Fat HeadFat Head wrote the following post Wed, 06 Jun 2018 18:52:02 -0400
The Magic Pill And The Anointed
As I wrote in my review, The Magic Pill is a beautiful film that shows how switching to a paleo diet produces astounding improvements in health for a handful of... Read more »
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Is a medical test that is right 99.9% of the time good enough? It depends.

Let's take two examples. Both have tests that are 99.9% accurate. One tests a condition affecting 1% of the population and one tests a condition affecting 0.001% of the population (1 in 100,000).

After testing there will be 4 groups of people:
True Negative (TN) -- people that don't have the condition and tested correctly
False Positive (FP) -- people that don't have the condition and tested incorrectly
True Positive (TP) -- people that do have the condition and tested correctly
False Negative (FN) -- people that do have the condition and tested incorrectly

Let's see how the numbers work out in our two scenarios.

Scenario 1

Chance of having the condition: .01
Chance of test being correct: .999

TN = .99 * .999 = 0.98901 = 98.901% of the population
FP = .99 * .001 = 0.00099 =  0.099% of the population
TP = .01 * .999 = 0.00999 =  0.999% of the population
FN = .01 * .001 = 0.00001 =  0.001% of the population

Overall, the test was right 99.9% of the time. Of course, since that was a given. But, let's look at the correctness of the negative and positive results independently.

Negative results come back 98.901% (true) and 0.001% (false) of the time. Taking just that negative population, the results are true 99.999% of the time and false 0.001% of the time. So, if you get a negative result, it is probably correct.

Positive results come back 0.999% (true) and 0.099% (false) of the time. Taking just that positive population, the results are true 90.984% of the time and false 9.016% of the time. Well, that's not a slam dunk, but it is probably correct.

Let's take the case of the rarer condition.

Scenario 2

Chance of having the condition: .00001
Chance of test being correct: .999

TN = .99999 * .999 = 0.99899001 = 99.899001% of the population
FP = .99999 * .001 = 0.00099999 =  0.099999% of the population
TP = .00001 * .999 = 0.00000999 =  0.000999% of the population
FN = .00001 * .001 = 0.00000001 =  0.000001% of the population

Negative results come back 99.899001% (true) and 0.000001% (false) of the time. Taking just that negative population, the results are true 99.99999999% of the time and false 0.00000001% of the time. So, if you get a negative results, it has a really, really good chance of being correct!

Positive results come back 0.000999% (true) and 0.099999% (false) of the time. Taking just that positive population, the results are true 0.989% of the time and false 99.911% of the time. Whoa now! What is going on??

Because this condition is so rare, the false positive population greatly outnumber the true positive population even when the test is 99.9% accurate.

If you are testing a rare condition, you need an test as accurate as the condition is rare before you should use it to blindly test everyone and prescribe treatment on that result.

This is counter-intuitive to most patients and doctors.
This is counter-intuitive to most patients and doctors.
It is so true !

Statistics is not at all my favorite playground. It is so trikky and, yes, like in your example, counter-intuitive.
I think the situation you've described very well is called False positive paradox

In this context, I found a useful source about health statistics also for non-healthcare professionals:
Know Your Chances (pdf)
Looking for that article would have saved me a lot of time composing that message, LOL!

Another innumeracy which throws people off (frequently on purpose by people marketing solutions) is absolute vs relative risk.

If treatment X can reduce your chances of having some condition from 0.02% to 0.01% and treatment Y can reduce your chance of an equally dangerous condition from 0.5% to 0.4%, which should you consider more effective in reducing your overall risk?

The marketing for X and Y will claim relative risk reduction by 50% and 20%, respectively, because those are bigger numbers which will catch your attention, but in absolute terms X is reducing your risk by 0.01% and Y is reducing your risk by 0.1%. Relative to each other, that is a 10 times advantage for the one with the smaller relative risk reduction.

Not as counter-intuitive as the false positive example, but anyone who watches American TV is bombarded by these relative risk statistics all the time in drug ads.
Facts are stubborn things but statistics are more pliable (Mark Twain)
Seems apropos in light of more school shootings since this went online.

Peak ProsperityPeak Prosperity wrote the following post Mon, 30 Apr 2018 12:13:14 -0400
Robert Whitaker: America's Prescription Drug Epidemic
Robert Whitaker: America's Prescription Drug Epidemic


The United States has one of the highest rates in the world of prescription drug use, especially for the psychiatric and anti-anxiety drug classes:
  • 1 in 6 Americans takes a psychiatric drug
  • Over a 130,000 U.S. toddlers, children between zero and five years of age, are prescribed addictive anti-anxiety drugs including the wildly-addictive and difficult to stop using benzodiazepines
  • A very high proportion of the school shootings in the U.S. were committed by young adults on such drugs.
The benefits of these drugs are marketed to us daily, but what about the downsides? What about the side effects? More importantly, do they even work?

Join the conversation »

Image/photo Image/photo Image/photo Image/photo
Interesting - I hadn't seen the shootings discussed from that angle before.
Cod and ‘Immune Broth’: California Tests Food as Medicine

A state-funded clinical trial will test whether nutritious daily meals for chronically ill people can improve health and reduce medical costs.
30 Ways to Save Money + Eat Healthy on a Budget | Root + Revel

Eating organic can be expensive, but we've got 30 clever, easy ways to help you save money + eat healthy on a budget.

How Big Government Backed Bad Science Made Americans Fat
by ReasonTV on YouTube
Length: 18:04
"Government made a big mistake with the dietary guidelines," says Nina Teicholz, author of New York Times bestseller The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. "Given the track record that they have so far, you can really make a plausible argument that they've done more harm than good."

Consumption of meat, butter, eggs, and cheese were once encouraged as part of a healthy diet. Then in the 1950s, a Minnesota doctor named Ancel Keys put forth his diet-heart hypothesis, claiming that saturated fats raise cholesterol levels and cause heart attacks.

Keys produced landmark studies of the relationship between diet and heart disease that transformed nutrition science. He became a powerful figure in the science community. Contemporaries who publicly questioned the validity of his findings risked losing their research funding or becoming pariahs. When the U.S. adopted dietary guidelines in 1980, Keys' recommendations became enshrined in national food policy.

"We have made our policy based upon this weak kind of science called epidemiology which shows association, but not causation," Teicholz explains. "We have the situation where we just cannot reverse out of these policies that were originally based on really weak science."

Keys' flawed research is one reason Americans have been getting fatter and unhealthier for decades. Despite major advances in treatment, heart disease is still the leading cause of death for men and women.

"The really dominant view is that the dietary guidelines are good...and the reason America is fat and sick is that America has failed to follow them," Teicholz says. "That's when you start looking at the data...By every food category you can find, we have faithfully, dutifully followed the guidelines."

Today the science behind Keys' dietary findings is once again being challenged. Teicholz has launched the Nutrition Coalition, which aims to inform food policy with rigorous science.

"Our goal is educate people about how the dietary guidelines have not been successful...and to bring this alternative policy viewpoint to policy makers," says Teicholz. "More and more experts are willing to talk out about the science, and I think that will support change."
One of the things that concerns me most is shown here -- the processed foods category. I was hoping to find a graph showing this over time, but after a few minutes looking, this was the best I could do.


And then there is this:


Which I think leads to this:


American Diabetes Association wrote:
The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2017 is $327 billion, including $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in reduced productivity. For the cost categories analyzed, care for people with diagnosed diabetes accounts for 1 in 4 health care dollars in the U.S., and more than half of that expenditure is directly attributable to diabetes. People with diagnosed diabetes incur average medical expenditures of ∼$16,750 per year, of which ∼$9,600 is attributed to diabetes. People with diagnosed diabetes, on average, have medical expenditures ∼2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes. Indirect costs include increased absenteeism ($3.3 billion) and reduced productivity while at work ($26.9 billion) for the employed population, reduced productivity for those not in the labor force ($2.3 billion), inability to work because of disease-related disability ($37.5 billion), and lost productivity due to 277,000 premature deaths attributed to diabetes ($19.9 billion).

These are the trends that scare the crap out of me. When I was a kid, type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes) was a disease of old people. Now, even children are starting to get it because of the crappy diet they eat. The CDC estimates that 1 in 11 Americans has diabetes and 1 in 3 has pre-diabetes. What is that going to look like in 20 years? The US already spends 17% of GDP on heathcare (sickcare). How high will this go? Will 1/4 or 1/3 of the entire economy have to be dedicated to medical care to compensate for the processed crap we eat instead of real food? These were the things going through my mind when I wrote my extreme-sounding comment yesterday.
I have given up on the "big picture", I believe we know what is wrong and we need to give a viable alternative. When people say healthy meals are "too expensive", I want to slam the cost of 31 different healthy affordable breakfasts, 31 lunches, 31 dinners and 31 suppers on the table.
It also doesn't help when they believe the "back of the cereal box" version of a "healthy meal"

Big Food and Big Pharma: Killing for Profit?
by EFDD Group on YouTube

A recent presentation at the European Parliament.
Fat HeadFat Head wrote the following post Thu, 05 Apr 2018 18:59:41 -0400
Now For The Good News: Young Doctors Want To Learn About Nutrition
If you’re a health and nutrition nerd (and if you’re reading this blog, you probably are), you may have had a frustrating experience that goes something like this: a friend... Read more »
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Having had this as an interest for 7 years now, I feel the same way about the likely comparison between myself and my doctor with regard to nutrition. Hmm, maybe that is why he has told me he would gladly trade his bloodwork results for mine.
The road to Alzheimer’s disease is lined with processed foods

Dementia haunts the United States. There’s no one without a personal story about how dementia has touched someone they care for. But beyond personal stories, the broader narrative is staggering: By 2050, we are on track to have almost 15 million Alzheimer’s patients in the US alone. That’s roughly the population of NYC, Los Angeles, and Chicago combined. Now add a few more cities to take care of them.

It’s an epidemic that’s already underway—but we don’t recognize it as such. The popular conception of Alzheimer’s is as an inevitable outcome of aging, bad genes, or both.

From a scientist’s perspective, it’s important to remind everyone that we all once believed the same thing about cancer. But just a few days ago, doctors around the world have been considerably shaken up by the breaking news linking cancer to processed foods. In a large-scale study, researchers found that a 10% increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods led to a 12% increase in overall cancer events.

At the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical, this latest cancer research had our full attention. The findings line up so closely with research in the field, including our own work, linking diet and risk of Alzheimer’s—and underscore how important lifestyle changes can be to delaying or even avoiding the onset of the disease.
Thanks, the link to the cancer study the article mentions is also very interesting!!
Fat HeadFat Head wrote the following post Thu, 29 Mar 2018 21:53:32 -0400
If You Don’t Trust Doctors, You’ll Die From Ebola.  Or Something Like That.
One of the best books I’ve read in the past few years is Undoctored by Dr. William Davis. As I explained in my review, I drove up to Wisconsin to... Read more »
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The Urban Monk Podcast : What the Heck Should I Eat with Guest Dr. Mark Hyman
Diets are hard. Not even in the weight loss sense, but just in the general idea of the general foods a person should eat to be generally healthy. We're told that fats make us fat, but then someone else comes along to say that fats actually help to lose weight. Salt is bad, but someone else says it's fine. Gluten will mess you up, but someone else says, "Maybe in moderation you'll survive." What is it?? Dr. Mark Hyman joins Pedram Shojai on The Urban Monk to discuss the confusing, confounding, conflicting messages regarding what to eat. Who should we listen to? What do all the various food studies mean? What the heck should we eat?

This is about 30 minutes long. The parts I found the most interesting weren't the things mentioned in the summary, but rather the discussion of the big picture issues, the "inconvenient truths" of our processed food system.

Gary Taubes on How Big Government Made Us Fat
by ReasonTV on YouTube

The attack on fatty foods, in favor of carbohydrates, contributed to rising rates of obesity and diabetes.
Diet DoctorDiet Doctor wrote the following post Thu, 08 Mar 2018 07:40:37 -0500
Massively important: A unique opportunity to change the US Dietary Guidelines
Massively important: A unique opportunity to change the US Dietary Guidelines

For about 40 years, the US government has advocated a high-carb diet (to needlessly lower intake of natural saturated fats).

During the exact same time period, we’ve suffered an unprecedented epidemic of obesity, type 2 diabetes and related diseases. In a few decades, the prevalence of obesity has tripled in most countries, and the rise in type 2 diabetes is even more extreme. This epidemic started in the US, but has spread around the world, as most nations has followed the US with the same high-carb diet advice.


Moderne science shows that high-carb diets can be negative for people’s weight and blood glucose levels, especially when containing sugar and refined carbs like our modern Western diet. Low-carb diets regularly show better results for weight loss (demonstrated in at least 31 RCT studies). Modern science also disproves the failed ideas behind the war on natural fats.

Now, we have a unique opportunity to right this wrong, to stop the epidemics of obesity and disease, to make the world a healthier place.

There’s now an opportunity to reform these obsolete and failed US dietary guidelines. This could mark a critical point to change the future of the entire world, as other nations tend to follow the lead of the US.

You could make an important difference.

Last week the US government announced that for the next version of those guidelines, in 2020, it will focus on selective topics that need to be reviewed in light of updated science. This list of topics – amazingly – includes both the low-carbohydrate diet and saturated fats, The USDA has asked for public comments on these topics. Please submit yours!

The deadline is just a few weeks away – March 30th. Many people supporting these obsolete fat-phobic and carb-heavy guidelines will likely comment, so more updated views need to be represented as well. Please participate and help change this. It can make a huge difference for us all.

Here’s how to quickly add a comment, or encourage others to do it via your Facebook or Twitter account:

Nutrition Coalition: How to submit a public comment on the Dietary Guidelines

Thank you!

The post Massively important: A unique opportunity to change the US Dietary Guidelines appeared first on Diet Doctor.
Untax healthcare

We’re launching a new campaign to untax healthcare. Our proposal would make all healthcare expenditures tax-deductible, including insurance premiums and preventive measures, such as supplements and fitness clubs. It would also create unlimited HSAs (Health Savings Accounts).
Fat HeadFat Head wrote the following post Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:22:39 -0500
Dear Dietitians of South Africa: You Look Like @$$holes Right Now
Dear Dietitians of South Africa: You Look Like @$$holes Right Now

Dear Dietitians of South Africa –

Take a look at this brief clip from the movie Boogie Nights:

by reaction flv on YouTube

That character, like many in the film, is a doofus. But he nonetheless possesses a capacity Nature provides to (most) humans as a useful form of self-correction: namely, he recognizes when he looks like an @$$hole.

I look like an @$$hole right now!, like guilt, is uncomfortable to experience but also crucial for the well-being of both individuals and society as a whole. When people are devoid of the capacity for guilt, they become sociopaths. When people are devoid of the capacity to recognize I look like an @$$hole right now!, they engage in behaviors that prompt normal people to shake their heads and say, What the @#$% does that @$$hole think he’s doing?!

Dietitians of South Africa, you look like @$$holes right now — and not just in your own country. Trust me, countless people around the world are watching your ongoing attempt to prosecute Professor Tim Noakes and saying to themselves (and everyone else), Holy @#$%! Why don’t those @$$holes just accept that they lost and leave the guy alone?

I realize it’s difficult for @$$holes to recognize their own @$$hole behavior — after all, that’s the root of the problem. So I’ll take the opposite approach and explain how people who aren’t @$$holes view this entire sorry episode. You won’t change your minds or behavior, of course, but perhaps you’ll understand why if people recognize you on the street, they stop and whisper to each other, “Hey, look! There’s one of those @$$holes who kept going after Tim Noakes.”

Things people who aren’t @$$holes understand, but you don’t:

1. Nobody should be prosecuted for answering a question tweeted to him by a fan.

I won’t even bother explaining that one.

2. It isn’t necessary to prosecute people who offer contrary dietary advice if they’re actually wrong.

People seek alternative dietary advice for exactly one reason: they want better results than they’ve gotten with other diets. Tim Noakes recommends a diet he believes helps people become leaner and healthier. If he’s wrong, people will discover that for themselves. They’ll flock to the internet to warn others that a low-carb, high-fat diet made them sicker and fatter or whatever.

But of course, that isn’t happening.  Instead, people are flocking to the internet to describe how switching to the kind of diet Noakes recommends has changed their lives for the better.  That’s how it happens in a marketplace of ideas: bad advice eventually gets squeezed out by advice that actually works.  Obviously, that scares the hell out of you.

3. Tim Noakes isn’t your real problem. Results are your real problem.

Yes, I know you want to believe that people are questioning the standard dietary advice because of Tim Noakes. But as much as I applaud his work, he’s not the reason people are turning away from you. They’re turning away from you because they’re not happy with the results of the advice you offer.

Noakes is just one of countless conduits for advice that just flat-out works for many, many people. In an age of nearly unlimited access to information, people who are frustrated with the standard dietary advice are going to seek and find alternative advice.

4. There’s no positive outcome to your continued harassment of Tim Noakes.

You seem to believe that if you keep prosecuting until you get a guilty verdict, people are going to say to themselves, Oh, so Noakes was found guilty this time? Well then, those dietitians must have been right all along. I’m going to go back to the diet they recommend.

No, that isn’t going to happen. You apparently don’t realize it yet, but the days of people simply kowtowing to supposed experts are over. Nassim Nicholas Taleb put it rather nicely in the opening of an essay describing what he calls The Intellectual Yet Idiot:
What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

You will not regain any respect by prosecuting Noakes. In fact, the more likely result is that more people will view you the way Dr. Malcolm Kendrick described the medical establishment in his book Doctoring Data:
I feel they are like those highly decorated generals in North Korea with the funny hats. They look splendid and important, but the only point of their existence is to suppress dissent and keep an idiotic regime in place.

Maybe you’ll get your precious guilty verdict this time around. I pray you don’t. But either way, nearly everyone who becomes aware of this ongoing harassment of a principled scientist will see you as a bush-league version of The Spanish Inquisition.

You look like @$$holes right now. Your failure to recognize that makes you your own worst enemies.

Fat HeadFat Head wrote the following post Mon, 12 Feb 2018 20:07:34 -0500
Dietitians Want Their Bad Advice To Be The Only Advice: A Tale of Three Twitties
Dietitians Want Their Bad Advice To Be The Only Advice: A Tale of Three Twitties

Actually, this post is about three tweets, but A Tale of Three Twitties is catchier.

I came across the three tweets on the same day, and together they tell the story of what’s wrong with the current dietary advice and The Anointed who promote it.

The first tweet included a link to a recent study in which a low-carbohydrate diet was used to treat type 2 diabetics. Here’s a quote from the summary:
The purpose of this study was to evaluate if a new care model with very low dietary carbohydrate intake and continuous supervision by a health coach and doctor could safely lower HbA1c, weight and need for medicines after 1 year in adults with T2D. 262 adults with T2D volunteered to participate in this continuous care intervention (CCI) along with 87 adults with T2D receiving usual care (UC) from their doctors and diabetes education program. After 1 year, patients in the CCI, on average, lowered HbA1c from 7.6 to 6.3%, lost 12% of their body weight, and reduced diabetes medicine use. 94% of patients who were prescribed insulin reduced or stopped their insulin use, and sulfonylureas were eliminated in all patients.

Lower blood sugar, lower body weight, and 94% of the patients reduced or even eliminated the need for insulin treatment.  Awesome. All patients were able to discontinue sulfonylureas, which are drugs that stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin. Since all drugs have side effects, I looked up the side effects of sulfonylureas. Here’s what I found on a UK diabetes site:
Sulphonylureas are not recommended for people who are overweight or obese, as their mode of action (increase in insulin production and secretion) means that weight gain can be a relatively common side effect.

Funny, isn’t it? The fact that elevated insulin triggers weight gain seems to be accepted as a given by everyone except many (ahem) weight-loss experts.

I doubt the results of this study surprise you.  Quite a few clinical studies, like this one and this one, have shown similar results.

If you’ve got high blood sugar because of insulin resistance, cutting way back on the carbs can work wonders. I know it, you know it, countless personal trainers know it, everyone who’s read a book on low-carb diets knows it, gazillions of people who’ve done their own research online know it. Seems as if the only people who don’t know it are a helluvalotta doctors and nearly all dietitians.

Which brings us to the second tweet. That one included a link to a Dear Dietitian column in a county newspaper. If you have a tendency to bang your head on your desk when reading incredibly stupid advice from registered dietitians, you might want to don a helmet before continuing.

Okay, you were warned. Here goes:
Dear Dietitian,

I was recently diagnosed with diabetes. I’m trying to watch my diet, and have cut out most carbs, but if I eat a slice of white bread, my blood sugar goes up to 200! What gives?

Dear Frustrated,

First of all, try to be patient. This is a major lifestyle change, and it cannot be accomplished in a couple of weeks. It will take at least six weeks to become accustomed to the new diet, and it won’t be perfect. Secondly, there is no need to remove carbs from your diet. Carbs are a great source of energy and are very satisfying. Anyone who has diabetes should be able to consume 12 to 15 servings of carbohydrate foods each day while maintaining healthy blood glucose levels.

Head. Bang. On. Desk.

How the @#$% is someone with type 2 diabetes supposed to maintain a healthy glucose level while eating 15 servings of carbohydrate per day?! Well, you know the answer to that one:
Another important component for good diabetes management is to obtain the right medicine to lower your blood glucose levels.

Eat your 12 to 15 servings of carbohydrate per day (a great source of energy!), then beat down your blood sugar with more insulin. That’s how dietitians are trained to think. When Chareva’s father was in the hospital for surgery some months back, he was of course given meals approved by the staff dietitian. For breakfast, he was served pancakes with maple syrup … but no butter on those pancakes, because butter will kill ya, doncha know.

These registered imbeciles believe that if you shoot enough insulin to beat your blood sugar down to the normal range, it means you’re okay now — same as if you kept your blood sugar in the normal range by cutting back on the carbs instead.

No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, damnit, it’s not the same.

If you’re a type 1 diabetic and you need injections to achieve a normal level of insulin, that’s fine.  You’re just replacing what your body fails to produce.

But if you’re a type 2 diabetic and you have to inject yourself with extra-high doses of insulin so you can eat those great source of energy carbs, there are consequences. High insulin triggers weight gain. It thickens your arteries. It screws up the balance of your sex hormones. It likely promotes the growth of tumors. Telling insulin-resistant people to eat all those carbs and then shoot ever-higher doses of insulin is insane.

But that’s what dietitians are trained to recommend, which is why so many fat, sick, frustrated people are going elsewhere for dietary advice. Naturally, The Anointed don’t like it when the masses refuse to listen to them.

Which brings us to the third tweet. That one included a link to a video posted by the president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Here’s the official description:

President Lucille Beseler, MS, RDN, LDN. CDE, FAND, offers members ways to protect the public’s health (and the nutrition and dietetics profession) from “disruptors” – competitors who offer lower-quality care and less-comprehensive services.

I’d prefer to embed the video in the post, but can’t. You can watch it on this page — and please don’t leave any snarky comments here or elsewhere about Ms. Beseler’s size. No need to go for the cheap shot.

Ms. Beseler is encouraging members to keep an eye out for people who give non-approved dietary advice and report these “disruptors” to state licensing boards … to protect the public’s health, of course.

Yes, because lord only knows what will happen to the millions of type 2 diabetics in the country if they aren’t told to eat their 12 to 15 servings of carbohydrates per day and then shoot up with more insulin.

Let’s take the official description of the video and edit it to reflect the true purpose:

President Lucille Beseler offers members ways to protect the nutrition and dietetics profession from competitors.

This is nothing new, mind you. As Adam Smith pointed out way back in 1776 when he wrote The Wealth of Nations, regulations that are supposedly passed to protect the poor, helpless public are often nothing more than a means to stifle competition — which screws the poor, helpless public.

In what has to be the most outlandish example I’ve ever seen, Illinois passed a regulation requiring anyone who braids hair for a fee to first obtain a cosmetology license. (If you think I’m kidding, read this.) Apparently the regulation was passed after hundreds of people were rushed to emergency rooms suffering from badly-braided hair.

Here’s how it should happen in a supposedly free country: People who give dietary advice that works attract more customers who are willing to pay them. People whose dietary advice doesn’t work lose customers. A license granted by The Anointed shouldn’t figure into the equation either way. If health coaches, personal trainers and other “disruptors” are giving advice that doesn’t work, then the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has no cause for concern. Word will get around.

But of course, that’s the problem: the word has gotten around. Dietitians are still telling diabetics to eat their carbs and shoot more insulin — perhaps because the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics receives generous support from the makers of industrial foods. Their advice is garbage, so people are seeking and finding alternative advice that actually works — as demonstrated by clinical studies and the experiences of millions. That makes the alternative advice a threat, so the dietitians want government licensing boards to stifle the “disruptors” who offer it.

And that’s where we’re at.  A Tale of Three Twitties tells pretty much the whole story.

Healthy lifestyle could prevent half of all cancer deaths
If people in the U.S. adopted a healthy lifestyle—not smoking, drinking in moderation, maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising regularly—half of all cancer deaths and close to half of all cancer diagnoses could potentially be prevented, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
What's wrong with cabbage soup? ;-)
Maybe I don't know enough about the cabbage soup lifestyle! :-)

(living in Florida, I should have used my other example -- the grapefruit diet lifestyle)
My favorite is the kiwifruit diet. Everything except kiwi ;-)
Fat HeadFat Head wrote the following post Mon, 05 Feb 2018 20:13:37 -0500
Jane Brody And The American Heart Association Bravely Admit They’ve Been Right All Along
Jane Brody And The American Heart Association Bravely Admit They’ve Been Right All Along

The strategy is clear now. The American Heart Association, terrified that the Wisdom of Crowds effect is causing more and more people to reject their arterycloggingsaturatedfat! nonsense, has decided to leverage what Josef Stalin referred to as useful idiots — i.e., people who can be counted on to swallow and spread the party’s propaganda.

Step one: produce a Presidential Advisory Report that concludes we were right all along about the dangers of saturated fats.

Step two: do interviews with media types who have been on the anti-fat bandwagon for years … because if we were right all along, it means they were right all along too. They’ll dutifully promote the message without asking pesky questions.

For decades, one of the biggest cheerleaders for the low-fat diet has been Jane Brody of the New York Times. Gary Taubes mentioned her several times in Good Calories, Bad Calories. I wrote a post about her battle with “high” cholesterol back in 2009. You can read the post for the full details, but these quotes capture Ms. Brody’s apparent immunity to cognitive dissonance:
Ms. Brody’s cholesterol panic began when a routine test revealed her total cholesterol to be 222. (So much for a low-fat diet keeping cholesterol down.) Since she just knows that a “heart healthy” level should be below 200, Ms. Brody dutifully stopped eating cheese and went on a diet to lose a few pounds.

But – horrors! – when she underwent another test a few months later, her cholesterol had risen to 236, and her LDL had gone up, not down. Now, you’d think someone with a functioning brain would pause at this point and wonder if perhaps the whole low-fat diet theory is load of bologna. But not Ms. Brody. After all, she’s been telling her readers for decades to cut the fat, cut the fat, cut the fat.

So she cut the fat. She stopped eating red meat, switched to low-fat ice cream, took fish oil, and increased her fiber intake. In other words, she did just about everything she’s been telling her readers they must do to prevent heart disease.

And boy, what wondrous results! Her next test revealed that her cholesterol had risen to 248, and her LDL was up yet again.

If this were a horror movie, we’d all be screaming at the screen, “Don’t go through that door, you freakin’ idiot! Everyone who went through that door ended up hanging on a meat hook!”

But Ms. Brody went through the door. Mere paragraphs after recounting how her low-fat diet failed utterly to bring down her cholesterol, she reminded her readers how important it is to exercise more and cut the saturated fat from their diets. She even informed us that a former roommate lowered her cholesterol by becoming a vegetarian. (“See, this diet made my cholesterol worse, but I know someone who had good results, so you should do exactly what didn’t work for me. Okay?”)

Finally, Ms. Brody reported that despite having some reservations, she began taking a cholesterol-lowering drug. And lo and behold, her cholesterol went down! (At this point in the story, you are allowed to scream, “Of course your cholesterol went down! That’s why it’s called a cholesterol-lowering drug!”)

Perfect example of the phenomenon described in Mistakes Were Made (but not by me). Her own experience demonstrated that restricting saturated fat (which she believes is good for the heart) caused her cholesterol to shoot up (which she believes is bad for the heart). That’s the point where a person blessed with a healthy capacity for skepticism would question the entire theory. But Brody can’t question the theory because she’s been a very public promoter of it. So she dutifully took a statin and declared victory over the cholesterol monster.

Yup, if I were the American Heart Association and needed a useful idiot to explain why we were right all along, that’s who I’d choose. So let’s look at some quotes from the useful idiot’s article, which appeared recently in the New York Times.
The media love contrarian man-bites-dog stories that purport to debunk long-established beliefs and advice. Among the most popular on the health front are reports that saturated fats do not cause heart disease and that the vegetable oils we’ve been encouraged to use instead may actually promote it.

Ah, I see. The belief that saturated fats aren’t the problem is just a man-bites-dog story … instead of, say, the result of new research. Or of countless people learning through experience that low-fat diets didn’t work for them. (Hey, Ms. Brody, remember what happened to your cholesterol numbers when you kept cutting the saturated fat from your diet?)
So before you succumb to wishful thinking that you can eat well-marbled steaks, pork ribs and full-fat dairy products with abandon, you’d be wise to consider the findings of what is probably the most comprehensive, commercially untainted review of the dietary fat literature yet published. They are found in a 26-page advisory prepared for the American Heart Association and published last June by a team of experts led by Dr. Frank M. Sacks.

Ms. Brody thinks the American Heart Association produced the most commercially untainted review yet? You mean the organization whose very existence depends on generous support from the makers of low-fat foods? The organization that will dry up and blow away the day after the arterycloggingsaturatedfat! theory dies?

Pardon me while I go laugh my @$$ off for several minutes …

… Okay, I’m back. Let’s continue:
As documented in the new advisory, misleading conclusions that saturated fats do not affect the risk of developing and dying from cardiovascular diseases have largely resulted from studies that were done in good faith but failed to take into account what people who avoided saturated fats ate in their place.

For example, in a study of 252 British men who had suffered heart attacks, following a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet reduced cholesterol levels by a meager 5 percent and had virtually no effect on future heart attacks. The carbohydrates they ate were mainly refined, low-fiber flours and sugars that promote weight gain and diabetes, two leading risk factors for heart disease.

In North America and Europe, the team noted, the effect of lowering saturated fat was essentially negated by people’s consumption of more “refined grains, fruit juice, sweet desserts and snacks, sugar-sweetened beverages, and other foods” that hardly promote good health.

Wait … you mean when people cut back on saturated fat, they consumed more refined grains, fruit juices and sugars? Boy, I don’t know how people could have gotten the AHA’s advice so very wrong.




Yes, it’s true: the AHA has finally stopped putting its logo on sugar-laden cereals and other sugary foods. Only took them a few decades. But let’s think about this …

The AHA jumped on the arterycloggingsaturatedfat! bandwagon after Ancel Keys joined the organization’s board. Keys, as you probably know, waged a very bitter and very personal war of words against British researcher John Yudkin throughout the 1970s. Why? Because Yudkin insisted it was sugar causing heart disease, not saturated fat. Keys replied over and over, in paper after paper, No, damnit, the problem isn’t sugar, it’s saturated fat!

Here’s a quote from Keys himself:
It is clear that Yudkin has no theoretical basis or experimental evidence to support his claim for a major influence of dietary sucrose in the etiology of CHD; his claim that men who have CHD are excessive sugar eaters is nowhere confirmed but is disproved by many studies superior in methodology and/or magnitude to his own; and his “evidence” from population statistics and time trends will not bear up under the most elementary critical examination.

There you have it. The man who steered the American Heart Association onto its anti-saturated-fat path insisted that sugar doesn’t cause heart disease and the very idea had already been disproved.

So now that cutting back on saturated fat has failed to reduce heart disease in several clinical studies, how does Dr. Frank Sucks … er, Sacks and the American Heart Association explain away the embarrassing results? Like this:

Uh, yeah, but … uh … ya see … uh, that only happened because when people cut back on the saturated fat, they ate more sugar.
In an interview, Dr. Sacks said the advice derived from the best research “is pretty straightforward: consume few saturated fats like butter, full-fat dairy, beef and pork fat, and coconut, palm and palm kernel oils and replace them with natural vegetable oils high in polyunsaturates – corn, soybean, safflower, sunflower, peanut, walnut and grapeseed oils.” Also healthful are canola and olive oil, rich in both monounsaturates and polyunsaturates.

The “best” research, of course, consists of the four studies Dr. Sucks managed to cherry-pick that support the AHA’s position. He somehow found methodological problems with all the others.

And as for this part:

… replace them with natural vegetable oils high in polyunsaturates – corn, soybean, safflower, sunflower, peanut, walnut and grapeseed oils.

If you can explain to me how it’s natural for humans to consume oils from corn and soybeans, I’m all ears. Silly me, I tend to think the natural fats are the ones that don’t require industrial processing.
As for coconut oil, Dr. Sacks said, “It’s the nutritional fat du jour but it has not been proven to be healthful.”

Ah, I see. Dr. Sucks only recommends foods that have been proven to be healthy. I guess that explains this paragraph in Brody’s article:
Alas, the advisory team noted, there have been no trials to date testing the cardiovascular benefits of replacing dietary fat with “healthful nutrient-dense carbohydrates and fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes that are now recommended in dietary guidelines.”

No trials proving the cardiovascular benefits of replacing dietary fat with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes … and yet that’s exactly what the American Heart Association tells us to do. And Ms. Brody echoes that advice in her article:
In other words, if you are truly concerned about preserving good health over all, focus on a Mediterranean-style diet heavy on plant foods and unsaturated vegetable oils, with whole grains like brown rice and bulgur, fruits and vegetables as the main sources of carbohydrates.

Fortunately, useful idiots in the media no longer shape public opinion as effectively as they once did. Here are few choice comments on Brody’s article left by readers:
I sport climb with guys in their sixties and seventies who are as fit as super-heroes. They, to the man, get their nutrition information from Youtube and not their doctor. This article’s laundry list of failed studies and misleading conclusions by the experts is the reason why.


I really can’t sit here and read any more AHA fraud articles about health. I find it impossible to believe NYT can’t write any other articles about the consumption of fats without citing these people who rampantly skew data.


Yes, Dr. Sacks, well over 70 years old, ignored literally hundreds of studies over the last 50 years in this latest diatribe to go back to the incorrect studies of the 1960s. News flash: In the 50 years since, science has advanced! Turns out fats are actually generally good for you, not bad for you. And saturated fats are basically neutral. This is what hundreds of better, more modern studies say.


The comments are much more informed on the subject than the author.

Indeed they are. That’s why the author is a useful idiot.  I suspect we’ll hear from more useful idiots as the AHA continues trying to save itself from the inevitable.


This Flu Season Is the Worst in Nearly a Decade
by By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. on The New York Times
Here in Florida, we have had a couple of school districts close for a day to disinfect facilities in an attempt to stop the spread.
Fat HeadFat Head wrote the following post Thu, 25 Jan 2018 22:25:50 -0500
Blood Pressure, Sodium, Drugs and Diets
Blood Pressure, Sodium, Drugs and Diets

In my previous From The News post, I mentioned that the definition of “high” blood pressure will soon be lowered from 140/90 to 130/80. (The systolic, or top number, is when your heart is contracting. The diastolic, or lower number, is when your heart is between beats.) I also said I believe the redefinition is likely driven by a desire to sell more drugs.

A couple of you commented that the drugs might be necessary. Okay, maybe that’s true for some people. I’ve never had high blood pressure, so I’ve had the luxury of not being personally concerned with the subject. Nonetheless, I thought I’d dig through my database of articles and studies to explain why I’m not convinced that most people diagnosed with “high” blood pressure need drugs.

The best way to treat a health problem is to treat the root cause, not the downstream effect. So what causes high blood pressure? Many of the so-called experts still insist the problem is sodium. (They’re generally the same so-called experts who insist saturated fat causes heart disease.)

Dr. Frank Sucks … er, Sacks – the same researcher who wrote the American Heart Association’s we were right all along about saturated fat! presidential advisory report – has been a long-time champion of low-salt diets. He believes he proved lowering salt will save our hearts with his famous DASH trial. Here’s what his Harvard profile says about it:
These multi-center National Heart Lung and Blood Institute trials found major beneficial additive effects of low salt and a dietary pattern rich in fruits and vegetables on blood pressure.

Actually, that’s not what the DASH trial showed at all. You have to read the study carefully (and I have) to get the true picture, but here’s the brief summary: Sacks put people on either a standard American diet that included plenty of sugar and other junk, or on a low-fat DASH diet that included no sugar and no junk. Then he had them consume versions of those two diets that were high in salt, medium in salt, or very low in salt.

In order to claim he’d proved restricting salt is beneficial, Sucks had to compare the blood-pressure differences between people on the high-salt/junk diet and people on the low-salt/DASH diet. That’s akin to comparing people on a high-salt/high-whiskey diet to people on a low-salt/high-water diet, then declaring that restricting salt prevents liver damage.

Within each diet group – junk food vs. DASH – restricting salt by a whopping 75% only produced a blood-pressure drop of about three points. Whoopee.

Other researchers have found similar results (and unlike Dr. Sucks, reported them honestly). Here are some quotes from a 1998 meta-analysis titled Effects of Sodium Restriction on Blood Pressure, Renin, Aldosterone, Catecholamines, Cholesterols, and Triglyceride:
In 58 trials of hypertensive persons, the effect of reduced sodium intake on systolic blood pressure was 3.9 mm Hg, and on diastolic blood pressure was 1.9 mm. In 56 trials of normotensive persons, the effect of reduced sodium intake on systolic blood pressure was 1.2 mm Hg.

Once again, restricting sodium produced a teeny drop of a few points.
These results do not support a general recommendation to reduce sodium intake.

Gee, do ya think?

Here are some quotes from a 2008 E Science News article:
Contrary to long-held assumptions, high-salt diets may not increase the risk of death, according to investigators from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

They reached their conclusion after examining dietary intake among a nationally representative sample of adults in the U.S. The Einstein researchers actually observed a significantly increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) associated with lower sodium diets.

“Our findings suggest that for the general adult population, higher sodium is very unlikely to be independently associated with higher risk of death from CVD or all other causes of death,” says Dr. Hillel W. Cohen, lead author of the study and associate professor of epidemiology and population health at Einstein.

And here are some quotes from a Food Navigator article about a Cochrane review of sodium-restriction studies:
The authors, led by Professor Rod Taylor from Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry in the UK, found no strong evidence to support the idea that salt reduction reduces cardiovascular disease or all-cause mortality in people with normal or raised blood pressure.

People with normal or raised blood pressure at baseline showed no strong evidence of benefit from salt intake restriction. Salt restriction did, however, increase the risk of death from all causes in those with congestive heart failure, reported the authors.

I found that article amusing because it provided a perfect example of The Anointed in action. The researchers concluded that given the results, we need to conduct more research before governments jump in to set lower targets for salt intake.

But as we know, The Anointed don’t believe they should be bothered with providing evidence before instituting a Grand Plan. So here’s how a spokesperson for a U.K. organization calling itself the Consensus Action on Salt and Health replied to the Cochrane review:
Campaign director Katharine Jenner told FoodNavigator that it is “very disappointing” to see the message from the review indicates that salt reduction may not be beneficial.

“This is a completely inappropriate conclusion, given the strong evidence and the overwhelming public health consensus that salt raises blood pressure which leads to cardiovascular disease,” said Jenner.

Whenever you hear The Anointed insist that by gosh, there’s a consensus and therefore the debate is over, you know they’re peddling junk science they don’t want examined.
Jenner told FoodNavigator that “there is no sense in waiting for further trials before progressing with an international salt reduction programme, which will immediately save many thousands of lives.”

Of course not. Because when The Anointed devise a Grand Plan, it must always be implemented RIGHT NOW or people will die … and it will be your fault for insisting on evidence before proceeding.

Salt restriction is the standard dietary advice, but it doesn’t do much. So after concluding that your low-salt diet just isn’t working for some reason, your doctor will reach for the prescription pad. The drugs do lower blood pressure. But do they save lives?

That’s where it gets a bit murky. In Doctoring Data, Dr. Malcolm Kendrick stated that there’s no convincing clinical evidence that blood-pressure medications reduce mortality for most people with “high” blood pressure.

Here are some quotes from an article on the Whitaker Wellness Institute website:
Another hypertension myth is that it is a silent killer that sets us up for strokes and heart attacks and knocks about five years off life expectancy. Although this is true for patients who have very high blood pressure and/or existing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or kidney disease, the picture is considerably different for mild hypertension, which is defined under current guidelines as 140-159/90-99.

Scientific data published in top medical journals over the past few years makes it clear that mild hypertension does not confer these risks. For example, reevaluation of data from the renowned Framingham Heart Study shows that deaths related to hypertension barely budge until systolic blood pressure reaches 175 and mortality rates climb significantly only above 185. In other words, malignant hypertension is a killer. Uncomplicated mild hypertension is not.

Sixty percent of hypertensive Americans fall into the mild category. Nevertheless, more than half of them are treated with medications. And that’s the real tragedy.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that treating basically healthy patients with mild hypertension provides any benefits. In a groundbreaking recent study, researchers reviewed all the clinical trials in the medical literature comparing drug treatment of mild hypertension with placebo or no treatment. They found no differences in heart attacks, strokes, and deaths between treated and untreated individuals. But they did find that the drugs caused a lot of misery.

Maybe the drugs provide life-extending benefits for people with very high blood pressure. For people merely in the “high” range of 140 to 159, I’m not convinced. It seems the drugs merely treat a symptom.

As I said earlier, the best option is to treat the root cause. Several studies have hinted at the root cause, or at least one of them. Here are some quotes from a 2010 WebMD article:
A new study shows that a low-carbohydrate diet was equally good as the weight loss drug orlistat (the active ingredient in Alli and Xenical) at helping overweight and obese people lose weight, but people who followed the low-carb diet also experienced a healthy drop in their blood pressure levels.

“I expected the weight loss to be considerable with both therapies but we were surprised to see blood pressure improve so much more with the low-carbohydrate diet than with orlistat,” researcher William S. Yancy, Jr., MD, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, says in a news release. “If people have high blood pressure and a weight problem, a low-carbohydrate diet might be a better option than a weight loss medication.”

In the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 146 obese or overweight adults were randomly divided into two groups. Many of the participants also had chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

The first group was advised to follow a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet consisting of less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day, and the second group received the weight loss drug orlistat three times a day, plus counseling in following a low-fat diet (less than 30% of daily calories from fat) at group meetings over 48 weeks.

The results showed weight loss was similar in the two groups. The low-carb diet group lost an average of 9.5% of their body weight and the orlistat group lost an average of 8.5%. Both weight loss methods were also not significantly different at improving cholesterol and glucose levels.

But when researchers looked at changes in blood pressure, they found nearly half of those who followed the low-carbohydrate group had their blood pressure medication decreased or discontinued during the study, compared to only 21% of those in the orlistat group.

Plenty of doctors who prescribe low-carb diets have said the same thing: many of their patients end up ditching the blood-pressure medication. In fact, if the patients combine a low-carb diet with the medication, they can actually become dizzy from low blood pressure.

A study published waaaay back in 1985 suggests why a low-carb diet can lower blood pressure:
Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were found to be significantly related to fasting serum insulin level even when age, weight, and serum glucose level were controlled. The relation between serum insulin and blood pressure was more pronounced in those women with a family history of hypertension. These data indicate that insulin may play a major role in the regulation of blood pressure in obesity and that the previously accepted relation of weight to blood pressure may depend on blood levels of insulin.

So there you go. High blood pressure, like so many other aspects of metabolic syndrome, is apparently driven by chronically high insulin. It’s the high insulin that needs fixing, not the symptoms it produces.

The Whitaker Wellness article provides some practical advice as well:
We would all be better served by shifting the focus to safe, natural, proven therapies that not only lower blood pressure but, unlike antihypertensive drugs, also improve multiple aspects of health.

Regular aerobic and resistance exercise, which reduces systolic blood pressure as effectively as many medications, rejuvenates every system in your body. Losing as little as 10 pounds or 5 percent of your total weight provides significant all-around benefits. Relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and neurofeedback reduce stress’s adverse effects on blood pressure, health, and quality of life.

Cutting out high-glycemic sugars and starches lowers blood sugar, lipids, insulin resistance, and other aspects of metabolic syndrome as well as helping to lower blood pressure. Beets, leafy greens, and other nitrate-rich foods boost synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), which dilates and protects the arteries.

Magnesium has powerful effects on blood pressure because it relaxes and reduces pressure on the arteries; that 75-80 percent of Americans fail to get the RDA of magnesium is a likely contributor to our high rates of hypertension. Coenzyme Q10 has positive effects on blood pressure and the entire cardiovascular system.

Cut the refined carbs, eat some leafy greens, get some exercise, and supplement your diet with magnesium and CoQ10. Sounds a lot better than taking medications if you ask me.