Sunday, February 23, 2014

Battling Bad Medicine - What You're Missing from The Title of this Article

In the video TED talk (link below), Ben Goldacre discusses some of the problems with research discoveries in our day and age.  What really gets to me is that, obviously not all studies can be accurate.  But when I see them in the title of an article, I often take it for granted - seldom do I actually read the article, and even if I do, so much information is being withheld.  It would be interesting to see if a study could possibly be done on the effect of title reading - how does it affect people's minds, and do they discuss the title as if they actually believe in it? 

Anyway, that's similar to some of the issues addressed by Goldacre.  Apparently, there was once a study that determined that eating salads and vegetables could increase the lifespan, but since green-eaters often engage in many healthy habits anyway, it is impossible to know if the vegetables actually do this.  Not all factors can always be considered, and in some studies, very few are at all, which is why they're inaccurate.  More importantly, Goldacre mentions that drug companies often withhold information from being released.  I loved Goldacre's analogy to this - if you flip a coin numerous times and withhold 50% of the data, it is possible to convince another person that the coin has two heads.  So how come the government can't force them to release the data?  Is anything really that accurate at all, as far as we know?  Feel free to comment AND watch the video!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fruit Juice Worse than Natural, Solid Fruits

My opinion:  I think to some people this may already be obvious, but it still is remarkable how much sugar they put into these drinks.  I've actually tried some fruit juices that are unsweetened, and they taste much, much different than the others.  Perhaps one could experiment by making a small glass of orange juice from regular oranges, and then comparing this to the orange juice bought at the store.  An alternative to pure fruit juice is simply to put a little bit in a glass, and then fill the rest up with water.  I've been doing this with fruit juices for years, and frankly, I think it tastes better when it isn't sickeningly sweet.  Lastly, it's important to remember that eating the equivalent in regular fruit isn't likely to do much harm to the body.  I think this is because these are more complex sugars that are slowly processed and don't cause blood sugar spikes, but in juices, they likely add simple sugars to the mix.  Any thoughts?  Feel free to comment.

Fruit juice is not a low-sugar alternative to sugar-sweetened drinks

Dr. Gill says "there seems to be a clear misperception that fruit juices and smoothies are low-sugar alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages."
Prof. Sattar explains:
"Fruit juice has a similar energy density and sugar content to other sugary drinks, for example: 250 ml of apple juice typically contains 110 kcal and 26 g of sugar; and 250 ml of cola typically contains 105 kcal and 26.5 g of sugar."
He says research is beginning to show that unlike solid fruit intake, for which high consumption appears linked either to reduced or neutral risk for diabetes, high fruit juice intake is linked to raised risk for diabetes.
Pieces of fruit and fruit juice
"One glass of fruit juice contains substantially more sugar than one piece of fruit."
"One glass of fruit juice contains substantially more sugar than one piece of fruit; in addition, much of the goodness in fruit - fibre, for example - is not found in fruit juice, or is there in far smaller amounts," he adds.
Also, although fruit juices contain vitamins and minerals that are mostly absent in sugar-sweetened drinks, the levels of nutrients in fruit juices many not be enough to offset the unhealthy effect that excessive consumption has on metabolism, says Dr. Gill.
In their paper they refer to a trial where participants drank half a liter of pure grape juice every day for 3 months. And the results showed that despite grape juice's high antioxidant properties, it led to increased insulin resistance and bigger waists in overweight adults.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

CVS to Stop Selling Cigarettes

My opinion:  The bigger question, besides if this is a PR stunt, is will other similar stores start doing it too, and will other products also go?  I think that the other stores, like Walgreens, will wait to see what happens with CVS.  In a way, CVS is the guinea pig for the experiment.  Similarly, others questioned whether CVS should stop selling chips and soda, too.  However, there is no health warning from the surgeon general on these types of junk food - the stigma just isn't as bad.  Furthermore, it is ok to have some of it every once in a while - this won't drastically change one's health.  Ultimately, I don't think this will do much to stop people from smoking - the cravings are strong, and they will simply go somewhere else.  But can the fight against smoking be taken further?  What if cashiers are instructed not to sell more than a certain amount of cigarettes?  Would this work?  Feel free to comment.


CVS calls it quits on cigarettes: Regina Brett

By Regina Brett, The Plain Dealer  
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- CVS drugstores will no longer sell cancer sticks.
What a powerful move by the company to place people above profits. It makes me want to give them all my drugstore business. CVS Caremark will stop selling all tobacco products in October even though it stands to lose $2 billion in sales related to tobacco.
Is a drugstore a retail store or healthcare provider? CVS had to choose and made the right choice. CVS quit for good.
Larry J. Merlo, chief executive of CVS, said: "We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just don't go together in the same setting."
Is a drugstore a retail store or healthcare provider? CVS had to choose and made the right choice. CVS quit for good.
Critics might call it a marketing ploy or a PR move that stands to give the drugstore chain enough publicity to draw more people into the stores to make up for the loss in cigarette sales. Even if that's true, so what? It's still the right decision.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Biggest Loser Effect: Is it Healthy?

My opinion:  I'll have to agree with Professor Wittert here, the show really does push people too hard.  I remember hearing a teacher of mine years ago say that all reality TV is bad except for The Biggest Loser, because it actually helps people.  But you could argue that it hurts them more than it helps.  I remember watching one show with my mom and seeing most of the contestants passing out on the floor the first day in.  It just seems crazy to work them really hard the first day when they've hardly exercised in their lives before.  And furthermore, many of them put the weight back on after they leave.  But now that a health expert has complained about it, it will be interesting to see what the government does, but I doubt anything will happen to the show.  What kind of movement would it take to get the show canceled?  Is it even possible?  Feel free to comment.

Exercising until you vomit is not OK

Exercising until you vomit is not OK

The Biggest Loser is a crass attempt to make entertainment out of a serious problem, according to an Australian obesity expert who has officially complained to the national media watchdog.
Professor Gary Wittert says the reality TV show is devoid of academic, artistic or scientific purpose.
These views have led to an official complaint about the show to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which he says has so far gone unanswered.
Professor Wittert, Chair of Weight Management Australia, was particularly scathing about a recent episode where competitors were reported to have collapsed and vomited while attempting to scale 10,000 stairs.
“There is nothing healthy about exercising until you vomit and collapse,” he said. “The participants are subject to tactics that induce guilt, shame and fear. A reasonable person would easily form the view that the contestants are demeaned and exploited.”