Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Low-carb Solution is Nowhere in Sight

I just want to find closure on the week's six part series on sugar in the Vancouver Sun newspaper. In fact, from what I've read, the newspaper is pretty much in the dark about obesity and a solution for it - this is typical of mainstream thinking. It is locked into a paradigm that emerged some 45 years ago and can't seem to get out of that box.

 Wednesday's articles were pretty well standard - Tiffany Crawford's article "Juiced: Sugar in a bottle" reminds us that, although soda was banned - the first in Canada - in the province's schools a couple of years ago, kids continue to gulp the pop bottles. Slurpees, sodas, and other designer bottles and cans that attract kids are getting larger; some are filled with vitamins, and caffeine - the market is certainly attractive and seductive. The 2008 guidelines had justified its ban of junk food from vending machines and the cafeteria because in their words quoted in the article, drinks with no nutrients are  "clearly linked to obesity and tooth decay in children." But the kids are not deterred. However, new guidelines are slated for a revision in the fall of 2012 in the light of new products and new information.

Crawford's article points out that the Canada-U.S. Dietary Reference Intakes, which is a system of recommending nutritional intake taken from the Institute of Medicine that actually offers input to Health Canada's Food Guide, recommends 48 grams or 12 added teaspoons of sugar a day for a 2, 200 caloric diet. This excludes sugar found in milk and fruits. But, as Crawford points out, two 590 ml bottles of Mountain Dew gives you 60 grams of sugar - so, things are tight for the kids if they have to count calories. Bottom line here is that calories are a problem because these calories have no-trade off value -they are empty. Better to eat fruit, at least there are vitamins and anti-oxidants although the low-carb community has often enough pointed out that the vitamin and anti-oxidant buzz is much ado about nothing. Pound for pound, animal products out perform fruits and vegetables when it comes to offering nutrients. But that's an important issue for another day. It is a topic area that mainstream dietitians and so-called nutrient experts fail to note - they avoid the issue like the plague because, to them, animal products are saturated with fat and fat is evil.

The other article in the same paper is by Randy Shore titled "Morning treats can pack a high-calorie punch." Take note - the "treats", meaning sugar,  are associated with calories - the focus here is on muffins, doughnuts, and cookies rather than sugar in the pop/liquid form. This pretty well continues the general thrust of the series on sugar, namely its caloric content via sugar. The implication is that it will make you fat and has no nutrients. I have no problem with that. My problem is this: what are they going to replace these empty calories with? For biological reasons, I do not think that grains, fruits, and vegetables are a reasonable "healthy" option. Readers of low-carb/paleo blogs as well as readers of  the growing scientific literature on the matter should know the negative effects these carbs have - lectins and phytates prevent the absorption of nutrients, anti-oxidants are nature's organic pesticides, fruits contain fructose, and we all know about the effects of gluten. Furthermore, carbs turn to glucose in the body. Do they have an answer for that?

Randy Shore, with another article the next day, opened the question - "Is the fat tax the answer?" The Canadian Medical Association and the B.C. Medical Association are in favour of such an approach, thinking that since it worked for tobacco it should work for sugar. Somehow I doubt it. Contraband doughnuts anyone? Not everyone agrees. The debate is on. I think the industry would make the products cheaper to balance the tax hike so that kids can keep buying the product.  Of course, Shore leaves the last word for Dr. Perry Kendall, the provincial health officer, who says that tax alone as a control measure will not work - it has to be tied with physical activity and parents have to be on board with being role models and promoting awareness. Folks, this is the same advice of the last 45 years. I challenge anyone to go back to the archives and see what was said. It is old advice; it has not worked. The same mantra over and over, again and again for 45 years. And what has happened in the last 45 years - an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other diseases of civilization the likes we've never seen before. The American Standard Diet (SAD) being advocated is not a proper diet; it is based on the food pyramid we've all seen. The pyramid continues to be the model on how to eat - avoid sugar, eat grain, fruits and veggies (plenty of it) avoid fats. Oh yes, exercise. Telling people to cut back on saturated fat didn't work; now they have a new demon - sugar. It is a start in the right direction but the missing calories (when one eliminates sugar)  have to come from somewhere. People need calories for energy; we want to exercise and so we need calories - if not from sugar, then, from where? Fat? It is nutrient-dense; it satiates. But the medical profession does not want to go there. Other carbs? The low/carb/paleo community knows better than to go there. We are at the crossroad and we are stuck - there is no end in sight.

The final epistle comes from the editors of the Vancouver Sun newspaper - they refer to it as "the newspaper's view" and the title of the editorial is "Walk the walk on childhood obesity crisis." Here the paper displays a pathetic paternalistic arrogance - "If there's one thing we know, it's that childhood obesity is a serious problem in Canada. And if there are two other things we know, it's what causes childhood obesity and what needs to be done to prevent it." Because the newspaper editors know it all they wonder why the federal government has included a website that allows Canadian citizens to weigh in on the issue before proceeding with their report in the near future. Why do we need input from the public "given how much we already know about childhood obesity and how to prevent it?" As I've hinted on occasion, the Vancouver Sun does not understand the issue thoroughly. This is what they recommend: " "As far as diet is concerned, we know that children and youth should eat between six and eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day...." Really? There is no biological need to do that according to the low-carb/paleo community; I've hinted at the negative implications of doing such a thing.  They also say that "we know that kids who are physically active perform better both physically and mentally, yet more than half of children and youth between six and 19 are not active enough for optimal healthy growth and development." The fallacy of confusing cause and effect is being made here. It is mentally fit and alert kids who get physical and active. Those in a "mental fog" do not feel like engaging in physical activity. The mentally fit ones are fueled by proper nutrients. Mental events determine if one is to be active or not -not the other way around. As the low-carb/paleo community knows, the lack of exercise does not make us fat; being fat inhibits our desire to exercise & play sports.

Once again, the urgency displayed by the newspaper editorial group seems to be like the George McGovern senate committee, which would not listen to the debate over whether fat/cholesterol does or does not cause heart disease & allow it to be resolved by discussion from scientists, but forged ahead to create the mess we are in by making it government policy to demonize fat and allow the food industries to change our eating habits - remove traditional fat & replace it with inflammatory fats (polyunsaturated) and replace the calories lost from fat and be replaced by carbs - the ones I've demonized. The current advice suggested by the newspaper is wrong and the government should know about it.

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