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Quirks & Quarks is on hiatus. there will be no podcasts until September

Posted  July 26, 2019  by  Anonymous

Podcast placeholder #2 leading up to September

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Sorry, Eating Thin People’s Poop Isn’t Likely To Make You Thin

Posted  July 25, 2019  by  Yoni Freedhoff

Though there are certainly some celebrity quacktacular physicians I would like to see eat crap, but what I wouldn’t be able to tell them is that doing so would likely have a beneficial impact on their weights.

A recent small study, Effects of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation With Oral Capsules in Obese Patients, found results that to me at least, seemed wholly unsurprising. 22 patients with obesity were randomly assigned to receive either a “fecal microbiota transplantation” from a donor whose BMI was 17.5 or a placebo and to take them for 3 months (and for those curious, the induction dose was 30 capsules).

The transplants were successful in changing the microbiome of the recipients, but alas, did not affect their weights.

Perhaps the only thing surprising about all of this is that there are people out there who strongly believe that a microbiome transplant stands a chance against thousands of genes, dozens of hormones, and a Willy Wonkian food environment all of which being coupled with millions of years of an evolutionary crucible of extreme dietary insecurity.

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Quirks & Quarks is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Armstrong and Aldrin putting the first human bootprints on the Moon.

Posted  July 19, 2019  by  Anonymous

50 years ago we walked on the moon, and it transformed life on Earth

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Children

From The Journal Of If Only It Were That Easy: Walking To School Was Not Associated With Lower Weights In 4-7 Year Olds

Posted  July 15, 2019  by  Yoni Freedhoff

Walking school buses for kids are often promoted on the basis that if more kids were involved with them, their weights, fitness, and maybe even learning would improve.

Wouldn’t that be great? After all, it’s a relatively inexpensive intervention and one it seems everyone can at least theoretically get behind.

But does it work?

This is definitely not a good news story, nor frankly is it all that surprising, but here it is – recently the MOVI‐KIDS Study set out to explore whether or not there was an association between active transport in 4-7 year olds and their weights, fitness, and cognition.

The study involved 1,159 children in Spain and they were categorized on the basis of whether the active components of their school commutes totalled more or less than 15 minutes and then tested and measured to explore walking to school’s possible impact. Heights and weight were measured, a validated cardiorespiratory fitness test was administered, as were multiple batteries of validated cognitive tests. Efforts were also made to control for familial socio-economic status, as well as of course the children’s ages and sexes.

As you might have gathered, the walkers were found to be no better off on any studied variable with the authors very plainly concluding,

“Walking to school had no positive impact on adiposity, physical fitness, and cognition in 4‐ to 7‐year‐old children.”

Too bad. Truly.

I have to say too, I did scratch my head reading the next bit of their conclusion though,

“it would be of interest for future studies to examine the intensity and duration of ACS necessary to provide meaningful benefits for health and cognitive performance.”

I can’t say I agree with them here as I’m not sure lengthy, intense, daily school commutes for 4 year olds is something we need to explore regardless of their impact on anything. Moreover, I don’t need to see “meaningful benefits” to want to continue promoting more movement and play in our children, and if we buy into the need for same, we’ll risk the cessation of programs that don’t prove themselves to provide perhaps broader reaching or more dramatic outcomes than could ever be fairly expected of them.

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Only 41% Of People Who Were Given Free Preventive Medications Following Their Heart Attacks Were Still Taking Them 1.5 Years Later

Posted  July 9, 2019  by  Yoni Freedhoff

You might think that having a heart attack would be motivating when it came to behaviour change, and that taking medications is a very straightforward behaviour.

And yet.

The Post-Myocardial Infarction Free Rx Event and Economic Evaluation (MI FREEE) trial set out to study whether or not cost had a role to play in why so many patients, even post heart attack, don’t take the medications prescribed to them in the hopes of preventing another one by freely providing them with those medications.

Results wise, though the group receiving free preventive medications were taking more of them than the group that did not, at the end 1.5 years, only 41% of those receiving all their medications for free, medications prescribed to them after they had an actual heart attack, were taking them.

So file these results under human beings, even when faced with knowledge, and in this case knowledge coupled with a very real glimpse at mortality, struggle to maintain even the easiest of behaviour changes, and consider that in the context of the trope of education and personal responsibility as the sole means to target diet and weight related diseases. If we want to see population level changes, we’re going to need to change the food environment.

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Cancer Research UK (@CR_UK) Launches Awful New Fat Shaming Advertising Campaign

Posted  July 2, 2019  by  Yoni Freedhoff

According to Cancer Research UK’s new public advertisements, obesity is apparently the new smoking.

What that means of course is that by formally adopting, amplifying, and promoting the message that obesity, like smoking, is a choice people make, Cancer Research UK fuels hateful weight based stigma.

More amazing perhaps is that the aim of the campaign is to apparently target the environment with their ads steering people, in the small print that people will likely miss and certainly can’t click on in train stations, to their web page calling for an end to junk food advertising to kids.

Obesity is the normal consequence of normal people living in abnormal, obesigenic, environments. Obesity often has hugely negative impacts upon health and quality of life (especially at its extremes), fuelled in no small part by the never ending blame, shame, and scorn heaped upon those who have obesity by society, and yet here is Cancer Research UK’s campaign to further justify that weight hate.

Shame on them. They absolutely should have known better.

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Obsession-Worthy Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream

Posted  June 29, 2019  by  Angela (Oh She Glows)

Many years ago, I was reading a blog post by a blogger I’d been following for a while. She wrote about a recent struggle with depression and her honest words made such an impact on me. I remember thinking how brave it was for her to tell her story. While I hated that she was […]

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Christmas

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Posted  June 29, 2019  by  Angela (Oh She Glows)

photo credit: Ashley McLaughlin  Comments (2) | Share on Facebook | Tweet | Pin It | Snapchat | © copyright 2019 Oh She Glows. All Rights Reserved.

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Saturday Stories: Flight MH370, Adult Vaccination, and A Lost Aircraft Carrier

Posted  June 29, 2019  by  Yoni Freedhoff

William Langewiesche, in The Atlantic, with just incredible reporting on what we do and don’t know about the final flight of Malaysia Airlines MH370.

Andre Picard, in The Globe and Mail (but via his Tumblr), on how we’ve forgotten that vaccination isn’t just for children.

Ed Caesar, in The New York Times, on the epic hunt for a lost WWII aircraft carrier.

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Quirks & Quarks is on hiatus. There will be no more podcasts until the July 20th Apollo 11 anniversary special

Posted  June 28, 2019  by  Anonymous

Podcast placeholder leading up to July 20

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On Instagram, RD Working For Welch’s Implies That Drinking Welch’s Grape Juice Won’t Raise Your Blood Sugar (By @DylanMacKayPhD)

Posted  June 24, 2019  by  Yoni Freedhoff

Today’s guest post comes from Dylan MacKay. Dylan is a nutritional biochemist who has type 1 diabetes and when I saw RD Marie Spano’s Instagram post, I knew he would have both personal and professional thoughts to share and so I invited him to do so.

I don’t know what it is with grapes but they always seem to be raisin my ire…

I mean as a person with type 1 diabetes, a PhD in Human Nutritional Science, and who does diabetes research and occasionally clinical trials looking at glucose response, maybe I’m not the one to talk about this, but I just can’t not.

Recently a Welch’s (*cough* big grape juice) “nutrition advisor” posted the above nutrition translation travesty on Instagram.

This is really kind of surprised me because when I have low blood sugar I often drink grape juice, How am I still alive? I mean I can honestly say there are times grape juice may have saved my life (by raising my blood sugar). Yet you could potentially look at this Instagram post and fairly think

drinking 100% juice made from polyphenol-rich fruit juice does not raise your blood sugar

unlike apparently that bad candy or pop that raises your blood sugar.

That would be of course 100% wrong.

Polyphenols are not magic sugar blockers, otherwise we would be using them to treat diabetes and you would get serious gastrointestinal upset from eating berries and grapes. I feel like you don’t even really need to be an RD to see this messaging is bad (Seriously, Welch’s advisors, how much do you get paid for your credibility?). Especially on a social media platform, where someone might not scroll to the end of the associated comment and look at the “reference” provided.

Speaking of the reference used for this knowledge translation crime, it is for a review article called Impact of Dietary Polyphenols on Carbohydrate Metabolism and having reviewed it I can say it does not in support the claim in that post. Most of the article talks about animal or cell culture results that show polyphenols may impact glucose digestion or absorption, but there’s nothing in the article showing it stops it. It even concludes that

To confirm the implications of polyphenol consumption for prevention of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and eventually type 2 diabetes, human trials with well-defined diets, controlled study designs and clinically relevant endpoints… are needed.

The closest thing in the article supporting the Instagram post is

The shape of the plasma glucose curve with reduced concentrations in the early phase and a slightly elevated concentration in the later phase indicates delayed response due to berry consumption

about a study done with 12 healthy participants looking at berry puree (rich in polyphenols). The polyphenols (or something else in the berries) changed the timing of the blood sugar elevation.

I suppose the Welch’s RD nutrition advisor might say

well actually Dylan, changing the shape of the blood sugar elevation means it doesn’t actually raise blood sugar like candy

and we could get into a long argument of how you define “like”. When people are arguing over minutia or semantics big food companies have won.

This type of nutrition misinformation advertising works because ultimately it is designed to ruin peoples’ trust in nutritional science and nutrition experts (especially RDs). If consumers are confused and can’t trust anything in nutrition, they are ripe for the next trend or fad or advertising claim. That is a good thing for companies, but a bad thing for people.

If you like grape juice, drink it, I sometimes do when I have low blood sugar (I have chugged maple syrup for that too so…), but know that grape juice will raise your blood sugar, and liquid calories, like those found from the 9 teaspoons of sugar per glass of grape juice, are an easy way to go over on your energy intake. Most of us are trying to avoid excess energy intake, so for that, in my opinion, you can’t beat water.

Dylan MacKay PhD is a nutritional biochemist and an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. He is also a Clinical Trialist at the George and Fay Yee Center for Healthcare Innovation. Dylan has a special interest in human clinical trials related to lifestyle and diabetes. He is originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland where he started his graduate studies at Memorial University.

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Your Wi-Fi router could be used to watch you breathe and monitor your heartbeat

Posted  June 21, 2019  by  Anonymous

Your Wi-Fi router could be used to watch you in your home

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We’ve bred dogs to have expressive eyebrows that manipulate our emotions

Posted  June 21, 2019  by  Anonymous

Dogs expressive eyebrows make us fall for their cute faces

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Do electric car batteries take more CO2 to make than they save?

Posted  June 21, 2019  by  Anonymous

Do electric car batteries take more CO2 to make than they save?

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A face-eating parasite is devastating Darwin’s famous Galapagos finches

Posted  June 21, 2019  by  Anonymous

Darwin’s finches are being devastated by beak parasites

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AI is now learning to do things it hasn’t been taught

Posted  June 21, 2019  by  Anonymous

An AI learned numeracy while being trained for another task

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Do your genes smell bad? DNA shows what our noses know

Posted  June 21, 2019  by  Anonymous

Honing in on why some people think beets taste and smell like dirt

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A research assistant named Spongebob? Sea sponges collect data for science

Posted  June 21, 2019  by  Anonymous

Sea sponges are better than scientists at DNA collection

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Bonobo mothers act as wing-mums for their sons

Posted  June 21, 2019  by  Anonymous

Bonobo mothers act as matchmakers for their sons

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The Once-Gweat Wabble of Wowdy Webels…

Posted  June 21, 2019  by  Balbulican

It’s been been a while since I checked in on my favourite “fearless source of news, opinion, and activism that you can’t find anywhere else”. I was therefore shocked – shocked! – to discover that the Rebel appears in the…

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Trans Mountain Pipeline Approved

Posted  June 18, 2019  by  bigcitylib

…but far from built. I’ve talked about this  before.  My opinion is that Trudeau did the right thing by approving the pipeline.  You can’t really rule this country if the entire middle bit hates your guts because you took away the…

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Should we have humans in space? A Quirks & Quarks public debate

Posted  June 14, 2019  by  Anonymous

In our first ever Quirks & Quarks public debate, recorded live in Toronto, astronaut Chris Hadfield, cosmologist Renée Hložek, planetary scientist Marianne Mader and space flight historian Amy Shira Teitel weigh in on whether we should leave space to the robots. An extended podcast edition includes Q&A segments not in the radio broadcast.

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“Have I read anything you’ve written?”

Posted  June 10, 2019  by  Marijke Vroomen-Durning

I’ve been asked a few times, “Have I read anything you’ve written?” My first smart-ass instinct is to reply, “I don’t know, what do you read?” But I don’t. Because for some people, meeting a writer is surprising. They don’t know what to say and that’s …

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Mann Wins!!!! Frontier Centre for Public Policy FOLDS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted  June 7, 2019  by  bigcitylib

Congratulations to Dr. Michael Mann for successfully putting the boots to Winnipeg’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy.  They defamed him; he fought back and won.  See their grovelling apology below.  Bask in their tears.  &nbs…

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We’re consuming a lot of plastic and have no idea of the risks

Posted  June 7, 2019  by  Anonymous

Microplastics are everywhere – including in your food and drink

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The elephant’s mathematical trunk can smell numbers

Posted  June 7, 2019  by  Anonymous

Elephants can smell numbers – sort of

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Depressing conclusion as new research reverses 25 years of research

Posted  June 7, 2019  by  Anonymous

25 years of research on the genetics of depression is wrong

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Concussion symptoms reversed in mice using magnetic therapy

Posted  June 7, 2019  by  Anonymous

Magnetic stimulation may reverse concussion symptoms in the future

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Do auroras occur on other planets and moons?

Posted  June 7, 2019  by  Anonymous

They occur on Mars and other planets, not on the moon

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Canada is using science to lay claim to the North Pole

Posted  June 7, 2019  by  Anonymous

How we’re trying to prove we own the North Pole

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Infection Following Natural Disasters – Take Care

Posted  June 2, 2019  by  Marijke Vroomen-Durning

Following every natural disaster, we see television news and online videos of destruction. Images of destroyed homes, cars and trucks flipped over, and boats well inland instead of in the water, show us the massive damage nature can cause. But for the thousands who are living through the seemingly unprecedented number of tornadoes, serious storms, and flooding, it’s not a video. It’s very real. The disasters are leaving thousands of families uprooted, with some losing loved ones.

But after the storms have passed over and the waters have receded, after the news cameras leave and people stop taking videos, the residents are left with not only putting their lives back together, but with the potential of serious illness or injury, after the fact.


While the emergency is occurring, the most important issue is survival. This means taking cover or evacuating. But once the imminent threat has left, other dangers may lurk. From broken water and sewage systems to terrified wild animals, survivors may be exposed to dangers they’ve never faced before.


Infection following a natural disaster is common in many areas. Infections can spread quickly in crowded shelters. People who walk around the disaster area can injure themselves by tripping on debris. They can cut themselves while trying to move things or be hit by material that may still be falling. Frightened pets and wild animals may be driven into unfamiliar territory and may bite.


With so many tornadoes touching down in North America this spring, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss the topic. A while ago, I wrote about the connection between national disasters for Sepsis Alliance, an organization I work with. If you would like to read more about the types of infections that could follow a natural disaster, visit Sepsis and Natural Disasters, found on the Sepsis Alliance website.


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Video games aren’t corrupting young minds – they may be building them

Posted  May 31, 2019  by  Anonymous

Video games might be just the homework your kids need this summer

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Don’t bury or cremate – soon you may compost your corpse

Posted  May 31, 2019  by  Anonymous

People in Washington will soon be able to turn their loved ones into soil

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Drink like an Egyptian – 5000 year old yeast is resurrected to brew ancient beer

Posted  May 31, 2019  by  Anonymous

Ancient beer comes back to life using 5,000 year old yeast

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Did our ancestors evolve to walk upright because of supernovae?

Posted  May 31, 2019  by  Anonymous

Supernovae might have been the trigger for our ancestors to descend from the trees

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Right whales were in the wrong place because of the wrong climate

Posted  May 31, 2019  by  Anonymous

Right whales are dying from ship strikes thanks to climate change

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Flying food for fish? Tiger sharks are somehow eating songbirds

Posted  May 24, 2019  by  Anonymous

How have sharks developed a taste for twittering songbirds?

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