Odds and ends from the news, my email inbox, etc:

Take Those Salt Guidelines With A Grain Of … You Know

Perhaps someone should send this article to Mayor Bloomberg before he tries to force his anti-salt preferences on more food manufacturers:

Reducing dietary sodium (salt) helps lower blood pressure a little, but it also may increase levels of some hormones and unhealthy blood fats, a new review of studies shows. Researchers say that means cutting back on sodium may not have a substantial health benefit.

More like no benefit whatsoever, at least for most of us.

The review is an analysis of data from more than 167 studies of people with normal or high blood pressure who were randomly assigned to eat either high- or low-sodium diets.

It found that eating less than 2,800 milligrams of sodium a day helped lower blood pressure. But the reductions were small — an average of 1% for people who had normal blood pressure to begin with and 3.5% for people with high blood pressure.

So if your blood pressure is 130/90, cutting back on salt might reduce that to 128/89 or so. Whoopie. I’d rather enjoy my food.

But cutting back on salt appeared to have other effects, too.

Since so many experts are pushing low-salt diets in spite their negligible effect on blood pressure, I’ll bet those other effects are fabulous.

People on lower-sodium diets had an average 2.5% increase in cholesterol and a 7% increase in bad blood fats called triglycerides compared to people who were eating more than 3,450 milligrams of sodium — an amount that’s close to what the CDC says the average American eats every day.

Way to go, Mayor Bloomberg! That’s just what New Yorkers need – higher triglycerides.

Now, considering that this was an analysis of 167 studies, you’d expect the results to finally convince the anti-salt hysterics to shut up and go away. And of course, you’d be wrong.

But critics say the review draws faulty conclusions because it relies on too many small, short-term studies. They say the weight of research evidence shows clear health benefits when people cut back on sodium.

Yes, uh … ahem … well, uh … you see, if you simply ignore the vast majority of the studies out there, you can still claim the weight of research evidence shows that salt causes high blood pressure.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Scientists are freakin’ liars.

Scientists Are Freakin’ Liars

I told you I’d say it again. Another freakin’ liar was busted just recently:

Tilburg and Groningen universities are to take legal action against one of their professors after an investigation showed he had faked research data in at least 30 scientific papers.

The fraud is ‘considerable and shocking’, the committee set up to look into Diederik Stapel’s academic publications said in an initial report into the scandal on Monday.

The investigation shows at least 30 academic papers submitted to respected scientific journals contained data that he had invented and there are doubts about several dozen more, the committee said. In total, statistics quoted in 150 papers dating back to 2004 when Stapel worked at Groningen University, are being examined.

The investigation committee also accused Stapel of abusing his position by damaging the reputations of young researchers who worked with him. False statistical data was used in 14 out of 21 doctoral theses mentored by Stapel, the NRC said.

So he’s not only a freakin’ liar, he was apparently training young scientists how to be freakin’ liars too. I wonder what kind of hidden agenda could cause a supposed scientist to engage in such un-scientific behavior?

Stapel, who was a professor of social and behavioural sciences at Tilburg, was suspended last month after doubts emerged about research that concluded eating meat makes people anti-social and selfish.

Hmmm … perhaps one of Stapel’s grad students should conduct a study to determine if shunning meat turns scientists into egotistical morons.

Meat ATMs

A reader sent me an article about vending machines in Paris that dispense French bread. (See the video below).

I replied that I’d much prefer to find a vending machine that dispenses meat (even though some “scientists” believe the meat would make me anti-social and selfish). Well, wouldn’t you know it:

Places one can acquire meat usually include grocery stores, farmers markets, and, if you’re lucky, a proper butcher shop. Residents of Odenville, Alabama can now add “a vending machine in a convenience store” to that list. No cuts are over $6, and they claim it’s actually cheaper than a grocery store.

Now all they need are some nearby grills that take quarters.

Grocery Clerk Pushes Fat Head

I take it as a good sign when people who know me starting hearing about Fat Head from people who don’t. A good friend of The Older Brother’s grabbed a quick lunch at McDonald’s with a business associate awhile back, and after tossing the bun from his burger, the business associate began explaining that he’d taken to eating burgers without buns after seeing this great documentary called Fat Head.

Yesterday my low-carb buddy Dana Carpender had a similar experience at an Aldi grocery store, which she recounted on her Hold The Toast blog:

When my turn came, I told the nice young man that the last time I’d come to Aldi I had written about it at my blog, posting all the prices from my receipt. Cool, he said. I wrote?, he asked. Yep, I told him, I write about nutrition and cooking and stuff. Interesting, he replied, he was into nutrition. Well, I said, I’m kind of the anti-vegan. He liked that, said he ate a lot of meat, too. I’m one of those Atkins people, I said, I eat low carb. He lit up — had I heard of a documentary called Fat Head?

Hah! When I told him that Tom Naughton is a friend of mine, that I know him from the Low Carb Cruise, you would have thought I said I knew Jack Black or Will Ferrell. He thought that was the coolest thing ever — he’d seen Fat Head, gone low carb, and lost fifty pounds.

I’m pretty sure Jack Black and Will Ferrell aren’t writing software 40 hours a week to pay for their new houses, but hey, it’s nice to have some name recognition.

Overheard At Work

So while I was taking a break at the software-writing job today, I overheard two women talking as they were buying their mid-afternoon snacks. One proposed (kidding, of course) that anything you eat with a Diet Coke doesn’t count. The other said she liked that theory, because dieting is too hard.

“Naw, dieting is easy,” her friend replied. “It just doesn’t work.”

Perhaps they need to visit an Aldi and get some advice from a clerk.

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54 Responses to “Odds & Ends”
  1. Mike D says:

    I’m 65 years old and use a lot of salt. I went to a physician because of an injury. The nurse measured my blood pressure and it was 112/74. I guess I’m going to have to cut out the salt to get my blood pressure down.

    I’m cooking pork ribs for supper. The ribs will have a nice salty rub put on them.

    When you die at age 99, they’ll say the salt killed you.

  2. bullinachinashop says:

    Thought you might like this one. Seems your Congress decided that pizza sauce counts as a serving of vegetables. Seems no one reminded them that tomatoes are a fruit ;)

    http://slatest.slate.com/posts/2011/11/16/school_lunch_standards_congress_labels_pizza_as_a_vegetable.html

    The real issue isn’t whether or not pizza is a vegetable … it’s why Congress is telling my local school what to serve for lunch.

  3. Andrea says:

    I’m so jealous – I’m lucky if I can get a sausage stick out of my vending machine- and that’s out 5 machines full of carby junk.

  4. Chris Sadowski says:

    But Tom, you know that Mayors don’t have time to wait for ALL the scientific evidence to come……..wait, what? That one’s been used already? Sorry.

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