June 27, 2013

Better late than never, I guess

The New York Times publicizes an important nutrition and weight study that should have been obvious years ago:
Are all calories created equal? A new study suggests that in at least one important way, they may not be. 
Sugary foods and drinks, white bread and other processed carbohydrates that are known to cause abrupt spikes and falls in blood sugar appear to stimulate parts of the brain involved in hunger, craving and reward, the new research shows. The findings, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that these so-called high-glycemic foods influence the brain in a way that might drive some people to overeat. 

Back in the 1990s, I'd get up in the morning feeling only slightly hungry, but then I'd remember that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, I'd have a bowl of Cheerios. Hey, they're "fat-free" so they can't be bad for you. And then after the first bowl, I'd get sharp hunger pangs, so I'd have a second bowl. And then I'd still be hungrier than I was before I started eating, so I'd have a couple of more bowls before I finally felt bloated enough not to feel hungry anymore. Or often I'd run out of Cheerios, forcing me to stop.
For those who are particularly susceptible to these effects, avoiding refined carbohydrates might reduce urges and potentially help control weight, said Dr. David Ludwig, the lead author of the study and the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. 
“This research suggests that based on their effects on brain metabolism, all calories are not alike,” he said. “Not everybody who eats processed carbohydrates develops uncontrollable food cravings. But for the person who has been struggling with weight in our modern food environment and unable to control their cravings, limiting refined carbohydrate may be a logical first step.”

The more general point is that a lot of medical research makes only slow progress in the 21st Century because the inherited bias is still toward finding general mechanisms that affect everybody. But, researchers have already found most of the mechanisms that affect everybody, and now they are working in areas where people differ. Say that this Cheerios mechanism that drove up my weight affects only 5% of the populace. Conversely, Cheerios would then be neutral or even good for 95% of the population. Well, that's still 16 million people like me (at least until Schumer and Rubio are done with us, then who knows how many it will be; but that's more people to fatten up on General Mills products, fattening General Mills' bottom line, so it's all good, right?).

Still, if you can educate 16 million people to try eating in a fashion that's better for them, personally, that's a very good thing.

46 comments:

Hunsdon said...

Much weeping and gnashing of teeth from the corn lobby.

Anonymous said...

As I'm reading this I'm sitting in a Kaiser waiting room opposite a monstrously bloated Latina. She 30 something, her jowls are hanging over the collar of her blouse, her stomach is hanging over her pudenda, and her head is shaped like a squashed pumpkin. She has four hyperactive kids, all with protruding stomachs and thick upper arms. The sooner Mayor Bloomberg puts them on an all insect diet the better.

gubbler, champion of all things checheny(except criminality, corruption, and bride-stealing) said...

Culture works the same way.

Most of pop culture or junk culture give you these thrills that make you want more and more.

Certain music, movies, and TV work on the system orgasmically. Not all feelories are the same. Some feelories spike the thrill sugar in the brains and make people crave more, which is why so many people are addicted to junk culture. They often say it's crap but they gotta have more anyway cuz they just need the feelories. Even if they don't like a certain movie and find it dumb, they enjoy taking in the feelories from it.

And if you associate those feelories with certain agendas--'gay marriage' or magic negro--, those who take in the feelories also take in the ideologies.

TWILIGHT offers some feelories too, but many libs hate it cuz it urges self-control. It's like the Cullens wanna drink human blood but they control themselves and go for animal blood instead.
If people become more self-controlled, they are more difficult to control by the powers-that-be that monopolize the pop culture industry.
Free sex is sold as sexual empowerment but it really amounts to feeloric enslavement to the pop industry.
It's like drug dealers will tell you that you're cool and empowered to be getting a kick from narcotics, but you've essentially become a slave to sensations produced by substances monopolized by criminals.

Food industry sells you junk to addict you to sugar/fat calories. Pop industry sells you junk to addict you to feelories. Pushers sell you drugs to addict you to thrillories.

They all tell you that you're empowered but you're not. You've fallen under their power as they control the substance that produces the pleasure. You gotta keep buying their stuff and rely on their supplies.

The thing about feelories is they have power over you even as you hate the stuff and resist them. I find most blockbuster movies dumb and a big pain in the ass but I have to watch some of them sometimes cuz I need the kick. Like everyone else, I grew up with Lucas and Spielberg movies and they gave me wows and thrills like no one had felt before. So, a part of me still craves for that stuff once in awhile.

europeasant said...

Steve, the business of food companies is to make us eat more. Eat more equals more profit. I am sure they employ the best and the brightest to insure their profit margin is in the black.
Right now their people are working overtime to find out what is is that can make us eat more and more. Itz all for the chillum like us , peasants . The percentage of rulers and peasants has always remained the same throughout history. Of course we peasants have never had it so good in terms of material wealth. Look at me I gots my puter and 50 inch TV and I gots my chicken anytime I wants it. Itz all good!

Anonymous said...

"Much weeping and gnashing of teeth from the corn lobby."

Cornographic eating habits.

RonMexico said...

We are fatter now even after Sears' The Zone, Eades' Protein Power, Atkins et al started talking glycemic index back in mid 90s. Inviting loads of Mexicans won't improve anything but the bottom line of Coca Cola and other high glycemic peddling corps.

Melendwyr said...

Reminds me of the story of Ricardo Salvador, retold in "'Cows Eat Grass' and Other Inflammatory Statements" by Keith Goetzman. You should be able to find the article rather easily.

Hardly anyone is willing to speak certain obvious truths, because powerful interest groups ensure that those that do are punished.

denersi labi said...

This is why I have meat for breakfast. Today it was leftover sauerbraten.

kenny said...

pudenda, that's a funny word. Can I use that?

Anonymous said...

How many inches of your tall stature do you owe to Super Sugar Crisps, vitamin enriched Wonder Bread and whole milk? I never pictured you as an ingrate. Eat like an adult.

George said...

They are, after all, genii at the Times. Just give them enough time and they are likely to finally figure it out.

carol said...

sheesh, any career girl in the 60s knew you had to eat steak and salad to stay thin. No potatoes, rice, bread, no starchy vegetables like corn.

guarantee you, the ones who managed to stay thin are the ones who never paid attention to the diet zeitgeist since then.

Carol said...

How many inches of your tall stature do you owe to Super Sugar Crisps, vitamin enriched Wonder Bread and whole milk?

The enemy is time. By 50 your pancreas is whacked.

Anonymous said...

Wait. If Paleos are right about food, what else are they right about?

Gilbert P.

Anonymous said...

OT:

Male feminist Hugo Schwyzer links to Robert Lindsay as a "Men's rights activist."

http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/06/its-okay-to-call-a-guy-creepy/277256/

-The Judean People's Front

Anonymous said...

What have we heard as dietary advice since the 1960s? Replace animal fats (butter, lard, tallow) with industrial fats (corn, canola, safflower oils) replace fat in general with sugar, don't eat eggs, don't eat red meat, eat more grains and vegetables. Since most people don't particularly like vegetables, most have substituted fats and meats with starches and sugars. I can now see more mega-humans on a trip to Orlando than I saw in the entire decade of the 1960s.

Anonymous said...

Reading Florence King will supercharge your vocabulary.

Ichabod Anondroid said...

Steve is taking the part of Black and Latino patients here. There are plenty of therapies/lifestyle choices that affect racial groups differently, with smaller in-group variation. But researchers have traditionally looked at what affects white people, if only because white people are have been the majority in America.

Jokah Macpherson said...

Similarly, fatherless girls from the slums get basically the same sex education program as upper-middle class ectomorphic boys whose parents married in their late 30's.

slumber_j said...

I second the "eat meat for breakfast" thing. That's what leftovers are for.

Also--and this is boring and now a commonplace thing so feel free to check out now--if you want your cholesterol in line, chug olive oil as if you were Frank The Tank:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/26/health/mediterranean-diet-can-cut-heart-disease-study-finds.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

I'm not what you'd call a clean-living guy, and when I got my great cholesterol numbers a few years ago they pissed off a few people I know.

Or maybe I pissed them off. Anyway, a friend who was on Lipitor and not liking it at all asked me to what I attributed the outcome. After thinking about it for a second I told him that of course it was probably mostly heredity. But also, I said, our household goes through about a liter of extra-virgin olive oil a week. I gave him a 3-liter can of the stuff.

He got off the drugs and went on the (olive) juice, and it totally straightened him out. I don't know if that would work for everyone, but it's worth a try. And it's delicious...on bread with a little salt, for example.

eah said...

OT (On Topic - "Immigration Reform")

In 2010, Hispanic Americans were 1.2 times as likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic Whites

Nice to see the Senate is trying to do something about the shortage of fat people in America.

Obesity exacts a tremendous price on overweight individuals, leading to serious chronic health conditions, disability, and psychological suffering. Society-wide, the economic burden of obesity is similarly substantial,...

SMERSH said...

Heh. I sympathize with the cereal anecdote.

I've had some terrible incidents with late night breakfast cereal, when I'm kind of hungry and my impulse control is low.

Anonymous said...

So, I'd have a bowl of Cheerios. Hey, they're "fat-free" so they can't be bad for you. And then after the first bowl, I'd get sharp hunger pangs, so I'd have a second bowl. And then I'd still be hungrier than I was before I started eating, so I'd have a couple of more bowls before I finally felt bloated enough not to feel hungry anymore.

Would you eat 4 bowls of cereal in a row for breakfast, or would it be spaced out over the morning?

eah said...

A related and interesting post on 'West Hunter':

Bad Health at the Origins of Agriculture

A well-known finding is that when humans started farming they became shorter, less robust, and exhibited numerous pathologies. The new foods were apparently not so good for us...

Anonymous said...

Westhunter has a bit to say about carbohydrates and our evolution.

Anonymous said...

I've found that my morning hunger pangs depend on what I've had for dinner the night before.

If I eat a ton of carbs the night before, say a bunch of pizza or heaps of mashed potatoes, I will get hunger pangs. The hunger pangs will be more intense the more carbs I eat the night before.

If I eat few or no carbs the night before, or eat less refined carbs, I don't really get hunger pangs the next morning. And if I miss dinner altogether, I don't get hunger pangs the next morning.

Without the hunger pangs, I don't have much of an appetite in the morning and usually don't eat until lunch.

agnostic said...

"sheesh, any career girl in the 60s knew you had to eat steak and salad to stay thin. No potatoes, rice, bread, no starchy vegetables like corn."

Vogue magazine promoted the Atkins diet in 1970... my, how times have changed.

That's one of the few cultural changes in the late '70s and '80s that was a turn for the worse. All that pasta.

Anonymous said...

Nutritional goals always puzzle me. I want an breakfast which will keep me vigorous until the first signs of dementia and then kill me instantly, preferably in my sleep - I'm betting on poached eggs on wheat toast (salt and pepper of course) with a cup of black coffee. The trouble is it is so hard to make aesthetically perfect poached eggs - such a simple recipe, such a difficult execution.

Anonymous said...

Since most people don't particularly like vegetables, most have substituted fats and meats with starches and sugars.

It's not just that people don't like vegetables. Vegetables have very few calories.

Anonymous said...

I've had some terrible incidents with late night breakfast cereal, when I'm kind of hungry and my impulse control is low.

Cereal is great as a late night snack or dessert after dinner. The crunchy texture and sweetness of the cereal cleanses the palette of the salty and savory flavors of the day's meals.

Mitt Romney also likes to unwind before bed with some cereal, and he seems to be in good shape:

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/erin-burnett-cracks-up-over-romneys-cereal-interview-full-tummy-sounds-strange-from-a-grown-man/

"GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney shared some of his favorite cereals during a radio interview — much to the amusement of CNN host Erin Burnett.

Apparently, at the end of a long day of campaigning, Romney unwinds by eating a bowl of cold cereal, preferably Honey Nut Cheerios, Honey Nut Chex or Crispix. For Trix, as we all know, are for kids.

“Not much that keeps me up at night,” Romney said, admitting he’s pretty tuckered out by day’s end. “I try to eat some cold cereal at the end of the day, and a full tummy and a long day puts me right to bed.”"

Anonymous said...

Back in the 1990s, I'd get up in the morning feeling only slightly hungry, but then I'd remember that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Yeah, I used to think that too and would eat big, carb heavy breakfasts every morning. Cereal, OJ, toast, etc.

It's true that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but that's only if you're already on a carb heavy diet. If you're on a carb heavy diet and you miss breakfast, you will be absolutely miserable for the rest of the day, with hunger pangs, headaches, lack of concentration, etc. Productive intellectual work becomes difficult. So it's like a drug that way. Once you're addicted to the drug, you need constant consumption of the drug to maintain homeostasis.

But if you reduce carbs and are no longer on a carb heavy diet, you find that you don't need as large a breakfast. You can eat little and often will have little to no appetite for breakfast at all. You won't feel like eating until lunch. You can miss breakfast without feeling like a cloudy headed wreck.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 7:39 PM said: The trouble is it is so hard to make aesthetically perfect poached eggs - such a simple recipe, such a difficult execution.

Hunsdon said: "The perfection of small things." There is--for me---a real beauty in some simple task done well, a well poached egg, in this case. (I'm a scrambled man, myself.)

Seinfeld can have his perfectly crafted jokes. It sounds like your equivalent is a perfectly poached egg.

(Quite James Bondish, actually.)

slumber_j said...

"Mitt Romney also likes to unwind before bed with some cereal, and he seems to be in good shape."

Probably helps not to drink. Not that I'd know.

Anonymous said...

Didn't jogging start getting promoted at the same time as heavy carb diets?

People say jogging may not be very healthy either.

Anonymous said...

It's a survival measure. Fat floats. As the ice caps melt and the oceans rise, an extra inch of fat may be the margin you need.

Neil Templeton

Anonymous said...

"Heh. I sympathize with the cereal anecdote.

I've had some terrible incidents with late night breakfast cereal, when I'm kind of hungry and my impulse control is low."

Thank your lucky stars you don't have a plate of cannolis in your fridge. I make them only on holidays for big parties where I know there will be only a few left over. Then I toss in turn in bed until 2 am listening to them call my name.

Auntie Analogue said...


"[A] lot of medical research makes only slow progress in the 21st Century because the inherited bias is still toward finding general mechanisms that affect everybody."

THIS COMMENT WAS MADE AND PACKAGED IN A FACILITY THAT PROCESSES PEANUTS.

Ever read the above on a food package? Seems that the peanut allergy lobby's researchers - peanut allergies affecting all of 0.6-1.0 percent of human beings - really GOT THE MESSAGE OUT about how peanuts affect "everybody."

Anonymous said...

How did Americans become so stupid about food? Are we so alienated from our bodies that we can't feel what is good for us and what is not?

Anonymous said...

Anon Said:But if you reduce carbs and are no longer on a carb heavy diet, you find that you don't need as large a breakfast. You can eat little and often will have little to no appetite for breakfast at all. You won't feel like eating until lunch. You can miss breakfast without feeling like a cloudy headed wreck.
.................................................................................

I've found that if I eat a high fat (monounsaturated and saturated), moderate protein dinner, I can skip breakfast AND lunch with minimal hunger pangs. It also keeps my affect, energy, and cognitive functioning stable throughout the day.

-The Judean People's Front

Anonymous said...

I am a Dr. John McDougall low fat, high starch pescatarian and avoid fructose and alcohol. It seems to keep me pretty trim.

heartiste said...

corn and porn = bread and circuses.

Anonymous said...

Steve seems to be a victim of overly sensitive taste buds. I base this on this article, and previous articles where he mentioned that he prefers wine coolers to beer. I suffer some of the same urges, I cannot resist cookies and chocolate.

Where we differ though, I think, is that I have a appreciation for bitter and earthy foods. I would love to have a breakfast of grapefruit and oatmeal every morning but I'm too lazy to prepare one. Have you ever had a craving to pound down 4 grapefruit halves? I have worked for people wealthy enough to have all their meals prepared for them and one thing they have in common is thinness. I think part of this is that when they give the cook an order, they request an ideal instead of an impulse. Nutri system and Weight Watchers programs work on this model.

You can't blame General Mills or Kellogs for your appetite, I'd much rather be in a situation to resist abundance than to adapt to scarcity. I blame Darwiin/God that appetites are so slow to adapt to environment. Maybe when the point of peak food has been passed, pot belly covered abs might be the new ideal.

Cail Corishev said...

How did Americans become so stupid about food?

The short, short version: Around the time of WWII, German dietary research was focusing on the effects of carbs and insulin, while research in the USA was driven by radical vegetarians and grain-pushing crackpots like Kellogg. After the war, everything German was tainted by association and had to be tossed out. Unfortunately, instead of hiring the German scientists on the down-low like the USA did with the nuclear guys, we put the anti-animal-fat nutballs in charge, and we've been fattening ourselves up on cattle feed ever since.

eateverythingyetonlysmallbelly said...

It's a lot more complicated than this. The French eats metric tons of "bad" carbs but don't get fat. Likewise for the Japanese and white rice. Yet, polynesians (who had to survive long voyages in the open sea) eat ten slices of Wonderbread and become behemoths.

I predict we'll find ultimately that among the most important predictors of weight are genetics and gut flora. The latter even open up the possibility that obesity is communicable.

Anonymous said...

"The latter even open up the possibility that obesity is communicable."

I love the theories that cause us to debate determinism vs. free will. Next time I see a fat gay guy, do I say "poor guy, bad flora and toxoplasmosis g." or "gluttonous pervert"?

Dr Van Nostrand said...


eateverythingyetonlysmallbelly said...
It's a lot more complicated than this. The French eats metric tons of "bad" carbs but don't get fat. Likewise for the Japanese and white rice. Yet, polynesians (who had to survive long voyages in the open sea) eat ten slices of Wonderbread and become behemoths.

I predict we'll find ultimately that among the most important predictors of weight are genetics and gut flora. The latter even open up the possibility that obesity is communicable."


Exactly. Looks like PC has plagued nutrition as well. Different people react differently to foods. Sounds reasonable but not to researchers

The historically lean Aztecs are today fatso indios because they just cant process dairy,red meat and liquor which the Europeans are able to

Same goes for the once athletic Polynesians.

Whites and blacks get obese due to over indulgence informed by poor food choices

Lets not forget that pretty much any food product is slathered with high fructose corn syrup.

We are eating more as sedentary people than our ancestors who not a 100 years ago did not have cars or other conveniences.

Im actually surprised there arent more fat people!

For me the healthiest food is Arabic or Mediterranean food-lots of green vegetables,olive oil,yoghurt and grilled meats taken in moderation

I cant really my own cuisine-Indian.It is for the most part a heart attack on a plate!

6/28/13, 2:35 PM