Thursday, August 13, 2009

Science, our fair weather friend.


Remember the guys over the last few years that had been on death row for years for crimes they didn't commit, only to be found innocent through DNA testing?

Remember a couple years back when people wanted to teach creationism in schools because Evolution was 'only' a theory? What did you say to that? You said, 'look at the science'.

Remember back when people were claiming that climate change was a farce? What did you say to that? You said, 'look at the science'.
When someone tells you that your meat has fecal matter on it, that high-fructose corn syrup is the cause of obesity, that processed foods cause cancer, that organic is obviously better...what do you say? You say, 'ok'.

What? What about science? What about testing hypothesis, running experiments, publishing studies in peer reviewed journals, replicating and verifying results? Why are you not giving science the same credit for food that you give for climate change and evolution? Do you not like the answer you get?

An example:
Let's say that we want to examine whether high-fructose corn syrup(hfcs) is a bigger contributor to obesity than cane sugar. Ok. We would probably need to select two groups; one that drinks a beverage containing hfcs with their meals for a given time, and a second that drinks a sugar beverage with each of the same meals that the first group received. So now our variable, hfcs and cane sugar, are isolated. We monitor the weight of each group at the beginning and end of the experiment(which lasts for more than a few days). Would doing that experiment help put your minds at ease?

Well, that experiment was done, and found that neither was any worse for you. They were both sugar. Calories lead to obesity, not an ingredient.

'Yeah, but those studies are rigged by the big corporations.' It's a big world out there and I'd bet that some companies would risk their integrity by fudging a study, but that is what peer review journals are for. Someone can read what was done, reproduce the experiment, and compare the results. Also, much of the research in food science is done by Master's and PHD students. I've worked among these people, and trust me, there is no corporate entity watching over them.

Today, I read a blog by Mrs. Dawn Ellis-Lopez that asserts that certain things are unhealthy and should be kept from your kids, while at the same time, admitting that there aren't studies to support her claims.

"While good public studies are hard to come by (follow the money to explain that one), there are a number of people who believe they have plenty of good reasons not to trust aspartame, Splenda, or saccharin."

She then goes on to dispatch some sage(organically grown) like wisdom to all of us...
"The verdict: Step away from the soda pop. No matter how tasty you think it is, it doesn't love you back."

Now I'm not saying pop is a health drink by any means, but it isn't a poison. Like all things, pop should be consumed in moderation. Facts? Citrus pop like Mountain Dew and Vault contain about 180 calories per can. Pepsi and Coke are not too far off from that. They contain very low sodium and no fat, but the excess carbs will be stored as fat if you consume too many calories.

This is taken directly from the site she uses to cite as evidence that saccharin is bad:
"Saccharin

Studies in laboratory rats during the early 1970s linked saccharin with the development of bladder cancer. For this reason, Congress mandated that further studies of saccharin be performed and required that all food containing saccharin bear the following warning label: "Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals." Subsequent studies in rats showed an increased incidence of urinary bladder cancer at high doses of saccharin consumption, especially in male rats. However, mechanistic studies (studies that examine how a substance works in the body) have shown that these results apply only to rats. Human epidemiology studies (studies of patterns, causes, and control of diseases in groups of people) have shown no consistent evidence that saccharin is associated with bladder cancer incidence.

Because the bladder tumors seen in rats are due to a mechanism not relevant to humans, and because there is no clear evidence that saccharin causes cancer in humans, saccharin was delisted in 2000 from the U.S. National Toxicology Program's Report on Carcinogens , where it had been listed since 1981 as a substance reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen (a substance known to cause cancer). More information about the delisting of saccharin is available at http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/eleventh/append/appb.pdf on the Internet. The delisting led to legislation, which was signed into law on December 21, 2000, repealing the warning label requirement for products containing saccharin."

(http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/artificial-sweeteners)

The sites she lists for Splenda and Aspartame are biased sites that are anti-sweetener.

For those interested, Cargill and Coca-Cola have teamed up to develop a natural sweetener based on Stevia that they call Truvia. Coca-Cola is expected to debut a version of Diet Coke or Coke Zero containing this in the near future.

She makes a mind numbing statement about kid's drinks like Kool-Aid:

"white sugar is treated with chlorine, and that creates an addictive response since the body doesn't recognize it as real food."

No. Sorry. Not even remotely true. Number one, our water is treated with chlorine...anybody out there water addicts? What about pools? Anybody have prune hands because you can't get out of the pool? Here is her Coup De Grace to the section on kid's drinks:

"The verdict: Just don't do it. Don't do it to yourself or to your kids."

How many parents robbed their kids of the occasional Hawaiian Punch or Kool-Aid because they listened to this lady and freaked out? Why do we do this when it comes to food? Is it guilt? Are we guilty about what we have, our abundance, our gluttony, our expanding waistlines that we have to believe that there are evil forces afoot that poisoned us.

It's come to this, an all or nothing society, feast or famine, good vs evil. At some point it stopped being about the choices we make. We like to dog the Republicans for a lot of things, but they get at least one thing right, personal responsibility. I have a large midsection, but it isn't Coke's fault, it's mine. I know how many calories are in whatever and I overspent. Too many calories over an extended period of time = a lot of extra weight and fat. I know exactly how to take all the weight off, yet I don't do it. It isn't the corporation's job to police what I consume, it's mine. They can't possibly know what else I eat and drink during the day, so how can they be responsible if I over do it?

This need to have an enemy has lead to a willful ignorance of science and facts about food. It leads people to believe the words of an uneducated writer over the scientists. It leads to documentaries that food scientists scoff at while the rest of the world excepts it as fact. Facts cannot be made up, they can only be discovered. Facts are not conservative or liberal or Republican or Democratic. Facts are a cold splash of water in our disillusioned faces, waking us up and in the case of food, calibrating our paranoia. Facts are important, but they are meaningless if we remain ignorant to them. That's a fact.


The blog Referenced in mine belongs to Dawn Ellis-Lopez and can be found here:

http://www.examiner.com/x-3871-Healthy-Food-Examiner?showbio

I will provide you some other useful links as well.


3 comments:

  1. In this era of web 2.0, we easily get nice & updated information for research purposes... I'd definitely appreciate the work of the said blog owner... Thanks!
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    ReplyDelete
  2. After reading your blog, i would like to give you some advice concerning employers and why they ask for experience on the 3rd shift. Because right now dude, some of the best people have been laid off and an employer can get the cream of the crop if he searches for it. It does not mean that that 3rd shift dude is a loser for staying there for 5 years...it means the employer will get a highly qualified person, because chances are that person is out there because of the high unemployment rate.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is true, however, they have been doing this for years. They did this when there was a big vaccum in the industry and they needed people.

    I think things like years of experience and gpa only serve a constructive purpose in extreme cases. For a 3rd shift mgr position, the plant manager or someone a step lower like a plant ops mgr should be able to get a sense about the person when talking to him. Instantly eliminating a large chunk of the talent pool doesn't concentrate the talent, it merely eliminates a random sampling. You may never talk to the best person for the job, because his/her overall gpa was lower or he/she didn't have 5 yrs exp.

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