Saturday, December 01, 2007

Is It Healthy? Food Rating Systems Battle It Out - New York Times

Is It Healthy? Food Rating Systems Battle It Out - New York Times

We need to create a government sanctioned system. The food industry thrives off of confusion. When consumers get confused with multiple messages, they just throw up their hands and buy whatever.

Check out the British Food Standards Agency (traffic light picture on the right) for a good example:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's Fig Season

I love figs!
Buy them fresh while they are in season.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cornell Only Top 10 Ivy

Our Third Annual College Rankings

A new college ranking technique that uses things that really matter: social mobility, research, and service.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Yes, Vegetables

Click Here to Read a NY Times article on Epidemiology

An interesting article by Gary Taubes, where he asks, "Do we really know what makes us healthy?

The answer is YES: vegetables. Taubes and I agree on that, and that is what public health should focus on.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Forget Childhood Obesity

I just finished watching the movie Blood Diamond. I spend my time worrying about our children in this country who are becoming obese. They are positioned to live horrible lives of disease.

But, what about the children of Africa and other parts of the world? The movie shows how our want of resources from Africa, in this case, diamonds, causes civil war. The civil wars cause villages to be shot to death, women to be raped, and children to be drafted into armies to learn to kill.

I also just read What is the What by Dave Eggers. It tells the story of a boy running for his life through Sudan in the previous civil war. The stories are of young children who are refugees for their entire life. Others get drafted and trained into killing machines. Children are becoming killing machines! By the time they are 12 they have seen more murderers and rapes than any of us ever will.

I try to think everyday about what I do and how it affects others. Why can't we all just think about what our actions have? It's called mindfulness. Whether it be diamonds, ivory, or oil. Our habits are helping to cause a lot of this. Why can't we help others? Why can't we stop worrying about ourselves and start caring about others? There is so much going on in the world and if we just think about it all the time, and just started caring, maybe we could save some lives. But instead we just watch our celebrity shows, Fox News, and get drunk.

I have to start asking myself: Is childhood obesity that bad? At least our children aren't becoming murders after watching their fathers get shot and their mothers raped.
The child is the jewel.
I cry.

Oxfam America: Conflict in Darfur

Burger Companies Giving Money to Politicians

Get Active on the Farm Bill.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hillary's Health Plan - American's Health Choices Plan

I am not a huge fan of Hillary, but I think she may have a good idea here. The plan basically allows anyone to keep their own health insurance or buy into another. This is a major point for many who have insurance and are scared of a change.

The best part is that it allows you to buy into a government-run plan with no private insurer. This is what those at the Rockridge Institute call a strategic initiative. It allows more and more people to get on a government-run plan (like Medicare). Then we can prove to people that a Medicare-like plan is better than their private plan. Hopefully, this will switch more and more people over to a Medicare-like plan, bringing us on to a path of Medicare for All (single payer).

The plan has parts that I disagree with, such as the funding (tax credits), but I think the general idea is in the right direction.

We have the responsibility as a country to provide all with access to comprehensive medical care.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Security and Health for the New Year

Yesterday I was in Penn Station, New York, waiting for a train back to Boston. As I walked into the Amtrak waiting area there was a man laying on the ground in the middle of the station. People looked at him and stood around. He was breathing and most people assumed he was drunk or faking it. But in the post 9/11 world in NYC, one obviously thinks about whether a suspicious man in Penn station is a terrorist threat. After about 5 minutes, an Amtrak official saw the guy and tried to get an officer. Five minutes later, some soldiers came over with all their guns, and said they would get "an officer". They walked away and the Amtrak official came back, radioing and calling on his phone for a police offer. (Neither the soldiers, police, or Amtrak officials appeared to be operating on the same frequency.) All in all, it took about 25 minutes to get a police officer into the middle of Penn Station. They finally got an ambulance, who gave the guy a sternal rub and got him to stand it turned out he was drugged up.

But, 6 years after 9/11 we still don't have high enough security to instantly address any threat. This week, I also learned of a friend who accidentally took mace on a plane.... twice. I personally took might pocket knife on a plane a few years ago (by accident). My point is that unless we have an Orwellian government we will never be totally secure from terrorism. So why should we as citizens have an almost one track mind when thinking about the direction of our country? I am not saying that we should not continue security and try and prevent terrorism. I am saying that we need to think broader about what we can really do to make happy lives for ourselves, our families, our country, and our world.

What can we do that will have greater effects our lives than just focusing on security from terrorism?

Recently my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was fortunate, not only because it was found early, but because she lives in a rich country with skilled physicians and an insurance company who didn't deny her life-saving surgery. Cancer is one of the things that WE KNOW can affect our lives. Along with heart disease, and infectious diseases in the developing world, cancer is one of things that is ACTUALLY likely to affect our lives.

We know the root causes of early morbidity and mortality: smoking, poor nutrition, lack of activity in the developed world and lack of sanitation and infrastructure in the developing world. However, the real root cause of many of these factors is social inequality and poverty.

Lack of adequate health insurance in our country is such an important issue that the American Cancer Society has devoted much of its resources around the issue. Around the world access to care is an even bigger issue, but poverty confounds all these factors and causes millions of children and adults to live lives of suffering.

So instead of focusing all of our energy this year and trying to protect us from a terrorist, why not protect us from things that are much more likely to happen? Why not focus on promoting access to health care? Why not focus on providing proper nutrition and public health around our country and the world? Why not focus on reducing poverty and social inequalities?

And what do you think is the root cause of violence and terrorism? What caused the World Wars? What leads people to shoot people on the streets of our cities? Poverty and inequalities.

By fighting a new war against poverty and social inequalities we can prevent the most common things that may hurt us (disease) and the less likely (terrorism).

L'Shana Tova for a safe, happy, and healthy new year.
Let us all Be Active in fighting for a better world.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Colbert Nation Nutrition

A great interview on one of my favorite nutrition activists by one of my favorite comedians:
Watch the Video

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Out Healthcare System is SICKO

I recently saw Michael Moore's new film, SICKO. It is a film I've been waiting for for many years. During college I came to realize that the only way we are going to improve health and care for our fellow human beings was to establish Medicare for All.

I found Moore's film interesting because it really did not go into the fact that we are leaving over 40 million of our fellow Americans with no health insurance, no care for them when they get cancer, and no prevention from developing lifestyle-crippling heart disease.

He focused on those of us who are insured, in a complicated insurance system that denies people care and does not support people having healthy productive lives. It is key that he focused on these people, like my family, who are doing well, until something happens and our insurance company denies us.

It is not until regular-insured Americans, like my parents, realize that they are at the mercy of these careless companies that things will change. Until we realize we are all in this mess together and do something to improve the health of all Americans, we will be stick in this SICKO system.

So, Mom and Dad, and all your friends, I'm waiting for you to see SICKO, and then do something about it. My patients and your country needs you:
href="">'What can I do?' - SiCKO

P.S. My favorite action item from Mr.Moore's website is: Eat fruits and vegetables and walk around. Congrats Michael for advocating this and for losing some weight.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Live Earth Misses Tip to Reduce Global Warming

The Live Earth Concert was a great concert series to raise awareness on global warming. It had lots of tips for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

However, it forgot one big tip, as pointed out by the Integrity in Science Watch:
Absent from the discussion surrounding the event were the findings, reported in the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2006 report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, that the livestock sector is responsible for fully 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than the automotive industry, air travel, and all other forms of transport combined.

So eat less meat and save the planet!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Today it was hot (94). But, I decided to see how long it would take me to ride downtown to where I can catch the T (Boston's Subway) to work. 20 minutes! Not too bad. Will probably quadruple my overall commute time, but I'll get my workout in. I will also help reduce carbon emissions.

Biking to work probably goes towards the top of a list of things good for you and the environment. It's not easy to bike. I had to deal with aggressive motorists, no bike lanes, exhaust. And I can't even take my bike on the T during rush hour.

A few years ago I was in the Netherlands, where tons of people bike to work in safe bike lanes, rain or shine. If we want to reduce carbon output and make healthier communities we need bike racks, bike lanes, and rules allowing bikes on public transportation.

Below is one organization trying to make a difference. I will try to make a difference by biking to work twice a month. Hopefully it will reduce my carbon footprint (You can calculate yours by clicking on the link at the top right of my blog) AND be good for my heart.

MassBike: The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Food Bill

A new article by Michael Pollan in the NY Times, talks about one of the most important bills in Congress. It is called the "Farm Bill", but affects the food system, the environment, and immigration.
Some select quotes:
On the Current Farm Law: "The result? A food system awash in added sugars (derived from corn) and added fats (derived mainly from soy), as well as dirt-cheap meat and milk (derived from both). By comparison, the farm bill does almost nothing to support farmers growing fresh produce."

"The public-health community has come to recognize it can’t hope to address obesity and diabetes without addressing the farm bill. The environmental community recognizes that as long as we have a farm bill that promotes chemical and feedlot agriculture, clean water will remain a pipe dream. The development community has woken up to the fact that global poverty can’t be fought without confronting the ways the farm bill depresses world crop prices."

"One of these years, the eaters of America are going to demand a place at the table, and we will have the political debate over food policy we need and deserve. This could prove to be that year: the year when the farm bill became a food bill, and the eaters at last had their say."

This is the year. To get BE ACTIVE on this issue check out the Oxfam Farm Bill Website.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Ronald McHummer

Combine Unhealthy Food and Gasoline Guzzling Hummers and destroy the world!
Make your own sign at The Ronald Mc Hummer Site

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Industry Sponsorship Biases Nutrition Research

I just published a study showing industry sponsorship of nutrition research biases the conclusions. Please read the complete article for our results and conclusions:
Relationship between Funding Source and Conclusion among Nutrition-Related Scientific Articles
Lesser LI, Ebbeling CB, Goozner M, Wypij D, Ludwig DS PLoS Medicine Vol. 4, No. 1, e5 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040005

And the accompanying editorial:Does Industry Sponsorship Undermine the Integrity of Nutrition Research? Katan MB PLoS Medicine Vol. 4, No. 1, e6

Here are a bunch of news stories on it:
NPR : Researchers Find Bias in Nutrition Studies

WBUR (NPR Boston): Links Between Funding and Findings?
Boston Globe (front page): Beverage research tied to corporate dollars
Google News Links