This week, we summarize the top five news articles and studies in the low-carb realm, plus the wall of shame.
- The American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, et. al. issued new clinical practice guidelines for the management of blood cholesterol. This revision makes progress; it individualizes care and softens some recommendations surrounding obligatory use of statins for primary prevention. Cardiologist Bret Scher takes a look at the detailed new guidelines and gives us his impressions about what they get right and where there is still room for improvement.
- Newspaper headlines about the lifesaving potential of a tax on red and processed meat were plentiful last week, thanks to a thought-experiment-turned-modeling-study out of the University of Oxford, published in PLOS. A meat tax is based on the idea that red meat contributes to increased rates of chronic disease. This hypothesis relies on weak epidemiological evidence, a type of evidence that needs to be tested in randomized clinical trials to establish causation. These trials have never been conducted. There are other problems with the idea of a meat tax, like its regressive nature and likely unintended consequences.
- The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association (AHA) are teaming up to bring the connection between diabetes and heart disease into focus. The joint initiative, “Know Diabetes by Heart,” was launched last Thursday, with its own, dedicated website, including resources for patients and practitioners. Given the ADA’s medication-heavy leanings, we were not surprised that the new initiative’s sponsors — all large pharmaceutical companies — are featured prominently on the “Know Diabetes by Heart” website. Notably missing from the new website is any mention of how, for many or even most motivated patients, a low-carb diet can reverse type 2 diabetes while at the same time improve cardiovascular risk factors.
- Are you shaped like a pear or an apple? A new study identifies several genes that predispose people to be heavier and accumulate fat just below their skin (subcutaneous fat, often leading to a pear shape) rather than around their bellies (visceral fat, often leading to an apple shape). These genes are also linked to better metabolic health, including slightly lower rates of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. So it is not just about weight or BMI… where you carry your fat tissue is also important.
- As rates of type 2 diabetes soar, Diabetes Canada calls for $150 million to support a comprehensive strategy to address the epidemic and improve prevention in Canada. However, the strategy focuses on factors such as poverty, poor food security and unhealthy living rather than the likely root cause — diets high in processed foods, especially refined carbohydrates.
Wall of shame
- Pop Secret’s Popfetti Popcorn… a mash-up of movie theater-style popcorn with yellow cake, buttercream frosting, and red and blue sprinkles. So, is this even food?
- Pillsbury shamelessly hijacks Christmas comedy classic film, Elf, to market sugar cookies to kids. The food industry’s targeting of children — with familiar characters plastered on sugary products — has to stop.
- Pepsi’s new “better for you” snacks for children: “Imag!ne”… Key ingredients? flour, sugar (listed twice to move it further down on the ingredients list — sneaky), sunflower oil. When will Pepsi “Imag!ne” whole foods?
- Why so peckish? Which came first — chicken snacks or shelf-stable egg bars? These sound better for you than the usual processed blend of starch, soy protein and vegetable oils, but whatever happened to not eating between meals?
- Amusing, not shameful: In a funny guerrilla marketing stunt, Jimmy Dean petitions the Merriam-Webster dictionary to remove two slices of bread from the definition of a sandwich. It also introduced a keto-friendly breakfast of sausage sandwiched between two egg frittatas!
- Although on hold for now, it is hard to understand why we might someday “need” cannabidiol (cannabis-derived, but non-psychoactive anti-inflammatory) — also known as CBD oil — in our drinks. But it is already on Coke’s radar. Backburner for now.
- The New York Times tries to explain how the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans got it wrong regarding dietary cholesterol. For decades.
- Ewww. Cake mix poisoning Americans — first with ultra-processed carbs, now with salmonella. 🤨
- Sorry. But Reese’s is officially #NotSorry about the new, thinner version of its classic peanut butter cup. “Thins are 40% thinner… [so] fewer calories – until you eat the entire bag in a fit of anxiety eating.”
- Is there such a thing as vegan butter? More legal sparring over the use of dairy product words on dairy-free substitutes. Are consumers confused?
How do you make cultured butter? Does the carnivore diet help give tech workers a mental edge? Has the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health gotten a tad defensive about its heavy reliance on nutritional epidemiology?
Tune in next week!
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