Bobbie Ann Mason, in The New Yorker, on the burden of the feast. Isaac Chotiner, in The New Yorker, with a not at all gentle interview of Holocaust historian Deborah E. Lipstadt on the oldest hatred. Margaret McCartney, in the Globe and Mail, on not ...

 

(in this message: 5 new items)

 

Coca-Cola's New Simply Smoothie Strawberry Banana Contains 11.5 Teaspoons Of Sugar Per Cup

I should probably be putting "smoothie" in sneer quotes when discussing this new product.

The ingredients in this "smoothie" aren't simply water, strawberries, and bananas but rather they're strawberries, bananas, and apple, grape, and lemon juices.

Perhaps that's why in an 11.5oz serving of it, there's 44g of sugar (responsible for 85% of its 200 calories). For reference, drop for drop, actual Coca-Cola contains 15% less sugar and 33% fewer calories.

But of course no one confuses Coca-Cola for a healthy beverage.

But Coca-Cola (Simply's parent company) sure hopes you confuse this "smoothie" with one given they've festooned it with front of package shout outs that explicitly suggest it's good for you.

I'm also confused by its nutrition.

The ingredients report that 11.5oz of banana strawberry "smoothie" provides 1g of fibre - that's less than what would be found in just a 5th of a small banana, and yet to eat 44g of sugar from small bananas, you'd have to consume 18x that amount. And the 35% Vitamin C? You'd get that from just 2 strawberries.

Unless it's you doing your own blending (and even then, remember it's not likely to be as filling and you'll be able to consume a great deal more) eat your fruit, don't drink it.
 

Why Fund Or Publish Diet Studies That Have Little Relationship With Real Life?

I'm honestly not trying to be mean, but that was the thought that went through my mind when I read the recently published study, Log Often, Lose More: Electronic Dietary Self‐Monitoring for Weight Loss which purports to explore the relationship between food diary use and weight loss.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge proponent of using a food diary. Whether it's tracking calories, carbohydrates, macros, or whatever, there's ample evidence to suggest that tracking helps to maintain new behaviours, but is that what this study showed?

Well it did show that those keeping a food diary and using it more often had greater weight loss during a 24 week behavioural weight loss intervention.

So what's my problem?

I have two (well, two related to this study, clearly many overall).

The first is that the food tracker utilized was web based, and not a smartphone app. It's a minor quibble, but nonetheless, app based food diaries are the norm, why not use them? Given we have our phones wherever we go, but not our desktops and laptops, that might make a real difference to the percentage of people using them (and yes, I realize there are web browsers on phones, but that's just not the same).

I'm guessing the reason a smartphone app wasn't used is that using one would not have provided the researchers with the minutes users spent tracking, which brings me to my second, and more significant, concern.

Apparently, in the first month, successful users (those who ultimately lost more than 5% of their presenting weights) were shown to be using that web based food diary 23-24 minutes daily. And though some of that is likely consequent to learning curve, by month 6 it was still taking them 15-16 minutes of effort to record their daily meals and snacks.

Those are extremely high numbers. Having once done a stretch of 3 years of not missing a single day's use of, first a web based, and then an app based food diary, I can tell you that in short order, it really shouldn't take longer than 2-3 minutes daily to track. The learning curve is at most 2-3 weeks, and once beyond that, useful food diaries keep track of your entered meals and snacks such that re-entering them is a simple as a click.

Or at least that's how it should be.

Which means that the users in this study were either taught the world's least efficient means of keeping a food diary, or the web interface utilized was just awful (or both).

Either way, I'm not sure how the results of this study help much. Because while I'm definitely a believer when it comes to the benefits of food diary use, it would seem to me that what this study actually measured are the outcomes of people so incredibly dedicated to their behaviour change efforts, that they bothered putting up with an awful and time consuming food diary for 6 months.

[for some expanded thoughts from me on keeping a food diary, here's a piece I wrote for Greatist a number of years ago, and for full disclosure, I'm currently closing in on beta-testing our office's own food diary and behaviour change smartphone app]
 
 

No, New York State Academy Of Family Physicians (@NYSAFP), Sugar Sweetened Milk Is Not "Essential", Just Ask The @AAFP

So what possible reason could the New York State Academy of Family Physicians (NYSAFP) have to highlight in their weekly eNews circular sent to 10,447 family physicians and students, an article that claims, "Flavored milk is essential" and "a tasty way for kids to get the 9 essential nutrients that they need"?

I think it's a fair question given the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and yes, the NYSAFP's parent organization, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) all recommend that added sugars contribute no more than 5-10% of total daily calories, and yes, chocolate milk contains heaps of added sugar.

In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians explicitly discourages the consumption of sweetened or flavoured milk stating,
"It is important that you stay hydrated. However, drinks that contain sugar are not healthy. This includes fruit juices, soda, sports and energy drinks, sweetened or flavored milk, and sweet tea."
And I'm guessing the answer won't surprise you either.

The answer is money.

Specifically, $2,300.

Because that's how much the NYSAFP charges companies for a "Product Showcase" feature that goes out in 13 separate emails to reach those 10,447 family physicians and students.

That's $177 per mailing.

And what does that $177 buy the American Dairy Association North East?

Well of course it buys the ad space, exposure, and frequency, but it also buys credibility.

I'll let the NYSAFP explain,

So NYSAFP, if you're reading, please issue a correction, and to that end, here's an invitation for you. If you'd like to send out some information about what happens when chocolate milk is removed from school lunches to your 10,447 physician and student members, please take this as my permission to freely republish my blog post that covered the study on this very matter that found that taking chocolate milk out of schools did not affect the students' total daily milk or dairy consumption, that on average all students were meeting their daily recommended amounts of dairy (recommendations which by the way are almost certainly higher than the evidence would suggest they need be), that kids who swapped from chocolate milk to white milk drank pretty much the same amount of white as they did chocolate (unless you think 4/5ths of a tablespoon of milk is a lot), and that by removing chocolate milk from the school, in the first month alone nearly half of the initial chocolate milk drinkers switched to white and in so doing, saved themselves piles of calories and the nearly 2 full cups of monthly added chocolate milk sugar.

Or at the very least, kill that ill-advised ad and maybe revisit your policies around vetting sponsors.

[Thanks to Beth Locke for sending the NYSAFP's eNews my way]