mm177: Healthy eating — Overrated!

October 26, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Sandy Szwarc has, at least twice this month, provided health related stories that I’ve seen no where else, in her blog, Junkfood Science.

In a previous post, I highlighted her evaluation of recent under-reported studies showing counterintuitive results: that fat people survive cardiac episodes better than thin ones!.

She even responded politely to the post, even though I thoroughly and consistently misspelled her name! How embarrassing for MUDGE! Sorry, Sandy Szwarc!

She toppled my world again last week. She writes about a gigantic study launched in 1993 to pursue the relationship between what’s been known forever as healthy eating, and good health.

Remember reading about this study? I don’t.

Guess why. Because, once again, the results were startling.

As she writes,

junkfoodscience

Everybody knows what it means to eat healthy. We’ve heard about healthy foods and the importance of eating right our entire lives: “To be healthy and prevent heart disease, cancers and other chronic diseases of aging — and to maintain a slim, “healthy” weight — we should eat a low-fat and high-fiber diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.” This advice comes from respected doctors and health officials and we hear it everywhere, so it is unfathomable that these dietary beliefs have never actually been clinically tested…until recently.

So to rectify the lack of hard evidence a seriously mammoth study was created. Sandy Szwarc reports,

According to the National Institutes of Health, it was “one of the largest studies of its kind ever undertaken in the United States and is considered a model for future studies of women’s health.” It was a major undertaking, costing $415 million and was conducted at 40 medical centers across the country. It was a well-designed and carefully conducted study and researchers were confident this would prove the rightness of eating “right.”

The comparison, among over 48,000 post-menopausal women (the age group most at risk for heart disease and cancer) divided the group by diet:

The women in the healthy eating intervention group cut their total fat intakes down to 24% of their calories and 8% saturated fat the first year — well below the control group eating about 38% total fat and nearly 40% more saturated fats. By the end of the study, the “healthy eaters” were still averaging 29% fat, compared to 37% in the control group. The “healthy” dieters also ate about 25% more fruits and vegetables, grains and fiber than the typical American diet of the control group.

By now, you see where this is going. In the four major areas of concern, the results of years of study showed:

Cardiovascular disease (the biggest cause of death as we age): Healthy eating proved to have no effect on cardiovascular disease….

Breast cancer: Healthy eating proved to have no effect on breast cancer incidences….

Colorectal cancer: Healthy eating proved to have no effect on colon or rectal cancers….

Body Weight: Not only that, but the women following a “healthy” diet for 8 years didn’t end up thinner….

These results only hit the news in “spun” form, because the health establishment refuses to be confused by the facts. Turns out that the conventional wisdom is more properly characterized as unsupported by clinical findings conventional wis-dumb.

Sandy Szwarc says this much more eloquently than I can. Take a look:

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Junkfood Science: Junkfood Science Exclusive: The big one — results of the biggest clinical trial of healthy eating ever

One has to wonder: what have I been doing beating myself up all these years? Hating myself for not eating healthy; despising my inability to keep discipline and lose all that ugly fat once and for all; feeling certain that I’ll die before my time and they’ll have trouble finding a casket that fits.

And all that self-denial leads to… nothing? No substantive difference?

I’ll repeat Sandy Szwarc’s final graf:

Health is not evidence of moral character and pristine diets. Don’t let anyone try to scare you, threaten you, or get you to believe that if you don’t eat “right” (whatever their definition) you’ll get fat, cancer, heart disease, or die sooner. There is simply no good evidence.

Be sure to check out part 2 of her blockbuster report, reporting on analyses of the findings in relationship to cancer.

Junkfood Science is a wonderful blog.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm165: Junkfood Science: Obesity Paradox #13 — Take heart

October 9, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Welcome to one of the newest members of the Left-Handed Complement blogroll, Junkfood Science.

Sandy Szwarc seems to have the credentials, and she has a point of view.

Points of view are not lacking in the blogosphere (although credentials may be!), but I was attracted to hers immediately.

Anyone glancing at the rendition of Yr (Justifiably) Humble Svt that graces the top of the sidebar of this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© can probably tell that one might charitably describe MUDGE as horizontally challenged.

Fat.

Obese even.

A war fought over all but six decades. Oh, a battle won here or there, but the trend is lousy. And, the implicit message has always been: get skinny or die early.

Well, heredity and Snickers bars have long impaired my ability to do the former.

And over the past decade, the promised life-shortening chronic diseases have appeared as threatened: diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, all controlled as well as can be expected through (to some extent diet, but mainly) the wonders of the pharmaceutical arts, which is pretty well indeed.

This past summer, a promising exercise program that played to the only exercise MUDGE can comfortably handle (other than blogging!), walking, turned into Achilles tendinosis, and the pounds lost so arduously over the past four years are packing on again, as the recreational and therapeutic walking halted while various medical professionals in MUDGE‘s life attempt to figure out how to end the annoying ankle pain.

Then, the other day, thanks I believe to reddit.com, I encountered Sandy Szwarc.

For the first time in MUDGE‘s time in the ‘Sphere was I tempted to write: “WTF!” But I won’t.

Take a look:

junkfoodscience

What is most amazing is how long it has been known that body fat doesn’t cause heart disease or premature death, yet how vehemently people hold onto this belief. “The notion that body fat is a toxic substance is now firmly a part of folk wisdom: many people perversely consider eating to be a suicidal act,” wrote Dr. William Bennett, M.D., former editor of The Harvard Medical School Health Letter and author of The Dieter’s Dilemma. “Indeed, the modern belief that body fat is a mortal threat to its owner is mainly due to the fact that, for many decades, the insurance companies had the sole evidence, and if it was wrong they would presumably have had to close their doors.” That can still be said today, although the obesity interests have since grown considerably larger.

But the evidence that fatness is not especially harmful has been shown from research that dates back to the 1950s — more than a half a century ago. While many remain incredulous, the soundest body of evidence has shown, and continues to show, that being fat is not a risk factor for heart disease or a cause of premature death, even controlling for the effects of smoking or cancer.

The people of the U.S. are simultaneously getting fatter, and living longer.

Well, knock me over with a feather (not too likely in practical terms; you probably would be more successful doing so with a 3,000-pound bale of feathers).

Quoted is Dr. William Bennett, former editor of the Harvard Medical School Health Letter:

“Detailed epidemiological studies, too, show no impressive connection between obesity and cardiovascular disease.

The occasion for Szwarc‘s article is another new, very underreported study, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Medicine, led by cardiologist Dr. Seth Uretsky, M.D., at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, showing the same counterintuitive findings: fat people survive cardiac episodes better than thin ones!.

Take a look at the full story:

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Junkfood Science: Obesity Paradox #13 — Take heart

Is it really possible that I’m supposed to be losing this lifetime battle against obesity?

And if so, why have I been lied to– er, misled all of these years?

Bears researching further I’m thinking, and Sandy Szwarc‘s Junkfood Science blogroll2 blog will now become a regular read.

Because, funny thing: Except for this pesky ankle, I feel pretty good.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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