Saturday, 20 February 2010

Slim Girl Fat?

It had to happen sooner or later!

In an attempt to offer wise counsel to the family of a young girl, the NHS really hit a nerve.

Lucy Davies is a perfectly normal 5 year old who is active, enjoys cheerleading and ballet ... and walks a fair bit. Her parents received a letter from the NHS saying she was overweight.

Officials measured Lucy's height and weight and calculated her body mass index (BMI) fell outside the "normal" parameters for a girl of five ... by 1%! With this limited data, they determined she was unhealthy and at possible risk for heart disease and cancer.


The Bournemouth and Poole Primary Care Trust (in their infinite wisdom) decided this meant her parents should be appraised of the statistical risks ... by a generic letter generated as a result of flawed assumptions rooted in sheer ignorance.

How considerate! How thoughtful!

And how careless and totally insensitive. How on earth can some pencil pusher not see that sooner or later this was bound to happen? And where was all the discretion and human input in this equation.

Body Mass Index is a guideline, not the word of God!

This is a little girl and her family. They are real, live human beings and they should never, under any circumstances, be exposed to something so short-sighted and uni-dimensional.

Even if she was not "sporty" and did fall outside the "magic" range, why didn't someone contact the family and raise their concerns with a modicum of tact?

If I had no clue about what constitutes a healthy diet (and quite frankly that should apply to the parents of just about every child in the UK, because the experts themselves aren't even clear), I would still be a little defensive if all I got was a robotic, generic form letter that made me feel my kid was defective and that was my fault.

Even if it was couched in formal robot-speak.

I would expect a phone call saying that these were the numbers and maybe it was a good idea if I bought my child in for further evaluation and some good old-fashioned helpful (informed) input so I could put my mind at rest (or at least learn something that could be really beneficial to my child).

How many parents get a letter like this and immediately assume their child must go on diet?

And how healthy is that?

Obesity is a massive problem in the UK, because we have a diet mentality here. The fish stinks from the head. Some genius comes up with these policies (in spite of the known shortfalls and risks of over-relying on limited information).

And all in the name of helping parents who are none-the-wiser.

But then what do we expect from a nucleus of experts who believe that breakfast cereal, milk and yogurt constitute a healthy way to start your day?

Or that "5-a-day" is anywhere near enough, especially in view of what can be counted towards this.

Wake up people. Lives are at stake. These are our kids!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Gordon Brown Ditches KitKat for Bananas!

Hyping up a BBC magazine report on BBC Breakfast yesterday, it was revealed that Gordon Brown has replaced his 4-a-day KitKat habit with 9 bananas a day.

OK, so someone has told him that he needs to be sharp, not brain dead. That's good for a PM right?

What struck me though was that the two intrepid anchors on BBC Breakfast were actually seriously deliberating whether this switch over made sense. They even had a nutritionist sitting there sagely nodding her head about the relative merits of the two.

And the discussion centered on calories!

It's a "good" thing because of course bananas are only about 100 calories (versus the 230 or so in a standard KitKat 4-finger).

But isn't it a shocker that Mr Brown has nine bananas? Nine!!! (Gasp, shock, horror!)

No, assured our friendly nutritionist ... it's ok, although that does equate to 900 calories!

And here I was hoping that it was patently, stupidly obvious that bananas are infinitely more healthy than chocolate because they are a real food ... Nature's perfect package.

Not because they are less than half the calories.

Let's be frank. With attitudes like this, the UK has absolutely no chance in the fight against obesity.

So remember, boys and girls, eat your 5-a-day, drink lots of milk, enjoy your cheese and yogurt, take your fish oils, eat lots of meat ... and hope that the NHS will still be viable when you become diseased and dependent.

Or you could eat bananas. Lots of them. Plus any other fresh, whole, raw, organic plant that appeals to you at your local produce reseller. Also, dance often, sleep plenty and enjoy sunshine, fresh air and good company.

Then you can get old and have the best health insurance in the world.

Being truly healthy.

Let's face it, KitKats are great ... because they taste awesome on occasion. But if you want to grow up to be an aspiring politician, you best eat your bananas now!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

The "Mediterranean Diet" Is Not Healthy!

Everybody knows the Mediterranean diet is healthy, right?


We've been brainwashed. This misconception all started way back in the 60's when studies were released making claims about this diet.

But dig a little deeper and here's what you find:

The data was taken in the 50's ... a time of post-war recovery (poverty and starvation). On the island of Crete! Only!

Where people trudged up and down mountains for 9 miles a day. Where they did hard manual labor behind a plough. And where they ate what they could get ... which was vegetables and a little fish!

By the way, which country is the Mediterranean? Israel? France? Spain? Northern Italy ... or Southern Italy? Algeria?

The whole concept is quite ridiculous actually!

Let's face it. Most people view the Mediterranean diet as basically the stuff we're used to eating, plus maybe some olive oil and wine.

And we've been sold a bill of goods on olive oil and wine too! But who cares if it tastes good?

Olive oil is basically refined fat which is hugely calorific relative to any nutritional benefits, especially in the quantities the olive oil importers have been telling us to consume it in.

And wine is not heart healthy. Its a protoplasmic poison that screws up your circulation and adds ... you guessed it, more empty calories!

But we think it's a health food.

That's just obscene!

Another case of research out of context ... or scientists standing so close to the woods, they can't see the trees.

So let's take a look at this "paragon of virtue" today. Crete. Where the Mediterranean diet emanated from.

The place where people live longer and have a low incidence of heart disease. Or so we're told.

In very rough terms, the inhabitants of Crete today consume at least twice the saturated fat they did when data was collected back in the 50's.

They also consume three-and-one-half times the trans-fats and cholesterol they did ... and about half the fiber.

Sort of like us.

Which means they've got a one-way ticket to all the nasties that go along with a diet that is totally inappropriate for human beings.

So much for the Mediterranean diet.

Oh yeah, did you know that Spain actually tops the USA in the obesity tables? Both are in the top 20 countries. The USA has a third of their population that is obese (old figures, I'm guessing) and Spain exceeds 40%!

But Spain makes good red wine and cold pressed olive oil and sells a bunch of it all over the world!

The New England Journal of Medicine (something I seldom quote) remarked way back in 2003 that it was "unfortunate" that the main message people got from the whole Mediterranean hype was to eat more olive and canola oil.


Because they are only adding more calories to a diet that is already beleaguered by excess calories.

It went on to say that the message "should be" to eat more fruit, vegetables and legumes ... and fewer foods rich in saturated fats.

Yes, I know ... olive oil is a mono-unsaturated fat. But it is still calorie-dense and refined from olives so it has no fiber.

Next week ... the Atlantic diet. Eat like an Atlanticasian! (Disclaimer: intentional parody here).

I'll drink to that!