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Showing posts from October, 2012

Dolly Parton and the art of dieting

Sometime back in the early 1990s or thereabouts, Dolly Parton was being interviewed by the famous BBC chat show host, Michael Parkinson. When asked about what diet she used to keep her figure, she replied: “Honey, if you want to lose weight, get your head out of the slop bucket”.  In other word, just eat less. No truer words were ever uttered in the vast realm of advice on dieting. This year we have seen a number of scientific papers published on sugar sweetened beverages, some designed to boost weight gain and some designed to induce weight loss, all adding to the belief that sugar sweetened beverages are both the cause and the cure for modern obesity. A recent paper from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard will help put things in perspective, but only for those wishing to have an accurate perspective.
The first [1] of the sugar papers looked at four groups each given 1-liter of a beverage per day for 6 months. Group 1 receiver a liter of regular sugar sweetened Coke. Group 2 were…

A bad day at the lab for GM reserach

During this summer, I recall reading in the Sunday Times that the environmental NGOs are beginning to re-think their strategy on GM foods. I see some evidence that this is the case since I cannot find any mention of the following paper on any of their websites: Séralini et al (2012) “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize”[1]. The publication of this paper has led to the greatest backlash by the scientific community that I have seen in 4 decades in this business. Essentially, Séralini published a paper showing that rats exposed to a GM food (maize) and a herbicide (which is used with the resistant GM crop) developed breast tumors significantly faster and to a greater extent than controls rats over 104 weeks (2 years). The most significant critic is the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which is the independent body charged with protecting consumer health in the EU and which is the judge, on the consumers’ behalf, of all scienti…

Fat Englanders ~ 200 years ago

(Apologies for non-publication of some recent blogs but China still poses Internet challenges)
William Wadd, born in London in 1776. He was from a medical family and he followed in that tradition, becoming a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1801. After a distinguished career in medicine, he was appointed one of the Surgeons Extraordinary to King George IV in 1820. Wadd wrote notes on his favourite topic, obesity and although he always proposed to tidy them up for into a book, they were in fact published in unedited form in1816. His book (still available on Amazon) bore the lengthy title: ”Cursory Remarks on Corpulence, Or, Obesity Considered As A Disease: With a Critical Examination Of Ancient And Modern Opinions, Relative To Its Causes and Cure.” What is singularly important about this book is its comments on obesity and its prevalence, its perceived causes and consequences and on its social context all at the turn of the 18th century. For those of us interested i…