Category Archives: Health

Why Do We Eat?

It’s generally not because we’re hungry.

I can generally go all day without eating, and often do. There’s a lot of evidence that fasting has some of the benefits of caloric restriction, in terms of life extension.

I’d note, though, that the article seems to subscribe to the caloric theory of weight gain and loss. It doesn’t say what “high-density” foods are, energetically speaking, but not all are created equal. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat.

Rethinking Fat

Even NPR is starting to figure it out.

But note, that, as with climate “science,” dissenters have trouble getting published when they have actual science in opposition to the “settled” science in nutrition:

“Fat was really the villain,” says Walter Willett, who is chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. And, by default, people “had to load up on carbohydrates.”

But, by the mid-1990s, Willett says, there were already signs that the high-carb, low-fat approach might not lead to fewer heart attacks and strokes. He had a long-term study underway that was aimed at evaluating the effects of diet and lifestyle on health.

“We were finding that if people seemed to replace saturated fat — the kind of fat found in cheese, eggs, meat, butter — with carbohydrate, there was no reduction in heart disease,” Willett says.

Willett submitted his data to a top medical journal, but he says the editors would not publish his findings. His paper was turned down.

“There was a lot of resistance to anything that would question the low-fat guidelines,” Willett says, especially the guidelines on saturated fat.

Willett’s paper was eventually published by a British medical journal, the BMJ, in 1996.

And that was almost twenty years ago, and the junk-science FDA guidelines that probably killed my father in the seventies remain pretty much in place.

Terrible Nutrition Advice

The top five worst.

I agree with all of them. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat, eating cholesterol doesn’t increase your cholesterol, stick with saturated fat (not just butter, but egg yolks, and animal fats), not seed oils, and stop counting calories. Just eat what’s good for you, and avoid what’s bad.

This is even more junk science than climate science (and as I’ve noted in the past, this kind of nonsense probably killed my father in the late seventies). As I’ve also noted in the past, science that has public consequences tends to become politicized.

Those 7M “Sign Ups”

Why yesterday’s champagne-cork popping in the Rose Garden was meaningless propaganda.

[Update a few minutes later]

Want medical insurance? Get in line:

The first thing we thought of when we saw the pictures was the photos we’ve recently seen on Twitter of Venezuelans waiting in bread lines. Waiting in line to purchase necessities is a characteristic not of a prosperous free society but of command economies under repressive regimes. Closer to home, one doubts even the Transportation Security Administration would be so tone-deaf as to advertise long airport lines as an indication it’s doing a great job.

So what in the world could the White House have been thinking? Here’s a guess: They look at the ObamaCare lines and think not of communist subjects queuing up for bread or toilet paper, or Americans for driver’s licenses, but something more like the lines of consumers eager to be the first to get the new iPhone or the latest Harry Potter book. Affluent people often wait in line for things about which they have a particular enthusiasm–or for special experiences, like an amusement park ride, concert or meal at a favorite restaurant.

One obvious difference is that whereas the iPhone and Harry Potter queuers are eager to get the new thing first, the ObamaCare ones are presumably anxious not to miss the deadline (even if it’s not rigorously enforced). ObamaCare lines might have been impressive if they’d begun to form in the last days of September. At the end of open enrollment, the White House boast is akin to the IRS’s citing a “surge” in filing of tax returns two weeks from now as evidence that the income tax system is popular and well designed.

Command economies under repressive regimes seems to be the goal.

My New Healthcare Plan

Well, I finally broke down and went to the web site last night, before midnight.

After all the horror stories I’d been hearing, I was shocked to get in immediately. It was surprisingly easy to navigate, just like Amazon or Kayak, just like the president promised. All the options were laid out clearly, and the prices were surprisingly affordable, even for the Gold Plan. I signed up, and I finally have the insurance I’ve been waiting for all these years, good in every state, and it allows me to keep all my doctors. It includes free fitted condoms, and I can finally get that hysterectomy I’ve been putting off all these years.

I was wrong, Mr. President, and you were right. I’m sorry I so foolishly listened to ignorant criticism of this wonderful new law these past four years, and so harshly and falsely criticized it myself. I don’t know what I can do to make amends, but I know that from here on out, I will be a Democrat right up until that day that the death panel makes what I’m sure will be the right decision for me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you Mr. President.

[Update a few minutes later]

I’m a little shocked to hear that some people think I would make jokes about something as serious as health care.

Saturated Fat

The science is (finally) settled:

Since the 1970s almost everyone in this country has been subjected to a barrage of propaganda about saturated fat. It was bad for you; it would kill you. Never mind that much of the nonsaturated fat was in the form of trans fats, now demonstrated to be harmful. Never mind that many polyunsaturated fats are chemically extracted oils that may also, in the long run, be shown to be problematic.

Never mind, too, that the industry’s idea of “low fat” became the emblematic SnackWell’s and other highly processed “low-fat” carbs (a substitution that is probably the single most important factor in our overweight/obesity problem), as well as reduced fat and even fat-free dairy, on which it made billions of dollars. (How you could produce fat-free “sour cream” is something worth contemplating.)

But let’s not cry over the chicharrones or even nicely buttered toast we passed up. And let’s not think about the literally millions of people who are repelled by fat, not because it doesn’t taste good (any chef will tell you that “fat is flavor”) but because they have been brainwashed.

And this junk-science nutritional advice almost certainly contributed to my father’s death thirty-five years ago. I hope, at some point, that they stop putting all the “fat free” labels in the candy section.

The Real Existential Judicial Threat To ObamaCare

Hobby Lobby is small potatoes compared to Halbig:

…the Obama administration fears that if consumers in 34 states experience the full cost of Obamacare, Congress will have no choice but to reopen the law. It has therefore offered numerous arguments in defense of its unauthorized spending and taxes – not because any of these arguments have merit, but because none of them do.

Nevertheless, a district court ruled against the Halbig plaintiffs based on a severely distorted view of Congress’ intent. The court wrote, “there is no evidence that either the House or the Senate considered making tax credits dependent upon whether a state participated in the Exchanges.”

On the contrary, the evidence is clear. The words of the statute themselves show that both chambers not only considered but approved that idea. The senators who enacted Obamacare routinely supported and enacted legislation conditioning health-insurance tax credits and other assistance on states establishing exchanges or taking other actions. The seven members of Congress most responsible for Obamacare – former Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee chairman Tom Harkin (D-Ia.), then-House Ways & Means Committee chairman Sander Levin (D-Mich.), then-House Education & Workforce Committee chairman George Miller (D-Calif.), then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and then-House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) – even admit in an amicus brief that conditioning subsidies on states establishing exchanges was part of the congressional debate. Finally, when House Democrats first read the Senate-passed bill – what we now call Obamacare – in 2010, they recognized that it conditions subsidies on states establishing exchanges, and complained that this feature would allow recalcitrant states to block those subsidies. In this instance at least, Congress knew what it was enacting.

This may be the part of the train wreck where it goes off the bridge into the gorge. And it will happen this summer, leading up to the election.

[Update early afternoon]

“What we have here is language that doesn’t seem malleable in any way, shape or form.”

I should note that when I wrote the first part of this post, I thought that the case was already before SCOTUS, but the arguments made this morning are apparently just before an appellate court. But it will probably go to SCOTUS as some point, regardless of that decision.

The STEM Shortage

It’s a myth.

I agree. The problem isn’t a shortage of workers in that field. But innumeracy and scientific illiteracy is a big problem in our society, particularly among the voters. And that includes the illiteracy of those who mindlessly accept a lot of bogus nutrition and climate “science.”

Nancy Pelosi

I hope she remains this delusional right through the first Tuesday of November.

“I think the Republicans are wasting their time using that as their electoral issue, and they will find that out,” she said.

Pressed by a reporter whether Democrats should shy away from the issue on the campaign trail, Pelosi didn’t hesitate.

“No, absolutely not,” she said.

Pelosi has long argued that the healthcare law will become increasingly popular as more people recognize the benefits.

She’ll probably argue it to her grave, hopefully at least her political one.

The New Federal Dietary Guidelines

…are being written by vegetarian junk scientists:

“After 30 years of waiting, the fact that this committee is addressing sustainability issues brings me a lot of pleasure,” she began. Clancy went on to advocate that Americans should become vegetarians in order to achieve sustainability in the face of “climate change.”

“What pattern of eating best contributes to food security and the sustainability of land air and water?” Clancy asked. “The simple answer is a plant-based diet.”

“Now, this is not new, this idea of how important plant-based diets are has been around for, gosh, 30-40 years,” she said. “Before that for people who long ago were eating vegetarian.”

Clancy said plant-based diets lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and have a “smaller ecological impact” on “drought, climate change, soil erosion, pesticides and antibiotics in water supplies.”

There is zero scientific evidence of cardiovascular disease being caused by eating animals, per se (though corn-fed beef and chicken might be problematic due to omega 6).

“Rights Talk”

Yes, that is the way we talk in America, you stupid fascists:

Bittman likes Freudenberg’s debunking of notions of “rights and choice,” because he agrees that “we need… more than a few policies nudging people toward better health.” As Freudenberg told Bittman: “What we need… is to return to the public sector the right to set health policy and to limit corporations’ freedom to profit at the expense of public health.” Oh! Did you see that? Freudenberg said “right.” He said “right” in the context of government, and he spoke of returning this “right” — a right to control people — to government. He’s saying “right” where the legal term is actually “power.” He wants government power at the expense of rights. And the fact that he speaks of the “return” of power to the government is either deceptive or unAmerican. We are free and have a right to do what we want until we give power to government. If the laws that restrict us are repealed, it makes sense to speak of returning rights to the people, but it’s wrong and really offensive to characterize new restrictions in terms of returning a right to the government.

I know it sounds like crazy talk to you, but we really do have rights to do things of which you disapprove.

People like this should be “nudged” out of town on a rail, bedecked with petroleum bi-products and bird coverings.

As a side note, I’d bet this guy would also tell me I don’t have a right to risk my life in a spaceship.

Seven Unhealthy Foods

…that turn out to be good for you. It’s hard to reconcile this, though:

…he scientific consensus on whether saturated fats are bad for us is changing. Now researchers are stressing that saturated fats like coconut oil actually lower bad cholesterol in our bodies.

With this:

If you consider popcorn something to douse with “butter-flavored topping” and shovel in your mouth at the multiplex, then keep it on the “bad” list. A study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest has concluded that movie theater popcorn—a medium tub, mind you—has 1,200 calories and 60 grams of the worst kind of saturated fat.

So what is the “worst kind of saturated fat”? I see nothing wrong with butter on popcorn (and to the degree there is, it’s the popcorn, not the butter).

She also reinforces the myth that “low calories” = “healthy.”

ObamaCare

Why it continues to be unpopular:

“Current and former administration officials .  .  . have been surprised at how steadfast the opposition has remained,” the Washington Post reported last summer, quoting MIT economist Jonathan Gruber saying, “It used to be you had a fight and it was over, and you moved on.” But few have moved on, for reasons which are not all that hard to tease out: It’s not working out, in fact it’s a disaster; it’s blowing holes in the federal budget; the win-to-lose balance is way out of kilter, as many more people are hurt than helped by it. Obamacare may collapse on its own for practical reasons, but there is a fourth strike against it that adds a dimension of weakness no comparable measure has faced: Much of the country believes it’s a fraud, passed dishonestly, and not deserving of moral authority. In short, they find it nearly illegal, highly immoral, and possibly fattening. And their minds won’t be changed.

Nor should they be. When you cram the biggest crap sandwich in the history of the world down the county’s throat on a lying, corrupt partisan basis, you deserve to lose credibility and power. Read the whole thing, though.

Death By Food Pyramid

A favorable review by Michael Eades of what looks to be an interesting new book on the history of nutrition pseudoscience.

I hadn’t realized the degree to which George McGovern was responsible, and how much he was influenced by Pritikin. They and their junk science are responsible for millions of premature deaths, from the seventies on, likely including my father’s almost thirty-five years ago.