mm276: Fat Tuesday, and Skyhawks

February 5, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Fat Tuesday

This headline just popped out at me today:

Fat People Cheaper to Treat, Study Says

So I took a look, and after reading a couple of paragraphs, as I’ll suggest you do, I asked myself a question.

Fat People Cheaper to Treat, Study Says


By MARIA CHENG | AP Medical Writer | 4:00 PM CST, February 5, 2008

LONDON – Preventing obesity and smoking can save lives, but it doesn’t save money, researchers reported Monday. It costs more to care for healthy people who live years longer, according to a Dutch study that counters the common perception that preventing obesity would save governments millions of dollars.

“It was a small surprise,” said Pieter van Baal, an economist at the Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, who led the study. “But it also makes sense. If you live longer, then you cost the health system more.”
In a paper published online Monday in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal, Dutch researchers found that the health costs of thin and healthy people in adulthood are more expensive than those of either fat people or smokers.

I asked myself: “This is prime Sandy Szwarc territory; I wonder what she thinks of this research?”

Sure enough, her highly informed take was featured on her wonderful blog, Junkfood Science.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm270: Health trilogy

January 30, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

As yr (justifiably) humble svt trudges around this excessive winter in his oh-so-elegant cam-boot (complete with exposed sock — wow! is it cold!), nursing his partially torn Achilles and worrying that his odd appliance-forced gait is causing new compensatory aches and pains in his lower back, health is very much on his mind.

And as a charter member of the Boomer cohort, one would expect no less. And since we are such a huge demographic, health news, never in short supply, can now be, appropriate to the season, officially classified as a blizzard.

A blizzard of health related news. This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© proudly brings you its all-health news SASB©.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm197: Short Attention Span

November 17, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

shortattention_thumb2

Short and sweet for a football Saturday:

Daily, the media reveals the results of some important new medical study. Daily, the survey results seem to be spun out of all recognition of what are the true implications of the research.

Sandy Szwarc blog, Junkfood Science, punctures the preconceptions and the distortions by actually reading the studies, cutting through the spin and reporting to her growing audience the truth. We’ve highlighted some of her recent work here and here, and our Drafts folder of our Windows Live Writer has the makings of a future such post, pending suitable long attention.

This week, Sandy Szwarc marked the first anniversary of her extraordinary effort, Junkfood Science.

A cupcake for each of you

It’s Junkfood Science’s first birthday. While I can only share a cyber-cupcake with each of you in celebration, it comes with thanks and a note to let you know how terrific you all are! Readers have grown in numbers, without hit gimmicks or paid media connections, to nearly 1 million. We’re mere days away to the millionth reader.

Regular readers get what this blog is all about, too. It’s not trying to sell you anything; market some politician or agenda; promote some health and wellness program, diet or pill; or scare you. Of course, that’s the fastest, surest way to make one unpopular among all those who are. Despite what some may believe or claim, there is no money in the truth and speaking out for scientific integrity, either, which is probably why we so rarely hear it. But you deserve better than the nonstop “the sky is falling” drumbeat we get everywhere.

Happy blogversary, Sandy Szwarc! You remain a glowing example of the power of the blogosphere to inform and educate.

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

Junkfood Science: A cupcake for each of you

shortattention_thumb2[6]

Some of our highest highs and lowest lows are the result of our enjoyment of Patrick Smith’s Ask the Pilot column at Salon.com. Highs, because he writes so compellingly as a working commercial airline pilot about his profession and the ailing industry.

Highs, because our posts referring to his stories are among the most read at this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©.

Lows because my derivative howbeit well-intentioned blogging efforts came to the attention of Salon’s lawyers. Oh, well, the day one stops learning is the day one stops.

Patrick’s column this week takes an interesting swipe at that Apple iPhone television commercial we’ve all seen.

Not buying it when the pilot tells you weather is holding up your flight? iPhone to the rescue!

Nov. 16, 2007 | If you’ve been watching TV at all, you’re by now familiar with Apple’s iPhone blitz. You know the campaign I’m talking about. Each ad stars this or that insufferably regular Joe who proceeds to share some touchy-feely tale of how his iPhone all but saved the nation from calamity. As a rule, I don’t like talking about television, especially commercials, but I’m obliged to address the iPhone spot featuring the pilot.[…]

Alas, not everyone is wisely skeptical, and the first time I saw the ad, I flicked off the set and offered up a silent prayer for pilots and flight attendants the world over. Thanks to this half-minute charade, they must now contend with legions of smart-aleck iSleuths gullible enough to believe what they’re told by a commercial.

So I guess today’s potpourri has some commonality after all. Most weeks Patrick Smith, and all of Sandy Szwarc’s posts, skewer the assumptions we’re fed by what many of my colleagues in the ‘Sphere contemptuously refer to as MSM, the mainstream media.

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

Ask the pilot, Patrick Smith, iPhone | Salon Technology

For some, for these two certainly, blogging is so much more than a hobby or creative outlet. Patrick Smith and Sandy Szwarc are both listed on the L-HC blogroll2, and MUDGE is grateful for their hard, always illuminating work.

shortattention_thumb2[8]

Since as a typical guy, MUDGE is fascinated by planes, trains and automobiles (and in some lighting [all right, any lighting] might even distressingly resemble a very much shorter John Candy, sorry to admit), our last segment is an editorial from the NYTimes this week.

The Prince and the Plane | Published: November 14, 2007

On Monday, a Saudi billionaire, Prince Walid bin Talal, placed an order with Airbus for his new private plane, the A380. That superjumbo will be the largest private jet on the planet. No hard figures were mentioned, but the asking price for an A380, which weighs 200 tons more than a Boeing 747 and has a floor space of about 6,000 square feet, is around $300 million. That is for the raw plane itself, hull, wings, engines, etc. — nothing to distinguish its interior from the hold of a cargo plane. But even unfurnished, the purchase of this Airbus offers some interesting numbers to think about.

For instance, the average-size house in America — about 2,300 square feet — would cost $106,812,000 at the price per square foot that Prince Walid paid. Even in California, this is a lot.

a380

Notwithstanding the fact that the Times editorial gave us an always welcome excuse to include an aircraft photo, and even lets us remind you that Patrick Smith believes the A380 to be the ugliest aircraft ever placed into commercial service, this is a salutary reminder of the wretched excess that our insatiable appetite for Saudi oil makes possible. A comparatively benign example at that.

Sigh.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


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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