The fad of diets come and go like the tides in the ocean and he low carbohydrate (aka Atkins Diet) continue to resurface in different forms. For many these diets represent a roller coaster of weight loss followed by similar weight gain but a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine Weight and Metabolic Outcomes After 2 Years on a Low-Carbohydrate Versus Low-Fat Diet (PDF version here) demonstrated some surprising findings……
Both groups lost about 7% of their weight but what was surprising was the Low Carbohydrate diet had better cholesterol levels in their blood including an increase in the HDL (good cholesterol) all representative of factors that reduce heart risks.
Don’t celebrate too much yet though. Both groups had very intensive monitoring and support and this was probably as important if not more important to the success of the weight loss program. The results do seem to suggest a counter intuitive improvement in cholesterol levels despite a low carbohydrate diet that contained more fats.
Key learning point here – focus and support to improve compliance and adherence to weight loss and fitness programs is successful in achieving and maintaining weight loss
It won’t come as as a surprise to some that the Vitamin Water fad is not delivering any real value. The Washington Post asked the question “How nutritious is Vitaminwater?” and came up empty. This stuff has been around since 1996 but it is only recently I have seen it permeating everywhere with kids asking for Vitamin Water vs plain old water.
The additives in this case are limited especially in the case of the “fruit punch” variety:
Vitaminwater tastes okay, if you like fruity flavor without the fruit. There is almost no actual fruit, even in the “Fruit Punch” variety, and what little there is mostly provides color
What’s in this masterful package – well for one a big hit in calories providing 125 calories in one bottle (just shy of a can of Coca-Cola! But with more focus on calories and excessive sugar intake sales have declined so the marketing machine has jumped into high gear and is now offering additional low calorie options. Seems like water fulfills that requirement and if you desire is to be healthy then take note of the Dietary guidelines:
The truth is that the research on supplementing with vitamins does not prove or show that people who take them are healthier than anyone else,” she explains. Indeed, the proposed Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2010 explicitly say most people don’t need vitamin supplements
Better to eat healthy and consume fruits and vegetables to get the real things vs some artificial version that is likely inferior. Add to that the additive effect of fiber and phytonutrients that work together with the vitamins in real vegetables and fruits and you have a much better package all round
The Washington post published an article “Evidence is thin that multivitamins are beneficial, but they seem benign“. Relevant in today’s struggling economy when you consider that there is an estimated $25 Billion spent in vitamins, minerals and supplements;
over 50% of Americans take a daily multivitamin
In the interests of full disclosure I take a multivitamin and have done for many years. As is often the case – emotions, perception and marketing rule our decision-making but
some older studies have linked multivitamin use to the prevention of conditions such as breast and colon cancer and heart disease
But in fact we should be basing our views on science and
the latest research has shown absolutely no impact on health and disease prevention, over time
As described the most rigorous widely regarded study in the Archives of Internal Medicine: Multivitamin Use and Risk of Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease in the Women’s Health Initiative Cohorts (Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(3):294-304.)
The study included 161 808 participants from the Women’s Health Initiative clinical trials in 3 overlapping trials of hormone therapy, dietary modification, and calcium and vitamin D supplements…between 1993 and 1998…disease end points were collected through 2005. documenting cancers of the breast (invasive), colon/rectum, endometrium, kidney, bladder, stomach, ovary, and lung; CVD (myocardial infarction, stroke, and venous thromboembolism); and total mortality.
This is an extended large cohort (combined) study and represents and excellent block of data to help establish a link between taking these supplements and preventative health benefits….the results here:
After a median follow-up of 8.0 and 7.9 years in the clinical trial and observational study cohorts, respectively, the Women’s Health Initiative study provided convincing evidence that multivitamin use has little or no influence on the risk of common cancers, CVD, or total mortality in postmenopausal women.
So the summary – no detectable benefit in the conditions study. It does not do harm
“The big takeaway message is that if someone takes a multivitamin, it doesn’t make them any healthier, but it doesn’t really harm them, either,” says lead author Marian Neuhouser, a cancer prevention researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. “So then consumers have to ask themselves: What is really the benefit of spending money on these products, if they are not going to decrease the risk of common diseases that affect women or benefit health? It’s a waste.”
So will you stop buying vitamins – I’m moving toward that direction and may save my money for more proven ways of improving my health. What’s your experience? Do you have any other studies or data – leave your comments below
Its a radical idea but a recent article in the NY Times (How Food Makers Captured Our Brains) lends some credence to the idea that the food industry is behaving much like the tobacco industry was some years back (and probably still today). They engineer their food and the contents to make it as addictive as possible. This is done with no regard to health or health consequences. Their desire is to hook us to their product making us want more. Dr Kessler (Pediatrician that has served two presidents in his role at the FDA) has recently published a book: The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite)
My original supposition that I have shared with others was centered on sugar as the key ingredient akin to Nicotine – addicting and the reason why my kids have always preferred <INSERT: name of Fast Food Chain> Hamburger when compared to a home cooked Hamburger. But it is likely more about the combination of foods that is achieving this level of addiction:
food companies certainly understand human behavior, taste preferences and desire. In fact, he offers descriptions of how restaurants and food makers manipulate ingredients to reach the aptly named “bliss point.” Foods that contain too little or too much sugar, fat or salt are either bland or overwhelming. But food scientists work hard to reach the precise point at which we derive the greatest pleasure from fat, sugar and salt. The result is that chain restaurants like Chili’s cook up “hyper-palatable food that requires little chewing and goes down easily
The Snickers bar, for instance, is “extraordinarily well engineered.” As we chew it, the sugar dissolves, the fat melts and the caramel traps the peanuts so the entire combination of flavors is blissfully experienced in the mouth at the same time.
As he points out much of this is not about will power but the daily challenge we face in the over stimulated world of food. Knowing your own triggers (good and bad) is a great place to start. I know my own personal bad trigger is in the evening…I’ve been good all day and want to sit back and unwind and have big urge to head for anything sweet. My strategy is to deflect to an alternative in my case some type of herbal tea. This works well int he winter but is not as easy in the hot summer months when hot tea is less attractive. As with many things this is a journey not a destination. Who knows someone might have a good suggestion for an alternative that suits me – let me know I’ll share any that I receive.
There are no quick fixes and we and our children face this challenge on a daily basis but understanding what is affecting us and developing coping mechanisms can be a great start.
Technorati Tags: Fast Food, Healthy Eating, Tobacco Industry
In one of the McKinsey interviews of 2008 with Toby Cosgrove CEO of the Cleveland clinic that focused on innovation item 1 in the list of things that need to be done he stated:
The first is prevention. The only thing we can do to reduce costs, while still improving quality, is to reduce the burden of disease. Forty percent of the premature deaths in the United States are caused by obesity, inactivity, and smoking, all of which ought to be preventable. Two-thirds of the country is overweight and a third is obese. Over the decades I have operated on a lot of patients with lung cancer, and every one of them was a smoker. So a natural starting point is to help people stop smoking and help them lose weight.
It might seem obvious but given the shocking statistics it clearly is not. It is a wonder why society as a whole has not managed to face up to this reality and change behavior adopting a more healthy life style. Hats off to the Cleveland clinic for “walking the talk” as he put it and they:
“stopped hiring smokers”
They received a lot of criticism and no doubt some attempts to combat this with law suits but have stood their ground. I can’t tell you the number of times I have entered a clinical facility through a back entrance past a line of employees, often still in surgical scrubs, smoking. It looks bad and as recently as yesterday I watched with disgust in what I see as concomitant behavior as one smoker tossed the still smoldering remainder butt onto the ground and walked off back into the facility – littering to boot.
But why is it that we still have according to paper prepared by Olivia Thornton, a high school graduate investigating the “Genetics vs. Social and Environmental causes of Obesity” do we still have over 30% of adults in the US obese and a tripling of of number of children who are obese since 1980. The problem is getting worse not better
according to the Center for Disease control (CDC,) 16%, over nine million people aged 6-11 are overweight
And it would be easy for other countries to sit back smugly and remain unconcerned but as the chart below shows this problem is worldwide and all the statistics suggest getting worse:
We are bombarded with adverts and marketing messaging to buy fast food and the circumstance and behavior reminds me of the sale and marketing of cigarettes and tobacco years ago. At that time people knew no better – turns out the tobacco companies did and even used the data to help create a more addictive product by adding and concentrating nicotine in their product. Years later the truth emerged and their complicit behavior was exposed and they have had their hands slapped.
We know that fast food is bad for us and parents around the world try hard ot encourage healthy eating. But I bet that many parents experiences are similar to my own that a home cooked ham burger just “doesn’t taste as good as a #insert favorite fast food brand hamburger here#”.
Here’s my jaundiced view of the problem and the fast food industry. They load everything up with sugar, its added to everything and they do this because sugar is addictive. If they add enough sugar they create an addict relationship with their consumers who find anything without the added sugar bland and unappealing.
Time will tell but it is hard to imagine why the addition of sugar is necessary and I have a hard time explaining the preference of my own family for fast food over better, more healthy and nutritious home cooked equivalents.
What do you think. Is it just my family that prefer fast food or do you have the same problems. Is it a conspiracy of the food industry or is the food industry just better at preparing tasty food. Let me know what you think.
You just can’t eat your way to a longer life – so says a report in USA Today based on studies released yesterday in the:
Journal of the American Medical Association
- Effects of Selenium and Vitamin C on Prostate Cancerr, and
- Vitamin E & C in Prostate Cancer)
and from the American Hearts Association meeting in November that featured
So what does it all mean – well the basic premise of eating healthy and in moderation remains the same but the idea that you can encapsulate this ideal into a pill or two just won’t work. Better to work on good balanced diet, reduction in meat and fat consumption and regular exercise.
Taking pills to supplement does not seem to hold a lot of promise based on the recent results released. Overall the best strategy is probably summarised by Peter Gann:
…health-conscious consumers should focus on getting their vitamins from plant foods, such as vegetables and whole grains, which contain precise mixtures of hundreds or even thousands of compounds. Many of these compounds may work better in the combinations selected by nature.
Nutrition is a key factor in health and as is often the case – your mother was right…..breakfast remains the most important meal of the day – so says “Reasons for eating Breakfast“
Consuming a good, hearty breakfast is like priming a pump, to help your body get ready for a full day’s worth of activity. Not only does the first meal of the day heat up your metabolism to better burn calories, studies show that the effects of this “jump start” help keep the metabolism working at a higher rate throughout the day. Blood sugar levels rise up and remain higher longer, instead of having a quick drop off that might be generated by eating just high sugar content breakfast snack foods. Skipping this important meal does you no good at all. You will be hungry sooner, eat more later, and not have the good energy to function efficiently.
No surprise here – what is surprising is how many people ignore this and struggle to get a proper breakfast in the morning. Find a way to make it a favorite and help yourself throughout the day with a good healthy start.