Thursday, 28 April 2016

For decades, doctors encouraged patients to consume trans-fat laden oils and margarine. Why?

Don't believe me? Look at the facts. From the late 1970s, doctors persuaded  many patients to give up the butter they had previously used on their sandwiches and for cooking, and instead use margarine and vegetable oils.

As the BMJ records, there was never any good evidence that butter was contributing to cardiovascular disease. In fact, even in 1980, it was widely known that the French were consuming large amount of butter and full fat cheese, with relatively low levels of arterial disease compared to other Western countries.
Note that while dairy food does contain trans fats, these fats are completely different in their health effects from the industrially produced trans fats from hydrogenation and other processing of vegetable oils. You can find a comprehensive review of this at
Adv. Nutr. 2: 332-354, 2011

Many people currently in their 60s were conned into giving up butter and instead spent the next few decades using vegetable oils, margarines and processed foods, many of which were high in industrial trans fats.
It is only very recently that trans fats have been largely eliminated from most Australians' diets, but the damage to coronary arteries from decades of medically sanctioned consumption of trans fats is extremely difficult to reverse.
Even as recently as 2012, the Medical Journal of Australia (Editorial MJA 196 (1) 18 June 2012 ) reported many common foods such as, breakfast bars, chips, popcorn, savoury and sweet biscuits, and pastries contained unacceptable levels of trans fats, often without labelling. This particularly applied to the cheaper brands.

Those health nutters who have always believed in consuming the same natural, minimally processed foods that their ancestors had eaten for centuries never fell for the margarine and hydrogenated vegetable oil  trap. They didn't need to read all the scientific literature to tell them that doctors didn't have a clue. We stayed with butter and olive oil, ghee and coconut cream. And we certainly didn't eat bars for breakfast.

Coles canola oil 4.6g Trans fat/100ml

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

How well do you understand food labels? Try this quick quiz

I have 2 brands of the same product. The ingredient list is the same for both.  Neither contains any artificial sweetener or alcohol. Both have been processed the same way and both are about 21% protein. Numbers are per 100g serve.

                     Energy   Carbs   Sugars   Fat      SaturatedFat   Fibre           Sodium

Brand A     1550kJ    11g        1g          21g        13g                28g               30mg

Brand B      1620kJ   39.5g    <1g        23g        14.5g             not stated      16mg

What is the difference? Why?

If you would vary your insulin depending on which brand you were using, ask yourself whether you really get it.

Added 29.4: if you understand the above, you should also understand why the food label on a related grocery item I bought at Woolies today showed ingredients adding to 120g/100g. (no, I was not adding the sugar and total carbs together, or counting both the saturated and total fat, etc)

How is your maths? Are your diabetes and steroid algorithms as good as mine?

Oops! Nearly half of this standard 9X9 Sudoku is missing, but there is still enough information to determine the next move. Just add one correct number.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

I'm sick of hearing doctors say healthy eating is expensive

It is completely untrue to say that take-away and junk food are cheap calories, and that people eat them because healthy food is expensive. Do the maths.
Yes, activated organic jimbu salad from a trendy hipster cafe is beyond many families, but there are cheaper options.
Even if you buy coca-cola cans in bulk for the cheapest price around here, you are still paying $A10.00 per kilo for the carbohydrate content. The same supermarkets sell rice for a dollar per kilo, or about SA1.40 per kilo of carbohydrate. And take-away is hugely expensive as a source of protein.

These PNG highlanders lived on not much more than a dollar a day, had very little formal education and didn't speak English, but they knew how to eat healthy. No, they are not cannibals, but they do know how to set up an interesting photo for a gringo.
What little communal money they had was spent on 20 kg sacks of rice and the cheapest fish they could buy - usually boxes of tinned mackerel. They grew/gathered vegetables and occasionally caught small animals and birds in the forest. They never bought take-away or junk food. They couldn't afford it.

Attempts by health groups to supply fresh vegetables to people in remote parts of central Australia are completely misguided, expensive and wasteful when the produce wilts before reaching its destination. Tinned and dried vegetables are extremely nutritious. I know of no research which shows a convincing health benefit of fresh vegetables over an ample supply of preserved ones.

In fact, in his book Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond theorised that learning to manage without fresh produce contributed to the success of Western civilization. In fact it is really only since the end of WW2 that much of northern Europe has had year-round access to fresh salad vegetables.

Take-away and junk food are industries supported by ignorance, not lack of money.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Denmark's FAT TAX was a disaster. Doctors should apologise for the damage it caused.

As noted in previous posts, there was NO evidence from randomised trials that reduction in consumption of dairy fat would have beneficial health effects. Had researchers looked at successful type 1s, or other evidence, they would have concluded that exactly the opposite was true.

The tax was based on the ideology of innumerate doctors and medical academics, not science.

Whether the tax reduced fat consumption is difficult to know due to pre-tax stockpiling and cross-border purchases. It seems the tax was introduced with no intention of accurately measuring its effect adjusted for confounding variables.

Irrespective of its effect on consumption, there was NO measurable effect on heart disease.

What it did cause was
-a financial impost for the poor
-a disincentive to consume healthy dairy products
-substantial administrative costs
-hardship for danish dairy producers

Denmark's politicians voted to abolish the tax not much more than a year after it was introduced.

It is time for doctors to apologise for the damage they cause to honest citizens


Monday, 18 April 2016

NHMRC Dietary Guidelines on fat are not evidence based

Open Heart does not mince words.

"Evidence from randomised controlled trials did not support the introduction of dietary fat guidelines.."

The British Medical Journal suggest clinicians be more questioning of dietary guidelines and less accepting of low fat, high carb advice.

pic tf

Full fat dairy food prevents diabetes

A huge volume of research supports the beneficial health effects of high dairy fat consumption.

Circulationaha.115.018410 In two prospective cohorts, higher plasma dairy fatty acid concentrations were associated with lower incident diabetes.

Br J Nutr,91 (4),635-42 ..Intake of milk fat is negatively associated with cardiovascular risk factors

Scand J Prim Health Care Non-obese men with low dairy fat intake were more likely to become fat in 12 years of follow up, independent of exercise, age, SES, alcohol, smoking, and fruit and vegetable intake.

Eur J Nutr 2013 High fat dairy consumption inversely associated with obesity risk.

Don't just believe what the NHMRC tells you about full fat dairy. Read the original research yourself.

Added 9.5.16
The specific effect of  dairy foods in the diet of Type 1s has been raised in a forum. There is no useful data on this in the peer reviewed literature. There is, however, a fair amount of information posted on the use of dairy and sporting success in Type 1s on social media. Look it up.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Can you believe any Australian medical research?

An Inquiry into this research cleared the authors of any misconduct, and it hasn't been retracted, so it must be right.
Here are some of the reported comments on it.

Their "data was not quite right"
"They had claimed sales... were down by 10%, but..their own research actually shows a 29% increase"
"the highest levels of nutrition science in Australia... can publish whatever nonsense they want"
"acceptance of a fee from Coca-Cola " by one of the authors
NYU Professor "There's no Australian Paradox" "Sugar is.. bad for you"
Dr Rosemary Stanton "Ignore it"
"..the Australian Paradox paper was based on inaccurate data."

How bad does medical research in Australia have to be before it is retracted? Short of a researcher murdering a volunteer it is hard to know.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Can you believe what the Heart Foundation says about fat?

The Heart Foundation is reported as saying "..there is international scientific consensus that replacing saturated fat with ... polyunsaturated fat, reduces your risk of heart disease."

REALLY? Thousands of scientists and many large rigorous, randomized clinical trials say otherwise.

1. The Minnesota Coronary Experiment, a large (9,570 subjects) rigorous trial of replacement of saturated fat with vegetable oil rich in linoleic acid found no difference. A decrease in cholesterol, yes, but NO improvement in survival. (post hoc it was noted that a sub-group of the linoleic acid patients had the highest risk of death)

2. The Sydney Diet Heart Study found that "substituting dietary linoleic acid in place of saturated fats increased the rates of death from all causes, coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease"

3. The Mediterranean diet trial (Lancet 1994 June 11) Patients randomized to lower linoleic acid consumption (compared to a prudent diet) had a much lower mortality post infarct. This trial is also evidence that not all of your fat intake should be in the form of satutated fat. A diet with lots of saturated fat, but little omega-3 is bad.

4. A review published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2010 found a trend for omega-6 supplementation to increase cardiovascular disease risk.

Many other studies suggest poor health outcomes from diets relatively high in linoleic acid. (see future posts) Not to mention common sense. Rational people have been following the right diet for decades, not just since 1994.

Of course some research seems to support the use of linoleic acid. This is not surprising because many foods high in linoleic acid also contain omega-3s, and consuming them will likely provide a benefit to someone whose omega-3 intake was previously too low. Next time you look at a study which allegedly supports the use of omega-6s, check whether the benefit was attributable to omega-3s. Also look at the end-point. Was it death or major cardiovascular event, or was it merely a change in serum rhubarb.

The Heart Foundation seems not to understand that the laws of syllogism do not necessarily apply to statistical associations. If A correlates with B, and B correlates with C, it is illogical to conclude that A correlates with C. That linoleic acid lowers cholesterol in some subgroups, and high cholesterol often correlates with cardiac events, does not allow one to conclude that linoleic acid reduces cardiac events.

Take home message - not all polyunsaturated fats are the same. Learn the difference. I suggest we leave the terms saturated and polyunsaturated fats to the chemists. There are such large differences in the health effects of different polyunsaturates that it is illogical to lump them together for dietary purposes. Same with saturated fats.

One minute One move Sudoku

This is a regular 9X9 Sudoku with 27 cells obscured. To solve, just add a correct number to one of the 54 cells that aren't hidden.
You could try to work out what is in the hidden cells, but that would be tedious and inefficient.
Do it the quick way.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Is this the stupidest safety warning you have ever seen?

No one else in the world was stupid enough to recommend Vioxx as part of a NOF protocol in late 2004, so it is not surprising that The Canberra Hospital is also a nominee in the category of stupidest safety warning ever. ( No, it wasn't an April Fools' joke )
I have lost count of how many times ACT Health buildings have been evacuated because of "fumes", only for the fire brigade to declare that there was no problem.

Our Prime Minister has suggested that States be allowed to raise their own taxes to fund Health. How about an inquiry into the monumental incompetence of Health bureaucrats instead? The ACT is consistently the most profligate with taxpayers' dollars in the provision of healthcare. No surprise there.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Illegal cost cutting at Canberra Public Hospital

Here are Schedule 4 drugs prescribed for a public hospital inpatient prescribed by someone who is not a doctor and allegedly had no legal right to chart these drugs.
Hospital administration allegedly claimed that the prescriber was being supervised from a distance by a doctor (That doctor had not seen the patient and had no knowledge of their medical details.)

Medical regulators refused to take any action against the doctor who allegedly claimed to be providing distant supervision with no knowledge of the patient. They also declined to take action against the prescriber, who allegedly was in effect impersonating a doctor.

Rumour has it that doctors turned a blind eye to this cost cutting in exchange for some fee-for service medical specialists being allowed to engage in a form of double dipping, which continues to this day. There is no doubt that there was a temporal relationship between the two activities.

Select Blog Index - Find posts on:

Anesthesia / pain   2015: 11 Nov, 20 Nov, 9 Dec
                               2016: 10 Jan, 16 Jan, 6 Feb, 14 Feb, 1 Mar, 18 Mar

Addison's    2015: 19 Sep, 29 Nov, 1 Dec, 7 Dec,
                    2016: 12 Jan, 13 Jan, 14 Jan, 1 Feb, 22 Feb, 1 Mar

Diet  2015: 9 Nov, 21 Dec
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Diabetes  2015: 20 Sep, 24 Sep, 18 Oct, 25 Oct, 2 Dec, 13 Dec, 17 Dec, 18 Dec
                2016: 11 Jan, 5 Feb