I’m serving leftovers today: news from 2019 that didn’t make into any of my From The News posts.
Mediterranean Diet Study Recalled
The arterycloggingsaturatedfat! crowd just looooooves to talk about the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. That’s because (according to them) it’s a diet low in saturated fat with lots of vegetables and hearthealthywholegrains!
As you know, there’s no such thing as a single Mediterranean Diet. Some folks in that region eat a lot of pork and cook with lard. Some don’t. Some eat a lot fat, others not so much. Some eat a lot of fish, others not so much. Nonetheless, if you run a search on Mediterranean Diet, you’ll probably come across something like, from the Mayo Clinic:
The foundation of the Mediterranean diet is vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole grains. Meals are built around these plant-based foods. Moderate amounts of dairy, poultry and eggs are also central to the Mediterranean Diet, as is seafood. In contrast, red meat is eaten only occasionally.
That would be news to the healthy Mediterranean people who eat lots of pork.
Anyway, it turns out there were problems with the Big Study that put the Mediterranean Diet on the map in the first place. Here are some quotes from an NPR article:
Ask just about anybody, and you’ll probably hear that a healthy diet is one full of fruits and vegetables, olive oil, nuts and fish — what’s called Mediterranean diet. A lot of research has suggested people who eat this way tend to be healthier, but it’s been harder to prove whether that is because of the diet or some other factor.
So in 2013, many took notice of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that seemed to provide some proof. The study found that people eating the Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil were 30 percent less likely to experience a heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes than people assigned to a low-fat diet.
It was an observational study and therefore close to meaningless even if the data had been sound. But the data wasn’t so sound, as a dedicated anesthesiologist named John Carlisle discovered:
He read up on statistical methods and looked over more than 160 trials by the researcher, Dr. Yoshitaka Fujii, and analyzed how likely it was that the people had been randomized to different treatments. Randomization is part of the gold standard for clinical studies because it reduces the risk of bias and allows researchers to determine cause-effect relationships.
Carlisle found the odds were infinitesimally small that Fujii had randomized people properly. Since Carlisle’s findings were published in 2012, medical journals have retracted more than 160 papers by Fujii — the most retractions for any one researcher, by a large margin, according to Retraction Watch.
More than 160 papers retracted … and these were peer-reviewed papers. That tells you how well the peer-review system functions.
To quote my own Science For Smart People speech, Scientists are freakin’ liars. We apparently have yet another case of a scientist torturing the data until it told him what he wanted to hear.
Interestingly, the NPR article includes a photo of someone eating beans and whole-grain bread, with this caption below:
Flaws in a study of the Mediterranean diet led to a softening of its conclusions about health benefits. But don’t switch to a diet of cotton candy just yet.
Yeah, that’s what I’ve always found so difficult about adopting a healthy diet: I don’t like living on beans and bread, but the only alternative is to live on cotton candy. I sincerely hope that one of these days, the food industry starts producing meats and eggs.
Anyway, the New England Journal of Medicine has since retracted the paper and replaced it with a version that uses “softer” language, although that paper still concludes that a Mediterranean Diet reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Compared to what? you might ask. The answer: compared to a low-fat diet. So how do they explain that one? Well, it’s the olive oil, ya see …
As far as I’m concerned, we’re looking at people who are healthier than average because their diets are low in processed foods, not low in saturated fats, or high in whole grains, or whatever. Living in a region with lots of vitamin-D enhancing sunshine probably helps too.
Anti-Fat Hysteria Goes Underground
My breakfast today included bacon, eggs and butter. If I were in London, a picture of my breakfast would banned from the Underground, according to BBC News:
An advert designed to run on the London Underground was rejected because it contained bacon, butter, eggs and jam, an online supermarket said. Farmdrop submitted a photograph which included images of the meat, dairy products and spread.
Transport for London (TfL) said it was up to advertisers to make sure any items featured were “high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS)-compliant”. Last month TfL issued a ban on all junk food advertising.
Foods found to be high in fat, sugar and salt are now not allowed to feature in advertisements on public transport.
I dunno … is it comforting to know government agencies overseas are just as stupid as those in the U.S.?
The ban was introduced as London mayor Sadiq Khan said he wanted to tackle the “ticking time bomb” of child obesity in the city.
That bomb exploded a long time ago, Mr. Mayor. And bacon, eggs and butter had nothing to do with it.
Weight Watchers Finding New Ways To Lose
I don’t mean “lose weight,” either. Weight Watchers hasn’t been doing so well in recent years because of competition from other diets … like, say, those that actually work. So how is the company responding? Here are some quotes from an article in USA Today:
For the first time, the preeminent weight-loss company, which rebranded as WW in 2018, is rolling out three customized plans simultaneously, officials shared exclusively with USA TODAY.
The Oprah Winfrey-backed company’s new plan includes whole wheat pasta, brown rice and potatoes – which have cost points in past WW programs – as “ZeroPoint” foods, meaning they don’t have to be measured or tracked.
Weight Watchers – er, WW now – has been on the low-fat bandwagon for years. That’s why most of their packaged meals are based on rice or pasta. Customers have been abandoning the company because the long-term success rate is abysmal. That’s what happens when you sell foods and meal plans that leave people hungry and miserable.
The solution? Well heck, let’s tell people they can now eat all the wheat pasta, brown rice and potatoes they want!
“There’s no foods off limits on any of our programs, and it’s going to be sustainable,” said Mindy Grossman, WW president and CEO, in an interview with USA TODAY. “It’s easy, it’s simple and I think that’s what people are craving for – something they can really live with.”
No, Ms. Grossman, what people are craving is a diet that works.
Sorry, No Dinner — My Printer Jammed
If there’s one thing the world needs, it’s more fake food. Check out this article in The U.K. Guardian:
After the success of the Greggs vegan sausage roll and the juicy-yet-meatless Impossible Burger, the next new food sensation is coming to a plate near you: 3D-printed steaks and chicken thighs.
Printed meat could be on European restaurant menus from next year as Israeli and Spanish firms serve up realistic beef and chicken produced from plant protein. And, within a few years, the printers are likely to be available to buy so that consumers can produce their own at home.
Layers of material are built up by 3D printers until there is a solid object conforming to very precise specifications. The meat can be produced either from vegetable matter or from animal cells grown in a lab. The printer uses these raw ingredients, which come in a Nespresso-style cartridge, to build up a steak or chicken fillet that tastes like the real thing.
Well, if it tastes like the real thing, it has to be good for you … just like those corn-oil margarines that tasted like butter.
Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, co-founder and CEO of Israeli firm Redefine Meat, said switching to printed meat would have huge ecological benefits. “The biggest reason for going to alternative meat is because of the future of our planet,” he said. “We can recycle, drive electric cars, we can shower less, but these changes can’t compete with reducing consumption by one hamburger per week.”
Stop eating real meat To Save The Planet! I’m sure Walter Willett approves.
If I ever print “realistic beef” at home, I’m going to make sure it includes a big label that reads Hey, Dumbass! Don’t eat this @#$%!
The Impossible Carrot?
Every time I see a Burger King ad for the plant-based “Impossible Burger,” I shake my head. After reading the list of ingredients, I think it’s impossible this frankfenfoood is good for you. So I chuckled when I read that Arby’s is going in the opposite direction:
Arby’s is turning the plant-based meat craze on its head by testing meat-based plants.
The company says it has produced a new meat-vegetable hybrid food category called “megetables.” It’s an obvious troll against its fast food rivals, including Burger King, McDonald’s and a dozen or so others, which are adding plant-based meat alternatives to their menus.
First from the Arby’s test kitchen is the “Marrot,” a meat-carrot made of turkey breast sliced into the shape of a carrot. It’s then sous vide for an hour and rubbed down in a “special carrot marinade” made of dried carrot juice powder. It’s then topped with a maple syrup powder, oven-roasted for an hour and topped with a parsley to “give it the full carrot effect,” Arby’s said.
I wish the Marrot had been around when my mom insisted I eat my vegetables.
Arby’s has publicly vowed in the past to not add fake meat to its menu. The Inspire Brands-owned company said it wasn’t interested in selling Impossible Foods’ products, noting the “chances we will bring plant-based menu items to our restaurants, now or in the future, are absolutely impossible.”
I’ve been to an Arby’s in years. I may have patronize them again … unless they start printing their meats.
It’s bucking the trend, as interest in plant-based protein is on the rise. Meat eaters are looking to diversify their diets to be healthier and reduce their impact on the environment.
Uh … no, I’m not.
Take Two Hikes And Call Me In The Morning
This headline from BigThink grabbed my attention: Doctors in Scotland can now prescribe nature to their patients.
Since October 5, doctors in Shetland, Scotland, have been authorized to prescribe nature to their patients. It’s thought to be the first program of its kind in the U.K., and seeks to reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and increase happiness for those with diabetes, a mental illness, stress, heart disease, and more.
They’ve been authorized since October 5 … maybe someone from across the pond can clarify, but does that mean before October 5, they were prohibited from prescribing nature? Could doctors get into some kind of trouble for telling patients to go outdoors and enjoy nature? If so, that’s nearly as ridiculous as dietitians in South Africa filing charges against a doctor for tweeting that babies should be weaned onto LCHF real foods.
Anyway, some of the specific advice is certainly interesting:
There is a whole leaflet of nature prescription suggestions that accompanies the program, filled with amusing, charming, sometimes seemingly off-kilter suggestions: in February, you can make a windsock from a hoop and material to “appreciate the speed of the wind”; in March, you can make beach art from natural materials or “borrow a dog and take it for a walk”; in April, you can “touch the sea” and “make a bug hotel”; in May, you can “bury your face in the grass”; in July, you can “pick two different kinds of grass and really look at them”; in August, you can summon a worm out of the ground without digging or using water; in September, you can help clean the beach and prepare a meal outdoors; in October, you can “appreciate a cloud”; you can “talk to a pony” in November, “feed the birds in your garden” in December, and do so much more. All on doctor’s orders.
On any day of the year when the weather allow for it, you can play golf outdoors and look for birdies. That’s the advice I’ve been giving myself — and my blood pressure is outstanding, according to my doctor.
Stand Up For Yourselves, Men
Years ago, my former comedy partner Tim Slagle and I imagined a future world in which eating meat was outlawed. But we also noticed a problem with parodying the loony left’s Grand Plans: give it enough time, and the loony left will turn parody into reality.
We’re not quite at the stage yet where meat is outlawed. But in one of our (ahem) “news” shows, we had a story that in the interest of gender equality, men had been banned from standing while urinating. Total parody, right? It’ll never happen.
Check out these quotes from an article in the Huffington Post:
Male representatives on the Sormland County Council in Sweden should sit rather than stand while urinating in office restrooms, according to a motion advanced by the local Left Party.
Known as a socialist and feminist organization, the party claims that seated urination is more hygienic for men — the practice decreases the likelihood of puddles and other unwanted residue forming in the stall — in addition to being better for a man’s health by more effectively emptying one’s bladder, The Local reported.
But not everyone agrees.
Really? Someone dares to disagree with a Grand Plan? Has he been banned from social media yet? Well, all right, let’s see what this Neanderthal’s objection is.
“Men scatter urine not so much during the actual urination as during the ‘shaking off’ that follows,” John Gamel, a professor at the University of Louisville, wrote while addressing the issue in 2009. “As a result, forcing men to sit while emptying their bladders will serve little purpose, since no man wants to shake himself off while remaining seated on the toilet.”
He wrote about the issue. Sounds like a good use of a college professor’s time.
A representative from the party said he hopes to move toward sitting only bathrooms.
With an armed guard to make sure men don’t stand in front of the “sitting only” toilet to pee in it.
You’re Such An Animal When You’ve Been Drinking
This article from an ABC station in Florida wins the prize for the ultimate “hold my beer” story of 2019.
Two men are facing charges after authorities say they caught an alligator and poured beer into its mouth in Palm City, Florida.
Police arrested Timothy Kepke and Noah Osborne last week. The arrests came in response to an August complaint to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about a video of the incident on social media.
I know their real names are Tim and Noah, but I’m invoking editorial license and referring to them as Bert and Ernie from here on.
“Hey, Bert, I’m bored. Let’s say we catch an alligator and get it to drink some beer.”
“Great idea, Ernie. And then we should post a video of ourselves doing it! We’ll be famous!”
The video obtained by WPBF appears to show Kepke attempting to get the alligator to bite his arm. When it does, Kepke pours beer down the animal’s throat.
“How we gonna get a beer into this big fella’s mouth, Ernie? We gonna stick it inside a ham or something?”
“No, that’s too derned expensive. I got an idea. I’ll just wave my arm around in front of his big, powerful jaws. Then when he opens his mouth to bite off my arm, I’ll pour in the beer!”
“Sounds like a good plan, Ernie. But we should be smart about this and ask ourselves if anything could go wrong. Can you think of anything?”
“Hmmm … well, if he’s trashing around trying to bite off my arm, I could miss his mouth. That would be a waste of a good beer.”
I’m trying to figure out why in the heck anyone would want to get an alligator drunk. How would you even know when the alligator is drunk? As far as I can tell, when alligators aren’t swimming underwater looking for things to kill and eat, they sit around slowly opening and closing their eyes and generally being inert. Toss in picking up a TV remote now and then, and that’s pretty much what I do when I’m drunk.
“What’s he doing now, Bert?”
“He’s just sitting there.”
“Boy, we really got him @#$%-faced, didn’t we?”
I can only assume one of these guys has high blood pressure and, after visiting a Scottish doctor, was told to go out and enjoy nature.
Titans Stun The Ravens
The Tennessee Titans shut down the highest-scoring offense in the NFL on Saturday night and won 28-12 to advance to the AFC Championship game. That has nothing to do with diet or health, and it’s not news from 2019. I just never get tired of saying it.