Interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere …

Noakes found guilty! Or not.

As you probably know, Professor Tim Noakes has been on trial in South Africa for a tweet in which he advised a young mother (in response to her question) to wean her baby onto high-fat, real foods. Some idiot dietician was horrified that Noakes would suggest a high-fat diet for a baby (because as we all know, mother’s milk is fat-free!) and threatened to bring him up on charges – which she did. So Noakes was dragged before The Health Professions Council of South Africa on charges of unprofessional conduct. (We can safely assume “professional conduct” therefore means “giving out the lousy, low-fat advice officially sanctioned by governments around the world.”)

Apparently, the HPCSA was a wee bit overly anxious to declare victory:

The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) released a press release today saying it has found Prof Tim Noakes guilty of unprofessional conduct.

That’s not possible, of course, since the case against him has not concluded. The HPCSA’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) that is hearing the charge against Noakes, hasn’t even heard closing argument from lawyers on both sides yet. And it only intends issuing a ruling after that, on April 21, 2017. PCC chair Pretoria advocate Joan Adams has issued a tightly worded, clearly irate statement saying the HPCSA’s press release is “devoid of all truth”.

Well, I think it’s perfectly fitting for the HPCSA to issue a press release that’s devoid of all truth. After all, so are the changes against Noakes.

Noakes has been fortunate to have some impressive experts testify on his behalf, including Nina Teicholz and Zoe Harcombe. You can read about their testimony and other aspects of the kangaroo-court proceed—er, I mean government hearings here.

It’s an outrage that Noakes is being dragged through all this because of a tweet that annoyed an ignorant dietician, but perhaps this trial will become the South African version of the Annika Dahlqvist hearings in Sweden that led to a LCHF revolution there.

Baseball players are overweight

I’m still hoping and praying for a Cubs miracle. During my 15 years in Chicago, I lived within walking distance of Wrigley Field. I walked to a lot of games and staggered home from a few. Man, I loved watching the Cubs … but I don’t recall the players being overweight. I likewise haven’t noticed an obesity problem while watching the World Series. But according to a recent study, most baseball players are too heavy:

Major League Baseball players have become overwhelmingly overweight and obese during the last quarter century, say health researchers. They found that the athletes’ weight held steady for over 100 years, with the majority of them weighing in at what is considered “normal,” — i.e., with a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. However, around 1991 the average player’s BMI began to rise, and over the last 25 years nearly 80 percent of players fall into the overweight or obese category with a BMI above 25.

Sure, some power hitters are thick around the middle. But 80 percent of professional baseball players are overweight or obese, seriously? Have these researchers bothered watching any games?

I’m thinking that rise in BMI has a lot more to do with weight-training than with baseball players becoming too fat. Most of these guys are sporting some serious guns under those sleeves.

The USDA’s food-consumption data is nonsense

Back in this post, I wrote about a study of just how reliable those food questionnaires used in observational studies are – or more precisely, are not. Now the same researchers have produced another study pointing that the USDA’s per-capita food-consumption data is highly suspect. Here’s what lead author Edward Archer told me in a recent email:

In the study, we examined the USDA loss-adjusted food availability per-capita caloric consumption data. We found that if the US population actually consumed what the USDA was telling us we consumed, we would have lost ~12-36kg from 1971-1980 and gained ~42-98kg from 1988-2010. The actual changes from 1971-2010 were gains of 10kg and 9 kg in men and women, respectively.

Do you know anyone that lost over 80lbs and then gained well over 200lbs during that time-frame? Nevertheless, the USDA continues to publish these data as fact.

Well, I suppose somewhere in the world we can find a few people who gained 200 pounds from 1988 to 2010 … but they were probably infants in 1988. You can read the abstract of the study here.

NuVal is ByeVille

Back in 2010, I wrote about NuVal, a system for telling grocery-store shoppers which goods are good for them and which foods aren’t. It was the usual low-fat and anti-meat nonsense – such complete nonsense that on a scale of 100, a turkey breast received a “health” score of just 31, while a glass of chocolate soy milk received a score of 68, despite being loaded with sugar.

One of the developers of NuVal, by the way, was Dr. David Katz – who got in hot water after reviewing his own novel under a fake name, comparing his own writing to the works of Charles Dickens and John Milton. After being busted, Katz explained that the fake review was no big deal because he was expressing his honest opinion. Hey, we all love an honest egomaniac.

Anyway, it looks as if sanity is taking hold at some grocery stores that had adopted the NuVal system – meaning they’re dropping it.

Tops Markets is getting rid of a controversial nutrition ratings system it has used to help customers make food purchasing decisions. The system rates brownie mix and ice cream as healthier than some canned fruits and vegetables.

And let’s not forget sugary soy milk being healthier than turkey.

The NuVal Nutrional Scoring System debuted at Tops in 2011. The system scores foods on a scale from 1 to 100–the more nutritious the food, the higher the number. The NuVal score is based on an algorithm developed by a team of scientists from schools such as Yale and Harvard.

The process behind the scoring has never been disclosed but the company has said it calculates a food’s good elements–such as protein, calcium and vitamins–against its bad elements–such as sugar, sodium and cholesterol. NuVal has said it does not share details about how it comes up with its scores because that information is proprietary.

Meaning we just made this @#$% up.

Two other grocery chains have dropped NuVal recently, including California-based Raley’s and Massachusetts-based Big Y, which told the Yale Daily News the system was “out of date.”

No kidding. I think we’re probably seeing the Wisdom of Crowds effect kicking in. Consumers are probably telling grocery-store managers what they think of the ratings, and the store managers are responding.

If this trend continues, perhaps Dr. Katz will retire from handing out lousy nutrition advice and turn his attention to writing more novels. I think he should compare himself to James Joyce next time … under an assumed name, of course.

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82 Responses to “From The News …”
  1. Sky King says:

    Speaking of that idiot dietician, whose name is Claire Julsing Stryd, and that idiot Dr. Katz… there happens to be a connection. She’s a BIG fan of his and can be found singing his praises in many of her tweets!

    Here’s an example: https://twitter.com/DietitianClaire/status/786511408674574337

    Talk about two peas in a pod! 😛

    As for chubby baseball players… here’s a video of Pablo Sandoval of my beloved Red Sox busting his gut (and belt) on a swing:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koGxRi7AD-A

    David Ortiz wasn’t exactly someone we could call slim, either! 🙂

    I was hoping for a Cubs-Red Sox WS all season long. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, so I’m rooting for the Cubbies since I’m very aware of the agony of going so long without your favorite team winning the WS. The Cubs also have a lot of Red Sox flavor on their team with Theo Epstein, Lester, Lackey, Rizzo, and Ross.

    Go Cubs…!!!

  2. Tom Welsh says:

    “Some idiot dietician was horrified that Noakes would suggest a high-fat diet for a baby (because as we all know, mother’s milk is fat-free!) and threatened to bring him up on charges – which she did”.

    In a sane world, I would hope that the proceedings would end with a prison sentence… for the idiot dietician.

  3. Tom Welsh says:

    As to baseball players’ BMIs, do you think the researchers have figured out yet that human beings are three-dimensional, not two-dimensional?

    https://people.maths.ox.ac.uk/trefethen/bmi_calc.html

    • Tom Naughton says:

      That one still says I’m overweight.

      • Walter Bushell says:

        Almost anyone who exercises is going to be overweight by BMI, as you have already noted IIRC. And BMI misses the “skinny fat.

        BMI was not designed for individual use, but for populations, where it fails also or at least the boundaries have to be adjusted.

    • Namu says:

      This All New All Different BMI says my healthy weight range is 48-64 kg (I barely get a pass at 63). I was never lighter than 56 for this height and if I ever drop below 50kg I should be able to roleplay as a nazi camp detainee.

  4. Tom Welsh says:

    When reading stories like those, I have (fairly recently and belatedly) realised that all my life I have been making a big mistake: thinking people are smarter than they really are.

    Alfred Bester wrote a brilliant (well, all his stories were brilliant, actually) SF short story about the world crumbling and everything going to hell – and no one can work out what is causing the trouble. For years all the world’s great brains labour away at the problem, until one day a young man finally cracks it. He comes rushing into the UN General Assembly shouting, “I’ve got it! I’ve got it! Three comes after two, NOT before!”

  5. Jason Bucata says:

    When NuVal first came out I saw them on the shelves in the local store. Either from your blog post, or just because I’m cynical enough about The Anointed’s dietary advice, I realized that there was nothing of value there, and quickly learned to ignore it.

    So I’d be surprised if anybody actually went out of their way to gripe at store managers about them… I’d pin it on a debilitating case of utter indifference on the part of the consumers.

  6. Bonnie says:

    Babe Ruth was pretty chubby & did quite well. Mike Royko wrote a piece about him being a role model. 🙂

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Man, I miss Royko. I saw him in person at the Billy Goat Tavern once. He was more impressive physical specimen than I would have suspected.

      • Glenn says:

        I really miss Royko today, hell all this season. Would have been great to read his take on a World Series Champion Cubs team! I guess this puts an end to the Ex-Cub factor. Mike Royko, who popularized the term in his columns in Chicago, wrote that cubness was a “virus” where “Three or more ex-Cubs could infect an entire team with the will to lose, no matter how skillful that team might appear.

  7. Walter Bushell says:

    I presume the weight loss or gain was figured on a 3500 (kilo) calorie per pound assumption?! Which as we know doesn’t work.

    However Dr. Fung says that on a long term fast, one will lose about 1/2 pound per day which he says matches that formula pretty well. But remember metabolism goes up during a long term fast.

  8. Dianne says:

    Hi Tom,

    Back on June 10 I posted a comment mentioning the sugary, starchy meals our local Baylor, Scott and White hospital was feeding my diabetic husband. Now I’m wondering if hospitals are required to shape their menus according to the government’s “wisdom” in order to receive Medicare payments. Or something.

    I very recently got home from receiving a nice new hip at a different Baylor hospital. It was my third joint replacement there, and as always, the nursing care was superb, the atmosphere pleasant, and the food delicious and well-prepared. But the dietary advice on the menu they gave me was appalling. “Heart Healthy” items were marked with a little heart symbol, and these included 1% milk, skim milk, fruit juices, oatmeal, grits, bagels, margarine (but not butter), all cereals including the sugary ones, grilled chicken breast, certain sandwiches, low cholesterol eggs and scrambled egg whites. Regular eggs, bacon strips, and pork sausage didn’t get little hearts.

    They at least did have a glimmer that carbohydrates are important, but under the heading “For our Patients with Diabetes” they wrote: Our menu includes the number of carbohydrate servings to help you manage your blood sugars. One serving of carbohydrate equals 15 grams. The average diabetic diet includes three to five carbohydrate servings per meal.

    In other words, diabetics should limit their carbs to between 45 and 75 grams PER MEAL! Surely by now there are dieticians and nutritionists who know better – who know that a truly low carb diet is a diabetic’s one best hope. I would think these people would be starting a revolution. And if they aren’t, why aren’t they? Is Medicare exerting pressure on doctors and hospitals to conform to the old, failed standards? I suppose that makes me sound like some sort of conspiracy theorist, but I just have to wonder.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I don’t know if Medicare puts pressure on hospitals to follow the USDA guidelines, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    • Galina L. says:

      Low-carb diabetics started an Internet-based revolution in UK after moderators banned them from an official site of The British Dietetic Association (BDA). On that site people were not allowed share success stories if they reached positive results with lowcarbing.

      • Dianne says:

        Sheee-EEESH! You’d like to think that a diabetic association would be glad to hear about anything that helped diabetics. Period. Sadly, too many simply take a position and defend it against all comers.

    • Stephen T says:

      Dianne, it is just astonishing.

      A positive sign is that such poor guidance for diabetics is now widely criticised by prominent doctors in the UK, although a huge amount needs to be done.

      Dr Michael Mosley is a science producer for the the BBC. You might like to watch a few minutes from minute one on scathing criticism of the system.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1HpS04aErQ

      • Dianne says:

        Very good video — thank you for the link. Hopefully Dr. Mosley and others will keep applying the pressure until everyone knows the truth.

        • bill says:

          I don’t think Mosley has weaned himself of calorie counting, the fallacy of the US/Uk idea of a meditteranean diet, and he is quite fat phobic. He has made TV programmes to that effect. I noticed too that he spent a lot of time plugging his books. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s making a good contribution but his connection with the very PC BBC will not let him move as far to LFHC dieting as is required to bring about a long term solution to weight loss and type 2 control as is required for the general population. Don’t forget type 2 is prevalent in the poor so solutions will require education. I will repeat my mantra on all this ‘new’ information: we knew all this 100 years ago………….there is nothing new in the recent ‘revelations’ by ‘pioneering’ doctors.

          • Tom Naughton says:

            In a speech I saw online, he was quite critical of the low-fat diet idea.

            • Stephen T says:

              Mosley is indeed strongly critical of the low-fat diet. I think he’s moved a long way, particularly on diet and diabetes. He is scathingly critical of the NHS’s treatment of diabetics. He gives an example of George, 62, who was in hospital waiting to have his foot amputated and was offered two slices of toast or cornflakes for breakfast. Mosley comments, “They might as well have stuffed his face with a bowl of sugar . . .”

              I’d have no problem with his defintion of a Mediterranean diet, which he points out doesn’t include pittza and much pasta, and would be far better than the standard diet. The problem is that there is no single definition of the diet.

            • Ulfric Douglas says:

              He is still ambivalent. He made a great piece about carcinogenic products of cooking oils, but bizarrely the article missed out the single greatest cooking fat known to British man : beef dripping/tallow. I found that enlightening.

              • Tom Naughton says:

                As someone who’s been cooking with tallow lately, I’d consider that a major oversight. Tallow is delicious.

  9. Lori Miller says:

    Nutrition isn’t the only cesspool of junk science–so is urban planning. The latest rite for reviving depressed areas is to make one-way streets into two-way streets. Thanks to you and others in the LC world showing how much junk science is out there, I checked the figures in one study on a Louisville, Kentucky conversion and found an arithmetic error. When corrected, the dramatic drop in collisions touted in the study, and articles that cited it, turned into a slight increase. I shared the info, along with some other problems with the study, with my neighbors and the journal the study was in. The conversion idea is unpopular here, and the safety factor might kill it.

    Purdue is building a high school on one of the streets proposed for conversion here, so more collisions is the last thing we need on that street. Thanks to you, Mike Eades, John Briffa, Malcom Kendrick, and others, some kids might be saved from being hit by a car.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Doesn’t surprise me that urban planning is full of junk science. Sounds like the kind of field The Anointed would flock to.

    • Stephen T says:

      Lori, I used to work with planners and it’s all about policy set by someone with a ‘vision’ and no evidence. In all my time working with planners, not one had ever evaluated a site they’d worked on. Not one, ever, anywhere. It was just one bad guess after another.

      I don’t think any profession has ever got so much wrong and wasted so much money. There’s a blog called ‘The antiplanner’ run by a US libertarian.

      http://ti.org/antiplanner/

      • Lori Miller says:

        Thanks for the link. What I’ve learned from people who’ve lived a long time in areas that have turned around, or are trying to, is that there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that probably can’t be measured for a study, from police informants to zoning to getting a single bad business to either clean up or shut down. What urban planners need to do is try out their trendy ideas in decaying areas of Detroit or Buffalo, NY or Flint, MI, where everybody with enough gumption to move away has done so, thereby eliminating a lot of confounding variables, and see if hipsters flock to the area.

  10. Orvan Taurus says:

    When NuVal was first introduced at a local grocery store I misheard (or did I mishear?) the promo for it on the store PA as not “The NuVal nutritional label” but “The New Malnutritional label” which provided some amusement. I later had some fun pointing out that it seemed to be about sugar/fat and salt and little else. The ultimate example was that vegetables (esp. canned, with salt) scored low, but an artificially sweetened (no sugar) ice cream-oid dessert scored 100. I had to show people that or they simply would not believe me that it was that screwy.

  11. Walter Bushell says:

    HPCSA was perhaps using the “Big Lie” technique?!

    I’ve seen books which state that fat is the cause of high insulin. Well you have to say that to justify high carb for diabetics, I suppose.

    • Stephen T says:

      Walter, a vegetarian told me recently that eating meat caused diabetes. I asked her if we’d eaten meat in the 1960s? So where was the diabetes then?

      High blood glucose isn’t caused by eating glucose, but by eating meat – containing no glucose. Vegetarian science.

  12. Jeanne says:

    This is slightly off-topic, but I just got the word at my doctor’s office yesterday that low carb and intermittent fasting brought my A1c down from 6 to 5.1!
    My doctor is sold on my way of eating now.

  13. Alan says:

    Tom

    Have you read ‘lights out’ by TS Wiley? Its about how our use of artificial light until the wee hours of the morning tricks our brain into thinking that its always summer, which in turn makes us crave carbs biologically speaking. Its right up your alley and would love to hear your take on it. Also hows the fasting going? Keep up the great work on the blog!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I haven’t read it. I have no plans to go to bed when the sun goes down, but I’d love it if @#$%ing Daylight Saving Time went away for good.

      • Firebird7478 says:

        There is the article that shows that prior to street lights and the industrial age, people had “Two Sleeps”. They’d go to bed when it got dark, slept for four hours, woke up, ate, read, visited neighbors, had sex before returning to sleep for the rest of the night.

        The concept of insomnia, waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom is relatively new…and we have medication for it.

      • Bonnie says:

        So would I. I wouldn’t care if it was daylight saving time or standard time, as long as it lasted for 12 months. My chickens, rabbits, & cats don’t seem to be affected by the change, but my donkeys & I are. As far as they are concerned, breakfast and supper should be an hour earlier. I don’t want to get up an hour earlier, but they loudly insist that their internal clocks are correct.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          They may have a point.

        • Firebird7478 says:

          When told the reason for daylight saving time the old Indian said…

          ‘Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.’

  14. anne says:

    Tom, did you see that Fathead was featured at the Permies website this week?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Never heard of it. What’s a Permie?

    • Checked it out. permies.com is a permaculture oriented website.

      There is a review of “Fat Head” and comparison to “Supersize Me” from a couple of years ago, but I don’t see anything that looks like a recent feature (they were Thumb up on Fat Head, Thumbs down of Supersize Me, BTW). Link?

      Cheers

      • anne says:

        Sorry I dropped the ball on this. My husband and son went hunting and brought home a couple of deer for me to process. Yes, the older brother got it right. I see now that it was posted a few years back, but it was sent out with a link this last week in Paul Wheatons “dailyish mail”. Here’s the link:
        https://permies.com/t/19792/Podcast-Review-movies-Supersize-Fathead
        I think you would enjoy Paul Wheaton. He’s got a great sense of humor and is a very independent thinker- a kindred spirit I think.

  15. Ulfric Douglas says:

    Permaculture forum probably.

  16. Mark Aaron says:

    As a South African (and Tim Noakes fan) I think the HSPCA has inadvertently done him a huge service. The advertising he has received as a result of the trial would probably be worth millions to him. His Banting diet book (Ketogenic diet to Americans) and the whole LCHF idea has spread like wildfire through South Africa with it becoming the major diet talking point at any respectable dinner party.

    Will he lose? Probably, the way the establishment is wont to manipulate outcomes around the world. Either way his message is out now and people are trying it out in their thousands regardless of the warnings from the conventional dieticians.

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