09
Feb
12

This is why you’re fat

The Globe and Mail has a lulzily breathless article up about salt today:

(Spoiler warning: Bread, apparently.)

Our friendly neighbourhood health reporter, Carly Weeks, reports:

In the ongoing public health campaign to get people to cut back on sodium,

HOLD ON, YOU SAID SALT IN THE TITLE.  DON’T SAY SODIUM IN THE LEDE.  THEY ARE NOT THE SAME.

Okay, I’m better now.  Fuckin’ journalists.  Let’s move on.

…foods such as chips, popcorn and pretzels have unfairly shouldered a heavy burden of blame.

As it turns out, we should have declared war on the sandwich.

What, you mean we followed our intuitions and the red rag of Common Sense, and were led astray?  Despite the question of whether we’re supposed to be looking down with opprobrium upon “salt” or “sodium” remaining unaddressed?  I’m shocked.  Shocked is what I am.

See this?  This is my shocked face.

Turns out that the CDC have released a new report claiming that “bread, rolls, and deli meats” carry most of the salt in the Standard American Diet, as opposed to things like bacon.  (You paleo people are fidgeting in your chairs; I can see you.  Hold your water for another paragraph or two.)  The study finds, also to Jack’s utter lack of surprise, that:

…almost two-thirds of sodium consumed comes from processed food purchased in stores, while 25 per cent comes from restaurant meals.

(That’s “almost” 91.666… per cent, if you’re keeping score from home.  One suspects that the actual report isn’t precise to five sig digs, though.)

Okay, paleo folks.  You’re yelling it at your screen, and I’m yelling it at mine: Maybe the problem isn’t salt, per se, but the fact that we’re eating too much processed fucking Frankenfood too far removed from stuff that bleeds blood and/or sap when you cut it.  But before you write a letter to the Globe, consider that the intrepid Ms. Weeks is way ahead of you in finding this counterpoint:

Yoni Freedhoff, an expert on nutrition issues and medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa, said there’s no doubt high amounts of sodium consumption is a clear indication something is wrong with our diets.

But he wonders if sodium is the real villain, or if health problems result from regularly consuming processed foods with artificial ingredients and preservatives that also happen to contain plenty of salt.

“I think what we really need to be looking at is the quality of our diets as a whole,” Dr. Freedhoff said. “I do wonder whether the bigger deal is to start buying foods without labels,…transforming raw ingredients into dinner.”

You think?  Welcome to the land of “We did a bunch of observational studies; the variable with the highest correlation must be causative!  Now gimme another fucking grant, my kid needs braces!”  It just happens that salt is a rather effective preservative, not to mention a major player in the sweetener-fat-salt triangle of “hyperpalatability”, so one would naturally expect salt intake and processed food intake to be closely correlated.

Then again, the sort of person that looks at a McDonalds combo with a large drink full of HFCS, a large fries full of high-GI starch, and a hamburger topped with sweetened sauce slapped between two huge fluffy buns and concludes that zOMG the saturated fat in that burger patty is gonna kill ya! is also likely to look at a diet crammed full of the cheapest subsidized ingredients available, folded, spindled, and mutilated beyond recognition, and blame just one of the preservatives contained within for the dysfunction of a fairly major metabolic system.  And Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, does not disappoint:

Dr. Frieden at the CDC also highlighted the importance of consuming more fruits and vegetables in order to cut back on salt and improve overall health. But he also noted how difficult it can be for consumers to stick to low-sodium plans, given that even seemingly healthy foods, such as breakfast cereals, can pack a punch in terms of salt content. He urged consumers to read labels, compare brands and choose companies that have the least-salty products.

“I think the key here is to find lower-sodium options of the foods you love,” Dr. Frieden said.

(Emphasis added.)

“Seemingly healthy foods, such as breakfast cereals”.  ARE YOU FUCKED IN THE HEAD.  I don’t care how much soy or flax your breakfast candy has listed on the box, it is not healthy; at best it’s not causing you any extra problems and offering you an excuse to get some whole milk once a day.  (Though if you’re the sort of person who thinks cereal is “healthy” you probably drink skim.  Enjoy your chronic insulin spikes!)

Ladies and gentlemen of America, this is why you’re fat:

“I think the key here is to find lower-sodium options of the foods you love,” Dr. Frieden said.

Kids, if “the foods you love” are bricks on the road to nutrient deficiency and insulin resistance, finding “lower-sodium options” is rearranging the deck chairs.  Eating low-sodium pizza five days a week isn’t going to help.

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1 Response to “This is why you’re fat”


  1. 1 TMI
    February 9, 2012 at 08:01

    Great shocked face.

    I start the day with a hard-boiled egg, piece of dry whole wheat toast and half a grapefruit. Mid-morning snack, banana and some yogurt. Lunch? Some chicken and pasta. Dinner? Some cheese and crackers, maybe some chicken burritos with cheese, lettuce, onion and tomato. And salsa. And sour cream. And some scotch.

    For excercise? Golf.

    Am I in great shape? Nah. But good enough shape for an old guy. I can go mountain goat for brief periods of time without being exhausted. But what have I got left? Ten, fifteen, twenty years?

    I can do that standing on my head.

    Nice article. Keep fighting the food fascists!
    .


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