From The News …

      118 Comments on From The News …

Items from my inbox and elsewhere …

It’s @#$%ing Daylight Saving Time Already?!!

I was re-watching an episode of Breaking Bad at what I thought was almost 2:00 AM on Sunday when the cable box suddenly displayed 3:00 AM.

What the … ??

@#$%!!  It’s not even halfway through March, but we’re already switching to the godawful “summer” time known as Daylight Saving Time. Just what a natural night-person like me needs: to be forced to get up and hour earlier because some lamebrains believe setting the clock forward somehow creates more daylight.

Here’s my reply to everyone who wants that “extra” hour of sunshine: go ahead and wake up an hour earlier.  We won’t stop you. Just leave the rest of us out of it.  I don’t want to attend a 9:00 meeting at the office when my body knows good and well it’s actually 8:00.  At the very least, save the saving of daylight for summer.

I was pretty sure we didn’t do this “saving” nonsense for a majority of the year when I was a kid. So out of curiosity, I looked it up. Turns out DST was imposed during both world wars on the theory that it would save energy. (Economists who have studied the matter say it does no such thing.) Some states continued their own version of DST, but the national DST was abandoned after both wars. Then it was raised from the dead in the 1960s at the behest of the transportation industry, which wanted standardized time zones and times to ease scheduling issues.

But even in the 1960s, we were only on DST from May through October. DST was expanded by a month in the 1980s and by another month in 2007. So now we’re on that wunnerful, wunnerful “summer” schedule for eight months of the year.

Well, I’m using this as further motivation to sell a million copies of the book. When I’m not working in an office for a living, I’ll just pretend DST doesn’t exist. I’ll sleep until I wake up, then show up for appointments an hour late and say, “Oh, sorry, I refuse to pretend that 10:00 AM is actually 11:00 AM for eight months of the year.”

In the meantime, this clip from Last Week Tonight sums up DST quite nicely:

The Fat Head classroom

As you may or may not know, free versions of Fat Head disappeared last year from various online vendors as the contracts expired. A teacher who had been showing the film in health class wrote to ask where the film was available now. So I donated a copy to her school. I received this in an email later:

I’m not sure how teachers get away with showing a film that says the USDA’s dietary recommendations are wrong, but I’m glad they do.

A paleo fix for diabetes

Remember that recent mouse study that (ahem-ahem) demonstrated how awful the paleo diet is? You know, the study led by the president of the Australian Diabetes Society, which receives shootloads of money from Big Food? This case study suggests an opposite conclusion:

A Hungarian study reports that a nine-year-old boy who was newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes achieved normal blood sugar levels, and came off insulin by following the Paleolithic ketogenic diet.

The child had been on insulin therapy for six weeks, alongside a high-carbohydrate diet. His blood glucose levels had fluctuated to a large degree, according to researchers at the University of Pécs.

The researchers put the child on a modified version of the ketogenic diet known as the Paleolithic ketogenic diet. This consisted only of animal meat, fat, offals and eggs with a fat:protein ratio of roughly 2:1.

The child had three meals a day and ketosis was regularly monitored using ketone strips. The researchers observed sustained ketosis – which is when the body has a high fat-burning rate – but the child had normal blood sugar levels before and after meals. His insulin therapy was discontinued.

The child’s blood glucose levels were significantly lower during the Paleolithic ketogenic diet compared to his six weeks of insulin therapy. The episodes of hypoglycemia he experienced on insulin therapy were not presented while on the diet.

Good thing the kid isn’t a mouse who eats a “paleo” diet of casein, canola oil and sugar.

Mandatory salt warnings upheld

After mandatory calorie counts on menus failed to change what people order in restaurants, naturally The Anointed decided salt warnings will work. The restaurant industry tried to block the new salt-warning law but failed:

A New York judge on Wednesday shot down a challenge by a restaurant trade group and upheld a city rule requiring many chain eateries to post warnings on menu items that are high in sodium.

The rule, believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, mandates restaurants with 15 or more locations nationwide to post a salt shaker encased in a black triangle as a warning symbol next to menu items with more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, the daily limit recommended by many nutritionists.

Let’s see, 2300 milligrams … that would be the limit a government-funded study concluded might actually be dangerously low for many people. No matter. The Anointed in New York have decided you need to be warned.

“This is really good news for the health of New Yorkers,” Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, the city’s health commissioner, said outside the courthouse.

Well, gosh, yes. Because as The Anointed have decided, what will happen is this:

  • New Yorker sees salt warning.
  • New Yorker is appalled and orders less-salty meal.
  • New Yorker avoids a heart attack by eating less-salty meals in restaurants.

I mean, they JUST KNOW that’s how it will play out.

“Information is power,” Justice Eileen Rakower of New York state Supreme Court in Manhattan said in a ruling from the bench. Unlike the city’s unsuccessful large-soda ban, she said, the rule did not restrict the use of sodium.

New York City adopted the rule, which took effect in December, to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

So the evidence that restricting salt (assuming anyone actually consumes less salt because of a menu warning) must be really strong.  I mean, it’s not as if The Anointed ever push through a Grand Plan without carefully considering the evidence …

No scientific consensus on salt

Here’s what an article in Medical News Today says about the science of salt and health:

An analysis of scientific reports and comments on the health effects of a salty diet reveals a polarization between those supportive of the hypothesis that population-wide reduction of salt intake is associated with better health and those that were not. In all, 54 percent were supportive of the hypothesis; 33 percent, not supportive; and 13 percent inconclusive.

The new article in the International Journal of Epidemiology is co-authored by Ludovic Trinquart, Columbia University Epidemiology Merit Fellow at the Mailman School of Public Health; David Johns, a doctoral student in Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and an affiliate of the Data & Society Research Institute; and Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health and adjunct professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School.

Just over half of the reports say restricting salt would be beneficial. I guess the weight of the evidence tips towards restricting salt, eh? Not so fast.

“There are two almost distinct bodies of scholarship–one supporting and one opposing the claim that salt reduction in populations will improve clinical outcomes,” says Johns. “Each is driven by a few prolific authors who tend to cite other researchers who share their point of view, with little apparent collaboration between the two ‘sides.'”

“We pay quite a bit of attention to financial bias in our work,” says Galea. “We seldom pay attention, however, to how long-held beliefs bias the questions we ask and the results we publish, even as new data become available.”

long-held beliefs bias the questions we ask and the results we publish … Yup, just like all that (ahem) evidence that saturated fat and cholesterol will clog your arteries.

Even while the scientific debate over salt continues, public health officials, from the local to the global level, have enacted policies to lower consumption. World Health Organization guidelines recommend limiting salt intake. In December 2015, New York City became the first U.S. city to require chain restaurants to label foods high in sodium.

“Decision-makers often must choose a course of action in the face of conflicting, uncertain evidence,” says Trinquart.

Uh … no. Decision-makers don’t have to choose a course of action. When the evidence is all over the place, decision-makers can simply choose to do nothing. That would be the correct course of action.

But of course, that’s not how The Anointed operate. They’re often wrong, but that never shakes their self-confidence or dissuades them from imposing the next Grand Plan.

Restaurants listening to consumer demand

Here’s the no-coercion-required way to get restaurants to change what they sell: change what you’re willing to buy. We’re already seeing that in grocery-store chains, as they respond to the consumer demand for less-processed foods. Restaurants are responding to the same trend:

The movement toward real ingredients and clean labels has reshaped the restaurant world in the last year. A growing number of consumers are demanding quality, healthfulness and transparency in food.

“It is very strong right now, and when you look at consumer insights about the younger generation, you sense that it is not going to change,” says Trip Kadey, director of culinary for The French’s Food Company.

In fact, 25 percent of consumers say they have switched to healthier meat and poultry products within the last year, according to Packaged Facts research. More than 30 percent of consumers are cautious about serving foods with preservatives, up from 24 percent ten years ago, reports The NPD Group. And when the National Restaurant Association polled chefs for its What’s Hot 2016 Culinary Forecast, natural ingredients/minimally processed foods ranked as a top five trend.

The time is now for operators to take action on these issues—it’s a golden opportunity to impress consumers who could be patrons for decades to come.

“There are 13-year-old kids who are actual food activists,” says Kadey. “They are really driving demand for clean and better-for-you food.”

See how that works? You express your preferences, vote with your dollars, and the people who produce and sell food conclude it’s in their best interest to listen. No new laws, no government coercion, and no Grand Plans required.


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118 thoughts on “From The News …

  1. Shelley

    Daylight savings drives me nuts! A few years ago in NZ it was extended, so ‘summer’ time begins when we’re not even half way through spring, and ends well into autumn. I never liked it in the first place, but now that it has been extended it just feels wrong. This “Daylight Saving is Coming” trailer captures how I feel, cracks me up every time I watch it…

  2. Jason Bucata

    I actually wouldn’t mind a reduction in salt content in a lot of food out there. But it’s not based on “my doctor thinks I should so I’ll toe/tow the line” but rather I just don’t like the taste of too much salt. I think a lot of cheap fast food uses salt to mask the lack of flavor otherwise. E.g. I can get a good burger at a slightly more “upscale” restaurant with much less salt but good flavor, vs. certain unnamed fast food chains that pile on the salt because that’s all that passes for flavor. Some packaged meals you make at home have the same problem.

    That’s entirely different from the government trying to force decisions on people… but if these unnamed fast food chains offered a “dial down the salt” option on the menu I’d really appreciate it. (Except then if it truly loses what little flavor it had… I guess I ought to just vote with my tires and find another drive-thru to visit.)

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