Public Health? Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

ABA Close UpDe do do do, de da da da. Entering the Brooklyn subway on a sunny day. But what’s this? A public health message? Move in closer….img_1921

Okay, I see. Big Soda is paying the MTA to endear us to their products, disguised of healthful advice. This ad is sponsored by the group that represents Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper. (I miss Mayor Bloomberg.)
Public Health Indeed!

That was fours days ago. Then. today I woke up to this article in the New York Times: Coke and Pepsi Give Millions to Public Health, Then Lobby Against it. Ah, the public health part.

But these articles, also ripped from today’s headlines, put another spin on “public health”:

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (“The Academy”), the professional organization of registered dietitians in which I once held leadership positions, accepts (a lot of) sponsorship from Big Food. That’s why I am no longer a member. They have sullied my name and so they must be renounced. My dietitian friends will tell you, the phrase “The Academy” always evokes the response, “I hate them.”

Personally, I favor a soda tax (and everything else that can be done to reform our sick brand Capitalism.) I neither drink soda nor eat processed food. (Bread is about as processed as it gets.) I’ve written about why I favor a soda tax in the blog posts listed below.

Your thoughts: How can we stop this?

Adipositivity

AdiposivityIn Manhattan, there is always something to see. In front of Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street last Friday, a small crowd watched as three morbidly obese women had their naked bodies painted. The women were part of The Adipositivity Project, which promotes acceptance of variations in human size. Passers by were generally supportive.

“Fat shaming”, the practice of openly criticizing people for being too fat, is all too common. We wouldn’t shame people for other afflictions, but it’s okay to shame the fat.

Morbid obesity has a genetic component. But “genes load the gun; the environment pulls the trigger.” It’s complicated, and society is to blame in many ways.

Your thoughts: Do you support fat acceptance?

Hunger Signals Are Linked to Brown Fat

“Is it hot in here?”

That would be me asking, the day after I overate. I could literally feel the extra calories leaving my body as heat. My brown fat must be up to snuff, probably because I exercise and I don’t “weight cycle” (loose weight and regain.)

Brown fat (also called BAT, brown or beige adipose tissue) is a new critical determinant of energy expenditure. BAT seems to be an endocrine organ that influences metabolism. Aaron Cypess, M.D., a metabolic researcher from the Joslin Diabetes Center, explains that 54% of the variation in metabolic rate correlates with an individual’s activated brown fat. Wow! Maybe it’s time to retire the Harris–Benedict Equation and other formulas that predict basal metabolic rate.*

Last week, I wrote an article about new brown fat research for DietsInReview.com. In my opinion, the research links a healthy supply of brown fat to “intuitive eating” – in mice.
See my article, and the TIME magazine report, that got me thinking.

Your thoughts: Do you love brown fat as much as I do?

* Basal Metabolic Rate:  The rate at which energy is used by an organism at complete rest, measured in humans by the heat given off per unit time. It is expressed as the calories released per square meter of body surface per hour. 

Number One Thing Needed to Ensure Diet Success

Oops! It’s a rogue blog. Hello.

I released this ditty to the public by mistake because I forgot how to use WordPress – and I switched to a Mac – during my absence. I stopped blogging last December when I sold my Brooklyn apartment (number one) – packed and moved my stuff into storage – subleased a cute little Brooklyn apartment (number two) from a professor on sabbatical – moved into a Brooklyn AirBNB (number three) that I’m leaving this week. It’s all too hard to explain. I like freedom and variety.

But through it all, I still have to write for DietsInReview.com, the best contracting agent ever! Here is the assignment for the week; “We have a new partnership with Shape magazine in which we write one article for them each week. For next week the topic is: What about the #1 thing you should do when you first start a diet to make you more likely to succeed?”

I turned to my best bud’s stuff. Diane Petrella writes about the power of the mind to change weight and get healthy. It’s free, it works, and it’s way underused. It’s the secret sauce.  It’s too bd that I scooped Shape by pushing the wrong button!
But now that I’m in the water, my promise to you, should you care, is that I will blog once a week to stay in practice. God knows, I am not a writer. But I am a bit of a different nutritionist with something to say.

 

The Number One Thing Needed to Ensure Diet Success

 

News flash: There is no one best way to lose weight. It is up to you to find a healthy eating approach and activity pattern that is unique to you. Don’t change anything until you document the “real you” by keeping a food journal. It will give you a clear picture of what to change. Most people need to dump the junk, reduce food portions, and rarely eat when not actually hungry.  Setting clear positive goals such as “I will eat oatmeal with fruit and nuts at least three times a week,” or “I will go to Zumba on Saturday morning and Tuesday evening,” enhances your chances of success.

But the greatest predictor of weight loss success is how you see yourself. Old images of the “heavy you” making unhealthy choices are replaced with new images of the “healthy you” choosing to act in healthier ways. When you “act as if” you are already there, you shift energy towards the positive, which makes way for intuition to move you easily towards your goal. Think of a time when you accomplished something by first creating a vision. Success is always created with a picture in the mind.

“Visualization” is a actual process of deliberately using your imagination to create a mental model. Since the mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is imagined, when you visualize, your subconscious encodes a new picture as if it happened for real.  Sports psychologists and peak performers always use the power of visualization to build confidence and imagine success.

A small study* recently showed the power of visualization to improve eating habits. Subjects were asked to eat more fruit for one week, One group was simply asked to set a goal to eat more fruit, while the other group was told to visualize buying fruit and eating it at particular times. While both groups ate more fruit, the groups that used visualization ate twice as much.

The power of visualization is truly an under-used free tool for weight loss success. As you lie in bed in the morning or before falling asleep at night, calm your mind, relax your body, and picture yourself at your goal weight. See yourself making choices as the new healthy you. Hold a picture of yourself calmly eating delicious healthy food and watch as your body moves with ease. Notice the feelings and sensations associated with the images because connecting with your feelings as your visualize strengthens the effects. Deep relaxation internalizes the new images. In only three to five minutes a day, you can visualize your way to weight loss success.

* McGill University. “Planning and visualization lead to better food habits.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110225122818.htm>.

Have a Complicated Halloween

Halloween Letter Fargo MomDid you see the Halloween letter from Anonymous Mom? She is handing it out instead of candy to overweight kids. Her stand against childhood obesity made the media outlets. Too bad she doesn’t know that shaming doesn’t work. Weight prejudice seems to be socially acceptable now and will become more so when healthcare costs are transparent. But back to today and the conflicts Americans have about Halloween candy. Check out yesterday’s Tweets:

  • How to talk to your kids about Halloween candy.
  • Watch out for these common (and gross!) ingredients in Halloween candy.
  • Don’t get caught giving petroleum, GMOs, and trans fat to little children.
  • Artificial dyes linked to M+Ms.
  • What it takes to burn off your Halloween treats.
  • Food Allergies: Could Halloween Kill My Child?
  • 7 Terrifying Facts About Halloween Candy!

Danger! Danger! And still, the kids return with their sacks full.

A few years ago, I was asked to write about the “healthiest” Halloween candy. What could I say? “Give out candy that won’t get eaten.” Dum Dum Lollipops, wax lips, and candy buttons stuck on paper tape. Nobody eats those. Pencils, stickers, and temporary tattoos, All good. As you can image, my Dietitian’s Guide to Halloween Candy wasn’t well received. The comments tell all.

Realistically, Halloween night is a free-for all. Everybody eats candy. That goes on for another day or two, but sooner rather than later, candy is rationed to one piece at lunch and another after school. Some is shared with grown-ups or relegated to the freezer or traded with a friendly dentist for cash. (Just don’t dump candy on the Food Bank because needy people need real food!)

I’ve stated my feelings about junk before in Eat Only the Junk Food That You Make. But homemade doesn’t fly on Halloween because of hidden razor blades. Oy! Razor blades, artificial dyes, barbs from Anonymous Mom. Halloween is complicated.

Your thoughts: What is your Halloween candy plan?

You Are No Match for Big Food as Stephen Colbert Explains

So, by now, everybody knows that, at the 11th hour, a New York State Supreme Court Judge overturned Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in New York City restaurants. Constitutionality aside, I think the judge didn’t want to wait in the long line at Dunkin’ Donuts. There will be appeals and the lawyers will get rich because the American Beverage Association spends millions and billions to fight soda taxes and laws like Bloomberg’s across the land every year. People don’t understand that we all pay for obesity in higher taxes to support Medicare, Medicare, disability benefits, etc.  And “personal responsibility” is no match against foods that are engineered and marketed to make us overeat. Stephen Colbert explains it better than I. Watch.

Gut Bacteria, Obesity, and HAES

Link

I love reading about gut bacteria. I really do. We have ten times more bacteria living in us than we have human cells, yet we had been unaware. (What else don’t we know?) This month, I wrote about the research exploring the relationship between gut bacteria and obesity for Diets In Review for Vidazorb  in Altering Gut Bacteria to Manipulate Weight Could be the Next Big Thing in Obesity Management.

I’ll always remember my first time.
The first time I read about gut bacteria and obesity was in 2006. It was August at Wildwood on the Jersey Shore and I had time to leisurely read a New York Times Magazine article about the microbial theory of obesity. Fat Factors by Robin Marantz Henigmind will blow your mind. It was so far ahead of its time that it is still au courant.

HAES
This is a good time to bring up “Health At Every Size“, a movement to accept and respect the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes. HAES acknowledges that “good health can best be realized independently from considerations of size. It supports people—of all sizes—in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviors.”

Every case of obesity is not so easily explained. In clinical practice, I’ve seen people who couldn’t lose weight despite their best intentions. (Believe me, I’m not easily duped by patients.) Individuals vary in the way they store and burn body fat and in how they adapt metabolically to weight change. The studies of microbes and obesity show how little we know. Meanwhile, everyone, regardless of size, should focus on health and not  only on weight.

A penny for your thoughts….

Serves 3 Over Ice – NICE!

There are some things we would rather forget and I’ll bet Coke would like to forget this.This picture was taken from a poster at the New World of Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta. Judging by the outfit and decor, it is nearly 60 years old. It was included in a recent presentation by the New York City Department of Health in support of Mayor Bloomberg’s “Maximum Size for Sugary Drinks: Proposed Amendment of Article 81.”

Mike Bloomberg wants to ban the sale at restaurants, food carts, movie theaters, and concession stands at sports arenas of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 ounces. Bloomberg says the proposed ban is a way to fight obesity in New York City, but opponents say that soda is unfairly singled-out as the cause of a multidimensional problem. In fact, the premise that soda causes obesity is unproven. The most that can be said comes from the CDC: “Sugar drinks have been linked to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and, in adults, type 2 diabetes. U.S. dietary guidelines issued in 2010 recommend limiting the consumption of foods and beverages with added sugars.” Save them for a special occasion.

Many people dislike Mayor Bloomberg’s healthier-than-thou arrogance, but I like his attention-getting style. But whether you are for or against the mayor’s proposal, the poster shows that even Coke agreed a “big” 16-ounce soda is enough for three people. His proposal is simply a handy reminder that today’s food portions are out of control. Presently in NYC, you can’t even buy a soda that is smaller than 16 ounces — not even on the kid’s menu; 16 ounces is usually the “small” size, while 32 to 64 ounces is the “large.” Studies show that when people are given larger portions, they simply eat more without realizing it. It is especially true when it comes to beverages. This quote from Michelle Obama’s address to the National Restaurant Association Meeting in 2012 is a good one. She said, “…no matter what you do, it’s important, truly important, to keep portion sizes in check, because we all know that the size of a meal is just as important as the ingredients it’s made of.” And so, next time you see a 16-ounce soda, remember that it “serves 3 over ice – nice!” Coca-Cola said so in writing. Ouch.

Your thoughts: Where do you stand on the 16-ounce sweetened drink limit?

Which Silhouette Are You?

Now that summer is here and the clothes have come off, I like to use my favorite nutrition assessment tool. It is the Stunkard Scale, a series of images of progressively heavier body types labeled 1 through 9, with 9 being the heaviest. It is mainly used in research to measure body image perception. Subjects are usually asked to choose the silhouette that most closely resembles how they look and how they would want to look.
Silhouette 4 corresponds to Body Mass Index (BMI) 23, the upper half of the healthy weight range. Women are most satisfied with Silhouette 3, whereas men prefer to be heavier. Silhouette 1 is too skinny to be healthy, and for some, Silhouette 2 is as well. Silhouette 5 rests on the border of the healthy to overweight range. Silhouettes 6 – 9 are too heavy and, as such, increase the risk for disease.

A Matter of Perception

People who live in societies that put a premium on thinness often see themselves as fat when they are thin. For instance, my beautiful, healthy daughter saw herself as a bit heavy while living as a nanny in the skinny minny Hamptons. On the other hand, according to a study from Quebec, children with heavy parents and peers are more likely to underestimate their weight than those with healthy-weight parents and friends.  Underestimation of body size is more common among African-Americans, Hispanics, and heavy people who are active, although research shows that people with education and higher incomes are not more likely to perceive their weight more accurately than less educated people who make less money. People who lose weight commonly continue to see themselves as larger. Presently, I am Silhouette 3 or 4; however, I felt scrawny while visiting one of America’s fatter states.

Your thoughts: Which silhouette are you?

Pedal Power, Think About It

This woman is using a stationary bicycle to power a generator to run electrical devices. The generator might be on the other side of the blue tarp. The picture was taken at Zucotti Park, the Occupy Wall Street camp in New York City last fall. When you think about it, why aren’t we using human power to generate electricity and turn mechanical cranks more often? Pedal power offers so many solutions: fuel, exercise, disaster-preparedness, and “the obesity crisis”. Pedal power could be mandatory to run laptops and TVs. (Calories burned: Stationary Bicycle: 333/hour; Sitting Quietly: 47/hour) There is really no reason NOT to have a pedal power generator. Even in my small apartment, I could keep the apparatus in the basement. To bring pedal power into your life, read this article: Pedal powered farms and factories: the forgotten future of the stationary bicycle

Your thoughts: Do you know anyone who generates energy by pedal power?