Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Childhood Obesity "Epidemic"

angree kid 

You can’t click on the internet without being smacked square in the kisser with a headline about a fat kid epidemic in America.  It seems that while we’ve been busy working out, cleansing and choking down kale salads our kids have blowing up like little balloons.  Sociologists, nutritionists and societal know-it-alls are beating their heads against the vending machine trying to figure out why this is happening.  Theories abound.  Let’s examine some of the most popular ones.

Ignorance:  Kids and their parents just don’t know any better.

This is the argument you hear from post graduate health zealots.  If it were up to them they’d have government yahoos monitor everything we feed our kids.  Far-fetched? Not really,they've already started. Over the past few years there have been at least 76 documented cases of elementary school lunchroom monitors confiscating lunches and sending kids home with letters outlining what is and what is not okay for little Becky’s lunch box. Do schools really have this kind of authority?  Well, at least one of our Supreme Court Justices (Kagan), believes that our Constitution provides for such activities. Trust me; a government who can tell you what you can eat is a government that’s too big to swallow. As for me, they can have my carne asada burrito when they peal it from my cold, dead fingers. 

What are they thinking anyway?  Do they really think we are so stupid that we don’t know that there is a nutritional difference between sushi and a bag of Fritos?  Does it take a master’s degree to know that Twinkies and raw almonds are not nutritionally equal?  I’m not sure it’s arrogance or ignorance but the nutrition Nazis think we’re morons.   

As a culture we know more about nutrition than any other in the history of the world, yet we’ve never been fatter.  Is lack of education really the problem? 

It’s the gluten and dairy products – “humans can’t digest them”.

It’s true that celiac disease is a real thing and those suffering from it truly need to avoid gluten.  It’s also true that celiac disease is extremely rare.  Statistically speaking, it’s not like one kid per class has it or one kid per school, it’s more like one kid per district.  Anti-gluten websites often sight a study from a few years ago indicating that 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease, however when you examine the study itself you find that the study was populated by subjects who already suspected that they suffer from it.  So what the 1 in 133 means is that of those who believe they have celiac disease 1 in 133 actually do.  That’s like having a group of people with broken legs take dance lessons and concluding that 1 out of 2 people can’t learn the electric slide.

All that being said, cutting out or limiting gluten will most certainly result in weight loss for the simple reason that most snack foods and many prepared foods contain gluten.  Cutting it out is a great way to drop a few pounds but it’s unlikely that gluten is the source of the childhood obesity problem.

Fast Food

The amount of fast-food kids consume is definitely part of the equation.  When I was a kid fast food was a rare treat; today it’s a staple.  According to the Pew Research Center there are about 160,000 fast food restaurants in America today, that’s about 4 for every single high school.  These are visited by over 50 million people per day.  That’s a lot of chicken nuggets.  When kids aren’t eating Whoppers they’re eating other prepared foods that are almost as bad.  About 34.9% of the daily calories in an American diet come in the form of restaurant food or foods prepared outside the home.  We eat out a lot. 
We all know that this stuff lacks nutritional value so why do we eat there?  CBS News wanted to know just that so it partnered up with an actual researcher, Sarah Rydell, MPH, and the University of Minnesota.  Together they surveyed 600 fast food customers asking them to rank written statements from 1 to 11 the biggest reasons they choose fast food.  Here are the top five:  1.Quick.   2. Easy to get.  3. It tastes good.  4. Its inexpensive.  5. Too busy to cook.  “Nutrition” was included in the survey but ranked dead last – indicating that no one is under the illusion that fast food is healthy.

GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms)

GMO’s have gotten a bad name of late and I don’t blame people for being suspicious.  The term ‘genetically modified’ just sounds evil. It conjures up images of cloned sheep with pipes sticking out of their necks and ears growing on the backs of lab rats, but it doesn’t involve any of those things.  All it really means is that science has been able to speed up the process of cross breeding plants which man has been doing since the beginning of agriculture.  Back in the day some farmer decided to cross one type of wheat that tasted really good with another that was that didn’t taste as good but it was more resistant to disease and he created a new breed of wheat that tasted better and was more stable.  This process worked fine but took years.  Today companies like Monsanto are able to combine the most desirable genetics of lots of different wheats together in one plant in only a few months.  Thanks to genetically modifying foods we can grow 8x the amount of food we were able to produce just 50 years ago. 
If you’re under the age of 35 you have been eating GMO’s in one form or another since you were born. 

So,is there any way that genetically modified foods might be responsible for little Spencer catching a case of the tubbies?  No.  Remember GMO’s are simply a hybrid, the plant is like any other plant.  What we’re really talking about here are fruits and vegetables anyway and if kids were eating those we wouldn’t have a problem. 

Oh, what about meats?  Most of the beef and lamb we get at the market has been injected with both synthetic and natural hormones in order to make them grow faster and be more resistant to disease.  According to a 2010 study from Cornell University, some of these hormones leave traces in meats we buy at the store.  Sounds bad, I know, yet these traces of hormones are insignificant in comparison to the amount of hormones we produce ourselves.  More importantly, these hormones never make it past your digestive system, they get burned up stomach acid.  For over thirty years several scientists have tried to prove that hormone levels in foods are detrimental to human health, but none have been successful.  To be fair, there was a study out of Italy that linked hormone injected beef to health problems in consumers, but this study has never been duplicated.  It helps to remember that this took place shortly after Europe killed off most of its cows due to mad cow disease and were forced into buying Canadian and U.S. beef.  The Italians had been pushing for an embargo so they could jack up the prices on their own meat products.

Early puberty is a growing concern and often blamed on hormone injected livestock.  Again, there has only been one study indicating that hormones in beef products cause early puberty.  This study has never been duplicated either, which means that it was probably false.  If Amber’s making the turn into womanhood faster than you expected it might have more to do with the amount of TV she’s watching.  A study recently published in Biologist Magazine (a respected publication in Great Brittan) established a possible link between the amount of television watched by children and a reduction in the body’s production of the hormone melatonin.  Melatonin, among other things, helps regulate the body’s internal clock.  Children produce a lot more than adults do so when that amount is reduced in a child the body thinks Suzy is older than she is and bodah-bing bodah-boom, puberty at age 10.

Are GMO’s and hormone injected livestock causing the obesity thing?  Not likely.
Laziness, just plain laziness

It’s my humble contention that laziness is one of the biggest factors affecting our ample tikes; laziness on my part, your part and our kid’s hind parts.  We can all agree that our kids sit around too much.  They camp out in front of the TV for hours on end and when they aren’t doing that they’re texting or playing some dumb-ass video game.  As parents we know that they shouldn’t and we tell them so, but how are we supposed to fight it?  We could go all Betty Davis on their plump little asses but we know and they know that we won’t be able to monitor them 24/7 and when we get home we’re tired and we want to sit around and rot our brains in front of the tube too.  Even if you can enforce it at home they’ll just run down to their buddy’s house and camp out there.  It’s almost impossible.

We’re also too lazy to do battle with our schools.  Instead of providing teachers and equipment for PE they take every dime they get and hire more administrators.  Even when our schools do include PE as part of the curriculum some stupid lawyer seus them for making the kids run around the track or for forcing them to play dodge ball or making Cindy exercise when she’s… well, you know.  We stand aside when they spend millions of dollars on IPads (which almost every kid already has) instead of planting grass in the school’s sports field. 

We’re too lazy to make our kid’s lunch, hoping they’ll eat the wonderful fruits and vegetables at the lunchroom salad bar.  NEW FLASH: Kid’s aren’t eating that stuff no matter how fresh and organic they are, they’re buying Corn Chips on the black market. 
Laziness is not a problem of science, it’s sociological in nature which makes it almost impossible to effect on a large scale.  We could definitely use a Claim Jumper sized helping of common sense and a side of chutzpa to wash it down. 


Yes, it’s true – we are passing down chubby genes to more and more kids.  Super obese kids are likely to carry a couple of different genes that not only cause the body to remain unsatisfied no matter how much they eat but also cause the child to be more inclined to be sedentary.  When a person is born with these genes there is no choice in the matter, they’re going to be big.  People like to think it’s a lack of will power and poor parenting, but when it comes to genetics that’s simply not true.  When a kid carries the obesity genes his body reacts totally different to food than that of another.  It’s physiology, not opinion.  Today we know that some people are predisposed to cancer due to their genetics but no one blames them if they get cancer.  No one chooses cancer and no one chooses to be 400lbs.  Who would? 

Should these kids exercise and participate in PE like everyone else?  Hell yes.  Just know that whatever results they get will be different from other kids and they should not be ostracized or ridiculed for it. 

The last thing I’d like you to consider is whether or not we truly have a childhood obesity epidemic at all.


Everyone who writes about childhood obesity is pretty much using the same source of information: The Center for Disease Control (CDC).  Their evaluation is based solely on Body Mass Index (BMI) which is a number arrived at by dividing a person’s weight by the square of their height and multiplying by 703.  This number is then compared to the BMI’s of every other kid their age and if your kid falls short of the trimmest 15% they are considered overweight.  This means that 85% of American kids are classified as overweight no matter what.  Am I the only one that thinks this is crazy?

“But Jake, I see fat kids everywhere I go.”  I would answer that we’ve always had fat kids and always will, maybe it just seems like more because we are constantly being reminded of it by the media. 
Critics claim and rightly so, that because BMI does not measure percent of body fat it can’t be accurate in determining whether or not a kid is overweight.  Some kids are just plain bigger than other kids – if your kid tends to have a dense bone structure (people of Irish decent tend to have thicker skulls – no, seriously, we do) or thicker muscles they will have a higher BMI and the government will call them fatso.  Let’s say you’ve got a big Polish kid in Pennsylvania who, based on his genetics, will probably end up being about 6’4” and 230lbs – he’s going to be compared to the Viet Namese kid in California who’s destined to be 5’7” and 129lbs.  This is not a fair comparison, but this is how the CDC does it.
In light of this evidence, it’s safe to assume that the percent of overweight and obese kids in our society is greatly exaggerated. 

Even so, can our kids be fitter? Yes, but how can we help?

I wish I had an answer.  Many of us try to affect the kids by setting a good example and that does help according to a UCSD study in 2012.  Another UCSD study indicated that kids get better results when the whole family participates in a guided fitness and weight-loss program than when they do it on their own.  It seems to be a whole family thing.  Be careful though, on the emotional and psychological side of this looms resentment and self-loathing as the child feels that his or her parents do not love them because they’re fat. 

Another way we can help our kids might be extracted from several responsible studies that show how higher educated people watch less TV, make more money and, you guessed it – their kids are less likely to have weight problems.  If we turn off the electronics and walk the dog after dinner we are likely to make some progress. 
When it comes to food, just know that your kid will eat crap when you’re not around so our big opportunity for better nutrition is dinner time.  Take the time to prepare a healthy meal at home.  I know you’re tired and it’s so tempting to pick up some take-out or heat up a prepared Trader Joe’s meal, but if we try a little bit we can break those bad habits.  It also helps to eat dinner earlier.  Many of us are super busy and after work is the only time we have to run errands so we end up having dinner at 7:30 or 8pm.  Try going home and having dinner first and then run your errands after that.
If you are a big person, your kids are likely to be big too - just own it.  Not every girl is going to be a movie star and every boy isn’t going to be an Olympic gymnast.  Loving and accepting not just fit children, but every kid will go a long way to making a healthier society.  Enforcing restrictions on TV and computer use and establishing good habits are our responsibilities, but remember that results will vary.
Well, that’s my two cents and it’s worth every penny.

Jake Holmes

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Get The Most of Your Day

Get The Most of Your Day
office exercise 
Bernsie recently came home with a new fancy-shmancy pedometer that her company handed out to all of their employees.  A pedometer isn't a device that measures how many times you pet your cat, that's a pet-ometer.  No, a pedometer is a device that you wear on your body that counts the number of steps you take.   Each participant is encouraged to log 10,000 steps per day and for those who do there will be drawing with prizes and stuff. I’ve seen other people using similar devices.  Some even estimate calorie expenditure and come with a whole program where you can manage and track not only your physical activity, but your nutrition as well.  The accuracy of these products is not an exact science, even though they market them that way, but what the hell? – It’s all relative anyway.  I applaud almost any effort to get us moving more.
Last year I posted an article about a study that found that people who are active during the day are more likely to be physically fit than those who reserve their efforts for the gym.  Since then a few more studies have come up with similar findings.  Why? The most common theory is that when we plan on working out after work or plan on attending a weekend boot-camp class we consciously or unconsciously take it easy on ourselves the rest of the time. 
Upping the amount you move is easier than you might think and it doesn’t have to take much more time off your already busy schedule.  Below I’ve listed a number of ways you can get more exercise, burn more calories and tighten up that back 40 just living life.
I’m reluctant to put this first….
Wake up 30 minutes earlier.
Studies upon studies have shown that early risers are trimmer and mentally and physically healthier than their later rising counterparts.  Use the extra time to walk around the block, take Fido with you, he’ll appreciate the extra attention and show you by chewing up only one of your new Pradas.  Sit down and have a healthy breakfast rather than wolfing down that “healthy” egg sandwich thing Starbucks is pushing on you every morning.  Pray/meditate.  Leave for work 8 minutes earlier than usual. Being early lowers your stress and less stressed people are thinner.
Turn housework into an Olympic event.
I haven’t done this yet but it sounds fun.  First make a list of all the housework that needs to be done that day.  Second, stage all your cleaning stuff for easy access.  Put on some bumpin’ music and set the stopwatch function on your smartphone.  Now go to town. Work through all the items on your list as rapidly as possible.  Work up a sweat.  Post your time on your refrigerator and next week try to beat your record.  Better yet, challenge a girlfriend to do the same - loser buys lunch.
Park in the back of the lot
Whether you’re running errands or going to the movies, park in the far back of the parking lot.  You’ll reduce your stress level, there are always spaces available in the back and you’ll save your car doors because people with door-flinging kids tend to park up front.  The walk will do you good too.
Be active at the office.
Take the stairs.  We’ve heard this for years and the average commitment to it is about 2.6 days.  Even so, it's worth trying to make it a habit.  Rather than making inter-office phone calls, walk down the hall to meet with whomever for whatever. This personal touch will help boost your energy level and burn calories, but will also promote more buy-in to your needs and ideas.  Extra face time will make your co-workers, underlings and bosses see you as a player.
Stand up and stay standing when someone visits you in your office or cubicle.  Not only will you be getting more exercise, but it makes the other person feel valued and creates in them an impression of you as a leader.
Practice Perfect Posture
Maintaining a healthy posture is truly one of the easiest ways to feel better, look better and trim down, yes – trim down.  Sitting or standing with poor posture hampers your metabolism.  A slow metabolism lowers your energy level, causes lower back pain, makes your tummy stick out and promotes weight gain. Oh, it also causes depression. How?  Over 90% of your serotonin receptors are in your gastrointestinal tract, poor posture cramps that tract preventing healthy digestion and reduces your uptake of serotonin.  You’re sitting up now aren’t you?
Start a walking group in your neighborhood or at the office
A recent study found that when we exercise in groups we are 4 times more likely to stick to it.  Workout partners are less effective because in any given week one or both of you will have reason to cancel and once you start cancelling the partnership is doomed.  Groups are proven to be more consistent.  Each member will occasionally have a reason to cancel, but it’s unlikely that you’ll all have conflicts on the same days.  There will almost always be a few people around to walk with. 

I know for a fact that this guy will be walking around your neighborhood today.

See if your company will sponsor your group with T-shirts or an extra 15 minutes of lunch time, they might even subsidize your cross-trainers. Similar programs have proven to save the company money through better health insurance rates, fewer sick days, and greater productivity. 
If these little tips sound like commons sense it’s because they are, but in this world of adverscience and pie in the sky promises from supplement companies common sense is desperately needed.

Well, that’s my two cents and it’s worth every penny.
Jake Holmes

Friday, April 19, 2013

Attractiveness - Why We Want It and How To Get It

The Truth About Why We Exercise

One thing that differentiates my approach to fitness and specifically the Pilates Method from every other trainer out there is that fact that cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility, although important, take a back seat to your back seat. In other words, my primary focus is to make a more attractive you. Is this shallow? Yes, but for you as the client, it gives you the biggest bang for your fitness buck.

Now before you read this you’ll have to promise me that you’ll keep in mind that this article reflects scientific and sociological research. Read the article all the way through because there is good news for everyone.

Study upon study has made clear that attractiveness is the greatest determining factor to a happy and successful life. I know this might suck a little, but the naked truth is we live in a world of subjective perceptions, first impressions and snap judgments. Whether we’re picking up the kids from school, interviewing for a job, or sipping margaritas poolside, the people who see us evaluate us and they do so in the blink of an eye. In less than a second an impression is made. As unfair or unqualified as they are, these impressions have an effect on our lives through the people we meet, the jobs we get, who we fall in love with and the children we produce. All those things affect our self-esteem and the whole damn thing goes around again in a Kinseyan death spiral.

In a 2004 study, Kanazawa and Kovar theorized that, attractive people were likely to be more intelligent. Why? None of the researchers committed to any one theory, but they did believe it related to natural selection. The superior cave man was taller than most, had broad shoulders, a small waist and could beat the living crap out of smaller, funnier and cuter cavemen; as a result he commanded more resources. He had a big, warm cave with an ocean view and ate out a lot. This caveman got the hot cavewomen. What’s a hot cavewoman? Broad hips for producing strong cavebabies, big boobs for feeding them and a bangin' backyard. After thousands of generations things haven’t changed a whole lot. The dudes who are most capable in our economy tend to have their choice of women – they will choose the most attractive ones to mate with. Whether or not this is fair doesn’t really matter, its biology.

We’d like to believe that we’ve evolved past this primitive coding, but Kanazawa and Kovar don’t believe we have. Even though men don’t need to possess the strength and club speed to whack a brontosaurus to death just to show a girl a good time doesn’t mean that women have given up on height, strength and a square jaw as desirable features. (eHarmony, in response to hundreds of thousands of complaints recently resorted to only matching women with taller men.) Even in the nerdy domain of high-tech where brains count for a lot its better to be a good looking geek than a homely one, especially when you’re trying to get others to follow your lead and invest in your ideas.

This doesn't always bear out. Women often choose less attractive guys for a boyfriends or husbands (called the Bernadine factor), but this is shoulder-hopping the biological wave. In fact, a UCLA and Univeriversity of New Mexico study indicated that no matter who a chick is partnered with at the moment she’s more likely to cheat with more attractive guys during ovulation. So even though she prefers to be married to the less attractive guy for any number of reasons, her ovaries know the difference and they want Kobe Bryant. Science sucks.

Now it’s important to define attractiveness because people, especially women, get attractiveness confused with beauty and thinness. In this context, attractiveness refers to the general perception of the majority of a society arrived at scientifically. One might believe that perceptions vary from one society to another, but international studies suggest that there really isn’t too much difference other than men in drought ridden areas prefer women with a bit more meat on their bones.

Another important thing to note about attractiveness is that facial symmetry (beauty) only accounts for a small portion of the attractiveness quotient. Body shape (shape, not size) accounts for a lot more schwing. For women, what counts in the eyes of males is different than how women evaluate themselves and each other. Males are much more attracted to lower waist to hip ratios than they are facial symmetry or over-all size. Sure, some studies show that in a “singles” situation men will go for the prettier faced, narrower hipped woman, but those same studies showed that this interest is more so for the prospect of a brief sexual encounter. In other words, he is less likely to consider those women to be serious candidates for marriage and children. It’s the curvier girl that’s proportionate that he wants to make babies with and science backs that up with sperm counts – hippier girls evoke higher sperm counts from their sex partners. I’m not dis’n skinny chicks, skinny chicks can also have dramatic waist to hip ratios. But if you’re in the less curvy beautiful faced category, finding quality long term partners can be a greater challenge, you’ll have to move more slowly and be more discriminating than your curvier friends.

So maybe by now you’re thinking you’ll never find a guy because you don’t have that stupid waist/hip thing, or you're a dude that doesn't fit the the square-jawed, 6'2" ideal, don’t despair because we can hack the program. Here’s how. The way we move is also an important factor in attractiveness as a 2007 study points out. In this collaboration between Texas A&M professor Louis Tassinary and NYU smarty Kerri Johnson, they found that the way women and men walked made a hella-difference to their perceived attractiveness. Over 700 people were shown videos of people walking and were told to evaluate their attractiveness on a scale of 1-10. The results showed that women’s scores jumped by 50% when they swayed their hips. When males swaggered their scores doubled. Sways and swaggers have nothing to do with beauty, they have everything to do with confidence. So maybe you’re a woman who doesn’t have such banging curves or you’re a guy who’s height or shoulders don’t have the Charles Atlas seal of approval, you can bridge the gap with a little attitude. Just work it.

So how does this relate to Pilates and specifically the way we do it? We get women of all shapes, sizes and levels of ability, but our goals are pretty much the same: trim the waist and lift the butt (the waist to hip ratio). Improving this ratio always yields positive results. Sure, some need overall weight-loss and that happens in time, some would like to be stronger and more flexible and those too will happen, but body shap and attitude makes the greatest impression on others and that impression counts. First impressions set the tone for all of our relationships, social, professional or otherwise and those relationships set a course for our lives. So, it should be clear… if you want a better life, do a better workout - the kind of workout that gives you the results that matter most.

Well, that's my two cents and it's worth every penny.

Jake Holmes

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Protein in the Morning

I Love The Smell of Protein in The Morning...

Surfing the internet for the latest useful studies on nutrition is more fun than an OSHA seminar, but it’s especially rewarding when I find information that allows me to eat as a weight loss strategy. The University of Missouri recently concluded a study indicating that eating a high protein breakfast can help curb cravings for sugary snacks throughout the day and this data they hoped would be supported with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)measuring brain activity particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for stimulating cravings for chicken nuggets and chocolate covered prezels.
The study involved about 20 women, all overweight and under the age of 21. In order to get a base line of brain activity, Heather Leidy, the study overlord and her team first had the subjects fill out a questionnaire (no idea what kinds of things they asked them about) and then took MRI’s of each of their brains before dinner time. Next, they divided them into three groups, one group skipped breakfast, another ate a cereal breakfast while the last group ate a high protein(35 grams) breakfast. Otherwize the menus were matched nutritionally for dietary fiber, sugar, and fat and each totaled 350 calories.
During the study all the participants were interviewed in the afternoons and the protein group reported feeling satiated and largely craving free where the breakfast skippers and low protein cereal group just kept asking where they were hiding the Milk Duds. Each subject was again subjected to an MRI. The MRI’s for the high protein group showed that they did, in fact, have lower brain activity in the craving area of their brains while the same area of the cereal group’s brains had mutated into Mapquest screenshots of the closest Taco Bell.
This isn’t the first study to extoll the virtues of a high protein diet, but it’s the first that I’m aware of that actually employed magnetic imaging to back up the feelings or impressions of the subjects. Love it - Science.
The question on all your minds is what should we eat for breakfast? Well, the study subjects ate breakfasts of 350 calories or less with 35 grams of protein. Okay, this is next to impossible, packing that amount of protein into breakfast is like trying to stuff Niki Minaj’s backside into a pair of our own Dr. Laura’s skinny jeans. The study kinda pulled a fast one. In order to get to the 35g and stay below the 350cal threshold they served pork loin, and lean beef steaks for breakfast.
Below I’ve included some menus that contain actual breakfast foods and contain 35g or protein but wasn't able to stay below the 350 calories. (Some of these are a little high in fat, but at breakfast time fat isn’t too big a deal as you’ll probably burn most of it as energy throughout the day.)
The Farmer’s Daughter (257 calories, 29g protein, 13g fat, 0g sugar)
2 eggs (156 calories, 13g protein,10.6g fat, 0g sugar)
1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese(101 calories, 16g protein, 2g fat,
0g Sugar)
The Hippie Chick (3,330 Calories, 36g protein, 90g fat, 387g sugar)
9 22oz acai bowls(each: 370 calories,4g protein, 10g fat, 43g sugar)
The Lean-a Latina (564 calories, 33g protein, 20g fat, 0g sugar)
2 eggs (156 calories, 13g protein, 10.6g fat, 0g sugar)
1 cup refried beans(220 calories,12g protein, 5g fat, 0g sugar)
2 flour tortillas (188 calories,8 protein, 4.6g fat, 0g sugar)
The McHottie (600 calories: 36g protein, 24g fat, 6g sugar)
2 Egg McMuffins (each: 300 calories,18g protein, 12g fat, 3g sugar)
The Star-Buckwild(735 calories, 34g protein, 70g fat, 131g sugar)
1 Power Protein Plate (290 calories,14g protein, 19g fat, 31g sugar)
1 Café Latte w/ Soy Milk with enough Mocha Syrup for 11 lattes  
  (445 calories, 20g protein, 50.5g fat,100g sugar)

The Queb-ecky, aye (408 calories, 40g protein, 24g fat, 1.4g sugar)
4 pieces of Canadian Style Bacon (142 calories, 20g protein, 5g fat,0g sugar)
1 goose egg (266 calories, 20g protein,19g fat, 1.4g sugar)

My, My, My Delilah (398 calories, 39g protein, 19g fat, 27.5g sugar)
½c Greek Yogurt (65 calories,12g protein, 0g fat, 4.5g sugar)
2 Scrambled eggs w/ 1/4c feta(256 calories, 23g protein, 18g fat, 9g sugar)
1 slice whole wheat toast(77 calories, 4g protein, 1g fat,14g sugar)
The Bernadine, All American (686 calories, 35g protein, 43g fat, 6.5g sugar)
2 hard boiled eggs (156 calories,13g protein, 10g fat, 0g sugar)
2 slices whole wheat toast with a butt-load of peanut butter
(530 calories, 22g protein, 33g fat,6.5g sugar)
The Orangutan (840 calories, 36g protein, 3g fat, 144g sugar)
3 16oz Protein Berry Pizzaz Jamba Juice Smoothies
(each: 280 calories, 12g protein,1g fat, 48g sugar)
As you can see from the menus above it’s not so easy squeezing 35 grams of protein into breakfast. This is especially tough if you insist on eating fruit and fruit juices for breakfast. I guess the point is to try to fit some protein into every meal and you'll probably experience less cravings for the naughty stuff.
Well, that's my two cents and it's worth every penny.
Jake Holmes

Friday, March 15, 2013

Is Health Consciousness Making Us Stupid?

Marketing Tricks
That Make Us Fat
Does being health conscious make you… well, not so bright?  I don’t mean to offend anyone, but according to a couple of different studies published this month we find that people who consider themselves health conscious are more likely to fall for simple labeling tricks and could also use a little extra help reading menus. 

The first study comes to us from Cornell.  Yes, Cornell, a bastion of blue blood brilliance.  They wanted to know if the color of nutritional labels made a difference in the perceptions of consumers.  Specifically, if the nutritional information was printed in the color green would people assume the product was healthier than a similar product label printed in the color red. 

93 Cornell students were told to imagine that they were standing in the grocery store line and they were hungry.  42% of these kids had to first imagine that they were a housekeeper and that’s why they’d be standing in a grocery store line.  Anyway, they then showed these future Congress members images of candy bars with clearly readable nutrition labels, some with green font and some in red.  Regardless of the fact that the calorie content was identical they overwhelmingly chose the green as the healthier (lower calorie) choice.  The researchers pulled the same stunt with green vs. white labels and fooled them again. What’s curious and delights me to no end is that the students that considered themselves the most health conscious were the worst candy bar pickers of all. 

The next study comes to us compliments of the Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois and some promising young Oklahoma State students.  These smarties wanted to know how effective calorie values on menus were in helping people make healthier (lower calorie) choices.  They put three types of menus into a local eatery.  All had the same foods on them, but one had no calorie reference, another had a numerical value for the calories and the last had the numerical values and a traffic light with a red light, yellow light or green light (the red being the highest in calorie, yellow medium and green lowest).  Duh. 

Here’s how it all shook out.  There wasn’t too much difference between what the patrons ordered from the no listed calorie menus and the numeric calorie menus.  There was a difference however, in what people ordered from the menus with the traffic lights.  People actually ordered lower calorie entrées.  This is wonderful.  Our over-eating problems might actually be solved… Oh, wait a minute.  It turns out that the traffic light patrons made up the difference by ordering more desserts and appetizers.  Crap.  Here’s the fun part.  Once again, the most health conscious patrons were most affected by the traffic light menus while the least health conscious were not impressed by the stupid lights at all, they were able to evaluate their choices just fine with the numeral values. 

The authors of the study were very enthusiastic and want the government to add some sort of symbol requirement to the calorie content on the menus.  As a side note, the majority of patrons didn’t like the traffic light thing.  I don’t like it much either so let me know what you think about the symbols below.


Now if you’re health conscious this isn’t meant to lessen your concern or make you feel dumb.  Eating healthy is super important.  What I think we should pull from these studies is that the advertisers and marketers are way ahead of us.  They know before we do what kinds of imagery, colors and fonts we are likely to associate with health and nutrition.  They think we’re suckers.  Just because that pasta comes in an ugly, recycled looking matt finished box baring the image of some Oregon hippy doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
Well, that's my two cents and it's worth every penny,
Jake Holmes