Almost 7 years ago, while going through some personal issues, I made a terrible mistake and ended up being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of California. It was a dark period in my life, but I have moved on and learned my lesson. This spring, however, my intoxicated driving conviction […]
We just saw it here, and now its happening in the States as well.Its the perception by journalists and opinion pundits that they “know” where the general public is at, and therefore that they can just pull voting predictions out of their ass — instead…
Well according to this new RCT it is – in it they found that patients randomly assigned to 4 months of severe energy restriction (65-75% restriction of energy by way of total meal replacement/all liquid diet) followed by 8 months of moderate energy restriction (25-35%), at 12 months, lost significantly more weight than those assigned from the get go to the same degree of moderate energy restriction.
So first off it’s not remotely surprising that putting two groups on the exact same diet (25-35% energy restriction) but starting one group off with 4 months of extreme energy restriction sees those who had the extreme jump start lose more in total.
Secondly, it would appear that the extreme folks have a weight gain trajectory that may well erase the differences over time.
And thirdly, this got me thinking. Behavioural weight loss programs, because they don’t involve products (unless medications are being tested, and here they were not), have outcomes that are likely significantly dependent on both material, and perhaps more importantly, on the service providers. Consequently I do wonder about the ability of any of these sorts of studies to be applicable to other offices or programs. Meaning here at least, it would appear the extreme folks did better, and the moderate folks dropped out more often (perhaps consequent to slower than desired initial losses), but would the same necessarily be true at a different site, with the same restrictions but with different service providers, collateral materials, attention and support?
I’d venture those things matter a great deal more than is generally ever mentioned in the medical literature.
And a Movember update! If you enjoy these posts (or even if you don’t but you hate read them for something to rage about thereby adding some extra meaning or identity to your life) would love your tax deductible donation to my lipterpillar’s growth (and remember, you can give anonymously too). And though I have a family history of prostate cancer (hi Dad!) I think it’s important to note that beyond prostate cancer Movember funds multiple men’s health initiatives including mental health, suicide, body image, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and testicular cancer. And while I will never charge a penny or host an advertisement on this site, I will, on an annual basis, ask for your donation to this cause. To donate, simply click here
A few months ago I visited the Ottawa Hospital’s Civic campus and decided to have a peek over at the cafeteria.
It won an award you see, an “Award of Recognition” to be exact, which according to the plaque was for,
“significant achievement in creating a supportive, healthy, nutrition environment across hospital retail food settings“
A supportive and health nutrition environment you say?
Um, about that:
Boy, people are really getting pissed off these days! Its very entertaining, really:
Clocks going back 57 minutes in Alberta after 5% cut by UCP government. #AbLeg https://t.co/ABqMWF6yg5
— Alan T Perry (@AlanTPerry) November 3, 2019
And he’s an Anglican priest!
You’re an idiot. Truly.
— Gen Michael Hayden (@GenMhayden) November 2, 2019
And he used to be the Director of the CIA
In the Star Phoenix, Doug Cuthand talks sense about Western separatism:
Kenny and Moe remind me of the two cartoon dogs, Spike and Chester. Remember them? Spike was a mean bulldog and Chester was his little sidekick who pranced around saying that Spike was his hero because he was so big and strong … I’ll leave it to you to determine which one is which.
It’s time both premiers got real and faced the fact that the economy is changing and the demand for oil is peaking. The United States is now energy self-sufficient and within a decade about half the new vehicles sold will be electric. Dirty oil, like the tarsands, will go the way of coal mines. These commodities are expensive to extract and refine and not economically viable in a world with declining demand.
Economics trump politics and there is little or nothing politicians can do about it.
One of the other things that Western Canadian separatists are also forgetting is that it isn’t their land to bargain away – its treaty land. Cuthand continues:
Our leaders made a treaty to share the land and build a future together. Of course, the equality and cooperation didn’t happen, but we’re still working on it.
At no time did our elders envision a future without the treaty and the protection of the Crown. Also, there is no groundswell of support for separation within the Indigenous community. Through Treaty we chose Canada.
When Quebec was going through its separation anxiety, my friend Billy Two Rivers from the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation commented that the only land the separatists could take with them was the dirt under their fingernails.
I agree. If the separatists want to leave Western Canada, go ahead, but the land remains with us.
Shauna Harrison, herself both a fitness instruction and a Ph.D. in public health, in Self, is begging you to stop taking nutrition advice from your fitness instructors.
Nell Scovell, in Vanity Fair, with an amazing piece of writing about her pre-#MeToo era interactions with David Letterman, and what it was like to sit down with him a decade later to discuss it.
Lindsay Crouse, Nayeema Raza, Taige Jensen and Max Cantor, in the New York Times, with just a lovely video on Guillermo Piñeda Morales, a.k.a. Memo, and his fitness methodology.
Lastly, I’ve had many people write to me over the years about their enjoyment of Saturday Stories in particular. If that’s you, and if it moves you, today is #Movember 2nd! and your donations are my ෴’s fertilizer! You give, I grow. And beyond prostate cancer Movember funds multiple men’s health initiatives including mental health, suicide, body image, eating disorders, substance use disorders, & testicular cancer. To donate, simply click here
Photo by Pete Souza – Cropped from https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/3994558942, Public Domain, Link
Lots of hoopla on nutrition Twitter this week because RD Tracey Fox questioned the wisdom of serving donuts at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE).
Hyperbole and fallacious arguments from both sides ensued.
The people hating on the donuts predictably likened sugar to *checks tweets, sighs* heroin and cigarettes, while the people defending them, their arguments are probably fairly summed up in this tweet:
It’s these arguments that I want to very briefly address.
As I’ve written before in reference to a physician conference I attended where they were serving soda, Clif bars, and potato chips as a snack, human beings, including MDs and RDs, when faced with freely provided indulgent choices, tend to choose them, and I can’t help but wonder had they not been offered how many RDs would have gone for a donut or cookie run?
And of course it’s not “just one“. We are all constantly faced with indulgent choices being offered to us freely to christen every event no matter how small, and we’ve created a food environment whereby we have to go out of our way to make healthy choices and to actively, regularly, say no to indulgent ones. Now I think indulgent choices are part of life, an enjoyable part at that, and ones that I even actively encourage my patients to make, but I also think it would be in everyone’s best interest were that food environment reversed, where the healthy choices are the defaults and indulgent choices are readily available for anyone who wants to go out of their way to get them.
And by the way, at FNCE this year they were certainly readily available. The decadent Beiler’s Bakery was 92ft away from the Pennsylvania Convention Centre, while more pedestrian Dunkin’ was 135ft away.
Yes, the constant provision of junk food is a societal norm, but it certainly need not be.
And honestly, if even the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics enables and encourages poor dietary choices at RD events, why would anyone expect better from others?
Until we stop leaning on the theoretical ability of people “just saying no“, or that the provision of healthy choices somehow erases the provision of junk, as the primary means to address a food environment that incessantly offers and pushes nutritional chaff at every turn, we’re not likely to ever see change, and frankly this is a charge that AND should be leading.
The LA Times fire coverage is free today. Very scary fires all over the state.
Here’s every fire burning in Southern California today: https://t.co/FZXtgcKvLc pic.twitter.com/ll3JoeUzQI
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) October 31, 2019
Omg omg 😭🥰🐎 RT @LoganHallNews: Video of the day from the #EasyFire. A horse goes back into the blaze to get his family. pic.twitter.com/kTP48pt9sg
— Sarah (@MissSarah_2) October 30, 2019
A wildfire ignited on a Sacramento-area highway, forcing drivers off-road to escape the flames. Experts say the climate crisis has made California’s fire season longer and more intense. pic.twitter.com/PfSGyVPrS1
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) October 30, 2019
“We’re going to die.” Nursing facility patients had minutes to flee a California wildfire. Quick work by the staff got all the patients to safety and firefighters saved the facility. https://t.co/MI3Q3RMkRH
— AP West Region (@APWestRegion) October 31, 2019
Goats help save California’s Reagan library from wildfire https://t.co/rhjgFSx9Xv pic.twitter.com/GvAkpqnCWS
— Reuters (@Reuters) October 31, 2019
As California fires rage, Lebron James, José Andrés, and local chefs gift meals to first responders https://t.co/APQ7JyXlA9
— Daily Kos (@dailykos) October 31, 2019
Let me be clear: when it comes to Meghan Murphy and her followers at the Toronto Public Library versus the protesters outside, I stand with the protesters. Now, let me be less clear. At this point, I’m beginning to…
(A variation of this post was first published October 24th, 2013)
And I’m not really all that worried. At least not about Halloween night.
The fact is food’s not simply fuel, and like it or not, Halloween and candy are part of the very fabric of North American culture, and so to suggest that kids shouldn’t enjoy candy on Halloween isn’t an approach I support.
That said, Halloween sure isn’t pretty. On average every Halloween sized candy contains in the order of 2 teaspoons of sugar and the calories of 2 Oreo cookies and I’d bet most Halloween eves there are more kids consuming 10 or more Halloween treats than less – 20 teaspoons of sugar and the calories of more than half an entire package of Oreos (there are 36 cookies in a package of Oreos).
So what’s a health conscious parent to do?
Use Halloween as a teachable moment. After all, it’s not Halloween day that’s the real problem, the real problem are the other 364 days of Halloween where we as a society have very unwisely decided to reward, pacify and entertain kids with junk food or candy (see my piece on the 365 days of Halloween here). So what can be taught on Halloween?
Well firstly I think that if you’d like, you can chat some about added sugar and those rule of thumb figures up above provide easily visualized metrics for kids and parents alike.
Secondly it allows for a discussion around “thoughtful reduction“. Ask your kids how many candies they think they’ll need to enjoy Halloween? Remember, the goal is the healthiest life that can be enjoyed, and that goes for kids too, and consequently the smallest amount of candy that a kid is going to need to enjoy Halloween is likely a larger amount than a plain old boring Thursday. In my house our kids have determined 3 treats are required (and I’m absolutely guessing likely a few more on the road) – so our kids come home, they dump their sacks, and rather than just eat randomly from a massive pile they hunt out the 3 treats they think would be the most awesome and then silently learn a bit about mindful eating by taking their time to truly enjoy them.
Well it goes into the cupboard and gets metered out at a rate of around a candy a day….but strangely….and I’m not entirely sure how this happens, maybe it’s cupboard goblins, but after the kids go to sleep the piles seem to shrink more quickly than math would predict (though a few years ago my oldest told me she believed it was her parents eating them and that she was going to count her candies each night). I’ve also heard of some families who grab glue guns and make a Halloween candy collage, and dentist offices who host charitable Halloween candy buy-backs.
Lastly, a few years ago we discovered that the Switch Witch’ territory had expanded to include Ottawa. Like her sister the Tooth Fairy, the Switch Witch likes to collect things and on Halloween, she flies around looking for piles of candy to “switch” for toys in an attempt to keep kids’ teeth free from cavities for her sister. The joy and excitement on my kids’ faces when they came downstairs on November 1st that first Switch Witch year was something to behold, and is already a discussion between them this year.
And if you do happen upon our home, we haven’t given out candy since 2006 and we haven’t been egged either. You can buy Halloween coloured play-doh packs at Costco, Halloween glow sticks, stickers or temporary tattoos at the dollar store (glow sticks seem to be the biggest hit in our neighbourhood), or if your community is enlightened, you might even be able to pick up free swim or skate passes for your local arena or YMCA.
Here is the vote result in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta:
Liberals: 500,000 votes – 4 seats
NDP: 466,000 votes – 4 seats
Conservatives: 2 million votes – 54 seats
So don’t talk to me about the “popular vote”! On that basis, the Cons are extremely over-represented in western Canada.
And here’s some info about the rest of the country:
When Canadians have swung 66% in favour of climate action, hard to see how the CPC can form even a minority govt in the foreseeable future.
Their path to power depends on making huge gains in that ROC where they got 28% of the vote. 2/
— Sandy Garossino (@Garossino) October 27, 2019
James Hamblin, in The Atlantic, with his typically insightful thoughts, this time about whether meat is good or bad for you.
Kim Tingley, in the New York Times Magazine, asks why isn’t there one best diet for everyone?
Andrew Mark Bennett, in Tablet, on modern day German antisemitism and what German Jews are doing about it..
[And if you don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook, had a chat with the ladies from The Social yesterday about vaccinations]
Just in time for Halloween, the recent Liberal expulsion from the West has injected new life into Western Separatism, one of Canada’s favourite political zombies, now lurching back to life under the catchy Brexit-inspired trademark “Wexit”. Because who can’t look…
Thanks to a person who wishes to remain nameless, I was recently alerted to the fact that the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, a union representing 83,000 elementary teachers and education workers, have removed coverage for Registered Dietitians (RDs) from their benefits plan.
By way of background, here in Ontario, RDs are one of a limited number of regulated health professionals, and of course are the only profession dedicated exclusively to nutrition. Also here in Ontario (and pretty much everywhere), diet and weight related diseases have long since reached epidemic proportions.
As to why ETFO has delisted RDs, the province’s only regulated nutrition professionals, according to a document distributed to their members it’s because,
“these free services are now available through Ontario Telehealth“
But are they?
Telehealth RDs answer one-off nutrition questions by way of phone calls. They are most assuredly not there to provide individual counselling or comprehensive ongoing care.
Plainly, cutting RDs from ETFO benefits is shortsighted, and suggesting that actual RD services are the equivalent of a Dial-A-Dietitian service designed to answer simple questions is an outright lie.
If you’re an ETFO member I’d encourage you to share this post, and to contact the ETFO ELHT Board of Trustees to ask that RD coverage be reinstated.
I didn’t hear it myself, but I guess Singh was taking too long with his concession speech and Scheer started his concession speech before Singh finished, then Trudeau started HIS victory speech before Scheer finished.
In hindsight, it’s too bad Trudeau didn’t just tell everybody last night that Scheer was refusing to try to work together. Maybe it wasn’t the sort of thing you rush into at 2am after 40 days of election 2/2 #elxn43
— Cherniak (@Cherniak) October 22, 2019
He explained how he told Trudeau last night something to the effect that he had lost the confidence of Canadians
— Cherniak (@Cherniak) October 22, 2019
Ford issued a statement Tuesday morning congratulating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his victory and applauding all federal leaders for a “hard fought campaign.”
He says he looks forward to working with Ottawa to address “shared priorities,” including infrastructure, internal trade and mental health
And the Toronto Sun adds:
Ford’s statement stands out for its conciliatory tone
Yeah, I’ll say. The Conservative Brain Trust behind Scheer convinced Ford to spend the entire campaign at an Undisclosed Location, but it didn’t help Scheer do better in Ontario, so I would think that this morning Ford is furious at Scheer.
So Russia is moving in to the Middle East, now that Trump has abandoned the field:
The negotiations ended in a victory for Mr. Putin: Russian and Turkish troops will take joint control over a vast swath of formerly Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria, in a move that cements the rapid expansion of Russian influence in Syria at the expense of the United States and its Kurdish former allies. Under terms of the agreement, Syrian Kurdish forces have six days to retreat more than 20 miles from the border, abandoning land that they had controlled uncontested until earlier this month — when their protectors, the American military, suddenly began to withdraw from the region.
This is, I think, the first time this has ever happened to the United States. But with Trump, likely not the last time. What an embarrassment.
Moscow is now the powerbroker in the Middle East as Trump has rendered the US irrelevant. Putin has temporarily ceded Erdogan a buffer zone from which he can displace Kurdish inhabitants (aka ethnic cleansing) in return for recognition of Moscow’s diktat. https://t.co/Ki4Gbokw4w
— Michael Carpenter (@mikercarpenter) October 22, 2019
There is gonna be SO much Hillary stuff on Fox News tonight
— Ben Wexler (@mrbenwexler) October 22, 2019
Hype around preliminary findings, animal studies, cell culture studies, underwhelming studies, and more is the clickbait that sells papers and likes. Some of the time hype comes from journalists, sometimes from press-releases, and sometimes from the authors themselves. Today’s blog post sees the hype coming from an invited oped published by the American Society of Nutrition’s flagship The Journal of Nutrition.
The oped, entitled, The Key to Successful Weight Loss on a High-Fiber Diet May Be in Gut Microbiome Prevotella Abundance, was written in reference to the results of the study entitled, Prevotella Abundance Predicts Weight Loss Success in Healthy, Overweight Adults Consuming a Whole-Grain Diet Ad Libitum: A Post Hoc Analysis of a 6-Wk Randomized Controlled Trial.
The op-ed described the “key” to successful weight loss on a high-fiber diet as gut microbiomes containing an abundance of the bacterium Prevotella, and was written to amplify the – hold onto your hats now – findings from a very small, very short study that was not originally designed to test the relationship between Prevotella abundance and weight, that found a whole 3.5lb greater weight loss among the 15 study subjects with the highest Prevotella abundance vs. the lowest (but still present amount) when consuming a whole grain (WG) diet.
But wait, there’s more!
Though it’s confusing because of the way they reported weight loss, the same study found that particpants with microbiomes containing no Prevotella also lost weight on a WG diet. In fact, looking at the study’s diagram detailing the losses between groups it sure appears as if subjects whose microbiomes contained no Prevotella (0-P) lost statistically comparable amounts of weight as those whose microbiomes contained the most Prevotella (High-P).
So to summarize, people with microbiomes containing what The Journal of Nutrition called, “the key to weight loss on a high-fibre diet” lost pretty much the same amount of weight as people with none of it on a high-fibre diet. Oh, and that key that worked as well as not having a key at all? If we make the enormous leap that it was causal, it led to a 3.48lb weight loss. Whoop whoop?
Bottom line I guess is that if you’re going to describe something at the “key” to successful weight loss on a whole grain diet in the title of an op-ed in a prominent journal, and where we’re talking about a 4lb weight loss, but having none of that key leads you to lose pretty much the same amount of weight, not only is that not much of a key, but it’s incredibly irresponsible as it blatantly contributes to the ongoing erosion of societal scientific literacy and promotes the harmful and erroneous belief that magic exists when it comes to weight loss.
[Also, unless I’m misreading the very small amount of actual data provided, it would seem that the authors of the study also reported the difference between high Prevotella and low Prevotella groups wrong whereby the high group was found to have lost 4lbs (-1.8kg), and the low 0.5lbs (-0.22kg), but rather than report a -1.58kg (3.48lb) difference between the two, they added their losses and reported a -2.02kg (4.45lb) difference.]
So CBC’s Katie Simpson was impressed that Andrew Scheer’s speech in Richmond Hill Ontario last night attracted 1,500 people, she calls it his biggest crowd so far:
Biggest crowd I’ve seen so far for Andrew Scheer. We’ll do a rough count and ask party for numbers as we do. The rally is being held in a Richmond Hill, Ontario, banquet hall. pic.twitter.com/F1oVNAqc7s
— Katie Simpson (@CBCKatie) October 20, 2019
Saturday night in #Calgary, nearly midnight — at least 1,500 supporters waited HOURS in the cold to see @JustinTrudeau & @NirmalaNaidoo. Amazing.#ChooseForward #elxn43 #cdnpoli #abpoli pic.twitter.com/Urhoy4M1FD
— Cameron Ahmad (@CameronAhmad) October 20, 2019
Andrew Scheer seemed doomed to finish his first (and perhaps last) election campaign as CPC leader without having accomplished anything of significance. Then, he managed the impossible: He ceded the moral high ground to Maxime Bernier. #KinsellaGate #MaximeBernier #cdnpoli
— Sir Francis (@Dred_Tory) October 19, 2019
NOTE: I just edited this post title to clarify that EKOS is predicting a Liberal government, but isn’t yet predicting a Liberal MAJORITY – depends on how some of the close seats go.
Here’s the latest tweet from EKOS:
Flash! For all those still up I have just received my latest numbers from today . Adding to the most recent I can say with confidence that the LPC are going to win Elxn 43. The only question is whether it will be a majority or minority and it is looking like the former
— Frank Graves (@VoiceOfFranky) October 20, 2019
I was hoping for this kind of news today, because attendance at Trudeau rallies is getting large and enthusiastic:
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 19, 2019
Whoa! This is a massive group of people to see @JustinTrudeau in #Winnipeg. All are here to #ChooseForward. #LPC #cdnpoli #elxn43 pic.twitter.com/pM4wrVrVUi
— KSP_Libs (@KSP_Libs) October 19, 2019
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 19, 2019
Trudeau uses the “sing louder and paddle harder” line to huge cheers from the crowd. Things seem to be coming together for the Liberals, just as they are falling apart for the Conservatives. “Good event, really good event,’ says one man leaving the Milton rally.
— John Ivison (@IvisonJ) October 19, 2019
Lisa Miller, in The Cut, with the horrifying must read story of how medical celebrity and stature let a serial sexual abuser into New York’s Mount Sinai emergency room where he abused Aja Newman (and others) #TIMESUPHealthcare
Lyz Lenz, in the Columbia Journalism Review, on the wheel of pain and Alan Dershowitz’ self-perceived victimhood.
[And if you don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook, A few weeks ago I did a Q&A for Elemental on my philosophy and approach to weight management. tl;dr I’m not fond of suffering, scales don’t measure health, one person’s best diet is another’s worst, medicine should be free of blame]
So what happens when you offer people with obesity the choice between 5:2 style intermittent fasting (IF) (very-low calories (VLC) 2 days weekly with 5 days of less restricted eating) and more traditional caloric restriction 7 days a week? Would encouraging people to choose between two strategies increase their likelihoods of successful weight management a year later? Would one group lose more weight than the other? Would adherence be the same?
That were the question post-doc RD Rona Antoni and colleagues set out to explore and they recently published a paper discussing their results.
197 patients with obesity presenting to the Rotherham Institute for Obesity were offered the choice between 5:2 IF (630 calories from liquid meal replacements on the VLC days), or an aimed 500 calorie continuous energy restriction (CER) 7 days per week with diet based off that recommended by the UK’s dietary guidelines. Both groups received support from specialist obesity nurses for 6 months and were also asked to return for measurements and discussion at one year. All were also provided with access to, “a variety of specialist facilities, resources and multidisciplinary specialists including exercise and talking therapists“, and all were reviewed in clinic monthly where measurements were taken (weight, total body fat, fat-free mass (FFM), waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and an overnight fasted blood sample) and adherence was discussed.
99 patients chose IF, and 98 chose CER. 6 months later, 73% of IF patients and 61% of CER patients had dropped out. At one year, 83% of IF and 70% of CER patients were lost to follow up.
Of those who quit IF by 6 months, 18% explicitly reported they did so because they could not tolerate the diet, something that none of the CER drop outs reported, other IF drop outs reported they quit due to fainting or hypoglycemia on VLC days.
Regarding completers’ weight losses at 6 months, the IF patients lost a statistically significant, but likely clinically meaningless, 4lbs more than the CER group. All blood measures (including fasting glucose, insulin, hsCRP, and lipids) were found to be the same between groups. Blood pressure changes were also not different between groups.
At one year, the 17 remaining IF patients were found to have regained their lost weight, while the 30 CER patients were found to be maintaining their albeit small amount (3%) of weight loss.
So what to make of this study?
I think the most striking finding was the overall 66% attrition rate across both arms. Certainly this study does not suggest that IF is an easier regime to follow than CER (at least not when provided at the Rotherham Institute for Obesity – given weight management support is a service and not a product, it’s certainly possible that different providers might have seen different outcomes for both arms, but I do think this speaks to the challenge of scalability of behavioural interventions).`But what I really think this study highlights is the fact that the real-world likelihood of purely dietary interventions treating our increasing weights is very low indeed. Instead, we need more tools for treatment (certainly including medications and surgeries), and more importantly, if we’re going to see change, we’re going to need environmental level changes to turn this boat around.
As to whether IF or CER will work for you don’t forget that one person’s horribly restrictive diet is another person’s happy lifestyle. If you’re trying to find your own right road, even if the first road fails, and even if angry diet gurus and zealots try to tell you there’s no other road, keep trying different forks until you find the one that suits you best, as when it comes to diets, adherence is all that matters in the end, and if you don’t like the way you’re living, you’re not likely to keep living that way.
Petula Dvorak, in The Washington Post, with two incredible stories, the first about hunting for one man whose generosity and $80 helped launch an incredible career, and then the story about finding that man – Jimmy Dorsey
Amelia Boone, in Race Ipsa Loquitur, discusses her eating disorder recovery.
Tim Murphy, in Mother Jones, on the murder of New Coke.
This is not the first time someone has shared the story of a kids’ sports league that requires junk food fundraising, but it may be the first time that the league’s program coordinator explicitly stated that the child of a parent willing to pay a bit more instead of being stuck selling $50 of chocolate wouldn’t be welcome.
I’ve said it before and will say it again, our food culture is broken and junk food fundraising is just one small aspect of that, and when you question social norms, no matter how broken they might be, don’t be surprised when you get pushback. But damn, it’s depressing.
Here is the redacted email exchange I was forwarded
My kids’ dad signed our child up for bowling and is telling me I have to sell half of these chocolates.
I asked for information and the lane said that Bowl Canada mandates this.
So I have a few things to ask.
I’ve noticed that General Mills is a sponsor. Do they make the chocolates and are they the party that is behind this arrangement?
Why chocolate when we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic? Especially for an organization encouraging health? There are all sorts of fundraisers. If given the chance I would gladly purchase fresh vegetables through Peak of the Market, for example.
Also, why not give parents the option of giving a donation for tax deductible purposes rather than making them buy a bunch of poor quality chocolate that is probably connected to child labour? You’d still cover the costs you are hoping for.
Bowl Canada Program Coordinator
We are happy to hear that your child will be registering for bowling this season! Yes, Youth Bowl Canada has one official fundraiser each year and our tried and true method of raising funds, to help keep costs down for families, is the sale of chocolates.
Every two years, Youth Bowl Canada considers proposals from many companies offering an array of products, with various levels of monetary return which benefits all levels of bowling in Canada. Chocolate companies can repeatedly offered the best deal to not only bowling, but to schools, community clubs, etc.
General Mills was a sponsor of Bowl Canada last year, however it was simply a free game of bowling offer on select food products in stores. They have not wished to quote on our fundraisers in the past.
I hope I have addressed your concerns. Please feel free to reply should you have any further questions.
Thanks for your quick response. My understanding is, then, that these chocolate sales are mandatory if we want our kids in bowling. Is that correct?
If not correct, if this fundraiser is optional, no big deal; I don’t have to take part in something I find morally objectionable in order for my kid to have this opportunity.
If correct, that you require these chocolate sales, I would urge Bowl Canada to reconsider this policy, for 3 reasons.
1. It is objectionable to force fundraising on families. Some people are very good at this kind of stuff. Others have anxiety or lack the connections to have people to sell to. Sometimes the families least able to support a fundraiser are the ones whose kids most need this kind of programming.
2. This does not support physical health. As I mentioned, obesity is a major issue in society. I can appreciate that you are looking for good money makers but I think non-profits should be mindful of other considerations.
3. Why not give parents the option of something else? I am not going to sell these chocolates. If I end up buying half from my kids’ dad I will end up with chocolate I don’t want in my house and maybe end up throwing it out. I will have spent what? $50 on chocolate so Bowl Canada can get $20? I’d much rather just give you the $20 profit you are looking for. Why not just give me that option rather than making me spend more money than is necessary?
4. Chocolate is ethically problematic. Most chocolate manufacturers have child labour and harsh conditions as part of the production process. This is wrong and I believe what we support with our money should not hurt other people.
So I find myself between a rock and a hard place: I love my kid in bowling, it has been great for him. But I don’t think it’s right to force me to take part in something I find morally objectionable.
Please reconsider your policy.
Bowl Canada Program Coordinator
Yes, chocolate sales are required for the YBC program to participate in all YBC programs and events.
I will, however forward your concerns on to those that review YBC policies for future consideration.
Greg Myre, in NPR, with an obituary for Stanislav Petrov, the man who likely literally saved the world.
Margaret Wappler, in Glamour, with a profile on the hero that is Jameela Jamil.
Omar Benjacob, in Haaretz, with the bonkers story on fake WWII Polish death camps.
Robert Langreth and Lauren Etter, in Bloomberg, on how early signs of the new mystery vaping illness might well have been missed or ignored.
Timothy Caulfield, in Think, on whether or not knowing more about our genetic risks and daily performance metrics really makes us healthier.
Anna Purdie, Kent Buse, and Sarah Hawkes, in the BMJ, on how words matter and how we need to reframe how we talk about risk when it comes to things like “sin taxes”.
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New plastic tea-bags shed billions of tiny particles into the cup; Venus is a hellscape now, but might once have been blue like Earth; Lethal memo…
Last week I gave a talk to some parents at my youngest daughter’s elementary school.
The talk was about our ridiculous food environment where we are all the proverbial frogs in pots of water that have slowly been heated to a boil, where food, especially junk food, is constantly used to reward, pacify, and entertain our children as well as to fundraise for every cause.
Ironically, the day before the talk I received an email from the school’s parent council extolling me to sign my daughter up for weekly pizza days. In it I was told,
“The most valuable fundraiser is Pizza Mondays. $0.50 of every order, every week goes to the [redacted]. It’s a win/win/win! One less lunch for you to make, a delicious (and nutritious) slice of pizza for your child and $16.50 to the [redacted]!”
Looking past the wisdom (or lack thereof) of children been taught by their school week in and week out, from Kindergarten to Grade 7, that fast food pizza is a normal, weekly, “nutritious“, meal, I couldn’t help but wonder just how valuable it really was in terms of fundraising, and so I asked principal.
She told me that the school’s Pizza Mondays cut raises $6,000 per year (12,000 slices served).
There are 700 students in the school.
$6,000/700 students/year = $8.57/student/year
And if Pizza Mondays are the most valuable fundraiser, then perhaps it’d be fair to assume that in total, the school raises $10,000/year in food sale initiatives. That would be $14.30 per kid per year.
Is there really no other way to raise $14.30 per kid than selling them, and normalizing, weekly (or multiple times per week) junk food?
I think there probably is, and here are 3 suggestions each of which by itself might do the job, let alone together (and these are just 3 ideas, there are so many more out there as well).
Fundscrip is simple to describe. Parents buy gift cards from Fundscrip for stores they already shop at (supermarkets, gas stations, hardware stores, clothing stores, business and school supply stores, toy stores, book stores, electronic stores, restaurants etc.). The gift cards work just like regular gift cards (meaning they work just like cash) and are mailed directly to parents’ homes, and the school receives 2-5% (depending on the store) of the value of the gift cards. Given the average family of 4 in Canada’s weekly grocery bill runs in at a reported $220, if even only 10% of the school’s parents got involved, and if they only used the cards to cover half of their grocery costs, the 3% kickback to the schools would raise $12,000. And that’s just by way of groceries!
Many schools run grandparents’ days. Simply put they involve inviting all the kids’ grandparents to school, putting on some sort of song and dance production, giving the proud grandparents a tour, and either charging them a nominal fee for tickets ($5), or simply soliciting donations during the event (and perhaps annually having a singular cause which then gets branded for that year’s grandparents if monies raised). 700 elementary students should conservatively mean at least 1400 grandparents. If only half of them attended, and an average of $5/grandparent was raised, that would bring in $3,500.
School Parents’ Goods and Services Auction
With 700 families in our child’s school, there are clearly a great many different professions represented among the parents. Creating a night whereby parents can donate goods or services (with a cut to the school) is a great way to both raise money, and raise interest and awareness of the parent body’s businesses. Lawyers might donate a discounted will consultations, I could donate work with one of our RDs, or with our personal trainers, artists could donate their art, restauranteurs could donate meals, etc. Done right, and certainly once established as a valuable annual event, there’s no reason why this couldn’t raise $3,000-$10,000.
The bottom line is that schools truly don’t need to sell junk food to children to raise money as there are plenty of other means to do so. Yes, school sold junk food is convenient for parents who aren’t keen on making lunches every day, but given we are literally building our children out of what we feed them, and that weekly (daily in some cases) school junk food sales teaches kids, even those who don’t order them, that daily junk food is a normal, healthy part of life, taking the time to pack those lunches (or to teach our kids how to pack lunches themselves) is well worth it.
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The glass obstacle course: Why so few women hold the top spots in STEM disciplines; Women’s brains ARE built for science. Modern neuroscience explodes an old myth; Women and science suffer when medical research doesn’t study females.
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Rocks recovered from ground zero reveal how the dinosaurs died; Archaeology from space – discovering history from a few hundred kilometres up; A jumbo jet lost an engine over Greenland — these researchers found it; The toes of foot painters are mapped in the brain as if they were fingers; Why are right whales roaming into danger off the East coast?; Why are the Tablelands of Gros Morne National Park barren?
By Eric Cline
Former Saskatchewan New Democrat Minister of Justice
Erin Weir is not well-known outside of Canada. Even many Canadian readers won’t recognize the politician’s name. But the story of how he was smeared and excommunicated by his own political party presents a stunning indictment of political cowardice in the age of #MeToo. And what happened to him could happen to virtually anyone who runs for office.
Weir is a federal Member of Parliament (MP), having been elected in 2015 to represent the Saskatchewan riding of Regina-Lewvan. He ran in that election as a candidate for the New Democratic Party (NDP), which sits to the political left of Justin Trudeau’s governing Liberals, and constitutes the third-largest party in the Canadian parliament. His downfall began on January 30, 2018, the day he announced his candidacy for NDP caucus chair by sending an email to other NDP MPs, and to the leader of the federal NDP, Jagmeet Singh (who, at the time, had not yet become a Member of Parliament). The email set off a chain of events that eventually led to his expulsion from the NDP caucus, and stripped him of the opportunity to stand as a candidate for the party in the upcoming Fall, 2019, federal election. Under the Canadian political system, party leaders are free to unilaterally block candidates, no matter the views of voters or the rank-and-file. Without party affiliation, Weir’s political career is effectively over.
Weir’s undoing was the work of Christine Moore, an NDP MP for the Quebec riding of Abitibi-Temiscamingue. In a reply-all email responding to Weir’s expressed interest in becoming caucus chair, she wrote that she could never support him because “there are too many women (mostly employee[s]) who complained to me that you were harassing to them.” She then added: “As a woman, I would not feel comfortable to meet with you alone.”
Like Weir, Moore was not well-known—except insofar as she already had helped ruin the career of two MPs in Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party after advancing claims that they, too, were sexual harassers (a subject discussed in more detail below). And her new accusation would have come as a surprise (and still does) to anyone who knows Weir, a 37-year-old economist who once worked for the Canadian section of the United Steelworkers union.
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Dodging venomous vipers and plant poachers to study how climate change impacts insects; Searching for dinosaurs in BC’s rockies — and finding grizzly bears instead; When the desert doesn’t bloom fake flowers are a scientist’s solution; A moment of distraction leads to near disaster while studying insects in a tropical paradise; Projectile vomiting birds are among the challenges in studying arctic lakes.
BOOYAH! JOB DONE! The Natty Post corrects in response to this story:
Editor’s note: In the original article, Michael Rogers intended to say “early evolutionary ancestors” instead of Neanderthals when speaking about the agricultural revolution. As well, he intended to say there’s no anthropological evidence of Type 2 diabetes, not Type 1. All changes have been made in his quotes.
Not even sure the phrase “early evolutionary ancestors” cuts it science-wise in this context but fuck it I’m in a good mood. We’ll let it go. Kudos to Bianca Bharti for fixing things and being a good sport about it. As for Doc Rogers, well they say he is from the University of Guelph. I had a friend who went there. When I asked him what it was like he said Guelph is the sound a whale makes when it swallows. I don’t know what that means but I don’t think its a compliment.
The absolute bullshit is this bit:
“For the last million years, we’ve evolved with a very specific diet that’s been based on whole foods,” [Michael] Rogers said. “There hasn’t been a change in our diets this drastic in all of human evolution with the exception of one event in human history: when the Neanderthals ventured from forests into pastoral land and started … agricultural practices,” more than 12,000 years ago.
I don’t know who Michael Rogers is, but this kind of quote is the kind of thing that makes you think he isn’t much of an expert. I mean, the timing of wheat domestication is about right, a couple thousand years too early, maybe. But the species is wrong. The last Neanderthals walked maybe 40,000 years before crops were domesticated, unless Mr. Rogers knows something nobody else does.
Seriously, this is a big fat fucking boner of a mistake: Neanderthals invented agriculture. BULLSHIT!!! That the NP published it without fact checking is embarrassing. And if you are trying to criticize alt-meat, making this kind of claim isn’t going to help.
PS. I have never tried a Beyond Meat product nor do I have an opinion on the company.
Podcast placeholder #2 leading up to September
50 years ago we walked on the moon, and it transformed life on Earth