State-Level Members Of The Anointed: We Demand The Feds Regulate Us! (And Everyone Else, Too.)

I’m not usually surprised when The Anointed make wacky decisions. But I have to admit, their latest move had me doing a bit of head-scratching, at least temporarily. We’ll start with a few quotes from an article in Reason magazine:

A recent rule change regarding school lunches was greeted with relief by some school districts, who had found that federal mandates from the Obama administration led to food waste, less lunches sold, and more kids buying meals from vending machines. Additionally, schools were still allowed to serve sugary flavored milk, but for some reason it had to be the less nutritious nonfat version.

You no doubt recall how well the “more whole grains, lower fat, more fruits and vegetables!” mandates in The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 worked out. Kids were dumping their lunches in the trash. The Anointed replied by telling kids to adjust their taste buds and stop complaining.

The changes approved by the Trump administration are relatively minor—more time to comply with reduced sodium levels, no need for flavored milk to be nonfat, and lower whole-grain requirements for some foods—but they address some of the chief criticisms from public schools across the country.

Not exactly a return to local control, but it’s a start, right? The notion that kids (or adults) need low-sodium diets is of course utter nonsense. So is the belief that milk is better for us if it’s nonfat. And healthywholegrains? Don’t get me started.

But the point is that public schools now have some additional flexibility. You’d think the states would be relieved. What state official could possibly object?

Wait for it …

Some state attorneys general don’t like that. They’re now suing in federal court to make the Obama-era lunch standards permanent. The lawsuit was filed by attorneys general in California, D.C., Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, and Vermont. The eternal whackjobs at the PETA-esque Center for Science in the Public Interest have filed a separate lawsuit also challenging the changes.

Head. Bang. On Desk.

The suit argues that the recent changes are illegal because Agriculture Department officials didn’t provide scientific justification. This is pretty hilarious, considering the sloppy science that the Obama administration relied on when instituting its “Smarter Lunchrooms” program. Many papers from the lead architect of the initiative have since been retracted, after fellow researchers found inconsistencies, errors, and evidence of fraudulent data.

Yes, of course the federal nutrition mandates were based on sloppy science. That’s not what has me banging my head on my desk. It’s the fact that state attorneys general are suing to demand that the federal government regulate school lunches in their states.

Why the @#$% would any state official want that? If politicians in Minnesota and California and Illinois want low-sodium, low-fat meals served in their schools, then for chrissakes, make it a state law. Why would they want the federal government to tell them what to do?

I think I know the answer, but first, let me share an analogy (which I didn’t originate, but don’t remember who deserves the credit):

Suppose you live in a town with several grocery stores that cater to people with different preferences. The pure-foodies happily shop at Whole Foods and pay higher prices for the high quality. The budget-conscious people buy in bulk at Aldi. The vegetarians shop at Mama’s Meatless Marvels. The meat-lovers shop at Bob’s Big Butchershop.

You know what that kind of decentralized decision-making produces? Peace. Tranquility. Civility. No one is forced to live according to anyone else’s preferences, so people get along.

Now suppose some genius decides all the grocery stores in town should be run by The Central Grocery Committee, which orders all the stores to carry the same foods – with the list of allowable foods being determined by the committee, of course.

Now instead of consumers simply buying what they prefer, they will be locked in eternal battles with each other. The vegetarians demand more shelf space for meatless foods. The meat-lovers want a butcher shop in the store, which the vegetarians vehemently oppose. The food purists want the high-quality stuff to dominate the shelves, while the budget-conscious want cheap foods they can buy in bulk. So everyone with a strong preference becomes obsessed with controlling who sits on the committee.

This, of course, leads to bitter divisions and smear campaigns whenever there’s a vacancy to be filled on the committee. A meat-friendly nominee is accused by vegans of being a child-molester. A vegan nominee is accused by carnivores of beating her children. Friendships are ruined by heated debates about which nominees are Good People or Bad People. No matter who ends up winning a seat on the committee, half the consumers are convinced the Worst Person In The World just acquired the power to determine which foods will available.

The bitterness and acrimony only came about for one reason: decisions were turned over to a central authority, which means every decision is a winners-take-all proposition. No matter what decision the central authority makes, a big chunk of the public is going to be pissed off – always.

The United States was supposed to function like those independent grocery stores. The states were supposed to be more or less independent of each other, with a federal government empowered to enforce the rights spelled out in the Constitution, to adjudicate disputes between states, and to provide a common currency, a common defense, and some common infrastructure.

As Nassim Nicholas Taleb explains in Antifragile, that’s pretty much how Switzerland functions even today. The federal government is quite small, and the provinces make most of their own decisions. If one province adopts a policy that works, the others learn from the success and can adopt a similar policy – or not. Sometimes what works for one province isn’t a good idea for another. If a province adopts a policy that turns out to be a huuuuge mistake, the other provinces learn what not to do – but they’re not harmed in the process.  Meanwhile, the Swiss aren’t at each other’s throats when elections come around, because they’re not voting to decide who gets to make Big Decisions That Apply To Everyone In The Country.

Given how much happier and less combative people are when decisions are decentralized instead of centralized, and given how decentralized decisions are far less likely to become tragic mistakes that affect everyone, why would anyone at the state or local level demand to be regulated by the federal government?

I’m pretty sure I answered my own question earlier:

You know what that kind of decentralized decision-making produces? Peace. Tranquility. Civility. No one is forced to live according to anyone else’s preferences, so people get along.

The Anointed aren’t happy with a society where no one is forced to live according to anyone else’s preferences. In fact, they want a society where everyone is forced to live according their preferences.  They’re the equivalent of vegans who want a Central Grocery Committee to take over a town’s stores and outlaw meat for everyone.  (They’ll settle for mandatory Meatless Mondays for now.)

The attorneys general in New York, California, etc., aren’t worried that their own states won’t force the low-fat, low-sodium, healthywholegrains diet on kids; they’re worried that my state won’t force that diet on kids. They want bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. to decide what kids in Franklin, Tennessee are allowed to eat for lunch. They want The Central Grocery Committee applied to the entire country.

Relaxing the federal mandates (which were based on scientific hogwash anyway) is a small step in the right direction. Ditching them completely and getting the federal government the hell out of the diet business would be a full step in the right direction.

But as long as we have The Anointed in power anywhere, they’ll fight it all the way.

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Astroturf And Wikipedia

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Remember the kerfuffle when a rogue editor at Wikipedia targeted Fat Head for deletion? He was, you’ll recall, the same editor who deleted articles about Malcolm Kendrick, Uffe Ravnskov, Jimmy Moore, and pretty much anyone who recommends low-carb diets or disputes the Lipid Hypothesis.

In the video post I put up earlier this week, I included a snip from a TED talk given by Sharyl Attkinsson, a former CBS reporter who’s been writing and speaking regularly about fake news, Astroturf campaigns, etc.  (I just bought her book The Smear on Audible.com.) In the full speech, she talks about what’s wrong with Wikipedia.  Jump ahead to about 3:50 in the speech if you don’t want to watch the whole thing.

Anonymous Wikipedia editors control and co-opt pages on behalf of special interests. They forbid and reverse edits that go against their agenda. They skew and delete information in blatant violation of Wikipedia’s own established policies with impunity.

Yup, sounds about right.

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The Fat Head Report … I’ve Gone Video

Sorry the delay in posting.  After promising I’d get around to doing video posts, I figured I’d best do one.  It took me a bit longer than I’d expected to get the graphics and such animated after I had Chareva draw them for me.  Amazing how much After-Effects knowledge I’ve forgotten just since finishing Fat Head Kids.

Before shooting, I also decided to order a small, pop-up green screen that doesn’t require me to clear the furniture from a room to set up.  Then I decided to do myself a huge favor and order a teleprompter so I don’t have to memorize my scripts.  I found a small one that uses an iPhone as the source for the scrolling text.  Dang, I love in living an age where all this stuff is available and affordable for us home-studio types.

Anyway, I got one done.  I’m aware that Keto Crotch is like sooooo March 2019 and it’s already April.  Well, I wrote the script a few weeks ago and just got episode done for the reasons mentioned above.  I’ll try to be more timely in the future.

Someone asked if I’d post transcripts.  I’ll post what I say in the videos, since I write a script before recording.  I don’t have the time or desire to type out dialog from the embedded video clips.

Transcript:

Hello, I’m Tom Naughton and this is the Fat Head Report.

Well, the people I refer to as the save the grains campaign reached a new low recently in their never-ending efforts to scare us away from low carbohydrate diets.

Over the years they’ve tried telling us that giving up bread and cereal and pasta will make us fat … or give us heart disease .. or give us cancer.

Well that obviously didn’t work because now they’re telling us that giving up carbohydates will make your privates .. smell bad.

No, not those privates. These privates.

All of sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, there were all these stories about something called Keto Crotch. Which apparently is like really bad breath, only … lower.

And in case you didn’t get the concept, the came up with helpful graphics like these.

And this one, people, I mean seriously?

So what’s going on here? Is this a real thing, or are we seeing an Astroturf campaign? Let’s look at a piece of a TED talk given by a former CBS reporter named Sharryl Atkinson explaining what an AstroTurf campaign is.

So an Astroturf campaign often begins with special interests paying people to put out a message on social media.

And if you look at all these news articles about keto crotch what’s their source? it’s people posting on social media!

This rather disgusting article in the New York Post tells us that keto crotch is a hot topic on message boards, and Twitter.

This site for vegans ran an article saying keto crotch is yet another reason to give up meat – surprise – and what was their source? Once again it was social media.

Probably people being paid to talk about keto crotch on social media.

Here’s part of a different speech by the same former CBS reporter how to spot fake news:

The same stories, using the same sources, even using the same phrases … like keto crotch. Not to mention using basically the same graphics.

A guy on Twitter named John Zahorik listed all these media outlets that ran a story on keto crotch all in the same week.

Does anybody think all these reporters just happened to stumble on the same story at the same time?

Or does this look more like a PR campaign designed to scare people away from low-carbohydrate diets?

And who would design a campaign like that anyway? Now the truth is, and I want to be clear about this, we don’t know.

But as John Zahorik pointed on out Twitter, the Barilla Pasta company and Weight Watchers both use the same gigantic PR firm.

Now you can guess why a pasta company wouldn’t want people cutting back on carbohydrates.

And as for Weight Watchers, how do you think the popularity of the ketogenic diet as affecting them?

Yes, of course Weight Watchers is getting killed by keto. Because Weight Watchers is still pushing the same low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet that a whole lot of us tried over and over and found it simply doesn’t work.

So maybe the big P.R. firm for Weight Watchers and Barilla pasta was behind “keto crotch.” Or maybe not. I don’t know. But I do know something here stinks.

And it’s not your privates.

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Ten-Year Blogiversary

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I published my first Fat Head blog post on March 20, 2009. That means yesterday was my 10-year blogiversary. Time flies, and the older I get, the more it seems to pick up speed.  Sure doesn’t feel like it’s been 10 years already.

But of course, it has. If I need a reminder, I can just look at this fictitious cover of Parents magazine I had Chareva whip up for a post in April of 2009:

That’s Sara in the picture. Sara, who’s now a sophomore in high school and will get her learner’s permit soon. Sara, who’s already in the process of winnowing down her choices for college. Sara, who watches shows like Better Call Saul with us and makes insightful comments about the characters.  She was in kindergarten when I started blogging.

I hesitated for a few months before starting the blog. By the time Fat Head was in the can, I was burnt out from the effort of making it. I figured I was done with diving into diet and health research and trying to make sense of it for an audience. I was also a bit worried that if I started a blog, I’d run out of things to say after a year or so.

Jimmy Moore disabused me of that notion. We hadn’t actually met yet, but I already considered him a friend because of our email and phone conversations. When the blog bug finally began biting, I called Jimmy for advice. When I wondered about running out of material, he said, “I can promise you that will never happen. Once you have an audience, people will send you ideas and links to articles all the time.”

He was absolutely right. Much of what goes into the blog comes to me through readers. Often I receive emails from senders whose names I don’t recognize, with a subject line something like You’ve got to see this! or Do you believe this stuff? The entire body of the email will be a link to an article on this or that study or some nonsense about diet in the news.

(Unfortunately, I’ve also received emails with a subject line something like You’ve got to see this! and the entire body of the email is a link to what turns out to be a porn site. Sara walked into my office to ask me a question one day just as I was clicking one such link.  It was one of those @#$%ing sites where if you try to close the browser, two more browser windows pop up.  Suddenly my screen was full of bouncing boobs and other body parts.  I ended up wrapping my arms and body around the monitor and asking Sara to please come back in a minute or so.)

Besides the ideas readers send me, The Anointed themselves keep providing material by putting out the same kind of nonsense year after year. Here’s a case in point: my first post was titled Create Your Very Own Biased Study. I analyzed a study by Dr. Frank Sucks … er, Sacks from Harvard in which he claimed a low-carb diet makes no difference for weight loss. Here’s a quote from the post:

Dr. Sacks and his fellow researchers got the result they wanted by coming up with a definition of “low-carb” that is, to put it charitably, rather creative: 35 percent of total calories.

If you consume 2000 calories per day, that’s 175 grams of carbohydrates. The Atkins diet recommends starting at 20 grams per day – barely one-tenth of the carbohydrate load Sacks calls a “low-carb diet.”

And here’s a quote last week’s post about the (ahem) link between a low-carb diet and atrial fibrillation:

Yup, the “low” carbohydrate diet was anything less than 44.8 percent of daily calories. Boy, doesn’t that sound just like your ketogenic or Atkins diet?

The Anointed will never change.

But my life certainly has. When I started blogging, we still lived in Burbank, just outside Los Angeles. We moved to Tennessee later that year and a rented a house. Two years later, we bought the farm, which has provided us with fresh produce, fresh eggs, and one labor-intensive project after another. And I mean that in a good way.

During the past 10 years, my diet has gone from being all about low-carb (with low-carb junk foods included), to real-food paleo, to strictly ketogenic (long enough to realize it’s not my thing), to something more along the lines of Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet, to a version that’s higher in protein and a bit lower in fat, as recommended by Dr. Ted Naiman.

My ambitions have changed as well.  After our frustrations with the first two distributors for Fat Head, I swore I’d never make another film. And yet Chareva and I eventually produced Fat Head Kids, after producing the book version first.  Now I’m thinking about making some of my posts video posts.  After all, I have the equipment and the software.

It’s been a great 10 years, folks. I appreciate all of you who show up here regularly to read and comment. I sincerely hope I’ve helped some of you find the path to better health, or at least kept you entertained along the way.  I hope to do this at least another 10 years, and I hope you’re still here too.

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The Farm Report: If You Order A Spring Project Right Now, We’ll DOUBLE Your Order!

If you’re a longtime follower of the blog, you can probably look at the photo above and guess that Chareva and I are starting another spring project. You’d be right. I found this a bit surprising because we already have a spring project: fencing in the entire back of the property to give the dogs a big ol’ space to explore.

But as you can see from the photos of the rooster and two of our punk-rocker hens, the current chicken yard isn’t exactly a grassy paradise anymore. They need fresh ground. They also need not to get killed when we move them to fresh ground, which means getting the old chicken yards up to snuff. So we added a spring project to our spring project.

Let me back up and report on the progress of Spring Project #1 first. Some weeks ago, we took a break from that project to give the dogs a bigger yard. Actually, we gave them a bigger yard again. When this ginormous tree fell, it destroyed the fence that penned in the side yard.

To keep the dogs out of the now-open side yard, we quickly threw up a barrier that looked like it was designed by Jethro Clampett.  It was a (ahem) “temporary” fix that’s been in place for months.

Now that we’re flush with t-posts and cattle panels and other fine fencing materials, we decided to spend a day constructing a fence that pens in most of the side yard again, minus the section covered by the ginormous tree. (Cutting that tree into firewood will be yet another project later this year.)  The dogs now have a bigger area to roam while we prepare a huge area to roam.

With that mini-project out of the way, we returned to fencing in the back of the property. As I’ve mentioned, there’s a line of t-posts running along much of our property line, but the jungle had grown up and around it. So the first task for me was getting out the chainsaw and hacking down spindly trees and not-so-spindly vines clinging to them.

Then I cut the trees into firewood. The logs will need to sit in the barn until next winter, of course.

In the picture above, Chareva is standing pretty much at the corner of the property. Over the next weekend, we managed to put up cattle panels all the way to that corner. The shot below is from the corner, looking back towards the creek where this project started.

The next section of the fence will run along the property behind the house. If you squint, you might see the line of t-posts that have been sitting there since we bought the place. Or you might not, thanks to the spindly trees and vines.

Clearing the area around the t-posts required a combination of the chainsaw and The Beast.

That’s as far as we got before Chareva reminded me the chickens need fresh ground. So we set aside Spring Project #1 for Spring Project #2.

As you may recall, the current chicken yard was an emergency project back in 2017 when our chickens kept disappearing and I couldn’t figure out how the @#$% a critter was getting inside to kill them. (Turned out he was living under the coop, in case you missed that one.)

Because it was the third chicken yard we built, we finally got it right. No critter has ever gotten inside. But security aside, it’s just a much more pleasant space. In the old chicken yards, despite my efforts to raise the nets, I had to stoop over. Trust me, it’s no fun trying to manhandle a bucking tiller while half-crouched. When we built the newest yard, it finally occurred to us to stack one fence on top of another, string paracord across the whole yard, and raise the nets nice and high.

We’ve also gotten smarter about our building techniques. Back when we built the first two chicken yards, I thought I’d figured out a great solution for raising poles: stick the pole in a bucket of concrete, let the concrete dry, then dig a hole and bury the bucket. Brilliant!

Later it occurred to one of us (probably Chareva) that we could simply pound a t-post into the ground, then strap the pole to the t-post with plumber straps. We don’t lose a foot of the pole’s height underground, and it’s easy to move … just pull up the t-post.

Head. Bang. On. Desk.

So the start of Spring Project #2 for me was digging up the old poles. I may have uttered a few ancient curses known only to small-time farmers, but I don’t remember.

To tighten plumber straps to t-posts during our previous projects, I originally used a screwdriver. I did that more times than I’d like to admit. At some point last year, it occurred to me that a 5/16” socket fits nicely over the nut that tightens the strap.  (In my defense, that stupid nut also has a slot for a flat-head screwdriver. Coulda fooled anyone.)  So I began using a socket wrench, which was somewhat more efficient.

For this project, it finally occurred to me that I should be using a cordless drill. Okay, it occurred me to after Chareva mentioned I should be using a cordless drill and called her brother Alex to ask which kind of cordless drill to buy. I bought the one he told her to buy. Alex is young enough to be my son, but he’s already spent more time using tools than I’ll spend in my lifetime.

Ahhhhh, the joy of using the right tool for the job. Tightening a plumber strap with a socket wrench goes something like this: crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank-crank.

With the cordless drill, tightening a plumber strap goes something like this: zzziiip.

Thanks to zzziip, we got all the poles for the outer perimeter up in no time.

The next job was adding that second level of fencing. I couldn’t remember exactly how we went about it in 2017, so I decided to just re-engineer the whole process. I suggested a couple of plans requiring ropes, scaffolding, pulleys, winches and a diesel-powered engine.

Chareva proposed simply resting the new fence against the existing fence, clipping them together, then flipping up the new layer. She even waved around some fancy tool that would squeeze little metal rings into place to clip the fences together. It looked like this:

In my head, I did several calculations involving the weight and length of the fence, the strength of the clips, the current wind velocity, etc., and explained to her why trying to flip up a long, wobbly fence almost certainly wouldn’t work.  We’d need at least a six-person crew to hold the thing in place and keep it from flipping back down.

She said she wanted to try anyway, and because I’m a good husband, I decided to indulge her.

So after she finished clipping the fences together, we flipped the new fence up and into position. I prepared myself for the sound of those little clips snapping apart and the sight of the new fence falling down and rolling itself up.

It ended up looking something like this:

In my defense, one of the clips did snap. Really, it did. On that section of fence, anyway. When she clipped together the next 45-foot section of fence and we flipped it up into position, nothing snapped.  After each section was flipped up, Chareva secured it to the poles with aluminum ties. My job was to hold the ladder.  And not say anything.

For the rest of the weekend, any time I disagreed with her about anything, she simply said, “Fence clips.”

And we still have a project and a half to go.

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My Heart’s All A-Flutter! The Anointed, The Wisdom Of Crowds, And Another Stupid Study

Years ago, I read an interview with a researcher who said something like, “If you want to study the migratory patterns of squirrels and you name your proposed study The migratory patterns of squirrels, you won’t get funding. But if you name your proposed study How global warming is impacting the migratory patterns of squirrels, you will get funding.”

By this point, it’s safe to say something similar applies to the world of nutrition studies. If you want to get funding, you need to propose a study named something like Low-Carb Diet Is Linked To [Some Bad Thing]. The Anointed and their pals in the Save The Grains Campaign have apparently decided that the best use of scientific (ahem) “research” is to scare people away from low-carb and ketogenic diets. So we keep seeing one stupid study after another claiming to find a link (sort of) between some ailment and a low-carb (sort of, but not really) diet.

The latest came out last week and generated headlines like Low-carb diets linked to atrial fibrillation (news-medical.net), Low-carb diets linked to heart rhythm issues, study says (New York Post) and Low-Carb Diets Linked to Higher Odds for A-Fib (US News). In case you didn’t quite grasp that a low-carb diet will kill your heart, some articles featured a graphic like this:

Boy, that’s scary. Best reach for the bread as quickly as possible.  Here are some quotes from the news-medical article:

Low-carb diets are all the rage, but can cutting carbohydrates spell trouble for your heart? People getting a low proportion of their daily calories from carbohydrates such as grains, fruits and starchy vegetables are significantly more likely to develop atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most common heart rhythm disorder, according to a study being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session.

The study, which analyzed the health records of nearly 14,000 people spanning more than two decades, is the first and largest to assess the relationship between carbohydrate intake and AFib. With AFib, a type of arrhythmia, the heart doesn’t always beat or keep pace the way it should, which can lead to palpitations, dizziness and fatigue. People with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke than people without the condition. It can also lead to heart failure.

And a quote from USA Today:

Keto, Paleo, Atkins — there’s no shortage of low-carb diets to try, but new research suggests that over time, living low-carb can raise your risk of a heart condition called atrial fibrillation, or a-fib.

And a quote from The New York Post:

Carb-crunching weight loss trends like keto, paleo and the old-school Atkin’s diet are linked to a higher chance of developing atrial fibrillation, according to new research to presented March 16-18 at the American College of Cardiology‘s 68th annual Scientific Session.

Well, there you have it: a low-carb or ketogenic diet can cause atrial fibrillation. Obviously, the researchers noticed this among people following ketogenic diets, the Atkins diet and paleo diets. Thank goodness they reported their finding in time to save our hearts.

But wait … let’s put on our Science For Smart People hats and ask some questions about this study:

Q: Is this a clinical study or an observational study?

To answer that, let’s quote from the news-medical article again:

Researchers drew data from Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC), a study overseen by the National Institutes of Health that ran from 1985-2016.

Study participants were asked to report their daily intake of 66 different food items in a questionnaire. The researchers used this information along with the Harvard Nutrient Database to estimate each participant’s daily carbohydrate intake and the proportion of daily calories that came from carbohydrates.

It’s an observational study based on food questionnaires — which are so unreliable, some people report a total calorie intake that would cause unpleasant side-effects … such as starving to death. As a reminder, here’s what a food questionnaire looks like:

Over the last 12 months, how often did you eat the following foods? (Ignore any recent changes.)

Whole milk (4%), NOT in coffee, NOT on cereal: Never | 1-6 per year | 7-11 per year | 1 per month | 2-3 per month | 1-2 per week | 3-4 per week | 5-6 per week | 1 per day | 2-3 per day | 4-5 per day | 6+ per day. Portion size: less than ½ cup | ½ to 1 cup | more than 1 cup.

Breads or dinner rolls, NOT INCLUDING ON SANDWICHES: Never | 1-6 per year | 7-11 per year | 1 per month | 2-3 per month | 1-2 per week | 3-4 per week | 5-6 per week | 1 per day | 2-3 per day | 4-5 per day | 6+ per day. Portion size: less than 1 slice or roll | 1 or 2 slices or rolls | more than 2 slices or rolls.

Ground beef in mixtures such as tacos, burritos, meatballs, casseroles, chili, meatloaf: Never | 1-6 per year | 7-11 per year | 1 per month | 2-3 per month | 1-2 per week | 3-4 per week | 5-6 per week | 1 per day | 2-3 per day | 4-5 per day | 6+ per day. Portion size: less than 3 ounces | 3 to 7 ounces | more than 7 ounces.

People simply don’t count and measure and remember their meals accurately enough to answer a food questionnaire honestly. So they take a wild-ass guess. We can already dismiss this study and go home. But let’s continue anyway …

Q: What was the actual difference?

We’ll quote from the news-medical article again:

Of the nearly 14,000 people who did not have AFib when they enrolled in the study, researchers identified nearly 1,900 participants who were subsequently diagnosed with AFib during an average of 22 years of follow-up.

Participants reporting low carbohydrate intake were the most likely to develop AFib. These participants were 18 percent more likely to develop AFib than those with moderate carbohydrate.

I did a bit of number-crunching in Excel. According to what the researchers are telling us, 13.5 out of every 100 people on a moderate carbohydrate diet developed AFib over the 22 years. In the “low” carbohydrate group, an 18 percent increase would translate to roughly 15.3 people out of every 100. We’ll call it an extra two people out of every 100 over a 22-year span.

But that’s within the study group. Doing a bit of research online, I found that roughly 3.4 out of every 100 adults over age 35 has AFib. If the incidence increased by 18% for people on a “low” carbohydrate diet, the number would be 4.0 out of every 100 adults. So the actual difference is less than one person in a hundred.

There’s a reason I’ve been putting “low” carbohydrate in quotes, however, which leads to our final question:

Q: Compared to what?

This is where it gets fun. Remember what the news articles told us:

Keto, Paleo, Atkins — there’s no shortage of low-carb diets to try … Low-carb diets are all the rage, but can cutting carbohydrates spell trouble for your heart? … Carb-crunching weight loss trends like keto, paleo and the old-school Atkin’s diet are linked to a higher chance of developing atrial fibrillation …

Now let’s look at what the researchers actually compared:

Researchers then divided participants into three groups representing low, moderate and high carbohydrate intake, reflecting diets in which carbohydrates comprised less than 44.8 percent of daily calories, 44.8 to 52.4 percent of calories, and more than 52.4 percent of calories, respectively.

Yup, the “low” carbohydrate diet was anything less than 44.8 percent of daily calories. Boy, doesn’t that sound just like your ketogenic or Atkins diet?

I guess the researchers took their cue from Harvard’s Dr. Frank Sucks … er, Sacks: just raise the bar on what “low” carbohydrate means until you get the association you want to find, then alert the media to the dangers of skipping bread and cereal. Here’s what this crop of researchers had to say:

“The long-term effect of carbohydrate restriction is still controversial, especially with regard to its influence on cardiovascular disease,” cardiologist and lead study author Dr. Xiaodong Zhuang tells News-Medical.net reports. “Considering the potential influence on arrhythmia, our study suggests this popular weight control method should be recommended cautiously.”

I’ll be cautious, Dr. Zhuang. I promise I won’t start consuming a diet that’s 44 percent carbohydrate. I’ll stick with 15-20 percent.

The Anointed obviously believe they can scare us away from low-carb diets with crappy studies. That’s because they still believe information flows like this, as I explained in my recent speech on Diet, Health and The Wisdom of Crowds:

From The Anointed on high, down to us little people below. But that’s not how it works anymore. Information flows like this now:

To underscore the point, here are some comments people left on the news-medical article online:

My wife and I went on the keto diet about 2 years ago and she lost 50 lbs and her heart atrial fibrillation went way completely…I read all kinds of negative so-called studies on the keto diet but we have experienced nothing but great health improvements!

First off this is a questionnaire study (horribly inaccurate) and low carb is anything under 45% of calories from carbohydrates. A ketogenic diet is at most 10% of energy from carbs.

My diabetes went away and so did my high blood pressure. They’re always trying to trick us into going back to the pill farm.

Another day, another shady anti-keto story. Ho-hum. Could it be that big corporations that sell carb-laden food products are panicking over the popularity of the keto diet

Everybody in the study was consuming a high carb diet, less than 44% is still high, keto is 5-10%. The only conclusion from this “study” is that possibly high carb diets cause AFib (1900/14000 = 13.5%), as there are no participants in a low carb diet.

The moment I read the carb % breakdown as well as this being an observational study I new it was the same garbage we have been reading about for years.

This is getting really absurd and annoying. There is nothing wrong with Keto.

Just another ploy to get people to stop doing Keto.

While eating carbs /sugars I would go into atachacardia more than once a month (freaky and terrifying). I’ve been strict keto for 9 months, down 50lbs, no joint pain, and no episodes of fluttering!! Don’t believe this.

They just can’t fool us like they used to, because in the internet age, we can share our experiences with each other like never before … which is why the information also flows like this now:

And when studies like this hit the news, that’s the proper response.

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