Interesting items from my inbox …
Beer on toast
Ever have a bad day at work and wish you could just sit at your desk and get @#$%-faced? Hey, we all have, but most bosses frown upon drinking on the job. Well, here’s a possible solution:
Italian foodies have invented a way for beer lovers to enjoy their favourite drink for breakfast – without the risk of being forced to attend those troublesome Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Chocolatier Napoleone and brewery Alta Quota, both based in the central Italian province of Rieti, have joined forces to create the world’s first spreadable beer, which they’ve called Birra Spalmabile.
Is that Italian for Beer Spam?
The ale-flavoured, jelly-like substance comes in two flavours, using either Omid dark ale or Greta blonde ale. According to Italy Magazine, “one is delicate, while the other has a more intense aroma and stronger taste”.
There you go. Make yourself some beer sandwiches and cop a buzz at work while appearing to enjoy an afternoon snack. Then go to a meeting and tell your co-workers what you really think of them and their ideas.
I can’t help but wonder, though: what do people who get drunk on beer sandwiches eat when they get the munchies? More beer sandwiches? That could create a never-ending cycle.
Dear parents: your kids are fat
Thank goodness the nation’s schools aren’t sticking to just teaching kids how to read, write and do math. Nope, now they’re also helping out by getting into the business of warning parents that their kids might be overweight.
Lily Grasso, 11, is on the school volleyball team and eats healthy foods. So she was stunned when Florida health officials sent a letter suggesting she’s fat.
“This whole thing is stupid,” Lily, of Naples, Fla., told ABC News. “It can hurt people. It can break their courage.”
“First I was hurt, and then I was angry, and then I just was concerned,” said Lily’s mother, Kristen Grasso.
The so-called “Fat Letter” is the result of a body mass index, or BMI, screening administered by officials at Lily’s school.
If you click the link to the article, you can see a picture of Lily. That is not a fat girl, no matter what the BMI charts say.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least twice: the BMI is a stupid method for determining who’s fat and who isn’t. Sara shot some video when I was moving our chicken coop last weekend. That’s a screen-cap below. The next day, I weighed myself at the gym before my workout. I was at exactly 200 pounds.
Since I’m 5’11” that puts my BMI at 27.9 – “overweight” and just 15 pounds from being labeled as obese. (I’d best stop working out before I accidentally gain more muscle mass.) To get my BMI down to 24 – the high end of the “normal” range – I’d have to lose 28 pounds. To get my BMI down to 22.5 – the middle of the “normal” range – I’d have to lose 39 pounds. I have a bit of residual softness around the middle, but I seriously doubt anyone looks at me and thinks, “Boy, that guy really needs to drop 30 pounds.”
Schools should get out of the fat-warning business for all kinds of reasons, including one mentioned in the article:
“I would like to see BMI testing in schools banned,” said Claire Mysko of the National Eating Disorders Association. “For those who are already insecure about their weight, these tests can … potentially trigger an eating disorder.”
Bingo. The last thing an athletic “overweight” girl needs is to have her school label her as fat. Put kids on a good diet (as opposed to the garbage the USDA tells the schools to serve) and let them grow into their natural weights.
Instead of warning parents that their kids are fat, perhaps the schools should just send the kids home until they lose some weight, since home-schooled kids are leaner:
The results of a recent study show kids that are home-schooled are leaner than kids attending traditional schools. The results challenge the theory that children spending more time at home may be at risk for excessive weight gain.
I didn’t know there was such a theory.
The study was published in the journal Obesity and conducted by researchers from University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC) and University of Alabama at Birmingham. It looked at both home-schooled and traditionally-schooled children between the ages of seven and 12 in Birmingham. Participants and their parents reported diet, the kids’ physical activity was monitored and they were measured for body fat, among other things.
“Based on previous research, we went into this study thinking home-schooled children would be heavier and less active than kids attending traditional schools,” said Michelle Cardel, PhD, RD, the study’s lead author. “We found the opposite.”
Once again, I don’t know why the researchers expected home-schooled kids to be heavier and less active.
The results show that home-schoolers were less likely to be obese than the traditionally-schooled kids, even though kids in both groups were getting the same amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity. The calorie intakes were also similar, except at lunchtime. Kids in traditional schools were consuming significantly more calories, sodium, and sugar at lunch. New school guidelines aimed at more nutritious lunches had not yet taken effect when the study data was collected from 2005 to 2009.
Yeah, those new school-lunch guidelines are going to do a world of good.
It would be easy to say the home-schooled kids are leaner because they’re not eating school lunches, but I don’t think that’s the relevant factor here. As with many other observational studies, I think we’re just seeing the effects of comparing different kinds of people. I have a friend whose wife home-schools their kids. Why? Because they’re not satisfied with their local school district and they are very involved, responsible, dedicated parents.
Dr. Mike Eades has written about what he calls “adherers vs. non-adherers” and what I call “conscientious people vs. people who don’t give a @#$%.” In all kinds of studies, including randomized clinical trials, the adherers have better health outcomes. Even those who dutifully take their placebos in a double-blind study have better outcomes than those who forget to take their placebos. It’s clearly not the placebo that makes the difference in that case. It’s the personality type. Conscientious people tend to take better care of themselves and be healthier overall.
Since home-schooling kids is a lot of work, I suspect parents who choose to take on that responsibility are more likely to be adherers than non-adherers … and the same likely goes for their kids, whether because of genetics, upbringing, or a combination of the two.
I’m not saying school lunches don’t suck, of course. They do.
Bacon and babies
Speaking of genetics and kids, I found this interesting: according to a new study reported in The U.K. Daily Mail, men who consume a rasher of bacon per day don’t produce as much ‘normal’ shaped sperm.
Men who eat just one rasher of bacon a day could be reducing their chances of becoming fathers. Half a portion of processed meat such as a rasher or a small sausage can significantly harm sperm quality, scientists believe.
In a study to be presented this week at a meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Boston, Harvard University researchers compared the eating habits of 156 men undergoing IVF treatment with their partners.
They were each questioned how often they ate a range of foods including processed meat, white meat, red meat, white fish and tuna or salmon. Men who consumed just half a portion of processed meat a day had just 5.5 per cent ‘normal’ shaped sperm cells, compared to 7.2 per cent of those who ate less.
I would write it off as yet another lousy observational study, but perhaps there’s something to this one. How else can I explain this?
Sorry girls … if I’d had any idea, I would have cut back on the bacon before you were conceived.