Factory’s Pasta Carbonara: A serving of Pasta Carbonara with Chicken has 2,500 calories and 85 grams of sat fat (more than a four-day supply).

P.F. Chang’s Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo: the Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo delivers an off-the-charts 7,690 milligrams of sodium. That’s 3 teaspoons of salt—a five-day supply, and double the outrageous levels in Chang’s lo meins.

Outback Steakhouse New Zealand Rack of Lamb: The total damage from the lamb-plus-sides: 1,820 calories, 80 grams of sat fat, and 2,600 mg of sodium. If you’re on a diet, consider Outback’s 16 oz. Prime Rib instead. With the same sides, it’s a steal at “only” 1,580 calories, 57 grams of sat fat, and 2,240 mg of sodium.

Chevys Crab & Shrimp Quesadilla: the platter packs 1,790 calories and 63 grams of saturated fat plus 3,440 mg of sodium. Ay caramba!

California Pizza Kitchen Pesto Cream Penne:  before you add any chicken or shrimp — it hides 1,350 calories, 49 grams of saturated fat, and 1,920 mg of sodium. That’s essentially what you’d get in a plate of fettuccine Alfredo, which we dubbed a “heart attack on a plate” in 1994. 

Bob Evans Cinnamon Cream Stacked & Stuffed Hotcakes: a stack of three ordinary hotcakes that will add around 1,000 calories’ worth of white flour to your midsection, with a bonus 3 to 9 grams of trans fat (1½ to 4½ days’ worth) and 6 to 12 grams of saturated fat for your heart. And you can pump up the calories on your own by adding syrup (every ¼ cup—just 4 tablespoons— adds 200 calories). Take two pancakes and stuff them with either good stuff (like blueberries or bananas) or garbage (like cinnamon chips made of sugar and oil). Then add a layer of vanilla cream cheese (it’s more like cream than cheese) and a sugary topping (like cinnamon cream), with whipped topping as the coup de grease. Voila! Bob Evans Cinnamon Cream Stacked & Stuffed Hotcakes — bumps up the calories to 1,380, the bad fat to 27 grams of saturated plus 7 grams of trans, and the sugar to 27 teaspoons.

Source article:
http://www.cspinet.org/nah/articles/xtremeeating2010.html

Stand up if you want to be leaner & live longer … no kidding.

June 4, 2010

Public enemy No. 1 in today’s workplace: the office chair .

Americans sit an average of almost 9 hours per day … but. the spine wasn’t meant to stay for long periods in a seated position … especially in a typical office chair.

* * * * *

Quick Takes from Bloomberg Business Week: Your Office Chair Is Killing You, April 29, 2010

“Short of sitting on a spike, you can’t do much worse than a standard office chair.” 

New research in the diverse fields of epidemiology, molecular biology, biomechanics, and physiology is converging toward a startling conclusion: Sitting is a public-health risk.

“People with obesity have a natural predisposition to be attracted to their chair.”

Lean people, on average, stand for two hours longer than their counterparts.

“If you’re standing around and puttering, you recruit specialized muscles designed for postural support that never tire … they’re unique in that the nervous system recruits them for low-intensity activity and they’re very rich in enzymes.”

  • One enzyme, lipoprotein lipase, grabs fat and cholesterol from the blood, burning the fat into energy while shifting the cholesterol from LDL (the bad kind) to HDL (the healthy kind).
  • When you sit, the muscles are relaxed, and enzyme activity drops by 90% to 95%, leaving fat to camp out in the bloodstream. Within a couple hours of sitting, healthy cholesterol plummets by 20%.

Older people who move around have half the mortality rate of their peers.

Frequent TV and Web surfers (sitters) have higher rates of hypertension, obesity, high blood triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and high blood sugar, regardless of weight.:

Full article:
http://www.businessweek.com/print/magazine/content/10_19/b4177071221162.htm

I’ll have a burger, hold the hot dog …

May 27, 2010

Punch line: The conventional wisdom is that red meats have higher saturated fat and cholesterol levels which increase heart  attack risk. 

The good news:  a new study suggests that a juicy burger isn’t a heart-attack-on-a-plate after all.

The bad news: hot dogs, bacon and sausage are still no-no’s.

Badest of the bad: there was a TV special on the least healthy restaurant foods served in America … my favorites: a place in NJ serves deep fried hot dogs and a place in Tennessee serves deep fried burgers … both had lines running down the street ala Georgetown Cupcakes.

* * * * *

Excerpted from WSJ: A Guilt-Free Hamburger, MAY 18, 2010

A new study from Harvard suggests that the heart risk long associated with red meat comes mostly from processed varieties such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs and cold cuts — and not from steak, hamburgers and other non-processed cuts.

The finding is surprising because both types of red meat are high in saturated fat, a substance believed to be partly responsible for the increased risk of heart disease. But the new study raises the possibility that when it comes to meat, at least, the real bad actor may be salt. Processed meats generally have about four times the amount of salt as unprocessed meats.

The findings suggest that people, especially those already at risk of heart problems or with high blood pressure, should consider reducing consumption of bacon, processed ham, hot dogs and other packaged meats that have a high salt content. Salt increases blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

None of this suggests that steak is a new health food. While red meat wasn’t linked to an increased risk of heart disease in the study, it didn’t lower it either.

The American Meat Institute Foundation took issue with the findings, saying they conflict with national dietary guidelines. “The body of evidence clearly demonstrates that processed meat is a healthy part of a balanced diet.”

Full article:
http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748704314904575250570943835414-lMyQjAxMTAwMDEwOTExNDkyWj.html

Obesity … a disease, or a right ?

March 4, 2010

I can live with higher tanning salon taxes, but closing fast food outlets is going way to far … this guy seems to agree … passionately.

Pro-choice advocates represent the sensical notion that it is not the government’s prerogative to legislate what women do with their physicalities.

It goes without saying that the freedom to abort ones’ fetus should not be the only choice that our country protects. Yet, in recent years, federal, state, and local governments nationwide … have legislated to limit our freedom to chose to smoke cigarettes, gamble our money, bag groceries, borrow cash, drink booze, enjoy tanning beds and anger our girlfriends by getting lap dances.

And just this week, under the leadership of First Lady Michelle Obama, the federal government has launched a new program to limit our freedom to get fat.

While the program is being sold as an attempt to limit childhood obesity, the policies it proposes will affect the lives of all Americans.

As I’ve argued previously, obesity is a physical manifestation of our country’s greatest and most laudable triumph: its defeat of hunger and want.

But, more than that, obesity is a manifestation of personal freedom: if ones enjoy eating hamburgers, then may he chomp away.

Contrary to the infantalizing notion that obesity is a “disease,” an expanding waist line is simply the result of free actors choosing to eat foods that they enjoy.

Indeed, the linguistic decision to label it an obesity “epidemic” reduces dynamic, free individuals into victims and disease carriers, unwittingly transmitting pathogens of obesity. It’s as if they “caught” obesity when they were sneezed on by a fat person.

Realizing that free people will often chose to get fat, anti-obesity crusaders are now actively seeking to limit our choices.

The city of Los Angeles has attempted to impose a moratorium on the construction of new fast food outlets.

Most troublingly, the Obama Administration’s new initiative will seek to change the culinary and commercial makeup of neighborhoods across the country, and potentially mandate the availability of “healthier” options.

All of this is designed to limit our ability to eat what we want, when we want. In other words, it’s about eliminating choice. The thing is: a lot of people like eating jelly donuts, pepperoni pizza, and chocolate cake.

Let them eat cake.

Source blog: Epstein’s Razor
http://trueslant.com/ethanepstein/2010/02/13/im-pro-choice-on-obesity/

Fighting off colds, flu … cancer and aging … a miracle drug ? (Nope)

January 12, 2010

Punch line: Medical experts are offering an additional reason to exercise: Regular workouts may help fight off colds and flu, reduce the risk of certain cancers and chronic diseases and slow the process of aging.

* * * * *
Excerpted from WSJ: The Hidden Benefits of Exercise, Jan. 5, 2010

image

Physical activity has long been known to bestow such benefits as helping to maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress, not to mention tightening those abs. Now, a growing body of research is showing that regular exercise—as simple as a brisk 30- to 45-minute walk five times a week—can boost the body’s immune system, increasing the circulation of natural killer cells that fight off viruses and bacteria. And exercise has been shown to improve the body’s response to the influenza vaccine, making it more effective at keeping the virus at bay.

“No pill or nutritional supplement has the power of near-daily moderate activity in lowering the number of sick days people take.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 36% of U.S. adults didn’t engage in any leisure-time physical activity in 2008.

“We need to refocus the national message on physical activity, which can have a bigger impact on health than losing weight.”

Regular exercise has been shown to combat the ongoing damage done to cells, tissues and organs that underlies many chronic conditions. Indeed, studies have found that exercise can lower blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, and cut the incidence of Type 2 diabetes.

Scientific studies are now suggesting that exercise-induced changes in the body’s immune system may protect against some forms of cancer.

Studies suggest that women who exercise regularly can expect a 20% to 30% reduction in the chance of getting breast cancer compared with women who didn’t exercise. Walking the equivalent of three to five hours per week at an average pace reduced the risk of dying from the disease by 50% compared with more sedentary women.

Researchers are also investigating whether exercise can influence aging in the body. In particular, they are looking at whether exercise lengthens telomeres, the strands of DNA at the tips of chromosomes. When telomeres get too short, cells no longer can divide and they become inactive, a process associated with aging, cancer and a higher risk of death.

Studies have concluded that physical activity has an anti-aging effect at the cellular level, suggesting exercise could prevent aging of the cardiovascular system.

“Exercise can be used like a vaccine to prevent disease and a medication to treat disease … If there were a drug with the same benefits as exercise, it would instantly be the standard of care.”

Starting an exercise program can have benefits at any age, but is particularly important for those over 40, when physical strength, endurance, flexibility and balance begin to decline.

During exercise, two types of immune cells circulate more freely in the blood, neutralizing pathogens. Although the immune system returns to normal within three hours, the effect of the exercise is cumulative, adding up over time to reduce illness rates.

But,  high-intensity exercise over long periods, like running a marathon, can “take a good thing too far.”  Such exertion can induce the release of stress hormones in the body that damp some functions of the immune system temporarily, increasing susceptibility to infection for short periods. In one five-year study,  one out of four ultra-marathoners reported sickness in the two weeks following their races.

Full article (worth reading):
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704350304574638331243027174.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLEThirdNews

So, preventative healthcare and disease screenings save money … right ?

November 9, 2009

Ken’s Take: Since I’m in the prime group for prostate cancer — and since a couple of friends have been detected and treated (successfully) — I’ve been a fan of PSA tests.  But, I’ve had 3 docs try to talk me out of getting the tests.  Here’s their rationale … which raises a broader question re: preventative healthcare.

* * * * *

Excerpted from RCP: Government by Holiday Inn Express, October 27, 2009 

Another silver bullet the administration has peddled is preventive care.

Everyone knows that a timely PSA test will detect prostate cancer at an early and treatable phase thus saving the patient’s life and saving money, right?

Not exactly. The test is obviously worthwhile for that individual. But testing all men for prostate cancer — an overwhelming majority of whom will never get the disease — is expensive.

If more and more of us are tested for more and more diseases — even accounting for some illnesses found early — health spending will rise, not fall.

Further complicating the picture, the National Cancer Society has announced that the benefits of cancer screenings, particularly for breast and prostate cancers, have been oversold. They aren’t saving very many lives, but they are causing needless tests and surgeries.

Full article:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/10/27/government_by_holiday_inn_express_98882.html#

Instead of old people, how about rationing care to fat people ?

August 6, 2009

OK, I’ve got a dog in this fight. 

ObamaCare goes after old folks. 

Why not go after the horizontally challenged?

Hmmmm …

* * * * *

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The prevalence of obesity rose 37% between 1998 and 2006.

Obese people spent 42% more than people of normal weight on medical costs in 2006.

* * * * *

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the percentage of male citizens who are clinically rated as obese,

Japan 2.8%
France 9.8 %
Germany 14.4%
Canada 17.0%
U.K. 22.7%
U.S. 31.1%

Percentages are similar for females.

Source post:
http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/

* * * * *

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Overall, about 26 percent of U.S. adults are obese, including …

39% of black women
36% of black Americans
29% of Hispanics 
24% of whites

Source article:
http://www.newser.com/article/d99frjv01/state-by-state-obesity-statistics-show-blacks-have-the-largest-waistlines.html

For the full study (worth browsing):
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db01.pdf

* * * * *

Draw your own conclusion

* * * * *

A Tough Sell: McDonald’s Targets Moms

January 23, 2009

Excerpted from Washington Post, “McDonald’s Courts Moms As Fast-Food Emissaries: Chain Enlists Its Toughest Customers to Talk Up Menu’s Healthful Side “, by Michael S. Rosenwald, November 20, 2008

* * * * *

The only obstacle between kids and their french fries: Mom.  “They are probably one of the most victimized foods,” says McDonald’s nutrition director.

Plausible reason: A medium order of fries at McDonald’s, besides the delectable taste, includes 380 calories, 270 milligrams of sodium and a color preservative called sodium acid pyrophosphate. But McDonalds points out that fries are rich in potassium and are “a really good source of fiber.”

One mom replies, “Once you throw them in grease, you kind of ruin it.”

Another says, “Potassium is good in bananas.”

* * * * *

But McDonald’s thinks it has a positive case to make and has recruited mothers to go behind the scenes of the company’s operations, meet senior executives and then communicate what they see via the Web, along with appearing in video of their travels.

The idea behind the company’s Quality Correspondents program: If McDonald’s can win over moms by showcasing food quality (the eggs in Egg McMuffins are real) and highlighting healthful options, the company can brighten its image at a crucial time in the arc of the fast-food industry. Customers, bombarded with news about food recalls, are paying more attention to safety, quality and ingredients — despite still not wanting to wait very long for their lunch. The message takes on heightened importance now, as strapped parents bargain in their heads over whether a McDonald’s meal can take the place of higher-priced options.

McDonald’s executives are betting that if they can shatter myths about the company’s food — a slaughterhouse visit shows chickens being handled humanely but also proves McNuggets contain chicken — and display an obsessiveness with food safety and quality to a select group of moms, the message will trickle through society.

“When people are asked to define who they trust and who they believe, the answer is people like themselves, not journalists and not academics.”

Edit by DAF

* * * * *

Full article:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/19/AR2008111903618_2.html?sid=ST2008111903624&s_pos

* * * * *

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Disruptive innovation: dentists in food stores … hmmm.

January 8, 2009

Excerpted from  Business Week, ” Root Canal? Try Aisle Five”, Oct. 13, 2008

Britain  suffers from a shortage of dentists.

So, in mid-September, British supermarket giant Sainsbury’s opened a dental clinic in one of its Manchester outlets. The in-store office will operate during store hours, including evenings and weekends. Most fees ($29 for a checkup, for instance) won’t exceed those charged by Britain’s national health service.

Earlier this year, at another Manchester store, the chain installed a medical clinic that it plans to replicate at other outlets.

If the dental office’s three-month trial is successful, the company says, it will set up 50 others

Full article:
http://images.businessweek.com/ss/08/10/1002_btw/5.htm

* * * * *

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Daily workouts: health-conscious discipline or just plain creepy?

December 30, 2008

Excerpted from IBD, “A Tale Of Two Presidential Workout Fanatics”, Malkin, December 26, 2008

* * * * *

Former Washington Post writer Jonathan Chait famously attacked Bush three years ago in an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times headlined “The (over)exercise of power.”

Recounting how President Bush ran 3.5 miles a day and preached more cross-training to a federal judge, Chait fumed: “Am I the only person who finds this disturbing? . . . What I mean is the fact that Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy.”

Chait argued that Bush’s passionate devotion to exercise was a dereliction of duty. “Does the leader of the free world need to attain that level of physical achievement?” he jeered. “It’s nice for Bush that he can take an hour or two out of every day to run, bike or pump iron. Unfortunately, most of us have more demanding jobs than he does.”

“Bush says exercise helps sharpen his thinking. But some of his critics view his exercise obsession as an indulgence that takes time away from other priorities.”

* * * * *

[Fast forward to] Christmas Day 2008, the Washington Post delivered a front-page paean to Barack Obama’s workout habits: “Gym Workouts Help Obama Carry the Weight of His Position.”

For adoring journalists, you see, Obama’s workout fanaticism demonstrates the discipline and balance in his life.  “it’s his time for himself, a chance for him to reflect. It’s his break. He feels better and more revved up after he gets in his workout.”

And when Obama feels better, the skies will part, the sun will shine (in moderate, environmentally correct, non-global-warming-inducing amounts, of course), and peace will reign worldwide!

Too bad the doughy, coffee-guzzling members of the White House press corps couldn’t see the merits of White House exercise over the past eight years.

* * * * *

Fit Republican president = Selfish, indulgent, creepy fascist.

Fit Democratic president = Disciplined, health-conscious Adonis role model.

Full article:
http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=315188478171644

* * * * *

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Packaging’s Impact On Waistlines

October 10, 2008

Excerpted from INSEAD Knowledge “Supersizing and downsizing: the impact of changing packaging and portion sizes on food consumption

* * * * *

When it comes to packaging, size matters.

In a research paper, INSEAD Associate Professor of Marketing Pierre Chandon and co-author Nailya Ordabayeva, an INSEAD PhD student, found that changes in the shape of packaging or portions can have a big impact on our consumption patterns.

As consumers, we tend to buy bigger packages or order bigger portions because we believe we’re getting better value. However, this phenomenon leads to overeating and obesity because we fail to notice just how big these portions and packages are and hence underestimate how much we consume. The size and the shape of packaging play a key role in these misperceptions…

For marketers, this means that if a company increases the size of its packaging in one dimension, consumers perceive it to be much larger and so assume they’re getting a better deal and are more likely to buy it. If a company increases the product size by the same volume but the package is expanded in three dimensions – not just one – consumers don’t perceive as big of a change.

This has important consequences for purchase and consumption decisions…“If you want people to order a larger portion, then you should just increase the height because people will notice. If you want to reduce the quantity of your portions, for example if you had higher raw material costs, you should reduce the height, the width and the length because people won’t notice,” Chandon says.

The research is timely because the phenomenon of ‘supersizing’ has swept the US and is now moving to the rest of the world…This trend has had a big impact on how much consumers eat. The supersizing trend is one of the main drivers of the obesity epidemic and packaging is adding to the problem, the study states.

“It’s very easy to be influenced by marketers,” Chandon says. “For example, the size of the package, the size of the meals, even the size of the plates and of the spoons; we know these things have a very strong impact on how much we eat.”

When it comes to eating healthy, people sabotage themselves as well…Chandon’s research shows that, in addition to underestimating how much we eat, when we eat ‘healthier’ meals, we tend to reward ourselves with treats or bigger portions…

One of the other conclusions of the research: downsizing packaging and portions is one of the most effective ways of reducing overeating. Chandon believes there’s a growing market for low calorie, smaller portion products. But manufacturers need to be very clear in their labelling and careful about pricing, because many consumers think smaller portions are less economical. 

Edit by SAC

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Full article:
http://knowledge.insead.edu/SupersizingDownsizing080901.cfm

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