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A revolution in evolution is turning back the clock more than 200 years, says new book

Posted  December 21, 2018  by  Anonymous

How epigenetics is revolutionizing our understanding of evolution

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How important is dust to making it rain?

Posted  December 21, 2018  by  Anonymous

How are raindrops and snowflakes created?

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Louisiana Offers Fossil Fuel Exporter ‘Single Largest’ Local Tax Giveaway in American History

Posted  December 20, 2018  by  Sharon Kelly

Read time: 7 mins

LNG Tanker

Louisiana plans to collect no industrial property tax from the $15.2 billion Driftwood liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal planned for its southwest corner, state officials announced last week. 

Critics say this tax break is worth $1.4 to $2.4 billion, making it one of the largest local corporate tax exemptions in American history — even larger than those offered to Amazon for its much sought-after second headquarters.

Proposed by the natural gas firm Tellurian, the Driftwood terminal, which would liquefy and export 4 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, is one of over a dozen gas export terminals proposed around the U.S. and fueled by a glut of shale gas released by fracking. The final investment decision for Driftwood is expected in early 2019, as are decisions on two other proposed Gulf Coast export terminals. 

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Successful Weight Management May Depend on the Embrace of Imperfection

Posted  December 19, 2018  by  Yoni Freedhoff

As has been my tradition, in December I repost old favourites from years gone by. This year am looking back to 2015.

Or at least that’s the conclusion you might draw after reading a study recently published in the Journal of Health Psychology.

The study, How does thinking in Black and White terms relate to eating behavior and weight regain? explored what the authors referred to as “dichotomous” thinking and whether or not it had an association with weight regain.

Dichotomous thinking is commonplace in weight management. It encompasses the notions of “good” and “bad” foods, cheat days, forbidden foods, and for many, adhering to its rules is the cornerstone of their efforts. Dichotomous thinkers are the all-or-nothing’ers, the perfectionists, and they are legion.

By way of a survey, researchers explored scores of the validated Dichotomous Thinking in Eating Disorders Scale (DTEDS) and their correlations with weight regain among 241 Dutch respondents. They found that for each 1 unit increase in DTEDS, there was a 142.4 percent increase in the odds of regaining weight compared to maintaining it. When controlled for BMI, those odds decreased and became less exciting but in a sense, in their place, came the finding that for each 1 unit increase in BMI, there was an increase in DTEDS by 0.043 – meaning weight itself seemed to associate with dichotomous thinking.

What does this all mean? Well, food serves as both comfort and celebration and perhaps, not respecting those roles leads people to undertake strict and traumatic diets replete with dichotomous thoughts which in turn may well be a formative driver of a lifetime of yo-yo dieting and higher weights.

Life is a rich tapestry of colours and not just black and white. Ditch the dichotomies and embrace imperfection.

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Big Oil Hired Jerry Brown’s Close Friend to Lobby Him For Years — With Results

Posted  December 19, 2018  by  guest

Read time: 7 mins

California Governor Jerry Brown

By , LittleSis. Originally posted on LittleSis.org.

Despite his reputation as a leader on climate policy, California Governor Jerry Brown has been criticized for making major concessions to the oil industry — which, along with other fossil fuels, is a key driver of the global climate crisis.

Our new report sheds light on a previously unknown channel through which Big Oil sought influence over Brown: a handsomely-paid lobbyist who is a longtime friend, advisor, and former staffer of Brown’s.

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Fracking in 2018: Another Year of Pretending to Make Money

Posted  December 18, 2018  by  Anonymous

Read time: 8 mins

Gas flare

2018 was the year the oil and gas industry promised that its darling, the shale fracking revolution, would stop focusing on endless production and instead turn a profit for its investors. But as the year winds to a close, it’s clear that hasn’t happened.

Instead, the fracking industry has helped set new records for U.S. oil production while continuing to lose huge amounts of money — and that was before the recent crash in oil prices.

But plenty of people in the industry and media make it sound like a much different, and more profitable, story.

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Justin Trudeau joins supporters in Napanee and Kingston

Posted  December 18, 2018  by  Liberal Party of Canada

Kingston, ON – Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, will deliver remarks to supporters at a Team Trudeau nomination event with Mike Bossio in Napanee and an open Liberal fundraising event in Kingston, on December 19, 2018. Justin Trudeau and the Liberal team are focused on a strong plan for Ontarians: to […]

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COP24: Paris Agreement Rulebook ‘Does Not Deliver What The World Needs’

Posted  December 17, 2018  by  Anonymous

Read time: 8 mins

Following two tension-filled weeks at the UN climate talks in Poland, countries finally agreed on the operating manual to implement the Paris Agreement. While this rulebook is essential to kick-start the agreement in 2020, campaigners and scientists have warned of a stark disconnect between the urgency to prevent climate breakdown and the failed opportunity for radical action.

The rulebook covers a wide range of issues such as how countries should report their greenhouse gas emission reductions and who should pay what to help developing countries leapfrog fossil fuels and develop sustainably.

Given the elections of climate deniers Donald Trump in the US and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and strong obstruction from powerful oil and gas exporting countries such as the US and Saudi Arabia, the talks started in Katowice with low expectations.

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New Obesity Study From the Annals of Idiotic Goalposts

Posted  December 17, 2018  by  Yoni Freedhoff

As has been my tradition, in December I repost old favourites from years gone by. This year am looking back to 2015.

If I looked at 279,000 men and women for a decade and studied whether or not they qualified for the Boston Marathon, but I didn’t actually look to see if they were runners, and if they were runners I didn’t bother exploring what their training plans and distances were like, but instead simply looked at how many people from that 279,000 qualified for Boston, I’m guessing I’d be left with an incredibly small number.

And yet, that’s pretty much exactly what the latest depressing weight loss study did. They followed 279,000 men and women for ten years to see what was the probability of those with obesity losing back down to “normal” weight (a BMI less than 25). They didn’t exclude people who weren’t trying to lose weight or who might not have wanted to lose weight. They also didn’t pay any attention to the means with which those who did lose weight only to regain it lost it in the first place.

The odds weren’t good. Over the course of a decade, only 1 in 210 men with obesity, and 1 in 124 women managed to bring their weights down to a place where a table would define them as “normal“.

It’s not particularly surprising. Putting aside the surprising fact that this study didn’t exclude people who weren’t trying to lose weight, it remains that the vast majority of folks trying to lose weight these days do so by undertaking ridiculous diets. Go figure people don’t sustain the results of ridiculous diets; weight lost through suffering comes back when you get sick of suffering. This study of course misses all of that.

And is getting down to a “normal” weight really the right yardstick to measure success? I mean getting down to a BMI under 25 is to weight loss what qualifying for the Boston Marathon is to running. Most runners will never qualify, and consequently qualifying would be a very poor way to measure whether or not people were runners.

But what if you change the goal posts?

If for instance, you set out to study the number of runners who continue to enjoy running as often and as much as they’re able to enjoy, rather than simply the number of runners who qualified for Boston, well suddenly the number of runners will be much much higher, though of course not all of those who take up running, keep up with it either.

Extended that to weight, if the goal posts become your “best weight” which is whatever weight you reach when you’re living the healthiest life that you can enjoy, suddenly the numbers change.

How much do they change?

Looking at, for instance, the 8 year data from the LOOK AHEAD trial, where lifestyle changes were thoughtful and the goal wasn’t qualifying for Boston, 8 years out and 1 in 2 of the participants were maintaining losses of greater than 5 percent of their presenting weights, and more than 1 in 4 were maintaining losses of greater than 10 percent.

So did the publication of this depressing study add to obesity’s literature? Quantifying the number of people who don’t qualify for the Boston Marathon of weight loss, without quantifying how many of them were actually runners, and what sort of training program they were adopting doesn’t strike me as a helpful addition.

I also can’t help but wonder what the impact the publication and coverage of studies like these have on individuals who might be considering lifestyle change – both in terms of reinforcing idiotic goalposts, and in terms of them even starting out of the gates.

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What America Still Stands to Lose as Zinke Leaves Interior and Ex-Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt Stands by

Posted  December 16, 2018  by  Julie Dermansky

Read time: 7 mins

Anti-Trump graffiti at Grand Staircase-Escalante

With the resignation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, environmental and public lands advocates are asking: Will the new leader be any better for the environment than the previous one? And from their perspective, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

David Bernhardt, the current Deputy Interior Secretary, a former oil industry lobbyist, is likely to become Acting Secretary when Zinke leaves at the end of the year. He shares the same types of conflicts of interest his boss does. The Western Values Project (WVP), a pro-public lands group, has documented Bernhardt’s many conflicts, illustrating how his work helps special interest groups — including some of his former clients — in advancing agendas that often undermine protections for public lands and wildlife.

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Liberals nominate Rachel Bendayan as new Team Trudeau candidate for Outremont

Posted  December 16, 2018  by  Liberal Party of Canada

Outremont, QC- Local Liberals in Outremont have nominated Rachel Bendayan, a devoted community leader, as the official Team Trudeau candidate in the upcoming federal by-election. “We are very proud to welcome Rachel Bendayan to Team Trudeau for this important by-election in Outremont,” said Suzanne Cowan, President of the Liberal Party of Canada. “No one understands […]

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Drilled: A Podcast on the Climate Crime of the Century

Posted  December 16, 2018  by  guest

Read time: 4 mins

Drilled podcast graphic

By Climate Investigations Center

A newly released podcast, Drilled, “investigates the crime of the century — the creation of climate denial.”

The eight part series takes listeners back in time to the inception of climate change denial. It tells the story of the special interests that launched campaigns against evolving climate science and the momentum created by this science, starting in the late 1980s and sustained through the 2000s.

Guided by documents uncovered by reporters, academics, and activists in recent years, Drilled exposes the campaign of climate denial as a successful public relations endeavor undertaken by the fossil fuel industry and allies.

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Major Health Study Shows Benefits of Combating Climate Change

Posted  December 15, 2018  by  David Suzuki

Read time: 4 mins

Commuters by bike share in New York City

During the holiday season, people often drink toasts to health. There’s something more we can do to ensure that we and others will enjoy good health now and into the future: combat climate change.

Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, and tackling it could be our greatest health opportunity,” according to the medical journal The Lancet.

The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, by 150 experts from 27 academic institutions and intergovernmental organizations, including the World Health Organization and the World Bank, is blunt: “A rapidly changing climate has dire implications for every aspect of human life, exposing vulnerable populations to extremes of weather, altering patterns of infectious disease, and compromising food security, safe drinking water and clean air.”

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For everything that you do

Posted  December 14, 2018  by  Liberal Party of Canada

A message from Justin Trudeau.

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The Koch Brothers’ Last Ditch Attempt to Kill the Electric Vehicle Tax Credit

Posted  December 14, 2018  by  Anonymous

Read time: 9 mins

2018 Nissan Leaf SL electric car

As Congress debates what, if anything, to do with the federal electric vehicle (EV) tax credit, the oil industry is fighting to kill the popular incentive, which is hitting some key milestones in the program.

In the final weeks of the current legislative session (and before Democrats retake control of the House), many groups with financial and other ties to Koch Industries are ramping up efforts to fight any expansion of the EV tax credit program, while throwing a Hail Mary attempt to cancel the tax incentive entirely.

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China’s race to the moon – their new lander is a small step towards a great leap

Posted  December 14, 2018  by  Anonymous

Could China win the new race to the moon?

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A transplanted pig’s heart lives for months in a baboon – is a human trial next?

Posted  December 14, 2018  by  Anonymous

Baboon survives 6 months with a transplanted pig’s heart

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Is that baby so adorable you want to eat it up? You’re committing ‘cute aggression’

Posted  December 14, 2018  by  Anonymous

Do cute babies make you want to pinch them?

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Your dust bunnies are alive but fighting them with antibacterials is a bad idea

Posted  December 14, 2018  by  Anonymous

Antibiotic resistant dust is all around you

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Frogs sing a rich song in the city but a simpler tune in the country

Posted  December 14, 2018  by  Anonymous

Frogs sing in the city – ‘If I can make it here’

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Cognitive abilities vary among humans, is the same true of other species?

Posted  December 14, 2018  by  Anonymous

Do animals have measurable intelligence differences like humans do?

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Science gets the holiday spirit and produces the perfect Christmas tree

Posted  December 14, 2018  by  Anonymous

Perfecting the Christmas tree with the help of science

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My Home Office Tour

Posted  December 13, 2018  by  Angela (Oh She Glows)

I love working with food, but one of my other passions is home decor, so I hope you’ll humour me with this post! I’ve caught the decor bug in recent years, and I just love every stage of putting a room together. The only problem is that I don’t have much time for home decor […]

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Justin Trudeau delivers remarks to supporters in Markham

Posted  December 12, 2018  by  Liberal Party of Canada

Markham, ON – Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, will deliver remarks to supporters at an open Liberal fundraising event in Markham on December 13, 2018. The Liberal Party of Canada has committed to the strongest standards in federal politics for openness and transparency, and is challenging other parties to do the […]

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The False Dichotomy Between Food Calories and Food Quality

Posted  December 12, 2018  by  Yoni Freedhoff

As has been my tradition, in December I repost old favourites from years gone by. This year am looking back to 2015.

I come across it all the time. Angry folks who claim that when it comes to weight and/or health, calories don’t matter at all and that what really matters is the quality or types of foods, or the folks who claim that the quality or types of foods don’t matter at all, it just comes down to calories.

It’s both of course.

The currency of weight is certainly calories, and while we all have our own unique internal fuel efficiencies when it comes to using or extracting energy from food or from our fat stores, we still need a surplus of calories to gain and a deficit to lose.

But foods matter too. Choice of food matters in terms of health, but also in terms of how many calories our body expends in digesting, and more importantly, upon satiety, which in turn has a marked impact upon how many calories, and which foods, we choose to eat.

So if you do come across a zealot from either camp that claims one or the other doesn’t matter, feel free to ignore them.

        
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10 Easy Ways to Save Your Money and Improve Your Health in 2019

Posted  December 10, 2018  by  Yoni Freedhoff

As has been my tradition, in December I repost old favourites from years gone by. This year am looking back to 2015.

Who wouldn’t want to both save money and improve their health? If you’re looking for some ways to do so, here are some quick thoughts:

  1. Unless you have a medically proven reason or need, stop buying vitamins and supplements that at best provide only the most marginal of benefits to your health (estimated savings $100-$1,000/yr).
  2. Reduce your dinners out (including sit down, fast food, take-out, and supermarket take-out) by 50% across the board (estimated savings $1,000-$5,000/yr depending on family size and meal out frequency).
  3. Never eat lunch out unless someone else is buying or unless you have a business obligation to do so (estimated savings $500-$3,000/yr).
  4. Cancel cable or satellite TV, buy an HDTV antenna (so you can still watch your local sports, news and some TV), and use Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime or some other comparable service (estimated savings even after expenditures $250-$1,000/yr).
  5. Buy a thermos or a travel mug and a great coffee maker and kick your fancy coffee habit (estimated savings even post purchases $100-$500/yr)

Now of course there will be readers who spend more and less on various aspects of those points, but if there are readers where all 5 apply, making these changes might save them between $1,950 and $10,500 dollars.

As far as what to do with that windfall?

  1. Join a CSA farm share to increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables (estimated average annual cost $400-$1,000 depending on size of share)
  2. Join a great local community centre or gym (estimated annual cost of $200-$600)
  3. Buy some used recreational fitness equipment (bikes, skis, snowshoes, etc.) from your local buy and sell (estimated one time cost of $200-$400)
  4. Take a cooking class at your local Community College (estimated cost of $100-$300)
  5. Save it all and use it for a stress relieving active vacation, or stress relieving debt relief.

(And sure, some of your own personal numbers and mileages will vary.)

        
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Drug users aren’t choosing dangerous fentanyl – they don’t know what’s in their drugs

Posted  December 7, 2018  by  Anonymous

Users have no choice when it comes to lethal fentanyl in street drugs

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Selfies for health – a smartphone app can detect anemia

Posted  December 7, 2018  by  Anonymous

Take a photo of your nails to find out if you’re anemic

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Making it on the Moon – 3D printing useful stuff with moon dust

Posted  December 7, 2018  by  Anonymous

3D printing moon dust could be the way to colonize the moon

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The octopus might have traded its shell for intelligence

Posted  December 7, 2018  by  Anonymous

How the octopus got their intelligence

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Have researchers been wrong about Alzheimer’s? A new theory challenges the old story

Posted  December 7, 2018  by  Anonymous

Why the prevailing theory for the cause of Alzheimer’s may be wrong

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What would happen to Earth if there were no volcanoes?

Posted  December 7, 2018  by  Anonymous

Impossible, but the heat would build up and possibly separate continents

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Why I Resigned My Membership In The Obesity Society

Posted  December 5, 2018  by  Yoni Freedhoff

As has been my tradition, in December I repost old favourites from years gone by. This year am looking back to 2015.

For those of you who don’t know, The Obesity Society (TOS) is, according to them,

“North America’s premier scientific organization devoted to understanding obesity

And I wholeheartedly agree, they really are, which is why I’m anything but happy to be resigning my membership.

I’ve been a member for the past decade, and I do my utmost to attend their annual meeting (now known as Obesity Week).

Paying to be a member of a professional organization, to me at least, means that you believe the organization’s mission and methods to be congruent with your own, and sadly, that’s no longer the case with me and TOS.

My concerns began in early 2013. That was when TOS published their, “Guidelines for Accepting Funds from External Sources” position paper. In it TOS,

expressly eliminates all forms of evaluation or judgment of the funding source

and instead,

TOS chooses to focus its ethical mission on transparency in disclosing the sources of funding, clear stipulations outlining our commitment to the ethical use of funds, and a commitment to non-influence of the funding sources over the scientific aspects of funded projects and TOS as a whole.

Lastly they stipulated,

TOS should seek funding from as wide a variety of donors as possible.

Many, myself included, felt that without explicitly saying so, these guidelines were designed as a means to open the door for TOS to seek and take money from the food industry.

Shortly thereafter TOS struck their, “Food Industry Outreach Task Force“, which seems to have morphed into their “Food Industry Engagement Council“, the most recent meeting of which included representatives from Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Dr. Pepper and Ocean Spray. There appears to be no doubt that TOS meant what they said back in early 2013.

To be clear, I’m all for dialogue, debate, and discussion with the food industry, but I just can’t support taking their money, formally working with them on joint projects, or giving them votes at tables. To be sure, in these difficult fiscal times, for public health organizations, the benefit of food industry partnerships is funding. But partnerships of course need to benefit both parties, and for the food industry, partnering with health organizations has much to offer. Public health partnerships provide the food industry with high gloss brand polish, they may lead to direct or indirect co-branded sales, they may confer undeserved positive emotional brand associations, they may silence or soften industry or product criticism, they may provide industry with ammunition to fight industry unfriendly legislative efforts, and they necessitate that the partnered public health group water down public health messaging that may conflict with their partnered private industries’ bottom lines.

Put plainly, a public company cannot invest in a group, program, or intervention that in turn would ultimately serve to decrease sales more than not being involved in that same group, program, or intervention. Doing so would not only be an affront to their shareholders, it’d be grounds for their lawsuits.

Let’s hope I’m wrong in thinking history won’t look kindly on these partnerships, that public-health efforts won’t be hindered by them, and that instead I’ll look back one day and think I made much ado about nothing, but until then, while I’ll still likely see you at Obesity Week, this is why I’ll no longer be sporting a “TOS Member” ribbon on my badge.

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What I Learned When I Actually Read That Prominent School Chocolate Milk Study

Posted  December 3, 2018  by  Yoni Freedhoff

As has been my tradition, in December I repost old favourites from years gone by. This year am looking back to 2015.

I was amazed by the uproar the publication of a Dairy Farmers of Canada funded chocolate milk study inspired last week. The study, “Impact of the removal of chocolate milk from school milk programs for children in Saskatoon, Canada“, at least according to the breathless press release and the resulting press coverage apparently concluded, “it’s chocolate milk, or no milk at all for many children“, and while it’s no surprise given the funding that the spin was chocolate milk positive (including the study’s mind-numbing use of the word, “enhanced” to describe sugar-sweetened milk), after reading the actual study, I’m beyond gobsmacked.

The study methodology was pretty straight forward. For 4 weeks they offered elementary school children both chocolate milk and white milk and measured how much of each they drank and how much went to waste. Next, they stopped providing the chocolate milk for 4 more weeks and kept measuring. Lastly, they brought back the chocolate milk option for a final 4 weeks of measurements.

Now hold onto your hats. As readers of the press are likely to already know the study found,

the children waste more milk when it’s plain.

How much more waste you ask? Just 4/5ths of a tablespoon more a day. Yup, if you actually read the study you find out that when chocolate milk disappeared the kids drank a scant 12mL less per day than they did when chocolate milk was available. If these numbers continued, kids who drank milk would drink about a cup less milk a month for a grand total of just 9.6 fewer cups over the course of their entire chocolate milk free 200 day school year.

Or would they? What about the kids who stopped drinking milk altogether because they could no longer get chocolate? Well when the researchers tried to quantify total daily consumption of milk for all students they found,

that students’ total milk intake at home, or milk consumption at school, did not change across the study phases.

The researchers also found,

that on average students were meeting the 3–4 servings per day recommended by Canada’s Food Guide for 9- to 13-year-olds

and that school milk only accounted for 13%–15% of total dairy consumed.

What else did the researchers find? Well if you want a non-Dairy Farmers of Canada “enhanced” spin on things, the researchers also found that in just the first month following the removal of school chocolate milk the number of students drinking white milk increased by 466%! A number which might well have increased further over time as palates and norms in the schools changed. And what happens to former chocolate milk drinkers when they swap Beatrice 1% chocolate milk for Beatrice 2% white? Well over the course of each week they’ll drink 22 fewer teaspoons of added sugar and over the course of a 200 day school year, 14,000 fewer calories and 19 fewer cups of added sugar.

So to sum up. The study found that taking chocolate milk out of schools did not affect the students’ total daily milk or dairy consumption, that on average all students were meeting their daily recommended amounts of dairy (recommendations which by the way are almost certainly higher than the evidence would suggest they need be), that kids who swapped from chocolate milk to white milk drank pretty much the same amount of white as they did chocolate (unless you think 4/5ths of a tablespoon of milk is a lot), and that by removing chocolate milk from the school, in the first month alone nearly half of the initial chocolate milk drinkers switched to white and in so doing, saved themselves piles of calories and the nearly 2 full cups of monthly added chocolate milk sugar.

If anything this study lends very strong support for those thinking schools shouldn’t be offering sugar sweetened milk to students.

Clearly the reporters didn’t bother to actually read the study. Shouldn’t they have?

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Saturday Stories: The Death Of Family Medicine, Brain Terrorism, Alcohol, and A Final Movember Update

Posted  December 1, 2018  by  Yoni Freedhoff

Physician Frank Warsh, in his blog, writes about “the death of family medicine“, and though there are definitely those who don’t share his frustrations, this is a worthwhile read to understand some of the challenges facing family medicine in Canada today.

Robin Williams’ widow Susan Schneider Williams, in the journal Neurology, on the terrorist (Lewy body disease) inside her late husband’s brain.

Jane O’Donnell, in USA Today, on the crisis we’re not talking about that’s worse than opioids – alcohol.

[And finally huge thanks to those who’ve already donated to my Movember fundraising efforts. Thanks to your generosity, I’ve raised more than $6,000 for men’s health! And it’s not too late – if you find this blog valuable and/or if you enjoy these weekend shares, a tax-deductible donation would be very welcome, all you need to do is click here]

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Will the ‘rogue science’ that created genetically edited babies lead to backlash against research?

Posted  November 30, 2018  by  Anonymous

Genetically edited babies create a scientific furor

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Mysterious fast radio bursts from space: Five explanations for what they could be

Posted  November 30, 2018  by  Anonymous

A cosmic conundrum: What the heck are fast radio bursts?

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Spinal injury patients take steps again thanks to spinal pacemaker

Posted  November 30, 2018  by  Anonymous

Spinal cord researchers make breakthrough

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