This, That and T’other

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on December 4, 2010 at 6:52 am

Today I am short on time, but not on links, so I thought I might just throw them out and let you have at ‘em.

This article on not-so-healthy health bloggers appears to be Marie Claire’s mea culpa for the Maura Kelly fiasco that not only failed to ban fat people from Public Displays of Affection, but inspired several counter revolutionary (both live and virtual)  smooch-a-thons.  I had never visited the “healthy living” blog sites that Marie Claire informs me are known by fans as the “Big Six.”  (Hint:  If you ever go on the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? game show, don’t make me your cultural literacy phone-a-friend.)  I have visited those sites now.  The food pictures qualify as pornographic, but the copy.  Whoa.  Is that what whippersnappers are reading these days?  Oh, boy.  Real Housewives of the Internet . . . on a diet.  ZZZZzzzzz. 

I prefer to read science and legit personal blogs, ones that lack the dazzling sheen of corporate sponsorship.  These “Big Six” all have the flavor of the self-appointed “in” crowd from high school all-growed-up.   I didn’t get deep enough into an article to get any diet advice, but if Marie Claire is correct about it, then it’s as wrong as the advice that I might have gotten in the locker room from one of the pretty girls at Rock Bridge High.

This second citation places a bet from some unlikely late comers to the Roulette Table .  They didn’t make it in time for our spin, but maybe they can win in the next round.  Our house pets and lab animals put a chip on black.  There may be other explanations than environmental chemicals for why these animals are getting fatter, but it certainly isn’t their decreased outdoor play, their love for video games, or their reliance on the Applebee’s Carside-to-Go window.  Maybe I need to rethink my seering hatred for Bovine Growth Hormone, however.  I doubt they are fed steak and milk products.  Ah, well, there are other perfectly good reasons to distrust Monsanto.  Round-up anyone?

  1. You really don’t want to know how pet food is made. If you did, you wouldn’t buy it for your pets, and I’m betting that the same factors that are adding to our weight gain in our food supply are in our pets’ food supply.
    I say this because my husband works for a company that makes soy milk (and almond milk, rice milk, and other substitutes for cow’s milk). When cases of soy/rice/almond/etc milk go “bad” and can’t be shipped to whoever ordered them, they are sent to a recycling center that reprocesses the milks into animal feed. That can be feed for chickens, cows, pigs, and pets, for whatever feed company or pet food company that happens to need filler.
    So those genetically altered soy beans that go into your soy milk? Could be going into the feed for the chickens that lay the eggs you eat, or the chickens that you eat, or the feed for the cows/pigs you’re going to be eating, or into the pet food you’re buying for that dog or cat (or other pet). Not to mention the fertilizers that were used on them, and the herbicides, and what about the manure spread on the fields from those cows/pigs that have been treated with growth hormones?
    But I’d make a bet that none of that will be taken into consideration when they get around to doing those studies about why pets/other mammals are getting fatter (cynical? who, me?).

  2. Vesta44, have you seen much discussion of evidence linking genetically modified foods and obesity? I hadn’t heard of this, so I just did a quick Google search and only found a few mentions – and these were mostly on “conspiracy”-style websites, and one on a Creationist website. The main concerns I’ve heard re: GM-foods revolve around effects on fertility and birth defects.

    I do agree that fertilizers and pesticides are likely a big player, and they’re related to GM foods in that they permit crops to tolerate larger doses of chemicals. Many herbicides – including Round-Up, a Monsanto product – are known or suspected endocrine disruptors, which are one of the potential explanations for weight gain in animals mentioned in the Nature article linked above. The more I read and think about it, the more I’m leaning towards endocrine disruptors – including herbicides, BPA, and other common environmental contaminants – as key players in a potential Grand Unified Theory of Obesity, especially given this latest finding.

  3. Actually, I read some of the blogs cited by Marie Claire occasionally, and while I wouldn’t actually rely on them for advice (my own thing works for me, thankyouverymuch), I think they’re a more positive influence on women striving to live healthfully than, say, Marie Claire.

    On a much more fangirl-ish note, in what town did you go to high school? Please feel free to email me if you’d prefer to not say on the blog—but I have a strong suspicion that I now live in your hometown. 😀

  4. Hi Debra, Was Americans insatiable appetite for cheap and convenient on the roulette table. I mean, I don’t buy Ol’ Roy dog food, but I’m not buying the designer foods either. And really, its kind of bizarre when you think about it–feeding dogs little pellets their whole lives. And most dogs (ha–if you watch the Dog Whisperer,) do not get enough exercise, right along with their owners. After all, a 45 minute walk is INCONVENIENT for a person who leaves the house at 7:30 am and gets home at 5:30pm. Well, you know I am a confirmed dog lover–you got my attention. Proud to say that Mr. Monk (the elder Pug) has worked his way up to a 45 minute walk.

    • I think your phrase “American’s insatiable appetite for cheap and convenient” may be a summary of the motivation behind the red blocks, “personal choices.”

      I don’t know when pellet pet food was introduced and became the standard. I think it’s been around since before the onset of the “obesity epidemic” — and by that I mean the time frame in which our average weight increased by more than 20 pounds in four decades — but I don’t know that. Hmmmm. In the 1960s our dog got both canned and pellet food. I don’t know if we were the average household or not.

  5. I missed the betting, but I’ll share my theory anyway: increased hygiene, or technically, decreased resources required to combat illness etc.

    We pasteurize our food, sanitize our houses, use anti-bacterial everything to make sure nothing could possibly infect us, demand anti-biotics at the least sign of illness, play indoors rather than out in the dirt. Our lab rats are fed fabricated foods on sterile dishes in labs locked away from all the environmental pathogen exposure, our food animals are mainlined antibiotics to suppress the reactions that feeding them unnatural diets cause. This completely alien to the way we evolved, exposed to all kinds of things that want to live in and through us.

    And it has other effects as well. The hygiene hypothesis is starting to be taken very seriously in allergy research, and there are hints of it appearing in other places (parasitic worms as a treatment for autoimmune diseases of the gut). Bodies that aren’t doing what they were designed for get bored, and find new and unpleasant things to do.

    • Yes, indeed M*, our anti-sceptic lives may be killing off certain gut flora that otherwise would push our foods through our digestive tracts unstored. We need our bacteria.

      • I wonder if the wide-spread abandonment of the practice of prechewing food for babies has also disrupted a vital conduit to the proper population of infant gut bacteria.

        Anyone interested in feeding pets without grains and other fillers/allergens/toxins might be interested in the unfortunately acronymned Biologically Appropriate Raw Food system. We have had excellent results with it on our own cats and dog. It is a pain in the ass, but we totally eliminated a host of problems.

  6. Speaking of endocrine disruptors: all across America people flush their unused medications down the john, and or send them to the landfill in their garbage/refuse. Plus, there is a heck of a lot of drugs in urine and feces that enters our water system.

    Why should this matter? Because it ends up back inside people when they consume water from our water supply!

    As hard as it is to imagine, when water is purified for drinking, it is not tested for medications nor are they filtered out. Plus, when the drugs combine and recombine in the water systems (rivers, lakes, streams, etc, where our drinking water comes from), scientists don’t know what chemicals are formed from all the different combinations. Certain kinds of waterfowl, and of course amphibians such as frogs have been found to contain many endocrine disruptors (which can even cause some embryos to change sex.)

    Pregnant women consume tap water, and infants are fed formula made from tap water, which means the most vulnerable among us are ingesting endocrine disruptors and other unknown drug combinations.

    Crops are watered with water containing hundreds of different drugs, including endocrine disruptors (just think how much urine goes into the system from women taking the pill, for instance), and crops such as carrots absorb these drugs (ummm, we are talking about almost every drug on the market in the U.S.). Also, when unused drugs end up in landfills, over time they leach into the water table (Yep, where a lot of our drinking water is collected.

    How do I know this stuff? I completed a semester-long project during my last year in school and I have the scientific sources (close to, or over, 100) to support all the above claims. Virtually nothing is being done by the government or anyone else to ensure that medications are not in our drinking water because the “amounts are so small” and the cost to get rid of them from public water systems is considered prohibitively costly.

    There are places in some cities where people can dispose of their unused drugs (rather than flush them) but most people don’t go to the bother. Also, some of those drugs are taken to landfills…

    Oh, it’s all coming back to me now. I NEVER made the slightest connection to obesity at the time of all my research, and didn’t see that connection being made in the scientific journals. But it makes complete sense, when you think about the time frame and the scope of the problem. Wow. You heard it here.

    • That is so interesting RNegade. Oddly, I was just talking to an RN friend of mine from the real (not virtual) world Sunday night, and she was fretting over the water supply and the drugs/hormones in it. (We were drinking wine instead of water. Don’t know if that offered any protections. It was California wine — US water supply.)

      If you’re interested in revisiting your 100+/- sources and maybe making some obesity-related connections, I’d be happy to offer it as a guest post here.

  7. Here’s a link to an organization that is addressing the inappropriate disposal of medications and other pharmaceuticals. I don’t think it discusses, at any length however, the problem of pharmaceuticals in human waste that is flushed.

    • Interesting site, RNegade. I found a drop off point within ten miles of my zip code that I didn’t even know about. My own pharmacist had advised me to just mix my old Oxycodone in coffee grounds (to discourage illicit re-circulation through pushers and the like) and send it to the landfill. Ack.

  8. RNegade – yes, this came out in the ecological literature last spring, when a link was found between birth control and other toxins in the water supply and reproductive defects in fish: I haven’t seen this specifically linked with obesity, but birth control pills are known to frequently cause weight gain, and endocrine disruptors in general have been linked with obesity, so it’s not too much of a stretch.

  9. I’m not just talking about intestinal flora though Debra. It’s also stuff like not being sick and having to burn resources to run an elevated immune response. Or not being off one’s food for a week due to some random stomach virus. Or supporting not just your own metabolism, but a healthy colony of hangers-on. That kind of thing.

    Before I was 10 I’d had measles, mumps, chicken pox, the flu at least twice, and scarlet fever (which took me out of school for close to three weeks, and PSA: if you or someone you care about has strep throat and then develops a full body rash, run, don’t walk, to the doctor, because scarlet absolutely sucks). My younger cousins and nephews have literally never been sick for more than a couple of days at a stretch. I haven’t had the flu in years, because I get stabbed once a year (mostly because my last bout literally flattened me for two weeks and left me at about 50% cognitive capacity for a couple more after that). I’m not sure even 1% of people who live in the developed world are hosting any sort of parasite.

    There’s a whole metabolic expense that we as a society have eliminated (and don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way, shape or form claiming it’s a bad thing; illnesses we can now treat used to kill people when I was growing up, and still do in a far larger chunk of the world than they should) and I can’t help but wonder what kind of effects that has on our bodies (the aforementioned increase in allergies and autoimmune disorders, for example).

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