Interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere …
Given all the arterycloggingsaturatedfat! headlines we’ve seen over the years, I have to admit this headline made me chuckle:
Low-fat diet could kill you, major study shows.
That’s from an article in The Telegraph, and I’d say it’s wee bit overblown. We are, as usual, talking about an observational study. Here are some quotes from the article:
Low-fat diets could raise the risk of early death by almost one quarter, a major study has found.
The Lancet study of 135,000 adults found those who cut back on fats had far shorter lives than those enjoying plenty of butter, cheese and meats.
Researchers said the study was at odds with repeated health advice to cut down on fats. Those doing so tended to eat far too much stodgy food like bread, pasta and rice, the experts said, while missing out on vital nutrients.
Yeah, yeah, okay. So the real risk (again, in an observational study) is consuming too many processed carbs.
An article in Science Daily provided less-dramatic quotes:
Contrary to popular belief, consuming a higher amount of fat (about 35 per cent of energy) is associated with a lower risk of death compared to lower intakes. However, a diet high in carbohydrates (of more than 60 per cent of energy) is related to higher mortality, although not with the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The data are from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study which followed more than 135,000 people from 18 low-income, middle-income and high-income countries. The study asked people about their diet and followed them for an average of seven and half years.
The research on dietary fats found that they are not associated with major cardiovascular disease, but higher fat consumption was associated with lower mortality; this was seen for all major types of fats (saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and mono unsaturated fats), with saturated fats being associated with lower stroke risk.
We’re talking about food questionnaires and all the usual problems with observational studies on diet and health. I wouldn’t make too much of this one. But since observational studies were the source of arterycloggingsaturatedfat! hysteria in the first place, I suppose it’s nice to have one to wave in the faces of the anti-fat warriors. Fair is fair.
A man-tax for vegans?
A vegan restaurant in Australia has started charging men extra for the same meals. An article in The Sun explains why:
A cafe is making waves after it began charging blokes more money in a bid to close the gender pay gap. The feminist vegan owner of Handsome Her eatery in Melbourne, Australia, is making them pay an 18 per cent “man tax” as well as giving women priority over seating.
A feminist vegan owner. Sounds like a fun person to be around. I’m thinking of a joke …
Q: How many feminist vegans does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Your aggressive humor is NOT FUNNY, you ciscentric ANIMAL MURDERER!!
Owner Alex O’Brien told Broadsheet website: “I do want people to think about it, because we’ve had this (pay discrepancy) for decades and decades and we’re bringing it to the forefront of people’s minds.
“I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit.”
I don’t know the breakdown in Australia, but in the United States, 79 percent of vegans are women. So I wonder if the “man tax” might make a few men stop, question their privilege, then go order a hamburger at another restaurant.
This may ignite a new debate about the costs of obesity.
WCPO in Cincinnati reported on an unusual fire:
A “freak accident” started an unscheduled fire Wednesday night at the Hillside Chapel Crematory in Cincinnati, owner Don Catchen said.
“My operator was in the process of cremating remains and (the body) was overly obese and apparently it got a little hotter than the unit is supposed to get,” Catchen said. “One of the cremation containers that we had close got caught on fire and that’s what burnt.”
I’m not overly obese, but I like to think I could start a similar fire just because so much of my body mass began as sausage and bacon.
The danger of fires when cremating obese bodies isn’t an entirely unknown issue for the funeral service profession: “As you may realize, when a morbidly obese person is cremated, there’s a danger of what can only be called (in layman’s terms) a ‘grease fire,'” according to Caleb Wilde, a licensed professional who runs the blog Confessions of a Funeral Director.
In October 2014, a Virginia facility caught fire while cremating a 500-pound body. Fire investigators there said excessive heat ignited rubber roofing near the crematorium’s smoke stack. Another fire, two years earlier in Austria, left firefighters “covered with a layer of sooty grease.”
Good grief. If this keeps up, Meme Roth will be demanding higher funeral costs for obese people.
Global Warmi –er, Climate Change, part one.
Some perfesser I saw interviewed years ago explained the politics of how to get a study funded in today’s academic environment: if you title your proposed paper something like The Migratory Patterns of Squirrels, you probably won’t get funding. But if you title it something like How Gobal Warming Is Affecting The Migratory Patterns of Squirrels, you will get funding. Then you can study those migratory patterns.
I thought about that while reading this article in Science News:
A dinner plate piled high with food from plants might not deliver the same nutrition toward the end of this century as it does today. Climate change could shrink the mineral and protein content of wheat, rice and other staple crops, mounting evidence suggests.
Selenium, a trace element essential for human health, already falls short in diets of one in seven people worldwide. Studies link low selenium with such troubles as weak immune systems and cognitive decline. And in severely selenium-starved spots in China, children’s bones don’t grow to normal size or shape. This vital element could become sparser in soils of major agricultural regions as the climate changes, an international research group announced online February 21 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
That global warmi—er, climate-change thing sounds awful. If only we could identify the major causes.
Global Warmi –er, Climate Change, part two.
Thank goodness, an article in the U.K. Daily Mail tells us what’s driving climate change:
Feeding our beloved cats and dogs plays a ‘significant role in causing global warming’, a shocking study has revealed.
My, that is shocking … the shocking part being that anyone believes this hysterical nonsense.
Pets have heavily meat-based diets which requires more energy, land and water to produce.
Rascal, our family cat, is a sweet little dude. In fact, he’s lying at my feet as I write. But I’m pretty sure if I stopped feeding him a meat-based diet, he’d sneak into the bedroom some night and rip chunks of flesh from my face.
Research from the University of California, Los Angeles, found pets are having a big impact on environmental issues such as climate change.
You mean there are other environmental issues pets are affecting? Are they causing acid rain too?
Feeding cats and dogs is creating the equivalent of 64 millions tons of carbon dioxide a year in the US alone, according to shocking new research.
That’s twice the reporter was shocked. She should probably find somewhere to calm down … say, in a vegan restaurant that charges men extra. She’ll get priority seating.
The paper found pets are responsible for 25 to 30 per cent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the US.
So it’s not the pets themselves; it’s the MEAT that’s causing all that climate change. Maybe we should all become vegetarians to save the planet. But then we’d have to deal with …
Global Warmi –er, Climate Change, part three.
Perhaps ordering a salad instead of a burger won’t save the planet after all, according to an article in Scientific American:
Bacon lovers of the world, rejoice! Or at the least take solace that your beloved pork belly may be better for the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than the lettuce that accompanies it on the classic BLT.
This is according to a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University who found that if Americans were to switch their diets to fall in line with the Agriculture Department’s 2010 dietary recommendations, it would result in a 38 percent increase in energy use, 10 percent bump in water use and a 6 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
And here I thought I was ignoring the USDA dietary guidelines because they’re full of @#$%. Turns out I was also saving the planet. Pass the bacon.
The reason for this is because on a per-calorie basis, many fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood—the foods the USDA pushes in the guidelines over sugary processed food and fats—are relatively resource-intensive, the study finds. Lettuce, for example, produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than bacon.
Chareva grew some lettuce this year. I didn’t think to go out to the garden with some equipment and measure the gases they were emitting. An opportunity lost.
“You cannot just jump and assume that any vegetarian diet is going to have a low impact on the environment,” said Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decision sciences and engineering and public policy and one of the authors of the study. “There are many that do, but not all. You can’t treat all fruits and veggies as good for the environment.”
Fischbeck said that even though it seems counterintuitive, the best diet for the environment would be terrible for a person’s health. “If you totally forget health, which diet would have best impact on the environment?” Fischbeck asked. “You’d eat a lot more fats and sugars.”
Hmmm, in that case, here’s how I suggest we handle all this conflicting data: eat the diet that’s best for your health, period. If you feel guilty about including climate-damaging meat in your meals, do your part for the planet by getting rid of your meat-eating dog.
Or maybe not …
Global Warmi –er, Climate Change, part four.
Here are some quotes from a PBS article online:
If you’ve decided to go vegan because you think it’s better for the planet, that might be true—but only to an extent.
A group of researchers has published a study in the journal Elementa in which they describe various biophysical simulation models that compare 10 eating patterns: the vegan diet, two vegetarian diets (one that includes dairy, the other dairy and eggs), four omnivorous diets (with varying degrees of vegetarian influence), one low in fats and sugars, and one similar to modern American dietary patterns.
What they found was that the carrying capacity—the size of the population that can be supported indefinitely by the resources of an ecosystem—of the vegan diet is actually less substantial than two of the vegetarian diets and two out of the four omnivorous diets they studied.
Lower carrying capacity? Must be all that lettuce in the vegan diet …
If modern agriculture in the U.S. were adjusted to the vegan diet, according to the study in Elementa, we’d be able to feed 735 million people—and that’s from a purely land-use perspective. Compare that to the dairy-friendly vegetarian diet, which could feed 807 million people. Even partially omnivorous diets rank above veganism in terms of sustainability; incorporating about 20 to 40% meat in your diet is actually better for the long-term course of humanity than being completely meat-free.
Well, that is a relief. Especially in light of …
Americans eating more beef.
Here are some quotes from an article in USA Today:
As backyard grills fire up this summer, one thing is clear: Americans no longer have a beef with beef.
Thanks to lower prices, more disposable income and a guarded thumbs-up from the wellness community, the once-maligned meat is now seen by many shoppers and diners as an ingredient in a well-balanced and even trendy diet.
Americans ate an average 55.6 pounds of beef in 2016, up from 54 pounds in 2015, according to the Department of Agriculture. This comes after a decade during which U.S. beef consumption plummeted 15%.
The article attributes much of the rise in beef consumption to falling prices, but then adds this:
The increase of meat-intense diets, such as paleo and keto, has also jump-started America’s rekindled love affair with all things cow. Gone are the days of dismissing meat as a heart attack inducer or the unsophisticated grub of Middle America. Now, there’s a premium segment that’s lighting up diners, thanks to their increased demand for organic and grass-fed beef.
As an unsophisticated inhabitant of Middle America, I’m happy to include beef in my grub. But I may have Chareva start charging me a man-tax.